Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

My (New) Favorite Time of Day January 30, 2015

Toys and clothes and food and mobility. If there’s something I’ve learned from my time with my dear little person so far, it’s that things constantly change.

Storage bins of now-too-small onesies and outfits are accumulating in the basement of my forever home. Rattles and stuffed animals have been replaced with toy cars and blocks. Breastmilk is no longer the sole source of all things nutritious. And running is the norm these days (because apparently walking is for babies).

Just when my dear forever mom starts to figure things out, dear baby Carter changes it up on her.

But there are some things that remain the same regardless of the time of day they happen. Eat, wake, sleep is still a thing. A self-proclaimed nap nazi, my mom ensures there are at least two naps a day, usually in the morning and afternoon. And much of the bedtime routine has persevered.

I realized it tonight after dinner though. Four months ago, my favorite time of day was the time I spent alone with mom after dear Carter went to bed. While I do still value that time above most things, tonight I noticed the joy in my heart abounded more at a certain (pretty special) time other than that.Family in the snow

I’ll call it family time. It’s this tiny fraction of our day really. It never really happens for the same amount of time each day either. But even if it lasts for 15 minutes, it’s become my new favorite time of day. There’s pickle in the middle sometimes. Other times it’s just mom, dad and I sit back and relax while Carter engages in all kinds of goofiness. Tonight he almost figured out how to ride the toy car he got for his birthday a few weeks ago. It probably sounds like nothing, but this has been no small feat for him. Not to mention the laughs my people have gotten over watching his efforts.

That’s the thing. It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing. What matters is that, for those precious minutes, we are all together. And there is joy, from the ground up.

I know toys and clothes and food choices will probably all continue to change. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the changes integrate another little person into the mix. But I do hope that family time remains a part of the day, even if it is for only a few precious minutes. Because that is (by far) my new favorite time of day.

 

 

But To Live January 20, 2015

Sometimes it happens for no good reason at all. Nothing in particular went wrong. The day itself can be completely average. As was the day before it. And yet something about the time passing seems slower moving than when I get stuck in the muddy snow-slush substance that accumulates in my backyard paradise as the formerly beautiful snow diamonds melts. (That also may have happened today.)

My conviction to live in the moment is in direct conflict with the words, yet I found myself agreeing when my dear forever mom said them today. “I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday,” she said to dad over dinner. For no good reason, the week does indeed seem to be dragging in a way even I have to admit. Feeling Sleepy

Upon further reflection, I don’t suppose it’s terrible to consider the possibility that time can occasionally drag. I don’t suppose it is actually that much different than pausing to realize how quickly time has been flying by. Time, and the living of it, has a mind of its own sometimes.

I think my problem is when either kind of time prompts a desire or longing for time to change somehow. For it to speed up or slow down. Either is a crime against the present, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) is meant to be treasured. In a case like today, I felt mom’s words. I, too, couldn’t believe it’s only Tuesday. And, as a result, I found myself wishing it were Wednesday. Or Thursday. Because that means my favorite time of the week (the weekend, obviously) was closer.

Therein lies the problem. I was wishing time away instead of appreciating that this week it seems to have slowed down before our very eyes.

Sometimes it happens for no good reason at all. Or so I thought. Today I realized maybe when time slows down, it’s happening for a reason. Maybe it is to remind us to slow down. Maybe it is to remind us to cherish the moments, instead of wish them away. Maybe it is to remind us not just to be, but to live.

 

Like No One’s Watching January 9, 2015

It starts with a little sway. Some might even consider it more of a shimmy. It’s subtle. Almost too subtle for an unfamiliar eye to pick up. As the moments pass, the motion gets a little more noticeable, particularly in the region of the left arm, which starts to swing. It is definitely a sight to be seen.

Dear baby Carter is a dancing fool all of a sudden. As one of his primary caretakers, I can speak knowledgeably on the topic of his distinct appreciation for music from a very (very) early age. But now that he has figured out how to really express himself through dance, his one-year-old self just can’t help but feel the rhythm. If there is a song to be heard, he will listen. And there will be dancing.

As it happened tonight to Jason Mraz’ “Waiting on the World to Change,” the whole family got involved. Even me, as I heard my forever mom say those familiar words. “Wiley, up.” And up I went into her arms. So there we were again, dancing around like no one was watching just like mom and I used to do around the kitchen. Just like we did when mom was pregnant. Just like we did before Carter was walking.

Like no one's watching

It all got me to thinking about this passage of time with a little person around. It really does seem to fly by a lot more swiftly than it used to. At each step of the way, I know mom’s thinking it. When it was just her, dad and I, we were family and life was good. When all tiny little baby Carter wanted to do was snuggle into shoulder and sleep for hours at a time, that had to be the best time. Or maybe it was when he started smiling at her (and shortly thereafter, me). Or when he started talking. Or the first times he said mama and dada and doggie.

No. It has to be this time, when we are all dancing together for the first time.

That’s the catch. We keep waiting on the world to change and thinking there is no possible way the change can be any better than this moment. Yet every stage in life we’ve encountered together has been so special. It has been so uniquely different from the last stage, yet fills our hearts with the same warmth each and every time we let it.

This week it’s dancing. Next week, who knows? But I sure can’t wait to find out.

 

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.

 

So Late So Soon December 2, 2014

It’s not always easy. It’s a choice I make when I wake up every morning and a thought I affirm before I fall asleep each night. Yet after a certain amount of time has passed, it has become second nature. A habit of happiness, I call it.

One of the hurdles I find myself frequenting is similar to one my forever family also battles with pretty regularly. Anticipation. It’s a double-edged sword. In some cases, it brings as much (if not more) joy as whatever is being looked forward to. And that’s okay.Happy Post Love Fest

Though sometimes I wonder if we aren’t anticipating our lives away. I, for example, found myself longing for it to be the weekend. Already. It’s only Tuesday, which means there are three full days before the weekend officially arrives. Three full days I’ve just wished away.

It reminds me a bit of something I’ve heard mom say a few times since dear baby Carter was born. “It’s the best of times and the worst of times,” she’ll say, borrowing the words from English author Charles Dickens. Like her, I believe it can indeed be both kinds of time simultaneously. I think it often happens for growing middle class families around here. While I am all for embracing the good with the bad, there is a sense of melancholy about the words I can’t get behind.

It’s the same kind of melancholy I felt today when I realized my longing for the weekend was akin to wishing three days away. Three days to breathe. Three days to be blessed enough to wake up and start the day. Three days to love, live and find joy in the little every day things around me.

“How did it get so late so soon?” asked American writer Dr. Seuss. “Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how time has flew. How did it get so late so soon?”

Just because it is second nature to me doesn’t mean it’s always easy. I too have my struggles on my daily quest to find the good in the people, places and things that make up my life. But there is a constant that has a way of bringing things back into focus.

Time. From the ground up, it has a way of reminding me to press pause sometimes and think. About life and what it means to be alive. About how valuable time really is. About joy and how it lives in us. And today, about how somehow the best and worst of times can exist simultaneously and somehow manage to make us better. Stronger. Happier.

 

 

 

A Dream Come True November 7, 2014

I’ve never been good at math. Reading? Sure? Writing? Well, I’d like to think so at least. But math? I’m rubbish at anything involving numbers. So when I try to figure out the people vs. doggie time vortex, it gives me a headache. I know there is something like one people year being equal to about seven dog years, but trying to figure out how that breaks down to minutes, hours or days seems impossible to me.

None of that mattered today. Time stood still. It could have happened in moments or hours, I can’t be sure. And frankly, it didn’t matter. Because I had one of the best dreams I can recall, as many are all-too-frequently forgotten the moment I awake. In itself it was a dream come true. Literally. Wiles and Carter

I could speak in my dream, but only to one person. Dear baby Carter, at his tender age of 10 months old, could understand me. Just as I’ve longed for him to ever since that special moment all those months ago when I knew my beloved forever mom was pregnant. I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but somehow he could understand what I was telling him (though he couldn’t talk back).

It was an interesting study in time, as I don’t know how long it really lasted or how long I had within the dream to get my message across. So I started with the first and one of the most important thing I could think of.

Cherish time, I told him. I know it seems like it will never end right now, but it will. Time with people you love will draw to a close one day. Time to be adventurous will one day give way to time to be practical. Make a difference while you can. Because in the end, it’s not money or technology or houses that are worth the most. It’s time. From the ground up, time is one of the most valuable things you will ever have. Don’t waste a second of it.

He pet my ear like he understood, I closed my eyes to enjoy the moment, and it was gone.

I was awake, right where I had last been on the chair with mom and Carter. Mom was falling asleep holding a very snuggly Carter (which is a rare occurrence around here now that he’s a grown-up 10-month-old). I could practically feel my heart swelling with love in that moment. Not just because it was a special something between mother and son, but because it’s like mom and Carter somehow got my message.

I know it’s not possible as well as I know and admit I can’t do math to save my life. But that doesn’t change the simple fact that today literally contained a dream come true.

 

Whatever It Takes February 8, 2014

It only costs a dollar. But it is capable of miracles.

The winter blues have claws deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of many in my neck of the woods these days. If it’s not frigidly cold, it’s snowing. If it’s not snowing, it’s frigidly cold. And I am in good company of many Wisconsinites who still find joy in the snow diamonds falling from the sky. But even I can admit it’s been an especially tough winter. I love my backyard paradise, but it is taking a great deal to get me out there recently.Nap time

So I find my joy in other things. Snuggle time with Carter. Quiet time in another room when Carter is screaming. And (this is new) time alone with dad. Mom has been spending the majority of her time taking care of Carter (as it should be), which has freed dad up for some quality time with me.

Tonight our quality time involved cooking a special dinner for mom. Since I’ve won more of his affection lately he’s been especially generous with treats of all kinds, so I was incredibly attentive as he bustled around the kitchen. (They don’t call me the doggie vacuum for nothing). He was making a comfort food staple – macaroni and cheese. And not the gourmet kind with the roux and six different varieties of cheese (which he does also know how to make). The kind you can get for a dollar. Complete with the orange powder.

Generally I’m not that big a fan of the less is more idea. Us canines tend to indulge in whatever comes our way. But tonight less worked wonders on the winter blues. Joy. From the ground up, it happened in the Schmidt house today in spite of those nasty winter blues. And it didn’t take much.

“Your success and happiness lies in you,” Helen Keller suggested. “Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

That’s the thing about joy – sometimes it takes a little effort to find it amidst the blues. But once you do it almost always is worth the search. Especially when it only costs a dollar.

 

A Snow Globe Life December 17, 2013

At first I thought for sure it was the snowflakes. It snowed again yesterday and I found myself in awe of the glittery magic all around me. It was like being in a snow globe. The flakes fell from the sky so peacefully. Once they lay to rest, they create a blanket of sparkling diamonds in my backyard paradise. So I thought maybe if I could collect anything in the world it would be snowflakes.

But today as the snow melted ever so slightly I realized how silly that would be. There are no lasting remnants of the snow after it’s gone. By summertime it’s like it never even existed. That is, until winter rolls around again and brings with it the frozen particles of joy.

So maybe if I could collect anything, I would collect toys. In all of their various shapes, colors and sizes, they are vessels of happiness for me. And, as demonstrated by my impressive skills in the games of pickle in the middle and tug of war, they often bring happiness to my people as well. I refer to my current collection as my comfort circle, which contains about a dozen different characters. But that’s enough to overflow an entire basket in the living room. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe I don’t need more.

ContentmentMaybe I don’t need more. This is not to say anything against collections of things, but I realized today there is strength in accepting what we have been blessed with in life. In being grateful for it. Because ultimately it’s not the things we collect that matter. It’s the details. It’s the moments.

As breathtaking as a fresh snow globe perspective can be, it’s not so much the snowflakes as the joy they bring that I hold close to my heart. Its the moments I share with mom and dad playing around in the aftermath of a big snowstorm. In the extra attention I get when we come inside from playing together and I need to get all cleaned off. In the cuddles we enjoy together to warm up.

The same goes for the toys. It’s not so much about having dozens of characters in my comfort circle as it is about making the moments with the ones I have mean something. And whether it’s just me and Mrs. Prickles, or my people are involved, I am blessed.

Perhaps that’s the bigger lesson I was to take from my observation of my snow globe life yesterday. Sure, the snowflakes are a sight to be seen. And my toys are deeply loved and appreciated. If I could collect anything, it wouldn’t be these things. It would be moments. Because they have something very important in common. Joy. From the ground up, it’s not the things that bring the joy. It’s in the moments joy is present that we truly live.

 

The Time Wings October 27, 2013

I don’t think I’d call myself a morning doggie. Like many of my canine comrades, I like my sleep. Though I prefer to call my daytime naps daydreams, let’s be honest. I’m sleeping. I sleep a lot.

Not only that, but I have this whole sleepy morning routine. I snuggle my way into what I guess people call a spooning situation with either mom or dad until it’s time for them to wake up. Then I keep them company while they get ready to go to that place called work. I have a special spot in the bathroom (on the rug I’m certain they place on the tile especially for me) where I watch the chaos unfold.

JoyThen I usually sneak back on the bed and snuggle into the pillows until it’s time for them to leave. At that point, I move to my doggie bed in the kitchen where I get a treat. I think the treat is meant to neutralize my disappointment at their leaving, but obviously it’s just a treat. It’s not my people. So I daydream my mornings away where (in my mind at least) I’m running around the dog park or exploring new places with my people.

All of this takes a holiday on weekends. And while I am inexplicably motivated by routine, this is one routine I don’t mind veering away from. Because I wouldn’t say I’m a morning doggie, but there is one kind of morning I can’t get enough of. Weekend mornings are my favorite. Every weekend is different, and not all mornings are the same, but there is something that seems to happen regardless. Time stands still. For just a few moments, the outside world ceases to exist. We three (soon to be four) musketeers embrace the time together.

It doesn’t have to be in the morning. Or on the weekends. But I think it’s so important to take these moments every now and then to pause to embrace those you love. “Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs to slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings,” wrote French romanticist Victor Hugo.

I wouldn’t say I’m a morning doggie. But there is something about mornings I look forward to each day. Those precious moments, no matter how fleeting, are the wings with which we fly.

 

No Backspace Button October 20, 2013

I stick my foot in my mouth all the time. Literally. It’s part of my daily grooming routine. A nibble here and there is as second nature to me as scratching an itchy ear with my foot or licking a sore paw. But I’m no dummy.

Keyboard of LifeI know the same can not be said of people, who have the luxury of hands to do a lot of these types of things. Also, I think it would be pretty challenging (albeit funny) to see them try. Literally. I think it would be a struggle.

And yet it apparently happens all the time. Figuratively. As a professional people watcher, I have picked a few things up over the years and this is one of the most interesting to me. People say really stupid things. Whether its something they don’t really mean said in an argument or a random comment out of the blue, it happens all the time. And for as often that I wish I could speak, I glory in my silence when I happen to overhear these moments of ignorance.

That’s just it. Ignorance. And let me tell you, from what I’ve seen of it, ignorance is not bliss. Nor does it excuse the behavior of saying things you don’t mean. I think that’s the challenging part. More often than not, regret follows this note of ignorance. But the moment has passed and the words were said and they cannot be taken back. Words are powerful tools, and when they get used as weapons context gives way to emotion. It makes for a very messy situation.

It brings to mind the wise words of Audrey Hepburn who suggested that “for beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

I’ve thought about it and now it’s time to speak up. I might look silly nibbling on my back paw from time to time, but it turns out people do it all the time too. And it hurts. But it isn’t the end of the world either. It happens. A lot. And while that doesn’t excuse anything, it does make us very familiar with the practice of moving on. I’ve always said everything is worthwhile if a lesson is learned. Well, in this case I think the lesson is crystal clear. Think before you speak. Because you can’t take it back. There is no backspace button on the keyboard of life.