Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Getting Back Up March 3, 2015

I honestly couldn’t handle it. I saw it happen. I heard the sound when it happened. And I knew crying would come next. So I did the cowardly thing and ran away to hide in the bedroom, because I just couldn’t stand to even find out what the aftermath of all that action was.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. My dear baby Carter was all over the place today, climbing things not meant to be climbed, ripping any form of paper he could get his hands on and running. So much running. Before

All of that came to a screeching halt when he was attempting to dismount one of his toys and take off in a full run in one fell swoop. He failed, whacking his head on the hardwood floor pretty good in the process. In the realm of his cries (I’ve come to know them all), it surprised me that this one seemed fairly well under control. And it honestly didn’t last nearly as long as I had thought it would.

I found out later he was also gushing blood from his mouth, where his fairly new set of teeth tore into his top and bottom lip. So you can imagine my surprise when the crying stopped a few minutes after it started. The terrible sound was replaced with the happy toddler babble that preceded the fall. That was a relief enough that I returned to the scene of the crime to check it out. All was well.

But in those moments after it happened, I ran. Mom couldn’t run. I know she was scared, and seeing the blood must have been terrible. I heard her and dad recapping what happened over dinner, and in that moment I felt a gush of pride over the parents they have become.

They both hated that it happened at all. And it was scary (especially for mom). Yet ultimately, they both realized it was probably way worse for them than it was for him. They don’t want anything bad to ever happen to their little boy. Obviously. In spite of all their best efforts, they were reminded today that it’s going to happen. He is going to fall down. And he’s going to get hurt. But it’s okay.

Because it’s getting back up that matters.

 

All That Worry March 1, 2015

I guess you could say I’m a sore loser. I’m not ashamed to admit it. The simple truth is I don’t particularly care to engage in things that I don’t think I can excel at. I prefer to quality over quantity anyway.

So you can imagine my dismay when certain things in my life that are completely beyond my control. If I had my way, there would be no worry or stress or anger in the lives of my loved ones. But alas, none of that falls within my realm of reason.The "stuff" and me

Instead I watch as people I care about, namely my forever mom, let things bother her to the point of sleeplessness and restless anxiety. The worry is real, and I don’t fault her for that. Yet things have a way of coming full circle emotionally in such a way that I wish we could just bypass the stress and get right to the relief.

Take the scare mom had with her pregnancy recently. She haunted herself by consulting Dr. Google for answers about something she should have just listened to her doctor about. As a result, she became so blinded by the worst case scenario that hope seemed like a distant memory.

Then this week, she got confirmation from her doctor that everything worked out. The concern is no longer a concern. Cautious optimism has been replaced by relief.

Which leads me to question what the point of worry is in the first place. Or really any negative emotional struggle people face. Hence my constant inner struggle.

Because I can’t control it. I can’t win every battle. And as much as I hate any lose-lose situation, I know we can’t win them all. Fortunately, I also know we don’t have to. So many times I find any battle worth fighting is most likely also a battle worth losing. Life has taught me things have a way of working out in spite of our best efforts to complicate things. So in reality, many of our short-term losses are actually long-term wins. It just takes a little time for us to realize it.

 

 

When Bad Turns Good February 23, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:11 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

It was dark and it was cold. And I was worried. I had a bad feeling tonight I couldn’t shake. The action that caused it was nothing out of the ordinary in itself.

Most things about the night were the same as always. Dear baby Carter and I celebrated as we always do when dad got home from that place called work. A delicious smelling dinner was enjoyed together as a family, followed by family time and ultimately Carter’s bedtime routine. What do you think?

My dear forever mom then went to that place called work, as she does on Monday nights, to something called a school board meeting. (I have no idea what a school board meeting is, or why she needs to go to them, but that’s no matter.) Dad took a bit longer than usual to say goodbye to her, telling her to be safe and be warm more than usual almost like he felt what I was feeling too.

An hour went by. And another hour. And another hour. I paced the kitchen. Then the basement. Then the kitchen again. I usually take my later evening nap during the time that passed. Instead, I found my restless heart wouldn’t let me rest.

It was dark and it was cold and my heart hurt thinking about what life could look like without mom. Without the new little person. That is until I realized how terrible that was to even think about so I forced myself back to the pacing.

Then it happened. I heard the car and the door and the key in the door. She was home safely and unharmed. In that moment, I felt joy. And relief. And a little more joy. From the ground up, I realized how silly I’d been to worry the night away.

That is, until I realized even this thing called worry has a silver lining, especially if it is completely unnecessary as mine was tonight. Even a bad feeling turns into a good one when you realize you were wrong to worry. I don’t usually like being wrong, being wrong felt so right.

 

Whatever the Reason January 14, 2015

It starts with the mind. Trepidation. Anxiety. And ultimately, fatigue. This is a vicious cycle I witness unfolding all too frequently in the life of my forever mom. I’m usually the first to know when there is something bothering her, mostly because she walks around with her heart on her sleeve.

Sometimes it’s something as ridiculous as what to make (or where to go) for dinner. Other times it is a major life decision or event that she builds up in her head as something way more terrifying than it could possibly ever be. Whatever the reason, the cycle remains the same.

Trepidation. Otherwise known as fear of the unknown. Love. Unplugged.

Anxiety. The culmination of worry, fear and stress.

Fatigue. The feeling of weariness that follows a stressful or worrisome situation.

But there is something else I notice about this cycle. Something I’ve said before I don’t particularly support. Regret. From the ground up, this thing drenched in disappointment is not a favorite thing of mine. Yet in this case, I hold it up as the reason for essentially debunking this terrible cycle that causes my mom (and surely others) such emotional discomfort.

I say this because I watch as the fear and anxiety and fatigue all happen, and I know what comes next. Inevitably, the cycle awakens the part of a person to the realization that, in reality, it was all for naught. Life goes on. Today becomes tomorrow. And with it, we get a fresh start. Not to start the whole terrible cycle all over again, but to live anew.

It ends with the mind. Trepidation. Anxiety. Fatigue. Regret. None of it has to happen if we catch it early enough.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it,” as ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested. Worry is going to happen. People are going to psyche themselves out over nothing. But life is going to go on, with or without them. If you ask me, there is strength to persevere within these basic truths.

 

With or Without January 11, 2015

I’m usually pretty good with tension. When there is proverbial ice to be broken, I know just what to do. Any number of my repertoire of doggie antics tends to do the trick. But today my powers were useless in my very own living room. In The Right Direction

Nails were being bitten. Nervous eating had ensued. I could feel the tension rising with each passing minute. And nothing I could do seemed to mitigate the situation in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a Packer backer as those in my forever family. I just prefer to stay calm if at all possible.

It was not possible today. For me, or for anyone in the room. The final minutes of the Packer game against the Cowboys were intense and scary and exciting and devastatingly amazing all at the same time. I know, I know, it sounds impossible and yet it’s true. It all ended well, though I think at several points throughout the game, it didn’t seem it would.

When all was said and done, the stress and worry was for naught. Everything worked out. The Packers won the game. All was well.

It reminded me of why I’m usually pretty good with tension. I have an entire cabinet of tricks I break out to lighten up the emotions in the room, which us canines have a knack for picking up very easily. I jokingly call it our seventh sense. Cats have nine lives. Dogs have an innate understanding for human emotion.

That’s why I can say with some sense of authority that you can’t sweat the small stuff. The outcome of that game would be the same whether or not we worried and stressed like we did or not. I think there’s something to be taken from that.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another,” suggested American thinker William James. Any good journey will be filled with ups and downs and moments when we think it’s not going to work out. Yet sometimes it always does. With or without the stress.

 

Forgive and Forget January 5, 2015

It was worse than I thought. Way worse. True to form, it seems to me that negativity spread like wildfire today as it has a way of doing if we let it. I’m sure it didn’t help that we are experiencing record low temperatures around here (with wind chills in the -30 degree range, whatever that means). And I think that thing called work had a lot to do with it as well.

Regardless of the reason, it seems to me like today is a day where more than one person I care about just wants to put behind them. Individual circumstances vary, but I get the impression that tomorrow can’t come soon enough.

Dear aunt Morgan’s car wouldn’t start. My grandma slipped on some ice getting her mail and hurt her knee. My mom’s friend Mel had an abnormally challenging day. Work was generally impossible for everyone I encountered.

Around here, dad had a generally awful day. And mom spent a lot of time on the phone while trying to simultaneously tend to a very whiny dear baby Carter. I knew it was worse than usual when she lost her temper and shouted at him to shut up. It isn’t like her to yell at him like that, and the tone of her voice sent even me into a panic as I ran off into the nearest corner.

The breaking point. From the ground up, it looks different for everyone. I saw mom’s today and it wasn’t pretty. But something tells me she wasn’t alone. She isn’t alone. It happens to everyone from time to time for a variety of reasons.

And today I think I found the antidote. Because it was worse than I thought. Going back to reality wasn’t just tough for my dad as I feared it would be, but for a lot of people I care about. So when it happened later this afternoon, I felt my heart leap out of my chest with joy.

He forgave her. Even though the look in his eyes when mom hollered at him was one of surprised terror, when Carter woke up from his afternoon nap a couple hours later, all was forgiven and forgotten. I knew it for sure because when she went to get him out of his crib, he was even happier to see her than usual. He was standing there to greet her, and when she opened the door he literally giggled with glee to the point where his smile was making him shake with happiness. Mom hasn’t laughed so hard in days.

It reminded me it is possible to forgive and forget more than just people. Days are awful sometimes. And they happen to all of us. But there is always tomorrow, so why not forgive today?

 

Like A Rocking Chair December 30, 2014

No news is good news. That’s what I heard them say to my forever mom yesterday when we stopped at my doggie doctor’s office. The wait was over to have a second test done to confirm (or deny) whether I was sick. Yet that’s when the real waiting game began.

It was 11:03 a.m. when we left the Family Pet Clinic. I know because I saw mom note the time. Before we left, they told her we would have an answer in 24 to 36 hours if the news wasn’t good. I thought for sure when they said that it would be the longest 24 to 36 hours of my life. In reality, I think it was at least in the higher ranks for my dear forever mom, who did nothing but worry the entire time. Counting Blessings

Not only that, but she disregarded what the ladies told her about no news. As soon as the clock struck 11:03 a.m. this morning, you’d better believe she called the office to find out if there was any news. And there was.

I am not sick. Everything is fine. Yes, I have a slightly elevated white blood cell count (whatever that is), but I’m going to be okay. Now don’t we all feel a bit silly for worrying so much?

It reminds me a bit of something I heard my mom’s dear friend Mel say about a completely unrelated topic yesterday afternoon. She quoted the words of New Zealand athlete Glenn Turner, who once suggested that “worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.”

So maybe mom and I and whoever else she worried with her concern (as I’ve found it to be contagious) didn’t get anywhere the last few days. But that’s okay.

Because this afternoon as the warmth of the sun bore down on me in my favorite spot in Carter’s room as I watched mom and Carter rock quietly, I let it in. All of it. The warmth. The love. The life of it all. I can’t help but feel a bit like I’ve gotten yet another lease on life, and it’s not one I intend to waste one ounce of worry over.

 

Hurry Up and Wait December 27, 2014

No news is good news, or so they say. Mom even said so this morning when she mentioned to dad she hadn’t heard anything from the doggie doctor about the blood test they did earlier this week. Usually if you don’t hear anything, everything is fine.

Until you do hear something. And it’s not good news. It happened to us a mere three hours after mom breathed a proverbial sigh of relief over not hearing anything. The phone call. Something about white blood cells being slightly higher than they should be and how they would like to do another test to find out if its really something to worry about.I will live

No need for the test as far as worry is concerned. I’m worried. Mom’s worried. It’s a whole bunch of anxiety and nerves around here, and there is a whole lot of nothing we can do about it until they run more tests on Monday. It could be bad. Very, very bad. Or it could be nothing. But right now none of that matters because I will admit it. I’m scared.

Mom must know it too, since she showed me (even) more love than usual all day. Dad and dear baby Carter even got involved, which was nice while oddly at the same time not all that comforting.

It brings to mind the whole idea of preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. I’m an optimist. I shouldn’t be afraid or think about the worst case scenario because I have joy in my heart. I’ve come to understand this joy is like an antidote to most forms of negativity, and yet I’m finding it hard to contest this sense of fear I have. While there are exceptions, I think the fear of the unknown is a living thing that can consume us if we let it.

If we let it.

The ancient Roman poet Persius once suggested “we consume our tomorrows fretting about our yesterdays.” I’d rather be present in today.

I know in my heart I have the power not to let this get to me. I can let it in and feel it, but it doesn’t have to take over my life for the next few days, weeks or years. I won’t let it. I will stand and fight whatever it is with my beloved forever family by my side. I will live.

 

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.

 

What To Expect December 22, 2013

We’ve got hiccups known as practice breathing. We’ve got normal aches and pains. We’ve got the baby bump (which has been a very comfy pillow for me lately). But of all the things in all the books and all the online reading, I certainly didn’t expect this.

At nine months pregnant, mom got some startling news from her doctor the other day. Baby Schmidt is racing to the finish line. It turns out he or she is growing exceptionally fast for his or her gestational age, with measurements that put our dear soon-to-be little person in the not-so-little category. Mom went to something called an ultrasound to confirm the details, and sure enough. Baby Schmidt’s measurements reveal a baby that could be as much as nine pounds. Already. At 36 weeks.

This came as quite the surprise to me, as I have resigned myself to thinking I will not be meeting my little person for some time yet. Just because the bottles are all sterilized and the clothes are all washed and the room is put together (and has been for more than a month now) doesn’t mean the arrival will happen any sooner.Snowy Sunday

But alas, perhaps it could. To me this is joyous news! My little person wants to meet me sooner rather than later! I’m pumped! So I can’t quite piece together why mom seems so worried. Worry has been the dominating emotion around here lately and I can’t say it’s my favorite. She is my person and I can’t stand to see her like this. But I’ve done everything I can do – including some fun in the snow today followed by serious cuddle time – to bring that worry out of her. Nothing is working.

Instead she continues to consult those darned books and blogs and all other sources of potentially scary information. Worry isn’t getting us anywhere. I realized today it never does. Pregnant or otherwise, worry tends to do nothing but stall forward progress.

“While we are focusing on fear, worry, or hate,” suggested author Bo Bennett, “it is not possible for us to be experiencing happiness, enthusiasm or love.”

From practice breathing to aches and pains to the bittersweet beauty of the baby bump, we’ve got a whole lot of normal going on around here. Even this news is okay news. Normal news. There is joy in these things. So I chose to focus on that – the happiness, enthusiasm and love. Because these are the emotional fuel for something much bigger than worry. These are the fuel for faith. And faith conquers worry every time.