Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

All Toasty Inside February 14, 2015

It’s one of those things you almost had to see to believe. And I had no idea what was happening until it was too late.

My fur froze today. It honest-to-goodness turned into icicles. I had just finished drinking up the majority of the contents of my water bowl before going outside and I swear it only took a matter of a second or two. That frigid cold Wisconsin winter air hit my wet chin furs and bam! Chin fur icicles. I’ve experienced some epic cold days, but I can’t say I remember that ever happening before. Me and My Shadow

At a high temperature hovering around a whopping seven degrees, it was the coldest Valentine’s Day I can remember experiencing. And I’m not going to lie. It kind of put a damper on things. There was a variety of local festivals and other events to keep the whole family busy today, but my forever family wanted nothing to do with any of that.

Usually my people make an elaborate surf and turf dinner together in the kitchen or they go out to a fancy restaurant. This year they ordered a heart-shaped delivery pizza and called it good enough.

I know my mom well enough to know that she increasingly frustrated as the day went on that nothing was going according to tradition. Disappointment. From the ground up, it would definitely qualify as one of my least favorite people emotions.

But that seemed to change tonight as we made some new traditions. Though I gathered the pizza itself to be a bit underwhelming, the idea of it was something they had a lot of fun with. Carter had a nice long nap this afternoon, so he was a hyper little bundle of joy who earned himself an extra hour of playtime before bed with all the smiling and crazy giggling he was doing.

It might not sound like the picture-perfect romantic celebration to everyone. And that’s fine. But I know that this will qualify as one of those days we not only cherish now, but will all look back on fondly someday. Because it may have been cold enough to turn my fur into tiny little icicles outside, but the love in my home made it all toasty inside. To me that’s what love day should really be about.

 

Tiny Little Fingerprints January 7, 2015

It doesn’t happen often, but I think I spotted it today. The moment was fleeting, but it was there.

Every now and then, I think mom misses her old life. The one where she went to that place called work every day and talked with friends and customers and came home and made dinner and her and dad spent time together reminiscing and watching an occasional movie or playing a game. The one involving fancy business clothes and the lunch meetings at fancy restaurants. The one when there was more money coming in every month.

Cabin fever was the culprit when it happened today. I’m sure of that. With temperatures as frigidly cold as they have been, she has been working from home a little more than usual because negative degree temperatures are nothing dear baby Carter should have to face. Ground Up Thinking

And I’ve found something about days like this. The life of a mom. From the ground up, it’s not very glamorous.

Take today, for example. At one point this morning, mom had sleeves covered in some sort of baby food sludge. Carter had just managed to spill over the neatly folded basket of laundry onto the not-quite-dry kitchen floor into a heap of pants, shirts and pajamas. This happened about five minutes after he broke a measuring cup into hundreds of pieces all over the floor, which was already littered with the contents of several cabinets.

Mom scooped him into her arms to see if she could find something to occupy him long enough to allow her to reorganize the laundry. And that’s when it happened.

He grabbed her glasses off her face in a way only he can do and threw them on the floor. I saw it in that moment; one which I’m certain most moms have from time to time. I can’t even think of the best words to describe the feelings that I saw in the eyes of my dear forever mom. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened today.

And it didn’t last long. A few minutes went by before a sense of peace and order was restored, albeit brief. (It didn’t take long for Carter to create some other mess that would evoke fear and terror into the mind of any maid or housekeeper.)

Meanwhile, mom sat down to resume her work, and I noticed her take her glasses back off for a second. I watched as she examined her lenses, noting the tiny little fingerprints that were still very much plastered all over the place. I watched her smile the smile I’ve only seen since Carter was born. And I watched as she put the glasses back on without cleaning them.

She may have those moments from time to time. When she longs for the suits and lunches and all things business she left behind. When she wishes for the manicures and pedicures and massages that are for the most part a thing of the past. When she wants to be just her again.

But she’s a mom now. And that means she has tiny little fingerprints on her heart that can’t ever be washed away.

 

No Waste of Time January 4, 2015

It’s been a good run. My dear forever dad has been home from that place called work for what feels like ages. He gets a break each year when his work shuts down during the holidays. Though the time off is nothing new for us, something about this time seemed special somehow. Pausing to smell the snowflakes

I couldn’t really say why until today. It was kind of a mystery to me why this felt so different this time. We celebrated the holidays (mostly) as we always do. There was love and joy with family and friends. There were a few days when they left to go somewhere exciting where dogs weren’t allowed. I was fine with that because of all of the positive energy I felt from them upon their return. (That, and they were never gone too long on account of dear baby Carter’s napping schedule). And there was an unconventional New Year’s that was more about Carter’s first birthday than anything else. All of it was special in its own rite, but that’s not that unusual in itself around here.

So today when mom said it, a light bulb illuminated my heart. This is the longest stretch of time dad has been home with Carter since he was born. And that didn’t go unnoticed by him or Carter, believe me. In the last week and a half, Carter has perfected his pronunciation of “dada,” favors him for many parts of his daily routine, and chases after him all over the house.

As I’ve watched this all unfold, I thought it might start to bother my dear forever mom. As his primary caregiver, I thought maybe she’d be jealous of this behavior. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I knew it as her and dad reflected on the events of the last few weeks. From Carter’s birthday party to the family time in the snow yesterday to the time they spent together doing nothing at home today as another snow storm made its way through our area, it’s been a pretty great stretch.

That all ends tomorrow when everything goes back to reality. Work. From the ground up, it’s not one of my favorite things. But as tonight makes its way into tomorrow, I figure it’s better to embrace everything that has made this last couple of weeks so memorable. Because that is exactly why these kinds of breaks are important. Not only do they have the power to make reality a lot more bearable, but they remind us of what’s important in life. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget what it’s all about.

As British thinker John Lubbock once said “rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

In our case it was pausing to make snow angels as beautiful snowflakes painted the sky, but it’s all the same to me.

 

Little Star November 19, 2014

Winter is here. Remember those posts about it knocking at the door? It has arrived in all of its snowy, frigid goodness. With it I’ve already gotten more snuggles than I knew in the summer months, which I think is one of my favorite things about winter in Wisconsin.

Tonight I discovered another silver lining to being cooped up inside for the better part of the next several months. It’s a new one this winter, and while I can’t say I wasn’t expecting it in some ways, it still took me by surprise.Ground Up Thinking

An old favorite of mine has resumed on an almost daily basis as we play together as a family for a bit before Carter’s bedtime. Your resident pickle in the middle is back. Mom and dad throw a toy of mine back and forth while I chase around trying to intercept it. Meanwhile, Carter sits by giggling at the action. And when he gets the toy for some reason, he gives it to me like he knows he is a co-conspirator.

Tonight’s game really wore me out, and when it was over I snuggled myself into mom’s legs on the floor as she and dad took to playing some sort of silliness with Carter. That’s when something new happened. Dad turned off all the lights in the basement except for this little nightlight that is shaped like a doggie (of course) that projects an image of stars onto the ceiling.

I couldn’t help it. The scene as my three favorite people in the world laid on the floor together looking up at the fake stars warmed my heart. ‘Twinkle twinkle, little star,’ mom sang softly. “How I wonder what you are. Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky. Twinkle twinkle, little start, how I wonder what you are.”

I made a wish as mom sang her song and dad and Carter and I listened. I wished with all my might for something I can’t share. (I can’t say or it won’t come true).

As the moment ended and the bedtime routine ensued, I found myself again thanking my lucky stars that winter is here. With all its snuggly, snowy, frigid goodness. And that’s okay by me.

 

Go With The Flow April 14, 2014

There was a warmth in the air that found its way to my heart the other day. After what has been one of the historically worst winters ever in Wisconsin, it was 70 degrees. The grass was dried out from months of being blanketed with snow. But the air was warm and all was well with the world.

That was three days ago. Today it is 25 degrees and snowing. It was like night and day. In addition to wreaking havoc on the sinuses of my beloved people, the severe change in temperature is playing games with our hearts around here. Cold and wet

As I fought the urge to stay outside a little longer regardless of the cold, it occurred to me. It’s not really a surprise. It’s part of the reality of living where I live. It’s nothing new. Sure, this winter was exceptionally challenging. But we don’t live in a part of the world where there are hurricanes or tornadoes or earthquakes or tsunamis.

We live in a part of the world with four distinct seasons that bring with them their own sources of joy. From the ground up, that is what I forced myself to remember as I made my way back into the warmth of my forever home. If it wasn’t this it would be something else.

And what is the use complaining about it then? Ultimately it is one of those things we can’t control. And that’s okay.

“Complaining is a dangerous business,” suggests theologian Joyce Meyer. “It can damage or even destroy your relationship with God, your relationship with other people, and even with your relationship with yourself.”

I don’t know about you, but I think I would go crazy if I tried to control everything anyway. Instead I go with the flow and find peace in the renewal of spring. It’s coming. Until then I have the warmth of positivity to keep me warm.

 

Circle of Love March 29, 2014

I don’t get out much. Between the never-ending frigidness that has been this winter and my forever people’s recent attachment to being home with my little person, it’s a reality of life lately. Walks around the neighborhood have been fairly nonexistent in this weather. Car rides are few and far between. And the dog park has been covered either in feet of snow or layers of ice for months. Such is life.Circle of Love

Every time I find myself feeling down about it something magical happens. This morning it happened during snuggle time. It’s always been part of Saturday morning in the Schmidt home in one way or another but its been different since baby Carter came home.

Until today. Today was special somehow because I was nestled between dad and Carter, and Carter was snuggled on mom, who was holding hands with dad. There we were. The four of us. Our own little circle of love. In that moment nothing outside that circle mattered.

The moment passed, the day went on, and I didn’t think it could get any better. But it did. Because today, after what feels like a very long time without leaving the house, I got to go on a car ride. Better yet, the car ride was to see extended members of the circle of love at Grandma Schmidt’s house.

My time there today more than made up for all of the time inside this winter. Not because I was the center of attention. That role obviously went to baby Carter. (It’s okay. I’m used to it.) Today I felt so much warmth, so much joy, it melted all that remains of winter away. It doesn’t matter whether it happens at my forever home or elsewhere. I was born to be with these people. From the ground up, such is life.

 

 

Making Sense of the Chaos March 26, 2014

You’ve heard it from me. And – if you’re anywhere in the central United States – you’ve been hearing it for months. It’s been a tough winter around here. I’ve done my best to make light of a negative situation, which has been made a lot easier thanks to my mom being home from that place called work for so long. I know it was to take care of baby Carter (not little ole me), but it doesn’t matter.

I’ve loved it. Especially since the weather has kept us all cozy together inside. I know it goes against every canine bone in my body to say this, but it hasn’t been so bad for me. Sure, I miss the warm weather and all things that come with it. I miss walks in the neighborhood, adventures at the dog park and the (rare, but oh so exciting) endeavors beyond city limits. I miss the days when I came first, before this dear little person who I do love so much.Snuggle Bug

But I’ve had my snuggles. I’ve had irreplaceable time with my forever mom. I’ve snuck my way into time with her and baby Carter. And I’ve come to look forward to what happens after mom leaves the door slightly ajar in the morning. That means guests are coming. Guests like Auntie Morgan or mom’s mom, or one (or more!) of mom or dads friends.

It’s a far cry from my former life as sole daytime guardian of the Schmidt abode. There is very little time for myself these days. Less time to drift into the daydream kind of sleep I used to when it was me, myself and I all day long every weekday. Less time to do as I please from my spot in the window. I guess you could say it’s less time to be myself.

But that would be silly. Because I am probably more myself now than ever before. Now I am a companion, not just to my people, but to whomever comes to watch over dear baby Carter. I am a protector of dear baby Carter. And I am myself. Nothing could ever change that.

Not even how awful a winter we’ve had around here. Silly me thinking last winter was rough. This winter has reminded me to slow it down. To remember what really maters. To make sense of the chaos. It’s the only way to live.

Here is the video you’ve heard so much about, featuring my forever family. Note my forever mom picking up dear baby Carter about halfway through, and then her bringing Carter into our kitchen and the end. To me, it brings things full circle. Which is a wonderful place to live.

 

Fifty Shades of Grey March 25, 2014

Please excuse my French. The whole cliché about us canines being colorblind? It’s bullshit. It’s simply not true. It is true that we are limited in terms of the color spectrum. We only see a fraction of the colors humans see. But we do see color. We see differences in color. And today I saw the value of life in a world that isn’t black and white.Sunshine

It occurred to me as I sat patiently by mom’s feet as she rocked baby Carter to sleep. It was dark in the room, but I wouldn’t call it black. I would call it grey. Grey, like one of those in between colors open for interpretation. Grey, like a color that means something instead of nothing. Grey. From the ground up, it looks pretty nice to me.

Yet it seems to be one of those colors that is frequently misunderstood. It’s one of those dreary colors that brings people down instead of lifting them up. It’s a symbol of uncertainty. Of confusion. Of feeling lost.

Fortunately it’s also one of the colors I see. Because (like most things) that whole cliché about canines being colorblind is only as true as we let it be. It was another grey and frigid winter day in Wisconsin today. And it hit some people pretty hard. Because I speak for a lot of the two-legged philosophers in my life when I say they have had had enough grey. They just want it to be colorful again.

Not only can we canines see more color than we are given credit for, but we interpret color in everything around us. And, at least according to me, the colors of life are open for interpretation by anyone on any given day. A few days ago it rained. But today I found it. My rainbow. Today, as I sat in my own version of grey, I was reminded life is not black and white. It’s not about waiting for something good or bad to happen. Instead we should make it happen. Instead we should make our own rainbow. Even if it is a little grey every now and then.

 

The Luck We Make January 17, 2014

I don’t mean to be rude. Quite the opposite in fact. I make it a business of mine to speak the truth in love. Even if it hurts. And even though I can’t speak. (At least not on command).

JoyTruth. From the ground up, I have some to share today. It occurred to me as I watched more snow diamonds fall from heaven. Snow is a pretty common occurrence in the beautiful state of Wisconsin, but it never ceases to amaze me with its understated beauty. In today’s peaceful stillness of the snowfall I found myself counting the flakes, each one a reminder of the blessings I have in life.

Family. Love. Loyalty. So many things money can’t buy, all at my paws at a moment’s notice. But I wouldn’t say this makes me lucky. The truth is, I wouldn’t call myself lucky. Friends and family call me this all the time and I tend to disagree. But not for reasons one might think.

I’m not bitter. I have no reason to be negative. But I believe in a lot of things, and luck isn’t one of them. Luck implies happenstance. Chance. Random good fortune. I’ve had too much good in my life happen to believe in such things.

Instead I count my blessings. Each one is unique and brings me a different kind of joy. Like today when baby Carter grabbed my paw in his sleep. My heart surged in that moment and I instantly forgave him for all the screaming he’s been doing morning, noon and night.

No snowflake is alike, and no true and lasting moment of joy is either. Each is a blessing of its own, entirely separate from this think called luck. Truth. From the ground up, I mean no disrespect to anyone who believes in luck. Instead I tend to side with World War II general Douglas MacArthur, who once suggested “the best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.” And my luck isn’t luck at all. It’s joy. From the ground up, this is the truth I speak in love.

 

Keeps On Giving December 29, 2013

It was dark. It was cold. And it was fun. That is, until it wasn’t. I ran away from grandma’s house tonight. I saw the back door open and I made a run for it. I love the way the brisk Wisconsin winter air ran through my fur as I ran around the block.

I followed two things: the scent of a nearby dog and the light from the main street nearby. I didn’t really hear dad and his brother Joe yelling after me at first. In fact, I figured they were simply joining in an especially exciting game of chase. But it wasn’t too long after that when my little adventure stopped being fun. Clearly Joe and dad misunderstood the rules of the game. Dad scooped me up and kept using several of my least favorite words.Sassy? Me?

Naughty. Bad. Sassy. I much prefer words like cute and cuddly, so you can imagine my dismay at hearing these words over and over as we made our way back to grandma’s house. There I was met with a whole host of emotions, the majority of which resembled the aftermath of minor heart attacks. Everyone had gathered in the kitchen. And everyone was concerned. Well, I guess you could say they were more than concerned. They were freaked. Especially mom, who kept saying something about a forecast with -25 degree wind chills tonight (whatever that means).

As I surveyed the rest of the faces of these people I’ve come to love, any of the residual wonderment I felt on my little jaunt lost its moxie and I felt nothing but remorse. It wasn’t that fun. And (now that they mention it) it was cold. And dark. And I’m not certain I would have known how to get back to grandma’s house without the help of dad and Joe. Maybe this whole adventure wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Because family offers its own kind of adventure you can’t find outside. We were all together to celebrate Christmas and there were all kinds of beautiful gifts for everyone. I made out like a bandit with treats and toys. But the best part of the night was the snuggles. I snuggled with whomever would let me, and in doing so I got the best gift of all in return. Love. The gift that keeps on giving.