Friday, April 3, 2020

Handling It

When I was twenty-two, I landed my first teaching and coaching position. In Wyoming.

I had been there twice in my life previously. Once was as an eighth grader when my mom and dad took my brother Jeff and me to Yellowstone. The second time was when I interviewed for that position. That was my only experience with “the West.”

But as a social studies major, my interest was in both the West – cowboys and Indians, and the Civil War. Both paid off. I blend in Navajo lore and culture into my books. One of my main characters and a readers’ favorite, George, is a full-blooded Navajo boy. And now, I currently live in an area rich in history from the colonial period through the civil war, and to modern history with D.C. just up the road.

However, at 22 years of age, moving to Wyoming was daunting. I was on my own in a place where I knew no one and no one knew me. I was lonely. I was alone. I dealt with a great deal of stress.

Later in my career, I moved to California by myself without knowing anyone. I was older, but still. I had never been there except to interview. Again, I was lonely and I was alone. I dealt with a great deal of stress.

When I sat down to write this, I almost put the Sh in front of It. I didn’t because it would have offended some, perhaps many. But when you think of it, stress is quite a bit of –it.

And the thing is, each of us handles stress differently. Anger. Apathy. Frustration. Boredom. Loneliness. Aloneness. Sadness, if not Despair. Restlessness. With the current Covid-19 running rampant, I wonder how many of us can tick off the adjectives listed above to describe the feelings we have.

Those of you who know me, know that Kim and I lost a son, Wil, to a bullet as he walked down a street towards his apartment. One gang wanted to shoot and kill a rival. Wil was in the middle and he was the only one who was shot and the only one who died. But what I want to focus on was the stress Kim and I felt.

This afternoon, Kim was about to walk out the door to hunt for toilet paper among other things. She walked into the garage, but came back in because she forgot the keys to the car. She stopped and looked at me, shook her head and said, “I feel as scatterbrained as I did when Wil died.” Stress.

I handled the stress differently, though I, too, was just as scatterbrained back then. I bottled up everything. I think to this day, I don’t think I mourned my son’s death, and the counseling background I have knows that isn’t healthy. Still, I didn’t give myself permission to mourn because I felt I needed to remain strong for Kim, for our daughters, Hannah and Emily. I found (and find) myself crying at odd times- still do. I hide it, but the tears are there and so are the feelings.

Handling It. Or –It.

We are in unchartered waters, you and I. Hell, we’re in the middle of the ocean without a raft or boat or life preserver. We don’t know which direction the shore sits. And, there are things lurking under the surface of the water we’re paddling in.

Some of us might worry about the next meal or the next paycheck or if the next bill will push us over the edge. We worry about our loved ones, young and old. Some have pre-existing conditions. Some are in that vulnerable age group. We try to take care, but there are others who don’t.

If you are like me, in the back of your mind you wonder if you’re just dreaming, and at some point, you’ll wake up and this will be over. Quarantined? What the heck? A week or two, okay, we can do that. Three months? Seriously?

Each of us handle it differently, yet in the same way. We will run the gamut of emotions and feelings. There will be short tempers and the trying of patience. There will be words we didn’t mean. There will be actions we wish we could take back. Some of it. All of it. –It.

I think we need to remember that we are human. We will make mistakes. We’ll learn to swim in that ocean. We’ll spot the shore eventually and we’ll pull ourselves up onto the warm sand, dry off and rest. That’s what we will do.

It won’t be without some pain. It won’t be without some fear. There will be loss. But we are resilient creatures, you and I. Our world, and our psyche might change. Our personality and our relationships might change. But depending upon how we handle it, or how we handle –it, we can come out of this stronger and with a greater sense of who we are as a person and as a people. That is my wish. That is my hope. It’s all in how we handle it. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:
My new book, Betrayed, will debut Nov. 12, 2020! It is a contemporary psychological thriller using some of the same characters from my previous work. It takes place on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northeast Arizona. I will post parts and passages on my author page on Facebook. Here are two advance reviews from two awesome authors:

“Adopted and bonding as a family, with histories of death, destruction and for some...abuse, these boys band together—ready to lay down their life for their new family—in order to find a missing friend before dangerous gunmen find them.

A whirlwind of adventure, relationships, protecting family, hair-raising situations, and cold betrayal.”
Tina O’Hailey author of When Darkness Begins

“A boy goes missing in Navajo Nation, a family is killed. Onto the next adventure for three brothers, including one who grew up there, to search for him. As to be expected, danger awaits, but these are not ordinary teens. They have faced harrowing situations before, and now they will rely on the skills and experience they’ve developed to get through this one.

Once again, author Joseph Lewis has written a fast-paced psychological thriller mystery that immerses readers into a dark world few encounter.”
Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long Mystery Series

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Spiral Into Darkness:
Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
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:
A PenCraft Literary Award Winner!
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.

Photo courtesy of Christian Erfurt and Unsplash

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