Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Living With Purpose” Category

Leaving + Lucky

Posted on April 18, 2014

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I feel so unbelievably lucky. Thank you to everyone who snatched up artwork. It was the fastest pay-what-you-can studio sale I’ve ever had. So fast in fact, that I had no chance to open it up to everyone. The good news: I’ll be offering another sale this summer with lots more bird paintings (so much love for those, and so many requests!) and, just as soon as I get settled I’ll be making a sweet postcard pack with gorgeous glossy prints of all the birds. That should be available at the end of May. I put some work up here, just for you to take a peak if you’d like.

It’s been a week.

Wrapping projects, saying goodbye, and planning for things to come. I’ve been listening to this playlist on repeat, and periodically bursting into tears. The moments collide. Everything possible. Everything lost. Everything new.

Saying goodbye sucks. There are people here who are a part of my heart. People who make me smile every single time I think of them. I want them all to come West with us. (Maybe they will. A girl can hope.)

Because of the way spring break happens for the kids, yesterday was their last day of school. We’ve been the luckiest with their teachers. So good. So intuitive and skilled and heartfelt. The boys came home with goodbye cards and treasures from the year. They’ll land in a new school, find new friends, chart new paths of course. They’ll find their stride in summer camp. All of it. Still.

Their last day at this school felt precious and abrupt. Like it wasn’t real. Like it didn’t happen. Except there it is: a book from Sprout’s class and teacher, “To the boy with the sunlight in his eyes.” They know him well. Whenever he talks about moving he refers to our new geography in it’s entirety. “To Portland, Oregon.” It isn’t a real place yet. The only place that’s real is here, amidst boxes. He’s found the packing paper and has turned it into a wide drawing surface: tall castles and taller trees.

Bean is off with his friends, saying goodbye in his own boyish ways. Playdates one after the next: biking and tree forts and inventions. Exchanging addresses. Mailing pre-emptive letters. It’s only pretend-real to both of them.

“Mommy,” Bean says with a playful gleam in his eyes. “I know that you and Daddy are the Easter Bunny.”

I look at him: tousled hair, black and white checkered Vans, his skinny shoulders in a soft grey sweatshirt, his hands full of electric circuit board equipment. How is any of this possible at all?

The inevitable flow of time.

The way we move on: grow, and outgrow ourselves over and over again.

Here we go.

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

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.

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.”

Learning to exist at the edge of the unknown

Posted on January 20, 2014

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I wake up wanting wildness; wanting the long view; wanting to be somewhere at the edge of what I know. I can’t explain it. It’s feels exactly like hunger, and even after breakfast it is still there, gnawing in the pit of my belly, and so we go, all four of us.

We take chocolate and walnuts, and chai marsala tea. We wear boots, and layers and our warmest gloves. We drive North, to the Champlain islands, to where lake meets sky, the water frozen into a smooth wide sheet till it blurs, yellow and milky at the edge.

The boys have the right approach. They pile into the car ready for adventure, and climb out when we park, curious, wide-eyed, already running towards whatever they will fine. The unknown is an invitation, a lure, a wild promise.

For T and I it’s harder. It requires effort to shake off expectations and preoccupations, and the ground is icy and uncertain beneath us.

My breath catches where my breastbones join.

The boys run ahead, propelled by innate curiosity and instinctive balance. They run out onto the ice following sled tracks, unafraid, reckless in their abandon to know whatever this is, this ice, this world at the edge, this day, this newness of now.

For them, sliding is play. Falling too is it’s own wonder: a flirtation with gravity. A chance to be airborne and to come down again, hard and certain, but without the pain of height and the thud of inflexibility. I watch them as they fall, over and over on purpose. Running, they hurl themselves knees first toward the ice, then slide out ahead in a graceful uncontrolled arc, yelling with glee.

I yell warnings after them unheeded, and feel afraid I am of this. Of what I can’t control.

Without planning, I’ve arrived exactly at the wild edge of the unknown that stirred me from sleep like a hunger, though when we left the house I didn’t for a moment picture it like this: ice as far as the eye can see, with fishermen dotting the horizon. We slip-slide past the holes they’ve left, drilled drilled down into the quiet dark, where Lake Perch swim slowly through still water without sun.


The boys want to poke their booted toes in; I imagine hypothermia. My voice snaps fiercely in the cold air. They look surprised. And when we come close to the shore, they walk along the lake’s broken lip where the cattails rattle, and as the ice cracks and bows under their weight, they laugh with glee and stamp harder. I bark warnings, imagining them sinking under.

So here I am, learning to exist at the edge of the unknown, where my fears rise up again and again. I am afraid what I can’t control, of the things I do not know, of outcomes that aren’t certain, of edges I don’t know how to trust.

It takes a long time for me to realize why I am here, skating on dark ice; how these these moments are exactly the metaphor I need.

My breath catches. I release it.

Out there, on the wide open of the icy lake the fishermen silently sit on over-turnned buckets, not moving at all.

Their stillness is a kind of knowing I must learn. Their patience quiet and long.

Wearing thick parkas with fur close to their cheeks, they watch the small hole at their feet for signs of life. Sometimes there is a flicker. Once, twice, they pull in a fish. But the point isn’t that quick action; that flick of wrist and tug of line. Waiting is. Waiting, until even that ceases to be the point, and they simply are. Being. Hearts beating a steady thunder under layers; breath gathering in the stillness above them, signaling a silent gracious prayer: to be alive. To be alive.

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.

Weekending

Posted on January 11, 2014

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I pull the shades open to find rain spattering against the window-glass, then dive back under the soft-polka dotted coverlet, homing to the warmth T radiates. For a while we lie this way, just breathing. From here only the crowns of trees are visible: a crosshatching of black and white, a tangle of rain-drenched twigs against the milky grey of the early morning sky.

Eventually, I switch on the light beside my pillow, and T unfolds from bed. I’ve been crushing on the beard he’s grown over this winter, and I can’t help but smile watching him on jeans and a sweatshirt. Soon the warm place that he left has been filled by Clover, her sweet yogi-self pressing against me, tail wagging. I tousle her velvet soft ears, and when we’ve sufficiently greeted each other she curls into a ball, and keeps my feet warm as I write.

T brings tea, and from the next room over I can hear the boys in their room chattering in the perpetual way they do, and I fill page after page in the yellow legal pad with whatever comes to mind until the half hour mark, when I put my pen down, refill my tea, and head to the yoga mat with T for a half-hour morning practice.

This has been our ritual every morning for the past week, and I love what it’s done to set my mornings right.

It’s been my goal this year to build simple routines that sustain my core. Rituals that soften the edges and simplify the moments and reduce some of the stress I find all too easily creeps in.

Another ritual is simply to let the weekend be what it is best: a time to rest. Instead of filling it in with doing, I’m practicing doing not so very much. Sitting all morning with more tea in the big white chair by the windows watching the rain while Sprout puts out fires in the play castle he’s set up across the room, and then heading to the studio after a snack to make some new art, Sprout in tow while Bean hangs out in his bed reading and organizing collections.

I would so love to hear about some of your weekend (or week day rituals!). Tell me: what makes you feel whole, and simple, and quiet, and good?

2014 : The Year Of The Horse

Posted on January 7, 2014

Hello friends!

I’m so happy it’s a new year! 2013 was hard in so many ways, and filled with bittersweet moments.
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2013 was one of the most exhausting, turbulent years I’ve lived through. I felt like we were all at the fragile surface of our lives; so many of us anyway. Reminded of our mortality, pressed to ask hard questions, reach for new horizons, and confront limitations real or imagined.



I always feel like I get a secret extra window of time to set intentions every January, with my birthday happening at the end of the month. I’ve been cocooning, and dreaming and quietly working my way through all the notebooks and journals I kept over the last year, to find the plot line that lives below the surface, and set goals for this new year.

2014 is the year of the horse, and for me the zebra particularly comes to mind: as symbol of individuality and balance. Yes, that’s the kind of year I’d like 2014 to be–one of individuality and balance. As such, I’ve chosen the word CORE as my word for this year.


CORE


Going into this year with a wee bit of adrenal fatigue, I’m committed to focusing on building my core literally and metaphorically. To being selective and smart about the projects and partnerships I take on. And keeping a clear-eyed focus on the things that are most essential, that sustain, and fund creative energy rather than drain it.

It took me a while to find just the word to act as a guide, a focus point, and a filter: helping me to zero in on what matters most.

So glad to be back. I’ve missed this space so.

Tell me: what are you focusing on this January?