My Favorite Story

Ken and Amy's Wedding33-001Recently, a friend of Morgan’s asked me to tell her the story of how Ken and I met.  I laughed when she said “It’s my favorite story.”  Apparently the girls have told the story to their friends, and they all find it so romantic.  I guess it is romantic, but to me, it’s just “our story.”  In honor of Ken’s birthday this coming Friday, I thought I’d share the tale with you.

The summer after I graduated from college, I was an attendee at a national political convention.  The very first day, the Maryland Delegation boarded a bus to the convention center.  I was alone and did not know a soul other than my mother’s dear friend, Joyce, who helped me gain a spot within the group.  I boarded the bus and watched the delegates and guests climb onto the bus and take their seats.  When a nice-looking young man started down the aisle, someone from the back called his name, and I recognized the young man – he attended the same college I had and was well-known on the Shore as the youngest person to ever be elected to the Maryland Legislature.  He happened to sit in front me, and never one to be shy, I tapped him on the shoulder and introduced myself as a fellow student at SU.  Though he laughs at it now and likes to deny it, Ken told me later that he knew that very instant that he was going to marry me.

For the rest of the week, every time I turned around, Ken was there.  He boarded the bus after I did, went to the same tourist attractions I visited, and was always waiting at the entrance of the convention center to “guide” me through security and onto the floor of the convention (of course, this was long before 9-11, and security was not what it is today).  Ken’s campaign manager, his former high school government teacher, was his guest at the convention.  Mr. Kleen (yes, that was his name, and he was tall and bald) has passed on since that week many years ago, but he loved to tell the tale of how he finally caught on to Ken’s “hurry up and wait” behavior that had the two of them arriving early each morning, only to sit and wait until Ken said it was time to board the bus.  Eventually Mr. Kleen realized what was going on and became part of the game to seek me out.

On the very last day of our trip, the three of us shared a taxi to the airport.  We were on different flights, but Ken had already come up with a plan to stay in touch.  In those days, there were no digital cameras, of course, so Ken suggested that we exchange addresses in order to share our pictures from the convention.  That began a period of letter writing in which we got to know each other from opposite sides of the state.  The first time my mother met Ken, she was sure that he was going to be some old man who had the hots for her daughter.  I guess I forgot to tell her that he was just a year older than I was.

Within three months, I knew I was in love.  On the night before Valentine’s Day, just seven months later, Ken proposed.  We were married just eight months later with special permission from my Priest to skip the one year wait period usually required by the Church.  After all, the election season would be in full swing soon, and we had to take advantage of the time we had.

This October, we will have been married for twenty-two years.  My, how time flies!  Soon our oldest daughter will graduate from college, and we will watch as some young man sweeps her off of her feet the way her father swept me off of mine.  Our beginning was every girl’s fantasy, our wedding was a true fairy tale kind of event, and our marriage has been what dreams are made of.  I can only imagine what the next fifty years will bring, but I know that we will happily share them together.

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.  Amy’s next mystery, Picture Me, will be released in August of 2015 and will be available in stores and online.

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

Buckets Of Dreams

DSC02792Several years ago, a movie starring Jack Nicholson made the phrase “bucket list” a regular part of our vocabulary. Nowadays, I hear people talking all the time about things that are on their bucket list.  I’ve never really had what I called a bucket list, but I’ve always had several life goals that I hope to achieve. Some have a set timeline, and others are just lofty aspirations.

Of course, as a young woman, my goal was to have a career that I enjoyed, a husband who I loved, and happy and healthy children. I was able to achieve all of those things at an early age having met my husband just after graduating from college. Ken and I were blessed to have three beautiful girls by the time I was 31. I worked as a librarian for 15 years, a job that I absolutely loved, and then we were lucky enough to have the stability for me to stay home and begin my next career as a writer. I’ve dreamed of being a published author since I was about eight years old, and now I have two published books and a new novel coming out next month!

But of course, those aren’t exactly bucket list items. My list of life goals is not very long, so I have every reason to believe that I will be able to reach them. Nothing on the list is impossible, and nothing is quite as exciting as bungee jumping over Victoria Falls or climbing Mount Everest. Still, I hope that my list will inspire you to start thinking about your own list. After all, what is life without lofty goals?

Some things I can cross off of my list are shark diving (the most awesome experience ever!), taking my children to Disney World, kayaking off the coast of Australia, seeing Niagara Falls, and visiting Rome and the Vatican. But there are still just a few more things I’d like to achieve in this lifetime.

Fifty by fifty is what I’ve always called my biggest goal. And I’m almost there! Within the next several weeks, we will visit the last two East Coast states, bringing my total to 46. I still need to visit Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii, but I have five more years to get there and high hopes that I will. I’ll keep you posted on that one! I never thought I’d go any father than those 50 states and Canada and Mexico, but now that I’ve had the opportunity to travel, I’ve set a goal of going to all six inhabited continents. I’ve made it to 4, so hopefully Africa and Asia won’t be too far behind.

Most of all, I would like to know that I have made a difference in someone’s life – whether through writing, volunteering, or just by being there when they needed it most. I like to think that perhaps I’ve achieved that already, but it’s a goal I’ll never stop trying to reach.

So today, why not write your own list? It’s never too late to start. Let me know what your life goals are. What’s on your bucket list? Maybe we can all inspire others to reach for the stars.

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

Letter to My Daughters’ Future Husbands

DSC04396When our youngest daughter was born, the first thing my husband said when he saw her was “she looks just like my sister.” The second thing he said was, “Oh God, we have to pay for three weddings.”  While I do agree that we will need to pay for their weddings, I’m not concerned. My mother and I have coordinated several beautiful and even lavish weddings for family and friends, both efficiently and economically. My concern is not at all the wedding but the marriage. With that in mind, here’s what I have to say.

Dear Future Husband,

I don’t know that we have met yet.  Perhaps we have, perhaps not.  You may be someone my daughter has known for years or someone she has yet to meet.  Regardless, you don’t know her like I do, nor have you walked in my shoes, so allow me to give you some advice.  She is not a princess, though she may think she is, and as far as you’re concerned, that’s how it should be.  Treat her as such, as someone who is to be honored, respected and revered.  In return, she will treat you the same way.

Tend to your marriage like it s a garden.  Weed out mistrust, judgement, defensiveness, and fear.  Prune back any hurt that grows there (because it will), and water the good seeds you plant – your hopes, your dreams, and eventually your children.  Let the sun shine on it every day through your love by complimenting, helping, and most important, talking; and don’t be afraid of the rain and storms.  Welcome them, too, as ways to strengthen your marriage.  Clean up the fallen branches after the storm clears, or they will clutter your lives.  Because there will be storms, and there will be things to clear away, but by working together, you can weather anything life hurls at you.

Most of all, trust that God has brought you together and that He will guide you.  Go to Church together, pray together – at meals, at bedtime, in good times and bad.  Make your faith the foundation upon which you build all things, and know that with God, all things are possible.

Whether you are in your twenties or just barely into your teens, remember that any girl you meet could be the one, my daughter, but that there will only be that one.  Don’t fall prey to the norms of society.  Every girl you date will be someone’s wife, but perhaps not your own.  Keep that in mind in everything you do.  Would you do “that” with someone else’s wife?  Would you want someone else doing that with yours?

In the end, all I want is your happiness, all of you, my three daughters and their husbands.  Shower each other with love, strive for your dreams, encourage each other to reach for the stars, and always be there for each other no matter what.  Know that their father and I are here for you.  Even now, I love you all.

Love, Mom

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

S’More Fun To Be Had

DSC01385For a country where all are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we sure do have to put up with a plethora of rules and regulations.  In my ten years as a camp director, I’ve seen the regulations regarding overnight camps skyrocket.  This year I will have 100 girls and 60 staff members at camp all week.  Think about that – a 6 to 10 ratio!  Why?  There is now a requirement that I give a two-hour break to all staff members every day.  I know, I know, that sounds reasonable enough; but this is an all-volunteer camp.  These adults have volunteered their time 24 hours a day (because incidents at camp don’t stop when the lights go out), and they expect to be busy running programs, watching on the beachfront, helping with crafts, going on hikes, etc. None of us expects to sit lazily under a tree or take a nap in our cabins for two hours.  And mealtimes and recreational time don’t count as breaks.  I’m turning away girls because I have to house staff in order to satisfy this rule.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our volunteers, but I’d love to welcome more girls to the joys of camp.

And paperwork!  You wouldn’t believe the amount of paperwork that has to be done to become a volunteer.  In addition to a lengthy application and three references who submit very detailed analyses of each volunteer, everyone has to do a background check through our Girl Scout Council, a state and federal fingerprint check, and a child protective services background check.  The theory is that one will catch what another misses.  Add to all of that the number of trainings required in order to run any type of program, and I’m surprised the volunteers don’t go running in the other direction.

Believe me, I know that our top priority is the safety of the girls, and I’m all for that.  But as Director, all of this paperwork is killing me.  Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned all of the medical information we are required to obtain, each piece carefully documented and signed by a physician.  Something tells me that Lord Baden Powell and Juliette Gordon Lowe would have given up before they even got started if they were trying to take children camping today.

Let’s hope that all of the state, national, and Council requirements don’t steer others from stepping up as camp directors and volunteers. Imagine all of this plus the time and effort put into just the administration and operation of the camp itself – planning programs, unit and cabin assignments, scheduling all events for the week without conflicts, meal planning, evening activities, and much, much more. It’s a grueling and full-time job at times, and I often wonder why I continue doing it.

Then the most amazing thing happens.  The time for camp arrives, and I see, often for the first time in a year, the wonderful volunteers I have come to love.  After spending 24 hours unpacking, cleaning, organizing, and setting up for camp, we greet the campers, smiling, happy girls from ages six to thirteen.  We work hard all week, but we have fun, too.  From the first night scavenger hunt to the closing ceremony, the smiles and laughs far outweigh the frustrations.  There is nothing else I would rather be doing each summer than spending it with this group.  We are family, and as we all know, family stays together through good and bad, thick and thin, sun and rain (but, please, no rain)!  So as the time grows near, and the first day of camp quickly approaches, I say let’s have s’more fun!

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

Is It Worth It?

snowconesThe dog days of summer are upon us, and in our family, that usually means one thing – snowcones!   For several years now, our family has owned and operated a snowcone business in the tiny, tourist town of St. Michaels on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Ken and I support the business by maintaining the stand, ordering product, and financing the equipment; but the daily operations, inventory, record-keeping, etc. are all done by the girls.

I am often amazed by the number of children these days who do not have a summer job.  Our girls have been working the stand since Morgan was about nine years old.  And while it sounds like fun, it’s hard work.  The daily set-up itself is a real chore, and there’s no respite from the sun or heat.  On some days, the line of families stretches down the whole block, and whichever girl is working needs to keep moving hand over fist as quickly as she can to satisfy her waiting customers.  It’s demanding, boring on slow days, but overall, very rewarding.

Recently a girl in Morgan’s class called her spoiled because she owns both an iPad and iPhone.  Morgan rebuked her saying she paid for both items and pays the monthly fee with her own hard earned money.  When we travel, any and all souvenirs that the girls want, they have to buy.  The number one question they have to ask before making any purchase is “is it worth it?”

That’s the same question that Ken and I ask ourselves every spring when we dig out the machine and assess the shape of the cart.  The answer has always been a resounding yes.  Every time the girls deposit their money into the bank, they do so with the great satisfaction that they earned every penny of that money.  Every purchase is carefully thought out, and big items are saved for only by dividing up their earnings into savings and spending so that they are always putting at least half of the money away.

As with most things, the girls have grown up and are starting to move on.  This summer, Morgan does more babysitting than making snowballs, but she’s our backup when Katie can’t work.  Rebecca has worked for the past two summers at a law firm, gaining the experience she will need in her future career, but she, too, jumps in and works the stand when needed.  So while many of the other teens my girls know will be sitting by the pool this 4th of July weekend, my girls will be working hard.  Is it worth it?  Ask Rebecca tonight after she finalizes the purchase of her very first brand new car.  We think it’s worth every hard earned penny. But more importantly, it’s worth every lesson learned, every hot, sweaty day in the sun when not wanting to be there isn’t an option, and every time someone remarks on what the girls have and they can be satisfied in knowing that they earned it.  In a world where young people spend most of their time lazily lying around, playing video games, and doing things that get them into trouble, at least I know that my girls are learning the value of a dollar.  Yes, it’s worth it.