Author and entrepreneur Lisa Dunster Moeller is the creator of Common Threads Journals, a one of a kind line of journals designed to have more than one owner in its lifetime. Motivated by a desire to help her two best friends through the difficult experience of divorce, something she too had suffered, Lisa began to collect bits of advice and other words of wisdom to pass on. Her writings, collected in a small, hand decorated blank book, became the first shared journal.
The idea that everyone has insight that someone else will find helpful inspired Lisa to reach beyond her personal circle of friends, hoping to inspire people to renew their sense of connectedness to one another. Lisa believes that by reaching out through the universal experiences of love, loss, triumph and tragedy, we learn to celebrate the things that unite us and make us one. Common Threads Journals were created to give everyone a way to record and share their stories.
Lisa Dunster Moeller, a Northwest native, was raised in a small town by loving parents who instilled in her the importance of service to others. Still a small town girl with a big sense of her responsibility to the greater good, Lisa works as an administrative specialist for a municipal police department in Washington State while managing the family pumpkin farm along with her husband. She also volunteers for various charities, including the American Cancer Society, and is active in her community.
Have you noticed that every newspaper headline or lead story on the evening news seems to be bad news? Our senses are bombarded everyday with images of tragedy and turmoil from around the world. I think most of us have found a way to fend off the bad news and keep it from seeping into our hearts. Who could blame us really? It is natural for us to shield our hearts, but still it makes me worry a little. I worry that the mechanisms we use to protect ourselves have also caused us to become desensitized to the people in our daily lives. I worry that it is causing a great disconnect within our society as a whole. The Common Threads Journals are my way of trying to bridge the gap of that great disconnect.
The journals are unique, because each one is intended to have more than one user in its lifetime. The contributors to each journal are connected by the common thread of a shared experience. The books in this series will bring people together through both joyous and tragic times, creating a journaling scrapbook along the way. As the journals are passed along they will become compilations of the life stories of each contributor, all the while providing all of us with tools for connecting with the people around us.
In “Healing a Life Unraveled” it will be up to the first person who uses the journal to determine the shared experience it will relate. There are certain difficult experiences we go through in life that only another person who has lived through something similar can relate to. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, a diagnosis of a debilitating or life threatening illness, a divorce, an addiction, caring for an ailing loved one, or any one of the endless experiences that can leave you feeling powerless and wronged by the universe, I guarantee there are other people out there going through exactly what you’re going through. More importantly, there are people out there who have been through what you’re going through and have survived.
The theme for “Celebrating the Holidays” is much lighter. It is meant as a tool to bring together families and loved ones in celebration of the holiday season. The holidays are celebrated in many different ways by people of many faiths and of many cultures. With all the diversity in our world, we still share the common thread of holidays rich in tradition and festivity. This book provides you a place to record the details of your own traditions and memories of holidays past and present.
Each of the journals has many ways in which it can be used. As I talk with people about them I am always amazed by the suggestions they offer and the ways they say they intend to use them. However people choose to use them, it is my hope that they bring some comfort, peace and joy to lives that need it. It is my hope that those who use them will take advantage of the opportunity to connect with others – maybe some they know well, maybe some they wish they knew better – and leave them feeling as though they have been a part of something bigger than themselves. For me, that will be all the success I could ever ask for.
I realized that the concept behind the Common Threads Journals is a bit unique, and I also realize that asking people to journal about their most intimate emotions and then share them with others is risky. I didn’t feel I could ask people to expose themselves and take that risk without being willing to do so myself. That’s why each of the books in the series contains portions from my own personal journals. The following is an excerpt from “Healing A Life Unraveled.”
“April 15, 2006…
Completely unraveled. That’s how I felt when my marriage ended. I was devastated, lost and alone. Despite the many people around me who loved me I felt completely alone. It was as if no one could see that I had fallen apart on the inside. For me it seemed a miracle when I made it out of bed and into the shower each morning. Even now as I look back I remember the incredible effort it took to get that far each day. When the work day was over and I was back in bed, the only thing I remembered was how much effort it had taken to get up those ten hours earlier. Everything in between was a blur. I was walking around in a daze, with the whole world going about its business all around me. The world did not seem to notice, or care, that I was so broken I might literally disintegrate into thin air at any moment.
That’s not to say that no one noticed. I simply couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t notice. I felt as though people should have been able to see my pain and act accordingly, offering to somehow help as I attempted to navigate my way through daily life. Could they not see the ten pound chain around my neck with the sign attached that announced my new marital status? I could certainly feel it there; its weight preventing me from lifting my head and looking into the faces of passersby.
There were those closest to me who offered words of love and encouragement and did their best to somehow make it better. I appreciated their efforts. There were those who noticed and had absolutely no idea what to say and so said nothing at all. I appreciated their silence.
Then there were those who had been there and done that. I came to realize they were the only people who really knew. They got it. These people may not have always said things I wanted to hear, but I came to appreciate their understanding for the gravity of my situation. As I made my way through the process of reclaiming my life I came to feel as though the world was divided into two groups: us and them.
I suppose it is the same for many of life’s major events, be them tragic or joyous. Only someone who has lost a child can truly know how a grieving mother might be feeling: Only a woman who has known the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth can understand what a new mother feels when her new born is placed in her arms. I do not know how those things feel, and I do not pretend to relate.
I do however know the grief of a love lost, a marriage ended. I know the terror of watching your future as you knew it go up in smoke. I recall the despair of staring at the pile of ashes which remained when it was over. When I allow myself to think back I feel it all as if it were yesterday. I am overwhelmed with sadness, anger, desperation, fear, self-loathing, regret, isolation, more anger, then self-preservation, empowerment, independence, more sadness, and finally forgiveness and the joy of a new life. All of these are things I experienced as I put my unraveled life back together. I felt them all more than once, some for fleeting moments, some for what felt an eternity, and some still visit me when I least expect it.”
Storybook Acres Press
PO Box 245
Everson, WA 98247
Phone: (360) 441-5065
Readers, Lisa will be with us all weekend to answer your questions. So ask away or leave a comment. All commenters will be entered in a drawing for a copy of Common Threads Journal: Celebrating the Holidays. So leave your comments and questions before 5pm PDT on Sunday, November 30 to win. And as a reminder, if you will not be stopping back at the blog or subscribing to the comments, please leave an email address where we can contact you if you’re the winner.