Thursday, January 27, 2011

Energy and optimism - a guest blogger's view

How do people maintain energy, enthusiasm, and optimism for their work? When I see people who I think are particularly strong in this area, I am curious as to how they do it. Kate Price, a program associate at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at Wellesley College is one of those people. Kate has been leading an effort to build community among scholars and practitioners whose work connects with JBMTI (JBMTI is the intellectual home for Relational Cultural Theory -- an amazing theory about how we grow-in-relation). She leads this effort with consistent optimism and positive energy. I asked Kate, "how do you do it?" She replied:

Love. When I am down, in doubt, or in conflict with someone else (or myself), I turn to love to regroup. I wish I could say that I had a more mysterious or elaborate remedy to keep me afloat, but for me, love is everything. A rub of my soulmate cat's belly, a glance at photos of loved ones recent and old, having a "family snuggle up" with husband and son, or the sound of my best friend's voice (even just her voicemail message) make me right as rain. Even silently sending love to someone with whom I am in conflict. I am sure there is a physiological answer involving brain chemistry as to why these actions lift me more than any other, however, for me the simplicity of each is part of the sustenance.

And yet, I suppose that turning to love can be mysterious and elaborate, as love and loving is far from easy. Loving unconditionally is a risky venture in this world full of rules dictating who one is supposed to love and who deserves love. I have certainly lost relationships and arguments when I dare to love outside the circumscribed lines, such as loving someone who has broken the law or does not act in socially-acceptable ways. Or I am labeled "soft-hearted" (as if compassion is a bad thing) who will only get my feelings hurt when and if love is not returned.

In those moments, I think love is needed even more. I am not saying I am going to entrust my child to a person who is addicted to drugs, or invite a hostile misanthrope to a family dinner, but I will love that person with all of my heart and, further more, not be attached to love being "returned" in any particular form. I firmly believe the reason for our existance is to love and to be loved: to have the possibility of being and knowing love in any moment, especially in the moments when choosing anger and violence would be the easy (and socially-subscribed) way out.

As David Bowie and Queen so eloquently say in "Under Pressure":
'Cause love's such an old-fashion word
And love dares you to care for
the people on the edge of the night
And love dares to you to change your way
of caring about ourselves

Kate Price
Program Associate
Jean Baker Miller Training Institute
Wellesley Centers for Women

Thanks Kate, for being a guest blogger today!

Cheering you all on in your work,

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