Follow by Email

Friday, April 27, 2018

Tale of Two Songs


I know there is science that suggests smell is the most powerful of the senses. Others suggest touch, noting that humans need to touch and be touched. Virginia Satir writes, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” I don’t know if any human gets his or her daily quota. Ever. Maybe that’s why I’m shrinking. And I thought it was just because I’m getting older.

I remember teaching psychology many moons ago and my classes were fascinated by an experiment with baby monkeys. I found it to be unusually cruel and so did my classes. The experiment was to separate two groups of monkeys: one group of baby monkeys was allowed to remain in the care of momma monkey. The other group was put in a cage by itself with only a terry cloth monkey for comfort. Scientists discovered that the monkeys “raised” by the terry cloth monkey didn’t develop or bond. Duh!

I think Helen Keller might argue that sight is powerful. To witness the beauty, the color, the expression on faces associated with the words they speak. Yet she lived and functioned in a darkened world and became a noted spokesperson and advocate for the blind population. Others might argue that the sense of hearing is the most important. While my hearing is slowing going, with the benefit of hearing aids, I’m able to function pretty well.  

Speaking of the sense of hearing . . .

Isn’t it funny how, sometimes, you hear a melody or a lyric and are transported back in time to a specific place surrounded by specific people? To this day, I hear I Want To Hold Your Hand (the Beatles, in case you were wondering) and I’m back in sixth grade on the playground at Holy Angels Grade School arguing who was the best in the group. Or I hear Gimme Some Lovin (Spencer Davis Group featuring Steve Winwood on vocals and keyboards) and I’m in middle school front of the stage singing in our rock back.

I have music on while I’m driving and this morning on my way to school, it happened again. Two songs in a row.

The first song was I Loved Her First (Heartland, I think it might have been their only hit). I hear this song and it brings tears to my eyes. This is Hannah’s and my song. This is the song Hannah has chosen for the father-daughter dance at her wedding. The chorus is:

            But I loved her first and I held her first
And a place in my heart will always be hers
From the first breath she breathed
When she first smiled at me
I knew the love of a father runs deep
And I prayed that she'd find you someday
But it's still hard to give her away
I loved her first

I mean, dang! That’s me when I look at Hannah. That will be me at her wedding. And before the wedding, that’s going to be me when I help pack her up and move her to Pittsburgh. Can’t help it. She’s my Peanut. Always has been and always will be.

The second song is My Wish (Rascal Flatts). I sang this song for the 2012 commencement- Hannah’s grad class. I knew those kids so well. The problem was that Hannah introduced me to the kids and parents and I ended up with a lump in my throat the size of Mt. Rushmore. I don’t think I hit the right note until . . . well, maybe I never did.

The lyrics express, I think, what every dad or parent wants for their kids at any age, at any time.

            But more than anything, more than anything
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too
Yeah, this, is my wish.

See what I mean? It’s any parent’s wish for their children.

I would also argue that it’s any teacher’s . . . any good teacher’s . . . wish for students entrusted to them by parents. Perhaps, it’s any adult coach, doctor, nurse, custodian, bus driver, any adult worth their salt and breath for children of all ages, any age. Any kid. Every kid. Yes. We can only hope, right? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

My new book, Caught in a Web launched yesterday, on Thursday, April 26. It is now available online on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2I9ipGx  but you can also order it from Black Rose Writing at http://bit.ly/2GtdsXL

If you want to know what others have thought of the book so far, you can watch this one minute video at: https://spark.adobe.com/video/12jP26B9bxtLB  You will notice some very nice reviews.

For those of you in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area, I am doing three Caught in a Web book sale and signing events. You can find me at:
April 28 Porter Library in Stafford from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
May 5 England Run Library in Stafford/Fredericksburg from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
May 12 Salem Church Library in Spotsylvania/Fredericksburg from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Feel free to connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Relax and Let Go


My family and I love the Harry Potter books and movies. I remember fighting with Kim over who would read The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets when they first came out. She had started them because she saw her students’ noses in them constantly, so she had to check them out.

There was a scene near the end of The Sorcerer’s Stone movie where Harry, Ron and Hermione snuck past the three-headed dog. The professors set up a series of roadblocks to prevent anyone from trying to get the stone. One of the roadblocks was a tightening vine of sorts that squeezed them and threatened to strangle them until they were unconscious or dead. (Hardly any good guys died in the early movies, but we didn’t know that, right?)

Of course it was Hermione who discovered the remedy to the strangling vine. Leave it to her. Most of the time, she was the one who, behind the scenes either directly or indirectly, guided and coached her two friends to safety. First Hermione and then Harry relaxed and fell to the floor below and in doing so, fell to safety.  

The trick was to Relax and Let Go.

Let’s think about that for a moment.

Three kids, innocent like most kids should be, fairly inexperienced in the ways of life and in the ways of the world. Three kids who are in the death grip of some sort of vine who won’t let them go and threatens to squish them to death or at the least, prevent them from breathing.

And the brainy kid suggests that they should Relax and Let Go. Sure! Right! Okay!

Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? To be in the firm grasp of  . . . panic . . . pain . . . sorrow only to  . . . Relax and Let Go? Really?

This morning as I did my morning meditation, the passage I read dealt with being still (Relax). In the midst of noise and panic, in the midst of chaos and confusion, the reader was urged to be still (Relax) and to trust that we are in good hands (Let Go). Again, somewhat counter-intuitive.

And a dear friend sent me a text with the same thought from a different angle. It dealt with trust (Let Go) and to have faith (Relax and Let Go).

So, I get two messages on the same topic. As Gibbs says on NCIS and as Alex Cross says in James Patterson novels, “No such thing as coincidence.” I really don’t believe in coincidence. Maybe once upon a time back when I was a kid, but too much has happened in my life to continue believing it.

But it is counter-productive, isn’t it? When hurt, we want to hurt back- sometimes doubly so. When things don’t go well and fall apart in front of our eyes, we panic. We frantically rush to correct, to make amends, to . . . And I’m not saying necessarily that we can’t or shouldn’t correct or make amends, but before we do, maybe we should close our eyes and breathe. Maybe we should fight the tendency to tighten up, to wall off (last week’s post), to panic and tense up.

Instead, maybe we should shut our eyes and breathe, take a moment, pause. Maybe we should Relax and Let Go. Just maybe. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I have to admit, I am excited for the release of my new book, Caught in a Web. It officially launches on Thursday, April 26, but you can preorder it today and save 10% if you use the Promo code PREORDER2018 at http://bit.ly/2GtdsXL

If you’d like to know a little bit about the book, watch this 30 Second Book Trailer at:

If you want to know what others have thought of the book so far, you can watch this one minute video at:  https://spark.adobe.com/video/12jP26B9bxtLB You will notice some very nice reviews.

For those of you in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area, I am doing three Caught in a Web book sale and signing events. You can find me at:
April 28 Porter Library in Stafford from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
May 5 England Run Library in Stafford/Fredericksburg from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
May 12 Salem Church Library in Spotsylvania/Fredericksburg from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Feel free to connect with me on Social Media:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


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

Friday, April 13, 2018

Metamorphosis


Spring has arrived . . . at least we think so, anyway. Mother Nature hasn’t quite made up her mind yet, but I figure it’s bound to happen sooner or later, right? Hopefully?

Birds. Flowers. Trees budding. Mowing the lawn. Mulch.

And Bugs!

Not a real fan am I. I know it’s a necessary evil. My niece, Nadine who is an entomologist, would argue that most bugs aren’t evil at all. Okay, I’ll give her that, but both of us can agree that some are downright distasteful if not destructive. Carpenter ants. Fleas. Ticks. Termites. Wasps. Flies. And on and on.

Some bugs are downright ugly, if not creepy.

Think about maggots . . . or not. White slimy wormy things. Nothing really cute about them. Kind of, well, gross! I think caterpillars are not only ugly but a bit creepy. They aren’t in the cute category. They’re fuzzy and have a bazillion legs. Again, just . . . gross!

But the interesting thing about maggots and caterpillars is that both of them begin as something and end up something else. Maggots are the larva of flies. In both cases, a nuisance, a pest and don’t serve a real purpose other than to bug us . . . pun intended. Caterpillars begin ugly and creepy, but end up as something quite beautiful . . . butterflies (moths, too, but we’ll focus on butterflies).

The process is Metamorphosis, which is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation. In other words, from one thing into another thing. (I can copy and paste as well as anyone.)

Maggots are ugly to begin with and end up as a nuisance and a pest. Caterpillars are ugly to begin with and end up delicate and beautiful.

I think sometimes each of us undergoes a kind of Metamorphosis. Perhaps, some of us should undergo a kind of Metamorphosis.

I think we’ve all known individuals who start out as something quite different from the individuals they are now. And it goes both ways: from not so desirable to desirable and from desirable to not so desirable. Much of it depends upon life events: illness; death; some life circumstance.

In my own case, I think my family and I- individually and as a family- changed quite a bit with the death of my son, Wil. For me, I don’t take things for granted as perhaps I once did. I view time and moments as precious commodities. Oddly, I believe I’ve become more hopeful and my faith has deepened. Not that we were ever far apart physically or emotionally, I think our family is even closer than it once was.

People can change. Each of us might experience our own personal Metamorphosis.

But my question to you is not if we change or even how we change or what the cause was or is for our own personal Metamorphosis. I want you to consider something quite different than the obvious path I could take you down.

The question(s) is this: when someone changes, especially from bad to good or undesirable to desirable- however you want to phrase it- how long do you hold onto the older version of that person? How long do you refuse to recognize the difference, the change, the Metamorphosis that has taken place in that individual? When exactly does that picture of that person change focus for you?

It seems to me that there are times we refuse to recognize that individuals can, do and should change. We keep that mental picture, that memory stuffed in the back of our mind . . . our heart much like we stuff an old photo into our wallet and we hang onto that image until, well, forever. We never really recognize that an individual underwent a personal Metamorphosis caused by one thing or another, both good and bad, and now, that person is changed. His or her thinking. His or her feeling. His or her values and beliefs and loves.

And perhaps the individual who was once desirable has, for one reason or another, become undesirable, or once was good and is now bad. Perhaps we focus too long and too much on what that person is now without realizing that once upon a time, he or she was once someone completely different- and if changed, perhaps that same individual can change back. Because change is never permanent. By very definition, change is dynamic, is active and not passive. And we can change too. Perhaps we should change and need to change. Perhaps. Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

I had the opportunity to be interviewed in advance of my new book, Caught in a Web, launching April 26, by Fiona Mcvie from Ireland. She asked some really interesting questions and I enjoyed myself. If you are interested, you can read it at https://wp.me/p3uv2y-7Km

And, I received the nicest review from Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer for Midwest Review:

If you are interested in getting a copy of Caught in a Web, in the thriller/suspense genre, it is now available for preorder at http://bit.ly/2GtdsXL . If you purchase your book prior to the publication date of April 26, 2018, you may use the promo code: PREORDER2018 to receive a 10% discount. I hope you check it out.

For those of you in the Fredericksburg, VA area, I will be selling and signing, Caught in a Web, April 28 Porter Library in Stafford from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
May 5 England Run Library in Stafford/Fredericksburg from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
May 12 Salem Church Library in Spotsy/Fredericksburg from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Please feel free to connect with me at:

Twitter at @jrlewisauthor


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