Hi there. I’m Loretta Milan, founder of Original Life.
Little captures life more richly than a notebook. Each page is a canvas for thoughts, feelings, perceptions and sensations unique to the writer, a place for memories, ideas, experiences and dreams. Anything is possible within its pages.
Notebooks have been with me at every important moment. Such a big part of my life are they that when I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and could choose only essentials to carry up the slopes, a notebook was top of the list. I wanted to capture every experience from the first step to watching the sun rise from one of the highest points in the world.
My love of stationery began as soon as I could write a few words. While others played hopscotch and kicked around a football, I would sit cross-legged on the school field with piles of colourful card, my imagination as bright as the summer sun. By seven, I’d bound my first book and filled the pages with stories and pictures.
As time went on, I wrote about passing exams, studying at university, my first job, the birth of my two children. I wrote about all the things I was juggling to give them both the best life as I became a single mum and sole provider. A new home, a new job, a longer commute, another double espresso. The pages were a haven for my thoughts. A place to let out my anxieties. A place to be me when I felt lost. A way to keep going.
I thought I was on top of my juggling act until, one autumn morning, I collapsed. By the time I woke, cold and stiff on the floor, the sun was going down and my phone was buzzing with concerned messages about a missed deadline. I thought I would get up, apologise and carry on but my body had other ideas. I’d gone from conquering mountains to being unable to climb the stairs overnight. I felt a failure.
In the many hours I spent in bed in the weeks that followed, too sore to look at screens or devices, I sought refuge in a notebook. I would pour my heart, ideas and desires onto its pages. I’d also write stories, attempt poetry and anything else that flowed into my mind. As each page opened in front of me, I began to feel the sunshine that came when writing on the school field all those years ago. I began to believe in endless possibilities again.
As I allowed myself to dream, I realised that, if I was going to make my desires a reality now I was living with ME and Fibromyalgia, I’d have to get organised. So, I created my first piece of stationery to help me explore a new way to live, one that made me feel alive. I learned the power of small steps. I walked to the end of the street, then to my children’s school a mile away, then trekked in nature. I even made it back up a mountain.
Journalling by hand gave me the clarity I needed to set up my own creative business, one that embraced my love of writing, creating and family. I also moved from a town to the English countryside with my children. I found it so inspiring to sit in the garden, with a cup of tea, exploring my ideas in my notebooks, surrounded by trees, flowers and wild birds. I loved that my children could enjoy such a beautiful setting too. It was perfect for us.
Soon, I was thriving and, in time, became more successful than when I’d been well. That’s the power of doing what you truly love. I no longer felt I was losing out even though I had to take more time out to rest than most. I’d learned to give my body the time it needed without feeling guilt or frustration. Instead, I came to value self care.
Caring for yourself gives you the strength to be there for those you care about.
Having less ‘productive’ time taught me to treasure the time when I could be active. I stopped wasting it and embraced every moment. I was liberated by no longer trying to lead the life I felt I should be living or that others expected of me. I’d found my own way: My original life, one that was tailored to me and that I loved. It felt fantastic.
Inspired by my journey to purpose, fulfilment and joy, I’ve developed beautiful, personalised stationery that’s designed to make you feel good and inspire you to live your dreams. Each piece is made with love in our workshop at the heart of the UK using paper from sustainable forests with high social and environmental standards.
Why not make your piece yours and begin your journey to your original life?
It’s time to #liveoriginally!