I recently received an email which asked if I had to choose one piece of advice from my list of “100 Things to Remember When Life Gets Hard” to put on a highway billboard, what one thing would it be?
A good question. One that required me to reread my own words (which can be a cringy experience), drink coffee, eat handfuls of Peanut M &M’s, and really consider my own advice.
Honestly, I appreciate all my advice. I think in context they all hold up. But on a highway billboard where every single set of eyes, young or old, healthy or sick, focused or lost, is either coming or going from somewhere, I would go with:
Show up. Even on bad days. Even when it hurts. Even when no one seems to care. Even when no one seems to listen. Even when no one seems to understand. Even when you’re tired. Even when you’re scared. Even in small ways. People are counting on you. People need you. Show up. (#100)
Both my writing and my disability require me to show up everyday.
Of course, for all of us, there are good days and bad days. Days that we never want to end and days that can’t end soon enough. Days of invincibility and days of vulnerability. Days of starts and days of stops. Days of grace and days of motley inelegance. Being human is understanding that life is a contradictory experience that we better get used to.
No matter the day, no matter the experience, consistency is the key.
Taking a “day off” invites thoughts of taking another day, then another, then another. But days, sometimes I have to remind myself, are not Peanut M & M’s. Once they’re gone, we just can’t run to the nearest gas station and buy more. Days are finite. Days are a one-time only deal. If life is out-of-balance, or chaotic, or a billowing dumpster fire behind the Exxon, examine your days. How we spend our days is how we design our fate.
Consistency is often an overlooked and underrated power, yet consistency might just be our greatest power. To just keep trying, to just keep learning, to just keep moving forward is just so stubbornly human.
Now, I’m not naïve, just showing up and not participating to your best ability is not fulfilling or rewarding. However, showing up, being present, is the first step in discovering your potential ability.
Despite accomplishing my summer goal, there were moments of resentment and bitterness, fear and helplessness. But writing that list, little sentences about how life still has meaning, about how goodness is still alive and well in the world, helped me to do the hard summer work of showing up.
To celebrate my 10 year diagnosis-versary (September 4), International Ataxia Awareness Day (September 25), the release of my new book Ordinary Hero (November 1), and The National Ataxia Foundation’s “Hike for Mike” event I’m asking you to take a moment and click this link.
My goal is to raise $5,000 to support Mike and accelerate finding a cure for Ataxia.
Upon making a donation, you will receive two chapters from my upcoming book Ordinary Hero, which is set to be released on November 1, 2023.
Greetings to everyone who found me on the University of Pennsylvania’s Ataxia Clinic’s website! Thanks for stopping by. I have ataxia and though I’m not a doctor, I hope my words comfort, encourage, empower, and serve as good company on your journey.
Arriving Gracefully on 11/1/23!
September 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:
Recent letters you may enjoy:
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:
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