Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Starting where I am.

Meera Lee Patel is a self-taught artist and writer based in Brooklyn, NY, who is yet to release her book called "Start Where You Are" - an interactive journal for 'self-exploration'. I had the extremely awesome chance to collaborate with Penguin at the Random House to read this book and write about my own interpretation of it.

I have always loved these types of books. I'm a sucker for motivating prompts, cute exercises, and self-reflection, and this book has come at the most perfect time for me. With the stress of college and, to be honest, my own internal-conflict, I couldn't be more grateful for a creative outlet other than my diary to help me along the path of finding myself.

In the introduction, Meera talks about why she decided to create "Start Where You Are." She expresses the troubles she went through herself that prompted her to dig a little deeper and create an outline of what she felt. I could relate a lot to some of the things she said: "I spent a lot of my years longing for the past or waiting for the future to arrive, confused about where I was and where I wanted to go." That line was pretty much written about me. I'm constantly having flash backs of things that never happened and constantly manipulating the past in my head to make me feel better about the unsatisfied outcome of the present. "The hardest questions are the ones that open doors." I completely agree with this. You know that whole sentiment of denial and admission that everyone has to go through at least once in their lives? This book encompasses this whole aura, and I was more than excited to start the process of introspection.

The book features inspirational quotes that are hand-illustrated and beautifully vibrant, followed by a an exercise related to it, which come in the form of a list, chart, writing prompt or drawing. I really loved how it encouraged me to get in touch with my creative side, getting me thinking as a distraction from the work-related thinking I had been doing. I have photographed some of my favourite pages (though I desperately wanted to photograph it all.)

This is one of my favourite pages in the whole journal. "Persistence guarantees that results are inevitable."

I haven't even written on it yet, because it requires such precious thinking. But I have an idea of what I will write. I love how my "ideal life" could be something so spontaneous and "unlikely" to happen, but this page doesn't care - it just wants me to imprint the mountain with my dream, making it, in a way, come true.

This kind of thinking is extremely important. Most people tend to bask in their sadness - I know I definitely do sometimes - but shaking it off and realising what really matters at the end of the day is a very courageous and powerful quality to develop, because it encourages resilience. If you don't give up, satisfactory outcomes are literally INEVITABLE. It reminded me of a quote by Beverly Sills: "You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try." - I always, always, ALWAYS say this to myself before I try something that I am feeling ambivalent about. Like getting purple hair! Yeah I may curl into a ball and cry if it looks disgusting, but how would I ever have known it would look gross if I didn't put it on my head? And what if it looked banging? Then what?

I really, really love that quote by Sylvia Plath. Some of her words make my heart feel weak, because she says so little in such profound, easy ways and always about a feeling that I can relate to. The exercise paired with this was simple: "Breathe deep and think about your place in the universe. Think about how the particles you're made of are the same particles that make up the earth, moon, stars. You are." WE ARE. Aren't we? You're here, I'm here and we are all living, moving, existing. WE ARE. YOU ARE. I AM!

This page caught my attention. I guess this is what Meera talked about in the introduction. It is asking me to dig deeper and face a hidden truth. I have trouble confronting hard truths; accepting that something didn't turn out the way I wanted. I'm terrible at moving on. My heart and brain don't cooperate at times like this. My brain knows that I need to let go, but my heart is constantly saying: "hey how about this? Go make up another scenario, go daydream about how that situation could have turned out if you said this, go and indulge yourself in this manipulated memory, you love it." 

WHAT I WANT TO DO: Get a nose piercing. WHAT OTHERS WILL THINK: That I'm pretentious, it looks stupid. WHAT OTHERS WILL DO ABOUT IT: Compliment me. 
In other words? Nothing. 
Nothing will be done to stop me from achieving this minor goal. Yes, nearly every young person has some sort of facial piercing today. People can think whatever they desire about my personal decision, but how can I not pursue it only to realise that no-one will have stopped me? What I love about this exercise is how superfluous it becomes after you fill in first box. You realise immediately what it's trying to emphasise. It allowed me to voice my unnecessary anxieties onto paper, making me become aware of how stupid they are. It also released a bit more of the rebellion in me. so whAT IF I WANT TO DO THIS? Imma do it!!! 
You might as well live by this mentality, you know? If no-one is going to stop you, then do it. Do it until you get stopped.

Think of something that is currently troubling you and write about it here. Don't try to solve it; just focus on getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.                                                     This is what I wrote (pls ignore the stupidity of it): "I don't know why, but I keep on getting stressed about followers on Instagram - no matter how many times I look in the mirror and tell myself I honestly don't care. I want to take selfies (really pretty ones) that make me look cool and different. Pictures of me that remind others that I can move on, I can be daring, I can be beautiful and different. I'm stressed about my future, how much time is left and about the concept of time itself. I really feel like I just need to rest and not think for a while." 
Below are the rest of the pages that I admired for it's inspiring nature and it's beautiful design. 

This reminded me to know not only where my priorities lie, but where my sources of necessity come from. "Live your life, live your live, live your life." Of course the repetition only accentuated the importance of living your life. How can words be so simple yet communicate the most powerful messages? Beats me. 

Introspection. I will fill this hand with images, colours, patterns, words - anything - that gives me an inky and thick impression of what I want and feel. My "life's map" will light the way for everything I need to find myself. True places are never found on regular maps.

Can we just appreciate the intricate, delicate artistry here? The watercolour blue is so dreamy.

"We become what we think about" - Earl Nightingale. Think happy thoughts. 

In short, for me, "Start Where You Are" is the printed equivalent of a huge exhalation. A release of stress of those clingy, expendable emotions that we carry with us. The sole purpose of those feelings are to stop us from shaking off the poison that they reek and reaching for our dreams, learning to move on with thing; whatever they may be. 

Jessica Hagy, the author of 'How to Be Interesting' says: "A brilliant travel guide for navigating the nooks and crannies of imagination." I agree, I feel like it does provoke creativity and insight. But it also, if anything, stretches it's arms and tugs at the unsolved baggage in my brain and heart. It makes me think about anything and everything. It really is a journal for "Self-exploration." You explore yourself, you discover what you really feel, despite how much you try to deny it. I would definitely recommend purchasing this gem when you can!!!

And just like Meera herself says: "Take your time. Use what you have. Start where you are."



  1. This book looks so cool, I love these kinds of things too :)


  2. Wow this is amazing! You're so lucky to have had that great opportunity :) I love little motivational things too, and I love how you put in so much detail into this post. It shows how much you care about this book :) I really love the page which says "think about something that's rattled you then come back to this page" (or something like that). I think it's a really good way to keep you grounded, etc and just keep you focused on yourself and your dreams etc. Lovely review and awesome post xx

    1. Thank you so so so much and I agree. xoxox

  3. I love books like this too, I always get them as gifts which is never a bad thing <3 the art in this one is amazing and I love all the positive quotes, that Roald Dahl one is one of my all time favourites xx

    1. Yeah, me too! Irk, it's amazing. Her website is really beautiful and artistic as well! Thanks for reading! xoxox

  4. Books such as this one are great. It's always a good thing to think honestly about ourselves. That quote by Beverly Stills is one of the best and most necessary things that I've read in, like, forever. I'm constantly moaning about wanting to do something but how can I possibly do anything if I'm constantly scared of trying and failing! So needed that right now! I'm in a place where I just need, like, a shit-tonne of motivation if I'm going to successfully achieve anything, and this books seems so great for that! Thanks for sharing it with us! X

    Vogue Escapade

    1. ahh yeah. I hate that feeling so much. That's why this book is so perfect, because it is literally relevant to everyone. Thank you! <3 <3

  5. those are possibly the most beautiful renditions i've ever seen of some of my favourite quotes - especially the sylvia plath quote from the bell jar. the watercolour work looks so delicate; i think that it perfectly complements the 'aura of the book' you mention at the beginning of this post.

    kalopcia.blogspot.com x


thanks for your comment, they never fail to make me smile + i appreciate them so much!