Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Taking Note + Taking Action” Category

Yes & yes

Posted on July 19, 2015

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Photo: Erika Senft Miller

Photo: Erika Senft Miller

There aren’t words really, not yet. Except that I went, and found myself a part of a tribe of the most creative people among the familiar landscape of my childhood for a handful of days. I can back brimming. I came back on the 100th day of my circle project. I came back filled. Heart-felt. Held. Discovered. Seen. Inspired.

Since then I’ve been nonstop making. A notebook already full. The next book taking shape now fast, and certainly. Big canvases edging into sight… and I’m taking every moment I can to create.

I won’t likely be sharing much… at least not yet, not while it feels fresh and wild. What I am sharing is another 100-day project:

I’ll be writing poems daily for the next one hundred days.

I’d really love for you to follow along HERE.

xo, C

Summer is here

Posted on June 23, 2015

The longest day of the year.

Last night, driving back from the coast, the light lasted and lasted. A thin red-gold ribbon on the western horizon. After hours spent leaping from rocks and roasting dinner over an open fire, our hair smelling of woodsmoke, the golden light slanting long across the waves, the sand, the driftwood piled high in forts, we returned; but not before we ate cherries, drank wine, made s’mores, and watched families leave and teenagers arrive. Finally we went, reluctant, lingering. The light trailing us. The light, the light.

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We moved in June.

We moved to a house on a historic treelined street where bikers ride by in droves, and kids rule the sidewalks. It took all month to put our lives back together. Paint rooms. Unpack. Find the mixer and my favorite collection of short stories.


I have a fifth grader now and a first. Two boys, in full-on elementary school. Sprout still feels at the edge of little, but barely. Bean, in between in his own way. Gangly limbed and sensitive. He still comes to our bed on the weekend demanding snuggles and acts betrayed if we’ve gotten up before him.

I hold my breath. Time is flying.

We play at the park, evenings. Or walk the dog under 100-year old trees, sometimes carrying wine, other times espresso or a handful of cherries. The boys zoom out ahead on wheeled things, yelling. They spend their days with the nanny: at the pool, making lemonade stands, reading, swim lessons. Finally, both of them are becoming real swimmers. Coordinated arm movements. Coordinated breath. In ten years, Bean will be out of the house. So much else to learn by then. He’s currently on the cusp, dipping in and out of maturity, flickering between the kid he’s becoming and the younger kid he his.

For my part I’m trying to find new routines. Leaning into summer and the long, long light. Waking earlier. Writing more. Adventuring more.


What does summer look like at your house?

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Like magic

Posted on April 4, 2015

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Today I found myself standing in various rooms, having walked there from other rooms without knowing why, on auto pilot. I opened the bathroom cabinet, then shut it again, forgetting to take out the hair dryer. I opened too many browser tabs and crashed Chrome. I forgot obvious words in the middle of sentences. Basically I ran out of words. Every single word squeezed out into sentences for presentations in which every word must be the exact right word. It’s been a doozy of a week.

On Monday I gave away my cat. Bean is allergic, terribly. I stayed up with the friend I gave the cat to, drinking wine until nearly midnight. When I left the cat followed me to the door. We had her since our first apartment together, T and I. We had before 9/11. We had her from the advent of Web 2.0. Remember when email was a novelty? Remember when we had Hotmail accounts? Remember Ask Jeeves? My friend who took the cat is gorgeous and smart and loves brass figurines. Together with her husband I think they may love the cat more than we collectively did, seeing as T never really loved the cat, only grew accustomed to her. Still, to look back and remember getting her from the shelter together, baby faced, just out of college, and then to see our lives now? Time flies like magic.

On Tuesday I stayed up till nearly midnight, at a Guster show. I remember how much a friend in college adored their band, though I never listened to them much. Turns out, one of my sweetest writer friends in VT is married to the lead singer, and our families became friends. It was a kind of surreal to watch him perform. He was so exactly himself, and yet so much larger than himself, and then after the show, hugging him, he was just regular again. Like Magic.

On Wednesday I stayed up until midnight, working on a presentation for work. As a strategist, I basically start with the broadest and most complex challenges, or ambiguous data sets, and then distill them gradually. Often pages upon pages end up being a single page, so obvious that it doesn’t look like it’s anything at all. This, in fact is the mark of good strategy: to distill to the point where something is self evident. Where it’s so straightforward and intuitive, there can be no mistaking. The work to get there is often arduous, but invisible once the answer becomes evident. Strategy is all about process. Thinking about that this week, I thought of the Tibetan monks I once watched making sand mandalas. They bent over their work for an entire week with intention and focus, creating something splendid, and then sat back to let the wind blow it away. Magic.

On Thursday before I collapsed into bed the minute the kids were in bed, which is late these days because of spring vacation. My mother in law is to watch the boys for the two weeks they have off which is a boon. She makes soup and takes the boys on adventures, and her love, unconditional and abundant, is a gift. Yesterday they did tie dye. So far all I have seen as an outcome is that my ten year old’s hands are somewhat permanently dyed blue. His grin when he announced he was a Smurf was perfect.

Today I missed two coffee dates with two different sets of people because of the work. I said goodbye to one of my favorite designer friends who’s moving on to a rad new show. He is one of the zen travelers I know. I had the fortune of taking a trip with him to Chicago for a conference last year. He forever changed how I think about travel. Worry less. Just show up. That’s basically his approach. Its good for life too.

Now, looking ahead to Saturday, there will be Easter egg dying and coffee drinking and bike riding and writing.

I write every saturday, slowly but surely on my next book, or more realistically, on a single story that will be in my next book eventually. Each weekend I wrestle the piece back from a feral state. I write sentences. I delete them. I grapple with the way everything seems to come back to my mother, even though the story isn’t about my mother at all. I sit in a cafe a few blocks from my house and I write, and in between I watch people come in. One couple comes every weekend. They spend the entire time taking selfies, and photos of their coffees. She wears incredible stilettos. He wears one of those baseball caps with a flattened bill. Another is a guy who is also writing. He takes smoke breaks out in front and fiddles with his wait length dreads. So far we haven’t said hello. It seems like a matter of time.

Tomorrow, the weekend. How grateful I am every week for the interlude. It’s like code switching. Right brain left brain. On the weekend I exhale. Sometimes I fall apart. Sometimes we argue. Sometimes we fall harder in love. Whatever happens there always magically seem to be enough moments to reconstitute me for another week. Magic.

Happy weekend, friends!

The place where things happen

Posted on June 14, 2014

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All morning I work at the kitchen table. The boys have off (first day of summer vacation!) and I do not.

Eventually when they’ve settled into a project, I head out to the backyard to my little studio. I always push through the door with a certain relief; glad for the fact that though it is small, it is just mine. (Virgina Woolf had it right.) The walls, bare on purpose, ready for for whatever I want to tack up. A place to spread out and make things, which I do, though not today.

Today I bring a summer peach with me, and later espresso to keep me fueled through the afternoon. Then I sit, contorting at ridiculous angles in my chair. One knee up. Then both, perching. Then I’m spread out on the floor. I love the work I’m doing, but my body isn’t made for sitting still. No one’s is, but mine, with my spring-loaded legs feels particularly ill equipped for sitting still, and I’m hankering for the run I hope to get on the beach, Sunday morning.

Today, five minutes of attention happens as I am lying on the floor waiting for my colleague to send me edits. I simply breathe. Feel the way my shoulders are holding on to the stress of a tight deadline. Look up at the way the room is framed anew with my upside down perspective.

Outside the window, day turns to dusk, and dusk to night.

Day 8: #the5x5challenge

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.)

A few things I’ve been up to lately

Posted on March 11, 2014

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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.

37 before 37

Posted on January 29, 2014

Here’s to the glorious possibility of another year here on this beautiful Earth.

My annual birthday list — This year it’s all about self-care and creative focus and play. I’m especially committed to #3, #7, #19, and #31.
 

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1. Strengthen my core.
2. Visit as many museums as possible. 5, minimum.
3. Work slowly and steadily on producing pieces for publication. Let that work inform the slow and steady work of writing my second book.
4. Attend a writing conference.
5. Start swimming regularly again.
6. Spend time on the Pacific ocean.
7. Morning writing, daily.
8. Yoga, daily.
9. Make time to read the Sunday Times in its entirety once a month.
10. Make a driftwood mobile with Bean + Sprout.
11. Write a love letter to each of my boys.
12. Make a sock elephant with Sprout.
13. Read at least 52 books this year.
14. Buy a record player.
15. Make + give away survival packs for the homeless.
16. Send pretty cards for no reason.
17. Finally watch The Godfather.
18. Go to the circus.
19. Make time for doing absolutely nothing.
20. Let miracles happen.
21. Find a mentor.
22. Be a mentor.
23. Set Bean up with an international pen pal.
24. Get a facial.
25. Use a standing desk.
26. Take a paragliding lesson.
27. Go on 12 super sexy dates with my guy.
28. Spend some time out doors everyday.
29. Finally host an interview series on my blog.
30. Paint at least one of big canvasses I’ve had in my studio for years.
31. Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
32. Spend an evening star watching my guy this summer.
33. Have a picnic with friends.
34. Learn a new water sport: kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing.
35. Hike more, with friends.
36. Go bright blonde for a while.
37. Spend an afternoon on a sail boat.

A record of unfinished things {Just One Paragraph 23/30}

Posted on August 14, 2013

 
 

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Tonight my heart rides unsteadily in the hull of my ribs across the waves of all the unfinished pieces and fragments and questions that remain from the day. The arrival of new friends and the disappearance of old ones. The half-packed boxes strewn in every room. The half-written emails sitting in my inbox. The audio notes I take on my phone that show up as emails, skeletons of ideas, lurching back into focus. Pattern recognition. Inklings. Story fragments.

Here are a few recent note titles:

Take down the lights.
It’s about repetition.
UK Art Everywhere Project
It’s so late the next day has already begun.
Bear humphing around looking for Fox.
She wants her way a lot. She keeps secrets.
There is a woman who smiles with gaps between her teeth and her minivan in the morning…
Heritage movie theater ads.
Meyer lemons, eggplant, almonds, dill.
Surfaces and the first day of seeing in a new city.

How do you keep track of unfinished things?

And how can you tell when things are finished? Friendships, stories, ideas, dreams?