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The Velveteen Rabbit
The Velveteen Collection
The Velveteen Principles Gift Set
The Velveteen Rabbit Gift Set
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If I were a daring comedian assigned to address an audience of psychology students about the Humanist-Existential approach to psychotherapy, I would create an ironic of Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning and Toni Raiten-D'Antonio's The Velveteen Principles--A Guide to Becoming Real. At first the juxtaposition of a stuffed rabbit suddenly thrust into a child's nursery full of other captive toys and a highly educated psychiatrist thrust suddenly into a concentration camp in World War II seems cruelly absurd. Yet Dr. Frankl and the Velveteen Rabbit--given voice by Ms. Raiten-D'Antonio--pose similar basic rules for living the life of a human being: each of us must take responsibility for who we are; each of us is as unique as our fingerprints; each of us may choose to give meaning to life through empathy, even if for ourselves; and each of us may face great, perhaps inevitable, suffering, though we have the opportunity to use it as the route to the discovery of our real selves. Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow might provide less startling, but no less apt, comparisons.
The Velveteen Rabbit is Margery Williams' clever and aphoristic nursery story about a toy stuffed rabbit who was suddenly thrust into a world populated by an apparently well-to-do child's numerous and varied toys. In the 1920's world of material excess, this book provided popular appeal as it discouraged getting too tied up in a mechanistic, mass produced world and favored instead using one's unique life experiences to discover the treasure of individuality, meaning and purpose. The Velveteen Rabbit, at great risk to himself, helps the boy endure scarlet fever and discover the value of his life, but is then ordered thrown onto the trash pile by a germophobic physician (the Humanists never have liked technology much!). Just as he is to be consumed by flames, he discovers he is real, and makes a choice to live.
Toni Raiten-D'Antonio is a psychotherapist. She uses a delightful combination of her own life experiences and the hidden lessons contained in Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit to present the reader with twelve simple rules that can be used to negotiate one's way through the "United States of Generica," and "Become real" in the process. It sounds simple enough, and actually it is, but it requires those who want to take the journey to do some painful, such as to turn away from object oriented culture and to rejoice in the hidden value that life's suffering presents.
I recently thought of this book when a friend of mine told me of a friend of hers who had recently ended her life by jumping off a fifth floor balcony. She said, "We all noticed about her that when no one was looking her face always looked so sad, but when she caught someone looking, she immediately began smiling, a big, broad, smile." This poor soul had lost track of her real self and was presenting another face for those around her. I wonder if this friendly little book would have made a difference.
Reviwer Richard Morse
Book/Mark, Spring 2005
There was a very nice article by Bob Haynes about The Velveteen Principles published in the Benton Daily Record June 13, 2005. The article was called "Fables and Faith : Hidden wisdom from ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ storybook". Click here to read the artilce online.
Toni is quoted extensively in an article entitled "Be Your Own Woman", which appears in the March 2005 edition of Ladies Home Journal. Click here to read the article online.
"Good advice guru Toni Raiten-D'Antonio, CSW, author of The Velveteen Principles: A Guide to Becoming Real. When she gave up a career in television to become a psychotherapist while in her 20's, her co-workers thought she was making a mistake. Turns out, she's happier than ever! Self-help breakthrough: Stop Worrying About Failing!
According to Raiten-D'Antonio, following your dreams--not actually fulfilling them--is the real secret to certain bliss! "Many of us mistakenly never get started on what we really want to do, whether it's starting a new relationship, a diet and exercise plan or simply taking a tennis class, because we're worried we'll be unhappy if it doesn't work out," she says. "But that's just not true!" Research shows that it's the people who take a risk and go out on a limb to try to make their dreams come true--succeeding isn't even necessary--who are the happiest and most satisfied with their lives.
-Women's World March 15, 2005
... a surprisingly good exploration of how meaning and principles can guide one's life and work. Psychotherapist Raiten-D'Antonio bases her explorations on the wisdom of Margery Williams's classic The Velveteen Rabbit. The author encourages readers to "become Real" like the rabbit and the skin horse by rejecting the superficiality and surface beauty so prevalent in the "Generic State of America." Her work as a therapist informs and deepens her comprehension that becoming Real is the "purpose of every kind of psychotherapy." ...
Like The Tao of Pooh and The Gospel According to Peanuts , Toni Raiten-D'Antonio's new book, The Velveteen Principles draws on well-known children's literature for inspiration. The author skewers the prevalent worldview that equates wealth, beauty, public acclaim, power and popularity with happiness. True happiness, she says, only comes from being "Real," and "Real" rarely means conforming to the standards of the "United States of Generica." Instead Raiten-D'Antonio extracts 12 principles for becoming real from the charming children's classic, The Velveteen Rabbit . It begins with realizing that "Real is Possible," confesses that "Real Can Be Painful," and defines "Real" as Generous, Grateful, Flexible and Ethical. "Real," she insists, is "a life well-lived, where we are true to ourselves," and "all the struggles and challenges only make us more Real."
-BookPage, December 2004
Raiten-D'Antonio has an intriguing premise that sets her tome apart from others in the self-help genre. Modern life, with its botox parties, reality shows, excessive commercialism and other substitutes for authentic human experience, has caused us to forget how to be "real." Drawing upon the story of the toy rabbit who longed to become real, the author, a professor of clinical social work at Empire State College in New York, hopes to teach how to end the quest for empty status and instant gratification.
- Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, December 5, 2004
When "The Velveteen Rabbit" was first published, it became an instant and enduringly popular children's classic primer on how to face and accept self even a tattered self in comparison with others. Toni Raiten-D'Antonio's The Velveteen Principles: A Guide to Becoming Real Hidden Wisdom from a Children's Classic goes a step further, using the story as a foundation for a self-help primer discussing superficial and inner beauty differences, and how to become more involved in a life well lived. Individual chapters insightfully discuss everything from real courage to developing emotional sensitivity and finding meaning in life.
- Midwest Book Review, February 2005
Move over Pooh Bear, a new children's book takes centrestage for grown-up wisdom. The Velveteen Principles by Toni Raiten-D'Antonio offers a guide to becoming 'real', which the author says, is what happens 'when you become your true self - not a contrived, shiny, pretend thing'. Drawing from Margery Williams' classic kiddie tale about a Velveteen Rabbit that is loved, abandoned and eventually transformed, the update is a gentle affirmation of humanistic values over the market economy's instant gratification. ...
-Bradenton Herald, February 2005
When I was in college, way back in the late 60s, a popular book being passed around was The Velveteen Rabbit. Yes, it is a children's book and yes, I said I was in college. Deep within this simple, classic story of a well loved stuffed rabbit is hidden many basic life truths. It was and is a guide to becoming real, and I absolutely loved this book. As a young woman struggling "to find myself" I found the answers to life's important questions within, or so I felt.
Many years have passed and I came across this recent book put out for adults, called The Velveteen Principles. Well, having still held on to my worn copy of The Velveteen Rabbit, I was naturally curious. I always knew that there was great wisdom deep inside the story of this nursery toy, and this book sheds some light on the underlying truths within the Velveteen Rabbit--truths that can always bear repeating.
For those unfortunate readers who never got a chance to read The Velveteen Rabbit, first published in 1922, the basic story follows the Rabbit as he becomes real. Similar to Pinocchio who wanted to be a real boy, the rabbit wished he fit in with his peers and wanted nothing more than to be special to the boy who owned him. This book delves into the bottom line of the human heart and how each of us only yearns for the same basic things. We too wish for nothing more in life than to be real, to fit in with our peers, and to be loved unconditionally for our true selves by someone else. Everything basically boils down to those innate needs and desires.
The writer, a psychotherapist and a teacher, also brings her own wisdom as a mother and a woman to the principles discussed. She offers up the thought that "becoming Real is the purpose of every kind of psychotherapy. It is living in the moment with the deepest respect for yourself and for others." But, as we know, being truly real is easier said than done. The author tries to gently remind you of the importance of discovering and claiming one’s sense of real. In our rushed, overworked and overloaded lifestyles, we often lose our sense of self and the book tries to gently nudge you back on the original path you might have strayed off from. A great many people lose track of their true talents, desires, and passions and need a wake up call as a reminder. Our society tends to value things like houses, cars, and large salaries, more than it values core behaviors like honesty, sincerity, and kindness.
In Margery Williams's story, the Skin Horse is the shabbiest but the wisest stuffed animal in the nursery. He is so worn from being so loved. Yet the Rabbit recognizes that, though the Skin Horse’s hair has been hugged off, he is innately the happiest toy, and the Rabbit too wants to be that content and happy.
There are twelve Velveteen Principles outlined in this book, guiding the reader back to his true self. Hopefully, they will resonate with you and remind you of not only a favorite childhood story, but your original hopes and dreams when you were first reading it. For those who enjoy self help type books, you will like this one. For those who remember and liked the Velveteen Rabbit, you will LOVE it.
-Reviewed by Janet Miserandino for The Celebrity Cafe