New Year’s Eve Reflections

I am not generally someone who ascribes special significance to the start of a new calendar year. I tend to be someone who thinks that change and fresh starts can happen at any time if we are willing to take that first step. That said, I am at a crossroads in my life and the transition from 2017 to 2018 feels very symbolic to me. It has been a year of transition for me, my extended family and my country and some of us have had to say goodbye to life as we knew it, or at least how we expected it to be.

 
Some of us lost parts of our identity in 2017 and others of my loved ones have had to accept new identities, some unwelcome, such as advocate, protestor, patient, parentless child. One new identity that challenged me tremendously in 2017 has been individual with a chronic illness. As a lifelong control freak and someone who is terrible at asking for help, this is a role that I have to admit I have not taken on as bravely, gracefully or as graciously as I would have hoped. It is frustrating, socially isolating, and fills me with anger and challenges my self-image to have to learn to pace myself and acknowledge that I simply can’t do as much as I could a year ago. It has made me keenly aware of all those moments that I thought I understood what life was like for my sixteen year with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and other family and friends living with chronic pain and chronic illness. I was wrong. I really didn’t “get it” until I experienced it myself. It is so much harder than I ever realized. I missed so many opportunities be a better and more empathetic mother, friend and support to my loved ones and acquaintances with chronic illness and pain.  2017 has made me painfully aware that I am not always as patient, kind and loving as I want to be, to others or to myself.

 
When I start to slip into moments of self-flagellation and self-pity, I try very hard to call up the voice of my Aunt Chookie, who we lost four years ago, in my head. My aunt was one of the smartest people I knew and she would not have hesitated to kick me in the ass and tell me to get over myself when she thought I needed to hear it. She taught me some important life lessons that I am thinking a great deal about as I look toward 2018:

  • There is nothing more important than family
  • Friends who still love at your worst and can always make you laugh, no matter how hard life is,  are worth their weight in gold
  • It is what is it—self-pity or despair does not make reality easier to deal with
  • Life is to be lived—dream big, take risks, laugh deeply and often, and embrace it as an adventure
  • Don’t waste time on things or people that drag you down or bore you
  • Love deeply and fiercely
  • Strive to be a person who makes others feel welcome and well-cared for in your home and presence
  • Life is short—eat dessert first. Preferably on china with the good silver and a snazzy placement because you are worth it!

Wishing you a 2018 full of peace, creativity and those perfect moments of joy that fill our hearts with light and sustain us. May we show kindness and understanding to ourselves and others in the New Year.

© 2017 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

 

 

1st Blog-aversary on Brave and Reckless: Reflecting on An Unexpected Journey

I recently celebrated my one year anniversary at WordPress. What a milestone! Just a little over a year ago I started this blog with few expectations and fewer goals. I just kept putting one foot in foot in front of the other and let my path at WordPress emerge before me. I am pleased with how Brave and Reckless has organically evolved over the last year into the place that it is, proud of myself for embracing living brave and recklessly, and so very, very grateful for the wonderful relationships that have blossomed here.  I have made deep friendships, found writing soul mates, been given generous and insightful mentorship and have in turn had the honor of mentoring other exciting up-and-coming writers.  I have found my voice as a poet, grown as a writer, a blog master, an editor, and as a community member over the last twelve months.  It truly has been life changing.

Over the last year I have also had the great honor of being involved with several stellar writing collectives that are my heart and soul here on WordPress.  If you are not already following these sites, let me tell you a little bit more about them.

Sudden Denouement Literary Collective:  Sudden Denouement is the home of some of the most talented, bad ass and innovative writers of divergent literature I have met here at WordPress.  I am awe-struck, inspired and supported by this amazing group of international writers every day.  It is a privilege to write among them.

Blood Into Ink: Blood Into Ink is a project near and dear to my heart.  I beyond grateful that this incredible group of writers and brilliant human beings took a leap of faith when I said that there should be a home on WordPress for fierce writing about trauma.  I am so proud of the quality of the writing and feel that the Curators and guest writers at Blood Into Ink have helped change the narrative of what it means to write about survival.

Whisper and The Roar: Whisper and the Roar is a sister site of Sudden Denouement and highlights strong, modern writing from talented feminist writers.  The women and men at Whisper and the Roar write powerfully about their lives and the impact of gender, sexuality, sexual and gender identity and relationship.  Good, good stuff.

Go Do Go Café: The brainchild of Stephen Fuller, the Go Dog Go Café is a warm, welcoming environment where writers come to gather.  The Go Dog Go Café is a place to read good writing, talk about creative inspiration and celebrate the writing life.

Thank you all for coming on this incredible journey of self-discovery with me.  I look forward to spending years to come with you.

Peace and Light,

Christine