Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Giggles All The Way December 12, 2014

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this news update. That’s kind of how I felt tonight when it happened. All the usual suspects were together in the basement engaging in our usual nighttime shenanigans.

There was laughter and happiness and joy. And love. From the ground up, it’s come to be a pretty happy time of day in the Schmidt home. We were a couple minutes into the usual game of pickle in the middle – the one where I chase a toy as mom and dad throw it back and forth between themselves and dear baby Carter giggles the night away – when routine took a turn for novelty.Happy!!!!

Carter made himself the pickle. In the best and most adorable kind of way I could have imagined. My role turned from active to passive, as I stood by and watched it all unfold. Sure, he had the toy we had been playing with a few minutes earlier. But the game was not about that anymore.

He walked from mom to dad. And from dad to mom. And from mom to dad. Over and over. I would say he did that about a dozen times before he moved on to the next game as it is my understanding 11-month-olds do. In itself, I suppose it probably doesn’t sound like anything special.

But there was laughter and happiness and joy and love involved. A whole lot of love. Because it wasn’t jut about walking back and forth between our beloved forever parents. As he walked toward dad, he giggled and smiled his biggest kind of smile as dad opened his arms and did the same. When he turned around and mom giggled and smiled and opened her arms, he smiled and giggled as he made his return journey. And every time he made it to his destination, there was hugging involved.

It was quite the sight to see, even if it did interrupt my regularly scheduled programming for the evening. I might have missed out on the remainder of my game of pickle in the middle, but this was so much better. This was joy, from the ground up.

 

A Little Sunshine October 16, 2014

It’s a pretty easy thing to take for granted. It’s there so much more than it isn’t, so I think that’s part of the problem. But I’ve certainly missed it around here the last few days. Sunshine. From the ground up, its light has the power to warm the soul. Backyard Happiness

I do sincerely love and appreciate the beauty of fall and all the things it brings with it. This you know. The last few days I was reminded why I sometimes doubt my love of this spectacular season. It has been cloudy and rainy and downright dreary for four or five days now. I find its easier to lose count when you succumb to the darkness.

I didn’t even realize I had indeed let the weather get to me until the sun slowly revealed itself this afternoon. It was like seeing a long lost friend. There I was in one of my favorite spots in my forever home – the windowsill in the living room. (My beloved forever people call it my perch). As the light shined in through the blinds, I felt it warm my fur and somehow it seemed to soak right through to my soul.

It must have had a similar effect on mom, because it was a matter of a few seconds before dear baby Carter was bundled up and in his stroller and it was time for a walk around my neighborhood. The crisp fall air smelled so much better with the light shining down around us. The leaves fell from the trees in the beautiful silent way they do. I pranced. Carter giggled. Mom smiled. It was a happy moment for the three of us.

It was a reminder to me to cherish the sunshine. It was a reminder not to let the darkness get to me because the sun will shine again. It was a reminder to live in the moment instead of longing for something you can’t have. Because if you do these things, there is no way the dreary things in life can conquer your spirit. If you do these things, you bottle up the sunshine for the bad days. If you do these things, you have the power to warm your own soul, whether or not the sun is shining.

Take that, dreary Wisconsin fall.

 

Belong To Your Dreams August 30, 2014

I wouldn’t say I’m a wimp. I’m not a weakling or a coward either. But in the face of pain, I will admit it. I don’t like it. I don’t like it in any variety I have ever experienced from physical to mental to philosophical. Pain is not my favorite thing.

Waiting to get going

No pain, no gain

Yet there is this popular people belief of “no pain, no gain.” It’s one that I will admit to completely blowing off in sheer denial the first time I heard it. Which is strange coming from me, since I generally love to embrace the musings of man. Not in this case.

Maybe it’s the physical abuse I encountered in the so-called care of the man with the leather belt. Or I guess it could be the emotional and psychological damage that followed not only his abandonment, but that of my first adoptive family. Such a thing calls into question literally everything you think you know about yourself. What did I do wrong? What would I (should I?) have done differently?

In many cases the answer to these absurd questions lies in the very same emotional space as their origin. Chances are, you didn’t do anything wrong. Most likely there is nothing you could have (or should have) done differently to change the outcome of a given situation.

I realize this now that I have had some time and distance to process how my personal emotional past plays an active role in my psychological future. Regardless of what I’ve gone through, I wouldn’t call myself a wimp or a weakling or a coward. I have shown bravery and courage when it was necessary, even if I still have nightmares of certain events to this day.

But I also have dreams. Really really good ones. Dreams that come alive in various situations of my daily life. Dreams I live in my sleep. Asleep or awake, they don’t look much different. In each of them I am (in one way or another) surrounded by two-footed friends otherwise known as family. Dreams. From the ground up, they are a pretty special antidote to the painful way of thinking about things. I get that now.

I wonder if I’d get that as clearly if I hadn’t had my fair share of pain. Though I suppose it’s possible I would have, I do think sometimes you need to live through the storm to better  appreciate the rainbow that follows. My storms were tough, but my rainbow is better.

 

Things That Happen at Dusk July 16, 2014

I’ve gotten pretty used to the nighttime routine around here. Dinner, play, nap, play eat, sleep. Things have progressed slightly from where they were a few months ago, for which I am appreciative. Mom, dad and dear baby Carter spend a little more family time together than they used to thanks mostly to the six-month landmark that is solid foods.

Nonetheless, something happened today that departed from routine. And I’m not going to lie. I loved it. Moments after Carter went to bed, mom spontaneously decided she was going to take me for a quick walk around the neighborhood. This might not sound like much to the average canine, but to me it meant the world.

I can’t remember the last time I was out and about sans baby and carefree. While I realize this sounds like a complaint, I truly and sincerely digress. It’s not about that. It’s about things that happen at dusk and my love and appreciation for them.

Be it a random walk around the neighborhood, observing Carter’s bedtime routine, or watching the moving picture window known by people as the TV, it doesn’t really matter. I see stars in all of these things because these things spark happiness in the people around me.

Today, my stars multiplied because I felt like I was out living large with a chapter of my past. In what some might call the “good ole days,” mom and I adventured through the neighborhood (and sometimes even the dog park) on a daily basis. Obviously it has been some time since that has been the norm, but that doesn’t remove the importance of a thing like tonight from my heart.

If nothing else, it increases it. Because I’ve gotten quite used to the nighttime routine around here. It has departed (a bit) from the temporary eat, sleep, poop routine that was the norm a few months ago. And while that change has been welcomed, something else is welcomed along with it. While still increasingly important, routine needs to be broken every now and then. And when such a thing involves a journey to the past to which I felt like paying tribute, all is well in my little doggie world. So I say long live tradition and all it means for change.

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The End of The Tunnel March 10, 2014

Everyone was doing it today. Families I’d never seen before. All my neighbor dog buddies. Children of all ages. Entire classes from the school nearby. After what has arguably been one of the very worst winters in recent history, the thermometer broke 50 degrees today for the first time in months. I can honestly say I can’t remember when the weather was so beautiful. And the world around me went outside to enjoy it. All-the-while I watched from my perch in the windowsill.

If the circumstances were different, I would probably have let this fact get me down. I’ve been just as cooped up as they have, I thought, why can’t I get out for a walk today? Oh that’s right. Mom’s knee is injured. Again. Alas, my mission to bring joy to her was back in focus. Just in time for me to realize someone had already stolen the show.

Baby Carter was especially smiley this morning – an increasingly frequent occurrence I’m finding brings much joy to my forever family and therefore brings much joy to me. He smiled and smiled and giggled a little and smiled for whole hours at a time. It’s like he too sensed mom needed cheering up.

That is until she returned from the doctor with good news. It’s probably only a sprain, according to the doctor, which means everything should be back to normal within a few weeks. No scary surgery. No awful recovery time. And she was given the all clear to carry Carter again without worrying herself to death that her knee might buckle and she could drop him.

All of this is not without its drawbacks, as she will need to rest for the next couple of weeks and shouldn’t try to get up from a chair or rocker while holding Carter. She still shouldn’t be kneeling to give Cater his bath. And, just in time for the weather to finally warm up, she shouldn’t be taking any long walks for a while.

I know everyone else was doing it today. Everyone but me. But that’s okay because it could be a lot worse. And I’ve made it this far through this terrible winter. What’s another couple of weeks? I’m just happy joy has been restored around here. From the ground up, that’s what really matters in my book anyway.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood March 8, 2013

This little guy doesn’t have big thoughts today. Instead I have gratitude.It's a Beautiful Day!

I felt a spark of it earlier today when I noticed something funny about this time of year. No one wants to wear coats anymore. After what felt like a lifetime of dreary winter days, it was 40 degrees and sunny in Wisconsin today. And you’d better believe mom “forgot” her winter coat at home when she went back to work after lunch.

Coat dilemma aside, the spark caught fire that kept me pretty warm. Mom and I went on our first long walk around the neighborhood since before her knee surgery back in November. And before that, our walks were increasingly infrequent because of the issues she had with her knee.

Well we tested that fancy new knee out today. How I’ve missed the wind blowing in my hair as I impulsively mark my territory on anything upright! (I’m kind of a naughty boy in that regard, but only when I’m outside). I’ve missed the smells, the sunshine and the way my mom’s face lights up when I react to the magic w-a-l-k word! Most of all, I’ve missed the thinking I do on our walks.

Maybe my little racing heart brings life to my brain somehow, I don’t know. What I do know is that I do some of my best thinking when I’m moving. Call it spiritual inertia. I couldn’t wait to get back at it.

Ancient Greek physician and philosopher Hippocrates took it so far as to suggest that “walking is man’s best medicine.” Today I soaked up the medicine. In doing so, I must have brought my mental motion to a halt because all I could think was how happy I was to be on the road again. Gratitude.

Because in reality, 40 degrees is still pretty darned cold to most people. Heck, a 40 degree day in October triggers the search for winter coats, mittens, hats, scarves and anything else to ward off the pending doom of the cold air. But like most things, it is all a matter of perspective. And from my ground-level perspective it really was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.