Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “A Manifesto For Showing Up” Category

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.

You are not in control

Posted on October 16, 2013

Gull

Any time could be the last time. The last hello-goodbye. The last drink. The last caress. The last giggle, macaroni and cheese dinner, yelling match, email, orgasm, inspiration, idea, breath. Anytime could be your time. To leave. To arrive. To become. To cease becoming. Whatever way you think of it, whatever you believe.

 Any instant could be your last.


We’ve been talking about this often, since our lives brushed against the raw edges of this truth, and its tremendous, unavoidable evidence has given rise to both panic attacks and wonder.



“How can I have spent five months running through it, and not known I was that close?” He asks, wondering about the doctor’s matter of fact sentence:


“You had a week or two at most.”

We are all that close.

The world is cruel and beautiful; the gods are splendid and irreverent; the odds and science are what they are; and the truth, a secret dervish twirling just beyond.


“It’s in my control now, to do more,” he says, committing with renewed vigor to diet and exercise and all the other proactive things that indicate clear arteries and a long life. 
And there it is, the sly and foolish word control, which has come to mean some kind of power over outcomes. Assurance, even, that the outcome we intend is ours.

But watching the gulls on the lake, I am privy to a different truth.

They have gathered at the edges of the rocks. Some have hunkered down, their white feathered breasts against the rocks. Some stand on a single yellow leg, the other tucked beneath feathers for warmth. Others tilt and pitch gently in the steel blue waves.

When I arrive they turn their lidless eyes in my direction, watching for the unknown of what my intrusion might mean. When I move slowly, they turn back. They have no illusions of control. No ornate or predetermined accounting for the way their life unfolds. What they know innately is attuned attention and response. The waves come and they rise. The wind tosses their hollow bones aloft, and they soar in flight.


We too, have only this, as puny as it seems. As much as our desires and egos and legends paint a different, grander backdrop for the stage upon which our life unfolds. Of course we think we do. It is our myth, spiraling back to the epics at the beginnings of time, and to the sagas of god and man grappling over the outcome of fate on Mount Olympus. It is our human striving to tell a bolder narrative, with us at the helm. 
We wage wars, with ourselves with each other over control. Over achieving some unswerving, undeniable guarantee that we are the makers of our destiny. That control is ours.

We think, “If I just…”

Just whatever it is we bargain for in our heads. Whatever illusive thing we believe that if we do we’ll have control: exercise every day, lose weight, say I love you, get the job, live closer to town, live away from it all, be discovered, become rich, eat a paleo diet, get elected for office, eat local, buy organic, pass that law, get eight hours of sleep. Whatever.

But even if you did each thing, even if you did everything, your life is still a gift; slight and rare in a tremendous universe. In an instant, it could slip. A blockage, a tumor, a fluke accident, a brutality. There are a thousand ways your life could end this instant, in spite of our best efforts. You are not in control.

So what can you do then, with this truth?

You can show up with intention for this life. You can attune your attention. You can choose your response. Still, no outcome is assured. The raft of your life is buoyed up by some grater force.

For the gulls, every intruder, possible threat, devastation, predator, or darkening night is simply an offering of life. Just as the sparkling tides, the pale crabs, the twirling yellow leaves that scud across the skies, are also only life. What is theirs, are wings, and wind and days.

What is yours is the way you meet the turbulence as it arrives: with grace or terror, with gratitude or anger, with openness or clenched fists, with focus or distraction. Your life will find you, no matter what you plan. Be here then. Be of this wild, brilliant new day. Respond as truly as you can, and know this life is made both of your breath, and of the wind you breathe.

Of an instant the gulls take to the air in unison, and their harsh calls are carried upwards with the sudden wind.

You answered, I listened

Posted on September 17, 2013

Looking Up from below Selfie--Tree Climbing The wonderland in our backyard Surveying the sce3ne Headstands

I love how clearly the poll’s little grey lines spell a message. How straightforward your ask, your wondering. The process of zeroing in. Of mapping the constellation that makes your one thing? Of going from macro to micro, from everything to just your thing. This is something I understand deeply in my gut. It is the process of ideastorming and pattern detection, synthesizing details and honing in; listening hard and hungrily for the clues. This is the art of creating your own compass. It’s one part alchemy and one part science. It’s analysis meets curiosity meets making things real. It’s untangling narratives and discovering where your story catches you up (and also where it sets you free.) It’s something I do with clients when we build a Brand Compass, and it’s something that I’d love to do with you, in service of the singular thing that calls you (even if you don’t yet know how to hear it’s song.)

I’m making an e-course. It will be playful and fun and adventurous, and you’ll arrive at the end with a tangible map for doing; an action plan for arriving; a lens through which to focus. It will likely be ready just in time for the New Year, and I’ll be keeping it small, so that I can bring a true-to-my-heart hands-on approach (with some one-on-one coaching), and so you can also feel like you really belong to a community of kindreds.

If you’re interested (and I so hope you are!) sign up for my vary occasional newsletter to snag a first-dibs spot.

(Also, I feel a studio pay-what-you can sale coming on. That will happen in late November, likely, just in time for holiday gifting. Just saying.)


The light is golden now, and the shadows lengthen. Sprout and I look for colored leaves. In the woodlands behind our house we rock-hop and discover trees that fill our arms. We look up, and up and the canopy is a lacework of leaves. When we get back to the yard, I climb the ginkgo until I am above the roof tops, until I can feel the trunk swaying gently with my weight, the fan-shaped leaves brushing my face. Below me the boys watch, grinning, a little awe-struck. When I come down Bean goes up, holding close to the trunk as I’ve taught him, his feet curling round the branches, prehensile, agile. We have a whole new hour now, ripe with promise when they come home from school, and we’ve been using it to just go slowly. We rig up a swing with rope and a round log. We play badminton. We linger till the sun slants low.

How are you spending your time at the end of these early autumn days?

Just one thing

Posted on September 11, 2013

vsco_3 vsco_1 Feather Early morning Lake Champlain vsco_0

I walk out along a rocky promontory at the lake and sit in the early morning sun for just long enough to hear what’s in my heart. I watch a tern dive, then lift, then dive low again, struggling with the quick flick of a silver bellied fish while the day becomes warm. The light is bright and golden and the dew is still fresh and the water smooth and green. I gather my arms around my knees, and listen. To the lake, to my breath, to my heart.

This is what it says:

Do just one single thing. Focus obsessively. Give myself time. Cultivate discipline for a single discipline. Acquire the muscle of repeated effort. Nurture sustained focus. Return, return, return to the thing that claims you first, foremost, irrationally. What causes the spark to flame up brightly? What makes you so alive you can’t stop grinning? Go back to that. Trace back to that last moment like a tracking a wild animal. Trace moments like a heat-map until you find the pulse, the last instant when you felt exactly like you should be. Do that. Claim the words, the titles, the courage, the pseudonyms, the fiction, the probable pitfalls, the hours that seem decadent, the days that seem to short. Start simply. Fake whatever you haven’t it until it begins to be real: confidence, boldness, daring, commitment, certainty.

Does this speak to you?

Do you know what I’m talking about?


What is it for you? What would you do if you could, if you knew how, if you had the discipline, the money, the confidence, the time?

What’s stopping you? Really?

What would help you? I’m humming with ideas and I want your thoughts.

Just One Thing
What is your greatest barrier to doing just one thing with your whole heart?

Toward the closeness of friends { Just One Paragraph 24/30 }

Posted on August 18, 2013

vsco_3 vsco_0-4 vsco_0 vsco_4

We pack all day, and then a few dear friends come, bearing dessert to sit around the bonfire with wine while the kids run wild in the woods. The moon climbs up over the peak of the roof against a violet sky. Then the crickets come, and the katydids, thrumming. Woodsmoke, laughter. A good final fire to mark the end of hundreds, all of us gathered on the uneven ground on dinner table chairs, dodging the wood spoke. After a while the kids light sparklers and twirl across the lawn, and when everyone there is only contentment. To be here, and to be moving toward the closeness of friends.

Nearly beginning {More than Just One Paragraph 24/30}

Posted on August 17, 2013

The lower meadow vsco_0-2

There is mist when we wake up. We lie in bed, close, breathing, watching the soft world through the wooden slats of the blinds. Three days left.

I think about the ways we cannot know. The ways before and after are utterly discrete, the barrier between them absolute. It was the same, waiting for the arrival of my sons. Or waking up the day after college. Or the moment after I said “Yes.” It is always this way.

We move with measured intention or whirling chaos towards the unknown, and then we are there at the brink. We can’t know, and yet we leap. Wings made of faith, of certainty, of calculable odds, of foolishness, of hope, of daring.

I walk out into the meadow with bare feet, just to feel the dew. To pay homage to the way the grass has always been there, lush, tangled, season after season to harbor field mice and Queen Anne’s lace and milkweed and monarchs. I go, because for so long this field has claimed me, and claims me still. Not just this field really, but all fields. The wild, my home.

We’ll see where new begins; what shape beginning makes.


Beginning

The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
Now.
There they are, the moon’s young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.

BY JAMES WRIGHT

The day as it was {More than Just One Paragraph 23/30}

Posted on August 16, 2013

photo 5 (1) photo 1 (8)

I didn’t write last night because I came home and completely crashed: chills, swollen glands, headache. T wondered, “What about Lyme?” and so today I went and got blood drawn. I have nearly all the symptoms. But who knows? It could be anything, everything, my body on a collision course with the reality of moving, which we are in just four short days.

Bean came into bed this morning, his hair a shock of alarming curls, his grin sleepy and sweet. “How are you feeling, Mama?” he asked, spooning perfectly into my arms. And then he lay with me and we dozed and talked about things and imagined what the future will hold. He seemed to get it, my little aquarian kindred. That this is big, what we’re about to do. “It’s our last weekend here,” he said softly, nestling in.

Then came Sprout who has the heartiest of laughs. His dimples cause an uproar of delight in my heart. He bounces instead of snuggles. His sturdy little body burrowing for a second before he springs back up, and kisses my cheeks and nose and forehead and then dives off the bed to go play with matchbox cars.

photo 2 (8) boy and dog

T leaves for work. It’s my day with the boys. Bean and I linger in bed, imagining where we’ll explore downtown, what colors we’ll paint their room, how we’ll have friends nearby. Then, slowly we get up and while I’m untangling my hair and finding jeans he goes downstairs in underpants and a sweatshirt and starts making french toast. He’s got the first round frying by the time I head downstairs, and is perched on the stool by the espresso machine, teaching Sprout the steps. He pulls a perfect shot. “Iced or hot, Mama?” he asks.

We eat mounds of french toast and it’s perfect: eggy, with just a hint of vanilla and cream. Then, after unloading and loading the dishwasher and packing all the cookbooks that seem to have mounded themselves on the kitchen table, we head to the car with a lab slip for blood work.

Sprout watches the practitioner closely as she cinches my arm and draws blood. Unlike Bean who wants to know how everything works, Sprout wants to know if I’m okay. If it hurts. If I flinch. (I don’t, just for him.)

They took such good care of me all day.

A record of unfinished things {Just One Paragraph 23/30}

Posted on August 14, 2013

 
 

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Tonight my heart rides unsteadily in the hull of my ribs across the waves of all the unfinished pieces and fragments and questions that remain from the day. The arrival of new friends and the disappearance of old ones. The half-packed boxes strewn in every room. The half-written emails sitting in my inbox. The audio notes I take on my phone that show up as emails, skeletons of ideas, lurching back into focus. Pattern recognition. Inklings. Story fragments.

Here are a few recent note titles:

Take down the lights.
It’s about repetition.
UK Art Everywhere Project
It’s so late the next day has already begun.
Bear humphing around looking for Fox.
She wants her way a lot. She keeps secrets.
There is a woman who smiles with gaps between her teeth and her minivan in the morning…
Heritage movie theater ads.
Meyer lemons, eggplant, almonds, dill.
Surfaces and the first day of seeing in a new city.

How do you keep track of unfinished things?

And how can you tell when things are finished? Friendships, stories, ideas, dreams?