Living With Purpose

Almost enough by Christina Rosalie

A different view \\ Christina Rosalie Overhead \\ Christina Rosalie

Almost enough time to recalibrate. Almost enough time to remember who I am when I feel like I am enough. When the hours stop racing. When wet leaves become amber gems under foot and umbrellas become hideouts for kisses. Almost enough time, across the boarder and far up north, falling asleep on hotel pillows with French vowels in my mouth.

Almost enough to catch my breath, remember what it feels like to be carefree. Almost. Still. I wish it could have been longer. I wish there were days, back to back. A week, maybe. Time slowing to honey.

Instead, it was brief and golden, and then back to the pell-mell of too-full days.

It's that time of year, when I'm wishing for extra hours. When I'm feeling the way that as the days grow darker earlier, and the time veritably speeds up; the hours become more compressed and even more things call for my attention.   * * * Do you feel that with the season's shift? The way the rush hits? The way there suddenly is so much to do before the year ends? It feels somehow unnatural doesn't it? This pace. It goes against every fiber and sinew of being, to rush as the world prepares for the stillness of a gathering winter.

On the cusp of a new month, I want to find a different syncopation; a truer tempo between stillness and motion. I'd also like to show up here daily, even just with photos, as evidence: of being enough. And of the moments. One after the next. Golden. Passing.

Grow your wonder by Christina Rosalie

It’s easy to forget, with all the potential of our complex technologies and science how little we actually really know. It’s easy to grow complacent with google at our finger tips, data always at the ready, answers as cheap and fast as rain. It’s easy to forget about wonder, and how it dwells in us as a vital force. Yet to wonder is to explore the anatomy of creativity.

To wonder, is to remember your smallness among the universe of things: galaxies and breath and sudden dying stars, first chances, and last encounters; and to take note of the minutia that matters--an individual flick of the wrist; the subtlety of gesture, the complexity of synapses, the nuances of code, or laughter, or pronunciation. And beneath that to ask: what is your heart saying when you listen?

To wonder is to look up into the night sky, or at the Fibonacci spiral unfolding in the petals of a flower, and be filled with utter awe. Wonder is why children are profusely, almost unstoppably creative. They imagine everything is possible, and bow down before that possibility with their imagination in their palms as an offering.

When was the last time you were overcome with wonder?

To love, to care for, and to dream by Christina Rosalie

Saturday morning the boys woke up early, their voices carrying down the hall before the sun was up. The sky was overcast and pale with the milky light of pre-dawn, and I nosed in next to T, smelling the fragrance of his skin where his clavicle meets his shoulder, and burrowed farther under the covers. But soon they were at our door, two eager faces, one with a jack-o-lantern grin of missing teeth, the other a pacifier still in his mouth, in spite of the fact that he is almost four.

“We’re going to the zoo today!” they announced, as if we might have forgotten.

We’d planned the trip for a week. A two hour drive north across the boarder to the Granby Zoo, and somehow, suddenly, it was Saturday, and they were ready to pounce, impatient, grinning, gregarious. T got up first, and while he showered, they tucked in under the covers with me—and we whispered about what we were looking forward to seeing the most. Me: the hippos. Sprout, was hoping for lions. Bean said, “possibly giraffes.”

tiger || Christina Rosalie

It’s not something I ever did as a child—curling up with my parents in bed. The closest thing to it was curling up with my dad on the wide arm of his big brown La-Z-Boy.

But it’s something that feels completely intuitive and animal, to nose in next to each other, all warm and soft and still only half-here and half in the fantastical blurry almost-nowhere place of dreams. And it’s something I love, maybe it’s the thing I love the most about being a mother: this dozy time with them under the covers next to me, when they’re still in their pajamas, their hair all mussed and sweet smelling.

Sprout always tucks his hand into the nook of my neck, and Bean often ends up, propped on an elbow, telling me about something or other with a still-dreamy, faraway look on his face.

The porcupines know what this is like: to doze together, and to dream. The hippos too, know how it matters to be near in rest, as they spend their time underwater breathing only occasionally, first one, and then the other; taking long slow breaths before drawing their heads back under the surface to doze, one upon the other’s haunches, lulled by the lapping blue water of dreams.  

* * *
This is what being a mother teaches me again and again. That we are animal first, then human. with spirits bigger than our skin and breath and bones, this truth humbles me again and again.

flamingo || Christina Rosalie

As the shower thrums, we hear T start to sing, “Oh we’re going to the zooooo…” and we burst into simultaneous giggles, and then join in, singing all together a slapstick, made-up song. Then there were socks, and jeans, and cinnamon rolls bought from one of our favorite bakeries the night before, and coffee, and then more coffee in to-go mugs, and a box of snacks, and hats and rain gear and then we were off.

And if I can pass along anything about going to the zoo with young kids it would be this: go at the end of the summer season. Go in the autumn on a somewhat rainy day. Go with snacks, and warm clothes and zero expectations, except to be amazed.

elephant || Christina Rosalie

We had the zoo to ourselves, almost. We rode the monorail, and saw every single animal in the zoo, and had all the time in the world to feed the nectar drinking parrots, and pet the sting rays, and watch the tigers get fed, and stand in baffled delight as the elephant made a bee-line for us and then picked up a trunk full of dirt and hurled it directly at us, flapping her huge ears, before trundling off.

We had enough time to eat lunch, and let the boys run everywhere they wanted to run, and then ride, side by side in an extra-wide push-cart. And because it was the end of the season, the carnival rides were all closed, save for the bumper cars, which were free, and Sprout’s face was worth a million bucks when he figured out that he could press down the accelerator pedal and actually drive.

And the truth of it all is that I’m not sure about zoos. I’m not sure about the way it feels to stand there, watching on one side of the glass, while the small world that exists on the other is terribly finite. But I also know, that these creatures are the captive evidence of some far greater, wild—and also dwindling--proof: the world is rife with such extravagant, vital, irrational beauty.

hippo || Christina Rosalie

That there are hippos, big and unwieldy, with nearly waterproof hides, and self-sealing nostrils. That “jackalopes” exist at all. That porcupines sleep, despite their quills, one piled atop the next, breathing in synch, sharing porcupine dreams. That giraffes must stoop, legs spread like precarious A-frames to eat the tender grass. That the primates are so like us, eyebrows moving up and down in curiosity or disapproval as they watch us watch them from beyond the wire mesh or glass. And that intolerance is something that is exclusively and terribly human—borne of some feverish desire to draw lines, to exclude, to possess.

But before that, beyond that, we are animal first. And if going to the zoo can anything beyond simply standing in wonderment, I hope that it is this. A reminder of our place among the creates of this earth, and that our work, as brave and tender and terrible humans, is to love, to care for, and to dream.

The way autumn begins (on finding moments for rest) by Christina Rosalie

Rocks that I love || Christina Rosalie

There is a storm outside. There is a stirring wind that makes the chimes clink in the lilac, and the rain rat-a-tat against the dark glass where reflections from candles dance. There are little tea candles in jelly jars, flickering yellow and soft against the creamy walls; and purple gladiolas in a turquoise vase that T bought while I was away. He cleaned our bedroom too; rearranging the furniture to make it a sanctuary of softness, white on white, save for the bed frame which he painted turquoise, my favorite color, instead of the black it was since college.

* *

We built the frame together just before we moved to NYC for the summer, his senior year. We were still nearly kids, sneaking into the woodshop late with borrowed keys, cutting boards and planing them, using regular hardware store bolts to hold at the corners. And somehow, it’s made every move with us -- expanding to allow for extra slats when we got a king sized mattress to accomodate Bean when he was still small and spent the night between us, arms splayed like a starfish.

Now he is long limbed and in second grade. He's missing both front teeth, and reads things over my shoulder and bosses his brother around. And Sprout: he started preschool two weeks ago.

Blink. Preschool.

And the bed holds all of us on Saturday morning. The sun angles in from between the wooden slats of the window shades, and we all nuzzle and doze. And even on a weekday mornings the boys will often come running down the hall, while T is in the shower, and tuck, one under each arm into bed with me, their bodies warm and wiggly and still supple with dreams.

* *

It's the end of a long, fruitful, busy week.

I meant to write other things tonight: about reading from my book in Boston, and about other book promo things -- but the truth is: I tire of that some days, and I miss simply telling you about where I am just now, in the middle of things. About the turning of the seasons and my dog's cold nose pressed against my wrist as I write. And about the way she comes to curl beside us, her body knowing what I must relearn again and again: that I too am an animal in need of rest.

I'm looking forward to slowing down this weekend. To stacking wood, to uploading photos from Squam, and to spending some time in my studio making things.

How about you? What are your intentions for the weekend?

The truth and the stories... by Christina Rosalie

"I believe in everything not yet said."

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

from The Book of Hours

Hello dear ones, Oh it's been so long, I hardly know how to begin. The stories I've been living though--oh, they are good ones. Some to tell, some to tuck away into the secret sheaves of story in my mind.

* * *

I can't believe it: that my book will be in book stores in a matter of days, and already it's in Amazon.

* * *

The truth is: I don't really have my stuff together at all about this whole book launch thing. It's a wild adventure of living into the moment, and to be honest, there are many days (most, actually) where it feels like I'm hurtling towards the unknown without guardrails.

The truth is also that I wish I had more time, and I'm just now, finally beginning to reclaim some for this work that I love so very dearly.

And the truth is that in every free moment, instead of writing, I've been painting postcards to send out to all my backers, along with printing the most GORGEOUS postcards--of original illustrations from A Field Guide To Now. And they are really so lovely!

It's terribly fun to see them as actual postcards--that you can hold in your hand and scribble notes on from the moment and then send off to your friends and loved ones. I can't wait to share/show them to you!

I'm going to be giving away a couple of packs of postcards this Friday--so stay tuned for details.

* * *

In the meantime, tell me things.

Tell me: what has yet to be said in your life?

Tell me: what are you looking forward to with the arrival of this new season?

The wisdom of animal totems by Christina Rosalie

I was with a friend recently who asked me what my animal totem was, and without thinking really, or hesitating at all I said, "A bird, because of the view that they have, because of the way they can lift off and see the topography from above. The bigness of it, and the smallness of it too: the way perspective shifts: the way the tree becomes minute, the waterfall insignificant, the sky infinite."

But if I were to get specific, it’s been the blackbird lately that’s been calling me. It's the blackbird's sooty feathers and silhouette that I picture in my head. And when I took the time to look it up, I really paused. Delighted and in awe of how right the meaning is for my life right now.

Every time I encounter this truth, I'm always wonder-filled again by the fact that there is such wisdom in everything if we stop to listen; if we pay attention to our selves, and souls, and inclinations and leanings.

“Blackbird awakens the mind with awareness as changes of perceptions are unfolding…. At this time there is a magic of the unseen worlds coming forth that is paired with the balance of grounding within the earth as you walk your path. Blackbird will guide this new awakening…. Blackbird will teach much and bring new surprises when you least expect it. Pay attention and listen carefully." >>

The blackbird knows secrets.

* * *

Try it. Quick, before you do anything else, what animal speaks to you right now?

Don’t think about it. Don’t hesitate. Just say the very first thing. Write it down even. Maybe here in the comments. Maybe you're rolling your eyes, but I say: everything is an indication. Everything is an omen if your eyes our open. What can you learn from your own heart?

What Rilke knows about being a beginner: by Christina Rosalie

We spent the weekend reading Rilke by the river, and also riding our bikes, and talking in the fragrant, humid evening air until after midnight drinking wine. We spent the weekend in a place in between: sky and river, self and other, navigating whatever it means to become, to begin, to be in this life together and separately, wholly, and with abandon.

* * *

These words made all the difference:

I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Resolve to be always beginning—to be a beginner!

From Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters on Love"

Taking Inventory At The Half-Way Mark: by Christina Rosalie

It was my half birthday on Thursday--and also the 10 year anniversary of my father's death. I like how those two things collide, combine, overlap. I like that each year it marks a midway point for my own year passing. It reminds me to lean into the hours, the days, the weeks that are yet mine. This year, perhaps more than ever I've made it my purpose to say yes. To approach every encounter, chance meeting, and circumstance as an opportunity: to grow, to become, to expand. The universe isn’t binary. Yes and no aren’t mutually exclusive. Our feet know--arrival and departure our temporary states, and we're always in between. Sole to soil, soul to air.

Right now I’m at the ACE in NYC. I’ve slipped off the cusp of my life and arrived at the center of myself. Maybe that sentence doesn’t make sense at all, but it’s the truth. I needed to slip away, to feel the city’s pulse in order to feel my own again.

Sometimes, when you are in the thick of your life, doing the day, one thing to the next, the map of your own meaning becomes obscured. Then it’s time let things fall out of kilter; tip the balance; rock the boat. Then it’s time to find new map, or to make one boldly, even if it means that no one else has arrived yet, on that same course.

Being somewhere new helps me to disentangle from the constructs of my life: mother, strategist, writer, lover, spouse. Showing up for oneself without any of those words is daunting, but gowth is only equal to our willingness to risk, to show up, to be split wide open by our lives again and again.

I think Didion has it right:

“I'm not telling you to make the world better, because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I'm just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that's what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.”

― Joan Didion, in a 1975 commencement address at the University of California, Riverside.

The truth is this right now: by Christina Rosalie

This is the truth: I’m not sure how to start here, on this new site. Not sure, except to show up and hope you’ll show up too.

The truth is that I wake up and do the day. I wake up and write, help the boys get dressed, make fried eggs on toast, and drive to work. And then everything is different than it once was. Remember? I used to be a teacher. Then I was a full-time mama for a while, and eventually things shifted again.

Now I'm a full-time emerging media strategist at one of the coolest design studios on the planet, and every day I arrive and leave, my head brimming with ideas, plans, words, research, data sets, metrics, wonderment, proof, ROI, questions, answers, possibilities, and a perpetual to-do list.

At the end of the day I always walk down three flights of stairs to the ground, and find myself startled by the warm summer air. It hits my face palpably, my skin prickling as it adjusts to the humidity and heat. To the west is the lake, and there are often crows circling as the sky turns from blue to apricot.

I look up, paying homage to the clouds, and take a breath.

Then I drive home, the music turned up high, drums filling me as my consciousness slips out of one life, and into another: my heart tugging at the kite strings of my mind, up in the stratosphere where my head’s been all day. And before I know it, I’m on the dirt road driving towards the house I’ve lived in longer than any other house, between green pastures.

The truth is that lately, I've been feeling inexplicably restlessness--a sensation in my ribcage that is more like a deep hunger, than a reason to run. I can’t make sense of this, except to say that I feel like an entirely new room has opened up inside my head. A whole new room, to which I never knew there was a door, let alone keys and modes of entry; windows, possibilities, stairways. It’s like I’m bigger than myself, like I’ve suddenly grown to be more than whatever I was.

The truth is I feel ready for the changes that this site signify. For my name up there at the top, and for telling more pieces of my story--what it is, and what it is becoming.

Are you in?

Words to live by: From Chris Gullibeau by Christina Rosalie

I filled a little Field Guide notebook while there, and then rapidly filled the second half of the Molskine I started in the spring. I label my Moleskine's down the side of the spine with a Sharpie: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and the year, so that when I keep them in a stack, I can find older volumes easily, and it usually takes about a season lately to fill one up. But this spring, with my thesis and graduation, and starting work I was a little slow to fill each smooth page, until I went to Portland, and found myself scribbling voraciously in a room full of some of the most creative souls on the planet.

Now, it's full to bursting.

I honestly feel like there has never been more possibility than there is in the world right now."

--From Chris Gullibeau, who just wrote 100$ Start Up, and is the incredible mastermind force of nature who made WDS a reality.

I came away feeling more intensely than ever: Now is your moment. What are you doing with it?

Living A Remarkable Life In A Conventional World by Christina Rosalie

I’ve started at least a dozen times—trying to put words around my experience at World Domination Summit 2012. I’ve written a sentence after sentence with quick fingers, as the sounds of the osccilating fans and the ciadas fill up the ink of the evening, but then I've deleted them. Again and again.

It’s unlike me to not have the words.

But that’s maybe exactly why the experience was so significant for me: It was about shifting out of my head and into my heart-- letting go of “shoulds” and words, and preconceived notions, and just showing up.

“You’re experience cannot exceed your willingness to be vulnerable.” --Brene Brown

This became my measure for everything.

How willing was I to be vulnerable? How open was I to encountering inspiration, humility, gratitude, unfamiliarity, and possibility with all-out, wholehearted abandon?

The truth is, I’m serious to a fault (and a total nerd) and my default is to over-intellectualize and over-analyze everything. But it's also true that I’ve got a heart that’s thisclose under my skin; and it’s always on the verge of busting right out of my chest with glee or wonder. And this weekend was an exercise in living into my heart.

Wholly, enthusiastically, and without expectation. I learned so much. So, so much. (More to come.)