I met with my therapist today. Every once in a while, she says something that really rubs me the wrong way. Today, she pointed out that the program for the particular book I’m reading (“Dare” – a program to help alleviate panic attacks & anxiety) is not working. I disagree as I felt it has helped me immensely, but it’s not going to be an overnight change. It’s a process. It irritated me that she’d put such thoughts into my head because I’m vulnerable to being influenced, especially by negative thoughts, and I definitely felt like “it’s not working” is a negative thought. One I didn’t even have to begin with but it felt like she was planting this idea into my head. I have PLENTY of other negative thoughts without her adding to the pile. Well, I defended the program and asserted myself because I didn’t want to give into this idea or allow it to even remain as a possibility. I want to remain strong in my faith that it is working, because frankly, it IS working! Her intention was to simply say that there are other pieces she feel are missing from the program, such as loving kindness meditation / practicing compassion, that I should be doing as well. She hasn’t even read the Dare book, so she wouldn’t know whether there are elements of loving kindness or practicing compassion within the program. It’s an assumption she’s making. It bothers me that I’d need to teach my own therapist about how to not make assumptions. It comes off as judgmental, and it reads to me that unless she’s the one discovering the particular program/practice, she doesn’t fully believe in it or feel it is complete/whole. After reading most of the book myself, I realize there is SO much information, that I’d need to read it a few more times to really implement all the ideas in the book, so honestly, I can’t even remember if this is a part of the program, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I went back and after reading it again, discovered a chapter that focuses on compassion for self and others. It’s probably just labeled or presented in a different way. She is really focused on yoga and meditation and always seems to want to attach to the way the yoga community presents things instead of being able to see the same idea presented in many different ways as the same idea. It strikes me as closed-minded. Not an energy I want during my journey to healing. I’m glad today was our last session and that I’ll be starting a new program next week with a CBT group. I look forward to moving past individual therapy and start seeing this from a more communal perspective. I think this format will especially help me see things from a more compassionate viewpoint.
My spirituality isn’t something I’ve considered in a long time. Sure, I do yoga, I meditate, but what do I see? What do I really see? This situation has brought up something deep inside me – a quest. A quest for something bigger than me, bigger than this world, this solar system, this physical universe…a God, a spirit, something watching over all of us. Something that has a purpose for the world, for me, and for every individual. Spirituality, now that I think of it, is so closely connected to a life’s purpose. How could I separate the two?
So what’s my purpose? A therapist? An organizational development director? A yogi? A chef? A yogi chef therapist? When I met Jay, my mind was so focused on releasing sexual energy, feeling female again, wanting that cougar high. To feel sexy again, to feel like a strong powerful sexy woman in charge, GOD, I wanted that. I knew I had it in me and it just needed a strong target. I felt I found one. God provided me a sexual outlet in Besnik and for that I am so grateful and when I really take a minute to step back and think about it, it’s so shocking it has worked out in such a balanced, respectful way.
But I digress. He appeared on a normal day in my life. A day I was simply doing me. Toastmasters, helping out some fellow friends, giving a speech on exposure therapy. He caught my eye. My blood pressure, my heart rate increased. My instincts kicked in and I knew what I wanted. Stay cool, I told myself, but just be you. He gets my email and I’m thinking about him for weeks, wondering if he’ll appear in my inbox, or my club. I go back to Humorous, wondering if I’ll see him there. Time passes and I forget. Suddenly during a mundane everyday moment, i see him on the subway and I’m stuck…staring, trying to decide in the moment what to do. My heart is racing. I look awful today! Why?! He gets up and stands next to me and I can’t escape. I say hello. Small talk quickly moves to medium talk but man, I’m awkward. I’m babbling. He writes me and I’m so excited to hear from him. I expect to see him again over the next couple of weeks but he doesn’t appear. I muster some strength and write to him, I’m asking him out in disguise. “I want to hear your story.” I do, though. I get excited and he cancels last minute. I’m disappointed but I get over it. Wasn’t meant to be. Now this. This overpouring of deep experiences, spiritual enlightenment, deep stuff. My head is spinning. I’m feeling so pensive. Sleep is the only way out. G’nite, blog.
- Did you like the way R.J. Palacio told the story from alternating viewpoints? Why or why not? I appreciated being able to ready about August’s world from different viewpoints, but actually would have preferred more viewpoints, especially from some of the important adults in August’s life, like his Mom & Dad, Mr. Tushman, and even Julian’s mother. The alternating viewpoints seem to create a more complete picture and allow the reader to more easily understand all the characters instead of just August. One aspect that I particularly liked, especially since it struck me as quite realistic, is that Jack Will was so against the idea of being August’s “buddy” in the beginning, but slowly came around and eventually ended up becoming August’s best friend. I can relate to this – there are so many things in life that happen this way. As a child, I was a remedial math student…then in college I excelled in the subject and by college, it was my primary field of study. The most difficult experiences in life end up being the opportunities where we grow and learn the most; where we truly get the most out of life.
- What parts of the story made you particularly sad? I remember being so sad for August when he cried and said to his mother, “why do I have to look like this?” It highlighted how powerless he felt over the significant challenge he deals with every day. Particularly being so young and impressionable, I felt so sad for him. Being that age is difficult enough – kids are especially mean! Any child that has to deal with an additional challenge like August did must have to grow up quicker than others. The bright side is that kids with challenges like his probably appreciate the truly important things in life at an earlier age and have more meaningful relationships because people have to truly fight for the friendship, in the face of adversity. I appreciated the idea that the author brought up a couple times about how even though some people are dealt a difficult hand, the world has a way of providing strength and support for those people – in August’s case, in the form of support and friendship from so many people in his life, even some of the most unexpected people. Another part that was particularly sad was when August overheard Jack saying he was only hanging out with August because Mr. Tushman told him to. I felt the hurt that August must have felt when one of the few people he trusted the most seemed to betray him. I am not surprised that August took it so hard – I probably would have taken it harder than he did!
- What parts of the story were funny or made you laugh? I loved when August would make fun of himself! It showed a healthy confidence, despite his condition.
- Which characters did you relate to? What kind of middle schooler were you? How are you now? I related to Summer because I remember befriending a girl at a young age who I saw a lot of people ostracize, but that was earlier than middle school, probably closer to 4th or 5th grade. In middle school, I had soul-crushing crushes on boys that were just out of my reach because I wasn’t quite cool enough. I probably journaled a lot, spent a lot of time thinking about band, and always did my math homework first. I wanted desperately to be cool but I knew where to draw the line, which was miles from the line that made you cool. I loved playing piano – those moments alone, practicing and being creative, where probably some of my most peaceful moments. I’m sure I cried a lot – I was a sensitive kid.
- If you have kids, did you find yourself feeling parental feelings toward Auggie — anger toward other kids, a sadness that he couldn’t be protected, etc. Which passages evoked the most parental emotions from you?(Example: when Auggie and his mom come home from meeting Jack, Julian and Charlotte before school starts, Auggie tells his mom that Julian said “What’s the deal with your face?” He says, “Mom didn’t say anything. When I looked up at her, I could tell she was completely shocked” (34). Even though I’m not a parent, I did relate to August’s mom a lot and would understand feeling a lot of the same feelings she did – appreciation for such an amazing kid, worry, feeling the need to protect him and scared that that couldn’t always be done, and a feeling that an abundance of love is the prescription for a kid with medical challenge to grow a healthy confidence in himself.
- Which passages reminded you of your own youth? I related to Via feeling like she was second in line after August, but for different reasons. I wanted her parents to see how she felt next to August but happy that she got her chance in the spotlight at the play. As a kid, I often felt that my brother’s opinions and sense of humor were so prized and glorified but my personality traits (admittedly not as entertaining) were not often recognized or held in as high esteem as my brother’s were. I related to Via’s justification – how she realized that August needed more attention, so she accepted it and tried not to allow it to affect her that she was not given the same attention from her parents as he was. My justification was always that my brother simply had more entertaining talents – he was always smarter, funnier – so it was natural that he received more attention, especially at the dinner table.
- All year the students learn “Mr. Browne’s Precepts” and then write their own over the summer. What did you think of these? Do you have your own? I LOVED August’s precept! And Amos’ too. I loved the quote that Mr. Tushman said during the commencement speech about we should all make it a new life rule to be kinder than is necessary. If I had to choose a precept, that would definitely be it.
- Did you think it was realistic that Amos, Miles and Henry would defend Auggie against the bullies from another school? Not entirely, but I think there are stories like this out there. Sometimes exceptional children like August will breed an exception circumstance and kids surprise others and probably even themselves. I’d love to think this happens often, but I know it doesn’t. I guess that’s why it’s such a special, heart-warming story – it doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it’s really amazing and touching…and I think it makes us realize how infrequently things like this happen and how sad that is.
- Did you like the ending? Yes, I cried a little when he got the standing ovation and then I had a big smile on my face when his mom called him a wonder. So simple but beautiful.
- Rate Wonder on a scale of 1 to 5. I would give this book a 4. Unique, heart-warming story. Above average.
I am a sugaraholic. There, I said it. Hi, my name is Christina and I’m a sugaraholic. Sometimes, when I’m watching Intervention or Drugs Inc, I can relate to someone on the show because of my sugar addiction. The only difference is that I’m spoiled by easy access. I can have sugar any time with no societal consequences. I don’t have to be clever, I probably won’t lose my job because of it, and I don’t need a lot of money to acquire sugary foods. Although it might not be the wisest choice (the secret to growth lies in our biggest challenges), I could never willingly give up tasting sweetness.
Sour, umami, spicy and salty are flavors I do occasionally crave but bitterness never seems to occur to my tongue as a flavor I need or want. I’m sure bitterness would be missed, but not quite like the others. So bitterness, I’m sorry to see you go, but you just don’t stand a chance against the others…especially not my dear sweet sugar.
It’s time to revisit the ol’ bookshelf. What would I reread? Siddhartha. Little me liked this book. Big me (now) will truly understand the journey Siddhartha endured. I imagine it will offer some new insights that I overlooked as a child, probably because they were irrelevant at the time. Now, in my 30s, I have a deeper sense of what I want in life, what kind of enlightenment and meaning I’m looking for in my life. I’m glad this book had an impact on me because it led me to keep a copy around, which reminded me that at some point, I want to pick it up again; devour it all over again, from a new perspective. I think deep down I must’ve known that it was going to be an important book for me to read as an adult. Thanks, little me.