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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hello



Hello

When I was a kid, my mom and dad would only allow us to go trick or treating at friends’ houses and then only when the porch light was on. It was the way we, and our parents, knew the house was safe and welcoming. Kim and I used this same practice when our kids did their trick or treating. Now that our kids are all grown up, we continue that same practice for all the neighborhood kids who come to our door for their annual treat.

The porch light is a sign of welcome, a greeting of sorts.

So is a smile. And most assuredly, a Hello.

When I was a counselor at a barrio high school in California, there was an English teacher who greeted each student at the door- male or female- with a smile, a handshake and a “Hello.” He was almost a fixture at the top of the list kids selected for Teacher of the Year. Their comments were, “he cares” and “he respects us” and “he’s safe.”

At that same school, another teacher, a math guy, told his students from day one that his classroom was Switzerland. He informed his students that they were there to learn math and leave everything else outside the door. He had to because he had a mix of kids from several rival gangs. As a result, he was also on that list and didn’t have any problems that I remember. He might as well had a porch light on to welcome his students like trick or treaters, right?

The thing about a smile or a Hello is that it disarms and confuses someone wearing a frown. There is a bit of load taken off one’s shoulders when greeted with either. Much like the porch light, it is a welcome. It’s friendly. It’s safe.

Scientists have pointed out for years that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. Not sure if that’s true or not, but it sounds about right I guess. And my mom had always told us that if we frown, our faces might get stuck that way. Okay, maybe not so scientific, but perhaps there is some truth there as well.

You see, if one frowns or sends off the signal of “Leave me alone,” people usually do. There is a feeling of aloneness, loneliness that sets in making you even unhappier and even more alone and lonely. I mean, after all, you send the message “Leave me alone,” that “I am not interested in you or anyone else right now,” people will listen to that- whether it is a verbal or nonverbal message.

Our world, perhaps our nation specifically, has become less welcoming, less friendly. Not sure when. Not sure why. Not sure how. I have my suspicions, but that is for another day, time and post.

I just believe that that there is less tolerance, less caring, less compassion. A whole lot less smiles. Perhaps not enough Hellos.

Wouldn’t it be nice if maybe once or twice this day, maybe once or twice each day this week, we might wear a smile and greet someone with a Hello? How powerful would that be if that someone was unknown to you? We might actually start something. Maybe make our country a bit more gentle, a bit more welcoming. And while we’re at it, maybe we can leave the porch light on every now and then just to let people know that they have a safe place to go to. That we’re safe to be around. Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

I sent the final edited copy of my fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction Caught in a Web to Black Rose Writing. It will drop in April of 2018.  You can check out the cover if you travel to my author page at https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author  I am working with Black Rose on several publicity campaigns so when the “drop” nears, I’ll keep you posted. There will be an opportunity for preordering Caught in a Web, so when the link becomes available, I’ll make sure you know. Unlike my others, this one will be available in bookstores as well as Amazon.

Good News!
I am actively seeking agent representation for Spiral Into Darkness. It is more of a psychological thriller but with an attitude.

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 and are looking for something to read over the winter, check out my novels:

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, January 19, 2018

Hope And An Opportunity



As I reflect on the past month and perhaps focus just on the past two weeks, the normally mild climate I live in got hammered with cold and snow. For not the first time did I wonder whether or not I had actually left Wisconsin for warmer weather. As I write this, Emily gleefully texted me that her college in Greensboro cancelled classes the last two days and started late today.

I’ve seen pictures of blizzard and whiteout conditions from Texas to Wisconsin that stretch to the East Coast. Snow drifts and icy patches. Drivers white-knuckling it as they motor along treacherous patches. Passengers equally concerned and anxious as they sit rigid, eyes taking it all in whether they want to or not.

And yet, at least here, it’s getting warmer. Days are getting longer. Hardly any snow, if any, on the ground. Nature gracefully taking over as she always seems to do.

Which brings me to today’s thought.

Any seasonal change, pick one because it doesn’t matter . . . any change from day to night and back to day . . . brings with it Hope And An Opportunity.

I’ve said this before in other posts, but isn’t this a wonderful gift? Each of us, whether we want it or not, need it or not gets a Do Over.

It’s the feeling that no matter how badly the day (or evening) went, no matter how ugly and put upon we are, it can and most likely will change the next day (or evening). Even though it might be a longer period of time (a season), the next one (season) is coming and with it Hope. With it, An Opportunity.

Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for another change. Hope for another Opportunity.

And Hope gives birth to Opportunity: to do better next time; to right a wrong; to straighten out a damaged or hurt relationship- with others or with yourself; to Do Over and Begin Again. Hope gives each of us another chance.

So . . . the choice is once again up to us . . . you and me.

We can take full advantage of each Opportunity given to us . . . or we can frit it away, waste it. We can continue with the same destructive patterns of thought and action and word choice, or we can change. Worse, we can ignore it all and just settle for what we’ve always done, what we’ve always thought, what we’ve always said and what we’ve always expected.

But . . .

If someone was to come up to you and offer you $10 or even $50 with no strings attached, wouldn’t you accept it? Wouldn’t that cause you to smile? I mean, folks play the lottery all the time and most come up empty, so why wouldn’t you accept a sure thing?
I can’t think of a better gift than Hope. Without it, we are lost and defeated before we even step out on the field, before we even jump in the shower, before . . .

Hope is a gift. And Hope gives birth to Opportunity. Endlessly and on a perpetual basis. Nonstop. Forever. Why don’t we take full advantage of it? Why is it we squander it? Why is it we sometimes don’t even recognize it? If this isn’t something to think about, I don’t know what is . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I sent the final edited copy of my fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction Caught in a Web to Black Rose Writing. It will drop in April of 2018.  You can check out the cover if you travel to my author page at https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author  I am working with Black Rose on several publicity campaigns so when the “drop” nears, I’ll keep you posted. There will be an opportunity for preordering Caught in a Web, so when the link becomes available, I’ll make sure you know. Unlike my others, this one will be available in bookstores as well as Amazon.

Good News!
I am actively seeking agent representation for Spiral Into Darkness. It is more of a psychological thriller but with an attitude.

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 and are looking for something to read over the winter, check out my novels:

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, January 12, 2018

What's In Your Cup?



I had a conversation with a co-worker way, way back my first year as a counselor and it stuck with me all these years. She was sad and it didn’t take long to recognize it. When I asked her how she was doing, she described her husband, a Vietnam veteran as having “issues.” There were times he’d lash out over what she thought were small, almost petty things. There were other times when he’d not respond at all over something when she fully expected a blowup. Unpredictability, I guess, was his hallmark.

She said there were times he’d tense up. Times he’d be sullen and uncommunicative. She never quite knew what to expect from day to day, sometimes from morning to night.

But the part of the conversation I recall that had the biggest impact on me was when she said, “He tries to keep the ooze in a box in the drawer. But sometimes, there is so much ooze, it’s bound to leak out and get messy.”

I think each of us can relate to that statement because either we or someone we know, perhaps someone we work with, even kids, have ooze. And sometimes as neatly wrapped and tucked away as we think it might be, the ooze overflows and gets messy.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, not even in college. Once upon a time, I drank quite a bit of tea, especially the flavored ones. When Kim and I go out to eat, I generally go with unsweetened tea with lemon. Kind of flavorless, a little bitter.

Since I’ve been on a diet, I’ve increased my water intake. I know it’s good for me, essential really, but there isn’t a whole lot of taste. Still, I make sure I down my required sixty-four ounces or more each day.

If you haven’t noticed, I have to fess up and tell you that I am a Diet Coke-aholic. I know the warnings and cautions associated with the drink, but I like the taste. Yet because of my diet, I’ve actually cut back on my favorite drink. But still . . .

So today, I ask the question: What’s In Your Cup?

I’m not talking about your coffee or tea or water or soda, but rather, metaphorically speaking, What’s In Your Cup?

Think about that for a moment . . .

What is it you are carrying around with you, inside of you that might spill out? What is it that you’re not talking about, not sharing with someone that has the potential of oozing out of the box in the drawer?

A setback of some sort? Some hurt feelings perhaps? A conversation or action that went sideways? Money trouble? A relationship? A recent diagnosis for yourself or a friend or loved one? Loneliness or aloneness?

What’s In Your Cup?

Some unhappiness undefined, unrecognized and unwanted but stuffed in a drawer in your cupboard lurking, waiting for the ill-prepared for wrong-time, only to leak out and ooze onto your shoes in front of everyone else to witness? The mess that might cause someone to comment on the mess we are and try to hide?

Because Whatever is Inside Your Cup is what spills out. Whatever we keep tucked away inside the box in the drawer might leak. Maybe not at this moment, but sometime. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. At the most inopportune time: a meeting, a get together, some function. Perhaps an even worse time: when we are alone and most vulnerable.

What’s In Your Cup?

When life comes along and shakes you, trips you and knocks you down, whatever is inside you will come out. So ask yourself, “What’s In My Cup?” When life gets tough, what spills out?
Will it be joy, peace, compassion, kindness and humility or will it be anger, bitterness, sarcasm and harsh words? Maybe each of us, you and I, need to check now and do some heavy duty cleaning before it oozes out of the box in the drawer. Before it spills out of the cup. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I sent the final edited copy of my fifth work of thriller/suspense fiction Caught in a Web to Black Rose Writing. It will drop in April of 2018.  Earlier this week I received a mockup of the cover. Sleek and simple, yet thought provoking.  You can check it out if you travel to my author page at https://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Lewis.Author I am working with Black Rose on several publicity campaigns so when the “drop” nears, I’ll keep you posted. There will be an opportunity for preordering Caught in a Web, so when the link becomes available, I’ll make sure you know. Unlike my others, this one will be available in bookstores as well as Amazon.

Good News!
I am actively seeking agent representation for Spiral Into Darkness. It is more of a psychological thriller but with an attitude.

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 and are looking for something to read over the winter, check out my novels:

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