Most people are aware of the pain and damage arthritis causes, but one of the biggest factors with living with RA is what cannot be seen. On the surface, it looks like I have a very active life, and I do, but what isn’t obvious is the phantom lurking underneath, ready to knock me off balance with a storm of unpredictably.
Summer days invite me to be more active and enjoy the outdoors again. My husband and I go for walks around the seawall and explore beaches and parks. We sometimes take our bikes out for a spin around the neighbourhood. In the summer, I begin most days with an early morning swim. There’s nothing like swimming to get the body moving and the blood flowing, and in the morning there’s a certain kind of peace that is not present at any other time of the day.
I have spent most of my life on the stage. Ballet was my first love, but I adored all forms of dance, and I learned as many different styles as I could – salsa, ballroom, belly dance, flamenco, swing. From dance I twirled my way into acting, and that became my new focus, but I always returned to dance – and then a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis changed my choreography.
I have been busy preparing for new changes– the end of one job, the continuation and further development of a career. I’ve been thinking on how to navigate these changes and the goals I’d like to work towards. I don’t make resolutions per se – it’s in the word. Resolution. It sounds so final, and I don’t believe that anything in life is final – finality means the end and while there’s still life, there should always be room for growing and learning.
The winter solstice is a time of hibernation and restoration. After the solstice, the days start to get a little longer and the light returns. A New Year is here before we know it. It’s an opportunity for renewal, to begin again, to hope again…
This is the time of year to sweep the negative energy into the darkness, honor our ancestors and plant the seeds of transition into a new year. The fall is always a season of new beginnings for me, a time where the major changes materialize transforming my life, as the fall transforms the color of the leaves – and this year there’s a big transformation looming beyond the full harvest moon.
The summer is almost at its end. The days are getting shorter, the sunsets deeper, the lush green leaves are tinged with orange and a hint of crimson blushing around their edges. I look up at the sky, blue, with tiny wisps of clouds. I float on my back in the pool enjoying the peace…
I dream of moving to a warmer climate, not just for RA, but because I love the sun and heat, and find the beauty of a desert terrain intoxicating. Living in a lush rainforest climate has its own splendid beauty, but there’s no doubt the changeable weather and weeks of rain takes a toll on me, mentally and physically. I had always planned to move to a drier place in the future, where I believed my RA would be less present – but would it?
For two years we have each lived in the circle of our own inner sanctums, leaving the big wide world on the outside. Now the world is trying to creep back in again, swirling with uncertainty and overwhelming us with how fast it’s moving, but instead of trying to keep up with it, or worrying about being left behind, I chose to step into the eye and focus on just one day – one perfect day in the storm.
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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.