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Grief by Erin Dunigan

Grief

My dad passed away fifteen years ago. He had been struggling with cancer for two years, so it was not a surprise when the day came, even though it was. Those of you who have been there know what I’m talking about. As much as you think you can do to prepare for that moment, you still are not prepared when it actually hits. My dad’s passing was peaceful, at home, amidst family and friends. It was actually a lovely sacred time – you could even call it a gift.

For the three years prior I had been studying theology, including courses in what is considered pastoral care – courses such as how to be present with people in difficult times, how to help families make difficult end of life decisions and how to deal with grief. So, though I would not have said so in so many words, somewhere under the surface I thought I had a handle on the whole ‘my dad is dying thing.’

It became clear very quickly that I thought wrong.

When my dad did actually pass it was as though the ground had been pulled out from under me. I was not a child – I was a grown adult in my mid 30’s. But even still, it felt as though the very ground that I walked on became unsteady, unstable, shifting. I felt as though I was looking for a firm place to stand and tapping with my foot, but I couldn’t seem to find anywhere to actually step down.

“Oh, this is just part of the grief process,” I told myself. There are traditionally thought to be give stages of grief, that can happen in any particular order and that can cycle as one moves through grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Another thing I had learned is that there is no particular timeframe – grief can last far longer than one expects, or than others realize.

I had read. I had studied. I knew the five stages. I knew all ‘about’ grief – but it was not until I was in the midst of it that I realized, no amount of learning ‘about’ could save me from the ‘going through.’ I realized that somehow I thought I might protect myself from the grief, that I might be able to take a short-cut around it – I’ve studied this, I don’t need to actually feel it myself! What I learned when my dad died, more clearly than I had up to that point in my life, is that there is no short cut. Grief is something that one must travel through, not around. But I did also learn that it does not last forever. That in going through it, one actually does, eventually, get to the other side. That the grief does not have the last word. That the grief does eventually pass.

Of course I still miss my dad. But the missing is not as painful as […]

By |2020-03-25T10:43:44-07:00March 25th, 2020|Articles, Blog|Comments Off on Grief by Erin Dunigan

March Not Church Norte Goes Online

Not Church Norte will be gathering virtually by Zoom, this Wednesday, March 25th at 5 pm.

Click this link to join the meeting: https://zoom.us/j/9231159289 

or you can paste it into your browser.
Meeting ID 9231159289

PLEASE DO NOT JOIN THE MEETING UNTIL 5 PM
 
*You don’t need to have the ZOOM app to join the meeting, but it might be easier for you if you do.
You can download the FREE ZOOM APP from your phone or PC APP Store
By |2020-04-22T12:51:41-07:00March 23rd, 2020|About Events|Comments Off on March Not Church Norte Goes Online

Dr. Wayne Dyer on boosting your immune system in these challenging times….

“Years before his passing, Wayne’s full remission inspired us all and encouraged us to open our hearts and minds to the techniques he found to be so powerful. Ultimately, he showed that by shifting your mindset, empowering yourself, and making better food choices, you’re covering all your bases to…

…stay healthy, live a long life, keep your family protected, and so much more.” –Hay House

 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dr-wayne-w-dyer-our-words-are-our-decree/id988177838?i=1000348409850

By |2020-03-10T14:15:41-07:00March 10th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Dr. Wayne Dyer on boosting your immune system in these challenging times….

Begin Again

Tap Dancing

by Erin Dunigan


I love the idea of ‘beginner’s mind’ – this idea that we should be open to the new, willing to be a learner, accepting of not knowing. The idea of Beginners mind, to me, is one of possibility – who knows where the path may lead? Who knows what new journey might be just around the corner?

I love the idea of beginners mind…in theory. In theory not knowing and being open and being willing to be a learner all sound like great ideas.

Until that is, you wind up in a leotard and tights as a grown adult in a children’s production of the Nutcracker.

Not long ago I decided that I wanted to take up a new hobby, a new practice in order to learn something new, get out of the comfort zone of my normal routine. They say the brain actually rewires itself when you learn something new. Rewiring my brain? Why not?

So, I decided to take up tap dancing when I found out a neighbor was teaching a class at the church in Santa Anita. In the beginning it seemed a bit less like brain rewiring and more like blowing a fuse, but I kept at it. I like the combination of hearing the sound that the tap shoes make as they contact the floor, as well as the movement that goes along with the sound. Slowly, week after week, my body and my brain began to get the hang of the steps, the movements, and remembering how they all go together. In fact, one day I found that instead of remembering the dance we were learning with my brain, it was actually my body that remembered. Success!! Beginners mind, conquered. I was ecstatic. I had learned something new!

And then came the real test – this new dance that had moved from my head to my body was to be performed. In public. As part of a children’s program of the Nutcracker in which ours was the only dance being performed entirely by adults. Immediately, the brain kicked back in. “It is one thing for children to look cute in a production of the Nutcracker and who cares if they forget the steps or aren’t in rhythm? And it is one thing for professionals to perform the production for a paying audience. But me, in a leotard and tights (a leotard with tassels and sequins no less!), hoping that both my brain and my body would remember the steps and not wind up falling on my face in front of the crowd…? Well, that’s an entirely different level of ‘being willing to be a learner.’

As the recital day neared, I began to think of any possible excuses I could use to get out of showing up. But, the thing is, there was also part of me that wanted to embrace the challenge of stepping so far out of my comfort zone, being willing to risk looking like I […]

By |2020-03-05T15:16:05-08:00March 5th, 2020|Articles|Comments Off on Begin Again

Take the Reins

by Erin Dunigan

It’s a saying, of course – but the thing is, it’s also true. Like so many sayings that have been separated from their original context, ‘Take the reins’ is not just a metaphor – it’s actually a ‘thing.’ It applies to horseback riding. It applies to life.

When people ask me what I ‘do’ I often have a hard time answering – at least in any kind of brief or simple way. One of the things I ‘do’ and that takes up much of my day, is around horses. Sometimes it is working with them, sometimes it is taking people on rides. (More info at http://www.horsesbyjose.com). I find that through it all, I am constantly learning – both in my horsemanship, as well as in life.

One such example happened recently. It was on a ride. One of the riders, let’s call him Jack, supposedly had quite a bit of riding experience and it was clear that he was comfortable around horses. But as we left the ranch and headed out onto the trails I saw that he was holding his reins not just loosely, but practically not at all. “Hey Jack,” I said, “you need to hold your reins a bit tighter, not so loose. Otherwise the horse doesn’t even know you are there.” As we rode along I noticed that he still had his hand way back on the reins – and that the horse was going where he wanted, and not necessarily in the direction we were headed. “Hey Jack,” I said again, “You really need to take the reins.” To which he responded that he knew that, but that he didn’t want to be mean to the horse, didn’t want to be so assertive.

It was like I was hit in the face, the realization, and the parallel to my own life came at me, smack!

The thing is, when you are riding a horse, taking the reins is not ‘mean’ – it is part of the deal. If you are going to ride, you must assert control – it is your job to ‘drive.’ The horse needs you to be the leader. Taking the reins does not mean you have to be a jerk or mean – it just means that you need to be assertive. What I realized with Jack is that he was confusing the two. He thought being directive, being assertive, was being aggressive, dominating. But one of the things that I love about working with horses, and riding them, is that it is an invitation to find a gentle strength, an assertive firm, but not domineering hand.

Isn’t it funny how it seems that things seem to appear just when we need to hear them, or learn them? Because what I saw clearly that day with Jack was my own tendency to associate being firm with being mean. And so, in an attempt to not be ‘mean’ I had essentially been riding my life with loose reins, letting it […]

By |2020-03-05T14:57:39-08:00March 5th, 2020|Articles|Comments Off on Take the Reins

Letting Go

by Erin Dunigan

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

I have to admit, I’ve got a love hate relationship with the idea of letting go.

Just last month I wrote an article for Baja News with the title of ‘Taking the Reins’ – about just that, taking the reins of your life, rather than just letting it lead where it will. I had realized that too often in life, in an attempt not to be ‘mean,’ I had held my reins loose – too loose. Reins are there for you to use – to steer, to stop, to decide in what direction to travel.

The thing is, I used to be more of a take the reins kind of person. And then I went to therapy. And learned about letting go. About balancing my over achiever self of doing with the self of being.

“I’m just letting go” I would say to myself. But I began to wonder, had I gotten it all wrong?

And then recently I had an aha moment.

On this particular day, leading a group of people horseback riding, this particular rider was trying to improve his skill. He had been riding a number of times, but he was still trying to get the feel of how to hold himself on the horse, how to balance his weight, how to feel centered and secure.

He was on a horse who is nice and smooth, dependable – the horse for first time riders, little kids, old people, or others who need a slow and gradual confidence building for their first time riding or for building their confidence. He wanted to try going faster. So, I explained to him how to hold himself, how to position himself in the saddle, how to signal that he wanted to go a bit faster, including giving a bit of a shout of a ‘yeehawww!’

I watched as he built up his courage, implemented the signals, including the yeehaw, and the horse began to respond – for about ten feet, and then slowed down. I watched as he repeated this again. And again. And then as he was doing it, I rode up beside him and saw it – with one hand on the reins, the other hand was firmly planted on the horn of the saddle, holding on for dear life. “If you want the horse to run, you’ve got to let go of the horn,” I yelled over.

And that was when, like a book end – the second realization hit me.

Letting go.

If you want the horse to run, you’ve got to let go.

That’s what it is! I almost yelled out loud, like a moment of epiphany with the clouds parting and the light coming down upon my newfound realization.

That is what letting go is all about – it is not about letting go of the reins, it is about letting go of the horn.

The reins are what give you direction – you need to keep […]

By |2020-03-05T14:47:16-08:00March 5th, 2020|Articles|Comments Off on Letting Go

New Book – Tao Te Ching

Tao Te ChingI am excited to announce that the Happiness Study Group will be starting our new book on March 17th, The Tao Te Ching. With some much-needed and appreciated guidance from our dear friend and scholar, Daniel Bisgaard, we will explore one of the most translated books in world literature. This twelfth selection is a bit of a departure, though most assuredly related to our continuing study of the Middle Way.

Authorship of the Tao Te Ching is credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi and the oldest excavated portion dates back to the late 4th century BC. The Tao Te Ching… is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism. It strongly influenced other schools of Chinese philosophy and religion, including LegalismConfucianism, and Buddhism. In its 81 verses it delivers a treatise on how to live in the world with goodness and integrity: an important kind of wisdom in a world where many people believe such a thing to be impossible.

The edition we have chosen is: Tao Te Ching: With Over 150 Photographs by Jane English Paperback – November 1, 2011 by Lao Tzu (Author), Gia-Fu Feng (Translator), Jane English (Translator), Toinette Lippe (Translator), with introduction by Jacob Needleman.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

“For nearly two generations, this bestselling translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have refreshed and revised the translation, so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, while taking into account changes in our own language and eliminating any lingering infelicities. This beautiful oversized edition features over a hundred new photographs by Jane English that help express the vast spirit of the Tao. Also included is an introduction by the well-known writer and scholar of philosophy and comparative religion, Jacob Needleman.

Lao Tsu’s philosophy is simple: Accept what is in front of you without wanting the situation to be other than it is. Study the natural order of things and work with it rather than against it, for to try to change what is only sets up resistance. Nature provides everything without requiring payment or thanks. It does so without discrimination. So let us present the same face to everyone and treat them all as equals, however they may behave. If we watch carefully, we will see that work proceeds more quickly and easily if we stop “trying,” if we stop putting in so much extra effort, if we stop looking for results. In the clarity of a still and open mind, truth will be reflected. Te—which may be translated as “virtue” or “strength”—lies always in Tao meaning “the way” or “natural law.” In other words: Simply be.”

The book is available from Amazon, ABE.com and other sellers. Other editions of the Feng and English translation are also suitable…particularly versions without photographs at lower prices.

Please contact Nadine if you would like to join the […]

By |2020-04-22T12:51:55-07:00February 28th, 2020|About Events, Happiness Study Group, Study|Comments Off on New Book – Tao Te Ching