2020 rhymes with “Plenty Plenty” and this is what you have to look forward to from my relationships column to keep you joyously connected this year! Aside from kicking off with this week's inspiring power couple, there will be an abundance of helpful researched based techniques, sometimes crazy and saucy ideas for you to relish in your relationships! I’ll be communicating so many of my copious inventive ideas, you’ll have no excuse to expend your utmost for an outstanding, flourishing and dynamic relationships in 2020!
Whilst I’ve produced a few workbooks, an app and a podcast along the way, I’m thrilled to be releasing my first book and “plenty plenty” more free tools and paid courses on my website this year. Enjoy your 2020 of relationship riches!
First up is my next feature couple in my inspiring trail-blazers series. These couples interviewed stand out particularly for their contributing successful woman, with insights on how they prosper in their career, motherhood, the family life juggle along with the important role of their man in their dynamic partnership. Introducing Amanda and Mark Yeates:
How did you meet and how long have you been married?
Amanda: Going through uni, Mark was a boarding supervisor at Brisbane Boys College and I was a boarding supervisor at The Stuartholme School. A mutual friend who we had both worked with introduced us at a high school dance we were both working at.
Amanda, describe your journey to success in your current role?
I started with Transport and Main Roads in 2011. Eighteen months ago, I was appointed Deputy Director General, Infrastructure and I am responsible for the delivery of the four year, $23 billion Qld Roads and Transport Investment Program. In 2013 we moved the family to the Sunshine Coast when I took up the role of Regional Director North Coast. Whilst my role now has a state-wide context, TMR has strong flexible, agile work practices which have allowed me to remain based on the Sunshine Coast.
Mark: Tell us about your journey to your role, impacting lives as a teacher?
I started teaching in a full time capacity at Boystown in Beaudesert in 1993 worked and lived in under the amazing leadership of Br Bill Firman, who showed me what servant leadership and mentoring is all about. From that day till now I’m still trying every day to get it right. Some days I even get close! Being a educator is a gift, I am so lucky to have the opportunity to influence both individual and community futures. After 30 yrs of learning I have taught many subjects, these days I teach life through filters.
Mark: What are the highs and lows of being the partner of a successful wife in the community?
I think the best way to approach Amanda’s highs and lows is to celebrate what they bring. High’s bring happiness, joy and good times. Low’s bring similar things upon reflection, they bring support, evidence of love through empathy and our family tightens and digs deep to get through the situation. The sharing of good and bad with the people closest to us, ‘our immediate family’ always seems to bring joy.
What ages are your children and what stage has been the most challenging?
We have two girls, Felicity who is 15 and Heidi who is 13.
Amanda: When the kids were babies was when I found it the most challenging. I think I was used to being able to plan and structure everything and then a couple of small humans came along who did not want to work to my plan! Teenage years are upon us now so I am sure we are in for some fun in the near future!
Mark: The day after today!
How do you make it work as a team at home and in your careers in the business and teaching world?
Amanda: Sometimes it is a well-choreographed operation and everything goes to plan. Then there are the other times when we run on complete chaos. Somehow, though, we always seem to get there in the end. We have a lot of other wonderful people in our ‘village’ and sometimes it means calling on grandparents to attend school assembly or an award presentation. The girls attend Immanuel Lutheran College and there is a strong sense of community at the College so we find all the parents help each other out. My parents also live next door so that helps when we are stuck for drop offs and pickups. One particular person who really stands out for me is a wonderful woman called Erica who was studying at USC and who looked after the girls a few afternoons a week after school when they were younger. Erica became an important member of our family and as the girls got older, Erica moved from babysitter to big sister/ mentor. We were very lucky to have her and were sad to see her leave the Coast after she graduated last year but we are thrilled to watch how well she is doing in her career.
Mark and I both have roles that have significant impact within the community and we both take our roles seriously. I think what is critical though is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously- I think that has been the key to achieving balance.
Mark: We do meet on Sunday night to align to planets for the week so both of us are comfortable with what will transpire. However, we also have been blessed by our community to have met several amazing young women to help raise our girls along their journey. All of these young women are now and will be forever part of our girls lives. Lauren, Jess, Erica and Amy helped us raise our wonderful children and to us, we are so very grateful they did, as our girls are our greatest achievement.
Are you satisfied with this current phase of your careers?
Amanda: The exciting part about being the leadership role I play in transport infrastructure is being involved in projects that connect people and support social and economic vibrancy. I feel like I am at a point in my career where I have a significant opportunity to influence outcomes- not just for transport but to balance the right transport outcomes with economic, social and environmental considerations. Being able to positively influence in this way is really rewarding and I am loving the point I am at in my career.
Mark: Yes! In recent years I worked in Gympie at a wonderful school called Victory College. The kids and staff were amazing. They gave me great opportunities to implement programs which really help students learn in the 21st century context. This year I commence a Secondary School role at Caloundra Christian College so I get to teach in the same community where I live.
Do you follow a the more traditional style of partnership or equally share roles and responsibilities at home?
Amanda: I think we have a less traditional partnership. Mark has been extremely supportive of my career over the years and I think we have worked hard to support each other. My work takes me away reasonably regularly so Mark is often the primary carer of our girls. We don’t find it unusual, though I would say we are atypical.
Mark: I think we are both ‘doers’, if it needs to get done and it’s not getting done then we step up, it isn’t any different at home. Although we both often joke, that we are not good at things, in order that the other does it! But deep down we have each other’s backs, we’ve had a hell of a journey with some BIG ups and downs and we are tighter today than we’ve ever been. This is a good thing as our two girls look to manipulate just like any other teenager, so we need to have a story straight.
Do you think Australian society allows flexibility in the workplace for men as much as women to manage family alongside their working woman? Any other comments here?
Amanda: I think workplaces are increasingly understanding the value of diversity- not just gender diversity- demographic, experimental and diverse thinking are critical to high performing in business. I think the value of flexibility is increasingly understood by employees. If you look senior leadership roles across many sectors there is still very low female representation and that is something I hope business and industry continue to pay attention to trying to change.
There is a study by Terrance William Fitzsimmons called ‘Navigating CEO Appointments: Do Australia’s Top Male and Female CEOs Differ in How They Made it to the Top?’. It is a really interesting look at challenging those male/ female social norms in the path to leadership.
Mark: Flexible work is critical to all members of society. The needs of a human are complex and with empathy in the workspace we should be aiming for happy houses, as happy houses make happy workers. Then everyone wins, employers have people who want to work and want to go home to their kids. Here lies our secret, we love hanging with our families and we love our jobs.
Do you find time for self-compassion and if so, what do you do?
Amanda: When the girls were younger, self-compassion was often the first thing to be sacrificed when we were time poor. Now that they are getting older we are increasingly finding time for ourselves. We are incredibly lucky to live where we do and whenever possible we will take a walk to Point Cartwright and watch the ocean.
Who do you rely on as a support network when things get tough?
Amanda: We have a great network of friends here on the Coast. Sometimes we are all so busy we won’t see each other for weeks or months at a time but I know that if I need someone, we have friends around who will be here to support us in a heartbeat. Being part of a village like that is a wonderful privilege. Sometimes you just need to cut yourself a break. You don’t need to be the best employee/ business owner/ mother/ wife/ general ninja woman all of the time.
Do you have an Australia Day tradition and how will you be celebrating this weekend?
Australia Day for us starts with the flag raising and welcome to country at the old Post Office at Buderim. The girls then march with their school, Immanuel College in the Grand Parade.
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, workshop facilitator, guest speaker and weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily. Don’t miss more on this in her “Is This Love” Podcast and download your FREE Spouse It Up Guide at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com
No more sleeps until Christmas and I'm so proud to welcome to our third inspiring couple featured to support you through this crazy fun time of festivities. It was an honour to interview this extremely busy and successful couple. They’ve founded their business on a passion and embellishing the incredible talent of a local artist and husband team whom we get to call our own. They are the ultimate High School sweethearts, meeting in Echuca. 17 years of marriage later and now locals, they now proudly own and operate Sunshine Coast Art and Imagination School.
Jess, describe your journey to success in the world of art?
Since I was young, I have always been a bit of a dabbler, a creative, fairly messy and was always making something. At 17 I began to find art soothing and helpful for stress relief and I got hooked. I drew more and more to express myself but it wasn’t till I was a mother at 23 I really got into to the practice of art making. I was home with my baby and needed an outlet. 6 years ago, I decided to start entering my work in awards and found myself being a finalist in the Archibald Prize. From there I became more involved in our national art awards and exhibitions. I began thinking of my work as art that mattered and tried to imagine myself as a ‘real’ artist. That feeling has never landed for me, but I'm lucky enough to now make art every day and sometime people even buy it, which is amazing!
Jess, what has been a career highlight?
Well obviously, the Archibald Prize is a highlight because I dreamed about it since I was a teenager, but I think my biggest career highlight is actually not my work finaling in awards like I thought would be. A career highlight for me is my art school becoming a hub for local artists, a space where beginner and emerging artists gather to make art. This year over 700 people attended the opening night of our annual student exhibition and seeing that impact on a community is what really floats my boat. I have always believed that art can enrich our human experience, both making it and viewing it, so having an art school where people are using art to bring beauty & hope, that's the real highlight for me.
Dylan, tell us about your role in the business.
I manage the Art School Co. and everything to do with Jess’ artwork. Our school currently has over 300 weekly students and we also have a retail art shop where the public can purchase art supplies. I manage the day-to-day of business operations.
Dylan, what are highs and lows of working together in your important contribution behind the scenes?
The highs that come to mind are that we get to work for ourselves and build a business that suits our lifestyle. We get to see each other every day and spend a fair bit of time with the kids. We surprisingly work really well together but like any 'successful' partnership, it has taken time and lots of work. We have an understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and complement each other well. I would rather be behind the scenes and Jess has no issue with being in the spotlight! The lows that come to mind are that because we do so much business and family together, we sometimes take each other of granted, we get snappy and short with each other and often forget that we’re lovers. Coming back to that simple fact every day is a good practice.
How do you make it work as a team at home and in the business world?
Jess: There is no easy formula or answer and what may work for us might not work for others but being joyful in the seemingly mundane is a big help. If we can laugh together and practice gratitude, that is so good for the soul and sets you on a good path for your day. Knowing what fills each other’s love tank helps too. I know Dylan requires quality time and for me to just be with him without accomplishing anything!
Dylan: I know Jess requires words of encouragement or affirmation for her tank to be filled.
Do you follow a traditional style of partnership or equally share roles and responsibilities at home?
Dylan: We equally share roles and responsibilities at home and there is even more of a traditional role reversal, where I will spend more time at home with the kids than Jess on a week to week basis. This only changed five years ago and has been so good for our family as well as challenging for both of us.
With four children between the ages of 15 and 8 years old, what has been the most challenging aspect of juggling the work/life balance?
Dylan: It is challenging to come home from work and be truly present with the kids. I want to relax and check out, but I need to do the opposite with the kids, I know I need to engage and check-in.
Jess: I guess I didn’t realise how much I loved having a man provide for me whilst I played with the kids. I was always dreaming of being a painter. When it happened, and Dylan needed to give up his job to allow me to follow mine, I felt incredible pressure to succeed. To keep up and that responsibility is tough man!
Do you think Australian society engenders flexibility in the workplace for men as much as women to manage family alongside their working woman? Any other comments here?
Jess: I assume more Dad's would be at home with the kids if their egos didn’t have such an issue with the Mum earning more money than them or seeing raising kids as ‘the woman’s job’. I think as a society need to be more flexible in the workplace with regard to Dads staying home with the kids and Mums going back to work. Dads need to be supported if their choice is to be at home managing the house and kids while Mum works. It is not a ‘lesser’ role. In fact, what could be more important than raising incredible kids?
Do you both find time for self-compassion and if so, what do you do?
Jess: We know each other well enough to know when we need some self-care. We try and get away for a date each week, even if it’s just for coffee or a meal together at home. We also need time alone so we can recharge away from people - including each other and our kids!
Who do you rely on as a support network when things get tough?
Jess: We have surrounded ourselves with great people. Some are local, some are overseas. The best friendships are the ones where you can be totally yourself whilst at the same time, being totally accepted and loved for who you are. Friends that know the best parts of you and the worst parts of you and still choose to love you are a real gift.
In the lead up to Christmas, how do you manage the demands of this hectic season whilst trying to maintain a connected and attentive relationship?
Jess: Ah yes the silly season of dragging your kids through the plaza for hours looking for those perfect gifts! Having a larger family means we need to plan ahead, and stay on top of our schedule. During hectic seasons we still choose to prioritise each other. Our relationship is more important that our relationship with our kids. If we are healthy, we will be healthy parents. Scheduling time together helps, we find if we don’t plan or put it in the diary, it will get replaced with the busyness of life.
Any additional tips for our readers on this?
-Coffee & quality Gin!
-Staying Active: Whether that being gym, yoga, walking, getting amongst nature. Just start moving!
-Eating Well: We try to eat as much whole food as possible and limiting our intake of sugar. It’s amazing how much nutrition is a factor not only for our physical health but also our mental health.
-Self-Care: This includes meditation, better understanding our own personalities (the tool we use is the Enneagram but there are other modalities out there like Myers-Briggs or Disc etc).
-The Disney Channel!
-Getting the kids out in nature… Mt Ngungun or Mt Coolum are weekly practices + the beach!
-Laughter, as much as possible.
Check out more on Jess and her amazing art at https://jess.art/
My very best for a connected and relational joyous Christmas! Thank you to all who’ve loyally followed my contribution in this column and on radio Salt106.5.
This season can also be very tough for some, so be courageous to reach out to friends or family, call Lifeline and use my relationship tips and tools found at www.relationshiprejuvenator.com.
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, workshop facilitator and guest speaker.
November and December bring an awfully fun frenzy along with varied stressful pressures like no other time of the year. For this reason, I’ve researched a series of admirable trail blazing couples on the Sunshine Coast to inspire us with how they manage to stay cohesive and most importantly, sane!
I’m particularly interested in revealing if their relationship or marriage help or hinder their success? Our changing times feature more entrepreneurial business-women than ever before. Some are the primary income earner and rely on their partner for caring for the children. Do our current work arrangements cater to this? Despite equally contributing to a business, do these couples integrate the more traditional gender specific roles or stray from the norm?
I know you’ll love their behind the scenes stories, challenges and sage advice. The first features frontierswoman, Rebecca Domorev and husband, Alexei. Enjoy my interesting chat with them:
How did your lives collide?
We met in Saint Petersburg, Russia one fateful afternoon in September 2001 after church amongst mutual friends. I had been studying abroad (singing and Russian language) at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of Music for several months and made close friends with Alexei's friends while he was undertaking an internship in London. Three months later we were engaged and then married in May 2003 in a fairytale Russian marriage palace on the river Neva in St Petersburg.
We have been married for 16 years.
Tell us about Tielka Tea and your role in the business?
Rebecca: Tielka is a boutique organic tea company that is passionate about a lifestyle of rest and joy through the beautiful ceremony of tea-time. I am at the forefront of the business, taking responsibility for the day-to-day operations, from sales, customer service, warehouse management, bookkeeping, marketing etc, you name it - I'm doing it!
What are your business connections to the Sunshine Coast?
Rebecca: I sometimes call Tielka the adopted child of the Sunshine Coast Food and Agribusiness Network - we were one of 13 food businesses that was selected to take part in Sunshine Coast's GrowCoastal food accelerator program earlier this year and are building our biggest presence on the Sunshine Coast with the support of FAN.
Rebecca, describe your journey to success in your current role in the business?
I think the journey to success is never a completed process, I still feel like I am on that long road full of ups and downs! There have absolutely been successes along the road, and it has been off the back of raw determination, persistence and grit.
Rebecca, are you content with where the business is at right now? Why or Why not?
Of course not! As a perpetual entrepreneur with forever evolving ideas and goals, I don't think I will ever be content with where the business is at. It's both a curse and a blessing, forever frustrating and driving me on! Naturally I would like to see our turnover and shelf / cafe presence grow in Australia and then beyond Australia into export. I would also love to see the inspiration behind Tielka, a life marked by rest and joy, be imbedded deeper into our identity and communicated more heavily to those we want to reach.
Alexei, what is your role in Tielka?
When we started Tielka, I was in the middle of my MBA at Melbourne Business School. It was a very exciting time, because I was able to apply newly acquired knowledge in business strategy, marketing, consumer behaviour and research straight to our business. One of those lessons that stood out to me was from the Brand Management class taught by a renowned professor of marketing Mark Ritson. The best brand managers build their brands in the background, letting the founder take the spotlight. That is why I am quite ok with being at the Tielka's background, helping Rebecca with strategic direction, marketing and design. I tend to stay away from the operational part of it as I had to learn the delicate balance between being right and being happy.
Alexei, how do you make it work as a team at home and in the business world?
Anyone involved in running a small business would know that it's almost impossible to separate your home life from your business. Our dinner conversations quite often involve topics such as food supply chain, branding, packaging design or global food trends. Our two oldest boys (who are 8 and 13) are quite accustomed to looking at the world around them from a business perspective. Sometimes when it gets too much, we give each other permission to tap out from the conversation and change the topic. We are also used to the idea of tag teaming. For example, I will look after our youngest in the late morning or pick up his brothers from school, allowing Rebecca to focus on the business. In the afternoon we usually swap.
Do you follow a more traditional style of partnership or equally share roles and responsibilities at home?
Rebecca: I would say we have a partnership that leans towards a more traditional style. The domestic duties tend to fall on my shoulders with the support of Alexei and Alexei has typically taken the responsibility of being the primary provider. The current uncertain financial atmosphere in Australia are impacting us and not ideally, we are leaning more heavily on Tielka for provision.
Alexei: I come from a very traditional Eastern European background, where roles and responsibilities at home are pretty much defined by your gender. Both of my parents worked full time, yet my mum managed the household, while my dad had a more demanding physical job, so he would help around the house only on the weekends. That was the model I grew up with. The culture in Australia is a bit more relaxed in that regard. I think what helps us a lot in managing business and household is our parenting style. We have been quite intentional in involving our kids and sharing responsibilities at home with them. For example, we rarely have to do the dishes after dinner as it is our boys' responsibility now. One will clear the table, and the other one will load the dishwasher and handwash whatever is left. They also earn their screen time by doing other chores like hanging the washing, folding the clothes or collecting palm fronds in the backyard. It's not unusual for them to ask if there is anything they can do around the house to earn time. It is a win-win situation for everyone.
Do you think Australian society allows flexibility in the workplace for men as much as women to manage family alongside their working woman?
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Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples servicing areas including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.