Room to Grow: Interview with Author and Transformational Life Coach Laurie Buchanan

Cristen Iris

Laurie Buchanan fascinates me. She has as much energy as anyone I know, but the difference between her energy and that of others is power.

People who exude energy often display nervous energy, the kind of energy that pulls rather than pushes, the kind that depletes rather than energizes.

When Laurie speaks and writes, her words don’t take up space and push out the opinions and thoughts of others. Her words create space. And in that space, the listener or reader has room to think, be, and grow.

I have the pleasure of sharing physical space with Laurie several times a month. She is a friend and sage. I learn as much from what she says and writes as I do by watching what she does: the way she moves, engages with people, and is fully present.

However, what is more interesting and informative is what Laurie doesn’t do: what’s in—or rather is not in—the spaces she’s intentionally created in her life. She has designed a life that allows her to make her highest level of contribution without destroying herself in the process. She is a beer and a doer and someone I’m thrilled to introduce you to because I know you will be better off for having met her.

But don’t be fooled by her disarming demeanor and Buddhist practice, this woman is serious about getting serious about life.

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


Many years ago, I heard the phrase “simple but not easy.” Note to Self is a simple book. Laurie takes the reader through a seven-step process of acknowledging and nurturing each of the seven selves. Readers who are visual learners like me are able to immediately grasp the concept and create a well-defined image of self with components that can be moved in and out of the circle that represents our highest self. Simple.

But as anyone who’s ever cleaned out a closet or downsized a house knows, the physical effort, emotional baggage, and decision making required can suck more energy from us than the day-to-day feelings of being trapped and thwarted. We must pay a price for freedom and growth.

It’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

What is easy is to write a book review and conduct an author interview that is full of superlatives: great, wonderful, exceptional, transformative! And this book is all those things, but the value of a book is only fully realized when the reader comes away a healthier, stronger, more resilient and aware human.

Laurie Buchanan—generous, wise, and inspirational as she is—is a fellow traveler and support. The catalyst for change is your situation, and the power to change is within you. Note to Self can serve as your map and travel guide, an introduction to the you you want to claim or reclaim.

I know because her book came to me at the perfect time in my life and career. My business activities had pushed my health, most important relationships, and peace outside the circle of my being.

By actively engaging with Laurie and committing to a journey of self-rediscovery through the words on the pages of Note to Self, I reshaped my internal and external world, regained my health, and left a lot of baggage behind.

Note to Self can help you live an abundant life by showing you how to enhance your sense of groundedness, increase your sense of delight, cultivate your inner landscape, develop your emotional empowerment, unleash your creative flair, boost your insight, strengthen the connection with your higher self, and integrate the seven selves.

“NOTE TO SELF is as good for you as kale, but reads like chocolate—smooth, rich, and fun!” —Leanne Dyck


CRISTEN: Laurie, I describe you as a take no prisoners-free the prisoners kind of person. You are all peace, love, and happiness while looking someone who is offering excuses in the eyes and saying, “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”

LAURIE: It brings to mind that I’ve been called a “velvet sledgehammer.” I might look like a pushover (sweet, loving, kind, and thoughtful), but I hold my client's’ feet to the fire when it comes to accountability.

CRISTEN: Most clients must come to you because they’ve recognized that the wall they’re facing isn’t going to come down without some help, that what they’ve been doing isn’t working and that if they could identify the cause, the solution would present itself.

LAURIE: A common theme among people who seek out a transformational life coach is “attachment.” They don’t realize that’s the crux of their negative situation. Attachments come in all shapes and sizes: people, places, things, events, and opportunities. It can be food, money, nicotine, drugs/alcohol, gambling, pornography—you name it. It can be “things”—a simple case of acquisition (you’ve seen the bumper sticker “whoever dies with the most stuff wins”). One of the things I do is help people to understand this, and then start the process of letting go.

CRISTEN: As I worked through Note to Self, I was surprised to discover where my attachments were. When I wrote down what I was doing and the things and relationships that were important to me, I saw how little space I had in my life. I realized that if I could identify what was essential and eliminate the nonessential, I could redirect my focus and energy. (To see how I did that, watch my video on YouTube.)

As soon as I started right-sizing by letting go of the first big thing, my world shifted. I started to see other areas I could simplify and trade for more freedom. One of those things is our home. My husband and I love being in nature, traveling, and engaging with dynamic people: things caring for a house and yard limit.

You’ve already done that and live a minimalist lifestyle. When did you make that shift and how do you incorporate the philosophy into different aspects of your life?

LAURIE: When my husband and I relocated from Illinois to Idaho in the spring of 2014, we shifted gears from an already small home that we’d lived in for 20 years, to an unpretentious, simple 600 square foot carriage house. People often ask us, “Why on earth would you choose to downsize?” The reasons are simple.

I think of it as right-sizing—right for us—not downsizing. Empty-nesters in our fifties, now is the time to work less, travel more, live debt free, and do the things we really want. For us, the intentional promotion of our greatest passions (for me it’s writing, for my husband it’s flying) and the removal of everything that distracts us from them, has been liberating.

A smaller home means less space. Having eliminated the unnecessary, we are deliberate and thoughtful about the few things we do have. Living in less space means we spend less time, stress, and money on upkeep.

Embracing the belief that “life is an expression of the choices we make,” I’m a teacher and student of purposeful living. With tremendous respect for the earth’s natural resources, my goal is to leave the slightest footprint on the planet, while at the same time making a lasting impression on its inhabitants—one that is positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing.

A minimalist by intent, I live a beautiful life with fewer things—simple, yet full.

CRISTEN: You used the words "intent" and "simple“ underscoring my belief that although a concept may be simple, it is not always easy to execute. To grow from the information you provide, readers and clients must choose to do a fair amount of hard work: not physical work but emotional work. Why do you think we have a tendency to opt for doing work rather than sitting still, reflecting, and letting go?

LAURIE: Dogs experience life through their noses. Humans experience life through their emotions—how they feel. I help people work with their emotions mindfully. This runs the gamut from recognizing emotions, to investigating them—and everything in-between.

I’m often asked my thought on the difference between doing and being, and which one I feel is more important.

One of the byproducts of today’s fast-paced culture is busyness. With our amazing technology, we’re efficient, productive, and more inclined than ever to use our time to accomplish.

Doing is associated with self-definition (one of the seven selves). It’s represented by the color yellow. It’s external, visible, and active. It’s in the act of doing that we serve others.

Being is associated with self-knowledge. It’s represented by the color violet. It’s internal, invisible, and passive. When we listen in the quietness of being, we learn what we need to do.

Interestingly, yellow and violet reside directly across from each other on the color wheel. In nature, a beautiful depiction of this balance is revealed in ametrine—a crystal with a natural blend of amethyst (violet/purple) and citrine (yellow/gold).

In our everyday lives, the balance between doing and being is expressed as: engagement/solitude, serving/abiding, real life/reflective life, application/restoration, and work/rest.

Weaving a balanced combination of both threads—doing and being—into our life’s tapestry is ideal; they’re both important. A balanced life of doing and being nourishes both practice and perspective.

CRISTEN: In the book, you talk a lot about how color influences our emotional state and encourage readers to mindfully incorporate specific colors into their lives. Which colors are you most attracted to, and how do you use them to shape your experiences and expression?

LAURIE: I incorporate a rainbow of colors into my life, focusing on specific ones for specific purposes. For example:

Red is associated with self-preservation. I use it to enhance energy, vitality, and courage.

Orange is associated with self-gratification. I use it to enhance independence and confidence.

Yellow is associated with self-definition. I use it to enhance awareness and clarity.

Green (my favorite color) is associated with self-love. I use it to enhance compassion, peace, and inner balance.

Blue is associated with self-expression (a great color for writers). I use it to enhance knowledge and relaxation.

Indigo is associated with self-reflection. I use it to enhance imagination and understanding.

Violet is associated with self-knowledge. I use it to enhance wisdom and inspiration.

CRISTEN: For many reasons, blue being my favorite color among them, I’m excited about what you’ve got coming up. Please tell our readers what they can look forward to after reading Note to Self.

LAURIE: I’m excited about the publication of my next book, The Business of Being: Soul Purpose In and Out of the Workplace. Woven throughout the pages is the story of a French restaurant, La Mandarine Bleue—The Blue Tangarine. It’s a real-life depiction of how nine individuals used twelve steps of a business plan to find their vocation and undergo a transformation. The Business of Being demonstrates how to stand in alignment with your core values; it explores how to thrive, soul-side out, in and out of the workplace.

CRISTEN: Thank you for your sharing your core values, energy, and space with us here, Laurie, and on your blog, Tuesdays with Laurie; Facebook; and Twitter.


“The Business of Being is the best silent partner I ever took on.”

—TERRILL WELCH, gallery owner and author of Leading Raspberry Jam Visions Women’s Way: An Inside Track for Women Leaders

“When we allow ourselves to show up authentically—be who we are—we’re in alignment. The Business of Being helps us unlock the power to reach our full potential and thrive.”

—RACHAEL O’MEARA, transformational leadership and executive coach, sales executive at Google, and author of Pause: Harnessing the Life-Changing Power of Giving Yourself a Break

The Business of Being is an important resource that will enable individuals to discover their calling and transform their personal and professional lives.”

—Dr. LYNN SCHMIDT, leadership development expert, executive coach, keynote speaker, and award-winning co-author of Shift Into Thrive: Six Strategies for Women to Unlock the Power of Resiliency.


Cristen Iris

WriteNow, LLC