Jamie Ray aims for impossible heights. Whether climbing aerial silks, climbing walls, or climbing other acro yoga friends, she is always ready to explore the next level or try her newest trick. Her passion for movement extends to her family where she embraces and celebrates being a loving wife, devoted mother, and a brilliant circus performer. Jamie went from bored housewife to vibrant acrobat in just a few months, and she encourages us all to try something new.
How did you meet your husband?
J: Ike and I met 13 years ago in New Orleans, and I offered to be his tour guide. We were long distance for a while because he’s from Connecticut. I moved up there, and then we moved to Rhode Island. We’ve lived here for four years.
Tell me about your daughter.
J: She loves theater and performing; very unique and perceptive child. She is very artistic and can be left alone for hours to create. She’s very talkative and very quick witted. She has gotten The Peacemaker Award at school, and is a nurturing little soul.
Three things you always have with you?
J: Water bottle, ponytail holder, and a pair of shorts in case I need to do some acro.
Three words to describe yourself?
J: Energetic, bullheaded, and passionate.
How would your friends describe you?
J: Unpredictable, nurturing, because I’m kind of the Mama Bear. I’ll take anybody in. We usually have someone living under our roof that’s not part of our family.
Most recent proud parenting moment?
J: Zeppelynne getting the part she auditioned for, and the fact that she chose a serious role and she nailed it. It was cool to see that accomplishment come through. She gives 100 percent effort no matter what the role. It’s so cool to watch that pay off.
Last mom fail?
J: A good mom fails everyday. I’m usually right behind whatever’s going on and worrying that I messed it up. I hate when we get into it in the morning, and I don’t have time to fix it. Those are the big fails, when I’m not able to fix things quickly.
How do you keep it all balanced?
J: My husband. He is the grounding point that keeps me from flying off like a balloon. He’s been amazing since I was a bored housewife spending too much time on Pinterest, and I saw a picture of someone doing aerial silks. I couldn’t even be coerced to jog to the mailbox, I was so out of shape. I told him I wanted to do that. When he realized I was serious, he immediately got behind me. He started sending me all over the country to get training and workshops. That’s it, the balance of having this big dream and wanting to do it, and the man behind me who makes sure I’m doing it safely.
Greatest thing about being a mom?
J: I guess knowing that you have this love that can trump every other thing in your life. No matter what else is going on, it’s just this bright spot, this silver lining, always in your heart and your head.
Favorite spot around town for date night?
J: The climbing gym. We love to climb. Ike’s a boulderer, and I like to go high.
What’s something parents shouldn’t feel guilty about?
J: Parents should stop saying that selfish is a bad thing. We want our kids to have a very strong sense of self, but if they don’t see that in us, and if they don’t see us taking time to pursue our own passions and goals, then they won’t have a good example of what that looks like.
What good habit do you have that you would like to pass on to your daughter?
J: I’ve had to train myself to check my negativity before it comes out. I really try hard to put a positive spin on things, even when that isn’t really what I want to do. That’s a habit I’ve had to form.
Any bad habits you would not want to pass on?
J: I hope that she can be a little more organized. I tend to get scattered with all the projects I have going on.
Hardest thing about being a mom?
J: Probably not always knowing if I’m doing the right thing. Not knowing how it’s going to turn out until later. The hardest part is all of the questions you ask yourself every day.
How did you react when you found out you were going to be a mom?
J: I think I was in shock for a couple of days. I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I was about four months along. Immediately, I knew it was a little girl.
What do you like to do as a family?
J: We love to get in the kitchen and cook. Zeppelynne loves to bake paleo goods because her dad is paleo. She has become our resident paleo chef. We love to travel and explore new areas. We also love to do acro together.
What’s your parenting style?
J: Laid-back. I’m definitely not an attached parent. I’m very open to her and her ideas. Typically, if I give her the option, she will do the right thing. I only have one zero tolerance rule and that’s no whining. Sulking falls under that category. Sulking is quiet whining, and I won’t put up with it.
What’s one piece of advice you often give your daughter?
J: Focus on yourself. Don’t put a lot of stock in what other people are doing or thinking or saying.
How has parenthood changed you?
J: I don’t really remember a time before her. I feel like I woke up when I became a mom. It was like I started paying attention.
What’s one thing your daughter has taught you?
J: The power of patience. She has taught me how to be a more patient human, for sure.
What advice would you give to other parents?
J: I hardly think I’m in any position to give advice to other parents. With your kids, everything is worth exploring.
When did you get involved with aerial arts and start Airseekers?
J: I started in 2014 and formed my company in 2015. I didn’t have a regular place to train. I saw a need, and I thought if I want to be able to do this all the time, I’m going to have to build it. My focus is on being able to safely offer this kind of movement to the community. I want parents to check out instructors and make sure they’re qualified and certified. It’s very dangerous to climb 20 feet in the air and execute tricks.
How does having a non-traditional occupation impact your daughter/family?
J: I think it starts with who I am as a non-traditional person. We are a non-traditional family. She understands that people from all walks of life have worth and value.
What do you enjoy most about being an acrobatic performer?
J: The costumes. I do all my own production. I create a routine with a story in mind. I love that it’s physical storytelling with costumes. Words became unnecessary.
Where do you perform?
J: I go all over to perform. I recently performed in LA. I’ll perform at Sundance, and then I’m going to teach at a retreat in Costa Rica. I travel alot with work. Z comes with me sometimes. She’s every bit a part of this. We’re all a part of this weird little circus family. She also gets to perform. She has performed aerial at a Perkins Rowe festival.
What benefits do you get from aerial arts and acro yoga?
J: It’s a nice outlet for my energy. I feel like I’m calmer in other areas now. It helped me be more productive with my energy. And in turn it has calmed me down.
How do you connect movement to self-awareness?
J: Everyone has one path of embodiment to take. It leads to an understanding of more. For me, it was climbing. I never considered myself a super coordinated person. Now I am, but it took a lot of work. Looking back at all the trees I managed to get to the top of, I realized that took a lot of technique. When I looked at that woman on the aerial silks in the Pinterest picture, I knew I could do it. It came to me very naturally. I was born to do this. Now it tumbles over into other things. It has all led to this overall sense of myself.
What would you say to a mom who may be in that same position?
J: Be willing to look outside the standard package of what moms are supposed to do. It might not be yoga for you. It might be something totally different, but be willing to look outside the box. Do what makes your heart race. ■
Before kids, I never thought I would… not throw up if someone threw up.
Growing up, I knew I wanted to… perform and have a little girl.
In my fridge, you will always find… eggs.
I like my coffee… multiple shots of espresso shaken with milk. Coffee time is my favorite time.
Favorite movie growing up… Dirty Dancing.
Favorite children's book… The Giving Tree; I'll Love You Forever.
My guilty pleasure is… shopping and gravy.
I can’t stop listening to… Tash Sultana.