Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Life’s Little Messages August 1, 2014

It’s probably going to sound ridiculous. But that’s never stopped me before, so I’m certainly not going to let it stop me now. I’m a believer that things happen for a reason. This we all know to be true. But sometimes my faith is sparked in a way that can only be described as contagious.

I speak, of course, of moments in life when it’s like the message we need to hear finds us right when we need to hear it. Has this ever happened to you?

Feeling reflective

It happened to mom this morning when she ordered her first fully caffeinated vanilla latte in a year and a half. She has been so careful with everything she drank while she was pregnant with dear baby Carter and continued to proceed with caution throughout nursing. But today, in a moment of weakness, she gave in to the urge to indulge. She was a little nervous about some sort of presentation she was asked to give at that place called work, and felt the indulgence would somehow calm her nerves.

Had I been with her, I would have advised against such things, but I digress. It was not the coffee that calmed her (I could have told her that), but the message written on it:

“Know what sparks the light in you,” suggested American talk-show host turned entrepreneurial genius Oprah Winfrey, “then use that light to illuminate the world.”

I know how ridiculous it might sound. But I believe as much in those words as I do they were meant to find my mom today. And, in finding her, they found me. Light. From the ground up, I feel it is my duty to share it with you as best I know how. Because I’m a believer that things happen for a reason. That way when life’s little messages fall from heaven, I’m ready and waiting with open paws.

 

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?

 

A Moment of Magic October 31, 2013

I don’t believe in magic. Not in the traditional sense at least. The whole now you see me, now you don’t idea? What fun is that anyway? But I will never forget the day I discovered a different kind of magic.

To the rest of the world it was Halloween. To me, it was Jo’s eighth birthday. That’s all that mattered. I had been living with her and the man with the leather belt for a few months, and had seen my fair share of things I still wish I hadn’t. But this was a day to remember for all the right reasons.My Kind of Magic

This was the one time I ever witnessed Jo and the man with the leather belt happy at the same time. I was surprised he remembered the day at all, since he was usually pretty forgetful about basic things like having anything besides frozen pizza and beer in the fridge. But alas, he surprised us both. After dinner (he actually cooked something), he got out a pink cupcake with a single candle on it and sang happy birthday to her. I sat by her side, proud and humbled to share in such a special moment. Then he gave her a present. It wasn’t wrapped (it was still in the Toys ‘R Us bag) but that was beside the point.

It was magic. Literally. He gave her a 100-peice magic set. “I had one when I was about your age, so I thought maybe you’d like it,” he told her. She loved it. They spent the next few hours experimenting and doing something I’d never seen them to before. They laughed together.

That was the real magic. Magic is in moments like these. Moments brought to life by a power within us to believe. “Magic flows through us,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance, “mystery infuses every encounter of every day…You have no idea of the countless lives you touch in the course of a lifetime.”

My life was touched that day by something special. I may not believe in the hocus pocus kind of magic, but that day I became a believer in a whole other kind of magic entirely. I became a believer that the power is within us to live this magic in our daily lives. To find and embrace moments of pure joy is a magic all its own.

 

Playing with Fire May 22, 2013

What is it about fire that is so tanlizingly mesmerizing? I find myself gazing at it, watching the flickers and sparks, and I can’t take my little doggie eyes off it. I’ve been staring at it all day, while falling in and out of sleep from its warmth. Maybe it’s the novelty of it, since we don’t have a fireplace at my forever home. I’m currently spending a couple of days with my grandma and my cousin Buddy at their place, as my parents have gone to a place called a spa and left me behind.

Catching FireAt first, I was kind of bummed to be left behind. This is the week we had all planned to pack up the car and head to a place called South Dakota. We were staying at pet-friendly places along the way, so I could tag along, and (like my people) I’d been looking forward to it for months. But I’ve heard my fair share of jibber jabber from my mom and dad about gas prices being at almost $4 a gallon (whatever that means), and I can’t help but deduce that is what nailed the coffin in our great American road trip. Instead, they settled for a quick mid-week getaway to a spa that’s a couple hours away. Mom calls it her “happy place” and I could tell how happy she was that she convinced dad to like it too.

The more time I’ve spent getting treats from grandma, playing chase with Buddy, and staring at this big beautiful fireplace, the less sad I am that I’m not cooped up in a car for all that time. Don’t get me wrong, car rides are among my most favorite things in the world, but a dog also needs to get outside and stretch his (or her) legs. The ride would have been about 27 hours round-trip, and that is a lot by anyone’s standards.

And now, as I stare at the sparks in the fire, my thoughts turn to how happy I am that they are happy, wherever they are. Which brings me full circle to my very reason for blogging in the first place.

“The spark divine dwells in thee: let it grow,” wrote great American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox. When I started this blog, I set out to share 365 days of my unique perspective on joy from the ground up–my divine spark–with whomever wanted it. The response has been overwhelming. The friends and family I’ve made have been powerful additions to my life. For me, this blog is like those sparks I’ve been watching all day in the fire. They’ve caught fire in their own little doggie blog way, and I can only hope the fire of joy is burning in at least a few more hearts now than before I started this journey.

 

Catching Fire: Seeing A Glimmer of Hope Amidst the Flames January 30, 2013

Words never cease to amaze me. Understanding their meanings ignites a fire of passion within me I can’t explain. So today I examine one of many words in the English language that (in my humble opinion) has completely contradictory definitions.

Spark. “Fiery particle: a small piece of burning substance thrown off in combustion or produced in friction,” says Bing. Literally, a spark that catches fire can cause destruction, devastation and heartbreak. Yet in another breath, spark is defined as “something that activates: a device that sets off or acts as a stimulant, inspiration, or catalyst.” Figuratively, a spark catching fire can ignite positive change.

Can this one word really mean both things?

Hope Catching Fire

Literally, I find myself pondering what would happen in the case of a fire in my life. Say my beloved forever home burns to the ground tomorrow. What would I save? Assuming my mom and dad are safely outside, I can think of five things I would have time to rescue before it would be too late.

Peanut butter. I love the stuff. And if the house burned down, I would want to know I had some to get me through the emotional eating that would likely follow the devastating loss of what I thought would be my forever home. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but “you’re only given one little spark of madness,” as comedian Robin Williams said. “You mustn’t lose it.”

Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. This book has been an inspiration to me so far this year. It helps keep me focused, encourages me with creative thoughts for this blog, and reminds me daily how lucky I am to be alive. Similar fundamental values of life inspired French poet and novelist best known for the heart-wrenchingly beautiful Les Miserables, who once said “to learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”

Mrs. Prickles.  If I could take all my toys I would, but she is my favorite. From playtime with my mom and dad, to her comforting ability to help me regulate my stress level, I love her and all she embodies. “To cement a new friendship…a spark with which both were secretly charged must fly from person to person and cut across the accidents of place and time,” said American author and actress Cornelia Otis Skinner. A true friend, Mrs. Prickles is my constant reminder that without sorrow there would be no joy.

My blog. I was going to say I would save my laptop since losing everything in a fire would be devastating, and I’m sure I could cope if I knew I could still find joy in something. For me, this blog is joy and I don’t think I’d know what to do with myself if I couldn’t share it anymore. But let’s face it. My positive attitude cannot be burned in a fire, and the blog would go on without the laptop. “Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams,” as computer guru Louis Gerstner said, “but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love and understanding.”

And so we come to the last and most important source of my own personal spirit, compassion, love and understanding. My adoption papers. Clearance dog or otherwise, these papers are priceless to me. As Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance, they are my very own treasure map to happiness. My ticket to my forever home. My inspiration for living.

“The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born,”  French sculptor Auguste Rodin once said. “The artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.”

I see joy in the contradiction of a spark, and it consumes me because I see a glimmer of hope amidst the flames.Hope Catching Fire