"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." — Laurie Buchanan

And the World Goes ‘Round

Boise, Idaho—there’s no doubt we live in one of the most beautiful locations in North America. The photo below is just one of the lovely scenes we pass on our daily walks. And though the water’s been turned off for the winter and the wheel isn’t currently going ‘round, it’s still captivating.

Water wheel

In my most recent article for Sibyl magazine I wrote:

Communication—not love—is what makes the world go round. One of the strongest human longings is to be heard and acknowledged. This need is deeply anchored to our connection with others.

I went on to say:

Excellent communicators make eye contact with the other person and take in what they’re saying. They give visual clues and utilize encouraging expressions of agreement—nodding their head, smiling, softly saying uh-huh—to let the other person know that they’re actively listening.

Who was the last person you gifted with your undivided attention?

© Laurie Buchanan

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The Gift of Tonglen

At times we may feel small, insignificant, and unable to help when people are suffering, or there’s a catastrophe in another part of the world. But there is something we can do.

Tonglen—Tibetan for giving and receiving—is an active practice of loving-kindness; a simple act of compassion that anyone can do. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Sit or lie quietly in your own “inner sanctuary” and imagine someone that you want to help.
  • Inhale the heaviness of their energy. Breathe in the condition, emotion, or suffering of another to make space for healing and comfort within.
  • Exhale whatever you feel will fill them relief. Breathe out hope, strength, joy, peace of mind, love, or ease.

I took this photograph at the Boise Botanical Garden. In my mind’s eye, this is how I imagine my inner sanctuary.

Tonglen is a soothing and calming meditation that can be done by people of any spiritual tradition, or none at all. It’s a simple, non-denominational practice that acknowledges we’re all connected no matter who we are, or where we come from.

“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.” —John O’Donohue

What does your inner sanctuary look like?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Showing Up

Walking across one of the many bridges that spans the Boise river, we spotted something bright red in the distance. Drawing closer, we saw that it was a nylon camp chair—empty. We looked in every direction for someone who might be the owner, but there wasn’t a soul in sight.


During one of the classes I’m teaching at UW-Madison’s Writers’ Institute in April, 2016, I’ll share that life is about showing up. So is writing. Failure to show up—be present—yields puny results. For a writer, that equals a blank page.

There are many different ways of showing up. We can arrive with a chip on our shoulder and a cup-half-empty attitude, or…

Remember Aunt Clara on the television series Bewitched? She may have fumbled and bumbled and usually arrived—covered in soot, hat askew—after tumbling down the Stephens’ chimney, but she showed up with a positive, go-get-’em attitude and a ready smile.

How do you show up for life?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Beauty Knows No Pain

I remember sitting on the floor between my mom’s knees as she brushed through the tight curls on my head. I yelped in pain when the bristles encountered snags and she’d counter with, “Beauty knows no pain.”

Two decades later mom used “No Tweeze” on me to remove stray eyebrows. I yelped in pain when she yanked the hot wax and calmly said, “Beauty knows no pain.”

Liar, liar, pants on fire! 

Recently I learned a pain-free beauty tip…

Hold frozen spoons—straight from the freezer—on closed eyes to eliminate under-eye puffiness. The person who showed me this trick placed the spoons directly on her skin, moving them slowly in a circular motion.

When Len said, “You’re going to get frostbite,” I discovered that placing an old washcloth between my skin and the spoons allows me to keep the spoons there much longer, yielding even better results.

He also said, “Laurie, you’re scaring Willa, you look like an alien!”

spoon eyes 2

What’s your best pain-free beauty or grooming tip?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Growth Spurt


Sold to a very happy family, the produce department at the Fred Meyer store on Federal Way in Boise featured a remarkable 113 pound pumpkin named Carl. According to All About Pumpkins, “Most pumpkin varieties take between 85 – 125 days to mature.” That means Carl grew at the approximate rate of 1.106 pounds per day.


The 2014 Guinness Book of World records pumpkin tipped the scales at an impressive 2,096.6 pounds. This massive specimen was grown by Swiss gardener Beni Meier. Using the same math, it means that Beni’s pumpkin grew at the approximate rate of 16.768 pounds per day. That’s equivalent to eight-pound twins—per day!

When was the last time you were wow’d?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Not Resting On My Laurels

I stood mesmerized watching a single autumn leaf gracefully fall—much like a feather descends in slow motion— only to land like a golden crown atop a vehicle’s roof.


The scene made me think of my name. Laurie means “laurel crowned” and is derived from the Pythian games, a forerunner of the modern Olympic games. The laurel tree was sacred to the god Apollo, and a woven crown of laurel leaves was placed on the victor’s head to set them apart as champion.

It is also the source of the word “baccalaureate,” indicating academic achievement. The terms “poet laureate” and “nobel laureate” also derive directly from the practice of bestowing a laurel garland for a victory or a notable achievement.

The expression “resting on his laurels” is commonly used to describe a person who is so satisfied with their past achievements that they are no longer trying to accomplish anything new. Not an accurate description of me, I’m “a rolling stone gathers no moss” type of person.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do a little research and answer…

What does your name mean?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Last week I was invited to pour at a wine tasting event sponsored by Vinum Wine & Spirits Importing & Distributing.


A healthy turnout of buyers for upscale restaurants, wine bars, and retailers had the pleasure of tasting dozens of stateside and european labels. Their remarks sounded something like this:

  • Smooth and round.
  • Delicate citrus acidity.
  • Beautiful energy on the palate.
  • Long mineral finish.
  • Lingers impressively against lively acidity and a refined texture.
  • An earthy aroma.
  • Brings richness and texture to the mid-palate.


Much like a book’s jacket, the label (of what turned out to be my favorite) is the first thing that grabs my attention. ABRACADABRABrian Carter Cellars, Columbia Valley, Washington State—is a blend of 11 (eleven!) red varietals aged in quality oak barrels. If this were a dog it would be a mongrel; a Heinz 57. As a wine, it has an unbeatable pedigree!

The back label has an equally engaging description:

What type of magic do you enjoy?

© Laurie Buchanan

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