Being isolated as a dependent on a sea duty tour taught me to put my thoughts and ideas down on paper. Back in 1980, before computers, the internet, even word processors, the good old pen and notebook were all I had. “Be sure to write” Mom said before departing on that two-year adventure. Well, I did and still do. Journaling has become a lifelong obsession.
I wrote letters to all my family members back in the US and also started a journal about life in Italy. We were stationed in La Maddalena, Sardinia, where the US Navy had a sub-tender and my husband was a chief in the Seabees, assigned to the US Naval Support Center. The journal was a life-saver. I wrote in it regularly and once I found out I was pregnant after a short 2 months, even more to write about.
Returning to the US 2 years later and thinking I’d be working or involved in other activities, returning to school maybe. Not so, another child was due and caring for my two-year-old, more isolation. Get out the journal and also keep up writing letters to family, still on the other side of the country.
Over the years, with raising two boys, working and running the household while my husband continued his navy career, the journal came out on a regular basis. It was my friend, confidant, and sanity-keeper. By the time the boys were nearly 10, I had taken up watercolor painting. Even then, notes in countless sketch books.
I’ve recently retired from a 20 year career, and I now work not only on a regular paper journal, but also a painting journal when traveling with my current husband of 9 years. This is more of a visual journal with notes on color, atmosphere, and the mood of each scene. I have also kept an ongoing electronic letter to my mom who passed away two years ago. This is kept up weekly with “Dear Mom”. I write as if I’m speaking to her and can insert photos of my artwork and family. No words can express the healing process from the death of a loved one as this letter has done for me.
Looking back over the kept journals I find how much I’ve changed. This is a good thing, as the years go by, my perspective on life grows more appreciative. Thanks to my obsessive journaling.