Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Creative Process” Category

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

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.

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.

Learning things about self care

Posted on January 12, 2014

Wholeness-ChristinaRosalie

In these weeks between the 1st of the New Year and my birthday on the 26th, I always strive to clarify my intentions, and imagine what I want to manifest in my next year’s journey around the sun. This year that’s looked like going back through all the notebooks I kept: five moleskins in all, and several smaller ones too.

I feel a bit like an archeologist, sifting through the artifacts of my 2013 self; tracing the plot lines and inner narratives that in the moment never appeared connected, but from the vantage point of a year out, there are evident constellations.

I’ve found notes that, like the most distant stars, indicate the faintest outline of my new book. Each set of randomly scrawled sentences appear now in obvious relation to the others, like the shimmering Pleiades for me to pursue across my imaginations’ uncharted dark the way Orion does after the Seven Sisters each night.

And There are other notes, often repeated, where I tell myself to slow down, to rest, to listen to my core.

Yet I never listened, and followed instead the uncompromising rule of “should.” Pushing far past my limits because it was my default; the only way of being I’d ever known. But oh, there is so much to that fine phrase:

Less doing, more being.

And with the diagnosis of adrenal fatigue and a gluten sensitivity finally answering just exactly why I’ve been waking up as exhausted as I went to sleep for the past year, I found myself faced with a new urgency to take a different course of action:

Saying no at least as often as I say yes. Protecting downtime like the sacred thing it is. Clearly mapping the expectations for projects, and only doing as much as necessary, even if more could be done. Going to bed early, when I first feel tiredness come on instead of letting myself slip into the loop of aimless Internet wanderings, or pushing to finish a project. Coming face to face with “good enough,” and letting that really be enough. And then sustaining my body by eating gluten free, without coffee, and instead of running hard daily as I once did, doing yoga first thing every day after writing morning pages.

It feels unfamiliar and strange and terribly vulnerable to be attempting these daily acts of kindness towards myself. And it takes everything to quiet my monkey brain that tells me it is weakness to need this kindness, this self care. Yet I do.

I taped this David Allen quote to the bathroom mirror as a reminder:

You can do anything. Just not everything.

And still. I’ve had the hardest time trying to write about this journey here. Somehow it feels both tender and silly and yes, weak; as though I am in some way admitting defeat. I’ve begun a hundred posts, only to delete everything and start again. Yet I also feel like sharing this work of reclaiming balance and learning to live less forcefully will be useful. I learn from the process of reflection, and also from what you share in return here at the page.


Tell me about self care. Teach me what you know.

Introversion, extroversion, and creative cycles

Posted on October 30, 2013

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My sister and I send texts back that look like a secret code. Four letter combinations that might reveal all the evidence we know is true. Outside my studio window the remaining golden leaves stir. The light is milk, the sky overcast. I don’t need the Myers Briggs to confirm I’m an introvert. This much I’ve always known.

Still the thing that’s been fascinating me lately, is the way that I can look back and see patterns of introversion and extroversion, in the same way you might look back over recorded periods of seismic activity, or weather patterns over decades, the heat maps charting summer highs and winter lows, hot vermillion and icy blue.
 
I’m not always an introverted introvert, but now more than ever I am. After a season of extroversion, all I want is to abide. To be quiet with my own thoughts, my laptop and notebook close at hand.
 
Inhale, exhale. Expand, contract.
 
It’s an curiously inverse equation in two parts: When I felt most extroverted and social last spring and summer, with always a friend to meet, or a gathering to attend, I was also most drained creatively. I was resistant to working on anything new, and felt heavy-handed and clumsy scribbling notes or sketches. I avoided reading. I let distractions claim me. I flitted. I wrote only at the surface of things, and let daily client work consume me as it may.
 
What I know is that I was exhausted at a cellular level still, after the intensely creative cycle that had just ended with publishing A Field Guide To Now, graduating with an MFA, and then moving into a year of working at a design studio here that was intense, if nothing else. During that productive time I was less social. I had coffee only with close friends, devoted my slim free time to family, and worked.
 
Naturally, when the studio began to downsize and I was let go, I was ready to also let go–and spent the next 2/3rds of the year exhaling. I extroverted. I made new friends and connected old ones to each other, and watched as the studio I’d left behind downsized and fragmented, proving that no one is exempt from these cycles–no brand or enterprise or individual.
 
At the apex of extroversion, I co-founded Superconductor, which, true to it’s name has been an opportunity to supercharge creative connections and facilitate other people’s potential: accelerating their brands and projects with a fertile mix of art and science, strategy and intuition that my partner and I bring to our approach. 

But with summer’s waning, our move, and all the ailments and near-misses we’ve had health-wise, I can feel the way things are almost literally inverting. A smaller house, a shorter commute, a closer range of focus. What was external is now being internalized. 

The wind bites cold in the morning. Daylight savings is this weekend. In a different time and place I would have said I was skirting around the edges of depression now, and maybe that is so. But I’ve also lived with myself long enough now to know: these are the tell-tale signs at the outset of a highly creative period. I have a book in my head. Above our house in the evenings crows flock in murders to the lake’s edge against a saffron sky.
 
I’m so curious: Has anyone else has felt these inverted equations of introversion paired with high creativity/productivity; and extroversion coupled with lower creativity/productivity? 


What are the tell-tale signs that let you know where you are at in your own creative cycle?

Stuff I’ve learned while starting out, carrying on, or attempting something great:

Posted on August 7, 2013

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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:: Repeat this mantra: There is enough. Enough resources. Enough people. Enough audience share. Enough.

:: Ask: how can I help?

:: Join forces. Take people to coffee. Listen.

:: Listen some more.

:: You’ll make mistakes. Many of them. Admit them, apologize and then move on.

:: Move on for real. Don’t let emotional stuff become an energy drain.

:: Know what it is you’re actually offering, or doing. Why does it matter?

:: Know who cares about what you’re offering. Who does it matter to?

:: Treat people like people, not like numbers or features that increase klout.

:: Spend some time considering what it’s like to be inside your audience’ head. What motivates them?

:: Reward loyalty and awesomeness in kind, with real things like handwritten notes, surprise discounts, chocolate.

:: Get over this fact right now: there will be competitors, haters, and jealous fools. Consider them a sign that you’ve arrived.

:: Be humble. Ask for help. Admit that you don’t know.

:: Be generous. Share what you do know. Share your process. Share your best tips, tricks, insights and understanding. It will make you richer, not poorer.

The hitch of course is kids {More than one Paragraph 16/30}

Posted on August 6, 2013

airborne

running

I was so intrigued by the comments in yesterday’s post about shifting towards a morning habit. About writing then, and soaking up the world as the new day unfurls.

But here’s the thing that I can’t seem to get around–even though I want very much to go to bed earlier for all the reasons I mentioned in several recent posts… But the hitch is kids. Their existence in my world makes morning finite. There is no pushing on, if I’m in the groove. No additional hours that can be spent, past midnight if necessary if a project demands more time, or a story is taking me places.

When the kids wake up, they arrive: giggling, yelling, whining, squealing. They want things: snuggles, underpants, clean socks, cereal. They need things: undivided attention, clean laundry, reminders, mediation, affection. The hours hurtle on. Even if I awoke at 3am, I’d only have 3 hours until 6 when they typically wake, and 3am doesn’t look nearly as interesting from the vantage point of waking up, as it does from the perspective of going to sleep, if you know what I mean. Nearly every parent I’ve talked to has said something about the “freedom” that night affords: the opportunity to exist with one’s thoughts uninterrupted. And that is entirely what I love about the night: that it affords carrying on. Uninterrupted.

Earlier today Austin Kleon tweeted that this poem should be featured prominently on every creative’s refrigerator. I think he’s right. And I wonder, is my problem simply that I’m aiming for all three?

Is the plight of the modern creative that because we have such boundless abundance, we believe we are boundless? Our modern world offers so many choices, opportunities, options, mediums, encounters, tools, that in turn we tell ourselves we can do anything, be anything, all at once. I for one, fall for this story time and again. But time isn’t fooled. And morning, wise and new, knows better too.

So, how to shift night to morning with kids. How then? Is there some middle ground, some secret strategy? Tell me, tell me.