The forest we visited had been completely destroyed by massive fires in the 1930s and '40s and all of the trees surrounding us were relative babies, as trees go, having been planted by busloads of school children and youth groups after the fires decimated the area. There was doubt as to whether the replanting would work, as elk would come along and eat two out of every three new trees. Now you wouldn't know that the forest had been consumed repeatedly by flames, and that there was nothing left but black chard; there's no trace of the fiery inferno or its total destruction.
The trees stand tall and straight, providing shade and cool patches and meandering hiking trails. There are picnic tables and benches and paths and a visitor's center and a beautiful river.
I am always inspired by water. I love the see the ocean and whenever I'm on vacation near the sea I begin to have phrases and words and sentences and ideas come to mind. The ocean is powerful and vast and I can't help but be inspired by its sheer presence. It seems to put into perspective whatever problems I carried when I arrived.
The forest and its trees had a similar effect, and I have been thinking all day about our time there yesterday and looking forward to another visit. I felt such hope there -- knowing everything around me had once been burned down, and was now growing, thriving, green and healthy.
I am still not feeling well, and am currently waiting to see a rheumatologist. My appointment is not until late September, but I am on a cancellation list. I am still having swelling, pain, stiffness, and low grade fever every day. I am more tired than usual and don't sleep as well. I am trying some supplements and dietary changes in the meantime, hoping to alleviate some of the symptoms. I've recently decided to try vastly reducing, or eliminating altogether, my intake of wheat and dairy, (no small decision for this lover of carbs and cheese) as they are thought to cause inflammation, which is the root of many autoimmune diseases.
Today the Live Art.fully Facebook page hit 200 fans. Live Art.fully is still a baby, less than a year old, and in celebration of having over 200 fans now, I wanted to have cupcakes. My husband found me gluten-free chocolate cake mix and chocolate frosting without dairy or gluten, and we were in business!
We made cupcakes and dinner and had friends over. Any evening with good food, good friends, laughter, support, music, holding babies, and chocolate is ok with me.
I don't know what my life will look like in the future. I don't know if my joints will deform or my spine will fuse. I don't know if I'll be able to maintain good health or if I'll need to let some things go. It's sometimes hard to wait to be diagnosed. There's some fear. But I plan to live my life, enjoying everything I can still do, to the best of my ability. I will try to maintain my humor and joy throughout the process.
I can have my cake and eat it too (even if it is gluten-free!) And if inflammation burns through my body, causing destruction and wreaking havoc, I will keep searching for ways to rebuild.