Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Dust In The Wind April 20, 2014

It could be as silly as a lost toy. Or as heartbreaking as a forever person. There is truth in the philosophy that sometimes it takes the loss of something to recognize its value. But the instigator in me can’t help but challenge this particular truth to a dual. So to you, truth, I stick my wagging tail in the air and dare you to chase me. Dreaming Big

Because it’s there. The elephant in the room. The meaning behind the ideology. The real truth. Appreciate what you have while you have it and you won’t have to worry so much when it’s gone. It’s why I didn’t use to believe in bucket lists. They seemed to morbid, too sad and too real all at the same time. But that’s because I had it all wrong. A bucket list shouldn’t be something you put together only when you get horrible news. It shouldn’t be squeezed into the last few precious days, months, or years of life. No. A bucket list should be lived.

I turn six people years old next month. That’s approximately 42 in people years. I’m no spring chicken anymore, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be young at heart. Just as it’s never too late to dream big, I realized today that there is nothing morbid about a bucket list if it’s put together for the right reasons. So today I put mine out there, in writing, for the world to see. Not because I’m dying, but because I’m living. The future starts now.

A Bucket List – Wiley C. Schmidt

1) Publish a book

2) Eat a hot dog (with ketchup and a bun)

3) Meet a celebrity advocate for animals (maybe Ellen? Or Ian Somerhalder?)

4) Go on a blind date

5) Run a marathon with mom

6) Meet and properly train my doggie replacement in the Schmidt family

7) See a movie at the theater

8) Attend a sporting event

9) Travel to Tennessee (I hear it’s beautiful there)

10) Have a steak dinner with my people

11) Watch the sunset over Lake Michigan

12) Master a trademark trick

13) Become a best friend to a little person

14) Swim in a lake

15) Ride in a fire truck

 

True or False? March 16, 2014

It happens pretty frequently if you ask me. Not so much to me personally, for which I am thankful. But it seems to happen a lot to the people I love. You see, I am a big supporter of the meaning of the little things in life. The simple things. That is why I can with absolute certainty that the unknown confuses me on a pretty regular basis.

Again, this is not of my own doing. I have a pretty simple life devoid of stress over the big or little questions. Most of my big questions are answered by others. What will I have for dinner? Where will I spend my day today? What is my purpose in life? It’s a fairly sure thing that every day will bring the same answers to these questions.  My regular kibble will be in my bowl in the forever home in which I will spend my day doing what I do best – bringing joy to whoever will take it.

Be What You BelieveThe same cannot be said for people. I frequently observe lengthy conversations about things as simple as what to have for dinner and as complex as one’s true purpose. And I’m not going to lie – it confuses me. Oftentimes I wish there would be a way for me to provide an answer as easy as the question seems.

I thought of this today as I watched baby Carter sleeping. I thought of all the questions – big and small – he has to encounter throughout his life. And so I wished I could tell him some of what I’ve learned from my observations – the first being that things that are true are often also false. It depends on how you flip the coin or how you view the glass. Since my glass is half full, so are three of my most important life lessons.

Believe what you think. It might not always be good, but follow your heart and you will find peace with your choices.

Believe what you feel. Good or bad, another person’s opinion is only as real as you let it be.

Be what you believe. What you feel in your heart is powerful. Embrace it and let it guide you.

I have so much I hope to teach baby Carter in the time we have together, but these simple truths are among the most important. Especially since it seems to happen pretty frequently among the two-legged population – this game of questions and answers. Most times I am thankful for not having the same questions to answer every day. But today I realized that it wouldn’t matter even if I did. Because in spite of it all, I am what I believe.

 

Going For Gold February 12, 2014

I wonder what I would look like in ice skates. Or skis. Or those goofy looking goggles so many athletes are wearing these days. It’s hard not to at least put some thought into these things as my people have been watching something called the Olympics so much lately.Snowy Dreaming

Whatever they’re doing at these Olympic games sure looks tough to me. Much of it involves snow and ice. And winning medals. But I definitely don’t need a set of those goggles to see its so much more than that. These athletes are living their dreams.

For many of them, this is something they’ve dreamed of doing since before they even knew they were dreaming. Since then they’ve practiced and trained. They’ve won and lost. And they’ve fallen. Hard. I was reminded of this tonight as I watched in horror as a women’s downhill skier took a painful fall in the finals. All of that hard work and determination is worth nothing without one fundamental truth. The most important decision you can make in your quest for the gold is to get back up.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them,” suggested American filmmaker Walt Disney.

I’m pretty sure I would tumble right off those skates, right into a tree on those skis and let’s face it – I would look pretty ridiculous is one of those figure skating getups. But that’s the thing about going for gold. The gold itself looks different to everyone. Good health and happiness. Landing that dream job. Or, in the case of the Olympians at Sochi, a gold medal.

Yet all dreamers share something deep within that keeps them going. Courage. From the ground up, they share the courage to accept failure with grace. Because courage is the fuel for those who dream. And dreams are only as big as you make them.

 

A Baby Laughing January 22, 2014

I’ve never been too big a fan of mirrors. I know barking and cowering are fairly common canine responses to them, but I do neither of these things. Instead I feel nothing. Emotionally indifferent I guess you could say. In general I don’t particularly care for the effect I know they can have on people, especially women.

So I choose to direct my attention elsewhere. I prefer to find joy. From the ground up, it was easy to find today. It happened on my living room floor with my other baby pal Alexis (daughter of mom’s friend Jessica). There we were staring at each other when it happened. She laughed.

If joy had a sound, a baby laughing would be it. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced such things, but each time it happens teaches me a new lesson about true and sincere happiness.Joy.

Today it taught me joy doesn’t come from a mirror. It simply can’t. But if you reflect joy, if you put it out there in front of you, it is likely to reflect right back at you. I mean no disrespect to mirrors. They serve their purpose and that’s all well and good.

But I do think people place too much value on that reflection staring back at them. Dogs bark and cower. People get sad or frustrated. Me? I’m indifferent to the mirrors. I would much rather focus on the person than the reflection anyway.

See the action unfold: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=569872490057&l=334242941458658880

 

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.

 

As It Is August 29, 2013

Being RealI know when it’s real. I know when it’s fake. There is something in a person’s spirit that gives it away to a keen canine eye. The smile. Maybe it’s because we canines smile with our tails, but why anyone fakes it I will never understand.

But my lack of understanding of this basic human behavior does not (in itself) make it cease to exist. Quite the opposite in fact. As a regular observer of people, I know this fake smile happens all the time for any number of reasons. A need to impress. A need to console. A need to end a conversation so you can go to the bathroom.

Regardless of the why, I find it most unusual because most receivers of the fake smile know that’s what they’re getting. They’re not stupid. Life has taught me that most people are much less mysterious than they think they are. And the fake smile is no good for the giver or the receiver. It puts the person faking it in a position to act instead of live his or her true feelings. It puts the receiver in a position where they feel like they said the wrong thing, put the person out, or are wasting the person’s time.

I know I don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but that hasn’t held me back before and will not hold me back now. Just be real. I’d rather hear the truth than see a fake smile. Give it to me as it is, as Dido sings in “Let Us Move On,” even if it sucks. Life is messy sometimes. Live it. Chances are you will feel better for living it, and the person will feel better for his or her (albeit incredibly small) part they played in your overall well-being.

Because I’m not the only one who knows when its real or fake. A lot of people do too. The smile. I just don’t understand why anyone would fake it. In my little doggie eyes, it’s a sacred expression of joy that shouldn’t be wasted for reasons we can’t explain. “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom,” as American president Thomas Jefferson suggested. And an honest smile starts in the heart. Now if only I could get my paws on a copy of that book.

 

The Mouse Will Play August 23, 2013

From sneaking people food right off the dinner table to jumping four-foot fences, I used to fancy myself a master of mischief. Somewhere along the line, I determined it was best to use my God-given brains to cause trouble because it triggered attention from people. Sometimes it was even the good kind of attention. Though they were few and far between, occasionally my behavior merited a “oh, that is so cute” comment in place of the dreaded “bad dog” nickname.

Me? Sassy? No...But something changed for me the day I escaped through the doggie door and jumped the fence of my first adoptive family. I remember feeling so disappointed when they found me and brought me home, and then (almost) relieved when they took me back to the humane society. (This ended up being a very positive thing because I met my forever people a few weeks later as a result). Forever changed for me that day as I wandered the streets of Port Washington exploring my newfound (short-lived) sense of freedom.

I’ve had it all wrong, I thought to myself when the people drove me home. “Bad dog, Zorro,” I remember the woman saying. In that moment, I realized was tired of being called a bad dog. And despite my best intentions at being bad, I was terrible at it. It was work. I don’t know why this came as such a surprise to me, since us canines tend to wear our hearts right outside our bodies for all the world to see. We can’t lie – our tails, our ears and our eyes give it away. No one is as mysterious as they think they are, especially when they have four legs and a tail. So I resolved that day to give up mischief forever. From that moment on, I would use my God-given brains to do only positive things for the world. No more bad dog. Naughty dog was a thing of the past.

But no one’s perfect. And experience has actually taught me we all need a little mischief in our lives every now and then. I know it’s happening with my people when my people call me a “little stinker” or “ball of sass.” I don’t mind – I know these are pet names, employed when just the right amount of mischief has been applied to a situation. Like when I make “the face” at mom when she’s eating a steak. Or when I paw at dad’s foot to let him know it’s time for our nightly game of fetch. And (let’s face it) I do my fair share of things that merit the occasional “bad dog” or “naughty dog” sentiment. (Barking madly at all variations of animal life on the television comes to mind). I might not be perfect, but I can say I no longer fancy myself a master of mischief. I’d much rather be the administrator of joy from the ground up.

 

 

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.

 

Those Three Words May 11, 2013

I never really know what to expect when I spend time with the little people in my life. One minute I’m the pickle in the middle in a game involving one of my favorite stuffed hedgehogs. The next minute I’m being propped up across from an iPad being faux-interviewed about my life. Everything is an adventure in their minds. Everything seems new and exciting. I find inspiration in the surprises at every corner, and today was no exception.Pickle in the Middle

“I love you Wiley,” Abigail said, as she gave me a random and surprisingly lung-crushing hug amidst our game of pickle in the middle this afternoon. Like many of the best of love’s most precious moments, it caught me off guard. Like the North Face jackets and Coach purses of the world, the “l-word” has lost some of its impact due to overuse. 

But that doesn’t keep my little doggie mind from going crazy when I think about some of the things I love. Peanut butter. My forever people. The driver’s seat in any car. Popsicles. Long walks on sunny afternoons. My friends in the blogosphere. Aaron Rodgers. The little people in my life. My forever home. This is only a mere sample of my laundry list of people, places and things that come to mind when my heart starts to race as a side effects of thinking about the l-word.

While I am sure that no two people share the exact same list, I can also venture to say that diversity is the common thread any two lists would share. So how is it we feel these different kinds of feelings and file them all under the l-word in our personal dictionary of life?

I think it’s to do with some other l-words we all know all too well. Longing. Loss. Lies. These are some of the realities of the world in which we live. These words (and the emotional havoc they bring) are some things everyone has in common. No one’s life is perfect. If it wasn’t this it would be something else.Abby and I

But in love there is victory. Relief. Truth. Life experience brings love full circle by allowing us to appreciate the good things, no matter how silly. Perhaps it is because the loss and lies that made up much of my puppyhood made me long to feel life-changing love. One of my biggest fears was that I would never find it. The l-word. Or worse, I wouldn’t feel it again after the hurt I’d experienced.

But as American industrialist Henry Ford once said, “one of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

I am so blessed, not only to have found so many things to love in life, but to find it coming from so many different people, places, and things. I never really know what to expect when I spend time with the little people in my life. But I find inspiration in their creativity and sense of adventure. And I live for surprises like my moment with Abigail today. They might be said too much, but those three words have yet to lose their meaning to me.

 

A Dog’s Tale May 6, 2013

I hold my breath when Aaron Rodgers throws a football down the field because I want to be sure someone catches it. I bark at the bass that Babe Winkelman and Bill Dance reel in on the moving picture window in the living room. I physically recoil when my dad takes off his leather belt or swings a baseball bat. Oh, and some of you already know this, but I have a habit of rolling myself all over clothes (clean or dirty) left anywhere within my reach.

Comedic or otherwise, there you have it. These are some of the private (but honest) truths of my life. I think a lot of people think us canines must be the best secret keepers because of the stories we are entrusted with, but I’ve got another honest truth to share with you. Dogs don’t really keep secrets. We wear our emotions on our tail. You can see it in our eyes. That’s the thing about unconditional love – it speaks a universal language directly from our hearts to yours.

That’s one of a few reasons why the cThis Face Doesn't Lieonfusion my parents have had about the main bathroom in my forever home is completely baffling to me. When they brought me here, the walls were blue. Now they are white. It sounds simple enough, but this is not a change that came easily.

Some turn to television for entertainment, but I need not look further than my forever family. The bathroom “conversation” happened about a year ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. Mom and dad were talking about making changes around the house, and mom mentioned changing the color of the walls in the main bathroom. Dad questioned this, as it was their joint decision to choose the light blue color that used to adorn the walls. Mom insisted that perhaps they made the decision in haste and indeed a lighter color might be a better fit in the small room. Dad agreed. And that’s when the reality happened.

They both admitted they had hated the color of the walls for two years (two years!) and had been withholding the truth from one another in protection of the other’s feelings. I couldn’t believe my little doggie ears. Not only did they agree a change was needed, but they admitted to essentially lying to each other (for two years!) about allegedly liking this mutual decision.

It is a baffling and foreign concept to me, as a dog’s tale (er, I mean tail) never lies. While the majority of people might assume us canines to be the best secret keepers, I can’t say that’s accurate. I shared my “secrets” with the world tonight, and I didn’t stop there. I shared the “secrets” of my people too. Let’s face it, they probably won’t be too happy with me when they see I’ve mentioned my habit of rolling around in their clothes again. (I would challenge that isn’t much of a secret because they inevitably take a piece of me with them via the fur trail I leave on the clothes, but I digress.)

“To one who waits, all things reveal themselves,” English poet Coventry Patmore tells us, “so long as you have the courage not to deny in the darkness what you have seen in the light.”

It wasn’t an easy journey, but the bathroom walls that were blue are now white, the color of purity. The color of a fresh start. Truth be told, I can’t say I notice that much a difference.

But what do I know? I hold my breath when Aaron Rodgers throws a football because I believe that will help Donald Driver catch it and score a touchdown. The behavior is part of who I am and I refuse to hide myself from reality. I understand it as part of my authenticity, part of what makes me who I am. Dogs don’t really keep secrets. You can see it in our eyes, and even more so in our tails. Besides, experience has taught me these so-called secrets have a way of surfacing on their own when you least expect it. Take it from me and my truthful tail.