“She has far more power than last year! We just need to focus that power!” Who gave us this bizarre quote? Missy M’s fourth grade teacher! I think that something became slightly warped in his self-translation from German, but I managed to catch his drift. The whole bizarre conversation about my daughter’s inner power/strength allowed me to later reflect upon Personal Power and the role it plays in our expat-esque lives.
The art and beauty of the expat life is change. Many times, in many ways, we have talked about the comings, the goings and the general upheaval of this wibbly-wobbly life that we have chosen. As I write this, a huge storm is moving over my little Swiss town. The trees outside my window are bending and swaying in the huge gusts of wind. You can surely see where I am going with this! Yup, I’m diving shamelessly into metaphors about being flexible and bending in the storms of life. I might even throw in a cheesy quote, just to drive the point home, rather like this one:
The tree that does not bend with the wind will be broken by the wind. ~ Mandarin Chinese proverb
Most of us have heard this or a similar quote before. The question is, however, how do we bend so that we are truly adaptable to change? Do we become soft and malleable or even door-mat-esque in our acceptance of life? No! It is a question of power – that mysterious personal power that Missy M’s teacher alluded to. It is the difference between knowing and tapping into your own power, the sap of life, or being so dry and rigid that you snap in Life’s storms. The art of being able to bend and not to snap: this is where our power lies.
What gives you your energy and power and what takes it away? Does music float your boat? What type? Do you remember to listen regularly and lap up the wonders, or do you forget how it energises you and let the dust settle on your music equipment? (Darlings, just because we are parents, we must OWN our musical loves and partake regularly as the medicine we so desperately NEED.) Regularly balance music with great deep quantities of SILENCE to nurture your soul. The magic and power is the balance of the two.
How much of what you do steals your energy and power? Does your energy come from hanging out with other people, or curling up in the corner with an excellent book? What conversations give you energy and what drains you? Find out and limit contact with conversations and people that fall into the latter catergory. What buildings, streets, towns and wider environments feed your soul and which fuel you? Navigate and be drawn to that which allow you to bloom, be it mountains, coffee shops, lakes or oceans.
How do you generate energy and power in your life? You are a living dynamo. You need to move that glorious behind of yours! Run! Play games! Swim! Do yoga! Walk! What is it that creates and sustains your energy? Don’t forget that sitting on that little rear of yours is also vital for settling your energy and conserving it as well. Again, balance: the middle way is the key.
The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. ~ Alice Walker
But truly, when you don’t need anything else to be happy, only then have you discovered your true personal power. You can bend to crazy external circumstances because you are firmly sitting in your own body (which might also be falling apart; hello, 40!). You are no longer reliant on the world behaving as it “should” to be OK. We have raised kids, often in extraordinary circumstances, which, if nothing else, has taught us that what “should be” most often is not what is. Misbehaviour is, more often than not, on the cards. Life, just like children, tends to turn right when it ought to be going left and/or vice versa.
Power, personal power, is the ability to be left relatively unscathed by Life’s storms. It is to know, like, and trust yourself through understanding your own energy and power.
Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control; these three alone lead one to sovereign power. ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson
So to know yourself is to listen to yourself rather than the world/others? Er, well, sort of, but not really. Listening exclusively to yourself leads to stubborn, disconnected and belligerent behaviour. Thoughts tend to witter on about the unfairness of things, the not-niceness of people’s actions, and how the world “should” be. These thoughts are not “me” and neither are they “you.” They are just a cluttered space that appears in our skulls. These thoughts say the maddest things (although they do have fairly good advice as to how to get to appointments, but my goodness they fret too much!). You and I are more than that wittering. What that “more” is exactly is for you to discover, but once you do, you can face any storm.
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power. ~ Lao-Tzu
By Tammy Furey
Tammy eases the expat parenting experience through coaching and teaching throughout Switzerland. She also writes, blogs, gives talks, does the washing, doesn’t hoover enough, and parents Missy M, her daughter! Find out more at www.fureycoaching.com.
Illustration by Lemady Rochard
Lemady is an Artist and Illustrator who also runs Storycraft classes and parties for children at the mal_Raum art studio in Ruschlikon, ZH. She has a background in theatre arts and children’s literature. Lemady lives near Einsiedeln SZ with her family. Contact her: Storycraft.firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/lemadyart