Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

Joy: From the Inside Out December 21, 2013

I don’t even know what to say. That’s right, all. Something has rendered me speechless. It’s shocking, I know. Almost as shocking as thinking about the meaning of today.

On December 21, 2012 I felt inspired. It was snowing, and mom and I were happy together, and I didn’t know which came first, her laughter or my joy. It fell from the sky that day. And I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was like a light bulb turned on in my heart and I knew what I had to do. I had to share this magic with whomever would take it. Joy. From the ground up, it became my 365-day mission to share it with the world.

Dog Blog with a CauseAnd that’s what I’ve done. Every day for a year, I have written about everything from existential philosophy to canine poop rituals. Because that’s life. It’s random and messy and beautiful and heart wrenching and hard and fabulous all at the same time. And I love every minute of it.

That doesn’t stop just because my one-year commitment has come to pass. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have grown, over the last year, to better understand myself, the world I live in, and how those two things interact and create the blessing that is life.

This knowledge has empowered me to take on a new mission that promises to be challenging in a whole new way. I want to continue sharing my unique perspective on joy. From the inside out, our understanding of joy in the Schmidt house is bound to change in the next year. Any day now, my little person is going to bring his or her joy into our world. If we thought we knew joy before, I think we have a whole other thing coming.

I know there will also be sleepless nights and dirty diapers and (gasp) a little less attention coming my way. And I may not be able to share these happenings quite as regularly as I have for the last year. But that’s life. From the ground up, the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the course of my blogging journey it is that this thing called life is certainly worth living to the fullest.

“Nobody gets to live life backward,” advice columnist Ann Landers suggested. “Look ahead, that is where your future lies.” The past has become my future and my future will soon become my present. From the inside out, joy is most definitely upon us. So today I turn the page. I start a new chapter. And I’m not going to lie – it’s one I can’t wait to read either.

 

Seeing Through the Fog December 4, 2013

I can’t see a thing. This has been among my first thoughts of the day for three days in a row now. The days have begun like any other, except for when mom lets me outside in the morning. It’s been so unbelievably foggy, I feel completely blind. It’s a good thing I know my way around my backyard paradise so well.Seeing Through the Fog

Being encompassed by a dense fog like this reminds me of what it feels like to be overwhelmed. The fog can seem to close in from every direction. And you can’t see. You’re blinded by the realm of possibility. It doesn’t happen to me often as I’m fortunate enough to have a pretty simple life. From (albeit dreaded) regular visits to the veterinarian to the food in my bowl every day, my parents take really good care of me. There is no reason to feel overwhelmed.

Thank goodness for that because I don’t think I’m much of a fighter. I’ve always thought of myself as more a peacekeeper than anything else. But when I think of the fighters I’ve known in my life, one face comes to mind every time. Tiger. Now he was a fighter. I remember watching in disgust as he violently fought with other dogs for anything from a bone to a loaf of bread. He was always one step ahead of me when it came to finding the best food scraps in the neighborhood and I hated him for it.

That was, until I found out what he was really fighting for. He was providing for a small litter of puppies after the family lost their birth mom. Just like I had lost mine, only my deadbeat dad had left long before I was born. Tiger wasn’t like that. He stood by his family and fought for them in every sense of the word.

He was away hunting for food one day when the fog closed in on me. He’d left me to watch over the little ones before, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. But it was. That was the day one of the dogs Tiger had made an enemy decided to seek revenge. I’ve never felt so overwhelmed in my life. I was blinded by all the devastating ways I knew the story could end. But I couldn’t let that stop me. I needed to see through the fog. I needed to persevere.

So I used the only weapons I knew I had in my arsenal capable of defeating this strange dog with the crazy eyes. My brain and my heart. And (with a little help of a feline friend of mine), I won that particular battle. The puppies were safe. I was safe. Looking back I know it is because I decided to see through the fog to the heart of the matter. Maybe I’m more of a fighter than I thought I was.

 

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.

 

Write It On Your Heart September 20, 2013

It usually makes me kind of uncomfortable. If I’m being honest, I try to avoid it. But the more I thought about it today, the more I realized my avoidance and level of discomfort are nothing compared to the actual problem at hand. Complaining. I can’t stand it. I find myself getting upset when I hear complaints because (at least in my little doggie mind) I feel it is a useless waste of time. Why would you waste all that energy complaining when you could simply do something to rectify the problem?

Don't Worry, Be HappyI got my answer today when I looked out my front window to find my neighborhood feline friend Penny was back on my front doorstep. And she looked sad. I braced myself for the worst, thinking perhaps something had happened to her person Rose. Not quite.

Rose has been in poor health for some time, but she is all right. To Penny that’s part of the problem. She’s just all right. Instead of embracing that she’s still okay, I was surprised to find Penny complaining about how awful it is to see her loved one struggle. Dear Penny went on and on about how badly she wishes she could help somehow and the frustration she experiences because she can’t.

In that moment I realized why people waste all that time complaining. Life sucks sometimes. There, I said it. And when it does, the complaining develops a purpose all its own. It’s for good reason because sometimes there really isn’t anything you can do. And it isn’t fair. But there is always a silver lining.

In this case I think it comes from understanding the difference between optimism, realism and pessimism. In order to call myself an optimist, I must recognize within me the realist. The realism is reality in the making, but it is different from pessimism, which I avoid like the plague. The line between these things may be thin, but it’s made of steel to those who employ it.

I think that’s why complaining makes me so uncomfortable. It skirts around that line of negativity I prefer to stay away from. Instead I take the advice of my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson who encourages us to “write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” Meanwhile, my mind knows sometimes its not. And there’s nothing we can do about it. That’s the realist in me. It’s a good thing my mind listens to my heart.

Related posts:

Negativity – The Silver Lining http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/02/21/negativity-the-silver-lining/

Penny For Your Thoughts http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/08/31/penny-for-your-thoughts-2/

 

Your Teacher Heart September 16, 2013

Every now and then someone will ask me a question that I truly don’t know how to answer. (Want to go …anywhere…is not the question, in case you were wondering). How did you get so smart? They ask. Even if I could speak people, I’m not sure what my answer would be.

The thing is, I wouldn’t say I’m particularly smart. I’m not (that) special. Perhaps that’s why people think I’m smart. Because I’ve noticed a trend in modern society that people generally are not as smart as they think they are. A concept I think can go both ways.

Psychology aside, I do sometimes wonder where “smart” comes from. It’s not among the list of qualities American author John Grogan said seem to come so effortlessly to dogs: “loyalty, devotion, selflessness, unflagging optimism, unqualified love.” Grogan hypothesizes these emotions that are second nature to canines can be “elusive to humans.”

I can’t say this is true for everyone, but it does spark a curiosity in my heart. And I beg to differ with the popular thought that curiosity killed the cat. First, because I think it’s a terrible thing to say even if it is theoretical. Second, because I think curiosity of the heart is the ultimate spark for learning.Love. Unplugged.

This occurred to me today as I dreamed of meeting my little person and all he or she has to learn about the world. I found myself both excited and overwhelmed by the insight of my dog park friend Tucker, who shared with me all about his little person Mason. They are best buddies, and they are constantly learning from each other. But Mason is 13 people years old now. My little person will be brand new to the world the same time he or she is brand new to me. Talk about pressure.

Then I took a deep sighing breath (the kind that catches the attention of my forever mom and inevitably merits a scratch behind the ears) as I realized something that gave me the sincerest form of peace. I don’t know what I’m so worried about. My heart is my teacher. That’s why things like loyalty and selflessness come so easy to me. It’s all rooted in the unconditional love in my heart.

Every now and then someone will ask me a question that I truly don’t know how to answer. How did you get so smart? Beyond the people/dog language barrier lies their answer. I’m not. Not in the conventional sense at least. But I do know where smart comes from. It comes from a curiosity of the heart. It stems from a desire to be loyal, devoted, selfless and optimistic. It is love.

This post is dedicated to my dear blog friend Utesmile, whose encouragement inspired these words.

 

Mind Over Matter July 7, 2013

I won an argument with a fly today. It was buzzing around the house all day driving me crazy with its zigs and zags. The more it buzzed, the more I felt like it was taunting me. You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me! Oh yes I can, Mr. Fly. And (after yet another epic battle of the minds) I did. I caught you and all of your incessant buzzing, Mr. Fly!

It was a very different ending than a similar battle I had about two weeks ago. I lost the argument that day, after what seemed like an eternity of jumping, twisting, chasing and growling. Victory evaded me that day. But not today. Today I trade feelings of defeat for feelings of regret as I now feel like the buzzing continues in my tummy.

Not Feeling My Best

If there is something us canines don’t all fully understand it’s the people practice known as moderation. Our misunderstanding is probably at its worst when we’re puppies and have yet to learn the dos and don’ts of living with people. Do eat your food when it is provided to you. Don’t get so excited about your food that you spill it all over the floor. Do accept treats in reward for tricks. Do not beg for people food at the table. (Or, better yet, do not attempt to jump onto the table to retrieve the people food yourself). You get the idea.

Generally speaking, I don’t struggle with the concept. All good things in moderation. Understood. But I blame my nomadic lifestyle as a puppy for one area I lack control. I ate what I could when I could. There was no picking and choosing, and (when I was living with other street dogs) if you didn’t eat fast you didn’t eat. I know this is different in my forever home, where there is never short supply of dog food, treats, rawhides and various other chew toys. I would prefer this life to my previous time as a puppy nomad any day. Yet my mind always seems to beat my stomach in the ultimate battle royale in self control.

In the meantime, I seriously need to learn my lesson when it comes to eating live things. No matter how small, the pursuit is always more exciting than the finale. It makes me wonder about this mind over matter thing. It’s another one of those people practices that occasionally leaves us canines stupefied. But experience has taught me things that confuse us are often those most important for us to seek to understand. As American evangelist Charles Swindoll suggests, “the secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence. Really, it’s a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free.” I suppose he’s right. I’d much rather have freedom in excellence than win a battle that leaves my tummy feeling funny.

 

I Chose Life July 2, 2013

What we know in our hearts we believe with our minds. It might sound simple, but this canine way of thought can also be incredibly complex. It’s also true regardless of what side of the doggie door we live on. If we’re on our own we are responsible for everything, in stark contrast to life in a forever home where the majority of decisions are made for us. Down to what we eat and when we eat it, we rely on our people to make the majority of life’s decisions for us.

But there is one thing we control regardless of whether we wear a collar with our names on it. We control how we feel about things. And I have to admit I didn’t always like the way I felt about people. Though I would argue puppies are born into this world with an innate connection to people, I learned not to trust them within the first few days of my life. My birth mom didn’t seem to trust them, so neither would I. I didn’t know the rationale behind her behavior, but it didn’t matter. It was decided. I too wouldn’t trust people. After I was separated from my mom, my belief remained intact for the most part. That is until various characters came in and out of my life that began to alter my perception. Maybe I was right all along, I remember thinking, we should trust people. My instincts were right! Yay Life!

It wasn’t long after that I met Jo and the man with the leather belt. Also known as the man with the baseball bat. And the man with the power drill. I didn’t make many decisions when I lived with them, except for the one I could control. I will never ever trust people again. What my heart knew was confirmed in my mind that day when the man left me on the side of the road. I remember Jo crying in the backseat, and I cringed thinking of her punishment when she got home and I wasn’t there to protect her anymore. The reality of that thought made me lose any shred of respect I still had for people.

It was a defining moment in my life. And the more I thought about my unconditional love for Jo, the more I realized I couldn’t give up all hope in people. I was faced with a decision, a fork in the road, and instead of doubt I chose hope. It made me too sad to think about a life without hope and trust and that unconditional love for a person. My purpose in life was not to be a scared little dog with no one to love.

That awful man may have scarred me emotionally, but he would not define the rest of my life. I knew in my heart that day I could trust people again, so I believed it. Complex as the journey was, it was actually surprisingly simple. Regardless of whether we wear a collar with our name on it, that is what we canines control. We control how we feel about things and no level of domestication can take that away from us.

I hate to think of what would have happened had I decided to stick to my decision not to trust people. I certainly wouldn’t have let that nice lady pick me up and take me to the Oshkosh Humane Society. Once I got there, I wouldn’t have tried my hardest to seem adorable and adoptable. I could have been that bitter dog who stays at the shelter until…well, they aren’t at the shelter anymore.

Instead I chose life. And it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Related Posts:

Hands: Heads or Tails? – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/02/24/hands-heads-or-tails/

Man’s Best Friend – http://wileyschmidt.com/2013/06/16/mans-best-friend/

 

Say A Little Prayer June 14, 2013

My people were away from home for entirely too long today. Here I am waiting on the usual extra people time that kicks off on Friday nights and I got a whole lot of nothing. Mom didn’t get home to let me outside over her lunch break, which is bad enough. But when they both got home from that place called work they left again right away (to go on something they called a date) and didn’t return until dark.

From Up AboveWhile this is incredibly disappointing, I am with them as I work on the blog tonight and for me that is enough. And it wouldn’t be like me not to find the silver lining in a day of loneliness, now would it? Rather than dwell on my differing levels of happiness when I’m with my people (versus when I’m not) I choose instead to focus on the clarity of thought peace like that offers.

Somewhere between my mid-morning nap and my early afternoon nap, I began counting my blessings. (Some people count sheep, I count blessings). I thought of all of the people and animal characters in my life who have made me who I am. I gave thanks for each one of them and said a prayer that all is well in their lives. While it’s not an uncommon occurrence for me to address my thoughts to God, I realize doing so is probably thought of as fairly unconventional in the dog world. But since when am I conventional? Why start with that silliness now?

I thought back today to the first time I prayed. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I was all alone on the street right after I got separated from my mom and brothers. I was terrified, heartbroken and alone. So alone. I was so distracted by my thoughts I didn’t notice the car that was careening my way until the headlights practically blinded me. I saw nothing but light in that moment and begged God to let me live. I will never know how the car missed hitting me, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is regardless of how alone I felt in that moment, I saw the light: I’m never as alone as I think I am.

I can’t say I cared for being alone quite as long as I was today. But solitude allows us the great fortune to do some of our best thinking. It happened that day in the street and it happened again today. I didn’t realize it until it happened, but I wasn’t alone at all. I was talking to God and He was listening. Sometimes at the moments we feel most alone we are in the best company one could possibly have.