“Without any doubting or quiddit”

img_0995My daughter, Rebecca, will be taking the LSAT this weekend and I’m sure you can imagine that she’s quite nervous about it.  She’s afraid that she won’t get a high enough score to get into the school of her choice, but I’m not worried.  I know that she’s going to do just fine.  And if she doesn’t?  What if she walks in there and completely goes blank?  What if she forgets everything she has ever learned or studied about the law?  I’m sure that she will see herself as a total failure.  I’m sure that she will see herself as having made an unforgivable error in judgment.  But we have heard time and again, and I truly believe, that failure is just the first step on the road to success.  No, it’s not what she would want to hear, but it’s true.  We all screw up.  We all make mistakes.  And if we take what we’ve learned, see through the haze of self-doubt and recriminations, then we can use our past failures as steps to success. 

Many of my friends have ‘favorite saints,’ people who have come before us and set an example for us, and can now intercede on our behalves when we need extra help.  Many of these saints are seen by the world as flawless believers who never had a misstep or lapse of judgement, who never committed a sin or broke a law, and who never wavered in their faith in God and themselves.  Well, those people would be very, very wrong.  In fact, most of the saints made the same mistakes we make, but they didn’t give up or give in.  They continued to work every day to become the person that God knew they could be.  The same goes for so many average individuals throughout history.  Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.  Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before inventing the lightbulb.  Henry Ford went bankrupt trying to invent the car. But they all persevered, believing they had something to offer the world.

Those individuals did not dwell on failure.  They knew that it’s in seeing past the possibility of failure that we achieve success.  When Rebecca was in high school, she participated in Poetry Out Loud and blazed through the competition, just missing the chance to compete at Nationals.  One of the poems she recited was It Couldn’t Be Done by Edward Albert Guest.  His formula to success was quite elementary, “I take simple everyday things that happen to me and I figure it happens to a lot of other people and I make simple rhymes out of them.”  Those rhymes are an inspiration to anyone who hears them.  Rebecca, I’m sure, remembers every line of that poem, and I urge her to recite it before the test.  For those of you unfamiliar with the rhyme, you might just want to memorize it yourself and pull it out of the recesses of your brain when you’re faced with a daunting task.

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This past weekend, we attended Family Fest at Rebecca’s university, Mount St. Mary’s. We met and spoke with several professors who sang Rebeca’s praises.  One of them,  a science professor, said that Rebecca reminded her of herself.  She said that someone once told her that she was going to be successful because she was too naive to see borders and would just plow through them.  There is no doubt that the same has been and will continue to be said about Rebecca.  So I’d like to leave her and all of you with some quotes of inspiration.  This is the advice that I want Rebecca to take with her into the LSAT this weekend.  Be strong, have faith, and do your best.  You will not fail because when you look into the future, you can only see the path to success.

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

“to fear nothing, not failure or suffering or even death, indicates that you value life the most. You live to the extreme; you push limits; you spend your time building legacies.” – Criss Jami

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t try to do something remarkable.” – John Green

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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)

 

Nobody’s Perfect

Many years ago, a very wise man told me something that I have never forgotten.  After I graduated from college, I moved back home to find a job and save some money until my next great adventure came along.  The first weekend I was home, I attended Mass with my family at our church.  Our pastor, Father Paul (now Monsignor Dudziak), welcomed me home and asked me how it felt to be a college graduate.  I told him that it felt good but not great because I had graduated magna cum laude and not summa cum laude and had missed the higher honor by less than a tenth of a percentage point.  Father Paul nodded without comment and then asked me to follow him.  When we reached the altar he pointed to the floor and asked me “Do you see this carpet?” I nodded, unsure of why he was asking, and he continued.  “This carpet has handmade by Persian monks.  It took months, maybe years, because it was intricately planned and woven by hand.  They are experts at making rugs and create the finest works of art.  However, in every rug they make, they always weave into it a mistake.”  He looked at me and asked, “Do you know why?”  I shook my head, and he replied, “Only God is perfect.”  Humbled, I blushed and nodded.

Do I still strive for perfection?  Every. Single.  Day.  And every day I am reminded, in some way, that I will never achieve perfection.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  The French playwright, Pierre Corneille, once said “we never taste happiness in perfection, our most fortunate successes are mixed with sadness.”  While we all try to be perfect and live a perfect life, don’t we all feel much more accomplished and successful when we’ve faced failureDSC00481 and risen above it?  And who is to say what a perfect life is?  Many would have said that Robin Williams had the perfect life, but alas, he did not think it true.

As Father Paul pointed out to me those many years ago, humans are not perfect, and we never will be.  Michelangelo said “The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”  A perfect sunset?  Yes.  The perfect novel?  Probably not.  While we all should try to attain perfection in our lives so as to be worthy of the life God has given to us, we will all fail over and over again.  That is how we learn and grow and become the person we are meant to be.  So I will continue to work towards perfection as I journey through life, but I will remember that I will, and must, make mistakes along the way.  For as the great novelist Margaret Atwood so truthfully said “If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”

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.

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