Follow by Email

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Gift

 

As a kid, Christmas was one holiday I looked forward to every year. As an adult, I still look forward to it, but with a completely different perspective.

As a kid, and even now as an adult, I wrote up a list of things family could choose from. I don’t expect that every item from the list will be under the tree Christmas morning. Not even as a kid. I think that’s where some of the fun came from. We never knew what “Santa” might bring. There would always be some surprise that was not on the list, but somehow, some way, a wish and a hope would appear wrapped in pretty paper with a bright bow on top.

Like most of us, I’m sure, kids choose 'things'. A toy or a game or two. A shirt or sweater. A book. A CD. As I got older, my list grew differently, and somehow, grew less.

I look at my daughters and want them to be happy. I want Hannah and Emily to be healthy. I want them to be successful at whatever they set out to do and to be. I wish the same for Alex, Hannah’s fiancĂ©, and Q, Emily’s boyfriend. They are family, too.

I want to race ahead of them and remove the roadblocks and hurdles that would otherwise cause them to trip and stumble. I want to see them smile and hear them laugh. I want to hear their stories, their struggles, their successes.

I want to be with them. I want to see them.

I want them to know the door is always open to them. I want them to know my cell is always turned on “just in case.” I want them to know there will always be a place at the table for them, a light turned on for them.

I hope to never be a burden to them. I hope never to be the unwanted baggage that needs to be dealt with, pushed aside, stored in some dark, dingy closet. I hope to never embarrass them, harm them, hurt them.

The gift I want is for them to know that no matter what, I will be there. I want them to know that I’m always willing to listen to them, to hear them, to try to understand them, and to help them any way I can.

I realize that this gift is not easily wrapped. I realize that it can’t fit under a brightly lit tree. I realize that there might never be a bow on it. Mostly, I understand that at times, it might not be appreciated and that it sometimes might be forgotten. I hope not, but I understand that time and distance and the minutia of life might cause this gift to go unnoticed.

But my gift is there. My gift will always be there. Always. Something to think about . . .

From my family: Kim, Hannah and Alex, Emily and Q, and me, I hope you have a wonderful, merry Christmas! May your dreams be larger than life itself. May you never, ever lose hope. May you never lose faith. And, may you always love and be loved! God Bless!

Picture courtesy of Emily Underwood and Unsplash

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Happiness is . . .


Back 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.

There 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. 

Yes, I did get my helmet, shoulder pads and football. And yes, I eventually got a BB gun when I was older.

The 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 it fondly.

Those things I wanted, well, I grew up and they grew old and became unwanted. Sadly. A memory.

I 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.

I 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.

What 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.

The 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 else.  

If 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 . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference! 

To My Readers:

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Betrayed is Discounted for Kindle on Amazon for only .99 for Today and Tomorrow Only. The sale ends on Monday, 12-14 at Midnight. Don’t wait! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GCTV2XH 

A 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 hunted.

“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 Lewis’ excellent crime thriller, Spiral Into Darkness. The relationship between Brian and his family is incredibly well-drawn and often touching. Readers will be rewarded with an explosive adventure.”

-        Best Thrillers

This 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 hope) there will be more from these characters in the future. Action and adventure are the words of the day in this thrilling, well-written, page-turner from Joseph Lewis.”

-        Sublime Review

“To call Betrayed a thriller alone would be to do it a disservice. It’s a social inspection of Navajo reservation culture and life, and its probe of the roots of love and connection are wonderfully woven into a story of adversity and the struggle to survive on many levels. These elements make Betrayed particularly recommended for readers who look for psychological depth and complexity from a story of violence and evolution.”

-    Diane Donovan, Editor; Donovan's Literary Services; Midwest Book          Review/Bookwatch; Author of San Francisco Relocated.

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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696 

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

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 Stan B and Unsplash  

 

 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Control Over Our Buttons

Yesterday, our daughter, Hannah, visited us with her dog, Teddy. He’s a Golden Retriever. We have a puppy, just over a year old, who is also a golden. Daisy, our dog, is stubborn and get jealous rather easily.

Last night, Hannah sat on the couch with Teddy sprawled out on her lap. Comical, in that Teddy is super large for that breed, and Hannah is on the short side. Daisy wanted to join in and attempted to launch herself onto both Teddy and Hannah.

Hannah pointed at Daisy and said, “No, don’t even think about it!”

Teddy, put his paw on Hannah’s arm pushing it down.

Daisy attempted another launch, and Hannah repeated, “No, Daisy, don’t!”

Again, Teddy placed his paw on Hannah’s arm pushing it down.

In the end, Daisy lay down on the hassock and stared at the two of them longingly.

Hannah explained that Teddy doesn’t like the word, ‘No’ and doesn’t like anyone raising his or her voice around him.

Interesting that Teddy is quick to pick up on tone of voice, gestures, feelings. He became protective of his buddy, Daisy. They had played long and hard all day. Each dog mopes and sulks when one or the other leaves for home. Daisy is in equal parts tired out from rough-housing, and sad that Teddy has left.

One of my contacts on LinkedIn, Linda Breedlove, posted this the other day. The story is of unknown origin.

            This is a story of two dogs.

Both, at separate times, walk into a room.

One comes out wagging his tail, while the other comes out growling.

A woman watching this goes into the room to see what could make one dog come out so happy and the other so mad.

To her surprise, she found a room with many mirrors.

The happy dog found a thousand happy dogs looking back at him while the angry dog found only angry dogs growling back at him.

The moral of the story is this: what you see in the world is a reflection of who you are.

Unknown 

The writer didn’t explain why one dog was happy and one dog was angry. The writer stated that one dog was happy coming out, while the other dog was angry coming out. Two dogs. Same room. Different reactions.

I think each of us are faced with rooms with many mirrors. And if not rooms, many situations, many circumstances, and a whole lot of people. For us, those rooms, situations and circumstances, and the different people we encounter elicit within us different perceptions, different reactions.

When I taught psychology many moons ago, I told my students that no one can make you feel one way or the other. The way we feel is a choice. We choose the way we feel: happy, sad, angry, indifferent. We choose our reaction to any given individual and situation. We are in control . . . or not, as the case may be. I reminded them that it sometimes isn’t easy to remember that especially when someone or something pushes one of our buttons. The trick is to take back control of the button, our buttons. Don’t allow anyone else to assume control.

Lastly, like the two dogs entering and leaving the room of many mirrors, we choose from moment to moment how we feel. Much of that feeling stems from our attitude going into and coming out of any given situation and circumstance. We can allow that control to be given to others, but why would we? Why would we allow someone else to control our thoughts and feelings as if we were a marionette?

I leave you with this thought from Greek philosopher Heraclitus:

“The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts.

Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day.

The content of your character is your choice.

Day by day, what you do is who you become.

Your integrity is your destiny — it is the light that guides your way.”

Definitely something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

Connect with me on Social Media:
Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

This week, I received word that my newest book, Betrayed, won the Literary Titan Silver Book Award. Happy about that. You can find Betrayed on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You will find the link for Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2EKHudx

The book blurb is as follows:

A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, and no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but could result in the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy.

Some recent reviews for Betrayed:

"Excellent pacing, intriguing characters, and an action-packed plot line. Don't miss this one!" @jessicaxbelmont

"Well written and with real heart and honesty this is a beautiful and moving story about survival and kinship." @ramblingmads

"An action-packed thriller that grabbed my attention from the start. ... I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this book and getting to know all the characters." @ShazzieRimmel

"I was on the edge of my seat and holding my breath as I waited for these characters to get through the latest scrape." @MyBookishBliss

"The story whilst it’s a hunt for a missing friend also shines a light on teens who are struggling to find their place in the world." @MachinSharronm1

"Joseph Lewis has tactfully dealt with some difficult themes, and still managed to squeeze a nice amount of action and mystery into this novel." @caathycastling

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. 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. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696         

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

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, each more dangerous than the next, 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  
        
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 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              

Photos Courtesy of Hannah Joshua and Unsplash.