Advice from an Uncertain Father
Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast
Oh, but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last
~ You’re a Big Girl Now, Bob Dylan
Recently, at a Kohl’s checkout counter, wearing a Covid-style mask and, what my kids call, my “old man’s cap”, I was asked by the cashier (who I assume was ten years old than me) if I was of age to receive the senior discount.
“No. How old do you think I am?”
“Sorry sir. With the mask and cap and the fact you’re shopping at Kohl’s at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday I thought, maybe, you were a senior.”
Haley, my eldest child, turned 14 years-old this week. She’s a few months away from attending high school. She’s begun to talk hopefully about getting a job, getting a car, and going to college. She’s rolling her spectacular blue eyes now. Wearing makeup. And spending more time in her bedroom with the door shut.
I’m having a difficult time accepting the simple truth that children grow up. I mean, I thought–maybe–with the right combination of DNA and Pop-Tarts, my children would be the first in human history to stay children. Real-life Peter Pans.
It frightens me how fast I went from daddy to dad. From holding hands and not holding hands. From picking up my baby girl from her crib after she cries to picking her up from Applebee’s at 11 p.m. after she texts, “We’re done. Come get me.”
Childhood slides into adulthood. And before we know what has happened, we rightfully qualify for the Kohl’s Senior Discount. I was once a 14 year-old kid, pretending I knew what I was doing and now, rather suddenly, I’m a 42 year-old father of a 14 year-old still pretending I know what I’m doing.
Maybe there will come a day when I know what I’m doing. When my aged-wisdom rightly complements my old man’s cap. But until then, the best I can do is tug my old man’s cap with young man fingers and offer what I think I know:
1.Self-discovery is not a one time deal. You’re constantly changing. Be patient with yourself.
2.Smile and laugh as much as you can. Joy will always be in high demand.
3. Apathy is the fastest way to get old.
4.Kindness to others is good for others and good for your own soul.
5.Sooner or later, you must accept that life is simply an uncertain adventure.
6.Find people who value you and value them in return.
7.People you love will let you down. But remember, you too will also let down people you love.
8.Being vulnerable is scary. Pretending to be invulnerable is much worse.
9.Perfection is your mortal enemy. Make friends with imperfection.
10.You will laugh at the things you valued five year ago. The trick is to find things to value that you won’t laugh at five years form now. A good book. A good song. A sunset. Longevity equals value.
11.Go for a walk. Create something. Do yoga. No matter how small, do one thing, everyday, that makes you feel strong.
12.Love yourself enough to forgive yourself. So, when the time comes, you will be well-prepared to forgive others.
13. Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Music is, to me, proof of the existence of God.” I have to agree with him. Find the music that both soothes and shakes your soul. Here’s the albums that helped me find proof of God: Tommy by The Who, Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, August and Everything After by The Counting Crows, The ’59 Sound by The Gaslight Anthem.
14. Every human is a contradiction. Accept this truth. Embrace your fickleness.
14. Self-doubt is merely the price you pay for making your own decisions.
15.Sometimes you must give without getting.
16.History teaches that independence is only achieved through sacrifice. This is true for countries. This is true for you.
17.Curiosity will make you an interesting adult.
18.When you’re confused, make a list of advice for a friend who is confused and follow your own advice.
19.The simplest way to feel inadequate is to compare yourself to others.
20.Read the following books before you’re 30 years-old: Atomic Habits by James Clear, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and Bedtime Stories for the Living by Jay Armstrong.
21.Adult life requires you to love, take risks, and get hurt. Plan accordingly.
I want to welcome everyone who recently subscribed to my blog through the Book Funnel promotion and received a free eBook version of Bedtime Stories for the Living. I hope you enjoy the book. And I hope my silly, dad brain brings you insight, comfort, and humor each Friday.
Through Book Funnel’s April promotions, I’ve teamed up with over 100 awesome authors who, for a limited time, are giving away their eBooks for FREE! These books are nonfiction and range from self-improvement to memoirs. Please checkout the links below and discover some fantastic authors:
April FREE Non-Fiction Books:
Free Books for Sant Jordi Day: https://books.bookfunnel.com/freebooksforsantjordi/zgbobfmhrf
Knowledge in Time:https://books.bookfunnel.com/great-minds/m5o2esjnxe
Save the Children:
Last Week’s Post: Advice from Two War Veterans
“I hear Tom and Kurt Vonnegut, two war veterans, reminding me to appreciate the little things.”
Question 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Bedtime Stories for the Living recently received not ONE…not TWO…but THREE highly coveted 5-Star ratings from Reader’s Favorite–a highly-respected literary website that reviews books from all over the world!!!
Readers’ Favorite Review by Emma Megan
Jay Armstrong, a high school English teacher, explains in “Bedtime Stories for the Living: A Father’s Funny and Heartbreaking Memoir About The Power of Pursuing Your Dreams” how he was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative brain disease. This striking memoir contains wonderful love letters for each of Jay’s children, beautiful true stories, and precious life lessons and advice. It also contains what Jay never told his kids, what he felt like saying to them but failed as life got in the way. In “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, Jay talks about poetry and books, the importance of writing and its impact on his life, offering aspiring writers valuable writing tips. He also talks about the beauty and the challenges of life, of being a parent, and the difficulty of dealing with a rare disease.
You cannot read this breathtaking memoir and still be ungrateful for your health. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” by Jay Armstrong is the best motivational book I’ve ever read. Jay’s writing style is addictive, mainly because it’s nostalgic, vulnerable, and filled with wisdom and sorrow. In his uniqueness, Jay inspires and encourages not only his children but all his readers to figure out their dreams and to chase the one that brings them joy, to read poetry, and never to ignore their internal voice. He reminds them that they are responsible for how they adapt to change. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” is truly an empowering book as it speaks to the heart and the mind and delivers inspirational life lessons and unique stories. It’s undoubtedly a must-read.
Check out the fancy new sticker for the book cover.
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: Educated by Tara Westover
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Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, former award-winning high school English teacher, and an award-winning author. 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:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com