Always move forward

Little did I know I was about to be ambushed.

I sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee from the “Dog Lover” mug my kids bought me for Christmas, eating a powder donut, while listening to Philadelphia sports talk radio. The radio voice swore if the Eagles could successfully run the football they could defeat the defending Super Bowl Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their 1 p.m. playoff game today. I chewed the powdered donut, nodded my head, and believed deep in my hometown heart the Eagles would win the game when a baseboard pipe in the living room burst.

Still chewing the powdered donut, I pushed from the kitchen table to witness an impromptu fountain cascading water in my suburban living room with the elegance and majesty of The Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. I swallowed. I was witnessing something new and sudden. A hot panic ripped up my chest. My heart raced. My brain did somersaults. Yet I was frozen. The only move I mustered was licking the powder from my lips. It wasn’t until Dylan rushed into the living room and exclaimed, “OH MY!” that I realized I had to do something.

I rushed to shut off the water to the house. The fountain slowed to a trickle. Hours passed. And with the help of my brothers, my dad, my neighbor, Cindy, the three kids, and Maggie May’s tongue we soaked up the water that pooled across the living room floor. My brother repaired the pipe. Cindy mopped. And I returned to my “Dog Lover” mug and powered donut crumbs. A new radio voice boomed and sounded more confident than the old voice that the Eagles would win the game.

The voices were wrong. My heart was wrong. The Eagles lost.

A few days later I was in the boxing center again. The same one I told you about last week. However, this time I was there for a physical evaluation, a glove fitting, and a “how to throw proper punches for people who don’t know how to throw proper punches” demonstration.

If my brain disease is progressive and relentless, shouldn’t I be as well?

My boxing gloves.

The boxing instructor, a short, unassuming woman who resembled the nuns who taught me at St. Ephrem’s Elementary School, uncorks a right upper cut on the left rubber cheek of the pale, rubber man who wears a stunned expression, as if suddenly realizing he just robbed the wrong church.

The boxing nun stood by my left shoulder as I squared off with the rubber torso. Softly she spoke, “Gloves up. Square your feet. And when you’re ready…two hard right upper cuts to his face.”

The first upper cut lands flush on the rubber man’s left cheek. He’s stunned.

“Good,” says the nun who, in my mind, now belongs to the Holy Hearts of the Sisters without Mercy.

The second upper cut glances off the rubber man’s chin. The rubber man’s expression seems to change from stunned to high school bully amusement.

“Do you know why you missed?”


“You were moving back. Always move forward.”

Life often sucker punches us. Pipes burst. Football teams lose. Brains atrophy. And learning how to defend ourselves when ambushed will decide if we’re going to live a life in retreat or a life in advancement.

Too often, we try to to avoid our problems. Maybe we complain or stand idle instead of moving to resolve our problems. We can stagger our feet and swing wildly, sometimes for years, until we’re exhausted, until our knees buckle, and we fall.

Or we can choose to advance and put meaningful effort in our actions. We can choose actions that are constructive, creative, precise, and positive. Actions that provide the strength and courage to square our feet, keep our hands up, and move forward with the piety, discipline, and fury of a pugilistic nun of the highest order.

Be well,


Again, I want to welcome everyone who subscribed through the Book Funnel promotions. I hope my silly, dad brain brings you insight, comfort, and humor each Friday.

Also through Book Funnel, I’ve teamed up with some awesome authors who, for a limited time, are giving away their eBooks for FREE! Please checkout the link below and help emerging authors get discovered.

New Year Nonfiction Giveaway

For those in the Philadelphia Area: A limited number of signed copies of Bedtime Stories for the Living are now on sale at Commonplace Reader in Yardley, Pennsylvania. The Commonplace Reader is a cozy local bookstore with a wide selection of books, super nice employees, and strong baseboard pipes.

Quote of the Week:

If you would like to share something with others (a photo, a poem, a song, a quote, etc.) that tosses some positive vibes into the world, please send your suggestions to me at Thanks!

Don’t be like my kids. Read Bedtime Stories for the Living.

(According to the Amazon reviews you won’t regret it!)

Joking aside, if you read BSFL I would love an Amazon review! Due to some Jeff Bezos concocted algorithm, more book reviews lead to greater exposure. And greater exposure equates to higher book sales and as I wrote in BSFL, “college for three ain’t free.”

Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.

Here’s what I’m currently reading: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

If you like this post, you may also like:

Why we need to tell our stories


12 Lessons I Learned in 2021


52 Reasons to Get Up


52 Decisions to Make in 2022

Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, and a former award-winning high school English teacherDespite 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 or a beer with his friends)

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

You can also visit Jay at

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