FAMILY LIFE SEA JOURNAL – August 2017
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT FROM LIVING ON A BOAT FOR A MONTH IN GREECE
It all started with an idea to swim at sea in Greece during summer. Our two boys, age 4 and 6, had been telling us that they preferred a swimming pool rather than the sea and it was the last straw for us to do something about it. Chlorine or sea water?
The conditions were perfect: we had moved out of Switzerland so had no big bills to pay, we sold our house and land in France, my business was growing internationally, Alex had 6 months off from his job, our au-pair agreed to stay and look after the house in the UK while we were away, the kids were already big enough to stay safe on board, we found the boat that we wanted (Alex spent the previous year searching for the right one to make it happen). We found a captain who could stay on the boat during the charter and bring it to the desired location. Both Alex and I took a course to get a captain’s licence. Weather forecast in Greece: sun, sun, sun.
We love Greece and knowing that it has more than 1000 islands, we wanted to explore some of the most beautiful ones. This year in the Cyclades.
Also, to be honest, because I wanted to check the location and logistics for the next year ENRICH Retreat as part of the HUMAN ENRICHMENT PROJECT that I’m working on.
A lot of preparation, decision-making and organisation went into our first long-time boating experience in Greece. The first time ever we have spent so much time together as a family: almost 6 weeks, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, exploring different islands in the Cyclades, meeting old and making new friends, learning the ropes (literally and metaphorically) and living through ups and downs of waves and emotions.
We have lived the Dreamlife.
At times, it felt like nothing could be better than that. We had our family around: our parents came over from Siberia and Greece to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday. My sister came from Switzerland with her husband and we all stayed together in Mykonos for a week enjoying time together, the kids connecting with grand-parents, Alex & I partying with friends until 7 am in the morning and the following day exploring venues and places for the next year Enriching Retreat.
We had some amazing guests on board from the States, Canada, Venezuela, Switzerland, London, Athens, Mykonos. We played on a beach, brainstormed ideas during masterminding, had wonderful food and lots of sunshine.
We met some incredible people on our journey. The beauty of having a boat is the quality of people you meet: from celebrities and riches to creatives and entrepreneurs.
All this experience prompted me to note down some insights I had throughout this journey, which I would like to share with you.
RECIPE FOR SELF-LEADERSHIP
Once we feel responsible for other people, we raise in our self-leadership and start operating on the higher conscious level.
It happened to me when we were at high sea driving from Milos to Athens. Crossing the Aegean Sea can be unpredictable and this time we had a triple wave to mess with. My first reaction was to panic as I had never been at high sea and got scared from the sheer look of the waves combined with a strong wind. Although it was an irrational fear, I couldn’t help it. What helped me not to shout or make a scene was our kids being in the same boat. I realised if I started screaming, it would impact on them and they would feel more scared. So instead, I reassured them the bad weather would finish soon and we would get home ok, there was no danger, just an uncomfortable ride.
I started taking responsibility for the well-being of others and it allowed me to step-change my own reaction and helped me calm down as well.
NATURE IS OUR BEST TOY
Forgetting to take any toys with us on the boat was a blessing: we had nothing to gather or pick up afterwards. Although I was curious how the boys would be for a month just coming back from Russia where their grandparent’s place was full of Lego and toys.
Surprisingly, they were fine. Playing with sand, water and stones, it was beautiful to see and simple in usage.
Surprisingly, it had a positive effect on all of us. The boys started to play even better together. They shared a fantasy world of imaginary play and used just natural elements and what they could find on the boat. We loved seeing them bond and enjoyed a simple way to connect with a family. No fighting about stuff but learning how to communicate about what they wanted or didn’t want.
It was important to establish a few rules that we had already tested at home but living together in a small environment for a month, we were bound to meet some challenges.
One rule for kids was to be a TEAM, rather than play against each other. Having two kids playing together meant they were competing. Changing the direction of their play towards them being ONE team, was a game-changer.
Making eating a ninja habit was also important to keep the boat clean. We established that they could only eat on the deck and not inside. After eating they had to clean the deck with a hoover and wash the plates upstairs.
LEARNING GOOD HABITS
Safety first: we ensured they were following the safety instructions especially when just the four of us while Alex & I were busy with the boat. That meant, they had to learn how to swim independently and be disciplined with life jackets, sitting in the right place and not running or jumping around.
Having fun. Having a lot to manage can be daunting and overwhelming and although it seems like a relaxed environment one can get stressed easily while spending time together 24/7 as relationships are one of the hardest things in life to manage (sometimes harder than finances). Remember to have fun and enjoy little things in life.
Consciously choosing the play time rather than work was hard for me. I struggled to disconnect from work having a backlog of clients and working proposals, but I think I managed well.
Live in the now. If we had been emotional about changing plans during the trip, we would not have enjoyed it as it was changing every day. It literally depended on the weather. We had to change our plans hundreds of times to go to a certain location. Once, we were stuck in Naxos for four days due to high waves and wind so we had to become flexible with our plans. It was one of the best life lessons for me, to relax into the flow of what’s happening rather than following my agenda and pushing through things to get the desired outcome. I just couldn’t change the wind power.
I also made a few videos that I want to share with you while being on the trip. This is one of them on the life skill of resilience. Why it’s important to develop it and how.
SEA YOU SOON!