Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

You Lose Some December 14, 2014

There is something about this holiday season I can’t put my finger (er, I mean paw) on. It bothered me on that day called Black Friday, when my forever mom and dad came home upset about the rude and pushy people they encountered. It bothered me every time since then they’ve ventured out to the stores and came back emotionally defeated. Silly People

It happened again today. Mom went on a solo trip to a few stores and instead of returning home joyful and full of the spirit of the season, she cried. That did seem admittedly a bit overkill from my doggie perspective, but I digress. The point is, it was not a good shopping excursion yet again. Partially because of the people, who have apparently gotten even more spiteful and hurried as time has gone on. But also because she came across a hurdle at every turn. There was something in the way of every single thing on her shopping list.

That store in the mall closed months ago. That product isn’t carried at this store anymore. They are sold out of that item at all locations of this department store. Defeat was the word she used when she returned home with literally nothing to show for her efforts.

Like I said, there is something about this holiday season I can’t quite put my paw on. But I do know the reason for the season, and I know mom does too. It’s not about the people at the stores or the shopping or the bags or the presents. It’s not about the chaos and the wrapping paper and the perfect gift. It’s about the magic. It’s about celebrating with family and friends. All that other stuff is ornamental.

Regardless of what is going on with the season this year, I know that for sure. I also know these days happen. Bad days are a reality of life. You win some, you lose some. But in my opinion, that’s okay because it makes the wins that much more meaningful.

 

 

There’s Always Tomorrow November 28, 2014

It’s kind of a big deal. But from what I can tell, maybe it shouldn’t be. To me it sounds like a disappointment waiting to happen. And while I generally like being right, I can’t say I feel all that swell about it this time around.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a day to pause and be grateful for every single reason to feel blessed in one’s life. That means today is Black Friday, a day seeped in almost as many traditions as the holiday that precedes it for my forever mom. I’ve come to know what to expect out of today in my time with my people. There’s usually shopping. And feasting on leftovers. And probably a Christmas movie or two to foster the Christmas spirit that was sparked by the aforementioned shopping and leftovers.Better to Try

None of that went according to plan today. Too many people got in the way. Crabby, irritable, downright rude people. Everyone was in a rush. No one seemed to have any shred of concern for what was happening around them. Instead, they were focused on the madness of their self-inflicted chore of shopping. Never mind that in the majority of cases, the shopping is meant to share. To be generous. To show love for others. Never mind all of that.

Because aunt Edna really needed that last copy of Big Bang Theory Season 7 on DVD. And Grace could not wait one more minute to get that copy of Destiny for her grandson’s Playstation 4 out of the locked case. And Mary Ann needed to shove Lana out of the way to score a slightly better spot in a very long checkout line. Alas, the day meant to kick off the holiday season has seemingly evolved into a grotesque sparkplug that startles the bad out of even the best people.

It didn’t help matters that dear baby Carter was not having any of it. Likely still exhausted from all the family time yesterday, the poor kid did not enjoy being carted around to store after store of loud and grumpy people.

The resulting day was nothing at all resembling my mom’s dear tradition. Shopping yielded nothing but a general sense of disappointment in people. Leftovers were gobbled down while Carter screamed bloody murder in all his overtired glory. And time simply didn’t allow for Christmas movies.

I don’t usually dislike being right, but today is one of those days. From the stories I heard, it seemed the day brought out more greed than generosity. More cursing than common courtesy. More frustration than joy. From the ground up, this big deal of a day was instead a pretty big flop.

But there’s a truth I try to live that comes to mind after witnessing a day like today. There’s always tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow is a new day. Thank goodness for that.

 

Labor of Love April 29, 2014

Matilda is her name. Selling high-quality wood furniture is her game. Well, sort of. I guess you could say she assists in the sales of the furniture, although I would argue toward the former.

The seven-year-old golden retriever has been living the dream with her forever people since she was a puppy. Every day, she enjoys a 30-minute car ride (every day!) with her people (Skip and Joyce) to their furniture business, where she spends her days napping in between greeting visitors to the store with bright eyes and a wagging tail. Apparently customers have been known to stop by just for some time with her. It sounds like a dream job to me. And, at least from what I heard mom telling dad earlier today, it has been a dream job for her (and her forever people) for the last seven years.

Longer than that for Skip and Joyce, who have owned and operated the business for the last 30  years. The time has come for them to retire, and do a very sad thing for them – say goodbye. To the business. But that’s not really what they’re going to miss. They’re going to miss the people. And the people are going to miss them. And Matilda, of course.2014-04-29 13.35.44

It all got me to think about this thing people say about doing what you love in life. I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. That was thrown into question for me today, thinking about the time these people spent working 12 (plus) hour days to run their business.

They rarely (if ever) took a day off since the store was open seven days a week. They never travelled together. And, while I know they wouldn’t change a thing about their experience, they worked. Hard. Their love for the place was stronger than the oak they sell, but that doesn’t mean it went without effort. On the contrary, it was because they loved it that they put in the passion it takes to keep a small family-owned business afloat these days.

“Commitment is an act, not a word,” suggested French philosopher Jean Paul Sarte.

Sometimes it is the act, the effort, that makes the whole thing worthwhile. Commitment. From the ground up, I imagine it to be something resembling the four-legged sense of loyalty (which is stronger than oak as well). Certainly dear Matilda knows a thing or two about that. As do her people.

 

 

Accidents Happen February 5, 2014

Left behind. That’s how I felt when mom packed up baby Carter to go on a car ride without me today. The way she was bustling around the house, I knew adventure was on the horizon. And where there’s adventure, there’s Wiley if I have anything to say about it. But when mom left, I wasn’t on the car ride manifest.

Instead there I was, in my beloved spot in the window seat, left behind. I felt pretty bad about it too, at least until mom came back earlier than I anticipated. I could tell right away something was wrong. It wasn’t until I heard the story that I understood what happened.
It's All Right
Mom was in a car accident. She rear-ended a car on an off ramp of the freeway on her way to the mall (where she intended to window shop with Carter). We got snow last night and the ramp was not salted, she explained to whoever she was talking to on her cell phone, so there was nothing she could do to stop in time. I felt my heart jump into my throat as I listed to her recall the experience.

Something pretty awful could have happened to my forever mom and my little person today. And here I was feeling sorry for myself being left at home. I certainly learned my lesson, but there’s more to it than that. Again I observed mom disappointed. Upset. Crying. I really hate when she cries.

Suddenly I didn’t feel left behind anymore. I realized with a start that these things happen. Accidents. They have a way of happening at the most inconvenient of times and bringing people down in the process. But they do happen. It reminds me of something I’ve seen on a commercial for Suburu. The accident that happened today wasn’t nearly as intense (or scary) as the ones highlighted in the commercial, the lesson remains. They lived.

It was awful. It happened at an inopportune time. But they lived. That’s what matters.

 

The Middle December 30, 2013

It all started with a fairly routine trip to Petco. I was there for a quick nail trim (in between visits to my regular groomer) and one would think I would have been sidetracked by all of the 50% off holiday toys and treats. No such thing. Instead I spotted them right away and I could tell exactly how they had spent their day.

It was a family of four, complete with a mom and a dad and their two little girls. With them stood a patient and surprisingly well-behaved terrier mix who (with a little help from mom) I later learned to be named Cooper. And the cart. From puppy training pads to Petco’s very best all-natural treats and dog food, it was loaded to the brim with everything a family taking in a new dog could possibly need.

Reflecting on lifeBut Cooper wasn’t just any new dog. He was a one-year-old rescue dog, his mom explained, and they had just adopted him for Christmas. The older of the two little people (who I would guess to be about five-years-old) was gripping Cooper’s leash like the lifeline I know it to be. When I saw the way her little hands proudly held that leash, it was like she was holding something in my heart. In that moment, I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy and happiness and the slightest bit of cautious anxiety for the journey on which this family was about to embark.

Under most circumstances, the anxiety is abnormal for me. At least in my world, a house is not a home without the special pet who (in his or her own unique way) somehow completes the picture. I think that’s why I felt a certain cautious emotion I recognized as anxiety.

Because I know one too many dogs who have recently left their forever homes for the Rainbow Bridge. Snuggledog was put down after he got so sick and the doggie doctors couldn’t figure out what to do to help him. He was three. A few days earlier Rusty took his 15 years of wisdom with him to doggie heaven. And then only a couple of nights ago, eight-year-old Raider got a little too interested in something in the road and was hit by a speeding car.

It starts and ends with my otherwise routine trip to Petco. Amidst so much loss, my encounter with Cooper and his new family struck such a tender chord in my heart. This week, as the family and friends of Snuggledog, Rusty and Raider pick up the broken pieces of their hearts, Cooper’s family becomes whole as he settles into his forever home. Life. From the ground up, each day is precious whether we are at the beginning or the end of our journey. Because ultimately it’s how we spend the middle that counts.

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A Spoonful of Sugar December 26, 2013

Apparently I have gotten a wee bit chubby. Maybe it was the tiny piece of leftover bacon I scored at brunch this morning. Or the doggie treats under any of the three Christmas trees I’ve visited in recent days. Whoever thought having a routine checkup the day after a major holiday clearly wasn’t giving me the benefit of the doubt.Do I look chubby?

Nonetheless, Dr. Morrison’s exact words to mom during today’s annual pilgrimage to the vet clinic echoed through the room. “We don’t want him to put on any more weight,” she said as she grabbed around by my hind quarters. Excuse me madam, I wanted to say, but I’d guess the majority of folks I know to be up a pound or two after the caloric splurge known as the holiday season.

Little did I know there were more stingers headed my way in the form of shots for things I don’t understand. Three shots, to be exact, each one a bit more painful than the last. That followed other poking and prodding, none of which was very pleasant. Overall, the experience was not my favorite thing in the world.

But it wasn’t the worst either. In spite of the aforementioned weight gain, I got all kinds of yummy treats. And the best part was when Dr. Morrison first came in to see me and asked how her “favorite terrier” has been doing. Or maybe it was when the veterinary nurse kept petting me and telling me how cute I am. Or when the doctor said she thinks I’m going to be a very good dog with my soon-to-be little person.

Either way, I realized something as I snuggled a little closer than usual into mom on the car ride home. We don’t always know what’s good for us. Like me, with my almost obsessive urge to sink my teeth into a piece of the apparent delicacy known as chocolate. Or my aversion to the vet clinic.

In reality, we all need checkups every now and then. Not just for our physical health, but also for our mental and spiritual well-being. And it’s not always easy to take the criticism and advice that comes along with these checkups. But we need them. And they’re definitely a little bit easier to take with a little sugar. Or compliments in my case (since I’m going to be watching my waistline more closely). That Mary Poppins was on to something. A spoonful of compliments makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way.

 

What To Expect December 22, 2013

We’ve got hiccups known as practice breathing. We’ve got normal aches and pains. We’ve got the baby bump (which has been a very comfy pillow for me lately). But of all the things in all the books and all the online reading, I certainly didn’t expect this.

At nine months pregnant, mom got some startling news from her doctor the other day. Baby Schmidt is racing to the finish line. It turns out he or she is growing exceptionally fast for his or her gestational age, with measurements that put our dear soon-to-be little person in the not-so-little category. Mom went to something called an ultrasound to confirm the details, and sure enough. Baby Schmidt’s measurements reveal a baby that could be as much as nine pounds. Already. At 36 weeks.

This came as quite the surprise to me, as I have resigned myself to thinking I will not be meeting my little person for some time yet. Just because the bottles are all sterilized and the clothes are all washed and the room is put together (and has been for more than a month now) doesn’t mean the arrival will happen any sooner.Snowy Sunday

But alas, perhaps it could. To me this is joyous news! My little person wants to meet me sooner rather than later! I’m pumped! So I can’t quite piece together why mom seems so worried. Worry has been the dominating emotion around here lately and I can’t say it’s my favorite. She is my person and I can’t stand to see her like this. But I’ve done everything I can do – including some fun in the snow today followed by serious cuddle time – to bring that worry out of her. Nothing is working.

Instead she continues to consult those darned books and blogs and all other sources of potentially scary information. Worry isn’t getting us anywhere. I realized today it never does. Pregnant or otherwise, worry tends to do nothing but stall forward progress.

“While we are focusing on fear, worry, or hate,” suggested author Bo Bennett, “it is not possible for us to be experiencing happiness, enthusiasm or love.”

From practice breathing to aches and pains to the bittersweet beauty of the baby bump, we’ve got a whole lot of normal going on around here. Even this news is okay news. Normal news. There is joy in these things. So I chose to focus on that – the happiness, enthusiasm and love. Because these are the emotional fuel for something much bigger than worry. These are the fuel for faith. And faith conquers worry every time.

 

Oh Christmas Tree December 18, 2013

A chubby fisherman. A pickle. Yoda. These are all random pieces that make up the whole of the Schmidt family Christmas tree. I found myself browsing the ornaments today from my perch in the windowsill and I realized how incredibly random they are.The tree and I

There are snowflakes, and a frog, and a stand mixer, and (gasp!) even a picture of me scattered throughout the tree. Each ornament has its own story, starting with the ones mom and dad both got as children. Then there are the ones they’ve purchased together through their time as a couple. “Our First Christmas” 2004 is among mom’s favorites. This year, a stork joined the mix to commemorate the impending arrival of our little person.

It’s its own kind of melting pot of stories and memories. And that too is a random piece that makes up the whole of society. It’s different for everyone. I’d venture to say it’s safe to assume no two Christmas trees are alike. Each one tells a story (or stories) of the home it graces. There are big trees and little trees and real trees and fake ones. There are trees filled to the brim with beautifully coordinated ornaments and trees of random memories collected through the years.

As I found myself somewhat entranced by the lights today, I realized there is something more than beauty to be taken from these trees. Just as they take on their own unique sense of personality, we too have our stories that make us who we are. And, depending on the circumstances, we may not share them as openly as we could. I understand from a practical standpoint why a Christmas tree only on display for a short time each year, but I see no reason why this should be true of our unique senses of identity. That should always be shared.

Even if it comes randomly, like in the form of a tiny pig or a plaque that reads “Nothing Is Impossible to a Willing Heart” on the Christmas tree. Because I’m not certain whether stories inspire life or life inspires stories. And maybe it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the stories get shared.

 

A Snow Globe Life December 17, 2013

At first I thought for sure it was the snowflakes. It snowed again yesterday and I found myself in awe of the glittery magic all around me. It was like being in a snow globe. The flakes fell from the sky so peacefully. Once they lay to rest, they create a blanket of sparkling diamonds in my backyard paradise. So I thought maybe if I could collect anything in the world it would be snowflakes.

But today as the snow melted ever so slightly I realized how silly that would be. There are no lasting remnants of the snow after it’s gone. By summertime it’s like it never even existed. That is, until winter rolls around again and brings with it the frozen particles of joy.

So maybe if I could collect anything, I would collect toys. In all of their various shapes, colors and sizes, they are vessels of happiness for me. And, as demonstrated by my impressive skills in the games of pickle in the middle and tug of war, they often bring happiness to my people as well. I refer to my current collection as my comfort circle, which contains about a dozen different characters. But that’s enough to overflow an entire basket in the living room. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe I don’t need more.

ContentmentMaybe I don’t need more. This is not to say anything against collections of things, but I realized today there is strength in accepting what we have been blessed with in life. In being grateful for it. Because ultimately it’s not the things we collect that matter. It’s the details. It’s the moments.

As breathtaking as a fresh snow globe perspective can be, it’s not so much the snowflakes as the joy they bring that I hold close to my heart. Its the moments I share with mom and dad playing around in the aftermath of a big snowstorm. In the extra attention I get when we come inside from playing together and I need to get all cleaned off. In the cuddles we enjoy together to warm up.

The same goes for the toys. It’s not so much about having dozens of characters in my comfort circle as it is about making the moments with the ones I have mean something. And whether it’s just me and Mrs. Prickles, or my people are involved, I am blessed.

Perhaps that’s the bigger lesson I was to take from my observation of my snow globe life yesterday. Sure, the snowflakes are a sight to be seen. And my toys are deeply loved and appreciated. If I could collect anything, it wouldn’t be these things. It would be moments. Because they have something very important in common. Joy. From the ground up, it’s not the things that bring the joy. It’s in the moments joy is present that we truly live.

 

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.