Life In The Present Tense

The things we cannot know by Christina Rosalie

CalmBeforeTheStorm After the flood

"What’s your book about?" he asks, standing awkwardly at my side at a party full of writers. I’ve never met him before. It’s always the hardest thing for me to say what it’s about. How can a handful of sentences ever really convey the way everything I care about is there on the page. How to summarize something, when everything in my life went into its making?
Later I am standing with my back against the farm sink in the kitchen with a glass of rose in my hand, and I am listening to a friend talk about about her fear of dying. It occurs to me then that somewhere along the way I’ve stopped talking about dying; about what it means to me and how it's shaped me, although I don’t remember when I stopped. Now, suddenly, I know that the time is finally right to begin writing story of my dad the real way, in a book. Not only him, but everything. The way all of my life began with the convergence of theirs, and even what came before them. The way faith and timing, love and wanderlust all can be traced with a fingertip along the blue, slightly raised veins in my wrists, like rivers moving from the source. An inheritance of story. A torn roadmap of loving and believing.
I’m talking with a friend who has the most perfect bangs in the world. Straight across her forehead like Amelie, and I watch as she almost winces when she says, “How can it just be it? How can our whole life be a timeline, and then just nothing?” Then she says, "I'm terrified of dying because of that. Because of not knowing."
I nod.
The bigness of what happens after this is something we all must face. We become something or nothing. We feel the truth, or the absence of it. We know, or cannot know.
Our mortality hangs in the air. 

We’re fleeting. We're scraps, star dust, uncertain particles. That’s one way of seeing. Another is how my father saw it from his deathbed, hunched among the covers, pale, morphine patches on his belly as he said, “I’ll keep doing my work from the other side.” S glimmer of a smile, like sudden flight of birds moving across his face.
“I know,” I said without hesitation.
A lifetime of conversations with that man left me feeling held in the weft of spirit worlds. Still, I was too heartbroken to write more than the raw edges of story down. Too lost in the spinning of my own world without a North to know really where to begin, or that I would begin at all, some day, after a rainstorm as I am now. 

Things are uncertain always in a world where physics apply. But what of spirit?
I’d love to hear what you think.

It rained all day in fits and starts; the clouds gathering in a rush, the sky suddenly dark. At the party people read brilliant prose that was raw and hilarious and heartbreaking all at once, and someone sang “Imagine” and someone else played the piano and I sat against the wall with my dying cell phone skimming through texts from T and wishing I be only right there without distraction. Then it became clear: our road was flooded out.
My cell battery was dead leaving the party, and the night was black without stars. Every dirt road’s neck seemed to be broken at the lowest point. Sudden flash floods had swallowed every stream bed; every culvert washed away.
You never really can imagine the future until you’re there. Until you’re standing at the torn edge of macadam where the road used to continue and now it doesn’t and instead there is a ten foot drop and a raging river in its path. I bite my lip. I’m freezing, still wearing flip flops from when I left the house in the morning under humid skies and temperatures in the seventies. Now the mercury is falling fast.

Two old men join me, shoulders hunched under slickers. They are neighbors familiar enough that we know each other’s silhouettes though we’ve never said hello; living as they do, a good two miles down the dirt road from where our house sits perched high and dry among dandelion fields and maple woods. Now they shine big flashlights at the raging river, share their iPhones, offer their houses to me for shelter, shake their heads.

I can’t get ahold of T. He’s already trying to meet me, likely at the place in the road where the service dips. I leave a message. There’s no way to cross. Nothing to do but retrace my path. Back to Burlington, the clocks closing in on a new day. Nearly every road I take becomes a back track; every low point is overwhelmed. The water rages like something hungry and wild. It devours the bedrock, tears away at the pavement, tosses logs and branches and old farm machinery in its wake.

Eventually I make my way back. Call a friend, show up at her doorstep after midnight. She puts clean sheets on the air mattress, hugs me, goes back to bed, and I spend the night fitfully, rain still falling.

The next day, I leave town in the afternoon. I buy groceries, and hope for lucky breaks. Bacon for the weekend, fruit, eggs, milk. At the place where the road was a river, the water is low now, and there are two huge excavators pushing gravel bigger than my fists into the wound. Truck after truck comes, backs in with precision, dumps another load, leaves. The men smoke cigarettes and wear steel toed boots and cotton sweatshirts. They use a sign langue specific to their trade: back her up, lower her down, all set, stop, go. Watching them work with little words and absolute efficiency I am beyond grateful. I want to cry. I want hug them and offer hot coffees and donuts. Instead, T meets me on a mountain bike, carrying the backpacks we used for hiking in college. He crosses in between the excavators, wraps his arm around my shoulder.
We fill the backpacks the groceries and my work bag. Cross back over, and in another handful of minutes I’m there, the fire bright, the kids hugging me, the dog licking my hands, and everything feels certain with the familiarity of home. I am exhausted beyond reason, as though the tenuousness of everything---us, and this, and life, and the gashed and then repaird roadway---is heavy with a weight I can’t perceive.

“Mama, what’s something no one can picture?” Bean asked me on the way to school earlier in the day when the sky was still soft, and the air was warm and damp and smelled of lilacs.

“I don’t know,” I said. “What?”
“Nothing,” he said, seriously, softly. “Nothing. You can’t picture that. It’s the opposite of anything. And every time we try to picture something--we’re picturing something. But nothing... we just can’t picture that.”

On holiday expectations, collisions, and delight: by Christina Rosalie

There is something about first days of the holiday vacation when we're all together as a family, converging on the kitchen with our apron pocket hearts stuffed full with expectations. We show up aproned and get flour everywhere, and then burst into tears, each of us in turn, when there is too much crowding and impatience, too many elbows around the mixer or fingers in the icing. "Mine!" the boys chorus back and forth like harpies.

It's this bittersweet thing, the way we all show up needing. Wanting. Wishing. We put carols on the stereo, and dance to Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and then we end up arguing about something insignificant, a phrase said slantwise or some careless remark, and each of us far more crushed than necessary by the other's harsh tone.

So few days. Full velocity. From one frame of mind to the next we go: from work to full-on family, rolling out sugar cookie dough while tying up loose ends: the last of deadlines, proposals, promises, details. We check our iPhones, catch each other doing so, and sigh, while dreamy snowflakes fall outside. Just enough snow to make the world magic. White on blue, and in the distance cirrus devour mountain tops. The dog licks our bare toes, the fire makes the house toasty, and still we collide. We kiss, we rub noses, we snap, we argue, we laugh. It is all inevitable: this mess, this frantic loving, this silliness of converging in the time allotted before the holiday. Everyone excited, hopeful: imagining perfect days that unfold like the lyrics of the nostalgic carols we play. And though days never do, still we find delight the minute we let go; the minute we remember to just lean into the chaos.

This is just a little reminder to you today: be gentle with yourselves as you converge with family and try to find the rhythm of your mutual expectations. Rest into the mess of it, into the moments just as they unfold. Know that there is no perfect, save for exactly the way the day unfolds with you in it. Be content in the way things will inevitably unravel. Find ways to shake off the expectations and hold instead to the moments of delight that emerge unexpectedly. The easy sparks of joy that come from the simplest things: warm sun, touch, coffee, quiet.

Wishing you each peace + light + delight this holiday. xo! Christina

Life In The Present Tense: A Field Guide To Now ~ Thanking my backers by Christina Rosalie

I'd want to start this week off with sharing (finally) many of the incredible Kickstarter Backers who made this book dream of mine real. These are only the folks who have an online space to share with the world. Together with many others, they believed in this idea when it was just a glimmer in my eye--before I had any kind of real plan, any proposal on paper, any chapters written; when the whole thing consisted of a handful of drafts and a heart full of longing.**
I can't even describe how powerful it is to have people back you. How it makes things real, how it makes you be accountable and your very best self. How generosity is at the root of so much: abundance, success, inspiration, joy.

Thank you.

There is so much talent and creativity and passion and goodness in this list of bloggers and creative entrepreneurs, and they fill me right up with inspiration + gratitude + joy. Have fun perusing. You'll be so delighted.
1017 100 Proof Stories Airstream Dreaming Andie Edwards Annie Denison Barb's Evolving Project Bead Tree Becoming Megsieth Beverly Reverlry Blissful Thinking Brickhouse Studios Bring Yourself Catching Days Cayden J Coco & Lafe Coffee Stained Clarity Daily Fieldnotes Dawn Smith Designs Dream Dust Do What You Love Dust Of Europe Film Project Elayna Alexandra Elisa Elliot Everyday Glimpses Flyover People Hashi Works Hysterical Mommy Network Imaginations Everything In The Violet Hour Inosculation Jorun Boklöv Johanna Hoerrmann Julies Little Joys Just My Digital Stuff Last Crumb Laura Two Tina Learning To Walk In Heels Leonie Wise Lesley Dahl Life On The Green Line Like A Radio Listening & Speaking Little Elm Little Potatoes Liz Lamoreux Lizardek Lylium Magpie Days Magpie Girl Meadow Lark Days Meat Revolution Melissa Brott Photography Michael Kershner Mindy Schroder Molly Sutton Kiefer My Creative Space Oink Tails Paul Frank Perils Of Caffeine In The Evening Phriday Filosofy Pixie Campbell Positively Organic Rosa Murillo Scatterbeams Seeking Equipoise Shameless Self Promoters Slightly Scrappy Shona Cole Solomon Shiv Soulful Owl Some The Wiser Stefanie Renee Story Lamps Sunday School Rebel Superbeck Susan Kruse Susanna Crossman Tara Bradford Photography Terri Rambo The Learning Curve The Life and Times of a Kiwi-Mumbaiiker This Joy Ride Timothy C. Flood Trying To Stay Focused Wet Fresco Photography Wood Smoke & Lingon Berries

Also heart-filled gratitude for the following inspiring + generous bloggers who shared my project with their readers:

Ali Edwards: Giveaway

Boho Girl: Giveaway

Do What You Love: Interview

Liz Lamoreux: Nine {An Interview}

Magpie Girl: 1Q Interview

Susannah Conway: My Creative Life {Interview}

Wishstudio: A Book You Can Help Bring To Life

** (If you are a backer and I didn't include you on this list, it wasn't on purpose! I had a few broken links and a few outdated URLS that I couldn't trace. Please please send me your URL if you backed this project and would like me to add you.)

How summer passed while I was becoming the work by Christina Rosalie

I didn’t realize I’d missed it until I was standing at the window by the wood stove looking out over the hills that have shrugged off nearly all the amber and vermillion leaves of autumn, revealing the skeleton crowns of sugar maples and birches and alders, that I’d missed summer.

The tall wild grass in the fields bends over now, like praying nuns, each rustling frond keeping the secret prayer of burrowing beetles, ants, wasps. The fields have begun to turn brown. Wood smoke hangs in the air. The corn, late to ripen, has finally been cut.

And all the while that it was lush and green, I was indoors, with terrible posture and paint on my jeans, or in class, or traveling to and fro with one or the other boy in the car. Going, doing, going.

I didn’t realize how fast it the season was passing: The greening, the long days, the light, until now, with pumpkins on our window sill waiting for carving, I realize, it’s dark by five; and when we leave for school at 7:30, the sun is just barely climbing above the familiar cleft of the mountains in the East.

So. This is how a summer passes. This is how days pass, one after the next, with effort, with hunched shoulders, with focus, with forgetting. This is what it means to do the work of making; to create until you forget the locus of the present, and orbits inward, inward, toward the source.

There must have been evenings when I lingered with blush wine in a Ball jar in a lawn chair out the back door, but I cannot remember them. I only remember the way the mess in my studio rose and ebbed, drafts spread everywhere, or paint and snippets, and spilled sumi ink.

I look back and realize I had no idea what I was doing. I look forward and realize the same.

This is the realness of creating.

You can’t know the outcome.

There is no guarantee of anything. There is only the act of doing the work, becoming the work.

What I know now is that there are a hundred things I will do better next time (and this will be true for every book I’ll ever make, I’m certain.) I’ll have more clarity of scope, for one. I’ll ask for feedback sooner, instead of holding my drafts and art to my chest like some sort of secret too precious for the world to know.

But whatever way, the one thing that won’t change, that cannot change, is the way that close to the quick, nearing the end, the work consumed me. There is no other way.

And so summer slipped by, a lost season of fluttering grass and weeds that devoured the garden. We had a tomato blight. I barely noticed as the red fruit suddenly rotted on the vine. I accidentally planted some sort of gorgeous cousin to the sunflower: rambling, enormous, with fiery orange flowers that took over an entire bed and bloomed and bloomed. Even now, this late in the month, there are still some blooms left, and when I go to cut them in the early evening, I find bees dormant for the night on every single one. I stare at them and I stare at the flowers and I wonder where both came from. I stand with my sharp knife, and wonder briefly if the bees are dead.

lean in, and blow hot breath on their tiny, perfect bodies and watch as the warmth spreads threw them, and slowly they move antennae, abdomen, wings. They can only be here, in the midst of what they are doing: gathering the season’s last pollen, the promise of honey, and as the sun sets they grow torpid, in the midst of things. This is how it goes. Each day happening so fast, yet while I was in it, each day lasting forever into the hours of artificial light and pre-dawn blue. An eternity of repeated effort.


Not many of you answered my question in this post about doing the work that you love every day, but it’s a big question that I’m digging into in my own life and would like to explore here with you.

What happens between projects, when you feel your creativity ebbing, or your life becomes so full of other things (babies, work, whatever.) How do you make room then, for creativity? I’ve been working on a little project each day this week, exploring just that question that I’ll share tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts...

On motherhood and messes, creative process and apple pie: by Christina Rosalie

Today there is rain and the final splendor of leaves the color of the summer sun, sumacs flutter with fronds of flame, the poplars are already bare. There is wood for stacking, bulbs to be put into the damp, still-soft ground, and the last of autumn's apples for picking: small and hard, with thick skins and the sweetest nearly wild fruit, perfect for pies and apple butter.

Yesterday I made a pie with the boys: each one of them armed with a pairing knife; cutting the slices with gusto and irregularity. There simply wasn’t anything else to do, even though, like every other day, there always is.

Rain was falling and I took one look at the way they were spinning around the kitchen, after having arrived home from their various destinations and I could tell: things would meltdown all too soon if I kept on writing, hunching over my laptop at the counter like some long-legged bird. And so, apple pie.

So we set to work: the boys cutting up apples while I stirred the sugar and butter and spices in a pan. I’m always a little surprised and terribly pleased by how earnest they are in the kitchen! How they just want to be helpful, and how, given real tools and real responsibility, they both are. They formed a team almost immediately, Bean cutting the apples into manageable wedges, and then Sprout following through, chopping each into as many small pieces as he could, and tasting nearly every one.

I let them lick out the bowl of course. And later, when the pie was ready after dinner, we ate it warm, in bowls with a little heavy cream the way my father always used to.

This is part of it: each night as I gather Sprout year old to my chest in the dark, as we sit in the rocking chair in the room he shares with his brother, as I gather his small solid body close and press my nose into his sweet hair, he says, “I want Nonna.”

The first time he said this, I felt my heart hit my ribs, heat spreading across my cheeks with the anguish of this small betrayal.

But what I have begun to understand in the process of making this work, this book, this life, is how to inhale the ache and intensity of these moments, bitter-sweet, and then to release it on the exhale, and say yes to all of it.

To realize: yes, he loves his Nonna. How lucky are we all that this is the arrangement. That he has this tribe of love, and I do. That this work I am doing is possible.

And so I kiss his warm forehead and say, “You’ll see her again tomorrow, my love," and he burrows into my chest and hums along as I sing "Speed Bonny Boat" in the dark.

I’m telling you this because all of this is part of the process. This is the real, messy, frustrating, bittersweet stuff of being a mother and a pioneer/artist/writer/creator. And it is also absolutely the only way I would want things to be. This duality. This love. This creative life.

There are days I don’t see my boys until 4 in the afternoon or sometimes 5, and there are days that even when I’m here, I’m preoccupied with the work I’m in the midst of, and I sit in the middle of the stirring living room, in the middle of the ruckus, writing while they build marble towers or ride their plasma cars around like hellions. And there are days like yesterday, when the pieces all come together: apple pie, thesis abstracts, client deliverables, tickles, brown sugar and cinnamon licked off of fingers. And for the hundred-thousandth time I think to myself, Whatever way, this life is the only life I want.

Tell me, how many of you navigate this tenuous line? What is it like for you?

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?

Making a book (Part 2): Finishing and starting by Christina Rosalie

I want to tell you about finishing at 3a.m., when every last image was uploaded, processed, and correctly named, and every combed over.

The house so quiet that it seemed to hum. Coyotes called when the moon came up, and later owls. A pair of screech owls in particular held a caucus: One shrieking to the other from the branches of dark trees—some kind of ruckus promise people don’t usually hear.

Each night for a week I watched the sky go from black to indigo in the pre-dawn hours, slept less than a handful of hours, and then woke to continue again, because the night hours are the only uninterrupted hours around here (when the only sounds are of dreams, and wind pulling around the house, and wild animals doing what they do.) Then, on a Wednesday night, finally, I was finished.

I went to bed quietly, folding into the pocket of warmth beside T like a small origami bird, with no one awake to witness those first moments just after I hit "send." And in the morning I woke to coffee and fried eggs and little boy yelling and the fact that I was at the beginning of something utterly new.

A new voice. A new angle + slant. A book for your hands to hold next fall.

There are so many things I want to tell you about the messy, beautiful, exhilarating process--and about what's next: The ideas and dreams and plans to come. On Monday: A post about creative constraints and the process of illustrating the book...

But for now, simply this: I couldn’t have survived without Coffee. Or chocolate (in terribly copious amounts.) Or hot showers. Or my small legion of superheroes: T, my in-laws and two friends in particular who, on their respective coasts, nudged and encouraged and pushed me to be my biggest, bravest, truest self.

And YOU.

You, the wanderers and wonderers who come here with bright words and big hearts. I'm so grateful, always for you and your comments. Tell me: When was a time you took an enormous leap? What did it feel like? What happened next?

On making the book (Part 1) by Christina Rosalie

I’m not sure where to begin: at the beginning, or at the ending, or right here, this morning, when I woke to the moon just slipping between the branches of the trees along the edge of the field, and Venus, a little higher up like a diamond against the pale lapis blue of the dawn sky. This is what I know now: that after a week where I stayed up so late I saw the brightening blue that comes before the dawn each day: the way the sky changes from dark to bright, the way the world begins to swell then with the sounds of birds, the way the trees shake off their silhouettes and begin to rustle and flutter with all the dimension of bark and branch and turning leaf.

The hills now are flame the way they turn each fall, and I stare at them in wonder, in awe that somehow together we’ve arrived here: Me and the hills, in fall. That the summer passed I have only this evidence: The garden entirely overgrown with weeds this year. The bright red peppers glowing like sparks among the two-foot high tangle of radishes grown to seed; the Mexican sunflowers offering a hundred yellow centers to the bees: bumble and honey and ground bees all coming and going with an urgency now, storing the last pollen they can find to turn to honey to stave off winter’s length and bite.

That summer came and went, I have only this: a six and a half year old with two missing teeth, and a two and a half year old who talks in full sentences and is afraid of owls and hot air balloons and loves to bring me pretend cups of coffee. “Are you writing again Mama?” he asks. “You want some more coffee?”

That summer came and went, I have only this: a six and a half year old with two missing teeth, and a two and a half year old who talks in full sentences and is afraid of owls and hot air balloons and loves to bring me pretend cups of coffee. “Are you writing again Mama?” he asks. “You want some more coffee?”

The monarchs have left the fields; and when we drive, we pass fields where the vines have dried to brown in the first hard frosts of the season, and the pumpkins lie exposed and orange like so many dots in a Serat painting. The hills are turning to flame. At night owls call, and coyotes wake us. In the morning the grass is drenched with dew or frost.

And I am here, at the beginning, at the end, right here in the heart of a vibrant autumn, and I finished the book.

I made a book. (And Yes. I totally got goosebumps writing that.)

I created an entire body mixed media work, turning my studio a storm of snippets and spilled India ink and gel medium and postcards and so many empty coffee cups. I spent the past three weeks working intensely

I want to write more about that process this week—because it was a glorious, immense undertaking that brought manifold lessons about what is possible, about creative constraints, about accepting help, and about urgency and drive and passion.

It split me open, gave me courage, terrified me, and made me absolutely certain of this one thing: This work is exactly what I am meant to be doing.

More tomorrow...Really, truly, excited about being back here.

{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!

I am in labor by Christina Rosalie

It feels like I am in labor, to be this close with the manuscript.

So close. But still, not there. Not where it needs to be. The final chapters dogging me, not quite right, not quite what they need to be yet. It's like some part of my mind is sabotaging me into this stasis: Like if I never finish, I won't have just risked everything, given everything I have.

Today the air is still heavy with humidity even after dark, and I keep circling, circling, trying to find another angle, another entry point to the words, to what I am trying to say, to what remains to be said.

The hardest part is that the whole thing is so many words. I get lost. I have to print the whole thing out and spread it about in fluttering sheaves across the floor. My studio is strewn, in shambles, with drafts. Some cut apart, taped together in new directions. It's like conducting an orchestra, this final compiling: Making each chapter vibrate in tempo with the next.

I'm experiencing some serious mental kickback. Exhaustion. Frustration. I second guess. I doubt myself. I read, re-read. Give up. Feel euphoric. Feel terrified. I'm at the same point just before transition in labor, where during the birth of both boys I yelled, "I can't do it. I can't."

That kind of close.

Today this was my distraction: Looking for awe in simple things. In the color green. In the gulls on the wind swept air. Now, back at the page.

When doing the work you love gets hard, what gets you through?

HELLO, I MISSED YOU! I'm back from my offline adventures. Some highlights: by Christina Rosalie

Hello friends!

Thank you for holding this space for me. Your comments when I came back on line a few days ago made my heart smile so very wide.

It was spectacular to take time off from the online world. To write, and write, and write. To notice things at a different pace. To fall in love again with dictionaries, with the sound of quiet, with paint on my fingers and my jeans. To feel fully focused, fully here, with only this intention: To write well and daily. To pull chapters together into a symphony of moments. To make sketches of illustrations still to come.

Now I'm back online, back to school on Tuesday, back to the pell mell pace of things. This September is crazy busy. I'll be contributing to a blog I love next week; finishing a piece for the fall/winter issue of Kinfolk (swoon!); finishing the illos for the book; prepping for a panel discussion on digital storytelling at the Burlington Literary Festival... and sort of holding my breath until it's all over....

In October I'm planning some lovely (and really big) changes around here, and finally, finally the rewards for my dear enduring Kickstarter backers who have waited more than a year now for me to send these goodies out... And the interview series here that I've been wanting to launch for so long. Super goodness. So excited.

Between now and then, I have so many photos to share from the past two weeks, and so many small stories: About tooth fairies, and rainstorms, gallery openings, quick summer meals and the process of making illustrations for the book...

Now it's your turn... Tell me: The 5 very best things that happened in the past two weeks. Go!

On making space for the work I am doing: by Christina Rosalie

Hello friends!

My semester ended today, and fall is in the air even though it's August still. You can feel it in the way the breeze is cool coming through the open windows in the morning, and the light is golden and slanted as it angles across the mountains after dinner. Twilight is already coming earlier. The corn, even though it was planted late because of the rains, has grown and grown through the hot July days, and is shoulder high now: fat ears with silken tassels waving on every stalk.

Between now and the beginning of next semester I have just exactly ten days of time that have nothing in them save for my book. Ten brief late summer days to finish the chapters that still refuse to be finished, and to revise and revise until the whole manuscript sings; then I'll send it off to my most trusted readers for one last look through, with a week or two on the other side for revisions.

And somewhere in that time, all the illustrations that have been slowly gathering, piece by piece on the wires I have hanging above my studio desk, need to come together too.

And all this feels momentous and utterly amazing. I sometimes still need to pinch myself to confirm: this is my life. I'm doing what I always dreamed of doing.

Still, it also feels completely overwhelming and daunting... Because, oh my, I am finishing the essays and illustrations for my first book! And there's more than a wee bit of pressure around it all.

And now I have ten days of time now that are just for this glorious daunting work and I've decided that I must use that time as wisely as I possibly can. I have been feeling spread awfully thin, and especially so in the digital space where I spend so much of my time learning and creating and absorbing. And I know how distracted I become under the urgency of deadlines, to slip down one rabbit hole after the next here: filling my mind with the snippets of news and headlines and information and inspiration.

So I've decided to take the next ten days off from the internet.

I've never done anything like this. The last time I didn't have a consistent internet connection was in 2004 when blogs were things people only talked about in whispered conversations or not at all, and people had no capacity to imagine the iPhone and the way it would transform us into a culture of being "always on."

I'm actually afraid of doing this.

I'm afraid of disconnecting. There are already a host of voices clattering in my mind: What if you miss something important? What if you miss out on some opportunity? What if you're forgotten? What if your readers stop reading? What if your twitter followers stop following you? What if your friends stop emailing, commenting, caring? What if you're not missed at all? These are the voices in the head of a girl who is always on, always connected, always engaged in the field of digital media. This is where I do my work, share my stories, and connect to my tribe.

And because I have so many fears, I know it is exactly the right thing to do. I need to trust that you'll still be here. That the story I am telling matters not only when I'm here telling it, but in the quiet times too when I'm creating new work with every fiber of my being.

I need to trust that opportunities will still find me; that inspiration will come knocking on other doors; that connections will happen in other ways.

Because the work that I am doing to bring this book to fruition is really really important work.

So I'm asking you this: Will you hold this space gently for me while I'm gone for the next ten days?

I'll be back then, with stories to share and magic to tell.

All the love in the world, Christina

This today: by Christina Rosalie


Honey comb + lemons from Los Angeles in the mail (thank you sister!)

This food blog. Oh my. So inspired by the photos + eating seasonally.

Summer rain and crickets.

Finding the perfect place folded into T's arms and dreaming for a half our putting the boys to bed.

Planning my thesis.

Prepping postcards for illustrations for my book.

The ache in my heart for London and for the way inequality and unrest is becoming, more than ever, the story of our collective culture.

Feeling like the work I am doing for my book: about bringing intention and bravery and creativity to the ordinary moments of our small lives is becoming more and more important.

Your turn:

A glimpse into my studio right now: by Christina Rosalie

Working on illustrations for the book. Mixed media collage + digital + graphite sketches.


Also: A midsummer migrane; cicadas singing into late evening.; trying to remember to drink enough water + follow garment care instructions for washing; wishing for decompression; wrapping up projects for the summer semester; singing songs to Sprout until he falls asleep in my arms (a rare occasion for us both.)

{in progress} by Christina Rosalie

The summer's half over, and I'm swimming in a sea of chapters. Held down by river stones, the pages of various drafts flutter on the floor as the fan oscillates. Meanwhile I vacillate back and forth believing this manuscript will be complete by deadline and the book will be good; and that I'll never make the deadline, and it's all a pile of crap. Mostly I try just keep my eye on the page, my heart in my words, and my fingers flying.

on my path by Christina Rosalie

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations--
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver


Thank you, thank you for your words! I'm soaking them up as I plunge into an intense week with tight deadlines for school, facing things I don't know how to do and time constraints I don't know how to meet. I'm so excited to share this book. To make it good, and true, and beautiful. I love that it has illustrations, and can't wait to share some peaks at my process with you, just as soon as I come up to breathe again.

Today I sit at my kitchen table by a vase of iris and roses (thank you my sweet sister!) and watch fat wet snow fall hard. I keep coming up against the boundaries of what I'm capable of in code (Action Script 3.0), and keep fumbling until I get beyond them. This process takes hours, with hardly anything to show, and I'd be frustrated except that none of it really matters, save for how I'm learning, always and again from what I cannot yet do. From every misstep, I learn the location of solid ground; from every failed attempt, wrong turn, or narrow miss, I find my path more clearly.

Love & LAUNCH! by Christina Rosalie

I did it. Days of mapping out details and collecting information and editing video clips (whoa, no small thing!) and finally, here it is. A Field Guide To Now. It kind of feels like giving birth. A lot like it in fact: the risk, the unknown, the realization that it's all beyond my control even though I'm going to give it every single thing I've got.

It's the first time I've ever taken a leap like this. Plunged with a fluttering heart towards a dream.

Please support this.*

+++ And also: I have two birthday boys this week! Bean's birthday is the 16th and Sprouts four days after. This is the week that has changed my life, twice, momentously. It felt so utterly right to launch this project today. (Still. I'm nervous.)


*Things are tenuous financially, and this would make a huge difference. Please Share this project with everyone you know.