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Excavation


Through my window, there is a fog. It is unlike the town that we live in, here in North Carolina, for fog to enter our mornings. On my drive to drop my daughters at school, I am transported back to the city of my childhood which sat at the feet of the Golden Gate Bridge. There is something in the smell of that fog, and the way it turns the sun behind it, into a day moon that shakes me from the monotony of my uninspiring pandemic routine.


Instead of heading home to start the Monday morning clean-up of the weekend's activities, I walk in and grab my journal. I head up to the desk that has sat unused since we moved to this Robin's egg blue house in late May and begin the practice of "morning pages" that I learned almost three decades ago from Julia Cameron's beautiful books. I immediately spill my coffee on the cover, an action that last week would have had me throwing my hands up at the entire endeavor. Instead, something about the apathy I felt in the past days mixing with this fog, carries me into the moment when the ink hits the light lined pages of the "decomposition book" that I bought at The Depot on my last trip home to Mill Valley.


The pen runs out midway through my third page. I wonder if the universe is testing me to see if I've really got it in me to continue this time. It is a page mixed with words of grief and regret and gratitude. I am unearthing the reasons for my subdued mood over the past weeks in the same way that a gardener would turn the soil in her raised garden bed in a new season. There is a noise outside and I look up and find that at the end of my street sits a unusually orange excavator, breaking the soil on the hill, that leads to the greenway behind our neighborhood.


It is December and all but the evergreens have now dropped their rainbow leaves. I stare at the excavator and reflect on how much I didn't want them to remove the trees that lined Old Canal Street. This road hugs our neighborhood like a jeweled necklace and the loss of these trees really hurt. My five-year-old worried if they cut them down they wouldn't know where to stop. But the trees were coming down to prevent a situation where a sink hole could occur. They are bringing in gravel and new plants and a vision for a safe hillside for years to come. Now reinforcements that we can't even see, strengthen this jewel of a road we travel down each day.


I grab a new pen and reflect on how this return to the page feels similar to the work on Old Canal. Each thought printed by hand in my journal, is a reinforcement to the life I want to unfold for myself and my family. Sometimes it's only by digging underneath into what we can't see that we find possibilities that we didn't know were there. These might be new ways to tweak our daily routine, friendships we could pursue, a solution to an old problem or interests that were waiting for their moment in the sun.


Today I invite you to pull out the pen and join me on the page. Make a list of what you'd like to let go of on one side of your journal and a list of how you'll know you were successful on the opposite side. Just the act of putting down your electronics and reaching for a pen and paper can be soothing in itself. Don't edit, just let it spill out in all of it's messiness. Trust that from a strong base beauty can erupt.

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