Saying Goodbye to Worry and Regret

img_0144I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the whole nature versus nurture debate.  Are we really born with certain innate traits, or do we develop them based on environment and experience?  As our oldest daughter applies to law school, our middle daughter applies to college, and our youngest deals with the trials and tribulations of being in high school, I can’t help but wonder how they all three inherited, or perhaps learned, their father’s penchant for worrying, doubting, second guessing, and obsessing over the what ifs.  Contrast that with my own attitude of let go, let live, and let God, and I think, where did I fail to instill in them a belief that worrying is a total waste of time?

I recently read an article that claimed that there is a great “connection between anxiety and a stronger imagination.”  The article went on to say that “Worry is the mother of invention.”  That’s funny; I thought it was necessity.  Oh, and it also said that “Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person.”  Um no, when my girls have a problem, they come to me.  When Ken has a problem, he comes to me.  My totally neurotic family aren’t able to see the forest for the trees.  I, on the other hand, can see the light on the other side of the forest.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m certainly not trying to blow my own horn.  I just haven’t been able to reconcile, in my own mind, how and why worriers are the way they are and the rest of us aren’t.  If it were really as simple as “Overthinking Worriers Are Probably Creative Geniuses,” as the title of the article suggests, then why does Ken not have a creative side while I write fiction?

I was at an impasse trying to figure this out until this past Monday, and then the light through the trees became even brighter as understanding dawned on me.  I was in a meeting with a wonderful group of women whom I am so lucky to be able to call my friends.  Many of us have been meeting every other Monday for the past twelve years.  We pray, discuss, read, and learn, and some of my greatest revelations have come from those Monday morning meetings.  We were watching a short video in which we heard, over and over, people saying that they always worried, were never content, and were constantly searching for happiness and the meaning to their lives until they realized that they could only find true joy in God.  When they learned to let Him guide them, take away their cares, and be the light at the end of their tunnels, their entire lives changed.  And that’s when it hit me.  It’s not about being creative versus neurotic or being intelligent versus imaginative.  It’s about knowing that there are many things in this world that are simply beyond our control.  We can only do so much and have to have faith that the rest will turn out okay.

This past weekend, I helped chaperone a group of high school students on our school’s annual trip to New York City.  We arrived back home after midnight on Saturday, and on Sunday, I chaired our Post Prom’s Bingo.  I had several friends comment that they couldn’t believe I was able to go away for the two days before our biggest fundraiser.  I didn’t see the problem.  I had everything ready the night before we left, and I had confidence in the others who were assisting me with the event.  While there were things that I would like to tweak for next year (including not holding them the same weekend for my own body’s sake), the event was a success, we made money, and we’re ready to move forward.  I could dwell on the fact that turnout wasn’t as high as last year, so we didn’t bring in quite as much as we had hoped, but I can’t change it, and worrying about it won’t make a difference; but analyzing why we had fewer people and planning the next event will.  It’s all about keeping perspective.  Staying calm, making plans, evaluating results, and moving on are the keys to success.

Do I worry about things?  Sure I do.  Every.  Single.  Day.  I worry about about the future of our country, but I can only look out for my small part of the world.  I voted, and then I had to let it go.  I can’t change minds or hearts, but I pray that God can.  Do I worry about the safety of my children?  Absolutely.  The health of my parents, the state of world affairs, the future of our school?  I’d be living in a dream world if I didn’t.  But do I dwell on them?  Not for a minute (okay, last night, for maybe longer than a minute).  

What I always do is pray every day that my children will learn to let go, let live, and let God.  To worry about the future is futile.  To dwell on mistakes of the past is incapacitating.  To fear every possible outcome is debilitating.  But to have faith that you have done what you could, and let the rest happen, prepared to move forward no matter the outcome, will allow you to walk calmly ahead and deal with the consequences.  The next time you find yourself giving into worry, go forward, into the trees, and have confidence that there is light on the other side.  Your attitude, and a bit of faith, will make all of the difference.

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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 eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

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)

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.

1.  Allowing others to dictate your mood. Nobody can make you unhappy but you.  I tell my children this all the time.  Others can criticize you, put you down, attempt to take away your self-esteem or lessen your accomplishments; but at the end of the day, you are the one who lives with your choices, your beliefs, the person you are or are becoming.  Only you can determine how you should feel, and only you can take the reins and make your life be what you want it to be.

           After his first audition, Sidney Poitier was told by the casting director, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?”*

2.  Letting failure get the best of you.  You’re never going to be perfect.  That role belongs to only one being, and He doesn’t expect you to be perfect; but He does expect you to try to be.  So what if you failed at something.  Are you going to let that be the end of life as you know it?  Stick that chin out, roll up your sleeves, and try again.

Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times while trying to invent the light bulb. When asked how it felt, Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”*

3.  Not appreciating what you have.  Do you have a roof over your head?  Do you have food on your table, clothes on your back, shoes on your feet?  Then what are you complaining about?  There are many people in the world who are far worse off than you are, but they are able to find happiness.  How?  By appreciating what they have and not what they lack.  We aren’t supposed to get everything we desire in life, or there would never be anything to strive for, hope for , look forward to.  Enjoy what you have without complaining about what you don’t have, and you will find that what you have will increase tenfold.

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey**

4.  Letting worries win.  I am willing to bet money that the happiest people you know are the ones who worry the least.  They know that life has a way of working things out.  Personally, I believe that God will do my worrying for me.  Remember the saying, “Live and let God.”  Whether you believe in a divine presence or not, you will be a happier person if you do not dwell on worry. Some things in life are out of our control.  Don’t try to control them.  They will only end up controlling you.

“There is no cross, big or small, in our life which the Lord does not share with us.”  Pope Francis***

5.  Not allowing yourself to catch the joy of others.  Embrace other peoples’ happiness.  So you’re not having a good day, or a good experience.  Is that any reason to bring others down or to not try to lift yourself up?  Share in the joy of others.  Allow their joy, their inner peace, to enter your life.  Someday you will regret the time you spent alone nursing your wounds, continuing to make yourself unhappy; but you will never regret the time you spent enjoying life with friends and family and seeking joy.

“To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”  Roger Ebert****

6.  Ignoring the golden rule.  To enjoy true happiness, you must create happiness and share it with others.  Smile, and others will smile back.  Hold the door for someone, and they will hold it for someone else.  Speak kindly to those around you, and they will speak kindly in return.  No further explanation is needed.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  Luke 6:31

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:39

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  Mahatma Gandhi

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)

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*http://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/OnFailingG.html
**http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/40-inspiring-motivational-quotes-about-gratitude.html
***http://www.aggiecatholicblog.org/2015/01/top-75-pope-francis-quotes/
****http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/joy_3.html

Be Not Afraid

My SSPP GirlsYesterday, some friends and I were talking about how hard it is raising children in today’s world.  As mothers, we all worry about our children.  Will they make the right decisions, meet the right people, find the right job, make it to school or work and back safely, be safe at school or work, survive to be an adult, a parent, a grandparent.  It’s a constant state of worry.  Worry like that can be crippling, immobilizing, even life-threatening.  So what’s a mother to do?

We all came to the same conclusion.  It’s not a perfect one, but it’s all we can do.  We have to hope for the best, put our trust in God, and love our children fiercely every day.  We can’t lock our children in a tower (that never works in Fairy Tales), and we can’t live our lives in constant fear, nor do we want to teach our children to live their lives in constant fear.  We want them and ourselves actually LIVING!  So we have no other choice but to teach them right and wrong, instill in them a solid set of values and morals, and pray for them every day.

Looking back, every single bad decision I’ve ever made in my life, whether as a child, a teen, or an adult, was made out of fear.  What if they don’t like me?  What if he won’t love me?  What if I don’t do that, say that, try that?  The question was always based in fear, and the decision was always disastrous, if not then, than later down the road.  However, every decision I ever made with confidence that it was the right thing to do, was made with complete trust – trust in friends, my loved ones, my husband, God.  And those decisions have never come back to haunt me.

Years ago, Ken and I were at a crossroads in our lives.  Our children were attending a school that they hated.  I had to forcibly put Katie on the bus every day and jump off as the bus driver closed the door while Katie cried and pounded on the windows.  She was eight years old, not a young child, and the knowledge that she was so unhappy was heart-breaking.  It was my first year staying at home and attempting to become a published author when Ken decided to leave his job.  The position had created so much stress for him that I feared for his health, but what would we do?  After a few months, our small savings was almost gone and we had three children to feed.  While we were talking over the situation one night, my husband had the craziest idea, and I mean crazy.  He said to me, “You’ve always wanted them in Catholic school, so maybe it’s time.”  I looked at him like he had lost his mind.  “We have no money, no jobs, and no way of knowing what our future holds, but you want to put all three girls into a private school thirty minutes from our home?”  He said yes.  But how?

We went to the school the very next day and talked over our situation with the principal.  She had known us for years from church and was thrilled that we wanted the girls there.  She was willing to take our applications and hold spots for them until we figured out what we were going to do.  It was March, so we had several months before school started, but we needed a plan, or even a sign.  When and how would we know what was the right decision?  We talked some more and decided that the best route to take was the one shown to us by God.  Ken had several interviews set up, so we said to God, “It’s all in your hands.”  If Ken was offered a job with a salary the same or lower than what he was making at his previous job, the girls would stay put, and we would somehow find a way to manage the situation.  If, however, Ken was making anything at all above his last salary, we would take that proverbial leap of faith.

I will never forget the day the call came.  It was May, school was almost out, our applications were on hold, and the girls were wondering where they would be that fall.  I was hanging clothes on the line in the backyard.  Drying inside the house was expensive and hot, so the air conditioning stayed off, and the clothes hung outside.  I had thrown our portable phone in the basket and had to dig through the wet clothes to find it when it started ringing.  “Call the school,” Ken announced with joy.  I was stunned.  He was in Boston, on his way to the airport after a job interview, and I had been waiting to hear how it went.  “They offered me my dream job.  We can stay in Maryland, and I can work at home.”  “And?” I asked.  “And the pay is what I was making plus to the penny, to the penny,” he emphasized, “exactly what we need to pay the tuition.”  I was overjoyed.  I couldn’t wait to tell the girls the good news.

We’ve been at Saints Peter and Paul for almost ten years now.  Rebecca graduated with honors and went on to a wonderful college.  Katie and Morgan have many friends and are receiving an outstanding education.  But even more important is that they are all happy.  Correction, we are all happy.  Who knows what would have happened if we had not taken that leap of faith and trusted in God.  “Be not afraid,” appears more times than any other phrase in the Bible.  The message is simple.  Whether or not we hear it can make all the difference in the world.

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 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.