So today, is international womens day, the celebration of pretty much all things female. This gave me a pause for thought. Having just come off of a maniacal month of working with no break, finishing up some PADI divemaster programs, followed by a fantastically fun PADI IDC program interlaced with a bit of technical dive training, no really! Add to that, general coordinating and scheduling of everyone else in the dive center and then, to top it all off the best job off all, being a mum had to fit somewhere into that equation.
Even reading that back makes me take a deep breath. In all honesty it hasn’t even slowed two weeks afterwards which is great in the fact that I’m busy doing what I love but I need to definitely step back and take a breath.
To be honest, I didn’t really think about it too much, I just did it until I got asked by a fellow instructor “how on earth do you do it?”. The answer I think would be “I don’t know!”. A fantastic support system is definitely a huge help, sploshed in with some “wooooo saaaas” occasionally.
Without even sitting down there is another PADI Instructor program fast approaching with the final section of out Tec sandwich, Tec 50. To add some extra excitement with that I’m trying to integrate it with a trip to Caño island, exploring one of the deeper sites there. I know the area we are looking at is as yet unexplored as no one else in the country has the training or ability to head to those depths safely so it will definitely be fun with a “boldly going where no person has gone before” type deal. I promise we’ll have some video for that!
Now, it’s not something I have spoken openly about on my blog before but seeing as it’s womens day I thought why not let’s celebrate being a woman. Almost a year ago now I gave birth to an incredible little girl who has completely changed my life. Anyone that has ever dove in their life knows that pregnancy and scuba diving do not mix. The truth is, no one really knows about the adverse effects so it’s better to say no diving. At the time I found out I was 360 miles offshore on an amazing island doing some serious bucket list diving. I made a decision, I would continue diving as I only had two weeks out there and I didn’t want to pass on the chance of a lifetime. I do not regret that decision for a second. My last dive was with an amazing whale shark swimming over my head so seriously, no regrets!
Being on a quiet deserted island so far from shore it gave me a lot of thinking time and as you can imagine my career was up there with billion and one other things in my brain. I was lucky enough to be in a position that I could still keep in the industry without physically diving. This would involve a lot of admin, confined water workshops, and academics. Completely doable and for those of you that are familiar with PADI Divemaster and Instructor training, you are aware of the fact there are plenty of sections, workshops and modules that don’t involve scuba diving in the ocean. Okay, lets make it work. Apart from the excessively hot months of March and the sucky swollen ankles, trying to fit into lycra shorts for the pool etc it was fine. So along came my little girl 3 months of maternity leave here ( I know right!) and then the inevitable juggle begins.
Getting back into the water was an incredible thing and I have to admit I did some solo diving just to breathe some bubbles by myself and relax. That is one thing that is hard to find, a moment by yourself. Whether it’s being at work, scuba diving, being a mum to my daughter or my pooch who also needs attention obviously I think I can say I officially gave up anytime to myself. Thats is where the balance comes in. When teaching IDCs to future scuba instructors, I always talk about how it is important to scuba dive for yourself sometimes, remember why you are diving in the first place. Same should be said for life in general as your health and well being are important too. In the rescue program, don’t they talk about self rescue first?
Some days are harder than others obviously, with a PADI instructor program running it is generally 8am to 6pm days if not longer. This mind you is because I always try and stay until the last student leaves so if there are any questions I can tackle them. Knowing when I get home my daughter will be asleep is hard but I will make sure I am there when she wakes up at 6am for sure though. Every minute is a quality moment.
There are no weekends in the tourism industry so it is 6 days a week, I am trying for 4 or 5 at the moment with some time working at home, this is do with her but also I get less distractions from everyone else ; ) I do clearly have help at home and I am very lucky to have a fantastic support system especially with my other half even with him working full time as well. Luckily he has weekends off in general which helps with that.
I am writing this just as a reach out to women scuba divers, especially those instructors around the world. If you find yourself in my position, don’t think for a second that you need to give up on anything. It’s even harder work but embrace it on a whole new level. I will be honest, I never imagined myself in this position but I am relishing the challenge and will continue to rise to new ones in the future I hope.
Happy bubbling and happy international womens day!