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Thursday, October 26, 2017

That Little Voice



Do me a favor . . . consider for a minute things your father or mother said to you while you were growing up.

I’m willing to bet you can come up with three or more statements made by one or both of your parents and as you remember them, I bet you can not only picture who said them but the facial expression and body language, hand gestures, eyes, mouth of the parent saying them. They are that fresh in your mind. Would I be correct in that guess?

In my own childhood, I can hear and picture my mom saying:

-         “Oh my mother’s hat!” (Whatever that meant.)
-         “My mother’s mustache!” (Again, no idea, other than perhaps a picture of the bearded lady in a circus, I guess.)
-         “Just wait until your father gets home!”
-         “Whatever Paddy shot at and missed!” (What, she was a pretty good shot? Maybe a lousy shot? Who knows?)

My father had much more colorful phrases, but I don’t feel comfortable writing too many of them here. They would make us kids laugh, while my mom would admonish him. He’d either laugh or smirk, his eyes catching ours. One of my favorites was:

-         “That could knock a buzzard off a manure wagon at forty paces!” (Speaking about a smell, and he never used the word manure. Not ever.)

While these were funny and perhaps clever, though somewhat confusing, there were others that caused us to wince. Maybe even caused a bit of pain, at least emotionally.

Back in middle school, I was the drummer and lead singer for a rock and roll band. We did mostly covers of songs, but there were a few originals. Eventually because I did most of the lead vocals, I was moved up front and another drummer was brought in. In high school, I did a lot of solo work for our school choir and eventually, cut a few demos for record companies.

I never made it then or now, for that matter. But I did try. They told me I had a nice voice but because I didn’t play guitar or write my own music, they couldn’t take a chance on me. I didn’t give up. I remember thinking that I had wanted music as a career. Perhaps a kid’s dream. Probably not realistic. Looking back, I didn’t have a chance in a million, really. But I remember my dad telling me, “You’ll never make it.”

As I said, looking back, I didn’t really have a chance, but it was my dream and my goal regardless of how unrealistic. But to hear my father telling me that hurt. And after all these years, his words and the picture of him telling me this stuck with me. And, I did give up that dream.

I think back on other things that were said about or to me by others, not just my parents.

“You’re just another Lewis kid!” Because I stuttered in my early grades, a teacher told me to “talk correctly!” I remember a teacher telling the class that she wanted to hear from the smartest and second smartest in the room, so she called upon two of my friends, leaving the rest of us feeling kind of . . . stupid? Kind of . . . ignorant?  Kind of . . . not good enough?

I think back to things I said to kids as a teacher or coach, even as an administrator and shake my head knowing that I might have, probably did, cause some pain. I think of that even now years later.

You see the things adults, especially adults with titles say to kids last a long time. Those words and phrases and gestures stay with us. They can hurt and they usually do hurt. Those words sometimes play on a never ending loop.

Wouldn’t it be better to use words that help build up? Maybe use words that encourage rather than discourage? Correct the action of a kid without denigrating the kid, without belittling the kid, without the sarcasm that can be taken several different ways? Because the words of encouragement, the words that lift up- we remember those too. We hear them even now. And yes, we see the teacher, the parent, the significant other saying those positive messages to us. Even now. Even today. Better, those words we play on a never ending loop. Better, that voice in the back of our mind. Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

I have great news!

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. While I complete the necessary edits and wait, I am finishing up my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness. As always, I will keep you posted on the progress of Caught in a Web and Spiral Into Darkness.

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/Suspense 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 desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis           

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Friday, October 13, 2017

If the Shirt Doesn't Fit . . .



There are a series of pictures I’ve seen that illustrate the difference between what is fair and what is equal. It can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially in our current climate.

Three kids are standing behind a fence trying to watch a baseball game. The three kids are different sizes ranging from tall, to medium, to short.

The second picture shows the same kids behind the same fence watching the same baseball game, but in this instance, they stand on boxes. The boxes are all the same size, indicating that each kid is getting equal treatment. However, the tall kid and the medium kid see just fine, but because the short kid has a box that isn’t large enough, he still can’t see. Equal, but not necessarily fair.

The third picture shows yet the same kids behind the same fence watching the same baseball game, but this time each kid is given a different size box to stand on. The tall kid receives a box but it is smallest of the three boxes, but he can see just fine. The medium kid receives a slightly larger box than the taller kid, so he sees the game just fine. And the smallest kid receives a large box to stand on so he is at the same height as the tall and medium-sized kids and because of this, he sees the baseball game comfortably. In fact, in this picture, all three are standing at an equal height, so each can watch the same baseball game comfortably without any obstruction. Fair, but not necessarily equal.

Fair and equal.

Each child receives what he or she needs to succeed.

This morning I spent time on the phone with a concerned and frustrated parent because of a decision I made. Not the first time that happened and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The interpretation the parent wanted was the “letter of the law” because it is written and is black and white with no wiggle room.

Hmmm . . .

I’ve never claimed to be Solomon nor claimed to have his wisdom or brilliance. I’m just a guy and I’m sure if others were in my shoes, perhaps a different decision might have been made. Probably so because there are others a whole lot smarter than I am.

But I don’t see things as black and white. I see black and white with gradations of gray. I live in the world of gray. Always have and I know it can drive some folks a bit crazy. You know, the consistency thing.

I have several favorite psychologists and clinicians I’ve studied and read over the years. One of them, Alfred Adler, was paraphrased by a professor of mine while I was obtaining my first M.S., that one in Counseling. He said, “If the shirt doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.”

Great advice, but what if it’s the only shirt you have?

I think all decisions, big and small, need to be tempered by not only with what is fair and not only with what is equal with mostly with an eye on what is the most loving thing that can be done in any situation.

What is the most loving thing that can be done?

For some, we try to make it as fair as we can and this might mean that we aren’t treating some equally. But if we allow the question: “What is the most loving thing that can be done?” to influence that decision, how can we possibly go wrong? To me, love has a much higher rank than fair or equal. Just because something is written in black and white doesn’t mean it is necessarily right or necessarily fair or necessarily equal. Don’t accept the shirt if it doesn’t fit. Rather, If The Shirt Doesn’t Fit, get a new shirt. Just sayin’. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I have great news!

My fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web will be published by Black Rose Writing in April of 2018. While I complete the necessary edits and wait, I am finishing up my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness. As always, I will keep you posted on the progress of Caught in a Web and Spiral Into Darkness.

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/Suspense 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 desperate and violent men escape. One of them stands in a kitchen facing a 14 year-old-boy with a gun. There are many reasons for the boy to pull the trigger. Mainly, the man had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis          

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year-old-boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Ride On A Tractor



I began my teaching and coaching career in Wyoming in a ranch community. It was small and rural and I lived in a town that had a post office, a bar and a gas station. That’s it. Oh, and a water tower with the name of the town. I guess they needed a landmark so folks would know we existed.

During the summer, I was “hired” to work on a ranch. Yeah, me.

Folks, I’m a city slicker. Yes, I grew up in the country on a river, but it was close to the city, so it wasn’t country country, if you know what I mean. Where I lived in Wyoming, it was real country!

I had never been on a tractor. Never. Never thought I’d actually ever drive a tractor and looking back, perhaps I shouldn’t have. Yeah, really.

One early summer morning, Sonny drove me out to a field in the middle of nowhere. The crop was corn. My job was to drive the tractor up and down the field and plow it. That’s my best description of what my job was supposed to be.

So, Sonny being Sonny trusted me . . . maybe too much. He and I got on the tractor. He showed me how to sit so I could watch the front and the rear- sort of sitting sideways. Not super comfortable, but doable. He drove up one row and back down another and stopped the tractor. He jumped off and said, “See you at Noon.”

Noon? That was six hours approximately for me to be alone with a tractor with a contraption on the back that dug up dirt. Six hours by myself! And, up one row and down the other was the extent of my education on plowing a field on a tractor. Seriously?

Okay, he trusted me (silly, him!) so I think I can do this.

So, maybe not.

You see, crops grow and the product of my plowing was clearly evident in time. I don’t know in monetary terms how much damage I did to that field, but I have to tell you, there were more gaps than anyone’s grandmother’s teeth.

Sonny was the father of two of my basketball players. Great kids. Gene was with me at the time Sonny and I inspected the field and my work about a month or so later. It wasn’t pretty. Gene of course got quite the kick out of it. I was mortified.

Sonny’s reaction?

He sucked on a toothpick, turned one direction and then another, turned to Gene and asked, “Gene, what moron plowed this field?” Rhetorical, I guess, but the moron was me.

And that was the extent of it. He put me back on a tractor. On a backhoe. I irrigated fields. I drove his new pickup from field to field. I helped brand cattle (though I started a stampede, but that is a story for another time).

No anger. No dress down. No public flogging. I didn’t pay for the damages because he didn’t ask me for it, not that he ever would or that I could afford it.

He moved on. I moved on. I learned from my mistake- at least the mistake involving a tractor with a plow. I made new mistakes and learned from them too. He was patient with me and kept asking me back. His wife invited me to many Sunday dinners. Spent a Christmas morning there once. They took me in, sort of, like a lost puppy and in many respects, perhaps I was. My Ride On A Tractor was much more than that one summer morning and a messed up field. I learned because I was given a second, a third and a fourth chance. Mistakes and all. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I finished my fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction, Caught in a Web and I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be published. While we wait, I am at the tail end of  my sixth, Spiral Into Darkness. I’ve completed more than 81,000+ words and 327 pages into it.

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/Suspense 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:
A 14 year old boy stands in the kitchen pointing a gun at his uncle. There are many reasons for him to pull the trigger. Mainly, he had started it all. http://bit.ly/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis         

Splintered Lives, Book Three of the Lives Trilogy:
A 14 year old boy is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. High up on an Arizona mesa, he faces three desperate and dangerous men in hopes of saving his father and his brothers. http://bit.ly/Splintered-Lives-J-Lewis