Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Smile and A Garbage Can February 28, 2015

Weeks or even months can go by without it happening. Maybe it has something to do with it so often seeming much easier to complain or focus on the negative than to praise a job well done or focus on the positive. Regardless of the reason, I’m happy to report that today it happened twice.

A smile. From the ground up, it is exactly as simple as it sounds.I'm a Half Full Doggie

Today it was dear baby Carter’s smiles that made a difference in the world. Eighteen. That is how many different people’s hearts mom said he touched today with nothing more than his contagious grin. One heart in particular was touched in a slightly unexpected way.

Apparently mom and Carter were shopping the cereal aisle at Target when it happened. They came across an older lady who Carter simply loved. He smiled and giggled and smiled some more. The game continued as the duo encountered her again a few minutes later. And again in the checkout line, where the woman said it.

“I feel more loved by this little guy than I have in days,” she told mom, who was touched by the sentiment.

Then there was the garbage can. From the ground up, it is as necessary as it sounds.

A piece of plastic broke off ours recently thanks to the frigidly cold temperatures and we needed a new one. To get it, mom needed to call the city and request one be dropped off, which they said would happen in one to ten business days. So you can imagine my surprise when a new one turned up way ahead of schedule about a half hour later. It might sound silly, but that simple thing made the lives of my people a little easier, and for that I am grateful.

Kindness. From the ground up, it isn’t complicated.

Too often it seems easier to complain. Or to focus on something negative. So today I do the opposite. Today (and every day) I choose to stand for all things positive. If it happens in smiles, great. If it comes in a less conventional package (like a garbage can for example), so be it. The point is to find these things, these moments, that remind us of all the good there is in the world and do everything we can to pass it on.

 

Hello World March 11, 2014

Today I thought I’d let baby Carter do the talking. He’s getting pretty good at it.

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Thoughts on Happiness

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy and…you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” Helen Keller

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” Omar Khayyam

“There is only one happiness in this life; to love and be loved.” George Sand

“Love is trembling happiness.” Khalil Gibran

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Please consider sharing joy with someone today.

 

Ordinary Extraordinary Hero March 2, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 10:32 pm
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My HeroesIt’s a moment my forever mom has dreamed about her whole life. And she didn’t even know it. She has gotten sneak peaks equivalent to movie trailers the last couple of months. But that could not have prepared her for what happened today.

Today, baby Carter became an ordinary extraordinary hero to me. Because today, he became an ordinary extraordinary hero to my mom. Sure, it’s happened before. But never like this. He smiled. On purpose. A lot. He smiled when she talked to him. He smiled when she laughed at him. And the best part? The smile got captured on camera. That moment will forever be frozen in time. And for me it will be frozen in my heart.

“I think that we all do heroic things, but a hero is not a noun, it’s a verb,” as American actor Robert Downey, Jr. suggests.Happy Doggie

It certainly rang true here in the Schmidt home tonight. Because here’s the thing – the smile itself can’t be any bigger than an inch or so. In reality it is so tiny. Yet it brought my beloved mom to tears today. It’s a moment that’s been dreamed about a lot longer than it lasted. In the blink of an eye, it was gone. But that’s the thing about firsts – God willing, it won’t be the last.

 

 

Little Big Things September 19, 2013

The sky is crying tonight. And it’s not whimpering in a corner. It is throwing an all-out temper tantrum complete with bright flashes of light and loud bangs that echo through the walls of my forever home. I don’t particularly care for thunderstorms, but I’m grateful I they don’t frighten me as I know they do some dogs.

Little Big ThingsInstead, I find myself cuddling a little closer to my people and bearing down until the tantrum is over. It sounds like a little thing, but it’s pretty big to me. That’s the funny thing about perspective. What might seem small to you can make or break another person’s day, week or month. Just as I am a believer in the importance of remembering the person behind the people, I appreciate when people place value on the little things.

Like when my groomer Mary stops to pet me and tell me she thinks I’m handsome while she’s got me in that terrible bath. Or I get an extra treat from Bonnie at the Starbucks drive through. Or (best yet) when anyone I come across smiles from the heart. None of these take much effort from the giver, but they the capability of having a profound impact on the receiver.

“For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed,” suggested my favorite Lebanese philosopher Khalil Gibran. That’s why I call them little big things; they are incredibly valuable no matter what your perspective in life may be. Because let’s face it. Life gets stormy sometimes.

We can’t control when it happens, but sometimes the world seems to roar and shake around our feet. It is these moments, amidst these bright flashes of light and loud bangs that echo in our hearts, that the little things matter most. Like snuggling close to my forever people when its raining cats and dogs outside. Or offering a helping hand to someone who needs it. Or paying someone a hard-earned compliment. They might seem like little things to you, but sometimes the littlest things have the power to calm the biggest storms.

 

Bundle of Joy August 21, 2013

I got a taste of big brotherhood today. Literally. Her name is Alexis and she is the little person that my doggie pal Diesel oversees. She is two people months old today and she tastes delicious, at least by what I could tell by licking her cute little button of a nose. This was the longest bit of time we’ve spent together (my mom, Diesel’s mom Jessica, me, Diesel and Alexis) since she was born and I got the strangest feeling she somehow sensed she was not (technically) the only baby in the room.You Smell Like Joy!

I knew it was probably nonsense. I figured it was just probably the sense I got. It’s not that unlike me to misread a situation regardless of my good intentions. But then mom’s friend Jessica said it out loud and I knew that maybe (just maybe) I wasn’t imagining things.

“It’s like she somehow knows you have a baby in your belly,” she said to my mom.

Chilling with AlexisAnd it’s true. Baby Alexis was the very embodiment of joy when she was looking at my mom. She smiled so much I was surprised her little baby cheek muscles didn’t give out. She was entranced by my mom and I was entranced by her. As I’ve never seen such a little person smile before, I was unfamiliar with the completely overwhelming sense of joy you get from seeing a whole little body smile. She was baring the most beautiful completely toothless smile I’d ever seen, but it was more than that. Her eyes were smiling. She truly was a little bundle of joy.

It was a far cry from earlier in the evening when she was dreadfully unhappy about something. Just as the wonderment of her smile took me by surprise, I didn’t expect the guttural reaction I had to the sound of a baby crying. It bothered me, but not because of the noise. It bothered me because I wanted to help somehow. I got as close to her as I could (usually this meant getting close to the person holding her) and sniffed and stood at the ready in case there was anything I could do to help stop the crying. It didn’t take long for me to realize there probably isn’t anything I can really do. (Unless I somehow figure out how to feed her, change her, or put her to sleep – wouldn’t that be a trick?). I think I might struggle with that when my little person comes along.

But I now know what I have to look forward to in terms of the bundle of joy this baby will be. And I know it’s probably nonsense. I don’t know how it could be true. Yet I hold the belief that baby Alexis was so happy (partially because she had at that point been fed and changed and was readying for sleep, but also) because she knows she will have that little person in her life someday too. What I felt in my heart as I saw those smiles and licked that little button nose is undeniable. I got a taste of big brotherhood today. And it tasted like joy.

 

Just Another Day July 6, 2013

Sleep. Eat. Play. Repeat. I realized it while I laid in the sun for who knows how long this afternoon. Some days in a dog’s life are utterly uneventful. There’s nothing spectacular happening around the house. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary in the backyard. No abnormal weather events or exciting visitors. No excursions out of the house. Just another day in a dog’s life.

Today I caught myself somewhat bitterly contemplating the possibilities, all of which seemed more exciting than the absolute nothing I was doing. I heard my forever parents discussing different ideas of things to do outside (some involving me, others not). Meanwhile my heart raced every time they thought they were sneaky spelling out w-a-l-k, as if I don’t know what that spells. (Sometimes it surprises me how little credit they give me in the smarts department.)

Feeling Sleepy On the Job

None of their well-intentioned plans came to pass. Instead, I half-watched half-slept through them doing various tasks around the house. Dusting, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen…didn’t they just do all this a few days ago?

Then it happened. Mom left dad and I alone to go to something called a concert with a friend of hers and the afternoon took a turn for adventure. Dad took me for a walk (which is even more exciting since that’s usually something I only do with mom), then we played catch outside, and some more in the house. Cuddle time came after that as we sat on the couch watching all the shows on the moving picture window mom doesn’t care for (mostly involving cars). It was a night to remember.

In the grand scheme of things, the night I had with dad was more of the same nothingness of the day. We didn’t do anything that spectacular (other than the walk which even I have to admit got pretty hot pretty fast), other than simply enjoying each other’s company. Some days are like that. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary happens. Instead it’s just par for the course. Just another day in a dog’s life. What a blessing that is! When I find myself feeling bitter about these moments of peace, I am going to remember today and embrace the possibilities that lie in what may be disguised as nothingness. Because as American singers Simon and Garfunkel put it, “I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.”

 

 

Today I’m a Trombone Player January 16, 2013

Like many of us, Henry David Thoreau wore many hats. Writer. Poet. Historian. Naturalist. Philosopher. Most people can (and do) juggle that many titles all the time. So what made him great? Why is he one of the most respected and influential historical philosophers? Regardless of the role he played, his foundational belief system made up his spirit. His spirit enabled him with the resources to produce quality over quantity.

“All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hours’ toil,” Thoreau observed. “The fight to the finish spirit is the one… characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.”

I overheard mom and dad talking tonight about what makes me unique. After a moment’s pause, dad said it’s my spirit he loves most. I see that as a very high compliment.

Merriam-Webster defines “spirit” as “an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms.” While I would argue that I wear more than one unique personality hat, dad’s comment made my day. What a blessing it is that my spirit literally gives life to me every day, but more importantly, because it gives figurative life to those around me. My spirit is contagious. I say this with confidence because I smile with my tail most of the time, and find that smiling can be incredibly contagious. I get so excited to see visitors that I often jump up to greet them. I know its naughty, but its a way I share my joy, and (nine times out of ten), the visitor catches the joy bug.

Smile! You know you want to!

That got me to thinking about Thoreau, a philosopher whose simple belief in the inherent good in nature and people I wholeheartedly share. I find peace through a transcendental state of mind, and when I’m at peace I can most effectively share joy with the world. Oddly enough, I find that sometimes I spend so much time focusing on exterior locus’ of affection, love, and joy that I struggle to see it in myself. It’s so much easier to be self deprecating than to pause and toot your own horn every once in a while. So, just for today, call me a trombone player.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/daily-prompt-favorite-thing/

 

Happiness Defined January 7, 2013

I tried something new today. I was thinking about living my gratitude, so I started the day with Simple Abundance and didn’t tell anyone about it. I read about taking note of things that make me happy and was reminded of my commitment to be a lantern of love for my mom this year. So I took notes of things that made her happy today and the strangest thing happened. A little while ago, she was talking to my grandma (her mom), who paid me the very highest of compliments (without even knowing it). Mom had grandma on speakerphone so I could hear the conversation…Mom laughed and her mom stopped the conversation cold and took notice.

“It’s so nice to hear you laughing,” grandma said, “It makes me happy knowing you’re so happy.” Even I could hear the implications of what she was saying. She hadn’t heard my mom laugh like that in a while. She was taking notice of that. And that made me happy. Funny how that works.

Its not like today was anything that spectacular, but that’s not what matters. Today I was looking…watching everything that made mom smile. “What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living,” Breathnach writes. “…Let us consider our personal preferences and learn how to recognize, then embrace, moments of happiness that are uniquely our own.”

Silly as this list may sound, here it is:

1. Working out. We woke up at a decent time, she got on this new bicycle contraption we have in the bedroom and she spent some time one it. Then, its like her contagious happiness spread to me. We went for our first walk since she had her leg surgery. It was short, but I loved it. And so did she. I could tell because I know we walked farther than she probably enjoyed. I could tell because on the way back home, she walked with a bigger limp than when we left home. But it didn’t affect her smile.

On the Road Again2. Car ride. Two of my favorite people words together in one happy phrase. The car ride followed her time on the bicycle and our walk. I love car rides. Mom knows that. She smiled when I tried to get into the driver’s seat with her, even though I know I’m not supposed to and she had to push me away right away.

3. Yummy food. When we got back from our car ride, she spent some time in the kitchen, which I know is one of her happy places. She made some sort of chicken-scented goodness that smelled like heaven, and when she was done eating, you’d better believe I scavenged for the leftovers like never before. And mom smiled all the while. Happiness: Its a Hard Knock Life

4. Friends. She talked to a few friends whose names I recognized today. She smiled the whole time.

5. Insightful movies. We watched them together. The first one was called Butter, which (I know) sounds ridiculous, but it was surprisingly adorable. I do quite enjoy butter (I’ve been known to lick it off towels in private after mom has put a pie in the oven), but the plotline was equally enticing. Then there was this movie Ruby Sparks. It opened with what promised to be a charming tale of a writer and his dog…so you can see why I would be intrigued. As an aspiring writer myself, it was a love-at-first-sight kind of love story. It ends back in the hands of the writer and his dog, and among many insightful things, the writer says “Any writer can attest that in the luckiest, happiest state the words are not coming from you, but through you.” Mom cried at the end.

A Dog and his Work

I learned something with my little experiment today. Happiness is contagious.

 

My answer? I sleep smiling December 29, 2012

I saw one of those humane society commercials on the moving picture window today. You know the one…melancholy melodies, forlorn faces, and tear-jerking thoughts illustrating the unfortunate struggles of beaten, abused and neglected animals. If dogs could cry, I would have been bawling like a baby (my mom sure did).

Instead, I did what I always do when animals make an appearance on what my mom calls the television…I whined my most heartfelt of whines and even barked a little bit. (I don’t ever bark, except when animals show up on the television). “I will be the answer at the end of the line. I will be there for you while you take the time,” Sarah McLachlan swoons in the background of the commercial, “…Cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind. Take me to a place so holy that I can wash this from my mind…”

I’m no stranger to beatings, abuse and neglect. I’ve endured the pain of being kicked to the side and whipped with a leather belt for going outside inside…even though I tried my hardest to hold it for four days without being let out. I’ve felt the misery of being discarded on the side of the road with no place to go, and more importantly no one to love me. I’ve wandered the streets in the freezing cold Wisconsin winters searching for shelter.  I’ve served time behind bars and cages. I know beatings, abuse and neglect. And it breaks my heart to see such a stark reminder that there are so many animals starving, without homes, or worse – in abusive, unloving or neglectful homes.

Its the kind of thing that I occasionally have nightmares about…images of my past haunt me, but thinking about those who live that horror in the present makes me realized how blessed I am. After everything I’ve lived through…the lyrics of the song in that commercial… “the memory of choosing not to fight”… .I sleep smiling because my parents gave me the best gift I could ever have asked for – a loving home. I found my answer. What’s yours?