#CheckThisOut: Journaling starter pack

Jaco Joves

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#CheckThisOut: Journaling starter pack
‘Astrology Eme’ host Cesd Monsada decodes the stars through the power of words

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Do you ever have really surreal (and at times, bewildering) dreams, only to forget them hours after waking up? Same here, and frankly, mine can rival the stuff fantasy novels are made of – if only I can remember them.

These “vivid and lengthy dreams,” as well as her pandemic-induced insomnia, pushed Rappler’s resident astro girl and Astrology Eme host Cesd Monsada to turn to journaling.

“Aside from telling my friends about my dreams, how about I write them down too? That way, I’ll have an official record and ‘di na puro search sa group chats ‘pag may gusto akong balikan (instead of just searching on group chats everytime I want to revisit a particular dream),” said Cesd.

Puzzled on what journaling is? It’s the act of keeping your thoughts and feelings in, well, a journal. (Essentially, it’s a diary.) And over the years, the practice has evolved from safekeeping giddy schoolgirls’ secrets to a way for people to release pent-up emotions and anxieties. Some even treat it as an art form! 

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While she intended to just chronicle her dreams, Cesd eventually wrote about anything and everything. She has fewer insomnia and anxiety attacks now, thanks to her regular journaling. It’s also making her more mindful.

“And now, it’s not just my anxieties that I journal about. I even process and write about my happy moments so I could savor or preserve the feeling. Para ‘pag gusto kong balikan, I can say na ‘ah nakaramdam naman pala ako ng happy moments’ (If I want to look back, I can say that I’ve actually experienced happy moments),” added Cesd.

Journaling helped her chart celestial movements, of course. “Since I’m also an astrologer, my journal entries are sometimes aligned with the [planetary] transits. Like every new moon, I write down manifestations and affirmations then I release any negative emotions, things that don’t work anymore, and so much more during full moons.”

Inspired to start journaling too? Cesd walks us through the basic items that we have to have:

Hobonichi notebook

Invest in a journal notebook! As recommended by my journaling friends na nambudol sa ‘kin (who lured me), a Hobonichi notebook is the best. It uses thin Tomoe River paper, in which the pen ink amazingly doesn’t bleed. Thin pages naturally mean more pages! I’ve been journaling for a year now and I haven’t even filled up half of it. I started with an A6 one because I felt like A5 was too big for me. It’s small and pocket-sized, so pwedeng dalhin if gusto mong mag-drama and mag-journal sa café (you can bring it to a café to emote while journaling).

TWSBI fountain pen

Next: a pen! Kasama na sa budol ko ang fountain pens para sosyal. (I always buy fountain pens so that my writings will look classy.) Just like the saying that nice shoes take you to nice places, nice pens can make your manifestations and affirmations stronger. I like how smooth TWSBI’s pens write. The model I have is admittedly pricey, but there are cheaper ones if you’ll explore the shop. Sobrang sarap ng feeling magsulat with it (Writing with a TWSBI pen feels better), plus look at that color! I also use Fine nibs, but if you want thinner scribbles, go for Extra Fine.

Alternative: Platinum Preppy fountain pen

If you don’t want to commit to an expensive fountain pen, this one is a good pen to start with!

Pilot Iroshizuku ink

When there’s a fountain pen, ink refills are needed. As a pasmado (with sweaty hands), I need ink that doesn’t smudge, and Pilot Iroshizuku fits the bill. The other ink brands I tried have slightly unpleasant odors, so this is the one I’m most satisfied with for journaling purposes. I especially love the purple one (murasaki-shikibu), which a friend gave as a gift.

Hobonichi Techo notebook covers

Kung gusto mo pa ng kaunting arte (If you want to spruce up your journal), you can buy a cute cover for your Hobonichi notebook.

Pen case

And also, a case for your pen! Those fountain pens are precious investments.

Surely, the burning question on everyone’s mind is if one needs to be a good writer when journaling, but Cesd begged to differ.

“Your writing doesn’t need to have perfect grammar, handwriting, or no typos. It’s really just everything in your head, translated in written form. It’s easier to sustain and move forward with that in mind,” she advised.

Anything goes, in short! But if starting out is hard enough – willpower, more than creative juices, is needed – Cesd saw no problem in referring to writing prompts or guides to cull ideas; she sought inspiration from Kyle Gray’s Raise Your Vibration during her early journaling days.

Unlike an author who writes for the audience, you are journaling for yourself. Don’t be pressured into creating the cutest journal, or the most prolific self-reflection out there. What’s more important is the emotional relief that it will bring you, which only happens when you let loose and pour your heart out into those pages. That’s the real magic of journaling. – Rappler.com

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Jaco Joves

Jaco was a senior content producer for Rappler's BrandRap team.