This Pretty Monthly Journal Helped Me Finally Get Back on Track During Quarantine
March has always been one of my favorite months: It marks the start of spring, the first tulips popping out of the ground, and my birthday. This year, however, it will be forever remembered as the month the world turned upside down.
I'm a very disciplined, motivated person who likes to keep things as orderly as possible—I even earned the senior superlative of "most organized" in my high school graduating class (real cool, right?). So when previous routines went out the window—no more morning gym sessions, lunch dates with friends, or meeting my husband at the train after work—and my regular ways of working did, too, I was thrown for a loop, along with the rest of the world. After several weeks of feeling discombobulated and trying to stay positive while growing increasingly unorganized, I came upon a new type of planner, Silk + Sonder, that changed things.
Described as a self-care monthly planner and journal subscription service, this California-based company, created by Meha Agrawal, takes the approach that each month—or even each week—is a chance to start anew. When you sign up for an annual subscription, you receive the next month's Silk + Sonder planner a week or two in advance, so you can begin to prepare for the coming month, similarly to a magazine subscription.
It's such a treat to get it in the mail. For starters, each journal is beautifully designed, with a floral watercolor-esque cover and gold spiral binding. I also love the journal's compact size—at 7 inches by 8.5 inches, it fits perfectly in my purse, and it doesn't take up a ton of space as you begin to fill it up each month. In the first few pages, there's a calendar for that month, as well as smaller calendars for the upcoming few months. Lately, I've felt sad seeing those calendar pages—which I'd normally fill with trips, as a travel writer—be void of any plans. But looking ahead, I'm starting to be able to add road trips to the empty days, which is giving me hope every time I open my journal.
I love how Silk + Sonder has a variety of pages that are really thought-provoking, forcing you to examine where you are in both your work and home lives, which seem to endlessly blend together for us all right now. A page called Reflections has space for you to write about your past months' wins, hiccups, favorite memories, and hard moments—helping me to give myself some grace and make plans for improvement, even during quarantine, which is huge.
As I looked back at my annual planner, which I've used for years, I realized that all the 2020 goal setting and planning I'd done in January this year wasn't realistic or reflective of what the current world situation was now. Silk + Sonder has helped me get back on track with thoughtfully designed pages that blend productivity, planning, and mindfulness—and it's taught me to be OK with the fact that I probably won't be where I thought I would be at the end of 2020, but will maybe even be someplace better.
The bulk of the journal is week-by-week spreads that have space for your to-dos, along with your top weekly goals, how you want to feel (PSA: It's OK to feel weird right now), your plans for being healthy (aka, workouts and meal planning), a shopping list, and space to record your favorites that week: think food, memories, and songs. The design feels approachable and just structured enough to help you plan your days, but with room for you to be creative. I'm trying to get into bullet journaling in these pages and am finding it therapeutic—and it's giving me an excuse to buy more colored pens.
What's more, each month of Silk + Sonder has a different theme: In May, for example, it was Admiration, so there was a page promoting me to jot down something I admired about a person or thing (or myself) every day; in July, it was all about Passion, with space for me to list one thing that brings me extra joy or excitement. "Passion toward small things counts," it read. I loved that.
Silk + Sonder Annual Membership, $160; silkandsonder.com.
Silk + Sonder isn't all about serious, deep thinking, though, another reason I'm so into it. Each journal has a word search, a coloring page, inspirational quotes, and even some delicious recipes (with photos!)—like a delicious goat cheese flatbread. There are also lots of blank pages at the end for you to start your novel, draw funny cartoons, write down your deepest fears, come up with names for your future pets, or whatever suits your fancy.
One of the best parts about these journals—beyond the physical product—is the community the company has built through its private Facebook page, Sonder Club. You have to be a subscribing member to join, and the goal is to help you connect with others and inspire each other with creativity and self-compassion. I've found some really fun resources there, including a spreadsheet where fellow journalers share products like stickers and pens they've found work well on the pages. I've been amazed seeing the videos other users have posted showing their insanely creative work in the journals, too—if you feel like you don't know how to use your pages, you'll surely get inspired once you join and see how others are doing it. I may even go back to one of my old favorite pastimes: cutting out photos and letters from magazines to make little collages on my journal pages.