Portland, Maine in so many, many pictures by Christina Rosalie

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So we went to Portland East for the weekend, and oh, what a beautiful city. I dare say I fell in love. And have heaps of pictures to prove it (sorry about the overload. I just had to share all of my favorites.)
Right before we left I broke my phone, and so for the weekend I only carried my DSLR, instead of defaulting to my iPhone and it was a welcome change. Every time I walk about with my "real" in hand I find that I bring a different level of intention to my observation.
I look for the small details that make things real: the skull and cross bones sticker on the door; the fish tails on the floor; the wedge of lemon in my drink; the silhouette of gulls as the sky turns to twilight; tattered prayer flags flying overhead; the pattern of sunlight and dappled shade; the way things decay at the edges of things.

Faces that I love: by Christina Rosalie

Big grin -- Christina Rosalie Rascal -- Christina Rosalie

Pouty Face -- Christina Rosalie

My oldest boy -- Christina Rosalie

My oldest boy -- Christina Rosalie

My oldest boy -- Christina Rosalie

Puppy Portrait - Christina Rosalie

I've been using my DSLR again lately, and I have to admit, I almost forgot the depth and texture that it captures. I use my iPhone so much--simply because it's always on hand. But I so love slowing down, and really looking through the lens. I think these shots totally capture the boys right now. Who they are, and what they're like--mud streaked, pen marked, dirt under their finger nails. They've been on vacation this week, and finally the weather has started to turn warm--inviting long hours of outdoor play in little aluvial streams, climbing apple trees, and building forts, Clover always nearby chasing sticks.

Creative habits: glimpses from around here lately by Christina Rosalie

Creative habits form slowly, and as I've been making them new, I’ve found that every action I take must be intentional: prioritizing what’s important over what’s urgent; really sinking into conversations that matter; saying yes only when I really mean yes, and no unequivocally the rest of the time.
I don’t think I understood really, how flat-out I’d been. How the pace of my life had become my life. How, in spite of writing a book about this very thing, somewhere along the way I slipped back into the groove of doing the day to do it, rather than to be in it. And now, after having come to a full stop, I’m beginning again, with tender intention to form new habits that feed my soul.
Habits are interesting things. When we create them with care, they can be our secret weapon, jet fuel for living at our truest velocity. But when we simply react to our lives, habits form too. The past few weeks for me has been all about peeling back the layers of self, and finding the fulcrum of habits that have formed out of self-doubt and self-preservation and angst and worry, and letting them go. The next part, which has been surprisingly hard for me, is defining the shape of new habits that support my greatest intentions, and align work with joy, so that instead of becoming a job, the work I do becomes my livelihood.
I’ve been writing lots of lists. Sorting. Sifting. Prioritizing. Downsizing. All of it feels, as I’ve said before, really right-timed right now, with spring creeping across the fields as the snow melts and each day new birds arrive. The air in the morning now is filled with calls, even as now flurries still fall.
Here are a few glimpses from what our weekend looked like. One of the creative habits I want to grow this month is blogging regularly--even when I all I have are a handful of snapshots, moments un-curated and in progress, the little glimpses of life as it's happening around here. It's something I struggle with--because I always feel like words should be there too, crafted and thoughtful, but lately I've been wondering if that's just another story that I've been telling myself. Maybe less is more here too?
Happy Monday, dear friends!
In the comments will you tell me: what does the word livelihood mean to you? And also: what creative habits are you trying to cultivate in your life right now?

Why productivity is not enough by Christina Rosalie

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The roads are muddy now; one day ice, the next day thaw. The sun can’t make up it’s mind. It shows up in the morning all glowy and bright, and then the day turns fierce and raw, with flurries in our faces. The beginning of March is the time when things appear to be standing still at the surface, but underneath the mud is thawing and sap running, and it seems right on time, this shift.
I’m reeling still, coming off of what has more or less been a four year sprint: a baby, a book, graduate school, a job, and now this, whatever this is.
I’ve been thinking a lot about standing still. About really giving pause.
I’m not sure when the last time was that I really did that. Stopped entirely for long enough to feel only the rhythm of my own pulse stirring. Can you put your finger on a time like that? When you weren’t actively producing anything. When was the last time that you came to a full stop?
The houses along the back roads here show a rawness and wear this time of year. The optimistic red paint from brighter time is worn thin. Barns that were once full with the sweet breath of dairy cows stand empty or are repurposed, housing tools or tractors or other less important things. Houses gird against the thinning and seemingly endless cold of New England's forever-long winters.
I think that what we’re afraid of, our Industrial Complex in over drive, is that like the barns, we’ll become obsolete the minute we stop producing. Pause one second, and the next we’ll be a wash-up, cardboard over the windows for extra insulation.
I think that’s what has surprised me most about being adult: that it never stops. That if you let it, the world keeps right on demanding. That if you buy it, everything is about production, about resources, about consumption. As if we are made of infinite stuff; time unlimited, our hearts as geared to function like some precise and whirring machine. The days fill up. The years too. Do you feel the way that happens? The way output gets weighted over input; matter over spirit, job over calling.
When was the last time exactly that you came a full stop, or let the hours or days fill with emptiness?
I am feeling my way along the edges of this truth, and finding myths at every turn. Productivity is our inheritance, borne of our our Western Industrial Complex. We produce, to produce more in kind. Our productivity simply yields more. More hours spent producing. More minutes, multi-tasked.
But the fields know a different secret under snow. They lie there, unafraid, bearing the sudden weight of snow, the prolonged rest of white on white, where only voles and field mice and foxes hunger in the gathering dusk, leave a smudge of vermillion at the periphery of what we know; tracks crossing here and there to unknown places that lead back underground. The fields, fallow, gather promise. Metabolize potential. Prepare for the wild frenzied greening of May and June when suddenly the grass is waist high, and we blink and there are red winged black birds making nests and milkweed growing tall and purpling with blooms.
When was the last time you let the field of your heart lie fallow? Not in ruin, like the barns in disrepair, signifiers of industry no longer relevant. Not by accident, or by neglect, or because of giving up. But on purpose and with intention. To rest, to recuperate.
Full stop.
And then to gather energy anew.
I have no idea what that looks like really. I’m just feeling my way around the edges of it, wondering, and also knowing that my body, animal first, is begging me to listen, attuned first to it's wild truth, more than to the endless precise production of machines. How to listen. How to slow in these moments now entirely?
Tell me things. Tell me about full stops, and fallow times, and hibernation. What comes then?

A glimpse of Oahu by Christina Rosalie

Pacificred crab sunbreak boat Hawaii IMG_2418 IMG_2426 IMG_2556 IMG_2653 IMG_2633 IMG_2404 IMG_2346

It's nearly impossible not to feel homesickness for this place; for the way the ocean made everything right, tousling hair, salt-slicking shoulders, lulling us to sleep at night. It's hard not to long for the way the trade winds blew, the way our became curly, and there was always the ocean to watch and fruit to cut, sweeter than from the mainland, with fingers to lick afterwards.

On seeing and being seen (a little more Squam love) by Christina Rosalie

Here are few more of my favorite images from my time at Squam last week. It's hardly possible to do anything more than simply post them. They capture the way I saw the moments, the golden light, the magic of those days.

All I can really say is that my time at Squam was just enough.

Just enough time to become a parenthesis, a pause from the exuberance and rushingness of little boys and busy life.

Just enough time to find myself, between arrival and departure, just still, at the end of a dock watching as the yellow sun became golden and the lake lit with the color of the heavens.

Just enough time to lie under a storm tossed sky while Jonatha played her guitar to the gathering gulls, and to us--the women around me, gathered there with big hearts and bigger courage; with gorgeous souls, incredible stories; with wild hair and vivacious dance moves; with laughter and wonder and delight.

Just enough time to feel my heart swell big in gratitude.

Oh yes.

A work in progress: by Christina Rosalie

“A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, “Simba!”’

(Annie Dillard, The Writing Life)

From Instagram, with love. by Christina Rosalie

Hi. It's been a busy handful of days. There has been catching tadpoles, and picking apple blossoms; meeting my twin nephews and watching my boys play with their cousins; birthday cake and deadlines; air turbulence and taxi rides; an end of the week business trip to NYC; then riding the train up to CT to the wedding of one of my oldest friends.

There's more to that last story for another day. So much more.

But for tonight there are a handful of photos from what I've been up to since graduating. (Thank you for all your awesome comments and appreciation for the big work of my thesis. I so adore you all.)

The wildness of crows and the wonder of taking note by Christina Rosalie

For a few weeks just at the end of winter before we set the clocks ahead and the evenings were filled with yellow light, I'd leave work just after the sun had set; the sky still stained blue and tangerine with the remnants of the sun's grandur, and I'd look up, reacquainting myself with the wideness of the heavens and the moon and the geometry of rooflines and I'd see them:


Sometimes just a few, other times so ten or twelve, or even dozens flying all in the same direction, their harsh calls filling the darkening air; and one day looking out the window of my car I saw their silhouettes gathering in the tree tops in an empty patch of land between the electricity co-op and a renovated factory building.

Not ten or twelve, but hundreds, thousands of crows.

The first day I kept driving, smiling to myself at the strange figment of wonder I'd witnessed. The next day leaving work the sky was full of crows again, and when I drove past, I drove more slowly, starring. On the sidewalk people were walking to and fro as if it were a normal occurrence; as if the thousands of crows covering every tree top above them were something utterly ordinary.

The third day I left work a few minutes early on purpose. The moon above me was completely round and white, pinned on the azure blanket of twilight like a cameo brooch, and when I got to the maples, they were already black silhouettes against the sky.

I parked behind the factory and walked out to the edge of the trees, and oh, I've never heard anything like it.

Pure wildness, the sound of thousands of crows. All calling, all cawing at once, their wings simultaneously beating the air and the settling.

I watched until my fingers grew cold, and my cheeks flushed and then I turned reluctantly to go.

The next day there were only a few--maybe a dozen in the trees, and today there weren't any there at all.


This life. Take note.

Make time for the reckless detour, the irrational urge to pause and be transformed by wonder.

A kind of christening by Christina Rosalie

I know I promised you all kinds of things: Part 2, a list, posts full of details and whimsy, but here I am, in the middle of things and all I want to tell you about is the hour that I spent on the California coastline this weekend. All I want to do is hit pause. All I want to do is linger.

So that I can remember the way the ocean sounded. The way it felt like coming home, and how that feeling hit me so hard it almost took my breath away.

I haven’t seen the Pacific since my father was alive. I haven’t been back there, to that familiar geography of rolling hills and gnarled cypress since he died. And oh, how that feeling pummeld me. The bittersweet of grief and longing, of memory and utter joy.

Standing there on the sandy beach with the cuffs of my jeans rolled up, ankle deep in the cold tide, I found myself inhabiting the memory of my twenty-one year old self.

I didn’t know my father was dying.

I’d just barely met the man I would marry.

I couldn’t imagine the children I’d conceive. These boys that I have now.

I hadn’t even claimed the word writer as my own.

Let alone heard the phrase brand strategy. Blogs didn’t exist. Social media wasn’t even a term. Google had just barely made the scene. People used Hotmail and still picked up the phone.

I was a girl with salt tangled hair, who felt like her heart would just bust open from the sheer wild joy of the waves.

And here I was now: 33, turning 34 in a matter of days. Inhabiting that feeling. Those memories. That ache, that loss, that progress.

It was cleansing, and devastating and wildly, utterly gorgeous. The light. The waves. The sand. The sky.

I picked up a small handful of treasures: a tiny wing-shaped shell, a bit of driftwood, a gull feather. And then I looked and shut my eyes and listened, until who I was and who I am became the same. Christened there, in the sea foam, before I turned to go.

The beauty of the light by Christina Rosalie

The light's been catching my eye lately. I can't help photographing it.

To look up from work and see how the world has changed; how the light has moved across the room, or walk the woods and find the shadows falling differently there.

To see with my painter's eye, the way there is more yellow now, more cobalt in the shadows.

The dog keeps helping me to remember the rhythm of the day. The morning sun, the late twilight gold, the long shadows.

What are you up to this week? Say hello!

This is true: by Christina Rosalie

Listen. What you hold with your hands is everything.




What you hold are hold the fragile wings of something that arrives in the night and then slips away, leaving only its slight carbon footprint on your sill; or the small body of a sparrow that’s just hit the window. Or maybe you hold the runaway tug of your dog’s leash; or the runaway tug of your heart.

You might hold the hand of the one you love; or your face in your hands; the heft of your child’s body, his head thrown back with laughter; or the weight of emptiness in your palms pressed together in prayer.

What you need to know is that what you hold can be a anything. What counts is intention. What counts is reaching out. Taking hold. Accepting. Offering.


Spend today taking note of your hands: of the artful way they pick up a pencil, wipe tears from a cheek, flip eggs, type, caress, create. Of how they translate the world for you; the way they’re the bridge between what’s inside your heart, and what you make of it. Of the way they feel held in another’s hand, or pressed into dough, or submerged in water. Imagine the joy you can hold; the possibility you can ask for and accept, like a boomerang tossed and received.

Start with this.

Today I hold the last of autumn’s leaves; papery now, and wind tossed; my coffee frothy and warm; scissors for cutting Sprout’s long bangs; the excitement of new possibilities; a brush dripping with aqua ink; the soft cotton of shirts, ready for folding.

What do your hands hold today?


An autumn glimpse + Do What You Love Shared Stories Feature: by Christina Rosalie

Just wanted to share these photos from a woodland walk with my sweet Sprout yesterday afternoon. It's such a different pace: To go with just him through the woods, noticing, looking, laughing. It was a good break between projects and potty training and school pick up and all the other "shoulds" and "musts" of a busy Monday.

Also, I wanted to let you know that a some of my words + images about creative process and finally doing the work that I love are up over at Do What You Love: Shared Story Series this week.

What work do you love? Does it make it to your daily to-do list?

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!

Breakfast + Boys by Christina Rosalie

This is the last week of my semester. Then a little more than a week to work on my book flat out before projects for the next semester already resume. Cannot believe summer is almost over. Bean has a loos tooth. Sprout has started talking in complex and lengthy sentences all of a sudden. My book is almost done. Time = flying.

What have you been up to?