Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “A Manifesto For Showing Up” Category

What I remember + what I know

Posted on July 1, 2014

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I didn’t mean to stop, only, there it is. Life has a way of finding you, amidst your best intentions. I love what this small challenge inspired. A rash of brilliant posts by my friend Amanda; photos to take your breath away my other dear friend Hilary, who always needs to be nudged to document; and a handful of other daily glimpses from friends and readers I don’t know, but feel like I know just the same.

I intended to keep on, but then the weekend came. Weekends have a way of filling up to the gills lately, and after the weekend, a work trip to Texas, planned to be short, but made longer by a cancelled flight and extra night on the way home in Phoenix, Arizona. So there it is, back to back days without a single chance to gather the moments here. To upload the images, or record the observations as they happened, though there are many notes scrawled in my notebook or jotted in the notes app on my phone. A chronology of circumstance. A record of the small things, and the big. Sentences that happened only in fits and starts, but never here.

What I remember is the heat in Texas and the rain that turned the sky to black. The century plants and cactuses that reminded me of my earliest years in Los Angeles. The heat of a blue sky filling with thunderheads, while down below we ate ate eggplant fries, and truffle oil reveled eggs, and catfish tacos.

Then non-time of the airport, reading Inc. cover to cover, and Elle, and also Fast Company, and feeling the ways something shifts in my brain when I have long stretches just to read and think. Ideas have a way of magnetizing then, like finding like; fragments converging.

What I remember is coming back so tired in the morning that after a cup of hot tea and checking email I took a nap, wakening hours later and not knowing immediately where the edges of dream ended and reality began. There, in bed with the dog curled by my hip, I let myself float in a way I rarely get to: between sleep and dreaming where thoughts are buoyant and things have wings.

There, and also in every waking instant, I’ve been thinking now about my new book. There are two actually. The ideas bookend each other. The narratives make a dialog, an equation, an equilibrium. I’m curious if I can pull it off.

What I remember is the sweetness of my boy’s when they came home from camp. Their hailstorm of yells and shouts finding me there at the doorway at the end of the day. Their arms around my neck, their kisses on my sounders, cheeks. Their fingers in my hair, and even still with them under foot, a different kind of kiss. Stirring, sweeter, finding T’s heat mirroring my own.

Then the weekend, dawning with rain. Making a raspberry crumble to share at dinner with friends. The biggest rainbow we’ve seen. The boys shouts. The first firecrackers for the Fourth echoing down the street. Twilight. Then Sunday morning bacon and good coffee. Painting the guest bedroom a fresh white. Baked chicken and mashed potatoes on the new walnut outdoor table T made by hand. White wine in handblown glasses. Watching the walnut leaves blow in the wind.

What I remember is this: to show up and to try is all it takes. To show up with the intention always is the start. I begin. I keep going. I go until I find my way. That, in the end, is all I know.

Now there is a reckless, rag tag folder now of drafts in Scrivner. It’s raw and new, but no matter. The beginning is here.

This is how it happens, friends. A book, or anything else. Any body of work, any essay, or dream, or plan begins with showing up; with training the mind to bow at the simple task of arrival, noticing the world.
 
#the5x5xchallenge

Happening in between

Posted on June 11, 2014

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In between the time we come in through the front door and I drop my bag and the little one’s backpack on the couch, settle the heft of a grocery sack on the counter, and drink a glass of water, the tempo of story is sounding out a quiet staccato in my head.

In between the time I cut up the purple onion and sauté it with thyme, adding the other vegetables, sweet Italian sausage and hot pepper flakes; and the time I slip out the front door away from the sound of the vacuum and the banter of the boys (Sprout constructing Lego structures, Bean making origami ninja throwing stars) words begin to scatter like raindrops at the beginning of a storm. No plot line, no finished sentences, just the ideas arrowing down in quick succession.


In between the time I sit down on the front stoop, noticing the way the light filters through the big-leafed tree above me, and turning my lens to find its flirtation with shadow, the orchestra is tuning at the back of my mind. Discordant, but persistent. The timpani, the saxophone, the violins striking out, querying, querulous. Nothing makes sense yet but this much I know: a book is in the offing, as inevitable now as the predicted rain. Here it is, happening in between, even as the ordinary moments continue.

The challenge, of course, is to pin the ideas down. The challenge is finding the steadfastness to listen hard, and then to show up at the page.

To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing

Posted on June 3, 2014

“It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing…. A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time of being alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.”
— Tom Stoppard (from Arcadia)

It’s taken me a while to write because every street, every ritual, every instance of who I am, and who we are as a family has been made new with this move. We arrived one month ago, chasing the sun across this wide country, and settled gradually into a wee bungalow with an arched doorway that’s just up the street from the original Stumptown .

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First impressions:

There are flowers everywhere. Bamboo grows like a weed, but I like it so. Whenever I go running, I find new paths and neighborhoods past enormous, ancient trees, bigger than any I’ve ever seen except for the Sequoias growing up. I run uphill, up an old volcano cone until I have a view of the city from above. On one side, Mount Hood lifts above the blue like a dream. On the other, bridges, so many of them, and a skyline I’m falling in love with.

It’s taken days, many of them, for my internal sense of direction to kick in strongly. I’ve oriented now, and there are more days than not (finally) that I can find my way around without help from my iPhone. Thankfully, someone thought to plan most of the city in a grid, with numbered streets running one way and named streets the other.

Our little home is the littlest yet, but I love it harder every day. The angled archway going into the breakfast nook. The gorgeous morning light in the bedroom, and the evening light that floods the living room when we come home. Upstairs, the boys have the “master bedroom”: a long rectangular room that was once the attic, refinished with lovely cabinets for all their things, and plenty of space to play. It’s made so much sense for them to be up there, where they can sprawl out and leave legos and shells and dress-up things about. And in turn, our bedroom downstairs is dreamy. I’ve always wanted a room just like this–with windows across two walls, and white floaty curtains that lift and flutter in the breeze.

In the backyard the boys spend a great deal of time in the hammock strung between a plum tree and apple tree. They tilt each other out and scream; they have tickle fights; they drag up quilts and snacks; the read books; they argue. They’ve both adjusted to their new school and routine with grace and resilience, but there are still there moments when so much change adds up. When things feel scary and big to them. When they fall apart. When they ball their fists. When they cry.

Bean, especially is growing into himself in new ways, and new moods and wonderments overtake him. Sometimes he is the sweetest, and other times morose. His long legs, coltish as ever, his eyes flashing with a new defiant light. Sprout, full of eagerness, tender-hearted, hot-headed. Last night, when things didn’t go his way, he stomped his feet and wailed, “I wish the world hadn’t been made this way at all.” Oh, to be small.

We live near the ocean now. Near food trucks and book stores and swanky restaurants and cafes. My creative mind is drinking it up, like someone thirsty after a long drought. How I love to be at the edges of things watching; or at the center, unnoticed, curious, smitten with beauty. I love the thousand faces I pass every day. The bikes, the blooming roses, the bumble bees, the baristas. I love the jumping rope that happens every morning, rain or shine outdoors at the boy’s school. I love the tiny studio T built for me, with just enough space for creating, floors made for spilling paint, and walls for thumb tacks.


And… I am still finding the tempo of life here. When writing happens; when work does; and also running, and painting, and kissing and friends and dinner too. One of the things I’ve missed the most, that this blog has always been for me, is a daily record. A few moments pause. A handful of moments of intentional observation. Sometimes the most effective way of reclaiming creative habits is to start with exactly where you are, and with the smallest actions, which build to their own momentum and greatness in time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what that might look like, and I’ve settled on this simple routine for June: 5 photos + 5 minutes.
5 photos documenting moments throughout the day, and a 5 minute writing exercise: simply recording the immediate, the present, the now.

I’d love for you to join, if you’d like! (I’ll be posting more about this little challenge. Keep an eye out.)

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

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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

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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.