Journal All About It

I'm not one for souvenirs and trinkets.  Occasionally, I browse a gift shop.  I may purchase a tee shirt for my hubby or son.  I rarely buy one for myself.  I don't really like stuff.  I prefer things that are useful or fun that remind me of the journey.  This past weekend, I was reminded of a journal from a trip I took 16 years ago and was inspired to revisit those memories and that journal.  Rediscovering this memorabilia lead me down an interesting reflective path.

Journal All About It

I have always enjoyed journaling and writing.  There are times in my life where I have written more and less.  It tends to be more where I am inspired, really wanting to document something, or work through something in my life.  

In October of 2004, I spent a month in Japan on a Fulbright program for teachers.  It was a life-changing experience that has really impacted all of my years of travel since this time.  A co-worker gave me a journal before the trip that I used throughout that month.  At the end of my time, I wrote an entry that I entitled "What I Learned in Japan".  Number four on that list has been something that I think back to often.

I am fulfilled not by money and excitement, but by the conversations and experiences I had had in my life. 

I can vividly remember riding the train from Yokahama where I visited a friend.  I started to write in my journal on my way back to Tokyo and began to cry.  I was homesick.  I was overwhelmed by the experiences that I was having, and as I sat processing it all I remember thinking through all of it and how it all fit together in this magnificent puzzle.  I had experienced typhoons, and earthquakes, language, and cultural barriers and differences.  All of those thoughts brought out this emotion that I was not prepared for.  October 10th, 2004 was the date, and I can still remember nearly everything about that moment.  Writing through tears and stopping so that I could just sit and zone out for a bit.

When I pulled out that journal this past weekend and flipped through the pages, I was reminded of the impact travel has on my life.  I hope that these experiences will have a similar impact on our son in shaping his life and views of the world.  I have benefited from being outside of my comfort zone, traveling solo, and with a group.  Some of those experiences involve picking myself up to keep going - literally.  Apparently, I fell down a flight of stairs in Okinawa and got hurt fairly bad.  Funny how I had forgotten that but not so many other parts of that experience.

In the drawer with that slim, pink journal was a dish containing some shells and sea glass from our Christmas trip to Puerto Rico a decade ago.  Mixed in that dish were some vintage buttons and random coins from places we had visited.  There was a 5-pound note from England and some origami paper from a store in Tokoyo that was essentially the Dollar Tree of Japan.  Sure.  Trinkets of sorts but also a road map of where we have been.  

Today my journals are more in the form of the Chatbooks I create on our way home from the campground.  Our son loves them, and so do I.  But, I also miss journaling those thoughts and experiences that I am having on the road.  And maybe it is time I invest in a new journal and document some of the upcoming adventures we have planned.  

Documenting my travels in a journal encourages me to process my time on the road.  I feel like I am more present at the moment because I'm more focused on what is happening around me.  It transforms my mental space and overall relaxation during the trip.  Plus, journaling doesn't have to be about perfect grammar or anything other than your thoughts as they come to you in a stream of consciousness format.  It should be fun and therapeutic.  

As you enter into the final season of the year, I encourage you to grab a journal and take it with you as you travel.  Spend a little time each day writing down your thoughts, sights, and feelings.  Do it just for you and no one else.  My dad did this in an old book of short stories.  He journaled in the margins about phone calls with my sister and me during that time as well as his thoughts about the text.  It is now a cherished treasure that I'm glad to have.  

I always have some sort of journal going even if it is an electronic one.  But, I think it is time for me to actually put some pen to paper and physically write it down old school style.  While it is just for me now, maybe our son with appreciate my perspective when he is older and looks back on these trips.  But for now, I just want to spend a little time writing each day because it is beneficial for me.

Until next time...happy camping!