Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Whole Way Home November 27, 2014

It’s one of my most absolute favorite days of the year. Not just because I get to see the extended members of my forever family. Or because of the delicious variety of table scraps I inevitably score throughout the day. It’s not even because I know I have a game or two of pickle in the middle to look forward to with some of my favorite (not-so) little people.

It’s because of how these things make me feel. Gratitude. From the ground up, it oozes out of my soul today, as our nation celebrates a day designated to pause and reflect on one’s blessings in life. Though this is something I try to do on a daily basis, there’s something special about today. Maybe it’s the time with family and those table scraps and after-dinner games. Or maybe it’s what happens when all that is over. Joy

That was the case for me today, as my most recognizable moment of blissful gratitude took me by surprise. It happened on the car ride back to my forever home. It was dark outside so no one could see it happening. Somehow that made it even more memorable for me. As has become the norm of late, mom was in the back seat with dear baby Carter, leaving me to her former spot in the passenger seat. This is an honor in itself, but that’s not all.

Soft music echoed through the car as dad drove, Carter napped, and mom sat in reflective silence in the back seat. In itself it was a perfect moment for our little family. But what completed it for me was dad’s hand. He pet me with his free hand the whole way home. Mom tells me all the time what I already know. She loves me bigger than the sky. Dad doesn’t have to say so. And no words were needed in that 40-minute car ride for me to know true gratitude.

Because today is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. I’ve never been at a shortage of reasons why I love it so much, but this year will always stand out from the crowd for its simplicity in silence. No one has to say a word for me to know real love.

That is what I am most grateful for today. The true and unconditional love I feel in my heart for my people. And even more so for the moments when no words are necessary for me to know for certain they feel it too.

 

The Little Engine August 2, 2013

I need your help.

I didn’t realize it until recently when I spent almost three hours staring at a blank screen while the little flashing cursor laughed in my face. Writer’s block happens to dogs too. And (as is usually the case in matters of stubbornness), the answer to my troubles seemed obvious. Yet it also somehow seemed impossible. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help.Will You Help Me?

Instead I kept having that same internal conversation – they will think less of me the weak little doggie with writer’s block. They will think I’m giving up. And (worst of all) they will be disappointed in me.

Ironically, I’ve always thought asking for help seemed like such an easy thing to do. It’s always seemed like such an easy thing to do. And (unless you’re Superman or Wonder Woman) it is generally necessary. It’s one thing to be the little engine that could, but even that special little engine needs to stop for gas every now and then. It made perfect sense to me.

Then the last seven months of blogging happened and changed everything. I set out to share my perspective on joy from the ground up. But (as the little flashing cursor mocked me) I realized never did I say the stories I share need only be mine. Like most dogs, I live a simple life in which I enjoy simple pleasures. So do a lot of people. We have this foundation in common, but the design from there differs by life experience.

So today I paws to ask for your help. For your ideas. For your stories. Please, share them with me so I can share my perspective on them with the world.

Because sometimes no matter how hard it tries the little engine that could just can’t. That’s why there are stations along the journey to rest and refuel. In life we all need to stop and refuel every now and then to keep delivering our best to the world. It’s never easy to admit, especially for those who thrive on being miracle workers. But it doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Quite the opposite in fact. You’re breathing new life into a tried and true perspective. I would argue that makes you stronger than ever.

 

Look No Further August 1, 2013

I enjoyed a paradise for the senses tonight. The birds were singing in beautiful harmonious surround sound, accompanied by the faint chiming of wind chimes. The sun warmed my soul just enough as I inhaled the smell of people food on nearby grills through the cool breeze. If summer could be captured in a moment, I had it in the palm of my paw today.Joy

It was the very antithesis of misery. That’s the word my mom uses when nothing seems to be cooperating. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it happens it throws both dad and I for a loop. I’m not sure whether to steer clear or offer my sincerest of condolences, and I can tell dad feels the same.

It happened just the other day, when mom woke up with a terrible headache (which I’ve never experienced but I gather is quite painful), and nothing went right from the moment she got out of bed. She cut herself in the shower (heaven knows how), burned herself with the hair iron, spilled lotion all over the place, and then ripped the shorts she intended to wear to a family gathering that afternoon. And that’s when the crying started. It lasted longer than usual, and dad didn’t know what to say. (He usually doesn’t, poor guy, so I often find myself wishing he would just follow my lead).

I stayed my distance at first, but cuddling my condolences seemed the preferred method of recovery for this particular instance of misery. It passed as it always does, and I didn’t think anything of it. Until tonight, that is. I found myself reflecting on this thing called misery in a moment of pure summer perfection, when everything seemed to align into a happy harmony.

I’ve seen it happen far too many times – simple things (like lotion on the floor, hair iron burns, and ripped shorts) can really bring the spirit down when they all happen at once. But one of life’s most precious gifts is that of balance. Fortunately for us that means the same can be said of the positive impact of simple things (like birds singing, wind chimes clinking and people food grilling). Joy. Sometimes we need to look no further than our own backyards to find it. Whoever said good things come in small packages sure nailed it on the head.

 

I Chose Life July 2, 2013

What we know in our hearts we believe with our minds. It might sound simple, but this canine way of thought can also be incredibly complex. It’s also true regardless of what side of the doggie door we live on. If we’re on our own we are responsible for everything, in stark contrast to life in a forever home where the majority of decisions are made for us. Down to what we eat and when we eat it, we rely on our people to make the majority of life’s decisions for us.

But there is one thing we control regardless of whether we wear a collar with our names on it. We control how we feel about things. And I have to admit I didn’t always like the way I felt about people. Though I would argue puppies are born into this world with an innate connection to people, I learned not to trust them within the first few days of my life. My birth mom didn’t seem to trust them, so neither would I. I didn’t know the rationale behind her behavior, but it didn’t matter. It was decided. I too wouldn’t trust people. After I was separated from my mom, my belief remained intact for the most part. That is until various characters came in and out of my life that began to alter my perception. Maybe I was right all along, I remember thinking, we should trust people. My instincts were right! Yay Life!

It wasn’t long after that I met Jo and the man with the leather belt. Also known as the man with the baseball bat. And the man with the power drill. I didn’t make many decisions when I lived with them, except for the one I could control. I will never ever trust people again. What my heart knew was confirmed in my mind that day when the man left me on the side of the road. I remember Jo crying in the backseat, and I cringed thinking of her punishment when she got home and I wasn’t there to protect her anymore. The reality of that thought made me lose any shred of respect I still had for people.

It was a defining moment in my life. And the more I thought about my unconditional love for Jo, the more I realized I couldn’t give up all hope in people. I was faced with a decision, a fork in the road, and instead of doubt I chose hope. It made me too sad to think about a life without hope and trust and that unconditional love for a person. My purpose in life was not to be a scared little dog with no one to love.

That awful man may have scarred me emotionally, but he would not define the rest of my life. I knew in my heart that day I could trust people again, so I believed it. Complex as the journey was, it was actually surprisingly simple. Regardless of whether we wear a collar with our name on it, that is what we canines control. We control how we feel about things and no level of domestication can take that away from us.

I hate to think of what would have happened had I decided to stick to my decision not to trust people. I certainly wouldn’t have let that nice lady pick me up and take me to the Oshkosh Humane Society. Once I got there, I wouldn’t have tried my hardest to seem adorable and adoptable. I could have been that bitter dog who stays at the shelter until…well, they aren’t at the shelter anymore.

Instead I chose life. And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Related Posts:

Hands: Heads or Tails? – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/02/24/hands-heads-or-tails/

Man’s Best Friend – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/06/16/mans-best-friend/

 

I Stand For The Cure June 8, 2013

Novelty is such a funny concept to me. I like when things are new, different, and exciting. I love exploring new places, led by my nose more than my eyes. Everything is so fresh and appealing when you experience something for the first time. Novelty, like variety, is a spice of life.

But so is familiarity. Sure, it’s not the cayenne pepper that is novelty, but familiarity has an inherent comfort like nutmeg or cinnamon. Sometimes I breathe in the familiar smell of my forever home (which often smells like nutmeg and cinnamon because of scented candles) and I am overcome with the most powerful sense of fulfillment and peace. This is when I tend to audibly grunt sigh (neither a grunt or a sigh, but a combination of the two) for all around me to hear.

All of this came to mind for me today while mom readied some delicious-smelling people food in the kitchen. As usual, she was listening to music and dancing around the room while she worked, and while so much about this image was familiar something was different. I can’t quite put my paw on it, but there is something about what I was watching that was novel somehow, even though I’ve seen it a million times.

In my reflective moment I found myself paying attention to details I otherwise overlook, like the words to the song playing in the background. I’d heard Chris Martin from Coldplay sing of Clocks so many times, but for some reason it was like I was hearing the line for the first time: “Am I part of the cure? Or am I part of the disease?”

As a general believer in seeing the best in the supporting people, places and things that make up the cast of characters in my doggie life, I try to be part of my own personal cure. In a world sick with negativity, I seek joy in the oddest places and don’t give up until I find and exploit the happiness out of a situation. That is the cure I fight for on a daily basis. What’s yours? Is there something familiar in your life that might need to be cured with a dash of novelty?

Seeking the Cure

It was a such an unexpected blessing for me to be caught up in the novelty of this familiar moment. Everything about it was the same except my perspective. That’s why novelty is such a funny concept to me. While I love when things are new and exciting, I find comfort in the familiar. Yet, when I pay close enough attention to the familiar, perspective offers novelty a second chance. And, if my life is any indication, everything deserves a second chance.

 

My Circle of Comfort April 2, 2013

My name is Wiley Schmidt and I am a nurser. Some say its because I was weaned from my mom too early. Others theorize that I was abused. Reasons and theories aside, it’s true. I nurse on toys to relieve stress and calm myself down. No other method of soothing has the same effect.

For me, the behavior dates back to the first night I was separated from my mom and brothers. I was scavenging for food outside a busy retail area when I found him – my first friend in my new chapter of life. The plush toy slightly resembled a squirrel, but it was hard to tell for sure since it was so beaten up. I saw a piece of my soul in that squirrel that day. It was cold on that first night by myself and I found myself turning to Mr. Squirrel for warmth. So I did what came naturally and started to suck on him like I would have sucked on my mom a mere 24 hours earlier. While the behavior in no way compared to being with my mom, it was soothing to me for reasons I didn’t fully understand at the time.

When I lived with Jo and the man with the leather belt, I had a small Tiger toy that Jo had given me from her already sparce toy collection. It meant the world to me since the man we lived with didn’t believe in spending money on toys for poor Jo, let alone for me. Just as it had when I was alone on the street, my nursing on Mr. Tiger brought me comfort like no other.

At the humane society, there was also a shortage of toys but the angel who took care of me the majority of the time brought me a special gift one day. It was a little squirrel, similar to my first Mr. Squirrel. There was no way for Katie to know it, but it was like a piece of home in a strange place and to this day is one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.

My name is Wiley Schmidt and I am a nurser. Not only that, but all the theories are true. I was weaned from my mom too early and I was abused. There, I said it. But rather than turning my back to the past, I have decided to take a page from the little people in my life whose childlike minds and hearts are always open. My open mind has allowed me to accept the things I cannot change by finding solace in the familiar.

The Comfort CircleI’ve found that my inner puppy possesses a familiar verve that sometimes lacks in my adult mind. “Verve is passion,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “And how do we learn to develop a finely honed sense of verve? By paying attention to the details. By accepting each day’s attempt to teach us more about our authenticity. By being constantly on the lookout for the ecstatic experience: what excites us or moves us to tears, what makes the blood rush to our head, our hearts skip a beat, our knees shaky, our souls sigh.”

I would dare add that we find our verve by respecting the past and counting our blessings. I now have more toys than I know what to do with, and they each have their token indentation I’ve come to call my comfort cushions. Some experts question whether dogs who nurse are coping with stress in a healthy way, but I would argue that we are. One of the most important things I’ve learned from my inner puppy is he is just a much a part of me as anything else, and because of that some things never change.

Related Articles

Hands: Heads or Tails? https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/hands-heads-or-tails/

Home is Where the Heart Is https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/home-is-where-the-heart-is/

A Playful Trip to Paradise https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/a-playful-trip-to-paradise/

Wise Beyond Their Years https://wileyschmidt.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/wise-beyond-their-years/

 

Open My Eyes? I See Happiness March 2, 2013

Every now and then, my parents take off my collar. And I hate it. I am listless and anxious and I want it back. While it definitely eases in the scratching of my ears, that is the only positive thing I have to say about any amount of time without my collar.

So it might come as a surprise that my favorite character in the Disney classic Lady and the Tramp is none other than Tramp himself. He is such a strong, confident independent personality. He welcomes adventure at every turn and challenges those who don’t. He is an inspiration.

But let’s face it. He’s got it all wrong. He spends the majority of the movie trying to convince the domesticized dogs that life on the streets is better than life on a leash. Where Lady sees nice homes and fences, Tramp sees limitations. “Open your eyes! Look, there’s a whole hunk of world down there, with no fence around it. Where two dogs can find adventure and excitement. And beyond those distant hills, who knows what wonderful experiences? And it’s all ours for the taking, Pige. It’s all ours.”

Camping 2012

That’s the thing about adventure. It is all ours, but (in my humble opinion) it is better shared with people. I would take life on a leash with the right people over life without it any day of the week. I’ve been boating, camping, and overall adventuring and I enjoyed it that much more because I was with my people. I am happy, they are happy, and all is well in the world. My happy place is with my people, regardless of what we’re doing together.

Like Oprah Winfrey says, “the biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” That is what I do each day, leash or no leash. Life with no collar makes me anxious. I would much rather be wearing my it because my collar has my tags. My collar says who I am and where my home is. Without it, I am a stray again. Wise as he may have been, Tramp questioned what the leash-and-collar set does for excitement. It’s no question to me. I say it brings it to life.

 

Dear Future Me March 1, 2013

My neighborhood pal Sammy made an appearance in my backyard today. His parents let him wander around without a leash. I envy that about him. Family is at the core of his life too, with his parents and his grandparents both living in a couple of houses down the road from us.

He is one of the older and wiser dogs in the neighborhood, and I have come to respect him a great deal. We’ve had our fair share of playtime in the snow, wrestling in the mud, and moments when I’ve been able to learn from his mysteriously silent demeanor. I’m always surprised by what I learn from our sporadic moments of silence together. Like many, today’s lesson came as quite a surprise to me.

Unlike Sammy’s parents, mine make a point to leash me in our almost-completely-fenced-in backyard. My lead allows me to roam the majority of the yard, but no further. I know it is for my own protection, but I didn’t understand why until today. I overheard my parents discussing this issue and couldn’t help but pay close attention. If you put him on his leash, dad said, there is no reason we shouldn’t have at least 12-14 more years with him. What a morbidly awful thing to overhear. Yet it brings to the surface something I see in Sammy, who has had some serious health issues lately: I won’t be around forever. My days are numbered. And like Pope John Paul II said, “the future starts today, not tomorrow.”

My future starts today with reflections of my past and present. My adoptive parents are already so attached to me, I can’t say where their emotions will be after 12-14 more years. And I know part of their plan is to adopt another dog when I start to get older to ease with the unavoidable truth that they will most likely outlive me. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love them unconditionally and can say with all honesty that I will die happy knowing my successor is in place to make sure they keep smiling after I’m gone.

But my encounter with Sammy today reminded me there are some things the future me needs to know. Abraham Lincoln once said “the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” So today I make it a point to bring the future to life by penning a detailed letter to my future me.

Dear future me,

I know if you’re reading this, it means I am living the high life in doggie heaven. Sadly that means I have left the life of love and gratitude in my forever home, but fortunately for both of us you are there to fill my paw prints. I’m a simple dog, and I don’t have any reason to believe my paw prints will be too big for you to fill. But there are some things you need to know:

1) No doesn’t really mean no if you sit nicely and make a cute enough face.
2) Try not to pester dad too much at night. I know he secretly loves the interaction, but he needs his quiet alone time to reboot too.
3) Mom is pretty special. Don’t let her forget it.
4) Being “emotionally needy” is a compliment, not a criticism.
5) Barking at all sorts of animals on the moving picture window (animated, robotic, live, or otherwise) is not acceptable, whereas barking to protect from any kind of wrongdoing most definitely is acceptable.
6) Find something to be thankful for each day, then find a way to share the gratitude you feel.
7) Never turn down affection. It’s always a good time for a hug.
8) Dance like no one’s watching (this is one of mom’s favorite things to do).
9) Love with all your heart and life will never let you down.
10) Live each day like it were your last walk around the dog park.

You should know there is so much more I wish I could tell you. I am fortunate enough to have had many mentors in my days who have taught me so much either by their actions or their words. One of the most important things they taught me was to believe in myself and the power I have to share joy with the world. You share that same potential. Know that joy is yours to find and yours to share in all you do.Dear Future Me

Forever yours,
Wiles

 

Real Simple Awards February 19, 2013

I find joy in odd things. Among the oddities that entice my innermost insights are simple complexities. Contradictions that meet the eye but test the mind.

Less is more, for example. Less can’t literally be more, and yet is in so many cases. Or, as one of my most favorite artists Leonardo Da Vinci said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

So I shall take a canvas from Da Vinci and keep this short and sweet (like me). Lately, I have found joy in accepting several blogging awards from some of my friends in the blogosphere I have come to respect. This utmost honor might seem small to some, but not to me.

My sincerest of gratitude to:

Leisa at http://tarotalchemist.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/reality-award/

Ms. Seeker at http://theseeker57.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/the-nominees-are-drum-roll-please/

Loneshewolf at http://theloneshewolf.wordpress.com/

Acceptance of each of these awards involves its own set of rules, which I have outlined below.

In response to Leisa for the Reality Award:
Rules: Thank nominator, answer five questions, nominate five blogs and notify them of their nominations

  • If you could change something, what would you change? I would want for us all to live by a simple commitment inspired by Gandhi himself: be the change you want to see in the world.
  • If you could repeat an age, what age would it be? There is value in respecting where one is at in life. I wouldn’t change a thing about my age right now.
  • What one thing really scares you? Leather belts and all the physical, emotional and psychological pain they are capable of inflicting. I’d rather not discuss it.
  • What one dream have you not completed yet which you think you will be able to complete? Publish a book titled 365 Days of Joy: From the Ground Up by Wiley Schmidt.
  • If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be? This is a tough one…I think I’d want to be my adoptive mom so I could get in her head and tell her she’s beautiful.

In response to Ms. Seeker for the Shine On Award:
Rules: Thank nominator, tell us one thing about yourself, nominate 15 blogs and notify them of their nominations

  • My one thing about myself is that I am grateful to Ms. Seeker and all the other bloggers I’ve come to get to know on my quest to spread my perspective on joy with the world. Thanks to you, I have reasons to give thanks daily for the new blessings in my life. Your words are a constant source of inspiration, and for that I am more thankful than for this award. 2013-01-02 11.23.59

In response to theloneshewolf for the Very Inspiring Award:
Rules: Thank nominator, list seven random things about myself, nominate 15 blogs and notify them of their nominations

  • Mrs. Prickles is no longer my favorite toy. I have moved on to Mr. Prickles. He was a Christmas gift from my grandma Schmidt and I love him for the same reasons I loved Mrs. Prickles.
  • I discovered this week that I have an almost paralyzing irrational fear of balloons filled with helium. Even if they say “I love you” on them.
  • I wake up each day with a mindset to see good in all people and things.
  • I am currently reading Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. It inspires me daily.
  • I find myself missing those I have loved and lost a lot lately. What is that about?
  • I occasionally lick my mom’s legs when she gets out of the shower. And she let’s me. (Shh, don’t tell anyone).

I mean no disrespect to my nominators in this, but with each award came the request to nominate a number of other recipients. I’m feeling the joy today, so rather than pick just one, five or fifteen bloggers from whom I draw inspiration, I nominate you. Yes, you. Reader of this blog, please consider yourself nominated for any or all of the awards I have described and paw it forward as you see fit. Without your support, I would just be a little terrier mutt with a big heart and a lot to tell the world.

I find joy in odd things. Thank you for seeing the more that is less in my life.

 

Life in Slow Motion February 18, 2013

I’m a pretty simple dog. I have a fairly regular daily schedule that involves sleep, food, love, playtime, food, and more sleep. I can’t complain. But sometimes I do wonder what Rusty and other pals from my past would think of my life if they could somehow live it with me.Life in Slow Motion

I am incredibly grateful for the people in my life, and all of my fur friends, yet sometimes I long for perspective from those I can no longer reach. This curious loneliness often takes me by surprise. I know what Rusty would say about this, which is oddly similar to what Sarah Ban Breathnach advises in Simple Abundance. So today I take in my life in slow motion as one of these distant loved ones might do from doggie heaven.

“Mary Kingsley was a hunter of a dream: the knowledge of who she really was and her place in the world. So are you,” Breathnach writes. “Yet even without encountering the daily dangers she faced…you have embarked on an adventure as exciting as that of any explorer. Uncovering the source of the Nile or charting the course of the Amazon are outward parallels to the inner journey you are on today – a safari of the self and spirit.”

On my safari, I have learned everyone we meet becomes as big a part of ourselves as we let them. Sometimes the more we take in though our interactions with others, the more we get to know our authentic selves. And we are more likely to let them in if we let our guard down and take a risk. That is where our journey to self discovery can take a challenging yet necessary turn toward the unexpected dangers of life’s adventures. But it is ultimately up to us to find the purpose behind our fears and make something of ourselves.

Every now and then, I’ll be caught in the middle while my people parents throw around one of my toys and I find myself wondering if Rusty is looking down on me from doggie heaven. Would he be proud of me? I know he would be very happy with my efforts to see the good in all people and things. And he would be absolutely ecstatic to find out I’m sharing my joy with whoever I meet in the world and in cyberspace. But would I make him proud?

Of that, I’m not so sure. I’m a pretty simple dog living a fairly scheduled life. So I stay the course on my safari of self and spirit and hope my life in slow motion does as much for others as it does for me.