Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Motherhood + Mindfulness” Category

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.

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.”

A Year In Pictures

Posted on December 13, 2013

A look back at what 2013 looked like for me in pictures.

I’m so glad Elizabeth inspired me to take time for this reflection. Looking back for a few iconic photos from each month made me remember so many forgotten moments; so many bright glimmers and funny circumstances and laughter and adventures.



January_Self January_Cold


February_Sprout_4thBirthday February_Bean_8thBirthday


March_Selfi March_Sprout_SnowyGate March_Boys_NYC March_NYC skyline March_NYC


IMG_6707 April_Bean April_Sprout April_Bean_MakingWaffles April_Selfie


May_Him May_RipplesInPond


May_99U May_Selfie


June_Bean June_Sprout June_selfie


July_Family July_FloodedRoad July_floodedField July_Barn July_ShelburneMuseum July_ShelburneMuseum July_backyardPool July_Camping_StoningtonME IMG_9788 July_Stonington_Maine July_StoningtonME July_Family July_selfie July_Maine


August_selfie August_Upperfield August_LostTooth_bean August_Sprout_cat August_makeIncredibleThings August_Fair August_Clover August_Sprout August_Bean August_TheFinalView August_TheGoodbye


August_IceCreamTruck August_Sprout_IceCream August_NeighborhoodWalks August_BeanIsAReader August_NewHome August_Bookshelves August_FreshPaint 2013-08-30 11.32.16-2 Bean_FirstDayOf3rdGrade August_FirstDayOfPreK


SeptemberSun September_house September_Bean_GlassBlowing_AOGlass September_Trust September_applePicking September_Selfie September_GracePotter September_NYC September_ThisIsLove September_Waiting September_Relief September_Skyline September_us September_BeanAndFaithfulAligator 2013-09-13 10.31.58-1


September_Us September_JamaicaView September_JamaicaWater September_Jamaica September_Selfie September_Him September_JamaicaInn September_Jamaica


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November_Boys November_Fire November_mantel November_Thanksgiving November_Luminaries November_Bean


December_Sweet December_Us December_Him December_Selfie

Inward Glimpses

Posted on November 25, 2013

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The day we raked leaves, the air smelled like snow. We lit a small fire in the circular pit and gathered round it, warming our hands. Sprout couldn’t stay away from the leaf pile, but Bean, suddenly older and just recovering from being sick, moped about the yard, wanting the reckless play of burrowing into leaf tunnels, yet scorning it too. Above us, the sky was that bluest blue of high altitude and cold weather. Later the snow came at dinner time. T had picked up fresh Bluepoints, and we shucked them by the sink together listening to tunes we’d picked up while in Louisiana this time last year.

It was a weekend of ups and downs. Enough time to read through the VOGUE that’s been sitting on my coffee table for a month. Good coffee. A look at Dominique Levy’s new gallery online. A trip to the new, big library we belong to now that we live close to town. A trip to the book store for another Molskine, and often, the collision of wanting time together voraciously and wanting time alone with equal hunger.

How was your weekend?

Family stories: The ones we claim, and the ones that claim us

Posted on October 26, 2013


I chose the isle seat on every flight, and never regretted it in spite of wishing I could see the Rockies spread out from above like some remarkable crumpled map, each mountain crested with white, the plains wide and even like some celestial quilt, roads stitched in between wide expanse, each farm a lonely marker of existence, trucks no bigger than fleas on the back of a dog.

Across the isle there is a man with eyelashes that remind me of my husband’s. In spite of my copious hand talking, and my double rings: engagement, and wedding, he seems enchanted, curious, gregarious and then subdued when he finally asks, “Are you married?” Apparently the reflexive ring-check all my single girlfriend’s do before even looking twice isn’t instinctual for men.
“Yes,” I laugh.
He looks temporarily disheartened, but then we forge ahead, and in the way I always do, I ask bold, impertinent questions that require vulnerability and heart.
Conversations on the plane afford this: hello, goodbye. Fleeting snapshots. Anything goes.

“What would you do if money weren’t a concern,” I ask.

He isn’t sure how to answer, and when he says the generic things like travel more and see his family more often I prod a bit. Finally he says, “I’d become a vet. It’s what I should have done when I started, but now I’m too old. I’d be fifty by the time I was ready to practice, if I started now.”

He shows me pictures of his dogs: a black mutt and a golden that’s just died. He misses her. Shows me a half dozen photos.

In pictures, all dogs end up looking the same. They run and stand and loll and saunter, and to their owner each one is emblematic of their unique dog-ness, but to a bystander all that personality gets rinsed away and save for puppies with their too-big paws and big ears, dog’s all look pretty much the same. Still I look at every one, and then we talk about how growing up with money to burn makes you a different kind of person than growing up without it. We’re both of the latter type, and across the isle for a handful of moments above the Rockies it’s us against them.

Before we hit the runway he asks for my name, and I tell him, but only my first and so he tells me his name is Mark, and I leave ahead of him and never look back.

This whole interaction has me wondering about the meaning of everyone we meet. My mother likes to say that we’re all connected, all part of an interconnected web of karma that unfurls over lifetimes, each person entering our lives meaningful to us in some way.

It’s my mother I’m going to see, and my sisters, the lot of us together for the first time in a decade; for the first time since my father died.

Family, that inexplicable thing that it is. The people that make us, fiber and bone, but also the ones from whom we learn the map of our own reactions and earliest perceptions of ourselves. They hold the fun-house mirrors and the truth. Our lives, witnessed in blurry fragments.

“See that white horse?” my older sister asked me once. We were standing by a coral on the new land my dad had bought in Northern California that would become the home I lived in for the longest as a kid.
“Yes,” I said, already climbing the fence.
“I wonder if you can ride it?” she might have asked.
A mere intimation, a suggestion was all it took and I was over the fence and onto it’s back, riding willy-nilly, break neck to the other side of the paddock and back with nothing more to hold onto than the white rope of it’s mane.
That’s how we were: my older sister always suggesting or protecting, one extreme or the other. Either sending me hurtling down hill in a little red wagon with no way to stop, or guarding my secrets fiercely. First crushes, and covert outfits.
Now she’s as tightly wound as the vintage clock that no longer ticks on the mantle of the place we’ve rented in Denver’s Cap Hill neighborhood, and all I can do is rub her shoulders, even though she doesn’t ask. The neighborhood is full of big old limestone houses, every other one set out with skulls and pumpkins, nearly the entire city turning out for Saturday’s Zombie Crawl.

We try to find our stride, conversations happening between the indecision and decision of what to make for dinner; between the meltdowns of one sweet and sensitive boy, and the nap times of the other; between waking up and going to sleep in an unfamiliar place, all of us talking at once. Both sisters have their boys with them. I’ve left mine at home: sparkling, spinning, gap-toothed and bright-eyed. I miss them, even as I’m glad for the ease of my unencumbered self. Just me and my luggage at the airport, and at dinner I’m the one who can offer extra hands.
My younger sister’s husband bravely joins us at the table.

Later, as it’s just the two of us flipping through channels on TV while my younger sister puts her darling babe down, and my mom and older sister have gone back to the place we’re staying he says, “you all certainly don’t lack in conversation.” The kindest midwestern way of saying: we’re an intense bunch of talkers.
And we are.
We walk through the botanical gardens and my younger sister unfolds a perfect picnic blanket under the falling yellow leaves of a quaking aspen, and then spreads containers of olives and pickled beats, curried chicken salad and bagels. She’s gracefully thought of everything without us ever asking, and we gratefully eat.
What I learn from the trip is to just be there, side by side. To hold my arms open wide. To apologize without the friction of ego. To wash the dishes, and then to wash more when they get added to the sink. To offer my hand to one nephew and my bouncing lap to the other and to try as much as I can to move like water between the moments.

I stay up late, talking with my mother. She tells me stories, like lost stitches in the tapestry of my lineage. About my great grandfather who owned gold mines and gambled; about my grandmother’s unrequited love; about the cruelty of seventh grade for my mother; about the first boy she loved who died at 19 in a machinery accident.
The whole time I’m with them, I’m feeling the shape of the stories that we’re living. One afternoon while I’m holding my younger sister’s sleeping baby in my lap I start reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids , aloud to her as she lies on the floor with her huge white cat. It’s one of the most beautiful beginnings to a book I’ve ever read, nearly a prose poem, each line perfect, spare, visually stunning. 
On the way home I nearly finish it, reading hungrily about her hunger.
I can feel the way I’m craving the evidence she shares. The proof that artists live some part of their lives circling the secret of their calling before their way. It’s solace to me, even as I measure the decades between her first success and mine, and come up late by a long shot. Still, I underline as I read, and fill my notebook with snapshots from the time with family I’ve just spent. The stories that claim me. The stories that I claim.
More than ever I can feel the way certain embers in my ribcage have begun flare up with the unavoidable heat of this again: to write is everything to me.
Over and over again I find my way to this truth, even as I’m circling around what it means for my life in every day terms.
Always there are stories making me, and in the making every day.

I want to hear the stories of your family. Not the one you’ve made, but the one that made you.

What have you learned about yourself from knowing them?

What stories do you claim, and what stories claim you?

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?

Upon Arrival: A Slow Arrival

Posted on September 9, 2013

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It takes me longer than I anticipate to arrive. For the first two weeks, I have move-related amnesia. I can’t find anything, even my body in space. One night, I believe I’ve broken my elbow after a coffee table falls on it. I fold in against myself like origami and cry. I have no idea about anything. If it’s broken, or if it isn’t, and so I spend hours in ER with T at my side while a dear friend sits on my couch in my unpacked house. Outside it pours. We get the verdict that it’s just badly bruised, and I come home dejected, exhausted, embarrassed. My friend acts like it’s completely no problem. He’s good like that, even though the cat threw up in our absence. I owe him for certain.

A week later I slit my wrist trying to catch a falling glass picture frame. The cut makes a perfect red line. Gapes just enough to make me quaver. It happens ten minutes before we need to leave to bring Sprout to his first day of school, and so I apply pressure and wrap my wrist in a dozen bandaids and just go, carrying it vertically, like a fragile totem. I kiss his rosy cheeks, watch his hesitation and the decision to follow after his teacher to feed the chickens, and then I go. I call my doctor, then head to urgent care. Hours later I have three stitches. After the first day I wear the zebra bandaids Sprout offers me. I try to slow down.

Still, I walk into door frames. Trip over shoes in the entryway. Everything is a perpetual, “Where did you put the…?” conversation. Everything displaced, misplaced. There are socks along with mail. A hammer in the silverware drawer. We take two trips to Ikea, the first to get bunkbeds that aren’t in stock, the second too, to get the beds. We come back with other things, naturally. Lights we want to return the minute we’ve brought them in the door. A cabinet to house the audio equipment that in the last house had been wired into in-wall speakers. We drive up and back passing miles of genetically modified corn that rustles with perfect stalks in flat fields as the sun arcs across the sky. We become impatient experts at assembling flat pack furniture.

And then we’re here. Here in the best little neighborhood that is so close to everything. One night we go to the lake after dinner for ice cream cones, and are back in time for bed. Other nights we walk Clover, the boys riding out ahead on their bikes, making a game of stopping (and sometimes not stopping) where I tell them to. The sun slants long and golden and low across the pavement, and makes our cheeks light up.

Somehow we make it through T’s birthday (my love, my hero, my co pilot) and the first week of school, and finally the house feels functional. Every room has it’s utility and gradual grace. Many still need paint or pictures or hooks or nooks to be created. But it’s close now, and we all feel like we’re here now instead of in limbo with our minds tracking back to the familiar habit of the floor plan we left behind.

Also, out of nowhere, amidst all the turbulence of moving, the title for my next book arrives like a gift. Like a thin silver lasso cast out among a stampede of thoughts that occur as I do other mindless tasks (turns out building flat pack furniture is good for something). And it makes me giddy to have it now, this whisper, this inkling of what the book will be, tucked into the pocket of my heart even as I celebrate the 1-year anniversary of my first book. Whoosh. There went the year.

Now we eat on the back picnic table in the last light of evening. We light candles after dark. Apples are sweetening in the orchards and the air is crisp. And slowly, slowly I am arriving. Here. In this new life.

Now, upon arrival, as I begin new rituals, blocking time into my calendar for new projects, and mapping new runs,I find myself circling back to the things that ground me: poetry, morning pages, baking bread, making soup.

I’m curious:

What grounds you as you move towards this new season? What makes home home to you?

Glimpses: The making a new *home*

Posted on August 22, 2013

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There are many words that will come, but for now, here are a few glimpses as we unpack boxes and think about the way our habits and lives will shift here.

The tree fogs sing loudly here at night, and it is quiet, save for the occasional cars. In the morning the sounds of traffic rise with the sun. During the day there are parrots somewhere in the neighborhood. They remind me of my childhood: where my neighbors had parrots of all kinds up on the hill above our house. I love their exotic calling during the day.

There are trees here, wider than my arms can hold, and a creek where Bean already caught a crawfish longer than my palm. He’s fearless and slight of hand, that boy of mine. Both of them, such natives in nature. Sure footed and confident in the woods where they go now to explore.

They’ve also got a shed attached to the house off the back deck that they call their ‘clubhouse.’ It’s the perfect home for their workbench–stocked with hammers and nails and small saws and bits of wood, and for all of Bean’s “inventions” and collections: snake skins, pebbles, circuit boards, locks.

The house is small. Humbly small. It’s good for us, and it requires an adjustment (we have a lot of stuff it seems!) We’ll likely be storing some things, to keep the space open and easy. There is good light in the living room though, with windows perfect for basking beside, especially come winter when the sun is scarce.

We brought the boys back to the old house to say goodbye, but all they really wanted was to be here, playing with their bikes on the sidewalk and then running to the ice cream truck when it came by–such a novelty still, for these country boys of mine.

More glimpses to come. We’re still knee-deep in boxes… and I’ve got some health issues going on that are slowing me down (a positive Lyme test being one of them. Ugh.)