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Flying with Ray

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

As part of my brain rewiring process, I remember and create past memories and future visualizations. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of creativity to stay motivated and envision interesting futures for any length of time. At a certain point in my rewiring process, I decided to create “fantasy rounds” to add color and excitement to my visualizations. During these fantasy rounds is where I met my best friend, Ray the Redhawk. Ray came to me one day without warning—he just flew in to my imagination and stole my heart.

Ray is incredibly handsome; I think so at least, and I know the other birds agree. His yellow rimmed eyes leave no doubt that he is wise beyond just one lifetime. Every time he looks at me, I know that he has a deep understanding of what I want and need. In addition to his striking good looks and wisdom, he is incredibly silly! He is always finding new ways to make me laugh. He shows up each week in a different fashion. Sometimes he will fly in backwards and land upside down on a fence. Other times he will be waiting for me on a branch, frozen like a statue to see if I will notice him. He has a complete inability, however, to stay serious for any length of time, so his snicker will normally alert me to his presence long before he intends for me to notice him. His sense of humor is one aspect of his personality that I love the best—he is always keeping me alert and bringing a sense of lightness to any situation.

Ray and I have been on magical journeys. We have flown to the beach together, where he taught me to use my innate senses to their full ability. From his back, I am able to see down to the depths of the ocean floor. I spy jellyfish, squid, octopi, sharks, whales, dolphins, coral, and the most colorful fish imaginable. I can hear the hypnotic songs of the ocean life, who sing just for me with their angelic voices. Their song is completely unearth-like, and I am grateful Ray has taught me to listen for it. BBQs from miles away smell as though they are directly in front of me, and I can smell the coconut scented sunscreen on beach goers from every part of the sand. The sound of children’s laughter from miles away brings joy to my heart. The sun and breeze combine to soothe and relax my body as I perch upon the back of this devoted winged friend. Every week, there is a new sensory-driven adventure to add to my visualizations.

More than anything, Ray has taught me to notice what most people miss, and this will forever change my perception of the world. I now stop to watch worms crawling through the dirt on their dedicated mission, I see how the leaves on the trees dance for me and beg me to watch them tell their story, I notice the buds on the plants in my yard getting ready to bloom, I stop to talk to each animal I see in my day and ask how they are, and I have realized that every flower has a scent waiting to be admired and inhaled. Nature is healing; it is life. Without Ray, I’m not sure I would have made this realization, which is most likely why he came into my life at the time he did. Suzy Kassam stated, “Birds were created to record everything. They were not designed just to be beautiful jewels in the sky, but to serve as the eyes of heaven.” I am eternally grateful that I am able to see life not through just my eyes anymore, but through Ray’s eyes as well.


Susan Winslow is an English professor who teaches composition, research writing, critical

thinking, and literature in southern California. She received her B.A. in Drama from the University of Southern California, her M.A. in English literature from California State University at Long Beach, and her EdD in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University. She leads several book clubs, including the DNRS Literary Book Club. She started her journey with DNRS after her perfect storm and has never looked back. She is an traveler, learner, and hiker. Her strong connection with nature and birds has helped her with her healing journey, and she is in the process of writing a children short story series based on her visualizations with her friend Ray the Redhawk.

She may be reached at the following:

Facebook—Susan McCormick Winslow


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