Category: Life Lessons

The Scary Work of Redefining Yourself


It was this week, last year that I published The Day I Learned I Could No Longer Jump ( or learning to fly). It was one of the greatest leaps I ever took. Here’s why. Any writer who tells you they’re not worried about how their work will be perceived is lying. Look dear reader, I […]

The Day the Girls Were Given Tampons


Our sixth grade teachers divide us into two groups: boys and girls. In the boys’ room, the teacher wobbles behind her podium and says words like penis, testicles, erection and sperm and I struggle to breath. I choke on my laughter. My face grows hot and my insides hurt and I’m pretty sure I’m going […]

Let’s Take a Look at My 11th Grade Report Card


On a recent cleaning binge, my mom found my 11th grade report card stuffed in a file box along with old writings, homework assignments and a certificate announcing that I had passed Drivers Education class in August of 1997. I’m 37 years old, and a high school teacher now, and everyday I witness the enormous […]

A Moment with Tom Petty


When Tom Petty died I was suddenly 19 again, wearing headphones and slumped in the backseat of a rented minivan. Dad is driving, Mom is riding shotgun and my two younger brothers are tucked in the middle bench watching Home Alone on a TV/VCR combo dad had strapped to a milk crate to entertain the […]

“Hey Mr. Armstrong, did you watch any NFL games this weekend?”


The high school parking lot. America’s blacktop proving ground since the Model-T rolled off the assemble line and into our lives. The place where lines are still drawn, sleeves still rolled and disagreements still forcefully settled. So it only made sense that I was asked the combustible question, the question that packed C-4 between it’s […]

The World’s Greatest Lie Are you guilty of telling yourself this?


It was a tradition of sorts. In the initial months following my diagnosis, after each doctor’s appointment, I would go to the bar Given my deteriorating health, maybe a few pints and a plate of fried pickles was not the most constructive response, but sometimes nothing soothes a fractured soul like the warm panel walls, a […]

Why I Celebrated My Worst Day


When I decided to celebrate my worst day I had romantic dreams of baking a chocolate cake, coating it with vanilla icing and beautifully decorating it with some unabashed inspirational quote. Here’s what happened. It’s okay to laugh. Seriously. I know, it’s high fructose, high caloric train wreck. Just in case you can’t read it, […]

12 Things I Learned This Summer


As a teacher, my relationship with summer is complicated. I love being lazy at 10 am. I love long afternoons on the beach, watching my children build sand castles and dig for shells. I love impromptu BBQs and staying up past 11 pm on a Tuesday to watch reruns of The King of Queens. Yet, […]

How to Persevere Like a 4 Year Old


Total Read Time: 4 minutes THE MONKEY BARS. The playground’s proving ground. The callouser of hands. The skinner of knees. A horizontal symbol of strength, of perseverance. Conquered by only big kids. On a sun-splashed day, my wife and I take our 3 kids to a local park. When the kids find the playground, our […]

Why You Should Clean Up Your House Before You Go On Vacation


It’s the day before our annual family vacation at the New Jersey shore and my wife is buzzing around the house doing chores. Vacuuming and cleaning out closets and dusting and hanging pictures we meant to hang last summer. Amidst this whirlwind of Windex, I’m on the couch watching Predator 2. Bill Paxson just met […]