Creative Life

Learning to exist at the edge of the unknown by Christina Rosalie

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DSC_9935 I wake up wanting wildness; wanting the long view; wanting to be somewhere at the edge of what I know. I can't explain it. It's feels exactly like hunger, and even after breakfast it is still there, gnawing in the pit of my belly, and so we go, all four of us.
We take chocolate and walnuts, and chai marsala tea. We wear boots, and layers and our warmest gloves. We drive North, to the Champlain islands, to where lake meets sky, the water frozen into a smooth wide sheet till it blurs, yellow and milky at the edge.
The boys have the right approach. They pile into the car ready for adventure, and climb out when we park, curious, wide-eyed, already running towards whatever they will fine. The unknown is an invitation, a lure, a wild promise.
For T and I it's harder. It requires effort to shake off expectations and preoccupations, and the ground is icy and uncertain beneath us.
My breath catches where my breastbones join.
The boys run ahead, propelled by innate curiosity and instinctive balance. They run out onto the ice following sled tracks, unafraid, reckless in their abandon to know whatever this is, this ice, this world at the edge, this day, this newness of now.
For them, sliding is play. Falling too is it's own wonder: a flirtation with gravity. A chance to be airborne and to come down again, hard and certain, but without the pain of height and the thud of inflexibility. I watch them as they fall, over and over on purpose. Running, they hurl themselves knees first toward the ice, then slide out ahead in a graceful uncontrolled arc, yelling with glee.
I yell warnings after them unheeded, and feel afraid I am of this. Of what I can't control.
Without planning, I've arrived exactly at the wild edge of the unknown that stirred me from sleep like a hunger, though when we left the house I didn’t for a moment picture it like this: ice as far as the eye can see, with fishermen dotting the horizon. We slip-slide past the holes they've left, drilled drilled down into the quiet dark, where Lake Perch swim slowly through still water without sun.
The boys want to poke their booted toes in; I imagine hypothermia. My voice snaps fiercely in the cold air. They look surprised. And when we come close to the shore, they walk along the lake’s broken lip where the cattails rattle, and as the ice cracks and bows under their weight, they laugh with glee and stamp harder. I bark warnings, imagining them sinking under.
So here I am, learning to exist at the edge of the unknown, where my fears rise up again and again. I am afraid what I can't control, of the things I do not know, of outcomes that aren't certain, of edges I don’t know how to trust.
It takes a long time for me to realize why I am here, skating on dark ice; how these these moments are exactly the metaphor I need.
My breath catches. I release it.
Out there, on the wide open of the icy lake the fishermen silently sit on over-turnned buckets, not moving at all.
Their stillness is a kind of knowing I must learn. Their patience quiet and long.
Wearing thick parkas with fur close to their cheeks, they watch the small hole at their feet for signs of life. Sometimes there is a flicker. Once, twice, they pull in a fish. But the point isn’t that quick action; that flick of wrist and tug of line. Waiting is. Waiting, until even that ceases to be the point, and they simply are. Being. Hearts beating a steady thunder under layers; breath gathering in the stillness above them, signaling a silent gracious prayer: to be alive. To be alive.

5 things to fuel your creative soul this weekend: by Christina Rosalie

 Creative Process -- Christina Rosalie 1. Review all the notes you've jotted down throughout the week. I often take notes on my phone, but if I don't make it a ritual on the weekend, I forget the thing's I've noted there.

  2. Start a Spark File. Steven Johnson first coined this phrase, but it's something I've been using for years. Pam Houston calls it her "Glimmers" file. I keep mine as a single document in Evernote, so that I can access it from everywhere, and I put all my ideas there for for everything I want to write or dream into reality.

  3. Eavesdrop. On everyone. Your kids. The people standing next to you in line. The couple at the restaurant, leaning in. The two old ladies with cool hats walking to church. Listen to the cadence of their dialogue. To what they're saying and how they're saying it. Take notes. Good dialogue in stories is born of eavesdropped moments.

  4. Get moving. We're made to move, not to be still. Even though it's raw and muddy in Vermont in April, with my favorite turquoise Hunter boots on, and camera in hand, the meadows beg to be explored. What's around you? Get out and see.

  5. Underline in magazines. There's something about the temporariness of magazines that makes us read them more quickly. We tend to skim, reading subtitles and captions and pull quotes. But I've found that when I read with a pen in hand, underlining as I go, it gives me a reason to read more deeply, and to begin to parse together new thoughts stirred in my mind by the underlined fragments.

  What are some ways you love to fuel your creative soul on the weekend, when there's a little more time to sink into the moments, sip coffee, and soak up the world? I'd love to hear!

When the universe has been listening all along by Christina Rosalie

Brushes + Paint | by Christina RosalieMe and my littlest | By Christina RosalieUnfurling // Christina RosalieSo, dear friends, I have been silent here the past two weeks because everything in my world has been shifting and kiltering and truing towards a new more rightly aligned north.
Two Mondays ago, the same Monday we moved to my in-laws house for the week while our new floors were being put in, I found out that my small department of two at the design studio where I worked, was cut. My role and the department represented new capabilities for the studio, and for various reasons, some better reasoned than others, including a tightening of budgets and pressure to reduce overhead costs, there I was at 10:30 am, suddenly cut loose from everything I’d spent the last year working on.
It was a shock, but not necessarily unexpected. Even though I loved the work, many things about the position were lacking in--terms of resources and internal support, and there were many days that I spent quelling a feeling of panic in my ribcage because of the way things felt perpetually out of alignment. Days when I felt like a singular salmon swimming up through turbines too numerous to count., trying to convert a studio saturated in the language of print, into one with a fluency in online engagement. And so in so many ways it was a best worst-case scenario, for now, after three years of sprinting and preparation, I have the time and capabilities to begin doing work that has my heart.
The work I’ve been hankering to do, and have been doing in the margins, in any extra hour I’ve had. First and foremost: writing again, for real, for earnest. Fiction, essays, the mapping of two future books. And next, work I’m called to do as to do as a creative catalyst: providing creative’s and entrepreneurs with soulful brand strategy and business opportunity coaching.
Already, this work is aligning in ways I could never have imagined, with some super exciting collaborations that have emerged with sudden energy and creative force as if they were lying dormant, waiting for just this chance.
It’s as though the universe has been listening all along.
But oh, the disorientation I felt, having neither the habits of home nor work to hold me for two weeks. I’d end up driving places only to realize I’d forgotten to make a turn. My studio in boxes. Our house a sudden construction zone, with insulation guys and flooring guys and a painter, their coffee cups and machines and dirty footprints tracking from room to room.
Now, finally the house is put back together. New floors, and some new paint for furniture well loved. Vermillion, turquoise, and clean, bright white. It’s been so good to move back in, and to catch up slowly with myself. It feels right-timed in ways I can’t explain.
Snow is still falling, fat and wet. But the days feel warmer, and the sun stronger. There’s mud now in the sunny places on the drive, and the taps are in on all the maple trees. Even though it looks like winter, there is a stirring, a calling from the deep. To rise up, to unfurl, to begin anew.
Thank you so much for not deserting this space entirely, even with my long silence. One of the things I’m most excited by with these changes is that I’ll finally be able to really show up here again.
xo, Christina

Intuitive Lens with Thea Coughlin: an e-course you'll want to take by Christina Rosalie

My incredible friend Thea Coughlin is teaching a new photography e-course-this January for Squam Arts Workshop, and I know so many of you will immediately fall in love it, and want to take it, because simply, Thea is magic with a lens. And if you blog, being able to capture gorgeous photos matters so much. Thea is both an intuitive and talented teacher, and an amazing photographer. She has a way of capturing light that transforms her subjects...and this course is your chance to learn how capture the light and shoot intuitively in manual mode. Check it out:

Intuitive Lens with Thea Coughlin from Squam on Vimeo.

Of course, because I am forever curious about other artist's process, I couldn't help but ask her a few questions about her work, process... and about the delicate and tenuous balance of navigating life as an artist and life as a mama. Here are her thoughts:

What do you love most about taking photos?

Standing witness to the beauty, love and light within my muse, and the place that they are stepping into in their life and then being able to show them what I see through my images. Watching the evolution of acceptance, self love, respect and growth that occurs in people after a spirit session is one of my greatest inspirations.

What's one thing you do regularly to show up and practice your art?

I have to constantly pull myself back to practicing my art. When I am very busy with my business I notice I take less photographs for myself because I am so tired from my work. I have to make a constant effort to simplify so there is room to do photography for myself.

How do you navigate being a creative/photographer and a mama on a daily basis?

It is a juggling act. I start almost every day with 30 minutes of meditation, or what is meant to be meditation. LOL. Sometimes I spend the whole time mentally wrestling with myself to stop thinking of my to do list and just clear my mind. But I show up for this 30 minutes every day. It is my commitment to myself. This time is a guarantee to keep the creativity flowing and a calm grounding to my often jam packed days. My intention is to stop all work at 3:30 when my son gets home from school to be present with him. Recently with a lot of new projects on the horizon I have felt this commitment slip. It feels much better when I have guidelines around my work hours. My creativity thrives during my down time.

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See? Authentic insight. Beauty. Magic. Don't you want to sign up?