Self Portrait

Black & white glimpses by Christina Rosalie


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.

On the summer solstice: how the morning arrives by Christina Rosalie

For some reason the boys have woken up early, and they are all wiggles and wiggly teeth as they join me, two to a chair. We’re in the front yard, watching the morning arrive. The day is going to be hot, and above us each of us there is a halo of tiny insects twirling in the humid air.

Everything: our arms, and legs, our notebook paper, and the dewy grass, is damp. The mountains are all but obscured pale clouds that keep the edges of the morning close, surrounding us with the gauzy softness of dawn.

The sun has yet to make the climb its ladder of tree branches in the east.

So we sit, side by side, and I string sentences together while they string gestures. Theirs is a story of action, mine of words. And I think about how we grow still as adults, our bones and muscles full of gravity, while our children run about us, tumbling, twirling, tripping over their own lightness of being.

Sleep still plays across the edges of my mind this morning, and my attention soft. Still, I’ve showed up to watch the sun, and now it does the miraculous one more time: sending gold-fingered rays up the east edge of the morning.

So. This is what I’ve been doing to greet the day: waking earlier and writing. It isn’t enough, and what I must do and what I do get done are still a chasm apart each evening, but it’s a start. It’s showing up. It’s the beginning of a practice that I am always at the beginning of.

It’s the way I pray, the way I pay attention, the way I arrive most wholly here.

Hello day. Happy solstice everyone.

On Making A Book (Part 3): Where words + images converge by Christina Rosalie

Once the words were done, I threw myself into the unfamiliar, beautiful, terrifying territory of illustrating. I was wholly, utterly, entirely consumed. I spilled india ink twice. I wore the same jeans for a week, paint accumulating across my thighs. I skipped class. I considered only this: How the images I was creating might tell a little more of the story. How they might be a hook, a glimpse, some kind of emotional spark of evidence that might help you find your way into the moments I was describing and also into your own. I imagined making every postcard just for you: 22 notes from me to you about ways to be right here, to fall in love with this life, to hold on, to keep on, to become, be present, persist.

It was harder than I thought: To say just exactly what I meant to say with images. To get the right lines, the right metaphors, colors, shapes, words, gestures down on the 4x6 canvas of a repurposed postcard. Words are so much more precise and unambiguous. Illustrating is like writing poetry: It's all about gesture and suggestion, nuance and hue.

Each time I finished a piece I would instantly fall in love with it or hate it... then lapse into a state of doubt, hanging it on the wires spanning the wall above my desk for a couple hours while I worked on other things and eyed it warily. Sometimes I'd look at it with new eyes and certainty; other times I'd scrap it and start again.

It was so incredible and scary and amazing to start, and start again. To make some terrible pieces. To make some pieces that made me proud. To become fixated on a piece and have it throw off everything: Becoming too precious, so that all the other pieces following it would feel derivative or contrived. To question everything. To commit to something. To find the right lines, the right color of a moment captured.

I discovered I was capable of more than I imagined. This is always the case, I think.

You are always more capable than you imagine. It's buckling down and pushing through and doing, doing, doing the work you say you want to be doing that is So. Effing. Hard. But oh, so rewarding.

I discovered how much farther I could push, under the creative constraints of a deadline and the requirement of producing a cohesive body of work. There is something to this--the creative constraints part that I want to explore more here. I'm also going to be devoting some upcoming posts to exploring the relationship between word + image. It's a powerful one, and one I would love to explore in conversation with you.

If you haven't read the comments from yesterday's post, you should. Such amazing leaps of courage + faith + joy.

Today I want to ask you: When have you pushed yourself past a point you believed yourself capable of?

{I am still here} by Christina Rosalie

...Finishing this book.


Getting paint everywhere.

Discovering + remembering what it means to be an artist like this: Courage. Revisions. Messes. Risk. It is time consuming. All consuming. It is terrifying. It is transformative. It is glorious. It is exhausting.

(Hoping to be finished Monday.)

What I really need now is good music to paint to. What have you been listening to that you love? Please share!

a close encounter by Christina Rosalie

It's 85 degree heat with nearly 100% humidity. The heat from the asphalt hit's like hot breath. I watch my heart rate, which is usually in the 140 range when I'm going 20mph, hit 150 and then climb. I'm not thirsty really, but I try to remember to keep drinking. My legs feel strong, and the view is euphoric: fields where hay is being cut; horses standing along a fence in the shade; purple martins swooping into the low eaves of a barn; chamomile and cornflowers blooming thickly at the edge of the road. It's the end of the ride and T is a little ahead.

I tuck down into my drops and start pedaling hard. And then, without warning, my world goes suddenly black.

Just for an instant. No road, no fields, no handlebars. No warning.

In the next instant I'm pitching over my handlebars into the grassy stubble on the side of the road.

I hear my wheel hit the uneven lip of the asphalt, and I have just enough to reaction to tuck and roll, clipping out of one pedal just in time to avoid twisting my ankle.

I land, chest first, my bike on my back, on soft dirt, narrowly missing the guard rail.

T has seen me as I'm falling, and is looping back, at my side in an instant. I'm already trying to sort myself out: unclipping the other pedal, disentangling myself from my bike. I've got a sweet crank set mark on my jersey: just between my shoulder blades.

My face stings, but I'm barely scratched. Just grass stains on my shirt.

I try to stand, but a rush of nausea and darkness descends again upon me like a hood over my head.

Because he's a diabetic, T's first thought is to give me a glucose tab, and it helps. The grape flavor sugar dissolves in my mouth, and I drink water, and within minutes I've cooled down and feel good enough to get back on my bike and take it easy the last mile to home.

Riding home I keep thinking how it could have happened so differently. I could have swerved in any direction. It's in these moments that I feel like I'm held by something greater than myself. Some filament of grace, some spirit wing between me and what could have been.


Have you ever had a moment like this, a close encounter, a moment of protection, a sudden certainty that your life is right and full of grace? I want to hear your stories.

Tuesday {in pictures} by Christina Rosalie

Hello friends.

I'm finding this so restful: to notice the small things of daily life and to share them here with you.

We've been keeping a jar of markers and fresh paper at hand for quiet times, and today had many moments where the boys just sat and colored. I love the way Sprout is learning to draw: circles first.

I made some fresh peach preserves yesterday with some not-so-great peaches. Just a little sugar + water + a hint of vanilla and they cooked down into something lovely to have on biscuits this morning.

Today was all dappled with sun and shade. I love the way the field grasses blow in the wind.

While I was writing Bean and T made a sign for our nightly visitors. Bean has since observed that perhaps he needs to add a checklist to clarify exactly what makes a skunk a bad one. We have several this year. We always do. T has twice encountered them in the coop, though they've yet to spray anyone. Still. Bad skunks take note.

Manuscript progress today for sure. It is wild to be working on something this big. It terrifies and thrills me in turns. I've decided to focus on just finishing the manuscript. Once it's in, all my backers will be rewarded (with a little extra surprise in addition to what they signed up for) for their patience. Until then, I imagine I'll be pretty quiet on that front: creating beautiful chapters.

What are you up to this week?

Tell me how you do it by Christina Rosalie

I'm feeling stuck. I come here to write, to share, and I just look at the screen. It's been an intense couple of weeks. The end of a semester. A dear friend visiting with a heavy heart. A week of being "on" at all times with the boys. Not enough sleep. Deadlines, still, always. This is my "vacation" time and I'm struggling with deciding what to tackle on the infinite to-do list that has been accumulating while I've been studying and writing. Hard to give myself permission to just read Bossypants and nap.

Do you feel like you can really, truly, unwind and relax in your own home? Tell me how you do it. I need some instructions.

These are things that happen by Christina Rosalie

These are things that happen when I circle back into this present that is mine: sunburn on unaccustomed cheeks; blisters on my palms after an afternoon in leather gloves raking lawn debris; the unexpected delirium of forsythia and daffodils; bumblebees; wet marks on my knees from kneeling to look among the clover.

I cannot help myself: I slip into a neighbor’s yard and pluck a handful of daffodils, carrying them in a closed warm fist up the drive, pulling the boys behind me in the red wagon with the other. I grin secretively the whole way. I smile rinsing dishes; but am near to tears when the red-winged blackbird swoops low across my path. These ordinary things stun me. The way my life folds back around me, and this is where I am: in the thick of spring, at the end of a dirt road, with a restless cat, two boys, and a writing deadline waiting for the evening.

All day the sky was blue; all day it was just me and them; two changeable constants. Mood swings, bare bellied tickles, cookies and milk, sand at the backdoor. Five loads of laundry; sun dappled sheets; jumping on the bed; exercise.

It will be this way all week: just me and them the sky. T is out of town on a business trip so it will be us, making the best of allergies and hilarity; less urgency, but no less full throttle: “look mommy, look! Did you see, did you see?” So this is what I’ve been missing.

What I see when I blink by Christina Rosalie

Last night I came home late from working on a collaborative project and slid beneath the covers to find the embering heat of my guy, dreaming. Now the morning is here again, too soon, jostling, clattering, and filled to the brim. I blink, and when close my eyes I see my life in snapshots, like sunspots, the minutes compressed to just these instances, mid air, mid action. My big boy with a voice that sounds like the bark of a dog who woke up at 3 am feeling like he couldn’t breath.


The little one in a pointy Hannah Anderson hoodie and his brother’s Sambas running around with jam on his face and a paci in his mouth.


Squirrels that have figured out how to leap from a stack of broken wooden lawn chairs through the gravity of air to the bird feeder, where they twirl with fat furry bellies exposed, eating seed with their dainty little paws.


The startled chickadees who fly down to find these furry beasts their tails whirring, their cheeks chock full.


Out the window the icicles taller than me; the sky bluer than the ocean; the clouds gathering over the mountain tops like the breath of dragons; the floor that has not been vacuumed in days.


Everywhere I turn there are things: to be done, held, watched, waited for, unraveled, sorted, replied to, invented. This is life, mid motion, captured.


More glimpses of winter moments captured here.

Flirting with chance:: it's your turn by Christina Rosalie

Hello lovelies, I had no idea so many of you would play along on my little game of chance. It was an amazing day, and a challenge to try to fulfill at least suggestion from almost everyone who commented and to document it in some way. But it was also so much fun.. It was an adventure filled with many moments of resistance and joy and delight. Here is my the interactive piece I did for the class project.

I want you know know that the best thing I rediscovered through this project was just how amazing YOU are.

You are generous, sensuous, playful, romantic, and thoughtful.(Yes, you.)

You nudged me stop and take care of myself and pause; drink warm tea, luxuriate in a foot bath (the first I've ever given myself), throw myself in the snow; dance, twirl. Mostly the whole thing pushed me outside of my comfort zone and made me contemplate when I started taking things so seriously.

I was struck by how infrequently I really allow myself luxuriate in the moment. My life has gotten so busy that I'm uber focused on tasks and projects most of the time. If I stop to linger, it is to browse through my favorite photography blogs, to read something, or to stare out the window. Text and images have become the only way I fill up this hunger for beauty that lives in my soul.

My fingertips and taste buds, tendons and feet were grateful to be remembered; to be used, engaged, made to move, revel, relax, reach beyond.

How often do you flirt with chance? When do you allow yourself to step outside of your ordinary? Do you allow yourself the chance of random conversations with strangers? Moments lingering over tea? What senses do you nourish throughout your day? Which do you neglect?

To thank you, I am sending you on your very own chance encounter mission this week. It felt so taken care of by you in this unexpected way. I am so grateful for the opportunities you offered me to dig into ordinary moments of my day, and to find in them so much beauty. I hope you feel the same.


In the comments share a link to your blog with photos (and words) documenting your discoveries. One person chosen at random will receive an original tiny art piece in the mail, and I'll feature some of my favorite of your photos/posts later this week here.

YOUR MISSION: This os permission to allow yourself to play; to follow whimsy and to explore who you are in this moment.

1. Make yourself your favorite breakfast. Use extra butter. Cream. Real maple syrup. Bacon. Whatever it is that you love . 2. Buy yourself tulips. 3. Take 10 minutes and pin, tape, or post some images that you love to a wall in your workspace. 4. Go outside, set a timer for 4'33 seconds and just breathe and listen. 6. Buy a pint of raspberries. Stick them on your fingers like you did when you were a kid. Eat them one by one. Don't share. 7. Do something for a stranger: buy the person in line behind you coffee, pay a toll, fill a parking meter, give them a flower.... 8. Clear a space, get down on the floor and stretch for five minutes. 9. Dance to this song. 10. Take a self portrait, of your face, in good light. Revel in your beauty.

Document in some way. Ready. Set. Go!

33 by Christina Rosalie

Hello friends!

Today is my birthday. 33. It feels like it's going to be a big year. This past year was awesome, heart-wrenching, and amazing. It got the ball rolling for so many good things.

This year: so many more good things.

Today: so many things to do, including attending a first grade preview evening at Bean's school (marking another thing that fills me with wonder: I'm going to have a six year old in a month.)

Tomorrow: a little more downtime to share a new list with you. 34 before 34. I think I did pretty well on my list for this past year (on the right sidebar.) Certain things just stopped being as important (query letters), or realistic (like camping with a toddler or making croissants from scratch: what was I thinking?) The manuscript is in progress. Thursdays and Fridays are my writing days. It takes so much to birth a book. So many hours stitched together. I get antsy when I don't get the time. I love every minute when I do, although there are still days when the whole thing terrifies me and I procrastinate something fierce.

There is something wonderfully satisfying about making such a list. The simple act of writing each small or big dream down pulls them closer to realization. I am convinced. (Do you write yearly lists? If you do, I'd love for you to share.)

Love, C

Circling by Christina Rosalie

I stand by the heat of the wood stove, circling the present moment in my head like a dog preparing for sleep. It’s snowing again, although dawn was bright and clear: the truest pinks and the most pale persimmon clouds. Now everything is back to white on white, and the bird feeder needs filling. Today I am torn by what I want to be doing and what I ought to do. All morning T and I attempt conversation, fail, and attempt again. At the root of it: we miss each other desperately. We both want to fold into each other’s arms and have an afternoon just us in a café somewhere, but instead there are boys, and homework, and book work, a party tonight, and so the day ends up mostly being about adjacent circles rather than concentric ones, and in our longing we miss our mark, push each other away, and feel the distance more acutely.

If only I could stitch all the moments together today, I’d have a quilt of him to wrap around my shoulders now as I write. Him, in Sorrels in the driveway pushing the snow blower into knee-deep snow; him on the couch, buried under the lot of us this morning, all trying to tickle him and make him laugh; him cleaning the downstairs bathroom toilet, shirtless and muscular after a workout.

Now he’s taken the boys and gone on errands in spite of the snow falling harder, and I wish I could have gone with him, but reason and responsibility and the off kilter awkwardness of our morning convince me to stay instead.

I’ve been interested in exploring this thread interaction lately, since I wrote this post. I'm fascinated with the way people navigate the in-betweens and daily happenings. Neither hilltop nor valley, but the places where things even out and we’re just in it, doing our lives, side by side. There isn’t always grace in these moments, or courage. Often tiredness paints the whole picture a bleaker hue than it would otherwise be (and today this is most certainly the case.) Living with someone and loving them never ceases to be startling to me; unexpected, delightful, or painful to the point of wincing.

So this is my life. I always grin when I say this in my head, encountering myself in present tense, inside this moment (now: at my desk with cords strewn everywhere in the silence of a house now empty of the boys that fill my world. So this is my life: and I am so grateful I get to share it here, and show up, and find the threads of your stories too in the comments.

I am so interested in all your responses to my last post about blogging (thank you!)

I’d love to know: what are a few of your current (new) favorite blogs? Where do you creep, peruse, become inspired?

Today, I am loving this beautiful piece by Pixie. This is awesome. These images caught my eye.

And this.

small discoveries by Christina Rosalie

At some point there will be enough hours and I’ll know it, but for now Photoshop is like sliding down a rabbit hole into an alternate reality where everything reacts and responds in arbitrary, brilliant, and unexpected ways.

I spent the whole day occupied in this way, siting at my long white desk, sheaves of paper sketches spread around me like snow, making images, digital and graphite both.

Outside the weather has turned decidedly autumn like, and today the sky was the kind of gray that makes me moody, and it’s that time of the month where everything seems blunt or sharp depending on the circumstance, and chocolate really is the only solution.

It takes more effort to dig out of my own head space on days like these: to inhabit family life without the residual layers of mood and intellectual momentum. Still, there were lovely moments: French toast with maple syrup from our neighbors, cuddling with the boys on the floor, taking a walk down the road with Sprout in the wagon, Bean holding my hand, T's arm wrapped around my waist. Every single day I fall in love with my boys more. All three of them.

Today I wanted to share a new mix of music I’ve been absolutely crushing on: A soundtrack for making things.

Also into this project: Love 146. And this awesome, awesome site: Arbutus Yarns I love, love, love discovering your sources of inspiration. What are you crushing on lately?

almost a list about today by Christina Rosalie

There were things, hours, chocolate graham crackers, kisses, tears. There was a walk down the road stalking birds on telephone wires for an art project (I've been inspired by this theme. Do you like the new header?) There were storm clouds and hours spent reading, Ong and Havelock and Surowiecki, and pages filled in my notebook ideas bursting like sparks.

There was an afternoon self portrait session when the light was temporarily good. Three self portraits are due in another week, in deferent mediums, and I've settled on a theme I think, of how we occupy ourselves in this illusive way: we are beings being. I feel this particularly as a mother--the way so many different piece of me are occupying the same space with myself. Does that make any sense at all? I am interested in the way we converge with ourselves, and are at odds. The way the words mother | writer | artist | designer don't necessarily overlap in any kind of orderly way.

There was giggling on the bed, snapping more photos, twirling, and heading for the door. There were white rocks found and stored in pockets. Wild grapes eaten that stained our lips. Birds caught in flight, in pixels. Birds in silhouette, black over blue.

There was an evening sky filled with pink, and fallapart tired boys and more tears and bedtime snuggles, and then T and I found each other on the couch, soaking up the light, soaking up each other, our fingers running lightly along each other's limbs.

Now there is night, windows are mirrors, lamplight makes circles and words fill the page.

Tell me about your day... I love reading little glimpses into your worlds.

August 23::uncertain ordinary (and a list) by Christina Rosalie

Hello there.

I hardly know where to begin tonight. I’ve been playing tag with the delete key. Typing words, then flitting over with my pinky finger to delete them all, and again. It’s a peculiar choreography of indecision and exhaustion: the day was full of talking. Some days are like that, full with friends and family in such a way that the quiet becomes slender mortar in the chinks between the noise, and I want to creep away and scribble little quiet notes onto bits of imaginary paper and slide them into the slight hesitations between hubbub and bustle, between making bread and taking phone calls, meeting a final deadline for work (that job is through now, on to the wild blue yonder of freelance + being a full time student) and sharing lunch with a friend and her wee ones, all the while circling about wiping counters and trying to pinpoint exactly where I am in space.

I am not sure where I am. That is the truth. With this sprained ankle, I haven’t been running and I’ve lost that sense of forward motion that I have when my feet move down the dirt road, the sweet scent of grass drying thick in the air and the crickets singing, every night louder. But it’s not just because I cannot run. Things have been out of the ordinary for so long I no longer really have any memory of what ordinary is.

Uncertainty, on the other hand, I know something of that. This year has pummeled me so often with last minute curveballs and second chances and unexpected offerings that I’ve started to develop a new set of reflexes. I’ve learned to duck and bend, to bow in prayer, to hold my breath and then release it, and then to wake up and carry on with the day without knowing where it will end despite the fact that every ounce of me craves control and certainty and sure outcomes. I’m beginning to understand that we never really have any these things, though sometimes with more resources (time, money, etc.) we successfully concoct elaborate facades that allow us think we do.

But for now it is about this. About facing the uncertainty and saying yes, and saying yes again. It’s about counting up the little things each day and finding the utmost joy in them: the white cat crossing the bridge with a black mouse in her mouth; the red cows chest deep in clover; the corn, taller than my head now tassels waving against the blue, blue sky; the fat four-leaf clover I found when I looked down today at the edge of the field; the apples turning golden and pink and red.

It’s about just going, slowing, being right here with this life. Being.

I’m terrible at it, but I’m learning. I’m learning that it’s okay to never be finished. I am learning that the real blessing is about not being finished.

It’s about having more to do.

Does this make sense at all?

As I gear up for school this week, which feels just as foreign as it would feel to be saying that I am heading for heading to Antarctica or the moon, I have no expectations, only happiness tucked into my pockets, and wonder, and a little trepidation too….and I would like very much to hear what new music you are listening to (so I can make some new mixes for driving) and also what is inspiring you right now.


This blog. And this one.
This poem.
This artist.
Some music
A piece of clothing (or a few)

Your turn. : )

August 10::Tuesday by Christina Rosalie

I am permeable and split wide open like a summer melon overripe with the sweetness and sun and with all the things that are still unresolved.

I am like a diver, on a cliff with a blindfold leaping on promise, daring to dare.

I am girl caught in the morning light, caught by the beauty until I can hardly exhale, wet hair dripping, light slipping golden and honeyed across the floor.

I have just exactly these superpowers: I am a questioner, a seeker, a storyteller, a finder four leaf clovers everywhere; I am brave; I love the ones I love to a fault; and I find my salvation day after day among the pebbles on the path, the spider’s weaving webs, the sun rising and then setting in a sky filled with rain and contrails and wonder.

What are your superpowers?

With grace by Christina Rosalie

Good morning! We are just about to head out on a long bike ride (so happy) but I wanted to post these photos. I am loving the morning light this summer... and playing around with focus. I'm so looking forward to The August Break (there are a lot of projects around here that need some serious attention and it will be lovely to just show up in this space every day with a few photographs.)

In other news, there is still no news. I am learning gradually, slowly, to just settle into the present and let it be. I have begun to see how the mind in limbo becomes a trickster; how worry springs up when there is nothing else for the mind to do. When in a place of uncertainty, it's like the mind wants to be productive, wants to be doing something, and so, for lack of anything better--the untrained mind defaults to worry, to distraction, to imagining all the ways that things might not work out.

I am trying to do this part with grace. Already, some things that felt like they took forever to happen are behind me now with certainty: T is starting his new job next week, for one. I remember how we both obsessed over that situation, how the worry felt like a plum in my throat, swallowed whole. So we'll see. I'm trusting now that the right things will happen; that this is my right life filled with early morning sun, and words to write, and small boys playing harmonicas underfoot. Also: I spent all of yesterday thinking it was Tuesday. Imagine my surprise to discover today is Friday. Has this ever happened to you?

A studio glimpse + a way cool anthology by Christina Rosalie

Here are a couple snapshots from photo booth earlier when T. interrupted me unexpectedly. I had just finished this update. I often use photo booth for editing actually. I read to myself out loud, then play it back, while following along and making changes. It helps me focus on the text, especially if I've been working on a piece for a while. I also hear the little things that I slip in as I speak; the subtle nuance of an added word, a phrase, an emphasis. I like catching that ephemera. Especially for this book, where the pieces are almost prose poems, and images--both painted and imagined, mean as much as the words.


Mostly, I wanted to share this with you tonight ~ three of my pieces will be published in Milk & Ink this winter. I am so honored to be among this group of incredible authors. Go take a peak at the Facebook page...there are some profound, delightful, heartbreaking and wonderful stories being shared over there. And the very best part? All the proceeds of the book will be going to the charity, Mama Hope supporting women and children in Africa. Awesome, right?

Today i need... by Christina Rosalie

Today I need you to remind me that the many hours and the messy house and the hunched shoulders and the dark circles under my eyes will all be worth it. (It will, right?)

Because I'm at that point with the proposal. THISCLOSE.

I have a headache. It's been raining all day. The birches look dramatic with their new chartreuse leaves blowing against a cement sky. Crows keep flying past with bits of things in their beaks. I've had too much coffee. And all my dreams were about my book.


(If you haven't,please become a backer, ...even for the very smallest of amounts...)