E is for Elements

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Each of the traditional elements—earth, air, fire, and water—is associated with traits, meanings, and a direction on the compass. The information in this post is for readers in the Northern hemisphere. For my friends in the Southern hemisphere, please use the opposite correspondences:

Earth is associated with the north, the season of autumn, and the colors green and brown. Zodiacally speaking, the element of earth corresponds to Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. Considered the ultimate feminine element, the Earth is fertile and has the aspects of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The Earth element is thought of as nurturing, stable, and full of strength and endurance.  

Air is associated with the east, the season of spring, and the colors yellow and white. Zodiacally speaking, the element of air corresponds to Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. Considered the ultimate communication element, this masculine energy is wise and has the aspects of intellect, focus, and telepathy. It supports the powers of the mind—intellect and claircognizance.

Fire is associated with the south, the season of summer, and the colors red and orange. Zodiacally speaking, the element of fire corresponds to Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Considered the ultimate masculine element, fire is associated with strong will, vitality, and endurance. Fire creates and destroys; it can heal or harm; it purifies. And like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, it can transform.

Water is associated with the west, the season of winter, and the color blue. Zodiacally speaking the element of water corresponds to Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. Considered the most cleansing of the elements, this feminine element (Goddess energy) is associated with emotional healing. It is used in many spiritual traditions for consecration—setting something apart as holy.

Spirit is sometimes referred to as the fifth element. Spirit transcends, yet is part of all the other elements; it has no direction, yet encompasses all directions; it’s beyond seasons and times, yet is all seasons and time. It is the source of human love and compassion.

Depending on the culture and tradition, elements are used in ceremonies, rituals, meditation, and Zen practices. And while sometimes identified differently than I’ve described here, the basic meaning is the same.

Which of the elements do you resonate with the most?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com.

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

The Delicious Sound of Silence

Earplugs can help to create the delicious sound of silence

When I pulled the soft, yellow foam earplugs out of my ears I heard a noise like an alarm in the distance. I knew it wasn’t the alarm clock; we’re up early naturally, so we never set it. After a little investigation, I discovered that it was my camera letting me know I’d forgotten to recharge the battery.

There are certain noises I don’t want to hear—snoring is one of them—that’s why I wear earplugs to bed (yellow).

A few years ago when Len and I attended The Center on Deafness in Deerfield, Illinois we instituted one “deaf” day a week where we wore three-flange earplugs (blue) all day and only spoke in sign language—whether we were at home, or not. It was during that window of time that I really learned the pleasure of immersing myself in the delicious sound of silence.

When we ride our bikes, I wear “wind” plugs (flesh color). I can still hear (because of a small hole down the center), but wind can’t get in. That becomes increasingly important as the weather gets colder. If I need to convert them to earplugs (no sound), all I have to do is insert the little cylinders into the holes and, Voilà!

It’s rare that I put something in my ears for the purpose of hearing. Many people enjoy music through ear-buds attached to their iPod, or computer. I prefer listening to music in more of a surround-sound style, with my ears unencumbered. If I’m watching a DVD on my laptop that Len’s not interested in, I wear soft, over-the-ear headphones.

I’m incredibly grateful for my hearing, but I’m also glad that I have the option of blocking out certain noises. When was the last time you wore earplugs—what noise were you blocking?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

America the Beautiful

Recently I said to Kathy over on Lake Superior Spirit, “Isn’t it grand to be grateful, to be appreciative of the things we sometimes take for granted? Just the other day on a bike ride I was thinking about the many freedoms I enjoy and I started singing out loud.”

In thinking about my comment—and also being grateful for the 1,100 photographs that were retrieved after my hard drive died—I thought I’d pull some of the photographs to support the song I was singing:

Oh beautiful for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain

America, America

Grace has been shed on thee

Crown thy good with peoplehood

From sea to shining sea

In order of the lyrics, the locations where the photos were taken are listed as follows:

Spacious skies – Mackinack Island, Michigan
Amber waves of grain – Owasso, Oklahoma
Purple mountain magesties – Mount St. Helens, Oregon
Above the fruited plains – Capron, Illinois
America, America – Belgium, Wisconsin
Grace has been shed on thee – Poplar Grove, Illinois
Crown thy good with peoplehood – Wrigley Field (Chicago, IL)
From sea to shining sea – Cardiff by the sea, California

What was the last song you sang out loud out of sheer joy or gratitude?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved 

A Hint of Magic in the Air

The morning started out almost like any other, but there was the slightest hint of something different in the air—magic—as we turned our bikes onto the Fox River Trail and headed south to historic Elgin, Illinois.

We turned our bikes south on the Fox River Trail

Riding along the Fox River, we enjoyed the way it winked back at the sun who was flirting shamelessly with it.

The river winks back at the sun

We rode past beautiful scenery that waved its leafy fingers, beckoning us to leave the trail and play.

We rode past beautiful scenery

But we didn’t. We stayed on the trail that eventually took us within feet of the river.

The bike path took us really close to the river

We could tell by the change in scenery that we were getting close to our destination.

We're getting close to our destination

Finally, we arrive in historic Elgin, Illinois—made famous by the Elgin Watch Company.

We arrive in historic Elgin, Illinois

I love libraries. As you can imagine, lots of magic is let loose in the children’s section of the Elgin library.

The children's section of the phenomenal Elgin library.

We continued our journey to see the Grand Victoria riverboat casino. After dazzling the security guard with our brilliant smiles (and using just a hint of magic), he allowed us to use their very nice restrooms.

The Grand Victoria riverboat casino

On the return trip, we stopped and fortified ourselves for the ride back home with a delicious breakfast at “The Measuring Cup.”

We ate a delicious breakfast at "The Measuring Cup"

Then, you’ll never … ever … believe what we saw. How had we possibly missed this on the ride down? Impossible!

How could we have possibly missed THIS on the ride down?

A castle! The early morning hint of magic in the air proved to be true.

A castle!

With the zoom lens we got a closeup view. How cool is that?!

With a zoom lens, we get a closeup view

See those blue tubes hanging over our right shoulders? Those are how we drink water while riding. We wear “Camelbak” packs that each hold 100 ounces of water. When we’re thirsty, we just bite down on the bite-valve and voilà! Perfect for a long, hot ride.

Our Camelbak packs make it easy to stay hydrated on a long, hot bicycle ride

There’s magic around us all the time, all we have to do is pay attention.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

Come Visit the Joyful Energy of “Our Garden”

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The other day we had privilege of being immersed in the joyful energy of “Our Garden.”  As guests we were treated to a delicious picnic-style meal and got to meet the family, and many friends, of my friend Cindy Kellogg.

As a Master Gardener, Cindy is living her dream. She just opened a flower and vegetable Market in Volo, Illinois. If you live in this geographic area, I hope you’ll stop by and visit. If you’re not in this area, please enjoy a virtual tour in the slideshow.

Our Garden
30523 N. Hwy. 12, Volo, Illinois
Phone 847-875-7321

Hours
9am to 6pm Wed & Thur
9am to 7pm Fri
9am to 6pm Sat
9am to 5pm Sun

Funny story … when we arrived on Friday night for the festivities, we were informed by a smiling Cindy and husband, Keith that we were precisely 24-hours early. I took advantage of the opportunity and snapped a few of the photos then. I got the rest of the shots when we repeated the visit on the following evening.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

Dancing With Trees

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Most of you know that my favorite things on this planet are trees. I love them! You can imagine, then, how tickled I was when the editor of Evolving Your Spirit magazine told me that she was going to print my article, “Dancing With Trees” in the Jul/Aug edition. Here is a LINK that will take you to the magazine. The article starts on page 4.

In that same vein, some time ago I wrote a poem, also titled “Dancing With Trees,” that I shared in the old Gaia platform. I have reprinted it here:

Laying next to a deeply furrowed, massive trunk
The earthy scent of bark beckons my fingers to caress
Marveling at the cloudless sky through a canopy of outstretched branches
I listen to the drowsy leaves whisper ancient secrets

Hidden beneath the dark rich soil, her deep roots embrace Gaia
Entrenched in what sustains her
A gentle reminder to stand tall in a raging storm
To sway in unison with the wind while reaching for the endless sky

I inhale deeply from the wealth of her life-sustaining breath
Arms open wide; she eagerly receives what I can no longer use
A primordial exchange
The rhythm of our breathing an exquisite dance

Her gnarled and veined hands reach out
Lending me quiet strength while listening with care
In the still silence of our tender communication she softly murmurs
Death is part of life; I must prepare

Come autumn, I will don my most brilliant cloak
Dazzling yellows and vivid reds that stir the soul
Like feathers falling, it will drop softly; pooling at my feet
With poise and dignity I will remain unveiled until spring

With a mother’s loving arms, she beckons in silent invitation
Resting in the crook of a strong limb, her branches enfold me
Sleep comes easy, knowing that through the night
I am dancing with trees

Where is your favorite tree located? What type of tree is it? What is it about that tree that sets it apart as your favorite?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved. 

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

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Do you remember the 1969 romantic comedy — If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium — with Suzaqnne Pleshette and Ian McShane?

Well, pretend for a moment that I’m Suzanne Pleshette and Len is Ian McShane. We strapped our bicycles on the back of our car and left Crystal Lake, Illinois at 5am and headed for historic Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

After stopping for breakfast in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, we continued on and arrived in Cedarburg at just before 9am. We were on the Ozaukee Interurban Trail by 9:10am, headed for Belgium, Wisconsinthe village with a heart.

On the way, Len was almost hit by a fawn. No, Len didn’t almost hit a fawn; a fawn almost hit Len. The itty-bitty fellow flew out of the bushes on the left side of the trail and came to a dead stop next to Len, eyeing him up-and-down. Then took off at top speed into the bushes on the other side of the trail. We could see his mama grazing about a quarter mile away.

Our first big stop was at Sauk Harbor in Port Washington — this was the 10 mile mark on the ride — where we got caught in a pretty good rain shower. In the photographs, you’ll see the gazebo that we stayed under until things cleared off a bit (the photo was taken on sunny the return journey).

Then we continued on to Belgium. This was the 20 mile mark. However, we did and extra two miles riding around looking for lunch. The search was well worth it.  We found Crissy’s Now and Then Pub. The food was beyond delicious!

By the time we finished lunch, the clouds had cleared off and the return journey was hot and beautiful. The lushness of the surrounding farm land was not lost on us. Every now and then we’d be enveloped by a wave of sweet clover scent.

We arrived back in Cedarburg exhausted, having riden a round trip of 41.45 miles. My legs were wobbling so much that I had to hug a tree to remain standing and get some stability back. In so doing, I got sap on my shirt. When we got home I Googled how to get tree sap out of clothes. Peanut butterit worked like a charm!

According to Len’s bike computer our actual riding time was 4 hours and 36 minutes. We averaged 9 miles per hour, with 18.32 miles per hour being our fastest speed.

I hope you enjoyed the journey — we had fun doing the pedaling for you.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved. 

Caution – Tractor Crossing

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Nan and Dave Palmer, fellow bicyclists, told us about the Long Prairie Trail in Boone County, and exactly how to get there. Never ones to let grass grow under our feet, nice and early on Monday morning we loaded the bikes on the back of the car and headed out.

The head of the trail was waiting for us exactly where they said it would be, with a nice little parking area for a few cars. We took off on our bikes at a leisurely clip. As you can see from the photographs, the trail is nicely paved, flat, and always visible for at least a mile.

Lovely trees bow gracefully toward each other over a good portion of the trail. At one point we came across a patch of birch trees mixed in with the rest. Surprisingly, there were very few other cyclists.

Pedaling along merrily, I heard a crash. I turned around just in time to see Len in the end part of a body roll.

“Are you okay? What happened?” I asked.

“I got too close to your back tire and I didn’t want to knock you over. I don’t know if I braked too fast, or turned too sharp, or what — it happened so fast.”

Good thing we wear helmets, riding gloves with padded palms, and carry a well-stocked first-aid kit. I could sew up a deep gash if I needed to. We’ve never had to use the kit for ourselves before. On occasion we’ve used it for other people we’ve come across who’ve taken a nasty spill. Gratefully, no stitches were needed.

That part of our ride was 15 miles—a little longer than the actual trail because we did a little off-trail snooping. After we got home, and just before dinner that evening, we took another ride much closer to home. We rode up to the train station in McHenry and back—it was a lovely 10 mile ride.

If you were to hop on your bike and ride somewhere today, where would it be?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

Butt Weary!

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You thought there’d be an Energy Medicine 101 class today, didn’t you? Well, I’d like you to play a little hooky and join us on a bicycle ride that we took yesterday – July 5th.

You see, I needed a reward. A big reward! I kept my butt glued to my desk chair and wore my busy-bee blinders all weekend working to meet a deadline – the one where I had to recreate 113 of the pages that are on the dead hard drive (no we haven’t heard anything yet). I met the deadline and the material is winging its way to my editor at UW-Wisconsin as we speak.

A cause for celebration! So whip out your bicycles and join us as we fly along at a brisk pace. Remember to bring along some water because this is a ten mile ride.

I asked myself over the weekend, “Laurie, would you still work this hard on the manuscript and the articles you write if you knew that you’d never, ever be published?” Would you like to know how I responded? “You’re darn tootin’ I would!” I’m not reserving joy for the destination; I’m fully enjoying the journey.

I hope you enjoyed the ride – we sure did! More importantly, I hope you’re enjoying the journey.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved.

Sweep Away Bad Energy

Sweep Away Bad Energy by Laurie Buchanan

Sweep Away Bad Energy by Laurie Buchanan

Feng Shui is the art of harmonious living. It involves the intentional placement of items to direct the circulation and flow of energy in a space. The desired outcome is unique by individual. Some people want to create balance and harmony, while others desire to boost their productivity, attract wealth, heighten creativity, advance their career, enhance good luck, and so on.

According to Feng Shui principles, the broom symbolizes insight and wisdom and is believed to have the power to sweep away negative energy, worry, and trouble. This ancient Chinese art counsels that the broom be hung by the door, symbolically sweeping out energy that no longer serves us well, making room for positive energy, abundance, and prosperity.

At our home we use our brooms daily; they aren’t just for looks. They also serve as a visible reminder of our intent to maintain a positive, respectful, and healthy emotional environment in our sacred space. If you’d like to learn more about the energy-based practice of Feng Shui, I highly recommend this website.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

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

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.