Succotash at the Studio

Adventures in Journaling with our Guest Blogger: Laura Knepler

We are excited to have one of our teachers and friends, Laura Knepler, be our guest blogger this month.  She is an avid writer and journaling guru who also teaches here at the studio.  She is very creative and we can't wait to see what she is up to next.  Please enjoy this entry about her love and adventures in journaling, she is sure to inspire you.  We are so grateful for you Laura Beth!

Hello, Paper Seahorse patrons! My name is Laura Beth, and I’m a Midwestern native who moved to St. Petersburg in 2014. It took me a few months to find The Paper Seahorse, but once I did, I started taking classes, and eventually, I started teaching them. By heart, I’m a writer, artist, and naturalist. I feel at home in the forests and hills, but the mild winters and manatees are certainly a treat for living in the south. By trade, I’m an SEO writer, so I woo google with my writing skillz for various businesses, but my most consistent writing application is in keeping record with a journal. 

My earliest ones date back to 1996, but I can’t quite count them because they were either part of school assignments or entries made during summer vacations. Before every trip, my siblings and I each got to select a notebook to take along. These days, I opt for simple covers that I can dress up on my own, but at the time, I almost always picked one that sported Lisa Frank’s designs on the cover.

 

Inspired by Marissa Moss’ Amelia’s Notebook series, I promptly attempted to replicate her road trip story and artwork with the events of my own vacations. It wasn’t until 2001, during my sophomore year of high school, that I started to write regularly. Nearly every night, I would sit at my desk in the room that I shared with my sister, turn on my radio which was always tuned to Big Oldies 93.3, and I would write the day’s events. In an early journal, I even penned the lyrics of the 60’s songs that played into the upper margins of the page.

Some are frivolous (“Macho, Macho Man!!”) and others reveal the desires of a 15-year-old girl to have her crush requited (“And so I beg you....let it be me.”) Words have long been meaningful to me, and lyrics are no exception. To this day, you won’t find a journal of mine that doesn’t include what my pal Ashley describes as “the ability to say what I can’t”.

I can truly say that I write about most anything and everything, from the details of a cross country practice in 2003 to the first date I went on with my now-husband in 2011. My notebooks and journals contain all manner of bits and pieces:

  • Navigating angst : )
  • Lists of books I read
  • Mementos of all kinds
  • Compliments I received
  • Goals for the coming year
  • Bib numbers from road races
  • Attempts at scripts and songs
  • Descriptions of the day’s events
  • Playbills and tickets from concerts
  • Drawings, both doodles and abstract
  • Descriptions of the room or space I was in
  • Signs of the season— crunching leaves, etc.
  • Words I didn’t know and definitions I looked up
  • Quotes from teachers, friends or family members
  • Bullet points when I wanted to record but lacked time

All manner of information covers the pages of books gone by, and my interests are reflected in each edition. I’m a writer and an artist, and my inspirations are reflected in my journals. From photography to handwritten correspondence to what yoga means to me, I’ve recorded what I know to be true in the pages of numerous notebooks.

What brings me back to the page over time is that, through journaling, I’ve come to know myself better. I have soft spots, as well as armor that I wear to protect myself. What made for daily notes at the time are time capsules for me to view in the present. I learn about myself by observing my patterns, letting go of those that no longer serve me, and recognizing those that do.

I kept a Livejournal from 2003 until 2007, and I ran a blog for just over a year in 2013. However public and promotable these platforms were, I could not turn my back on the pen and the page. This approach also allows me to quiet my mind, and I’m grateful that I’ve found an avenue for releasing anxieties. While I don’t completely understand my compulsion, I think I keep a journal by hand because it’s more malleable for me. I can write in whatever direction I decide, draw when it pleases me, and make it my own.

Something that I appreciate about The Paper Seahorse is that their mission is to empower individuals to make something of their own. I find satisfaction both in teaching classes and taking them because I get to participate in a creative community that values meaningful connections, making things by hand, and practicing mindfulness.

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