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Friday, April 24, 2015

Under Construction



It’s always nice to have something brand new to move to.

Everything is clean and shiny.  There is the “new” smell.  Even though the old might be comfortable, I think anything new brings about a smile.

Yes, there is the “getting used to it” time when we aren’t sure of where things are, or how things work, or where things go.  But . . . it is still new.

And, there can be snags.  There can be delays.  There can be some miscommunication.  There can be some misunderstanding. 

Weather causes delays.  Rain, snow, cold- each impacts the “time frame for delivery” (even this old guy is learning the language of construction).  Recently, we were told that the move to our new school building would be delayed a couple of weeks.  Who knows?  If there is additional weather-related or construction problems, it could be another couple of weeks.  But . . . it is still new.

And then once we’re in the new building, we’ll have to deal with the boxes and “stuff” of the move.  Kind of frustrating.  A bit aggravating.  A bit tedious.  But . . . it is still new.

I think the part of construction I don’t like is the actual construction itself.  I don’t like the “ugly” stage.  You know, the mud, the dust, the “stuff” around and out of place.  I’d rather see the new building more towards the completed stage. 

I felt that way about our house as it was being built.  Of course, Kim and I would drive past it, maybe sneak into it to see the tile floor, the ceramic back splash.  But even then, I honestly, I’d rather wait until the construction was almost completed before I wandered about.

But is a building really ever “finished” or “completed”? 

I don’t think so.  There will always be a paint job to do.  Waxing to do.  Things to add, maybe remove.  There will be things to remember and moments when we sit back and say, “Should have thought of that.  We need that.”

Got me thinking . . .

Constructing a building is kinda, sorta like constructing ourselves . . . us . . . you and me.

Just as a building is seldom, if ever, “done” or “finished”, I think we are seldom, probably never, finished.  We are always Under Construction.

It’s in our nature to want to do better, to be better, to want to improve.  And just as with a new building or a home, there is the ugly stage, the “Now what?” stage, and inevitably, the “Should have thought of that.  We . . . I need that.”  A new building or a new home is seldom perfect, and, we aren’t either.

There is the “ugly” stage we tend to go through as we “become” different than that which we were.  At times, we feel and act awkward.  And as we become closer to that person we wish to become, we discover, just as we did with the building, there will be things to remember and moments when we sit back and say, “Should have thought of that.  I need that.”

Just as with the building, we are never really ever “done” because there is always something else to do, to change.  Becoming is a verb.  It’s action.  If we are trying to improve, trying to become, we keep moving and don’t remain in place.  And we will never be perfect.  Never.  I think if we recognize this in ourselves . . . in others . . . we will be a bit happier in the long run.  You and I are always and will forever be Under Construction.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

For My Readers:
Thank you for your wonderful comments and messages to me about the Lives Trilogy!  It’s very humbling.  Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives, has 60 Reviews with a 4.7 average out of 5 possible.  Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives, has 14 Reviews with a 4.8 average.  Both are available in Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.  I have copies of both for signing and selling, along with the Prequel, Taking Lives, which has 79 Reviews and a 4.2 average.




Thanks,
jl

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Lesson From A Life


About a year and a half ago, Lauren Hill was just like any other high school senior getting ready for college.  College applications, SATs and ACTs and the quest for financial aid.  All of it, just like any other high school senior.  The stress of finishing her senior year strong, dates and dances, all of it.  She loved soccer, but evidently liked basketball more because she decided to play basketball at Mount St. Joseph University.

 

Several weeks later as she played a basketball game for her high school team, she experienced dizziness.  She underwent tests to determine the cause and the tests revealed a tumor.  An inoperable tumor.

 

In an interview with the Associated Press, she stated, “I’m spreading awareness and also teaching people how to live in the moment because the next moment’s not promised.  Anything can happen at any given moment.  What matters is right now.”

 

Hmmm . . .

 

This nineteen year old co-founded a nonprofit foundation and helped raise $1.5 million.  She continued to be a high school senior.  She continued to smile.  She continued to live.

 

To live.

 

I wrote an earlier post titled “I Lived!” that spoke about the importance of living in the moment.  I wrote about not leaving anything to chance.  I wrote about the importance of embracing each moment and fully and completely living in it because one never knows when that next moment would be taken from us.

 

It happened to my son, who nine months ago today (as I write this post on this sunny April 12th morning), my son walked down a street and was shot in the back and killed by a stray bullet.  It happened to my nephew as he stood on the shoulder of an icy road and was hit and killed by a car that hit the same icy patch he had hit earlier.  

 

Two kids who, moments before, had no worries or cares.  Just being kids.

 

It has happened to others, young and old.

 

There seems to be an important truth here to consider: life needs to be lived.  Each moment needs to be lived.  A moment and a life that we . . . you and I . . . cannot take for granted.  Life and each moment is to be fully and completely lived.

 

This past Friday, April 10th, Lauren Hill lost her battle with the tumor that couldn’t be operated on.  And while Lauren lost her battle, she never gave in to the realization that her life was ending.  She was too busy living. 

 

Too busy with college.  Too busy with studies.  Too busy with her family.  Too busy with her friends.  Too busy with life.  Too busy.

 

A Lesson From A Life.

 

A Lesson From Lauren’s Life:  Never to give up, never to give in, never to quit, never to take anything for granted.  To live each day, each moment fully and completely because as she so eloquently said, “. . . live in the moment because the next moment’s not promised.  Anything can happen at any given moment.  What matters is right now.” Something to think about . . .

 

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

 

To My Readers:

 

Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives, is now available in both Kindle and paperback on Amazon.  It can be found at:  http://www.amazon.com/Shattered-Lives-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00UZRP828/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426952407&sr=1-3&keywords=Shattered+Lives%2C+Joseph+Lewis

 


 


 

jl

Friday, April 3, 2015

Leave A Memory



Sometimes I’m amazed that when one of the “oldies” comes on the radio, I can remember every word.  I can even harmonize with the melody. 

The other day, Neil Young’s version of Four Strong Winds came on one of the satellite stations I have my car radio tuned to and without a hiccup, sang along with the melody and at points, harmonized.  I had never heard Neil Young’s version before, and didn’t particularly care for it actually, preferring the Brothers Four version from back in the ‘60s. 

But that’s just one example of one song.  There are others, and the same can be said about movies.  There are times I can recite the dialogue along with the actors on screen.  Of course, my wife will say my mind is filled with useless trivia, but I contend that it’s at least filled with something besides sawdust.

Same can be said with old friends – not the brain filled with sawdust part. 

Aren’t there people in your life, longtime friends, who, when you get together after a long period of not seeing them, fall into the same patterns and pick up as if it were only yesterday? 

As I write this, I thought of Jack and Natalie who we haven’t seen in years until this past Christmas vacation, or one of my students, Steve, who came to a benefit in my son’s name this past October.  I hadn’t seen him in about thirty years, and it was like old times.  I have to mention Tom and Carol, (though Tom has passed away this past August) and their son, Jarret and his wife, Allie.  We see them and it’s like we’ve seen them just yesterday or the day before, though in reality, it has been years . . . too long, really.  Dan and Jenny, others.  Many others.

I read a post on Facebook Huck wrote on my son, Wil.  It was beautifully and powerfully written, full of detail and memories the two friends had with each other, the love they shared for each other, the friendship that was cemented together.  Though it was about Wil, it didn’t cause sadness, but instead, brought a smile.  I remember nodding my head as I read it and thinking, ‘Wil left a memory.’  For Huck, for me, for my family, for a whole lot of others.  A very nice memory.

And thinking about Wil, or Tom and Carol, or Jarret and Allie, or Steve, or Dan and Jenny, or any number of others, always brings me a smile and raises up in me a good feeling.  Thinking about them lifts me up.

Just like hearing an oldie.  I listen to a song and it propels me back in time to a place and with people and it creates a warm, good feeling.  It causes a smile and it lifts me up.  Hopefully, the same thing happens to you in that a song or a memory of someone brings a smile to your face, your eyes, and lifts you up.

Made me consider . . .

Just as I think of Tom and Carol, Steve, Jack and Natalie, Jarret and Allie, Dan and Jenny, what kind of memory do they have of me? 

Just as when a certain oldie comes on the radio, when someone thinks of me, do I lift them up?  Do I cause a smile?

Because in each life we touch, each person we come into contact with, certainly with the kids we teach or with the colleagues we work with, even those in our own families, we Leave A Memory.

Be it good or bad, happy or sad, leaving us wanting more or perhaps, wanting less, we Leave A Memory.  So I ask you just as I asked myself, what kind of memory are you leaving for those whose lives you touch?  How will they think of you in a year, ten years, many years down the road?  Is it the kind of memory you’ll be proud to leave?  Or, is it the kind of memory you’d rather them forget.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

For My Readers:

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am at the reception my three books are receiving- thank you!  When I wrote and published the first one, there were two thoughts that went through my mind: would anyone buy it? and would anyone like it?  I guess the answer to both is a resounding “Yes!”  So thank you.

But I have to say that the prequel, Taking Lives, didn’t have the rigor applied to it by the editor that it should have received, and for that, I apologize.  My name is on it and I take responsibility.  But I want you to know that the editor that was used on that book is no longer being used.  A different editor, a much better editor, was used on book one of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives and the same editor was used on book two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives.  I think you’ll be pleased as you read them.  I do hope that Taking Lives didn’t/doesn’t detract you from reading Stolen Lives and Shattered Lives.  I think all three serve a purpose: to bring to light a problem in our society, and just as importantly, tell a story of kids with heart and courage.




Thanks,
jl