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Friday, March 31, 2017

An Ending Of Sorts



This past Wednesday, we inducted a host of kids into the National Honor Society. Great ceremony run by the kids, seniors, with guidance from our two advisors. But our two advisors are quick to point to the seniors as the ones who put it together and ran it.

As I was getting ready for it, my wife said, “You know, this is the beginning of the end.” I looked at her quizzically and she said, “This begins the end of the year.”

She’s right. The NHS Induction kicks off all of the events leading to the end of the year and commencement. In fact, she wasn’t the only one to mention it. That evening in two separate conversations with parents of seniors, they mentioned the same thing.

An all school dance. Prom. End of year tests and exams. Senior Dinner Dance. Senior picnic. Commencement rehearsal. Commencement. The end.

I know as a dad as well as a principal, I got caught up in the emotion of it. For the past eight years, I had a child in the same school as I was. Not this year. A little different for me. But for the parents I spoke with this past Wednesday evening, I heard the wistfulness, the melancholy, even the sadness in their voice. I recognized it because I had heard it in my own voice three times: Wil’s graduation, Hannah’s graduation, and Emily’s graduation.

This has been a long week. It’s Friday, and Friday marks the end of the week. As I write this, it’s dark and cloudy and rainy.

Friday is An Ending Of Sorts.

Tomorrow we can sleep in a little longer. Putz around the house. Kinda sorta do what we want. Sunday, more of the same.

And then Monday . . .

I normally write these messages on Friday, taking the opportunity to put into words what I’ve thought about, felt, witnessed. I use these messages as a reflection of the week gone by.

It’s just one more Friday mixed in with all the other Fridays. And, it’s one more reflection among the many I’ve written or one more reflection someone else has written. But it is a reflection nonetheless.

What went right? What went wrong? What I . . . we . . . could have done better?

And Friday is a nice day, a nice time to reflect. The nice thing about Friday is that it is An Ending Of Sorts. There is a bit of a break before we begin again. And when we do turn off the alarm or hit the snooze on Monday, we have a decision to make, you and I. We can simply repeat the steps, the routines, the words- blessed or hurtful- as we did the days and week previous, or we can choose to do something else.

Friday, and really any ending, gives us an opportunity to reflect and ponder and consider. Mostly, Friday and any ending gives us the opportunity to change, to begin again, to begin anew.

So my question to you is . . . how will you use this opportunity to reflect? Will you give yourself the opportunity to change a pattern of behavior, a pattern of speech? Will you give yourself the opportunity to change your pattern of thought? Or will you simply do as you always do, do as you’ve always done because that’s the way you’ve always done it? The question is yours to answer. The choice is yours to make. Up to you. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I finished my fifth work of thriller/mystery fiction, Caught In A Web and it’s currently being edited. I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                       

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI/               

If you like Thriller/Mystery fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 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 Agent Kelliher and 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://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
It began in Arizona with death and it ends in Arizona in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their family vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are? Or how many there are? Or when they might come for him? http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Friday, March 24, 2017

At What Point Failure?



Don was an older math teacher at a barrio school in Southern California where I was a counselor. A reserved kind of guy, he kept to himself, though he was cordial and got along well with his department and others.

As a counselor, I had lunch supervision duty and Don’s class was in my assigned area of the campus. Any given day, I noticed a steady stream of kids going into and out of his classroom all during lunch. At first, I thought kids had just gathered there, but I was wrong.

I asked Don what was happening and he explained that he didn’t allow his students to fail. No one! Each student could retake a test as many times as they wanted . . . until the student achieved a passing grade. I asked him why and his answer surprised me. Don asked me, “What does an F tell me? Nothing!”

Don had a reputation of high expectations and big demands. Counselors in that district also handled discipline referrals and honestly, I don’t remember ever receiving one from Don. I checked with the principal, who I consider my mentor and friend to this day, and Bill stated that Don was one of the best teachers he had ever worked with. He invited me to do an observation with him, so one day, I joined him.

Kids were busy! Kids taught other kids! There were groups. Don never sat down unless he was with a group going over problems. He moved from one to another and in the 45 minutes (a seven period day) we were there, kids were on task and engaged.

The kids? I recognized kids from three active gangs who were on campus and all of them were rivals. They worked with one another. They taught each other and learned from each other. Don’s philosophy was simple, “Leave the gang crap at the door. We’re here to learn math and that’s what you’ll do.”

The kids in Don’s class didn’t fail. Not one. Each kid progressed to the next level and beyond, and many came back to Don for help or tutoring. Some, just to visit. Don welcomed them all.

I saw an interesting interview with author J.K. Rowling, who spoke about her life and about failure. You can find it here:  https://www.facebook.com/globalinformer/videos/vb.201900393159314/1438123899536951/?type=2&theater

There were several comments that stuck out and I’ll do my best to paraphrase: “Rock bottom became the foundation.” “I was rejected, but I never quit.” “Some might say I was a failure.”

J.K. Rowling a failure? Seriously?

In actuality, what author hasn’t been rejected? What manuscript hasn’t been rejected a time or two? William Golding and “Lord Of The Flies” was rejected 20 times. John le CarrĂ©’sThe Spy Who Came in from the Cold” was passed on because le CarrĂ© “hasn’t got any future.”Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was rejected 38 times before it was published. Anne Frank’sThe Diary of a Young Girl” was rejected 15 times before it was published.Carrie” by Stephen King was rejected 30 times before it was published.Animal Farm” by George Orwell was rejected because “there is no market for animal stories in the USA.” And of course, J.K. Rowling’sHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was rejected 12 times and she was told “not to quit her day job.” There are many others.

These authors, like our math teacher, Don, have one thing in common: they never gave up. They didn’t quit on themselves and in Don’s case, he didn’t quit on his kids and he didn’t allow them to quit on themselves.

So I ask you this question, and I think it’s an important one . . . At What Point Failure? And before you answer, I give you a word of caution . . . by quitting now you will never know how close you are to success! I guess there can be failure at some point. Failure might be when we quit. Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

I just finished my fifth work of thriller/mystery fiction, Caught In A Web and it’s currently being edited. I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                      

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI/              

If you like Thriller/Mystery fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 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 Agent Kelliher and 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://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
It began in Arizona with death and it ends in Arizona in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their family vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are? Or how many there are? Or when they might come for him? http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Friday, March 3, 2017

Giving Up



Growing up as a kid, each lent called for us to Give Up something. As I recall, my parents were pretty hands off on our decision, because it was our decision. However, each of us had to actually Give Up something.

Some of us cheated. Not a lot, but just a little.

We might look over the TV guide and Give Up watching a night knowing that there wasn’t much on anyway. Some of us Gave Up a dessert, which for me was a difficult one because I have such a sweet tooth.

Lent changed for me as I got older. I’m not sure how I came to it, but I assume it was in high school, maybe in college or beyond, and probably from something I had read or heard.

Instead of Giving Up, I began To Do instead.

Notes to cheer people up. Smile more. Sometimes going through a fast food drive through, I’d pay for the car behind me and drive off before anyone could flag me down. Nothing big, mind you, but something out of the ordinary and perhaps out of my comfort zone.

My reasoning is that Giving Up really was only for me. It didn’t affect anyone else. I realize it’s sometimes good to Give Up something, however I refuse to Give Up bacon or Diet Coke. In fact, if I could IV Diet Coke, I’d be almost in heaven despite all the nasty things I hear diet soda does. I like the taste, so . . .

This year, however, I’m including Giving Up some things for lent. Not your usual things, however.

I came across a post on Facebook that made sense and I thought that if all of us were to Give Up these things, our world collectively and individually would be so much better. It makes me smile just to think about the possibilities.

So this year, instead of this food or that drink, and instead of this TV night or that TV night, I’ve decided to try Giving Up, or to Fast from the following:

·        Fast from hurting words and say kind words
·        Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude
·        Fast from anger and be filled with patience
·        Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope
·        Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity
·        Fast from bitterness and fill my heart with joy
·        Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others
·        Fast from grudges and be reconciled
·        Fast from words and be silent so I can listen

So here’s my challenge to you, each of you both young and old: Give Up and Fast from the above and try the alternative. Honestly and sincerely, I think you’ll like the results. I think we’ll all like the results. And, I think those around us will like the results. All those in favor of Giving Up, smile and nod your head! Something worthwhile to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

For My Readers:
Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor

Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author                    

Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Lewis/e/B01FWB9AOI/             

If you like Thriller/Mystery fiction, check out my novels:

Available on Amazon for .99 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 Agent Kelliher and 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://bit.ly/Taking-Lives-JLewis

Stolen Lives, Book One of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Stolen-Lives-JLewis

Shattered Lives, Book Two of the Lives Trilogy:
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://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
It began in Arizona with death and it ends in Arizona in death. A 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t know it. Their family vacation turns into a trip to hell. Out gunned and outnumbered, can this boy protect his father and brothers? Without knowing who these men are? Or how many there are? Or when they might come for him? http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis