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.

 

Searching for the Light June 12, 2014

It might sound silly. I am obviously happier than I have ever been with my forever family and our new addition otherwise known as dear baby Carter. And it doesn’t happen often. But every now and then from time to time I find myself longing for one special thing from a past life of mine. A lighthouse. Light.

During my time in Port Washington, Wisconsin, I lived with a family who had several other cats and dogs and that just didn’t work for me. I am now (dog) man enough to admit I acted out for attention in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) running away frequently. It wasn’t unheard of for me to jump the four-foot fence that encompassed the backyard, just to spite my owners at the time for not paying proper attention to me. It would be one thing if I felt loved, however there were days they forgot to fill my food and water bowls. Nonetheless, that past is past now.

But as my friends and family know, it is a personal goal of mine to make my past a vivid part of inspiration for my future. So today I thought about the good things. Today I thought about the memories and experiences I gained while I lived with that family. (That is, before they returned me to the humane society for being a nuisance). Good, bad, and ugly, there was one image that kept repeating in my mind. In Port Washington there is this lighthouse. It’s way out into the lake, but there is a stony path leading to it for people who want to visit. I have never been such a visitor, but I know my people have. And I know many (many) before (and after) them have as well.

It’s one of those landmarks I wish I could have brought with me to my new forever home. Not just because it seems to bring its visitors joy. It’s bigger than that. It brings them light. From the ground up, this is one of the very most important things an object can do for a person if you ask me. Because as one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson but it, “what lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

So it might sound silly. But from now on when I find myself longing for the lighthouse I know what I need to do. I need to dig deep and remember both what is behind and in front of me. Light. From the ground up, I know one thing for sure. This is what is within me.

 

On Our Way April 23, 2014

It might sound like madness. And it doesn’t work with everyone. In fact, there are probably a lot more people it doesn’t work with than it does. But I have this trick. It’s kind of a signature move of mine, if I have such a thing. I jump until someone catches me.

I remember the first time it happened like it was yesterday. I was new to my forever home and I was in my backyard paradise with my new forever mom. She patted her legs with her hands and said “up” and I did it. Without a second thought, I jumped right into her arms.

It wasn’t long before I started responding to anyone who did that gesture with my signature move. My aunt Morgan. My mom’s friend Andi. Anyone who patted their legs in that certain way had a Wiley in their arms shortly thereafter.

I’m not sure who trained who when it comes to this particular behavior, if I’m being honest. But lately I have noticed it doesn’t work quite as well. Because lately when my forever mom and dad leave the house they do so with that big old car seat and a diaper bag and whatever other accessories are required for baby Carter. And without me.

At least most of the time when I know I would have otherwise been invited on whatever journey was about to ensue I now hear the dreaded “stay” word. At first it bothered me a little. At first I cursed the dreaded “stay” word. But today I realized that is silliness. Riding with the homies

I still have my fair share of adventures. In fact, I dreamed today of some places I would like to travel. I hear there is a camp for dogs and their people in Vermont where you can square dance. In San Diego, there are beaches that allow dogs to roam and swim freely. Austin Texas apparently has a bunch of dog parks to explore.

I can’t say for certain whether I will ever make it to these places. But I can confirm the madness. Because as my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson put it “though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

There is something special that happens when I make it into the arms of my forever mom before a journey. And it doesn’t matter if the extent of that journey is a car ride to the grocery store. Joy. From the ground up, it happens in those moments for my mom and I. We carry each other in those moments. Because it doesn’t matter where you’re going in life as much as who you’re going there with.

 

 

I Said To The Darkness February 21, 2014

It happened in an instant, as these things usually do. I saw the sunlight at the end of a very dark tunnel the other day. Literally. After what has arguably been one of the most challenging Wisconsin winters I’ve survived we were hit with some seriously warm rays of sunshine. It was almost 50 degrees and I half expected my people to break out their swim suits.

SnowInstead mom broke out her running shoes (good choice) and I went on a very memorable walk around my dear neighborhood with my mom, my aunt, and Carter. It was my first walk with Carter and (to be honest) he didn’t seem to really notice we were outside. But I sure did.

The wind was blowing and it was not the bone chilling cold wind of late. It was the wind of spring. Sure, there is still about a solid two feet of snow everywhere. And when the sun went down it took the warmth with it. I didn’t mind because it’s coming. The end is near. Winter is almost over.

So you can imagine my dismay when I overheard on the television today that we are due for more frigid temperatures next week. Albeit disappointing, I have to admit it was a lot easier to take after that one day of respite from the cold. After I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

Darkness has no power over light, just as negativity has no power over hope. “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us,” suggested transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau. “Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

It’s a pretty powerful thing to be sure. Seeing that light, even for a brief instant, can recharge the soul in such an overwhelmingly fulfilling way. The moment may have been fleeting, but its impact remains.

To view a video of our walk: https://vine.co/v/MZDBi59lHAi

 

Listen Here Baby November 1, 2013

I wish babies could read minds. If they could, I have a few messages I’d like to communicate through my mom’s baby bump. Some are subliminal (preparing him or her for a future as my best friend forever, for example). Others are growing in importance to me by the day.

If I could send a message tonight it would be for my soon-to-be little person to quit being a tease. At 29 weeks, mom has been feeling somersaults and practice breaths for several weeks now. And it brings her such joy (even in the night when I know that is what’s waking her). But lately every time the baby is dancing and mom tries to help dad feel the activity one of two things happen. Either the movement is too tiny for dad to feel or the baby choses that moment to stop hearing the music altogether.I'm Talking To You

They looked so blissful there for a few minutes – dad with his hand on mom’s bump, with mom’s hand on top of his. I could see the excitement in both of their faces as they waited. But they waited. And kept waiting. And finally, patience gave way to disappointment for all parties involved.

“Hey listen here baby,” I thought with all my doggie might, “get moving so dad can finally feel what all of the fuss is about.” No response. I looked at my people and wished at least for them to be able to hear me remind them to find joy even in the disappointment. No response.

You would think that five years of doggie life would teach me my messages don’t always cross the language barrier. It’s not the first time I’ve sent the baby a silent instant message that was never received. And I know it certainly won’t be the last. Not only that, but I feel for dad as a bystander in this whole process. I know he worries about whether he’s being supportive enough, or saying the right thing, or doing his part to prepare the house for the baby. I know because I feel the same way.

But patience is virtue as they say. Perhaps that is among the lessons meant to be learned from all of this. I’m no mind reader myself, but I can see that pregnancy has brought to life a patience in the Schmidt house that unites us all. We all just can’t wait to meet the little person already.

If only I could somehow “adopt the pace of nature” as transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson described, as “her secret is patience.” While a good reminder, I must admit that knowing this secret doesn’t change things for me. I still wish babies could read minds.

 

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/

 

Best Laid Plans July 19, 2013

I don’t care for flies. I don’t like when I can’t catch them buzzing around the walls of my forever home. I don’t like them when I do catch them and they buzz around in my tummy. The way I see it, they are useful in one (and only one) way. Metaphorically speaking, flies on the wall get all the great information before it hits the public presses. Granted, I see this as a gross exaggeration of their microscopic brain capacity, but the theory is sound.

Dog on the WallI would argue instead that dogs are the ultimate flies on the wall. We see and hear things. But more importantly we understand things. We’re man’s best friend, after all. So when it comes to understanding my people, I am your resident dog on the wall. As such, I have come to recognize certain patterns of conversation that lead nowhere fast. And I can say this because I love her more than she will ever know. My mom tends to put far too high a stake in things sometimes.

She looks forward to something, plans it all out in her head, and when it doesn’t work out — if it doesn’t go according to plan — it’s a complete disaster to her. It’s all very confusing to dad, who generally tries to make the best of a sticky situation. Unfortunately for the both of us, best laid plans don’t always come together and there is little we can do to fix it.

It turns out you were right. My mom absolutely missed me as much as I missed her while she was away at that place called the spa earlier this week. She missed me so much she came home the same day she left! Well, that’s not entirely true. Health issues brought her home early, and I was ecstatic (albeit sincerely concerned). But what made my day may as well been a weapon of mass destruction on hers. She clearly felt incredibly ill, but moreover there was simply no cheering her up. I tried all of my tricks. I jumped and licked and wagged and jumped some more. Nothing.

Fortunately I’ve been in the business of being the dog on the wall long enough to know this too shall pass. And it did. But it got me to thinking about the best laid plans that don’t work out. Because let’s face it – things do not always go exactly according to plan. And yes, it sucks. It’s disappointing. But these things happen and it is not the end of the world. “If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment,” suggested one of my favorite transcendentalist thinkers Henry David Thoreau.

I don’t care for flies, but I sure do like their job of being on the wall. There’s lots to be learned from that perspective. I (for one) find my compensation in knowing even the best laid plans can go awry. It’s how we deal with the hurdles, how we find ways to be quiet and ready, that we grow.

 

Obedience School Drop Out June 28, 2013

I’ve been called a lot of not-so-nice things in my relatively short doggie life. Obedience school drop out. Behaviorally challenged. Approved for homes with children ages 12 and above. Yet I find in life’s greatest contradictions lie some of the most intricate sources of wisdom.

Its true of animals and people alike if you ask me. If you hear something enough times, you start to believe it as truth. In a dog’s life, words like stupid, naughty, and troubled haunted my puppyhood. In a person’s life, overuse of words like stupid, disabled, or challenged as a child can impact a person for the rest of their adult life. Truth becomes us. But can we become truth?

Becoming Truth

I’ve often wondered this as I think nostalgically back on my time before my people brought me into my forever home. I encountered a variety of characters in a myriad of settings who each taught me invaluable lessons along my journey. So how could I be so stupid? Why do they keep calling me naughty? What did the folks at the humane society say to my mom that almost made her give up fighting to adopt me?

Then it happened. The tides changed, and with them my life changed forever. Two distinctly similar moments come to mind when I think of the brilliance of contradictory wisdom. My first night at the humane society when I thought the world was coming to an end, Rusty the golden retriever showed me the light. Much like my favorite transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rusty believed we are not products of what the world tells us, but rather of what we tell ourselves. We are what we think, so of course if we believe the negative things that are said about us we indeed may become them.

The bookend to my understanding of this occurred only a few short months later, when my forever family took me to see an animal behaviorist for my alleged behavioral problems. (This was required by the humane society as a condition of my adoption.) I’ll never forget the first two sentences Jenny said when we began our session. “He’s got to be one of the most unique looking dogs I’ve ever met,” she said, “and so smart!”

It was the first time anyone had ever used the word smart to describe me. And in that moment I was both overwhelmed with joy and humbled. Rusty changed my interpretation of the world around me by changing my interpretation of myself, and here I was being praised for simply being me. I know it sounds contradictory, but in that moment I realized true wisdom is found through admission there is much yet to learn.

It is because of my personal admission of humility that I can say I honestly wouldn’t mind being called those negative names anymore. Sure, if we hear something repeated enough times we begin to believe it. But let us learn from the variety of characters life offers us. Let us choose to contradict the negative things with our positive thoughts. Let us become our own truth.

 

Lost in Translation March 5, 2013

I have this habit of eating literally anything that resembles food from the floor. It’s habit enough that my mom jokingly calls me a doggie vacuum cleaner. (Oh, how I despise those contraptions!) Nonetheless, it bit me in the proverbial behind one day in the not so distant past when it was assumed I ate an extra strength Tylenol. That is a day I will not be forgetting any time soon.

It was about three months ago, not that long after my mom’s serious knee reconstruction surgery. My grandma and my best Buddy were over taking care of my mom (as they had been doing in the weeks immediately following her operation). It was freezing cold outside that day. And that was the one of the days in my doggie life that I most wished I could speak human.Buddy and I

That was the day my mom and her mom were certain I ate a Tylenol that fell to the floor at some point. While I do have the aforementioned reputation akin to a vacuum cleaner, I did no such thing that day. It was the most awful misunderstanding for everyone involved.

About an hour after the alleged consumption, my grandma told my mom what she believed had happened. I could see in my mom’s eyes that she was absolutely terrified, but she tried her best to remain calm as she pulled out the trusty laptop to see what she could find out about Tylenol in a dog’s system. She found no good news…especially as it pertained to extra strength versus regular strength pain killers.

This sent my beloved grandmother into a blind panic that resulted in the two of them encouraging me to drink something absolutely disgusting (they called it hydrogen peroxide, whatever that means) and then playing with me enough that I immediately had to go outside. I couldn’t stop throwing up. It was awful.

Since they couldn’t find anything in my little puddles of foamy goo that resembled a pill, the person mom was talking to on the phone advised that I get to the Family Pet Clinic immediately. My mom still wasn’t cleared to drive because of the surgery, so off I went with grandma to the clinic, where we waited and waited and they made me drink more awful liquid (I think it was called charcoal) and they took blood and we waited some more.

Silence is not my friendI paced and moaned anxiously while my grandma cried in the little waiting room. And I knew my mom was doing the same at home. I felt so helpless, and everything I had ingested (other than the alleged pill) was making me feel weaker by the minute. When I got home almost two hours later, mom was an emotional wreck. What a mess, I remember thinking to myself, before the shivering started. I couldn’t stop shaking that night, even though I basically passed out upon re-entering my forever home.

Usually my interpretation of philosophy is figurative, but in this (rare) case it is incredibly literal. “In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood,” said great transcendentalist thinker Henry David Thoreau.

Sometimes my silence is maddening. Watching what unfolded that day between my mom and her mom broke my heart. A few days later the test results came back clear and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. But it’s not like me not to find a silver lining in the mix of such things, and in this case it is easy to identify.

The people in my life must love me a whole lot to be so worried about me eating a teeny tiny white pill of doom. As they later found out, it would probably have taken at least three of them to do me any harm. But that didn’t matter to them at the time. No. They were blinded with worry about little ole me, the doggie vacuum cleaner who most definitely did not consume any pain killers that day. Perspective is pretty powerful stuff in matters of the heart.

 

Bless You! Learning from Life’s Sneezes February 5, 2013

I react pretty noticeably when my mom sneezes. First of all, its no quiet matter. It is a loud and intrusive sound that occasionally reverberates off the walls of our home. So when she sneezes, I run to her (regardless of where I am in the house) and sniff around her face a bit. I want to know what’s going on…I want to make sure she’s okay.

Jumping for Perspective

I heard once that when people sneeze, their spirit temporarily leaves their body. That is apparently why person two emphatically says “bless you” to person one; to ensure person one’s spirit returns safely to his or her body.

Initially, my reaction to this concept was incredibly negative. I hated the thought of a person losing their spirit for even a second. But the more I thought about it, I realized there could be something gained from that out-of-body perspective.

Like myself, transcendentalist poet e. e. cummings placed a high value on the kind of self awareness one can gain from perspective.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit,” he wrote. Human and doggie alike, I believe something can be learned from everything. So perhaps life affords us with sneezes to force us to take a moment to reflect.

Sarah Ban Breathnach speaks of reclaiming our future in such moments of reflection in Simple Abundance.

“Today, deliberately turn away from the world,” Breathnach writes. “Absorb the shock of becoming aware that many of your preferences and opinions are not really your own. Begin, instead, to listen for the whisper of your authentic self telling you which way to go.”

Granted, a sneeze is hardly a whisper, but the concept of understanding our own authentic spirit better by turning away from distraction might take more than a whisper. Heck, for some people I know, it takes a full out, reverberating sneeze to pull away from the television, cell phone, computer, or whatever other bright shiny object grabs our attention next.

“Only when the clamor of the outside world is silenced will you be able to hear the deeper vibration,” Breathnach writes. “Listen carefully. Spirit’s playing your song.”

What do you hear?

Today’s post is dedicated to my dad. He has requested his picture not be used in the production of this blog, but that doesn’t mean I can’t say how very many pictures there would be to chose from. They all have a special place in my heart. Happy Birthday dad!