Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

For Me It’s Both November 30, 2014

I have so many questions. So many general thoughts about life and all that makes it up. So many observations about people, places and things. And what I feel is a unique perspective from which to share all of this with whomever will take it.

Sometimes I feel like I’m babbling myself into some kind of intellectual abyss. Other times I feel like these questions, thoughts and observations have a way of coming together in a kind of harmony that I couldn’t replicate again if I tried. Like anyone I have good days and bad days. I know this reflects in my ongoing conversations with the blogosphere I have come to know as family in the last almost two years.Happy Blogging!

I can’t believe it’s been that long. In less than a month, I will have blogged every single day for two straight years. Seven days a week, 365 days a year, of joy, from the ground up. And while much of the obvious things in my life have remained static, I got to thinking today about how the world around me has changed so much since then.

Mom was recovering from knee reconstruction surgery all those months ago. She was laid up for what feels like forever, which I wouldn’t have minded if not for all the pain she was suffering through. Since then, our family of three has become a family of four and she has a different job that allows her more time at home with dear baby Carter and I. Dad liked me back then, but I know for sure he loves me now. And not just because he lets me snuggle with him more than he used to, but because he tells me he loves me when no one’s listening.

Life is different, simple as that, but I would take it as far as to say it’s better. Mom is happier, and an already stable marriage between my forever mom and dad is stronger. Carter is almost a year old and bringing more joy than frustration to all of us these days. Life is good.

When all of this started, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was I wanted to share my perspective on the joy in my world with whomever is interested enough to read my questions, thoughts and observations. Now I am blessed to have readers I’ve come to think of as family. It’s amazing what this thing called the Internet can do.

“Commitment is an act, not word,” suggested French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. In my case, it’s both. Because for better or worse, I am grateful to have your support through my good, bad, ugly, hysterical or downright challenging days. Amid all my curious musings, this is something I know for sure.

 

There’s Always Tomorrow November 28, 2014

It’s kind of a big deal. But from what I can tell, maybe it shouldn’t be. To me it sounds like a disappointment waiting to happen. And while I generally like being right, I can’t say I feel all that swell about it this time around.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a day to pause and be grateful for every single reason to feel blessed in one’s life. That means today is Black Friday, a day seeped in almost as many traditions as the holiday that precedes it for my forever mom. I’ve come to know what to expect out of today in my time with my people. There’s usually shopping. And feasting on leftovers. And probably a Christmas movie or two to foster the Christmas spirit that was sparked by the aforementioned shopping and leftovers.Better to Try

None of that went according to plan today. Too many people got in the way. Crabby, irritable, downright rude people. Everyone was in a rush. No one seemed to have any shred of concern for what was happening around them. Instead, they were focused on the madness of their self-inflicted chore of shopping. Never mind that in the majority of cases, the shopping is meant to share. To be generous. To show love for others. Never mind all of that.

Because aunt Edna really needed that last copy of Big Bang Theory Season 7 on DVD. And Grace could not wait one more minute to get that copy of Destiny for her grandson’s Playstation 4 out of the locked case. And Mary Ann needed to shove Lana out of the way to score a slightly better spot in a very long checkout line. Alas, the day meant to kick off the holiday season has seemingly evolved into a grotesque sparkplug that startles the bad out of even the best people.

It didn’t help matters that dear baby Carter was not having any of it. Likely still exhausted from all the family time yesterday, the poor kid did not enjoy being carted around to store after store of loud and grumpy people.

The resulting day was nothing at all resembling my mom’s dear tradition. Shopping yielded nothing but a general sense of disappointment in people. Leftovers were gobbled down while Carter screamed bloody murder in all his overtired glory. And time simply didn’t allow for Christmas movies.

I don’t usually dislike being right, but today is one of those days. From the stories I heard, it seemed the day brought out more greed than generosity. More cursing than common courtesy. More frustration than joy. From the ground up, this big deal of a day was instead a pretty big flop.

But there’s a truth I try to live that comes to mind after witnessing a day like today. There’s always tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow is a new day. Thank goodness for that.

 

The Whole Way Home November 27, 2014

It’s one of my most absolute favorite days of the year. Not just because I get to see the extended members of my forever family. Or because of the delicious variety of table scraps I inevitably score throughout the day. It’s not even because I know I have a game or two of pickle in the middle to look forward to with some of my favorite (not-so) little people.

It’s because of how these things make me feel. Gratitude. From the ground up, it oozes out of my soul today, as our nation celebrates a day designated to pause and reflect on one’s blessings in life. Though this is something I try to do on a daily basis, there’s something special about today. Maybe it’s the time with family and those table scraps and after-dinner games. Or maybe it’s what happens when all that is over. Joy

That was the case for me today, as my most recognizable moment of blissful gratitude took me by surprise. It happened on the car ride back to my forever home. It was dark outside so no one could see it happening. Somehow that made it even more memorable for me. As has become the norm of late, mom was in the back seat with dear baby Carter, leaving me to her former spot in the passenger seat. This is an honor in itself, but that’s not all.

Soft music echoed through the car as dad drove, Carter napped, and mom sat in reflective silence in the back seat. In itself it was a perfect moment for our little family. But what completed it for me was dad’s hand. He pet me with his free hand the whole way home. Mom tells me all the time what I already know. She loves me bigger than the sky. Dad doesn’t have to say so. And no words were needed in that 40-minute car ride for me to know true gratitude.

Because today is one of my absolute favorite days of the year. I’ve never been at a shortage of reasons why I love it so much, but this year will always stand out from the crowd for its simplicity in silence. No one has to say a word for me to know real love.

That is what I am most grateful for today. The true and unconditional love I feel in my heart for my people. And even more so for the moments when no words are necessary for me to know for certain they feel it too.

 

Broken Little Things November 26, 2014

I think it is probably one of the most frustrating things I see people experience. That says a lot given all that I observe in a day between my early morning, mid-morning, late morning, early afternoon, mid-afternoon and late afternoon naps. And it happened again today.

Mom has been in the holiday spirit even more than usual (which is saying a lot, believe me), so she’s been going against her self-imposed rule not to put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Alas, the garland is up, the stockings are hung, and various other decorations donning messages of all things holiday are sprinkled throughout my forever home. I love every bit of it, not just  because of the brightness of the twinkle lights throughout the house, but because I can see straight through the twinkle in her eye to her happy heart.Just call me Wiley

All was going according to plan today when it happened. Three strings of new lights didn’t work. They were all brand new, purchased from the store today, and they simply did not light up. They were broken beyond repair. And there was a brief pause as this sank in for my forever mom and dad as they were near completion on operation holiday decoration for the day. Defeat. From the ground up, it was in the air. But not for long.

Because things don’t work sometimes. Things are broken. It is not the end of the world. First of all, they are just things. You can’t take any of it with you to heaven, so in my opinion it doesn’t really matter all that much. Beyond that, defeat has no place in a day like today. A day full of twinkle lights and Christmas carols and joy. That is what today was about.

The thing is, I understand it’s frustrating. It’s infuriating. It’s absolutely maddening when something is supposed to work and doesn’t. But that’s life. And life goes on. The question is, are you going on with it? Or are you going to let something as silly as a broken set of holiday lights bring darkness into your day? Either way, it’s up to you. But I find there is strength to be gained from these situations that is much more significant than any broken little thing.

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places,” as American author Ernest Hemingway put it. And I would say it is the broken places that make us who we are.

 

Reason for the Season November 6, 2014

I think we all have them. Certain phrases or cliches that make us cringe at the mere utterance of the words. For me, it’s you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I openly despise these words, mostly because I know in my heart they are completely false. It’s that simple.

The truth is, I think this is one of many realities that translates from the four-legged to the two-legged world. Ageism is a problem in society, and it is one of the things in life I just don’t understand. With age comes life. Wisdom. Memories. These are things to be honored and respected, not tarnished by a silly stereotype. Let Your Heart Be Light

I know some people don’t like it when mom asks them how young they are, but I also know she has her reasons. And she asks the question the same way, whether she’s talking to a six-year-old or a 67-year-old. I heard it again today, as she interviewed an older woman and her husband who make appearances in our area as Santa and Mrs. Claus. Santa’s helpers, they called themselves.

They too spoke of this societal problem with age, as they focus their emotional efforts on keeping the magic of Christmas alive regardless of who they visit. And it pays off, because from day cares to nursing homes, the result is the same. They inspire a joy deep within you can’t lose with age. I would dare go as far as to say it only gets better with age, but that’s just my humble doggie opinion.

I know we all have opinions about things, just like we all have phrases that make us emotionally cringe. But that’s also the reason I found this a fitting message to share as we are at the helm of the holiday season. I know random acts of kindness become a lot less random this time of year. I know its easier to be joyful and happy as planning gets underway for fun family festivities and holiday parties.

But I also know it’s not the same for everyone. For some people, these next couple of months are a torturous three month reminder of a loved one lost. A parent, a friend, or a family member who used to breathe life into the holiday has now left a gaping hole in the heart where joy used to be.

Young or old, these people need us this year. They need our love. They need our support. They need our joy to be contagious. Because ultimately that is what the holiday season is all about.

 

Food for Thought November 28, 2013

I think it’s a survival of the fittest thing. Except I’m not that fit. I think about food. A lot. I just like a good sampling of whatever scraps I can get my paws on. I would have to considering my prized nickname as the doggie vacuum cleaner. If it’s on the floor, it’s mine.Are you hungry? Always.

So it probably comes as no surprise that Thanksgiving is among my favorite holidays. It’s the one day a year (almost) entirely dedicated to food. Hours of preparation go into preparing turkeys and potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce and rolls and pumpkin pies. Don’t even get me started about the smells. And the tastes…well, that’s the tricky part for us canines on a day like today.

I don’t frequently get people food as a practice of my parents to keep me safe (or so they say). Not for doggies is a phrase I hear all too regularly. But let’s just say I know who to sit by (or under) on days like today. I have my people who sneak me little samples of turkey and mashed potatoes. And I love them.

I had at least one of these people at each of the stops on my Thanksgiving journey. Today I got to visit both grandma’s houses, which meant I got a lot of samples.

Today I was blessed to have these people at both stops on my Thanksgiving journey. I got to visit both grandma’s houses today. The table looked basically the same at each house, complete with a turkey and all of it’s trimmings. And I scored turkey and mashed potatoes from my accomplices (who shall remain unnamed).

Getting sleepy...But I noticed something other than the menu was the same at both the houses. It’s hard to believe, but it was something bigger than either of the turkeys. It was more prominent than the spicy pumpkin smell wafting through the air. After all of that preparation, the eating itself only lasted but a half hour or so. The leftovers were carefully divided up and stored away in the fridge. And that’s when real party started. Everyone was happy to be together. Thankful. Not necessarily for the food, but for the time together.

This occurred to me as I drifted off into my own sort of turkey coma. This day, Thanksgiving, is actually about so much more than food. (Which is a tough truth for someone as in love with food as myself to admit). Forget survival of the fittest. I could not survive if not for these people. I would much rather forgo my samples than be without them.

So (while I still appreciate the dedication to food that accompanies the day), I pause tonight to give thanks. To recognize the meaning behind the deliciousness. To embrace that today is actually about people coming together to celebrate each other. To tell stories (even if they’ve all been told before). To feed something other than our stomachs. For today we also feed our souls.

 

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?

 

You Tell Me November 24, 2013

Some people call me needy. I prefer loving. Compassionate. Loyal. There’s only one problem: I care what people think. There, I said it. And “needy” doesn’t exactly sound like a positive thing.

Yet I will be the first to admit I am a self-proclaimed doggie Olympic gold medalist at attention-seeking behavior. I cuddle into the tiniest crevice next to (all right, sometimes on top of) whomever will have me. I prefer to be a co-pilot on car rides rather than slum it in the back seat. Above all, I won’t rest until I’ve made someone smile. Counting Blessings

Sure, this external locus of control on self-esteem has its downsides. (Complete and utter failure come to mind). But the joy I feel in the moments I’m sharing joy with others more than makes up for that.

I thought of this today as I watched as my forever people bustled around the house. Today dad finally finished his long list of daddy nesting projects around the house. In his eyes, the house is officially ready for our new little person. Meanwhile, something called a car seat travel system got assembled, a diaper bag was put together, and baby clothes were washed and neatly folded away. I felt blessed to be a bystander in these moments. I watched it all unfold from the comfort of my doggie bed in the kitchen. And, in doing so, I became the richest doggie alive.

For 339 days, I have shared my thoughts with the world. My 365-day mission to share my unique perspective on joy (from the ground up) has almost come full circle. And today I realized perhaps one of the most important things I’ve come to know from my experience is myself. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve learned a lot about the way I think, the way I perceive the world around me, and the ways in which my “needy” title is actually a good thing.

“If you want to feel rich, count the gifts you have that money can’t buy.” I don’t actually know who said these words, but I do know how they make me feel. I’ve stumbled upon great fortune during this journey of self discovery. Some people call me needy. I prefer to see myself as an ambassador of great fortune to all who will take it. Joy. From the ground up, that is my gift to give. You tell me whether it’s worth taking.

 

A (Sun)day In The Life October 6, 2013

There is simply no excuse for me. I have no good reason for not attending the Out of the Darkness Paws for Prevention walk as promised today. Granted, it would have been tough to do without my driver (aka mom) deciding to go. Which she didn’t.

Instead I was incredibly lazy. Let’s be honest – my days are generally fairly laid back. But today I felt particularly lazy as my people hustled and bustled all over the house. The windows were open to let the beautiful fall air in and dad worked on something stinky in the baby’s room. That paint stuff is for the dogs. I don’t like it.

So I stayed close to mom in the kitchen. Boy, she was busy in there today. First, it smelled spicy with what I heard her call chili. Then the meaty goodness mixed with a sweetness she called apple pumpkin soup. (There was bacon involved with this because I scored a few nibbles when dad wasn’t looking). Finally, jambalaya joined the mix. It was definitely better than the paint smell, but I was basically hungry all day long thanks to the delicious odors wafting through the air.

Outside was busy too. The hum of leaf blowers was prominent throughout the day as this is the price my people and their neighbors pay for the beautiful trees that line the street. And then I got a visit from two little boys from down the street. I tried to hug them, but I don’t think they cared too much for that. They were focused on collecting orders for Christmas wreaths. In early October.

Here I was appreciating the fabulousness of all things fall and apparently we are fast-tracking to Christmas already. I didn’t expect mom to buy one because the season is so far away. But she has been in the habit of surprising me lately, and today she did not disappoint.

So we are all set for Christmas now, at least as it pertains to the wreath for the front door. And at first I felt kind of irritated about it. What about Halloween? And Thanksgiving (which might just be my favorite people holiday)? Then I remembered that thing I like to find in all situations. The silver lining.

December may seem far away. But it’s not. Which means all of the joy of the holidays is not far away. While I am a believer in living in the joy of the season year-round, Christmas is a time when joy abounds all around me. It’s one thing to believe something on the inside. It’s another thing to be completely enveloped with it on the outside.

I didn’t have to go to the Paws for Prevention walk today to know that. To know the importance of sharing my joy from the ground up with whomever will take it. I do feel badly about breaking my promise to attend the important event. But I know I was where I was supposed to be today. Soaking it all in. Life. From the ground up. It looks pretty good to me.

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