About Laurie Buchanan

I'm a holistic health practitioner, transformational life coach, and author.

Writing Down the Bones

While on sabbatical in Darby, Montana to complete The Business of Being, I wrote like a fiend during the day, and read until I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer at night.

During a walk with Willa near the river, we happened upon a skeleton—most likely that of a mule deer. It immediately brought to mind Natalie Goldberg’s book “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within.”

In her book, Goldberg addresses the importance of reading. Writers read for the sheer joy of it, but also to ignite our imaginations. We read to gain insight on storytelling; to ponder concepts, ideas, and issues outside our sphere of knowledge; to learn new approaches and techniques for narration, plots, and scenes—each necessary for “writing down the bones.”

Goldberg said, “Writing practice is no different from other forms of Zen practice.” I would add that—for me, at least—reading is the same. It’s a practice; one I adhere to daily.

What book are you currently reading?

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I Stress, Eustress, We Stress

The first weekend in May I attended Hedgebrook’s Vortext Writers Workshop on Whidbey Island (off the coast of Seattle). Many of the breakout sessions took place at the Whidbey Institute, home to a giant gong—approximately six feet in diameter!

To stand in front of a gong that’s just been sounded—especially one this large—is an incredible experience! The vibration is deeply settling, while simultaneously euphoric.

In my experience, eustress is similar to the vibrational bath from a gong. Considered “good stress,” or stress from the anticipation, or experience, of pleasurable events, it envelopes us.

Eustress can share some physical symptoms with bad stress, such as a racing heart, but our body processes eustress as positive and releases endorphins, making us feel good.

Distress, or “bad stress” is associated with worry and anxiety, and it stems from concerns that your physical or emotional well-being is threatened. Distress can arise when you’re grieving, or more commonly when you’re having problems at your job or in your relationship. Your body processes distress in a negative way, and it can cause some nasty side effects, such as headaches, stomach problems, insomnia, and anxiety attacks.

Eustress or distress—what was your most recent encounter with stress?

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Training for Warriors

I’m fond of the Zen proverb, “The obstacle is the path.”  When something blocks my way, it’s an indicator of what my next steps should be. The obstacle is the teacher—the guidepost. Repeatedly encountering the same obstacle bears significance.

In Paulo Coelho’s book, The Warrior of Light, he writes:

A Warrior of the Light knows that certain moments repeat themselves.

He often finds himself faced by the same problems and situations, and seeing these difficult situations return, he grows depressed, thinking that he is incapable of making any progress in life.

“I’ve been through all this before,” he says to his heart.

“Yes, you have been through all this before,” replies his heart. “But you have never been beyond it.”

Then the Warrior realizes that these repeated experiences have but one aim:  to teach him what he does not want to learn.

What do you not want to learn?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Lost Horse

While in Darby, Montana to finish writing The Business of Being, I passed this Lost Horse sign on my weekly drive to Hamilton to buy groceries. The mischievous side of me was desperate to strike through the word “lost” with a black marker and write “found” instead. I’m happy to report that the better part of me won out.

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And though I didn’t lose a horse while on sabbatical, I lost some preconceived ideas and found better ones to take their place. For instance:

Lost
All males in Montana are not fashioned after the Marlboro man.
Not every public place in Montana has a spittoon.

Found
There’s an incredible French bistro—Taste of Paris—in Hamilton, Montana. Who knew?!
The libraries in Montana (I visited four different ones) are amazing!

While there I learned that “creek” is pronounced “crick.”

On the Montana Fun Facts and Trivia website I additionally learned that “the word ‘ditch’ can be used to order a drink. It means ‘with water.’  ‘I’d like a Jack Daniel’s ditch, please’ means, ‘I’d like a Jack Daniel’s and water.’ This is not a joke. In fact, all you really have to ask for is a ‘Jack ditch.’ Try it out the next time you find yourself in a Montana saloon.”

What have you lost and found lately?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Breakthrough

And while invention and discovery are two different things—invention means to create or design something; discovery means to find or observe something that was already there—both of these occurrences can experience breakthroughs. Here are just a few examples:

  • Scientific breakthroughs
  • Architectural breakthroughs
  • Medical breakthroughs
  • Technological breakthroughs
  • Archeological breakthroughs

Bandit Brewing Co. is a nano-brewery and the smallest brewery in Montana with a quaint tasting room in Darby, just off of Highway 93, and within walking distance of where I stayed.

When I was on sabbatical in Darby, I experienced an artistic breakthrough. I wrote to beat the band! I assure you, however, that the discovery of Bandit Brewing Co. and my writing breakthrough are not linked.

What was your most recent breakthrough?

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered

In this technology-intense era, we can send an email around the globe in a nanosecond with the mere push of a button.

I don’t receive handwritten letters often, so when I do, they’re extra special. During my sabbatical, I received physical correspondence from a few people. One package winged its way across the pond from Wales!

People sent mail to my Boise address and then Len brought it to me when he visited Darby. It was so much fun!

When was the last time you sent or received a handwritten letter?

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Reading and Writing – NOT Arithmetic

During my three month sabbatical (Jan-Mar) to finish writing The Business of Being, my schedule was simple:

  • WRITE during the day
  • READ in the evening

Some of the books I read were serious; others were laugh-out-loud funny!

When I finish reading a book, if I can give it three or more stars, I write a brief review/recommendation and post it on Goodreads and Amazon. These are the books I read and enjoyed during my sabbatical:

Some people hesitate to write book reviews because they feel they have to be long and involved, but many of the best reviews are short. Here’s one of my favorites:

Note to Self: A Seven-Step Path to Gratitude and Growth is “as good for you as kale, but reads like chocolate—smooth, rich, and fun.” —Leanne Dyck

When you enjoy a book, do you typically write a brief review/recommendation?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com