Lessons of the Forest

Yesterday afternoon we went on a picnic at a nearby forestry center. What a beautiful place! We walked around the grounds, enjoyed a yummy lunch, waded in cool river water (being careful not to slip on the slimy rocks) and enjoyed the 89 degree sun.

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.


  1. Jenn, There are LOTS of G-Free stuff (Cooper has had to be G-Free & dairy free for most of his little life). Quinoa pasta is great & high in protein, Pamela's baking & pancake mix is awesome. Some stuff can be a little gritty or bland. I have several cookbooks and would be happy to bring them down to you the next time we come down that way. (Road Trip!) I have started drinking almond milk, and I have also tried coconut milk. I could go on and on . . . I'm so sorry you are still not feeling well.

  2. I am so proud of that forest! I believe the choice made to grow trees there again changed the world. I think you will change the world, too.

  3. Still thinking about you everyday and praying for strength and endurance. Love you Jenn.

  4. Yes!!! You get it!!! Thank you for directing me to this post - I love it! Nature DOES put things into perspective. Even illness and death makes more sense to me when I see how nature works - listen to it - honor it - realize my place in it. Death and illness are JUST as holy as life and health. This was a life changing realization for me.
    Having our new camper (and now having it permanently perched in the woods next to a lake...I wrote back to you about this on my blog where you commented) has brought access to this communion back to me - and I feel so very blessed.
    You know, so many people find their joy in moving up in the world or adding the next "thing" - I find that my joy, more and more, is coming from experiencing less. Taking away and finding the beauty in the simple. As I sit in my very, very, very tiny camper and look around at the majesty before me, I long for life to be simple. I am reminded of exactly all that we really need to get by in the world. Not that I am not grateful (and dependent) on many, many things - there is just so much I can do without. Nature reminds me of this.
    Bless you for sharing this with me. It brings great comfort knowing others share in this understanding.


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