Tag: chronic illness

I want to tell you two things…


I want to tell you two things… First, The National Ataxia Foundation recently named yours truly the Ataxia Ambassador of Philadelphia. My responsibilities include organizing support group meetings, contacting local ataxia experts, and raising ataxia awareness in the Philadelphia/South New Jersey region. This a great honor. I’m excited and privileged to help raise ataxia awareness […]

A friend visits and teaches me about gratitude


A friend visits and teaches me about gratitude A friend sits at my kitchen table and tells me about their bad stuff. (I don’t mind writing about my bad stuff but I’m not at liberty to write about other people’s bad stuff so I will sacrifice details with generalization.) My friend talks openly about their […]

The four words I’m grateful for


The four words I’m grateful for For me, this whole writing business began when a doctor looked at an MRI of my brain, then at the floor, then hard into my eyes and said, “You should be dead.” He then told me there was nothing he or anyone could do. “I’m sorry Mr. Armstrong, you […]

The Hard Work of Happiness


The Hard Work of Happiness On a recent cold, wind-snapped morning I asked class of college-bound high school seniors a simple question. What brings you happiness? (I know…a dicey question to ask a bunch of bored 17 year olds). Their answers were both surprisingly PG and unsurprisingly boring: Sleep, Saturday, my bed, Netflix, my dog…because all […]

The Scary Work of Rewriting Yourself


The Scary Work of Rewriting Yourself This week, two years ago, I wrote The Day I Learned I Could No Longer Jump ( or learning to fly). It was my first story piece published in a publication (Generations). The story is one of the greatest leaps personal and writing leaps I ever took. Any writer […]

Cartwheels and Writing


Cartwheels and Writing Haley is writing a story for school. A fractured fairy-tale. Her narrator is the Queen of Hearts, the villain in Alice in Wonderland telling the untold story of how Alice is the real villain of wonderland. I’m impressed. For 5 pages she keeps the story cohesive, free of plot holes, and plump […]

Why Parents Need to Teach Their Children Bravery


Why Parents Need to Teach Their Children Bravery In the second week at her new school Haley auditioned for a part in the school play–The Lion King. This was a big move for her. Bravery and toughness are not her things. Haley is blue-eyed, blonde-hair, warm-hearted, quiet, and lacks confidence in herself. Which makes me […]

Surviving shame: Learning to forgive yourself


Surviving shame: Learning to forgive yourself How do you survive shame? Forgive yourself. To gather research for my book I’ve been interviewing young men and asking, “Do you practice self-forgiveness?” After 62 interviews, 59 men interview said, “No.” When I asked why not, the most common two answers were: they were ashamed to they had […]

It’s the response that matters


It’s the response that matters 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, a few pints, and a plate of fried pickles was not the most constructive response, but sometimes nothing soothes a fractured soul like the […]

What we value = the conflicts we endure


What we value = the conflicts we endure I want to share with you something I recently taught my writing students this week. All conflict, whether personal or societal, is simply a conflict of values. Take me, and most adults for that matter, we value hygiene. We value soap and toothpaste. My 9 year son […]