It’s Summer: Time for a Travel Journal

June 7, 2010

Take time to travel alone, with your journal.

Above: Star sleeping at my side on the couch. (Star is one of three Australia Shepherd bitches I house sat for when keeping this travel journal.) (Staedtler Pigment Liner Calligraphy 01—a now defunct pen that they should bring back.) This journal is handmade using Simon's Green Paper from Twin Rocker. The book is approx. 7 x 10 inches.

Summer is the perfect time to write about travel journals—most of us are looking to squeeze even a little trip into the warmer days we face (in the Northern hemisphere). For me trips are always better if there are dogs along. And sometimes we don't even have to venture far from home to have a life altering trip. (Keep that in mind when you are shrugging your shoulders about the impossibility of getting away—how far you go and how long you stay matter less than your mental attitude.)

In 2004 I spent 10 Days in Wisconsin with Three Bitches. Many of the pages from that journal are on my website.

While I enjoyed the dogs immensely I struggled with the plant watering duties and the lack of air conditioning, and the isolation—no internet or cable connection (I had all the premium movie channels at home at the time!). I was only 45 minutes away from home, but it felt like a 1,000 miles and a different lifetime. I had the phone and my lippy sense of humor to keep up my spirits. And the forebearance of the friends I called. I was only a year into grieving the loss of Dottie and these three pups helped me put a lot of my life into perspective.

Think about what you've learned about yourself, your skills, your ability to be alone in "serial killer land—AKA Wisconsin," whatever, when you last took a break from your regular life. Maybe it has been quite a while since you've taken such a break. While I don't advocate that you sign up for the next season of "Survivor," I do advocate that you find a way to get away from your normal life, even for a few days. We all need this to get perspective on our days. 

Find some place that you want to go that is neither too far, nor too expensive. Find a place that is attainable. I have students who rent cabins on Lake Superior for a month every summer so that they can paint. (We aren't talking deluxe cabins here folks, just simple structures that provide shelter and a kitchen and bathroom facilities—the goal is to be out and painting.) I have another friend who used to go to a convent for quiet and contemplation.

It's worth working a few extra hours, or cutting out a regular treat to save up for this "inexpensive" trip. It is also worth asking family and friends to take up the slack when you leave—watch your kids for 3 days, walk the dogs, feed the cats. Maybe you have a friend who needs a house sitter like my friend Nan did? Maybe you can trade dwellings (there are sites on the internet where you can swap houses with other people—I've never done this but I have a cousin who does it all the time, going to places like Spain and France!)

The point is to think about what you want, say what you want to the people around you, and then find out how to get that trip, alone. So that you can have a journey of discovery, and like Dorothy, maybe you'll find that there's no place like home, and urban girls really don't have to save up any more for a place in the country! (Think about all the art supplies you can buy if you aren't saving for a cabin!)

Your journal is the perfect place to document your trip, to document what works and doesn't work when you are alone, to brainstorm ideas for how you want your life to look when you return to it, to experiment with new art approaches.

Your journal is the perfect place to simply be with yourself, but sometimes we let our busy lives drown out any possibility of that. Find some time soon to take a vacation with yourself.

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