Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

All Forward Motion February 3, 2014

Motion. It never ceases to amaze me how much of it I can witness from my stationary spot on the couch. Or the bed. Or just about anywhere in my forever home. All-the-while, there I lay, peaceful and serene amidst the chaos. It’s been especially interesting since baby Carter came along five weeks ago. Motion

Instead of the activity happening exclusively at night (after my people returned from that place called work), it happens around the clock these days. Nothing much has changed for me in this respect – generally I still fulfill my role as the observer/protector/sleep champion of the family.

But today I noticed something in particular from my perch on the couch. Mom has discovered a method to the madness when it comes to calming dear baby Carter when he’s crying (a sound to which I have come quite accustomed). Movement. Any kind of movement. So she walks with him up and down the hallway, and bounces him on her lap, and rocks with him in the nursery. Anything to keep him moving.

In my lazy haze, I found this especially thought provoking in today’s glow of the afternoon sun. Sunshine seeped in through the blinds throughout the house, bringing with it a sense of warmth to soothe the soul in what promises to be a long winter ahead (we can thank Punxsutawney Phil for that). Mom was holding baby Carter close as she rocked in the rocking chair. That’s when I felt it. Peace. From the ground up, there was a sense of peace in the Schmidt home today.

And not just from the precious moments of love radiating brighter than the sun’s rays. It’s a funny thing, but I find there is peace in motion. It’s not always pretty. Sometimes it’s a complete mess. But motion, progress, and all it represents can bring with it the truest and most sincere sense of peace.

“A movement is only composed of people moving,” suggested American activist Gloria Steinem. “To feel its warmth and motion around us is the end as well as the means.” Motion. From the ground up, I felt its power today. And from its power I felt peace.

 

Where art thou Spring? April 8, 2013

Perspective is a funny thing when it comes to weather in Wisconsin. I’ve always thought it was funny that people grab for their winter jackets, mittens and scarves when temperatures first fall below 60 in the fall, but you’d better believe all things winter are put away the second temperatures are a smidge above 50 degrees in the spring. To be blunt, that hasn’t quite done the trick for us in Wisconsin this year, as the majority of our glimpses into the fabulous fifties of spring have been just that. A glimpse, a glimmer of hope, dashed the very next day with wind chills in the single digits.

Normally, I’m not one to complain, especially about something over which I literally have no control. But I have noticed a trend on the weather reports lately. It doesn’t matter which station my mom has on, or whether its a local or national channel. In general, weather people are trying harder than ever to spin a positive story for viewers.

Warming My PawsIn February, we had Punxsutawney Phil promise us an early spring. He lied. March brought with it more than its fair share of brisk days, snow, and the negative spirits that come along for the ride. The forecasters promised April would be better, “unseasonably warm” even. While there have been a couple warmer days, they are only warmer by comparison. And today, I could actually see the pain in the weather person’s eyes when she said the word that may as well be a four-letter curse word this time of year: snow is in our forecast again at the end of this week. Following the next few dreary days of cold rain, that is.

Of all the people jobs in the world, I think I would be most awful at being a weather person. Sure, I know there is science involved that I might be able to figure out. And I definitely do all right in front of a camera. There’s the tiny problem of not being able to speak human, but I could find a way around that. If there’s a will, there’s a way, as they say.

In fact, I think it might just be my will that would get in the way. I’m a simple dog. I don’t keep secrets and I make a terrible liar. I would want too badly to have good news to report, and would struggle doing anything other than feeding that glimmer of hope for good things to come. But today, as my mom and I watched the bleak outlook for this week, I realized something.

I used to wonder whether the weather people know how their viewers hang on to every word of their forecasts, desperately hoping for good news. Today I got my answer. While I know I wouldn’t make a good weather person, I give them a lot of credit for doing a very challenging job at this time of year. It’s not their fault spring is taking its time to get here.

It’s all about perspective, Sarah Ban Breathnach reminds us in Simple Abundance. “Expect to have hope rekindled,” she writes. “Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.” If good things really do come to those who wait, well we sure have something pretty spectacular to look forward to, don’t we?

 

Little Mr. Sunshine March 17, 2013

Me and My ShadowI don’t care what the 30-degree Wisconsin weather says. The birds in the big spruce tree outside the bedroom window are singing beautifully, I spotted a few rabbit footprints in the remaining snow and I even had a run-in with some of my chipmunk and squirrel “friends.” Spring is in the air today. And this afternoon I spent some alone time in the backyard soaking up the sun and getting lost in my thoughts.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you,” great American poet and transcendental thinker Walt Whitman suggests. “The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.”

Simply put, I cannot wait for spring and summer and the various adventures they bring. So I keep my face forward while the shadow of the frigid temperature mocks me. I worry for all of those in regions like mine who suffer from some degree of seasonal affective disorder, as this has been a brutal winter filled with more than its fair share of dreary days and snow storms. I love my snow blanket of diamonds as much as the next dog, but enough is enough. So I say to my shadow to be silent. Spring and summer, like most happy things, are a state of mind. Spring is coming, this much is for sure.

“There’s two kinds of people in this world, there’s winners and there’s losers,” says Greg Kinnear’s character Richard in Little Miss Sunshine. ” Okay, you know what the difference is? Winners don’t give up.” Richard and his family didn’t give up on Little Miss Sunshine, and I am not giving up on spring. The great Punxsutawney Phil did not lie to us when he refused to listen to his shadow on Groundhog day a month and a half ago. And if he did, I will find my own sunshine in days like today.

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity,” English poet, politician and playwright Joseph Addison suggests. “These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”

Albeit brisk, Mr. Whitman himself would have something important to say about today. Yes, it might be a brisk 30 degrees outside, but the sun is shining and spring is definitely in the air. So today I aspire to bring sunshine into anyone’s dreary day. Simplicity is beautiful in moments like these.