This December 26th is the 15-year anniversary of my TN Brown. The very first Traveler’s Notebook I stumbled upon and purchased at Itoya Stationery Store in Tokyo. It was a day before our flight home to LA and was truly a chance encounter. It is not an overstatement when I say that the serendipity on that day changed the course of my life. But really, what I want to celebrate the most is not the day when I picked up the TN in my hand and spent hours in the stationery store aisle thinking if I should purchase it or not and how I might use it if I took it home. What I want to celebrate is all the things that happened and those who crossed my paths between that day and today.
A few years after that day, my original TN inspired me to open our online shop, Baum-kuchen, with the concept of love for analogue and slow life. Through BK, I grew to practice personal writing in my notebooks and writing publicly to share stories with the world. Through BK, our incredible team and I have designed meanings and intentions in everything we do and built a heart-centered oasis for a community of analogue enthusiasts. Today, my simple piece of brown leather embodies many of the tries and errors of BK through remaining stitching holes, a shadow from a leftover adhesive mark of Large Pocket as well as all of the scratches on the edge of the leather from being stuck in my BK apron pocket frequently. I build and appreciate friendship through our shared love for TN and the slower life that evolves around it. Also, a few years after that day in Tokyo, I became a parent, and many of my past TN refills hold my inspiration, observations, struggles, and the joy of parenthood. Inside the brown leather cover, my Jiyu Monthly is sandwiched by a felt sleeve that was lovingly cross-stitched by Satchi, who is now 13 years old. My cover no longer has the original bookmark string, but instead, the page is marked by a friendship bracelet made by my 10-year-old Coco. The leather proudly wears darkened marks from many years of spills and stains I clumsily caused, including red wine, coffee, and sunscreen.
When I hold my Traveler’s Notebook, I feel the sense of time shared. My almost 15-year-old artifact embodies the concept of wabi-sabi - beauty in imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness. It nudges me to remember that the time we hold now is not static. The current status quo, let alone the condition of next year, five years, a decade, is not promised for us. But instead of dreading the uncertainty of time passing, it reminds me to slow down and appreciate this moment graciously, just like the worn-in leather has withstood so much, however incomplete and imperfect.
This month, A.C. is sharing their experience hosting an inking demonstration at an art school. I love the sentence, "In a persistent record you keep for yourself, the stress of expectation fades." There is so much truth in this sentence in navigating ups and downs in our lives. Trina's Notebook People interview takes us to Suzanne's truly tested analog system, which helps her focus on what's important in her day-to-day work rhythms.
As I slowly approach the last few pages of my 2024 notebooks with the bittersweetness of completing this year’s journey, I am sending this wish to you and the universe.
// May we find contentment in sitting still.
// May we choose to show up fully in a few intentional gatherings over trying to show up in everything and everywhere.
// May we find beauty in the silence and darkness of the season as much as festivity in garlands and sparkles.
// May we gently hold a space for the grief we experience as we observe the past and passing as much as the optimism and hope we sense for what might be ahead.
// May we embrace our loved ones close in our hearts while honoring our boundaries.
This past year brought a lot of challenges. It continues to test me to see if I am living with my authenticity. I am grateful that one of the seeds I was able to birth through the process was my regular writing practice in essay formats. Fifteen years ago and through many early years of BK, writing blog posts and sharing stories that felt meaningful was an important touchpoint with myself and with our community. For the last several years, I have only written a fraction of what I used to write. But recently, I realized that the beauties of life are so expansive, and stories continue to flow through me between the monthly BK love letter rhythm. I felt a call that it was time for me to start writing more again. If you haven’t already, please join me at Substack. I would love to see you and hear from you there.
Lastly and most importantly…
// May we always remember the preciousness of time and here now.
always a work in progress...
Topanga // December 2nd, 2023
**This is from our BK Love Letter for December 2023. If you would like to see the entire love letter we sent to our community, you can browse it via this link.