The Road Back to Yourself

Somehow worry and anxiety and hypothetical scenarios pushed me to the passenger seat, stole the steering wheel, hit the gas, and zoomed up and down the interstate of my mind.

Of course, they’re not wearing seat belts and the windows are down and the radio thumps a wild techno beat. Worry drums on the dashboard and howls at the moon. Anxiety lights a cigarette. The cherry pulses in the dark car. Hypothetical scenario scrolls like a wide-eyed teenager through my blue Facebook feed. They weave in and out of traffic. They ignore speed limits, turn signals, and other cars. They are the DMV’s worse nightmare.

In short, what I’m trying to say–without a wordy metaphor–is: I haven’t felt my self lately.

Has this ever happened to you?

Like you suddenly feel out of emotional control. You’re lost, uncompassed, and your natural instincts, which are usually reliable–sharp and sure–are suddenly dull and uncertain. And if feels as if you’re simply a passenger in the car of own life.

Why does this happen?

The weather? Other people? An illness? Money? The government?

Or maybe we’ve gotten too involved in trivial matters? Like gossip or other people’s opinions of you. Or maybe you’ve allowed other people’s drama to needlessly become your drama? Or maybe it’s a combination of everything?

Unfortunately (and rather amazingly), we live in a GPS-reliant world where it’s so easy to get lost.

I was recently rummaging through old letters I had written to you.

Why?–I’m not sure. I’d like to think I was–in those familiar, hand-crafted sentences–searching for myself. The way we often look at old pictures of ourselves. I was searching for someone I use to know. I was trying to reconnect with the most recognizable version of myself. The version, if I’m being honest, I love the most.

In my search, I found a letter I had written to you about a year ago. It was entitled, Let Us Pray. It’s about how I laid in bed early one warm morning listening to chainsaws cut down a tree in a neighbor’s yard.

Immediately, I was annoyed. How dare they? Don’t they know I’m here sleeping? And then my annoyance morphed into a helpless victimization. Of course, just my luck!

As I read the letter, I laughed. Shook my head. And realized that, when I wrote that letter, I was struggling then in a very similar way I’m struggling now.

Like a year ago, I’m currently too focused, wasting too much energy on things beyond my control. This misuse of yourself allows worry and anxiety and those pesky hypothetical scenarios to drive with licenseless abandonment.

Today, I realize in order to traverse the road back to ourselves we have to take ownership for ourselves. We have to reclaim the driver’s seat, adjust the mirrors, turn down the radio volume, and take control of the metaphor.

Let Us Pray (originally written in July 2022)

I recently received an email from a reader asking if I would consider writing about God.

I was thankful for the email and explained I felt God and religion were private matters and, since my writing is for public consumption, I write from a secular perspective. I don’t write to persuade people to believe what I believe. I write hoping my experiences and perspectives may offer a reader– my children, a friend, former students, a stranger–some companionship on this strange and scary yet glorious and amazing human journey.

The inspiration for this post began at 7:05 a.m. 

When the chainsaws awoke.

My eyes and ears blinked open. Staring at the ceiling I tried to count chainsaws outside my bedroom window. There must have been 4 or 5 tearing through the limbs of a neighbor’s tree.

For a moment, I thought about sliding on my slippers, gingerly walking down the steps, grabbing Clark Able, and marching across the dewy suburban lawns and confronting the 4 or 5 chainsaws with a wagging fist, sleep crumbs in my eyes, and untamed bedhead. But confronting four or five running chainsaws didn’t seem like a good idea.

Then I thought about writing a letter to the tree removal company with phrases like “unprofessional behavior” and “disturbing the peace” and “a one-star review on Angie” but then I thought about the effort it would take to open the laptop, open a black document, compose a well-written letter, print the letter, fold the letter, stuff the letter in an envelope, put a stamp on the envelope, grab Clark Able walk to the mailbox, open the mailbox door, close the door and toss skyward the little red flag on the side of the mailbox. only to have the boss of the tree service open my letter, read my letter, laugh, toss my well-written letter in the trash, and continue scheduling early morning chainsaw appointments.

The sun warmed the bedroom. And lying there, listening to the chainsaws growl, I was visited by a short prayer I first discovered in Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and Wisdom to know the difference.”

Known as the “Serenity Prayer”, it’s believed to be authored by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in 1932. Since then, this prayer has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step recovery programs.

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.

The chainsaws stopped. A bird chirped. Poo-tee-weet. I held my breath. A tree limp creaked and snapped. Leaves caught the air. Thud. I exhaled. And the chainsaws whipped into a frenzy again.

So I laid in bed, praying God would grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change:

The chainsaws


The weather

Gas prices

Food prices

The economy

My brain disease

Other people’s opinions

Other people’s behavior



Supreme Court decisions

The past

The courage to change the things I can:

My willingness to get out of bed

My appreciation toward the day

My breathing pattern

My effort

My courage

My writing

My perspective

My beliefs

My letting go of the past

My willingness to forgive

My response

The chainsaws stopped. Another tree limb crashed to the ground. In the morning stillness, I pushed aside the blankets, another bird went Poo-tee-weet, and I prayed for the Wisdom to always know the difference.

Be well,


Greetings to everyone who found me on the University of Pennsylvania’s Ataxia Clinic’s website! Thanks for stopping by. Though I’m not a doctor, I hope my words comfort, encourage, empower, and serve as good company on your journey.

Buy Here!

May Book Promos for You:

Are looking for inspiration? Are you searching for a better version of yourself?

This month I joined literary forces with some best-selling authors in two awesome book promotions. Click the link below:

Book Haven

LINK: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take…

A few months ago, with low expectations, I took a shot and entered “Bedtime Stories for the Living” in the highly regarded, highly competitive international book contest presented by Readers’ Favorite. Readers’ Favorite is an established force in the publishing industry. They have worked with Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the “Best Websites for Authors” and “Honoring Excellence” awards from the Association of Independent Authors.

Anyway, just before I was about to take a midday nap, I was informed that this suburban dad had won…

First Prize, the Gold Medal, in the Non-Fiction/Parenting genre!

Here’s what I’m currently reading:  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

If you like this post, you may also like:

It Takes a Village to Stay Alive


The One Thing We Need To Be Happy


I’ve Never Seen a Wild Thing Feel Sorry for Itself


Jay Armstrong is a speaker 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:

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 drink 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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