Advent Conspiracy: a Q&A with Christina Rosalie

I won (!!!) a Goodreads copy of @christina_write's new book. It arrived in time for the event Wednesday at Trident!

I waxed poetic about Christina Rosalie's book last month, so you probably aren't surprised to hear I think it would make a brilliant gift.

As I've mentioned, Ian and I celebrate Advent Conspiracy with [REUNION]. It's a reminder to slow down, cut out unnecessary holiday bustle (particularly overwhelming and excessive consumerism), and spend time and money on what really matters.

While Christina didn't write A Field Guide to Now about faith or religion, it shares a certain spirit with the AC movement. Live with intention. Make time to be present in the midst of whatever chaos surrounds you. Don't seek significance where the world claims you'll find it (finding the perfect gifts, attaining a high-profile job). True significance comes through investing in relationships and pursuing your passions. When the world screams "buy more so they love you! do more so the season counts!" Christina offers a welcome respite.

Now on to the good stuff: the Q&A!

christina rosalie's studio
photo by Thea Coughlin, courtesy of Christina Rosalie

Where did the idea for the book come from?

It was three years ago when the title for this book showed up at the back of my mind. It was early fall, and the light had just begun to slant in long angles and the first maple leaves were turning vermilion and the idea simply arrived one afternoon, in answer to my own life. It was a time when almost everything in my life was uncertain, and I longed for something tangible—some reference manual for navigating the moments of my life. The book then began as an exploration. I was curious: what might happen if I brought my entire attention to the moment at hand? What might occur if I showed up only here, wholeheartedly, in the process of becoming?

I like to say that it’s part survival guide and part adventure guide—because it’s both an invitation to create whatever your heart yearns for from the ordinary substance of your life—and proof that it is possible. For if we have anything, we have this moment, and if you stop and really pay attention, you’ll discover that wherever you are is exactly where you need to be.

christina rosalie's studio
photo by Christina Rosalie

Place is a powerful presence in the book. How did you and your family find yourselves in Vermont?

We came here after Bean was born. If you go back in my archives—way back, you can read about all those adventures of moving from suburban CT, just outside New York City, to rural Vermont and then gutting our house and remaking it into the home it is today. What motivated us to move, really, was the longing to be in a place where our kids could be feral in a good way: wild-hearted with mud on their knees, and safe enough to walk to the neighbors independently. That’s the reality of where we live now—at the end of a dirt road among maples and mud and big, big sky.

What are your favorite things to do as a family?

I love sharing meals with my boys and husband. T is an incredible cook—and does most of the cooking around our house, and it always feels like such a sacred and joyful way to end the day: around the table holding hands and being thankful and then digging into something seriously good. It’s nourishing on many levels.

We’re also big on family walks. We head out on a weekend afternoon down our dirt road. The kids are often on bikes ahead of us, the dog on a long lead. T and I hold hands. We point out clouds to each other that remind us of inanimate objects or monsters or animals, and sometimes we bring coffee in ceramic mugs to sip along the way. Living out in the country the way we do right now, means that a walk down the road is a tangible check-in with the season. Right now the trees are bare, and the road is stippled with potholes and puddles and across the valley the mountain hunches bare and brown like some hibernating prehistoric beast. Going out and taking a walk resets all of us. We come back energized and rosy-cheeked and more ready to take on our day.

christina rosalie's studio
photo by Christina Rosalie

Your writing voice is so distinct—detailed and poetic, yet personal. How did you find and hone your style?

Writing a blog for so many years definitely evolved my writing style. There are certain creative constraints that blogging requires: brevity, timeliness, and consistency. Blogging also nurtured my inclination towards multimedia storytelling—and it’s almost reflexive to want to include an image or illustration now when I write.

Speaking of multimedia storytelling, I absolutely love the artwork you created for the book. Do you have a favorite medium and/or subject?

I love mixed media. I love just showing up at a blank page and starting to assemble and imagine and smudge things around a bit. Though I love to do collage, I feel very strongly about creating my own imagery rather than snagging and rearranging vintage images, ephemera, etc. For the book, some pieces were made entirely by hand, in the physical worldwhile others, like all the stamps on the back of the postcards were made by hand firstin a much larger scale, and then digitally compiled. Working with digital tools is both painstaking and magical. It opens incredible possibilities for dimension and scale. At the same time, it’s utterly laborious to do the exacting work of digitally cutting apart an image and remaking it in some new way, and while I like it for the breadth of capability it’s added to my repertoire, I’m a paint and gel medium girl at heart.

christina rosalie's studio
photo by Christina Rosalie

Following along on your blog through the book process, I am amazed by the grace you exude while juggling family, work, school, and creating. How do you decide what is worth sacrificing for, and what you should let go of?

Oh my, grace? Thank you. That’s just lovely of you to say. Some days, many days it doesn't feel as graceful as all that—and A Field Guide To Now is as much an exploration of the messy moments as it is of the gorgeous ones. But that’s not really your question, is it? How do I decide what I should let go of? Children force some of that prioritization: they make you really understand the value of your hours down to the minute, and the minutia of things really stands out as just that: minutia. Laundry, matching socks, the perfectly wrapped gift, evenly blow-dried hair, and the fact that there is almost always a little mud on the calves of my pants from getting in and out of my car—these things don’t matter. Creative time, alone time, dinner together as a family. These things matter very much.

Thanks Christina, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share!

christina rosalie
photo courtesy of Christina Rosalie
Christina Rosalie is a writer, mixed-media artist, and creative consultant whose award winning work and been featured in print and online. Most recently she has written for Kinfolk, Milk and Ink, and the Los Angeles Review, and her mixed media artwork has been included in shows at Burlington City Arts gallery and SEBA gallery. Christina has an MFA in Emergent Media from Champlain College, and lives with her husband and sons at the end of a long dirt road in northern Vermont. You can find her online at christinarosalie.com where she writes about the art of living intentionally, and the realness, hilarity, and wonder that results from the convergence of curiosity, creativity, and life with little boys.

Click here for Christina's book, A Field Guide to Now.

Click here to see past Advent Conspiracy posts and gift ideas.