Defining Success

It’s an amazing thing to watch your children grow. I guess I’ve always known that being a parent is a special gift that holds a lifetime of rewards, but you really don’t get it until your children are on their own. Sure, you experience the joy of a baby, the thrills of all the “firsts” that a child goes through, the gold stars on homework and tests, the first goal on the playing field, the magical moments of their first love. But you never truly understand what a gift you’ve been given until a couple decades have passed, or come close to passing. That’s when you stop seeing them as children and begin seeing them as real, grown-up, decision-making, mistake-prone people. It’s also when you begin to wonder, even worry, about how they will define and discover success.

Because being successful, according to world standards, is hard! There’s so much conflicting advice out there. Find your passion. Make lots of money. Wait to get married. Go, get married. Wait to have children. Have children while you’re young. Make money, not babies. Follow your heart. Follow your head. How is any young person supposed to know what to do? Did you know that 80% of college students in the US change their majors at least once, and most students change their majors three times in the course of their college careers? Why? They have no idea what they should do, or WANT to do, to be successful. Read more

Through the Eyes of a Child

img_4551As I’m finishing up our 2016 photo album, I’ve been looking back over the past year and thinking about all that we did and saw.  There were many life-changing events, but the things that make me smile the most are the things, large and small, that bring to mind the phrase, ‘wonder and awe.’  I still remember being in 8th grade, preparing for Confirmation, and learning about the Gift of the Spirits.  Sr. Janet told us that the most important gift was wonder and awe, which she described as always seeing life through the eyes of a child, unjaded and full of amazement at all that God does, creates, and gives.  Her words have always stuck with me, and I have been reminded of them many times throughout my life.

Over the past year, I was humbled as I knelt before the tomb of our Lord.  I cried as I walked through the 9/11 Museum.  I laughed at the antics of my girls while we were in Spain.  All of these things brought me to a new understanding of whom I am and where I am in my life.  But nothing makes me smile like the simple memories – Katie’s eyes as they lit up watching Aladdin’s magic carpet rise above the Broadway stage; the joy on the faces of my children and their friends when they summited a 14,000 foot mountain in Colorado; my mother’s exclamation of pure amazement when she looked through the kids’ Christmas-light 3-D glasses.  These small things bring me great joy, and they exemplify the truth in the saying that money doesn’t buy happiness.

So many people spend their lives searching for more: more wealth, more stuff, more power, more friends, more time.  You name it, everyone wants more of it.  Morgan and I recently listened to a Ted Talk about happiness.  It talked about the correlation between having more stuff and feeling less satisfaction.  Having more doesn’t mean feeling more unless that feeling is that of being overwhelmed, burdened, disorganized, and dissatisfied.  When will people, particularly in the Western World, realize that all we need to feel happy is to be content with what we already have?  It’s not about keeping up with the neighbors.  It’s about finding joy within yourself and radiating it out to others.  It’s not what others give to you but what you give to them that will bring true satisfaction with what you have and who you are.

In 2017, I implore you to look past the stuff and see the simple joys that surround you every day.  Laugh at the kids building a snowman in your yard or next door.  Delight in the smell of the flowers in your garden this spring.  Close your eyes and revel in the feel of the warm sun on your face.  Breathe in the crisp, cool fall air.  Don’t let a minute of the next year go by without noticing all of the amazing things in this world.  Find your sense of wonder of awe, and cherish it.  Never stop looking at life through the eyes of a child. 

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 most recent book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase; and her next novel, Island of Miracles, will be released in January of 2017.

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)

Be A Person of Encouragement

DSC09282A few years ago, I read a book called Magnetic Christianity by radio host and inspirational speaker, Gus Lloyd. I was reminded, while listening to Gus’ program yesterday morning, of his last chapter which is on encouragement. I’ve actually been thinking about this word a lot lately. What is encouragement? How can we be people of encouragement? And why do we want to be?

To encourage or give encouragement is “to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.”  It’s more than merely giving a pat on the back or simply saying good job. It’s the act of inspiring someone, of uplifting their spirit, of boosting their confidence. Those are pretty lofty aspirations, if you ask me. Think about it – giving encouragement to someone could actually make a difference in a person’s life. You could be the catalyst that allows someone to feel victory instead of defeat, success instead of failure, or become the person they were meant to be.  Read more

The 6 Things You Are Doing That Limit Your Happiness

DSC_1859I am blessed to live in the United States, a country that boasts “the pursuit of happiness” as an unalienable right.  If doesn’t, however, guarantee that you will be happy or that anyone has to be forced to make you happy.  It just decrees that you have the right to pursue being happy.  Nor are any of us given a path to happiness, a guarantee of some sort that we will be happy.  That is up to each of us as individuals.  And the only way to be happy is to pursue a life of happiness, not from others, but from the things that you, yourself, do every day.  Unfortunately, many people are searching for happiness in ways that leave them feeling empty, unfulfilled, and even sad and sometimes lonely. In my observations of the people and situations around me, here is what I see that they’re doing wrong. Read more

Prescription for Happiness

IMG_1159I have to admit that over the summer, I had many, many moments of envy.  Not all-consuming jealousy or want-to-tear-their-eyes-out rage.  Not even the kind of envy that lingers.  Each instance lasted for just a few seconds, but it was there nonetheless.  These moments came each time I took a few minutes to pause and steal a quick look at Facebook.  No, it wasn’t the traveling, or the shopping, or the amazing photos.  It was even more basic than that – I was envious every time someone posted a picture of themselves by the pool.  Yes, I said the pool.  People had time to lay by the pool.  Some even had time to get IN the pool!  How could they do that?  How did they find the time between laundry, housecleaning, work, driving children around, etc. to even sneak into their room and put on a bathing suit, not to mention make themselves that delicious looking cocktail, and lounge by the pool?  Some of them even had books on their laps or on the table beside them.  That was serious pool time! Read more