Thursday, May 26, 2016

Holding On To Stress

Once upon a time, I presented workshops on Stress and how to manage it. At the time, I was winding down my teaching career and entering into the counseling portion of my life. My stress workshops were an outgrowth of my teaching at a technical college on business and leadership, and I have to say I miss teaching still today. I miss counseling even more.

To a degree, each of us faces stress. For instance, a batter in baseball approaches the plate and there is a certain amount of stress he feels, should feel, as he faces the pitcher. After all, his team and his manager expect him to get on base. Now, add a runner or two on base, add an out or two, and add in the scoreboard indicating that the batter’s team is behind by one run in the bottom of the ninth. The stress is amplified quite a bit from one scenario to the other.

I may have written this once in the past, but folks, I’m not a very good basketball player. Yes, I could coach the game, but I give credit to the players much more so than any coaching I did. I had wonderful, coachable players, and I think I was more of a motivator than anything else. But I remember as an eighth grader standing at the free throw line in the closing minutes of a very close game. A nail-biter, as they might say. Pressure was on. I felt stress. I still feel it today, many years later. I missed. It clanked off the rim and fell into the wrong team’s hands. I couldn’t tell you if we won or lost that game, I truly don’t remember, but I can tell you the result of that free throw.

As I said, each of us feels stress. Some of it we place on ourselves, while some of it is given to us. Some stress is healthy: a baseball player, a NASCAR driver, someone headed into a room for an interview for a job or promotion. That kind of stress comes and goes and sharpens our senses and our reflexes while it is present, and then we can relax and move on.

But then there is a different kind of stress.

Recently, I found a very short video on Facebook. A psychologist had a glass of water, and some of the students wondered if she would ask the question, “Is the glass half-full or half-empty.” She didn’t.

Rather, she asked, “How heavy do you think this glass of water is?” There were guesses ranging from several grams to many grams. What she said was that, “The weight of the glass doesn’t really matter. It’s how long I hold it that matters.”

She went on to explain that if she held it for a minute or two, there wouldn’t be any problem. If she held it for an hour, her hand and arm might cramp up. If she held it for a day, her arm would feel like it was paralyzed. The weight of the glass didn’t matter, but the length of time she held it did.

She stated that stress and anxiety are like a glass of water. If we hold on to it for a short time, nothing happens. If we hold on to it for a long time, we start to cramp up- emotionally, perhaps physically. And if we hold on to it all day, we feel paralyzed and are unable to think or to act.

It isn’t healthy for us to Hold On To Stress. It hurts us and it hurts our relationships with others. We begin to question ourselves, our actions, our decisions. Self-doubt creeps in where once there was none.

It’s best to let it go. Seek out a trusted friend, an ear to listen, a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on. And where possible, we can be that trusted friend, the ear for listening, a hand for holding, and the shoulder for leaning. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I was asked to write a guest post for the blog, Thriller-Writer by Eric Gates. I chose to write on character development and if interested, it can be found at:

I’ve been asked where readers can find me, so I’m letting you know that I can be found on:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Feel free to stop by, give a like or a follow, and add a comment. Thanks!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Growing Older

I’m getting old!

No surprise, I guess. I look in the mirror and wonder, ‘Where did my hair grow?’ My wife reminds me that it grows everywhere except the top of my head. God’s irony, His little joke, I suppose. His, and my wife’s, sense of humor.

One of the Sackett movies, maybe The Quick And The Dead, but I can’t remember which one, had a scene where a young buck tried to pick a fight with an older grisly-looking cowboy while the old guy tried to eat his dinner. The old guy didn’t say anything. Didn’t even look at the young buck. He kept eating his steak and drinking his beer. The old guy’s younger buddy who sat at the same table looked up at the young guy and said something like, “See the lines on his face? That’s experience! That’s his years of putting up with young peacocks like you! They represent miles traveled and mountains climbed and rivers crossed, and he’s still standing. Now leave him be and go away!” When the young buck hesitated, the younger friend repeated, “I said, ‘Leave him be!’” And eventually, the young buck went back to the bar and turned his back on the old guy.

I know I didn’t capture that scene as well as it was written in Louis L’Amour’s book or in the movie, but I remember the scene well.

Yes, I’m old and getting older. My kids are getting older. Hannah graduates from college in December. Emily’s a senior and graduates in about three weeks. Kim and I celebrate twenty-four years together this coming July.

I have my wrinkles and what hair I do have is gray. I move a bit slower, not that I ever moved particularly fast.

Where did the time go?

Funny thing about age. One might look older, but one might feel not so much older. Not so much!

My older brother, Jack, has always said that age is a state of mind. One’s body might fail, but one’s mind and heart and soul doesn’t – unless you allow it to do so.

We can’t necessarily control how our bodies change. We can exercise and diet, but the body will do what it’s going to do. Period.

However, I think we can control our heart and our soul. We don’t have to give into the idea that we’re old. We don’t have to necessarily “act our age!” We can still laugh and act silly and sing off-key. We can still attack life and all that it offers. Perhaps not necessarily attack life, but we certainly can embrace it. All of it.

We can choose to seek new adventures as well as revisit older ones. We can take care of what we do have, and give back to those around us. We can face change . . . and age . . . bravely, fiercely. And when we look in the mirror and see that our hair, those of us who have some, has turned gray. We will see that there might be a few more lines on our face. But we can choose to face that reflection and smile, knowing that each of us, you and I, rode miles, and climbed mountains, and crossed rivers, and know deep within that there are still many more miles and mountains and rivers to come our way. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
Book One, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.

Book Two, Shattered Lives:
Arrest warrants were issued, but six dangerous men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
It began in Arizona and it ends in Arizona- in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are? Or how many there are? Or when they might come for him, for them?  

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live hundreds of miles apart, the lives of Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand and are on a collision course with death.