Taming My Inner Raccoon

DSC08240Earlier today, I saw something that said “Keeping your mouth shut is the hardest thing in the world when you know something needs to be said.”  I could have this tattooed on my arm and still not pay any attention to it.  All of my life I have felt compelled to speak up when I shouldn’t.  Does it really matter if someone is wrong when they are never going to see the truth for themselves?  Will it truly help me or anyone in my family if I speak up when the best course of action is standing down?  Do I really think I can win an argument with someone who has no common sense or will never see the forest for the trees?  Somehow, in my mind, the answer always seems to be yes.

For Lent, one of the things I am working on is letting God dictate all of my words, or lack thereof; but that is so, so hard.  A few weeks ago, I watched helplessly as our four-year-old mutt, Rosie, tried to reason with a rabid raccoon.  No matter how hard I screamed or how many things I threw at them in an effort to distract them, neither animal would accept the fact that the other was not going to back down.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve witnessed that fight more times than I’d like to admit, and I’m the one who was ignoring that voice screaming at me to let it go and back away before I or someone I love gets hurt.  Side note here – it has been 4 weeks, and so far so good for Rosie.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve had to remove a Facebook post or apologize for something said when I should have just smiled and moved on.  I blame my father.  That’s not to say that he did anything wrong or taught me to be disrespectful.  On the contrary, he taught me to stand up for myself and for what I believe.  Sometimes, I just go a little too far in espousing my beliefs or convictions (he tried to teach me when to let go, too, but I didn’t learn that lesson).  For the most part, I’m pretty good at letting things slide, but when it comes to my family, oh my, I’m much more like that raccoon than I like to admit.  Isn’t there an old saying about coming between a mother bear and her cubs?  Mother bear could take lessons from me, and to be honest, that’s not something I’m proud of.

So I’m trying my best to sit back and let things go for the next 40 days or so.  If I’m lucky, my Lenten practice will become my norm.  On the other hand, I might end up with a lot of pent up arguments that will be bursting to be set free.  I think it’s going to be a long 40 days….

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 latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is due out in the summer of 2016.

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)

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