Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

To Have Faith April 1, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:29 pm
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It’s one of those things when you don’t even know what to say. All roads point to everything not good. There is nothing positive. No silver lining. And there is nothing anyone can do about it. Crisis. From the ground up, it’s not my strong suit. Think with the Heart

Tonight it’s happening to a close friend of the family. Someone close to my heart is struggling with a very emotionally challenging situation that is making her question everything. Which makes my heart ache. Because I wish I could intervene. I wish I could step in and make it all better somehow. Yet I know I can’t. In fact, if watching people as long as I have has taught me anything, usually you make it worse when you try.

So I do what I can do. I listen. I love. And I pray. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

“The world is a crazy, beautiful, ugly complicated place, and it keeps moving on from crisis to strangeness to beauty to weirdness to tragedy,” suggested American journalist David Remnick.

Most days I believe in the dichotomy of the world around us, though I simultaneously choose to embrace joy and cast aside negativity. Yet I also know and respect that is not always how life is. There are ups and downs and good times and bad times, but I think that’s where the grey area stops and black and white begins.

Because you can’t have one without the other. Life balances out, naturally, often without any thanks to what we do or don’t do. God works it out, just as He intended, and just as He planned.

I know this knowledge may not help in the moment. Not in the crazy awful grizzly moments when you don’t know what to say. It may seem like all roads point to everything not good and there is nothing positive and no silver lining. But it’s not up to us in those cases to find any of that. It will find us.

Because it’s in these moments, in the midst of crisis, when it’s most important to have faith.

So tonight I pray.

 

 

All I Could Do March 25, 2015

I think I would probably put it darned near close the very bottom of the emotional barrel. Somewhere close to negativity and rage. It’s just one of those personal things with which I, the dog who makes an effort to find the good in all people, places and things, struggle to find a silver lining. Helplessness. From the ground up, there is really no way to sugar coat the way helplessness breaks my heart.

Yet that’s how I have felt for going on three days now, as my dear forever mom does her very best to fight some sort of cold that won’t quit. .Not since Battle Bra Royale in her pregnancy with Carter have I seen her so miserable. And not since then, when (if I recall correctly) she was oddly enough also right about seven months pregnant, have I felt so incredibly helpless. Deep Thinking

At least I am in good company, especially with my dear forever dad who also struggles with the insatiable urge to fix it. (Carter is pretty oblivious, I think, though he has been somewhat more generous with the hugs he gives mom in recent days).

Helplessness. It shook my forever home today as dad ran to the store (twice) for something (anything) that mom can take that is deemed “safe” for pregnancy. Twice he came home with the wrong thing, causing mom to break down in tears. It really was a lose-lose situation for all of us today.

Until tonight, when I did all I can do. As she snuggled into bed much (much) earlier than usual, I snuggled my way as close to her as possible, laid my head on her protruding belly, and sighed heavily. She looked at me, with her puffy eyes and bright red nose and smiled a brighter smile than I’d seen from her all day. She snuggled me closer to her, and I laid there by her side until she fell asleep.

Helplessness. From the ground up, it’s one of those things I struggle with being the optimist I am. Not only is it hard on the helpless helper, but it implies someone or something in need of help isn’t getting what they need. That is, until you realize maybe you’re not as helpless as you think you are.

 

A Little Hug February 9, 2015

People give us dogs a lot of credit. And I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t completely deserved, at least the majority of the time. We have a way of picking up on emotions of our forever people and reacting accordingly. Whether its the small nudge of our nose into the hands of someone who is crying, or a flying leap into the arms of someone who is contagiously happy, we have our ways of relating to our people.

So I suppose I shouldn’t necessarily have been surprised to see what I did today. We have an innate sense for these things, so I guess it makes sense little people would too. But that still couldn’t have prepared me for what I witnessed this afternoon. Love. Unplugged.

Something I don’t fully understand was wrong with my dear forever mom. She got a phone call from her baby doctor and she wasn’t the same afterward. She seemed sad. And scared. Devastated might be an even better word for it.

So I did what any dog would do in reaction to the situation. I wagged and nudged and snuggled my way into that crevice much too small on the chair next to her so she knew it would all be okay. I know in my heart it will be and wished so badly she could know it in her heart too. But all of my efforts were for naught. The tears kept coming.

That is, until my dear little baby Carter intervened. Otherwise known as the toddler tornado, he rarely takes a break to sit still for more than a couple minutes at a time. He’s always on the move. Not today. Not in this moment.

He toddled himself over to the chair we were on and did the thing he does when he wants mom to hold him where he yanks at her scarf and essentially tries to climb her using her clothes. The second she obliged, it was like magic. He put his little head in that special spot by her heart and kept it there for what felt like a really long time to all of us (though I think it may have only actually been about 20 minutes). Time paused and I knew in that moment mom believed it would be okay.

I may be able to read people really well, but I may never understand what was bothering mom today. In that precious bubble in time, I realized that’s beside the point. Because I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that my dear 13-month-old Carter knew mom needed a hug today. Not just any hug either. She needed a little hug only he could give. So he gave it with all his heart, at least until one of the toys in the corner caught his attention and he was off to the races again.

Today he gets the credit. And I’m okay with that.

 

Just A Little Time February 8, 2015

It doesn’t take much. An hour, or even a few short minutes seem to do the trick. It can’t be doing something for work either. It has to be something at least semi-spontaneous or fun. Like a quick coffee or lunch date. Or a walk around the mall. Or even grocery shopping. Sometimes a momma needs just a little time away. All Smiles

I used to see it as an insult, not just for me but for dear baby Carter and dad too. Like what do we all do that is so tremendously awful that we drive her to a place she feels like she needs to escape? Recently I’ve realized that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Because before there was Carter and before there was me and before there was dad, there was mom. She had friends and family then, sure. But she decided things like what she wanted for lunch with little-to-no struggle. It was not a decision she was making with a family in mind, but rather simply for herself.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she wants to go back to that place in her life. I know she loves me and dad and Carter bigger than the sky. (She even says so out loud from time to time). That doesn’t change the fact that she, like any other person, occasionally needs a moment to recollect herself. To hit the proverbial reset button if you will.

It happened today for a bit with aunt Morgan and later with a close friend of hers. I’m not sure what she did with each of them, but something kind of special happened when she returned from her second outing. She came home with a big smile on her face and wasn’t in the house more than five minutes when it happened.

She gathered up “her boys” (as she calls us sometimes) and said “I love my little family.”

It’s not that she didn’t love us before she left. But something about being away that little bit of time (I think it was a whole hour) focused her heart in a way few other things can. That’s a little time well spent in my mind.

 

Never Gonna Keep Me Down November 29, 2014

It started so very small. A couple of baby steps a few weeks ago was all it took to get the proverbial ball rolling. Each day since then, the steps have gotten bigger and gone farther, as they tend to do with practice. Meanwhile, I stand by and watch it all unfold.

It can only be described as persistence. Or maybe stubbornness. What I’ve been witnessing around here is truly a study in little person behavior. It’s nothing new, as I know it happens to most babies. But it’s new to me, and what I’m learning from watching it all unfold is surprisingly insightful.Feeling Thoughtful

What stands out to me most prominently is how much trial and error is involved in the process of dear baby Carter learning how to walk. He has these unmistakable bursts of energy when all he does is walk. And fall. And walk. And fall. The process is one that has involved as many falls as it has steps, which I’d like to say are getting easier for all of us to see. But really it’s still hard to stand on the sidelines, fully capable of walking, and watch this dear little being struggle so desperately.

Especially today, when the poor little guy just couldn’t catch a break. Sure, he walked farther than he did yesterday. But he fell too. A lot. And he kept bumping his little head on things as he did it. Nothing scary enough to worry about, but I’m not going to lie to you. It was pretty tough to see.

What there is to be learned from all of this, though, is no small feat. First of all, starting small and building slowly is a recipe for both short- and long-term success in my book. Beyond that, persistence is virtue. He gets knocked down, he falls out of balance, he stumbles. We all do. But he gets back up every single time. No matter what. And he keeps going.

Life has a way of tripping us up from time to time. Making us lose our footing. Maybe even causing us to call into questions choices or decisions we’ve made. The way I see it, none of this happens without a cause. A good one. Perseverance. From the ground up, that is the word I would use to summarize what I’ve been witnessing around here.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish,” said American president John Quincy Adams. While I have mixed feelings about patience, I do believe in the power of perseverance. That’s why I know in my heart Carter will soon be walking without an issue. Challenges will never stop getting in the way, but with enough passion and drive they don’t stand a chance.

 

Like A Heartbeat May 17, 2014

I think there is a distinct difference between a habit and repetition. At least from what I observe in human behavior. From what I can tell, a habit occurs mindlessly, like when I scratch that same spot by my collar on my neck seventeen times a day. This is different from when I spin in circles trying to find the absolute perfect spot on the bed or the couch or the floor or my dog bed. It is different from repetition, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) occurs as the result of a conscious effort of some sort. Writer's Block?

I got to thinking about this today as my people worked in the yard. It’s the same work they always do this time of year, with the flowers and the hanging baskets and the mulch and the bird seed. It’s all too familiar, being the third time I’ve witnessed it all. It seems like a lot of work to me from my given spot of relaxation at the moment. Yet it seems to bring them joy and happiness. So my heart sings, no matter how tired it gets watching them work so tirelessly.

It made me think a little about this struggle I’m having with the blog. I’ve been at a crossroads lately trying to figure out whether my doggie opinion on things is still relevant and interesting. It certainly is in my humble mind. But it’s hard to tell sometimes.

I guess this is true for anyone at some point in life. Anyone can start to question why they are doing something – is it a habit or mindful repetition? And is either one so bad? This is a living part of my struggle as I was starting to worry I was repeating myself. But today, as I watched my beloved forever people plant the same flowers in the same place they have for the last three summers, I realized something.

A little repetition isn’t so bad. It keeps us steady. It reminds us where we came from and where we’re going. It’s like a heartbeat that keeps life’s beat in order. “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind,” said Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. That is the least I could possibly hope for on this journey of blogging. So I chose to beat on. Not out of habit, but through embracing the repetition that makes life real.

 

The Simple Things December 3, 2013

It’s pretty simple. Fairly basic. And entirely necessary. The act of breathing is such a foundational function of life that most of us don’t even think about it. It just comes naturally. To most of us.

It’s not so easy for my great grandma who – at the age of 83 – is healthy as a horse if not for her asthma. It’s a daily struggle for my friend with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And most recently my mom was challenged with an unbelievable shortness of breath because my future little person was comfortably lodged into her ribs. Like many things in life, the act of breathing seems to be one of those things that can be easy to overlook. We just assume that we will go on breathing, no questions asked. It’s not always that simple.

Just BreatheSo you can imagine my surprise the other day when mom held dad’s hand to her belly and had dad feel the baby breathing. I thought it was absurd. But sure enough, dad confirmed the rhythmic movements and the three of us sat there in awe for a moment. I’m not sure I understand it, but I can’t imagine it’s very easy for the baby to be doing this practice breathing. Yet it’s possible.

I know the biblical phrase is usually thought of to be “all things are possible to those who believe.” Today I got to thinking about how that applies to those who breathe. Albeit challenging for some, taking a moment to pause and recognize the miracle of breath can change a person’s entire perspective.

It certainly did for my mom the other day as we all bore witness to those miraculous baby practice breaths. In those same moments mom realized something. She too could breathe. The baby must have shifted off of her ribs in a way that made it easier for her to breathe again. So there we were, one blessed family, sitting together in silence. But it was more than that because in those moments I was reminded to be grateful for something simple. Something basic. Something that comes pretty naturally. Breath. It might sound silly, but I love when life reminds us to celebrate the simple things.