Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Life’s Little Messages August 1, 2014

It’s probably going to sound ridiculous. But that’s never stopped me before, so I’m certainly not going to let it stop me now. I’m a believer that things happen for a reason. This we all know to be true. But sometimes my faith is sparked in a way that can only be described as contagious.

I speak, of course, of moments in life when it’s like the message we need to hear finds us right when we need to hear it. Has this ever happened to you?

Feeling reflective

It happened to mom this morning when she ordered her first fully caffeinated vanilla latte in a year and a half. She has been so careful with everything she drank while she was pregnant with dear baby Carter and continued to proceed with caution throughout nursing. But today, in a moment of weakness, she gave in to the urge to indulge. She was a little nervous about some sort of presentation she was asked to give at that place called work, and felt the indulgence would somehow calm her nerves.

Had I been with her, I would have advised against such things, but I digress. It was not the coffee that calmed her (I could have told her that), but the message written on it:

“Know what sparks the light in you,” suggested American talk-show host turned entrepreneurial genius Oprah Winfrey, “then use that light to illuminate the world.”

I know how ridiculous it might sound. But I believe as much in those words as I do they were meant to find my mom today. And, in finding her, they found me. Light. From the ground up, I feel it is my duty to share it with you as best I know how. Because I’m a believer that things happen for a reason. That way when life’s little messages fall from heaven, I’m ready and waiting with open paws.

 

On Top of the World June 28, 2014

It’s not that much unlike when mom says “Wiley, up.” I know what to expect when that happens, just as I do when she says “it’s dance party time” to dear baby Carter. It happens at about the same time every day, and I can’t help but pause to pay respect to the progress we’ve made with this thing called routine around here.

A few months ago, it was pretty laborious. Eat, sleep, poop, repeat. I speak, of course, of the perpetual motion of the first few months of a little person’s life. We adjusted, we planned accordingly, and we have moved on. Don’t get me wrong, routine still (and probably always will) play a key role around here. But it’s different now. Now, it involves so much more.

Like dance parties. It doesn’t happen every day because of mom and that thing called work, but it happens often enough for it to be routine. And it happened again today. “It’s dance party time,” mom said. And he may only be just shy of six months old, but I know in my heart that Carter knew exactly what would come next.Partners in crime

Into his jumperoo he went and the dance party began. Which basically consists of mom dancing around Carter’s room like a ninny while Carter jumps happily in his jumperoo. Jump, jump, jump. From the ground up, this has become the equivalent of joy, joy, joy around here.

The best part (at least in my opinion) is that for some completely unknown and random reason, there is one song that seems to always happen during this special time. “I’m on top of the world,” sings Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Evans. Mom dances, Carter jumps. And my heart sings.

Joy. From the ground up, I noticed something while this happened today. There is that special “Joy” sign in Carter’s room that defines joy. As that is what I strive to do with each and every day, I ponder it pretty frequently.

So today when that song came on the radio and mom danced and Carter jumped (and smiled all-the-while), I lived one of the definitions of joy. Joy: “a source or cause of delight.” And I realized it’s not that unlike when mom says “Wiley, up.”

I know what to expect when that happens, just as I do when she says “it’s dance party time” to dear baby Carter. Not only does this mean there is silly dancing and jumping in the near future. But also joy in its purest form.

 

 

Labor of Love April 29, 2014

Matilda is her name. Selling high-quality wood furniture is her game. Well, sort of. I guess you could say she assists in the sales of the furniture, although I would argue toward the former.

The seven-year-old golden retriever has been living the dream with her forever people since she was a puppy. Every day, she enjoys a 30-minute car ride (every day!) with her people (Skip and Joyce) to their furniture business, where she spends her days napping in between greeting visitors to the store with bright eyes and a wagging tail. Apparently customers have been known to stop by just for some time with her. It sounds like a dream job to me. And, at least from what I heard mom telling dad earlier today, it has been a dream job for her (and her forever people) for the last seven years.

Longer than that for Skip and Joyce, who have owned and operated the business for the last 30  years. The time has come for them to retire, and do a very sad thing for them – say goodbye. To the business. But that’s not really what they’re going to miss. They’re going to miss the people. And the people are going to miss them. And Matilda, of course.2014-04-29 13.35.44

It all got me to think about this thing people say about doing what you love in life. I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. That was thrown into question for me today, thinking about the time these people spent working 12 (plus) hour days to run their business.

They rarely (if ever) took a day off since the store was open seven days a week. They never travelled together. And, while I know they wouldn’t change a thing about their experience, they worked. Hard. Their love for the place was stronger than the oak they sell, but that doesn’t mean it went without effort. On the contrary, it was because they loved it that they put in the passion it takes to keep a small family-owned business afloat these days.

“Commitment is an act, not a word,” suggested French philosopher Jean Paul Sarte.

Sometimes it is the act, the effort, that makes the whole thing worthwhile. Commitment. From the ground up, I imagine it to be something resembling the four-legged sense of loyalty (which is stronger than oak as well). Certainly dear Matilda knows a thing or two about that. As do her people.

 

 

I’m Sorry Now April 22, 2014

I don’t really know what happened. One minute I was in my happy place otherwise known as dreamland (chasing rabbits and other small vermin, of course). The next thing I know, there was crying. Well, it was more like screaming actually. Very loud and incredibly frantic screaming. Wiley! Wiley! WILEY!

I’m not sure how long it was going on before it finally woke me from my apparently deep slumber, but out I crawled from one of my favorite spots under my peoples’ bed and there I was. And there she was.

My dear aunt Morgan was in shambles. Absolute shambles. Her hair was strewn every which way. She was crying. And she was upset. She was incredibly upset. I did my best to cheer her up with all of my tricks. I snuggled and wagged and licked and none of it seemed to work. It was apparent. I was in the dog house. The worst part was, I wasn’t really sure why.

That is until mom returned home shortly thereafter. That is when I listened to the other side of the story. I thought he ran away, Morgan said, I thought he was gone. It seems to have startled her that I didn’t respond right away, I realized. This brought to light something I’ve always known but spend very little time contemplating. Baby Love

We often don’t know the consequences of our actions until it’s too late. A lot of things are said that we can’t take back. Yet we say them, they do their damage, and life goes on. A lot of things are done that have negative repercussions. A lot of decisions are made with little to no thought of their impact. All the while I know in my heart the power of the ripple effect. Everything we do, intentional or otherwise, has an effect on the world around us.

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life doing nothing,” as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw suggested.

It doesn’t matter that I didn’t know what was happening. It doesn’t matter that in my dreams I was about to slay a whole coven of squirrels. What matters is the tears that resulted from my ignorance. The stress I caused with all kinds of unnecessary worrying about my whereabouts.

Because while it was certainly not intentional I learned a very important lesson today. I learned what it means to cause such confusion. Because I learned what is like to be loved. It’s not the first time, and I (while I don’t intend a repeat episode anytime soon) I am so very blessed in knowing it won’t be the last.

 

Second Nature April 8, 2014

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:46 pm
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That place called work. I’ve often wondered if the shoe were on the other paw, what my place called work would be like. Where would I go away to for all those hours at a time? What would I do? Today I think I (quite literally) stumbled upon the answer.Looking Happy

Maybe it’s because it happened with four different people in what felt like a very short period of time. I used my keen observational skills to deduce they were down about one thing or another in life, and (without thinking) I did something about it.

With my grandma, I greeted her with a love fest upon entering the threshold. With my aunt Morgan, I licked up her tears as she cried about changes in life. With my mom, I simply rolled on my side funny while she took a few minutes to pet me. And with Carter, when he smiled at me as I performed one of my many attention-seeking behaviors. Well, that was pretty magical even though he may not know it.

That’s when it occurred to me. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I didn’t even know I was brining joy until it happened. I saw it on their faces, heard it in their voices, and felt it in their embrace. Joy. From the ground up, it is a favorite habit of mine. It’s one with no deadline, no pressure, and no wasted days or nights.

So I think I know what I would do for “work” if the shoe were on the other paw. (That is, assuming my first attempt at a dog blogger turned book writer never comes to be). I would stay home. I would do exactly what I do naturally every single day. I would find ways to bring joy to the lives of my people. Now, I can admit the job is not a traditional one. But I don’t think it matters, and would argue that perhaps it should be. Because I read once if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And that is certainly true for me.

 

Give and Take March 28, 2014

It’s been a long time coming. Yet it seemed to pass with the blink of an eye. Today was mom’s last day at that place called work. And I thought she’d be excited. Instead I was met with mixed emotions upon her return home. It wasn’t until later that I understood why.

Get what you giveIt had been a busy day around here, with my grandma and aunt Morgan spending time with baby Carter and I. There was an incident involving a teeny tiny cut that happened when Morgan was cutting Carter’s itsy bitsy nails. He cried. Grandma and Morgan cried. If I could, I would have cried. It was tough on everyone because we all know no one would intentionally hurt our dear little person. Yet he was hurt today.

I thought it was oddly poetic that mom seemed a little hurt too. She invested a tremendous amount of herself in that place, but even more so in the people it included. They became her work family. They came to her with troubles and she never once turned them away. As they took other opportunities in and outside the organization, she celebrated their success. She worked almost as hard to foster relationships as she did at her job itself.

So today, when she left the office for the last time with her box of office keepsakes, she did so with a heavy heart. Because she quite honestly didn’t feel very loved. Her work family let her go with very little fanfare. It was all too soon forgotten how she cared for them in time of need. And as she is taking an opportunity outside the organization, very few peopled celebrated her success.

But that’s the thing about give and take. It doesn’t always turn out like we plan. Just like no one would intentionally hurt dear baby Carter, I believe no one meant to hurt mom today. And I think deep down she knows that too. Or at least she does a pretty good job of pretending.

Because it has indeed been a long time coming. And it has passed in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t matter that mom didn’t take much fanfare home with her today. She gave 110%. That’s what really matters anyway.

 

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.

 

Two Weeks Notice March 18, 2014

May 15, 2009. That’s when it started. I wasn’t around then, but I’ve heard the story dozens of times. Mom was called into that place called work (which at the time was a newspaper newsroom) and told she would be one of about half of the staff to be let go that day. She was okay with it because she knew in her heart then what she believes now. The world is our oyster.

Two weeks later, her dad died. Suddenly and unexpectedly. She didn’t get to say goodbye. So begins the blip of time that spreads over the last five years.

What to say?After a few months of helping her mom sort through the details of the estate, a new job in a completely different position in wealth management (for which she was technically incredibly unqualified) fell into her lap and she seized the opportunity to rejoin the workforce. She studied hard, learned fast, and within a couple more months earned her Series 7, 63 and life and health insurance licenses. With absolutely no prior experience or education in anything relating to finance or financial planning.

I don’t know if she believes it, but I know she can do anything she puts her mind to. Because now, five years later, it’s almost like it never happened. Literally. And yet it did. It so vividly did.

I’ve learned something through all of this – it turns out I’m pretty good at keeping secrets. First, with news of the baby, then with the sex of the baby, and now this. I’ve known for a while it was happening but I couldn’t share the good news until now.

Mom put in her two weeks notice yesterday. She will no longer be going to that place called work. Well, technically she will still be working. But I’ve always been a believer that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And if there is something out of the ordinary that mom and I share it is our love for writing.

Alas, mom’s old beat at the newspaper just happened to open up recently. The exact same beat covering the local news in the exact same communities as she covered back in 2009. I call that a God thing. She will definitely have more time with baby Carter than if she kept her current job, while maintaining the majority of the necessary financial support I need to ensure I keep receiving the appropriate amount of dog treats and new chew toys. It’s the best of both worlds.

February 11, 2014. That’s when it started again. It’s like mom’s life hit the refresh button. As much as the job in wealth management has been good for the last few years, this is what is good right now. They say everything happens for a reason. Now I know it to be true.

 

A Lesson In Sacrifice December 23, 2013

Disgruntled, disheveled and exhausted. Or in other words crabby. That’s how mom came home today from that place called work. Apparently her mood was reflective of the majority of the folks with whom she came into contact today. People who wanted things done. Now. Unless yesterday is possible, in which case they would prefer that.

The truth is, on a day like today, you are only one person who can really only do one thing: your best. I got the impression that’s what she did, but it sure took its toll on her emotions. She looked like she could cry the moment she walked in the door. And my keen attentiveness to such things informs me this would most definitely not have been tears of joy.

Watching and waitingThat’s when it happened. Just as she came through the door, dad stepped up to the plate. He took one for the team. I was ready with all my usual tactics for brining joy into a room and dad beat me to it. He swept her away to some place immediately upon her arrival home and when they returned they were laughing. No more almost tears. It was really something to see.

What mom doesn’t know is dad had a rough day too. He didn’t sleep much last night either. He’s overcome with worry of his own about all things pregnancy and labor and baby related. I’ve even been guilty of forgetting this in the last nine months. But none of that mattered in those crucial moments when mom got home. He pushed everything he was feeling aside to bring joy to mom.

I never really have to do such things. Sure, I worry and have my own things that evoke fear and stress. But for me, bringing joy to the lives of others rarely (if ever) involves sacrifice. The way I see it its ingrained in me as my work in my forever home. Except it’s not work because I love it so much. It’s part of what I’m meant to do.

Dad, on the other hand, definitely sacrificed his own thoughts and emotions to support mom tonight. And I’m proud of him. “If you want to be loved, be lovable,” suggested ancient Roman poet Ovid. Mom certainly wasn’t lovable upon returning home from that place called work today. Regardless of the reasons, she was an emotional wreck. But dad loves and cared for her anyway. And it worked. That’s the thing about selflessness – it tends to do the trick every time.

 

Recharging Life December 16, 2013

Momma said there’d be days like this. Well, not my momma. But apparently this is a message moms everywhere chose to communicate to whomever will listen. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how proudly we optimists wear our rose-colored glasses. It doesn’t matter that we chose to see the good in all people, places and things. Because ultimately we can’t always control when the battery runs out.Recharging My Battery

Literally. That is how my beloved people began their Monday. The battery went out on one of the cars, which made them both late for work. There was no turning back from there. I don’t know what happens to either of them when they are away, but I know what happens when they return. And on a rare occasion like today, I can’t say I care for it.

Clearly they both had very little emotional battery left upon their return this evening. I don’t think it’s a coincidence either. The car, which (at least in my humble doggie opinion) normally functions as a mode of transportation to various sources of joy instead gave them grief. When money is already tight. And temperatures are bitterly frigid.

That’s the thing about days like today. Most times you don’t see them coming. But that’s not such a bad thing, because the tides can turn just as quickly in the other direction. It’s not always easy, but it certainly didn’t take much today. My people were sad. Tired. Disgruntled.

So I did what I do best. I engaged in a game of pickle in the middle with my newest addition to my comfort circle cast of characters. Mr. Squirrel is floppy, unlike the majority of my other toys, and he did just the trick. It started with dad. We played tug of war on the living room floor. Laughter followed smiles. Then it caught on with mom. Joy. From the ground up. It’s a pretty effective way of recharging one’s emotional batteries, that much is for sure.

Dad swapped out the battery for a new one. I swapped out the negative energy in our house for the positive. Maybe that’s why my momma never said there’d be days like this. Just because we can’t control when or how the battery runs out doesn’t mean we don’t have the power and strength within us to recharge.