An Interview with Laura Rubin, Founder of AllSwell Creative

Laura Allswell creative

On Thursday, August 16th in Montauk, Quincy MTK hosted the ALLSWELL Journaling Workshop, which included an intimate group of men and women, and celebrated the the launch of the perfect pen, paper & pouch collaboration: ‘THE PALAPALA SET’, by ALLSWELL, Samudra and Goldfish Kiss.

At the ALLSWELL Writing Workshop, founder Laura Rubin led the group through accessible writing-based exercises. During the workshop, Rubin also curated a selection of literature from the greats, such as Twain, Melville and Whitman, to serve as touch points throughout the process. Learn all about Laura Rubin’s journey through journaling and why its time for you to start writing, pen to paper.

Why should everyone have a journal?

There are a lot of great self-care modalities out there: yoga, meditation, etc. but journaling is probably the most accessible form. You don’t need any special equipment — no mat, app or mantra necessary. You can do it anywhere, any time. If you want to use an AllSwell notebook, that’s great but it’s not necessary.

I’m a life-long journaler (began age 8) but it wasn’t until I started AllSwell that I dug into the scientific data. The research shows that there are mental, emotional and physiological benefits to journaling long hand. I read study after study. It speeds wound healing, it curbs asthma, it helps abate PTSD, and so on. It only takes a few minutes a day.

The only thing you need to remember: you have to be putting pen to paper rather than typing on a device. Jotting things down in the notes app on your phone won’t provide you with the same therapeutic effects. There’s something about the act of writing longhand that creates synaptic connections in your brain, and that’s where the benefits are derived. And in this digital age having an analog practice is particularly important.

Where are your favorite spots for journaling?

I tend to journal twice a day. At night I write in bed just before turning out the lights. It helps me clear my mind so I can sleep more soundly. I write down things I need to remember so my brain can power down.

I also like to write in the morning, though this tends to be more of a stream-of-conscious format. My favorite place to do this is at the beach with a cup of tea. That’s literally how the brand was born. I went for a surf check in Montauk and got skunked (there were no waves) so I sat down and journaled instead. I wrote “swell or no swell, all’s well.”

What are some creative approaches to journaling?

Pick a theme you want to work on, whatever that may be – health, home, career, community. Focus on that for 2 weeks and write about it for 5 minutes straight every day. Try to write continuously without picking the pen off the page. It’s remarkable what will emerge over time. Take a minute to re-read your writing, underlining works or phrases that jump up at you. Try not to judge the writing itself, just experience the words. I’ve done this for weeks at a time and it has provided me with clarity, helped me break through blocks, create actionable steps and achieve goals. No guru necessary.

Another easy exercise is to write down 3 things you are grateful for and 3 things you want to bring into your day. Repeat daily. It is a positive practice that sets your fulfillment meter, shifts your mood and helps focus your intent. It’s good emotional hygiene, like making your bed or brushing your teeth.

How did the concept come about? How has the reception been?

I was on a surf trip to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica with a friend who is an illustrator. In between sessions around midday when it was too hot to be out in the sun, we’d sit on the porch of our casita and put pen to paper. I was writing in my lined composition book and he was drawing in his unlined sketchpad. It occurred to there should be one lightweight notebook with room for both activities. When I got home I looked around but couldn’t find any so eventually I made some. I printed them domestically in Maine on recycled materials and showed them to some of my friends who have great stores. They said they’d be happy to stock them. Those notebooks sold out. So I made some more. Then those sold out.

Consumers gave me the idea for the workshops. I would get feedback that they really liked the notebooks but they already had a stack of notebooks they don’t use, or they didn’t know how to journal, or they were bad at it. But there is no bad, there is just do. So I figured if I could come up with a workshop format that could help folks access their inner creative voice, give them some basic tools and create an environment that fostered a sense of permission, that would be well worth doing. The feedback I got on my very first workshop was so compelling that I felt I needed to keep doing this. I was providing a real service, helping people transform and open up.

As far as the trips go, I find that travel is one of the times when people naturally tend to journal. There’s something about being in a foreign environment that feels like permission to stop and appreciate where you are, drop into your senses, slow down and observe. I was creating a travel-themed AllSwell notebook with Emily Nathan of Tiny Atlas Quarterly when I asked her what she thought about creating a trip to go with the book. About 8 months later we had launched that notebook and we were on our first trip (to Tofino, BC) in partnership with Earth Missions. It was such a beautiful experience — mingling stunning nature, outdoor adventures, photography and writing — that we have continued producing experiences together in various forms and places.

Please share some upcoming workshops and trips!

I’m based in California these days but I’ll be back on the East Coast in New York City with some AllSwell workshops this fall in early October. Also working on a spring ’19 retreat in Ojai, CA and a summer ’19 trip to Alaska.  // @allswellcreative


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