It’s a quiet Saturday morning and I’m working my way through chapter 1 of Liz Lamoreux’s Inner Excavation. I met Liz through a mutual friend earlier this year and discovered her beautiful blog and work just recently.
The introduction to the book is quite lovely:
I am so glad to find you here reading these words because it means you are in the midst of one of the greatest adventures of your life — looking inward and sifting through the layers to unearth who you are as you walk on your life’s path.
The journey of doing this work — the big work — of looking inward to figure out where you are, where you want to go, how you got to this moment, is the focus of this book.
Moving cross-country last year, buying a house this year, and moving again have forced me to spend the last two years deeply focused on those questions, so I’m using the book less as a journey of self-discovery and more of a grounding and restatement of who I have been and am becoming.
The first exercise in the book is a photo essay of an ordinary day. I haven’t had too many ordinary days recently, what with packing and moving and unpacking and exploring this wonderful new house, so I kept my camera close this past Wednesday to see how ordinary it proved to be.
So much of the time when we capture our lives, we record the Facebook version, with a quick pickup of a messy room before a photo, or a smiling toddler’s photo taken seconds before a meltdown, or a celebration of a third wedding anniversary without mention of the huge fight the night before.
As a photographer, I’m no more immune to that than anyone, and probably less. It’s easy to record the pretty details and skip the, er, cheese toast and soda I had for breakfast Wednesday morning. You see, I love cold-brewed coffee, and I switched last year from making a huge batch every weekend to using a French press every morning. But the French press has to be taken apart and cleaned every day, which was easy to remember when I lived in a teeny apartment. Not so much in our new larger house, so I occasionally end up with a soda for my caffeine fix instead.
See? That wasn’t so hard.
That said, twenty pictures of a keyboard wouldn’t be very interesting, so I captured a few details of my office instead. These are the small things I see every day that make my heart happy: a small piece of art by Sheri Ponzi, a beautiful felted wild rose by lannarfelt, coral and an abalone shell, the floral folder that stays on my desk, art pens I pulled out to sign a card with. Working at home is an incredible blessing, and surrounding myself with special things makes every day that much more meaningful.
Tansy is my constant companion while I work. She’s kind of a grouchy old lady — has been since she was a kitten — but I’m her chosen minion, so she keeps me company and demands attention and naps and chatters during the day.
An ordinary day, so far, until I happened to stop in the bedroom to put something away and glance out the window.
We’ve lived in Alcove House for a month now and are still discovering little surprises here and there. The back yard consists of a low wooden deck, close to the ground, backed by a tangle of vines and rhododendrons and scrub that slopes down to the rough that belongs to the neighboring golf course. We’d meant to go poking around down there, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
When I glanced out that second-floor window, I saw a tree down the hill with bright pink things on it. Too late for flowers. Was it a cherry tree?
After work, Raymond and I picked our way downhill through the brush and discovered the prettiest, oddest plum tree laden with fruit no bigger than cherries. We also discovered huckleberries and trailing blackberries on the slope I’d planned to just mulch over. Oh, and the next day I realized that what we’d taken for a crabapple is actually a real apple tree, and picked yet another pint of blueberries.
The bounty of this place — this house, the Pacific Northwest — amazes me, and I’m so grateful.