Standing Alone

Connecting with like-minded people heightens awareness of our inherent unity. When we’re warmly included—validated—it nurtures a warm sense of belonging; a sense that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.

There are many times in life when other people agree with our principles, beliefs, and/or choices we make. I suspect that to some degree this “sameness” strengthens our sense of validation.

However, there are times when we find ourself standing alone. Maybe we took a different stance while serving on jury duty, or in the workplace, at home or school, with family, or friends.

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“Be strong enough to stand alone, be yourself enough to stand apart, but be wise enough to stand together when the time comes.” — Mark Amend

When was the last time you stood alone?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Burned Out

A few weeks ago while out walking, we happened upon a burned out vehicle. There wasn’t any police tape indicating foul play; there was nothing about it in the newspaper or online, so we don’t have any idea how it happened.

Burned Out

The scene reminded me of a conversation I had with a person many years ago who opened the conversation with, “I’m burned out.” When I asked for details, she said:

 “My schedule is so over-committed that I don’t have any ‘me’ time. I don’t have time to exercise, and because of time constraints, meals have become a steady stream of fast food. I’m not sleeping well so I’m physically exhausted. I can’t seem to focus at work, and my relationship is falling apart. Frankly, I’m not enjoying life anymore.”

It all boiled down to her inability to say “no.” A people pleaser, she said “yes” to everything requested of her. Quite some time ago I learned how to effectively say no with finesse from my friend and personality expert Sheila Glazov: That does not work for me.

Is it difficult for you to say “no?”

© Laurie Buchanan

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Fence Rats and Monkey Traps

The other side of the back property line where we live has what we lovingly refer to as a fence rat — a cute little dog who sticks his head under the fence and yaps every time I come or go. I tried to make friends by giving him dog biscuits. Len’s afraid his collar’s going to get caught on the bottom of the fence and he’ll be stuck there until someone comes to his rescue. “Greedy little bugger!” (referring to the dog), “See what you started?” (referring to me).

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The neighboring dog reminds me of the monkey traps described in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where certain tribes leverage the monkeys’ greed to their advantage. They hollow out a gourd, leaving the opening just large enough for a monkey’s hand to go through to reach a sweet treat. When the monkey (unaware that the vine attached to the gourd is staked to the ground out of sight) reaches in to get the treat, the opening is too small for its now-clenched fist to pass back through. Escape is entirely possible if he’ll just let go, but he won’t because he chooses to hang on to the treat. At this point the tribespeople come along and it’s easy pickings…

What won’t you let go of?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Growing Toward the Light

In the final week prior to departing our home of 20-years in Crystal Lake, Illinois, we’d almost completely packed the kitchen and ate our meals out or picnic style.

Sitting perfectly still in what seemed like tranquil meditation, an onion remained on the counter. Similar to a novice monk, it began with a tiny spark. In the onion’s case, a small green sprout at its crown. But with time and considerable growth, it leaned — with gentle ease — toward the bright, sunny kitchen window.

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Are you growing toward the light?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Yours Truly

Have you fallen in love with yourself yet? I don’t mean like Narcissus in Greek mythology. Rather, love in the sense of full acceptance and appreciation of who you are.

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It’s my perspective that the most important relationship we’ll ever have is the one with ourself. By loving and caring for ourself, we’re able to give our best to others. That’s why I carefully tend my inner-landscape; why I nurture my inner-ecology.

Gardening from the inside out — a few of my tips:

  • Focus on my strengths
  • Don’t compare myself to others
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
  • Treat myself with respect — body, mind, and spirit
  • Accentuate the positive
  • Be myself

How do you tend your inner garden?

© Laurie Buchanan

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Under, Over, Through

I sit at my desk, perched in front of a window, for several hours each day. Whether it’s for online client sessions (via FaceTime or Skype), writing, or dipping into various social media pools, I have the perfect vantage of a many-hundred year old oak tree and its various occupants: squirrels, chipmunks, woodpecker, and one raccoon.

In multiple hours of viewing, I’ve never — ever! — observed them go around the tree.

Clearly evidenced by their tracks in the snow, you can see prints leading up to, and away from the tree, but not a single print around the base of the tree (click on the photo to enlarge).

Obstacle

When they arrive at this “obstacle,” rather than go around it (skirt the issue, ignore it, or sweep it under the carpet), they go under, over, or through it to get to the other side!

When you encounter an obstacle on life’s journey, how do you get to the other side?

Laurie Buchanan

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

The Book — Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience — Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2014

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OUTSTANDING or OUT STANDING In Your Field

I’m fortunate in that I get to rub shoulders with some tremendously interesting people—people who are outstanding in their field because they consistently (1) show up, (2) put their best foot forward, and (3) apply themselves fully to their craft:

Sandi White — Master Gardener
Terrill Welch — Impressionist Painter
Debbie Jacob — Psychic
Sam Juliano — Teacher and Film Critic
Heather Shumaker — Author
Jeff Stroud — Photographer
Sibyl English — Vocalist
Kathy Smith — Film Director

And while this photo is of Len Buchanan out standing in a field, he’s outstanding in his field as well—technology.

Click on Photo to Enlarge

Are you outstanding in your field, or out standing in your field?

Laurie Buchanan

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

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2013

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Failure IS an Option

Many of you know know that I’m part of a happiness study founded by neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson, at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, UW-Madison. The science of happiness shows that failure is an option. What matters is how we respond to it.

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Researchers found conclusively that we enjoy a higher quality of life when we experience a certain number of setbacks—5 to 7 of them. Why? Because setbacks give us confidence that we can weather adversity, and they also reinforce what we truly value—for example, health, loving relationships—which can result in enhanced priorities and different goals.

On the other hand:

  • Too many setbacks can result in breaking one’s spirit.
  • Too few setbacks can protect someone from developing resilience.

Resilient people tend to “make meaning” as difficult challenges are faced and overcome, which allows them to discover positive outcomes that wouldn’t have happened if the challenge hadn’t occurred. This is called BeneFindingfinding benefit in negative experiences.

What was the last benefit you found from a negative experience?

What was the last benefit you found from a negative experience? Click To Tweet

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Sit Happens!

Daily, I carve out time to sit like a bump on a log, or in my case, a meditation bench which I lovingly refer to as a “Buddha butt.” As a high energy, fast-paced, go get ‘em kind of person, sitting still doesn’t come easy for me.

The slight elevation of a meditation bench affords me the opportunity to stay in a seated position—spine upright—for an extended period of time. And because my rear-end isn’t resting right on top of my calves, ankles, or feet, my legs don’t go to sleep from cutoff circulation. I enter this still and quiet space with one objective — no expectations.

In my experience, the busier I am the more important the practice of stillness becomes. And the benefits of sitting quietly are tremendous:

  • Puts me smack dab in the middle of now
  • Cultivates internal quietness
  • Recharges my personal battery
  • Makes way for clarity and problem solving
  • Accesses my creative voice
  • Accentuates the positive
  • Diminishes energy that’s not serving me well

When was the last time you sat still?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Inner Alchemy

I began photographing our yellow delicious apple tree in the spring, with the idea of capturing shots at various stages through harvest time. This, in an effort to visually convey transformation:

Alchemy is the process of transforming lead into gold.
Inner alchemy is my term for personal transformation to our highest best.

I believe that life is an expression of the choices we make, with each choice serving to transform us—subtle or obvious—body, mind, and/or spirit.

Further, I believe that whatever we are not changing, we are choosing. So much so, that my life’s purpose is based on this conviction.

The photos in this post were taken between April and September. This six-month window is the typical life cycle for apples in the United States.

Inner alchemy—personal transformation—occurs at different times and speeds for everyone:

  • Early, quick, and dynamic
  • Late, slow, and measured
  • Somewhere in-between

When it comes to personal transformation, are you an early or late bloomer?

Laurie Buchanan

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

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2013

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