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The Wishing Year: A House, a Man, My Soul - A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire

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The Wishing Year: A House, a Man, My Soul - A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire Cover

ISBN13: 9781400064854
ISBN10: 1400064856
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. The Wishing Years point of departure is “an–almost–equal mix of hope and skepticism” about wishing. Where would you place yourself on this spectrum? Do you start off with a strong belief in the power of wishing, with strong doubts, or somewhere in between?

2. The author describes herself as being a “wish snob.” She writes, “Its not that I mean to be. Its that somehow I grew up with a powerful wish hierarchy in place.” What about you? Would you describe yourself as “a wish-snob”? For example, would it be easy for you to announce to a throng of people that you were wishing for things as disparate as “world peace” and “new kitchen cabinets”? Why or why not?

3. In regard to her own attitudes about wishing, the author traces their origins to her basic temperament, her Jewish-Catholic childhood, and her longtime interest in the study and practice of Buddhism. What about you? In regard to your attitudes about wishing, what do you feel have been the major formative influences?

4. From classic fairy tales to contemporary films, the theme of wishing abounds in stories for children. When you were a child, what stories about wishing were most vivid for you? Why do you think those particular stories made such an impression on you?

5. From time immemorial, a great many superstitions have swirled around the act of wishing. What about you–do you have any superstitions about daring to wish for what you want? If so, what are they, and why do you think you adhere to them?

6. An underlying theme of The Wishing Year is the relationship between wishing and suffering. The author describes herself as being, in spite of herself, attached to suffering. (In the “April” chapter, she describes her revelation, upon rereading Viktor Frankls Mans Search for Meaning, that she had remembered only one of Frankls two descriptions of coming upon a field of flowers after being released from a concentration camp–the one in which he was numb to their beauty, rather than the one in which he fell to his knees in awe.) What about you? Do you feel that you are in any way attached to suffering?If so, how does this attachment affect your attitude toward wishing? Does it make you afraid to wish for what you want? Do you have the deep belief that you have to suffer for what you want?

7. Whether they refer to it as God, the Universe, the Source, or whatever, many people believe that there is some sort of transcendent power out there that is ready, willing, and eager to exert itself on our behalf, if only we would let it. What do you think about this? Is it something about which you feel deeply skeptical, full of hope, or somewhere in between?

8. When it comes to seeking romantic love, what do you believe is the right combination of wishing, waiting, and working to make something happen? Are you a classic romantic, who thinks that love descends upon us from out of the blue? Or do you believe a more active approach is needed? Whatever your stance, how did you come by it? How has it played itself out in your life?

9. Over thousands of years of human existence, there is probably nothing that has been most urgently, intensely wished for than the desire to be cured of illness and restored to health. What do you think about this very complex–and, in our era, very controversial–issue? Do you think that wishing has a place in healing? When you read (in the “October” chapter) about the authors friend George, who refused medical treatment and entrusted himself entirely to mind over matter, what thoughts come to mind? Do you see any value in his approach, or do you believe that he was simply deluded?

10. The Secret has been an immensely powerful DVD and book, inspiring millions of people around the world to believe in and practice “the law of attraction.” In the “September” chapter of The Wishing Year, the author herself becomes an initiate and finds that shes both encouraged and repelled by the “focus and ye shall have it” attitude. What are your feelings about The Secret? Are you a 100 percent believer, or do you have some reservations about it? Why?

11. Is there anything that you have ever intensely wished for in your life? If so, what was it, and was there any method to your wishing? What was the outcome for you? Have you ever tried to make a wish come true for someone else? If so, what was the outcome? Is there something you are wishing for now–for yourself, for someone close to you, or for the wider world?

12. Carole Watanabe, whom the author describes as “the Queen of Putting It Out There,” is a great believer in making a tangible thing–in the form of a three-dimensional shrine–as a first step toward actualizing ones desires. Have you ever made a shrine? Would you like to make one? If so, what would it look like, and why?

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Teresa Lowe, July 13, 2008 (view all comments by Teresa Lowe)
I loved The Wishing Year! I found it a beautifully written exploration of wishing for your heart’s desire, shining with intelligence and gentle humor. In this wonderful book, Noelle Oxenhandler leads readers on an engaging and enlightening journey through her yearlong experiment with wishing. Oxenhandler is not one to easily embrace New Age ideas or magical thinking, and wishing does not come naturally to her. In order to begin making shrines and sending messages to the universe about what she most wants in her life, Oxenhandler must confront what she calls her “skeptical bent and…tilt toward a certain pessimistic melancholy,” along with a Jewish-Catholic upbringing and many years as a practicing Buddhist. But as she begins her first tentative steps toward manifesting three deep desires — to buy a house of her own, to find a man to love, and to gain spiritual healing — and the universe starts sending pieces of those desires her way, she is hooked.

Oxenhandler is remarkably well read, and she gracefully weaves myth, religion, anthropology, and psychology into the story of her own experiences. Equally at home with Zen Buddhist principles, the philosophy of magic, and the archetypal meaning of Aunt Jemima, Oxenhandler draws readers along on an inner and outer voyage whose landscape includes her own resistance and bouts of despair, the hot springs of Northern California, and healing encounters in Hawaii, Mexico and France.

I found Oxenhandler’s writing beautifully lyrical, filled with passages of luminous intelligence and moments of impish humor. Her story made me think about my own travels away from skepticism, which began 22 years ago when I left the East Coast — where I’d spent many years studying philosophy in Ivy League universities — to settle in Northern California, where the world seemed so much wider and filled with so many more possibilities than I’d previously imagined. After finishing Oxenhandler’s book, though, I can tell I haven’t ranged far enough. I think I may need to go out and buy some joint compound and balsa wood, to start building a few shrines of my own!

One caveat: I suspect that some readers may wish for a deeper level of personal revelation, may want to know the gory details behind crises that Oxenhandler refers to almost in passing — the ending of her marriage or the collapse of her spiritual community that bring the author to the book’s jumping off point. On my reading, the book is not about what about brought her there, but about the journey she makes from that point on. The story begins when Oxenhandler becomes ready to suspend disbelief and give herself over to the project of wishing for her heart’s desire. And that is where the gifts of this lovely book lie — in the story of how your life can change, once you let yourself believe that just maybe, wishing can make it so.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400064854
Subtitle:
A House, a Man, My Soul A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire
Author:
Oxenhandler, Noelle
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Success
Subject:
Desire
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Buddhism - General
Subject:
Success -- Psychological aspects.
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Updated and REV
Publication Date:
20080708
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.34x5.86x1.11 in. .89 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Biography
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Memoirs

The Wishing Year: A House, a Man, My Soul - A Memoir of Fulfilled Desire Used Hardcover
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$7.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Random House - English 9781400064854 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The year she turned 50, Oxenhandler (The Eros of Parenthood) deeply longed for three things: a house, a man and spiritual healing. This memoir tells of her 12-month attempt to fulfill these longings while reflecting on 'the quintessentially human act of wishing,' with all its power and pitfalls. She goes house hunting, visits places of spiritual sanctuary and nurtures a new relationship — all while struggling to overcome her tendency to be a 'terrible wish snob' who balks at the notion of voicing worldly and altruistic wishes together in the same breath, of mixing the profane and the divine more generally. She considers wishing in its broader contexts: mythology, American history, folktales, theology, superstition, philosophy, New Age and psychology. Her philosophy/religious-studies education, guilt-prone sensibility (she's half-Jewish and was raised Catholic) and 30-year history as a practicing Buddhist complicate her careful study and make for a smart read. Oxenhandler does little to resolve or even fully explore the crises that set her on her quest (seven years earlier, an affair ended her marriage as well as her place in her spiritual community), and her pat conclusions hardly match the strength of the work as a whole. Nonetheless, readers will enjoy watching Oxenhandler realize her dreams through diligence, hard work and a 'willing suspension of disbelief' in the captivating magic of wishing. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , One New Year's Day, Noelle Oxenhandler took stock of her life and found that she was alone after a long marriage, seemingly doomed to perpetual house rental and separated from the spiritual community that once had sustained her. With little left to lose, she launched a year's experiment in desire, forcing herself to take the plunge and try the path of Putting It Out There. It wasn't easy. A skeptic at heart, and a practicing Buddhist as well, Oxenhandler had grown up with a strong aversion to mixing spiritual and earthly matters. Still, she suspended her doubts and went for it all: a new love, a healed soul, and the 2RBD/1.5 BA of her dreams. Thus began her initiation into the art of wishing brazenly.

In this charming, compelling, and ultimately joyful book, Oxenhandler records a journey that is at once comic and poignant, light and dark, earthy and spiritual. Along the way she wonders: Does wishing have power? Is there danger in wishing? Are some wishes more worthy than others? And what about the ancient link between suffering and desire? To answer her questions, she delves into the history of wishing, from the rain dance and deer song of primeval magic to modern beliefs about mind over matter, prosperity consciousness, and the law of attraction.

As the months go by, Oxenhandler is humbled to discover the courage it takes to make a wish and thus open oneself to the unknown. She is surprised when her experiment expands to include other people and other places in ways she never imagined. But most of all, she is amazed to find that there is, indeed, both power and danger in the act of wishing. For soon her wishes begin to come true-in ways that meet, subvert, and overflow her expectations. And what started as a year's dare turns into a way of life.

A delightfully candid memoir, unfettered, poetic, and ripe with discovery, Oxenhandler's journey into the art and soul of wishing will inspire even the most skeptical reader to search the skies for the next shooting star.

Praise for THE WISHING YEAR

This is a wonderful book, full of wisdom gleaned from a year of Noelle Oxenhandler's daring to embrace what she had previously denied herself--her own personal wishes. I highly recommend The Wishing Year for anyone wanting to learn more about what life has to offer when we pay attention to our heart's desires.

-Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big Life

Do you want to know how wishes come true? Then read The Wishing Year. It's a book that beautifully illuminates the art and mystery of wishing--and it does so in a way that is inspiring, funny, serious, honest, heartfelt, and irresistibly readable.

-Jack Kornfield, author of After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

The Wishing Year is an elegant exploration of the way thought shapes reality. Writing with great personal honesty and candor, Noelle Oxenhandler's exhilarating prose takes us deep into the pain and glory of being human.

-Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Open to Desire

Oxenhandler's new book makes it okay to be a smart, sophisticated grow-up who also believes in magic. She dives beneath the new age veneer and deconstructs how wishes really come true. -Susan Piver, author of How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life

"Synopsis" by , One New Year’s Day, Noelle Oxenhandler took stock of her life and found that she was alone after a long marriage, seemingly doomed to perpetual house rental and separated from the spiritual community that once had sustained her. With little left to lose, she launched a year’s experiment in desire, forcing herself to take the plunge and try the path of Putting It Out There. It wasn’t easy. A skeptic at heart, and a practicing Buddhist as well, Oxenhandler had grown up with a strong aversion to mixing spiritual and earthly matters. Still, she suspended her doubts and went for it all: a new love, a healed soul, and the 2RBD/1.5 BA of her dreams. Thus began her initiation into the art of wishing brazenly.

In this charming, compelling, and ultimately joyful book, Oxenhandler records a journey that is at once comic and poignant, light and dark, earthy and spiritual. Along the way she wonders: Does wishing have power? Is there danger in wishing? Are some wishes more worthy than others? And what about the ancient link between suffering and desire? To answer her questions, she delves into the history of wishing, from the rain dance and deer song of primeval magic to modern beliefs about mind over matter, prosperity consciousness, and the law of attraction.

As the months go by, Oxenhandler is humbled to discover the courage it takes to make a wish and thus open oneself to the unknown. She is surprised when her experiment expands to include other people and other places in ways she never imagined. But most of all, she is amazed to find that there is, indeed, both power and danger in the act of wishing. For soon her wishes begin to come true–in ways that meet, subvert, and overflow her expectations. And what started as a year’s dare turns into a way of life.

A delightfully candid memoir, unfettered, poetic, and ripe with discovery, Oxenhandler’s journey into the art and soul of wishing will inspire even the most skeptical reader to search the skies for the next shooting star.

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