Illuminating the Shadows of RA

Autumn twilight – photo: J.G. Chayko

The turning of the year has launched us into the darkest season. The clocks have turned back, and fall has embraced the west coast with misty mornings and auburn leaves. The days are short, the nights long, the air scented with the burning wood of home fires, apple pies and fresh rain. It is a time of hibernation, restoration and transformation.

My disease has changed color along with the leaves – it has evolved into a new shadow creature, it’s nature immune to hibernation. It has flared with the blood red sunsets leaving its mark in my body. It has become stronger, fed by stress, disruptions in sleep and lack of self-care. It’s been a stressful year, going to school, working, and writing my first book. As determined as I was to follow this dream, I underestimated the energy it would take – the hours of class time, homework, late nights, and early mornings have put extra pressure on my body. Lost in the thrill of my artistic world, I failed to notice RA creeping out of the opening I provided – but like the arrival of fall, there is another transformation coming.

I will graduate from the Writer’s Studio in a few short weeks, and my life will shift back into a more regular pattern – for a little while at least. I will use that time to take back my life from RA and put it into hibernation, to pour new energy into my own self-care. RA has often interfered in my life, sometimes breaking its flow, but it has never stopped it. When I look back at how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked, it motivates me to keep moving forward. It might take a little longer, and that’s okay, because sometimes a broken current can send me off in a new direction and show me another door.

In the darkest time of the year, I get to transform as well, to take charge of my disease, to change its nature and make it work for me instead of against me. I will enjoy the dark season because in it I can see the stars, feel the wind against my cheek, listen to the melodic patter of rain drops against my window, enjoy the fairy mists of twilight and be invigorated by the life around me. I will give myself the break I deserve, melt into the autumn shadows and calmly wait for the light to return – as it always does.




  1. Rick Phillips on November 10, 2019 at 2:39 pm

    It is stifling dark here in Indiana. I was able to sneak out 11 miles (17.8K) on my bicycle today and I barley got in before it was too dark to see where I was going. I doubt I will make it out again this year, but just in case I wanted to push my season a little.

    Congrats on nearly completing the writers institute and I like you I am rooting for summer once again.

    • J.G. Chayko on December 23, 2019 at 1:09 pm

      Thank you Rick. It was a fabulous year. The days will start to get a little longer now that the winter solstice has come and gone. Wishing you and yours health and happiness in the the New Year.

  2. Richard Hoover on December 12, 2019 at 2:41 am

    It will be interesting to read your book. Will it be available online?

    • J.G. Chayko on December 23, 2019 at 1:05 pm

      The book I’m currently working on will be pitched for traditional publishing. Hard to say if it will be available online this early in the game. It’s still a ways off before it’s finished. 🙂

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About me

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.