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).

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!

Here’s the thing – we’ve had our pool for several years, but for the past two summers, I haven’t even gotten my toes wet.  Every day I look longingly out the window and think, Today I will find the time to get into the pool.  By bedtime, the pool is the farthest thing from my mind.  At least it was, until a few weeks ago.  Remember that fabulous vacation I wrote about?  The one to Canada that was such an awesome family adventure?  Did I happen to mention how it ended?  Nope, I spared you the details of the last few days when I walked around with a fever and a general feeling of something getting a hold of me.  On the fourth day of my fever, while in Niagara Falls, I awoke to discover that despite no previous signs of a sore throat, I had strep that had gone systemic.  Yes, giant spots covered my entire body, and Ken had to rush me to the nearest urgent care.  Fast forward to the following week when I happened to mention to the pediatrician at Katie’s physical that the spots would not go away.

The doctor took a quick peek and said “Spend 10 minutes every day outside in the sun exposing your body to the rays.  They’ll dry up and go away.”

“What about the pool,”  I asked.  “Would the chlorine help?”

“Absolutely,” she replied.

Willing to do whatever it took, later that day, I put on the new bathing suit that I bought at the beginning of the summer and had never even worn and quietly went out to the pool.  The water was warm and so soothing.  At first I just immersed myself in the luxurious liquid, and then I began swimming some slow, easy laps.  After a few minutes, I remembered just how much I love to swim.  I mean, I really, really love to swim.  I began doing different strokes, racing back and forth from one side to the other.  Then I just floated atop the water, letting it wash over me as I closed my eyes and relaxed in the glow of the late afternoon sun.  After about 30 minutes, I reluctantly dragged myself from the pool to go in and get dinner ready.

When I walked inside, Rebecca looked at me in surprise.  “You were in the pool?”

“Yep,” I replied with a smile.  I repeated to her what the doctor told me and then added, “This is the best prescription I’ve ever been given.  I wish my doctor would refill this at the beginning of every summer.”

“Mom,” Rebecca said, “you know, you can prescribe it to yourself.  You deserve to enjoy summer, too, and to get in the pool every day if you want to.  Nothing bad will happen if you take some time for yourself every day.”

Ah, the wisdom of a collegian.  As her words sank in, I realized she is absolutely correct.  Aren’t we always hearing about taking time for ourselves and paying attention to our own needs?  That seems so selfish to me!  But I can tell you, for the rest of the summer, each time I stepped out of that pool, I was in a better mood and felt more relaxed and ready to get back to whatever task awaited me.  The pool was good for my mind, body, and spirit (and by the way, the spots were miraculously gone in just a couple of days).

So I’m trying to remind myself each day, whether it’s an hour at the gym or a long, relaxing lunch, I’m going to take just a little bit of time for me.  So attention everyone I’ve ever promised to meet for lunch, I’ll be calling you to set a date.  We all deserve to prescribe some time each day to do something for ourselves.  I’ve realized that if I slow down and take just a few minutes for myself, everyone around me will benefit, including me.

Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s newest mystery, Picture Me, was released in August of 2015 and is available in stores and online.  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, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.