Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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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