by Sam Juliano
As humans, we’re multi-dimensional in nature. We operate from physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions simultaneously. For true health to occur, we must learn how all these dimensions interact and affect our overall health.
Note: This is the ninth in a series on bloggers who have made a vast difference on the on-line landscape.
Optimum health is achieved by a perfect orchestration of the mental and the physical sides of our being, and one without the other can be likened to a fish out of water. Crystal Lake, Illinois holistic health practitioner Laurie Buchanan has set the groundwork for her loyal readership to experience the kind of well-being that has been the defining coda of her blogsite, Speaking From The Heart since it’s inception in February of 2010. Buchanan, who hold a PhD in energy medicine, has painstakingly examined the four aspects of a person’s essence that need to work in unison to maintain and eqilibrium of wellness – that of physical, emotional, mental and spiritial. By exploring the basic tenets of philosophical thought, astrology and practical reality, the tireless proponent of a stress-free life admits that decision making and personal application are vital in the realization of these goals.
Speaking From the Heart for many has come to respresent an ongoing daily seminar for those who gleefully follow it’s ongoing classroom structure. It’s a learning experience, but it’s tempered with a disarming strain of humor and contagious spirit, which is the result of the larger-than-life personality who navigates the effervescent comment threads. By stressing the positive, while not losing sight of the improvements that are needed for one to live a fullfilling and heathful lifestyle, Laurie has united reality with hope, truth with perception, and improvement with refinement. It’s a world view with no room for deception or negative thinking, but one that never loses sight of the inevitable obstacles that befall just about everyone in all walks of life. Indeed, this human pillar of support and positive energy admits “whenever you are not changing you are choosing.” In Laurie Buchanan’s sphere there isn’t any chance for negative energy to festure, and when it does rear it’s ugly head it’s shot down with the power of active application in a relentlesss exploration of the root of the problems, and the kind of therapy that will reverse or sharply diminish the negative effects on everyday life. Married to Len Buchanan for 31 years (the couple have one son) the author and lecturer has admitted that she’s a lot more intolerant in her personal life than she might appear in the blogosphere, but it’s all part of a commitment towards ultimately realizing the goal one has worked so hard at achieving. It’s a kind of “the end justifies the means” mentality, but to be sure the Chicago-area never uses strong arm tactics, preferring to stress individual choice and openmindedness, while promoting her own focused agenda. In the end, one must be guided by their own convictions and value judgement, but should do so implies Laurie, with all the facts at hand.
While ‘energy medicine’ has served as her professional area of focus, Buchanan is also a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a certified professional life coach, a Reiki Master-Teacher, and a certified Numerologist (using the Pythagorean system). While her engagement with the latter pursuit hasn’t yet received too much attention at Speaking From The Heart, her commitment towards fitness and long-term health have resulted in a plethora of postings ranging from various exercise regimentations, application of mental well-being, the importance of the outdoors, and the vital necessity in daily consumption of water. The early 50ish crusader for the leading of a full and meaningful life has offered her friends and on-line colleagues opportunities to alter their diet, water intake and sedentary lifestyles with meal plans and sage advice. Buchanan once asserted by email that her first act after awakening early in the morning was to slowly drink a large room-temperature glass of water, sometimes with a twist of lemon. She subsequently promoted a book which argued that people are ‘thirsty’ essentially because they don’t consume enough water a day. Buchanan advocates about eight full glasses of water a day, to be combined with other wise beverages such as green tea. On the food front, Laurie seldom eats out unless she’s a traveling or consumating a weekend social engagement. She credits her husband Len for imparting his considerable culinary skills in maintaining healthy meals at home, meals that are portion-controlled. Laurie once opined: “When Len and I eat out we rarely finish what’s on our plates. We eat half and take out the rest for lunch tomorrow.”
Pictures of Len and herself engaging in outdoor activities are regularly posted at her site to encourage others to take up the mantle and reform their ways before problems happen. Quoting a philosopher, Crystal Lake’s most renowned health practitioner sagely reminded readers in a recent post that change should be immediate and that procrastinating will surely lead to dire consequences later. Buchanan loves to use metaphors to enhance her topics. Just recently she evoked the hummingbird as a point of comparsison in equating a human’s “soul in flight.” Said Buchanan: “Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy, and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning, and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.“ A post later, the symbol of a hot-air balloon was elicited in showing the technique Buchanan employs in most of her posts to correlate the images and experiences of everyday life to parallel the aspects of our own life that keep us moving in the right direction. In her resonating post “Up Up and Away My Beautiful Balloon” the author provides a capsule historical sketch of the hot-air balloon, and an infectious lead-in featuring the lyrics of the Jimmy Webb pop song “Up Up and Away” that was brought to chart success in 1967 by the Fifth Dimension. Buchanan aptly concluded with a thematically telling question: ”Mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, what is it that lifts you up and carries you?” It’s this kind of self-reflection, inspired by happy, buoyant images that is the goal of every post at Speaking From the Heart, yet one can’t deny full realization is immeasurably enhanced by personal experience.
When bad events occur, Buchanan never tries to downplay their significance in the general order, but she advocates positive reinforcement, confidence and a change of focus to get by the times that threaten to derail people from falling into anemotional abyss from which there is little prospect for recovery. In a recent post titled”Slip Slidin Away” Laurie talks about enviornmental erosion in California (where she recently visited) and connects it to the corresponding occurance in people when they are at their own lowest ebb. She queried at the conclusion of the post: What is it that slowly-but-surely chips away at—erodes—you? What stabilization techniques do you have in place? But establishing a cogent connection between the envionment and the life cycle the creative voice guiding Speaking From The Heart hopes to inspire a keen awareness and inevitablity in purpose, and a belief that one has the power to control their own destiny.
In a remarkable on-line interview with Laurie Buchanan, the tireless practitioner, author, lecturer and hypnotherapists bears her own soul and discusses her professional goals at ther blogsite and in the professional environment, fascinating details about her life and coming-of-age in her profession, and the many friends, influences, interests that have established her as one of the true guiding lights to so many who have gained from her talent and diversity. Laurie Buchanan is truly one of the most amazing individuals I’ve ever had the fortune of meeting, and I can only thinking how much poorer I’d be without the great fortune of making her acquaintence. Her comprehensive responses to a series of prepared questions provide readers with a full portrait of this tenacious adherent of living the full life within the parameters that will enhance the quality, extend the longevity and established personal connections that in the end are what matter most in this life.
The full text of an online interview with Laurie Buchanan follows with her responses in bold:
1. When did you launch SPEAKING FROM THE HEART, and what inspired you to embark on this successful venture? Was this your first blog?
SPEAKING FROM THE HEART was born on February 21, 2010. I’d been blogging regularly in the phenomenal online Gaia Community since December of 2006, but their platform changed. I loved blogging and didn’t want to stop, so I found a different platform—WordPress.
2. How have you been able to institute your own personal world view into the fabric of the blog?
I’ve been able to subtly weave a few threads of my philosophy—“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing”—throughout the tapestry of my blog.
3. Your professional title is “holistic health practitioner.” Can you explain the parameters of this role for the readers?
Different from an medical doctor (MD), one of my roles as a Holistic Health Practitioner (HHP) is to help discover the root cause of health concerns and to assist the body back to its natural state of homeostasis—the ideal balance between all major parts of our being.
As humans, we’re multi-dimensional in nature. We operate from physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions simultaneously. For true health to occur, we must learn how all these dimensions interact and affect our overall health.
Healing comes from within, but can be initiated from an outside source. My approach to well-being incorporates the use of natural and complementary energy-based modalities to assist clients in achieving their personal health goals.
4. Would you be kind enough to document your education from grammar school through college? What was your major area of study in the latter?
I had the typical start to education: elementary school, Junior High, and then high school. That’s where I took a detour and stepped off the “typical” path. As a sophomore (age 15) I ran away from home. I earned my General Education Diploma (GED) when I was 18. At that point, school became my idea—“my” being the operative word. After that, I fell in love with the academic world and couldn’t get enough; I went on to earn a PhD in energy medicine.
I started higher education with a focus in business, but after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I just knew there had to be complementary options that would work alongside traditional western medicine. That’s when I switched my focus to holistic therapies, and then honed in on energy medicine.
I’m also a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a certified professional life coach, a Reiki Master-Teacher, and a certified Numerologist (using the Pythagorean system).
5. You are happily married to Len Buchanan. How did you meet him, and how would describe life with this very fine gentleman? Do you and Len have any children?
Len and I met on a college-group bus that was going to sing Christmas carols at nursing homes. Sitting next to me, it was obvious that he was in the military by his “chrome dome”—very short haircut. He was stationed on the USS Kitty Hawk out of San Diego. His ship was deployed to the Indian Ocean for an extended period of time, and when he returned we eloped. Needless to say, my parents were horrified. As it turns out, they didn’t have anything to worry about. We’ve been happily married for over 31 years.
Life with Len is hysterical! At least once a week when he does something like me, or I do something like him, one of us will say, “I’ve been living with you too long!” We have one son (age 27) who lives just south of us in Cary, Illinois. His name is Eoghan (a Gaelic name pronounced “you when”), but most people call him Evan.
6. You presently reside in Crystal Lake, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Have you lived in this general area for your entire life, and if not, what other places have you called ‘home.’?
In the United States I’ve lived in Minnesota, Montana, Arizona, California, Washington, Oklahoma, and Illinois. But if home is where the heart is, then my home is in the Highlands of Scotland—Fort William, at the foot of Ben Nevis.
We’ve lived in our Crystal Lake, Illinois home for 17 years. It’s about an hour north of Chicago, and a half-hour south of the Wisconsin border.
7. What are some of the most memorable seminars you have attended, and how have they helped you in achieving some of your personal and professional goals?
The incessant requirement for Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) to retain my certifications and licensing provides a opportunity to attend a wide brushstroke of wonderful classes, workshops, and seminars. One of the most memorable was Guided Imagery specifically for people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was facilitated by Belleruth Naparstek—the “benchmark” in the world of Guided Imagery.
8. You teach classes yourself. What subjects are examined, and again how do they tie in with your status as holistic health practitioner?
I teach Reiki for certification (all levels), crystal therapy (including elixirs and essences), color therapy, aromatherapy, breathwork, and numerology. With the exception of numerology, all of these are forms of energy medicine.
Throughout the year I do many presentations for various women’s groups and the three local high schools. One of my favorites is called, “Dressed to Kill.” Not gruesome in the least, it’s based, in part, on the book by the same title, written by Sydney Ross Singer.
This entertaining and informative presentation is geared toward women and focuses on how to dress in a manner that keeps our energy humming—at the highest and most positive levels throughout the day—along with how to avoid many of the “energy depleting” ways we dress (i.e., underwire bras, pantyhose, stiletto heels, etc.).
I also facilitate a 9-month Life Harmony experience that I developed. This one-on-one program is designed to turn intention into action, and helps individuals get from where they are, to where they want to be—body, mind, and spirit.
9. As per a number of long running blog series at SPEAKING FROM THE HEART, you have shown an acute knowledge and passionate interest in astrology and numerical signs. How has this interest helped forge a link with some of your most fascinating ideas and concepts at the site?
The link is twofold: (1) simplicity and (2) easy access. Each of us has these resources at our fingertips. The concepts have been around for thousands of years. Think of Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician who lived in the 500’s BC.
10. What blog post or series of posts are you most proud of, even if your site has featured a number that would fall into consideration here?
That’s easy—“The Color of Wellness” that I presented on SPEAKING FROM THE HEART in September, 2010. That particular series was a complete and total blast!
11. What are or have been your long time goals in maintaining the blog site, and what have you tried to achieve for your avid readership?
My mission—blogging or otherwise—is:
To help people help themselves.
To enhance whole health—body, mind, and spirit.
To be a positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing influence in the lives of those I touch.
12. You once attracted a spectacular comment thread after you were featured in an internet search engine. Can you talk a little about that experience?
You’re referring to my post on November 16, 2010—G is for Gratitude—that that got “Freshly Pressed.” Each week WordPress selects about 10 posts for the “Freshly Pressed” section of the WordPress homepage. These posts represent how WordPress can be used to entertain, enlighten, or inspire.
That post received a multitude of hits in 24-hours. Not everyone who visited the post left a comment, but I made a point of responding to everyone who did. It was exhilarating and exhausting, and I’d welcome it again in a heartbeat!
13. Those who follow your site regularly will have no doubt noticed you are well-traveled. Can you speak a bit on your most memorable trips and how they have enhanced your general perceptions and (again) world view?
The most memorable trip I’ve taken to date was when Len, Eoghan, and I walked across Scotland in 18 days. We started in Inverness, on the North Sea, and finished in Oban, on the Atlantic Ocean—a 211 mile walk. In the middle, we climbed Ben Nevis, the highest point in the British Isles.
In the traveling that I’ve done, a few observations keep bubbling to the surface:
It’s a small world after all.
We are, indeed, interconnected.
People are the same everywhere, cut us and we bleed. There’s no group that’s better or worse than another.
14. What are some of your favorite blog sites, and how have some of your good friends there both inspired and influenced you in various ways?
The main theme that each of the following blogs have in common is that they provide delicious food for thought. Without exception, each of them leaves their readers with something to mull over throughout the day or week. In alphabetical order:
Creative Potager—Terrill Welch
Eternal Presence—Barbara Kass
Lake Superior Spirit—Kathy Drue
Wonders in the Dark—Sam Juliano, et al
15. You have developed a remarkably fruitful camaraderie with artist and nature-lover Terrill Welch at the Creative Potager’s blog, where you have virtually commented with great insight, authority and humor on every post ever offered there. Would you say this has been one of your own highlights as a blogger and if so, why? Does Terrill’s use of a “sprout question” at the end of her posts have a connection with your own creative queries at the conclusion of your own SPEAKING FROM THE HEART posts?
I met Terrill in the original online Gaia Community back in December of 2006 where we quickly realized that we are kindred spirits. Her Mon/Fri posts are definitely something that I look forward to each week because she not only provides her readers with beautiful verbiage (she’s one of the best wordsmiths I know), she provides delicious eye-candy too, generously sharing her gorgeous photographs and paintings with her readers.
The difference between our ending questions is that Terrill is consistent with her “sprout questions”—like gravity, you can count on them. My questions are inconsistent in that I pull them from the “Internal Inventory” section of the Life Harmony program only when they fit into the blog topic at hand, so they’re somewhat hit or miss.
16. How have you defined the creative process at your site, and how have you incorporated it into virtually every direction you’ve taken there?
The creative process at SPEAKING FROM THE HEART boils down to brevity. Unless I’m presenting an actual series where I’m “teaching a class” in the blog, I make every effort to keep it brief.
At the Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison in April one of the speakers said, “Editing is like sculpting – it’s what you take away that matters.”
I include one or more of my own photographs in each post and heavily rely on the old adage that “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
17. Is there a correlation between mental well-being and general health, and if so how have you approached this link at SPEAKING FROM THE HEART?
The mind-body connection is well documented. In a nutshell, emotional issues left unresolved, can negatively impact the health of our physical body. This is another thread that I subtly weave through the tapestry of SPEAKING FROM THE HEART.
A philosopher once said, “If you don’t make time for health now, you’ll have to make time for illness later.” Body, mind, and spirit—we need to get the junk out of our trunk.
18. You are a well-established supporter of good diet and a healthful life-style. Who has been more responsible for the management of this daily concern, you or Len? What are your favorite foods?
I’m extremely fortunate in that Len is the cook in our home, and an excellent one, at that. We typically sit together at the beginning of the week to discuss recipes he’s found while perusing his many cookbooks. He then does all of the shopping. Mind you, this is in addition to all of his other responsibilities, including work. Did I mention that I’m extremely fortunate?!
Hovering right near the top of my list of all-time favorite food is garlic bread and garlic mashed potatoes—not healthy in the least, but oh-so delicious!
19. What’s a typical diet like at the Buchanan household? How do you look upon the ‘bad’ habit of eating out regularly and what can you suggest to those who find themselves in that unenviable position?
A typical eating day in the Buchanan household would look very close to this (organic when possible):
Breakfast – steel cut oats, grapefruit, and hot tea.
Lunch – peanut butter sandwich (all natural, peanut butter on sprouted whole grain bread), an apple, and unsalted nuts of some type.
Dinner – salad with a variety of ingredients (dressing made from olive oil and balsamic vinegar), fish (tilapia, orange roughy, wild caught salmon, or sometimes shrimp), and a vegetable (we eat lots of steamed broccoli and asparagus).
Snacks – fruit, unsalted nuts, plain hot-air-popped popcorn (no butter or salt), or pita chips dipped in hummus.
We don’t eat out a lot. I think the main issue with eating out is portion control. When we eat out we typically eat half of what’s on our plates, and take the other half home to eat as lunch the next day.
20. You have ceaselessly promoted the undeniable correlation with a healthy lifestyle and the intake of water at SPEAKING FROM THE HEART. Can you reveal what you see as an adequate volume of water for daily intake, and your own daily consumption?
Next to breathing, water is the most important thing we need as humans. Here’s how to calculate the right amount of water:
Simply take your own body weight and divide it by 2. The resulting number is the number of ounces of water you should drink every 24 hours.
Example: a person who weighs 150 pounds should ingest 75 ounces of water every 24-hours.
21. Can you explain your own daily exercise regimentation, and what you see as minimum requirements for those trying to launch their own?
I practice an hour of tai chi each day. Tai chi is a Chinese system of slow, meditative physical exercise designed for relaxation, balance, and whole health—body, mind, and spirit. Recognized for centuries as an ideal activity for lifelong well-being, tai chi builds strength and endurance, enhances flexibility, improves coordination, and helps reduce stress.
Additionally, 6 months out of the year (May – Oct) we ride our bicycles each morning before work. The other 6 months (Nov – Apr) we swim and use the equipment at our local fitness center.
I feel that anyone who wants to launch their own exercise regimen should start with stretching. There are many excellent online guides that can be found, and a vast array of DVDs that can be checked out from your local library. Depending on your weather and terrain, walking is fantastic as well.
Note: No matter how you exercise, it’s important to stay hydrated.
22. Your remarkable penchant for supporting your fellow bloggers has been well-documented on many boards. How does this tie in with your own communal goals?
Never underestimate the influence you have on others. It’s all about the ripple effect—boomerang style! What you do comes right back.
23. As you know, WONDERS IN THE DARK is essentially a film, theatre and music blog that occasionally takes on literature, sports, politics, food and some of the concerns you yourself promote. Of what importance would you say film and music especially have been to you during your life? Are movies given a good deal of attention to you today and if so, what do you see as a worthy entertainment in that regard?
Music has played a large role in my life. I play the bodhrán—a Celtic drum, and I also play the guitar. We haven’t had a television in our home for over 31 years, so when we rent a movie, we watch it on one of our laptops. We do this for “date night” at least once a week.
I particularly enjoy films that tell an engaging story—one that pull me right in. A good example is “Dancing at Lughnasa” with Meryl Streep.
Foreign films are among my favorites. This week we watched a French film “Mademoiselle Chambon,” and last week we watched a German film “Soul Kitchen.”
I don’t do scary—suspense yes—but not scary.
24. You have shown yourself as extremely well-read. Can you recommend some outstanding books you have completed as of late, and how they would benefit the general reader?
The two most recent books I’ve read as “soul food” are listed below. Anyone interested in cultivating their inner landscape would benefit by reading:
Integral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World, by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens & Michael Zimmerman
The Practice of Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes, by Andy Karr & Michael Wood
The two most recent “mind candy” books I’ve read (for pure enjoyment) are listed below. Anyone who wants to release the cares of their day and take a fictional vacation would benefit by reading:
Minding Frankie, by Maeve Binchy
Any Place I Hang My Hat, by Susan Isaacs
I enjoy reading from a wide range of genres, so my author list is diverse. In the pure enjoyment group, the top of the list reveals 3 authors: Barbara Delinsky, Maeve Binchy, and Diana Gabaldon.
In the world of fantasy, I’m mesmerized by the works of writers such as Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling.
Mary Oliver and Irish poet, John O’Donohue are among my favorite poets. I keep their books at hand for my morning cuppa tea.
When it comes to the category of spiritual awareness, there’s simply not enough space to list all of my favorite authors. So in a brief thumbnail sketch, I’ll list the top ten: Gregg Braden, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Wayne Dyer, Thich Nhat Hanh, Louise Hay, Jon Kabat-Zinn, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Byron Katie, Don Miguel Ruiz, and Eckhart Tolle.
25. Can you elaborate as to what other ‘hobbies’ you have maintained up till the present day? Are you a gardener for example?
I love to dabble with photography. I take a camera with me just about everywhere I go and always have the question, “How can I blog that?” in the back of my mind as I view the world through the lens.
And while they’re part of our family as opposed to a hobby, we have three companion animals: Claire (Westie), Lexie (Standard Poodle), and Willa (Irish Wolfhound).
26. Have you ever held office, belonged to any local boards or organizations, and if so, how might these experiences have enriched some your own interests and goals?
Membership in the following organizations helps me to stay abreast of new findings in my areas of interest: energy medicine, personal transformation, spiritual awareness, and women in business:
Women’s Leadership Network
Women in Management
Women in Networking
Women’s Interactive Network Group
Women Inspiring, Supporting, Educating
American Business Women’s Association
League of Women Voters
National Assoc of Professional Women
National Alliance on Mental Illness
International Massage Association
Infinity Foundation – Courses for Life
Association of Humanistic Psychology
Energy Medicine Research Association
Institute of HeartMath
Global Coherence Initiative
International Natural Healers Association
Association of Ethical & Professional Hypnotherapists
I’m past treasurer for the WLN – Women’s Leadership Network.
27. How long do you see yourself holding the torch at SPEAKING FROM THE HEART and do you have any further plans for the blog and for your life activities in general?
I simply can’t imagine not blogging at SPEAKING FROM THE HEART. I love interacting with the many people from all around the globe who pop in for a quick hello, a mid-size chat, or for a long, drawn-out conversation.
I’m currently in the process of finding a literary agent for my non-fiction manuscript. In the meantime, I’m a regular contributor of health and inspirational articles to Evolving Your Spirit and Sibyl magazines.
28. Lastly, can you document your professional career?
I started out in retail at Fred Meyer. I’ve worked in a saw mill on the Columbia River, been an escrow officer for Coldwell Banker, managed three “This End Up” furniture stores simultaneously, and worked in Human Resources (recruiting) at Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt).
While in the corporate world I had the opportunity to teach “MAGIC”—Make A Good Impression on the Customer. I also developed and taught a workshop called “It’s All About Attitude.”
Everything has a season. When the time was right, I started my own business, “HolEssence – Certified Holistic Therapies” and after five years was able to lure Len away from the corporate world to join me. He’s high-tech, I’m high-touch—it’s a win-win situation.