Friday, February 22, 2019


Recently, I attended a workshop as part of my recertification as a counselor. The workshop was mostly made up of other counselors, a couple of social workers, and another principal who like me, left counseling to become an administrator. In fact, he and I became principals in the same year in our current district.

The workshop centered on Adolescent Mental Health. A lofty topic, to be sure, and one that could be explored from many angles and through many lenses for multiple days. But this particular workshop was only meant to be a refresher for us.

Interestingly, anxiety was a major topic. Types. Symptoms. Causes. Results. Substance issues. Alcohol. Sex. Suicide. Time was spent on how to identify and speak to a teen (or anyone) who had these issues.

Parts of a video of Kevin Hines was shown and discussed. Kevin survived a suicide attempt when he had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge- something that is almost always lethal. His story can be found at and it is worth the few minutes to read and watch.

For me, my reflection dealt with my role as dad. How I might have created stress and anxiety for my kids without realizing I was doing so . . . am doing so.

I am the first to admit that as a parent, I have made mistakes. I think as parents, each of us can relate to that statement to one extent or another. But truly, I’m looking at me and at my role as dad. So yeah, I’m ashamed to say I’ve made mistakes. It wasn’t out of meanness on my part. Honestly, it was out of love, out of concern.

I know it isn’t easy being a principal’s kid. Hannah was told she made varsity soccer and started at goalie because of me, not her talent, effort, or desire. Emily had a similar experience. So, I guess my role, my job had something to do with it.

In other respects, I stood helplessly by watching my kids head for a speed bump, as I call them, and wanted to intervene, to protect, to insulate. I wanted, and want, my kids to succeed, to do well, to do better than me and I think that is where their anxiety, if they have it, stemmed from.

Was my expectation too lofty, too great? Did I unknowingly apply too much pressure- perceived or real?

About a year or two ago, I wrote about a woman who found a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. It was weak and struggling. In an attempt to “help” the butterfly, the woman took apart the cocoon so that the butterfly would be free. But in doing so, the butterfly’s wings and legs were too weak to support it and the butterfly died.


In the attempt to help the butterfly, the woman accidentally brought about the butterfly’s death.

You see, the struggle from the cocoon is essential for the butterfly to live. From that struggle, the butterfly’s wings and legs become strong. Without that struggle, the butterfly won’t have the strength to live.

I see caring parents and caring adults intervene on behalf of their kids. “This punishment is unfair because he’s a good kid, he doesn’t do any wrong.” “My kid has never been in trouble before.” “My son should be playing more.” “My daughter should have made the team.” And so on. I hear it and I see it. In some cases, I suppose, justified. In other cases, well, not so much, and it only hinders or harms the kid.

I think a balance needs to be struck between when to help and run interference, and when not to. I still mess up. We will all mess up. Even with the very best of intentions we mess up. Out of love. Out of compassion. Out of care and concern. But sometimes, we have to realize that there will be growth and strength if we allow the struggle, and accept the consequence of a poor choice or decision. Ultimately, the kid will survive just fine. Perhaps not so much if we help remove the kiddo’s cocoon. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

There have been several great reviews for Spiral Into Darkness:

“If you enjoy thrillers, especially psychological ones, Spiral Into Darkness by Joseph Lewis will grab you good and proper in the opening two chapters. You will find yourself avidly turning pages as a serial killer accosts his victims, confirms their identities and blasts away their faces with a .38 pistol. If you are interested in both the good and bad sides of humanity and why we each turn out as we do, Spiral Into Darkness won’t disappoint.” Readers Favorites

“The Bottom Line: A thoroughly compulsive police procedural by one of America’s most promising new writers. Joseph Lewis, author of our Best of 2018 pick Caught in a Web, is back with another crime thriller featuring world-weary Milwaukee detective Jamie Graff . . . While Lewis savagely explores romance, drama, and sexuality with his wider cast of characters, Jamie’s interpersonal life is refreshingly free of drama for a cop, enabling him to be the determined, resourceful rock capable of cracking the case. The result is a thoroughly compulsive crime thriller.” Best Thrillers

Best Thrillers had previously reviewed my book, Caught in a Web. It was named as a PenCraft Literary Award Winner for Thriller Fiction! Best Thrillers called it “one of the best crime thriller books of the year!” I am both proud and humbled.

If you do read Caught in a Web, Spiral Into Darkness, or any of my other books, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!

Spiral Into Darkness:
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.

Caught in a Web:
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

Book One of the Lives Trilogy, 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 of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six 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:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.                

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 don’t know one another, the lives of FBI 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. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.

Connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

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Photo courtesy of Suzanne D. Williams and Unsplash


  1. Wow! Shoutout love! This is INCREDIBLY helpful, thank you guys!

  2. Thank you for stopping by and I appreciate your comment. Glad it was helpful.


Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe