Wednesday, November 7, 2012

{review + giveaway} A Field Guide to Now

I have a new favorite book this season! It is a field guide to NOW: notes on mindfulness and life in the present tense by Christina Rosalie. 

Christina offers meditations on cultivating attention and mindfulness through essays, beautiful art, and prompts. Her writing is sublime - the kind that is so sweet and clear you can not rush through. It demands to be savored, slowly. I found myself unable to read more than one short chapter at a time because when I was done, I had to just sit there and think. It is that powerful.

My copy is so worn and underlined, it is beyond lending out. Which is okay with me. This is not the kind of book you lend, it is the kind you gift. To everyone of your friends; the ones who have felt the pain and the beauty of life as a creative mother. 

I was so honored and nervous when Christina told me I could interview her for this review. Below are the three questions I limited myself to, and her thoughtful and poignant responses. 

Read through to the end to learn how you can win a really great bit of art!




Amy : Early in the book, you write about writing yourself a raft and oars to keep afloat, sane and maybe even to use for escape. How important is it for mothers to have a practice that not only allows creative expression, but a way out too?

ChristinaWriting is both a means of survival, and a way to find grace. It’s a means for paying attention: to what’s around me, and also to what’s within me. And though it can carry me beyond the moment, into beautiful or heart-wrenching or truthful fiction, I don’t think of writing as an escape, so much as I see it as a way to move forwards with intention. When I write, I’m forced to listen to myself, and to take notice of the patterns and choices and inklings and dreams that make up the undercurrent of my life, and beyond my life, the cultural undercurrents of human life at large.

I think all women, but particularly mothers who literally give their bodies and their lives over to the process of birthing and nourishing and sustaining their children, benefit from having a creative practice that forces them to listen to their own wise voice. It’s easy, in the thick of things, to stop paying attention to that voice. It’s easy to move from one day to the next, just responding, and so much of what I explore in A Field Guide To Now is how to lean into those moments.




Amy : Slowing down, looking and taking note are central tenets in the creative lifestyle I lead with my children. Whether we are looking under a leaf for a golden Monarch egg or watching water spread from paint brushes to the cement, we are always hyper focusing. 

You write, "This is what noticing always does: It fills me with wonder, and forces me beyond the ease of being unaffected by the world." 

You have recorded in such detail, the small and ordinary moments of your life; the way a bird's song transports you or the light of afternoon. I am wondering, how important is it to record the evidence of our days? Is it enough to just notice? Or must we write, paint, photograph, sing...?



Christina This is such an interesting question! I think it is really important to record these moments of noticing in some way—because it’s in the act of recording, choosing words or images, and bringing your own creative attention to bear, that one is transformed by what one observes. To see, and listen, and taste, and smell, and touch are all incredibly important. But to transform these impressions into meaning, that is the work that really alters us—and it’s that work that I live for. To take note, and to be altered by the wonder.






Amy : I especially loved the chapter "Listing" where you write about changing expectations and settling - and your changing notion that settling does not necessarily mean settling for less

I was moved by the line "Regret is not my inheritance; choice is." It reminds me how frequently I compare my life to the women who came before me. You suggest that one way to choose is by list making. Writing a list is a way to move forward out of the "listless" state and manifest desires. What things are you personally listing now?


Christina : Right now I’m listing for a more holistic work-life integration; more time to focus on my creative work, and less driving in between. This is the first time I’ve shared this inkling in an outward facing way: but I think we’re ready to move away from our home at the end of a long dirt road, and into town where we can be close to our community and friends and our son’s school. So right now I’m listing for a new home sometime next spring, with an arbor and a beautiful fenced back yard within walking distance to town and to the lake.

I know that seems like a rather detailed thing to be listing for, but I take this process very earnestly actually. It’s like summoning the muses. The universe listens when we listen to ourselves.  






Thank you Christina for your time, your thoughtful answers and your amazing book. So much of what you write about is similar to what I feel, but have a hard time naming and clearly writing about. You have offered a powerful gift to women who are looking for ways to connect back to who they are and who they dream to be. 


You can win a gift of 12 gorgeous postcards featuring original artwork from Christina Rosalie’s book, A Field Guide To Now, delivered to you with a handwritten note from the author.  Postcards are printed with archival inks on premium paper by Moo.com!

All you have to do is:


like A Field Guide to Now on Facebook here and Mama Scout here 

and leave me a comment with what sounds you can hear around you right now. 

I can not wait to see who wins. I will choose a winner on November 14th. Good luck!


20 comments:

  1. I love this post, and this book looks great!

    Right now, I can hear the dishwasher, one cat purring, kids waiting for the school bus outside, laughter and another cat settling down in a very creaky basket. I love mindfulness, I usually focus on feeling, like the tough of the keys beneath my fingers, I've never really tried sound before, I quite enjoyed it.

    Thanks!

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  2. the fan whirs and witha faint child-to-child whisper behind it.

    xfingerscrossedx I like both pages!

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    1. the fan whirs with a faint child-to-child whisper behind it.

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  3. I love this! Right now, I can hear the sound of the keyboard as I type, the hum of electricity, my deep sighs, and the whirring of a fan.

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  4. Love it! I can hear the sound of the keys as I'm typing this, the buzz of electricity, the sound of my breath, and the whirring of the fan.

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  5. I can hear the Avett Brothers, playing through my laptop & making me smile. It is my one hour in the week when I explore new music, loved music, music to feed my heart. In 20 minutes I will collect 2 giggling preschoolers and listen to their imagination create carriages, rockets and lunch for the babies.

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  6. Right now I hear the distant sounds of a beeping of a dump truck in my neighborhood. The silent buzzing of the central heater in my office and the sound of my fingers pressing against each letter on my keyboard all become background noises.

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  7. Right now I hear the swishing of our dishwasher and the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard. My husband is in the kitchen grinding spices with a mortar and pestle. The rest of the house is quiet while my girls take a nap. Soon the chaos will begin again.

    This looks like an amazing book so thank you for making me aware of it. The post cards are so precious!

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  8. Right now I hear the piano intro of Adele's "Someone Like You," the sound of fingers typing, the distant hum of a printer, and papers being shuffled.

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  9. I hear, music and foreign languages and my babe snoozing.

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  10. I hear music, foreign voices and my babe snoozing.

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  11. My daughter chatting to a friend on the phone and the crinkling sound of the recycling bin where my little boy is looking for treasure.

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  12. My daughter chatting to a friend on the phone and the crinkling sound of the recycling bin where my little boy is looking for treasure.

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  14. The subtle hum of a technological chorus, computer, copier, HVAC. The electronic hiss of fluorescent lights overhead...ouch...loud tones, female dispatcher's muffled voice over the radio, diesel engine starts, automatic gargage door opens, truck pulls out... federal siren roars (Yes, I am at the station today)

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  15. I'm in my bed, quieting at the end of a long day. I hear my husband's steady breathing, and infrequent turning next to me...reassuring, familiar sounds. Inside I revisit the delicious sounds of my day...crunching leaves as I walk into my daughter's home, I hear her smile as she warmly greets me and the laughter and fun of our afternoon as we plan our holiday menu, and play with my granddaughter.

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  16. I hear sirens, the wind gently blowing the curtains in the family room, tiny voices asking their Daddy questions.

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  17. I hear sirens, the wind blowing through the curtains in the family room, tiny voices asking their Daddy questions.

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  18. am I too late? I hear my 15 month old breathing in and out as he explores around me and occasionally takes a bite of his cracker. I hear the heat turn on because it is cold here this morning! Mostly I hear the absence of my 3 year old constantly talking because he is having a grand time at preschool. On the drive home after I pick him up, I will no doubt hear him sing "The Girl is Mine" by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. It's his favorite.

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  19. A purring cat, birds singing love songs, and rustling leaves anticipating their fall.

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