Mountains, Body, and Soul

I took a walk early this morning in the area described in my book, Summer’s Squall. The rest of the family left well before dawn to climb Redcloud and Sunshine, two of the five over 14,000-foot mountains in the San Juan range of the Rockies, where we have a second home. We all climbed Uncompahgre Peak last week, and I’m still plagued by sunburn!

FullSizeRender.jpg-1This morning, I walked with my earbuds in my ears, enjoying Drums of August, the 4thbook in the Outlander series. I listened intently as Clare described the wilds of 18thCentury North Carolina, easily picturing the scene as I, too, was surrounded by vast mountains and an expanse of wilderness.

Though Clare’s words filled my ears, I remained acutely entuned with my surroundings. While it’s not normal to see a bear or mountain lion roaming the dusty roads of the subdivision during the day, it would be careless to discount their presence. After all, the high peaks and plateaus of the Rockies remain one of the last true wilderness areas in the continental US; the land still belonging more to the elk and bobcats than to the few human inhabitants. I saw no people for the majority of my walk, but I did have several neighbors pause their morning meal to watch me as I strolled by, the wide eyes and flick of an ear or tail the only acknowledgment of my passing.

IMG_6699I sucked in the mountain air and breathed the fresh scent of sage and wildflowers. Around every turn was a majestic view. I stopped to admire a patch of purple lupine, our mountain peak looming in the distance. Sage lined the roads and spread across every stretch of ground, perfectly seasoning the deer and elk that will provide the basis of our meals throughout next winter if Ken and his companions are lucky in the fall.

At one point, I looked up and realized just how far I had walked, and how far I still had to go as I gazed across the vegetation and up to a far-off peak, behind which our cabin stood. Heaving a sigh, I continued on. As Clare gave account of the skull she discovered after falling from her horse, I found myself staring intently at the sage I passed, envisioning hollowed eyes and a pointed nose on every pale rock that hid in the underbrush. Tall stems of Indian paintbrush slipped through the fingers of the sage as it FullSizeRender-1reached, like outstretched hands, grasping for the sunlight. Quaking aspen waved to me as I walked, their leaves shaking and shimmering in the gentle breeze and glow of the morning light.

I came to a fork in the road and was suddenly not sure of my location on the mountain. One way would take me back to the cabin. The other…I honestly had no idea. It could lead me back to where I had already been, or it could take me to one of the ranches that claimed vast amounts on woody acreage, where cows grazed and often stood in the middle of the road, uncaring as to whether your car needed to pass. It could also lead to the great expanse of public land where anyone is welcome to hike or hunt, but no houses would ever be permitted, thus preserving this beautiful wilderness.

Hoping my instincts were correct, I turned to the left. I passed more thickets of sage and the tall, white trunks of aspen trees. Wildflowers, some I do not know to name, dotted the rocky ground along the road. As I turned a bend, I stopped and tilted my head back as far as I could, then reluctantly squeezed the last few drops of water from my bottle into my mouth. When the bottle was empty, I lowered my head, and my gaze fell on a familiar sight. Not too far into the distance, I saw the green triangular roof that rose above the lupine and sage, topping the log cabin that was nestled into the side of the mountain. I headed to the cabin, bypassing the main door and walking around to the back deck to take in the view that never grows old. Gazing across to the peak of Cannibal Mountain (which we hiked last week), I took a deep breath and savored the sweet freshness of the outdoors.

IMG_1414.jpegWe have no internet on our mountain, no cell service, and a phone that only calls local numbers, in case of emergency. The television, channels provided by satellite, is rarely on. Whether we are fishing in the lake at the bottom of the road, hiking the tall, round peak of Round Mountain that looms above our cabin, or sitting on the back deck, there is a quiet and peacefulness that cannot be found in my normal world.

I spent just a few minutes basking in the glow of the sun that seems close enough to touch when standing at close to 10,000 feet above sea level. I closed my eyes and enjoyed that quiet peacefulness. Our time in the wilderness will be over in the blink of an eye, and this is a feeling I want to remember, to take back with me when I return to civilization. This moment will have to last and sustain me until the next time we are able to carve out a few days, hopefully a couple of weeks, from our hectic routine to return to the mountains, to refresh our bodies and souls.

Please join me in celebrating the much-anticipated release of Island of Promise, the second book in my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I am very happy to partner with Sundial Books on Chincoteague for this celebration. All are welcome on Wednesday, July 24 from 1:00-3:00 at Sundial Books. For more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/238528263576139

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available in stores and online.

 Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miraclesare all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vineswas awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracleshas outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand 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), The Greatest Gift(2017), Summer’s Squall(2017), Island of Promise(2018).

Falling in Love With Another Man Made Me Love My Husband More

a7368a7209c4ebcdae7b1ae6384478e5--sam-heughan-outlander-outlander-jamieFrom the moment I met him, I fell and fell hard. I admit that it was all physical attraction at first – those piercing blue eyes, that red hair, the perfect muscles, the criss-cross scars from the scourging up and down his back. There was something magnetic, even electrifying, about him. I couldn’t get enough of him. I felt terribly guilty each time I was with my husband. The comparisons couldn’t be helped. I felt like a terrible person and wife. But then, I saw something that I hadn’t realized at first.

 

Yes, there are the physical differences – long, curly red hair versus no hair, a young, lean athletic build versus a middle-aged man’s build, the Scottish accent versus an Eastern Shore of Maryland waterman’s accent (only detectable when around other Eastern Shore watermen). But what really struck me were the similarities. 

Why have women all over the world fallen in love with James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser? Because of the way he loves his Sassenach, Clare the Outlander. He would move Heaven and Earth for her, lead armies to find her, give his life to protect her, and give up his entire future to save her. He tells her he loves her not just with words but with actions, and he never fails to remind her that she is his world. Who wouldn’t want a love like that? Just look at how he looks at her!

Jamie-and-Claire

And that’s where the comparison makes my heart flutter. I won’t go into detail about  their quick tempers and sometimes haughty attitude. Clare and I both have to deal with very stubborn, sometimes unyielding, men; but we look past those traits to what really matters. My children call me “spoiled.” They never ask their dad for anything that they know I will veto because Ken always backs me up, even when I don’t do the same (I know, I’ve been working on that for twenty-one years). They say, “Dad will give Mom anything she wants,” and they’re right. But it isn’t just about material things or frequent travel. It’s the freedom he gives me to do and be whatever I wish. It’s the knowledge that, no matter where he is in the world (and most weeks, that could be anywhere), his heart is with me. It’s the way he looks out for me. For example, Ken has never owned a new car. He drives every vehicle into the ground, and when it can take no more, he simply says, “It’s time for mom to get a new car,” and my old car becomes his while I drive the newest model of whatever I want. Often, Ken comes across as not caring about household decisions or not wishing to participate in family decisions, but that’s not the case at all. He trusts me to make decisions, to know what we need and can afford, to always put our family’s needs first. He tells me, “I’m not disinterested; I just know you will make the right choices.” Most importantly, he knows what I need emotionally and when I need it. He’s my rock and my refuge, a man of strong faith with a kind heart who loves me more than anything in the world. Sound familiar?

Ken and Amy's Wedding33-001Any author or television producer can create the perfect man, but so can God. Jamie has his flaws. We all do. Ken isn’t perfect, but he’s perfect for me. I only needed Jamie to remind me that you can tell a lot by the way a man treats and looks at his woman. Those piercing blue eyes say it all. Lucky me, I get to look into my own set of beautiful, piercing blue eyes every day to see unconditional and boundless love. And I don’t even need the Scottish accent to hear what they’re saying.

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Speak Softly, and Write a Love Letter to the World.

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/amyschislerand 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)

 

Who Are You?

My married name is Schisler, but I will always be a MacWilliams, a Scot by name and blood. Aye, there’s some Irish and Welsh in there, too, but when asked about my ethnicity, my answer is always, “I’m Scottish.” So I was delighted when my daughter, Katie Ann, chose Scotland as one of the destinations on her graduation trip. When our oldest, Rebecca, graduated from high school, she and I backpacked through Europe for three weeks. It is a trip neither of us will ever forget, and one that Katie and Morgan have been planning ever since.

Beginning in England, I took Katie to all the famed tourist stops: London Bridge, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe, etc. Katie selected three tours: Sherlock Holmes, a day trip to Salisbury, Bath, and Stonehenge, and of course, the Harry Potter studio tour. What fun we had doing all of those things! But our favorite day was the one we spent traveling by train to Windsor. The town was charming, and we loved visiting Windsor Castle. As fans of the PBS series, Victoria, we enjoyed seeing the young queen’s favorite home. All the while, as we toured London and the surrounding areas, I told Katie about how the histories of England and Scotland intertwine.

Upon arriving in Edinburgh, Katie and I went to lunch, and I told her as much of the history of Scotland that I could, knowing just bits of the long and winding story. After checking into our flat, we visited Edinburgh Castle and then roamed the Royal Mile. In and out of the tartan shops we went, picking up scarves and other items with my family’s crest and tartan on them. We did some research about our family and its exile from Scotland. Highlanders, they were, and they fought against the crown until being thrown out of the country. Most of the MacWilliamses fled to Ireland, becoming McWilliamses, but many were sent to the new colonies, which, we believe, is how my ancestors arrived in the U.S. While it makes for an interesting family history, it has caused much debate among family members about exactly who or what we are and from where we came. Some claim that we are all Irish, while others, like myself, cling to our Scottish heritage.

It saddens me that such a beautiful country has suffered so much turmoil and upheaval throughout its history. But rather than tear down the people’s pride of or love for their country, all of the turmoil seems to have strengthened their patriotism. Scotland still clings to its own traditions, its rich history, its whiskey and plaid and heroes. The more a Scot fought for independence against the Brits, the more he is loved by the people. 

Toward the end of Dragonfly in Amber, book two of the Outlander series, Claire wonders about the legacy that Bonnie Prince Charlie left to Scotland. Seeing modern-day graffiti, demanding “Free Scotland,” she asks, without the prince’s series of battles aimed at granting the country’s independence, would Scotland have “endured two hundred years of union with England, and still—still’—she waved a hand at the sprawling letters overhead—’have kept its own identity?”

It made me think about where we are in the United States, still a toddler of a country. Without the will to hold true to and fight for our heritage and beliefs, what chance do we have to preserve our history, culture, and traditions? If another country stole the Liberty Bell, would we, today, even attempt to get it back? Perhaps there has to be over a thousand years of history and tradition before there can be a Stone of a Destiny. Hopefully, if our nation were to ever face trials like those of Scotland, Americans, no matter their differences, will come together to like the Scots have. I love my country, and I will always be an American, but I will always be a proud Scot as well. Aye, I’m Scottish, and proud of it. 

What I was writing about one year ago this week: Striking Gold.

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)