Growing up, I always had this strong belief that words have the power to express any kind of emotions. I always loved drifting into a world filled with my thoughts. It was always a struggle to have my thoughts in words for me. I always write brief notes at the corners of the pages or any random papers that I could get hold of which makes me keep going back and forth to my ever-changing thoughts. I found myself keeping a book in order to have all my thoughts in some form of a log.
I was born in the Southern part of India, in Chennai, with a traditional upbringing. My love for writing started at an early age when I took long train rides from my schooling until my college days. Each new page was like new ideas and thoughts to me. I always had a book that was my “Memory Dump” for the day. Sometimes it would be what I saw on my rides, what happened in my college, and other times just a random sketch of what I saw during the day.
There is never a right way or a wrong way to do journaling; that was always my mantra. Moving to a new country, journaling was my best friend to start understanding myself on the day-to-day possibilities. My husband is a big supporter in every way possible and here I am, fast-forwarding my life along with my husband, two kids, and one hyperactive fur baby. I made myself a pact to see the positivity in any kind of situation which definitely helped us as a family during this pandemic. My life is always a big roller coaster and having my family closer and being with them along the way through tough and happy times bonded us more.
My Daughter Disha, who is a social butterfly, had a tough time coping during the pandemic. She missed her friends and her teachers in school. I can’t blame her, she was 7 years old. My daughter and I always pass messages during car rides or secret notes around the house. She always expresses her feelings on and off through writing or drawing. I always think she has the mind for creative work in some shape or form. Being a mom, I always cherish those notes shared with our kids and document them as much as possible. It helps me to visualize them, jump in between the lines, relive the period, and be a part of it all over again along with a wet eye. I kind of collect every one of those messages to keep as a memory (you know Moms!) but I was running out of ideas to savor those moments to cherish them. Time flies so fast.
I still remember the day reading the blog by Wakako from Baum-kuchen’s website about how she logs her moments with her daughter’s sweet notes. A “Love Letter with her daughters” as a journal. Reading the blog sparked my thoughts about starting my own (Thanks Wakako!). That helped me to sow a seed in my daughter about journaling and voila! She is so hooked on it. We have our own book where we write messages and pass them along to each other so we could have our own “Love Letter Journal.” I always have a fun and loving conversation with my daughter. She always expresses her mindset through many forms of art like drawing with pastels and journaling when she wants to express it through words. Disha brings peacefulness and coziness to me; we have this bond where we don’t have to say anything but we talk about a lot of things through our company for each other.
Disha loves to hang around with me when I journal and she shows interest in different textures of paper collage in my journals. She is intrigued with the washi tapes and stamps. One fine day she asked if she could join me with journaling. I was taken aback and quite surprised as she pulled up her chair and we did our first journaling together. It was a fun day for both of us just talking about our love for analog as she expressed her ideas and thoughts, and most importantly her love for words. We had one rule during our journaling: “There is no rule”. Having fun is the key to journaling whether it’s collaging, watercolor, or writing. It doesn’t matter; it’s like a time capsule that motivates us to be creative.
“Junk Journaling” is her go-to style of journaling. I always enjoy her company when we are together. Disha is my doppelgänger. When we go shopping for stationery items, we are so happy to go shopping for art and crafts supplies rather than dress shopping. By now my husband and my son know what makes us happy at any given time. Yes, you guessed it right: good stationery! I am always delighted to see the creativity from an eight-year-old’s eye. She always has a love for music and arts in her.
I was introduced to Traveler’s Notebook during the pandemic. It was love at first sight. I still remember the day so clearly when I got my first TN from Baum-kuchen. The touch and smell of the leather bound journal was euphoric. Having my TN changed my analog days to a better experience. My way of analog has taken many forms of self understanding and self discovery to attain my goals. Holding and feeling my TN certainly bought my daughter’s cute little eyes and feet running towards it. I did know where this was going to lead to; well you guessed it right...“Mom, can I have one…?” Never gets old.
Through journaling I always count the many blessings in my life. Every day is a gift and it's sprinkled with lots of love and surprises. I always felt they were little bread crumbs leading me onto the path that I once only dreamed of as they are now starting to be revealed to me. Journaling always lets me connect the dots on my hindsights to my future.
PS: I sure am growing a monster with a love for art, I am totally happy about it.
Text and photos by: Shylaja Vasan
Where to find Shylaja: IG @shylu80
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