“Isn’t it mysterious how so many wonderful things in life come to us seemingly without our planning? We start traveling down one street, and we find ourselves interested in something we never expected on a side street; and as we explore it, the side street becomes the main road for us.” – Fred Rogers
Don’t you love the wisdom of Mr. Rogers?
How often has this exact thing happened to you? I think it’s the story of my entire adult life!
It seems that my path has taken so many twists and turns and detours, I’m no longer surprised to see where I’m heading or when or where I will end up.
I was 100% certain, when I left for college, that I was going to be a political speech writer. I drove off to school planning to major in Political Science and English, but that didn’t last long. I was completely unimpressed with the English department (though it has always been considered one of the best in the country), and I wasn’t crazy about the Poli Sci department either. By the end of my first semester, I knew I wasn’t going to major in English, nor was I going to continue at that school.
My parents were shocked (and not very happy) when I told them I was giving up my scholarship at the prestigious private college to transfer to a mid-sized state school. I was pretty much starting over, but it was worth it. It was there that I rekindled my love for history and research, and it was where I first became acquainted with my future husband.
I graduated from college with degrees in History and Political Science, but my intended career had taken a U-turn. I applied to graduate school to become an archivist, hopefully at the National Archives or the Library of Congress. I was accepted to both American and George Washington Universities, but I had no money to continue my studies. Instead, I deferred my acceptance and took a job at our local library.
You could almost say, the rest is history.
An Unexpected Turn
I fell in love with everything about libraries and being a librarian. I was surrounded by books and by people who loved books. I became the head of the Children’s Department and spent most of my days reading old, beloved children’s books and ordering new ones. I ran the weekly story time and led a middle school book club. When I was out on the floor, I helped people with their research, and I learned to use this new digitized card catalog and something called The Internet. It was all my idea of Heaven.
Several months into the dream job I never knew I wanted, I was engaged and planning a move to the other side of the Bay Bridge. Unable to secure a job at the local library, I drove down a side road and became a school library media specialist while finishing my Masters of Library and Information Science. It wasn’t a great fit for me, and I soon found myself longing to be back among adult library users, delving into rich research projects, and learning more about this new World Wide Web.
I was offered a job at out local community college, so I changed lanes. It was there that I spent the happiest days of my career. It was the best of all worlds. I had students who wanted to learn and adults who appreciated the library. I taught classes on how to do research and how to properly use the ever-changing and ever-growing world of cyberspace. I embraced a whole new path of creating websites and online databases. There was even a daycare for which I planned and ran story time!
I never wanted to leave there.
Until I did.
After almost fifteen years as a librarian, I was at a crossroads in life. I knew I wanted something more. I recalled how much I loved to write, the stories I wove as a child, the poetry I scrawled in journal after journal, the speeches I thought I would be writing and giving. I spent my days flipping through, shelving, reading, and researching other people’s books. It was time to write my own book and my own story. I felt the urge to drive down a new, uncharted road.
Here we are, another fifteen years has gone by, and I can’t stop writing!
My writing has grown and changed, becoming something deeper and more meaningful. It has enlarged from romance novels and children’s stories to include blogs on several platforms and nonfiction books reflecting both my deepening faith and my lifelong love of research. It has become an open road on which I can travel into my future.
When I look back on the winding road that has led me here, I see many other routes I could have taken. Some may have led me to where I am, but others may have taken me on a different course entirely.
And looking back, seeing those detours, reminds me that the journey counts, the road matters, but what is truly important is the destination. All those alleys and side roads and dirt paths, they all lead us to where we are meant to be. They all join together on our highway of life.
A Surprise Detour
One of my favorite memories as a mom and traveler is of our first cross-country drive from Maryland to Colorado. Driving down the open highway that cuts through the Kansas plains is not fun for a family of five. In fact, it’s torture. At one point, we spotted a billboard that said, Wizard of Oz Museum, Oswego, Kansas, Next Right! Ken and I looked at each other, reading each other’s minds, and began looking for that right turn.
It was several miles off the highway, in a town with not much else besides the converted storefront that boasted the museum. And it was the best stop of the entire trip. Our oldest had been obsessed with the L. Frank Baum classic since she could walk, and her sisters knew the story well.
We spent much more time in that air-conditioned building than was necessary for the size of the displays, but it was worth every minute. It was one of those rare detours that made the whole drive more magical.
Sometimes those detours are exactly what we need in life. We aren’t meant to stay on the same road forever. We’re meant to go off-course, to explore new roads, and even to change our destinations. Life wouldn’t hold any magic otherwise. We need the change as much as we need the monotony.
A Road Map
Look at a road map. It’s messy! It’s a criss-crossed hodgepodge of colored lines that intersect, run parallel, and sometimes veer off the page. They go around mountains, cross bridges, and traverse rocky ground and open plains.
Our lives are no different. They are comprised of major highways, back roads, dirt paths, and hidden alleys that run into and alongside each other. We find mountains in the way. We cross over bridges. We traverse all kinds of terrain. Sometimes we take a wrong turn. Other times, we come to a dead end and have to turn around. We must always be alert but able to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Pope Francis reminds us that life is a journey.
“Journeying is an art because if we’re always in a hurry, we get tired and don’t arrive at our journey’s goal. If we stop, we don’t go forward and we also miss the goal. Journeying is precisely the art of looking toward the horizon, thinking where I want to go but also enduring the fatigue of the journey, which is sometimes difficult. … There are dark days, even days when we fail, even days when we fall … but always think of this: Don’t be afraid of failures. Don’t be afraid of falling. What matters in the art of journeying isn’t not falling but not staying down. Get up right away and continue going forward. This is what’s beautiful: This is working every day, this is journeying as humans.”Pope Francis, 7 June 2013, General Audience, Vatican City
Some of us are just beginning our life journeys. Some are cruising down the main highway while others are bumping along a rocky, dirt road. Many won’t see the dead end in front of the them until they need to slam on the brakes, and many more will wear blinders while driving, never seeing the options to the left and right. The lucky few are those nearing the end of their journey, allowing their co-pilot to take the wheel as they steer over the horizon.
Wherever you are on the road of life, be sure to take in the scenery. Slow down and make an unexpected stop from time to time. Roll down the windows and enjoy the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Explore the dirt roads and hidden entrances. You never know where they will lead you or where you will end up.
Come see Amy on one of these dates:
June 4, 2022 – Christ Church 350th Anniversary Fair, Broomes Island, MD
June 12, 2022 – Saints Peter and Paul Women’s Guild Brunch, 1214 South Washington St, Easton, MD, 11:45am
June 15, 2022 – Catch Amy on Delmarva Life on channel 16, Salisbury, MD at 5pm.
June 18, 2022 – SunDial Books, Chincoteague, VA – The Launch of My New Chincoteague Trilogy!
June 18, 2022 – Crisfield Bluegrass Festival, Crisfield, MD, 1:00-7:00pm
August 13, 2022 – Makers Market, St. Michaels Inn, St Michaels Inn, 1228 S Talbot St, St Michaels, MD 9am-3pm
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines was released in June of 2021. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s chapter book is The Greatest Gift, and her most recent suspense novel is Summer’s Squall.
Amy’s second book in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, was awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two, Under the Summer Moon, was released in December of 2021.
Amy’s new book, Seeking Tranquility, will be released June 15, 2022. Pre-order your copy now!
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021), Under the Summer Moon (2021).