When I was 23 years old, I got the travel bug. Having just graduated with a BA degree in Art, but absolutely no idea of what to do with it, I decided the best plan was to go traveling. With some time to clear my head and to reflect on my education and my passions, I would surely come to some conclusions about what I might do next. So, for the next two years, I traveled solo throughout New Zealand, my mother’s homeland.
Fortunately, my dear Aunt Brenda in Auckland had the good sense to give me a blank journal to take with me, to record my adventures. Every day, I would write and sketch about the fascinating local people I met, and the beautiful sights I found around every bend. This was the beginning of my habit of keeping a journal and sketchbook.
Many years later, I now have quite a collection of books filled with wonderful memories of all the many places I have traveled with my sweet husband and son. They are filled with a collage of drawings, watercolors, mementos, and a jumble of penmanship unbecoming of a (former) professional calligrapher! They are my treasures, and my precious reminders of so many happy memories.
My Paris journal is truly one of my favorites. While on the airplane for an interminable length of time between San Francisco and Orly airports, I got out my watercolors and painted a page of all things Parisian that came to mind…the beautiful cheeses, desserts, stunning architecture, and the exquisite fashion finds.
Our stay in Paris lasted only 6 days, but I did manage to fill an entire book with stories about all the fabulous shops, museums, churches and alleyways we explored. We walked several miles every day, but somehow I always managed to write a little something each night before drifting off into a deep slumber. During the trip, I saved ticket stubs, stamps and other ephemera in a little envelope in the back of the book. When we returned home, I gathered all of those items together, and placed them throughout the book, along with postage-stamp-sized photos.
I encourage anyone with the slightest inclination to keep a journal. I think it encourages us to observe the world as a visitor, and to appreciate things in a different way. Even in your own back yard, you will find so many wonderments in a single day, that are deserving of being recorded, and you will see the world with new eyes.
ps: I finally did figure out what to do with my art degree!