Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Everything and Nothing January 15, 2015

Sometimes it’s hardly recognizable. Other times its clear as day. Ever since life as I knew it changed, a day in the life of me looks different than it used to. The intricacies of the daily routine are altered in most ways.

I’d come to be quite accustomed to spending weekdays alone in my forever home when my people were at that place called work all day. It fit quite well into my rigorous napping schedule, in fact. I would anxiously look forward to my forever mom coming home from work over her lunch hour so we could explore the neighborhood over her lunch hour. I would enjoy my late-afternoon nap in the bay window so I could more aptly hear the gentle hum of the cars coming home, first dad and then mom. The night together would come and go and it would all start over again.

All of that is a thing of the past, and has been since dear baby Carter came home. I see a lot more of mom than I used to, and when she’s not here, someone else I care about is (usually it’s my grandma or Aunt Morgan). My nap schedule hasn’t really changed, but my exercise has taken on a little different approach. It is a lot less frequent than it used to be (such things happen in sub-zero temperatures especially), but now it involves everyone in the family, usually at night, so that’s okay by me. Dont Worry, Be Happy

Tonight, as Carter made an art out of diving in and out of his ball pit and mom and dad and I played pickle in the middle, I was reminded how much has changed. Not just for me, but for all of us. Almost everything I knew is different now. And yet the important stuff is the same. Somehow everything and nothing has changed in the best kind of way.

“Things to not change; we change,” suggested transcendental thinker Henry David Thoreau.

The love around here is stronger than ever, the joy multiplies on a daily basis, and life is full with all things new. No two days are the same anymore, and while I will admit to liking structure, I’m okay with everything about the nothing that’s changed.

 

 

No Waste of Time January 4, 2015

It’s been a good run. My dear forever dad has been home from that place called work for what feels like ages. He gets a break each year when his work shuts down during the holidays. Though the time off is nothing new for us, something about this time seemed special somehow. Pausing to smell the snowflakes

I couldn’t really say why until today. It was kind of a mystery to me why this felt so different this time. We celebrated the holidays (mostly) as we always do. There was love and joy with family and friends. There were a few days when they left to go somewhere exciting where dogs weren’t allowed. I was fine with that because of all of the positive energy I felt from them upon their return. (That, and they were never gone too long on account of dear baby Carter’s napping schedule). And there was an unconventional New Year’s that was more about Carter’s first birthday than anything else. All of it was special in its own rite, but that’s not that unusual in itself around here.

So today when mom said it, a light bulb illuminated my heart. This is the longest stretch of time dad has been home with Carter since he was born. And that didn’t go unnoticed by him or Carter, believe me. In the last week and a half, Carter has perfected his pronunciation of “dada,” favors him for many parts of his daily routine, and chases after him all over the house.

As I’ve watched this all unfold, I thought it might start to bother my dear forever mom. As his primary caregiver, I thought maybe she’d be jealous of this behavior. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I knew it as her and dad reflected on the events of the last few weeks. From Carter’s birthday party to the family time in the snow yesterday to the time they spent together doing nothing at home today as another snow storm made its way through our area, it’s been a pretty great stretch.

That all ends tomorrow when everything goes back to reality. Work. From the ground up, it’s not one of my favorite things. But as tonight makes its way into tomorrow, I figure it’s better to embrace everything that has made this last couple of weeks so memorable. Because that is exactly why these kinds of breaks are important. Not only do they have the power to make reality a lot more bearable, but they remind us of what’s important in life. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget what it’s all about.

As British thinker John Lubbock once said “rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

In our case it was pausing to make snow angels as beautiful snowflakes painted the sky, but it’s all the same to me.

 

Life and the Living of it October 18, 2014

I used to think I did my best thinking in peace. It was quiet. It was relaxing. And my thoughts raced with big ideas. One of my favorite spots to this day is out by the biggest tree in my backyard paradise. Because every now and then, it’s good to be alone.

I was reminded of this today when my beloved forever family packed up and left me at my forever home alone. Though I was initially a little brokenhearted that I wasn’t invited along to one of my favorite not-so-little-anymore person’s football games, I got over it pretty quickly.

Alone with My ThoughtsIt isn’t often I have the house to myself these days. I couldn’t decide at first where I wanted to relax. I had my pick of the bedrooms, the living room, the basement. I had so many quiet options I struggled a bit to decide. I ended up in the living room in everyone’s favorite chair. It’s the chair everyone chooses to sit in first for a reason I don’t quite understand. I couldn’t get comfortable there, so I tried that crevice between mom and dad’s pillows on the bed. When that didn’t work, I tried the massive display of pillows in the guest room. Still nothing.

That’s when it occurred to me. Silence. It’s not my favorite thing. I’m hardly as anxious as I was as a puppy to be left alone, but the minutes ticked by so slowly this afternoon as I waited not-so patiently for my family to return home.  Minutes turned into hours as I waited by the door, which is admittedly one of the least comfortable places in the whole house.

In total, they were gone less than five hours, but it felt like an eternity. I was so happy to see them when they got home. Happy to hear mom and dad regale the day’s events while dear baby Carter was sure to contribute his fair share of screeches and babbles.

I missed that.

I know they say babies change everything. And around here, I suppose it’s true. But I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. Sure, I used to do my best thinking in complete silence that no longer exists in my world. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to love the chaos that surrounds me on a daily basis. I’ve learned to thrive on it. Because all the life and the living of it makes me feel more alive.

 

Things That Happen at Dusk July 16, 2014

I’ve gotten pretty used to the nighttime routine around here. Dinner, play, nap, play eat, sleep. Things have progressed slightly from where they were a few months ago, for which I am appreciative. Mom, dad and dear baby Carter spend a little more family time together than they used to thanks mostly to the six-month landmark that is solid foods.

Nonetheless, something happened today that departed from routine. And I’m not going to lie. I loved it. Moments after Carter went to bed, mom spontaneously decided she was going to take me for a quick walk around the neighborhood. This might not sound like much to the average canine, but to me it meant the world.

I can’t remember the last time I was out and about sans baby and carefree. While I realize this sounds like a complaint, I truly and sincerely digress. It’s not about that. It’s about things that happen at dusk and my love and appreciation for them.

Be it a random walk around the neighborhood, observing Carter’s bedtime routine, or watching the moving picture window known by people as the TV, it doesn’t really matter. I see stars in all of these things because these things spark happiness in the people around me.

Today, my stars multiplied because I felt like I was out living large with a chapter of my past. In what some might call the “good ole days,” mom and I adventured through the neighborhood (and sometimes even the dog park) on a daily basis. Obviously it has been some time since that has been the norm, but that doesn’t remove the importance of a thing like tonight from my heart.

If nothing else, it increases it. Because I’ve gotten quite used to the nighttime routine around here. It has departed (a bit) from the temporary eat, sleep, poop routine that was the norm a few months ago. And while that change has been welcomed, something else is welcomed along with it. While still increasingly important, routine needs to be broken every now and then. And when such a thing involves a journey to the past to which I felt like paying tribute, all is well in my little doggie world. So I say long live tradition and all it means for change.

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The Importance of Emotional Attention June 21, 2014

To most people it probably sounds pretty ridiculous. Mom is blessed. I see her a lot more than I used to. But that’s beside the point. Because when this happens, it doesn’t matter how often we see each other. She gets pretty mad.Life's Big Questions

“So…what did you do all day?” is probably one of the worst questions a husband can ever ask a wife. Especially when there is a small child involved. It carries with it a somewhat hurtful (albeit probably unintentional) amount of loathing that makes one hard-working mother feel as though she isn’t quite working hard enough. While I know in my heart that is certainly not the message dad intended to deliver this afternoon upon return from his day at the race track with his dad, that is exactly what he said.

And, as it were, his intentions didn’t matter. Mom’s feelings were hurt and there is sometimes no turning back from that. Because in her eyes our day was plenty busy. We played and ate and slept and played some more. Auntie Morgan even came over for some pool time. Granted, no laundry was done. No dishes were cleaned. Nothing was dusted. But that didn’t matter, because overall, it was a very nice day.

I think this misunderstanding that happened between my people today reflects a common misconception in society. Because the way I see it people all work very hard. And I was raised on a “work hard, play hard” kind of philosophy. But that’s so far from reality for my people. There is no playing hard around here since (for the most part) they would rather be with each other than anywhere else on a Saturday night.

So I suppose it sounds pretty ridiculous to most other people, but I stand by the truth I know in my heart, which is that my dear forever mom and dad are truly blessed. It might not seem like it to them as the hard working people they are, but they are fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with dear baby Carter. Not to mention with me, as I do require an average (to above average) amount of emotional attention. I just think it’s too easy sometimes to forget the importance of emotional attention.

And that reminds me all to clearly of the words of dear transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, who suggested “nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”

I know he’s right. Yet I know the peace I felt in my heart today when several of my favorite people were happy together. That is a peace of emotional attention money can’t buy.

 

Maybe You Can May 4, 2014

It happened almost four month ago. It was terrible. It was one of those things I couldn’t even talk about because it was so emotional. For everyone involved, it was one of those days of which we do not speak. You know the kind. The day you hate. Or regret. Or wish you could completely erase from the memory of anyone and everyone involved. For me, that day was January 9, 2014.What's that you say?

That was one of the only days in my life I honestly wish I could take back. The day I wish would have gone differently. The day I met Charlie.

It was innocent enough on the part of my dear aunt Morgan, who brought her new addition into my forever home. To be fair to her, she had absolutely no idea how I was doing or adjusting to the concept of having my new little person around 24/7. She had been an absolute God-send for my people those first few days, but as it pertains to the presence of another dog in our home…well, that was something completely it’s own.

Enter Charlie. A dachshund with something to prove. He loved my dear aunt so very much, but he did not love me. Or Carter for that matter. He came into our house with something to prove and I didn’t like it one bit. I don’t often feel myself overcome with any sort of overly protective nature, but it happened that day. Charlie and I, well, we did not get along. And, as a result, dear Charlie went back to the humane society from whence he came that day. And to this day I feel awful about it, while at the same time I know it was right how I reacted to him that day of days.

Proof came today when I heard some heart-stoppingly amazing good news. My dear Morgan finally found her forever doggie friend today. His name is Joey and he is a Pomeranian and I cannot wait to meet him. It is different than it was with Charlie in every possible way. Carter is older now. He can handle meeting a new four-legged friend. He basically told me so when I stared into my eyes yesterday.

Because one thing is for sure: Carter will be a forever dog person. This is something I hold dear to my heart, forever and always, even though it (probably) has more to do with how my people feel about animals. Rather than question any of it, I can’t wait to meet dear Joey because I know he will erase the memories of four months ago. Tomorrow I will meet dear Joey, and somehow I know life will never be the same. Because that dreadful day in February was one of those things you can’t take back. Unless, under the right circumstances, maybe you can.

 

Funny Little Number February 6, 2014

Perspective does funny little number on time. To a dog, a day when people are away at that place called work seems like an eternity. To a child, time is endless. To an adult, time is a precious commodity. To me, time is priceless.

That is why I don’t really understand what happens to people and birthdays. When you’re a little person, a birthday is something worthy of fanfare, presents and celebration. I’ve had the good fortune of attending several birthday parties for the little people in the family and they are always something to remember. They come complete with cakes with candles, beautifully wrapped presents and even the occasional water balloon fight (weather permitting). Silly Numbers

I must be missing a part of the puzzle. Because my forever dad never seems to want anything to do with any of it on his birthday. He turned 35 people years old yesterday and mom was sure to go about her usual attempts to commemorate the day. There were presents and mom got an ice cream cake, but dad wanted none of it.

Denial. From the ground up, that is the only emotion in the Schmidt home yesterday. Dad was in denial that he is another year older. Mom was in denial of his denial. I was in denial of all of it. And Carter? Well, he slept the majority of the time so I’m not really sure what he was thinking.

All in all it was one of those days you can’t wait to go to bed so it can be tomorrow. So that’s what I did. But today I got to thinking about these evolving perceptions of time. Why is it that birthdays stop being fun as people age? Age brings with it memories and love and wisdom. And I don’t care what dad thinks. I’m happy he was born, regardless of how long ago it happened.

I guess I side with American baseball player Satchel Paige. “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” he questioned.

Perspective. From the ground up, it does a funny little number on time. Heck, I turn the equivalent of 45 people years old in May and I’ve never felt better. And to me, time is endless, precious and priceless. Because instead of counting years I count blessings. And in doing so, I celebrate the years to come rather than counting the years past.

 

Keepers of the Light January 27, 2014

Leadership. It’s a big word that means a lot of things to a lot of people. Ask 100 people to define a leader and you’ll get at least 60 different responses. Words like strength, courage, integrity, honesty, and loyalty all come to mind. Ask a dog, and the response is pretty simple. Leader of the Pack

For us, its almost instinctual. We have a pack mentality, therefore there will always be a pack leader. And there will always be a pack leader because of our pack mentality. It is that simple. We look to our leader for everything, and do not mind doing so because we prefer to know where we stand. And if no pack leader steps forward, we will assert ourselves as the leader. Whether or not that is the best option is left for interpretation.

I’m not saying one way of thinking is better than another, but I do think there is something to be learned from especially the similarities between the two. At least from what I can tell, there is something almost instinctual about a person’s definition of leadership as well. It is personal, usually aligned in some way with one’s subjective experiences. Good leaders have a way of asserting their leadership in a way that guides rather than forces followers. A way of making them feel at home with their place in life while at the same time in control of it.

Late great American basketball coach John Wooden had a few things to say about leadership, one of them being that leaders make decisions while followers make suggestions. Because let’s face it. It’s pretty easy to make a blanket statement about something bothersome. It’s something completely different to actually do something about it.

That’s the thing about leadership. It means different things to different people. But in a way that is also the glue that binds its meaning together. Whether you have two legs or four, one thing in particular seems to ring true. The best leaders are those whose followers become leaders themselves.

So I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of the canine and the people way of thought. The way I see it, leaders are keepers of the light. They shine brightly for those in the darkness. They guide gently with even the smallest flickering flame. They help people see the way. And (perhaps most importantly) they pass the torch along so there is never a moment of darkness.

 

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.

 

If You Can Dream It November 21, 2013

A lot of things happen in my sleep. It’s like when I close my eyes, they open to a world of possibility. Sometimes it’s silliness (like when I have wings and can fly with the birds). Sometimes it’s purely hope (like my hopes for forever happiness with my beloved family). Other times, I relieve unfortunate events of the past or find myself fearful of bad things happening in the future.

DreamingToday I experienced both sides of the spectrum while my people were away at that place called work. I dreamt of a time I felt unsafe, but not for myself. I felt unsafe for my little person at the time, Jo, who was facing another confrontation with the man with the leather belt. Feeling fearful on behalf of another is almost worse than feeling it for yourself, I realize, since you have even less control over the situation.

Then I saw something fabulous. Something joyful. Something that looked a whole lot like the pictures I’ve seen floating around what my people call the Internet. The photos tell the story of Beau and Theo, a little person and his puppy brother, who have synchronized their sleep schedules and now nap together in all sorts of cuteness. Except in my dream it was me and my own little person (who looked oddly like Jo). We were peaceful and content. But more importantly we were dreaming.

They say two minds are better than one, and I can testify to that. I can’t tell you what we were dreaming about (in the dream) because then it won’t come true.

Thinking about all of this made me realize it’s kind of funny to me the way life imitates art in this way. (Or is it art imitates life?) Just as we fear, we also hope. Or as Suzanne Collins put it in her novel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, “hope is the only thing more powerful than fear.”

Waking and sleeping, the mind is a powerful thing. It can take us places we never dreamed possible, both good and bad. But that’s okay. Because sometimes we need the bad to remember to celebrate the good. And if we can dream it, it is reality if only for those brief moments. That is – and always will be – enough.