Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Secret Ingredient February 9, 2014

For some people, it’s a choice. For others, it’s as simple as a bloodline. And for me, it happened the day my forever mom and dad brought me into their home. Because they did more than that. They brought me into a family.

I was reminded of this over the weekend as both sides of my forever family joined together to celebrate my dad’s birthday. It was the first time the families have been all together since baby Carter was born and I was prepared for anything. Well, to be honest, I was prepared to step aside and let Carter steal the show. And he did.FamilyNo Secrets

But (to my surprise) I also earned my fair share of attention. I got pets and hugs and play time and treats and amidst it all I got the best thing of all. Love. From the ground up, I am blessed to be loved by such wonderful family members. It happened when I was playing what likely is my hundredth game of pickle in the middle with some of my favorite little people this afternoon.

I realized in those moments the answer to one of life’s most challenging questions. What is the secret ingredient in my recipe for joy? My family. It takes a village, as the proverb says, and I quite like mine. I had no idea that day I came home from the humane society just how blessed I would become.

Because that proverb is right – it does indeed take a village. We all need a good support system in place for those days when the ground shakes around us. For the times when we feel like its us against the world. And for the times we are overcome with joy and need to share it with someone special.

And that someone special may not always be a relative or family member. Sometimes the friends we make along the way become their own kind of family. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few of those in my life as well.

So to those who say you can’t choose your family, I disagree. Because in my case, they chose me.

 

Whatever It Takes February 8, 2014

It only costs a dollar. But it is capable of miracles.

The winter blues have claws deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of many in my neck of the woods these days. If it’s not frigidly cold, it’s snowing. If it’s not snowing, it’s frigidly cold. And I am in good company of many Wisconsinites who still find joy in the snow diamonds falling from the sky. But even I can admit it’s been an especially tough winter. I love my backyard paradise, but it is taking a great deal to get me out there recently.Nap time

So I find my joy in other things. Snuggle time with Carter. Quiet time in another room when Carter is screaming. And (this is new) time alone with dad. Mom has been spending the majority of her time taking care of Carter (as it should be), which has freed dad up for some quality time with me.

Tonight our quality time involved cooking a special dinner for mom. Since I’ve won more of his affection lately he’s been especially generous with treats of all kinds, so I was incredibly attentive as he bustled around the kitchen. (They don’t call me the doggie vacuum for nothing). He was making a comfort food staple – macaroni and cheese. And not the gourmet kind with the roux and six different varieties of cheese (which he does also know how to make). The kind you can get for a dollar. Complete with the orange powder.

Generally I’m not that big a fan of the less is more idea. Us canines tend to indulge in whatever comes our way. But tonight less worked wonders on the winter blues. Joy. From the ground up, it happened in the Schmidt house today in spite of those nasty winter blues. And it didn’t take much.

“Your success and happiness lies in you,” Helen Keller suggested. “Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

That’s the thing about joy – sometimes it takes a little effort to find it amidst the blues. But once you do it almost always is worth the search. Especially when it only costs a dollar.

 

Dive On In December 20, 2013

I don’t know why she does this to herself. Last year with a bum knee. This year nine months pregnant. It seems nothing will cause mom to so much as reconsider hosting her annual Christmas party. Both times I listened as she assured her guests beforehand that it would be “low key” given “her condition.” And both times I watched as that is far from what happened.

She inevitably hustles around the kitchen up until the very last minute when the first guest arrives, regardless of her “condition.” Sure, there are the staples that grace the table of deliciousness that is strategically placed just beyond my reach. There are the chips and dips and cheese trays. But there are also the extras like the ham and cheese puffs and cranberry bliss bars. And then the guests come.

It started with Jess and Rich and baby Alexis. One by one, the group grew to include several people I’ve come to know and love. It wasn’t long before everyone was sitting together enjoying samples of the variety of delicacies. And that’s when I saw it. Joy. From the ground up, it was radiating from mom.

It was subtle. I don’t think anyone else even noticed. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Her sigh wasn’t one of stress or exhaustion. It was a sound that somehow embodied everything about the spirit of the season. She was sitting in the living room surrounded by people she holds dear to her heart. All was well in her world in that moment.

So I think I get it now. I understand why mom does this to herself, with the bustling around the kitchen and the ham and cheese puffs. It’s the same reason I choose to share my unique perspective on joy with the world. It’s a reason that has not changed in all 365 days of my blogging journey. True joy, like what I saw in mom tonight, is meant to be shared. “Joy is to fun what the deep sea is to a puddle,” as English novelist Terry Pratchet once wrote. “It’s a feeling inside that can hardly be contained.” It’s a feeling to embrace this time of year. More importantly, it’s a feeling to share. So dive on in. The water is warm.A Few of My Favorite Things

 

Joy: A Daily Dose December 5, 2013

Peanut butter, salami, bacon, ice cream and yogurt. I’m pretty sure these things would all be in the bag I would pack if I every was to head off to a deserted island (along with my forever people and Mrs. Prickles obviously). So it makes sense to me why people have employed these guilty pleasures to entice dogs into taking medicine. A spoonful of peanut butter definitely makes the medicine go down.Ready for my vitamin

I love these foods as much as the next canine, but I’ve never needed any such bait attached to my pills. If it hits the floor I’ll eat it. I’ve learned in life not to be choosy with such things. Instead, I eagerly look forward to my doggie vitamin each day. Every night before bedtime is when mom usually gives me my vitamin treat, which is apparently supposed to help me have stronger bones. I don’t know if it does any good (I certainly don’t feel any different), but smells fabulously stinky and tastes like chalky meat. I certainly don’t need it to be smothered with peanut butter to know what’s good for me.

Neither does joy, I realized tonight. It doesn’t need to be salami coated. It doesn’t have to come in pretty packages with bows. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. It’s completely and 100% free. It’s just up to you to take it, to find it in each day, just as you would with a multivitamin. And (just like with the vitamin) you might not even know if it’s working at first. But it is.

If you don’t believe me, perhaps you will believe the words of Helen Keller, whose blindness never kept her from finding her daily dose of joy. “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world,” she said. “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Not every day will be filled with joy. We will struggle. We will meet challenges. We will experience loss that affects us to our core. But on these days even the smallest dose of joy can make all the difference. Even if it’s not obvious (or better yet, covered in bacon), it feeds our soul in a way no multivitamin can.

 

If Dogs Ruled The World June 13, 2013

There’s a lot of controversy in politics today. I don’t know a lot about it, but from what I gather from the television a lot of people spend a lot of time debating a lot of things that may or may not actually come to pass in the legal system. While I wouldn’t dare imply these conversations are anything other than necessary stepping stones to the betterment of the world we live in, sometimes I feel like there’s far too much talk leading to not enough action.Love in Truth, Truth in Love

Maybe its the canine in my brain. Most of us dogs act before we think. We make decisions based on impulse rather than a process of deduction or inference. I know (in my mind) it’s not safe to chase that rabbit into the street but it doesn’t stop me from doing it anyway. That grape that falls to the floor could kill my doggie kidneys, but I gulp it up anyway. And (on a more serious note) my instinct is to share my joy with the world even though I’m not certain how eloquently my intentions translate.

Understanding this fundamental difference in processing, I wonder sometimes what it would be like if dogs ruled the world. I have often dreamed of myself in a suit and tie making my way up the steps of Capitol Hill. (This little guy has big thoughts to share with the world.) In my dream, I stand to represent all other dogs wishing to make a difference in the lives of people. I walk my way up to the podium with my list of bills I wish to present for consideration to become laws, I dust off my pants, and I begin.

Love your neighbor as yourself, I say.

And the dream always ends the same way – with the room in an uproar of laughter at my (allegedly ridiculous) proposal. I don’t even get to say my other ideas (like including putting an end to animal cruelty) before I’m escorted away from the podium. I always wake feeling completely and utterly helpless. Feeling helpless is the absolute worst, especially when I know in my heart that us dogs have an abundance of love to share with the world.

So I stand by my idea, even if I never get my moment in Washington DC. To me, we could all use a visit back to basics. I don’t care what those people in my dream think. Like ancient Greek philosopher Plato, I stand for love and its power to change the world.

“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods,” Plato said.

There’s a lot of controversy in politics today I feel could be solved with some simple doggie truths that are fundamental to our way of life. Listen when you wish you could speak. Love when you want to hate. Make change when you feel comfortable with the status quo. And (perhaps most important of all) stand proudly when others sit because you believe in the power of truth in love.