Christina Rosalie

The biggest adventure: forever, then all of a sudden

Posted on April 13, 2014

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The winter stayed and stayed. Snow came, then fell again with a vengeance, white, whiter, small hills gathering curbside. Softer snow layered with frozen rain and sleet. Our own glacial record, keeping the things we lost: A single mitten, pocket change, our sense of permanence, the feeling of home. It was the coldest year on record. Biting. Sharp. I spent from November until April in Sorrel boots; wore my grey woolen beanie hat indoors; stopped smiling at strangers (not for lack of interest but because it required too much exposure of cheek and neck). The days grew longer, but the cold lasted. And along with it, a growing, restlessness, a gradual anxiety; a realization that this, here, might not be enough anymore for many reasons. Some more complicated than others. The least of them being the weather, but the most acceptable to share about here.

In retrospect the universe was probably conspiring. In the moment it felt like everything skittered right up against the edge. Things happened slowly, then all of a sudden. It felt like it feels when you almost fall on black ice, but catch yourself just before and walk away, your heart still beating hard.

Everywhere else spring arrived. I watched on Instagram. People had cherry blossoms, camellias, daffodils by the arm-full. Here, it was snow or days of spitting sleet. Temperatures in the low teens. Hunched shoulders. Worry. The feeling of having outgrown our circumference. Uneven footing. A flirtation with change. The idea of moving West. An inkling. A passing remark here. A half finished sentence there. What-ifs showing up in my morning pages; the words “spend more time on the Pacific” in my 37 before 37 list; and then we started looking in earnest. Then we flew out, fell in love with the city of roses and bridges, saw friends, ate so much good food, interviewed many places, and T landed his dream job.

Or something. Something like that. Sort of. Minus the hundred thousand anxious moments. Minus all the things beyond our control. Minus the anxiousness stitched together to make days, and the logistical conversations we had over and over again on repeat.

Now of course we forget it all. We forget the way we hunched against the cold because today there is sun, and sun, and sun. People are using leaf blowers. The neighbor’s parakeets are flirting. Cardinals are making nests. The lake is melting, and the are is warm enough finally to sit in shirt sleeves, grinning.

And We’re moving.

Bittersweet. Wildly giddy. Thrilled beyond words. Tired. Heart-achy. Delighted.

And it’s all happening now, this very minute. We leave in 2 weeks. Hello Portland.

Finally I’m moving back. The Pacific is whispering. A new bungalow on a new street. A city to fall in love with. New paths to chart. New stories to tell.

And before that, goodbyes and then a cross-country road trip. The boys. The dog. A route mapped through Chicago and Wyoming and Idaho to see some of this big country for the first time. I can’t wait and I’m not ready. I’m over the moon, and I’m sad to be leaving friends behind.


Needless to say: I have added incentive to make the studio sale happen. I’m finishing a few pieces, and scanning them all. Fingers crossed it will go live tomorrow. Maybe Tuesday. Like always, it will be a pay-what-you-can sale, but I’ll be setting a minimum this time just to offset materials and handling. I make all items available to my newsletter list first–then open up whatever’s left to anyone who happens by this little blog after 24 hours. (Fair warning, last time everything sold in less than 12 hours.)


Ok.So enough about that. Tell me everything you know about moving. Cross-country trips. Portland. Everything.
Love,
C

*Studio Sale + An Update*

Posted on April 7, 2014

Hello dear friends,

I’m so sorry I’ve been quiet here. Spring is gradually arriving, and with it, many changes and new directions that I’m excited to share, but can’t quite share yet. I was traveling this past week, which put me behind schedule for when I’d hoped to have my studio sale at the end of March. But it will be happening mid April. (Jump on the list if you want first dibs.) There are lots of animals in this particular round–many pen and ink drawings and a few small canvasses. Lots of resurfaced original postcards.

If there is an animal that particularly speaks to your heart, let me know and I’ll try to ink one up for the sale as well.

No promises, but when someone asked if there’d be a few red foxes in the mix, I got inspired and made a few sketches that I’m excited to finish.

Now that I’m back from traveling of course I got sick: A full-on head cold, paired with a stint of solo-parenting, and a tight project deadline. Oy. Still, the tiniest glimmers of spring around here have me giddy. It’s been such a long time coming, so much cold, so many layers of snow I could hardly believe that after a few days of spring sun the ground is bare.

Soon, crocuses will show up among the litter of last year’s leaves, and overhead in the tangle of bare branches that snare the moon every evening as it climbs the blueing twilight sky will become a riot of leaves and blossoms. Each year this happens, and each year, I’m in awe: That a seed unfurls into a plant; that bare twigs become the ruffled delight of greening leaves; that the light lasts longer and longer till the boys beg to go out after dinner and play and play well past when their bedtimes. I haven’t the heart to call them in, until the final rays of sunshine slip beyond the edges of our world. Then they come, muddy kneed, smudge-faced, grinning like the rapscallions they are. It’s been a long winter around these parts.

Tell me what you’re up to, what spring adventures are underfoot, and if you’ve got something your heart is set on that you’d like for me to try to draw.

xo/Christina

A few things I’ve been up to lately

Posted on March 11, 2014

Giraffe - Christina Rosalie
Hello friends!
I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had nearly as much time as I would like to stop in here and share stories.

Here are a few things I’ve been up to lately:

:: Writing on Medium

:: Creating a new series of art pieces (this giraffe is one, in progress)

:: Planning a studio sale for the end of March (sign up if you’d like to get first dibs.)

:: Working on a few very cool client projects. I especially loved helping to launch this shop into the world.

:: Reading the Little House series out loud to Bean (and feeling very glad I’m not that kind of pioneer.)

:: Watching Sprout become an amazing artist.

:: Reading this book, and this one.

:: Listening to new music on Beats.

:: Writing every morning in a notebook (I’ve loved responding to these prompts though I haven’t had time to share much here.)

:: Doing a 20 minute vinyasa routine every morning

:: Drinking tea (instead of coffee), skipping alcohol, going to bed earlier, and taking a zillion supplements… and feeling like my adrenals are saying thank you. {Hello energy! How I’ve missed you}

:: Walking out onto the icy lake with the boys (it still feels bizarre and precarious, but I love all the wide expanses.)

:: Making big plans.

:: Really hankering for spring (and we have many inches of snow in the forecast this week!)

What you’ve been up to this March? Crazy how time is whirling by these days.

Sojourn: The temporary state of now

Posted on March 2, 2014

Adventure_ChristinaRosalie

sojourn |ˈsōjərn|

noun
a temporary stay.

Since December I’ve been doing yoga every week-day morning. Just a short, half hour vinyasa routine that ends with a few minutes of meditation. Every morning I show up, bend and bow, and discover my hamstrings are still as tight as the day before. Every morning show up, find my breath and focus my attention–and then loose it; find it, then loose it again.

Some days it’s less of a struggle, other days it’s more so, depending on how willing I am to take this sojourn into the present; how patient I am to sit with non-doing. Sometimes I count slow inhalations; other times I really am just there, in my breath; but many times I’m impatient, bucking up against the uncertainty of the now.

Without a clock, just breathing, time does it’s own thing: Slowing to a maddening pace so that five minutes are an eternity of interruptions and distractions. The dog comes wagging. The boys wake up. The winter light glints through the chinks in the shades and flirts with my closed lids. Then all the worries I carry come crowding up, knocking their carpet bags and banging their shoes in the muddy entrance way of my mind.


If there were a clock, a countdown, a promise of what’s next I could be patient I think. I could let go, sink in, and sojourn into the temporary state of now. But with the wide expanse of temporariness stretched out before me wide without a way to mark it’s passing, each day I am challenged just to sit. To breathe. To be empty, and then to fill.


This has made me consider all the ways that I struggle with being in between, in the middle, in a temporary state of non-action, which is where I’ve been in my life quite a bit lately as we make plans and circle round them slowly, uncertain about a future that has yet to arrive.

 


I love this list of prompts so much, I’ve decided to join Amanda in writing every day as often as possible this month.

To be 5 years old (with gusto)

Posted on March 1, 2014

 
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You turned 5 (last Thursday!) with gusto. For the week before your birthday you kept asking when you birthday would be and then counting down the days. At night you’d wrap your arms around my neck and hug me close, and whisper: “My birthday is in____days.” And I’d say, “It is” and rub your nose with my nose and stare down at him completely disbelieving.

Remember how the time between birthdays felt like an eternity? Remember that sweet feeling of anticipation that last nearly until you’d burst? Would that we could still feel that luxurious stretch of time, easy and slow with the salty sweet of anticipation like taffy being pulled. Now the days have a staccato feel: dominos tumbling one after the other in a rapid-action blur. They come they go in an instant. I keep thinking, wait, didn’t I just turn 34? How am I 36? How did two years possibly pass? Let alone 5. Let alone, my last, my baby is 5 and not a baby at all.

When the day finally arrived, you woke terribly early, and in turn woke Bean and you both came tumbling into our room. It was a school day, so there was less snuggling in our bed than might have been had it been the weekend, and when we all made our way out to the kitchen your cheeks were flushed and rosy.

On the table, crystals and shells around his plate, a fat rose in full bloom, a birthday card from Granny sent in the mail, and beneath the table, leaning against a table leg a present (the first of several) in rainbow striped paper.

“Oh my gosh!” you gasped grinning, your body practically vibrating with glee. Yet you sat down and slowly opened the letter, savoring every bit of the delight, the envelope, the card itself, the small packet of zinnia seeds she also sent like colored suns.

Even with all your gusto and volume, you have this remarkable capacity for delayed gratification, as though you really understand what the moment offers. How it’s here to delight you only for now, and then it’s gone for good.

When you unwrapped the stripes you found a a scooter, like Bean’s but smaller. You’d waited four whole days since Bean’s birthday, hoping. Next you were a whirl of speed; a streak of delight. Then waffles, then backpacks, then school, where your kindergarten teacher put on a puppet show in celebration of your arrival on this earth, and we sat there with you watching; watching you among your classmates, sort of reeling internally with wonder. Five feels old. It’s the last year of smallness.

Oh time, hold still, hold still.

In the evening you were beyond ecstatic to get the “pirate stuff” you’d asked for, and went around the house decked out in mardi gras beads and a Captain Hook arm, yelling at the top of your lungs. Fearsome with your eyepatch, and so darling I just wanted to keep hugging you even when you squirmed free, and when Nonna and Poppy gave you their gift, you literally pumped your fists in the air with delight: a long coveted lego set. Something about a museum break out. Good guys and gad guys of course. Escape vehicles. Fire hoses. You and Bean became so absorbed he had to be coaxed back to the table for the ice cream cake you’d begged for.

So many candles blown out to mark the start of a new year around the sun for you, sweet little one.

You are my teacher of gusto and joy.

At the cusp between wonder and fact

Posted on February 17, 2014

Bean is 9 - Christina Rosalie
Tonight you made a fort before dinner: a quilt over two white kitchen stools, set up just so.

In went a metal tool box (your inheritance from my father) In also went your metal lock box: one you saved for and paid for yourself from the Barge Canal vintage shop on Pine Street where we go every so often, and you poke around, curious fingers in everything, always loving the things that come with lock and key.

Now you and your brother lie on your bellies, or sit cross legged, your heads bobbing up in the quilt. You light the room you’ve made by flashlight, and haul in 8 ball, assorted legos, and Honey Honey, your faithful alligator who has become your steady companion since we moved.


Bean Turns 9 - Christina Rosalie
Honey Honey first arrived in a green box when you were four, in the upstairs hallway of our house at the end of the long dirt road. The box was on the old sewing machine table that we’ve since given away.

It said: Hello, I’m Honey Honey, and I’m here to go on adventures with you.

Before she arrived, you talked her often. You told me who she was, and how she could grow in the bathtub. You told me how she was magical.

Then she was there.

You’ve never doubted her magic—in the sweet, fearless way that children are about their beliefs. You know, and you don’t know—and you want to stay that way, at the cusp between wonder and fact.

You’re wise enough to protect the magic that you love by not questioning too fiercely how the magic happens.
Once, you left cookie crumbs on a small plate beside your alligator, and came back moments later to find them completely gone. “Ah ha!” you said.

I thought you’d call one of us out for nibbling them up, or possibly say, “See! That proves it!” but instead you said, “She likes cookies!”

Proof was never the point. You were simply interested in her dietary preferences.

In actuality your Honey Honey might really be a crocodile. She has a crocodile smile, but, to be sure, I’ve never been an expert on either. All I know is that she fits in the palm of my hand, and that the word FLORIDA is printed on her belly along with a set of numbers you declare is her birthdate and birthplace.

Who am I to argue?


Bean Turns 9 - Christina Rosalie
Twice, she’s been eaten by the dog. Not eaten all the way—but had parts mangled. The first time it was her feet and tail. You cried and so I promised I’d bring her to the doctor, and she was gone for a week, and even more days after that you said, “Why is it taking so long? Is the doctor’s office busy?”

I said “Maybe there is a hippo in front of her in line to see the doctor. Hippos are big.” And I say something about how bandages take time to heal and you look terribly serious.

When she comes back, her feet and tail are, in fact, a different color: browner this time, than the green they were before.

You’re so glad to see her, you carry her on a string around your neck.

When we moved away from the only home you ever knew this summer, she rode with you like that, on a string around your neck, close to your heart. She was the only thing steady and for certain among the jumble of boxes and the bitter sweet confusion of grown-up conversations then.

There were tears, there was the ice cream truck, a new neighborhood, new bunk beds, and fields forever lost to you. Had we stayed to see you turn nine there, you would have claimed those fields this summer. Made them your escape, your wild home, your solace. But there it is: the edges of grown-up life and grown-up needs crowd in around you. You don’t have any control. You are probably only vaguely aware of the whys and hows. Commute time doesn’t mean much to you, nor does the word “work” which is one of the perpetual mysteries of childhood.

You and your brother talk about “daddy’s work” and “mommy’s work” but when I ask you to explain what that means you say things like: it means going to a place and being on the computer all day; and you go someplace where they pay you for something that you do. True enough. The ache of what those things mean, and the glory are both completely lost on you. For this I’m glad.

Yours work is that of growing tall. Of navigating the fine and fragile line between innocence and curiosity, between wonder and science.

What is true is wide and deep.

Fairies still inhabit the forests at the edges of the this truth, and the sky is filled with stars. “Up there,” you tell me, “in the stars, that’s where I came from before I came here.”

Yes, I nod. Yes. Nine years ago you came here from the stars and made me a mother.


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At bed you can’t find Honey Honey. You crawl back into your fort on your belly, looking everywhere, your urgency increasing.

Daddy and I wait. We’re ready for this part of the day to end. Ready to kiss you tonight and to find, in the quiet of lamplight, the company of our own thoughts without interruption.

Your voice betrays your worry. “Where did I put her?” you ask, shimmying out, and inadvertently shining your flashlight in my eyes, as you inquire. I crouch down and peer into your small world of quilt and semi-dark, feeling with my hands along the edges of things.

“Think back,” I say. “Where were you with her last?”

Soon enough you look on your dresser and find her just where you left her, there among your other treasures: microscope, spy binoculars, batteries, Lego ships, quarters.

Your gladness rings out, “Here she is!” You kiss her tenderly, then kiss me harder, wrapping your arms around my waist.

You come up to just under my chin now. An inconceivable fact. Almost every night as we lie on the couch, and I read out loud to you, I cannot help but marvel: you were a baby. My first baby.

“You fit just here on my chest. How is that possible?” I say out loud.

You say, “I still do.”

Then you curl yourself against me, folding your flexible limbs up small, smaller, until you are contained right there, beside my beating heart and I can wrap my arms around the all of you.

“Yes,” I say, kissing your hair. “You do. You always do.”

37 before 37

Posted on January 29, 2014

Here’s to the glorious possibility of another year here on this beautiful Earth.

My annual birthday list — This year it’s all about self-care and creative focus and play. I’m especially committed to #3, #7, #19, and #31.
 

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1. Strengthen my core.
2. Visit as many museums as possible. 5, minimum.
3. Work slowly and steadily on producing pieces for publication. Let that work inform the slow and steady work of writing my second book.
4. Attend a writing conference.
5. Start swimming regularly again.
6. Spend time on the Pacific ocean.
7. Morning writing, daily.
8. Yoga, daily.
9. Make time to read the Sunday Times in its entirety once a month.
10. Make a driftwood mobile with Bean + Sprout.
11. Write a love letter to each of my boys.
12. Make a sock elephant with Sprout.
13. Read at least 52 books this year.
14. Buy a record player.
15. Make + give away survival packs for the homeless.
16. Send pretty cards for no reason.
17. Finally watch The Godfather.
18. Go to the circus.
19. Make time for doing absolutely nothing.
20. Let miracles happen.
21. Find a mentor.
22. Be a mentor.
23. Set Bean up with an international pen pal.
24. Get a facial.
25. Use a standing desk.
26. Take a paragliding lesson.
27. Go on 12 super sexy dates with my guy.
28. Spend some time out doors everyday.
29. Finally host an interview series on my blog.
30. Paint at least one of big canvasses I’ve had in my studio for years.
31. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
32. Spend an evening star watching my guy this summer.
33. Have a picnic with friends.
34. Learn a new water sport: kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing.
35. Hike more, with friends.
36. Go bright blonde for a while.
37. Spend an afternoon on a sail boat.

And, and, and, and…

Posted on January 22, 2014

Notebooks - Christina Rosalie
I’m ready to let go of and.


Between the first of the new year, and my birthday (on Sunday!) a ritual of mine is to go back through the previous year’s notebooks–capturing story blueprints, noting recurring patterns, and discovering hints and whispers of dreams that bear new significance in the light of reflection—in preparation another year’s journey around the sun. My notebooks (nearly always Molskine) are where I record everything: notes from client meetings, sketches, dreams, lines of overheard dialogue, to-do lists, memories, ideas, glimmers. Whatever my mind stirs up, I capture it there on the page.

The work of looking back is an opportunity to connect the dots, tie off old threads, and begin anew. Disconnected notes from months apart suddenly tell a singular story; certain to-do list items are easily crossed off, while other’s linger providing insight into where my sticking points and resistances might lie; and recurring themes emerge though I rarely notice them in the moment, too caught up, as I often am, in the act of doing.

Without realizing it, I was probably dealing with adrenal fatigue for most of last year, yet I never allowed myself to listen. I’d tell myself—there on the page, I feel exhausted in a cellular kind of way. I just need sleep. I just need to be outdoors. Then I’d ignore it entirely and keep right on pushing.

What’s interesting is how and where that little word creeps in. And.

How again and again, in trying to sort out what I really wanted to be working towards, where I should focus, or how I should proceed, I’d begin begin with singular declarative truth: just write.

But then I’d keep listing. And this, and that, and that, and, and, and.

Like an archeologist sifting through the artifacts of my own soul, I looked for evidence elsewhere and found it. Lists weren’t the only places and showed up. And was insidious.

I used it chronically, to the point that I regularly lead sentences with and; knowing full well I was breaking the rules each time.

What I never realized how this habit also revealed a character trait. What I never understood that my overruling grammatical norms with irreverent and hygiene, was symbolic of how I would chronically overrule my limits.

And overextends.

And says: don’t just do one thing, do many things. And says: one thing isn’t good enough, be many things. It says: You don’t really have to make up your mind. It says: you can do it all—this and that. It says: add a little more to your plate, and a little more. It says: have your cake and eat it too. Be this and that, bread and butter, now and later.

I’m ready to let all that go.

I’m ready to let go of contingencies and extraneous details and distractions that easily pull me off course and blur my focus. I’m ready to have this year narrow to the simplicity declarative sentences.I’m ready to lean into the power of committing to singular goals, one at a time. I’m ready to edit, revise, refine. To be. To write. To strengthen my core.

I’m ready to let go of and.

How about you?

This post is part of the Let it Go Project: a collection of stories leading up to a beautiful releasing ritual, hosted by Sas Petherick on January 30th. Find all the details for this free event + join us here.