TheConfidante In the Media
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?
Have tools or practices that you use if your life or relationship that help you on your journey.
Here are a few we use:
-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.
Joanne will be your Confidante, enabling you to speak freely in complete confidence and serenity. An integrated approach tailored to your specific needs will be utilised.
Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples servicing areas including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.