Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Diaper Change Fiasco January 16, 2014

I thought for a second I was in a dream. But I definitely was not. What was happening was real. And it kind of freaked me out. Last night somewhere in the wee hours, dad picked me up out of bed, held me like a baby, and attempted to put me in something I’ve heard called a changing table.

“Dang, you’re heavy,” he half-stammered in his sleepy state. That’s when I figured it out. He thought I was Carter. He had mistaken all 20 pounds of terrier that I am for his child and was about to change my nonexistent diaper. I couldn’t have that (any more than I could wear such a diaper contraption), so I wiggled my way out of that situation right quick.Peace.

It wasn’t until morning that it all paid off for me. It happened as dad retold the story to mom, who miraculously managed to sleep through the whole escapade. Laughter. From the ground up, it rejuvenated our weary hearts this morning.

Because let’s face it. It’s rough right now. My people are (clearly) overtired. They aren’t sleeping. Their clock revolves around Carter, and my clock revolves around them. And it’s quite honestly a little frustrating since there really isn’t too much I can do to help with anything. And I know in reality it really wasn’t anything I did that caused the laughter. My warm little body was just in the right place at the right moment. I even thought for a second I was in a dream. But I definitely was not.

“Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen,” American author Carl Sandburg suggested. What happened this morning was real, mistaken venture that it was. I’m so glad I listened for the aftermath. Because sometimes it just helps to laugh. Out loud. At yourself. It helps to stop and listen for the healing wisdom the laughter brings. Even if you are mistaken for a newborn baby in the process.

**No dogs or babies were harmed in the making of this completely true story**

 

All I Want for Christmas December 11, 2013

It’s pretty ridiculous. I might even get in trouble with mom for sharing the details. But it brings me joy and, as I am in the business of sharing joy, I can no longer keep this particular holiday ritual a secret.

Every time Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” comes on the radio is go time. It’s like a trigger for silliness. There is dancing (the kind that doesn’t particularly follow the beat) and galloping around the house. And joy. Lots of joy. It doesn’t matter where they are or who they are with, because it’s a family tradition. It’s as simple as that.All I Want

Apparently it started in my mom’s family a few years back when her dad was still alive. He had about as much rhythm as a broom but that didn’t stop him from joining in the fun. It’s my understanding he even took the lead every now and then.

It’s a memory that seems to bring about bittersweet emotions for my mom at least once during the holiday season. I know she misses him. He passed away suddenly in June 2009 and she never got to say goodbye. And now she grieves the loss in knowing our future little person will never know his grandpa.

The circle of life is funny that way – it finds ways to help us remember things we would sometimes rather push aside. And in this case grief is brought to life in joy, which is especially perplexing. But I suppose that makes sense because loss itself is a confusing thing. It isn’t easy regardless of how it happens. And everyone deals with it differently. But regardless of the circumstances, it evolves.

“Grief is in two parts,” suggested American writer Anne Roiphe. “The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.”

The second is the remaking of life. I think that’s what happens every time that song comes on the radio. A little part of what was broken is mended. And we all are reminded to cherish the most important gift we have – each other. I’m with Mariah on this one. All I want for Christmas is my people. So I say bring on the silliness. Bring on the dancing and stomping and galloping around the house. Bring on the joy. Because sometimes there is no better way to grieve than to live.

 

To Give Is To Receive December 10, 2013

I wasn’t trying to be funny. It was all just part of my standard outside routine. But tonight it may as well been part of a stand-up comedy act. I assumed play stance to the left. And again to the right. To the front. And to the back. And so on, for about 2 minutes.

Do I have something on my face?Meanwhile I heard it from the other side of the screen door. A sound that warms my heart. My people were laughing together (rather hysterically I might add) at my antics. There are few things in the world I love more than that sound. I knew at an early age people laughter would be a favorite sound of mine, in situations not that unlike what occurred tonight.

The first time was the night my birth mom and brothers spent in a homeless shelter. It was a frigid Wisconsin winter night (just like it is tonight) and at the mercy of a little girl who saw us shivering outside the window we spent the night in warmth. But that wasn’t the highlight of my night. That happened later when I heard it for the first time. A little person laugh. The little girl was laughing at a movie we watched together that night called “An American Tail.” I didn’t know it at the time, but I would come to view that beautiful sound as my Christmas gift that year.

The same sort of thing happened the following holiday season, which I spent with Jo and the man with the leather belt. All I wanted for Christmas was to see her happy. And she was. It didn’t last long, but it didn’t have to. It was Christmas and she was laughing and that was gift enough for me.

This will be my third Christmas in my forever home, and I know in my heart what I am most looking forward to about it. I can’t wait for Christmas morning when mom and dad traditionally open their presents from each other. (And it’s not because there is inevitably a toy or treat for me under the Christmas tree).

Even more surprising, it’s not because of the gifts they receive. It’s because of the gifts they give. I don’t witness the shopping, but I do witness every other part of preparation that goes into their gifts for each other. That’s why I know it doesn’t really matter what’s inside the boxes.

Because they ultimately give each other the best gift of all. Joy. From the ground up, it happens in ways most people wouldn’t even find entertaining. Like my antics in the snow today for example. I didn’t mean for anything to come of that. But as laughter is the embodiment of joy, so the real gifts in life are those we give. Not those we receive.

 

Come In From the Cold December 7, 2013

It happens in an instant. And a few minutes later it’s gone. Call me crazy, but I get the zaniest surge of energy from being outside in the cold. It is 11 degrees in Wisconsin right now, which feels downright toasty compared to the 3 degrees it was earlier this morning.

And I love it. It’s like a volt of electricity coursing through my veins. It charges me up in a few short moments so much that I run around the house like a ninny for several minutes upon returning inside. If they made a 5-hour energy drink for dogs, this would be it. But just like those energy drinks, the moment passes. The high is inevitably short-lived. Not to mention there is a very thin line between just enough and way too much time outside in such frigid temperatures.Running Joy

It reminds me a bit of one of those late-night infomercials mom has been skimming over when the little person’s kicks wake her in the night. The salespeople are pitching all of these gadgets and gizmos that they promise will make life easier in one way or another. Yet I fear these too are quick fixes. So many of these things are not really solving a problem as much as they are pacifying them.

It made me wonder what I would tell the world if I had 15 minutes of air time (and could speak people obviously). Tonight when I came back in from the cold I got my answer. I was running amuck with no particular destination in mind. I galloped down the hallway to the master bedroom and that’s when it happened. Joy from the ground up. Literally. My people both got down to my level and we all played together. My joy (albeit sparked artificially by something in the freezing cold Wisconsin air) was contagious.

In that moment I knew what I would share with the world in my 15 minutes of fame. My sales pitch wouldn’t be a momentary fix. It wouldn’t promise five hours of energy. There wouldn’t be any of that “order in the next five minutes” and “limited-time offer” business. Forget the gadgets and gizmos. I know what will really make life easier in the long-term. Joy. In my world, it is not a limited time offer. It’s a way of life. And its warmth will outlast the cold every single time.

 

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.

 

A Different Kind of Light December 1, 2013

Salami. It’s one of the less glamorous things I dream about. And today my dreams were realized, as they usually are around this time of year. I knew it the second mom came into the house with those bags from the grocery store. I could smell that deliciousness a mile away. Salami.

It’s a special treat in my forever home, saved only for a special occasion. Around here, it’s a very small part of a very big tradition in the Schmidt home known as Christmas tree day. It came a little earlier than usual this year (thanks, in part, to my parents planning around the impeding arrival of baby Schmidt). Usually this special day happens the first or second weeks of December. Not this year.
Let There Be Light
Christmas came early this year. And with it came a slew of traditions. All I can think to compare it to is when us canines obsessively nest. You’ve all seen it – we can’t lie down until we find the absolute perfect position in the best possible spot. The ritual can take as much as a few minutes sometimes. Though none of it involves lying down, tradition and ritual seem to be incredibly important to my mom this time of year.

All I have ever been able to focus on during Christmas tree day is the salami. So today (after I had secured at least two samples from mom) I focused on the rest of the traditions that surround the day. Mom turns up Christmas music, puts on a silly Santa hat, and prepares a few plates of appetizers for her and dad to munch on while they work. It’s all part of the tradition, and has been since my mom was a little girl.

I enjoy watching them reminisce about where and when they bought certain ornaments. Some bring laughs (like the goofy handmade ones mom made when she was little). A couple bring tears (like the one dad gave to mom a year or two before he passed away). But, as with all rituals, it always ends the same way. And it doesn’t have to make sense. It started with salami but it ends with glowing light. Not just on the tree, but in our hearts.

 

Food for Thought November 28, 2013

I think it’s a survival of the fittest thing. Except I’m not that fit. I think about food. A lot. I just like a good sampling of whatever scraps I can get my paws on. I would have to considering my prized nickname as the doggie vacuum cleaner. If it’s on the floor, it’s mine.Are you hungry? Always.

So it probably comes as no surprise that Thanksgiving is among my favorite holidays. It’s the one day a year (almost) entirely dedicated to food. Hours of preparation go into preparing turkeys and potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce and rolls and pumpkin pies. Don’t even get me started about the smells. And the tastes…well, that’s the tricky part for us canines on a day like today.

I don’t frequently get people food as a practice of my parents to keep me safe (or so they say). Not for doggies is a phrase I hear all too regularly. But let’s just say I know who to sit by (or under) on days like today. I have my people who sneak me little samples of turkey and mashed potatoes. And I love them.

I had at least one of these people at each of the stops on my Thanksgiving journey. Today I got to visit both grandma’s houses, which meant I got a lot of samples.

Today I was blessed to have these people at both stops on my Thanksgiving journey. I got to visit both grandma’s houses today. The table looked basically the same at each house, complete with a turkey and all of it’s trimmings. And I scored turkey and mashed potatoes from my accomplices (who shall remain unnamed).

Getting sleepy...But I noticed something other than the menu was the same at both the houses. It’s hard to believe, but it was something bigger than either of the turkeys. It was more prominent than the spicy pumpkin smell wafting through the air. After all of that preparation, the eating itself only lasted but a half hour or so. The leftovers were carefully divided up and stored away in the fridge. And that’s when real party started. Everyone was happy to be together. Thankful. Not necessarily for the food, but for the time together.

This occurred to me as I drifted off into my own sort of turkey coma. This day, Thanksgiving, is actually about so much more than food. (Which is a tough truth for someone as in love with food as myself to admit). Forget survival of the fittest. I could not survive if not for these people. I would much rather forgo my samples than be without them.

So (while I still appreciate the dedication to food that accompanies the day), I pause tonight to give thanks. To recognize the meaning behind the deliciousness. To embrace that today is actually about people coming together to celebrate each other. To tell stories (even if they’ve all been told before). To feed something other than our stomachs. For today we also feed our souls.

 

Big Bang Theory November 27, 2013

It starts with an idea. When it comes to ideas, mine was about as simple as it gets. It came to be almost a year ago in one of the smallest and most intricate packages you can imagine. A snowflake. I watched it fall from the sky and I knew. Joy. In a moment there it was. And I wanted to share it. With you.

From the ground up, I share my observations of the world around me. I try to see the good in all people, places and things; to not just find and identify the silver lining, but to embrace it. So when something happens like it did today, I can’t wait to share it.

I heard an angel laughing today. There I was, sitting there in my living room pretty much minding my own business, when it happened. Laughter. Lots and lots and lots of laughter. My forever mom and her friend Jessica were laughing too, but that’s no matter. All I heard was baby Alexis. And it was a beautiful sound.

I didn’t do anything particularly entertaining. I didn’t have to. She just kept laughing. And my heart kept smiling. If only it was this easy to share joy with the world, I thought. But that sounds awfully negative, and that’s not who I am. I believe in making dreams come true, and this is no exception. It can be that easy to share joy with the world. But I need your help.

I’m not a big believer in science. But there is one scientific theory I can stand behind – experiments. So today I ask for your help with an experiment I’ve been wanting to try since that first snowflake fell down from the sky all those months ago. How many people can I share joy with today? I, Wiley Schmidt, on the eve of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for joy. And from the ground up, I have ten seconds of it to share. Consider it yours.

It starts with an idea. And mine is about as simple as it gets – share my perspective on joy with the world. Please consider sharing this piece of joy from the ground up with someone and encourage them to do the same. Joy. In a moment here it is. Who will you share it with?

 

That Time I Fooftered August 22, 2013

Forget milk. It’s humor that does the body good. I say this partially because I’m not allowed to have milk (even though I’ve sneaked a delicious taste from my dad’s glass a few times), but also because I’ve seen laughter at work. It’s a pretty amazing thing that creeps up on me at some of life’s most unexpected moments.

It Wasn't MeTake tonight for example. There I was, scratching behind my ear with my back paw when bam. I fooftered. (This is my more delicate way of saying farted, for anyone that didn’t already connect the gastrointestinal dots). It was far from dainty, and seemed to almost echo through the room. To be honest, it startled me. It brought my scratching to a complete halt for crying out loud. (It isn’t unusual for me to stop and pay attention to my butt region when these foofters happen, but I’m not usually stopping mid-scratch to do so). I paused for about thirty seconds with my back paw still poised for scratching. I was completely frozen in the moment.

That’s when it happened. Mom started laughing almost uncontrollably. I found myself looking around the room for whatever the beautiful source of her laughter was so I could send a mental thank you note. But the television was off, so it couldn’t be that episode of Big Bang Theory when Sheldon is playing in the ball pit (which mom and dad both find hysterically funny for some reason). She wasn’t reading or on the computer or paying attention to anything except me. Me? What about my foofter was so funny?

It’s nothing new for me. I can’t be the only dog who does this. I don’t know that I would find it particularly funny if I witnessed another dog doing it. Yet it made her giggle so much I couldn’t help but share the story in hopes it has a similar effect on other people. I can’t say I understand it, but I’m not sure it matters whether or not I get it. I’m not even sure comedians see the humor in what they say sometimes until after they say it.

All of this reaffirmed for me the words of American poet e. e. cummings who said “the most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” Well, thanks to my silliness, today was not a wasted one. People have wind chimes. Dogs have laughter. These are things that bring us peace. That’s why I say we should forget milk. It’s humor that does the body good.