“Sometimes life requires more of you than you have to give & demands you plunge into the reinvention of yourself if you truly wanna live.” – Curtis Tyrone Jones
My name is Donna, and I’ve been writing about my life in a very special and what I consider, enchanted, forest, since 2008. Over the years I have shared thousands of pictures of my animals, thousands of stories of happiness, heart break, triumph, humor, struggle, and adventure. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, and opened up my life, and also my heart.
My blog, Our Forest Haven,
has lead me to meet some very special people, to write articles for many wonderful homesteading magazines, and online blogging and news sites. I have met a whole world of people who I am very grateful have taken the time to read my words, and get enjoyment out of my pictures, and share my life with me from afar.
For several years now I have been getting progressively sicker as I have been through seven major surgeries and diagnosed with more than one devastating auto immune disease. I have almost died twice since 2015, and I lost my husband to a heart attack without any warning at all.
All by time I was 30 years old.
My last few years on the farm have been a struggle and while I continued to write, I have done much less so publicly lately for many reasons.
My illnesses alone have caused me to give up a lot of things I used to be able to do, and made my future so uncertain. But they have also taught me and continue to teach me every single day, to be grateful for every day, and every little blessing, because they matter more than we usually realize. It’s easy to just take them for granted.
It took me a long time to decide if I could come back to the blog and continue writing, or if I should just quit, or start over. The first seemed like the best option because that blog was my home, and my history. But my heart has needed time to adjust. And much has changed, and continues to.
Starting a new blog, with a familiar, but also new, direction, seemed like the best way for me to move forward, as quitting blogging, quitting writing, quitting sharing, left a very empty space in my heart & spirit.
I feel very much like I have just been sitting around, waiting to start over, for years now.
It feels like I have been waiting for a special event, occasion, or certain date… I’m not sure what it is. But I did feel like something would have to specifically happen in order for me to actually “start over” in order for me to actually begin “living” again. It was hard for me to notice that all this time I have been continuing to actually live, even if sometimes it felt like only survival and not actual living.
But without me actually realizing it, I have already “Started over.” There was no big announcement, no big realization that it had happened, and no “aha” moment. It just happened quietly, and without me putting much thought into it, other than the realization that I needed to remember to truly live and not just survive.
I have been grieving for a very long time. Grieving the loss of my old self, my health, my husband, my animals, my old life. Grief like that doesn’t just go away, and you do not just accept it and move on. It’s a constant weight you carry, you cope with, and you need to manage.
I have also been in denial for a very long time in regards mainly to my health, and the fact that while my diseases are manageable, I will never be magically cured, I will also have to be on numerous medications, I will always have periods of flares, and it will in fact change and limit the things I do in the future. For quite some time now it felt like it meant I just had to completely give up on my dreams. Homesteading, living in the forest, farming, raising animals, living with nature… this is all I ever wanted from life, it’s what feeds my spirit, it’s what makes me want to get up in the morning. It’s what makes me want to keep living and breathing, and it’s what makes all of the struggles life throws at us completely worth it to me. But being as sick as I am, and with chronic and unpredictable illnesses, it has felt like not only would I have to change plans, I’d totally have to give up on them altogether.
Prednisone, such a fun drug that I am constantly going through withdrawls on since I have adrenal fatigue and am dependent on it now, makes my emotions harder to deal with. I have less rage issues and more just mood instability and bouts of depression, which also come along with the constant flares, and exhaustion. Chronic fatigue is awful. Always being exhausted, so exhausted mentally and physically you can barely speak or get words out. It’s frightening, frustrating, and it’s very difficult to not let it affect you. I like to pretend that I’m tough enough and that it doesn’t affect me emotionally at all – that I can handle anything. But that’s a lie. It’s one of the many challenges I face every single day.
On the days I feel better, even a tiny bit better, it’s very easy to feel positive and like I can indeed still do some things, and still work towards some of my dreams. Every other day it feels like nothing is possible, and I can’t see a way forward at all. The challenge is getting through those days and not feeling that way – remembering to just rest, to just keep moving forward, and that this is my normal now, it’s not the end of the world, it’s just one of those days.
I will have to change my plans going forward, but I will not have to cancel them as I once thought, and as many people have told me I would. I will need to learn to cope better, and to work within my limits, but I will not give up, and I will not alter my course. I will adjust my sails, slightly. I will do things on a smaller scale, and I will need help. But even during my worst moments I have promised myself to make a committed effort to remind myself, everything is still possible. All is not lost. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want them to – and sometimes that’s OK… sometimes they are not meant to, because sometimes something better lies ahead.
I am waking up. I am starting to dream again. Some days my inspiration comes back full force. Some days, I can do nothing but sleep. Part of my journey will be learning to accept each day, and each challenge for what it is.
I am lucky enough to have a man in my life right now who wants to share in this journey with me, who wants to build something with me, and learn with me, and grow with me. Who accepts the inspired, happy, Donna, as well as the sick, fearful, Donna. I am grateful for that, and I am also grateful for my own strength. I have gotten myself this far. I am… quite frankly, exhausted. But I am also excited. There is much to be done, there is much life to be lived.
I want to continue sharing my journey with you. All of it. The good parts, the fun parts, but also the difficult parts, the struggles. I want everyone to know that despite our individual struggles, limitations, and, challenges, anything is still possible if we are willing to take the risks, make the sacrifices, and work within our means.
I want so share the scary parts, the good days, the bad days. And I hope you’ll want to share them with me too, whether you are old followers & friends, or new.
I hope to continue to share my life, adventures, writing, stories, pictures, and also, videos, with you, about the farm, moving forward, my animals, our projects, challenges, my health…
For a long time I have been standing still because I was unsure how exactly to move forward.
And then it dawned on me.
It’s very simple.
All you do is just take one step.
One single step.
And continue from there.