when I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to get the Christmas edition of the
Sears catalog. My brothers and I would hunt through it to find the best toys
for Santa to put under our tree. I remember wanting a football helmet, shoulder
pads, and a football. Those were my big three items. As I grew older, a BB gun.
We lived out in the country next to what was then the Milwaukee River. We had a
huge yard where we would choose up sides for football or softball. The yard
next to the river would be great for shooting my BB gun.
were two things I didn’t know at the time I paged through the Sears catalog.
The first was that Santa didn’t exist. I believed Santa to be real. I swallowed
that fairy tale hook, line and sinker. Most kids did, or do, I guess. My own
certainly did until they got older. The second thing I didn’t realize was that
my family was poor. Whatever it was, we wanted out of that catalog, it was up to
my mom and dad and their meager finances to secure. Even as I think back on it
now these many, many years since, I feel guilty.
I did get my helmet, shoulder pads and football. And yes, I eventually got a BB
gun when I was older.
thing is, I ended up outgrowing my helmet and shoulder pads. Yes, I wore them
in and out of football season, but I grew. Eventually, they ended up in the toy
box. After that, who knows where they ended up. The dump or Goodwill, I
suppose. The football and BB gun lasted the longest, but eventually, the
football ended up as a toy for the dog, who punctured it as she played fetch
with us. I don’t know what happened to the BB gun. Gone, but I still remember
things I wanted, well, I grew up and they grew old and became unwanted. Sadly.
came across an article on LinkedIn. I forgot who had posted it and I’m sorry
for that, because I want to name the author. But the article, like others, hit me.
It goes like this . . .
A professor gave a balloon to every
student, who had to inflate it, write their name on it and throw it in the
hallway. The professors then mixed all the balloons. The students were given 5
minutes to find their own balloon. Despite a hectic search, no one found their
balloon. At that point the professors told the students to take the first
balloon that they found and hand it to the person whose name was written on it.
Within 5 minutes everyone had their own balloon.
The professors said to the students: “These
balloons are like happiness. We will never find it if everyone is looking for
their own. But if we care about other people's happiness, we'll find ours too.
thought the helmet, shoulder pads, and football, and eventually the BB gun,
would make me happy. And they did, for a short or long time. But eventually,
like most things, the happiness ended and I was off to seeking other things. That’s
the way of it, isn’t it? Like the balloon, I searched and couldn’t find it.
I do know now was that the helmet, shoulder pads, football, and BB gun made my
parents happy because they knew and saw how much I enjoyed them. Even in their,
our, poverty, they found joy in making me and the rest of us happy. As parents
with our own kids, or as friends to other friends, it is that joy of giving to
someone that makes us truly happy. Not so much the gift, but in the giving.
joy, the happiness is in giving. The joy, the happiness is in helping someone
else, recognizing someone else, and valuing someone else. When we receive
something from someone, it isn’t so much what we receive, but that we were remembered
by someone. That is what makes us happy. Not the gift so much as in being
remembered by someone. And what makes us truly happy is in giving to someone
we don’t learn anything else in this crazy year, I hope we can learn and
remember to give in order to receive, to help others, to lift up others, to
comfort others, because if we do that, we will be helped, and lifted, and comforted.
Yes, we will end up happy. Because, in my very humble opinion, that’s what
happiness is. Something to think about . . .
Your Life, and Make A Difference!
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late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is willing
to talk. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old
boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the
Bottom Line: A stirring and unusual tale of teenage love, adventure and murder.
While author Joseph Lewis has filled Betrayed with a large and
compelling cast, the story belongs to Brian, one of several characters from
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between Brian and his family is incredibly well-drawn and often touching. Readers
will be rewarded with an explosive adventure.”
novel is an action-packed thriller that will keep the reader turning the pages.
The descriptions of settings and characters are extremely well done, and the
pacing is perfect. The ending ties up all the loose ends, yet you feel (and
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call Betrayed a thriller alone would be to do it a disservice. It’s a
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Into Darkness: Named
a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
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. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm
in a Web: A
PenCraft Literary Award Winner!
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.
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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696
in a Web is now available in Audio format. You can find it
One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
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. http://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis
Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
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.
Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
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. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis
Courtesy of Stan B and Unsplash