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Let’s Cook: The Hue of Handwriting

What is something that we do daily that can engage our intellect, emotion and style? What daily activity with creative moments engage both our mind, heart and good cup of coffee?

What daily activity can we improve upon without sacrificing a thing? What daily activity can convey power and beauty at the same time? What daily activity can include your slant on things, speed, pressure and even flourishes? Give up? It is your handwriting!

National Handwriting Day is observed on January 23, in honor of John Hancock’s birthday and his famous signature on the Declaration of Independence. This unofficial holiday was introduced by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977. In a demanding digital world, I am suggesting we all take time to put pen to paper and enjoy the many benefits of handwriting.

I love to see beautiful handwriting, and to me, it is an art. Over the years I have saved handwriting that is inspiring. In the town of Underwood, there was one woman who could flourish like no other, and this was Dorothy Boatz. She could make her pen dance across the paper, and most often, it was waltzing across many high school certificates and awards. Her extra embellishments that she incorporated into downstrokes, ascenders and cross bars were fluid like the blade of impressive figure skater marking the ice for the first time. Upon visiting with her and questioning how she came to develop such a style, she revealed that in grade school she failed penmanship! Her handwriting was inspiring.

In a world where keyboarding gives the user faster and easier access to the World Wide Web, handwriting can often take a second place. Yes, it is important to have strong keyboarding and tech skills, but handwriting has many benefits. It engages our brains in a way that computers cannot. Here are some of the benefits that the handwritten word offers.

Handwriting gives insight into your personality. Just as eye color and skin tone make each one of us unique, so does our handwriting. There are many variables in our writing style–the slant of our writing, the pressure on the paper, the fullness of circles, or how precise or free flowing we are with our script. Perhaps you have an energetic script–one that up and down and all over the place like lightning in the sky.

Good handwriting skills lead to stronger academic performance. Research has proven that there is a positive correlation between better handwriting skills and increased academic performance in reading and writing. A study published in the Journal of Early Childhood Education and Development looked at 1,000 students when they were in Pre-K and then later in second grade. They discovered that Pre-k students with good motor skills from handwriting instruction and practice outperformed their peers on both reading and math by second grade.

Handwriting connects us to the past. Competency in cursive writing has the additional advantage of helping us better understand our past. With the knowledge of traditional penmanship, we are better able to read historical documents. In a time where people are often researching family histories, this is a benefit. Handwriting also retains the assertive dimension of the signer and often when seeing signatures of our grandparents, parents or spouse, there is an emotional element too. I can recall seeing my Grandpa Repnow’s signature on his immigration papers and how moving it was.

Using a pen and paper boosts memory. Researchers have confirmed time and time again when we write something down, it tends to resonate better in our brains. Rewriting notes from a class or meeting gives us a better advantage of remembering them and responding.

Handwriting inspires creativity. Look at all the products that are available today with words written on them–inspire, live, be creative, kind and so forth. Hand-letter artwork in offices and homes are popular and are great way to express ourselves through words and handwriting. Neurologists have discovered that freewriting can improve neural connections in our brains and spark creativity. Think of the time you have written freely in a notebook and perhaps with doddles as well. It is relaxing.

Handwritten correspondence is more meaningful. Nothing brightens a day like a handwritten note. Take the time to recall a note that you received written by a grade school student. Was is not meaningful, touching? There is a more powerful meaning and connection to a handwritten note or letter. We also have the deluxe feature of saving this correspondence to relook at it or even pass it on. The sender also has the privilege of selecting not only the card or paper, but the writing element and even the ink choice. What a neat gift handwriting allows us to send!

In a world where we write less notes, checks, papers and so forth, I encourage you to keep a journal because writing is good for us. Take time to write a personal note when sending a sympathy, thank-you, birthday or wedding card. These precious moments in life are enhanced by taking time to dance, skip or waltz across the paper with our thoughts and expressions.

Here is a tip for enjoying handwriting and one that allows you to practice each letter of the alphabet. Pangrams are sentences that use all twenty-six letter of the alphabet at least once.

This is a well known one–The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. (Perhaps you keyed this in your typing class in high school!) Here is one that I made up while in Mrs. Vonderheide’s 7th grade class because she was always promoting good handwriting as a life skill. The buzzing yellow jacket quickly dived into the box of bright pink geraniums. So engage your brain and make up a pangram that reflects you!

Compromising is often part of our world today. For example, to gain access to many computer applications we have to give away much of our privacy. This is not so when trying to improve our handwriting and also in making a good cheese ball. We only benefit! Here is a cheese ball that is perfect for snacking while we dazzle paper with ink and thought. Remember that to write on National Handwriting Day is truly a right on decision for so many good reasons! I leave you with this inspiring quote from William Wordsworth, “Fill your paper with breathings of your heart.” Now go forth and find your pen and paper — and enjoy a cheese ball!

Ham-Cheese Ball

3 packages of cream cheese (8 ounce packages) that has been brought to room temperature

1 cup shredded or diced ham bits

2 tablespoons horseradish sauce

2 tablespoons dry mustard

1 tablespoon Ranch dressing powder

1 tablespoon of grated onion

2 cups of finely chopped nuts of choice

Combine first six ingredients and form in 3- or 4-inch balls. Roll in nuts. Delicious with crackers.

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