Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

I don't really know why I do it, but for some reason, I live with things until I can't live with them. Well, duh...or maybe not. See the problem is the way things sneak up on you, how things come on so gradually and slowly that you don't notice the change. I guess it's like the frog in the pot with the water slowly heating and they don't realize and they're cooked alive. Oh happy day, when we realize and jump out of the pot before it gets too hot.

See this thing? It's my sewing machine...a pretty old one but well made. I've had it for years and it has served me well. (It was "pre-owned" when it was given to me 7 years ago.) About 3 years ago, it started groaning a bit when I pressed on the foot peddle. After a while, it stopped groaning and refused to start unless I patted it (by giving the wheel a little push with my hand). Well, over the last 6 months or so, it had gotten so bad that I had to use the wheel like a treadle and constantly push it with my hand to make the needle move.

Earlier this week, I was inspired by a friend to do some creative fabric art. I set up the old machine and then for several hours, I frustrated and wore myself out working the old machine. I was so disgusted with the old thing that I went out and priced a new one. I would have bought one but they were out of the simple model I wanted. (I only do straight and zigzag, nothing fancy.)

So I came home empty handed. But my creative urge continued to intensify. Fortunately, the thought came to me to open up the sewing machine and see if I could figure out some way to fix it. (How complicated could it be?) For at least a couple of years, I had the sense that a belt was loose. So I found the right screw driver, removed the screws, and lifted off the cover. I easily found the floppy belt and saw that next to it on the casing was a wonderful little screw...all I had to do was loosen the screw, cinch up the belt, and tighten the screw back down. WaLa! The machine works like new!!!

And here's one of my creations.

For me it represents my emerging "authentic" self. I don't know if you can see the different materials I used but each has meaning to me. The maroon color is dryer lent...I washed a new throw that left a handful of beautiful lent that I couldn't bear to throw away. I do a lot of laundry and make the most of represents "embracing my life". The blue jean material (my preferred attire) represents my humanity . In the blue "gathered" area, there are two materials with green, one next to the maroon center, that one is "mystery". The arching stain glass window green/purple material represents the sacred/spiritual. And then there's the upward movement guided and intertwined with Divine calling and Presence.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Meme? My First.

Katherine tagged me for this meme.

Here are the rules:
1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.
2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.)

F is for Friendly-You know how guys try to pick up gals? I love doing that with most anyone just because I love people and find them wonderfully interesting.
O is for Open-Open to new ideas, open to learning, open to God/Love, open to others, open to me.
R is for Resilent-I've been through my share of difficulties and have had some pretty tough "teachers" in my life, which have taken a toll, but I always rise again, usually stronger and more compassionate.
T is for Tender-That's how I feel a lot...toward God, toward others, toward myself.

N is for Natural-Natural in the sense of being relaxed and easy my dress (tennis shoes and jeans mostly), in my style (no make up, casual hair style...what you see is what you get). I'm a biologist by training and love the natural world. I had 6 babies by natural childbirth (no meds) and mostly eat organic, natural stuff .
E is for Ethereal-Ethereal in the in the mystic sense. Since I was a child, I've had that "other world" kind of feel.
R is for Realistic-Embracing reality is a surprise gift that has come to me in my 50's. I'm "Loving What Is" (which is the name of a book by one of my favorite people, Byron Katie)
Fortner is my maiden name. These were the first "facts" that came to mind for each letter, except for N...I confess that the first word that came to mind for N was "neurotic"! I feel that way at times, but I have not been diagnosed as such, so I decided it does not apply!

I'm really not connected to the blogging community well enough to tag 7 people! Especially 7 people that haven't already been tagged so maybe one of my R's should be for Rebellious cause I'm not doing number 3.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Transformed By The Renewing of My Mind"

So are any of ya'll reading The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle? I have to admit that Oprah talked me into read this book (The New Earth is Oprah's current "Book Club" Selection).

My mom has been a devotee of Tolle for years and introduced me to his first book (I think), The Power of Now, several years ago. Though there were things I could relate to in his writings, for some reason, I just wasn't one to jump on his band wagon.

The New Earth is a little more interesting to me, mostly because it provides a framework for understanding human behavior that I think is helpful. I do agree that it's our "thinking" that's more of a problem than reality. Identifying the "ego" and "pain body" is certainly the first step. The "second" step is not so easy....UNLESS you have been introduced to "The Work of Byron Katie." The work is an amazing tool for questioning our stressful thoughts and "stories".

This is what Eckhart Tolle says about Byron Katie and "The Work":

"Byron Katie's Work is a great blessing for our planet. The root cause of suffering is identification with our thoughts, the 'stories' that are continuously running through our minds. The Work acts like a razor-sharp sword that cuts through that illusion and enables you to know for yourself the timeless essence of your being. Joy, peace, and love emanate from it as your natural state."
Eckhart Tolle, author, The Power of Now

The great thing about "The Work" is that it's FREE. Everything you need to know about "The Work" is available for free on the website ( You can even call their "hotline" and talk to trained facilitators who will do "The Work" with you so you can experience it for yourself. (That's one thing I love about "The Work": you can learn about it and practice it with paying a cent!)

"The Work" is the most effective tool I have found to deal with stressful thoughts. Scripture talks often about the importance of tending our minds: "speaking the truth in love", "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ", "be transformed by the renewing of your mind", "think on these things". "The Work" helps me renew my mind and open my heart to the Spirit.

What is "The Work"? It really is very simple. It consists of four questions and a "turnaround" which you apply to any stressful thought that you have. The four questions are:

Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it is true?
How do you react when you think this thought?
Who would you be without that thought?

You can read more about the process including the "turnaround" part on "The Work" website:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"The Great Madness"

I recently read a book called The Shack by Willam P. Young. A good friend recommended the book, otherwise I doubt that I would have picked it up myself. I was pleasantly surprised and greatly blessed. The author gives rich expression to some difficult theological concepts and illustrates the character and heart of God beautifully and powerfully. A friend of mine wrote: "It is amazing how my attitude has changed since reading this book. I have been given tools to love the “unlovable”, to understand “the mean spirited”, to pray for “the evil”. I have a greater understanding of that which I do not understand." I agree.

Product Description from Amazon:

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

Recently, I had an epiphany of sorts. It really wasn't a result of reading this book, but the framework for the story helped me define what had happened in me. In The Shack, the main character, Mack, refers to "The Great Sadness" that had come into his life when his young daughter was murder. I haven't ever experienced something that terrible, but about 10 years ago a series of events brought into my life what I now see was a "Great Madness". I was angry as h*ll but had no way to process it or resolve it. "The Great Madness" lived in the recesses of my soul...until recently. It wasn't a simple process, but the dark clouds of my anger have started to part and light is beginning to shine into those hidden places. I am lighter...freer...more alive. I am very grateful.