Seven years of bad luck

The ancient Greeks believed if you broke a mirror, you were destined to endure seven years of bad luck. Why? The Greeks believed mirrors were gifts from the gods and mirrors were extensions of the human soul. So to shattering a mirror was to not only disrespect the gods, it meant you shattered your soul.

And why seven years? Because the Greeks also believed that it took seven years for the gods to forgive you and seven years for your soul to repair from it’s shattering.

The ancient Greeks also condoned slavery, believed the unibrow was a sign of beauty, and sneezing was an effective means of birth control.

This week, when I stepped out of my bathroom, my brain shut off. Like someone pulled the power chord. My arms windmilled, my knees buckled, someone tilted the floor, I lost all dignity and grace, and I fell hard into the sliding bedroom mirror.

The mirror cracked and spidered in a hundred different ways. From top to bottom. From side to side.

I’m fine. No scratches, no bruises, no broken bones. Just seven years of bad luck.

Next week, I will be interviewed by writer and podcaster Chris Palmore on Gratitudespace Radio to talk about Bedtime Stories for the Living. Chris is a champion of gratitude. He has written books about gratitude and has interviewed hundreds of people about gratitude. Chris strongly believes gratitude is the key living your best, most passionate life, and for making the world a better place begins.

But right now, staring at myself in the shattered bedroom mirror, feeling sorry for myself.

I have a hole in my brain. Physical movements are getting more difficult. My slurred speech is now a source of shame. And someone keeps pulling that damn imaginary cord.

Right now, I am not grateful.

In fact, most days I’m not naturally grateful. Most days, I really, really have to work to be grateful. Most days it takes my whole suburban soul to find an ounce of gratitude.

After I inspect the bedroom mirror, run my fingers along the cracks, and realize the gods would not undo what I have done, I seek refuge in the Acropolis of suburbia.

At the edge of the Target parking lot stands a black-haired woman and a young boy, leaning on each other, under the shade of a small tree. The woman holds a cardboard sign that reads, “Please HELP!”

As I fill the red cart with cereal, I think about the cracked mirror. About the seven years of bad luck bestowed upon me. Maybe the hole in my brain will get bigger? Maybe my speech will get worse? Maybe I’ll fall and never get up again?

I load up the trunk with plastic bags, shut the trunk, open the driver’s door, shut it, crank the ignition, pull out my phone and google, “How do I reverse the seven year curse of a broken mirror?”

Spin counterclockwise three times in front of the broken mirror.

Bury a shard of the broken glass during a visible full moon.

Toss a shard of the broken glass in a south-running stream.

Find a four-leaf clover, carefully pick it, and place it north-to-south on a window ledge in your house.


Burn sage.

Find a black tourmaline stone and keep on your person for seven years.

Start a chain reaction of altruism.

I toss the phone on the passenger seat and back out from the parking space. When I reach the edge of the parking lot, I open my wallet and pull out a crisp American bill.

The black-haired woman appears in my passenger window. She smiles. I smile. Her small hand takes the bill from mine. “Mucho, mucho gracias, sir.”

Was this the chain reaction of altruism the internet was talking about? Will this reverse seven years of bad luck and repair the broken mirror? I hope so.

And if not, gratefully, The Home Depot can help.

Be well,


PS: The early reviews of Bedtime Stories for the Living have been great!

Here is what Michele Hill, educator and coauthor of 100 No-nonsense Things All Teachers Should Stop Doing, said:

“Melodic words filled with raw emotions, poured on pages, has made Bedtime Stories for the Living a testimony to the human spirit and the desire to live at all costs.

Jay Armstrong offers an emotional peek into his life living with a degenerative illness, cerebellum atrophy, while fulfilling the role as a husband, father, son and teacher. Jay’s stories are meant to leave a legacy to his children so that they may know the man– and his journey of facing the unthinkable, a slow walk into the abyss.

Jay taps into our soft spots of human kindness, empathy, vulnerability, and sometimes a little humor. In turn, Jay’s stories make us consider our own legacy and purpose here on earth.  What a beautiful book!”

If you like this post, you may also like:

Introduction to “Bedtime Stories for the Living”


Why I Need to Celebrate My Worst Day


What is Normal?


12 declarations I told myself this week


An excerpt from the book: Bowling with God


Playing Small Ball


Need some encouragement? Some perspective? This hardworking, almost-handsome, suburban soccer dad can help. Subscribe and, like a pizza, get my posts delivered to your door (your email inbox). No spam. Just posts.


Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, and a former award-winning high school English teacher. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. He hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:

1. Reading
2. Writing 
3. Exercising
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents and a beer with his friends)

Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time. 


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