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After A Wildfire

I’ve seen quite a few wildfires. Not up close, thankfully, and not ever in action. I’ve seen the damage it causes and the destruction it leaves behind. One summer we were driving through Yosemite and I saw the black, barren land. How trees were singed to twigs and how the grass was void of all color. Another time I was driving out to Waianae, and I could see the line where the fires ended. As if someone had taken a Sharpie and only colored in half the picture, this was what the mountains had looked like- half covered in black ash.

I think about these wildfires and how they ruin everything. No one is safe, and once it gets started there is no way to predict what path it will take. You can fight it and try to make the damage as minimal as possible, but a wildfire is most often times out of one’s control.

Yet even in a wildfire, life finds a way to rebuild. After everything is gone. After everything has become unrecognizable, nature- and life- finds a way to come together again. Animals that were once driven out of their homes return. Plants that were burned to the ground regrow. And where there was once nothing but ashes, beauty returns again.

COVID-19 hit my life like a wildfire. Everything I once knew has been ravaged in the flames. There was no stopping it. There was no predicting its path. And no matter how hard I fought, there was no controlling it. Life, as I knew it, was gone. And I gave myself time to grieve. I cried. I cried again. I cried more. I wondered why things had to change and why this had happened to me. But now I am ready to rebuild. I am ready to return home- wherever and whatever that may look like. I am ready to grow again and add color to my life. And I am ready to live a true and beautiful life.

Glennon Doyle- in my now, current favorite book Untamed– posed the question, “What’s the truest and most beautiful life you could live?” And having had everything burned down, I don’t think there’s a more appropriate time or season to start rebuilding my life into its truest and most beautiful form.

Because in its truest and most beautiful form, my life looks like me taking care of myself.

This is not limited to- but it certainly includes- the form of self-care where I get my nails done and my eyebrows threaded once a month- because this truly is a form of self-care, but it also calls for a life where I take care of my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. A life where as much effort is put into toning my stomach and gluteus maximus as is put into taking care of my mental health and addressing the emotions I have on a day to day basis. This is a life where I protect myself rather than putting my heart on the line for the sake of others.

While the fire may have striped back most of my life, there were some key components that withstood the destruction. These are the pillars I want to keep in place as I rebuild. I want to continue cooking for myself, because not only is this girl capable of making a breakfast worth waking up to, but I now have a few more recipes under my belt where I won’t always be bringing mac and cheese to the youth leader potluck. I also want to keep exercising- evening walks and at home workouts (because let’s be real the gym is going to have to wait). I will power through the uphill climb of Mokulele if that means on my way back down I get to say hello to the sweet old man who picks the weeds out of his front lawn every evening. Then there is the pillar that I have just barely started to form. The one that reminds me that seeking help is ok. That speaking to a professional is not frowned upon. Where seeing a counselor once a week is not a punishment for having too many emotions, but rather it’s the privilege I get to partake in as I try to sort through my feelings. These are the things that have helped me take care of myself. These are the ways that I will start to rebuild.

According to my Google search of “How long after a wildfire will it take for plants to regrow?” it will take about 35 to 50 years for fir trees to reach full maturity and 50 to 75 years for pine trees to do the same. I surely hope my rebuilding process doesn’t taken 35 to 50 or 50 to 75 years, but I accept and understand that it will not happen overnight. It will take time. It will take commitment. And it will not be easy. But I am willing to commit the next 75 years of my life to taking the absolute best care of myself in whatever way that may look like. Rebuilding starts now.

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