Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Self Portrait” Category

On the summer solstice: how the morning arrives

Posted on June 20, 2012

For some reason the boys have woken up early, and they are all wiggles and wiggly teeth as they join me, two to a chair. We’re in the front yard, watching the morning arrive. The day is going to be hot, and above us each of us there is a halo of tiny insects twirling in the humid air.

Everything: our arms, and legs, our notebook paper, and the dewy grass, is damp. The mountains are all but obscured pale clouds that keep the edges of the morning close, surrounding us with the gauzy softness of dawn.

The sun has yet to make the climb its ladder of tree branches in the east.

So we sit, side by side, and I string sentences together while they string gestures. Theirs is a story of action, mine of words. And I think about how we grow still as adults, our bones and muscles full of gravity, while our children run about us, tumbling, twirling, tripping over their own lightness of being.

Sleep still plays across the edges of my mind this morning, and my attention soft. Still, I’ve showed up to watch the sun, and now it does the miraculous one more time: sending gold-fingered rays up the east edge of the morning.

So. This is what I’ve been doing to greet the day: waking earlier and writing. It isn’t enough, and what I must do and what I do get done are still a chasm apart each evening, but it’s a start. It’s showing up. It’s the beginning of a practice that I am always at the beginning of.

It’s the way I pray, the way I pay attention, the way I arrive most wholly here.

Hello day. Happy solstice everyone.

On Making A Book (Part 3): Where words + images converge

Posted on October 17, 2011

Once the words were done, I threw myself into the unfamiliar, beautiful, terrifying territory of illustrating. I was wholly, utterly, entirely consumed. I spilled india ink twice. I wore the same jeans for a week, paint accumulating across my thighs. I skipped class. I considered only this: How the images I was creating might tell a little more of the story. How they might be a hook, a glimpse, some kind of emotional spark of evidence that might help you find your way into the moments I was describing and also into your own. I imagined making every postcard just for you: 22 notes from me to you about ways to be right here, to fall in love with this life, to hold on, to keep on, to become, be present, persist.

It was harder than I thought: To say just exactly what I meant to say with images. To get the right lines, the right metaphors, colors, shapes, words, gestures down on the 4×6 canvas of a repurposed postcard. Words are so much more precise and unambiguous. Illustrating is like writing poetry: It’s all about gesture and suggestion, nuance and hue.

Each time I finished a piece I would instantly fall in love with it or hate it… then lapse into a state of doubt, hanging it on the wires spanning the wall above my desk for a couple hours while I worked on other things and eyed it warily. Sometimes I’d look at it with new eyes and certainty; other times I’d scrap it and start again.

It was so incredible and scary and amazing to start, and start again. To make some terrible pieces. To make some pieces that made me proud. To become fixated on a piece and have it throw off everything: Becoming too precious, so that all the other pieces following it would feel derivative or contrived. To question everything. To commit to something. To find the right lines, the right color of a moment captured.

I discovered I was capable of more than I imagined. This is always the case, I think.

You are always more capable than you imagine. It’s buckling down and pushing through and doing, doing, doing the work you say you want to be doing that is So. Effing. Hard. But oh, so rewarding.

I discovered how much farther I could push, under the creative constraints of a deadline and the requirement of producing a cohesive body of work. There is something to this–the creative constraints part that I want to explore more here. I’m also going to be devoting some upcoming posts to exploring the relationship between word + image. It’s a powerful one, and one I would love to explore in conversation with you.

If you haven’t read the comments from yesterday’s post, you should. Such amazing leaps of courage + faith + joy.

Today I want to ask you: When have you pushed yourself past a point you believed yourself capable of?

{I am still here}

Posted on September 29, 2011

…Finishing this book.

Breathing.

Getting paint everywhere.

Discovering + remembering what it means to be an artist like this: Courage. Revisions. Messes. Risk. It is time consuming. All consuming. It is terrifying. It is transformative. It is glorious. It is exhausting.

(Hoping to be finished Monday.)

What I really need now is good music to paint to. What have you been listening to that you love? Please share!

a close encounter

Posted on July 18, 2011

It’s 85 degree heat with nearly 100% humidity. The heat from the asphalt hit’s like hot breath. I watch my heart rate, which is usually in the 140 range when I’m going 20mph, hit 150 and then climb. I’m not thirsty really, but I try to remember to keep drinking. My legs feel strong, and the view is euphoric: fields where hay is being cut; horses standing along a fence in the shade; purple martins swooping into the low eaves of a barn; chamomile and cornflowers blooming thickly at the edge of the road. It’s the end of the ride and T is a little ahead.

I tuck down into my drops and start pedaling hard. And then, without warning, my world goes suddenly black.

Just for an instant. No road, no fields, no handlebars. No warning.

In the next instant I’m pitching over my handlebars into the grassy stubble on the side of the road.

I hear my wheel hit the uneven lip of the asphalt, and I have just enough to reaction to tuck and roll, clipping out of one pedal just in time to avoid twisting my ankle.

I land, chest first, my bike on my back, on soft dirt, narrowly missing the guard rail.

T has seen me as I’m falling, and is looping back, at my side in an instant. I’m already trying to sort myself out: unclipping the other pedal, disentangling myself from my bike. I’ve got a sweet crank set mark on my jersey: just between my shoulder blades.

My face stings, but I’m barely scratched. Just grass stains on my shirt.

I try to stand, but a rush of nausea and darkness descends again upon me like a hood over my head.

Because he’s a diabetic, T’s first thought is to give me a glucose tab, and it helps. The grape flavor sugar dissolves in my mouth, and I drink water, and within minutes I’ve cooled down and feel good enough to get back on my bike and take it easy the last mile to home.

Riding home I keep thinking how it could have happened so differently. I could have swerved in any direction. It’s in these moments that I feel like I’m held by something greater than myself. Some filament of grace, some spirit wing between me and what could have been.

+++

Have you ever had a moment like this, a close encounter, a moment of protection, a sudden certainty that your life is right and full of grace? I want to hear your stories.

Tuesday {in pictures}

Posted on July 5, 2011

Hello friends.

I’m finding this so restful: to notice the small things of daily life and to share them here with you.

We’ve been keeping a jar of markers and fresh paper at hand for quiet times, and today had many moments where the boys just sat and colored. I love the way Sprout is learning to draw: circles first.

I made some fresh peach preserves yesterday with some not-so-great peaches. Just a little sugar + water + a hint of vanilla and they cooked down into something lovely to have on biscuits this morning.

Today was all dappled with sun and shade. I love the way the field grasses blow in the wind.

While I was writing Bean and T made a sign for our nightly visitors. Bean has since observed that perhaps he needs to add a checklist to clarify exactly what makes a skunk a bad one. We have several this year. We always do. T has twice encountered them in the coop, though they’ve yet to spray anyone. Still. Bad skunks take note.

Manuscript progress today for sure. It is wild to be working on something this big. It terrifies and thrills me in turns. I’ve decided to focus on just finishing the manuscript. Once it’s in, all my backers will be rewarded (with a little extra surprise in addition to what they signed up for) for their patience. Until then, I imagine I’ll be pretty quiet on that front: creating beautiful chapters.

What are you up to this week?

Tell me how you do it

Posted on May 7, 2011

I’m feeling stuck. I come here to write, to share, and I just look at the screen. It’s been an intense couple of weeks. The end of a semester. A dear friend visiting with a heavy heart. A week of being “on” at all times with the boys. Not enough sleep. Deadlines, still, always. This is my “vacation” time and I’m struggling with deciding what to tackle on the infinite to-do list that has been accumulating while I’ve been studying and writing. Hard to give myself permission to just read Bossypants and nap.

Do you feel like you can really, truly, unwind and relax in your own home? Tell me how you do it. I need some instructions.

These are things that happen

Posted on April 30, 2011

These are things that happen when I circle back into this present that is mine: sunburn on unaccustomed cheeks; blisters on my palms after an afternoon in leather gloves raking lawn debris; the unexpected delirium of forsythia and daffodils; bumblebees; wet marks on my knees from kneeling to look among the clover.

I cannot help myself: I slip into a neighbor’s yard and pluck a handful of daffodils, carrying them in a closed warm fist up the drive, pulling the boys behind me in the red wagon with the other. I grin secretively the whole way. I smile rinsing dishes; but am near to tears when the red-winged blackbird swoops low across my path. These ordinary things stun me. The way my life folds back around me, and this is where I am: in the thick of spring, at the end of a dirt road, with a restless cat, two boys, and a writing deadline waiting for the evening.

All day the sky was blue; all day it was just me and them; two changeable constants. Mood swings, bare bellied tickles, cookies and milk, sand at the backdoor. Five loads of laundry; sun dappled sheets; jumping on the bed; exercise.

It will be this way all week: just me and them the sky. T is out of town on a business trip so it will be us, making the best of allergies and hilarity; less urgency, but no less full throttle: “look mommy, look! Did you see, did you see?” So this is what I’ve been missing.

What I see when I blink

Posted on February 11, 2011

Last night I came home late from working on a collaborative project and slid beneath the covers to find the embering heat of my guy, dreaming. Now the morning is here again, too soon, jostling, clattering, and filled to the brim. I blink, and when close my eyes I see my life in snapshots, like sunspots, the minutes compressed to just these instances, mid air, mid action.

My big boy with a voice that sounds like the bark of a dog who woke up at 3 am feeling like he couldn’t breath.

Blink.

The little one in a pointy Hannah Anderson hoodie and his brother’s Sambas running around with jam on his face and a paci in his mouth.

Blink.

Squirrels that have figured out how to leap from a stack of broken wooden lawn chairs through the gravity of air to the bird feeder, where they twirl with fat furry bellies exposed, eating seed with their dainty little paws.

Blink.

The startled chickadees who fly down to find these furry beasts their tails whirring, their cheeks chock full.

Blink.

Out the window the icicles taller than me; the sky bluer than the ocean; the clouds gathering over the mountain tops like the breath of dragons; the floor that has not been vacuumed in days.

Blink.

Everywhere I turn there are things: to be done, held, watched, waited for, unraveled, sorted, replied to, invented. This is life, mid motion, captured.

Blink.

More glimpses of winter moments captured here.