Happy Gotcha Day!
Maggie May celebrated her Gotcha Day a few days early by slipping off her leash and running through the neighborhood.
This was not the first time Maggie May has slipped away. However, this was the first time the kids were not home to zigzag through yards, hop fences, trample vegetable gardens, and dive under Evergreen bushes like little lawmen chasing an escaped convict.
When secured on a leash or confined to the house, Maggie May is an obedient dog. She listens to commands. “Sit.” “Stay.” “Come.” But when she’s running free, untethered by leads or leashes, she transforms. She refuses to listen. There are no boundaries. No master. She’s uninhibited. Instinctual. As if she’s on Spring Break and suburbia is Cancun.
So there I was, with my glasses on and a nest of bedhead, walking the sidewalks, holding an empty collar, calling out, “Maggie May” into a soft May morning. Concerned yes, but a bit jealous. Her defiance, her boldness, her embrace of freedom was a bit funny. A bit inspiring.
Maggie May darts out from behind a white Jeep, with a mischievous smile as if saying, “Nanny, nanny, poo, poo.” stops, looks at me, and races across the street, disappearing in a backyard. Wild and free. A moment of possibility and power. A moment she would some day brag about to other dogs.
My brain disease is progressing. And with progression comes limitations. I can’t chase down Maggie May. I can’t hurdle shrubs. I can’t howl her name without my voice cracking. And on this quiet spring morning, I feel hopeless and desperate and powerless.
I read a lot of “living without limits” self-help books. And though I often read with an antagonist eye and an “easy-for-you-to-say” attitude, I find these books oddly comforting. Books with stiff spines and pages of tough love. Books that preach self-belief. Books that surmise limitations are purely man-made inventions.
However, I’m still not convince humans are limitless. We’re bound by gravity and mortality. We’re biological creatures subjected to faculties of our own consciousness. And every decision and physical move I make is compounded by limitations. But, in a way, the books are right. Despite our limitations, we can live an abundant life that inspires others to find joy. And I’m learning that though we’re fenced by our limitations, we’re responsible for discovering the potentials and possibilities of our own backyard.
Almost an hour after her escape, I’m standing in a neighbor’s yard– a neighbor I don’t know–with a leash and a Milk bone.
“Can I help you?” Questioned a voice behind a screen door.
“I’m sorry but I just saw my dog run through your backyard.”
“Do you want me to come out and help you?”
“If you don’t mind…”
“Of course. Let me get my shoes.”
Maggie May tramps in a far corner of the yard, sniffing the fresh mulch ringed around a thick tree.
The collar jangles in my hand and she looks up.
The stranger, wearing a pair of worn Nike sneakers, genuflects in the soft green grass.
“What’s her name?”
She wags her tail, looks at me, sprints to the stranger, and licks his gray chin stubble. ‘
He laughs. “Oh, good girl!”
At that moment I forgot about my disease. I was Lawrence Taylor and Maggie May was an unsuspecting quarterback. Without grace and decorum and contemplation I left my feet and I dove. For a very brief second, I was flying. Defying limitations. Defying what I thought I couldn’t do.
Then I tackled her.
Maggie May rolled over and we looked at each other. At that moment, as the morning sun set the grass ablaze, I’m certain we were thinking the same thing: Gotcha.
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 May promotions, I’ve teamed up with over 50 awesome authors for the Wondrous Nonfiction promotion. These books are nonfiction and range from self-improvement to memoirs. Please checkout the link below:
Last Week’s Post: 0 to 60… Eventually
I struggle with going slow. I want to prove to my disease I can still go fast. I want to keep pace with my kids as they race through their childhood. And I feel like if I’m not rushing around, I’m not living up to my potential. As if slowness is a sign of laziness. Of apathy.
But the truth is–slowing down requires more awareness and effort than going fast. It’s a conscious choice. It’s elemental for appreciation.
Poem of the Week: Golden Retrievals
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 email@example.com. 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.
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
If you like this post, you may also like:
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