Self Discovery

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.

7 things I'm doing to rest + recalibrate this weekend: by Christina Rosalie

1. Slipping offline for the weekend

2. Layering pretty dresses + winter cords, painting my finger nails, and putting henna in my hair

3. Taking walks alone to stalk the Piliated woodpecker in the far meadow, and follow coyote tracks

4. Emptying my inbox entirely

5. Clearing the number of feeds in my RSS reader

6. Reading Mary Oliver's Evidence. Again.

7. Getting a dog.

Daily Art + Unabashed joy by Christina Rosalie

I watch my son sitting across the table from me in the golden afternoon light, drawing. He draws effortlessly, without thinking of it as a creative act. It is simply a means, a process, a discovery. Every morning before school he draws; every afternoon, he produces copiously, without caution, without expectation. He makes pictures because they are adventure: the representations of the story track running in his head. He draws in a way that is utterly his own. Complex lines: cogs, wheels, wires, motors. He draws pitched roofs and internal stairways, porch lights and door bells, cars with drive-shafts, oceanscapes with pirate ships, secret potion machines, fantastical creatures, and night skies filled with five pointed stars. These, he’s just mastered, and he draws them in everything now, along with words and letters, filling up secretive corners on every page where he practices invented spelling; summoning the magic of phonemes and consonants to make word sounds.

And he draws all of it, without even realizing the work, the effort, the certain shortcomings of his ability; he draws all of it joyfully, filling page after page with deep, wholehearted practice.

I’m in awe of this. Of him, now, at six and a half, before self doubt has any leverage at all; before there are any inklings of “perfect,” in his bright mind. Before this effortless creating slips away and the unwanted cacophony of standards, criticisms, expectations, and reviews fill its place.

Now there is simply the joy of drawing lines for the sake of it: Drawing without any critique at all, without any consideration for audience or perception. His art is the work of wholly self-absorbed wonder, and I am taking notes.

This week I have been asking: What do I need to do to allow myself to create as recklessly and easily?

What creative constraints do I need to put in place to quiet the analytical chatter at the back of my mind, ever full of commentary, critique, and doubt?

When I was finishing the illustrations for my book I discovered the immense power of creative constraints: Of having certain parameters that defined the scope of the work. I have found that for me, incredible creative force emerges under such circumstances, and in the context of daily practice, I’ve been experimenting with constraints as a way to short circuit my inner critic, and find my way back to the simple joyful state of art as play; of making as wonder; of creating as joy.

This week, I’ve been inviting myself to show up for 15 minutes to make a piece of art—and to be joyfully, gently, gratefully satisfied with whatever emerges from that process. As V-Grrrl commented in my last post, "I’m first and foremost a writer"... and I know this resonates with many of you as well. But there is something so profound about working with images. It’s good cross training, at the very least: to slip out of your comfort zone, and create with the pure raw material of image.

I’m going to keep doing this for the entire month of November, sharing my pieces every week in this set, and I am wondering:

What if you were to join me? What if you were to you accept this invitation, and explore your child-self; your creative, adventurer heart?


I’ve created DAILY ART flickr pool here

...if you’d like to join me on this adventure... I'll be posting more observations and discoveries about ways to get started this week...if this is something that you'd like me to share... I would SO LOVE to have you join me.

I'm also curious: When was the last time you remember being creative without worrying about meeting a deadline, or if you were "doing it right" or being "good enough"? When do you find yourself slipping into an un-judging creative groove?

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!