Three Simple but GIGANTIC Reasons to Try Something New

This morning, I had the pleasure of having my daughter, Rebecca, and her best friend, Bailey, accompany me to my weekly cardio class. While they teased me about it not being “their thing,” they both did just fine and even seemed to enjoy themselves. Whether they ever return to class with me or not, it was great to see them trying something new. Of course, that’s not unusual for our family. We are always willing to try something new, go somewhere different, experience things outside of our comfort zones. I think this is one of the reasons our family is so highly addicted to the The Amazing Race. For years, Rebecca and I have said that we’re going to go on the show (I’m just crossing my fingers that it’s still on once she finishes law school). It’s partly about the trip around the world, partly about the race to win a million dollars, but mostly about the chance to do things that no ordinary person would ever have the chance to do. What have we got to lose? More importantly, if you try something new, look at all you could gain.

Discover something you never thought you’d enjoy – Years ago, my sister-in-law invited us to go camping with her and her family. The closest thing I’d ever done to camping was to go to a Campfire Girl lock-in when I was about twelve. Chrissy even warned us that she was sure I was going to hate every minute of it. Now here I am, fifteen years later, running a week-long overnight, outdoor Girl Scout camp for 120 young girls. And it’s the highlight of my year. Who would ever have thought that I would not only enjoy camping, but that it would become a huge, and I mean huge, part of my life?

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Discover a hidden talent – I see young girls every summer stepping out of their comfort zones when they arrive at camp. Yes, it’s hot (some years, over 100 degrees). Yes, there’s dirt. Yes, there are bugs. Yes, we swim in a lake with frogs and fish and other creatures. And the girls zip line, shoot arrows, climb a rock wall, canoe and kayak, and take part in various programs that encompass everything from photography to baking to sewing. Girls who have never picked up a needle and thread go home with a whole quilt to hang on their walls. You never know what you’re capable of until you try.

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Discover yourself – There are many people who found their true calling simply by trying something new:

Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss – While studying for his PhD in English Literature, Geisel learned that he had a talent for drawing. Throwing caution to the wind, he quit his job and his studies and wrote a little book called, And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street. Rejected 28 times, the book eventually became one of the most beloved children’s books of all time.

George Lucas – A passionate race car driver, Lucas gave up his ambitions after a crash that nearly cost him his life. With no idea what to do with his life, he enrolled at the University of Southern California and pursued a career in film. Over forty years later, the force is certainly with him.

Henry Ford – At the age of twenty-eight, Ford decided to try something new with his life and took a shot at becoming an engineer. Seven years later, he designed the first automobile, an utter failure. But through hard work and perseverance, over ten years after taking a chance on a new career, Ford had his first success and has become a household name and an industry standard.

J.K. Rowling – Having graduated with a BA in French and Classics, Rowling was married and had a child when she began writing the Harry Potter series on a whim after the idea literally “popped into her mind.” Today, Rowling is the first person to ever become a billionaire through writing.

https://www.wanderlustworker.com/48-famous-failures-who-will-inspire-you-to-achieve/

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. Unless you try something, you will never know where it might lead you in your life. You might never discover who you are truly meant to be.

Never be afraid to try. Never say no to a new experience, a new job, a new endeavor. Take that leap. Give it a try. You never know where it may lead.

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What I was writing about one year ago this week: Finding the Way.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  10 Road Trips You Can Take Over a Weekend;  Did You Have A ‘Blankie’ As A Kid? Here’s What That Says About Adult You; and Men saying “no thanks” to college.

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)

Laughing Through Life

DSC06314So many families go out to dinner together and enjoy a nice, quiet evening.  The children are seen and not heard as the adults converse over neat and tidy cocktails.  They enjoy their meal with impeccable manners, and come and go quietly and politely.  Let’s just get something straight – that is not my family.  It isn’t that my family doesn’t have manners or that they don’t know how to act.  In fact, when necessary (for example, in Church), they behave just fine.  But the truth is that we like being together, we enjoy those times that we can share a special evening together, and we definitely let loose and have a good time.

On more than one occasion, we have endured stares and dirty looks from other restaurant patrons when our laughing has been, shall we say, a tad bit too loud.  Okay, several decibels too loud.  But those nights are, without a doubt, among our favorite memories.  A few months ago, a friend invited us to a restaurant where he was playing guitar as mood music.  Afterward, he asked us not to come back next time.  All right, he was kidding, but he did have a very hard time keeping a straight face and playing his classical guitar while we were cracking up in the corner.  To be fair, the restaurant was terrible.  The service was the worst ever, and our meal was served almost three hours after we arrived, so who could blame us for getting a little punchy?

This summer, our family took a vacation to Canada.  The girls had never been, and Ken has wanted to do this drive for many years.  It was a crazy route that took us from Maryland to Albany to Greenwood, Vermont, then to Stoddard, New Hampshire as well as Freeport, Augusta, and Bar Harbor Maine.  And that was just the first weekend (thank Heaven for campers).  We then scooted up the coast through St. John’s in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Percè, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and finally back into the States with a stop in Buffalo to visit my Godparents.  More than once, we entertained waiters and waitresses as much as ourselves with our raucous behavior.

In Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, our waiter, James, at the Old Fish Factory joined in on the fun and earned himself and his restaurant a five-star rating on TripAdvisor (okay, the food was truly spectacular as well).  In Quebec City, our young, Egyptian waiter was more than amused and began spending extra time at our table laughing and joking around with us.  However, we hit our peak on the evening drive between Ottawa and Toronto.  Trying to make it to our campground before it got too late, we opted to head out of Ottawa before dinner and stop to eat when we couldn’t take the wait any longer.  Along Highway 416, we spotted a sign for Brigadoon Restaurant and decided to take a chance.  Oh my gosh!  What a treat!  The restaurant was charming, the food was delicious (I highly recommend the rack of lamb), and the wait staff was wonderful.  Unfortunately for the rest of the clientele, we were tired from a long day in museums and walking around the city, and we were pretty hungry.  Those are not good combinations for us.  Where most families might encounter meltdowns and whiny children, that combo only ups our ante of jokes, making fun of each other, and just having a good time.  The staff was great and didn’t seem to mind our good humor, which we find to be the case more often than not.

There may be some who look down on us when we’re enjoying one of those nights, but it’s all in good fun.  And as the waitress said at Brigadoon, “We’d much rather see sisters who make each other laugh than ones who fight all the time.”  Of course, that sent all of us into a fit of laughter knowing that she hadn’t been in the camper with us earlier in the day. The bottom line is that given the choice between children who sit quietly and and chew properly but don’t experience the true joy of being a family or children who stick out their tongue to show their food and laugh so hard they can’t take a sip of water, I’ll go for the latter any day.

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 next mystery, Picture Me, will be released in August of 2015 and will be 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 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

150 Reasons To Go

DSC01354I hate driving in Baltimore.  Please don’t take offense. It’s not the city itself.  It’s the multitude of one-way streets.  Even when relying on my GPS, I always seem to get twisted around no matter where I’m going.  Give me DC any day with its wagon wheel street design, every spoke emanating out from the beautiful white dome of the Capitol with states going in one direction and letters in the other.  Now that’s a city in which I can find my way around.  Even if I get lost, I know I’m never truly lost and can easily find the way out.  I have a very hard time finding one good reason to drive in Baltimore.  However, tomorrow, I will find 150 reasons.

Tomorrow I will attend the State of Maryland Camp Director’s Training.  Though I’ve been a camp director for nine years now, I have never made it downtown for the training.  This year, however, there are several crucial changes in the healthcare laws, so I must make the trek into the city to learn how to properly construct the necessary forms.  So for the benefit of the one-hundred girls and the fifty staff members that attend Summer Roundup, I will boldly take on the streets of Charm City.

If you have never attended an overnight summer camp or have never volunteered for one, you couldn’t possibly understand the lengths to which I would go for the group of people I consider my second family.  My own daughters and I have been attending Roundup for twelve years now.  My girls have all three progressed from first year campers as Brownies or Daisies to know-it-all Cadettes to Teen Camp Aides, and for the second year in a row, one Adult Staff.  I have watched them go from knowing nothing about camping or rowing or shooting an arrow to teaching younger girls how to pitch a tent, paddle a kayak, or hit a bullseye.  I have seen girls cry their eyes out for four nights straight, and then a few years later, console and tuck into bed a new camper pining for home.  I have staff members who were once Roundup campers themselves and are now attending with their own daughters.

There is something so special about an all-volunteer camp that it’s hard to put it into words. I’m sure that high-priced, fancy summer camps with fully paid staff and college kids making enough money to buy a car are a lot of fun.  But nothing can compare to the heart and soul that is put into a camp by people who are there for no other reason than they love the camp.  There is a feeling that each person, camper and adult alike, takes home from camp that never leaves them.  It is that feeling that leaves all of us counting down until the next year when we will see each other again.

I highly encourage everyone to send your child to an all-volunteer camp.  Don’t do it because they are by far the least expensive camps.  Don’t do it because it’s a way to keep the kids busy for one week of the summer or to get them out of your hair.  Don’t even do it because their friends are going to camp.  Do it because it will be a week they will never forget, a week without phones or television or video games, a week of learning about nature and survival, and a week of learning about themselves.  But before you send them, I ask you to think about this, what are you doing for that week?  It’s just one week.  You’ll survive.  You might even learn something about yourself.  So go ahead, fill out that form for your child, and while you’re at it, fill out one for yourself.  It will be an experience you will never forget and will never regret.

Amy Schisler is an author of mystery and suspense novels.  Her first book, A Place to Call Home 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.

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