Quiet Pride

When was the last time you said to yourself, “Self, I’m proud of you.”?

And not in a cringy, conceited, boastful, vanity-fueled, let-me-see-how-many-Facebook likes-I-can-get kind of pride.

I mean pride in a private, reflective, and healthy way.

A way where you recognize your value, your gifts, your achievements, and your uniqueness. Where you accept your vulnerabilities and appreciate the ways you have helped others. Where you realize the world needs you. Where you let out a mighty roar, that only you can hear, of quiet pride.

We live in a loud-mouth, attention-seeking, comparison-driven hyphenated and over-caffeinated world where having quiet pride is often overlooked, undervalued, and forgotten.

This past weekend, Cindy and I were invited to Minneapolis, Minnesota to meet some people from the National Ataxia Foundation and participate in what was billed as a two mile “casual stroll” through the falling brilliance of Minnesota’s autumn foliage. However, about a quarter mile into the “casual stroll”, when Johnny Walker couldn’t traverse the terrain and he had to be collapsed and be carried, I knew this casual stroll would push me greater than my daily casual strolls across suburban sidewalks with Maggie May.

Deep in the Minnesota woods, just ten days before the world-wide release of my new book Ordinary Hero: The Power of Building Character One Step at a Time, I questioned if I add enough energy and testicular fortitude to take one more– literal step– in my new, fresh-out-of-the-box Puma sneakers I bought a week before the trip because I wanted to impress all Minnesotans with my east coast dad fashion.

I questioned why I was in the Minnesota woods on a crystal clear but chilly day, a day whose edges were whipped with winter, when I could be in my warm house, snugged on my soft couch, watching college football and eating peanut M &M’s.

I questioned if Mr. Character Builder himself had enough character in his muddy Pumas to finish the hike.

I questioned if I had enough suburban moxie to put my money where my mouth is.

Cindy gripped my left arm as my right hand choked Clark Able’s plastic neck. 

“Are you okay? Do you want to stop?” Cindy asked.

I wanted to say, No. I’m not okay. And yes, I want to stop. I want to stop right now. I want to stop forever. I wanted to sigh and cry and explain how scary every step was. How every step buckles my right knee and it hurts. And how my right hand aches from choking Clark Able. And that my Pumas are smeared with black Minnesota mud that probably won’t wash out. And how my brain hurts from concentrating so hard on not falling. How my neck and shoulders were knotted with tension. And how I don’t want to let her or our children or anyone who has read my writing or the people on the hike with us down. And I desperately want to live up to the expectations I set for myself. And how every time we approached an incline or decline or a cluster of ruts or a raised root or a pile of wet leaves or a mud puddle I swallowed my breath, hot panic exploded in my chest, and I was certain I would die on this casual stroll.

But all I said was, “I’m okay. I’ll keep going.”

And so I, along with the rest of our 11 person group, completed the two mile hike in an hour and fifteen minutes. This was by no means a record of any kind and there was no checkered finish line, no medal, no photo op station, no applause. Just a swell of quiet pride in my heart knowing what I endured to meet my own expectations. 

Being proud of yourself does not mean becoming a narcissist or an open-invitation to criticize others. Quiet pride is an important quality for overcoming doubts and insecurities. For acknowledging what you’ve achieved and how far you have come can provide the confidence and determination you may need when you’re stuck in the Minnesota mud.

And being proud of yourself is important–not for internet adoration or ephemeral applause– but for yourself and your own healthy growth.

So you say to yourself, “Self, despite your muddy sneakers, I’m proud of you today.” 

Be well,


Cindy, Clark Able and I after our two mile casual stroll.

6 Reasons Why You Should Preorder Ordinary Hero for only $.99:

1.When was the last time $.99 changed your life?

2.Charles Swchab would probably agree that in today’s market, Ordinary Hero is a sound investment. 

3.If you enjoy my first book, Bedtime Stories for the Living, you’ll love this book. 

4. The book will make you laugh, cry, appreciate life, offer comfort, and help you overcome challenges.

5. The book includes stories about my dog Maggie May. I recently read a New York Times article that explains why books about dogs are wildly popular. People love to read about dogs and their joy, comfort, and curiosity.

6. You should pre-order Ordinary Hero for just $.99 now and on 11/1 you should probably buy a few paperbacks, and when the books arrive, go to the local dog park and hand them out to dog owners and tell them there are stories in there about dogs. If you do that, you’ll be the coolest cat at the dog park.

Before you go, one more thing…

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 upcoming “Hike for Mike” event, I’m participating in an exclusive NAF fundraising campaign.

My goal is to increase Ataxia awareness and raise $5,000 to accelerate finding a cure for Ataxia.

Click here to learn more and make a donation. As a bonus, if you make a donation you will receive two chapters from my upcoming book, Ordinary Hero: The Power of Building Character One Step at a Time.

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.

Pre-Order Now: Arriving Gracefully on 11/1/23!

 October 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:

Become Inspired. Become You. 

Buy Here!

Recent letters you may enjoy:

Celebrating My Worst Day; Year 10

Celebrate the Little Steps

Life is Change

Adversity Also Builds This


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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