Five Things Mother Taught Me

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, of course, I’d be thinking about my mother. But on top of that, I’ve been staying at Mom’s this week to help out Dad while Mom isn’t feeling well. Spending time at her bedside, I’m reminded of all that she has taught me over the years. Here are the most important things I’ve learned:

6893Strength is not about power. As we are told in the Book of Psalms, “She [a woman of worth] is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs at the days to come.” Clothed in strength, not exhibiting strength, not showing power or aggression or loftiness, but clothed in strength. That’s quite remarkable when you think about it. Strength and dignity should be what we wear, what we exude, what we show others. It’s more than being strong or powerful. It’s letting others see what you’re made of, but in a dignified way. My mother is not only the matriarch of our family, she is the bloodline that gives us life literally and figuratively, the glue that holds us together, the giver of advice, and the pillar on which we lean. Everyone thinks that my father is the strong one, but, like the rest of us, all his strength comes from Mom. It always has.

15732720_10154924178131349_440735058246395734_oLove has no bounds. St Paul tells us that “Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen (1 Corinthians 13: 7-8). No truer words could be spoken about my mom. She loves her family fiercely and would do anything for them. The same can be said for her friends. My love for my family and friends is a direct reflection of the love she has always shown to me and my brothers. It’s a love without end, without restraints, without jealously. I think that the simplest way to describe the love that my mother gives is that it’s a direct reflection of the Father’s love for us.

Every person deserves love and mercy. Everyone has that friend, the one that nobody can figure out exactly why you are friends. They seemingly have nothing offer, and perhaps they aren’t even that good a friend in their treatment of you or others. There have been times when my mother has mentioned one person or another, and I’ve wondered, “Why do you even put up with them?” But I know what her response would be. In life, it matters not what someone can do for you. Sometimes, all that matters, is what you can do for them. There are some people in this world who, through no fault of their own, need you more than you need them. And I’m not talking about handouts or such. Some people have nobody else to talk to, no shoulder to lean on, no one to whom they can vent, nobody to pray for them. Sometimes we need people in our lives to show us that things could be worse or that we shouldn’t take anything for granted or from whom we learn to be merciful. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5: 7).

Move Heaven and Earth for your family. No matter what she has going on, no matter how busy she is, my mother will let nothing stop her from being with her family. Aside from God, family is all that really matters. That’s why there was no question, when I received word that Mom was being admitted to the hospital, that I was going to pack my things and make the two-hour drive to be there for her and for Dad. It’s the least she would have done for me or my brothers or her own siblings. We are told, “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith” (Timothy 5:8). My mother is the most perfect example of providing for her family, all family, whether they are actually related to us or not. I pray that I am able to follow her example.17884100_589736467897030_5760503867601997137_n

Be the embodiment of Christ’s light. Jesus told us, “You are light for the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5: 14-16). My mother is certainly the light of Christ for all to see. She is patient, loving, kind, humble, sincere, honest, and trustworthy. She puts everyone else before herself and gives without asking for anything in return. If I can be half the person my mother is, emit just a single beam of the light she radiates, then I will have become the best person I can be.

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Can’t you see Mom’s glow in this photo with her friends?

DSC_7689.JPGSo to all mothers everywhere, but especially, my own, happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for providing your strength, showering us with your love, showing us how to treat others, being there for your family at all times, and radiating the light of Christ for all to see, an example to us and the world. I love you, Mom.

What I was writing about one year ago this week: The Family that Travels Together.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  I Never Wanted to be a Helicopter Parent. But I Am. by blogger, WonderOak; Why kids today are out of shape, disrespectful – and in charge by Leanne Italie in The Wichita Eagle; 18 New Historical Fiction Novels to Read with Your Book Club by  on the BookBub Blog.

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)

Hunting for Eggs and Apartments

17814282_10210272324457868_3436768655060859814_oEvery year, Ken and I host a giant Easter celebration for our combined families. My parents come for the weekend (typically bringing my brother and his daughter with them), the kids dye eggs on Saturday, we play games until late into the night, attend the early morning Easter Sunday Mass, and come home to get the food ready for our guests. Once everyone is here, we pray, feast (and I mean feast), and watch as the kids try to find approximately 500 stuffed Easter eggs. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the entire year, and I hope to continue these traditions for many years to come.

This year, I was acutely aware of the many changes heading our way within the coming months. At Mass, I watched Katie proclaim the readings, and wondered if she would continue in that ministry when she heads off to Immaculata University next year. I watched Morgan tend to the needs of the elderly priest, knowing this was probably her last time as an altar server on Easter Sunday as she is moving on to lectoring and giving Communion. When Rebecca, Katie, and I all three shared in the ministry of giving Communion (yes, it’s a very small church), I wondered if this would be the last time that we were all four on the altar together.

17972441_10212878236580691_7290950570728900784_oBack at the house, Rebecca went straight to work, helping to straighten up, set tables, and prepare food. When the food was served, she even helped herself to a glass of wine. The realization hit me: she’s no longer my little girl. At some point, my firstborn became an adult. The talk between Rebecca and her best friend, Bailey, whose family has been sharing Easter with us for as long as I can remember, centered around the fact that this would be their last year as participants in the Easter egg hunt. There comes a time when the hunters must become the hiders, and they planned to make the most of their last year as hunters, kidding about which one would find the most chocolate and the most $1 bills.

When it came time to hide the eggs, my brother, Mike; Bailey’s sister, Shelby; their mom, Debbie (my best friend); and I went out with the giant box of 500 eggs. It was the first time since Rebecca was a toddler that I participated in hiding the eggs. I could have found others to take on the task. After all, I had guests with whom to visit and dishes to wash, but something in me said that it was important that I go out. Maybe it was the knowledge that I was the one who hid the eggs for Rebecca’s first Easter egg hunt, and I had to be the one to hide them this year, on the occasion of her last. I don’t know; I just knew that I wanted to have a hand in hiding those colorful, treasure-laiden, plastic eggs.

Watching Lulu, my cousin’s three-year-old, excitedly scoop up one egg after another, I was reminded of how quickly time goes by. It’s an elusive creature, time, unable to be seen, heard, captured, or pinned down. Only in pictures and in our memories can we stop the clock and keep the creature at bay. This fact really hit me on Monday as Rebecca and I spent the day visiting apartments in the DC area. When did she grow old enough to live on her own in the city? I can’t stop her from moving on to the next phase of her life any easier than I can return to those days when she was the one in her fancy dress and white, patent leather shoes, expressing pure joy over every egg she found. CUA Law School awaits, along with a future she can only imagine.

So here’s to tradition. Here’s to family gatherings, blessed meals, toddlers and children of all ages hunting for eggs, enjoying a drink with your child adult, and watching your children grow and take flight. Here’s to remembering the things that matter most in life: God, family, friends, and loving and serving others. May your Easter season (which has only just begun) be filled with all of the above. And may our family Easter egg hunts go on for, at least, another twenty-one years.

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Be a Person of Encouragement.

Things I’ve read this week that are worth sharing:  Lent is over. Now what? by Matt Hadro on Catholic News AgencyWhat is “brain hacking”? Tech insiders on why you should care aired on 60 Minutes, April 9, 2017.

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 as well as Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms, her collaboration with the authors of the blog, Y’all Need Jesus.

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)

Saying Goodbye to Worry and Regret

img_0144I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole nature versus nurture debate.  Are we really born with certain innate traits, or do we develop them based on environment and experience?  As our oldest daughter applies to law school, our middle daughter applies to college, and our youngest deals with the trials and tribulations of being in high school, I can’t help but wonder how they all three inherited, or perhaps learned, their father’s penchant for worrying, doubting, second guessing, and obsessing over the what ifs.  Contrast that with my own attitude of let go, let live, and let God, and I think, where did I fail to instill in them a belief that worrying is a total waste of time?

I recently read an article that claimed that there is a great “connection between anxiety and a stronger imagination.”  The article went on to say that “Worry is the mother of invention.”  That’s funny; I thought it was necessity.  Oh, and it also said that “Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person.”  Um no, when my girls have a problem, they come to me.  When Ken has a problem, he comes to me.  My totally neurotic family aren’t able to see the forest for the trees.  I, on the other hand, can see the light on the other side of the forest.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m certainly not trying to blow my own horn.  I just haven’t been able to reconcile, in my own mind, how and why worriers are the way they are and the rest of us aren’t.  If it were really as simple as “Overthinking Worriers Are Probably Creative Geniuses,” as the title of the article suggests, then why does Ken not have a creative side while I write fiction?

I was at an impasse trying to figure this out until this past Monday, and then the light through the trees became even brighter as understanding dawned on me.  I was in a meeting with a wonderful group of women whom I am so lucky to be able to call my friends.  Many of us have been meeting every other Monday for the past twelve years.  We pray, discuss, read, and learn, and some of my greatest revelations have come from those Monday morning meetings.  We were watching a short video in which we heard, over and over, people saying that they always worried, were never content, and were constantly searching for happiness and the meaning to their lives until they realized that they could only find true joy in God.  When they learned to let Him guide them, take away their cares, and be the light at the end of their tunnels, their entire lives changed.  And that’s when it hit me.  It’s not about being creative versus neurotic or being intelligent versus imaginative.  It’s about knowing that there are many things in this world that are simply beyond our control.  We can only do so much and have to have faith that the rest will turn out okay.

This past weekend, I helped chaperone a group of high school students on our school’s annual trip to New York City.  We arrived back home after midnight on Saturday, and on Sunday, I chaired our Post Prom’s Bingo.  I had several friends comment that they couldn’t believe I was able to go away for the two days before our biggest fundraiser.  I didn’t see the problem.  I had everything ready the night before we left, and I had confidence in the others who were assisting me with the event.  While there were things that I would like to tweak for next year (including not holding them the same weekend for my own body’s sake), the event was a success, we made money, and we’re ready to move forward.  I could dwell on the fact that turnout wasn’t as high as last year, so we didn’t bring in quite as much as we had hoped, but I can’t change it, and worrying about it won’t make a difference; but analyzing why we had fewer people and planning the next event will.  It’s all about keeping perspective.  Staying calm, making plans, evaluating results, and moving on are the keys to success.

Do I worry about things?  Sure I do.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I worry about about the future of our country, but I can only look out for my small part of the world.  I voted, and then I had to let it go.  I can’t change minds or hearts, but I pray that God can.  Do I worry about the safety of my children?  Absolutely.  The health of my parents, the state of world affairs, the future of our school?  I’d be living in a dream world if I didn’t.  But do I dwell on them?  Not for a minute (okay, last night, for maybe longer than a minute).  

What I always do is pray every day that my children will learn to let go, let live, and let God.  To worry about the future is futile.  To dwell on mistakes of the past is incapacitating.  To fear every possible outcome is debilitating.  But to have faith that you have done what you could, and let the rest happen, prepared to move forward no matter the outcome, will allow you to walk calmly ahead and deal with the consequences.  The next time you find yourself giving into worry, go forward, into the trees, and have confidence that there is light on the other side.  Your attitude, and a bit of faith, will make all of the difference.

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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)

Parent Orientation – Loving our Kids Before it’s Too Late

3-Seville101aMy girls started school today with a back to school orientation.  Most colleges have a Freshman Orientation.  But where and when is the Parent Orientation?  Listening to Jennifer Fulwiler on the radio yesterday, I was intrigued by a segment about teens and “peer orientation.”  No, it wasn’t about a child’s first day of school or leaving your teen in the woods and making them find their own way home (though this may be very tempting at times, it’s orienteering, not orientation).  The segment was about helping our children find their North, their grounding, their belief system, their sense of direction.  After reading the book, Hold Onto Your Kids by by Doctors Neufeld and Maté, Jennifer stated, “peer orientation is the #1 battle modern parents should be fighting.”

The authors of the book contend that “peer orientation undermines family cohesion, interferes with healthy development, and fosters a hostile and sexualized youth culture. Children end up becoming overly conformist, desensitized, and alienated, and being “cool” matters more to them than anything else.”  Wow.  Any parent who reads or hears that should stop and think.  Is that my child?  Have I allowed this to happen in my family?  What matters more to my kids – what I think or what their friends think?  What I believe or what their friends believe?  What I tell them is right vs wrong or what society tells them is right vs wrong?

We’d all like to think that our children listen to us, believe us, see us as the main influence in their lives, but is that really true?  The premise of the book argues that it is not.  In our modern society, parents don’t matter.  Sometimes I see it with my own girls – Mom is right about some things, but society is right about most things.  How did that happen?  Since when did society become the ruling being over all thoughts and beliefs?  Doctors Neufeld and Maté tell us that social media pays a large role in peer orientation as does our society’s value of economy over culture. But the biggest factor is the alienation of the child, and this is usually not done on purpose.

We no longer live in villages, tribes, or even communal neighborhoods.  Extended families live miles, perhaps even states or countries apart.  Often, both parents work long hours away from the house, and divorce is rampant throughout our society.  Who fills the void?  Television, movies, social media, and peers.  Children must be “cool” in order to succeed.  They lose their own individuality and hide their natural curiosity and intelligence in order to better conform with their peers.  One result of this is the rise of the gang culture within many of our cities.  Children want, no they need, to feel loved and accepted even it comes from a non-loving source.  Children who don’t have that love and acceptance, feel vulnerable and enraged, and lash out at other children as well as themselves, causing emotional and physical harm.  This leads to bullying, shunning, an increase in suicide, and in some cases, teens killing teens.  By losing touch with our kids, we parents are contributing to the downfall of society,  Does that sound harsh, scary even?  You bet it does, but there is hope.

Parents can bring their children back around by helping their children to see the value not only in their parents but in themselves.  The key, according to Dr. Maté is being emotionally present for and nurturing toward our children.  He argues that orientation to a mother, a father, a sibling, or peers results from attachment, an “essential for human life.”  Children who are detached, cannot be taken care of.  They shun attachment and emotion, and they end up shunning others.  We need to connect to our families, to our children.  We need to spend time together, eat together, vacation together, talk to each other, listen to each other, and help each other.  We need to make sure that we parents, our families, are the people to whom our children attach.  It’s not a matter of politics or continuing a family legacy.  It’s about helping children to know that they have a purpose in life, that they matter, that they are loved and valued for whom they are.


An indicator of where a child’s orientation lies is how they identify themselves.  Humans used to be identified by their family, their clan, or their tribe.  That’s not the norm any more.  We identify ourselves by our political party, our peer group, society’s definition of who or what we should be.  Remember when everyone was identified as “Ken’s Wife,” or “Judy’s Daughter?”  When’s the last time you heard someone say that?  That is an attachment, an
acknowledgement about whom it is that matters.  Last night, I asked my girls to tell me who they are, how they would identify themselves if being introduced to someone new in our community, not by using a societal description but by answering honestly about how they see themselves in life.  My favorite answer was Katie’s.  She said, “I’m Rebecca’s sister.”  She didn’t say it as a jealous or undervalued younger sister or as someone who 2-Merida29simply follows in another’s footsteps.  She said this with pride and love.  The child I worry about the most identifies herself by attaching herself to her sister.  Now that’s an orientation I can live with.

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)

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)

Off the Grid

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We had a problem at camp this year that we’ve never had – complaints from adults and girls alike that the teen counselors spent too much time on their phones. I was actually quite surprised considering a HUGE part of their training revolves around the rule that they are NOT to be on their phones at camp. No campers are supposed to know that anyone even has a phone. Teens (and adults) who have phones with them are to refrain from being on the phones unless they are on break or after the girls are in bed. I was disappointed, but I can’t say I’m surprised. After all, I just recently wrote a blog about why we need to start putting our phones down and enjoying life.

I sometimes wonder if today’s young people have any idea that they can actually exist without being on their phones. They’re either texting, or snap chatting, or instagramming, or tweeting, or uploading to FaceBook, YouTube, or Tumbler. They’re looking at posts, watching vines, or playing games. It is any wonder that employers complain that today’s recent graduates have no socials skills? 

For the past week, we have been living in paradise. We’ve been at our second home in the San Juan range of the Rockies in Southern Colorado. Our girls each brought a
friend with them, and though we tried to prepare them, I don’t think they really believed us when we kept saying that there was no cell service at our cabin. That means a week of no texting, no chatting, no posting, and no calling. For the first twenty-four hours, I wasn’t sure these poor kids were going to survive. Slowly, they started to come alive. They noticed the low-hanging clouds over the mountains, the way the morning mist clings to the treetops, and the wildlife that lives around the mountain. They went four-wheeling to look for deer, and they began to talk about which day they were going to get up at five to see the sunrise.IMG_0002
The next day, the whole gang went white water rafting. They had to brave the icy cold waters, racing rapids, and light rain without any contact with the outside world. Not only did they all survive, they had the time of their lives. There was no need to find satisfaction through electronic devices when the world at their fingertips had so much to offer.IMG_0093_KMLater that day, they pulled out the puzzles, and that evening, they played a board game. The next night, after a day of white water rafting, they brought out the cards. Uno led to blackjack, and the stakes were high – a collection of lollipops and chocolate bars. 

They woke at four the next morning to tackle something that none of the visiting friends had ever done. They climbed one of the highest mountains in the continental United States — Handes Peak, which stands at 14,048 feet. I will admit that they were thrilled to discover that there is LTE service at over 14K feet. They all called their moms back home in Maryland and posted pictures of their accomplishment. Then it was back to the land of no service. IMG_2136Back at the cabin, everyone was rewarded with s’mores as a rainbow lit up the evening sky. The kids ate quickly, and we enjoyed playing Dominoes until late into the night.IMG_0036Horseback riding on the high plains of the Rockies took the gang out of their element once again, and there was no mention of not being able to text or call anyone. Over the course of the two and a half hour trail ride, we all talked and took in the scenery with no mention of phones or social media. That night, we enjoyed watching the Olympics without anyone even asking about which athlete or sport was trending on Twitter. IMG_0079We all played several games of Poker, and we had visitors – a beautiful family that consisted of a buck, a doe, and two fawns.IMG_0102On the day we left, some of us woke up to see the sunrise over the mountains. Though there were plenty of pictures taken to be shared once they had service, there were also memories made that can be shared with others for many more years than those photos will be around. While I know that this will all change one we get back to civilization, I like to imagine that these kids might actually think twice the next time they face the choice between their phones and a bike ride, or a walk in the woods, or any other activity. I hope that the the thing they will remember the most from this vacation is the reason why I love spending time at our cabin high in the Colorado Rockies – it’s a reminder of how wonderful life is when you you stop letting other things get in the way of actually enjoying life.IMG_0150

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)

Update on 150 Reasons to Go

DSC_7071.JPGI wrote the following blog almost two years ago.  Nothing has changed about the way I feel, but my life continues to be enhanced and made better by the girls and adults that I know through my role as a camp director.  Here are my thoughts on the “job” and an update from this year’s camp.

I 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.

** Update – this year, we have 163 people at camp with plans to possibly admit up to twelve more girls next year.  We’re also going to add an additional night and morning!  This excites me to no end!  Just before sitting down to write this, I visited the “Little Camper Annie” Theater program where Brownie Girl Scouts were performing their own version of life at Summer Roundup – Annie style, as well as the Dr. Seuss program where Daises were creating hot air balloon photo holders while wearing Thing 1 through Thing 9 t-shirts.  They presented me my very own Cat in the Hat chair, decorated and signed by each girl.  I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Some people spend the hottest days of the summer playing by the pool or heading to the beach. For me, the hottest days of the summer always have me trying to keep over one hundred girls and their counselors hydrated, cool, and having fun. You can take the pool. I’d rather take a walk to the lake to watch a group of girls swimming, kayaking, and playing water volleyball while laughing and smiling the entire time.  There’s no other way I’d want to enjoy my summer.

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)

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