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When I’m walking about on Granville Island, which is often (because I am lucky to live so close), one of my favorite shops to stop in is Paper-Ya. It’s a specialty stationery boutique with lots of amazing items you would obviously never find in a ‘big box’ office retailer. Sure, the products range from kitschy to classy, with a price range to match, but there is a place in my heart for these small independent stationery retailers. Family members usually have to drag me out, or threaten to abandon me in there, an option I must admit I’m not averse to.

If you were to look upon my bookshelves, you would see a collection of journals. Books full of blank paper hold a special place for me, and I often find excuses for buying them, or others find amazing ones to gift to me. It’s a nonsensical love, in one way, because my speed in using them, in committing ink to paper, or even just sketching, is always slower than the rate of acquisition. Particularly in this connected age, where I’m just as likely to find myself in front of an iPad instead of a bound volume. So they stack up. Beautiful, unique, unspoiled. When it’s time to choose a new one to write in, I take my time. I’ll pull one down, run my fingers over the cover, open it up to inspect the unmarked paper inside, then put it back, and test another one. Only once I am fully satisfied I have made the right decision, do I commit to a relationship with one. That feeling of making the first hesitant marks in a new journal is a joy. I’m sure some of you out there will understand.

When I find myself in these small stationery shops, I usually spend the most time looking not only at journals, but fountain pens. They belong together. And of fountain pens, also a throwback in this digital age, I have to say, just try one. Modern ones come with nice clean capsules of ink that don’t spill all over your clothes (if you’re careful). They take some practice to get used to writing with, and if you don’t use them for too long, they dry up and become a nuisance. But for a few extra minutes of effort, writing in a well-made journal with a fountain pen makes it all worth it. Unlike my blank journal fetish, I don’t own a lot of fountain pens; I usually look at them in the store, and then talk myself into leaving before I buy one. But I’ve got my favourite at home.

It’s valuable to have something that you can do deliberately, and in the present moment. Something that has elements of a ritual, something that is calming, and allows one to forget the pressures of the future. Something that allows you to just be, you. For me, this is one way. What about you?

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