Double Vision: Vision Boards and Travel by Catharine Bramkamp

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us about “Double Vision: Vision Boards and Travel.”

Your travel journal photo looks like a Vision Board.”
And so it does.

I have made vision boards on and off for years.

Sometimes the vision doesn’t vary much and I carry over from one year to the next – same postcard of London, same magazine cut out of the lilac fields in Provence. My travel goals vary only in the distribution and destination not the desire.

Of course, vision and journaling are connected. I looked up vision in my online copy of the OED. (Oxford English Dictionary)

(Yes, there is probably an even more through definition from a more complete OED, but I don’t have the money for one. You are on your own.)

Vision: A distinct or vivid mental image or concept (OED)


Vision: An excursion into the imagination (OED again)

In a journal or more specifically, a travel journal, vision is obviously what we see and subsequently, what we record. But that concept begs the question because everything we see is filtered through our eyes, brains, and our bias.

Our mental and emotion state is reflected in what we write, how we write, and even what we see before us.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that this filtering makes everything we see unique.

Journaling is like a snapshot, like a quick Instagram download.

In both forms, Instagram is called short blogging and is all about right now.

OED aside, think of the metaphors the work and idea of seeing engenders:

  • What do you see?
  • Do you see it my way?
  • Can you see me now?
  • Do you see badly, poorly, clearly now?

A classic example is the day we revisit our childhood home. From our taller perspective, the old home looks different.

Of course, sometimes the revisited place IS different. Enter, travel.

Sagrada Familia

I journaled about the Sagrada Familia, the crazy magnificence of the basilica, the architect’s vision, the sunlight cascading through the stain glass — a later addition to the original Gaudi “vision” but no less effective.

My mother couldn’t get over the site and the cathedral, but was puzzled she didn’t remember it from the first time she traveled with Dad through Europe on, thank you, five dollars a day. Back when Frommers was all about students and savings.

I looked it up, thank you Google and thank you Spanish Wi-Fi.

Apparently 1959 Spain, still under Franco, was a different experience than 2016 Spain.

I reassured Mom that she was not losing her mind. Under the communist regime, the basilica had been shuttered, construction, and discontinued. It didn’t re-open until 1962.

And because I’m a snotty child, I said brightly, “And here we are!”

Fast forward to the Alhambra for another time continuum shift.

Alhambra de Granada, Spain

As we were organized through the halls, rooms, and gardens of the castle, mom recalled that there wasn’t much organization when she and Dad wandered through.

It was hot (she remembered Spain as incredibly hot), and she was so thirsty (at a time when not only didn’t American tourists not walk around clutching their ubiquitous water bottles, it was a time before many American tourists marched en-mass through Europe at all) that she drank from the lion fountain.

Really. Drank. From an ancient fountain, in a foreign country. She figured she would certainly die of thirst now weighed against the possibility of dying later of some mysterious bug. She drank.

Turns out she did get sick, but it was me, the initial nine months.

As mom reminisced about sketchy water sources, I eyed the fountain.

The Alhambra FountainIt stood in the middle of in an open sun baked courtyard. The lions still dribbled water, but it was roped off and carefully monitored by humorless guards.

There would be no spontaneous, irresponsible drinking today.

We only had a few moments to glance at it as we were guided from the shaded corridor to look at another tiled room.

Yes, I carried a water bottle.

The Alhambra

The secret is here
Closer come closer we have
Apples pomegranates
See eat this ripe orange and
Remain in paradise up to the 6th
Or yes 7th level
It’s in this room see

Paradise behind
thick walls
We protect and cultivate
Careful roses
A man replaces
The thorns every summer evening

The outside wall, the inside wall and
Between, yes, there is nothing
Better protection yes? No one cares
What doesn’t grow between the walls

Understand yes,
what is empty
so attractive
so terrible.

Mom’s mental vision added to what I was seeing as we bussed through Spain, because of her, I saw things differently. My sight and vision was enhanced, as were my memories.

In your journal you can describe exactly what you see, then write about what you think you see. Make notes about what you want to see.

It can be like a vision board: a combination of reality layered over with imagination. Both of which create a wonderful whole.



When she’s not pulling her mother out of traffic, Catharine coaches and teaches fiction, non-fiction, and journal writing.

Catharine BramkampCatharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach bringing her clients from idea to published book and beyond. She has written 17 novels and 3 books on writing. Her poetry appears in over a dozen anthologies including And The Beats Go On (she was editor as well) and the chapbook Ammonia Sunrise (Finishing Line Press). Her current book, Don’t Write Like We Talk, is based on her co-producer experience creating 200-plus episodes of the Newbie Writers Podcast. She is the Chief Storytelling Officer for technical companies because everyone has a story.

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