Grad school

Making your mark by Christina Rosalie

I graduated! Epic. Grateful. Done.

The show afterwards at SEABA was really fun. It was so good to finally just be able to laugh, and celebrate, and drink wine, and eat cheese, and talk with some of my dear friends and favorite professors who made such an impact on my life over the past two years; and also to hear good stuff from people getting a glimpse at my work: 40 odd pages of research and interviews about the meaning and value of creativity and technology in this current era of personal brands.

I know many of you have asked what I was working on for my thesis... And I was always in the thick of it and could never muster more than a line or two. But now I have a spiffy little abstract to share, if you're still curious:

The disruptive force of technology has radically and rapidly altered our cultural and economic landscape, and the emerging era is characterized by individualism, virtual networks, and the rising phenomenon of the personal brand. This thesis examines the role of the Creative individual as a personal brand in this context, with a focus on the dynamic and causal relationship between technology and human creativity. It develops a framework for conceptualizing the personal brand platform of the Creative as an interface between technology and Self; and discusses some of the practical and ethical issues as well as the potential opportunities that have emerged as a result of personal branding in this context.

And a little bit more context for that:

As a writer, artist, and blogger, I have become increasingly interested in the ways that technology and creativity collide, inform, and influence each other in the emergent media landscape. This work is inspired by an appreciation for the voice of the medium, a sense of wonder, and a deep feeling of gratitude for all the opportunities, connections, and possibilities that have emerged in my life as a result of cultivating a presence online. The intent of this work is to start a new conversation around the value and purpose of personal branding in the emergent media context, and to offer both a theoretical framework for this reinterpretation, and a distillation of these ideas into a guide of sorts for the emergent media Creative to use as a jumping off point for pursuing the work of personal branding with intention.

...And, if you click on the image above, you can download the series of images and distilled observations that emerged from that work if you'd like. I'm definitely planning on taking it farther at some point. It's good stuff; heady and meaningful and timely.

And did I mention? I done. Wooohooo!

I'm making a sweet list of all the things I can't wait to do now that I have time. Like reading fiction. And watching movies. And listening to new music. Your recommendations for favorite novels, short story collections, movies and tunes will be taken with utter seriousness and glee. What should I make sure to include/devour?

The way it feels in the end by Christina Rosalie

I’ve fallen out of practice: noticing the little things, the blue pebbles amongst the brown ones, seeing the sunshine when it happens.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to run hard: every day, with some conviction and speed, or do pull-ups, five in a row. This year my biceps and belly have grown soft.

Since turning my thesis in and finishing the last class, I've been wavering a bit. My heart feels like a giant squid, startling at the smallest hitch, at the slightest trepidation, to fill my thoughts with an unexpected blur of ink.

I’ve lost the tempo of doing things with my hands: raking wet leaves, or turning bread out onto the butcher block to knead it; and when the people I love ask, how are you? I am never sure what to say. Like the turbulent spring weather, it changes.

I can’t get this song out of my head.

I’ve been in self-preservation mode so long, I don't remember how to ease up and just be curious. I've forgotten how to laugh at the small stuff. I've been so damn seriousness for so long, because I was simply too tired to let any other emotion in traipse its way around my mind like a soft-footed cat. But now that I've finished, that cat has snuck in through the window, ferrel and reckless, spilling everything.

I had a cat walk across a painting once, wet with new India ink. It made tracks everywhere, across the floor. And that's what it feels like now. My emotions are messy. Unreasonable. Hilarious. Devastated. Delighted.

This is what coming down feels like. The hard pull of gravity and the softness of bones. A sudden hard stop, like the wind just got knocked from my lungs.

Maybe none of this makes sense.

The truth is: I'm ecstatic: it feels amazing to be finished, and where I am in my life now is . Yet it also feels so final that it's a little devastating in the way I've heard it is for runners after training for a marathon: 26.6 miles down, and then they wake up on the morning after and have no reason to train, no place to run to, no purpose to push. That feels good until it doesn’t, until the softness of cumulative exhaustion catches up, and what to aim for next is smudged and out of focus.

So this where I am right now: at the end of something, without being consciously at the beginning of something else.

// What do you do in situations like this? How do you ease into rest, refocus, move forwards?

On Finishing, Persistance, & the reason for everything by Christina Rosalie

I had no idea what my capacity for self discipline was when I began. No idea that two years and a book later, I'd sink to the grass on the Friday after turning in my thesis and cry tears of gratitude that it was all over. But that is what I did.

I lay with my arms akimbo; the grass pressing up into my palms and the clouds moving above me, a symphony of cirrus, and hungrily felt the weight of my body being tugged by gravity close to the barely wakening surface of the earth. How I've been longing for that: to feel my body next to the earth. To feel like I am of it, not just tangential to it. To feel my pulse thrumming steady and slow, keeping time with the pulse of the nearly blooming crab-apples and service berry.

In the weeks when I was finishing, the world was turning to spring: first the coltsfoot like a hundred thousand scattered suns along the muddy edges of the road; then the wood trillium, green and pale with purple freckles, poking up among the pine needles in the shade at the back of the yard along the stone wall. I knew these things because they happen every year, familiar and certain. But this year, I only saw the coltsfoot from the car windows and the trillium in passing. This year, the robins came one day while I was researching. It was the weekend. I remember. The boys were outside playing in the sandbox, and their voices would come lilting up to me through the cracked-open window, the smell of spring coming wild and cold through the screen. I remember glancing up to notice the way the sun was slipping westward, and then heard it. Warbling, golden, liquid: the setting sun in song.

I grew used to watching the day pass from the windows.

And really, it was one of the hardest things to full-out sprint for so long. To try and to keep trying, even when I was exhausted. To work, to go to class, to come home and play with my kids, and have dinner, and do all the bedtime choreography and then sit down to begin several hours of work. To miss the entire blooming of a day: to not have felt rain falling on my cheeks, or hail on my tongue. To have spent week after week circling myself, in front of the computer, making something happen.

And still, though it’s not a pace I could have kept forever, the thing that I feel now, already, after a few days with a little more rest--is that we give up on ourselves too easily too often.

We get the message all around us that things should be easy, and when they aren’t—especially for any prolonged length of time, we tend to panic—it’s hard not too.

But there is something to persisting, to showing up, and showing up, and finishing; to discovering that you are capable of more. It’s the only way, really, to find that out: to do the hard stuff, the impossible stuff, the stuff that makes you want to weep and yell and sing hallelujah all at once.

And now look! The world is full of wind. The treetops are fat with new sweet leaves. The goldfinches have arrived and the sky is full of cumulus and turbulence and new tomorrow will dawn new and bright—and this, this is the reason, again and again for everything.

The slender threads of right now {9 days} by Christina Rosalie

I am trying to slip back into work mode tonight. I've found that it is helpful, after the boys go to sleep to let myself unwind a little, doing some small act of creativity.

I bring tea and chocolate and maybe a handful of raw almonds up to my studio with me and then I mull about a bit, until I find some small thing among the scraps. A raveling, a glimmer, a tenuous thread bit of paper. It might be the smallest act of wetting a brush, uncorking ink, or letting color spread in water to the edge of a line. It is this act of making something from nothing that tugs me right back into this moment, tucking the tiredness falling in front of my eyes back like stray locks.

And even if it is a very small thing, a single purposeful gesture, it is often enough.

What can you make, if you pause right now? If you look around you, what do you see?

Tell me the inventory of where your creativity begins.


Bits & pieces {10 Days} by Christina Rosalie

I woke up determined to complain less today. Even though Facebook bought Instagram, and I went to bed at almost 2am, and morning hit me hard. I decided to take note of the things I like: Unexpected constellations of snippets and chads; filing papers after they've been dealt with; cayenne and maple syrup in cappuccinos, blue birds, blue jeans, and telling Bean stories in the car about when I was seven.

I liked the the red tailed hawk on the tree at the edge of the highway; and the magnolias, pink and white and lush, even in the rain; and also the rain, falling on the roof of the studio at work.

I liked finding this piece by Susan Sontag, And then asking the people I work with to also tell me things that make them happy; and getting their replies, my inbox filling with coincidence and artichokes, palindrome and back scratches, that made me smile particularly.

And when I came home there was my dog with her lolling tongue and Yoda ears, and T had made chicken salad and crusty bread and fresh avocados, and there my boys with their tousled mops of too long hair, and now there is chai tea and chocolate, even though I'll be up again till 2am.

What do you like?

I can't wait to hear.


Almost: 11 days left by Christina Rosalie

Today it rained all day. I have 60 rough pages; double spaced. I have the vaguest ideas of what I want the visuals to be. I'm far from where I need to be. And yet, I am so close.

The amount that I have to finish terrifies me. It feels impossible, insurmountable, enormous.

My body is growing restless from sitting in a desk chair so many hours out of the day.

My mind like a bucking bronco, takes so much will power to harness to this task: finish. Simply that.

It's been such a long time without a break, I hardly remember what that feels like.

Still, I'm trying to slip in a few moments here and there of delight, and whimsy to get me through.


Tell me things:

What music are you listening to right now?

What blogs or magazines have you found that are simply too gorgeous not to share?

What is a meal you can't get enough of this spring?

WHat small thing do you do that brings you joy?

A parenthesis in time: by Christina Rosalie

All week I've been wanting to tell you About how I slipped away last Friday night with T and my beautiful friend Hilary. We went North on a road marked with farm houses and fields, the land as flat as a tucked sheet. We saw snow geese, hundreds of them, and remarked about the solitary trees that stand like sentinels in the middle of wide fields; their branches some small haven for wild birds and wild winds.

We crossed the river at the blue hour Across the wide metal bridge into a city Where the syllables are soft, and the consonants luxurious.

And found our way to our hotel, among cobble-stoned streets Where the cathedral towers were making love to the fat crescent moon.

We had dinner at Holder: mussels with cream and white wine, duck confit with arugula and garlic, white wine and red, chocolate ganache, and espresso.

And then found our way to the Corona theater, which is truly lovely and just the right size place to hear Gotye play, up close and intimate his music still new and experimental and sweet in the way that it wasn't utterly rehearsed. Kimbra played first. So much soul in that small slender body in a crumpled champaign dress; and then the drums of Gotye, making our hearts thrum.

It was good, so good to get away. To slip out of my mind for a night; to be with two people who I adore; the easiest of combinations.

The next morning we had breakfast at Olive & Gormando which quite possibly has the most lovely pastries in Montreal... And then we wandered around taking photographs.

I can't help myself: I must share them all. They make me happy. Even now, as I'm in the thick of one of the hardest weeks; with too little time. Far too little, to finish all the work that I must for my thesis to be done in two short weeks.

Here's to parenthesis! To moments stolen. And to trying to let the be enough.


Small rituals :: Holding steady by Christina Rosalie

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Toast with honey + almonds, and a cappuccino for the road.

Kissing my boys before we part ways for the day (all three of them.)

Stopping in a parking lot by the lake on the way to work to watch the gulls, just for five minutes, and to breathe.

Having lunch with good friends often.

Calling the people I love on my commute home from work.

Counting the days until I finish (22).

What are the things you do, in the eye of the storm, in the midst of momentum, when urgency dictates only the slightest room in your day to linger or pause?

Making your mark by Christina Rosalie

The days are numbered until I'm finished with graduate school, and in the woods the days are numbered too before everything bursts forth wildly with green.

I haven't shared much about my thesis-writing process here, mostly because my hours are too full, and the days not long enough.

My thesis is called: Making Your Mark: Art, Influence and Identity in an Era of Personal Brands. It's a subject near and dear to my heart as a writer and artist. I'm curious about the tenuous line between commerce and creativity; and about how the work that we do, and the work that we make is shaped by the digital landscape we inhabit.

It's an adventure, a labor of love, and a heap of scholarly research. I've had the pleasure of speaking with (or am slated to speak with) several brilliant folks from around the web for this projectt: Kal Bartestki, Dan Blank, Chris Gullibeau, Bernadette Jiwa, Mark Schaefer, Samantha Reynolds, and Susannah Conway. It has been an amazing process to gather and synthesize my research and their collective wisdom.

I am thinking about creating something alongside the scholarly paper I must turn in at the end of April. Something that I can share with you here; a distillation of all the depth and insight in the form of a PDF download perhaps. Would you be interested?

Slowly, softly, the new year arrived here: by Christina Rosalie

I’ve been wanting so very much to show up here and tell you things, but with the new year came a fever—the kind I remember having as a little girl, and all I was able to do was curl under thick down covers and sleep.

It’s not something I make time for readily: resting deeply, and I think my body knows this. I think it staged a mutiny just as soon as my very last project for the semester was finished and I crashed hard: first a chest cold, then a brief respite right over Christmas at to ring in the new year, followed by a fever that when it broke, left me feeling like a knobby kneed colt, my limbs somehow new and unfamiliar as I woke from a day of sleeping. I felt unbearably grateful to find my hands again, my arms, my kneecaps, scapula, ribs. What a glorious blessing to arrive with these fragile lungs still intact to suck in the cold air; with eyes to watch the birds lift and dive from branch to feeder; with fingers to type these words!

And so I woke, sipped tea, and wrote in my notebook 12 things to manifest in 2012 and a word to true towards, my own inner north.


I’d been thinking of EASE, and VITALITY, and AFFLUENCE, and about the way those words called to mind a certain blooming of soul and career and creative work that I want to dream real this year, and then flourish found me, somewhere between dreaming and awake, while the puppy was on the bed, and the boys too, and it felt so right and true that I laughed.

Flourish (v.) 1. to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way; thrive 2. to develop rapidly and successfully; to achieve success; prosper 3. to be in a state of activity or production 4. to reach a height of development or influence.

For 2010 I chose action; for 2011, fruition, and each word speaks more truth about its year than I could have ever imagined.

Big things came to fruition in 2011. I wrote my first book, completed my fourth semester of graduate school, got a dog, made incredible + soulful creative connections, watched my six year old become a first grader and my two year old become a talking, singing, dancing boy.

And now to flourish in this new life I’ve dreamed possible: doing work that I love as a writer, an artist, and as a social media strategist.

I haven’t shared as much here as I intended about my journey through graduate school, or about my growing love for social media strategy, and the way this field combines storytelling and conversation. It’s been so intense and full velocity and transformative in ways I’m only now able to put my finger on. It has reshaped my view, reframed my capacities, and honed my passions. It’s been pretty cool, really, and I’d like to share more here about that process this winter and spring as I finish up my thesis, and about the process of being a mother while also doing these things.

This is something I’m becoming increasingly aware of, how this truth, more than any other thing, is my trumpeters call, my purpose, my passion. To tell you this: you can do what you want.

Choosing is a myth. Being only one thing or only another isn’t a requirement. And manifesting what you long for has everything to do with finding your true velocity: your right tempo at the borderline between self and world; between mamahood and career; between soul and body.

I don’t always get the tempo right; and there are many days when I’m reminded once again that I’ll always be a novice at my life: new to the curveballs, the passions, the possibilities that come my way. But I’m joyfully committed to the process nonetheless. And that, my friends, is my way of way of telling you: I have big plans for 2012. New offerings, new directions and new adventures. And I can't wait to share them!

xo, Christina Rosalie

Starting the day: by Christina Rosalie

My dreams are the kind that make no sense upon telling: dancing porcupines, crazy riots, precocious children, and a pervasive feeling that I was never entirely in control. It’s a little how I feel when I wake too, the wind blowing until it rocks the bird feeders off kilter, the air so warm it could be a Chinook save for the fact that it’s now, a week before Christmas. Where is the snow?

I slept in (7a.m.) and missed breakfast with the kids and T, and now the house is in that helter-skelter tummult of everyone rushing to get out the door. I move through the motions of making Bean's lunch like a heavy-handed robot. My fingers are made of clay. Sprout refuses to put on pants. I put cream cheese and jelly on an English muffin. Bean keeps walking from one end of the house to the other trying to locate his hat and gloves and jacket, each separately although he’s left them all in nearly the same place. The floor is mud stained.

In the small ravine where a winter stream runs beyond the meadow where our kitchen garden gets planted, the wind sounds like a freight train. Chickadees fly sideways; smoke comes back down the chimney. Where did all this wind come from anyway?

I have today to finish preparing presentation, to tie up the loose ends on several other signficant projects all due tomorrow. I’m making coffee. Pulling on rain boots for a walk with Clover. Ducking my head into the wind.

Ready, set, go!

The best & Worst: Notes from the weekend by Christina Rosalie

Christina Rosalie

Hello friends! How was your weekend? Mine was, like weekends often are around here lately, a mish-mash.

The high notes:

Rambling in the woods + fields with Clover.

Watching her run off leash through the high grass in our meadow.

Putting up colored lights around the big pine tree + house. (I am completely crushing on the big fat colored ones this year.)

Finally, finally building a fenced enclosure for the chickens: no more poop on our front steps!

Holding hands with T on a walk.

Being reminded by a beautiful friend that I need to share my silly side with the world more.

Singing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs in the car everywhere we went.


The way that new possibilities keep flooding into my life right now.

Running every day again.

And the low notes:

Staying up until 2:30 last night to finish (and then not finishing) an assignment for a class I don’t dig at all.

Clover rolling in poop and getting it all over her ear.

Not having enough hours to hit all the deadlines.

The way that I catch myself hunching all the time. Stupid sitting at a desk posture.

Feeling my breath catch in my ribs when I think of my to-do list for the next two weeks until my semester ends.


How about you?

And so I am learning to moon walk by Christina Rosalie

The sky is grey and yellow and thunder moves about like a restless god above us. Rain falls then stops, and the gutters drip. In the yellow dark after the storm the birds sing twilight songs. The trees become silhouettes. The sky turns to taupe, then lavender, then black. Curled inside with my feet tucked under me like a cat, I can feel the way my breath catches in my ribs. The way I have to consciously remember to breath out. The way this week I’m always close to tears.

This summer I feel like I’ve landed on the moon: my third semester in graduate school, full time, in an immersive program that is, by it’s very definition a moving target: emergent media.

And so I am learning to moon walk, which is a lot like learning to fly except for the inevitable part when gravity always catches up in the end.

It’s work that requires leaping again and again toward the very center of what I love: telling stories with words, with images, with media that moves through time, with interaction. And inevitably: coming down hard again and again, as I fall short, underestimating what I think that I can do, imagining a project too big and wide for the scope of my limitations. Most of the time my limitations are about time. Ironic, isn’t it? Because of course, I’ve dared to write about this thing called the present tense. Of course I’ve leaped into the very thick of this glorious mess. Wanting all of it, hungrily, the way the humming birds come again and again for simple syrup we fill the feeders with. I keep coming back, even when every the nanoparticles of every minute are filled to the brim.

Some days being a mama and a partner while doing school and writing a book in a genre that blurs (personal essay + mixed media illustrations) makes my breath catch in my ribs like I’ve swallowed the pit of some magical tree that will burst forth from my ribs in full bloom.

Other days it feels more like standing in front of a fire hose. To move at the speed of emergent media means to be endlessly and simultaneously processing, considering, noticing, reading, questioning, answering, creating, making asking, and doing, all day, every day. But to write a book, means to dwell, linger, revise, consider.

It’s a brutal, brilliant, overwhelming combination. And time dissolves like sugar.

Maybe it's no wonder I've been feeling exceptionally thin skinned lately: as though the barrier between me and the world is as slight now as the screen that separates me from the night that arrives softly, filled with the trilling of tree frogs and bull frogs and the sounds of moths fluttering with their incessant, fragile wings.


I’m so grateful for your comments in my last post. You have no idea how much courage and joy they gave me.

elsewhere + back by Christina Rosalie

Hi friends. Missing this space, but feeling too overwhelmed to be able to share more than a few images from my week with a conference in the middle of it in NYC and two huge deadlines met.

I am exhaling into the memory of a different skyline: everything manmade, geometric, gorgeous, crowded, teaming with people and their endless urgent need to produce and create.

And I am breathing into the moments today of kissing my boys and making Mexican tortilla soup and eating apple chips and holding hands, and trying to be patient with my need for rest and with all the things that are uncertain and that must be accomplished.

Also: I'm feeling a little shaky of late in my niche here. I'm so different now than when I began blogging six years ago as a new mamam. I'm wondering how to make this space change to fit the work and life I'm growing towards, and I'm wondering: Why do you visit? What do you like about this little space? What do you want me to share more of, or differently?

In all honesty by Christina Rosalie

I feel like I'm in the spin cycle and I can't get my feet under me. It keeps raining every single weekend. It's freezing. I have a space heater on in my studio for effs sake.

This week both our washing machine and our vacuum broke. It's impossible to feel like you have your shit together when everything is strewn about: dirty socks everywhere. Sand under foot.

Two projects for school are eating me alive. One keeps taking my team back to the drawing board. That bites. Big time.

I'm also accumulating a sleep deficit that I can't make up. Even though I hit my pillow at 8p.m. on Thursday night and didn't wake up until Friday.

I miss my kids. We have a rockstar babysitter two days a week now, and the boys love her. But I want that time: those giggles, those tears, that laughter, those fistfuls of wildflowers. I miss my husband. He's been flat out for work two this week, and our relationship basically consists of a series of night time collisions and daytime texts.

But I also want every single thing I am doing. These projects. This love. This work. This book. I want all of it.

Now what?

Talk to me.

These are some moments: full velocity, full of mess, full of grace by Christina Rosalie

It's been a wild tumble of spring-turning-into-summer around here. I'm in the thick of a full, full summer semester. The deadline for my manuscript is looming in early fall. Everything is converging in a miraculous, glorious mess. There isn't enough time. I'm exploding with ideas. The Kickstarter rewards are still waiting for finishing touches that require more than a handful of free moments to complete.

Bean graduated from kindergarten last Friday afternoon with scratched knees, hair in his eyes, and big beautiful grins. Sprout is potty training and asking "why?" and exploring just how much dramatic effect a super cute pouty face can have on us. Our washing machine broke (I overloaded it.) I never manage to put all the laundry away: it sits on the back of the couch, or in laundry baskets and the boys have grown used to rummaging through them for fresh underwear or unmatched socks.

We're all doing the best we can: full velocity, full time. It's an epic, glorious, silly, catastrophic choreography every single day. Some days we barely make it out of the house. Yesterday a tractor trailer flipped on the our road just before where I needed to turn: it set me back by an hour; made me late to a meeting; and yet those long moments waiting in traffic with windows down were moments of gratitude and grace.

Morning comes early now: 4:30 a.m. and the birds are calling. A salt and pepper chicken has gotten broody. We're letting her sit on a nest full of eggs. Beside the coop another poplar fell last week. This spring has been all about thunderstorms and floods and windstorms that keep tearing things up. Our driveway is a mess of ruts. The garden is just barely dug. Dandelions are going to seed everywhere. Dishes wait in the sink.

Before night falls we walk out together to the chicken coop, T and I. Twilight hums with crickets, frogs, fireflies. The sky is already gathering stars. We wrap our arms around each other's waists: this is the first time, close, skin to skin all day. We kiss, we close the coop, we walk back, stumbling over the army of muddy boots, flip flops, sneakers tossed off at the tile by the front door. Later, as I sit at the kitchen table with the windows open, I hear our neighbor banging on a metal garbage can lid: bears, most likely. Last night, it was a luna moth that came, with enormous pale green wings, beating at the screens.

So this is life, now, this month. These are are my moments.

What are yours?

Not enough by Christina Rosalie

I love you.Good morning baby. Go find Daddy, Mommy has to take a shower. Here is your t-shirt. Are you ready to go? Where are your rain pants? Forget it, just get in the car. Good bye. I love you. I love you. I’m sorry I was in such a rush. I’m running late for a meeting. Do you see the river? Let’s run to your classroom. Goodbye sweetie. Have an awesome day. I love you.


Hi my little guy! I love you, I love you, I love you. I’m going to get your tummy! Pppppptttt. Hi sweetheart. How was you’re day? Go wash your hands for dinner. Only one cookie. Wipe your face. Yes I’ll play alligator. Go brush your teeth. Please put on your pajamas. Put on your pajamas right this minute. One, two… Yes, I’ll read you that book. It’s you’re last day of kindergarten tomorrow, remember? I love you little guy. Here is your bear. I love you too.

what it's like :: midweek by Christina Rosalie

The day slips by outside.

Dark to light, then light to dark: a filigree of shadows on the windowsill, a spattering of rain on the outside of the glass.

I spend the day mostly in doors, watching the world from windows, focused, determined, tired, anxious, triumphant, moody, and delighted at once. I look toward the near future of concurrent deadlines and feel the way my heart pummels my ribcage for more breathing room, more time spent doing little, but that’s not what this time is about. This time is about passion and pushing through: when the hours are fractions, the minutes precious, and the outcomes hopeful.

I leave in the morning carrying fried egg sandwiches; drink too much coffee; and spend the first half of every week mostly sitting, creating things in abstractions: in pixels, in code, in words.

I drive down the muddy road, navigating ruts so deep they suck the wheels in and cause the underbelly of the car to scrape. I drive past feels burgeoning with runoff, past new grass starting to be green, past the trees fluffy with buds, past the coltsfoot like a thousand small suns blooming at the side of the road.

Some days I drive in silence. It’s the most I can do to true to some kind of center: following one thought after the next, listening to my heartbeat, finding my breath.

Other days I’m too exhausted, and I need a different kind of force to make my inner compass stay the course. I put on bon iver, white hinterland, adele, and turn the volume up until I can feel it in my pulse.

I go, say yes, do, create, ask, answer, appease, promise, push, pull, question, stumble, fall down, get up, try again. And then again, all over, and again.

When I come home some days under a twilight sky, and I find the full throttle mess of the house. I can’t win with the laundry. I never could, but now I don’t even try. A clean pile is better than a dirty pile; forget about matching socks. I come home to the prospect of dinner: sometimes made by T, sometimes an abstraction I must dream up from the bare shelves of the fridge when neither of us have had the time to stop and replenish.

It’s an underfoot, all at once, messy, strenuous, silly, glorious time: dinner, with my three guys. Teaching the boys ones manners at the table is an endless, often hilarious uphill battle. They are primal: they want to eat with their hands. They want to make us laugh. Blowing bubbles into milk never gets old. Stuffing cookies into their mouths whole seems to be the only way to eat them. Then teeth brushing straight way; snuggles; books; pajamas; bed.

I sing to them in the dark, and it’s often then that I get a glimpse of the long view: how this time is so perfect and fleeting, how they’ll be teenagers in an instant, and I’ll be so much farther on my path. And I grin, looking forward to it, and grin being in it, even when there isn’t enough time to pause, or hesitate, or linger for but a moment. Then I turn the lights out, kiss their soft cheeks, and return to the brightly lit corner of my studio where projects are waiting to unfold.

Feeling the beat by Christina Rosalie

Today I got to interview two more amazing artists for my interactive documentary project and it was just about the coolest thing ever to watch Mikey Welsh paint, and see the easy smile spread across Steve Budington’s face as he read this Leo Steinburg quote aloud:

"A work of art does not come like a penny postcard with its value stamped upon it; for all its objectives, it comes primarily as a challenge to the life of the imagination, and ‘correct’ ways of thinking or feeling about it simply do not exist. The grooves in which thought and feelings will eventually run have to be excavated before anything but bewilderment and resentment is felt at all."
Pretty damn awesome. When I drove away from Welsh’s studio, my head was bursting with ideas and I had the music blaring.

I’ve been doing that lately: cranking up the volume and letting the music take over. It’s something I never, ever in a million years would have done even two years ago. I never really had a thing for music: never let it in; never let it move me.

I’m not sure why, except I grew up in an ultra quiet house with only classical and the unquestioned opinion that all other music was somehow not as....what?

It is so crazy to unpack my outmoded perceptions. Being in grad school is doing that: putting me in the boxing ring with my perceptions and letting the old me and the new me duke it out. It gets messy sometimes.

But the music thing has just been awesome.

It's also something I’ve found as an thread that connects many of the artist’s stories. Music is the lingua franca of the creative mind in motion, maybe. I’m getting that now; I’m feeling it wholly. I'm letting myself slip into good tunes in a way that I never entirely have, loosing myself for a few seconds, singing at the top of my lungs and grinning with the windows rolled down and the cold spring air rushing in; or running hard to a good song on the treadmill.

I'm curious what your experience with music is. And I also want to know: what music are you loving right now? I want to branch out and explore. I need some good tunes to get me through the end of the semester!

Utter failings and exquisite truths by Christina Rosalie

It hit me today while I was running that I don’t tell stories here nearly as much as I used to and I miss it, and I can see that you must miss it because the comments dwindle when I post sporadically and tersely with just a few scraps of observation from my day. And the truth is, your comments mean the world to me: not their quantity so much as their depth. I love what you have to say. I love how you see your worlds, and how you see mine. And the truth is, my readers here have saved my life many times over, and I mean that with no hyperbole at all.
When I started this blog six years ago it was my only creative outlet: I’d just move to a new town with my husband and six month old Bean, and I had no friends living within five hundred miles of me, not to mention no friends anywhere with children. This blog was my lifeline. I laugh now when I tell people, but I truly got at least 90% of all my parenting advice for raising Bean from the people who shared their lives through their blogs, and who shared my life by commenting here.
And gradually, I found my voice here, through telling stories about my kids, my muddy dirt roads, my heart full of wanderlust, my hunger for doing more and seeing more and being more; because you were listening.
I dreamed the idea for my book here; I shared the news of Sprout’s arrival here; I spilled the messiness and heartache of tenuous times here and man, I am so, so grateful for the inspiration, insight, and pure awesome that you bring to my life.
All this to say: I want to share more here, not less. I want to keep having this space be a place that I go to find my center: to find my words and hear your words. And it’s sort of slipped off the map a little in the past months because holy hell, grad school is no small thing.

I’m in the midst of cool project for school this week; an interactive documentary, to be exact. (Though if you ask me what an interactive documentary is, I’ll have to say wait and see—because I haven’t found a single example of what it is I’m trying to do. It requires action script code, and video editing, and interviewing, and graphic design and interaction design and animation. See?)
At it’s core is a series of video interviews with local artists who are all utterly brilliant, and intimidating, and awesome. They’re the kind of people I want as mentors. The kind of artists who have made it big time in their fields. The kind of artists who make me proud and terrified to call myself an artist.
I can’t wait to share it, but it I’ve still got a couple of weeks of work; and a lot of learning to do.
Right now it’s pushing me beyond every single boundary I have.
I’m interviewing people I never met; I’m designing a browser interface that accounts for emergent interactions; I’m learning to make lines do what I want them to do in Illustrator. This all but petrifies me.
But mostly the interviewing people I haven’t met part.
I’m good once I get to know someone, but those first awkward moments are a heat flash away from pure agony. Add to that the fact that I’m shooting video (a thing I am learning to do on the fly, as I go) and oh lord. Deep breaths.
Today I interviewed Maura Campbell who is fierce and fiery and passionate about her craft. My batteries died in my HD Flip just before the end; and then further embarrassment ensued because I couldn’t figure out how to open the damn thing. (Thank god for smart phones. I had the how-to googled in under a minute.)
Really. This happened.
And even though I was mortified, I was thrilled, because here’s the thing: I knew, even in the moment, that the battery malfunction I was having was just another way of falling down.
And learning to fall is necessary in learning to fly, or leap, or risk anything. Because it’s the people fall and recover that become rockstars and superheroes. It’s the ones who fall and get up time and again that discover how to make their dreams fly.
And if there’s one thing that has really gelled for me this winter it’s been this:
Falling is ok. Failing is part of the process. Doing both with frightening frequency means I’m pushing beyond my comfort zones, and that I’m learning. Big time.
Also that bravery doesn’t come from waiting for the perfect opportunity or knowing everything in advance, or getting it right the first time. Bravery comes from googling how the hell to open your video camera and replace batteries in the middle of an interview, and then recovering composure.

And at the end of the interview when we were standing in her paper strewn office, and she was telling me about how writing is requires being utterly selfish with one’s time, I asked her the question I always want to ask every creative person that I come into contact with: How do you balance this with the rest of your life? How do you do this and children?
And in not so few words her answer was this: you do the only thing that you can. When her kids were small, she wrote, fervently, in the center of the living room as her kids, four of them, twirled around her. When they were bigger, she retreated to her bedroom, leaving them with the warning: interrupt only with blood, or fire.
And that’s what makes her brilliant.
It has nothing to do with balance, with being a ‘perfect’ mother, or with having the right time and the right place to begin. It has to do simply with persisting. . With daring to dive every day towards what you love to do most. Always.
And it was such an awesome interview because I got to be reminded of that.