Creative Process

Studio time by Christina Rosalie

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Hello friends,
I can hardly believe that summer's (almost) over. It was everything summer's supposed to be: Art and sun and wine and friends. Late evenings and late mornings. If I'm totally honest, I'm reluctant to head back to the constraints and rhythms of school.
Summer's moments of extra light and days without schedule allowed for more time for making, and I've been taking every advantage of that.
I thought I'd share a few glimpses into my studio and a new series of paintings that I'm making. The paintings are on much bigger canvases than I've ever painted on before, and I feel like the rules have changed. They're experimental and unfamiliar and all I want to do is spend time with a brush in my hand, following where the ink and paint take me.
One of the biggest pieces began as a compilation of the 100 circles I made for the 100 Day Project. It felt incredibly risky, and then incredibly freeing to paint over that work. To let it evolve, become more.
This is something I've been exploring in general lately: How to not be too precious with things. How to let things go easily, and move towards the things that fill me up or move me in the moment, without needing to cling to them, or to contain them.
This is a theme I've also been exploring over on Tumblr, making 100 poems for 100 days. They're raw, in the moment gestures that allow me to slip around the side door to my subconscious and tap into the stuff my heart knows, but my mind tends to get too clever about. Like I did with the 100 circles project, I've made the rule set super simple for these poems: In the moment, wherever I am, without much fuss or editing. Just write. Hit publish. Let go. It's pretty sneaky how this work has started to change me.
How showing up for real, without doing much talking about it, or procrastinating, or posturing, has made me a better artist and a better writer. It takes a certain kind of daring and discipline I'd lost for a while, and I'm grateful to have rekindled it this summer.

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I'm deeply filled by this new approach to work, in a way I didn't expect, and can't quite put a finger on, except to say: Each time I show up, I feel myself become re-grounded. I find my breath differently. It's become a practice, again, anew.
Thanks for stopping by. I'm so grateful for the scattered community that still finds its way here. And I'd love to hear what you've been up to this summer, and see glimpses, if you have them to share, of your creative practice, your work, your workspaces. xo, C

Yes & yes by Christina Rosalie

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California Wilds
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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.


Black & white glimpses by Christina Rosalie

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A handful photos I've taken recently, processed in black and white, in the same way that one chooses to write fiction over non. There is a story element to black and white. A telling, beyond the marrow and the bone. Black and white captures the illusiveness, the fleeting way that light catches skin, falls long, flutters, move on. It tells a little of what can't be told; the longing inside of skin. The sweetness of breath. The suddenness of gesture. By being less saturated with hue, it leaves more room for what becomes. The story on the page, perception, like a breath caught, a lip bitten, sudden laughter that lifts on the air.

{ Tender } by Christina Rosalie

Inner Alchemy Circle :: Water Coven

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Tenderness


{ TENDER }

The softest part. The quietest breath. At the fringes of exhaustion. At the edge of discovery. This is tender.
The downiest, most delicate inkling of something new. The glimmer of a fresh start. A whisper. A hint. This is tender.
A suggestion. A sensitivity. Featherlight. Easily blown off kilter. Skin exposed. This is tender.
Between your ribs, the fluttery fleeting skip of your heart filled with wonder. Your hidden underbelly of longing. Your most secret desires. This is tender.
Allow tender.
Allow yourself to be tender towards all that is new, that is unresolved, and fragile in your heart.
Allow it to well up with quiet honor and protection and guarded wonder. For this is courage, is strength. Allowing yourself to be tender is the ability to lift in freedom towards all that you are.
Tender is where beginnings happen; where transformation germinates; where anything destined for greatness begins.

Birthday glimpses by Christina Rosalie

So I'm 37. My birthday came and went. A blink. It's the first time in ten years I haven't posted here on, or near my birthday. Instead, today my oldest son turns ten. TEN. In four days my youngest turns six. The world turns. It keeps turning. Every day with them is a hilarious mix of pure joy and annoyance, angst and delight, frustration and sweetness. Every day my heart is cracked open with wonder. Every day the floor is strewn recklessly with their things.
There is no way to make up for the lost days between my birthday and now: Nearly a month of milky winter sunrises through pale curtains; the smell of my boys' skin curled next to me, reading stories before bed; oysters sucked down at the coast around a table with incredible writers; bonfires built on the sand; holes dug; donuts consumed.
No way to describe all the moments spent at the alter where ocean meets sky; at the cusp of the world where you cannot help but feel that you are made wholly anew; the ions dancing in the air; the kites; the bonfire smoke at twilight, sipping wine, watching the birds flock towards their rocky island homes.
No way to convey the way Tin House was both fire and solace for my writer soul, re-invigorating my work, and igniting new fervor. No way to list the he books I've read, or partly read; the thousand kisses exchanged with my love; the late nights spent on projects for work; the deadlines and the satisfaction of hitting them; the camellias in bloom; the downward dogs I bow into with each new day.
Instead, here are a handful of pictures. It's been an incredible start to the year. A year I've begun with big intentions and deep gratitude.

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PS: I made a new Birthday List, here.

Be in time. by Christina Rosalie

"You will be told that 'time is your greatest enemy, time is your greatest possession. Hey, you better be careful with time because time don't come back'; "Time flies" "Time is of the essence" "Don't waste time" "You must control your time" and, above all else, "Be on time - Be on time." Well, friends, in the words of the great Louisiana jazz trumpet man, Enute Johnson, "Son, don't worry about being on time, be in time." Because when you are "in" time, you can accept and experience a much larger slice of life as it unfolds. Instead of imposing your will on every situation, you focus on including everyone else, and just that little adjustment of attitude gives you the space to understand where and who you are."

-- Wynton Marsalis at my college graduation forever ago.

Patience is the destination by Christina Rosalie

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Hello friends. I've missed this little corner of the world. Missed the routine of showing up, of documenting simply, day by day. Of taking notice, and hearing in turn how your worlds align and turn. I like that asynchronous connection. The moments of inspiration and reflection that come of shared moments across time. The stories that find their way into the comments. The wayward emails I get, reminding e we're all connected, and my words find their mark in New Zealand or Sweden, Buffalo, under feet of snow, or in Burlington, where my muscle memory is still strong, and winter has already gathered close.
Here, autumn slips towards winter gently. The rains have started, but each day there are moments of brightness, and in them we rake leaves, look up at the sky and find rainbows, or walk to the cafe among the rose gardens for chai tea in the afternoon at work. Still, it's taken until this month to feel a gradual settling of routines, and a steadiness in orbit here.

In the cafe yesterday while writing, I overheard someone say, "Patience is the destination."

I couldn't help thinking that they've got it exactly right. Flannery O'Conner only ever finished three pages in the three hours she wrote each day, and Gertrude Stein even less, though both I think understood the secret is just showing up steadily for something. Stein said, "If you write a half hour a day, it makes a lot of writing year by year." The accumulated truth of persistence. The evidence of patience on the page.
All this to say I've begun writing again, stories this time, slowly. I write for three hours on Saturdays, and find that with this routine I've begun to be increasingly able to just sink in and write when I get to the cafe and order a coffee. In between times the story lives with me. The scenes find me vividly and sometimes I'll write notes, like today while running on the treadmill I could hardly wait to finish three miles so I could jot down what I'd worked out.
I've stopped expecting I'll finish anything with any kind of speed, and with that release of expectation I've found a new kind of focus for my work.
Still, it takes commitment. To showing up. I'll be working on this new material at the Tin House winter Writer's Workshop in January, staying in the Sylvia Plath Hotel on the Oregon coast for a long weekend, and for this opportunity thrilled. It's a way to remind myself of who I am. Of putting a stake in the terrain that is my life, as a writer, even as I am also other things.

Happy August! by Christina Rosalie

How is August? How? How do I have a nearly fourth grader who wakes up every morning and sits cross-legged on the couch, shirtless, tan, his hair a bed-head tousle, and reads. How is my baby an almost kindergartener, his body suddenly that of a little boy's, lean-muscled and strong. How is it possible that I live here in this glorious city, in this snug little bungalow. How are these streets that I've begun to love dearly the place I now call home?
Yes, summer is a time of incredulity for me. Almost every year it catches me by surprise. The wonder of summer. Its extroversion. The way the days blur into evenings. The way we disregard bedtimes, and loll about on Saturday mornings kissing. The golden afternoons that find us one after the next like a dream. The air-conditioned days indoors spent working on projects with some of the smartest, coolest people I know. The blue skies. The muddy knees of my boys at the end of the day. The late nights on the back porch with wine as the walnut leaves rustle. All of it happens in such a full-saturation blur, that each day I wake wide-eyed and feel more in love with my life than the day before. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

    I know I've been quiet here. Summer seems to make this so. We're so busy being out in the sun-drenched world that there's less time for retrospection and recording. I'm enjoying every minute of it, and also looking forward to the simple routines and rhythms of fall.
Heads up: I'll be doing a summer songbird studio sale at the end of August--featuring the newest set of hand-painted + collaged postcards I'm working on--in response to your demand from the last sale! Do sign up for my newsletter if you haven't, to get first dibs when the sale goes live. I'll be doing this one a little differently than the last one, so stay tuned.


Finally: Some of you still seem to subscribe to my blog via my old My Topography url, which I made the terrible mistake of forgetting to renew. It's now been taken over by spammers and some of you have emailed me that you're getting unexpected content in your feed readers. Please update your RSS feed to christinarosalie.com!


Happy August friends!

What I remember + what I know by Christina Rosalie

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I didn’t mean to stop, only, there it is. Life has a way of finding you, amidst your best intentions. I love what this small challenge inspired. A rash of brilliant posts by my friend Amanda; photos to take your breath away my other dear friend Hilary, who always needs to be nudged to document; and a handful of other daily glimpses from friends and readers I don’t know, but feel like I know just the same.
I intended to keep on, but then the weekend came. Weekends have a way of filling up to the gills lately, and after the weekend, a work trip to Texas, planned to be short, but made longer by a cancelled flight and extra night on the way home in Phoenix, Arizona. So there it is, back to back days without a single chance to gather the moments here. To upload the images, or record the observations as they happened, though there are many notes scrawled in my notebook or jotted in the notes app on my phone. A chronology of circumstance. A record of the small things, and the big. Sentences that happened only in fits and starts, but never here.
What I remember is the heat in Texas and the rain that turned the sky to black. The century plants and cactuses that reminded me of my earliest years in Los Angeles. The heat of a blue sky filling with thunderheads, while down below we ate ate eggplant fries, and truffle oil reveled eggs, and catfish tacos.
Then non-time of the airport, reading Inc. cover to cover, and Elle, and also Fast Company, and feeling the ways something shifts in my brain when I have long stretches just to read and think. Ideas have a way of magnetizing then, like finding like; fragments converging.
What I remember is coming back so tired in the morning that after a cup of hot tea and checking email I took a nap, wakening hours later and not knowing immediately where the edges of dream ended and reality began. There, in bed with the dog curled by my hip, I let myself float in a way I rarely get to: between sleep and dreaming where thoughts are buoyant and things have wings.
There, and also in every waking instant, I’ve been thinking now about my new book. There are two actually. The ideas bookend each other. The narratives make a dialog, an equation, an equilibrium. I'm curious if I can pull it off.
What I remember is the sweetness of my boy’s when they came home from camp. Their hailstorm of yells and shouts finding me there at the doorway at the end of the day. Their arms around my neck, their kisses on my sounders, cheeks. Their fingers in my hair, and even still with them under foot, a different kind of kiss. Stirring, sweeter, finding T’s heat mirroring my own.
Then the weekend, dawning with rain. Making a raspberry crumble to share at dinner with friends. The biggest rainbow we’ve seen. The boys shouts. The first firecrackers for the Fourth echoing down the street. Twilight. Then Sunday morning bacon and good coffee. Painting the guest bedroom a fresh white. Baked chicken and mashed potatoes on the new walnut outdoor table T made by hand. White wine in handblown glasses. Watching the walnut leaves blow in the wind.
What I remember is this: to show up and to try is all it takes. To show up with the intention always is the start. I begin. I keep going. I go until I find my way. That, in the end, is all I know.
Now there is a reckless, rag tag folder now of drafts in Scrivner. It’s raw and new, but no matter. The beginning is here.
This is how it happens, friends. A book, or anything else. Any body of work, any essay, or dream, or plan begins with showing up; with training the mind to bow at the simple task of arrival, noticing the world.   #the5x5xchallenge

The things that waken me by Christina Rosalie

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What I like about this place where I now live is that the lines are never familiar, and because they are never familiar, I'm always in a state of wonder, always stoping with my camera, recording glimpses, taking note.
Wherever I look there is texture. Stubbled grass. Lawns rife with clover. Murals. Graffiti. Billboards. Tattoos that flirt. Laughter that lifts off cement walls. The almost unbearable beauty of blossoms. A harsh geometry of windows. Ice cream spilled on the sidewalk, and the dog that licks it up. The lengthening shadows of the blue hour. The sky after dusk, indigo and saffron. The scent of lavender and roses. Cherries dimpling the sidewalks. The next door neighbor's lilting Spanish. The staccato of a basketball being dribbled. The grapes along the gate. The green walnuts dropping to the back deck. The people at the bus stop, yelling. The boys on skateboards. The guy with the fresh haircut. The lovers sitting, knees touching at the cafe.
All of it.
I can't explain quite, the effect it has on me to be living in a city as beautiful as this one, other than to say it wakens me. It whets my senses. It calls me to attention, each small moment going any place is an opportunity for close noticing.

Creative rhythm + some time at the coast by Christina Rosalie

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The past two weekends, though I've committed to the #5x5challenge, I've been off the grid. Though I've taken many photos, and shared some on Instagram, I've had no chances to slip away, get some internet connectivity and post.
There's something that feels right about letting there be a rhythm to these posts. I like the regularity, and the commitment during the week, and also the exhale on the weekends.
I've been thinking a great deal about rhythm lately, and how we've created a culture that doesn't allow us to exhale much. Since dealing with adrenal fatigue last fall and winter, I've forced myself to do that more: to step back, let go, forget whatever definitions I have of perfect.
I'm curious about how you experience rhythm in your creative lives, and in your work lives. When do you give yourself permission to leave gaps, let things go unfinished, fall to pieces, give way to entropy--and when do you persist?


Here are a few of my favorite glimpse from the weekend, getting some soul medicine on the beach with messy hair and sandy feet and the people I love.


Back to the #5x5challenge tomorrow. In the meantime here are a few of my favorites from #5x5challenge contributors this past week:

Food as art

Birthday Party

Expiration Dates

Coffee with cream

Late Afternoon

Seemingly Perfect

Small noticings by Christina Rosalie

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Today this practice is about really sinking into the moments as they come, with full sensory awareness. Riding my bike to work and arriving early to pour a cup of hot coffee and pull together disparate notes into cohesive sentences. Yes, my desk is strewn with paper.
Today it is about noticing small. It's about the sun on my neck at 11 a.m. slanting sideways through the window above my head, and about walking out for lunch at 2, just in time to smell the scent of rain on dry earth as it begins to fall; ozone torn from the sky. Petrichor. How I love that word.
Today it's about noticing the markings of this city: half worn away billboards, unexpected stencils, the tattooed arm bands on the guy that holds the door for me, the sweet tangle of wild roses along a walk and stopping to plunge my face in. Breathing, until the sweetness is inside my lungs.

Happening in between by Christina Rosalie

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In between the time we come in through the front door and I drop my bag and the little one's backpack on the couch, settle the heft of a grocery sack on the counter, and drink a glass of water, the tempo of story is sounding out a quiet staccato in my head.
In between the time I cut up the purple onion and sauté it with thyme, adding the other vegetables, sweet Italian sausage and hot pepper flakes; and the time I slip out the front door away from the sound of the vacuum and the banter of the boys (Sprout constructing Lego structures, Bean making origami ninja throwing stars) words begin to scatter like raindrops at the beginning of a storm. No plot line, no finished sentences, just the ideas arrowing down in quick succession.
In between the time I sit down on the front stoop, noticing the way the light filters through the big-leafed tree above me, and turning my lens to find its flirtation with shadow, the orchestra is tuning at the back of my mind. Discordant, but persistent. The timpani, the saxophone, the violins striking out, querying, querulous. Nothing makes sense yet but this much I know: a book is in the offing, as inevitable now as the predicted rain. Here it is, happening in between, even as the ordinary moments continue.
The challenge, of course, is to pin the ideas down. The challenge is finding the steadfastness to listen hard, and then to show up at the page.

The 5x5 Creative Challenge by Christina Rosalie

I've decided to do a simple creative challenge for June---to get back in the habit of noticing closely and taking note of what I see.
If you'd like to join, I'd love to see what you take note of daily! Share your name in the comments here, and then come back daily + share a link to what you've posted in the comments each and I'll be sure to stop by and take a peak.

The Rules:

1. 5 SNAPSHOTS WITH YOUR CAMERA. Point your lens. Pull out your iPhone. Notice the little things. The way the light slants. The way their faces look. Whatever moments stand out: The small ones, the important ones, the ones that are fleeting. Quick snaps are good. Careful focus is good too. Pick your favorite 5 + post daily.   2. ONE 5-MINUTE SNAPSHOT WITH WORDS. Take a break from whatever it is you're doing, sometime each day this month. Set a timer and take notice of the world around you. Then write. What do you see, hear, smell, feel, know? Who is around you, where are you? Create a 5-minute snapshot with words daily.

How about trying this for 25 days in a row? 5x5.

Try it rest of June. Ready, set, go!
{The official hashtag for Twitter + Instagram is: #the5x5challenge }

To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing by Christina Rosalie

“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.)

Sojourn: The temporary state of now by Christina Rosalie

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sojourn |ˈsōjərn|

noun a temporary stay.
Since December I've been doing yoga every week-day morning. Just a short, half hour vinyasa routine that ends with a few minutes of meditation. Every morning I show up, bend and bow, and discover my hamstrings are still as tight as the day before. Every morning show up, find my breath and focus my attention--and then loose it; find it, then loose it again.
Some days it's less of a struggle, other days it's more so, depending on how willing I am to take this sojourn into the present; how patient I am to sit with non-doing. Sometimes I count slow inhalations; other times I really am just there, in my breath; but many times I'm impatient, bucking up against the uncertainty of the now.
Without a clock, just breathing, time does it's own thing: Slowing to a maddening pace so that five minutes are an eternity of interruptions and distractions. The dog comes wagging. The boys wake up. The winter light glints through the chinks in the shades and flirts with my closed lids. Then all the worries I carry come crowding up, knocking their carpet bags and banging their shoes in the muddy entrance way of my mind.
If there were a clock, a countdown, a promise of what's next I could be patient I think. I could let go, sink in, and sojourn into the temporary state of now. But with the wide expanse of temporariness stretched out before me wide without a way to mark it's passing, each day I am challenged just to sit. To breathe. To be empty, and then to fill.
This has made me consider all the ways that I struggle with being in between, in the middle, in a temporary state of non-action, which is where I've been in my life quite a bit lately as we make plans and circle round them slowly, uncertain about a future that has yet to arrive.
 


I love this list of prompts so much, I've decided to join Amanda in writing every day as often as possible this month.

And, and, and, and... by Christina Rosalie

Notebooks - Christina RosalieI'm ready to let go of and.


Between the first of the new year, and my birthday (on Sunday!) a ritual of mine is to go back through the previous year's notebooks--capturing story blueprints, noting recurring patterns, and discovering hints and whispers of dreams that bear new significance in the light of reflection—in preparation another year’s journey around the sun. My notebooks (nearly always Molskine) are where I record everything: notes from client meetings, sketches, dreams, lines of overheard dialogue, to-do lists, memories, ideas, glimmers. Whatever my mind stirs up, I capture it there on the page.
The work of looking back is an opportunity to connect the dots, tie off old threads, and begin anew. Disconnected notes from months apart suddenly tell a singular story; certain to-do list items are easily crossed off, while other’s linger providing insight into where my sticking points and resistances might lie; and recurring themes emerge though I rarely notice them in the moment, too caught up, as I often am, in the act of doing.
Without realizing it, I was probably dealing with adrenal fatigue for most of last year, yet I never allowed myself to listen. I’d tell myself—there on the page, I feel exhausted in a cellular kind of way. I just need sleep. I just need to be outdoors. Then I’d ignore it entirely and keep right on pushing.
What’s interesting is how and where that little word creeps in. And.
How again and again, in trying to sort out what I really wanted to be working towards, where I should focus, or how I should proceed, I’d begin begin with singular declarative truth: just write.
But then I’d keep listing. And this, and that, and that, and, and, and.
Like an archeologist sifting through the artifacts of my own soul, I looked for evidence elsewhere and found it. Lists weren’t the only places and showed up. And was insidious.
I used it chronically, to the point that I regularly lead sentences with and; knowing full well I was breaking the rules each time.
What I never realized how this habit also revealed a character trait. What I never understood that my overruling grammatical norms with irreverent and hygiene, was symbolic of how I would chronically overrule my limits.
And overextends.
And says: don’t just do one thing, do many things. And says: one thing isn’t good enough, be many things. It says: You don’t really have to make up your mind. It says: you can do it all—this and that. It says: add a little more to your plate, and a little more. It says: have your cake and eat it too. Be this and that, bread and butter, now and later.
I’m ready to let all that go.
I’m ready to let go of contingencies and extraneous details and distractions that easily pull me off course and blur my focus. I’m ready to have this year narrow to the simplicity declarative sentences.I’m ready to lean into the power of committing to singular goals, one at a time. I’m ready to edit, revise, refine. To be. To write. To strengthen my core.
I’m ready to let go of and.
How about you?

This post is part of the Let it Go Project: a collection of stories leading up to a beautiful releasing ritual, hosted by Sas Petherick on January 30th. Find all the details for this free event + join us here.

Learning things about self care by Christina Rosalie

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.

Introversion, extroversion, and creative cycles by Christina Rosalie

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Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset   My sister and I send texts back that look like a secret code. Four letter combinations that might reveal all the evidence we know is true. Outside my studio window the remaining golden leaves stir. The light is milk, the sky overcast. I don’t need the Myers Briggs to confirm I’m an introvert. This much I’ve always known.

Still the thing that’s been fascinating me lately, is the way that I can look back and see patterns of introversion and extroversion, in the same way you might look back over recorded periods of seismic activity, or weather patterns over decades, the heat maps charting summer highs and winter lows, hot vermillion and icy blue.   I’m not always an introverted introvert, but now more than ever I am. After a season of extroversion, all I want is to abide. To be quiet with my own thoughts, my laptop and notebook close at hand.   Inhale, exhale. Expand, contract.   It’s an curiously inverse equation in two parts: When I felt most extroverted and social last spring and summer, with always a friend to meet, or a gathering to attend, I was also most drained creatively. I was resistant to working on anything new, and felt heavy-handed and clumsy scribbling notes or sketches. I avoided reading. I let distractions claim me. I flitted. I wrote only at the surface of things, and let daily client work consume me as it may.   What I know is that I was exhausted at a cellular level still, after the intensely creative cycle that had just ended with publishing A Field Guide To Now, graduating with an MFA, and then moving into a year of working at a design studio here that was intense, if nothing else. During that productive time I was less social. I had coffee only with close friends, devoted my slim free time to family, and worked.   Naturally, when the studio began to downsize and I was let go, I was ready to also let go--and spent the next 2/3rds of the year exhaling. I extroverted. I made new friends and connected old ones to each other, and watched as the studio I’d left behind downsized and fragmented, proving that no one is exempt from these cycles--no brand or enterprise or individual.   At the apex of extroversion, I co-founded Superconductor, which, true to it’s name has been an opportunity to supercharge creative connections and facilitate other people’s potential: accelerating their brands and projects with a fertile mix of art and science, strategy and intuition that my partner and I bring to our approach. 

But with summer’s waning, our move, and all the ailments and near-misses we’ve had health-wise, I can feel the way things are almost literally inverting. A smaller house, a shorter commute, a closer range of focus. What was external is now being internalized. 

The wind bites cold in the morning. Daylight savings is this weekend. In a different time and place I would have said I was skirting around the edges of depression now, and maybe that is so. But I’ve also lived with myself long enough now to know: these are the tell-tale signs at the outset of a highly creative period. I have a book in my head. Above our house in the evenings crows flock in murders to the lake’s edge against a saffron sky.   I’m so curious: Has anyone else has felt these inverted equations of introversion paired with high creativity/productivity; and extroversion coupled with lower creativity/productivity? 

What are the tell-tale signs that let you know where you are at in your own creative cycle?

Stuff I've learned while starting out, carrying on, or attempting something great: by Christina Rosalie

               photo (59){Not Really A Paragraph 17/30} :: Repeat this mantra: There is enough. Enough resources. Enough people. Enough audience share. Enough.
:: Ask: how can I help?
:: Join forces. Take people to coffee. Listen.
:: Listen some more.
:: You'll make mistakes. Many of them. Admit them, apologize and then move on.
:: Move on for real. Don't let emotional stuff become an energy drain.
:: Know what it is you're actually offering, or doing. Why does it matter?
:: Know who cares about what you're offering. Who does it matter to?
:: Treat people like people, not like numbers or features that increase klout.
:: Spend some time considering what it's like to be inside your audience' head. What motivates them?
:: Reward loyalty and awesomeness in kind, with real things like handwritten notes, surprise discounts, chocolate.
:: Get over this fact right now: there will be competitors, haters, and jealous fools. Consider them a sign that you've arrived.
:: Be humble. Ask for help. Admit that you don't know.
:: Be generous. Share what you do know. Share your process. Share your best tips, tricks, insights and understanding. It will make you richer, not poorer.