What does it mean to be a “true friend”?

This blog was written by my college intern, Rachel Josephson. I’m always amazed by the insight of young adults.friends

When I was younger, it was always very easy for me to make friends. I have always enjoyed just being around people whether it is meeting new people or connecting with old ones. I suppose I am what is known as an “Extrovert”- I get my energy from being around people, and when I’m not around people- I feel like I’m missing out.

I have had the same friends for most of my life- these are friends that I am comfortable with and that I have grown up with, they know almost everything about me. When we hang out we can simply all crowd over a bag of chips and dip talking about everything and nothing at the same time. Even though I appreciate them, after we graduated high school I was ready to move on. Not to sound harsh, but I was ready to experience different types of friendships than that that I had experienced my whole life, I was looking for something different and new.

18402814_1440522029344467_8766416888175139675_n

Going into my freshman year of  college I had this perception that your high school friends were from high-school, and that was it, we can talk a little bit but for the most part in college it was time to make others and I intentionally began to distance myself from them. Making new friends was not a problem for me, and in fact it was quite easy. I really loved my new friends from school, we all seemed to have so much in common and we were together almost all the time.  However, going home for breaks, things were different. I felt as if it was hard to talk to my friends from home because it had been months and for the most part they weren’t a part of my daily routine anymore. I still appreciated them, but not in the way that I had before.

Recently, I have been thinking about what it means to truly be a friend after seeing something from twitter that a friend had shared. The gist of it said that in order to appreciate a friendship, sometimes distance is necessary, and if they truly care they will reach back out to you, basically saying that friendships aren’t one sided, but it takes two to tango.

This summer for me, has been finding out who my true friends are, and a realization that people change and mature, while others decide to stay the same. Although this sometimes can be a sad reality, it is just part of life. Originally, I had always thought that I needed to be friends with everyone, I was the person that made sure that everyone “liked me” however, I had realized that at the end of the day not everybody is going to like you, and that is something that I needed to accept. While making sure that everyone “liked me” I had overlooked the fact that sometimes I was doing all the work in the friendship.

Being home for the summer has really made me appreciate my friendships both from my small town in New Jersey, as well as my friends from school. It has made me realize that it is only natural for some friendships to dissolve, and if they are  meant to be they will come back together, as it makes me appreciate the good ones that I do have. Even though that extrovert mentality of always wanting to have new friends is part of me, I realized how important to take a step back and focus on the good ones that I do instead of trying to pivot myself around friendships that may not be as strong anymore.

Rachel Josephson is an upcoming Junior at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD majoring in Communications and Business with the hopes of pursuing a career in the PR or marketing industry, who I have had as my intern the past few months!

Rachel is a junior at Mount St. Mary’s University, studying Communication.

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.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores. 

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand 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)

Let The Dead Bury the Dead

Blog today

Yesterday, our family received the news of the sudden and unexpected passing of a dear family friend. She and her husband were the first friends my parents made after they were married. They have remained friends for over fifty years. While the husband has been sick for a long time, nobody thought his wife would be the victim of a sudden heart attack. It’s just another reminder, for me, that we should tell our families and friends how much we love them every day. And not just tell them, but show them.

As I said after the death of my father-in-law, it’s not enough to expect others to know how much we love them. We must tell them and show them as often as we can. Last week, my daughter wrote about the loss of a friend and how hard it was for her to come to grips with the fact that she would never see his smile again. I often wonder why we only think of these things after a loved one is gone. Why don’t we take every opportunity to let others know how special they are? To let them know how we feel about them?

Much debate has taken place about Jesus’s admonition to “let the dead bury the dead.” Some say Jesus was referring to the “spiritually dead.” Others say that Jesus was telling us to not look for excuses to avoid following Him. In thinking about those I’ve lost over the years, I wonder if there is a deeper, hidden meaning. 

How often do you attend a funeral at which it seems the entire world comes to say goodbye? How many people reach out, after someone is gone, to say they hadn’t seen the person in years and regretted not getting in touch. How many times have you lost someone and cried that you had let so many other things come before spending time with that person? Perhaps Jesus was reminding us that, while taking care of the dead is a good thing, it’s too little too late. Maybe we should have been paying attention to that person, to their needs (spiritual and physical), to their joys and sadnesses, long before they were gone.

On this day, in America, we celebrate the birth of our country. Many of us will spend the day with family and friends. We will toast our freedom and salute our forefathers under a sky of glittering lights. Before we spread our blankets and pop open another beer, let us reach out to to that person or persons we haven’t expressed our feelings to. Let’s use this day to let others know that we love them, appreciate them, and are thinking about them from sea to shining sea.

“With Every Goodbye, You Learn”

This week’s blog was written by my daughter, Rebecca:

When I was in first grade, my best friend was constantly bullied. She had a rare medical condition that made her an easy target for the kids in our class. They were horrible to her, but she taught me what it meant to be a true friend. She brought out something else in me that those other kids would try to take away, but that I would carry with me for the rest of my life. Eventually, we grew apart, and I haven’t spoken to her in years.

When I was in fourth grade, I was the one who was struggling. My teacher saw something in me and challenged me. He was one of those people who you knew you could trust immediately, and he was so kind to all of his students, regardless of their own imperfections. He showed me what a true role model looked like and made me feel like I could accomplish anything. Eventually, I left that school, and I haven’t seen him since.

29468391_10213034314425891_1698012277968888756_nWhen I was in high school, I dated a boy named Scott who would teach me what love felt like. He showed me how great this world could be if I didn’t take myself too seriously and if I always found something to laugh at through every tough situation. He gave me that crazy kind of love that everyone knew wouldn’t last, but he made me feel something I had never felt before. Eventually, we grew apart. He took his own life a few years ago. I hadn’t seen him in years.

During and since college, I’ve lost many friends for a variety of reasons. Some good, some bad, but every single one of them taught me what it meant to be there for someone. Some of them taught me what to avoid in a friend, some of them inspired me to fight for a better version of myself, and some of them pushed me outside of my comfort zone in ways I could never imagine. Many of those friends I haven’t seen in years, either.

I could go on, and on, and on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that this life is full of temporary people.

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the people that I’ve lost. Especially in those months following Scott’s death, I didn’t know how to handle it at all. I had gotten over him in a romantic sense, but I always thought that he would casually come back into my life one day. It took me a really, really long time to be able to cope with the fact that I would never see him again, and sometimes it’s still extremely difficult.

In order to overcome these feelings, I took it to prayer. One day, I realized: the most temporary person in the Bible was absolutely one of the most important.

“As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23:26

potc-300x197As Jesus’ burden of carrying his cross was becoming heavier and heavier, Simon was there. Simon originally had no intention of helping Jesus, and Jesus certainly did not expect Simon to come into his life. Simon knew Jesus for a matter of minutes, but helped Jesus during his most vulnerable time. Simon literally carried the burden for Jesus.

I think we all are destined to have a Simon in life. We are all destined to have someone walk into our lives at the most unexpected moment and help us through burdens we simply cannot bear on our own. God puts temporary people into our lives on purpose. We aren’t supposed to always understand why, and we definitely don’t know when a person is destined to become temporary until they are gone.

As humans, we don’t have to deal with our burdens alone. Sometimes it takes a brand new person to walk into our lives and help us through those burdens. And when that person leaves, only then will we realize how strong, how brave we’ve really become.

With this thought in mind, it’s a lot easier to deal with the fact that I’ll never see Scott again, or that I have no idea what my first-grade best friend’s life is like now, or that I’ll probably never spend time with my college best friend again, or that the teacher who saw something in me that no one else did probably doesn’t even remember my name.

Each of those people came into my life for a purpose, and that purpose just didn’t need to last forever.

Losing people is hard, but knowing that the loss was for a reason helps me keep my faith alive. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the temporariness of the people who shaped me in ways I cannot describe. I don’t think I would be as strong as I am today if those people had stuck around.

I’d give anything to go back in time and see those people again, or to tell them that I love them when I still had the chance. But life doesn’t work that way, and I know now that in this moment, I need to treat every person I come into contact with as if it’s the last time I’ll see them. I need to thank them for helping me in my most vulnerable time and for carrying my burden when I needed it most.

Tell her you love her before you hang up the phone, make plans with your friends every chance you get, tell your professors how instrumental they’ve been, and smile at a stranger today.

Each of these precious moments won’t last forever, but they will shape you.

“And you learn, and you learn, with every goodbye, you learn.” – After a While, Veronica A. Shoffstall

Rebecca Schisler is a rising second-year law student at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. She loves kayaking, hiking, and all things outdoors. In her spare time, she likes learning new cooking techniques and binge-watching Master Chef.

Please join me in celebrating the much-anticipated release of Island of Promise, the second book in my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I am very happy to partner with Sundial Books on Chincoteague for this celebration. All are welcome on Wednesday, July 24 from 1:00-3:00 at Sundial Books. For more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/238528263576139

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available in stores and online.

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.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand 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).

Unconditional Love

Dear Daughters,

The past several months have been wrought with changes, good and bad, and events that will shape you and your future. From graduations to new schools to the loss of your grandfather, you have been met with joys and sorrows, forced to make decisions and changes, and been led to greater awareness and understanding about yourselves and the world around you. And what a world it is. 

You live in a very different world than I did when I was your age. While we had many of the same social issues, you have far more challenges to deal with–from the constant barrage of social media to mass shootings. Sometimes I wonder how you deal with it all. And then I remember that sometimes you don’t. According to the 2018 Culture and Youth Studies Group, your generation, in the United States alone, comprises 25% of the total population. The number one killer of your generation is the automobile, and most of these deaths are due to drinking and driving, Suicide is the third leading cause of death of your demographic. Perhaps, in part, because one in five students is bullied in school, and between 20 and 25% of students have been cyber-bullied. Students today are exposed to just under eleven hours of media exposure every single day. And that’s only the beginning.

I can’t even imagine growing up with the same pressures you all face. It’s no wonder 34% of all 19-28 year-olds use drugs, and 52% of 12-28 year-olds regularly drink alcohol. And as a parent, I feel helpless to do anything about that or any of the above statistics. Utterly helpless. And that’s what leads me to this.

I’m not sure that any of you fully know or even vaguely recognize the agony that your parents go through every time one of you walks out the door. We can teach, lecture, advise, etc, but we can’t control your thoughts or actions nor those of your peers. And that’s really scary! You have no idea what it’s like to hug you, tell you we love you, wish you the best, and then hold our breath as the door closes behind you, anxious about every phone call, every text, every breaking news report. 

Each day, you are faced with a new challenge, a new set of decisions, a new obstacle or fast-track to becoming the human beings you are going to become. Every day, you have to decide what you are going to do, who you are going to be, where you are heading in life. It’s a daunting task! And all I can do is hold my breath and pray. I’ve come to learn that it doesn’t matter what kind of family you come from, what you’ve been taught by your parents, or what you’ve witnessed over the course of your short lifetime this far. All that matters is what you decide is the right decision for you at each moment in time. 

So, I remind you today how much your father and I love you all, how much we trust you to make the right decisions throughout your life, and most importantly how much we will love you even if those decisions are not the ones we hope you will make. As Dr. Seuss told us, “You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.” But still, we will pray and hope and love you unconditionally. Isaiah asks us in today’s reading, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” And the answer, on my part, is no. No matter what happens in this world, so filled with darkness and despair, know, my daughters, that my love will never change, never falter, never grow weary. In fact, I love you all more each and every day.

IMG_5924

Are you looking for a new way to meditate on the Stations of the Cross this Lent? If so, check out the newly revised edition of Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms. You can order it in print or download the ebook version today!

What I was writing about this time last year:  The 9 Most Important Things I’ve Learned at 47

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.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand 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)

 

Who Are You?

My married name is Schisler, but I will always be a MacWilliams, a Scot by name and blood. Aye, there’s some Irish and Welsh in there, too, but when asked about my ethnicity, my answer is always, “I’m Scottish.” So I was delighted when my daughter, Katie Ann, chose Scotland as one of the destinations on her graduation trip. When our oldest, Rebecca, graduated from high school, she and I backpacked through Europe for three weeks. It is a trip neither of us will ever forget, and one that Katie and Morgan have been planning ever since.

Beginning in England, I took Katie to all the famed tourist stops: London Bridge, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe, etc. Katie selected three tours: Sherlock Holmes, a day trip to Salisbury, Bath, and Stonehenge, and of course, the Harry Potter studio tour. What fun we had doing all of those things! But our favorite day was the one we spent traveling by train to Windsor. The town was charming, and we loved visiting Windsor Castle. As fans of the PBS series, Victoria, we enjoyed seeing the young queen’s favorite home. All the while, as we toured London and the surrounding areas, I told Katie about how the histories of England and Scotland intertwine.

Upon arriving in Edinburgh, Katie and I went to lunch, and I told her as much of the history of Scotland that I could, knowing just bits of the long and winding story. After checking into our flat, we visited Edinburgh Castle and then roamed the Royal Mile. In and out of the tartan shops we went, picking up scarves and other items with my family’s crest and tartan on them. We did some research about our family and its exile from Scotland. Highlanders, they were, and they fought against the crown until being thrown out of the country. Most of the MacWilliamses fled to Ireland, becoming McWilliamses, but many were sent to the new colonies, which, we believe, is how my ancestors arrived in the U.S. While it makes for an interesting family history, it has caused much debate among family members about exactly who or what we are and from where we came. Some claim that we are all Irish, while others, like myself, cling to our Scottish heritage.

It saddens me that such a beautiful country has suffered so much turmoil and upheaval throughout its history. But rather than tear down the people’s pride of or love for their country, all of the turmoil seems to have strengthened their patriotism. Scotland still clings to its own traditions, its rich history, its whiskey and plaid and heroes. The more a Scot fought for independence against the Brits, the more he is loved by the people. 

Toward the end of Dragonfly in Amber, book two of the Outlander series, Claire wonders about the legacy that Bonnie Prince Charlie left to Scotland. Seeing modern-day graffiti, demanding “Free Scotland,” she asks, without the prince’s series of battles aimed at granting the country’s independence, would Scotland have “endured two hundred years of union with England, and still—still’—she waved a hand at the sprawling letters overhead—’have kept its own identity?”

It made me think about where we are in the United States, still a toddler of a country. Without the will to hold true to and fight for our heritage and beliefs, what chance do we have to preserve our history, culture, and traditions? If another country stole the Liberty Bell, would we, today, even attempt to get it back? Perhaps there has to be over a thousand years of history and tradition before there can be a Stone of a Destiny. Hopefully, if our nation were to ever face trials like those of Scotland, Americans, no matter their differences, will come together to like the Scots have. I love my country, and I will always be an American, but I will always be a proud Scot as well. Aye, I’m Scottish, and proud of it. 

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Striking Gold.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

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)

Starting Today…

women_march_211.jpgIt must stop, and it must stop starting today.  Over the past few days, I’ve seen friends and family members argue, name call, and even bring each other to tears. I’ve watched as the media has poked and prodded and tried to stir up hatred and resentment. I’ve read article after article, blog after blog about who is “right” or “wrong” and who is to blame. After a lot of time in thought, prayer, and discussion, I’ve come to realize that we are making enemies of the wrong people and fighting fights in the wrong places.

Hear me out. I applaud the women who marched on Saturday for women’s rights, for the environment, for access to healthcare. I commend those who peacefully used their right to free speech without spewing hatred and disrespect. Our freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are great things but can only be effective when directed at the right people, institutions, and causes and done so with respect and a willingness to have an open dialogue.

In the United States of America, women are already equal to men in the eyes of the law. They can vote and hold office; become police officers, military personnel, and CEOs; have the same access to healthcare as men; can obtain driver’s licenses and the same levels of education; are equally protected by the law; and can worship, shop, walk the streets, and do anything else allowed under the law as they please, the same as men. Now before you argue with me, let me reiterate, they can do all of these things in the eyes of the law. That doesn’t mean that they are able to do these things in the eyes of society.

People are comparing Saturday’s march with the marches started by Martin Luther King, Jr. They herald it as the next Civil Rights movement. I would respectfully disagree. You see, when King marched, he did so because the laws were unjust and unequal. That is not the case today. The fight today is not with the government; it’s not even with the President or Congress or the Supreme Court. Sure, there are areas for which the people in those positions can be lobbied, but that won’t change what’s really happening in our culture.

So who is to blame? We are. Society is to blame. That includes our schools that teach that boys are better at certain subjects than girls. It includes the companies that refuse to promote women and refuse to pay them the same rate as their male counterparts. It includes those people who raise their voices in anger asking to be heard but won’t listen to their neighbors. We have become a nation that demands that the government fix everything without really asking ourselves who or what is actually responsible for the problems.

Let me share a story with you. When our youngest was in middle school, she took a test in an effort to advance to a higher level of math. When she learned that she had been denied, we asked why, only to find out that her male teacher didn’t think she could handle it. We pleaded with the principal, arguing that her test and class grades proved otherwise. They would not budge. The teacher had the final say. Throughout 9th grade, Morgan’s female teacher repeatedly told her that she was in the wrong class and needed to see if she could advance. When she learned that she could take an independent math class that would propel her ahead, she was told no even though she met all of the requirements for being able to do so. The reason? Her guidance counselor told Morgan, third in her class, that she was “not smart enough.” My blood still boils when I think about it. We appealed the decision, and with the blessing of the entire math department, Morgan took the class. Not only did Morgan pass the class, she passed with an 86%, no small feat considering the counselor told her she could ask for no help and seek no outside resources. At the same time, a boy in Morgan’s class had already been given permission and was allowed to seek help if needed. I’m quite certain that Morgan’s situation was not unique. The laws are in place ensuring Morgan an equal education. The government played no role in her being allowed to take the class or not. It was Morgan and her parents who took the fight to the next level and ensured that she got what she rightfully deserved.

Here’s another example. I have a good friend who works for a global corporation. Her department is the only one in the entire company that even hires women in high-level positions. She looks around at all of the companies with which they do work, and she sees no women in leadership positions. She is amazed that the mentality still exists today that the corporate world is for men only. The laws provide my friend with equal opportunity employment, but the corporations deny women the access to the jobs and deny the pay that they deserve.

How many times have you heard that men can buy cars for a cheaper price than women? That mechanics charge women more for car repairs than they do men? That service providers look to the man to make the decisions, pay the bill, or be the one “in charge”? Why is it the government’s job to fix this? Why don’t we demand better for ourselves? Why don’t women speak up when the man is the one who is being addressed? Why don’t we ask point blank why prices are lower for our husbands and higher for ourselves? Here’s why – it’s easier to blame the government and argue with each other than to do something to make a real change, to stand up for ourselves to the boss, to appeal to a higher authority, to take the measure to court. Last week, I wrote about the courageous and inspiring women in the movie, Hidden Figures, based on a true story. Those women stood up for themselves, pointed out what was unfair and unjust, sought work at higher levels, challenged the education system, and reaped the rewards for their efforts. And they did it while respecting each other and the other women with whom they worked. And those other women came to respect them as well.

So starting today, I implore you to take a look at your own situation, your daughter’s future, our society, and the world. Honestly, who is it that is to blame for whatever injustice you may be facing in your life? Starting today, figure out who it is you need to talk to, write to, or lobby to ensure that change happens. Starting today, stop asking “what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country” and your fellow citizens. Starting today, find out what really needs to be done to make life better for your daughters and all generations to come. And starting today, put aside hatred, resentment, disrespect, name calling, and fighting with other women. Starting today, put your best foot forward and show the world that women can achieve everything they want and deserve, and they don’t have to wear hats depicting female genitalia to do it, nor do they have to tear down other women, scream profanities, or threaten to burn down the White House. If you really want to make a change, take a lesson from Civil Rights heroine, Rosa Parks. Take a stand (or a seat) and challenge the right people and the right institutions in the right ways. If we do things the right way, we can achieve anything. We are women. Hear us roar.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her book, Whispering Vines,  is a 2017 Illumination Award winner; and her most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site 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)

Ten Things Your Teen Should Know Before Leaving Home

DSC01651The summer of 2016 will soon come to a close, and a chapter in my life will end.  For almost my entire adult life, I have been the mother of three school-aged children. While all of my children will still be in school for a few more years, the dynamic is shifting, and my world is changing. This was possibly the last summer that our oldest, Rebecca, will be living at home.  She will graduate from Mount St. Mary’s in the spring and go on to law school.  She is already looking into the cost and availability of apartments in Washington, D.C., and she reminds me often that she will not be returning home after graduation.  Of course, I remember telling my mother the same thing when I was at this stage, but desire is often met with that brick wall called affordability, and I ended up living at home another year until I married.  But the reality is that she will still be in school, and she will need to live close to the city, so I will have to get used to one of my children no longer being a resident of my home.  As Rebecca embarks on her senior year of college and her sister, Katie Ann, starts her senior year of high school, here are some things that I have realized every high school graduate should know how to do:

  1. Cook a basic meal.  The numbers are staggering.  Young people today do not know how to cook. It’s something that we talk about all the time when planning camp each summer.  Someone needs to make sure that young people know how to cook because most mothers are at work, and grandmas no longer live with, or even near, their extended families.  Rebecca found that cooking her own meals in her on-campus apartment was a full one-third the cost of eating in the college cafeteria.  The article referenced above from MarketWatch points out that the economy is stable right now, and most young people feel like they can afford to eat out several times a week.  Imagine how they would feel with three times the extra money in their pockets.  Not to mention, three times fewer calories.  Cooking at home would not only pad their bank accounts, it would reduce the padding along their waistlines.
  2. Sew on a button or mend a hem.  Rebecca once tagged me in a post that said, “There has yet to be a school dance when I didn’t have to sew a button or fix a hem for a friend.  Thank you, Mom and Girl Scouts, for teaching me to sew.”  In an article in the Huffington Post, a mother lamented that she felt like a failure when her twenty-something daughter asked if she could take a pair of pants to a tailor to have a button sewn on.  I think there’s a feeling out there that sewing is old fashioned and that girls don’t need or want to know the skill.  Think again.  Guess what our single, most popular camp program among middle schoolers is.  Yep, sewing.  Any kind of sewing–hand sewing, machine sewing, quilting, fashion design, etc.  Girls are begging to learn how to sew.  It’s a skill that they will use for the rest of their lives.
  3. Do their own laundry.  In the same HP article, the writer points out that “clothing maintenance” skills have dramatically decreased.  This includes knowing how to properly do laundry.  For years, my girls have seen me hanging out certain articles of clothing.  Not until she went to school did Rebecca come to understand why.  When her brand-new, worn-only-once dress came out of the dryer more aptly sized for her American Girl doll, she called me in tears.  I asked, “Did you read the tag?  Is it cotton?  Does it say not to heat dry?”  Stunned silence.  It was a mistake she never repeated.  But here’s what I think is a bigger issue.  The dress shrunk?  No problem, I’ll just buy a new one.  Bathing suit is too tight and falling apart?  So what’s buying another bikini this season going to hurt?  We have become a disposable society.  For all of our talk about the environment, nobody thinks twice about ruining their clothes and running to Target to buy something new.  What would my grandmother say?  She would be shocked.  Maybe she did wear the same clothes year after year, but she didn’t hesitate to buy something when she needed it because she was frugal.  Oh, and she hung out her clothes.  Addendum: Using an iron is a lost skill that everyone should know how to do as well.  Never show up to an interview or for your first day of an internship wearing wrinkles!
  4. Learn to save money.  There seems to be a common, yet unintentional, thread within this post.  Youth today have no idea how or why to save money.  The vast majority of young adults have less than $1,000 in their bank accounts and no plans to save for retirement.  In a recent US News and World Report article, most youth say that they are not stressed at all about saving or about retirement because they feel they will be better off than my generation.  However, and it’s a big however, 40% of them have no plan, and 57% have no savings.  I have to wonder how many children or teens today have access to their bank accounts or even know how much is in them, how to save, how to monitor spending.  Morgan (age 15) and I recently contacted our bank to set her up as an online customer.  They refused.  We were told that until she is 16, she cannot have access to her account or obtain information online.  So I log into mine and let her check on her balance, ensure that her paycheck was deposited, and plan for summer expenses.  We can’t teach our kids about money unless they are earning and learning about saving and spending at an early age.
  5. Open an “adult” bank account.  So this leads me to the next piece of advice.  As soon as he or she is old enough, every young person should have his or her own checking account and access to it.  I’m not advocating the ability to spend at will.  I’m saying that they need the knowledge of what they have, how much they earn, how much they spend, and how much interest they are gathering.  They need to know how to write a check, how to use a debit card, and why a debit card can be dangerous.  Teach them how to come up with a PIN and how to resist spending every penny in their account on useless things.  We can’t teach our kids the proper way to spend and save it we aren’t giving them the tools to do it.
  6. “Check” the oil.  When I got my driver’s license, my father refused to let me drive until I could properly demonstrate how to check my oil and change a tire.  With today’s technologically advanced vehicles, a computerized voice practically calls you by name when it’s time to have the oil changed, but that doesn’t mean that we should send kids out in a car that they don’t fully understand how to maintain.  I recently had two lights illuminate on my dashboard.  I looked them up in the manual, but it simply said to take the car for diagnostics.  Three mechanics looked at my car and told me the same thing, “The diagnostics show that nothing is wrong. You’re good to go.”  Wait a minute.  Really?  A little machine tells you that it’s good, so you ignore the lights and just send me home?  Three mechanics at three different garages?  Oh, let me take that back.  It was two mechanics.  The third handed me a piece of paper with a code on it and said, “Look it up on YouTube.  That might help you figure it out.”  What?????  My car has been at the dealership since last Thursday.  They plan to have it ready by tomorrow, but they’re still trying to figure out what the lights mean.  The moral of the story?  Know your vehicle, know the warnings, pay attention to how it feels and how it drives, and get the maintenance or the repairs that it needs.  You are the pilot, and you need to know when to get something fixed, changed, or checked out.
  7. Manage time and keep a calendar.  When Tommy or Susie goes away to school, no longer will mom or dad be there to tell them to wake up, get in the car, go to school, etc.  Kids must know how to manage their time wisely but also how to schedule it.  There are so many things out there that are time hogs.  A study in Forbes showed that full-time, working millennials waste over 250 days, yes days, per year on social media and web surfing.  According to the Washington Post, teenagers spend seven and a half hours a day online.  That’s half of their waking hours!  I don’t think they even know any more what to do with that time other than be online.  As an experiment, have your child document throughout the day each time she goes online and how long she spends there.  Perhaps a real conversation is needed about what kinds of productive things she could be doing (I think I’m going to have that conversation tonight – I’m shocked by these numbers).  After the conversation, give her a datebook, or just show her the calendar app on that device attached to her hand.  Teach her how to manage her time, and be sure she knows how before she leaves for college, or you’ll be wasting a lot of money on her dismal Freshman year.
  8. Write a formal letter.  Writing is a lost art in school.  My daughters have many friends in other schools who are able to graduate without ever writing a paper or doing research.  Gone are the days when an entire week of English class was spent on the proper techniques of letter writing.  This includes emails to professors, bosses, and other important people.  Imagine this email based on an Inc. article on the language of millennials:  “Dear Professor, I would like to meet with you about my grade.  I wanted a hundo p, but I only got a B.  I mean, the test was JOMO to begin with, and sorry not sorry, but I deserved a better grade.  I mean, really.  I can’t even.  The struggle is real.  My answers were on the fleek and perf, and I’m V proud of them.  TBH, I deserved better.”  You may think I’m JK, but I do hope this never actually happens,.  On the other hand, have you read any of your children’s emails?  They can be scary.
  9. Write a resume.  One of the many things that our girls’ high school truly does right is preparing the kids to be successful.  This includes knowing how to write a resume.  Every junior is required to submit a resume to the guidance office before the last week of school.  They cannot go on with their senior activities without one on file.  It must be formatted correctly and must detail every job, every club, every award, and every community service event that they earned or participated in.  They will continue to build on that resume throughout their senior year, and it will go into their college application packets.  Rebecca still uses that same resume.  Of course, it has been chopped and updated numerous times, but the format is the same.  Some things never change, and the need for an impressive, well-formatted resume is one of them.
  10. Say NO.  Take this as you will, but the bottom line is that your child should know how to stand up for herself or himself in every situation.  Teach them that it’s not only okay but essential to stick to their beliefs, go with their gut, say no to illegal substances, say no to sex, even say no to taking on too many roles or activities.  While part of this goes back to time management, part of it goes to becoming a responsible adult, and a good chunk of it goes to safety.  Be sure that your child knows when, where, and how to draw the line.  This might be the first time he or she is on her own.  Be confident that she can take care of herself and that he knows what it means to stop before it’s too late.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books:

Crabbing With Granddad (2013)

 A Place to Call Home (2014)

Picture Me (2015)

Whispering Vines (2016)