Create • Inspire • Journey
by Rachelle Eason
Journals – The Vessels Themselves
A picturesque view, a cup of fresh brew, and an attractive journal is the vignette I often visualize for being the perfect spot for writing. In reality, I am usually sitting in my purple comfy chair in my room filled with unpacked boxes and drinking my protein shake. The third element, an attractive journal, is never negotiable.
I started journaling when I was in fourth grade. It was a requirement of the new school I started that year in Pittsburgh, PA. My classmates, all girls, would leave our delightful classroom on the upper level of a charming old house and walk down the hall to a cozy alcove library full of overstuffed pillows and large windows that looked over a view of the school grounds. Once settled, our teacher would lead a discussion of the topic for the day and we would each have turns to add to the conversation or share what was on our minds.
Looking back, I realize that this was a pretty progressive school. Many aspects of these memories are foggy but there are some vivid pictures in my mind…the alcove I raced to get to and donned my “comfy spot”, the genteel voice of the teacher, perhaps she was a guidance counselor, that invited us to pour our hearts out on the pages and “staple them shut” if we they were so private we didn’t want her to read them, and the feeling I had when I shared whatever was on my mind, whether it was further shared in our group or forever kept protected in my journal.
Those days my journals were spiral bound note books, purple if available, lined pages, and a lot of stapled sections. Now, in full disclosure, I remember stapling shut clumps of pages because I didn’t do the multiple entries we were assigned each week as homework, but even “cheating the system” left me inspired!
A habit formed and writing became a release of myself. I have continued journal writing to this day. Over the years, there have been long gaps when I haven’t written, sometimes even months or years. Then there were splurges of writing; pages and pages, daily sometimes even multiple times a day, falling into the belief that journal writing is not a chore, but an opportunity to connect with myself on a level I need at the moment.
I recently unpacked a few boxes filled with many of my journals I kept over the years. I haven’t kept them all; moving nineteen times in the last thirty years has encouraged me to let go of a lot. As I took time to peruse through several of these books full of handwriting that show my emotions and age in its scribble, preppy font, or artsy flow, I read the memoirs of a self-conscious preteen, a pre-occupied with boys teen girl, and a young college woman trying to navigate a new freedom. I relived the stress of late night shifts waiting tables while I was in graduate school and wondering how I was going to pass all those certification tests. I read about falling in love with my husband, cherishing the moment we found out we were expecting our first baby and relived homeschooling days on our North Carolina farm, where morning “quiet time” was our thirty to forty minutes of solitude, yet all together, sitting around our eight foot table completely collaged with photos of our family of six at Disney World from when we lived in Florida.
Words were not the only thing that filled my journals through the years. Fodder of ticket stubs and food wrappers, photos and slivers of jotted notes, pressed leaves and horse hair, made their way in as well. My favorites are the pages with drawings and crimped lettering from the kids when they were little.
The notebooks themselves have evolved over the years. In the early days, notebooks from the five-and dime were what started me out. Then stickers became popular and with that would came a whole new realm of exciting stationery, notebooks included. Mrs. Grossman’s manufactured slick covered notebooks for easy trading and rearranging of their stickers on the cover. I remember being pretty proud of myself for finding a purple Polo striped notebook when I was in my preppy phase, and, of course, University of South Carolina branded notebooks showed my pride as a “Gamecock” once I was in college.
Then I hit adulthood and upped my game. Suddenly I found myself in stores that offered art-print covers and gorgeous gold edged pages, hand-bound journals with covers of papyrus papers from the Indies, and whimsical blank books featuring covers of everything from the Eiffel Tower to dogs in costumes. The ones that I gravitated to though had texture, backgrounds on pages, and some form of intrigue. These inspired me and I noticed my writing shift in depth.
With the pages of my Eco-Stained Journals being exciting in their own right, my additions seemed like the icing on the cake. I spent more time reflecting on my thoughts, embracing the moments with heart and giving myself the opportunity to engage with myself. I began to embrace me for me. It was no longer a matter of writing down every thought that crossed my mind, but being present with those thoughts. My writing became a window, one that allowed me to look out and look in. These gorgeous pages invited my soul for tea and my heart cherished the loveliness.
This is when making Eco-Stained Journals became my purpose.