Christina Rosalie

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?

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

January_Boys

January_Self January_Cold
FEBRUARY

February_Sweet

February_Sprout_4thBirthday February_Bean_8thBirthday
MARCH

March_Studio

March_Selfi March_Sprout_SnowyGate March_Boys_NYC March_NYC skyline March_NYC
APRIL

April_fields

IMG_6707 April_Bean April_Sprout April_Bean_MakingWaffles April_Selfie
MAY

May_WalkOnTheRoad

May_Him May_RipplesInPond

May_Sprout_Field=

May_99U May_Selfie
JUNE

June_GoodbyeHouse
June_SummerSalad

June_Bean June_Sprout June_selfie
JULY

July_Fourth

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 I

August_EndOfAnEra

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 II

Agusut_HelloRoses

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
SEPTEMBER

August_Sunset

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
OCTOBER I

September_Flight

September_Us September_JamaicaView September_JamaicaWater September_Jamaica September_Selfie September_Him September_JamaicaInn September_Jamaica
OCTOBER II

October_leaves

October_Foliage October_PumpkinPicking 2013-10-24 18.20.02-1 OctoberMantle October_SelfieWithNephew 2013-10-20 00.34.34 2013-10-30 20.15.33-1 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
NOVEMBER

November_Sky

November_Boys November_Fire November_mantel November_Thanksgiving November_Luminaries November_Bean
DECEMBER

December_BanditCat

December_Sweet December_Us December_Him December_Selfie

A loss for words

Posted on December 12, 2013

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On the way to work, after dropping the boys off at school, a piliated woodpecker lifts out of a tree and flies across the road above me. Its flightpath is a zig-zag. It swoops softly through the cold morning air to alight on a tree on the opposite side of the road. The light is fiery and gold with early morning. It makes the bird’s crimson head flame.

In the night it snowed a little and ice crystals decorate the fence wires and broken grasses poking up from the dusting of white across the fields. The lake is frozen at its lip, and birds gather at the jagged line between open water and frozen water.

Such things still amaze me: that water can be solid, liquid, vapor. That birds can fly with inimitable grace. That the light is golden with a new day.

Like the birds, I’m treading the line between. Between stasis and flux, between now and what will come next, between here, and wherever there is. There: the future. Tomorrow. The next day.

The boys are counting down the days until Christmas. I am counting the days. But I can’t say for what. For knowing. For certainty. The past few months have felt a lot like this. For the first time in a long while, I feel at a loss for words.

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?

Just showing up

Posted on November 15, 2013

 
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It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Too long really to go back pick up the lost stitches of whatever came before right now. Too long to catch you upon all the where and what that was October.

Now, it is November. The light is ample while it lasts. Most days golden with a long slant to the light towards afternoon.The first hard frosts have come, shaking down the last of the gingko’s golden leaves. On the mountains: snow. White on blue.

November is the season of sticks. God’s architecture laid bare in the trees. Suddenly the back yard revels neighbor’s yards and the topography of the adjacent hill covered with the fallen finery of golden leaves. The world feels naked and fragile now, before the snow. Everywhere the reminder: we are mere mortals.

A beautiful boy died in Sprout’s kindergarten a few weeks ago, unexpectedly. Then the mother of a girl in the high school died too, trapped in a house fire. A friend tells me his marriage is falling apart.

We are all here briefly, this I know. And my prayers become profound in their simplicity: Hold us. Hold us with grace.

Sprout, with his big dark eyes keeps asking me to tell him about death. Bean asked the same kinds of questions at his age: tender, utterly unguarded, matter of fact.

“Will you die, when we’re big, Mama?” Sprout asks from the back seat on the way to school.

Yes, then, or yes whenever. We’re only held by a fragile thread.. The world calls us, we arrive, stay for a while, and if we’re lucky, do good work.

And I’ve been pondering what doing good work means to me, with my heart on my sleeve and my holistic mind. I love to be consumed by my work. I love the single-minded focus of having something big and incredible to work on and work towards. And I love being a part of things that are greater than myself.

What about you? What does doing good work mean?


I keep circling around these questions as the the days grow brief.


In the stores shelves are cable knits and icelandic sweaters. Gift catalogs come in the mail.. The boys come in from out-of-doors with rosy cheeks. We light fires and gather close, celebrating St. Martin with our lanterns.

The year feels worn.

It was a year, wasn’t it? For me at least, and for many of the ones I love this year brought radical change. Unexpected turbulence. The loss of things held dear.

I’ve been inward lately. Guarded. Quiet. Working on connecting the dots of next moves, and also on the work of self care. And yet I miss showing up here for the connection and solace and inspiration that I find from all of you.

I think for the rest of November I’d like to show up here each day with just a few photos and a handful of words.

I always want to do that, but then feel compelled to share the stories that go with them, and so I don’t. But I’m wondering: Is it enough for now to just share that? Do you want just the glimpses? The haphazard sentence or two; the snapshots of work in progress in my studio; the messy lantern-lit post-dinner table; the boots in a heap by the door; the boys with their legos in a sunny patch on the floor?