10 Keys to Your Metaphorical Road Trip

I left last Monday on an extended road trip. I will be gone until at least August 31st. That’s a minimum of ten weeks of joyful ease, ten weeks of feeling the breeze in my hair, the sun on my skin. I’m only one week into my journey, but I can already tell that this is exactly the change I need.

I promise you won’t even notice I’m gone. No one will, not even the people who see me every day. I will be posting every Thursday as usual. My car will be in the driveway most of the time. And if you want to visit, you will find me in my art studio, library, or on the trails with Shylah and Toffee.

That’s because my road trip is metaphorical, not literal. It is a framework for planning my summer, a framework that I have, shamelessly and with great enthusiasm, borrowed from Jenny who wrote about this topic last week.

I adore metaphor. Jenny said that framing her summer plans in this way made her feel more in control. I agree. Metaphor also gives me an entirely new way to see a situation, to make connections and experience insights I might have otherwise missed.

If you are thinking through your own metaphorical road trip, consider these ten important keys.

1. Define Your Purpose

Literal road trips are financially expensive, especially with today’s cost of gas. Metaphorical road trips are expensive too.

A few weeks ago, Deb shared graphics of “your life in months and weeks.” You can choose to be inspired or depressed by these graphics but, once seen, you can’t choose to be oblivious. It is sobering to be confronted with a visual reminder of how few weeks and months are left to us, even if we are fortunate enough to live to ninety.

Now, on this road trip, my mind seemed to uncrinkle, to breathe, to present to itself a cure for a disease it had not, until now, known it had.

Elizabeth Berg

So if you are going to spend some of that precious time on a metaphorical road trip, you need a good reason. Mine is clear to me, beginning with what I don’t want. For example, I don’t want big commitments in my retirement so no paid employment, heavy duty physical training programs or, for now, volunteer work. And unlike many retirees, I also don’t want to travel. My passion is for inner journeys, not outer ones.

What I do want is to live what I’ve always romantically and rather grandly referred to as “The Life of a Writer.” (Caps intended; cue the theme song from Chariots of Fire.) However, despite having finally defined that phrase a couple of years ago (I’ll share in a future post), I don’t think I’ve been living it.

So that’s my purpose for my ten week road trip: to figure out what routines, experiences and changes in me are going to help me live my Life of a Writer–even if I never write another book.

2. Set Your Schedule

Will your metaphorical road trip be confined to weekends? A week’s holiday from work? Every waking hour? Julia Cameron wrote, “Productive freedom requires a balance: it is easier to thrive and flourish with a sense of structure in place.”back of turtle as it walks along a path

My summer road trip is full-time with a hopeful end date of August 31st. After decades in schools as student and then teacher, September always feels like the real start of the new year to me. And I love fresh starts!

In addition, August 31st is my birthday, this year my 59th. Sixty is a major marker and I want to arrive at it in the best possible shape –physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I need to figure out the routines that are going to get me there. Nevertheless, this is just my hoped-for end date. If it doesn’t happen, oh well. (That flexibility is huge for me and is coming from the warning I got in last week’s tarot reading.)

3. Plan with an Expert

It is certainly possible and, in some circumstances advantageous, to be spontaneous; to wake each morning asking yourself, “What do I feel like doing today?” I’m envious of people who can live that way, but unfortunately I’m not one of them. Without some structure, I fall into ruts, doing the same thing over and over while worrying obsessively about whether I’m taking the ‘right’ actions, going in the ‘right’ direction. An expert helps to provide the structure.

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the hole.


Julia Cameron is the expert I’ve chosen to guide me on my metaphorical road trip, specifically her book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond.

Until this road trip, an expert would have served as my navigation system, my GPS.  I would have slavishly followed every instruction even if I knew that it was wrong for me. This time I’m not.

Cameron provides four navigational aids. Here they are and here’s what I’m doing with each of them.

  • Morning Pages — three handwritten pages of stream-of-consciousness writing done soon after waking. I do a lot of daily writing, much of it stream-of-consciousness in my journal. I also have other writing desires I want to pursue in the next couple of months. So I’m not committing to morning pages in their purest form, but will be achieving the goal of the pages which is to provide focus and clarity for the day.
  • Artist Dates –a.k.a. “assigned play”. This is about replenishing our inner wells with things that are interesting and fun. I’m all for artist dates and will be engaging in at least one a week.
  • Solo Walks– These are meant, according to Cameron, to “quell anxiety and clear the mind.” I walk a lot, but feel no need to go solo. Sometimes I walk with friends, sometimes with my dogs. When I’m with my dogs, they’re off leash and we’re rambling through the woods. I’m as solo as I need to be.
  • Memoir Questions — This is the unique piece of It’s Never Too Late. There are twelve chapters in the book. You divide your age by twelve and then answer, in writing or another art form, the questions in each chapter. Last week I worked with the first chapter and my life from birth to age five. It was a fascinating and insight-provoking time and I’m looking forward to doing this work for each chapter.

4. Choose Your Travel Companions Wisely

Cameron’s book provides the framework for the memoir piece of my metaphorical road trip. However, as you saw in my tarot post, I will need other companions and their fresh perspectives. My faithful companions include:

With a dozen authors and a few related online courses, I might need to rent a bus!

5. Decide What You’ll Leave Behind

You can’t go everywhere on your road trip. You can’t do everything. It’s important to decide what you will leave behind.

The freedom of the open road is seductive, serendipitous and absolutely liberating.

Aaron Lauritsen

On my metaphorical road trip, I’m leaving behind books on topics that I really do want to explore, but at some other time. Topics including: Carl Jung and his theories (except for dream work); the hero’s journey; tarot; the second half of life; Byron Katie; archetypes; myths and legends; creativity and, hopefully permanently, self-help when it’s about plans, frameworks and inflated promises of glory.

More important I’m leaving behind: my planning brain; a sense of urgency bordering on desperation; my terrible habit of ‘clearing the decks’ instead of doing what I say I want to do, and my concern for others at the expense of myself.

6. Prepare and Maintain Your Vehicle

Successful trips require that your car’s tires be properly inflated, the air conditioning checked, and oil levels topped up.black and white old image of model T stuck in mud

When taking a metaphorical road trip, it is equally important to get good nutrition, adequate sleep, and daily physical activity to keep energy levels at their optimum. I will be sleeping and napping, walking and doing my Pilates workouts, and eating my low sugar, low carbs diet.

7. Plan for Your Safety

Someone should have a copy of your itinerary, just in case you run into problems along the way. Friends and family, in real life and online, will know what I’m doing.

8. Plan Some Side Trips

I won’t call these detours because on a metaphorical road trip, nothing’s a detour. Many paths are worth exploring. My summer includes: weekly breakfasts and walks with a good friend; craft shows and farmers’ markets; artist dates, and the very exciting opportunity to spend time with a couple of blogger friends I will be meeting for the first time this month. (More about this last one later!)

9. Take Breaks When Needed

On a literal road trip, there are days when you want to sleep in and perhaps swim in the hotel pool rather than visit yet another educational site.

My version of breaks when needed will include: made for television movies; ice cream; chainsaw work in a section of the woods where I’m forging a new trail; ‘beach read’ novels; slowly pedalling around my pond in the pedalboat, and rereading the encyclopedic and hilarious Complete Far Side cartoon collection.

10. Be Able to Answer the Question, “Are We There Yet?”

Parents may hate this question, especially when it’s asked within ten minutes of departure, but it’s important to know if you’re making progress towards your destination.

I love the search and don’t ever want to say that I have fully arrived. But I do need to be able to know when one metaphorical road trip has been completed, if only so that I’m free to start a new one.

For this summer’s trip, I’ll know that I’m getting there when I have developed routines that make me feel I am living my ‘Life of a Writer’; when I feel calm and balanced, and when the terms ‘inner voice’ and ‘true self’ makes sense to me as reality rather than an appealing theory.

Are you taking a literal or metaphorical road trip? What’s your destination?






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  1. Well you’ve certainly put a lot of thought and intent into your roadtrip Karen. How can you go wrong with your itinerary sketched out, your travel companions booked in, and your destination locked and loaded? I’ll be following along with interest to see where you arrive and what interesting diversions you find along the way! I’ve never looked at things with this much insight – maybe you’ll inspire me to take a trip of my own sometime in the future?

    1. Hi Leanne,
      Definitely lots of thought, but I got sidetracked into that thinking and into writing the post. Now I need to stop thinking and DO. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for the interest!

  2. Your road trip sounds fabulous, Karen! I love how detailed your plans are, and your selection of travel buddies. I’ve read and own Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, but the rest I am eyeing up as future travel companions of my own. This post is making me rethink/reframe my retirement years as one long (oh, please) beautiful metaphorical (and hopefully at times, literal) road trip. Looking very much forward to our upcoming side trip!!!


    1. I’m so looking forward to our side trip too, Deb. It’s definitely not a detour. In fact I’m sure it will be a highlight of my entire road trip. You can take a look at those potential future travel companions and we can talk tarot and art and inspiring reads. Not a detour, maybe an artist’s date? Or a slumber party with minimal slumber?

  3. Ha! interestingly (but not totally surprising), I have started something similar…my focus in learning how to relax for four hours a day! Doing all my chores in the AM, breaking for the afternoon, then dinner, and social interaction after that. It’s been going OK!

  4. Sounds fascinating Karen — like a retreat of sorts. On my end, I took my first literal road trip the last week of June (from Chicago to NY and back) and have one planned at the end of July (Chicago to Louisiana to California and back) and have another in August (Colorado and back). I’ll be racking up miles and listening to music but my recent decision to write Bits-of-Joy in July is my attempt to live a writer’s life. And after reading Year of Yes that I mention in today’s post, has me motivated to work on that book of reflections we chatted about during our recent call. This is all while renovating a bathroom, removing wallpaper & painting three rooms, chauffeuring my daughter, and working. I look forward to following your internal journey along the way.

    1. You sure will be racking up those miles, Janet. But I think I remember you writing that you got into the groove during your first road trip of the summer, so hopefully you’l l enjoy the others just as much. How about a few books on CD borrowed from the public library? I always found the hours passed a little faster when I was listening to something absorbing.
      Way to go on that book of reflections. I really think it’s a great idea, Janet. Also on living a writer’s life with Bits of Joy in July. You’re being very intentional on both and that can only be a good thing.

  5. I love the idea of a metaphorical road trip, Karen. I am not keen on travel and my recent trip to Cincinnati reinforced it for me! I have been working through Julia Cameron’s book “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again,” and have a couple of blog posts written about my experience with it that I’ll publish in coming weeks. All has been on ‘hold’ while I’ve been recovering from my concussion, but I’ll get back to it. I’m interested in your journey and excited for you. I know I’ll learn a lot from you and get some great ideas. Tiptoeing back into computer work. Hoping I can go back to work next week. So nice to read your post today. XO

    1. Hi Molly,
      It’s so nice to see your smiling face again. I’ve been thinking about you lots. That concussion really knocked the stuffing out of you and I’m glad you’ve taken the time you needed – avoiding computer, work and everything else that just puts too much strain on you right now.
      I’m looking forward to reading your pots about It’s Never Too Late when you’re ready to publish them.
      By the way, a metaphorical road trip is definitely your safest option right now. Glad it’s what you’re going for 🙂

  6. I love your 10 keys, Karen! And I immediately knew which one will challenge me the most: #2, set your schedule. I have a hard time with this, especially during the summer. Then I end up at the place you describe in #3, of falling into ruts because I have no structure. I’m really glad your post has reminded me how important it is to establish boundaries.

    Best wishes to you for an amazing metaphorical road trip!

    1. Hi Jenny,
      I absolutely have you to thank for the brilliant idea. Let’s keep each other inspired over the summer. After all, we’re travel companions even though we’re on our own separate trips.

    1. Somehow I knew you would be. I still have the Far Side cartoon that was up on my classroom wall for my entire career. It’s the one of the sheep standing on his hind legs in the middle of a field of sheep. He’s imploring the others – “Wait! Wait! Listen to me. We don’t have to be just sheep.”

      That one always went over far better with my students (if they understood it at all) than the one I had on a mug when I was teaching a class of gifted kids. You know the one – the ‘gifted’ student pushing against a door that says ‘pull’. One of my kids came up to me and said I wasn’t being very nice having that mug. I told her I was just reminding all my gifted kids to keep it real 🙂

      1. Whenever I’m trying to go in an “out” door, which happens more often than it should, I silently congratulate myself for being gifted 🙂

  7. A metaphorical road trip, what an interesting idea. I feel the need to do something similar, but I also recognize this is not the season for me to do that. I will be moving at the end of the month, planning my daughter’s wedding shower on Labor day and then her wedding in December. Top that off with a trip to Germany to speak at an event (international speaker!!!!) this fall. I know from my past (and yours) that this is not a pace I can or want to keep up, but I am choosing to see it as a short season of intensity, followed by ( I hope) a winter of solitude and reflection as I come to settle into my new surroundings.

    1. A time and season for everything, Michele. It sounds like you have an amazing summer and fall lined up – yay you, you international speaker you! Winter is a great time for a road trip, especially one of the metaphorical kind.

  8. Hi Karen! What a clever idea. I hadn’t heard of this, or read Jenny’s post. But I must confess I’d MUCH rather take a REAL road trip because I have a big case of wanderlust and am feeling the urge! However, I can see how much more productive I would be with this kind of trip planner. For example, I’ve been “meaning” to put out another blog-to-book myself. I have ALL the material…in fact more than enough that I have to pick and choose which articles that I want to include. I even have a couple of “readers” lined up to go through it for me, but I’m having an extremely hard time sitting myself down to do it. The beach keeps calling me!!!! 🙂 Oh well, I can metaphorically live through your example (and maybe even learn something on the way.) I look forward to seeing how it unfolds. Happy travels! =~Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy,
      I’m going to repeat what I said to Michele above. There’s a time and season for all things. Feed that wanderlust now, spend time at the beach, and you’ll be that much more productive down the road. I really believe that. And if I’m wrong, well, haven’t I done a good job of rationalizing for you!

  9. I want to come with you on your road trip :). I actually think that a metaphorical road trip is best taken alone. SO, when I need to get away and recalibrate, I go to a hermitage about an hour north of here. No phones, electricity, or running water. It’s far more modern than it sounds. It’s so quiet I can finally hear myself think, and even the whisper of God. Sounds crazy I know, but I love silence, so it’s a total treat. I always pick a couple of really deep books to dive into. I also experience spontaneous walks and often, even see deer and other wildlife. Have fun on your road trip!

    1. I don’t think the hermitage is crazy at all, Heather. In fact, when I read a post of yours where you mentioned it, I looked it up and sighed with envy. I would so love to do something like that. I can’t because of my one very sensitive rescue dog. I even wondered if I could take her with me to a place like that, but then it wouldn’t be a silent retreat. Not that she’d bark much, but she’d be really spooked if I didn’t speak to her for days.

  10. As I’m reading this post, I feel like the proverbial dog distracted by the sighting of a squirrel … you are a Far Side fan?! How did I not know this earlier?!! Not long ago I went looking for my collection of Far Side books and couldn’t find them. I suspect they got purged one day.

    Seriously though – you’ve given this journey a great deal of thought, which is not a surprise. You’ve identified what you need to embark on this grand adventure and quite frankly, there is so much in here that provides a great framework for anyone who is looking to engage in some inner reflection.

    I could particularly relate to the “habit of ‘clearing the decks’ instead of doing what I say I want to do”. I hadn’t related it to my obsessive need for planning.

    I’m looking forward to your thoughts as you progress on this journey. Your insights are always interesting and cause me to stop and think. I’m looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks. I suspect our conversations will be lively!

    1. We are going to have just the best conversations, Joanne! As I mentioned to Deb, this could easily turn into a slumber party without slumber – although I haven’t actually seen midnight in quite a few years 🙂
      I’ll have the Far Side collection at the ready. Those are NOT books you want to have purged!!

      Even planning and writing this post meant that I was ‘clearing the decks’ and not actually working on any of my plans. Aargh. Sometimes my planning brain is just brutal.

      Thank you for always being so supportive and encouraging and just downright wonderful. I can’t wait to meet you, Joanne.

  11. Interesting how different we all are! Volunteering and travel are what I love about retirement (though i’m with you on avoiding big commitments – I made a rule, which i’ve stuck to, of not being persuaded onto committees or boards and not doing anything that requires formal study). My dream road trip at the moment is to tour the entire U.K. visiting friends we haven’t seen for too long. That will have to wait till John retires. In the meantime we will be Scottish island hopping later in the summer.

    1. Hi Anabel,
      First, I love your new photo. You’re looking relaxed, happy, and the purple scarf is great.
      If I was traveling anywhere Anabel, a tour of the entire U.K. would be my dream trip. Including the islands. I’ve always wanted to go to Iona. Will you be there this summer on your island hop?

      1. Thanks Karen – that’s my purple scarf for the Suffragette Procession last month. One of the few successful selfies I have ever taken! I usually look weird in them.

        We have been to Iona before, but won’t be going this time. It’s part of the Inner Hebrides and we are going to the Outer Hebrides. Very excited!

        1. Is Iona as spiritual, as magical a place as I’ve been told? If you ever wrote a post about it, will you send me the link? Thanks Anabel.
          And how great the associations for your scarf. That looks like “an object to keep you thriving” if ever there was one.

  12. Hi Karen, I’m so inspired and impressed with your ‘road trip’. Just having this plan in place must make you feel enthusiastic about getting started. I wanted to thank you for your support over the last couple of weeks and your 10 keys are something we can all use to explore our own journey. I am so looking forward to following your ‘road trip’ and know there will be important learnings for us all. Bon Voyage!

    1. Hi Sue,
      Thank you for the thank you, but no need. I enjoy our mutually supportive conversations.
      I am indeed keen to get started. As you know, making the plan and writing the post about it took a LOT of time so I’m feeling a bit behind the eight ball. But this afternoon I worked on chapter 2 of Julia Cameron’s book and typed four pages of memories. And tomorrow morning I begin my consistent meditation practice. It’s good. I was back to spinning my wheels and going nowhere. Now I feel like I can move forward again.

  13. As I started reading this I thought, haven’t I read this post before?, and then you referenced Jenny’s post…ahh now it makes sense. While the process isn’t for me, I do still think it is a lovely way of looking at life.

    1. Hi AJ,
      I remember you used exactly that word – lovely – in your response to Jenny’s post. I thought then, and think now, that it’s an excellent word to describe how this process feels, at least for those of us who resonate with the road trip metaphor.
      Metaphor is a dicey thing though, I know. A couple of my favourite authors – Chip Heath and Dan Heath- wrote a book about change called Switch. I love everything these guys have ever written except that book. I don’t like it at all because they’ve built the entire thing around a metaphor that just doesn’t work for me – something about an elephant and a rider. See? I can’t even remember it, that’s how much I didn’t like it.

  14. Wow, I love this idea (although I think I’d have to send my husband on an actual road trip so I could go on a metaphorical one with my own itinerary 😉)! I’m happy to know that you will be in touch while you are on your journey… I hope you take your camera with you. I plan to check out Jenny’s blog and post to see what her metaphorical road trip looks like.

    So jealous of your upcoming visit with Joanne (who I have met IRL) and Deb. It’s sort of a eastern Canadian version of the bloggers meet-up we have in Southern California in the fall (which, of course, you are welcome to join in on).

    Oh, and Far Side rocks!

    1. I will take my camera. What a great idea, Janis. I’m nowhere near the photographer that you are but still there will definitely be some sights worth recording. In fact I took a quick photo through my library window just the other day – of a black bear ambling about in my driveway. I’ll be sharing it in the July RAW NEWS Update, stressing that it is an unusual occurrence contrary to what some Americans (not you!) think of as the wilds of Canada. 🙂

      Joanne and Deb and I are really looking forward to our time together. I can certainly see why your Southern California meet-up is something you all look forward to. I’d love to meet more of my blogger friends but can’t leave Shylah right now. Hopefully in another year or so she’ll be better. Alternatively, maybe I’ll be able to arrange more meet-ups at my place. Joanne and Deb are coming here.

  15. wow Karen -wow – happy travels – it is the inner journey calling and you are prepared and ready and by now ‘doing it’. there will be twists and turns as any interesting road does and there will be unscheduled stops and layovers and detours – and all this will also be part of the plan – the divine plan…
    I am glad for you -any practices that bring us back into our Selves and the grandness of all life is a great adventure to follow. I turned 61 this year and on odd occasions think of the diminishing timeline available to me – but when I find myself there I give a bit of shake and look around me within me and proceed into living life. I have such a story to tell of my adventure of leaving and returning and the lessons learned along the way. posting that soon. and in the meantime I will follow your trip with interest and cheer you on into your life living as a writer..

  16. What a great idea, Karen! I love how you compared your metaphorical road trip to a real one with all the elements represented. I think this trip is going to extremely good for you as a way of getting to that state of “Living a writer’s life”. Good for you for wanting to hit age 60 in the best shape you can be mentally, physically and spiritually. I had a look at that graphic of your life in weeks and months. I find these days I am thinking more and more about my own mortality. Not that I plan on shuffling off this mortal coil anytime soon but none of us are getting any younger – sheeesh, where has the time gone?
    I wish you the best possible trip results when you get where you are going. I will look forward to the postcards you will be sending out to us via PJ as you explore the great wide open in search of your destination. A metaphorical trip is all I can afford to take these days, the price of gas is crazy pants! Right now I am focussing on surviving all this heat and humidity. Hopefully, it breaks soon – I am so tired from not sleeping well and this endless sweating.

  17. This sounds wonderful, exciting, worthwhile…and more than a little bit overwhelming! I imagine you were quite a force to be reckoned with, in the workplace. You look at every aspect! You cover all the bases! I am exhausted just reading about your metaphorical trip! Good luck, godspeed, and best wishes on this summer adventure!

  18. I agree with Annabel that each of us is different and so spend our retirement in differing ways. For me, writing my memoir is becoming more and more a daily part of my life. I have set some deadlines and meet with fellow writers regularly. We are fortunate to have agreed to reform the same group in the fall. It took us a while to get to know each other and to know what we were trying to achieve. Our instructor is amazing. Right now pottery is on hold but will resume in August when I will go to my instructor’s home where she has her own studio. I want to move to the next stage of being more technically able and she is the right person to help me with that. I have worked my way up to three fitness classes a week and feel stronger and more flexible. I am maintaining my new weight because of that, but want to lose more. So for me, it is about reaching out to new people and new situations for my journey. In September, I want to go to Wilno where my grandparents came from as I have discovered some interesting information about the Polish settlement there. P.S. I still hate pulling weeds!

    1. Hi Fran,
      I agree with Anabel too. And thank goodness that’s the case. If we all wanted to make pottery, you’d never get a booking for your instructor’s home studio! That sounds perfect by the way.. .and so glad you found the right person to help you get where you want to be.
      Your memoir work sounds amazing too. As part of my metaphorical road trip, I’ve actually just finished two and a half hours of steady writing of memories from ages 6-10. It’s fascinating and so revealing. I’m not wanting to meet with fellow writers, at least not at this point – another way in which we differ – but I am loving doing the work. So glad you are too, and that you’re planning a small literal road trip in September to find out more about your grandparents.
      Fantastic news about your fitness classes and your weight loss. Three classes a week is really dedicated. Good for you! And at three classes a week you can certainly claim that you don’t need to pull weeds in order to maintain your fitness. You’ve got that covered!

  19. Thanks, Karen, for sharing the ten keys that can be applied to both literal and metaphorical road trips. I’m planning my trip to France next month and what to add outside of Paris. I’m fairly familiar with Paris having been there often to visit family. It’s the side trips outside of Paris that I’m thinking about. I look forward to reading about your metaphorical road trip. Any way to do a trip sparks my interest 🙂

  20. Karen, The phrase “the life of a writer” is so compelling and yet scary. I am looking forward to how you better define it… I wonder….is that what I want my life to be, too?

    With Molly, Sue and now you all working diligently thru Julia Cameron’s memoir exercise, I’m feeling inspired to add it to my summer activities!

    I appreciate the metaphor you’ve laid out. But to me, your travel companions feel heavy! You’re going to read all those deep books this summer . OMG! I feel tired just reading all the titles! 🙂 But you know the structure-girl that I am loves the “Productive freedom requires a balance: it is easier to thrive and flourish with a sense of structure in place.” I do hope this road trip helps you create the routines/structure that releases and focuses your creativity.

    1. Hi Pat,
      I know what you mean about the travel companions being heavy. I’m doing lots of ‘beach reads’ to offset them! And, surprisingly, they’re actually working out because I made up a daily schedule (structure girls rule!!) where my first action of the day is ‘my practice’. That includes meditation, then a bit of reading (one of my travel companions) and then a page of writing in response to whatever I’ve read.
      I’m reading The Exquisite Risk by Mark Nepo right now and am really benefitting from reading and then thinking, through writing, in response to each short chapter. The first chapter was about self-sabotage. I can’t remember the last couple. Today’s was about ‘the dance’, the way we move toward listening to our inner voices and then away, over and over again and how this is all part of being human.
      My ‘life of a writer’ post is coming up before the end of July. I’ll be really interested to hear your take on it.

  21. I like your idea of a metaphorical road trip. In a way, we are all constantly on smaller or bigger road trips like these. Good for you, leaving the extra baggage behind and knowing your destination. 🙂

    I agree with your mention that”Productive freedom requires a balance: it is easier to thrive and flourish with a sense of structure in place.” While we generally live from day to day, I find it easier to be productive when I have a certain (self-imposed) deadline. If not, the projects at hand “weigh” on me and it is difficult to focus on other things, without feeling guilty.

    Enjoy your road trip, Karen. The life of a writer (in a peaceful setting) sounds mighty nice to me right now!

    1. I don’t think I’d realized the value of a productive structure before starting this road trip, Liesbet. Now that I have one, time is slowing down and I’m much happier because I’m doing things that are important to me. Where are you at now that is keeping you from your ‘life of a writer.’? Last time we connected you were on your way home from Belgium. Are you home? Committed to something that is stealing your focus?

      1. Hi Karen! My writer life is over for the time being. I hinted at that when wrapping up that last house sit. That’s why it was so important for me to get to a stopping point with my memoir.

        This summer is hectic. I’m back in Massachusetts now, for another week with friends and family here. We have things planned every day – from helping the inlaws to socializing to doctors visits to a few bigger events to playtime with our twin nieces. We return to Zesty on the train (3 days, 2 nights) on July 25th. Then, we need to rest up for a bit, before we commence our full-time RV life. So, plenty of distractions. 🙂

        1. So this is what you were alluding to? You are hitting the road full time and stopping house sitting for a while? That’s huge! Did you already tell us all that and I somehow missed it? Or maybe it’s still to be talked about in your blog. Don’t feel you have to respond, Liesbet. You’ve got lots going on. Just know that I will be keen to hear more – how this came about, what it’s going to look like – when you feel so inclined.

  22. Ahh, the life of a writer – so seductive, and yet so elusive. I am looking forward to your post on this topic, Karen. It is interesting to me that the dream of “being a writer” (identity) and living “the life of a writer” don’t have that much to do with actually writing. For me, my fantasy of a writer’s life involves retreating from society and having large doses of solitude (in a woodsy, rustic location). But, in fact, I am a writer and my life filled with people and activities suits me just fine. My writing goes with me wherever I go.

    From the sounds of it, you have a nice summer planned.


    1. Hi Jude,
      Once again, we have similar views, in this case of the feeling we associate with an idyllic dream of being a writer. And of how different that it is from actually being a writer. I’m looking forward to writing the post about this topic. Writing brings so much clarity.

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