Fine Wine

 This afternoon, my husband, his sister, and I had the chance to visit a vineyard. What an amazing place with many, many years of operational history. Out of all of the steps taken to produce the number one wine in the country, the step that amazed me the most was the very first one. In order to ensure that every single grape is absolutely perfect, the vitner hand picks only the perfect grapes from the vine. All of the grapes are used in what he termed “every day wine,” but the award winning wine is made only from these hand picked grapes. What love and care must go into that process! Imagine spending the hottest days of the entire year, the first days of August, outside in the blazing sun, painstakingly choosing only the very best grapes – not too heavy with juice, perfectly colored, and without blemish. 

I wonder if there has ever been anything in my life that I have done with that amount of thought and care. Perhaps the slideshow I made for Rebecca’s graduation or the photo album I secretly made of my husband’s life story a few years ago, or going farther back, the cross-stitched poems I made for my mother and mother-in-law and presented to them the night before my wedding. There is no doubt that I did those things out of love and that they took hours, even months to complete, but I’m not sure that compares to standing in the hot sun all day and into the night to pick hundreds of only the most perfect fruit for someone else to enjoy. Yes, it’s his vineyard, his livelihood, but still, wouldn’t any bunch of grapes do?

Of course, the answer is no. And why? Because the vitner saw the production of the best wine as something so important, so magnificent, that he couldn’t bear to use anything but the most perfect grapes. He took such care and such pride in his work, his vineyard, and his wine that his enthusiasm radiated from him. I’d like to believe that it provided a new outlook on life for me, a new way to approach a task. I can’t help but to ask myself if any task done with that much love and care and attention could turn out to be anything other than a work of prize-winning perfection. Certainly there’s a lesson in there for us all. 

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Larger Than Life

10-pics 5This Sunday is Father’s Day here in the States; and all over the nation, families will gather around the grill to celebrate their dear old dads.  For some, this will be a joyous first time celebration, and for others, it will be a bittersweet day of remembrance.  Mother’s Day has become such a commercial event with flowers, chocolates, and cards, but for many girls and women, there’s nobody in the world like our daddies.

I was so blessed to have two father figures to look up to when I was growing up.  One was my wonderful, supportive father, and the other was my larger than life grandfather.  A big man with piercing blue eyes and a hug for everyone, Granddad literally and figuratively stood above all the rest.  He was everyone’s friend, the one everyone counted on for help and guidance, and with only an 8th grade education, one of the smartest men I’ve ever known.  In my book, Crabbing With Granddad, I described him as “a large man, tall and muscular…. [with] skin the color of an old copper penny…. His hands were hard and calloused…. [but] to me, they were the gentlest hands in the whole world.”

We lost my grandfather to cancer when I was 18, but he will forever live on in my heart (and in my daughter, Morgan, who had his eyes and his name).  He was the life and breath of our family, and he will always be missed.  I know that my own father, when he reads this, will not ask why I have said all of these wonderful things about Granddad and not about him.  He will just nod with a smile and tears in his eyes and agree that Granddad touched his life, too, and became his best friend from the day he and Mom said “I do.”

Amy and Dad

But in saying that, I have to pause and tell you that my dad is quite special as well.  He is a man of deep and abiding faith, unfailing love, and endless support.  As I told him on my wedding day, he is the wind beneath my wings.

So to my grandfather in Heaven, my wonderful father, and my loving husband, I say happy Father’s Day.  May you always know how much you all are loved.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

Girl Power

DSC04512This past weekend, I took my Girl Scout troop to a nearby state park to try their skills at the Tuckahoe Challenge Course.  The course consists of a 50 foot high rock climbing wall that leads to a 300 foot long zip line, a spring swing that drops a person from a 70 foot height, and a 15 foot high fireman’s pole from which the climber needs to stand and jump to a bar swing in order to get down.  My girls, ages 12 to 19, were told that a Boy Scout troop had visited the day before, and only one boy made it over the wall.  Of course, this spurred my girls on and laid down the challenge for all of them to do their best to make it over the wall to the zip line on the other side.

Morgan was the first in our troop to attempt the climb.  The other DSC04431girls marveled at the way the muscles in her legs bulged as she made her ascent.  A couple of times, she lost her grip or became confused about which way to go, but her friends on the ground cheered her on, guided her steps, and encouraged her in her climb.  Within about five minutes, Morgan lifted her legs over the wall, stood on the platform on the other side, and looked down triumphantly at the cheering girls below.  They all basked in the glow of her achievement.

Not all of the girls had an easy time.  Morgan’s best friend ended up in tears about halfway up and announced that she was letting go so that she could be eased down to the ground, but her friends at the bottom would have no part of that.  “You can do it,” they called to her; and through tears, she plowed on until she reached the top.  The victory was not only hers but every girl yelling and cheering for her from the ground.  In the end, every one of the eleven girls who decided to tackle the wall made it over.  Three chose to climb the rope ladder to the top, no easy task in itself, and their friends stood below them and cheered them on as well.  I’m sure that the squeals of delight as the girls flew through the air on that zip line could be heard throughout the park that morning.

DSC04463The girls went on to do the rope swing where they had to all work as a team to hoist each girl into the air.  The harder the girls pulled together, the higher the girl went up into the trees.  From there, the girls moved on to the fireman’s pole.  As they stood at the bottom of the pole, they again DSC04519cheered on their friends, marveling at their agility in climbing to the top, standing on the pole, and jumping to the swing.

Of course, I have to admit that I was pretty darn proud of all of the girls on Saturday.  I was amazed by their determination and inspired by their confidence.  What I am most proud of, and what left the biggest impression on me, was the way they cheered for and encouraged each other.  Most of all, I was in awe of the way they stood together and supported each other.  These wonderful girls proved to be more than a Troop, more than friends, more than average teenage girls.  These girls were inspiring and empowering.  Never before have I been so proud as a mother, Troop Leader, and human being.  If only all people could aspire to greater heights and encourage each other the way my girls did on Saturday, think of all that we could accomplish in this world.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com

What’s Hidden Inside?

IMG_2314I found out yesterday that my beautiful, energetic, happy, and seemingly healthy four-year-old golden retriever has a life threatening heart murmur.  While still in the prime of her life, she will need to see a cardiologist and be put on medication to regulate her heart.  Misty was showing no signs of being sick.  She and her sister, Rosie, chase each other around the yard and the house on a daily basis.  She eats well and has a great disposition.  I never imagined that her routine checkup would reveal a condition that could, at any moment, take her life.

This situation has gotten me thinking about, not just Misty, but others who may have something hidden from the outside world.  We encounter dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people every day.  How many of those people have something going on inside their bodies or in their lives of which we are completely unaware?  How can we possibly know everything that another person is going through?

Sometimes when my children complain about somebody in their class, I remind them that they have no idea what that person might be going through outside of school.  Perhaps that person who refused to give up his seat to you on the subway, or the person at the grocery store who grumbled and complained the entire time she was packing your groceries, just received terrible news or is going through some kind of personal turmoil.  I think that we tend to believe that if somebody looks great on the outside or has a smile on their face all of the time that their life must be perfect.  In reality, this is rarely the case. Everybody is going through something all of the time.

So the next time you meet up with somebody who isn’t in a good mood, smile at them, and be kind.  You never know if that small gesture will add the little bit of brightness they need at that moment.  And always remember that even those with a smile on their face and those who always look happy and healthy could have something hidden that is wreaking havoc on their body, mind, or soul.  How you treat them and react to them could make a huge impact on their lives and perhaps even your own.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks.  Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.

You may follow Amy at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com