Ranée

Here Comes the Sun

Here comes the sun
And I say it's all right
— George Harrison

Today is the first day of spring where I live. Phoenix that I am, I cannot help loving the symbolism of renewal and rebirth inherent in spring. This morning, however, I was feeling decidedly un-rejuvenated. I was thinking about the story I’m currently writing and how my guides have been signaling to me for months now that I should be writing about empathy and love, but I was saying, “That’s boring; I don’t want to write that shit and nobody wants to read that either.” Well clearly I’m full of shit because last week in a freewriting session, I ended up writing several pages all about one character’s love for another and it moved me to tears. I thought that this piece was backstory, but my guides told me outright in yesterday’s meditation to “write love” and I realized that what I’d come up with is actually the very heart of my story. Despite this, today when I was thinking again about this character, I was annoyed with myself for giving him a huge piece of myself, namely empathy and his capacity to feel things so intensely and to love so strongly.

When I sat down to meditate this afternoon, I felt Isis’s presence (a warmth that envelops me like being wrapped lovingly in an invisible blanket) and the message that I came away with in this session was essentially that what I have always deemed to be a curse—my intense empathy, the ability to feel others’ emotions—could actually be my greatest strength if I learn how to manage it and use it to help others instead of running from it or trying to shut it off. I will certainly need to develop a stronger “emotional armor,” so to speak, to protect myself from that onslaught of emotional energy and to be ever cognizant that others’ emotions are not mine even though I feel them as if they are.

How fitting that this realization comes today with the onset of spring. This is the next phase of my spiritual journey, I think—to embrace that empathy in myself and in my writing as well. No more hiding in the shadows; I have to let my true self shine. It’s a scary thought, I admit, but I have to trust that my guides will help me through it.

Ranée

Name

Birth names, given names, first names, middle names, last names, surnames, nicknames, pet names, found names, dead names, pen names, code names. How many names do we have over the course of our lifetimes? I’ve thought a lot about this, not just with regard to my writing and my career in terms of which of my names to publish under but also with reference to my personal life. I’ve had internal debates with myself over what my true name is, why that’s so, and why and just how much it matters to me, so needless to say, I don’t subscribe to that notion that one’s name or what one chooses to call oneself holds no meaning. Quite the opposite.

I have been called many names, but there’s a short list of ones that I’ll answer to these days. I was born with the name Jamie Ranee Kunkle. That’s one on the list considering that a lot of people knew me by that name. I also published an interview with mystery writer Jan Burke (Clues: A Journal of Detection, Volume 25, no. 4) under my former name. My current legal name is Jamie Ranee Aughenbaugh (not Mrs. Scott Aughenbaugh) and that one’s also on the list of names I associate with myself since it appears on all legal documents. I also publish this site under the name Jamie Aughenbaugh, it’s the one that appears on my business cards, and it’s the name in which my LLC is registered. All posts on the blog portion of this site are attributed to Jamie Ranée, my WordPress ID, and that’s another name on the acceptable list. Given that my first name is only two syllables, you’d think that I wouldn’t have a nickname, but a few people have still tried to shorten Jamie to something else. The only nickname that I’m OK with is J.R., but my dad’s the only one who calls me that; that’s also the reason why I like it.

Of all of my names, my middle name, Ranée, is the one that I now know will always be with me. It comes from the French word rené (masculine form) or renée (feminine form), the English equivalent of which is “reborn” or “born again.” The name and its meaning are inextricably linked with my totem, the phoenix, a mythical bird of fire that dies, consumed by flame, only to be born again from its own ashes. During a meditation session, I heard the name in my mind and saw a very powerful vision of myself and the creature. Ever since, both bird and name have signified hope, faith, courage, perseverance, and strength to me. They are a reminder of my own metaphorical rebirth and I know now that whatever befalls me, I will always come back.

She rises from the ashes, her soul aflame