Motherly Musings

Summer is winding down. Many of my friends have already waved goodbye at the bus stop, the school, or the dorm room. As the end of the summer approaches, I find myself reflecting over the summer, the year, the many years. I certainly don’t know everything, and I’ve got so much more to learn, but there are things that strike me as some of the things I’ve learned as a mother… Read more

Stretched Thin

1024px-Stretch_Armstrong_toy
Do you remember Stretch Armstrong?  He was the superhero doll from the 70s who could be pulled and stretched to three times his size just for the fun of it.  I’m not sure why many children from my generation spent so much wasted time stretching this otherwise useless toy to his limits just to see him warp back into himself again.  Sometimes I think we did it just to see how far we could pull until he broke and that gross, gooey, syrupy stuff came oozing out of him.  Looking back, I think whoever made that silly toy must have had a vision of the future. Somehow he knew that GenX was going to live the life of poor Stretch Armstrong every single day.

Let’s take a look at just this week in my life.  On Monday, Ken left for a business trip at 4am, I had yoga at 8 (scratch that – girls were running late, so I had to make do with a yoga video at home), then I wrote the next chapter in the novel I’m currently writing.  Off to take Morgan to the orthodontist at 2:30, then Katie to tennis at 3:30 so she could warm up for her match at 4.  Somehow I managed to do a couple of loads of laundry and wash the dishes.  That was a slow day.  Tuesday saw us leaving on time for school, me on the resistance bike by 8:30, another chapter down, tennis practice at 3:30, and team dinner at 6.  I finished my day folding more laundry.  Today, yoga, blog, tennis match at 4, Morgan’s tennis lesson at 5:30, and then dinner (something, somewhere, somehow, with someone – maybe all of us if we can manage it).  Tomorrow, girls to school, meeting in Annapolis for a board I’m on, at school by 1:30 to set up the desserts for the end of the year Awards Banquet, take Katie to tennis at 3:30, rush home to change for the banquet, pick up Katie, wait at the Y while she changes, be at the school by 5:30 and home by 10.  Friday, well you get the picture.  And guess what, this is an easy week!  It’s the end of the school year, and activities are winding down!

Some days I feel like I have been stretched to my limits, like one more pull and that gross, gooey syrupy stuff will start flowing out of me.  Other days, I feel like I’m already drowning in the gooey stuff.  But here’s the thing, I already have one daughter in college (if you think my days are busy now – try imagining all of this with an extra child thrown into the mix).  In just two years, Katie will be off as well.  And it will go by so quickly!  I can already feel the moments slipping away.  So while I may be stretched to my limits, and my insides may be starting to feel syrupy and out of shape, I know that I wouldn’t trade a single thing I do or have done.  Someday I will actually be able to write multiple chapters in a day, and I’ll wonder how I managed to survive all of those years spent driving children from one location to another while serving on boards and committees, and writing books and blogs, and cheering at games and crying at awards ceremonies. And you know what? It will have been worth every single stretch mark.

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

On the Road Again

DSC00380Have you ever taken a long road trip with your family?  Movies and television shows always portray these trips as the absolute worst kind of torture a family can inflict upon itself.  Sure, everyone can get irritated with other, and someone always falls asleep and wakes up cranky, but there’s a lot to be said for spending time together in a small space with nobody to talk to but each other.

I thought about this yesterday as my girls and I were driving together on an impromptu road trip.  My oldest daughter, Rebecca, had just returned to her college from a school trip to Nashville.  Still on winter break, she was supposed to drive home in her twelve-year-old, dark green Saturn, a car which she hates but is the best car we’ve ever owned as far as maintenance.  Twelve years on the road, and over 200,000 miles, and it’s never had an issue other than air conditioning finally giving out.  But back to Rebecca… she arrived at school at 4am, texted me to let me know she was in her dorm room, and went back to bed saying she would head home around noon.  When she woke up at 11:00 that morning, she looked out of her window to see that the mountains surrounding her campus were completely covered with snow, and the storm didn’t look like it was going to end any time soon.  Her car was nestled in four inches of the heavy powder, and she dreaded the thought of driving her little car on the treacherous roads.  So, of course, I got the call, “Mom, can you come get me?”

Meanwhile, the snow was really coming down here on the Shore as well, and schools were letting out early.  I headed to town to pick up her sisters, and we hit the road.  Three hours later, after driving through some pretty heavy snowfall on Interstate 70, we made it to the campus.  For the next three hours, Rebecca talked about her trip – the people she met, the things she learned, how her deep faith had been strengthened even more.  Her sisters shared stories about their New Year’s party and the first day back at school.  I don’t think we turned on the radio even once, and no movies played on anyone’s electronics.  Though Katie and Morgan took turns nodding off, we spent the entire ride talking to each other.  Does anyone even remember what that’s like?  To spend hours with other people just talking to each other?

It reminded me of the many road trips we’ve taken as a family.  We have driven cross-country and back numerous times, to Florida and back just as many times, and to Boston and back twice.  Sure, the girls had a DVD player in the back of the van for many years, and then they all acquired their own personal devices; but many times, we talked, we sang, we played games, and we loved it.  Were there arguments?  Sure.  Did someone always end up poking, pinching, or punching someone else?  Of course they did.  But I don’t think any of our children would trade a minute of those family trips we took, car ride and all.  We always looked at the ride as part of the adventure.  Yes, we’ve seen the great Corn Palace of South Dakota, the world’s largest sandhill crane, and the world’s biggest concrete buffalo, and the girls still talk about every one of those things in addition to the many little museums and country stores we visited along the way.

What we learned on those trips can be applied to many other areas of our lives:  you have to make an effort to get along with others; you never know what treasure lies around the next bend; there’s always more than one route to get to where you’re going, so choose wisely; don’t forget to look around and to take a break along the way; keep your sights set on your destination, but know that how you get there is just as important.  If you’ve never taken a family road trip, I highly advise it.  You never know what you might learn along the way.

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

Celebrate and Aspire

DSC00647I’m sitting here this morning drinking my tea in the silence before the girls wake up, and I can’t believe it’s already New Year’s Eve.  Twelve hours from now, I’ll be hiding in my bedroom with Jodi Piccoult while twenty teenage girls sit here in this kitchen eating ice cream sundaes and talking about boys.  When did my baby get so old?  How did time go by so quickly?  Rebecca is already a sophomore in college, but it feels like she graduated yesterday and was just born the day before that.  Time marches on so fast, we hardly have a chance to take it all in.

This morning, I watched the year in review on the news, and I was amazed to think that all of those things happened this past year.  From three missing airliners to the rise of ISIS to the loss of the great Lauren Bacall and Mickey Rooney.  Less than a year ago, we were talking about polar vortexes, and this past summer, we witnessed a string of devastating tornadoes and wildfires.  Yet here we are; life zooms by, and we hardly notice.  We lose loved ones, and we go on; we see beheadings and mass kidnappings, yet we procreate and celebrate the joys in life.  People are an amazing creation – resilient and motivated despite all that we face and witness in life.

Tomorrow starts a new year, a year that will see more heartbreak but also more joy.  We will say goodbye to some and welcome others to our families and to our world.  We will discover new hopes, aspire to new heights, and reach for higher stars all with the knowledge that anything is possible in spite of the hard times and tears.  May you all remember those who have fallen, pray for those who protect us, forge new paths, and dream bigger dreams.  May you look back a year from now and wonder “How did I do all of that?” and know that there is still time to do more.  And amidst all of the chaos, may you find time to just be.  May you make 2015 the best year yet, knowing that it is only through pain that we know true joy and remembering that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  Happy New Year!

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

Being Grounded

DSC09341Another revelation at the gym!  While in class this morning, I heard our teacher say the same thing over and over again.  “Your right foot should be grounded…”  “Make sure your left leg is grounded.”  “While in the half-moon, your right arm and right leg must both be grounded.”  I felt pretty good about myself after class today.  I had worked up a sweat, maintained my balance, and literally felt grounded!  Yes, my feet, legs, hands, etc. were firmly pressed to the mat during working poses, but more importantly, I realized that I am grounded in my life.

Looking back, how could I not feel that way?  My parents are phenomenal people who raised me to believe in myself, work hard, strive to do and be my very best, and never give up on my dreams.  They secured a good education for me, helped me find scholarships so that I could attend the college of my choice, and continue to support me in my adulthood as a wife, a mother, and a writer.  My mother reads every chapter that I write before I re-read it myself.  My father edits my work before I send it to my publisher.  They planted the very best roots for me and then allowed me to grow into my own tree and spread my branches.  And when I’ve dropped all of my leaves at various times, or had branches broken off in the storms of life, they have been there to help me reach farther and grow taller.

My husband is my biggest critic but also my strong and loving supporter.  He lets me know when I’m on the wrong track or not thinking clearly, but he always allows me to find my own way back.  I hope that, together, we have grounded our three daughters the way our parents grounded us.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but I think we have done all right.

Life is hard!  Everyone stumbles and falls; all trees bend in the wildest of storms.  The key is to keep from being uprooted.  We all need something to keep us grounded, whether it’s our families, our friends, our church, or even hobbies.  What is the old saying?  “No man is an island.”  What is an island missing?  Firm ground underneath!

In the novel that I’m working on these days, Courtney is doing a lot of thinking about her roots.  She moves into her late grandparents’ house to make a fresh start in a place where she feels grounded.  Oh sure, she’s going to be frightened out of her mind throughout the book, but she’s spreading her branches in the place where she first developed her roots.  She needs to feel that connection to help her overcome a recent tragedy.  We all need to feel that connection at some point in our lives.  Maybe your day is today.  Do you feel like an island, desolate and segregated from the rest of the world?  I promise you, the roots are there.  Take the time to find them, nurture them, and let them become grounded.  Close your eyes, spread your branches toward the sky, and reach for your dreams.  As my mother has always told me, you will make it some day.