Category Archives: book review

The Superman Years: A Book Review

 

Artwork for book by Kathryn Adler

Artwork for book by Kathryn Adler

A toddler wearing a Superman cape pinned to his T-shirt walks ahead of me beside his mother down the lake road. The mother stoops to hear his running commentary. He marches proudly like Winnie the Pooh’s Christopher Robin, master of a universe provided by that mother. I wonder; is he healthy? Will he be happy? For how long will that mother’s heart be unbroken? An unseen observer, I feel an unspoken prayer that they can hold this moment for eternity.

 

I’m reminded of another mother whose son donned Superman’s protective cape as a toddler before anyone consciously realized he’d need all the protection heaven and earth could offer.

ty_at_age_of_diagnosis Linda B. book

Author Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares the experience of raising a child with Type I diabetes in a nakedly honest, deeply personal account titled The Superman Years. It begins with a dream.

 

I have studied dreams – my own and others – in my work in psychology for many years now, so it was not unusual for me to write down and reflect on the dream I had early in April 2000. In it, I took my diaper-clad son to a clinic, where a doctor told us “we” had diabetes. That was the end of the dream.”

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

 

In an equally concise and comprehensive one hundred and thirty- four double spaced pages Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares her ordeal of dealing with a child stricken with Type I diabetes. This is the extended hand of a woman who was sanctified by fear to find faith, unfamiliar strength and renewed purpose.

 

I began the book in the wee hours of dawn expecting it to put me back to sleep but I did not close it once until the last word was read. As I reluctantly turned the last page I realized that the author had somehow written a sweeping history though it involved just a few pivotal years in a family’s life whose drama centered round its youngest member. The book is a revelation of the terror and impossible exhaustion of raising a dangerously vulnerable child and the effect that has on the family. It is also a beacon of hope to any of us who are responsible for someone we love.

 

artwork by Kathryn Adler

artwork by Kathryn Adler

Here is a story of love; of the fragility of the family web, the challenges and victory of marital commitment under stress. She introduces the politics of medicine and educates the reader on the nature and specifics of diabetes. She describes instances of “the places that science cannot explain”; of communication in coma, of physical renewal through imagination and the potential of both waking and sleeping visions in a world apart from modern medicine. She introduces the perception of animals to loved ones. She describes how she found self- compassion and equanimity in crisis through yoga.

 

Isolation, fear, loss of power can become a prison that separates the inmate from light and love and faith. For a parent with an at risk child these are the elements of a living nightmare. In The Superman Years, Buzogany navigates her nightmare with selfless insight and unruffled compassion.

 

The book is divided into six chapters titled: Dreams, Coma, Powerlessness, Sleep Deprivation, Imagination, Seizure and Vision. Within these Buzogany relays intimate accounts of a life as it is unraveling in real time. Buzogany who is a psycho-therapist herself does not leave the reader depressed by a story of sorrow but buoyed up as by her example it is clear; we can help ourselves and we can help our loved ones despite sleep deprivation, spiritual exhaustion and insurmountable odds. Her account is a cool comforting hand on a furrowed brow.

 

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Whether you are looking for support and information as a caregiver or parent or you simply wish to read an engrossing autobiography, I cannot recommend this book enough. The covers are worn from reading and rereading and it has an honored place on the shelf where I keep my favorite books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under book review, family, Healing, meditation, yoga, yoga practice, yoga therapy

YOGA PH.D. – A Review

 Critical Thinking is Critical to Spiritual Pursuit

Cover photo Yoga Ph.D.

Carol Horton; doctor of philosophy, social scientist, research consultant and academic is no stranger to critical thinking.

But she was an innocent and cerebral guest in her own body until she brought that body to yoga class intent on adding something new to her fitness regime. What ensued was an enthusiastic quest for uncovering the history, the mystery and the totality of yoga. When an inquisitive scholar scrutinizes a mystery it is bound to be more than a superficial embrace. As superficiality is contradictory to yoga, it does not seem incongruous to me that an intellectual found herself absorbed in every aspect of the enigmatic phenomenon called yoga. However Yoga Ph.D. begins with the premise that this was an unlikely or at least unexpected coupling. As complex a subject as yoga and its effect is, perhaps the irony is not that an academic embraces yoga but that anyone with less than an intellectual interest is willing to pursue it at all.

 

In a mere 150 pages, 8 short chapters and three sections; Historical Reflections, Personal Reflections and Sociological Reflections, the author manages to paint a comprehensive and succinct picture of the history of yoga, offer a well told tale of an accidental pilgrimage into a mysterious practice, and contribute to the notion that there are no longer yoga people but people who do yoga and these people have created a definition of what modern yoga is.

 

I met Carol Horton through her blogging where I was often the commentator responding with apocalyptic and jaded observations; yeah people are weird, so what. But she is the rare bird who is not rattled but buoyed by a challenge.

Her cool demeanor and ability to take on any controversy without vitriol is unusual. It is not surprising that what may appear to be just another yoga book amongst many is not. It is social commentary, history, politics and America in the context of an autobiography that is meticulously documented and informs with remarkable clarity as she organizes her thoughts for the reader’s greatest benefit. Horton plumbs the depths of the subject of yoga with an objective and calm approach while revealing her own journey with a dispassionate tone that will resonate with a wide audience.

 

I read the book as a galley before it went to press. Carol published the compilation 21st Century Yoga first and by the time I’d read and reviewed that I was a bit weary of the yoga discussion in general and took a break from thinking about yoga except where it was me doing it or teaching it. When Ph.D. was later published I set out to read it again for the sake of a review but life got in the way and it sits on a great stack of deliciously anticipated reading by my bed. It has occurred to me that a book reviewed long after it has been read is a brilliant idea. After all, when it comes to a scholastic work (which I consider this to be) it’s not in the reading but the retention that one fully comprehends the meaning of the written word.

 

The take away from Yoga Ph.D. is this: Here is a concise and tidy history of modern yoga. Beyond that is a well told tale of a person who finds another dimension to herself. Finally and perhaps most relevant is that this is a book that opens a discussion of modern yoga and the humanity that embraces it.

Where some embrace the popular notion of the poet Rumi that there is a field beyond right and wrong where we should meet, this author believes that yoga has the potential to, if not level, then even the playing field.

 

 

In the last few decades it is common for what once seemed unlikely candidates to become yoga enthusiasts Where yoga was once a pursuit of the fringe, eccentrics and earnest young rebels it is now the exercise program of choice for countless professionals; CEOs, doctors, lawyers, engineers as well as the playground for people from all walks of life, all manner of profession. Many great and curious minds have been blown by body/mind experiences that expose previously conceived concrete reality as no longer absolute.

 

What makes Horton’s experience singular is that she wrote about it, gave it context, history, and a long view that includes the implications of how society affects and alters the things it claims as its own. A study of modern yoga reveals that who does yoga eventually will define what yoga is. An individual stamps and creates the practice once the practice has left its mark. With Yoga Ph.D., Carol Horton leaves her mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under American culture, book review, social commentary, yoga, yoga and blogging, yoga and politics, yoga practice, yoga teaching