As I rush on a packed train heading uptown I think to myself, what am I grateful for? I’m headed to a Gratitude Journaling Workshop with AllSwelland founder Laura Rubin, an experience that, though I did not know at the moment, would truly shift the way I look at gratitude.
As I walked into the decadently decorated room, courtesy of the Sarah Rigano owner of Form and Light, in Habitas NYC, I was greeted with warm and positive faces. I chatted with Laura about writing practices and said hi to some familiar, like-minded faces.
As we took our seats, glasses of Kim Crawford wine in hand, we were treated to an intimate meditation led by Sarah. We were prompted to go to a place in nature that brought us serenity, I found myself in a park from home that I’ve long forgotten. As Sarah came around, smudging us with sage using turkey feathers which were also used for the tablescape, we all became present, sinking into ourselves.
Laura then went on to tell us about the inspiration behind AllSwell. As an avid surfer, she was out in Montauk with high hopes for her morning surf check, when it turned up uninspiring results she decided to journal instead.
“Swell or no swell, alls’well” – Laura Rubin
From this moment, Laura took her experience and channeled it into the creation of these gorgeous, lightweight notebooks, that offer both lined and unlined paper for journaling and doodling. Her mission is to wake people up to the idea of journaling and the idea that their life is a creative act.
We began the night of activities with a reading of poems about gratitude. A poem from Anne Sexton called “Welcome Morning”, talking about being grateful for the small things, a poem from Yusef Komunyakaa called “Thanks”, where he spoke about war and begin thankful for his life.
Our first exercise was to write down what we were grateful for. Some wrote lists, other wrote paragraphs, letters, or messages to themselves. I, personally, did a little of both; from health and happiness to New York, to rant about how thankful I am $3.99 candles at Trader Joe’s with nostalgic scents.
We were then asked to write postcards to someone we were grateful for, not transactional but truly grateful for. The postcards were vintage, hand picked by Laura. We wrote them out, addressed them, and handed them off to Laura to mail.
Next came the free write. For anyone who isn’t familiar, this is when you write for an allotted period of time without picking up your pen. A piece of advice that stuck with from Laura was when you think you have nothing else to write about, write about that. My free write was on my unconventional faith, and I was able to write a page and a half about it. Divulging into my past, moments I have not thought about in years and reflections of where I want to go in the future.
Lastly, we were asked to write a poem. Not a ‘roses are red’ kind of poem (unless that was what we were into), but anything that spoke to you.
After each exercise, we were asked to share, and it was eye-opening. To hear the different pieces of gratitude from people was eye-opening, seeing how similar we all were down to our core.
We were gifted with clear quartz that we infused our positivity, and tobacco for us to give back to the earth.
I took so much from this workshop, and really learned a lot about my personal journey. In the hustle and bustle of life, we seldom take a moment to sit down and be thankful, to evaluate where we’ve been, where we are, and where we have to go. Journaling allows us to take inventory of our lives and our overall wellbeing. The simple act of free writing in the morning, a practice I have now adapted to my everyday life, allows us to take a mirror to our inner selves.