If there’s anything I cherish as much as I love and cherish spending time with my family, it’s spending time with friends. I think it’s something that people today don’t appreciate enough. When one can brag about having close to 1000 friends on Facebook, and the number of followers on Instagram is more important to them than the number of minutes spent face-to-face with live people, then there’s something very wrong with our world.
I learned to appreciate friendship when our girls were little.
We live thirty minutes from the nearest city (and “city” is a long stretch), but throughout our girls’ lives, my husband always insisted they have active social lives. He would drive them anywhere so that they could be with friends. Once, when a blizzard began coating our area with the kind of snow that piles up and stays for days, Ken drove around the county picking up all Rebecca’s friends for a sleepover. Our house was always that house, the one where everyone ended up, where slumber parties never ceased, and where the door and a chair at the table were always open and available. There were never too many, and they never stayed for too long.
Once we became empty nesters, we invited friends over often for get-togethers, and we discovered the joy of just hanging out with adults! Soon after, some nasty virus ended our gatherings and brought all three girls back home for several months. Of course, we didn’t let that stop us. Even during the lockdown, the girls had friends coming and going. Why should these young adults have to suffer through locking down alone and never seeing another human being when we had plenty of room for them to come on over?
In September of 2020, we hosted Rebecca’s wedding (with 300 invited guests but only 160 attendees). The morning after the big event, everyone was invited back to our house for brunch. After that, we resumed life as usual and began spending time with friends. While others were still lying low and hunkering down, we were planning and taking trips to see friends and have real conversations, share a cocktail or meal, and play games in the same room rather than through Zoom.
I never knew how much I needed real, live social interaction.
Seek Real Friendship
While we always made sure the girls had access to their friends, and I always worried about Ken having other guys in his life with whom to hunt, fish, and just hang out, I was content to sit back and let them all enjoy their outings while I nestled down with a good book. It was a good life, and I still love to wrap up in a blanket with a nice cup of hot chocolate and a good book.
However, I discovered in 2016, that I need more than that. And that realization became even clearer during and after the pandemic.
I’ve always had friends, but I’ve never really been one to be included. Other women would go out on the town, have nice dinners together, do girl trips, and post picture after picture of their vibrant social lives. I wasn’t typically asked to join them, and that was okay. I was more than happy to sit on the sidelines and go out every once in a while with my local bestie while everyone else partied. It’s how I always lived, including in college when I was more likely to be the DD than the life of the party. I liked it that way and still do for the most part.
But as an adult, well into my 40s, I discovered the importance of having a girl group, a tribe.
A Sturdy Friend
I’ve written about my tribe before. These ladies who came into my life on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land have become a part of my very soul. They are more than friends. They are my sisters. When one of us needs help, we are all on our chat group rushing to her rescue. When someone needs advice, we have plenty to give. When someone needs a prayer, we pray together. As we’ve grown even closer over the past six years, we’ve gotten to know each other’s families, and we’ve invited each other to weddings, confirmations, and baby showers.
Many of these women have been to our home with and without husbands and family members. Some have shared vacations with our family. They aren’t just friends. They are part of our family.
This past weekend, one of my closest friends and her husband traveled here from Arkansas (yes, my friend, Tammi, who was instrumental in the creation of my Buffalo Springs Series). Like last summer, when Dotty and Ted visited, we treated them to some of the highlights of living on the Eastern Shore. We camped at Jane’s Island State Park, took a boat to the isolated community of Smith Island, and drove through Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. We attended Mass together and not via the Internet. And of course, we took them crabbing.
We packed quite a lot into five days, but you know which parts I enjoyed the most?
I loved the time we spent just talking and the evenings we played cards. We talked and laughed and shared stories and memories. We talked about our pasts as well as our hopes and dreams. We enjoyed the time we had together without television (okay, there was the NFL game we watched on Sunday) without social media, and without Zoom.
By the end of the weekend, my workaholic husband said he really didn’t want the time to end and wasn’t looking forward to going back to work and resuming his latest DIY project (yes, another one despite his oath). Tammi and I are planning my next trip to Arkansas, and Ken and Rob are planning a hunting trip together. We can’t wait to be together again!
Reach Out and Touch Someone – For Real
This is what life is all about, folks. It’s about social interaction and friendships and togetherness–the real kind, not the artificial kind that Zuckerberg’s META would have you believe is all you need to make you happy. We need to have that face-to-face contact. We need to spend time with other people, laughing, talking, and having a good time. We need hugs that aren’t emojis!! 🤗
I worry about young people today. What will their friendships look like in the future? Will all their relationships take place in the “Metaverse”? According to Wired Magazine, the metaverse “can include virtual reality—characterized by persistent virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you’re not playing—as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds.” These online “worlds” are meant to be how people interact, socialize, make purchases, and even attend events. The World of Warcraft already allows players to buy and sell goods, and Fortnite holds virtual concerts and exhibits about historical figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Many large corporations currently “are building the infrastructure to create better virtual worlds that more closely mimic our physical life.”
Zuckerberg’s goal is that the Metaverse will be a place where friends “hang out.” He contends there will be virtual houses and public spaces where people can be with friends or meet people, and people will be able to attend live events through holograms. Imagine a world where you never actually experience anything in real life–concerts, dinner parties, game night, even holding hands. Imagine all your social interactions taking place in a digital house in a fake world.
I shudder to think that this is the world my granddaughter will live in.
Make a point to plan a night out or a trip to see friends or a weekend when friends come to you. Make a commitment to do things with others in real life. Make your life more meaningful than just staring at a screen. Cherish every moment with your friends, especially those who are your chosen family. It was no accident that you met and no coincidence that you were led to each other.
Let’s turn back the clock and live in world where face-to-face interactions matter, where hugs and hand-holding and offering a shoulder happen in the flesh. Gather together, seek real friendship, find sturdy friends, reach out and touch someone, and allow God to unite your souls. See your friendships as more than a number on a screen, and cherish the moments you are together. The world as we know it is disappearing, and along with it, the knowledge of what a real friend truly is.
National Oyster Festival
October 15 and 16, 2022 – St Mary’s County Fairgrounds, Leonardtown, MD
Amy will be signing and selling books at the festival. All ages are welcome for a day of sun and seafood! See event website for more details.
Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum OysterFest
October 29, 2022 – Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, MD
Amy will be signing and selling books at the festival. The event features live music on two stages, boat rides, retriever demonstrations, oysters and other local fare, an oyster stew competition and cooking demonstrations, along with children’s activities, oyster demonstrations, harvesting displays and Chesapeake-related documentary screenings. More details coming soon.
Write What You Know Writer’s Workshop
November 12, 2022 – Time TBA – Leonardtown Library, Leonardtown, MD
Amy will be giving a workshop for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). She will talk about how to write a more authentic and readable novel by writing about what you know – the people, places, and events that have shaped your own life. More details coming soon.
Eastern Shore Sea Glass & Coastal Arts Festival
November 19, 10am-4pm & November 20 10am-3pm – Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, St. Michaels, MD
Amy will be selling and signing her books at the annual event just in time for Christmas! The Festival will feature artisans from around the country selling coastal and sea-glass related jewelry, home décor, art, and more. The two-day festival ticket includes entrance to the festival, live music, and all the exhibitions and historic structures on the campus of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.
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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, and Book Three, Sapphires in Snow, are also available now.
Book One of Amy’s next Chincoteague Trilogy, Seeking Tranquility, is in stores now!
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.
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), Seeking Tranquility (2022), Sapphires in Snow (2022).
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