Talking to Radiators: Getting Comfortable with Silence

In the final days of 2023, I listened to Uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) from Disney’s The Lion King narrate one of my favorite books, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

In my first book Bedtime Stories for the Living, there is a chapter entitled, “It’s Called the Alchemist and You Should Read It” which originally was an essay I wrote for my 12th grade students to motivate and inspire them to read the book that opened my eyes and heart to the importance of following your dreams. A book that has been inspiring readers worldwide since its 1988 publication.

I remember–I spent hours writing that piece. I poured my little heart into it. I channeled the book’s main character, Santiago’s love, spirit, and relentless pursuit of his dreams.

In fact, the piece was read by Paulo Coelho himself and shared on his Twitter account with his 15 million followers.

When I finished reading it to my students, I looked around the classroom. A mouth yawned. A throat cleared. The radiator hummed.

“Any questions?”



“Does anyone have anything?”

“Anyone? Anything?”

“Did I mention Paulo Coelho read it, liked it, and shared it with his 15 million Twitter followers?”

It was mid afternoon. However, on this day the crickets were apparently not nocturnal. They wore sneakers, had cell phones, and were not afraid of the daylight. They did not scurry as my footsteps paced the front of the classroom, as my voice boomed. These teenage crickets just sat at their desks, staring bug-eyed at the classroom clock mounted above the door.

Never my intention, but being a high school teacher conditioned me to not getting a response.

And now a retired teacher, turned full-time writer with an incurable brain disease trying to fulfill his dreams, I’ve learned you can’t be afraid to spill your guts to the radiator.

Look, people will always be unimpressed, even indifferent with your efforts. Not because they’re mean or apathetic but they have their own dreams to attend to. And their dreams–like ours– are loud and clunky and demand attention. We must understand that while we’re busy contemplating our own dreams, everyone else is busy contemplating theirs.

If we commit ourselves to “Do More in 24” and follow our dreams, then we cannot gauge our success based on other’s reactions–or lack thereof. We must condition ourselves to withstand the audience’s silence. 

So here’s a personal question: why do you dream your dreams?

That’s the question you, and only you, must answer. Stare at it. Buy it a cup of coffee. Think about it deep into the night until the real crickets chirp.

If you sit with the question long enough, you’ll realize your actions–not outside reactions– matter most. And if you’re serious about pursuing your dreams, you must have the courage and faith and self-assuredness to stand and bravely listen to the radiator hum.

Be well,


One Line, One Love with author Gail Boenning–Episode #2: It’s not about the money…

If you haven’t heard yet… my friend Gail Boenning and I recently launched a podblog called, One Line, One Love.

OLOL is a unique listening and reading experience that will inspire everyday writers, who dream of writing, to pick up their pens and write one line at a time.

This podblog format (a hybrid of a podcast and blog) is for everyday writers who–like me–often need a creative boost, a scrap of encouragement, and practical advice to unleash the writer within. Each episode consists of five wide-ranging, writer-focused questions and a weekly writing prompt.

Please check it out! And please share with any writer friends or anyone in your life who has ever considered picking up the pen.

Amazon Order Link!

Ordinary Hero is now available in hardback and available, upon request, in local bookstores or libraries, even if your local bookstore or library is in Peru.


Warm 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.


January 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 an awesome book promotions. Click the link below:

New Year. New Books!


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.

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