I have a Filipina friend in security here onboard Celebrity Silhouette and she often stops by the Photo Gallery for a chat. She has many children, some of whom have their own children and some that she is still needing to support through their education. The money that my friend can make on ship is much more than that at home and it is her culture to go away and work for your family if that's what is needed. However having just got back from vacation she told me that her children are asking her to stay home now, her oldest is offering to help support the youngest so Mum can stay home.
Honestly these situations upset me every time. There are so many people working on ships because it is their culture to leave to provide the best for their family and they hate to hear me to say I would never let my partner leave me alone to raise a family, children need both parents in my opinion. But then I see their pain at being away, my colleagues hoping for long vacations to be with their kids, and now I see my friend's family asking for her to stay home... it looks to me like the culture is changing. The image of the modern family is a global one.
So my friend tells me how she is ready to be home and she explains it to me in terms of balance. She says that for too many years now she has been missing out on four of the five areas of life that give you good balance.
I had to investigate further, and there are some variations but the five areas seem to be: work (the only one my friend thinks she has been focusing on), spirituality, mind, body and relationships. My friend's spirituality is such that she should worship god on a Saturday which is not possible onboard, she explained that this is one important thing she's looking forward to getting back to alongside her family of course.
So naturally this conversation got me thinking about myself and how balanced I am.
Work. For certain it is a big part of what I've been doing for the past two years because I live in my place of work. Does that tip the balance a little bit? I guess so, but I wanted to be here and try this all encompassing work culture because 9 to 5, 5 days a week did not make me happy, and in Australia, and going forward I might have to do that again. I've never been able to tip the balance 100% to work, my head is too far in the clouds for that!
Mind. I have certainly not lost this balance and never will, why do you think I'm writing this? I'm always learning and thinking and planning. And in terms of work, I haven't been working to bring in the money (like my friend), I took this job to learn and grow in an area I'm passionate about, my work has been able to stimulate my mind, although that is slowing now, and why it is time to leave. I definitely have enough balance in this area, and sometimes it is the area taking over. I can be very single minded when I want something and I pretty much over think everything (as you are currently reading)!
Body. Probably the toughest area for me. About 4 years ago I was the fattest and most miserable I'd ever been in my life. There were other factors to the misery but I got the time to focus on my weight and with the help of the diet plan Lighter Life, I went from a size 22 to 12 (English sizes) in 6 months. I kept it off for almost two years. I even learned to like some forms of exercise. Today I'm nearly all the way back up at a size 20 and get exhausted climbing one flight of stairs. Ship life tipped the balance away from body temporarily and in this area I am weak. I need to bring the balance back somehow and still be able to travel and take on the demanding roles that I love.
Spirituality. This is the area I have the least to say in. I don't believe in any religions. I actually think religions appear to be the problem in a lot of the worlds conflicts. Sometimes I feel like I believe in fate, or that things happen for a reason and I know that there are many explanations and interpretations of spirituality but nothing has really settled as an explanation in my mind. As and when something does I'm sure I will let you know on here, but in the mean time I guess I'm misbalanced in terms of a little bit empty in this area.
Relationships. Going back to my friend's understanding, yes relationships are off balance on ship, once at home a lot more time can be put in. However in the last two years that my relationships with people have been forced into change, some have improved greatly or are new, some have been able to stay the same, and others unfortunately drifted. I think with relationships there are always going to be 'things' going on, I was never going away forever and that is why some have stayed the same. It is incredibly important to understand that in the last 2 years I got happier and more confident in myself and that is why some relationships have improved. It looks like putting time into yourself can be just as important as putting the time in with your friends and family, they see the benefit either way. I am leaving ships with the intention of focusing my relationship balance on one person in particular (sorry Jr I'm writing about you again!) because the life we want to live going forward doesn't involve ships so I'm ready to get on and try something different, confident that my friends and family understand.
I'd like to thank my new writer friend Ivonne Garcia for inspiring me to write something like this and I will return to photo stories soon.