A sucker for pretty books, a passion for scribbling, and an endless curiosity mean that I’ve tried plenty of journals over the years, but Meera Lee Patel’s Start Where You Are: An Illustrated Journal For Self Exploration has got to have been one of the most beautiful.
Small and unassuming, this notebook focuses on embracing the process, not the product. The tasks are less tasks themselves, and more signposts to help readers along their own journey of navigating the imagination, using creativity as guidance. As the blurb says ‘Every answer is inside you.’
Short and accessible, the exercises include listing five things that always make you smile, reflecting on dreams that have not yet happened, seizing the one thing that motivates you in life and moving towards it, circling your values and looking through a different lens.
Quotes from thinkers, creatives, visionaries are illustrated with vibrant watercolour paintings in Meara’s signature style. Just by presenting those familiar ideas in a new way they are shifted and transformed, made more personally resonant through the reflection. Her early years on the New Jersey shore inspired her illustrations, and you can see the mystery and magic infuse the style, whilst the bold colours of her native India illuminate them. Even when you don’t do the tasks, as in sit and put pen to paper and write something profound, it feels as though you are still working and transforming your consciousness through the visuals.
So many of the illustrations and quotes I want to put up on my wall, and so I was thrilled to learn that Meera sells the prints. Uplifting in all ways, it’s a nice way to both look inside of yourself and expand and grow out into your life.