To seek balance, and find ourselves instead in motion by Christina Rosalie

closeLikeThis_back We're running. He's ahead of my by a half a stride, and I can feel the way this makes me run harder, then harder still, trying to catch up, to syncopate, to be in step. Finally I ask him, "Where do you see me now? Next to you or behind?"
"Next to me," he says, zero hesitation.
I sprint a step ahead so we're in line, his feet moving in time with mine now, our knees and feet matching in gate. "How about now?" I ask.
I put my arm out like the wing of an airplane, perpendicular to my side, it brushes lightly against his chest. We're exactly in line. "I'm beside you now," I say, "But I wasn't before."
"No way!" he's incredulous. A dozen small finches lift up from alongside the road where the yellow coltsfoot is finally blooming like hundreds of small suns.
We've been running together for years, side by side, more or less in synch, our strides matching save for this irregularity of peripheral vision. Him, just a little bit ahead. Because of the way I'm strung together like a lanky marionett, my legs are nearly as long as his (though his torso is a good 6 inches longer than mine.) I'm made of legs, then ribcage, not much in between. And because of this we've always run together more or less side by side, even at a sprint.
Still, this is the first time I've bothered to ask if that half a stride distance ahead of is something he's been doing on purpose.
Most of the time it doesn't bother me. I like the challenge. I like to run hard, feel my lungs burn and my quads heat with the sure fire of muscle motion. But there are some days, like this one, when all I want is for the effortlessness of togetherness. Neither behind nor ahead, neither pushing, nor being pushed.
He laughs now, his voice ringing out into the cold spring air. The sky is overcast but bright. The pebbles on the road gleam white and copper and ocher in between the soft places where our soles sink in the mud. The fields are greening. The shadows growing long in the gloaming.
For the rest of the run we try it. Side by side. It's such a subtle shift, if I weren't paying attention I might not have noticed it at all. They way my body stops pushing. The way things feel suddenly at ease, in balance.
It's so easy, to let habit become fact. To let inertia shape the channel through which your energy flows. To settle into the way things have always been, even if it no longer feels in balance.
It's easy for this to happen especially when you've been at something for a long time (13 years for us). When the days stack up full of things that need doing and work comes home for the weekend; when dishes wait on the kitchen counter and alone-time and time together are both in short supply.
Harder to bring attention to breath and pulse and heart. To take notice of the way things make you feel; to dial in and really listen. And then to ask, to reach, to wonder, aloud and together until there is a stirring of energy. Activation. Attention. Motivation.

What if instead of seeking balance, we found ourselves anew in motion over and over again?

Make today your work of art. by Christina Rosalie

This phrase slipped into my head today while I was running at lunch time. It was cold, and the sky was as gray as it ever gets and the waves on the lake were choppy and sharp, and still it felt AMAZING to be out running, feeling my body do this thing that it knows how to do.

And this is the truth:

It doesn't matter how much time or how little you have.

It doesn't matter if everyone is counting on you, or no one is counting on you.

It doesn't matter if whatever you're doing is something you've done a hundred times, or have never done before.

What matters, simply, is doing whatever you are doing with everything you've got.

So many things by Christina Rosalie

I've decided that to just roll with the fact that this post is going to be disjointed and full of juicy tidbits and no real rhyme or reason because it is the only way to get everything down on the digital page, so that I can start fresh again before my brain explodes. Because so many things. Are happening. Right now. Oh my.

I keep thinking/hoping/wishing that I'll wake up one morning with more time, but instead, I woke up one morningcame back from my trip to California to find that T had taken out a wall in our living room. Yeah. So. That goal of painting a corner of our house aquamarine that I made for my 35/35 list? Check. Flexibility as a personality trait? Check.

I'll totally post pictures just as soon as there is some semblance of semblance. My entire house has a new wide-open floor plan. Removing the wall caused all sorts of re-painting to take place. The dining room is a different color. So is the living room. The kitchen remains, for now, the same. That it will persist that way is doubtful.

I love my new job. It excites me. It uses all the parts of my brain: strategic, creative, emotional, practical. It challenges me in all the right ways. And the days pass in a blink. I watch the light move across the sky from my office window; head out for a run at lunch, and then drive home, eat dinner, put the kids to bed, and hit my thesis. Or at least, intend to.

And oh, hey! I have two birthday boys next week. When did that happen?

Exhibit A & B:

They are pretty much the coolest. They're funny and full-tilt and totally, completely different. I intend to write each of them a love letter, or at the very least, share snippets of their Birthday Interviews that I always conduct. Of note: Bean is almost as good as me at snowboarding now. I can still beat him down the mountain, but I have a sneaky suspicion it's just because I'm heavier. The kid was born to ride. He has a sort of effortless grace that I can't help but be a little bit jealous of.

This past weekend we also put Sprout on a board for the first time, and wouldn't you know, he didn't fall at all. He had crazy balance. Rode perpendicular to the slope, laughing his head off. The only problem: He had no clue how to stop.

"When you tell him how to stop Mommy," Bean told me while riding the lift, "He doesn't believe you because it just looks like magic."

"Is that how you felt when you started?" I asked him.

"Yeah, but then my body learned the magic."


Somehow, the days fly by. I do as much as the hours allow, and am learning to let the rest go. I've started running again and it is definitely a key sanity and wellbeing. Today I hit my 3mi/25minute goal. Another thing on my 35/35 list. I think I may need to revise that one.

Did you see how I tossed that link to twitter in there? Yeah, I'm on twitter a lot, and it's one of my very favorite places to share, and find insight and be inspired. It's also a place where I've been sharing little in the moment updates, at the speed of life as it's happening right now. Won't you join me?

Work-Life balance: Daily routines and the quality of light by Christina Rosalie

I leave and arrive now in the in-between light; the light first spreading from the un-tucked hems of the morning, or the light leftover at the end of the day that spreads like a stain across the tablecloth of evening. On the way in, I drive with Bean. For the first part of the drive we’re mostly quiet as I sip a flat white in a ceramic cup and eat fried eggs wrapped in a soft flour tortilla, and he watches me from the back seat, patient, knowing better than to demand too much interaction before caffeine and quiet have set the internal tuning fork of my mind to thrumming with alertness.

Then we talk.

He asks me to tell him about summer when I was small, and when he asks, I smile, my mind slipping to the far off drawers of memory I keep inside my head.

I tell him about going to Bryce canyon and riding horseback with an old guide named Pinky up and down the steep canyon cliffs. I tell him about packing just enough clothes to fit in a sigle drawer in the camper; about the sketch book I always kept; and about about the way my older sister would yell at me every night when it was time to set up the tend and I’d just stand there holding the stakes, staring off at a neighbor’s campsite or into the sagebrush, stalking stories with my eyes.

I tell him about the jackrabbits with their enormous ears and big hind feet, and about the full moon above the canyon and the silvery pink rocks; and then I picture what it will be like in another summer from now when Sprout is a little older and we can travel together, all four of us, across this wide, wide country through the dessert to end up at the wild Pacific where we’ll collect sand dollars and blow on bull kelp bugles.

And abruptly we’re there, in the snow covered parking lot of his little school, and I pull up in the drop-off circle and he unbuckles his seatbelt and leans forward to kiss me and then grabs his backpack and goes in.

It seems improbable, all of this.

That I am leaving and arriving in the nearly light of early morning and the twilight of a spent day; that I have a job like this, full on, full time, full of possibility; that I am the mother to an almost seven year old who does the things I remember doing. Kisses me on the cheek, grabs his backpack, goes to school.

I remember that same routine with the indelible clarity of long term memory. The feeling of my backpack, the way my sneakers looked against the walkway cement leading up to my classroom door. I had a favorite cobalt blue sweater and my bottom teeth were missing, just like his—though his are growing in crooked like T’s were.

Bean's little boy smile is almost unrecognizable to me some days. He's a certifiable kid, now. Half way to fourteen already.

And so I kiss him quickly and then he slams the car door and goes into his blue school building where he spends the day discovering the world, while I drive off into the city and park, and then climb three flights of stairs and settle into my little brick and windowed office where I watch the light shift across the walls above my head.

I drink more coffee in a white mug, and at lunch I go running outdoors along the bike path that I used to run on every day when I first moved to this city and started running years ago. It feels strangely familiar: each turn and slope somehow written into the kinetic memory that the soles of my feet recall.

Snow cakes under my shoes, and I have to kick them hard against the ground every so often to loosen it, and above the lake the light is almost entirely flat gray, save for a place where the clouds are ripped and a rosy apricot spills through.

When I return, I am red faced, sweating, and focused and the rest of the day slips by in an ellipsis of concentration; the dark gathering unexpectedly, without my watching. When I return home, the house is full of lamplight and yelling. The boys are hungry. Dinner is on the table. The dog is whirling under foot.

This is the new tempo of things. The new state of leaving and arriving; the way the quality of light reveals much about this new process of becoming.

// How does daylight mark your daily routines? What do you spend your day doing?

Trail running by Christina Rosalie

The first time I ran to be alone with my fierce pummeling thoughts, the anxiety in my chest, the tears slick on my cheeks. The first time I ran with my hair down, floating behind me like a mane, up the grassy shaded path, up, up the hill, up higher until the blue of the mountains in the distance were swallowed by the leafy canopy of forest. I ran until my mind narrowed to only this: to my feet hitting the soft mud of the trail, crushing wild daisies and fragrant grasses; to the sound of the stream rushing downhill beside me as I ran up; to the almost instant giddy feeling of freedom that bloomed in my ribcage as I ran hard until I could hear my heart in my ears, surrounded by maples and underbrush and the liquid warble of wood thrushes.

The second time we ran together, sweat slicked, quiet, quick footed. I ran ahead, dodging low-hanging branches and he ran after, following where my feet landed among rocks, missing puddles, leaping mossy covered logs. The second time I ran ahead, but not too far ahead, and often I’d turn to look and grin seeing him there just over my shoulder; and I’d grin also to myself, feeling my own ease and strength and I ran fast up the hills, muscles bunching and releasing through the underbrush, darting with agility between tree trunks and over fallen branches ahead of him. And this is something that we have always been: athletes together and it’s a thing that has often saved us, brought us back together, gathered us into the same moment.


I want to do more trail running this summer. It’s a rush to pound up the single track traversed last by deer or the wild singing coyotes I just heard out my back door, and to leap in quick zig-zags on the descent. It brings my mind right to the moment, focuses me only in my breath and feet and muscles, leaves me empty of the impatience that has painted my recent days with tension as things unfold the way they should, though often beyond my control.

And maybe that’s what this is all about for me: being in control in a way that is finite and defined. Also, it’s just straight-up awesome. It's nothing like running on the gently hilly dirt road where our three mile run has become something so regular my mind dances off, seeking distraction from the repetition. If you can, if there is any way at all, grab your running shoes this week and go off road. Even for a short distance. Even for only ten minutes, or five. Run where the trail is uneven and unpredictable. Run where the woods smell sweet with leaves and summer. Run where the heat is lessened by shade; or among grasses waist high where you cannot see your feet. Run, and then tell me how it was. (I dare you.)

Weekly Crushes by Christina Rosalie

IMG_2025It seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago that I was clipping Bean into his ski boot bindings for the first time and sending him down the driveway. Now the first leaves are already golden and orange. Where has the summer gone?

The crickets know that snow is on its way. In the garden, fat pumpkins with girths rounder than Bean's hugs. My Bean, who has started a mixed-aged (Waldorf) kindergarten program, and comes home singing. My Bean who tells us about the enormous imaginary kangaroo that lives upstairs. My Bean, suddenly a big-little kid. Four and a half. Mischief around every turn. He is my favorite forever.

And then my baby boy, my little Sprout, coming up on 7 months old, impossibly. He is a chunk. Pure love. Grins always. He's been surfing the floor the past week or so, trying to crawl. In between attempts he's pleased as peas to sit in the center of a circle of pots and spoons, banging things and grinning. He's always cracking himself up. There are so many times throughout the day where I'll look over at him and feel my heart catch and then expand. He'll be smiling at me, watching me from across the room as I do things in the kitchen or fold laundry or type. He is my little Buddha. My reminder to be right here, now, in this precious, precious moment. He is my favorite always.

Also, some weekly blog crushes to share:

2 or 3 Things, Bliss, Le Love (can't help going here and smiling), listing quirks over at Cupcakes & Cashmere...(a quirk DH pointed out tonight while we rocked it in the basement gym---3 miles in 24:15 minutes---is that I love to watch bull riding. Really.)

Also, these houses (still brooding over treehouse plans, as you can tell.) This gorgeous little party. This amazing installation. It's how my heart feels, sometimes, lately. Overflowing, made of feathers, of air, of fragile things.

What are some of your crushes right now? Share please. Also~ what are you looking forward to this week?

In the spaces between by Christina Rosalie

The roads have turned to mud now: layers of ice-hard earth thawing to slush, sticky and trampled. The yellow evening light is speckled with the flutterng wings of bugs, newly hatched, air eddying around their tiny exoskeletons.

We go for a run, just the two of us, conversation filling in the spaces between hard breathing uphill. A chainsaw whines and the scent of fresh cut wood makes my nostrils flare. Our feet sink a little with each step; muscles suddenly thrumming with heat and momentum. The air is soft, and while the snow still lingers at the edges of the fields, the brown grass lies exposed to the sun most places.

“Every step I take my feet sink,” DH says. The setting sun is at our backs. The sky is like the water I dip my brushes into: a bowl of pale ultramarine and pale saffron spilled at the horizon.

We’re holding hands. It’s the end of our run, and we’re walking back along the muddiest part of the road. In our heads both of us sing, every step you take…

Neither of us sings it aloud, but I know we’re both tuned in to this same static. “Did you just sing that song?” I ask, to be sure.

He nods, laughs. Even more than me, he’s the one doing this: filling in the spaces between thoughts with the flack of a thousand sitcoms, commercials, songs, clichés.

We do this all the time. Pop culture interference broadcasting stuff into the spaces between our thoughts. A word triggering the memory of another. Phrases tumbling unbidden into the twilight in spite of us. Turbulence in the spaces between. It’s a lovely day.

In my palm I feel the heat of him there next to me; so much between us unsaid.

What were like, before it was like this? Before thoughts were so commonly shared: before mass media and marketing, email, texting, technology instantaneously and exponentially making each thought at once more available and more clichés. In the spaces between, there was once an arc of silence. A breath beat without stimulus.

Now our minds hum constantly with unbidden music. Random access memory. Filler.

Without it, what would we be like?

The only difference by Christina Rosalie

Friday night my heart felt like a hundred rain splattered puddles: each one reflecting a different small circle of cloud covered sky; so many different things to do all in exactly the same few moments.

Friday I was a flood of hormonal mood swings before I start to bleed, and I felt anxious and sad and utterly overwhelmed. Also nearly sick again. Then Saturday came, and the sun was shining through tatters of clouds and I went for a run for the first time in a month, and dear god, why can’t I remember this?

I need to exercise.

Every day I need to feel my body move, outside, among trees and open spaces, side stepping puddles, feeling my lungs suck in cold air. I need to exercise not because I want to look a certain way, but because I need to feel a certain way. It’s the only variable I can think of that genuinely affects how I manage stress. It’s the only thing that really makes a difference: being outdoors, feeling my blood hot in my cheeks, feeling my muscles sore afterwards.

Exercise brings balance to my life, yet regularly in the winter I let it slip by. Day after day I come home, to the sun staining the west a meek orange, and the shadows already those of dusk. I feel selfish then, setting out on a run, having not spent time with my small boy.

Yet without exercise I start to become irrational. Guilt becomes an entire harbor in my heart, sheltering a whole fleet of inadequacies: I do not spend enough time with my son; I don’t cook enough or clean enough or see my husband enough; I am not a good enough teacher or writer or reader.

The only difference between days like this, and days where I feel like I’m on top of the world is that on the days where I’m kicking ass, I’ve also gotten outdoors and moved.

Seriously. It’s that easy. And that incredibly difficult. Does anyone else experience this?

synchopation by Christina Rosalie

I have the day off and I’m gleefully miring my way through an inconceivably long to-do list. I have yet to figure out how to accomplish my every day life and everything else that needs to get done.

The biggest thing I’ve accomplished: completely reorganizing and painting my studio. Last year sometime, in the middle of the winter, under a blanket of depression, I painted my studio a pale blue, which felt like a bad idea almost seconds after the last coat was applied. Without meaning to, I began to use my studio space less and less, until I would go for a week or two without ever entering it.

This affected me on a subconscious level. I felt creatively terrified. Performance anxiety corroded any attempt to splash color across the page or really sink back into a routine of writing. Without a space I felt comfortable in, I resorted to writing at the kitchen table, in the midst of the hubbub of daily life, and routinely sabotaged my own efforts even there, buy skimming through my favorite blogs, or trying to keep up with the voracious demands of my gig over at Parent Dish.

Somehow the entire month of September (and nearly all of October) was swallowed by the murky creature of un-ambition. All summer I was entrenched in the rich sensory beauty of the outdoors; of leisure; good food; good novels. Then fall arrived with the first nip in the air and the hillsides turning orange, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. My syncopation was jagged and blurry; like a scarecrow trying to dance. Somehow with the shift in seasons I stopped doing all the things that I love: running, writing, art, and instead became (maybe necessarily) submerged in the fabric of work.

Headlong there, in the classroom, participating in the daily alchemy of turning eighteen individuals into a working group of learners; time spent watching spiders eat grasshoppers in the terrarium; and writing stories about magical shrinking potions. Time spent tying shoes and counting shells and navigating small sorrows. Time spent feeling nearly exhausted every afternoon; always empty, hungry, anxious.

And then I came home a few days ago to an empty house (Bean and DH were out running errands) and despite feeling hungry and grumpy, I decided to pull on my running shoes and head out in the perfect autumn sunlight for a run.

On the way back, passing a long field that follows the road for a good stretch, a small pony saw me running, and cantered up to the fence and then ran with me. I stopped and petted her tousled mane, and then continued, delighting in the unexpected equine attention. And then I realize: I was no longer either hungry or grumpy. My mood and body had been off kilter because I’ve been so out of rhythm. My soul misses running, it seems. Just as it misses moving through steady sun salutes on my yoga mat on my sunny studio floor.

So in the past few days I feel like I’ve come back into orbit around the quiet fire of my inner self. I’ve started running again, and I want to do it nearly every day. My body needs to move, just as my mind needs the quiet emptiness of one foot falling in front of the other along the gravel road.

So I’ve cleaned my studio and tackled my to-do list, and finally feel like I’m at least leaning towards a place of balance. Not quite there yet, but at least facing the right direction now.

As I write, thousands (really!) of lady bugs have migrated to our house. They are landing on the windows, twirling through the hazy autumn air in their bumbling flight. Do they hibernate? What are they doing here? Some say lady bugs are good luck. I'm content to imagine that they are.

Feeling the earth spin by Christina Rosalie

I used to be able to lie down on the grass and relax into the very center of my solar plexus and feel the earth spin. Really. My whole body would tune to the thrumming velocity of the earth twirling on its axis very fast, gravity pressing my body into the ground. Then one day I couldn't do it any more. Now, I'll lie down like I did today after a run, and for a brief moment I'll feel myself almost slip to that place, but then I'll snap back into myself, like snapping back from almost falling asleep. Has this ever happened to you?

Running Mix by Christina Rosalie

Bette Davis Eyes-- Kim CarnesSuddenly I See---KT Tunstall Sexual--Amber Deeper And Deeper---Madonna Erotica Above The Clouds ---Amber Back In My Life--Alice DeeJay Around The World--ATC Don't Tell Me---Madonna What You Waiting For----Gwen Stefani Take On Me---a-Ha Better Off Alone ---Alice DeeJay My Heart Goes Bang---Dead Or Alive Danger Zone---Kenny Loggins Call Me---Blondie Missing---Everything But The Girl Eye of the Tiger ----Suvivor Move With Me---Neneh Cherry

Back to the gym this week, after a week off feeling sickish. It's still mud season here, and still cold, but my sister is luring me westward for a half marathon this summer... and some tiathlons closer to home are looking better and better, especially since the wicked spinning class I took last week that reminded me of how much I love to ride.

Enjoy the mix, and yes, I know, most of it is totally 80's throwback music. But listen to it while you're running a 5k. It works, trust me.

Finding the beat by Christina Rosalie

Last week I was like a satellite thrown out of orbit, twirling in crazy loops from all the scrambled sleep, and the on-edge waiting. I let myself slip haphazardly out of my routine of writing mornings, first thing while the house is still sighing in its sleep.

I’d hear the alarm, and peer at it through mostly closed lashes and then hit the snooze button with vigor, before turning to inhale the sweet sleeping scent of my boys, pressed at odd angles to each other. Light would slip softly through the wooden slats of the window shades, zebra-striping the sienna paint on our wall with gold, and mourning doves would gather below the feeder outside and coo like a clutch of kerchief clad old biddies waiting for a bakery to open.

I’d get up, staggering. If I was lucky they’d both stay asleep while I showered and made coffee, and I’d pocket those moments of silence like a thief. But I found myself missing the routine; the rhythm of bowing down first at the page, each new day.

Instead of writing, I carved some time out on the treadmill at the gym everyday last week (the weather too cold until today to be outdoors.) In doing so I began to remember this about myself: moving, running, doing, is anther way to bow down at the door of all that is good in my life.

Moving, one foot and then the other, in a steady rhythm, feeling my lungs and heart send bright red blood circling through capillaries makes me feel immediately at right with my life, with the twirling stars, with the sap running, with my all my hopes. Now, to do both: to run and to write. This is my goal this week.

** I’ll totally post the running mix! Just have to get back on DH’s computer—tomorrow, maybe?

In the meantime, tell me, what few things do you find you really need to do every day to feel whole (even if you don’t always get to do them.)

Running in the rain by Christina Rosalie

I went running for the first time today since our move six weeks ago. It felt a bit like remembering how to bike again after a long hiatus: the synchronized action of my limbs following the kinesthetic blueprint of forward motion. I never wrote about not running the marathon, but I didn’t, and it made me sad for weeks. Part of the reason I didn’t run was because we moved THE VERY NEXT DAY, and that was entirely poor and ridiculous timing (what WAS I thinking when I scheduled it?) But most of the reason was because I developed a stress fracture during the latter half of my training program and despite dutiful trips to the physical therapist and cool green orthotics for my shoes, my shin would hurt excruciatingly for days after a run and eventually I was forced to weigh my options. Run the marathon and be injured for the summer or, skip it, move to our new with a wholly functioning body, and enjoy the rest of the summer sports that I so dearly love.

So I didn’t run, and then suddenly I was immersed in the massive project of unpacking in an unfinished house, and somehow six weeks have whipped by in a blur. But I’ve missed running. A little like a craving, a listlessness in my tendons at night. So today when I leapt off the front stoop and took off down our winding gravel drive, I was grinning.

It felt so good. And it felt so bad.

Do you know how much muscle tone you loose if you just up and take six weeks off of any regular exercise? A lot. Throw in weaning a baby, and the ensuing hormone restructuring, and it’s a sure-fire recipe for feeling the way I imagine sea turtles must, loafing their way up some sandy escarpment to make a nest.

A four mile run took me a lot longer than a four mile run did a month and a half ago, and afterwards I sat in the corner of the couch and begged for someone to make me a PBJ and a glass of milk because I couldn’t move. But surprisingly, during the run I was so distracted by the beauty of this place where I live that I barely noticed how unmistakably plod-like my gate was.

The wet air was fragrant. Everything is in bloom or fruit now: raspberries are ripe along the hedgerows, and elder berry blossoms, burdock, cornflowers, and Black Eyed Susans spread out across the fields like a thousand speckled suns. And somehow, the time mostly went by without my noticing.

It is inevitable I’ll feel it tomorrow. I’ve started to notice how my body no longer forgets the cumulative effects of the things I do to it each day. But there’s something of value in having one’s attention be focused on one’s body in this way: noticing it for the things it can do, for the way it feels, rather than simply for the way it looks. I’m ready for this again---especially after spending a week on the beach being all too aware of how I appear to the rest of the world.

(You know how the flight attendant always cautions that “your baggage may have shifted during the flight,” ? Let’s just say this is a good way to describe my physical accoutrements as well, since Bean. )

Self Portrait Tuesday: Time #1 by Christina Rosalie

I ran 11 miles today. It felt like an eternity and I wanted to give up many more than eleven times, but I didn't. I chose to run indoors after my last long run left me chilled to the bone, but regretted my decision. It was sunny outside even though it was cold, and the scenery would have kept me engaged. Running indoors is synonymous with boredom, and though I brought these stories to listen to on my iPod, and could be seen from time to time grinning from ear to ear as a result, I couldn’t shake the monotony of running in place.

One foot after the other, staring at myself in the mirror for 1 hour and 45 minutes makes time do crazy things. This much I know: time is not a constant medium. In the last half hour of running, when both knees were burning and I was dying for Gatorade (which I forgot to bring) and I had to pee, it felt like each minute was stretched out the way a tape sounds when the tape film gets pulled. The song blares at warp speed, all blurry and ridiculous.

Other times —-like when on the couch and write in my notebook with the bright morning sun flooding in through the windows---an hour or two feels like a small pocketfull of minutes. I could sit there forever, writing. No amount of time feels long enough. Bean always wakes too soon.

So I've found that staying present in the moment: running only for these steps that are happening now; holding my mind in check, right NOW---is the only way humanly possible to make it through 11 miles. This is also how I make it through the rough days when everything's off kilter; and how I plan to make it through 26.6 miles.

Taken moment by moment, the quality of time evens out. Now is NOW. Thid moment I can bear—and then suddenly this moment has become the next.


Here is a brillaint piece of writing about time.

Here are other self portrait takers.

Pushing limits by Christina Rosalie

Before I curl up in a heap of down comforters in front of the TV with a big cup of tea and some graham crackers to watch how the winter games turned out, let me say this: I ran 9 miles in 20 degree weather today.


I wore these, and several fleecy thermal layers that made me look much like a mutant superwoman smerf when I pull the skull-tight hood up over my head, but for the most part I was warm. My breath left my body in clouds. Snot ran a constant clear river down my nose.

But the running itself wasn’t that hard, and I enjoyed moving up the long dirt road near our new house, past bucolic red-barn farms and fields where the snow has mostly melted, although now all the streams have turned rock-solid again. Along the tree line at the field’s edge I spotted deer. In the powdery snow and dust at the edge of the road, tracks of others that had run here before: dogs or coyotes, deer, squirrels, raccoon.

The return part of the loop took me along a main road through the center of two small towns, and then directly west into the setting sun. The sky was overcast over the mountains, but where the sun was falling, each cloud was shredded and on fire. I was almost blinded by it: that bright angled golden sunlight that washes the world at sunset. The pavement was inky and blurred below my feet, pounding rhythmically.

The last mile or so had me wanting to give up. Wind in my face, and the final road to bring me back home kept not being where I thought it was. Like a mirage, it was always just a little farther on.

I kept thinking of the quote someone wrote on the dry erase board above the drinking fountain at my gym: if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. So I kept running, and finished 1.5 hours.

Back at the house, I saw a bald eagle circling the western meadow. Triumph.

Yesterday, winter festivities by Christina Rosalie

I love living in a place where instead of complaining about the cold, people celebrate it for a good cause. There was hot coffee to be had amidst the revelry, as groups of costume clad folk made their way down to the water and JUMPED IN. There was whooping and gafawing and general yodeling going on as the DJ played "Cold as Ice" and brave souls got wet. Mind you, they needed to break the ice from the water first. I'm not a brave soul, but I took pictures.

We had a wonderful morning outside in bright winter sunlight, an afternoon nap that stretched on until early evening---the three of us to a bed. Then I managed to squeeze in a five mile run at the gym which brought my first week of marathon training to a close with my cumulative total miles run adding up to twenty. This is the first winter I haven't gone into hibernation, and I'm pretty thrilled.

Enjoy the chilly pics. There are more here.

Ski jump eyelashes.

Ice sculpture

Rocks on ice.

Uncarved blocks of ice.


Face to face by Christina Rosalie

I joined a marathon training class last week, and on Tuesday I sat in a room with twenty other people (all but two of which were women) for the first class, where we got to meet each other, talk about our goals, and take a peak at the crazy running schedule we’ve all decided to partake of that will have us running 40 miles a week by early May.

It was funny sitting there, looking at each woman’s face. I imagine all of us were doing the same thing: looking at each other. Sizing each other up in one way or another—looking for inspiration or camaraderie or competition. Yet aside from our names (written on blue and white labels on our shirts) and our previous running experience, we shared very little with one another verbally; most of the information we gathered about each other was based on our visual impressions.

I think it is interesting that when we encounter another person face to face we immediately label them based on the visual information we gather in those few split seconds of meeting. First we label gender. Our minds get hung up on this. If it isn’t easy to discern, we keep looking for identifiers—long hair maybe, or breasts or an angular jaw. Then we look for similarities to ourselves: age, attire, and physical stature, all become a part of the equation we seem to use to decide if we have enough in common to take the risk of starting a conversation.

It takes so much to get past this visual labeling system, and because of it, it often takes a long time to get to know someone new. There are many delicate ‘first date’ conversations as we seek to align ourselves compatibly with one another. Information is conveyed through actions and looks just as much as it is conveyed through words. By comparison, the medium of the blog makes this visual labeling system take the back seat. Through a blog, it is easy to get right to the heart of things—to just out and say things, divulging our selves without the varnish we put on for first impressions.

Through blogging I have found many women who I am inspired by, and feel connected to because of our shared experiences, or insights, or humor, or art. Yet I wonder: would we have made these connections if we had initially met as strangers face to face? Sitting there in a room full of other women, each of us looking with wide eyes at the training schedule for all the remaining weeks between now and the end of May, I wanted for just a moment to not see them, and to have instead see the things that really matter to them.

I would know so much more about the woman sitting across from me if I could know that she likes dark plums, black tea, and writing with India ink, and that she just broken up with her boyfriend of four years. Instead all I could gather was that she was probably in her early thirties, has short hair and red shoes, and took a really long time to fill out the marathon registration page.

I can’t help but wonder: am I the only one who feels this way, or is it something innate in the way we interact? Is it easier to take risks with friendship when you don’t have to think about that coffee stain on your shirt or the way your breath smells. Is more at stake when we meet face to face than there is across the page?

Finding what it takes by Christina Rosalie

Running along the lake in yak tracks, the late sun on the horizon above the lake looked like someone spread apricot jam across a rent in the clouds. Snowflakes hit my face. Ice below the snow along the path was slick and see-through. The lake waves cut up onto the cold pebbles of the shore, like a thousand icy tongues. The air was cold when I sucked it in, and each exhalation left a cloud of heat and moisture hovering just behind me for a second in the winter air.

It was the first time I’ve run along the bike path since snow has fallen, and it felt just like running in sand. It took more effort and balance than running on macadam, but there was also a certain new thrill to having the terrain be constantly changing. Today I realized that I’ve gotten to a new place about running in my head: my mind wants to run now and my body follows.

This didn’t happen accidentally or suddenly. It’s taken six months of repeated motion to get my brain in the habit of running—to form a groove in my being where my mind slips now with ease. And I know that if I stopped, given a couple of weeks—no more than a month—it would be gone. But today I sort of marveled at the capacity my mind has to move beyond the immediate intense pain of shin splints (the product of new shoes or the crazy jackrabbit sprint I’ve been doing) and for a few moments at least allow me to feel like I can do anything.

I know this is why the Juila Cameron writes in The Artist’s Way that it is vital to do morning pages and to go on ‘artist dates’ with oneself. Because it is exactly this inner freedom that gradually develops, creating momentum. I would never have imagined I’d be on the brink of committing to start training for a marathon (!), and yet here I am, wanting to test my outer limits. Wanting to do more than just run a couple miles. And I know that after if I can stick with writing every morning, taking time for myself to fuel my artistic soul, I will develop a similar kind of creative momentum.

Right now when it comes to writing that tricky shadow side of myself (that is quick to sabotage the best of my intentions) prickles up every time I sit down to write. I chicken out, write only first drafts, balk at following through. But I’m starting to realize that just as this side of myself exist, so does the fiery side that enables me to burn through my own resistance. This is why I’ve jumped in.

Not ready to run in place by Christina Rosalie

I give in to the shortness of the run. Not enough time to feel my ligaments loosen, to feel my stride fall into it's own syncopated rhythm, so I push forward faster than usual. The path down to the water is covered in yellow leaves: the shape of pennies that get put through those curio machines that squash them flat and print the Lords Prayer or the outline of some tourist attraction on them. I kick them with my feet as I run, imagining the sound of coins dropping on cement.

All week it's been gray and cold, and I feel myself falling out of the summer's rhythm of daily runs. This summer changed my thinking about my body. I realized that my body loves to run. Loves to sink into a steady loping pace, feeling my heart thrum in my chest, pushing blood to the vast network of capillaries that make me whole.

Today, because I have other things to do, the run ends quickly. I take the last blocks of sidewalk with quick even strides, already thinking about the things I need to do before I leave for my writing workshop. When I stop to cool down a street away from home I'm sad. I watch my shoes crunch over broken grass and kick the leaves along the sidewalk that have gathered there like guests outside the church after a wedding. I bought my shoes in June with good intentions, imagining like every other summer, I'd run a few times and loose motivation.

But I didn't. Instead I kept running, and my shoes now at the end of their season are worn in places. The soles packed and scuffed, have probably seen close to 100 miles of cement and gravel and dirt this summer. I'll be sad to give them up; to buy a new pair, destined to be treadmill shoes, as I run in place in front of a mirror through the winter.

The way we operate by Christina Rosalie

We went on a run tonight, along the lake, as we do most nights. A little over 4 miles in all, our route takes us past the busy city center, and then down along the waterfront bike path where old train cars sit abandoned on rusted tracks, painted with fantastic graffiti art. The path is mostly paved and mostly flat after we get to the water down a steep hill. We run side by side, pushing Bean in his Chariot stroller, through the evening air. Tonight we talked about building a house as we ran. We've started the process of dreaming. Of driving through the countryside near here, looking for renovated farmhouses or land where we can build a timber frame.

But somehow, recently, this process of trying to visualize our future home, has created a lot discord for us. Our ways of imagining our future are is very different. Perhaps stereotypically so--the whole men are from Mars, women from Venus bit.

DH is an idealist, perhaps with a twinge of OCD. When he finds something he loves, he becomes obsessed with it: bikes, coffee roasting, stereo equipment, and now timber frames, he pursues his obsessions relentlessly. Searching the internet, ordering brochures, becoming increasingly knowledgeable and simultaneously increasingly adamant. His optimism knows no bounds.

By comparison, I'm slow to warm to a new idea. I come from a childhood with little money, and parents who regretted much. My mother and I talk often now, and I still here the regret in her voice about choices she and my father made. "I never wanted any of the houses we lived in," she has said. She has also said, "Money is an odd, strange thing." And she has said, "I told you so" when things don't work out more times than I care to remember, though perhaps not quite in those words.

So when it comes to imagining something new, I like to think of the worst case scenarios first, and gradually eliminate them with hard evidence as the plan grows firm. It frustrates DH to no end that I navigate this way: with fear and worry first, optimism last. But I can't help it. Pessimism and angst seem to be written deeply into my genetic code---an unwanted inheritance from my mother, that I'd like to be rid of, but can't simply shake.

So tonight, running under chokecherries and quaking aspens, we argued about the costs of building versus buying a house already built, established on land already cleared, with fields already mowed. Somehow, it seems to be a fundamental error code between men and women: that when a woman states her fears, her worries, her deepest insecurities, she DOESN'T WANT THE MAN IN HER LIFE TO FIX THEM. She just wants TO BE HEARD. Or at least, that's how it works for me.

I don't want him to hear me say I'm afraid that the costs of building might spiral out of control, and then argue why I'm wrong.

I don't want to be convinced, right off the bat that my fears are irrational. I know they probably are. They are fears after all. That's the nature of fear. Instead, I want to be heard. Simply that. I want him to say, "Hmm, I hear you saying that your afraid that the costs are going to spiral out of control if we build. That's a reasonable fear, as far as fears go." And then say nothing else.

Because, oddly, in just hearing my fears. In letting me put them out in front of me---sharp and jagged the way they are---it makes it possible for me to gradually let go of them. Over time, I'll come around to almost anything, if I get enough facts, and if the facts are backed up.

I'm spontaneous mostly---especially in friendship and affection---but when it comes to big decisions that involve our family's future, I can't help but feel terrified first and excited second.

So tonight, running, after he'd interrupted me and made me feel stupid because of my fears, I completely kicked his ass on the run. Kept less than a 8 minute mile pace the whole way. And it felt good. Good to run fast. To feel my muscles warm to the pounding of my blood, to sprint. And it felt good to hear him panting hard beside me. Harder than me.

And at the end of our run, I loved him so much again.