At the end of December 2017, I attended the “New Ways of Knowing Meditation and Writing Retreat.” Backed up to Joshua Tree National Park, it’s no wonder we heard coyotes each evening and saw rabbits (galore!) and quail each day. We even found what looked to be emu or ostrich footprints.
The charming facility (it’s colorful interior Mary Engelbreit-esque) boasted a stationary red bus that became our symbol for staying on track. If we found ourselves getting sidetracked from the task at hand—writing—we’d say, “Get back on the bus!” I’ve since printed and framed this photo. Standing sentinel in my writing studio, it serves as a tangible reminder to stay focused.
What keeps you on track?
What a great place to have a retreat. I need to tell myself to get back on the bus more often.
Darlene — And though it was in the desert (Joshua Tree, CA), the wind whipped and brought the temperatures way down. It was a COOL experience, both literally and figuratively 🙂
What a wonderful thing to have a visual to remind yourself not to get side tracked.
Bernadette — It was, indeed 🙂
Lovely bus. I visited Joshua Tree National Park many years back and it is a must. I think my regular morning meditation helps keep me on track. And a little help from my friends. 😉
Olga — I love that your morning meditation that keeps you on track! 🙂
Sounds like a great place to unwind and I Iove the idea of wild animals prowling around. I can’t say I have many problems staying on track, but tend to do things only when they need to be done.
Fatima — I think that “doing things only when they need to be done” would be very liberating! 🙂
I tend to be task-oriented, plus I love being able to ‘check off’ the box that I have completed something. I can be my own worst enemy in regard to staying on track. So, for me, it’s sometimes a good idea to get off the bus and catch a breath.
LoisaJay — Like you, I enjoy that shot of dopamine that we get from checking an item of our ta-dah list.
On the flip side, I have to agree with your perspective of stepping off the best now and then to get a toe-hold and catch our breath 🙂
Such a good idea to combine a memory and a mantra with a visual image. It makes me happy to know that the retreat was just what you needed.
Shirley — (Pssst, don’t tell anyone, but we talked about you behind your back. And it was all utterly delightful)… 🙂
Great question, Laurie. I have another writer in the house who has offered to bring into my studio a super-long folding table for my continuing editing process today. Plus, I’ve told my readers I have a memoir in the making and I have to deliver. 🙂
I enjoyed seeing Vi Dutcher and family on site at the retreat. We have similar roots, I believe, with a strong work ethic.
P. S. I board the bus every single morning. And late afternoon too when I catch a second wind.
Marian — Your three-part response made me smile, Smile, SMILE. Thank you! 🙂
Especially, when I’m shifting to a new place, visual prompters (like your glorious red bus) are inspiring and serve as attractors and motivators.
Recently, I created and facilitated a new “Vision Quest” pilot (with 3 stages including a visioning/vision board component) for a women in the midst of mid-career or pre-retirement change. I’m also creating my own vision board which includes be, do, have, elements. I’m using my new memoir book title and interim cover mock-up as the center image.
The “professor” in me went to revisit research on visualization. Neuroscience is pointing to neurons in our brainstem (R.A.S) and neuroplasticity (capacity of the brain to develop & change through life) underlying the value of visualization.
And, we all know, Olympic athletes have been using visualization for decades now to achieve their medals! There’s power in it!
I’m ready to hop on the bus with you!
Sorry, the pilot was for two women. Planning to market for more groups soon.
Audrey — You’re right, there’s irrefutable power in the use of VisionBoards and yours sounds great!
And the red bus? It’s magical in that there’s room for EVERYone. Hop onboard! 🙂
Ummm, who said I stay on track? Your readers and commenters impress me (as do you) and, at the same time, shame me. Ultimately though, the choice is mine – I am retired and lazy and do not feel a need to stay on track, so it works for me. Although I envy you sometimes.
Carol — I applaud that you do what’s right for you 🙂
Shirley Hershey Showalter has a special take on retirement, she calls it Jubilacion! It is a time for whatever you most want, need, desire for you life. I celebrate your choice! What in our society we call “lazy” is often a treasure. May your retirement be what you most desire! Audrey
I live with a fellow who is easily distracted, he moves through life at a slow steady pace – and we share life with a very hyperactive child, who can hyper-focus – you would not believe how this helps with school work and tennis matches! My partner turns oppositional if I suggest he might need to focus on something or listen to something, and so I have to approach this area carefully – he does try to hide when he is doing something way off base.
I can’t identify, as when I turn on focus I am there and on target – I just need to tell myself to focus. When I do get distracted I have to be very careful – when eating with others I tend to over eat and eat things I should not ( like chocolate = migraine headache) I usually eat alone
Patricia — Thank you for sharing these great examples! 🙂
Good idea to use something visual to keep on track and get back on track. Something for me to try as I’m forever being waylaid by problems and other interruptions. So I’ll need something that encompasses that. Maybe something showing a line and the caption “get in line” or a number that is not a one that reads “take a number.”
Sharon — I like that way you think! 🙂
What a great reminder Laurie! What is keeping my many projects on track at the moment are regular reviews of deadlines. There are two oil online painting classes running in an integrated design and three art shows to open between the beginning and end of April. Plus, I am in the middle of a six week business development Bootcamp with a totally unrelated advisory role for local area housing needs assessment wrapping up tomorrow. As well as all this, I am painting with new work rolling off the easel again this afternoon. I feeling like I am not only back on the bus but flying down a mountain road with amazing views while I take the corners on two wheels – windows down and hair straight back hoping no wasps whip in to distract my attention. But yessiree! What a ride! Wouldn’t want to miss it or change a thing!…. The month of May is looking pretty quiet 😉
Terrill — Put your hair in a ponytail, it’s whipping me in the face as I sit, white knuckled, behind your driver’s seat, hanging on for dear life. Holy Toledo—what an adrenelain-packed ride it is! And for goodness sakes, watch out for the moose crossing the road up ahead 🙂
I don’t dare take my hand of the wheel or eyes off the road just yet Laurie. So, if you can loosen your grip for just a moment, there is a hair tie in my left vest pocket near the door handle. But whatever you do DON’T OPEN THE DOOR! Lol! Always a pleasure to have you along on a virtual adventure!
Maybe a good month to have a visit with a friend. 🙂
It does too Leanne and by then we should be in full on spring. I think of a walk every time I am driving by and wave. We will get there because we always do, it just takes a while.
Hey! That place looks familiar. When the Mormons settled in San Bernardino County, those oddly shaped trees with their uplifted branches reminded them of Joshua lifting his arms to stop the sun and the moon to give his army more time to fight. So, like Joshua, I look to the Son to keep me on track.
Dennis — I love your comment. Thank you for the face-splitting smile on my face this morning 🙂
Every night before I go to bed and when I wake up I say to myself, “Thank you for all of the blessings that I have, and all of the blessings that I am receiving.” If I am off track I repeat these words throughout the day to remind myself that it’s all okay and to get back at it! Cher xo
Cher — I love your daily mantra. Absolutely love it! 🙂
What gets me on a bus is deadlines.
And as you are aware from my latest writing:
life at every level seems to demand a balance between order and chaos, between being on the bus, or just wandering in the wilderness.
I guess a big part of my life is doing the wandering, searching the unexplored territory for both threats and opportunities; looking for ways to effectively mitigate the very real risks facing us all today.
And I can certainly be “on the bus” when a deadline approaches. Had one instance a few years ago where as the start date for a major software project I had been working on for 6 months approached, and I was able to put real data into the system, an issue emerged. I spent 40 hours at the keyboard with the only breaks being for essential toileting. I made the deadline with 2 hours to spare, and the system worked.
And I seem to have a preference for the more chaotic aspect of the searching of new spaces.
That was one of the very interesting things to emerge from database theory about 10 years ago, that for a fully loaded processor, the most efficient search possible is a fully random search. Creating and maintaining indexes can speed access in times when speed is required, but it actually takes more processor cycles overall than simply randomly searching the available knowledge space.
And the page above is my latest session “on the bus”, trying to give some idea to others of what it is I have discovered in my journeying.
Ted — I enjoyed reading your “page above” earlier today.
When I read your 40-hours-at-the-keyboard example in this comment section, I got goosebumps! 🤢
Excellent strategy, Laurie.
My guiding light is my desire for a better tomorrow–and my love of what I’m doing right now. (to be clear: writing)
Leanne — I love your guiding light: “A desire for a better tomorrow.” And I know (beyond a shadow of any doubt) that you love to write ✍️
Laurie, my agenda and the fact that Time moves faster than I do. I have a mental agenda that I reel through each day. There are the daily tasks, the weekly and the monthly, all must be attended to at some point and the sooner they cleared out of the way, the faster I can get down to my serious fooling around. Love the photo! It’s also a good thing to mark the position of each Joshua Tree, backing into one can cause some pain and outrage, one in our back yard actually poked a hole through a garden hose!
Sandi — I love that you clear the way so you can get down to “serious fooling around!” And I’ve SEEN the Joshua Tree in your back yard; definitely not something to fool around with!
That bus …that’s what 😊
Cherry — You always make me smile 🙂
Laurie, I enjoyed reading about your cue to stay focused. I always purchase a piece of art when I need to stay focused while writing a new book. Now, I am working on my 6th book that is a business memoir. I purchased a little pottery bird house with a peaceful looking red-haired lady on top with blue birds and leaves around the sides and in her hair. She makes me smile, reminds me of my beautiful red-haired mother, and keeps me focused. I think you and Len will appreciate my husband’s “pilot” mantra to stay focused: ” Just Fly The Plane!”
A good reminder for sure. I love when we can see beyond and catch the hidden meaning of certain things, such as in this case here. Great post dear Laurie 😊☺
Aquileana — I’m so glad this post resonated with you 🙂
To stay on track one must resist any kind of depression, holding optimism and a free spirit at the forefront.