Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The (Not-So) Funny Phone Fiasco November 3, 2014

I wonder sometimes whether people can predict the future. I know it probably sounds crazy, but sometimes its like there are signs pointing us to what is about to happen and it’s up to us to read them correctly.

Like yesterday, mom absolutely freaked out when she thought for sure she’d lost her phone. She looked everywhere. In all of the couch cushions, upstairs and downstairs, in the kitchen, under the couches, in the fridge (yes, she honestly checked there), in the bedroom, under the bed…you name a spot and she examined it. Everything except the car, where it was, right where she left it.Silly Numbers

I suppose this was a precursor for what would happen today, though none of us realized it. I wasn’t there to see it all unfold, but from what I can tell it was an absolute disaster. I warn you. You may be tempted to laugh when you see what happened, but please try to restrain yourselves, at it is actually a very painful story. (All right, all right, a few giggles is acceptable).

She left it on the roof of the car and drove away. It was that simple, and it was all over in a flash, though she was able to retrieve it when she realized a few moments into her drive what had happened. I swear, she is so attached to that thing, I’m shocked it even took moments for her to miss it.

In the hours that followed, she was reminded what it was like to not have a cell phone to check email, which was bad enough, let alone make any phone calls she needed to make for work. It was far from ideal, and the outlook appeared grim.

The tide changed as it tends to do when dad got home from that place called work, and discussion happened on what to do next. Dad got so worked up about everything, he called the phone company and pleaded with them to help us. Begged is perhaps the better word.

Not only did they offer to help, but when my beloved people got to the store, even more good things happened. I don’t understand everything personally, other than that they came home twice as happy as when they left.

Sometimes that happens. Sometimes a day that can’t get any worse does. But then it gets better. It always gets better. And I can’t help but notice it is usually thanks to a person or people who step aside to make their part of the world a happier place. Today I celebrate those people. Today I say thank you to anyone who has ever made someone’s pretty terrible situation into a better one. You are making the world go round.

 

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.

 

 

Another Piece of Pie February 27, 2014

I know it’s going to sound silly. Especially since I can’t actually have any of it. It’s apparently one of those “not for doggies” foods. And yet I can put my selfish longing for people food aside to enjoy the simplicity of joy. From the ground up, it took the form of pie tonight.

It took me by surprise too, since I heard somewhere that cravings like this were supposed to happen while mom was pregnant. Not now, when baby Carter is about to turn two people months old. She actually had very few cravings that I can recall while pregnant, now that I think about it. So today when she randomly proclaimed to the room (which included myself, Carter and dad) that she could really go for a good piece of pie, I didn’t really think anything of it. Pie? Did you eat Pie?

That is, until dad jumped on the bandwagon. I could have pie, he said. And so the joy train left the station. Literally. All four of us piled into the car and set out on an adventure to find the best pie in town. They eventually settled on a chocolate peanut butter pie that smelled so deliciously tempting it took every bone in my little doggie body to hold me back from trying to break into the box on the way home.

But it wasn’t long after we got back home that I realized I didn’t need a slice of pie to find my daily dose of joy today. I had it right there, in the completely random and spontaneous pie adventure that brought smiles to my people. Their smiles warmed my heart tonight, on yet another frigid negative degree evening, like my very own slice of pie.

That’s when I realized how powerful such a thing can be. A random piece of indulgence every now and then really does wonders. And even though I couldn’t sample the pie itself doesn’t mean I didn’t experience the joy firsthand. The adventure. The randomness. The love.

From the ground up, I think I’m going to make a point of finding another piece of pie in my day tomorrow. And maybe the day after tomorrow. Because when something that simple can bring joy into the hearts of those I love, it doesn’t matter that I can’t taste it. Instead I feel it. Sometimes that’s better anyway.

 

Sharing Is Caring January 4, 2014

It’s nothing new for me necessarily. Except it is. This love I have for the new little person is unlike any other kind of love I’ve felt before. And yet again, he has rendered me speechless as I have no idea how to put this feeling into words.

So instead I have been putting them to action. I realized yesterday it wasn’t bothering me that Carter has replaced me as the attention source for visitors. That he too was sharing joy from the inside out.

But that hardly puts my own mission to rest. Today I was successful sharing joy my way. From the ground up, smiles and laughter filled the room during a rousing game of pickle in the middle with two of my favorite little people Abby and Isabelle. And the best part came afterward when we cuddled.

That’s when I was reminded that joy is not replacable. It’s not a limited time offer. And it is best shared. There is joy in sharing it is an embodiment of this thing called love.

Sharing Love

 

 

Turn On The Light October 29, 2013

It’s like an on/off switch. It happens in a fraction of a second. The blink of an eye. And it fascinates me. Except when there’s crying involved. Then I’m not sure what to do with myself.

I spent some time with baby Alexis again tonight and I am stunned by the emotional roller coaster she wears on her adorable little face. First she’s smiling her contagious toothless grin then bam! The grin morphs into a grimace, but only for a millisecond. Then she’s happy again. It’s exhausting for me as an observer who invests a good deal in bringing joy from the ground up into the lives of others.

Happiness begets HappinessAs disturbing as it may be to observe, it made me wonder what happens along one’s life journey that keeps this from being something common in adults. Sure, I’ve seen adults go from happy to sad pretty instantaneously. (Let’s face it, bad things happen to good people all the time). But it’s the second part of the equation that interests me. That’s the part that seems to be blocked by some sort of adult-only emotional hurdle. How do you efficiently talk yourself back to the happy place?

It happens in an instant for Alexis. I think life too frequently gets in the way of that being possible for adults. But I did observe something else about this emotional dichotomy. When my mom smiled back at her, the switch to the dark side seemed to happen less frequently (if at all). Instead, there they were smiling at each other like a couple of ninnies. Like somehow the reciprocation of happiness inverted the cycle somehow.

There’s a thought. The concept is one that mirrors the idea of Greek philosopher Sophocles, who suggested “kindness begets kindness.” Smiles beget smiles. Joy begets joy. I know it’s probably something different for everyone. But I think that little person who once switch back and forth between sad and happy so frequently is still inside us all. We just have to reprogram our hearts to cooperate better with our minds to recognize the triggers. We’ve got to find our own switch.

Because life turns the lights out on us every now and then. It can happen in a fraction of a second. In the blink of an eye, everything can change. And change can be scary. That is, unless you find a way to turn that light back on.

 

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.

 

You Can’t Put Christmas Away (Revisited) July 8, 2013

Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening? I haven’t caught mom listening to Christmas music in a while, but occasionally I hear the sleigh bells ringing anyway. I close my eyes and I can smell freshly baked pumpkin pie (which I do occasionally get to sample). I can hear Christmas carols. I can see everyone gathering around the Christmas tree to open presents. The smiles each of these things ignite are presents in themselves.

My eyes were opened to it today when my forever mom and dad and I were playing one of my favorite games. Simply put, its a game of give and take. Its one of very few things I remember learning from my birth mom before I got separated from her. I was instructed to give an object to one of my brothers, they were instructed to give it back to me, and then I could play. It was like I was getting permission to take whatever object it was I wanted. And ultimately, I gave to receive.

To this day, I give Mrs. Prickles and all my other toys to mom and she gives it back to me and at that point I nurse on it, lay on it, or (only every once in a while) rip it to shreds. It is a habit that I don’t see changing any time soon, because I think the action itself is sound. Employing the balance of give and take is not such a bad thing, after all. But as my thoughts drifted back to the true joy of Christmas, I realized the logic behind the behavior is completely backward. I give to receive? I don’t think so.Christmas Joy

That’s not what the joy of Christmas is all about. That’s not what I am all about. Sleigh bells ring, and I’m listening. I’m craving pumpkin pie, Christmas carols and family time.

It was almost seven months ago when mom didn’t want to take down the Christmas tree when dad said it. You can’t put Christmas away. I vowed that day not to put Christmas away, but instead to live and breathe the joy that is Christmas all year long. To love actively. And to make time to share joy and love with whomever will take it in hopes that my words might inspire someone else to do the same. I don’t know how I’ve fared with these goals other than that I do continue to feel the spirit of Christmas living in me each day this year. It’s true. You can’t put Christmas away.

To go back and read more about my goals for 2013: http://wileyschmidt.com/2012/12/31/you-cant-put-christmas-away-goals-for-2013/

To read about when I caught my silly mom listening to Christmas music in June: http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/06/01/joy-to-the-world/comment-page-1/

 

30 Seconds to Live April 16, 2013

British politician Sir Winston Churchill knew a thing or two about trying to stay positive in a world at war. Known best for his leadership of the United Kingdom during World War II, Churchill had a lot to say about being a leader in tough times. One of his most powerful quotes came to mind today, as I contemplated how much I sometimes can’t help but hate the messengers who deliver bad news.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give,” Churchill once said. I know it’s not their fault, but I don’t like what bearers of bad news have been giving us in recent days.

I was devastated to hear the person with my puppy Weimaraner pal share sad news with other people at the dog park today. Eight-month-old Abby has a rare form of cancer that will likely take her life before she grows into her paws.

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard about the lockdown that happened at a college campus in the nearby community of Waukesha this afternoon. Apparently a man was seen walking around campus with a gun, which resulted in the lockdown of the surrounding area.Smile On!

And don’t get me started on the travesty that happened in Boston yesterday. My eyes and heart were glued to the television while one local man shared his perspective on the situation with local newscasters. He crossed the finish line 30 seconds before the blast. He was safe and unharmed, but those 30 seconds might just have saved his life.

On the bright side, Abby has lived and will continue to live even her short life to the fullest. It was discovered that the gun the man was carrying around the campus was actually an airsoft gun and he didn’t intend to harm anyone. I couldn’t find anything positive to think or say about the Boston bombing until I heard that local man share his story. He survived because of 30 seconds. The blink of an eye. What a blessed reminder of how valuable every second of life really is.

Knowing the impact 30 seconds can have inspires me to share the light in my soul with whomever will take it. I love, therefore I blog. With so much bad news out there in the world, I make it a personal goal to bring joy to the lives of others. If someone told me I only had 30 seconds to live, I know exactly what I would do. (We make a life by what we give, after all). I would push aside my general dislike for bearers of bad news and find a way to use that time to make that person smile. That is always time well spent in my book.