This inspiring IAJW Member Interview is with Sylvia Bliss from Chittenango, in Central New York, United States. Sylvia was born and grew up in Lima, Peru.
Sylvia is a regular participant in our monthly IAJW Member Events. Her kind and creative presence is always much appreciated in our Writing Alone Together Circles and other member events too.
Here is her lovely IAJW Member Spotlight Interview…
Why did you join the IAJW?
During the Covid-19 pandemic, I discovered many communities and signed up for newsletters, virtual retreats, workshops, spent a lot of hours on Zoom meetings, bought books, oracle cards, crystals and discovered wonderful people. The idea of “Writing Alone Together” seemed perfect during lock downs and the Covid-19 social distancing protocols. With my daughter home from school and all my classes moved to distance learning, my life was feeling really different and the IAJW and Lynda’s amazing leadership attracted me to join, participate and keep coming back.
What do you like best about journal writing? How does it enrich your life?
When I think about how I started journaling, it amazes me that many of us started in similar ways and even at the same age. On my 11th birthday my grandmother gave me a lock Hello Kitty journal for my birthday and that is how the magic began. I was also reading the Diary of Anne Frank at that time and as Anne was writing letters to her doll, Kitty, I started writing letters to my guardian angel, Angie.
Through the years and lots of changing life circumstances and experiences, journal writing solidified as one of my core strategies for living my life. Writing became part of who I am. Once when I was 20 years old, I told my roommate at the time that I would love to become a writer and she told me, “You have been writing all the time since I have met you. You already are a writer.”
Writing, journaling, feel like an extension of my body. My thoughts jump to the page where they slow down and show themselves ‘out in the world’ and I can touch them, play with them, learn from them, make discoveries, and enter in dialogue with them, with me. Through writing and through reading I feel we are sometimes building bridges across space and time.
What is one journal writing or creative writing tip that you would like to share?
For me, the most important tip about journal writing is to give yourself absolute freedom. Embrace and own the power you have in your journal and include and exclude whatever you choose. Your journal may serve different purposes in different moments in your life so adjust as you need it. Embrace and explore ideas you would like to try and give yourself the gift of strengthening your relationship with yourself through the powerful tool that is journaling.
What is one of your favourite books on journal writing or creative inspiration?
I love the books and resources I am getting to know through my membership in the IAJW. Some of my favorite books include Rayuela / Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar and La vida exagerada de Martin Romaña / The exaggerated life of Martin Romaña by Alfredo Bryce Echeñique. I have accumulated so many books in my house that if one day it sinks, it will be because of the weight of my books. Now what I need is more time to read and when I read, I want to write.
The one thing I would like you to know about me is…
With absolute certainty, my biggest dream came true on November 20th, 2008, when my daughter Izzy was born. Becoming Izzy’s mom absolutely changes everything. During Izzy’s first 2 years, I was trying to be a new mom, work full time and complete my Ph.D. in English Education, and it was proving impossible for me. I chose to stop my Ph.D. without finishing it and one of my friends asked me if I was no longer going to be called Doctor Silvia, and I felt magic when I responded that I was going to be called Mom. I am glad I made that choice.
My favourite part of being an IAJW member is… having found people that understand what it is like to sometimes need to write more than one may need to eat or even breathe. I love feeling that I belong because I am a journal writer. Lynda and the members are so kind, creative, generous, courageous, and inspiring. I love the Writing Alone Together circles. I also love the Zoom Chats and I have really enjoyed the courses I have participated in. I love Lynda’s compassion and guidance, impeccable preparation, and skilled holding of the space where we come to meet and write. I participated in the Writing for Wellness Salon and I learned a lot and I am still harvesting resources, tools and ideas from that experience. I have also learned about other programs and authors that I am enjoying very much because Lynda announced them and invited us to participate in different events so the impact on my life has been immense. I am very grateful and look forward to continue engaging in all the magic available through the IAJW.
The last thing I would like to share is…
I teach Spanish in a college in New York State and I have gotten certified as a Cosmic Smash Book teacher, which is a powerful tool of Intentional Creativity. My undergrad is in clinical psychology, and I have studied in an institute of clinical and applied psychoanalytic psychotherapy in Peru. My Master’s is in Spanish Language Literature and Culture and my unfinished Ph.D. was in English Education. I love psychology, literature and education, and I genuinely enjoy teaching and learning. I have flown on a Parapente in Peru and I would really love to see much more of the world in person. The ocean is my favorite place and I am extremely grateful for the life I have had so far.
Huge thanks to Sylvia for this thoughtful and inspiring member interview! I loved learning more about her through the stories she shared here and I hope you enjoyed learning of her passion for journaling, books, creativity, motherhood, teaching and more!
It was lovely to read your history of journaling, Sylvia. What an interesting life you have led! I feel a bit of a connection to you as I grew up in Watertown , NY and spent my freshman year at Morrisville College. Small world.
Hi Paula, that’s a fun connection!
Hi Paula, Thank you for reading my story with journaling. I was so excited when Lynda asked me to share how journaling has impacted my life.
I love that we share central New York, and most specially Morrisville State College. I have been teaching there since the Fall of 2009 and I love being a Mustang.
It is so awesome to connect with others that share such a personal experience as is journaling. I agree that the world is really small sometimes and we find exciting connections in unexpected places :)
I look forward to continue connecting in the IAJW.
Silvia, this was a wonderful interview. I enjoyed getting to know you better. After being with you at the journaling circles, learning so much about who you are and what you love was a real treat. I especially loved what you said about motherhood!
All the best,
Merle R. Saferstein
Hi Merle, thanks for your kindness here and acknowledging Sylvia for her beautiful interview!
Hi Merle. Thank you so much for your kind comments. You are always so welcoming and encouraging to me in the “Writing Alone Together” circles. Thank you.
I enjoyed getting to know more about you too in the last circle. You have worked on such important topics and I love we share our love of teaching. I look forward to sharing more moments with you and to continuing to get to know each other.
Maravilloso update, Chivi querida!!
Gracias / Thank you, Claudita. We have to get together for a cup of coffee in Zoom soon to catch up, ok? So much has happened since our days in Alternativa, remember?
Bravo querida Chivi 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽. So happy for you 🤗💕!
Gracias Doris. Un beso much grade – (Thank you, Doris. A very big kiss.)