I may or may not have mentioned (I thought I did) that I’ve been doing some marathon letter writing over the last couple of weeks, and getting caught up on some crazy old letters from last…year. It’s been one of the most satisfying things I’ve been doing lately, to finally get those letters sealed up with postage and love and out the door.
This past Saturday night I tried to convince Jon that he should deliver my tiny but hard earned packet of snail mail to the red box down the street. I, of course, would stay home to ensure our sleeping prince remained safely ensconced in his dreams and blankie. He looked at me like I was crazy, I’m assuming because he was already in his pyjamas, or possibly because the post wouldn’t be coming until Tuesday anyways, with the Monday holiday.
The old adage you are what you continually do sort of holds true to letter writing. Could I really consider myself a “letter writer” if I only wrote a letter once or twice a month? With my correspondence response time stretching from one month to two to five or six?
This blog post has been percolating for a while, but it started with two thoughts from two pen pals.
One of my pen pals wrote and asked if I used my fountain pens and stationery and journals as much as I thought I would, considering we opened up shop because I loved stationery and pens and writing; one would think after opening a stationery shop, my entire life would be ink on a page. She wrote that she is a knitter, and she knows a few folks that were knitters and opened up yarn shops and ended up being so busy that they stopped knitting, which is all sort of terrible and tragic, although as a small business owner, I can understand how that might happen.
The second is another pen pal who I got to know through the shop, a customer turned now longish time pen pal (the longish is mostly in reference to my response time). She wrote that some of the blog posts she enjoys the most are the ones I write about writing.
Which got me to thinking…
A million years ago, I started a series of blog posts on journal writing, which wasn’t just on the nuts and bolts of writing, but hopefully also some inspiration on why and how we write in our lives.
You may not know that this series on journal writing exists because it’s been that long since I’ve written on the topic. And that’s truly not to say that I haven’t been thinking about it – I still journal and write and every once in a while I scribble down a few things in Caleb’s notebook of memories or I try to pause and remember things to write in my gratitude journal.
But I can’t deny that sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in life – in getting excited about new things flying through the doors or about new cats and vet appointments, in trudging around the city with paperwork for passports, or trying to find all the materials you need for a calligraphy class.* I have to catch myself to remember that there will always be emails to answer and, with some good luck, orders to pack, and floors to sweep, and catalogues to pour over.
It’s not the things themselves, but rather than what the things are supposed to be used for, it’s the writing and remember and the dreaming. Whether or not you own a stationery shop, there’s something to be said for the writing that you might do in a journal to remember the smallest moments or the deepest moments of your day.
It sometimes seems like we’re supposed to be all about hustling all the time, and there were certainly a lot of long hours early on, and in all honesty, not so far back in recent memory – making ink samples and packing orders and sending emails and reading blogs (research!) and counting boxes of paper.
But it also seems like in this beautiful and fresh and fleeting season of our lives, with our guard dog still in the very long and everlasting prime of his puppyhood and our young master Caleb and now his lion cub along for the ride, that our most precious moments aren’t the hustling and the achievements and successes (although those are pretty great), but it’s in the everyday and the ordinary.
Those moments when one big and smelly tongue sneaks out between those killer jaws and makes its way from chin to forehead, or when I look behind me and see Caleb pulling a wagon full of Duplex blocks and toy cars and dinosaurs and a reluctant kitten, or when it takes us 20 minutes to walk down the laneway because Caleb’s watching cars and dogs and the wind in the air. It’s sitting on the grass in front of some church sharing a tangerine and some cheese after a gymnastics class. It’s everything tiny and bright.
And in my everyday and ordinary, the writing and the remembering of these small and tiny and magical moments is important enough to make time for.
I think maybe we’ve reached a really incredible stage of the business, where Jon and I are currently both very involved, but now it’s maybe a bit too involved. While it was an “adjustment” to no longer be the ones to pack up every single order, and greet every single customer, there’s something a bit freeing about it, too.
It’s truly a blessing to be able to step back a bit and take a breath – or even a train trip! – and enjoy our shop and our team. To enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful things we sell and the beautiful things that we can make with them.
As much as we need to sell things to stay in business, it’s really not the writing instrument that makes the writer – those words have been there all along, and it’s something deeply satisfying to find the words coming out on the page.
And so being inspired, by the letter writers in my life, by the writing in my life, by my life itself – I’m reviving my series, and hoping for better luck this time.
I now have a few books on journal writing and soul writing in queue, and I’ve already started dipping into a few of them. I can’t wait to share on the blog, and of course you know I can’t resist adding my special brand of flavour to the story.
And you know, when I take the time to stop to think about it, things are sort of amazing.
I cooked ribs tonight with a secret last minute marinade combination of most of the sauces in my cupboard and my fridge, and it turned out delicious! (The recipe is 5% love and 95% low expectations.) I spent two hours last night ordering this amazing and hilarious surprise for the WP team and Jon and Caleb and Super, and I just cannot wait to get it. The cat is finally starting to use his litter box! But I’m keeping my 5/95 ratio, because you never know.
And I’m finding time, or taking time, to write letters and to write in my journal and to read. It doesn’t get much better than this.
*Of course, I have to admit that we’ve got a gorgeous new line coming in from Japan that I’m basically peeing myself over.