Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

We Are Young January 12, 2015

The first time happens at about the same time every day a few seconds after I hear the familiar phrase. “Good morning sunshine,” my dear forever mom says to dear baby Carter before she picks him up out of his crib. And so begins another day.

Today was no different. “Good morning, sunshine,” I heard mom say as she picked a very smiley Carter out of his crib. A few minutes later it happened again as she picked him up after changing his clothes and when she put him in his high chair for breakfast and when breakfast was over and she took him out of his high chair. Thirty-three. That is how many times I counted my dear forever mom pick up a all 25 pounds of Carter today before I lost count.Big as the sky, old sport

She never complains about it, and I would estimate that well over half of the time it was for no other reason than to sneak in a quick kiss on the cheek or to give a hug.

But as the day wore on, I noticed it was getting harder on her to pick him up. So I wasn’t surprised when she told dad tonight that she feels tired. When she used the word “old,” however? My heart skipped a beat. And not in a good way.

She wasn’t connecting the way she is feeling to the amount of unconscious physical activity she engaged in throughout the day. By anyone’s standards, it wouldn’t be easy picking up and putting down and carrying around a one-year-old as much as she does in an average day. I am a very strong believer in the power of the mind over things like age, in that we are as young as we feel.

So when it happened a few minutes later, my heart was overwhelmed with relief. Carter started giggling for no apparent reason other than that maybe he was really (really) enjoying his peas. The giggle was something unlike anything any of us had ever heard from him. And the best part was how contagious it became. Mom and dad were giggling. My tail was wagging. It was a very happy and dare I say child-like moment for my forever family. In moments like these, we are young.

And so ends another day. Sure, it was exhausting in its own way for everyone involved. But it was also invigorating and refreshing and I can’t wait to start it all over again tomorrow.

 

Glowing in the Dark November 25, 2014

It doesn’t make sense. I have never and will never understand it. I will, however, question why this trick of nature happens every year. Here we are in the midst of all things holiday and literally speaking it is the darkest time of year.

The sun seems to rise later and set sooner every single day. That means less sunshine, which (at least from what I can tell) means less happy people. None of this is good news in my world. It’s also not the worst news, because I make it a point of mine in life to be a light amid the darkness in whatever way possible. This thing called daylight savings time will not break me down.

My faith in the power of one’s inner light was renewed tonight as I watched as another bought of silliness unfolded between my forever parents and dear baby Carter.Hard at Work

There we were, the four of us, in the darkness of the basement. I was sure either mom or dad would turn the lights on eventually. Instead they grabbed out these little sticks and I listened as they cracked them to life. I’m not sure of the correlation between the cracking sound and what happened next, but I suppose some things are best left to mystery anyway. Within a few seconds, the room was dimly lit by little florescent glow sticks, which brought far more joy to everyone involved than I would have ever expected.

The fun continued as mom suggested Carter have a glow-in-the-dark bath time. He loved every minute of it. He was happy. Mom and dad were happy. I was happy.

It doesn’t make sense to me why there is so much darkness during such an otherwise joyful time of year. But that’s okay. It sounds silly, but the glow-in-the-dark games tonight reminded me it’s possible not just to let your light shine, but to find new ways to do it. Routine has its perks, but switching it up from time to time is good for the soul. How you choose to shine ultimately doesn’t matter. What matters is that you shine at all.

Because as Dutch Renaissance humanist Desiderius Erasmus put it “give light and the darkness will disappear.”

 

Walking On Sunshine October 21, 2014

I didn’t really need another reason to love fall. From homemade apple pies (and the leftover apple pieces I score) and brisk twilight walks around the neighborhood to Packer football (and my dreams of catching a pass from QB Aaron Rodgers), it’s definitely my favorite season. And don’t get me started on the cuddles.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that today I lived another reason to embrace all things fall. There has been somewhat of a pattern forming this time around that involves several cold, dreary days in a row followed by relief otherwise known as the sunshine. Today the sun shined on me as I strolled along next to dear baby Carter in the stroller mom pushed through the neighborhood. As we walked, I felt the crisp fall leaves under my feet and soaked up every ounce of sunshine.

That’s when it happened. I discovered another thing I love about fall. From the ground up, there is no other time of year you can walk on sunshine. Our neighborhood has an abundance of mature trees that a few short weeks ago made for a beautiful landscape as you approached my forever home. That is no longer the case, as much of the trees have now shed their (mostly yellowish) leaves, which can be a bit disheartening. Not to me.

I love the idea that today I walked on sunshine in the sunshine. I was warmed with joy to my core as we perused the neighborhood I’ve grown to know and love. I know I didn’t need another reason to love fall, but you can never have enough reasons to feel blessed. And that is how I felt in that hour or so with my beloved forever mom and dear baby Carter. Completely and utterly blessed.

I know not everyone saw the sunshine today. Literally or figuratively. So today I share the words of American baseball executive Frank Lane, who said “if you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm.”

As certain as I know the sunshine will come again, I believe no one should have to weather the storm alone. For what it’s worth, that is why I choose today to share my sunshine with you in hopes the light of joy is as contagious as I know it can be.

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A Little Sunshine October 16, 2014

It’s a pretty easy thing to take for granted. It’s there so much more than it isn’t, so I think that’s part of the problem. But I’ve certainly missed it around here the last few days. Sunshine. From the ground up, its light has the power to warm the soul. Backyard Happiness

I do sincerely love and appreciate the beauty of fall and all the things it brings with it. This you know. The last few days I was reminded why I sometimes doubt my love of this spectacular season. It has been cloudy and rainy and downright dreary for four or five days now. I find its easier to lose count when you succumb to the darkness.

I didn’t even realize I had indeed let the weather get to me until the sun slowly revealed itself this afternoon. It was like seeing a long lost friend. There I was in one of my favorite spots in my forever home – the windowsill in the living room. (My beloved forever people call it my perch). As the light shined in through the blinds, I felt it warm my fur and somehow it seemed to soak right through to my soul.

It must have had a similar effect on mom, because it was a matter of a few seconds before dear baby Carter was bundled up and in his stroller and it was time for a walk around my neighborhood. The crisp fall air smelled so much better with the light shining down around us. The leaves fell from the trees in the beautiful silent way they do. I pranced. Carter giggled. Mom smiled. It was a happy moment for the three of us.

It was a reminder to me to cherish the sunshine. It was a reminder not to let the darkness get to me because the sun will shine again. It was a reminder to live in the moment instead of longing for something you can’t have. Because if you do these things, there is no way the dreary things in life can conquer your spirit. If you do these things, you bottle up the sunshine for the bad days. If you do these things, you have the power to warm your own soul, whether or not the sun is shining.

Take that, dreary Wisconsin fall.

 

The Truth About Cuddling January 21, 2014

The sun deceived me today. There it was, all bright and happy, tempting me with its beauty. After a few days of dreary Wisconsin winter, it was a breath of fresh air waking to the beautiful sunrise this morning. I couldn’t wait to get outside to soak it all in.

I (not-so-patiently) waited my turn while mom changed, fed, and rocked baby Carter back to sleep. Then it was my turn. It was breathtaking. Literally. It took my breath away. It was all kind of sunny and a whopping two degrees outside. I was devastated.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I know this is the norm in Wisconsin this time of year. But when I woke up and saw that beautiful sunshine, it’s like my months got all switched around. Suddenly it was July 30 and Carter and I were playing in the grass together. It was warm, but not just from the sun. It was warm from the love. From the ground up, love warmed my heart thinking about all the fun I have to look forward to this summer.

The breathless start to my morning was a pretty clear reminder that some time needs to pass between now and then. Some chilly and potentially dreary time. But as I am not in the habit of wishing time away, I realized later today it is a time to embrace.

Who needs the sun anyway? The sun may have deceived me today, but its message did not. Sometimes even when its sunny we need to make our own warmth. Because true warmth starts in the heart.Tummy time for two

So that’s what I did today. I snuggled with baby Carter and I had all the warmth I needed. Scientists undermine such things, attributing a dog’s desire to cuddle as purely logical. People are warm, so we cuddle. While there is some truth to that, warmth is not just a physical thing. There is more than one kind of warmth, and it is both kinds we canines seek in cuddling. The main source of warmth is that which we feel in our hearts when we are close to our people. Next to that, physical warmth is just a bonus.

 

 

You Are My Sunshine October 19, 2013

I learned some things today. Until today a shower has always been that thing in the bathroom where my people clean themselves. And the sun has always been that bright thing that rises and sets upon each day. It turns out there is more to these words than meets the eye.

The day began like most Saturdays, with my forever people doing chores and various tasks around the house following slightly more family cuddle time than usual. Except today they both kept talking about the shower. I didn’t understand it. It felt like every other word was shower and by noon I was incredibly confused. I remained in a quandary when they left me to go to the shower. It’s right here, I screamed in silence, in the bathroom.Sunshine

So you can imagine my stupor when they returned home a few hours later with presents. Lots of them. And (as is the case with most misunderstandings) it turns out I was missing a very important piece of the contextual puzzle. This shower wasn’t like the one in the bathroom. It was a baby shower, which I now understand to be a shower of gifts to help us all prepare for the arrival of my little person.

Mom and dad shared stories of the afternoon while they revisited each of the gifts. The story that stuck with me most was of two of my favorite little people (Sophie and Abigail) singing a song I hold dear to my heart with my mom’s friend Dorian.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray…you’ll never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”

Once I got over the initial disappointment of missing the in-person show, these famous words (by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell) sunk a little deeper into my heart. As I sat by watching my people I was overcome with my own sense of gratitude for the situation.

They are my sunshine. My forever people will never know how much I love them, partially because I can’t say so out loud and partially because you can’t put love this big into words. And (at least from what I can tell) amongst the blankies and diapers the greatest gift of all was the love they received today.

I guess you could say they were showered with love. And I was overcome with joy. From the ground up, it was a pretty happy day around here. All of the clouds in the sky could not mask the sunshine in these moments. Joy and gratitude filled their hearts and I realized that is all the sunshine I really need.

I learned some things today. It turns out there is much more to showers and sunshine than meets the eye. Today these words did much more. They touched the heart.

 

A Shower of Gold October 9, 2013

Sometimes I want it. Badly. Other times I’m overcome with relief that I never really have to worry about it. This thing called money offers me a variety of emotional responses. Lately I’ve been struggling with the realization that while I am blessed not to have to worry about it, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Instead my people worry about it. A lot.

Money, money money. It used to come up occasionally, but the frequency has increased lately as preparations continue for my new little person. And its never really a happy conversation. Not that there is arguing or fighting, but us canines have a sense for things like stress and tension.Its just money

It happened again today. I overheard them talking about it and I was overcome with longing. I wanted money. I wanted to buy them all the nice things for the little person they keep talking about like a travel system (whatever that is) and a mobile for the crib. I wanted to give them everything they think they want.

But that’s just it. Wants are not always needs. And needs are not always wants. It sure would be nice if I somehow had all kinds of money to spend on these things. But that’s all they are – things. Just things. Things don’t create happiness, no matter how necessary they seem. Moments of real joy begin in the heart, not the mind.

I was reminded of this tonight as mom and I took a quick walk around the neighborhood right as the sun was setting. It made for a beautiful scene, with the sun shining through the trees as the leaves fell peacefully along our path. And I realized in those precious moments there is this thing about beauty – its completely free. And (even better) it often buys happiness. And joy. And gratitude.

“Here we are sitting in a shower of gold,” observed Australian writer Christia Stead, “with nothing to hold up but a pitchfork.”

It seems I’ve gotten it all wrong. I don’t want money. I want my people’s worry to go away. I want them to see the beauty in all things like I do and feel the sense of emotional richness that brings. I want them to be happy. These wants are really needs in my book. So today I renew my vow to do my small part to highlight these things in our lives, starting with my people. Because I know my heart contains within it its very own shower of gold.

 

A Midsummer’s Spell June 23, 2013

The weather cast a spell on me today.

I’ve always been one to appreciate lounging in the sun on a hot summer day (who isn’t?), but today I was obsessive about it. Forget the refreshing comfort of air conditioning and bring on the warming comfort of the heat, I thought. You can imagine  my disappointment when this became a point of contention with my mom and dad. I heard them talking about the heat and how I shouldn’t be in it very long…something about 100 degree heat indexes. Whatever that meant.

This is my beg face

So I begged and whined and pestered until I got my way, albeit in five-to-ten minute increments (for my alleged safety). Each time I was barely out the door before I found my comfy spot in the grass and instantly I was in heaven. Weather is one of those unbelievable constant sources of inspiration for me. I relish every falling snow diamond, find a sort of melancholy peace with the rains of spring, and now I celebrate the second official day of summer in style. All is well with the world in moments like these.

That is, until I was rudely interrupted and brought back inside. And again I began the begging game to get back into the beauty of the summer day. It was all I could think about. That’s when I remembered the date. Today isn’t just any summer day. Indeed it is Midsummer’s Eve, a special day set aside in Europe for wonder and merriment. Rich with historical culture, June 23 is celebrated with special food, dancing and plenty of time outside (weather permitting, of course).

Sarah Ban Breathnach writes of this special day in Simple Abundance, quoting the words of Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery. “(Let this become) a never-to-be-forgotten summer,” Montgomery writes, “one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doings, come as near to perfection as anything can come in the world.”

The weather cast a spell on me today. All I could think about was being outside appreciating warmth in the sun’s promise of an unforgettable summer. Just as Breathnach wishes for her readers, I will share this wish with you. “May this potent Midsummer spell never be broken for you and those you love,” Breathnach writes. I know I probably should care about heat indexes. But I don’t. Instead I relish in the Midsummer’s Eve spell that was cast on me today, and breathe in all its contagious (albeit humid) joy.

 

Us Against The World April 11, 2013

The sky is crying today. Teardrops from heaven have been pouring down on and off all week, in fact. I’d say I do pretty well with the whole lightning Smiling Some Sunshineand thunder bit compared to most dogs I’ve met. But I’m not going to lie: this soppy cold mess of a weather pattern is downright dreary.

It has been raining constantly since Monday, and the forecast calls for more of the same all of next week. I told myself I wouldn’t comment on the weather again after my recent rant about what an awful weather person I would be, but I digress. This is some kind of awful that needs to be talked about. I can honestly say that I cursed under my little doggie breath when mom let me outside this morning into the frigid rainy wind that has been outside the last several days.

It actually reminds me a bit of a Coldplay song. “And if we could float away, fly up to the surface and just start again, and lift off before trouble erodes us in the rain…Through chaos as it swirls, it’s us against the world.”

Indeed, it is us against the world on days like today. Mom came home looking a mess, complete with frizzy hair and soaking wet pant bottoms. I could tell she was freezing cold and frustrated by whatever problems she had encountered today. I know it’s harder to keep your head up when there’s nothing pretty to look at, so I can only imagine all these dreary days are taking a toll on her and my dad. What’s worse is knowing that as certain as the rain falling from the sky is the toll its taking on everyone who is experiencing the dreariness that is this weather situation. As one who strives to share joy with the world, I would be lying if I said these days weren’t a serious challenge to even my resolve.

But then I remember something very important. It’s us against the world on days like these. So the sky is crying, and it’s not stopping any time soon. It is gray and dingy outside, but that does not stop me from finding my silver lining. Dreary or otherwise, I find inspiration in the sky. And when it withholds sunshine, I make my own.

 

Little Guy, Big Thoughts January 27, 2013

Fortune cookies make me feel rich. Not just because they are yummy (and my mom accidentally drops them on the floor for me every now and then), but because of the wisdom they contain:

Seize from every moment its uniqueness.

Trust others but still keep your mind open.

A sound mind and healthy body bring many happy events to you and your family.

And my own personal favorite: You will bring sunshine into someone’s life.

These are a sample of some of the fortunes of wisdom I’ve stumbled upon in the Schmidt kitchen lately. No bigger than a people finger, those little fortunes pack a powerful philosophical punch. Little and insignificant as they may seem, I place a high value on the insights, advice, and inspiration they provide.

I know what its like to not be taken seriously because of my size. A lot of people have underestimated me in my life because I’m little. And at only a foot and a half tall and 22 pounds, I will admit I’m on the smaller side (canine or otherwise). Little guy is even one of my nicknames. But (like so many things in life) you can’t judge a book by its cover. This little guy is full of big thoughts.

Like Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests in Simple Abundance, I find joy in my daily dialogue that is this blog. It might just be the best thing since sliced bread (with peanut butter, of course).

Little Guy, Big Thoughts

“I will write myself into well-being,” author Nancy Mairs said.

I have definitely been happier since I started this blog. It gives me a medium to express myself (little as the world may perceive me) and bring sunshine to the lives of others. I love words, so seeing my own come together so cohesively on a daily basis brings me joy.

But this isn’t about me. This is about something much bigger than me. This is about me aspiring to be even the littlest ray of sunshine for people. German philologist Max Muller said it best when he said “a flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.”

Love for life brings sunshine amidst the cloudiest of days if you ask little ole me.

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