Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Silly Little Games December 1, 2014

I feel like I should be a little hurt. Something has been happening pretty frequently around here lately, and I can’t say I particularly appreciate the implications. Mostly because it is complete and utter nonsense. I would never in a million years purposely hurt my dear little Carter. Yet I am fairly convinced my beloved forever people think I would.

There’s this game we play together that makes mom and dad uncharacteristically anxious about Carter’s physical proximity to me. I think it’s funny. Carter thinks it’s funny. My people? Not so much.Best Buddies

It all started when Carter began assimilating what toys are mine and what toys are his. He’s even taken to handing (or sometimes throwing) me toys he knows are mine. We have developed an unspoken truce between us to respect each other’s things. In general, I stay away from all of his noisy, lighted button-y things and he stays away from Mrs. Prickles. In general.

That is, with the exception of our game. He will give me a toy, I will play with it, I make playful noises as he tries to get it back, and he laughs. It’s all totally harmless. Except that I guess my noises sound intimidating to my people, which inevitably brings our fun to a sudden and dramatic halt.

Truth be told, I love that I have found another way to make Carter giggle. His laughter makes my people happy, which in turn brings me the sincerest kind of joy. And in my own little way, I feel like this game allows us to “talk” to each other. But my people don’t like it and today I stopped to contemplate why.

Mostly I feel like I should be a little hurt. Because I’m a believer in the words of Scottish poet George MacDonald, who once said “to be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” And, in most ways, I know without a doubt the trust they have in their hearts for me.

So I tried to put myself in their shoes. To see where they’re coming from. And, as much as I trust them with all of my heart, I realized exactly why they feel the way they do. Because that’s how I feel about them. If anything, or anyone, made a sound (or action) like I do when Carter and I are playing our game, I would probably attack them. I love my people too much to ask questions. That’s how they feel for Carter.

I suppose I could let myself feel hurt over this. Instead, I feel blessed. Because just as I know they feel that way about Carter, I believe they feel that way about me. Between that, and knowing I never would dream of hurting anyone in my forever family, I’d say I’m in pretty good shape.

 

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.

 

My Little Peace Ritual May 16, 2013

I have this nightly ritual I’m certain my forever parents must think of as complete madness. Every night, my ritual starts the same way at about the same time.

Some of the Comfort CrewI grab Mr. Prickles from my toy basket (I’ll never understand the purpose of this basket other than making fun inconvenient) and take him to my favorite place in the house. I’ll suck on him for a while, but not too long. Then I’ll grab Mrs. Prickles. Repeat. Then Mr. Flea. Repeat. Then Mr. Tiger. Repeat. Then Mr. Angry Bird. Repeat. Well, I think you get the idea. If I’m being honest, this routine would probably continue all night if I didn’t run out of toys and sleep wasn’t necessary.

I’ve previously referred to these (albeit stuffed) characters in my life as my Comfort Circle and for good reason. Ever since I was a pup, I have found comfort in nursing on the soft little bodies. Animal behaviorists have linked this behavior in doggie adulthood to early separation from one’s doggie momma and abuse in puppyhood. (I unfortunately experienced both of these things). Also, I’m not sure if all people know this, but us canines store up a lot of our pent up feelings in our jaw muscles. The shoulder tension of humans is the jaw tension of dogs. It physically relieves stress when I rhythmically nurse on the joys (er, I mean toys).

I understand science and psychology have their reasons but I have one more to add to the conversation. There is something pretty great about beingMe and My Gal transported to another place and time in your mind. That’s what these toys do for me, which I’m certain is why I find peace in my nightly ritual.

What transports you to another place and time in your mind? Do you find peace there?

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake,” said transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the Earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

Every night, my ritual ends the same way at about the same time. Before bedtime, dad puts my Comfort Circle collection back in the basket in the living room. And every night I hop off the bed, grab whichever one is closest to the top, and bring that special pal back to bed with me. (It’s usually Mr. or Mrs. Prickles, but I mix it up so the others don’t get jealous). I don’t care if my people think it’s crazy of me to repeat these behaviors night after night. And that’s not just because I know they love me unconditionally. It doesn’t bother me because I know my ritual is my way of making a pathway to peace in my mind that brings a smile to my heart.

And I prefer to sleep smiling.

 

My Circle of Comfort April 2, 2013

My name is Wiley Schmidt and I am a nurser. Some say its because I was weaned from my mom too early. Others theorize that I was abused. Reasons and theories aside, it’s true. I nurse on toys to relieve stress and calm myself down. No other method of soothing has the same effect.

For me, the behavior dates back to the first night I was separated from my mom and brothers. I was scavenging for food outside a busy retail area when I found him – my first friend in my new chapter of life. The plush toy slightly resembled a squirrel, but it was hard to tell for sure since it was so beaten up. I saw a piece of my soul in that squirrel that day. It was cold on that first night by myself and I found myself turning to Mr. Squirrel for warmth. So I did what came naturally and started to suck on him like I would have sucked on my mom a mere 24 hours earlier. While the behavior in no way compared to being with my mom, it was soothing to me for reasons I didn’t fully understand at the time.

When I lived with Jo and the man with the leather belt, I had a small Tiger toy that Jo had given me from her already sparce toy collection. It meant the world to me since the man we lived with didn’t believe in spending money on toys for poor Jo, let alone for me. Just as it had when I was alone on the street, my nursing on Mr. Tiger brought me comfort like no other.

At the humane society, there was also a shortage of toys but the angel who took care of me the majority of the time brought me a special gift one day. It was a little squirrel, similar to my first Mr. Squirrel. There was no way for Katie to know it, but it was like a piece of home in a strange place and to this day is one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.

My name is Wiley Schmidt and I am a nurser. Not only that, but all the theories are true. I was weaned from my mom too early and I was abused. There, I said it. But rather than turning my back to the past, I have decided to take a page from the little people in my life whose childlike minds and hearts are always open. My open mind has allowed me to accept the things I cannot change by finding solace in the familiar.

The Comfort CircleI’ve found that my inner puppy possesses a familiar verve that sometimes lacks in my adult mind. “Verve is passion,” Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance. “And how do we learn to develop a finely honed sense of verve? By paying attention to the details. By accepting each day’s attempt to teach us more about our authenticity. By being constantly on the lookout for the ecstatic experience: what excites us or moves us to tears, what makes the blood rush to our head, our hearts skip a beat, our knees shaky, our souls sigh.”

I would dare add that we find our verve by respecting the past and counting our blessings. I now have more toys than I know what to do with, and they each have their token indentation I’ve come to call my comfort cushions. Some experts question whether dogs who nurse are coping with stress in a healthy way, but I would argue that we are. One of the most important things I’ve learned from my inner puppy is he is just a much a part of me as anything else, and because of that some things never change.

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