Since 2009, I have gone by the name of Laura Jaye. Not many people know why, so I want to write out the story of how 'Jaye' came to be. (It's a bit long, hope you have popcorn.)
The background for this story begins in 2001, when I was in a car accident. I was a passenger in the backseat, didn't have a seat belt on (2nd time in my life) and we rear-ended a vehicle going 40mph, which then hit another vehicle. My body twisted as I flew forward and hit the chair in front of me with my head, creating a painful mess of my body.
I did some treatment for a year, then moved away to CA for school, but came back after dropping out. I moved back to Boulder and started intensive therapy and consequently, a deeper journey of healing. I had many amazing therapists and enjoyed their fun and nurturing presence. Not only were they helping to heal my body, but they were helping to heal my heart from past wounds and showed a level of compassion I had never experienced before. I felt as if they became friends and teachers for compassion and loving interactions with others.
As my body got stronger, I was able to do more activity and while hiking I saw two little blue jays bouncing down the path ahead of me. It looked like they were laughing and joking with each other as they bounced and chirped along. I realized that this mirrored how I felt in in relationship with some of my practitioner friends and I decided to add that quality to the list of what I wanted to see more of in my personal relationships.
A few months later, I went to Taos, NM for the first time. It was a place that would become my personal get-away to clear my head and rejuvenate. I explored the galleries and in one of them, I found a sculpture of a man and a woman. They sat embraced, legs and arms wrapped around the other and formed the shape of a ball, like yin and yang. Their arms and legs were disconnected, but appeared to be reattached as a result of the embrace. In their hands they grasped real blue jay feathers. The sculpture presented to me the profound importance of the experience of love leading to wholeness, uniting the parts of oneself (masculine and feminine sides) or the love between two people that is capable of healing both at the same time.
Fast forward a few years after I finished treatment and moved to Denver... I decided that I wanted to get a tattoo, something that represented protection and healing - to put on my ribcage. I contemplated getting a dragon, but then decided I wanted something that represented a higher calling. The blue jay and my love of trees entered the conversation. The tattoo developed in two parts: a masculine blue jay sitting at the very top of an aspen tree at the end of fall, on one side of my ribcage; with a feminine blue jay in flight, carrying a white flower in her beak, symbolizing love on the other. They are looking at each other.
When I went to have the first blue jay on the tree done, many obstacles came about and it took three artists over a long stretch of time to finish the piece that wildly changed in the process. It was completed in 2008. In 2009, I went back to my favorite tattoo artist and he drew up the second blue jay and added her in one afternoon. She was gifted to myself, on my 30th birthday, to celebrate the ending of some tumultuous 20's and to celebrate entering my 30's - a new stage in life.
Referencing my 20's, I struggled many years working through some wild family stuff and I was in a place where I needed more autonomy from my family, enough to want to change my name. I struggled to come up with a name and a close friend helping me brainstorm said, "What is that you have tattooed on you? Use that!" Perfect! I added an 'e' on the end to make it appear like a french, feminine word and that is how 'Jaye' came to be.
However, the story of the blue jay doesn't end there...
Before this name change could become legal, my life shifted when I found out my dad was dying of brain cancer. So I held off on the process and spent the last few months with him. Fortunately, he and I were able to resolve many things before he died and as a result of that experience, I no longer needed the same level of autonomy from them. I chose to keep my legal maiden name... But still use Laura Jaye in many different places.
Interestingly, a couple weekends after he died, I found myself hiking in the same woods, thinking about him. When I got to the end of my favorite trail and was starting to head back, I heard an incredibly loud squawk of a bird and looked up to see a huge blue jay flying over my head and off into the trees. It felt like an affirmative reminder of the strength of the blue jay and of healing that can happen in our relationships.
Many more events with blue jays have come about since then... But this is simply the story of how 'Jaye' came to be and I will stop there.