Armed with this new sense of freedom and attitude and tired of dragging all my old stuff with me, I decided to start my vacation in Maine last summer with just the basics. I threw a few shirts and skirts and a great pair of shoes in a bag and set out on my way. I elected to pick up things that I really loved all along the journey. While on vacation, I drifted in and out of antique stores, junk shops and yard sales. I picked up little things that caught my eye—forgotten buttons, scraps of fabric, old sheet music and charms that had long ago fallen off their bracelets. As I strolled on the beach, I felt lucky to find broken pieces of painted china, small pieces of driftwood and worn sea glass in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. At sunset, I poured myself a glass of wine, toasted the day's end and began tinkering with the loot I'd collected.

I found a long piece of twine in the house we rented. I think its original use was to tie up the newspapers for recycling, but I had other designs on it. In my cosmetic case, I found a sewing kit from a hotel. As the natural light of day faded, I began stitching the bits and pieces of my day's journey onto the twine until my eyes got tired and the rumbling of my tummy called for dinner. Every evening, I added a few more treasures to the twine. At the end of the week's vacation, I tied a knot in the now highly decorated cord and slipped it over my neck as I headed to the car for the drive home. Whenever I wear my creation, I am instantly transported to the feelings of rest and relaxation and the memory of a time I cherished.

I like to keep a travel journal on vacation, but because I did not bring a book with me, I started searching for one along the way. I went to the local library where they were hosting their summer book sale, and for 50 cents I bought a brightly covered, red, hardbound book that became the canvas for my travel journal. I added pages simply by stapling blank ones in among the typed ones, glued in pictures of places we'd gone, recorded the most wonderful things we ate for lunch and dinner, drew pictures of the houses along the beach and filled the book with little pieces of what turned out to be a big adventure.

I've learned that you don't need to take lots of stuff with you when you travel—it's best to travel light and take in the new experiences. Use anything you find to document your trip and make a journal. Guide books, menus and old books all make for great journals. I met a woman the other day who writes on her boarding passes from the plane. She has saved a box full, and they share the story of her life's journey. You too can fill your journal with thoughts for the day, poems you discover, a list of things you found beautiful in the day and anything and everything that touches your heart.


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