Congruence: in counselling terms, this refers to the outer self being in harmony with the inner self – that what you display to others reflects what is occurring in your inner world. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you disclose your every thought or feeling, but that you find a way to present yourself authentically.
I have been reflecting on whether this blog is in accordance with the above.
Free To Be was inspired by my travels to Morocco and launched at a time when I was seriously considering emigration; I was expecting baby number 3 and investing in work that I could ultimately do from anywhere in the world. It felt like an exciting time and I knew I had to write about my travels and what it means to be part of the human family.
The themes of peace and freedom and adventure ran through those first posts.
The biggest questions I had when I began blogging were:
“Do I really want to share these personal stories with the whole world?”
“If I present myself as this person, don’t I have to continue to be her?”
How can I be honest and real without compromising my privacy or my Geminian tendency to, well, just change my mind about anything and everything? And not just change my mind, but my entire lifestyle on occasion (for I continue to shake off labels that I once upon a time made use of to shape my identity).
In the past I posted a personal social media status at least once per week, but this gradually diminished to big life events only (at least the birth of a child is a fact that can’t be altered!). My personal opinions can be garnered through calls to petitions and choice news stories – in someone else’s words of course.
It was from a sense of feeling more private that I decided to go public. I finally felt safe in my own skin and no longer needed my friends to comment on day-to-day trivialities for my sense of self-esteem. Hence, I gained the courage to invite strangers to comment on my writing; writing that is generally sourced from experience, sometimes garnished with facts yet often doused in personal philosophies and opinion – always an expression of one’s sense of self.
I just hoped to offer something that could inspire others or be a call to action, with a life of inspiration and action to provide such material – to walk the walk as I talk the talk.
Yet I occasionally feel, for as balanced and open as my accounts of our travels have been, our family circumstances have been less exotic and more excruciating than might be assumed. I have many articles drafted regarding travel advice for Morocco, being part of a mixed race family, language learning and other topics, all liberally seasoned with personal anecdotes which include many casual mentions of FreeToBeB as if our cross-border relationship is normal and sustainable – for it is neither. Between issues of finance, language, immigration law, culture and religion to downright personality clashes, it is – frankly – incredible that it survived its first year, let alone four years and two babies.
The question on everyone’s lips: When is the next trip to Morocco?
The answer: Sadly, less of a when and more of an if.
So, as I found myself at the mercy of a 6 year old’s distress at a 2 year old’s temper with a baby wailing in my arms at 8pm on a rainy winter’s night in Britain, seven months beyond any adventures abroad, feeling somewhat alone and isolated, and wondering why the universe was testing me in such a way (and breathe!), I pondered those themes.
Thus, from this low point, I questioned my congruence this week with regards to this blog, wondering how the person reading these posts perceives the person writing them; wondering if my current lifestyle lives up to what the blurb promises.
Where is the peace?
Where is the freedom?
Where is the adventure?
Well, the answer to these is right here.
Even as I castigated myself for yearning for the icing on the cake in the modern mother’s repertoire (i.e. time to myself), I also knew that was not the solution.
We don’t fight the monsters by running away; we don’t escape the inner demons by changing our outer environment.
For anyone who’s ever read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now or even has a basic understanding of living mindfully, you will know that the power always resides in the very moment that you feel powerless.
And so I realised:
Where there is love, there is peace.
Where there is thought, there is freedom.
Where there are children, there is adventure.
Winter as a home educating single mum with a new baby has been challenging. But I like a challenge. And within that adventure, we are free to be family – for there is many a country where home educators or single mothers would fare a lot worse than I do in the UK.
And there is always, always peace when staring upon a sleeping baby’s face.
It all begins at home.
A part of me feels like I’m grasping at straws, that I have lost the person who wrote the inaugural How I Caught the Travel Bug.
Yet as I centred myself and dealt with the siblings’ squabbles, I found that person.
FreeToBeP screamed (real tears and all) as his little sister angrily disagreed with something he said. He chose the misery of wanting everyone to agree with his stance – isn’t that how wars are started?
And so I thought of a quote that I’d spotted on my social media news feed earlier that day:
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…” (Aldous Huxley, Island)
“Choose the happy path, P.” I advised, before doling out suggestions on how to cope better (note to readers: I was taking my own advice as I said it – for I do not always handle such bickering with such grace!).
And as part of the happy path I tried to lead him upon, I thought of all the memories I hope to make with my children this year, all the opportunities we have to make life one big adventure . . .
Aha! Here comes that train of thought which includes getting the camping gear out, attending festivals, booking flights, travelling to new places, trying new things, meeting new people and, yes, perhaps even emigrating. Yes, here comes the fever of the travel bug.
If having children has taught me anything, it’s that I still have a lot to learn. And as we learn, we grow. And as we grow, we change.
As such, I can always give my promise that at any moment my writing comes from the heart and that congruence exists despite a change of heart. If anything, it is all the more congruent in that I invite you along for the journey, as witness!
And I can always give my promise that for as long as this blog exists, I shall be striving towards those themes even as they seem to elude me: