Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Things Live in Memories January 10, 2015

I would say I’ve lived a pretty full life. This year I will turn seven doggie years old, and I’ve seen a lot, witnessed a lot and learned a lot in my time living joy from the ground up. But even though that makes me the equivalent of almost 50 people years old, I know I haven’t seen it all. There are lots of people in my life who have been around a lot longer and seen a lot more.

Change. From the ground up, I find it’s everywhere. People change and adapt as the world around them evolves. I’ve even seen it as I’ve seen my dear forever mom grow (what some might say is) a bit too attached to her cell phone. The same conceptual device that she used to use to call loved ones has developed into a multi-functional tool. Heck, I can even remember in one of my other (temporary) adoptive homes, they had a phone that was attached to the wall. They had other things I rarely see anymore too, like a humongous box for a television and a record player.

From what I can tell, technology is one of the most rapidly changing things people need to adapt to. And while I feel there is a certain degree of caution that needs to be taken with any and all aforementioned devices, the concept behind the continued modification of society isn’t necessarily a bad one in my mind. Today will become tomorrow whether we like it or not. And that’s nothing to be afraid of in my humble doggie opinion. Hard At Work

I’ve seen a lot in my doggie life. I aspire to see a lot more. But that doesn’t give any less meaning to the things of the past. Though the things themselves may no longer be around, that doesn’t mean they can’t live on through the memories they helped create.

Like this person mom was talking to the other day who fondly remembers when he was seven years old watching the historic 1967 Ice Bowl on 12-inch black and white television with his family. He remembers everything about that day, in part because of that tiny little box that made it all possible.

All good things from the past are not lost. Sure, they are just things. But they are also memories. And memories are meant to hold on to for as long as we’d like.

 

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.

 

Game of Direwolves May 23, 2014

It’s kind of like those so-called “smart” phones. Or those newfangled fancy video gaming systems. Or any other kind of technology that discourages actual person-to-person contact. Otherwise known as one of those people things I kind of wish were never invented.

I feel this way about a lot of people technology, including the aforementioned devices. But every now and then I retract my opinion.

Like when there is a fun commercial of that includes a dog on the moving picture window in the living room (otherwise known a TV). Or when a message from one of moms gal pals on her smart phone makes her giggle. Or when dad defeats a level in a video game. All of these things seem to bring the people I love a sense of joy.

As does this show my people have been watching lately. I don’t get it. But, like so many people things in life, I suppose I don’t have to. Because they do. And it seems to bring them joy, or happiness, or at least theatrical enjoyment for the time being.
2014-05-20 18.20.45
Game of Thrones. Apparently it is some sort of phenomenon. Anyone who’s been with me for a while could probably guess what I take from it. It’s probably not what most people take from it, which is something about power and the scary things it can do to people.

Instead I side with the direwolves. I should probably mention my people are not all the way through the series, and therefore I don’t know whether this remains true. But at least from what I can tell in the middle of the second season I know this is my truth.

The direwolves are my heroes. They are strong and fearless and loyal. I think the loyalty might be what I most respect. Above all, they protect their people.

It doesn’t always bring me the sincerest of joy when my people chose to watch them (and the rest of the Game of Thrones cast) on a Friday night, but I was reminded when it happened tonight that it is not about me.

If I am to live as those I respect and idolize, like the direwolves, nothing is really about me. (Gasp, this is tough to digest in some ways). But that’s okay. Because I have so much in my life to be thankful for it’s ridiculous.

Like today when I was outside with my people as they cared for the lawn. Carter was asleep in his room and they were happy in a way they used to be before the little person was in the picture. Mom even took a few minutes of alone time in her hammock in my backyard paradise.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I am not that big a fan of technology. Because (at least in my humble opinion) it takes precious time away from personal interaction.

Like those so-called “smart” phones. Or those newfangled fancy video gaming systems. Or any other kind of technology that discourages actual person-to-person contact. But every now and then these things surprise me with their very own silver lining. Like tonight when all the work was done outside and my people came inside to watch an episode of this “Game of Thrones.”

It was bloody and gory and depressing to me. But those direwolves brought to life for me what I would like to think viewers get from the show. They live and breathe loyalty and life. I’m not sure what else you can ask for when it comes to confusing people television.

 

There’s No App For That Revisited January 30, 2014

Gratitude. Love. Joy. These are big words with a lot of emotion behind them. That’s why I have always been a believer in putting these so-called “Smartphones” away. They take away attention from me. They distract my people. And, in general, I simply don’t care for technology replacing the real thing.
LoveA tiny smiley face on a screen in no way is as powerful as a real one. And (let’s face it) a cyber hug only goes so far. To me there is an entire generation of little people growing up in an age that doesn’t encourage nearly enough physical communication. I don’t really understand what makes these phones so “smart” anyway.

So today I was reading through some comments from my friends in the blogosphere and it occurred to me. I am so often very deeply touched by the words I see on the screen. To all of you (you know who you are) who comment regularly, please know that your words sincerely make my heart swell with joy. That brings the purpose of this blog full circle, as joy truly is best when shared. I share my take on life’s little joys from the ground up with you, and (in turn) you share joy with me.

It’s a very powerful technological cycle that I couldn’t ever replace with physical contact since we are all so far away. Therein I find the silver lining. This thing called technology certainly has its downsides – like replacing attention for the company we keep with company elsewhere – but it’s not like me to miss the silver lining in something. Technology. From the ground up, it in no way can replace the real thing.

But it is still real to both the sender and the receiver of the messages. Gratitude. Love. Joy. While I still feel these are best served in person, that doesn’t entirely negate their value via text message or email. Blessings are being shared. There may not be an app for that, but that’s okay. Because maybe this technology thing isn’t so bad after all.

Related Post: There’s No App For That – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/05/04/theres-no-app-for-that/

 

Recharging Life December 16, 2013

Momma said there’d be days like this. Well, not my momma. But apparently this is a message moms everywhere chose to communicate to whomever will listen. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how proudly we optimists wear our rose-colored glasses. It doesn’t matter that we chose to see the good in all people, places and things. Because ultimately we can’t always control when the battery runs out.Recharging My Battery

Literally. That is how my beloved people began their Monday. The battery went out on one of the cars, which made them both late for work. There was no turning back from there. I don’t know what happens to either of them when they are away, but I know what happens when they return. And on a rare occasion like today, I can’t say I care for it.

Clearly they both had very little emotional battery left upon their return this evening. I don’t think it’s a coincidence either. The car, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) normally functions as a mode of transportation to various sources of joy instead gave them grief. When money is already tight. And temperatures are bitterly frigid.

That’s the thing about days like today. Most times you don’t see them coming. But that’s not such a bad thing, because the tides can turn just as quickly in the other direction. It’s not always easy, but it certainly didn’t take much today. My people were sad. Tired. Disgruntled.

So I did what I do best. I engaged in a game of pickle in the middle with my newest addition to my comfort circle cast of characters. Mr. Squirrel is floppy, unlike the majority of my other toys, and he did just the trick. It started with dad. We played tug of war on the living room floor. Laughter followed smiles. Then it caught on with mom. Joy. From the ground up. It’s a pretty effective way of recharging one’s emotional batteries, that much is for sure.

Dad swapped out the battery for a new one. I swapped out the negative energy in our house for the positive. Maybe that’s why my momma never said there’d be days like this. Just because we can’t control when or how the battery runs out doesn’t mean we don’t have the power and strength within us to recharge.

 

The Love Tree October 13, 2013

Normally I don’t care much for those things they call Smartphones. They draw attention away from where it belongs (i.e. the company we keep, namely me). They distract people on car rides. And I don’t think they are really all that smart.

But today I witnessed firsthand what I suppose would be the one silver lining within these things called Smartphones. Randomness. This may come as a surprise given my open belief that everything happens for a reason, but it is a concept I can appreciate (and even find some humor in) within the right context. Today, for example, the context made for a pretty special moment of randomness even I could appreciate.Who do you love?

“I love you.” That was it. That’s all the text message contained. And (to be honest) that’s all it needed to say. Mom received that message from her little sister Morgan this afternoon and I’m pretty sure it made her day. Which made my day. Which got me to thinking (of course) about this people theory of randomness.

As I basked in the warmth of another unusually warm fall day, I took note of the tree (my favorite in my backyard paradise) above me. I looked up at the branches, each reaching out to the next. Connecting.

It reminded me of the random bit of love mom received from Morgan. Morgan shared love with mom, who shared it with me, and now I’m sharing it with you. Random? I’m not so sure. But love needs no explanation. And each bit of random love is like a branch, reaching to the next. Connecting.

“Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit,” Lebanese thinker Khalil Gibran suggested. Well then (I thought to myself as I drifted away into the fabulous dreamland of my second afternoon nap) we must do all we can to share random moments of love with those around us. Heaven forbid anyone experience a life without love.

Morgan shared it with mom, mom shared it with me, and now I share it with you. Please consider reaching out to someone sometime soon. Connecting. Whether in person, on the phone or (gasp) even in a text on one of those Smartphones. Tell them they are loved. Because as ancient Greek theologian Saint Basil proposed, “a tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

 

Can You Hear That? September 4, 2013

I don’t care much for cell phones. I know some people call them “smart,” but I can’t say I agree. From what I can tell, these mini computers are nothing but a distraction aimed at keeping people interested in everything but their present company. (Not to mention the teeny tiny buttons are far too small for any dog to attempt to navigate and they are capable of producing sounds that hurt my little doggie ears). They are good for keeping in touch with loved ones, but (in my humble opinion) they are otherwise overused.

Can You Hear It?My mom apparently shared my feelings (albeit temporarily) today as she was so frustrated with her phone she verbally considered throwing it as hard as she could into the hardwood floor. (That’s the thing about computers – they have a way of crashing when we need them most). I stood at the ready as I do with all things about to be thrown and was highly disappointed when she didn’t follow through with her destructive plot.

As I mourned the loss of yet another battle (me versus the phone for my mom’s undivided attention), I reminded myself the real purpose of these phones. (As much as I occasionally wish they were), they are not akin to tennis balls. They are designed to make and receive calls. Therein lies its greatest blessing.

If only we had phones capable of calling us to our purpose in life. Not our job, our career, or our hobby. I’m talking about our true purpose and meaning for breathing. That is a phone I would stand behind. But alas, no such invention exists (yet) so we are left to our own devices to receive our higher calling in life. Or are we?

“No other (person) on Earth can do what you are called to do, can give to the world what you alone were sent to give through your authentic gifts,” writes Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance. “The call may be so faint you can barely make out the message, but if you listen you will hear it.”

If you listen you will hear it. Not the incessant chiming, chirping, beeping, vibrating and singing songs those cell phones make. Because let’s face it. Even those mini computers sometimes really aren’t that “smart.” Instead be still. Listen closely. Your heart may just hold an answer your mind has been too distracted to hear.

 

The Assault of Laughter August 13, 2013

Forget Ludwig van Beethoven. Music doesn’t get any better than what I heard coming from mom today. Giggles

Laughter. Belly busting, tears-in-your-eyes laughter. It was beautiful. Remember those tears of joy I was talking about a few days ago? This was different. It had nothing to do with the baby and everything to do with this mysterious thing my mom was looking at on the computer. Being the interactive investigator I am, I had to find out what all this joy was about so I took a peak when she wandered off to refill her glass of water. And let me tell you, if dogs could laugh, I too would be giggling like a ninny right now.

Looking back at me were images of 22 dogs who are just really excited to be dogs. They are all doing fairly common canine comedy, caught on camera no doubt by their loving people. And yet, they are illustrated in a way that brings the one of the most sincere (and random) forms of joy to the heart.

This is too good not to be shared, as philosopher Khalil Gibran would suggest that “in the sweetness of friendship (there should be) laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” We all need a good refreshing teary-eyed laugh every now and then. So today I share mine.

It’s hard to pick a favorite, so I picked three.

This dog who physically cannot contain how excited he is about being able to shit outside.               

22 Dogs Who Are Just Really Excited To Be Dogs

This dog who can’t even sit still because he’s a dog and his life is amazing and he spends 24 hours a day doing beautiful dog things.

             

22 Dogs Who Are Just Really Excited To Be Dogs

This dog who is even too excited for the other dog.
                  

22 Dogs Who Are Just Really Excited To Be Dogs

Are you laughing yet? If not, please check out the entire list as there is much more happiness to be had from the stories of the other dogs as well. (You won’t be disappointed).

All of this reminds me that music comes to us in many forms. And I don’t really have anything against the legend that is Mr. Beethoven. But the sound of laughter is one of the most contagious forms of joy I’ve come across in my doggie life. While I know there are some things that are off limits in the category of comedy, today I revel in its wondrous affect on our lives. It’s ironically soothing. Refreshing, like the morning dew. And as great American author Mark Twain put it “against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

 

So Happy Together July 28, 2013

I don’t understand why people call cell phones smart. The way I see it, they distract more than they connect. They take people away from the company they’re with to a cyber place with people somewhere else. And (perhaps most importantly) they detract from my favorite time of day: family time.Family Time Please

It doesn’t happen often, but it did tonight. There we were in the living room. Together. But separate. Mom and dad both were playing around with these so-called Smartphones. I don’t know what they were doing that was so important, but it doesn’t matter to me. Sunday nights are not for cell phones. They are for family time. So I did what any dog would do: I shut that technology party down.

And it was far from easy. In addition to every single one of my toys (which I still don’t understand why dad insists on putting into a basket), I brought out some of my best tricks. I sat and stared at dad. I jumped at him. I pawed at his foot. Nothing. I stared at mom. I jumped at her. I pawed at her foot. Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing – my mom confused all of my purposeful shenanigans as a desire to be let outside. I dutifully went outside, did my business and then scratched at the door to be let back inside so I could resume my mission. I would not be ignored. Persistence and patience paid off about fifteen minutes later when I finally succeeded in luring them both into a game of pickle in the middle.

This is a favorite game of theirs and (in spite of how frustrating it can be to always play the role of pickle) it is a favorite of mine. They always smile and giggle and I can feel it in the air. There we were in the living room. Together. Joy. In a moment, there it is.

These games never last very long, but as I am an expert in the area of people watching I know what always comes next. Family time. It never stops with the game. It starts with the game. The cell phones get put away (who are you calling smart now?), and we cuddle together as a family. We are so happy together in these moments. Now if only I could figure out a trick to get them to turn off that television.

 

There’s No App for That May 4, 2013

I got something in the mail recently I couldn’t keep from sharing. As I’ve previously mentioned, I recently attended first communion celebrations for two of my favorite little people. While I was not allowed in either church, the messages of love, hope and peace filtered their way directly into my little doggie heart through the conversations that followed.

Thank YOUI was reminded of those messages this week when I received thank you notes from princesses Sophie and Abigail thanking my parents and I for our gifts of money and jewelry. Just as my name had been included on the invitations, my name was included on the notes thanking us for coming to be part of their special days. I can honestly say I was absolutely touched by the sincerity of gratitude in the priceless little people handwriting of Sophie and Abigail.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life,” author Melody Beattie writes. “It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

These written words have an unspoken power to ignite my imagination and feed my soul. But they also bring to mind something about the written word itself. It is dying amidst our technologically savvy culture and it breaks my heart.

Every time the newspapers get thinner and smaller, I know that also means there are less people on staff to do the reporting, editing and layout. While e-books are enabling more writers to dip their ink in the wonderful world of publishing, gizmos like tablets and e-readers are encouraging people to opt for a paperback-free way of the future. And with the millions of apps and games, Smartphones are helping people around the word stay “connected.” Connected to what? Certainly not to each other, when it’s more convenient to use technology.

Why call when you can text message? Why write when you can e-mail? Why browse a library when you can buy the book with a click of a button?

I’ll tell you why. There is one very important thing people who buy too far into the technology are missing: the context of emotion. The vocal tone of a sentence can drastically alter its meaning, and good intentions can be so easily misinterpreted for sarcasm. Albeit, the majority of tech-savvy folks know that ALL CAPS MEANS YOU’RE YELLING, but a yell is meant to be heard not read. Sure, you can put a smiley emoticon (or a winky face, or a kissing face, or an undecided face) at the end of a text message, but that doesn’t come close to the impact of any of those emotions experienced in person. The thought that goes into a handwritten letter or thank-you note is unmatched by the autocorrect and spell check of word processors.

All the teeny tiny happy faces in the world can’t replace a real one. You can’t give someone a hug via e-mail. Herein lies the problem with our reliance on modern technology. Power to the people who still write thank you notes, send paper cards to family members on birthdays and anniversaries, and who read the newspaper. Call me old school, but getting those special little envelopes in the mail this week brought to light a serious problem with our continuously evolving technological society. Let us really stay connected by remembering the power of a hug or kiss can’t be felt through a text message. I will always be a supporter of local libraries and book stores. And (perhaps most important of all) there is no app for gratitude.

Related Articles:

Peace Be With You – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/04/21/peace-be-with-you/

Hope In Gratitude – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/01/14/hope-in-gratitude/