I want to tell you two things…

I want to tell you two things… First, The National Ataxia Foundation recently named yours truly the Ataxia Ambassador of Philadelphia. My responsibilities include organizing support group meetings, contacting local ataxia experts, and raising ataxia awareness in the Philadelphia/South New Jersey region. This a great honor. I’m excited and privileged to help raise ataxia awareness […]

A friend visits and teaches me about gratitude

A friend visits and teaches me about gratitude A friend sits at my kitchen table and tells me about their bad stuff. (I don’t mind writing about my bad stuff but I’m not at liberty to write about other people’s bad stuff so I will sacrifice details with generalization.) My friend talks openly about their […]

The four words I’m grateful for

The four words I’m grateful for For me, this whole writing business began when a doctor looked at an MRI of my brain, then at the floor, then hard into my eyes and said, “You should be dead.” He then told me there was nothing he or anyone could do. “I’m sorry Mr. Armstrong, you […]

A Little Moral Courage (or when your child’s teacher emails you)

A Little Moral Courage (or when your child’s teacher emails you) Cindy and I receive an email from Chase’s teacher, “I would like to speak to about Chase.” Our rabbit minds zigzag all the ways he may have broken the rules. Maybe he cheated on a test. Maybe he threw an apple during lunch. Maybe, […]

A former student returns to talk about_______.

As I’m packing up my bag to go home for the day, a former student is suddenly framed in my classroom door. “Mr. Armstrong!” We smile, hug, sit down, and a few minutes into the visit the former student clears their throat and says, “Can I ask you something?” “Sure.” “Do you think about ______.” […]

The Hard Work of Happiness

The Hard Work of Happiness On a recent cold, wind-snapped morning I asked class of college-bound high school seniors a simple question. What brings you happiness? (I know…a dicey question to ask a bunch of bored 17 year olds). Their answers were both surprisingly PG and unsurprisingly boring: Sleep, Saturday, my bed, Netflix, my dog…because all […]

What good advice do you fail to take?

The other day I asked my students, “What good advice do you fail to take?” The answers ranged from “don’t procrastinate” to “live in the moment” to “eat vegetables” to “don’t sweat the small stuff” to “get more sleep.” My students, high school seniors, are primed for advice. Fresh-faced, wide-eyed, eager, energetic, and ready to […]

The Scary Work of Rewriting Yourself

The Scary Work of Rewriting Yourself This week, two years ago, I wrote The Day I Learned I Could No Longer Jump ( or learning to fly). It was my first story piece published in a publication (Generations). The story is one of the greatest leaps personal and writing leaps I ever took. Any writer […]

Cartwheels and Writing

Cartwheels and Writing Haley is writing a story for school. A fractured fairy-tale. Her narrator is the Queen of Hearts, the villain in Alice in Wonderland telling the untold story of how Alice is the real villain of wonderland. I’m impressed. For 5 pages she keeps the story cohesive, free of plot holes, and plump […]

Can poetry save lives?

Can poetry save lives? I’ve been entertaining the question: Can poetry save lives? Here’s why: At the start of the school year my 12th grade students made it clear they knew very little poetry. They knew of Edgar Allan Poe, Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. Yet when I pressed their poetry knowledge they stared at […]