Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Happiness Project May 6, 2014

It happens all the time. Mom buys a book with all the best intentions of reading every last page and it sits. Sometimes in a pile on the nightstand where there is a (slightly better) chance it will get read. Other times in the living room by the couch or (worse yet) in the book case. I shouldn’t be too hard on her since she hasn’t had much free time since she brought home my little person.Happiness.

But I got to thinking today about the books on the nightstand. The coveted could-soon-be-read-or-at-least-paged-through spot. The same four books have been in this spot for quite some time now, including “Your Baby’s First Year” and “What to Expect The First Year.” As baby Carter is now four months old, these two have been paged through from time to time in what I can only describe as a studious manner. That leaves the dynamic duo otherwise known as “The Happiness Project” and “Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words.”

I find it slightly ironic these two should find themselves in the pleasure reading place in life, as mom finds happiness in words. This is something we have in common, I realized today when it only took two words to lighten my heart. Car ride. From the ground up, it’s no secret this is one of my very most favorite people phrases. And today it happened out of the blue. I am no dummy. I know when my people are getting ready to go somewhere together. Especially now when it takes them 15 extra minutes to pack up Carter and the diaper bag and whatever other baby-related things they deem necessary to bring along. When it happened tonight, I excused myself to the bedroom to resume my first evening nap.

That’s when it happened. Car ride? Silly dad. Of course the answer to that question is always yes. It wasn’t to anywhere special, but that didn’t matter. It never does.

What does matter, I realized today as I gleefully hopped in the car, is having those words in your life that free your soul and bring joy to your heart. Whether they come from books, from loved ones or from a complete stranger, they are as important as the air we breathe. I may not be able to speak such things, but I know it to be true and find other ways to show it. That is my own personal happiness project.

 

Lonely Hearts Club February 4, 2014

I can’t say it’s anything I would want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good piece of literature as much as the next dog, but not like this. I overheard mom today talking about joining a book club this year and I think I fell asleep at the thought.

Don't JudgeI can think of so many better ways for her to spend her time (like on walks with me, taking me to the dog park, or basically doing anything involving me) than at a book club. I had to talk myself back from this one though, since I respect that reading brings her joy. I want her to do things that make her happy, even if (gasp) they don’t all involve me.

But again my thoughts turned to that phrase about a book and its cover. A strong believer in the book (not so much in the cover), I’ve never been that big a fan of the expression. I’ve been called a lot of things based on my appearance – namely that I’m a mutt. Over time, I have come to see this as a term of endearment rather than anything derogatory because I know who I am and have confidence in myself.

Not everyone is that fortunate. I think a lot of people are really good at crafting a beautiful cover that doesn’t always match what is happening on the pages of their lives. Most heartbreakingly, my mind turns to those who surround themselves with people (in a crowded city, busy work environment or on frequent social outings). Sure, there are those that are truly happy. But sometimes it is these people, these friends of everyone, who are the most lonely of all.

If being an observer of two-leggers has taught me anything it’s that. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. You never know how lonely or happy or depressed or elated a person is based on what their exterior tells you. Because that cover might be just that – a cover for something completely different hiding inside.

Forget book club (sorry mom). People. From the ground up, they are the books I like reading.

 

Rewriting the Story December 8, 2013

Thirteen. That is how many baby- and pregnancy-related books I counted in the Schmidt home today. If you ask me that is thirteen too many. Between the books and the pamphlets from the hospital and the email subscriptions and the web sites, my forever mom has become a battle bot of knowledge on all things baby.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Nothing of the sort. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – knowledge is power. But my observations lately inform me that information overload is not such a good thing either. Especially when third trimester hormones are involved. Too much information is making it very easy for her to feel overwhelmed, incapable, frustrated and fatigued. None of these are emotions I like to allow in the Schmidt home for too long if I can help it.

No more reading!But alas, my lack of opposable thumbs has kept me from removing the books from the residence. And (even if I did) she would still have all of the Internet resources at her fingertips. So you can imagine my relief when something magical happened today. The baby, my future little person, did the work for me.

It was freaky. And beautiful. And absurd. And amazing. I saw the baby move today. And it was all of these things and more to me. Mom has been seeing the little person moving for a couple of weeks now, but this was the first time I witnessed the miracle firstpaw. My stomach somersaulted when it happened, much like the baby appeared to be doing.

That’s when I realized I have nothing to worry about. There isn’t much I can do about the barrage of baby books throughout the house. (Thirteen, to be exact. But who’s counting?) Instead I have resolved to resume my stance that knowledge is power. Because I know that (like me) mom learns best by experiencing something. Living in the moment has much more profound an impact than words on a page.

So in that moment, when I could see mom’s tummy moving to and fro, I found comfort in the truth. It doesn’t matter what the baby books say. That little person will rewrite the story as soon as he or she is born. Forget the baby books. That is the story I can’t wait to start reading.

 

Hope in Gratitude January 14, 2013

Hope in GratitudeWriting can be a bit like life. Some days are like poetry, weaving experiences together in the most beautiful (albeit sometimes ironically morbid) of prose. Those days can be easier than others to write things worth reading. Other days are like the worst case of writer’s block. Nothing among the list of one’s ordinary function comes easy. Even waking up (or picking up a pen and paper) sounds absolutely impossible on “one of those days.”

Either way, I’m starting to notice how easy it is to find something to bring a ray of sunshine into even the cloudiest case of writer’s block. I say this because if its possible for a dog to have what humans refer to as “one of those days,” that was my life today. Instead of shattering a glass on the hardwood or breaking a nail (which I’ve heard can be quite painful for womenfolk), I struggled to find any inspiration in today.

Mom journeyed back to this place she calls work today. I missed her terribly. After all the time off for her leg surgery, I realize I’d gotten spoiled with people time during the day. But to make matters worse, I could tell things didn’t go well by her emotional state when she came home over her lunch break. And again when she came home from work well after the sun went down. And I will be the first to admit it: a tough day on her takes a toll on me. I can easily slip into a darker way of thinking, wishing more than anything I can somehow be that lantern of love I’ve pledged to be while at the same time not having any idea of how to light the match.

Then something hits me. A ray of sunshine makes its way through the cloudy darkness that is the blank screen or notepad mocking me with its silence. Today it was two things combining in perfect harmony, just like poetry coming together on the page: music and good writing. Two obvious things that inspire me (and lots of other thoughtful writers, poets and songwriters), but as I am embracing simplicity this year I find solace in (even) these most obvious of things. Miracles happen in simple moments like this.

I was reading today’s thoughts on Simple Abundance, which focus on finding specific things to be thankful for in even the cloudy days while listening to “Tell Me a Story” on Phillip Phillips’ album.

“Hope is just a ray of what everyone should see
alone is the street where you found me
scared of what’s behind you
and scared of what’s in front
live with what you have now
and make the best of what’s to come.”

Phillips sings to me his guitar-stringed thoughts on the world, and I find myself so grateful for his words that I want to share them with anyone who reads. Quite the paradox, since today’s Simple Abundance entry cites the thoughts of author Melody Beattie.

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow,” she said.

Tantalizing little cursor on a blank screen? You’re no match for me. Trouble lighting the match for my lantern of love? Forget about it. There is hope in gratitude, even on a day like today.