Free-Range Journaling – AllSwell Creative

Free-Range Journaling

Posted by AllSwell Creative on


Image Credit: Ali MacGraw photographed by Pamela Hanson

Hi, friend.

It’s been almost a decade since I started AllSwell with the intention of upending preconceptions about keeping a journal. To this day, part of what I find so repellent about the usual journaling gestalt is how painfully precious it all is. As if, in order to effectively journal, you’ve got to be wrapped in a chenille blanket, sipping lavender tea, writing about how your high school crush broke your heart and you will absolutely never, ever recover. Le no. That ain’t it, folks.

A journal is a personal revolution. It’s a tool for being present, for building a life that is uniquely yours. It’s an authentic way forward in this world that tells you who to be, how to be, what not to be, where to be and when to be there. Picking up a pen helps peel back all that programming. And there you are: naked, beautiful, alive, wise and utterly yourself as you write your own script.

Yes, be different. Be daring. Be real. Don’t keep all that goodness confined to the pages. Know your truth so you can speak it. As Gene Autry sang, “Don’t fence me in.”

Free-range journaling takes many forms:


  • Journal anywhere, everywhere. In a crowd, on a bus, at a football game, in the mountains, at a concert.
  • The act of writing may be sacred but a journal is meant to be used and abused. A full notebook that bears the marks of the world is one sexy sight. Coffee drips, beer bottle labels, pages warped by saltwater stains all mean she’s been some places and seen some things.
  • Going on a trip (literal or otherwise)? Take a notebook and pen along and it becomes a journey.
  • Once you identify an idea, a platform that is meaningful or a way forward then go live it. Don’t let it languish on the page, bring it out into the world.
  • This is not the bible. Feel free to rip, tear, burn, flush, cut and lacerate those pages. Your journal doesn’t mind. Once you allow yourself that permission, your notebook yields so many more ways to be a potent tool, including what I call “Repeat after Me” - an exercise modified from the MOJO Series.

Speaking of the MOJO Series, it was such a big hit this fall I’m running it again in January. If you’re looking for a refreshing slingshot into the new year, here’s where to start. Space is limited so if it speaks to you, come join. Hit me up with any questions.

If you want a free-range life, a solid way to start is with your journal. Don’t be a good little chicken in the coop. Get out there. And bring a pen.

Not sure what to write about? Below you’ll find some of the things that have provided me with nutritious brain food lately. Pick one, give it a read / listen and see what emerges for you.


In Swellness,


Image Credit: Javier Arcenillas

“Seeing the Generative Story of Our Time”

Sometimes I find Krista Tippett to be unappealingly earnest. But I actually felt my body unclench in ways I didn’t even realize it was tense as I listened to this short podcast. It’s a rare thing these days to find a new way of looking at current events that provides a positive framework. Here’s one.

Image Credit: Coveteur

“I Lost My Creative Spark”

It cannot be overstated that the events of the past few years haven’t been normal. And if, like me, you are marveling at the speed with which the world has resumed its business-as-usual expectations, you might understandably be a bit creatively stymied. This article wisely posits the medicine we need is right there in the work.

Image Credit: Symbiome

“The Answer”

Okay, so this isn’t “nutritious brain food” but it’s definitely face food. Skin food? Both. This is my hero product. I recently ran into a friend who said I was glowing (no, I’m not pregnant). And when I was traveling this Fall I kept getting compliments on my “dewy skin” despite a schedule that should’ve had me looking haggard. So if you want to save face, I recommend you give The Answer a shot. Plus the nice people at Symbiome are offering a 15% discount when you use code LAURA15. Now it’s a party.

Photo Credit: Morgan Talty

“Night of the Living Rez”

A good short story is a wonder. Set in a Native community in Maine, these bittersweet, smart and very funny short stories by Morgan Talty kept me company over Thanksgiving. It felt appropriate to be reading a Native American writer sharing tales of what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century. Check it out.

Image Credit: Ashley Vee

"Instagram Is Over"

Whether or not the headline is true, one thing I celebrated while reading this pleasingly acerbic article was its shout out for longer form writing (AKA Substack). A few months ago I said, “I don’t care if brevity is the marketing flavor of the month. I’m going to use as many words as I need to express an idea.” And that’s why you’ve been hearing more from me in your in-box. Because not all concepts are meant to be encapsulated in a caption.

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