Meet a Mom: Kristin Ray, Broken & Brave Blog and Author of Fearless | Greater Lansing Area Moms

GLAMoms recently had an opportunity to sit down and chat with Kristin Ray.  Born and raised in the Greater Lansing area, Kristin and her husband have one daughter and they live in DeWitt.  Kristin is a planner and she wears lots of hats.  She works in sales for an area health system and is an MSU grad!  She is a published author, speaker, blogger and a survivor of childhood sexual trauma. 

Kristin is committed to her family, her career and she is creating a resource (and network) for others who may be going through something similar.  When she needed information, support and understanding, it did not exist.  She is dedicated to providing others what she was looking for.  

Kristin is lovely, charming and quick witted – learn more about her children’s book Fearless and some helpful and well thought out mom-wisdom and so much more!

Welcome to Greater Lansing Area Moms! 😊

What is your day job?  
I work at Physicians Health Plan.  I started 3 years ago because I wanted to get back into my most natural role – sales and leading people.  Each day I lead a team of 5 people that goes into the community.  We help seniors with both understanding Medicare and helping them make Medicare choices that are best for them and their partners.  

This is a resource that is gravely needed. Our seniors are being inundated with marketing about Medicare and making sure they are educated to make good choices is really important and I am really excited to be doing something like this in our community for a company like Physicians Health Plan that people know and trust.  

How do you balance being a mom, author, your blog, post casts and work?
The support of an amazing husband and parents, therapy, lists, a boss at work who respects me and my goals!

And you wrote a children’s book!
Yes, Fearless.  It has been almost a year since I published it and I worked on it for  6-9 months.  When I was pregnant I started journaling.  I really wanted to put thoughts down on paper that I wanted to hold myself accountable for giving her – more the lessons or things I have learned the hard way.  

When she was 1 ½ my family was not in a place where we could just invest thousands into a fun project and not wanting to spend a bunch of money.  So we self-published.  I found an illustrator and she specializes in art therapy.  She and I partnered and neither of us invested more than time.  Both of us got to do something that we always have wanted to do.  It was an emotional and personal goal as a mother and we found a ton of support.

We sold 300 copies the first day.  A lot were my humans – the people in my world that come out for me when I need them.  The first week on Amazon we were the number one seller for children’s stories for new books.  We were in that top spot for 6 days.  It was exciting and something I will hang my hat on for a while!

I still use it as a gift or if I know of someone who is struggling with something.  The book is still a very big thing in my life and when my daughter says, “mommy I want to read my book tonight,” it makes me happy that I did it.

Is there another book in the works?
Yes, two actually.  I am part of a collaboration book coming out this September, called EmbodyKind.  And then I also am in the works with my second children’s book, which will most likely be ready before Christmas.

What do you think is one of the best parts about being a mom?  
The Gandhi quote about being the change you wish to see in the world – for me it’s getting to raise a human that you hope betters the world with their presence.

What is a piece of advice for new moms you wish you would have known when you were a new mom? 
Throw away what you THINK new momming should look like and embrace what your experience feels like.  It’s normal, even beyond Postpartum Depression, to have some really sad and some really emotionless moments that feel out of control.  Finding the things that make those moments more bearable and the people you can be honest with is important.

Mom tips to share?
Yes, I have two.  

First, Bags.  I like to tell new moms, you are about to have so many bags.   You have your own purse, a work bag and if you leave your house with your kid you most likely have a diaper bag.  One thing that I have found that has worked for me is that I have 2 things that I move from purse to purse (or bag to bag) – my wallet and a pouch. Everything else I may need goes in there (ie. my medicine, chapstick, bandaids, anything I would need to survive out in the world that is not in my wallet is in this pouch and it zips up).  If I am taking my daughter to swim, I take these 2 things and put them in the swim bag, if I am going shopping by myself, I put these 2 things in my smaller side/crossover bag.  If I am going somewhere with Averie, I put these 2 things in a backpack so I have my hands free.  Not having to move so many things from bag to bag and then forgetting them because you had to move so many things – this idea has saved me.

I actually made a plan for that while I was pregnant. I will keep moving these 2 things from bag to bag and it has made my life just so much easier.  If going to the library, this that, move on, next day, this that, move on.  

Second. Journaling 
Journaling.  For me has helped me release some of the anxiety and the fears that come along with being a mom. No one thinks to have a conversation about the fact that the second you have this child you are going to be completely illogical and fearful for most likely the rest of your life.  During COVID it helped me to write about how scary it was. And when I was pregnant it helped to write about how scary it was to bring a girl into this world in which I was abused.

Sometimes I feel that as moms we get ourselves into places emotionally and mentally that no one understands our exact role and our feelings or emotions are so different.  I journal by writing to my daughter about what I am going through.   The more I wrote in the journal, the more I thought to myself I really need to hold myself accountable for providing this for her.  

Journaling has helped me get it out of my body and then put it down for her. Hopefully she can at some point use it to help with a problem and not feel so alone.  

I do not force myself or journal daily.  I journal when it comes to me; it is definitely more a coping mechanism than a routine. 

Tell us about Broken & Brave.
I started in October 2021. It is a blog and I channel my writing. The reason I started it was because during my journey to heal from my childhood trauma I realized all of what I wish I could read is not out there.  

At times, I feel really alone and as many people as I have around me that are super supportive, they do not get it – especially during the pandemic – they do not understand what I am going through every day.   They do not understand how difficult some of the triggers are that I experience as the mom of a young girl.

“Write what you wish you could read” – unknown quote that I recently ran across.  That is what I try to do.  I just want to write what other people who are going through what I am going through would want or need to read; I think 1 in 4 women have been a victim of sexual abuse at some point in their life. 

The hope, the goal, is first that people have a resource that they didn’t have before, I now have an outlet that I did not have.  The main goal is to out childhood sexual abuse on a conversational level where it is not so dark and scary to talk about.  

As a society, we’ve been able to normalize talking about hard things like our kids getting COVID, or the horror of school shootings. We’re not yet comfortable speaking outloud about a children who’ve been sexually abused.  That is just too dark and scary.  We do not want to let our minds go there. We have to be able to talk to kids and to one another about it.  And I am just trying to take away the discomfort from it.

Do you hear from readers Broken & Brave has resonated with?  Have people reached out? 
In some ways, yes.  When I share on social media, I also share on a couple of groups and through that I hear lots of feedback, especially on the EMDR topic.

In the moments I needed to read something like this, I wasn’t ready to share.  I wasn’t ready to reach out to someone, I was kind of naming myself as a survivor and learning what happened to me was abuse. I am trying to tell myself that most of the people reading it are not in a place where they are ready to say it outloud or make contact.  And that is okay.  As long as they get what they need from it, it is all that matters.

You mentioned EMDR, what is this?   
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories  It is especially for people who have trauma.  It is used for overcoming fears, from military veterans to sexual trauma.  

How is EMDR performed?
It is either done by either looking at lights, holding paddles with vibrations that are going back and forth or you can hear noises and can play beeps back and forth from one ear to another.  The movement back and forth reprocesses a traumatic memory from a place in your brain that just remembers it though it does not remember it traumatically. 

It (EMDR) has changed my life. I write about it in my blog.  It did sound hokie to me at first but once I did research and learned it was recognized and embraced by the whole therapy world (certification required to perform), that lent it some credibility with me. It is a delayed result but I could not even talk about my abuse out loud and now I blog and podcast about my trauma.

With EMDR you have to go to the worst places of the trauma; literally to the room where the trauma occurred.  The EMDR process can make you extremely exhausted – the experts say what makes you tired is the actual processing of a memory that you had not processed that way before and it exhausts the brain.  I had to ask my therapist what I was still so tired days later? And the therapist says because you are continuing to process it. 

If you have experienced trauma and aren’t finding the help you need, my recommendation would be to give EMDR a try.  It can change you from a person who is doggy paddling through life to someone who is sitting on the beach.  It has been an evolution since the moment the memories came to the moment I am sharing with the world how I am healing. 

I could not do this type of therapy without the presence of a really engaged husband and father to my daughter and support of my family.

Where do you see your blog in 5 years?
When I think about how I am healing now and I think the entries are going to be less about the darkness and more about the light that can come at the end of the tunnel.  I am feeling less dark and more about the healing and less about the actual trauma and so I hope that is where it goes.  

I hope that I give myself the grace, long term, to not need thousands of people to be reading it to continue it because it is helpful for me.  I probably have 750 views over six months, that is not a lot but it is 750 times unique people (viewers) looked at it and hopefully got something from it. </i

In the beginning of my healing, I wished I had a place to go to feel understood and I want to provide that for people and I hope I don’t have to need the validation of high readership to continue to put the resource out there. 

This is a resource that was not available before you created it and you are reaching people!
I am proud of myself for being vulnerable because so many people fear the label of survivor. I have gotten to the point in my healing where I do not have shame in being a person who is dealing with this, I am at the point where I can talk about it and it heals me to talk about it. I am proud that I am able to do so.

It is not always acceptable to say “I am proud of myself”, especially for women. I am proud of what I am doing.

I am going to be completely honest, I was unsure of how to ask questions and at the same time grateful you are in a place you are able to share.
Yes, I know, it can be a tricky topic.  Let’s put the vulnerability in front of people’s faces because this is what it looks like.  It is not a topic that is fun to listen to.

When I look at the neighborhood I live in, for example,  there are probably 20 houses – that means statistically speaking that there are 5 other women going through the same thing.  I am over this being so taboo.

I love that even though you questioned your comfort level around taking on this topic, that you did it anyway.  

How do you think your daughter is reacting to missing interaction with others for 2 years – others outside of your circle?  
You can definitely tell she is a COVID kid. Our COVID group was small and had a lot more women than men.  It is unpredictable when she is going to be this outgoing self and when she will be a shell of herself who cannot wave to someone on the river trail.  

We are probably having conversations later in her life than we should because, due to COVID, we were not put in positions to have them before.  For instance, she is not often in places where there are people that do not look like her.  In an attempt to bring some diversity into her life, when we go to the library we try to find resources that kind of widen our views.  I hope books help with situations we have not experienced because of COVID.

I am making an intentional effort to raise a kid who is neither ignorant nor intolerant.  In our family, we choose how we interact with people based on who they are as a human and nothing more, nothing less.

Photo credit: Marcie Kay Photography

Now a couple questions to get to know you a bit better…

What does the Greater Lansing area need more of?
When I answered this I asked myself, what are the reasons I leave the Lansing area with my family.  We leave for museums.  We love dinosaurs and prehistoric content.  We have museums, I wish we had a big nature history museum and cultural center and destination for the day.

What is the oddest thing in your car at this moment?
A foldable purple Minnie Mouse potty seat. MY daughter has been fairly easy to potty train, so I bring the purple Minnie potty seat with me everywhere we go and she feels comfortable going potty when we are out. 

You live in DeWitt… Does your family LOVE all of the trails and pathways within the DeWitt community?
We moved to DeWitt last summer! We have access to a nature trail right in our neighborhood and at the end of it it leads you to the DeWitt Library.  My daughter knows the people at the library and people know her.  The library isn’t a chore, it is a family thing, an outing to get exercise.

Favorite children’s book you enjoy reading?
The JellyCat Books.  The stories are amazing, the illustrations are beautiful and they all come with a matching stuffy.  

Magic Bunny.  The idea of this book is that when you go to sleep at night, Magic Bunny wakes up to protect you.  You may be sleeping but he is looking out for you and when your mommy comes in and wakes you up in the morning, Magic Bunny goes back to sleep.

As a kid who was experiencing trauma, I struggled to sleep well and feel safe while I was sleeping.  I wish I would have had this book and this bunny then.  And so, I think I had that book and bunny before she was born and she still sleeps with the bunny and we still read Magic Bunny. 

TV, do you watch?
I am a TV junkie, I cannot name just one show that I watch or follow. 

Guilded Age on HBO – You wouldn’t think that a show taking place in the early 1900s would have feminist undertones, but each time I watch I take down a quote and after watching feel like I could take down the world.  

Pivoting on FOX – It’s about 3 women that are my age and at different places in their lives and united by a 4th friend that just passed. 

Ted Lasso – It might be about sports from a background perspective but it is about kindness and being good humans to one another.  I needed something good in my world and I could count on it.  I have repeated the series now because I know it’s just the right amount of time and puts me in the right attitude.

What is something you and your family do for summer fun?
We are a family of  sports lovers – I love just sitting, bakin’ in the sun watching baseball with a drink in my hand. I don’t care how hot it is.  Averie got to go to her first Lugnuts and Tigers game last year and she LOVED both.  

💚

Kristin, thank you!  It has been a pleasure to get to know you better.  We are honored to get to share your story with GLAMoms and hope someone who may be looking for it, reads about you.  We hope our conversation with you it facilitates more about childhood sexual abuse with others.  

If you would like to learn more about Kristin and the Broken & Brave blog, please see the links below.  

Also, check back for information about the release of EmbodyKind (in September) and her second children’s book closer to Christmas time.  

Facebook Kristin Ray
Instagram
@kristinraeray
LinkedIn 
Kristin (Porter) Ray
Website kristinraeray.com

Photo credits:
Marcie Kay Photography photograph of Kristin and her daughter holding hands.
All other photographs, Michael Ray, Kristin’s husband. 

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