Your Voice is the Most Powerful Thing You Own
A few weeks ago I received an email from a young woman who, in 2019, moved a few hundred miles from her parents, her friends, her hometown to start a new job.
Things were going well until Covid came to town, the economy crumbled, and she lost her job. She said she missed home but handled things surprisingly well. She took a part-time job and enrolled in online college courses. Then on a warm October morning, just before she left for work her mom called. Dad had died.
The other night, the kids and I huddled around Cindy’s iPhone and watched a family video from 2014. Dylan was one-years-old and like him, my brain disease was in it’s infancy. Dylan, on a pair of chubby legs fitted with Velcro sneakers, stared into an open refrigerator, bounced up and down, talked gibberish to the butter, and waved a chocolate chip cookie in his right hand like a magic wand.
Dylan turned from the fridge. His cheeks jiggled with baby fat, his hair thin and unstyled, yet his eyes are the same blue they are right now. He staggered toward the phone and yelled something. He waved the cookie and flapped his arms like he might take flight.
Then my voice, loud and clear, boomed across the video, “Dylan, what do you got?”
The chest of his gray jumper is puddled black with drool and Baby Dylan waves the cookie and shouts gibberish that sounds like, “Abracadabra.”
Dylan, who turns nine-years-old this week, looks away from the phone towards me. His hair now styled with gel, the baby fat has disappeared, but eyes still sparkling the same blue, looks at me and says, “Dad, your voice is so different now.”
Doctors discovered my brain disease six weeks after Dylan was born. He is my timeline. My son’s growth parallels my atrophy. I once wrote “Your voice is the most powerful thing you own.” And the problem with putting your thoughts on paper is you’re either forced to accept your own advice or become a hypocrite.
In the past few months, my disease has breached my voice. I can’t understate how taxing this has been on my spirit. I’ll admit I’ve avoided taking and making phone calls. Avoided talking to strangers. Avoided interjecting quips and witty banter in rolling conversations. I’ll admit, at times, I’ve been a hypocrite.
“Dad, your voice is different.” Dylan’s observation waves a wand and a familiar sentence is pulled like a rabbit from a hat, Your voice is the most powerful thing you own.
Different and wrinkled and damaged, I thought, but still the most powerful thing I own.
At the end of the email, the woman apologized for “stalking” my blog however she explained reading it is comforting. “Even though he’s been dead for a few years,” the young woman wrote, “sometimes your words jostle my dad’s words. Through your voice I can hear the echoes of his voice. Kind of like magic.”
Humbly, I drafted a structured reply email with paragraphs and punctuation marks. Before I sent it, I thought about the human voice. How amazing it is. A tool. A gift. How it evolves from drooling gibberish to articulating coherent and complex ideas. And how a person’s voice, the rhythms, the inflections are solely unique to themselves. And how a voice is forever. And how beyond death, a person’s voice sings about the ether until the internet’s door swings open or a home video is played and past interrupts the present. And how when you listen to voices of the past time suspends. Logic ends. Disbelief begins. Like an illusion. Like magic.
I deleted the draft and simply responded with:
With titles like 500 Daily Affirmations forAnxiety and Being Yourself Journal, this promo is full of books that strive to provide readers with new and healthier perspectives.
Congratulations to my friend Chris Palmore for recently publishing his 5th book–Gratitude Journey Volume 2. I’m so honored and humbled to have my writing featured in this awesome book. Please check it out!
Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B3GVTN8L
Last Week’s Post: Let us Pray
The need for total control is one of our many problems. Much of our anxiety and stress stems from our desire to bend the world obedient to our design. The Serenity Prayer reminds us the ease our resistance and accept what we can’t change.
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 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.
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: Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
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Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, former 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. The leader of the Philadelphia Ataxia Support Group, 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