25 Things to Remember When Life Gets Hard: Part 1 of the Summer Challenge

Photo Courtesy of Mary Schantz

This list began when, watching my son’s baseball game, I overheard a legless man say to his young, blonde-haired daughter, “Well, at least I have arms.”

To which she responded, “And at least you have eyebrows too, daddy.”

Since my fall in March, which required 8 weeks of physical therapy on my right knee, was compounded by a fall in May that broke my hand and required a cast, I have been in and out of funks. To be honest, recent life has been hard and painful and tiring. Things haven’t gone as planned. And I’ve been forced to accept and adapt to things I don’t like.

But such is life.

In your hard times, it’s important to remember people have always endured their hard times. That we have strands of resolve and grit and endurance in our DNA. That though flaw and fragile, people have and uncanny ability to realize that even if they don’t have legs, at least they have arms…and eyebrows.

My family is big on summer challenges. (In fact, Maggie May was the promised prize if my kids successfully earned for completing — what I thought — was an impossible summer challenge.) The point of the summer challenge is to stay inspired and motivated and work toward a set goal or earned prize while being tempted by the haze and laze of summer days.

My summer writing challenge is to develop a list of “100 things to remember when life gets hard.” I will share a list with you in four letters over the course of the summer. This is to not only help me get out of my own funk, but to help anyone who is going through a funk of their own.


1.Emotions are temporary.

2. You’re one bad decision away from losing everything you love. Decide wisely.

3. Getting your legs moving is an important step for getting your head unstuck.

4. If you’re convinced your best days are behind you, remember you can always live for someone else’s best days.

5. Do one thing today that will make tomorrow easier for you.

6. Somebody, somewhere is rooting for you.

7. Make the child-version of your current-version proud.

8. There are much more good people in the world than bad.

9. Accept what is and move forward.

10. Your response will effect others. Respond wisely.

11. The only way to make a lasting change is to first accept responsibility for that change.

12. Negative thoughts will drain your strength.

13. After you die, people will go on living. Set a good example for the living.

14. The best way to get there, is to focus on the here.

15. It’s much easier to remake ourselves than to turn back time.

16. If we can’t do this, maybe we should try that.

17. Problems are uncomfortable opportunities.

18. Complaining comes easy but complaining makes things harder.

19. People depend on you.

20. Happiness isn’t given. Happiness is earned.

21. Be grateful for just one thing today.

22. Letting go is essential for moving forward.

23. Your ancestors endured hard times and terrible tragedies so you could be here today. Make them proud.

24. Help others.

25. Get up.

Summer is ripe to assume a personal challenge. Is there something you want to do but need a nudge? It could be anything…exercise, writing, cooking, reading, etc. I hope sharing my challenge helps you to create and accept your own.

I also encourage you to share your challenge with me. We can hold each other accountable. However, I will not promise you a puppy if you’re successful.

I have learned from my mistakes.

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.

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Recent letters you may enjoy:

Life is Change

Adversity Also Builds This

The Most Painful Letter I’ve Ever Written to You


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 jayarmstrongwrites.com

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