Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Good Day March 8, 2015

It’s one thing when I think it. It’s something else entirely when it gets sound out loud by one of my people. Especially when there is nothing in particular that stands out to me as anything special.

That was today around here. It was a pretty standard Sunday in my forever home, except for the loss of an hour for daylight savings time. But even that didn’t seem to get anyone down. I held down the fort while the usual errands were run between dear baby Carter’s naps. It was a stark contrast to yesterday, when the poor little guy hardly napped and his overtired and unhappy self had a ripple effect all the way to my heart. Some laundry was done, and a bit of cleaning. All in all, it was a pretty routine day around here. Big Thinking

So it kind of took me by surprise when I heard my forever dad say it this afternoon. He and mom were relaxing together, which admittedly doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to, after the errands and laundry and cleaning were done. I was napping nearby, so I’m actually kind of surprised I even heard it all. But I’m so glad I did.

“It’s been a good day,” dad said simply.

And I suppose it had. Especially after the day we had yesterday with all the crying and gnashing of teeth (literally). That’s when I realized that sometimes I think it takes a day like yesterday, a day when nothing seems to go right, to remind us to appreciate days like today.

When nothing out of the ordinary happens. It’s just another day when everything goes as expected. A day when there is time (albeit brief) to pause to reflect on such things. A good day.

It’s one thing when I think it (and I think it all the time). It’s something else entirely when someone says it out loud. Just as simple as dad’s words are the words that form the reason for my acknowledgment of the simple things today.

As ancient Persian philosopher Omar Khayyam put it, “be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

 

 

My (New) Favorite Time of Day January 30, 2015

Toys and clothes and food and mobility. If there’s something I’ve learned from my time with my dear little person so far, it’s that things constantly change.

Storage bins of now-too-small onesies and outfits are accumulating in the basement of my forever home. Rattles and stuffed animals have been replaced with toy cars and blocks. Breastmilk is no longer the sole source of all things nutritious. And running is the norm these days (because apparently walking is for babies).

Just when my dear forever mom starts to figure things out, dear baby Carter changes it up on her.

But there are some things that remain the same regardless of the time of day they happen. Eat, wake, sleep is still a thing. A self-proclaimed nap nazi, my mom ensures there are at least two naps a day, usually in the morning and afternoon. And much of the bedtime routine has persevered.

I realized it tonight after dinner though. Four months ago, my favorite time of day was the time I spent alone with mom after dear Carter went to bed. While I do still value that time above most things, tonight I noticed the joy in my heart abounded more at a certain (pretty special) time other than that.Family in the snow

I’ll call it family time. It’s this tiny fraction of our day really. It never really happens for the same amount of time each day either. But even if it lasts for 15 minutes, it’s become my new favorite time of day. There’s pickle in the middle sometimes. Other times it’s just mom, dad and I sit back and relax while Carter engages in all kinds of goofiness. Tonight he almost figured out how to ride the toy car he got for his birthday a few weeks ago. It probably sounds like nothing, but this has been no small feat for him. Not to mention the laughs my people have gotten over watching his efforts.

That’s the thing. It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing. What matters is that, for those precious minutes, we are all together. And there is joy, from the ground up.

I know toys and clothes and food choices will probably all continue to change. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the changes integrate another little person into the mix. But I do hope that family time remains a part of the day, even if it is for only a few precious minutes. Because that is (by far) my new favorite time of day.

 

 

The Best Kind of Way December 28, 2014

A year ago today I had absolutely no idea what I had in store. I was going about my business keeping mom’s spot on the bed warm as she wrapped a couple of last-minute Christmas gifts for an after-Christmas holiday party. Everything about the scene was as I’ve seen it dozens of times: her traditional Christmas movies played in the background as she sampled from a tray of goodies she only lets herself eat once a year while she wraps presents.

But this time something was different. At nine months pregnant, it was an issue for her to walk comfortably, let alone wrap an attractive present. I was getting frustrated even watching it happening, but she stayed calm. She took her time and ended up wrapping those two presents just as beautifully as the first round she’d completed days ago. So what if it took her an hour? Dad was out running errands. All said and done, it was a pretty typical day.

Hi Carter

Hi Carter

What happened a few days later when they brought home dear baby Carter for the first time was life changing. I knew it would be, but I don’t think anything could really have prepared me to the extent to which everything I knew in life would change. From the daily (and for those first few months nightly) routine I’d come to appreciate to the constant effort that is baby-proofing to the presence of this new little person, my forever home would never be the same.

I remember being a bit resentful after the initial excitement wore off. As much as my instincts told me to protect this tiny screaming bundle of “joy,” I couldn’t help but notice how much time and attention dear baby Carter was taking away from me. So I kept my distance and slowly re-integrated myself into a comfortable rhythm in this new life.

I thought I might regret that decision, but now I realize it was the smartest thing I could have done. It allowed me to do one of the things I do best – observe. I listened as Carter’s cries morphed into various forms of happy babbling and have since started to resemble words and sentences. I watched as rolling turned into crawling. I stood by as walking turned into running.

And I’ve learned so much. Life has changed a ton since that quiet moment with my mom all of those months ago. Through all of it, I’ve learned about perseverance and how to survive the ultimate form of sleep deprivation. I’ve learned the value of relationships as I’ve seen almost all of those in my circle come closer together. I’ve learned what it means to adapt and be flexible and understand that sometimes there are days that things just don’t get done.

That is why I can say with confidence this year has indeed been life-changing in the best kind of way.

 

Giggles All The Way December 12, 2014

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this news update. That’s kind of how I felt tonight when it happened. All the usual suspects were together in the basement engaging in our usual nighttime shenanigans.

There was laughter and happiness and joy. And love. From the ground up, it’s come to be a pretty happy time of day in the Schmidt home. We were a couple minutes into the usual game of pickle in the middle – the one where I chase a toy as mom and dad throw it back and forth between themselves and dear baby Carter giggles the night away – when routine took a turn for novelty.Happy!!!!

Carter made himself the pickle. In the best and most adorable kind of way I could have imagined. My role turned from active to passive, as I stood by and watched it all unfold. Sure, he had the toy we had been playing with a few minutes earlier. But the game was not about that anymore.

He walked from mom to dad. And from dad to mom. And from mom to dad. Over and over. I would say he did that about a dozen times before he moved on to the next game as it is my understanding 11-month-olds do. In itself, I suppose it probably doesn’t sound like anything special.

But there was laughter and happiness and joy and love involved. A whole lot of love. Because it wasn’t jut about walking back and forth between our beloved forever parents. As he walked toward dad, he giggled and smiled his biggest kind of smile as dad opened his arms and did the same. When he turned around and mom giggled and smiled and opened her arms, he smiled and giggled as he made his return journey. And every time he made it to his destination, there was hugging involved.

It was quite the sight to see, even if it did interrupt my regularly scheduled programming for the evening. I might have missed out on the remainder of my game of pickle in the middle, but this was so much better. This was joy, from the ground up.

 

My Favorite Time of Day August 23, 2014

Call it magic. Call it truth. Call it magic when I’m with you. Coldplay is a favorite band of mine (and my forever mom). Together we listen to lead singer Chris Martin croon about love and life and the pursuit of happiness on an almost daily basis. While some might think it melancholy, some of the words of one of their latest singles “Magic” came to life for me tonight.Seeing Is Believing

It happened during a bit of time I’ve come to look forward to each day. Not much about the nighttime routine has changed in the last almost eight months since dear baby Carter came home. He still gets the eat, bathe, rock, pray, sleep treatment each and every night. As a four-legged dog of mystery, it’s probably no surprise to anyone that I wholeheartedly support this routine. And not just because dad always gives me a dental bone treat while mom feeds Carter. Much like it is for babies, routine establishes a firm foundation in a dog’s life.

So you can imagine how I feel when it happens every night. It has been going on now for a couple of months, and I hope it never ever stops. Mom has always enjoyed keeping me company while I blog, which I always do after Carter goes to bed for the night. But lately, there is something special that has gotten added to my nighttime routine. I was going to keep it a secret, since it is so special to me that it verges on sacred. But it’s a secret I can’t keep any longer.

Every night at about the same time after Carter is asleep and before I blog, mom and I spend five precious minutes alone together. Sometimes we wrestle around on the bedroom floor. Sometimes we play fetch. But my most favorite activity involves something I’ve shared before called a love fest. She pets me in all of my favorite places and tells me about her day. Moreover, she tells me she loves me at least once. It’s my absolute favorite five minutes of every day.

It’s nothing against dear baby Carter. Or dad for that matter. I just enjoy the time with my forever mom listening to Chris Martin sing about life and love and the pursuit of happiness. That’s what I call magic.

 

Up With The Birds July 14, 2014

It happens at the exact same time every day. 4:11 a.m. Whether there is a downpour of rain or the sun is shining, they are always there. Even when the snow flies, a few stick around. Birds. From the ground up, they are always there. At times I side with my mom and find them incredibly annoying. Like when they wake dear baby Carter up earlier than usual. Or my forever mom and dad for that matter. But, like most things, it’s which side of the coin you want to land on.Joy

Because at times, I side with my mom (she can’t make up her mind either) and find them incredibly calming. Peaceful even. I think that’s one of the reasons she has a newfound interest in bird watching in my backyard paradise. In addition to a bird bath or two, there are more feeders out than usual. And, unlike summers past, she has been diligent about keeping them filled to the brim with delicious concoctions of seed, including sunflower seeds that I occasionally snag from the ground by my favorite feeder in the far corner.

Today she was working from home over her lunch hour when it happened. It wasn’t anything that out of the ordinary. Yet there she sat on her favorite patio chair, typing away on that laptop of hers, shaded slightly by her happy orange umbrella (as she calls it) soaking up the sun with a mug of hot tea in hand. Carter was napping inside and I was curled in the shade up at her feet. It wasn’t much. A stranger would have missed it. But not me. She spotted the cardinal duo (male and female) that visits every day around the same time and sighed a big ole happy sigh that made my heart smile.

Sure, we as a family collectively curse those birds outside the windows when dear baby Carter wakes up before his normal time. Or when the chirping alone wakes my parents. But today I was reminded of what beauty is signified in the routine these dear birds have. It happens at the same time every day. 4.11 a.m. The weather doesn’t matter. The storms that rolled through yesterday are a thing of the past. Today is a new day. A fresh start. And that brings the sincerest sense of peace to my heart.

 

On Top of the World June 28, 2014

It’s not that much unlike when mom says “Wiley, up.” I know what to expect when that happens, just as I do when she says “it’s dance party time” to dear baby Carter. It happens at about the same time every day, and I can’t help but pause to pay respect to the progress we’ve made with this thing called routine around here.

A few months ago, it was pretty laborious. Eat, sleep, poop, repeat. I speak, of course, of the perpetual motion of the first few months of a little person’s life. We adjusted, we planned accordingly, and we have moved on. Don’t get me wrong, routine still (and probably always will) play a key role around here. But it’s different now. Now, it involves so much more.

Like dance parties. It doesn’t happen every day because of mom and that thing called work, but it happens often enough for it to be routine. And it happened again today. “It’s dance party time,” mom said. And he may only be just shy of six months old, but I know in my heart that Carter knew exactly what would come next.Partners in crime

Into his jumperoo he went and the dance party began. Which basically consists of mom dancing around Carter’s room like a ninny while Carter jumps happily in his jumperoo. Jump, jump, jump. From the ground up, this has become the equivalent of joy, joy, joy around here.

The best part (at least in my opinion) is that for some completely unknown and random reason, there is one song that seems to always happen during this special time. “I’m on top of the world,” sings Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Evans. Mom dances, Carter jumps. And my heart sings.

Joy. From the ground up, I noticed something while this happened today. There is that special “Joy” sign in Carter’s room that defines joy. As that is what I strive to do with each and every day, I ponder it pretty frequently.

So today when that song came on the radio and mom danced and Carter jumped (and smiled all-the-while), I lived one of the definitions of joy. Joy: “a source or cause of delight.” And I realized it’s not that unlike when mom says “Wiley, up.”

I know what to expect when that happens, just as I do when she says “it’s dance party time” to dear baby Carter. Not only does this mean there is silly dancing and jumping in the near future. But also joy in its purest form.

 

 

The New Normal January 31, 2014

This I did not expect. Or at least not to the extent to which it’s happened. Change. From the ground up, change has been the name of the game in the Schmidt household for the last month. One month ago today, my little person entered the world. Happy One Month!

This Boppy Thing is for me right?I thought I was ready. From the gadgets scattered all over the house (most of which I didn’t understand) to the stacks of baby books I helped mom page through, we were set. But I was wrong. What I wasn’t expecting was admittedly the most obvious of things. Change. To my days. To my nights. My life as I knew it has not been the same.

We canines are creatures of habit. We love our routines. Prior to baby Carter’s arrival, I had come quite accustomed to the everyday routine around here. That has all been thrown to the wayside for the last four weeks or so, and I can’t say I liked it at first.

But today I occurred to me. Dad asked if I wanted to go on a car ride, my first with my little person and my forever people. It was a short ride involving the thing my people call errands, but it meant the whole wide world to me that I was invited along to enjoy the occasion.

That’s when my heart and mind came together in the realization that it’s going to be okay. This is our new normal. We’ve settled into new habits and new routines. There are remnants of the time before that have melded seamlessly with all that has changed. Sleep is still tough to come by (for all of us), but most other things have hit a stride. And my people are happy (albeit overtired) so that means I am happy.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” American self-help writer suggests.

I’ve never been that big a fan of change. I wasn’t expecting it, wasn’t prepared for it, and now that it is happening, I can’t say I liked it at first. But one month ago today, my life changed forever. We may not be getting much sleep. And literally everything about our routine has been uprooted and updated. But this new normal looks pretty good from where I’m sitting. Change. From the ground up, it’s not so bad after all.

 

My Kind of Zoo June 4, 2013

My mom and I have this weekday morning routine. She usually wakes up before dad, let’s me outside and then feeds me my kibble and water. I stand guard on the bath mat (which I’m certain is laid out specifically for me because of the chilly tiles) while she readies for the day. Dad leaves for that place called work, usually giving me a healthy pat on the head before closing the door behind him. When mom is leaving, I do a circle and sit in my doggie bed in the kitchen awaiting the surprise treat she always leaves me. (I’m not one to turn down the treats, but let’s face it – a treat is no fair trade for her leaving me all day).  The New Look

Today I was mid-sit in my bed when she said the magical words that turned routine into an adventure. Car ride, Wiley? Well all right then, I thought, as I practically jumped into my leash and off we went. A few minutes into the ride, she said another set of words I associate with adventure. Haircut, Wiley? I wagged my tail wildly to ensure she knew this was a more than acceptable turn of events. It might not be the typical doggie reaction to going to the groomer, but I’m not your typical doggie.

While I’m not that crazy about the entire process of being bathed, trimmed, and brushed, I do love everything else about my trips to Paws R Us. When I get there, I’m greeted by all of my pals who hang out at the shop while the groomer named Mary does her magic. It is chaos personified, with dogs everywhere pacing and playing and barking. It’s my kind of zoo.

My time today took an interesting turn for the thought-provoking as I waited in the back room for mom to come pick me up. I met a lab/chow mix puppy named Titus who wanted to wrestle and paw at my head and bare his razor-sharp puppy teeth. I wanted to talk philosophy and dreams. (I tried telling him about my blog, but he didn’t seem to have any idea what a computer is, let alone a blog).

That’s when it hit me. I’m getting older. I used to love engaging with rabble rousers like Titus, but today I only enjoyed our playtime for a few minutes before I got bored. I guess it would be kind of like the equivalent of when a person finds his or her first gray hair. I can’t say it was a happy revelation to come to amidst the adventure of today. I even found myself having a moment of self-doubt, like maybe my forever mom and dad won’t love me as much when I get old and loose my spark.

But it didn’t take much to snap me out of that horribly sad state of mind. I saw my spark was alive and well in mom’s eyes when she came to take me home. He looks adorable, she told Mary with a humongous smile on her face. And just like that, all of my negative thoughts faded away.

This is the mom, I thought, who feeds me and walks me and plays with me and tells me she loves me. What was I thinking? I decided then and there to leave my self-doubt behind just like all my fur on the groomer table. As it should be, according to the wise words of great transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you,” Emerson once said. It’s amazing what one can learn about yourself from a little unexpected adventure to the zoo.

Before            Before and After. What do you think?                  After

 

I Can’t Wait to See the View March 15, 2013

Today was like most Fridays. My parents woke up later than they wished, let me outside, filled my bowls with breakfast and water, rushed around to get ready and left for that place they call work. I slept until mom came home over her lunch break to let me outside and spend a little time with me, then she disappeared again. I slept some more. Then they got home at about the same time, made dinner together, filled my bowls with dinner and water…well you get the idea. I realized today that while I love a sense of adventure as much as the next dog, I do like our routines. They bring stability to my life story.Atop a Mountain

I will admit there are moments in my past I choose not to remember. I know I’ve mentioned it before. And I keep telling myself it’s for my own good. I keep telling myself to live my present with high hopes for the future that look nothing like the past I once knew. But maybe I’m going about things the wrong way. Maybe I’m not doing my life story justice with my emotional autobiographical edits.

A light turned on in one of those dark attics of my past tonight during something referred to in our family as a love fest. I know it as an especially long petting session for me, usually involving both mom and dad telling me they love me in their own unique ways (mom saying it directly, dad implying it with his silly behavior). I realized in that moment that if not for the valleys of my past I wouldn’t know how much to appreciate the view from the mountaintops. I know now from looking down from the mountains that the valleys are where the growth happens. That’s where the life is. I realized in that moment I am indeed doing myself an injustice by not being honest.

“People will tell you most of the story,” writes Nicholas Sparks in his recent novel Safe Haven, “and I’ve learned that the part they neglect to tell you is often the most important part. People hide the truth because they’re afraid.” I am done being afraid. The time has come to embrace the fear that Sarah Ban Breathnach refers to in Simple Abundance as “false evidence appearing real.”

Today was like most Fridays. And I do glory in routines. But I also love adventures: good or bad. Sure, there are moments in my past I would prefer not to remember. But I’m not doing my story justice with my emotional editing. I don’t want to live an emotionally edited life story. Because without spending some time in the valleys, we wouldn’t be able to move forward to the climbing the next mountain. I can’t wait to see the view.