Baum-kuchen: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself? Based on your beautiful website and calming YouTube videos, it seems as if you wear so many different hats of life. When people ask, “what do you do, where are you from?” What do you tell them?
Andrea: I have always been interested in the subtle and multifaceted ways we connect to our world. This life-long curiosity has given rise to both my work as a meditation teacher and my work in the past as an environmental educator. I love how everything connects by way of relationships. I’ve recently continued my studies in meditation with the iRest Institute and now teach Integrative Restoration iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation, as a level one teacher. In teaching mindfulness meditation practice with the public, I love to use journaling and creative methods to help others self inquire about their relationships with the world, themselves, and others. I also love to teach mindful journaling classes as well! I work with the public both online and in-person in Seattle, Washington.
Baum-kuchen: We really love how your journaling process is so much about discovering/observing the world around you. Was this always your journaling process? How did it come into practice?
Andrea: Discovering and observing are foundational to my journaling process each day. But it wasn’t always like this. Early on, especially when I was younger, I adopted the general “Dear Diary” approach to each entry. I was careful about what I included and I didn’t reveal much of how I really felt or what I observed in my world. I wanted each entry to be perfect and cohesive and I never seemed to feel that what I wanted to write was worthy enough for the page.
The shift to more fluid and flexible journaling started in my mid 20’s when I was deep into my meditation study and practice. This is when I realized my journaling was actually much more than I realized and a very important piece of my mindfulness practice. Meditation is an active practice. It’s about meeting and greeting what is arising at our ever-unfolding moment. It’s not clearing the mind. It’s about understanding it. It’s about our relationships with ourselves, others, and the world. It’s about observing, questioning, and discovering curiosity in our own way.
With this, my journaling became a vehicle for me to witness my world, to ask questions, to write my arisings of emotions, feelings, and ideas - just how they come. My notebook is a companion for this exploration. No rules. No judgment. No limits to what could be included on my pages. I could write, draw, or color my pages as a direct reflection of my moment - mistakes and all. Our words are worthy. My notebook is a feed of my life and every day it acquires more pieces of me.
Baum-kuchen: You have been using a Traveler’s Notebook for 10 years now (wow)! Why do you think this particular system/notebook is so meaningful to you? Any interesting story on how you discovered it?
Andrea: The first time I laid eyes on the Traveler’s Notebook, I knew I had to have it. I first saw it back in 2010, on Patrick Ng’s Flicker account. I don’t remember what I was searching for when I stumbled on it, but from that point, I was on a hunt. I finally found the Traveler’s Notebook on Baum-Kuchen’s website that same year. I remember the moment of opening the beautifully wrapped package, it was so special, it felt like a bright new adventure. My Traveler’s Notebook has been on countless trips across the planet and has served as my everyday companion over the decade. It’s certainly seen all my ups and downs!
What I love most about the Traveler’s Notebook is the way I can customize it. I love how I can arrange and rearrange the various notebook inserts, folders, and albums inside to fit my needs. If I change, my Traveler’s Notebook can change with me. That’s refreshing. Its portability is another plus as it is not too big or small for my needs. My TN has been my greatest physical possession I’ve honestly ever owned. It’s a constant friend. The marks and scuffs on the outside cover, tell a deep story that only I can translate.
Baum-kuchen: You have a real love for fountain pens and we know you write exclusively with them for the most part. What makes writing with a fountain pen so different and special to you?
Andrea: Like my Traveler’s Notebook, my fountain pens are another daily trusted companion within my analog lifestyle. Writing with fountains provides a unique experience as they all have their own personality and charm. Unlike ballpoint pens, fountain pens don’t require you to press down on the paper to get the ink to flow; for me this allows a more fluidness and ease when writing. When I write with a ballpoint my handwriting feels heavy, flat, and limited. My handwriting has become richer and personal over time from using a fountain pen. I also love the variety of inks I can use and experiment with along with the different lines of thinness or thickness with various nibs. My favorite nib size is an extra fine! And currently, my favorite fountain pen is my Sailor 1911 Standard.
Baum-kuchen: Besides journaling, do you have a process or separate notebook for your planning or scheduling needs? What does that look like?
Andrea: When it comes to scheduling and planning, I tend to keep all my subjects within my Traveler’s Notebook, by using either a monthly calendar and or weekly/daily or make my own with a plain insert. Currently, I’m wrapping up my first six months of BK’s JIYU insert for my TN. I have really loved the simplicity and layout of the insert, from the paper to the design layout. I love using monthly spreads as I find it more easeful to see what’s going for the month all at once.
I have tried other systems from time to time. For example, I have enjoyed the Hobonichi that I bought while in Japan. I have used this system for bigger long term projects. I have especially enjoyed the Hobonichi systems because of the beautiful lightweight Tomoe River paper. But I always seem to come back to using my Traveler’s Notebook for all my planning needs.
Baum-kuchen: You also use a typewriter sometimes. What do you write about? Are those pages also incorporated into your journals?
Andrea: I love my typewriter! Growing up, I often used my mom’s Smith and Corona for small school reports (this was back in the early ’90s). Now I have my own refurbished 1962 Hermes 3000 typewriter. It is not only beautiful but a real joy to type on. Using my typewriter gives me a completely different experience than when I am handwriting, I love the sound, the tactile quality of the keys, the quality of attention that is needed to put letters on paper. I use my typewriter much the same way I use my journal. I like to type about anything and everything from letters to stories, ideas, and daily musings. I like to include some of these typed pages within my notebook and add typed pieces to some of my art. I have even left short typed messages of kindness or reflections in parks or at tables around my community.
A typewriter gives me a different quality of attention. I enjoy the unique focus it requires from me and like my notebook, it doesn’t judge my mistakes, sentences, ideas, or stories. It’s there as a constant companion. Even though my typewriter is 58 years old, it works just as it did when it was new. That kind of quality isn’t seen much in our modern world. And in a world where so much of our attention is stolen from constant digital interactions my typewriter is most certainly a practice in attentive awareness, patience, and thoughtfulness.
Baum-kuchen: What are your favorite analogue tools to journal with?
Andrea: I have so many favorites!
- My travel watercolor set - Having a small portable palette allows me to add another dimension to my journaling pages. It’s so calming and gives me another way to express my feelings and emotions.
The Superior Labor Leather Carrier - I can carry my watercolors, brush, and various pens and pencils all neat and organized. I also love how the pen roll has aged over time too.
- Platinum Carbon Ink - I love this ink for writing and art because it stays so well on the paper without being affected by smudging or water.
- Fountain pens - My current favorite fountain pens are my Kaweco Brass Sport and my Sailor 1911 Standard gold nib fountain pen. All my fountain pens have their own unique personality and sometimes it’s hard to choose which one to write with!
Baum-kuchen: Why is journaling so important to you?
Andrea: Keeping a journal is important to me because it is a way to investigate, study, and know the world around me without interruption from the digital world. So much of our lives these days are involved in constant sharing, posting, commenting, and scrolling that we don’t take time to just be without this constant stream of instant communication. Keeping a notebook is a way to explore and know without the hum of distractions. When I am engaged with my journaling, I’m paying attention to the moment more fully. This has made me more observant, attentive, and a better listener to those around me.
Baum-kuchen: Any advice you would love to give people who might want to start journaling but do not know where to begin or feel overwhelmed?
Andrea: My advice would be to set your awareness and creativity free. Develop a new kind of curiosity with your environment. Everything and anything is content and everything you put into your notebook is worthy. Be consistent and most importantly be observant! Pay attention to the world around you in a different way, write what you see, hear, and feel. You could write a word a day or four pages a day. You could doodle your thoughts, collage your feelings, or write what you ate each day.
All this takes time and patience, especially with our current digital habits so don’t worry about writing every day. Let your journal be your own unique feed of life. Journaling is about exploration and discovery. It strengthens our creativity, curiosity, and observation muscles. It prods us to ask more questions and to widen the lens in which we see life. Investigate life!
Baum-kuchen: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Andrea: “When emotions arise, they call us to be attentive. Attention means being open to feedback and change. Clinging to our beliefs and expectations about how things “should be”, prevents new information from being processed." - Richard Miller, PhD
Where to find Andrea:
BK Artifacts mentioned or featured in Andrea's story:
- Traveler's Notebook - BLUE
- Traveler's Notebook - BROWN
- [ BK Notebook ] - JIYU Planner
- The Superior Labor Leather Carrier - NUDE
- Platinum Carbon Ink
- Ateliers Penelope Knapsack (M) - Khaki Olive
- Traveler's Company Brass Pencil