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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Endings




Each of us face them. Days begin and then they end. Weeks start and finish. Months. Years.

I have nine days until I retire. When I began teaching and coaching in Wyoming back in 1976, I had no thought of when it would end. It never crossed my mind. Even when I briefly left teaching at the high school level for two years to coach college basketball and earn a master’s in counseling, I always knew I’d go back to teaching and coaching.

Back in the 1985 – 1986 season, I knew I had a great senior class, a great team. It wasn’t the most talented team I had coached. I won a state championship with one team and played for a state championship with another team back in Wyoming. Yet, Mike and Mike, Steve, Dave, Greg and Tom, and the others on that team were some of the best kids I ever got to hang out with. So, I resigned from basketball at the beginning of the season effective at the end of the season. It was time. I knew it. I felt it. And besides, I wanted to leave with my seniors, even though I had a great group coming up behind them.

I began counseling in the fall of 1986. Of all the “jobs” I’ve had, I honestly enjoyed counseling the most. I got to work directly with kids and their parents. Loved it. I said “jobs” because for those of us who love what we do, it isn’t really a “job.” It is a passion. It is fulfillment.

In 1987, I moved to California and became a counselor out there. Loved the sun and the warm weather. Loved what I did. I met my wife at one school and we started a family. Now, my kids are venturing on their own paths, their own lives. Proud of them.

One day, Ed decided he was going to retire. He had been a teacher, but mostly a counselor for over thirty years. I remember telling him that I never thought I would last that long. I mean, thirty years in any profession, in any passion, is a long, long time. I didn’t want him to retire. I wanted to work alongside of him longer. He was my friend and mentor. I mentioned this to him. He smiled – he had the best smile – and his eyes disappeared as they always did when he smiled and he said, “It’s time.”

As a kid once upon a time, I had heard of a pope who, on his deathbed, allegedly said, “I am ready. My bags are packed.”

Wow! I don’t know about you, but I intend to go fighting, screaming and kicking the entire way out. Not that I’m anywhere near my death, at least as far as I can tell.

But we all face an ending. For some, way too soon. My son, Wil, fell into that category. My mom, on the other hand, lived until she was 99. We never know.

So . . .

As I sit here and write this, I have nine days until I turn in my badge and my keys and walk away from my passion that I have been working and living at for 44 years. Nine days.

How am I going to go? Screaming? Kicking? Fighting? Hell, no. Way, way too tired for that. Will I . . . do I . . . have regrets? Absolutely. I think we all play the “wish I could have; I think I should have” game from time to time. But all in all, I am happy with what I have done. I’d like to think I had more successes than failures. I do believe that.

You see, I believe there is no such thing as a failure. I believe a failure is only a success waiting to happen if you learn from the failures you’ve made. That’s the key, isn’t it? To learn from each failure and turn it into a success.

All too often, folks seem to stop at the failure. They see that as “the end.” We cannot, must not stop there. We stop and consider, we think it through, and we learn. We turn the failure into a success.

Yet, each of us, in our own way and in our own time, will come to an end. A job. A passion (and I hope for you reading this, it truly is a passion). A life. It doesn’t pay to fret or worry. It doesn’t pay to dwell on the ending. I think the meaning and value in any life, in any passion, is to live the life you have fully and completely. Live it. Embrace it. Smile and laugh your way through it. It’s the only satisfying and meaningful way to arrive at an ending. 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.

Below is the book blurb. Pretty excited about it.

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise even though it might mean death.

A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.

Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight thriller/mystery.

“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

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

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Commencement


This is the season, isn’t it? Kids donning their caps and gowns. Proudly displaying their honor stoles and cords and medallions. Parents excited, nervous, sad- all of it.

As parents, we remember their first steps, their first words. We calmed their fears when bad dreams intruded on an otherwise peaceful sleep. We watched nervously from the window as they drove off for the first time with their newly earned license in their wallet or purse. We hugged and kissed them when hearts were broken, when games were won or lost. We stood on the sidelines and cheered them on. We helped buy their prom dress, their new shirt. We encouraged and at times, we discouraged. All within our role as parents. 

This is the season, isn’t it? Except that this year, it isn’t so much like that.

Social distancing. Masks. No crowds. Not much pomp and a whole lot of circumstance, just not the good kind.

The class of 2020 has lost so much, but gained much, too.

They lost their senior dinner dance. Prom. The senior picnic. The A Honor Luncheon. The Yearbook Breakfast. The senior parade through the hallways. A live version of senior scholarship night.

Yet, they gained . . . hopefully.

A sense of what life is about. A newly forged perspective. An appreciation of family, of what they have, what others might not have. They’ve cemented a permanent place in history by graduating through a pandemic, a virus that has taken its toll on life, the economy, the things we take so much for granted.

And through it all, they move forward.

Commencement.

I tell each class at the beginning of my address to them that commencement means to move forward. It is a beginning, not an ending. Seniors leave one life behind only to begin another. One door shuts and another opens. A door to work, to college, to the military. The door of childhood and adolescence closes and the door to the onset of adulting opens.

This year is my last as principal. A sad way to end a career. A sad way to celebrate such a momentous occasion as commencement. My life, like theirs, moves forward. Like theirs, we don’t know what the future holds. We hope. We dream. We suppose. And yes, we fear or are at least anxious.

This week at various times and on various days, our seniors will walk the stage. I will declare them graduates. I will have them turn the tassel signifying such. They will have pictures taken with family and a few friends. Their time, their moment, even if for only a few minutes.

They will remember this year, their commencement. Just as my generation told our kids about the Vietnam War, they will tell their kids about the graduation that wasn’t what they or their parents had hoped for. The graduation in the midst of virus and protest. I am sad for them. I am proud of them. So much to offer. So much more to life. So much. 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.

Below is the book blurb. Pretty excited about it.

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise even though it might mean death.

A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.

Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight thriller/mystery.

“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

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 is of the Class of 2016, Stafford High School.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

In Silence



Mornings.

I wake up to the dogs playing in the rooms below before Kim puts Daisy in her cage. Then Kim goes out for her three- to six-mile run. All is quiet.

I hear the refrigerator purring quietly. The air conditioner trips on and goes off. Sun seeps into the window nudging me to get up. I do.

Kim, back from her run relaxes on the couch. Daisy asleep on the tile floor. She likes it there since it’s cooler than the carpet. Stella disappears. She is somewhere. She likes to sneak up on you. Cat like.

The sun beats on my back, warming me nudging me to begin my day. Already have. Doesn’t she know? Berries washed and placed in containers. Breakfast eaten. Time for writing. The keys on my computer making semi-regular taps on the keyboard. Not intrusive, just necessary.

There is strength in silence.

A time to reflect, to think, to gather thoughts as my mind drifts to this or that. Sometimes lightning fast, other times slow as I consider something interesting. Often times, one thought leads to another and another and . . . Quickly, without editing, without censorship. Grasping this or that.

Silence doesn’t mean agreement. Silence doesn’t mean disagreement. Silence just is.

No need to speak. No room for noise that isn’t necessary or purposeful.

Silence makes room for thought, clears the path of the troubled mind and soul. Silence makes peace of oneself, for oneself.

Silence is comforting, soothing. Silence is necessary.

We retreat into ourselves. Perhaps retreat is the wrong word. Perhaps we attack ourselves. Ruthlessly. Without care or concern, often times without compassion or tenderness. Without the thought of the heart or soul. Marking off one transgression and another. Balancing a good versus a bad. Our own worst critics. Sometimes wound so tightly we have trouble breathing. Silence can be scary as much as it can be comforting.

Still, I prefer silence. Wrapped in a favorite blanket, feet tucked under, nestled back in a soft chair. I’ll take my chances with my inner critic. Sometimes I win. Other times . . .

Sun and silence seem to travel together. Rain and silence can seem like strange partners, but partners just the same. All three necessary, and each giving a different flavor to each other.

And morning silence, for me, is different than evening silence.

I’d rather have light than dark. Soft shadows rather than the edge of harsh darkness. Too much out there in the dark. All is open in light. I disagree with Paul Simon when he calls darkness an old friend. There is something disquieting and uncomfortable in darkness. Not necessarily a friend.

And, however we deal with silence is okay. It is right and just and pure. Embrace it as a friend, a companion. As a necessary partner. Needed. Necessary. Peaceful. 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.

Below is the book blurb. Pretty excited about it.

Integrity is protecting someone who betrayed you. Courage is keeping a promise even though it might mean death.

A late-night phone call turns what was to be a fun hunting trip into a deadly showdown. Fifteen-year-old brothers George Tokay, Brian Evans and Brett McGovern face death on top of a mesa on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. They have no idea why men are intent on killing them.

Betrayed is a contemporary psychological thriller and an exploration of the heart and of a blended family of adopted kids, their relationships to each other and their parents woven into a tight thriller/mystery.

“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

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 Olya Voloshka and Unsplash