Having spent 44 years in education, I’ve noticed a couple of things. The first is that with each title came various amounts of time commitment both at work and at home. As a teacher of social studies, primarily psychology, I would teach during the day and grade papers at night. Add coaching into the mix, I would teach, then coach, then grade. Because coaching is more of a year-round thing, there were times I would plan my vacations and events around the coaching. Fortunately, I was single during that phase of my life.
Then I became a counselor. No papers to grade. Some night duties. I would attend events at school to support my colleagues and kids, but most of the time, my work life was during the day leaving my evenings for me. Then I became an administrator. I worked during the day and attended games and events at night. Sometimes reports and paperwork came home with me.
My wife, Kim, taught her entire professional life. She coached for a time, but because she was a physical education and health instructor, there weren’t many papers to grade.
I lived closer to my school, but that made her the traveler. When we lived in Wisconsin, her commute was about forty-five minutes one way. It was a pretty drive, a relaxing drive through the country from home to work and then back again. She often stated that the drive was her way of unwinding, of relaxing, and she had the ability to separate her work life from her family and home life.
Now that we’re in quarantine trying to keep ourselves safe, we find like many of you that our work lives and our family and personal lives are mixed, blended. There are times when there doesn’t seem to be the separation between work life and family/personal life. I think it is because we have no where to go, no place to be.
We are stuck in the house, sometimes facing a computer screen waiting to answer the next email or for the next virtual meeting to take place. When there doesn’t seem to be anything we need to do at the moment, we fret and worry about what it is we’re missing, what it is we’re supposed to do, and feeling guilty about it.
We become anxious, nervous. We check email for the umpteenth time. We check the calendar “just to be sure.” We roam from the kitchen to the family room to the office. We check email again.
For me, a side-effect of the quarantine is that my writing has taken a hit. I am in front of the computer screen so often that I am reluctant to sit down in front of it to do what I truly love to do – write! And I have a heck of a story I’m working on.
I think most if not all of us feel that there is no separation from work to personal/family life. That, for me at least, is the hardest part of this quarantine. It all feels the same. Push play and repeat for days to come. I watch the clock tick away. In between, I eat something. I might take a walk depending upon the day and the amount of time I have in between meetings. Not enough walking and far too much sitting.
There is a feeling of helplessness. Anxiety. Sadness. The feeling that I never got to say goodbye. That the end, my retirement, is in one and a half months, and this wasn’t the way I wanted my last year to end. Tempers flare up for no apparent reason. Perhaps tears. For you, there may be other feelings in greater or lesser amounts. Some of it, all of it.
I don’t have any words of wisdom for you and for that, I apologize. Like you, I have no words (or at least none that I feel comfortable printing). I think the only thing we can do is recognize our own struggle taking place in everyone else. Each of us climb that mountain. Each of us plant ourselves in front of the computer screen watching, waiting. And each of us have become shut ins of sorts. I think recognizing the feelings you have in others will help us all. It will keep us from judging, hopefully, because each of us handles stress and emotions and feelings differently. That understanding might make this quarantine and the lack of separation easier to cope with. Now, I have to check my email and wait for my next virtual meeting. Something to think about . . .
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. I picked up three great advance reviews from three 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
“Betrayed is at once an emotional chapter in author Joseph Lewis’ continuing coming-of-age story and an intriguing thriller. Following both law enforcement and a group of teens searching for a missing boy on Native American land, Lewis’ latest also provides a unique view into Navajo culture. A layered story that explodes into a bullet-riddled climax.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of Deep Background and Let the Guilty Pay
Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor
Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author
Caught in a Web is now available in Audio format. You can find it at https://www.beaconaudiobooks.com/audiobookreleases/high-school-drug-rings-gangs-and-revenge-are-all-encompassing-in-caught-in-a-web-by-joseph-lewis
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. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm
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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696
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. http://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis
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. http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis
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. http://tinyurl.com/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis
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. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis
Photo courtesy of Jose Antonio Gallego Vasquez and Unsplash