You’ve got (actual) mail!

You’ve got (actual) mail!

How do you feel when you receive a handwritten letter?

It’s been studied and proven that handwriting helps you cope with depression and improve its symptoms, aids handling loss, and is mentally beneficial as it allows you to process emotion and have a mindful moment. We all know of the zen state we can reach when journaling or writing a letter to a loved one. I mean, we are Scribes. *self high five*

But how does the recipient feel? What’s that magical moment of opening the envelope, listening to the crisp paper unfold and take in the message that someone took time out of their own busy lives to share with you, only you?

When I moved to the UK I was amazed by the fact a huge percentage of people STILL sends actual physical Christmas cards. And birthday cards. And just cards to celebrate a milestone or to bring sender and receiver that little bit closer. I have discovered postcrossing (I’ve told you about that too), and I’m continuing to fall back in love with the “lost” art of handwriting. So I’m very much on both ends of the mail exchange. So I think I know how to talk about this.

I have received a letter from a friend last week. I was not expecting it. This new friend of mine folded her letter EXACTLY like I folded my letter when I was a teen, without knowing. She sealed it with some wax seal (oh my heart!) and within the page wrote emotions, jokes and shared moments with me. How did I feel? Elated. Warm. Like I matter to someone, even if they are so far away!

That is the main thing with a handwritten letter or note: it’s a token of someone’s time that you get to cherish and save. The special connection and feeling you had by opening and reading that piece of paper. Not a text stored in a cloud somewhere or an email you’ve found good enough to download and save in a hard drive, but something physical kept in a special place for you. Even if that special place is the fridge door where you display the love note your love left this morning, or the handmade birthday card your kids gave you last year.

In my mom’s house, there’s a note that embodies one of the most happy memories I have of my birthday: a single groceries list, where I, at the top, wrote “I love you” as a cute joke with my mom and that then members of my family, on the party, added in several languages “me too”. Now, every time I enter my suburban flat’s kitchen I smile at the “Eu também. Moi aussi. Me too. Y yo.”.

This feeling we get, when reading what a pen left on a paper by someone dear, triggered me to search for public displays of emotion after receiving Inkpact handwritten notes.

They are tricky to find (if you do find more than the ones I mention here, please send them my way! It’s thrilling to read them!) but I managed to discover a couple that hopefully will also leave your heart pumping with smiles.

  1. This lovely man on Twitter, referred to the note we sent back in 2018 as an “amazing thing to come home to.” He went on to, within the 120-character count of the platform at the time, say the unusual gesture elevates the brand, which also makes us proud!
  2. In a recent campaign to drivers from a well-known transport company, one particular recipient has resorted to the hug emoji to display his happiness at the card mailed to him!
  3. One of our more recent clients has also shared direct messages they’ve received from corporate gifting campaigns that are always accompanied by one of our lovely handwritten notes:
    • “(…) You made my day today, with an unexpected and very pleasant surprise. Thank you so much, it was the perfect day to receive such an uplifting token”
    • “You guys are so thoughtful and professional; you always keep impressing me!”
    • “Wanted to send a quick thank you note for the sweetest surprise package I received yesterday. You guys sure know how to make us feel special during this crazy time”

I guess it’s safe to say every time we write a note, or a letter, from a place of love and kindness, the energy will be carried within the paper and land on the recipient’s heart ready to make them feel loved, cherished and part of a bond that’s stronger than a quick Whatsapp message.

Speaking of these new technologies, yes, it is far easier and quicker to message someone, even make it personal by adding a voice note. But is there such a feeling that can replace seeing a letter arrive by post with your name on it and the expectation with the story that lies within? I don’t think so.

I usually end our newsletters with a “catch phrase” of sorts. And given the love, kindness and thoughtfulness we can share with our handwriting, I think it’s appropriate to use it here too:

Now let’s go save the world, one handwritten letter at a time.

Tania, Community Manager

Plastic Free July or The Sustainability post

Plastic Free July or The Sustainability Post

We’re a bit over a week from the end of July, but it is never too late. And this month is Plastic Free July. So today let’s talk sustainability. At Inkpact. And in your life as a Scribe.

Writing campaigns for Inkpact and our love for stationary are some of the things we all have in common. Work wise, apart from the happiness and expectation our letters bring smiles to the receivers, we can probably resume the rest to the paper cards and envelopes, fountain pens, and a completely online platform that helps us access the jobs and invoices and even the communications between “office” and Scribe Tribe. But did you know 100% of our paper is made from sustainable forests (FSC) as are the envelopes?

At Inkpact we try to make sure our business is sustainable, and that involves daily choices and suppliers. By choosing FSC paper, instead of a perhaps cheaper normal paper, and having developed a platform that allows for jobs to be fulfilled without the need of extra physical paper or printing, even when it comes to invoicing, we are conscious of our choices towards this blue planet of ours.

When you go to inkpact.com, you will also notice we have a selection of corporate gifts, that can accompany our cards, if the clients are looking for an even more personal and delightful approach. With these, we also source suppliers that have, in their ethos and business, strong ethical and environmental ideals. There is actually a blog post about it, written by (then) Head of Corporate Gifting, so I’ll paraphrase some bits, but you can read it completely here.

As a taster here are 3 brands whose beautiful products feature in our corporate gifting range.

Up Circle

Up-Circle elevates leftover natural ingredients, bringing them back to life as beauty products your skin will love. And as well as being 100% natural, their skincare range is also 100% brilliant. All their products are sustainable, vegan, cruelty free + made in the UK.

Kitchen Provisions

Kitchen Provisions was established by Tom Saunders and Helen Symonds to combine equipment and techniques with ingredients and recipes. They have put together an edit of kitchen equipment from around the world that is useful, fun and versatile. Wanting to not clutter up people’s kitchen cupboards with equipment that won’t see daylight. All products are tried, tested and purchased with care. Their store is a treasure trove for food and drink fanatics so I highly recommend going to check them out.

 Garçon Wines

These award winning bottles are made in the UK from 100% post-consumer recycled PET and are 100% recyclable after. By using plastic already in circulation, we are removing plastic from our environment and adding no new plastic into the world they’re the greenest wine bottles available. They’re tough enough to withstand the rigours of the postal system yet light enough to keep down carbon emissions & delivery costs. Their flattened design means they fit easily through the letterbox – a hassle-free, environmentally friendly way to receive wine.

 

By being part of the Scribe Tribe, you are already working towards a better planet, especially if you consider that the more we elevate each other, the better the whole world becomes. And that includes writing letters to bring comfort/happiness/thoughtfulness to those who receive them.

But this month, I have just found out, is also Plastic Free July. Which can be that extra nudge you may be needing to start changing small habits and help make the world a better place.

I bet you know already that EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF PLASTIC ever produced is still around. Since 1907, nothing has disappeared (“The world’s first fully synthetic plastic was bakelite, invented in New York in 1907, by Leo Baekeland who coined the term ‘plastics‘.”, in Wikipedia). We average a production of 300 million tons of plastic produced every year, with around 150 million of those being single use plastic. 8 million tons end up in the ocean every year. The majority of the rest ends up in minefields where it stays, not decomposing at a rate sustainable for life. So it will be there, here, for hundreds and hundreds of years.

This means every pack of grapes we ever bought, every toothbrush we had to discard, every charger cable that stopped charging our phone, heck, every pen we’ve ever thrown away, still exists on the planet. Scary thought.

I’d like to challenge you to check your daily plastic use and see if you could reduce it even by 25%. Maybe we can carry our own coffee cup, instead of drinking from a plastic one. Or carry our tote bags inside our purses/backpacks/pockets, just in case we end up doing an impromptu shop somewhere. Or start shopping in plastic free shops, even. Not purchase fast fashion, synthetic clothing to discard the following season.

I’d also love to know what you already do to cut plastic from your life, so share your thought and let’s learn from each other!

For more info on Plastic Free July, you can head here: https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/

Tania, Community Manager

#BlackLivesMatter

Fist bumping between a white and a black hand

#BlackLivesMatter

I’ve taken some time to address it, but my silence at this crucial time is not useful and I recognise if I don't actively use my voice to condemn what is happening, and be actively part of the change, I am, in turn, supporting racism, inhumanity and violence. So, I want to express my thoughts, and support wholeheartedly the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

I can’t keep going with “business as usual” before I fully take my time to educate and better myself. I am a white woman, and I need to fully acknowledge my own privilege and I’d like to take you on that discovery journey with me if you’d let me.

“I don’t see colour” doesn’t work anymore. It never really did. Because who doesn’t want to see colour? Colour is beautiful, and it’s what makes this diverse world such a paradise. And also, not seeing colour is a privilege only white people get to have. Only white humans get to go through life not aware of skin colour, in societies made by and for them.

Why should the amount of melanin one has within, determine anything else but being a worthy human? But the fact is, it does. And that SHOULD trouble you and make you uncomfortable.

Did you know in the UK a Black mother is 5 times more likely to die of childbirth complications? And this is not due to underlying conditions, or any biological reasons, or age or social deprivation. This is partly due to medical professionals being wrongly educated that BIPOC humans don’t experience pain in the same way as white humans and their complaints are not taken as seriously.

There is plenty of biased research suggesting that black patients are seen as older (the kids), more resilient (the men), more hysterical (the women) and opioid seeking (sickle cell patients). When this is engrained in the minds of the primary carers of life and wellbeing you have another seed of everyday systemic racism.

But please, don’t twitch at the sight of the word privilege. White privilege does not mean you had it easy, not struggled or worked very hard to be where you are, or your life is a fairy tale of popsicle trees and fluffy cloud beds. It just means you didn’t have it worst to start with, due to the colour of your skin. White privilege is also NOT your fault. But it’s something to be actively aware of, from now until the end of your life.

And we’re all guilty of some form of systemic racism in our lives. It doesn’t make us the worst person on earth, if we acknowledge it and actively change.

Think of it this way, if you’re trying to identify someone in a group, you’ll most probably reference the skin colour as the first attribute for a non-white person, but if it’s a white person you’ll say something like “the girl in the hat”, “the tall one on the left”, etc. Next time play by the same rules for both sides of the melanin spectrum. This is the smallest example of how to catch ourselves and be better. We can. Believe me. The world deserves it.

The world that we live in is rich and wonderful, and I’m a bit biased for bringing it back to the arts a bit, but can you imagine a world without jazz, rock&roll or modern-day pop? All of those genres, and so many others, came from Black musicians. What would the Acting world be without Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Viola Davis or Hattie McDaniel (first Black woman to win an Academy Award in 1940 for her role as Mammy in Gone With The Wind. Did you know she was not allowed to be in the room during the ceremony and was ushered in solely to accept the prize?). We are all richer if we embrace all colours, creeds, nationalities, differences.

I’d like to also share with you a list of resources you can read and consume to help you on your journey. So I’ll add that to the end of the post. And if you have any I missed, please link it below/message me. I am eager to learn more.

I’m not an authority in any of this, I have made and will probably make plenty of mistakes whilst on my journey of inclusivity and equality. Heck, probably in this exact post I will have made one or more mistakes! But the time to not do, not search, not speak, not be, is gone. And I’d rather learn by doing than not trying at all.

Resources to dive in deeper:

Black Lives Matter Official website

64 Articles About Racism In Britain & The Black British Experience

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man – Instagram account of Emmanuel Acho

A great list of resources compiled by Sarah Flicker and Alyssa Klein

Books:

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

Ideal Bookshelf’s list of books on anti-racism

Donate:

Black Lives Matter Official links

If you are not able to donate at the moment, you can watch these Youtube videos, not skipping ads/following the specific instructions, as all ad revenue goes to BLM causes! Video 1, Video 2, Video 3

Be active:

Get in touch with your MP to encourage them to address the government report on BAME COVID-19 deaths and ask what steps are being taken in light of it, suspend the sales of riot supplies to the US, and to condemn their use of force during protests. You can write to them here.

Tania, Community Manager

Being a mum at Inkpact, by Nicola Willoughby

Being a mum at Inkpact

How I balance being a mum with writing and reviewing for inkpact! - by Nicola Willoughby

I started writing for Inkpact in Autumn 2017. My little girl had just turned one and I’d seen a post on Facebook where someone was asking how they could make a living out of their lovely handwriting, and in the replies, someone had recommended Inkpact. I decided to have a look online, applied, and that was that! I was a writer.

In those early days, the jobs were very different – I remember my first job was 10 A4 letters which seemed to be so long and have so many words – nothing like the jobs of today with thousands of cards to write!

I found it quite difficult at first to find a good time to write – having a small person to entertain and the risk of having freshly written letters spoilt took up most of my day! I also worked 4 days a week as a radiographer in our local NHS hospital. Eventually I started writing when she had her nap, and in the evenings as she went to bed. I once read a post on the Scribe Tribe that a mum sat in the car writing whilst her little ones slept, but I bow down to that mum, as I could never quite manage to get the hang of that skill!

In 2018, I fell pregnant again. I wrote throughout my pregnancy until December when I found my bump was just too big to carry on writing comfortably! My twin girls were born in January 2019 and the fun began.

I picked up the writing again in June with the arrival of the WaterBabies campaign and continued to pick up jobs here and there, still writing during the girls’ naps and in the evenings – made slightly more difficult with having 3 little girls under the age of 3!

I have always loved reading, and found that I pick up spelling and grammatical errors in books and written works, and always fancied myself as a bit of a proofreader! When the opportunity arose to become part of the Inkpact QA team in early 2020, I was so pleased! Balancing the quality checking in life is much easier than I thought and I just love being part of team ‘Reviewing Army’!

Although it can be hard at times to find a good balance between my family, work and Inkpact, I do enjoy the challenge. I still love posting my handwritten letters and imagining the happiness that the recipient feels. I’m so pleased I’m a part of this lovely company 😊

Nicola Willoughby - Scribe Tribe, Reviewer

My pens and my devotion

My pens and my devotion

From Parker to Bic, what do I write with?

The one thing that all of us at the Scribe Tribe have in common is definitely our love for stationery and handwriting. We may have been told we have nice handwriting, and feel good about it, but the real kicker in the feels is when we get a new pen/set of stationery.

I think we were all that kid that dreaded the end of Summer holidays but craved the trip to get new supplies for the new school year, and no matter how high or low we were in the economic bracket, a new pen/pencil/notebook was just something we needed. And let’s be honest, craved.

So, my love for pens and stationery started young. I never really got why a free pen would be something someone wanted, because, to me, buying a pen is a special moment. Selecting which type to go for. Roller tip, gel, fountain. The size of the writing we will do with it (my personal favourite are pens 0.5 or 0.7 even, but funnily enough the one I use now is 0.3!). The colour. Apart from being 9yo and NEEDING every colour on the rainbow, we all know there’s more to ink colour than black vs blue. The list is endless.

Sure, we need practical pens to keep around the house, bags, backpacks, etc, for when we need to scribble something at the last minute. But all the times we purposely sit down to write are all the more pleasurable if we have our favourite pen between our fingers.

I’ve always had a soft spot for gel pens. But some papers can’t take it and will smudge faster than a Fox Terrier will lift their head at the word “ball”! And I only use my Parker pen for Inkpact jobs, anyway. So, here’s my go to personal collection at the moment:

 

Platinum Preppy Fountainpen

This baby is translucent, you can see the ink cartridge inside, you can see the discs where the ink rolls to the metal tip. It glides effortlessly. I have a Sepia colour cartridge in. Is there a more satisfying thing on a fountain pen? My everyday notes are written with it. Not the scribbles. The actual notes. The addresses on non-Inkpact jobs’ envelopes. The letters to my friends and family.

It was gifted to me last year by my boyfriend and even though it’s a 0.3 instead of my preferred thicker line, I can’t get enough of it, and am dreading this last Sepia cartridge finishes!

 

Kaweco Sport Fountainpen

Another gift from boyfriend from a couple of years back, that I enjoyed so much, I went out and bought another of the same model, in a different colour!

I now own 2, a baby blue with blue ink and a grey with dark grey ink. Both of which are used for journaling and letter writing.

Talk about feeling love for a pen! These ones are so nice to hold, the ink is constant, no drips or smudges, the detail on the tips are magical, and I really think I will add more of these to my collection.

 

Frixion Ball Slim 0.38

Stolen from boyfriend’s bag, these pens are magical! They are erasable, and perfect for fast writing and note taking. Since he bought these for himself, they are a little too slim for me, but nothing beats the way they write and how fast you can erase if you need to change something. I have one in black, red and sepia. Not enough!

These are not great for postcards or official anything, as the ink is also heat sensitive, so easily erased by leaving the paper in the sun. But for my acting classes, or other classes, where I need to scribble down fast and make sure I can touch the paper right after? Perfect!

 

BIC Velocity Gel 0.7

Oh my. These have been on my pen case for decades. My go to pen and preferred for comfort writing. I have said it before, I have a soft spot for gel pens, and BIC knows how to do the most amazing everyday pen. Speaking of which, I’m down to my last one: must. Buy. More.

 

BIC Orange Original Fine Ballpoint Pens Fine Point

Another staple that has been a part of my life, and I believe (at least) every (Portuguese) child! Simple. Reliable. Effective. Don’t change what’s already working, am I right? These pens have been around for decades! And nothing beats the easy writing you can do with them. All my postcards for postcrossing are done with these. That’s how reliable I know they are.

Phew, now that’s a list! And it’s ever changing. I do enjoy trying new pens, seeing what my hand prefers at that moment, and always give a nice test drive to any new pen bought, gifted, found or borrowed!

I’d love to know more about your favourite pens, and what writing you do with them, so let me know! I’d say write a comment, but I’d also be willing to get a nice handwritten note *wink*.

Tania, Community Manager

I love GIFs

I. Love. GIFs

Hello, I am Tania and I love GIFs. It’s been about 2 minutes since I used one to communicate how I feel.

Now I know it’s odd in a community dedicated to writing that I am devoting and expressing my love to a single looped moving image. But how can I not! There’s a GIF for every single thing/emotion you want to say or transmit. And even though I am devoted to the written word, sometimes it is true that an image speaks for a thousand words.

Forgetting the debate behind its pronouncement, with a soft j (like in jam, as the creator meant it to be) or a hard almost glottal g (like the word gift without the t, which I, for some reason, prefer and use), the GIF is here to stay! Sure, it’s not deemed scholarly enough to use in professional and serious communications (I can only imagine if written discussions on the next bill to pass in parliament were exchanged resorting to GIFs!), but it will be the best way to express your banter, approval, excitement, sadness, disappointment or even incredulity over a certain topic on a more relaxed manner.

I even have friends who are “GIF famous” (yes, I am making that a thing):

The GIF was created over 30 years ago, believe it or not! Before the world wide web was a common thing. When techies needed to find a way to share images but found those to be incredibly space consuming, a compression algorithm was invented, and the Graphics Interchange Format was born! Well, the GIF as we know it was still on its way, as the first ones were dedicated to still images, and let’s face it, not as fun or mockery filled. But still, the base exists since 1987.

In recent years though, the fame and rate of sharing GIFs has increased astronomically and there’s very little trouble in finding the perfect GIF to portray accurately a moment.

Could that moment be described with use of well thought and combined words? Of course it could! But the giggle you let out when you see the most perfect looped video describe how you’re feeling, is irreplaceable, in my opinion.

And now, here are some of my favourite GIFs of all time.

(Bonus points, did you know this is not Zach Galifianakis, but the one and only heartthrob of the 20th century, Robert Redford? I know!!! My mind was blown by that too)

Tania, Community Manager

Letters are the present, not the past

Letters represent the present, not the past

Domizia, our very own Business Development Representative shares why she is in love with handwritten letters. After reading, you will fall in love too.

I hear many people say that letters are something of the past – something my grandparents were using to share their love in times of war. We are so fed with the thought that technology today is the new sole way of communication between people or a community.

Well, you will then be surprised that I’m 24 and I still use letters to write and communicate with my family, some friends, and my lover. In a way, I feel like the world has gone back to my grandparents’ time. People used to leave their families, leave their partners to find a job in a faraway country.

Well, now it’s same. Most people from my generation have to leave their family to study or find a job abroad. We find a partner coming from the other side of the world. And in such a distance online messages do not really convey how much you care for that person. And they are definitely not something you can keep in a memory box.

The letter from Domizia’s mom

I have one with so, so many letters! My mum sending me money abroad with a little message. My friend sending me a letter to apologise and express how much she values our friendship after a big fight. My partner sending me a letter for Valentine’s day.

You see, letters are not a mean of the past. They are the present. They are the best way to express your emotions and convey your feelings to the reader. They are a true human mean of communication.

The look of the card, the smell of the paper, the handwriting style, the thumbprints on the envelope. These are “parts” of the sender that will stay with the receiver forever and make the relationship special. We don’t write letters only for the message itself, but for all the human factors and senses that it involves. The creation of a correspondence of amorous senses.

When was the last time you wrote a personal letter to a beloved one?

Domizia Di Maggio - Business Development Representative at Inkpact

Connecting the world with writing

Postcard and stamps

Connecting the world with writing

Postcrossing. Bookcrossing. And the old fashioned handwritten letter.

POSTCROSSING

I have been living in the UK since 2013, and in my life I have been fortunate enough to have visited many countries in 4 different continents (still need to get more travelling under my belt and increase that to all continents!). And one thing that I’ve always done, when I am visiting a new country, is send back home to my family and/or friends, a written postcard.

I’ve always felt it’s a nice gesture, that you are remembering and taking the time from your adventures/holidays to write to the ones you love. And I know how great it feels to receive one in the post too! So, I want to share the same smile and heart warmth as much as possible.

Back in 2016, my sister in law introduced me to postcrossing. Now you may already know what this is, but in case you don’t, here it goes: Postcrossing is a worldwide community of people that share postcards! It’s so simple and yet, so effective!

You create your account online, at https://www.postcrossing.com/ and request your first address. Once you do, you’ll get to see the bio and “requests”/likes of your first recipient, and from there, it’s handwritten love and sharing!

Since 2016 I have sent postcards to all over the world and received them too. On the latest ones I’ve written you could find in the post box of a 74yo man from Germany, a 55yo woman from rural Russia, a 20yo girl from Japan and so many others in between London and there!

It’s always nice to read about their favourite postcards, what they’d like to add to their collection and check the nice messages left upon receiving a thoughtful 10.5cm x 10.5cm piece of card. And I also love selecting the perfect card for each individual. It makes me smile and discover super cool postcards!

If you’re not registered yet, I highly recommend doing it. You can send one postcard a year, if that’s your style, or you can get in a groove and write a handful a week, and see as many arriving with your post and imagining the life of the person who lives in a faraway country that took the time to write to YOU.

I am hooked on writing these and would love to know if there are any postcrossers amongst our lovely Scribe Tribe!

 

BOOKCROSSING

If you live in London or a city with an underground transport system, you may have come across one of these random acts of kindness on the Tube, or at a park. A stranger leaves a loved booked purposely behind, so another can pick it up and be immersed in the world created between those 2 covers. But did you know this is a community and not counting the actual leaving-the-book-for-a-stranger-to-pick-up part you can also exchange books, or send a book to another person directly?

You can see a book’s journey, if it’s one of the tracked items. You can swap books with people who have similar reading taste. You can send your favourite book to many people.

And all you need to do is log in to https://www.bookcrossing.com/ to find out more.

 

OLD FASHIONED HANDWRITTEN LETTER

If none of these seems appropriate to you, but you still want to bring a smile to someone’s face, I’d suggest the old-fashioned handwritten letter to a family member! Yes, you may talk to them on the phone every day, FaceTime/Zoom as much as you can, but imagine how loved they will feel by receiving a letter in the post! I know my boyfriend has received a letter from his sister and kept it safe in the back of his Kobo (a kind of kindle). Now I have not read the letter, nor want to, but the fact he has kept it safe and not thrown it away after reading shows how much he appreciated the gesture! And they do speak every single day on the phone.

Or, if you’re feeling a bit bolder, write to a neighbour of yours, or a local coffee place just sharing a nice moment/memory you have with them. I bet you’d make a friend for life.

Let me know if you get this posted and the reaction!

 

In the next weeks, I will share more ways you can use your gift of beautiful handwriting and love of words to spread joy, but in the meantime, let me know if you try any of these 3!

Tania, Community Manager

What not to do during a pandemic

What not to do during a pandemic

From the 18th to the 24th of May it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. And what a time to remind ourselves to check up on our mental health!

In the midst of a pandemic we are surrounded by rules, and expectations we sometimes have no idea where they came from or even who set them.

We know, or at least are trying to understand, government guidelines. We stayed at home. We washed our hands. We had the unbelievable gift of time bestowed upon (most of) us. But what does all that mean in reality?

And then, the “outside” expectations. Social media connecting us all, and making us all feel so incredibly useless and like we’re failing. And keeping us so busy all the time, most of us are not processing our feelings and thoughts about the state of the world.

How? Well, read on…

Early on, it started with all these online free classes that started to take place. Gym owners, PTs, dancers, gym aficionados, all left out of jobs, decided to take their gifts online, and a new form of exercise came to be: Zoom classes and Instagram lives of all sorts. From Yoga to HIIT, boxing and ballet, you name it! And we enrolled them all.

Then came the bread-making. It turns out sourdough is not that hard to bake, and there’s something lovely about eating bread you made yourself. Not to speak of the wonders of watching dough rise. Yep, we have time, don’t we? Anything but staying alone with our thoughts.

Soon after, haircuts, new gardening skills, books checked out of the to-read lists (even if we can’t remember the storyline all that well), and creative writing. All the plays, poems, stories, we felt we needed to start and perhaps didn’t really want to finish. I mean, art comes from the heart, and that little honey is a bit mangled right now.

Not to mention, we are probably feeling like we watched ALL of Netflix by now.

And still… at the end of the day, we are still left feeling overwhelmed, afraid and unbalanced. We have not processed all of this. And you know what? That is ALRIGHT!

The sooner you realise you have NOTHING to prove to anyone, not now, not when the pandemic is over, the better it is for you and your mental health.

So, don’t feel like you need to declutter your closet and be all Marie Kondo. Or learn a new language, read all the books you own plus the ones you can afford to get delivered. Or write a novel. Also, and this may come as a shock to you, you don’t need to participate in yet another Zoom quiz night!

You can take things at your pace. You can read, if you feel like it, or listen to some amazing audiobooks if you can’t concentrate on the pages, or even, ditch the book and try meditating for the first time in over 50 years of living (there are some gorgeous apps and Youtube videos to help you get started).

You can have a cup of tea by the window, getting some sun (and vitamin D! Just please, wear sunscreen. Seriously, I could do a whole other post on how much you ALWAYS need sunscreen!), listen to your favourite song paying attention to instruments you may not even know are there (I recently found a little cymbal in Bohemian Rapsody I SWEAR has never been there before) or you can simply call your mom and have a nice chat or share recipes and funny stories from growing up.

Just take time. To be with who you choose to be with. To be with you. To be.

And now that we are slowly easing out into some sort of normalcy, please remember to check in on anxiety levels. More people outside can be a trigger, and a concern and we should all, as much as possible, still be inside. I won’t stop hammering this: it’s ok to not be as productive as you think everyone else is being. It’s ok to take things at your own pace. As the famous saying goes: You do you, boo.

And just as a closer, and to remind you to be forgiving and keep your mental health in check, here’s some advice I picked up from this article:

  1. Asking for help isn’t weakness
  2. Forgive yourself
  3. Hard work isn’t a cure
  4. Processing takes time
  5. Shame doesn’t get the final word
  6. We’re ALL adjusting

We are all adjusting. We are all together. We all are.

Tania, Community Manager

Remedial Handwriting, by Yvonne Hedges

JustWrite classroom a

Just Write - Remedial Handwriting, by Yvonne Hedges

Our first guest blog post comes from one of our own Scribes. And it's all about Remedial Writing. If you want to know more about Yvonne's school, read below or head to http://www.justwritenow.co.uk.

I am a SEN teacher of 25+ years, now specialising in helping people improve their handwriting. I am qualified to teach handwriting specifically through the National Handwriting Association and the Helen Arkell Centre for Dyslexia.

So what do I do and why? Well, I am passionate about handwriting – that is my motivation. Handwriting is a life skill. I find those most in need tend to be children struggling with schoolwork but equally, adults and professionals like doctors have also benefitted from my support and help.

In 2011, I decided to leave school and become a private handwriting tutor, founding Just Write to focus exclusively on handwriting. With those tutoring the normal subjects, handwriting is often offered as a 5 minute add-on at the end of a lesson, if requested. This is just not good enough. In spite of technology, school work is still centred around pen and paper, because it is still the most appropriate medium for young minds to use to commit their thoughts, ideas and creativity, which can then immediately be shared. Without the ability to express themselves in writing, they can become frustrated, lose confidence and ultimately fail to realise their full potential. School life marches on and you keep up or fall behind. This is what I saw happening and decided to do something about it.

I love teaching but found during my career that whilst writing is one of the foundations of a good education, it is rarely given the curriculum time it deserves; and different schools never have the same standards or teach the same style of handwriting. There is lack of time, knowledge and human resources. We now live in a world that has lots of left- handed writers, so no longer should this be a problem as there are so many writing tools to help them. Definitely no longer smudging of their writing as was the common belief!  It is no wonder then that many schoolchildren fail to achieve a reasonable style and speed, and uncorrected bad habits and poor letter formation follows them into adulthood. How many of your friends and relatives have you heard saying that their handwriting is awful when the subject is raised? How many of them can remember being taught writing skills? I am sure you will have a variety of answers which will not be consistent between them.

The good news is that handwriting can be improved whatever your age. The trick is not to think of it as a finite skill that you are either good at or not, like maths! Handwriting is a skill like playing a musical instrument.  To become good at it requires 2 things

1. a good understanding of technique and 2. the desire to practice and teach the hand muscles how to work!

Technique

This is about how you sit, hold your pencil, position your paper, how your writing area is lit and how much you press on the paper whilst writing. These are all correctable and will naturally give you the best opportunity to form letters and sentences in a legible and consistent style. In other words, all the practical things that will support a good practice writing session.

Practice

This is more complex. If we try really hard, we can often write sentences very slowly, but beautifully! What is required ultimately, is for us to be able to write beautifully, legibly and fast!

If you don’t already play the piano, imagine putting your hands and fingers onto the keys for the first time. There are a lot of questions. What does each note sound like? Which finger plays each note? How do you translate a piece of music on paper to the keys on the keyboard?  How is it possible to stretch your fingers to cover an octave or more with one hand?  How can your fingers hit the correct note every time, without fail?

Practice in this context is the activity of repetitive movement and applies equally to handwriting as it does to playing a musical instrument. With practice, you are creating ‘muscle memory’. That is, the muscles in your hands and fingers learn the movements and positions required to play a sequence of notes or to write a sequence of letters. However, humans are inherently lazy and if we can find a quicker way of doing this which doesn’t make your muscles ache as much, or require as much stretching or effort, we will do it. If the end result is OK rather than beautiful, we may be happy with that.

This is how bad habits are formed and they become your muscle memory. With handwriting, the difficulty comes when you try to read your ‘quick’ writing sometime later, or someone else does – like a teacher reading homework, or a nurse reading a Doctor’s notes. It might have been fully understandable when it was written, but not at some time later. University lecture notes, as an example, spring to mind here!

JustWrite classroom aRemedial handwriting lessons with the right techniques reset the hand’s muscle memory to recover the situation by practising handwriting using the basic principles outlined above, in a motivational way. There is a crossover between some elements of occupational health and an individual’s level of fine motor skills that are addressed on an individual basis.

By this, I mean trying to remedy this yourself by writing “The quick brown fox…” etc. over and over again might have some benefit, but it is pretty repetitive and boring and misses out on techniques that underpin good handwriting. Getting children to do this can create a resistance to handwriting which is counterproductive and takes time and patience to rebuild their confidence.

In my experience, it is only a very few focussed people whose handwriting will improve through online exercises and printable sheets, without having prior knowledge of how the elements of physiology and psychology combine to achieve better handwriting. Most end up with an achy wrist, and convince themselves there isn’t really much wrong with their handwriting after all! As a teacher, I incorporate different activities and games as well as physical exercises into lessons to achieve the muscle changes required without the obvious but boring repetitive writing tasks, (or achy wrists!), making practice in between more enjoyable too. In just the same way, a piano teacher will deliver greater benefit over a shorter period of time than a self-learner can.

My success as a handwriting teacher is based on a one-to-one relationship with the student with a variety of tasks and exercises to keep interest and practice alive! I enjoy handwriting so much and love to see the written word, I even write as a Scribe for Inkpact 😊 

Yvonne Hedges - Scribe Tribe, Super Scribe