Creative Living ~ A Review of A Field Guide to Now

Months ago, when spring was still just a promise at the end of a very snowy winter, I published my first e-book - Nurturing Creativity.

Nurturing Creativity is a wee little book I wrote to share my thoughts about making time for creativity in our lives as busy moms. I wrote it from the perspective of someone who came to creativity because of motherhood. I wrote it to encourage other moms and to tell my story.

Creativity is near and dear to my heart. Since making the realization in my late twenties that creative living was within the realm of possibility for my life - I didn't have to be a painter, a potter, or published writer to claim creativity as my own - I've been drawn to the principles and practices of creative living.

Beauty, mess, gratitude, presence, courage, observation, self discipline, nature, reflection, contemplation, movement, fear, intuition, prayer and patience. (To name a few.)

These creative principles and practices, these life principles and practices, have changed me.

Journaling that grew into blogging that grew into e-book publishing. A once tentative desire to capture beauty and light with a camera - photography, to draw with light - has now become an extension of who I am and how I view and relate to the world. Having the imagination to dream, and then the courage to create the life I now live with my family.

Creative living, all of it.

Nurturing Creativity was my attempt at sharing that with the world, mothers specifically, in a down-to-earth, accessible way. There is so much more I wish I could share on creativity and creating the life you want to live but I am but one mama, one writer, one photographer. 

And so I am always on the lookout for others. Mothers who live creatively and will encourage you do likewise.

This is why I'm so happy to introduce you to Christina Rosalie and her new book A Field Guide to Now: Notes on Mindfulness and Life in the Present Tense .

Why do I value the words of mothers, especially, on the subject of creativity? (Or any other subject for that matter?)

Because mothers know what it's like to live with the constant tension of not quite enough time. They understand the beauty (and frustration) of messy children underfoot. They know sleep deprivation and bone-tired. Make art? I just want to get some sleep, thank you very much!

I feel worn thin like the fabric of a blanket too used, too loved, too folded and unfolded to meet the needs of other people's daily lives.

And in spite of those realities and others, which always seem to involve not enough or too much, mothers also long for significance in their work of raising children and to see the beauty in the daily grind. And every mother I know longs to live fully present in the now of her life even though she is always looking ahead to and planning for the future. What is raising children if not an act of faith for a hopeful future?

My days feel endlessly trivial, yet endlessly full. I end up doing one thing, to do the next, to do the thing after that, to end with bedtime. Only then does the small reel of my own life finally begin to unwind and play. Yet all of it is important. Everything I'm doing needs to be done. Yet nothing can wait or be dropped just yet.

So how?

How do we discover our creative selves? How do we make time for our creative selves? How do we stay faithful to the work we're called to do, the relationships we're committed to and still grow into who we want to be become? How do we live, right here, right now, and move forward into the life we want?

What matters is simply this: your intent to claim the day with gusto and bravery and longing. What matters is waking up and asking, What can I be today?, and then devoting a small handful of moments to this task of wonderment. That is all.

Christina's book helps you discover the answer to these questions. Your answers.

Her book is visually beautiful, a sharing of her own creativity. It is written as a field guide to creative, mindful living grounded in the present moment.

Stop thinking in terms of what you think is possible. The odds are just numbers. The best things happen if you let them. Begin with saying yes. All creative work is conceived this way-with saying yes, and then persevering until the amazing and terrifying moment when you must trust the universe to reach out and accept with open palms whatever you've brought forth.

Each chapter of the book starts with a beautiful and intimate essay revolving around Christina's inner journey in the context of family life. A life firmly rooted in relationship, the natural world, and the turning of the seasons. You can understand why I loved these essays so much. 

The chapter then ends with an observation, an assignment, a writing or reflective prompt. Something to help you apply her words to your own life.

These applications at the end of each chapter would be a great personal growth study if you used them that way. Or simply use them as points of reflection.

Whatever the work is that you long to do, do it today without excuses. Involve your children if that is the only way. My studio is always a riot of snippets, their paintings always strewn about my floor. Begin with pouring yourself wholly into whatever you are doing, and trust that momentum will gather, that resources will arrive.

Opportunity will find you.

Christina's book is poetic, but not obtuse. It never left me scratching my head. It's part inspiration and part application (if you choose to use it that way) but it's wholly understandable for us literal types.

And like I mentioned already, it's beautiful. Even the paper feels nice. I think it would make a great gift for yourself or a woman you love. You don't have to be a mother to appreciate her words, but as a mother I appreciate them all the more.

The very fact that I am not always at the center of my own life is what spurs me to acknowledge the only Someday I'll ever have is right now, and to dig in. Having children forces me to consider my life through the urgent lens of the present, and under that intense regard my creative work continues to surface, as persistent and indisputable as my need to breathe.

My own copy of A Field Guide to Now is liberally tagged at my many favorite passages. Some of which I've shared here.

Christina's book is beautiful and soul nourishing. It's all here. The inspiration to dream, the challenge to be present in your everyday life, to have the courage to create and the bravery to take action: right now.

Thank you Christina for this gorgeous book for women and mothers; for those of us longing for creativity, meaning and mindfulness in our lives.

Christina is graciously giving one lucky FIMBY reader a set of 12 art cards featuring her own mixed media art. Lucky you!

To enter the giveaway for these cards please leave a comment, and if you feel comfortable doing so, share one thing you feel holds you back from living creatively, right now. (PS. I bet Christina's book addresses that very thing.) I'll close the giveaway Monday, November 12th.


Embarrassed to add after the fact (post-publishing) that Christina has a beautiful website and if you want to learn more about her book and follow her blog you should check it out. Sorry Christina that I forgot that originally.

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  • Ruth

    Ruth on Nov. 7, 2012, 3:02 p.m.

    I enjoy the creativity of young moms who have so much on their plate - even as a 'young' grandmother, I feel lack of time is often the deterrent for creativity - but it's such a good feeling when something comes to life in my hands, be it baking, knitting, writing a note, etc.


  • Wendy

    Wendy on Nov. 7, 2012, 3:34 p.m.

    This looks like a helpful, beautiful book--I would love to read it. TIME seems to be the biggest thing holding me back from my creative aspirations right now!


  • Kika

    Kika on Nov. 7, 2012, 3:38 p.m.

    Please enter me into the draw! The book, the way you describe it, sounds beautiful. I think I'll send a copy (sight unseen, mind you) to a friend who moved away. And order myself a copy from the library:)

    Something that can hold back my creativity is the reality that what is in my head never actually materializes in my projects (that is, I am not that great of an artist). And yet, I've learned over the years that much of my true creativity lies in the way I order my home, create simple meals for my family, pick up old treasures and repurpose items in our home. I attempt to create a loving, inspiring home atmosphere for my family, working within our means. And- super importantly- I support my children in all their own creative endeavors (and they are definitely more talented in these areas than I am).


  • Jenn

    Jenn on Nov. 7, 2012, 4:08 p.m.

    Please enter me in the drawing - I love sending and framing inspirational cards!

    I'm sorry - I couldn't read this post in full because I'm DYING to read this book. I've spent my book budget for this month already. It doesn't take long with me...

    What holds me back from being fully creative? My full time NON creative job. I am involved in an online writing course, blogging daily and have a journal. I can't get the thoughts out of my head quick enough sometimes. I need the time to finish and or expand those thoughts.


  • Jamie R.

    Jamie R. on Nov. 7, 2012, 4:25 p.m.

    What a beautiful looking book. Thanks for sharing it.

    The thing that usually holds me back is the mess I envision that will be created as a result of creativity. We live in a very small space and maintaining some order feels necessary for sanity sake.

    Thanks for the chance to win.


  • Renee

    Renee on Nov. 7, 2012, 4:29 p.m.

    Ahhhh, you have already addressed it, but its time. Saturday night is the only night I can dig out my creative project, and its usually 8:30 or so at that. I can't stand that at this point in my life, raising 3 young children and working full time, I am looking forward to retirement when I can get some time! I'm 41 by the way, so it is a long way away.


  • Sarah

    Sarah on Nov. 7, 2012, 5:15 p.m.

    I feel likeI have no time, and no motivation to break my daily routine. Two toddlers keep me so busy and right now I feel like my life revolves around them. There will be time for me later, right? I know I have to stop thinking like that, but it sure is hard to break the habit. I love my family and really enjoy being a stay at home mom. It is hard to imagine that life could be better, but I know it could if I would make more time for myself.


  • Maureen

    Maureen on Nov. 7, 2012, 5:19 p.m.

    The timing is perfect--I just received Christina's book in the mail yesterday. I plan to read it over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Thanks for offering the gift cards!


  • Bren

    Bren on Nov. 7, 2012, 5:35 p.m.

    Renee - Thanks for introducing me to this book. I ordered it immediately after reading this post! The timing of your post, being introduced to this book and my current struggles/desires around creativity are nothing short of serendipitous alignment.

    My greatest obstacle to creativity is all the competing needs/to-do's that seem more pressing & urgent than carving out time to create. Sounds like this book addresses that very thing! Thanks for the beautiful giveaway.


    • renee

      renee on Nov. 25, 2012, 6:23 p.m.

      Bren, you're the winner of Christina's art cards.


      • Bren

        Bren on Nov. 27, 2012, 8:31 a.m.

        Holy Cannoli!! I never win anything!! :-} Can you see me doing my Happy Dance all over the place??? wooohoooo!! Thanks again for the great giveaway. (I'm LOVING Christine's book, btw!)


  • Tina

    Tina on Nov. 7, 2012, 5:41 p.m.

    I have had my eye on this book since the first time I saw it. The thing(s) that hold me back are three-fold: I have too many inspiring ideas in my head that I can't decide what to do first! Secondly, I, too, struggle with the mess that being creative makes. I have two creative children and I find myself stressing about the mess all the time. Finally, the biggie--time. I am always wondering why it is that I always have time to do all those things I have to do, but rarely make time to do the fun, creative stuff that I want to do. Thanks for the opportunity to win the lovely art cards.


  • Sarah M

    Sarah M on Nov. 7, 2012, 5:46 p.m.

    One of the things that holds me back is the impending distraction and the amount of things in our lives. If I know* that I'm going to be interrupted 10 times, it's going to make it hard for me to even enjoy the process, so I don't do it. That, and I only have so much energy in one day. When it's used up (usually around 6:30 my limit is hit!) all I can do, at least for an hour after the kids are in bed, is just veg. Sarah M


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Nov. 7, 2012, 5:48 p.m.

    During the day, it's busy-ness with a part-time job in the morning and being with two kids (ages 1 and 3) in the afternoon/early evening, as well as cooking and taking care of the home. After the kids are asleep, it's spending time with my husband, talking or reading. But there is also the laziness factor, if I am perfectly truthful: I could work on a creative project some evenings or alongside my children during the day, yet I tend to not do so.

    The book sounds wonderful and the cards are lovely!


  • Kathleen

    Kathleen on Nov. 7, 2012, 6:22 p.m.

    Looks like a wonderful book! What holds me back from being more creative...probably my natural daily rhythm and how that meshes with the demands of child care and my part-time out-of-home job. My most creative time is in the late morning and the afternoon and my brain and energy shuts off pretty quickly after I get my kids to bed. This doesn't leave much time for focused creativity! I do fit in some creativity here and there but I desire longer stretches of time that I simply don't have these days. But I've made my peace with that and look forward to it when the season of my life changes.


  • Tara

    Tara on Nov. 7, 2012, 6:26 p.m.

    I have just requested this book from the library. Sad to say that it is usually money (or lack there of) that is holding me back right now. I know this obstacle can be overcome of course, it's just a matter of prioritizing. This very topic has been on my mind so much lately. Thanks for sharing.


  • Lisa

    Lisa on Nov. 7, 2012, 7:36 p.m.

    These postcards look beautiful, as does the book! With little ones time and lack of sleep always seem to be obstacles, although I do try and take some time in the evenings after all is quiet to work on various creative pursuits.


  • Sara

    Sara on Nov. 7, 2012, 8:20 p.m.

    The major obstacle holding me back is feeling like everything needs to be perfect in order to start. For example, clean house, laundry done, kids happy, etc. I feel like I need all that done then I can be my creative self. Problem is it never happens! :) I need to somehow incorporate my creative time into the daily chaos.


  • Sandy

    Sandy on Nov. 7, 2012, 8:40 p.m.

    The only thing holding me back is myself. It's easy to blame it on lack of time because of the kids (which is also the case). But really I can do it if I make it a priority over, say, sleep. :)


  • Jennifer

    Jennifer on Nov. 7, 2012, 9:50 p.m.

    Fear of permanent MESS holds me back, especially when it comes to creativity involving my daughters. Not that my house is ever neat and tidy... :)


  • Renee A.

    Renee A. on Nov. 7, 2012, 11:26 p.m.

    I would have to definitely say my husband....he doesn't get me wanting to be creative...he focuses more on trying to do something academic b/c of his asian ethnicity and doesn't believe being creative with things like paint,etc. can bring you much money to live off of and are a waste of time so I should spend time doing something of more value.It's very hard to get him to see that I have always been destined to be creative but he holds me back since he doesn't want to invest money in something that won't give what he considers a big enough return and since I don't have his support, I just don't do anything even though I want to do creative things, but when I think about it more deeply, it's my fault I'm not creative b/c I should just do what makes me happy and not expect others to make me happy but it's so hard when you want support and somebody to cheer you on. :(


  • Leah

    Leah on Nov. 8, 2012, 1:32 a.m.

    What a gorgeous book! I'm delighted to be entering for a chance to win this copy but will probably have to purchase one for myself anyhow! Thanks for sharing Christina's work with us Renee!


  • Heather

    Heather on Nov. 8, 2012, 1:48 a.m.

    What a lovely book! Right now my schedule is holding me back, it seems like I'm always running late for the next thing and not finishing the last.


  • Kate

    Kate on Nov. 8, 2012, 1:49 a.m.

    Beautiful cards. I use my energy and time on less fulfilling ventures. Knowing this, I am trying to catch myself and refocus. Thank you for the opportunity to win.


  • Wanda

    Wanda on Nov. 8, 2012, 2:27 a.m.

    Thanks Renee for sharing those cards. I hope I win!! Sometimes I let fear hinder my creativity. Fear of failing mostly. Thanks again for the opportunity to join your blogging community.


  • CathyT

    CathyT on Nov. 8, 2012, 2:44 a.m.

    This book sounds wonderful and is now on my amazon wish list. The postcards are beautiful too. The thing that holds me back is priorities, I can't say time as I have decided to that if something really really was a priority I would make time for it. But there are priorities that really should not be in mylife holding me back. Such as surfing the web instead of picking up a book... Thanks for sharing. CathyT


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Nov. 8, 2012, 3:27 a.m.

    That sounds like such a great book, Renee. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I LOVE the postcards. I guess that what stands in the way of my creativity right now is the space and material available on the road right now, which is probably why I focus more on photography and writing right now. When the girls were younger I did lots of sewing and felting and knitting, I feel I am at another stage in my creativity right now.


  • christy

    christy on Nov. 8, 2012, 4:35 a.m.

    thank you for the give-a-way. others have addressed most of my problems: wanting things to be "perfect" to start, knowing I'll be constantly interrupted, and physical exhaustion. one other thing is mental doldrums. I know creating and working to make something with my hands would be helpful to a depressed mind, but it's hard to start from a non-creative state. Inertia is strong when there's so many perceived issues in starting something new!


  • Christine

    Christine on Nov. 8, 2012, 4:39 a.m.

    Time of course. But, when I think about true creativity from the heart I fear failure. I want perfection in my product and I know I need to let that go, but years of training in this skill makes it hard work! I also have the guilt factor of taking time for just myself.


  • debbie

    debbie on Nov. 8, 2012, 1:02 p.m.

    this looks lovely, and the cards are so beautiful! i am pretty sure it is me to gets in the way. i have that mother-martyr thing where if there is anything for my family that needs tending to, i go there first (laundry, dishes, straightening up). it's getting better, now that my kids are a little older and take more responsibility for their own messes, but it's a hard habit to break, putting yourself last. i'm working on it.


  • Shannon

    Shannon on Nov. 8, 2012, 3:10 p.m.

    I have a book that I've had gestating in my mind for five or so years. It is the first activity that really feels like it is coming 'through me' more than something I'm doing. In the past couple of months it feels like it is pushing to be brought to life - it wakes me from sleep sometimes. I've never done something like this but I've been taking the very first baby steps needed to do this. Taking the time to do it is my biggest hindrance, and getting over the idea that I need quiet and peace in order to think. I'm just now learning how to THINK with my children around and it has been 15 years!


  • Susan

    Susan on Nov. 8, 2012, 3:46 p.m.

    Thanks for the chance to have those lovely cards in my hands! What's stopping me is my own mismanagement of my time. Ah, the "T" word again. it always comes back to that doesn't it?


  • Jessica

    Jessica on Nov. 8, 2012, 6:53 p.m.

    This book sounds SOOOO interesting! Thank you for highlighting it Renee. My creativity is presently hampered by LACKOFSPACE... Sigh... But I am working on a solution!


  • Sara

    Sara on Nov. 8, 2012, 7:44 p.m.

    Thanks for giving an in depth review of this book! It certainly has piqued my interest! I think my priorities for my spare time outweigh my priority to create, though I love creating. My two youngest are showing great promise in their interest to create like mama though! So we are more recently getting creative together now that the little one is two. But all my knitting, sewing, painting, etc eventually manifest into something, no matter how painfully slow. And I must admit of getting sidetracked by your blogs and a few others! ;) The cards are lovely!


  • Emily

    Emily on Nov. 8, 2012, 8:50 p.m.

    This book looks wonderful. Right now I feel like I am too tired to do anything creative for myself. I feel like I want to work my creative outlets into our day but am having trouble finding the right spots.


  • Stacy

    Stacy on Nov. 8, 2012, 10:34 p.m.

    This book looks beautiful. I've already added it to my wishlist!

    The one thing that holds me back from creativity is probably time. Not feeling like have enough time to do anything, I often don't begin.

    Also, living in a small house seems to hamper me at times. I don't want to get out the sewing machine because I'll have to put it away again before dinner, and so on.

    I do find myself craving creativity. I have recently instituted 'Creative Friday' at my house and the kids and I try to work on art projects in the afternoon.

    I am looking forward to reading this book. And also just looking at it. The illustrations are beautiful.


  • Pamela

    Pamela on Nov. 9, 2012, 2:01 a.m.

    This looks like such a beautiful book! I love "Nurturing Creativity" and I need to re-read it I think. What holds me back is feeling overwhelmed... I cannot seem to get all that I need to get done in a day, let alone carve that time aside for creativity. Not knowing where to begin is also a struggle for me. I do some creative activities with my girls, but not nearly enough lately. I think that if I was involved in creative work, that would spur them on toward their own natural creativity as well. I am not afraid of the mess (despite being a family of 4 in a 600 square foot house) but rather not sure how to make creative pursuits accessible and desirable in our house. Also, perfectionism has been a stumbling block in the past and still is, at times.


  • Heather

    Heather on Nov. 9, 2012, 2:12 a.m.

    I would love a copy of the book! One thing that keeps me from being creative today are my many ministry obligations. Time to create more margin in my life! Took a huge step toward that today...and Monday (11/12) is my'd be crazy fun to win!



  • Emily

    Emily on Nov. 9, 2012, 8:32 p.m.

    If I don't win it, I'll still be looking into it! Sounds like a great book with an even better premise.


  • Johanna

    Johanna on Nov. 9, 2012, 10:12 p.m.

    This looks like a book I MUST read.I already just checked to see if my library has it. It doesn't, but I am putting his book on my wishlist.

    My own fears would be what is holding me back. But I am already learning so much about not letting that. I've grown so much in this area in the last 6 months or so and am so excited about what I am learning. Can't wait to explore even more.


  • Jamie

    Jamie on Nov. 12, 2012, 5:05 a.m.

    Beautiful cards~ and the book sounds amazing! Thx for the chance to win~ Time definitely holds me back. I homeschool our two children, and that and life in general take up all my time~ but I'm fine with that~ it's who I am and what I do right now~ and I love it! As long as I get to knit here and there I'm happy :)


  • Melissa R

    Melissa R on Nov. 12, 2012, 11:11 a.m.

    Time, for me, is the thing as well. I used to create much more but I've volunteered so much of myself to others that I am starting to lose those chunks of time that I used to have for me.
    While I say that, though, I realize that I create in other ways that may not seem creative. I use my organizational skills so much and there is creativity in that! Maybe I create more than I think I do. It's just not in the "usual" way. Something for me to consider.


  • Wendi

    Wendi on Nov. 24, 2012, 4:36 a.m.

    Feeling like I need to get my to-do list done before I can be creative holds me back. Loving your review of this book, I need to go check it out and her website. Thank you.


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