Summer of Love
The Making Caring Common project (Harvard Graduate School of Education) came out with a study recently about youth ages 18-25 and their beliefs and experiences with relationships. The full study (well worth a read) says lots of interesting things. But, perhaps the most interesting part is that over 70% of the students surveyed wish their parents would talk to them about the emotional aspects of relationships and what it takes to love and be loved. In addition, 65% wished they’d had more guidance about relationships from school teachers.
Young people are hungry to discuss relationships. We adored the Boston teacher quoted in the study, who said his students are “much more present, thoughtful, available to themselves when they talk about love.”
We feel like that’s true of adults, too! We thought we’d challenge you – our wonderful Power Up, Speak Out! educators and supporters – to indulge yourself this summer, and let yourself do some thinking, talking, and reading about love and relationships.
Below you’ll find four book suggestions from our staff. We hope these resources inspire you to be “more present, thoughtful, and available” to yourself. Dig in and enjoy a summer of love!
(The links below take you to Amazon Smile. If you purchase through Amazon Smile, a small percentage of your purchase can go to any charity you choose. It’s free to sign up and to use. If you want to support Power Up, Speak Out! with your purchase, choose our parent organization, Domestic and Sexual Violence Services of Carbon County. Thank you!)
Because: This book helped me think about owning our choices within relationships. It also encouraged me to think deeply about what things were important to me in a partner, and what things don’t actually matter that much. I found Apple and Dunn to be gentle and encouraging authors who didn’t make me feel like I had to always agree with their assessments of life.
Recommended by Barbara: “True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart” by Thich Nhat Hanh
Because: Hanh breaks down four aspects of love. These elements get at the heart of a healthy relationship worth thinking and dreaming of, and striving for! Hanh’s thoughts make me think of a monk who once explained arranged marriages to me. Arranged marriages can work if both members of a couple are truly living and behaving in ways that are true in their nature, you couldn’t help but love the one you’re with. If we look past all the superficial and see someone’s true heart, we couldn’t help but love them. Of course, that means that both members in the couple have to be committed to the process and their role in it. For a small taste of Hanh’s aspects of love, here are a few of his thoughts on the fourth element of love: equanimity or freedom. “In true love, you attain freedom. When you love, you bring freedom to the person you love. If the opposite is true, it is not true love. You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free, not only outside but also inside. ‘Dear one, do you have enough space in your heart and all around you?’ This is an intelligent question for testing out whether your love is something real.”
Recommended by Travis: “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
Because: It’s the story of a kid named Junior figuring out what he values in the people he surrounds himself with. When he moves to a new school, he finds someone who is kind to him that he doesn’t expect. Junior’s journey might help you think about the truth that how someone treats you is more important than appearances and outward characteristics.
Because: Brene Brown is a shame researcher. In this book she walks the reader through the ways shame, fueled by fear, blame and disconnection impact our ability to live authentically. Brene Brown’s work is a helpful tool for everyone (though this particular book focuses on research conducted with women) see the strengths in our weakness and vulnerabilities. Learning about the nature of shame, vulnerability, joy, empathy, and what Brene calls “whole-hearted living” can help us connect with ourselves and with each other in more meaningful ways. In connecting with ourselves in more meaningful ways, we are able to connect to others and our relationships with renewed energy.
BONUS: A poem
Recommended by Barbara: “On Marriage” by Kahlil Gibran
Because: As our office sees with perpetrators of abuse, they make the relationship all about them. The victim is not allowed any space to be themselves. Love shouldn’t be one-sided, or a dependency. To me, this poem speaks of true Love.
by Kahlil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.