The autumn glow of the harvest lights has long burned out and the tranquility of winter is gently creeping in. The crystallized frost on the windows is illuminated by a charcoal gray dawn. These days the sun sinks behind the mountains a little earlier, mornings are a little harder, and the joints a little stiffer, but the damp cold and fluctuating pressure of a stormy winter is warmed by the flush of holiday lights.
The month of December is a strange enigma. In what some would call the most stressful month of the year, I find people are kinder and there’s a joyful vitality lurking beneath the usual gloom of a hazy west coast winter. It’s a time when neighborhoods and cityscapes dress up in their seasonal best, illuminating the darkness, and giving us some cheer while counting the days until the light returns. The mood is jovial as a New Year rushes up to greet us, and there is a quiescent peace waiting to emerge once the bustle of holiday preparations is complete.
It’s amazing to me that we are already on the cusp of another year. I have much to be grateful for heading into 2020. Going back to university late in life, and working with the Writer’s Studio was both rewarding and challenging. It gave me a new platform for my words and and helped me sustain the creative life I’ve spent years building. It also prompted me to be aware of my limitations and the value of organizing my time in order to keep up with the daily routine of living life with RA on my own terms. 2019 also brought new friends, opportunities, connections, inspiration and an unexpected acknowledgment in community. Thank-you to Everyday Health for giving us the lift we need. It is an honor to be recognized, alongside other courageous advocates, for the work we do in living our best life with chronic illness.
I can’t begin to know what 2020 will bring. I can only take each day as it comes, be grateful for the good days and the knowledge that I can cope with the bad ones. I know RA will try to upstage the tide of my life – like a full moon, it will drag me into its turbulent current and retreat, leaving me to lie on the glass shards of Mother Nature – but I’m not worried. I know that I will stand up, brush off its gritty particles and walk into another day.
In the glow of the winter solstice, I hope for healing and strength, health and happiness – but most of all I hope that I will always find a way to light the darkness and see the beauty of this life with RA. Thank you, dear readers, for being one of the reasons I can find the light.
I wish you all a happy, healthy, pain-free holiday season, for however you choose to celebrate the year.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.