A Long Line of Love

Nan's Family Pics68My three daughters are extremely lucky in that they come from a very long line of love. On both sides of their family, they have been blessed with a long and loving history. From their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and as far back as we can trace, they have been able to witness couples who have loved unconditionally. Yesterday, I was very happy to wish my parents a happy 52nd wedding anniversary. They learned how to love unconditionally from their own parents, and are a shining example to the rest of us.

Today, I am honored to share with you a guest blog written by my 14-year-old daughter. It exemplifies what real love truly is.

A life lesson that is important to me is to be proud of whom and what you love. This is so, so important. It wasn’t exactly told to me, but instead it was shown. They didn’t know they were showing me something that still stands out to me today. I don’t even think they realized how much so, but my great grandparents were very proud of each other. They loved each other so much and made each other so happy that they talked about how great the other one was, and they loved glorifying everything good about each other.

I strongly believe that my great grandparents, or Nan and Pop to me, were a couple of very special people. They met when they were teenagers and Nan was walking down the street, and Pop told his friends that she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen and that he was determined to marry her someday. Well, if I know something about my grandfather, it’s that he never gave up on something he wanted. I think everyone finds true love, but theirs was so strong.

I had the privilege of knowing my great grandparents for a few years of my life. I wish they were still here with us, but even in their short time with me, they showed me so many things, and they impacted my life greatly. I lived across the street from them until Pop passed away in 2011, and Nan couldn’t fend for herself, so she lived in a nursing home. Living so close to them was a blessing. I could walk across the street after school, and they would tell me stories, and I loved hearing them. They were such lively people who never ceased to amaze me.

Hearing them talk about each other really showed me how important it is to be proud of the person you love. Before I started to notice the little things they did and said for each other, I don’t think it was as big of a deal to me. As I got older and their health declined, I really started noticing. After Pop passed away, Nan told nonstop stories about how they met and how great a person he was. I don’t think, even once, did Nan not talk about Pop during our frequent visits.

Both of them have passed on by now, but one thing I will never forget is when my grandfather passed away.  They had a military service because he was a veteran. During the service, they presented a flag to my grandmother. When the guards handed her the flag she began to cry, and the only words she could manage were “I’m so proud to have loved him.” This was such a powerful moment in my life, and I could never forget it. I’m proud to have called them my grandparents, too.

  • Morgan Schisler, 2015

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / 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. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. Her 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, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

What’s Happened to the Family?

 All week this week, Cuba, the United States, and the whole Catholic world will be focused on the family, and with good reason. Today, we are seeing a worldwide decline in the “family.” The days of Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver are long gone and are now seen as a joke, but there’s something to be said for the golden age of the family. It used to be that families ate dinner together every night, attended church together on Sunday, and watched tv, read, and played games together on a regular, if not daily, basis. But in 2015, it’s rare that families spend one hour a week together.

Athletics, careers, social lives, social media, and a host of other things have become more important than spending time together. The vast majority of the families I know find it impossible to sit down for a meal together. The typical middle or high school child spends their afternoons at athletic practice for school, and then practice for a rec team, and then a meeting of some kind (Scouts, work, etc.), and then there’s still homework to be done! Even in elementary school, children are shuffled from one event to another with no break in between. My family is as guilty as the next of over-scheduling and overbooking. Sometimes we have to take a long, hard look at what’s on our calendar and just make the decision to scale back and refocus our attention on what matters – being a family.

The decisions aren’t always easy, and we’ve found it best to have rules that we stick to without fail. When our children were old enough to play sports for school, the rec sports were wiped off the slate. So no, none of my children are on travel teams or all-stars, or those necessary paths to college scholarships that almost all families seem to think are vital to their children’s future. Let’s face it, only one child on the team is really good enough to get that scholarship. Is it really yours? Wouldn’t it be better for them to get their homework done and get a good night’s sleep instead? The most valuable piece of advice our high school field hockey coach ever gave us was “your daughter is very good, but she’s not that good.” Instead of being upset, we were relieved. What a tremendous load that took off of her back! Much more time went into academics and less into trying to contact every college coach on the east coast, and she graduated with honors and quite a nice sum in merit scholarships.

Another hard and fast rule for us is that Sunday is for God and family. Sure, we go to a lot of Saturday evening Masses, but that just opens up our Sunday to do something fun as a family. Even if it’s just watching a football game together, the key word is together. When my middle daughter considered trying out for basketball, there was just one factor that changed her mind – Sunday practices. There has to be a place to draw the line, and that was it for us.

Throughout our world, we are witnessing a staggering drop in population. Families aren’t valued any more. In many cases, they aren’t even desired. We have become a world where people have to choose between family and career, family and a house, family and a life. Whatever happened to FAMILY LIFE? When did children become a burden rather than a gift?

As we listen to the Holy Father talk about the importance of the family, let us all consider how we can improve our family life. How can we find a way to make family meals work? What can we cut out of our children’s schedules to make them live fuller, happier, more peaceful lives? How can we reshape our culture to make others see that families and family lives matter? At the very least, begin having meals without phones at the table! These are things that all parents need to think about before it’s too late.

I will never greet my family at the door wearing an apron and holding Ken’s slippers, but I will make it my job to ensure that all of them always know the importance of being a family.
Christmas is coming. Buy books!

I had the extreme pleasure a couple weeks ago to attend the Decatur Book Festival just outside of Atlanta Georgia. It was so great to see all of the people, couples, families, friends, out buying books and supporting authors. The National Book Festival has also just taken place, and we’re not done yet! This weekend is the Baltimore Book Festival, and several Eastern Shore writers will be selling, signing, and speaking. Come see and hear us if you are in the area!

Be sure to support all of your favorite authors this Christmas. Please comment below on where you can find authors this fall and what other book festivals are taking place. Let’s encourage everyone to give the gift of reading this year!

If you’re looking for an autographed copy of any of my books to give as gifts, you will be able to find me at the following places over the next couple of months. Please check my web site for more information.

Sunday, September 27 – the Baltimore Book Festival in Baltimore, MD

Wednesday, September 30 – St. Michaels library’s author event, St. Michaels, MD

Friday, October 9-Saturday, October 10 – Wisp Resort, Fort McHenry, MD

Monday, November 9 – Meet the Author! at the Wicomico County Library, Salisbury, MD

Saturday, November 28 – the News Center, Easton, MD

I am happy to travel outside of Maryland. Just let me know when and where you’d like me to be. Happy reading!

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / 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. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online. 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, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

A Shore Thing

DSC02536Is it just me, or is there something special about this time of year?  The days are still warm, but the nights are crisp and cool.  Routines are being established (or re-established), bedtimes are earlier, my favorite shows are coming back on TV, the holidays are just around the corner; here on the Shore, the crabs are fatter and tastier, and I could go on and on.  Spring might be the time that the world renews itself, but fall is my time to renew and reflect.  It’s when I start thinking about and writing my newest novel.  Truthfully, it’s when I do my best writing.  It’s when my head seems to be clearer, and my mind is ready to focus.  I think a lot of it has to do with the girls returning to school.  We are all ready to get back to business.  But there’s no question that a good part of it has to do with living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland at this most beautiful time of year.

I think that’s why I set Picture Me here on the Shore in the fall.  It’s the time and place for new beginnings, a time to experience beauty that is awe-inspiring.  We may not have mountains and famous fall foliage, but we have sunrises over the Chesapeake and its tributaries that catch the autumn colors and reflect back hues of orange and red that set the water on fire. There’s no doubt that the Eastern Shore sunrise in the fall can’t be beat; and I meant it when I said the crabs are fatter and tastier.  Those who have only had their share of the “beautiful swimmer” on Memorial Day just don’t know what they’re missing.

Julie Lawson spent a lot of time photographing the Shore in the fall, and I’m having fun re-tracing her steps as I try to capture with my lens the scenes that were described in the book as she captured them with hers.  The companion Facebook page will highlight the pictures that I feel do her and this area justice.  Stop by and take a look, and you will agree that there is no place like this anywhere else in the world.

So I as settle back today and write about Italy in my new novel, I will do so sitting in my sunroom looking out at the trees in my Eastern Shore backyard.  They haven’t started changing colors yet, but they will soon, and I will enjoy the show as I spend my days gazing at the ever-changing kaleidoscope at my backdoor.

We should be able to get in at least one more boat ride before the air turns too cold.  It won’t be just the end of one season for us, it will be the beginning of the next season and all of the promise that it holds.  It’s a sure thing and a shore thing that we won’t want to miss.  Life here on the Shore is more than good, and I challenge you to find any place better.  Yeah, good luck with that.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / 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. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  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, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

My Best Friend

1016935_10152444890701349_6188218071191815940_nI consider myself an extremely lucky person.  I have a wonderful husband, Ken, to whom I can talk about anything.  I have a remarkable group of women on whom I can count without question – Debbie, Anne, Ann, Julie, Linda, Angie, Alix, Kimberly, Trissy, Judy, and my sister-in-law, Lisa.  As my daughters grow and mature, we are developing that wonderful kind of friendship that I know will keep us close forever.  But above all of this, I am so lucky that my best friend truly is my mother.

From the time I was a little girl, my mother and I had a special kind of relationship.  Maybe it’s because I was the only girl, and we banded together amid the high level of testosterone in our home.  Maybe it’s because my mother, grandmother, aunt, and I were all just very close.  Mom’s friends always said I was very mature and treated me like one of the gals, so maybe that part of it.  Whatever the reason, I have always seen my mother as both my mother and my friend.

This was especially so after I got married.  Moving two hours from home and living in an area where I had no relatives and no friends was very hard on me.  It was the winter of 1993-1994 when the entire Eastern Shore was covered with ice and snow and all normal life came to a screeching halt.  Ken was stuck in Annapolis and unable to get home for almost a week.  I was in our new home with our new puppy, and I was miserable.  It was my mother who talked me off of the ledge, so to speak.  I don’t know how many long-distance fees we racked up that month, but Ken never complained.  Even he could see that Mom is my lifeline – the person who keeps me holding on and inspires me.  When Rebecca was born, my mother spent two weeks with me helping me get settled.  I don’t know what I would have done without her.  I firmly believe that is why Mom and Rebecca have such a strong bond today.  Actually the same can be said for all of my girls – Mom was there when they came into the world and was there for their first two weeks of life, and she’s still there for them today.

Over the years, Mom and I have always tried to spend some special time together.  We’ve taken trips with just the two of us to Williamsburg, Lancaster, Asheville, Niagara, and other places where we could just relax and have fun together.  Now that Mom works as my assistant, we have even more reason to travel together.  This past weekend, we drove from Maryland to Georgia for the Decatur Book Festival.  It was a great weekend where we met other authors, sold my books, and gained more knowledge about promoting my craft.  But the best parts of the trip were the times we spent just talking.  There’s a lot of road between St. Michaels and Atlanta, but we never found ourselves with a lack of conversation.  Whether we were talking politics, religion, family matters, or pop culture nonsense, we enjoyed every minute that we were together.

Someday I hope that I can have the same type of relationship with my own daughters.  They already know that they can come to me with anything, and they usually do.  Sometimes they preface what they have to say with something like “I need to talk to you as a Mom,” or “I need advice from a friend.”  I like to think that they have watched my mother and me over the years and understand how someone can be both a mother and friend.  I hope that I can be whatever they need me to be for them.  I don’t think I will have a problem.  I’ve had a great teacher.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / 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. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  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, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Prescription for Happiness

IMG_1159I have to admit that over the summer, I had many, many moments of envy.  Not all-consuming jealousy or want-to-tear-their-eyes-out rage.  Not even the kind of envy that lingers.  Each instance lasted for just a few seconds, but it was there nonetheless.  These moments came each time I took a few minutes to pause and steal a quick look at Facebook.  No, it wasn’t the traveling, or the shopping, or the amazing photos.  It was even more basic than that – I was envious every time someone posted a picture of themselves by the pool.  Yes, I said the pool.  People had time to lay by the pool.  Some even had time to get IN the pool!  How could they do that?  How did they find the time between laundry, housecleaning, work, driving children around, etc. to even sneak into their room and put on a bathing suit, not to mention make themselves that delicious looking cocktail, and lounge by the pool?  Some of them even had books on their laps or on the table beside them.  That was serious pool time!

Here’s the thing – we’ve had our pool for several years, but for the past two summers, I haven’t even gotten my toes wet.  Every day I look longingly out the window and think, Today I will find the time to get into the pool.  By bedtime, the pool is the farthest thing from my mind.  At least it was, until a few weeks ago.  Remember that fabulous vacation I wrote about?  The one to Canada that was such an awesome family adventure?  Did I happen to mention how it ended?  Nope, I spared you the details of the last few days when I walked around with a fever and a general feeling of something getting a hold of me.  On the fourth day of my fever, while in Niagara Falls, I awoke to discover that despite no previous signs of a sore throat, I had strep that had gone systemic.  Yes, giant spots covered my entire body, and Ken had to rush me to the nearest urgent care.  Fast forward to the following week when I happened to mention to the pediatrician at Katie’s physical that the spots would not go away.

The doctor took a quick peek and said “Spend 10 minutes every day outside in the sun exposing your body to the rays.  They’ll dry up and go away.”

“What about the pool,”  I asked.  “Would the chlorine help?”

“Absolutely,” she replied.

Willing to do whatever it took, later that day, I put on the new bathing suit that I bought at the beginning of the summer and had never even worn and quietly went out to the pool.  The water was warm and so soothing.  At first I just immersed myself in the luxurious liquid, and then I began swimming some slow, easy laps.  After a few minutes, I remembered just how much I love to swim.  I mean, I really, really love to swim.  I began doing different strokes, racing back and forth from one side to the other.  Then I just floated atop the water, letting it wash over me as I closed my eyes and relaxed in the glow of the late afternoon sun.  After about 30 minutes, I reluctantly dragged myself from the pool to go in and get dinner ready.

When I walked inside, Rebecca looked at me in surprise.  “You were in the pool?”

“Yep,” I replied with a smile.  I repeated to her what the doctor told me and then added, “This is the best prescription I’ve ever been given.  I wish my doctor would refill this at the beginning of every summer.”

“Mom,” Rebecca said, “you know, you can prescribe it to yourself.  You deserve to enjoy summer, too, and to get in the pool every day if you want to.  Nothing bad will happen if you take some time for yourself every day.”

Ah, the wisdom of a collegian.  As her words sank in, I realized she is absolutely correct.  Aren’t we always hearing about taking time for ourselves and paying attention to our own needs?  That seems so selfish to me!  But I can tell you, for the rest of the summer, each time I stepped out of that pool, I was in a better mood and felt more relaxed and ready to get back to whatever task awaited me.  The pool was good for my mind, body, and spirit (and by the way, the spots were miraculously gone in just a couple of days).

So I’m trying to remind myself each day, whether it’s an hour at the gym or a long, relaxing lunch, I’m going to take just a little bit of time for me.  So attention everyone I’ve ever promised to meet for lunch, I’ll be calling you to set a date.  We all deserve to prescribe some time each day to do something for ourselves.  I’ve realized that if I slow down and take just a few minutes for myself, everyone around me will benefit, including me.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / 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. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  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, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.