Journaling with GAGA

By Marsha Tennant

I am learning to journal….AGAIN.

There are boxes and boxes of them stored in my attic. The oldest one is a Blue Mead spiral notebook that I wrote in as a ten year old. It’s not complete but rather bits and pieces of family gatherings, holidays and even a first kiss. Others in my collection include high school musings with football games and prom tickets tucked among the yellowing pages.

The one that I took with me to London, England, in 1966 is part travel guide and part an eighteen year old’s amazing high school graduation trip to meet my pen pal, Wendy. Clearly I was too young and immature to appreciate the gift of traveling abroad. But I had fun and recorded pub visits in the same paragraph as the trip to the Tower of London. I wrote it all down and savored every new adventure. I lived with my pen pal’s family for a month. They graciously shared their day to day lives with me. At least I had the good sense to write about the daily trips to the market, food and driving on “the wrong side of the road.” In graphic detail I wrote about the Hampton Jazz Festival. What an eye opener for a Southern Baptist girl!

Incomplete journals bridge my college years to my transition into an innocent (well-not too innocent) young woman. Weekend jaunts from a small Methodist college in North Carolina, to the Mall in Washington DC, to protest and march, remind me of how much those experiences shaped my values and passions. Musings about being a military wife facing long deployments for my Coastie reveal how young love can overcome just about anything.

Six plus decades fill boxes with journals in all shapes and sizes. Thumbing through them I recognize patterns that I repeated throughout the pages. Included were the trending now lists like “ten things I am grateful for” and “what makes me happy.” Those reflective and somewhat humorous entries mirrored my thoughts and emotions.

And this leads to my revised journaling experience….

Last Christmas my grandson was given a journal by his YAYA Cheri. He was totally immersed in the prompts and illustrations on each page. I shared with him that I had boxes of them in the attic. Of course he wanted to see them. I began with a few of them and he quickly asked to see more. We spent an afternoon thumbing through the pages until his questions exhausted me. I was giving him a history lesson as well as insight into my life before I was GAGA.Not to be outdone by my collection, Preston Blane gathered markers, pens, pictures and tons of stickers so we could begin journaling together. He quickly added that I needed to follow his lead and be more creative in my approach. He indicated that I didn’t need to write so many words when pictures would work. Smart boy! Less is more!

And so it began…

We wrote together almost every day over the holiday break. As the daily routine returned we found that Sunday mornings worked well for us. For the past year we have continued to meet on my bed with our journal and materials surrounding us. We have a box full of magazine pictures, stickers and other “stuff” as he calls it to create our next entry. I have gotten good at simple illustrations and combining stickers with my drawings. It is amazing how these uncomplicated activities have released my inner child and allowed me to get to the point on my colorful pages. Sometimes we work quietly and other times we talk about everything and nothing. We always read our entries out loud when we finish. We trust one another. It is a special time for both of us.

Even when we aren’t journaling we are thinking about it. On our outings we search for creative goodies to add to our box. An AC Moore coupon means discounted treasures beyond our imaginations. A trip to Ollies is our “journaling gone wild” excursion. We are branching out and becoming more daring on each page.

The GAGA and PB journaling attic box has begun. We have contributed to it over the past year. It is fun to take one out and reread from a few months ago. It’s our timeline with one another. Recently, we were busy writing and I told him that when it is my time to pass over I want him to haul my old butt out on the porch and read from our journals so I can take our stories with me. He hugged me and said “I promise, GAGA.”

About this writer

  • Marsha Tennant

    Marsha Tennant

    Marsha Tennant is the author of two rescue pirate dog adventures- MARGARET PIRATE QUEEN and MARGARET AND THE DIAMOND KEY MYSTERY. She spends her free time supporting animal rescue and Freedom Readers.

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One Response to “Journaling with GAGA”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Your story is heart touching, as I have a little great grandson also interested in the written word…we are also continuing a legacy.

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