During my years of studying nutritional medicine, I was blogging. It gave me access to ‘talk’ to people, but after 5 years at home raising my children and studying distance education, I felt that I needed to connect more with my community. In particular, I needed to connect with a person who shared my vision, and who could help me build something meaningful.
Over the years I had kept notebooks stacked with thoughts, ideas and inspiration, and I knew I wanted to work in a creative environment whilst bringing healthy living to the table. But I didn’t have a business concept or ‘job’ in mind, it was more of a lifestyle that I had created for my family and myself, and I was figuring out a way to make it work for others too.
I am glad that I wasn’t set in my goals or focus. Most business people say that you should have both those things very clearly in mind, but for my life and how Anamari and I work, it never would have been a success that way. We need flexibility, and by embracing the unknowns we have gone down a path that differs from what we initially thought it would be, and it’s absolutely amazing!
Whole Living came about because Anamari and I could see that our modalities – Yoga and Nutrition – worked well together. We are both enthusiastic and energetic so we jumped in and started collaborating on workshops. We both wanted to create a Whole Living community so before long we were collaborating with a local whole food chef and a local ceramic artist. Bringing our passions together through beautiful plant based feasts and afternoons getting dirty and ‘zenning’ out with some Cloga (clay & yoga).
Working with Anamari has been really easy, we can talk openly about what works for us and what doesn’t. We have both had personal things going on at various times over the past 2 years, and when life gets heavy the other person steps up. It’s an unspoken pact.
For instance, my husband travels a lot, and when he is away I not only look after 2 kidlets alone, but I work three jobs (including my role at Whole Living). So recently after a challenging few weeks solo and a few red wines, I emailed Anamari to tell her that I didn’t feel like I could be a grown-up right now… Instead of panicking at the work I hadn’t gotten to, Anamari wrote me a beautiful email back, no pressure, no guilt. The next day I felt strong enough to do it all and got the work done. Had she made me feel bad there is no way I would have pulled myself together so quickly.
The lack of time that I get to dedicate to my work would be my number one frustration, because I have a wonderful family that needs me steering the ship, but Anamari and I have spoken numerous times about being patient and living authentic lives. There is no point talking about Whole Living as a concept for lifestyle alchemy and then smashing ourselves to prove we can do it all.
Working with a Yogi helps immensely with patience – we joke that Anamari needs to use her ‘yoga voice’ when things don’t go to plan. Honesty is essential, we are both very honest with what we are good at and what we need help with, and this has allowed us to create (unwritten) job descriptions for who will do what, we check in regularly with each other when an event is coming up but we also know who will be taking responsibility for what. And if the sh*t hits the fan, no blame is ever laid, we are both vulnerable enough to take responsibility. But you know, when things go wrong we just try again, support each other and keep the relationship between us intact. Through compassion and showing one another generosity our relationship evolves with each decision, each accomplishment and each failure.
Working within our skill set has also meant that Whole Living has now taken the next step, Anamari is a skilled artist and so learning how to throw clay on a wheel has meant that Whole Living now has a range of ceramics, and we are loving the new challenges that have arisen with launching them. It is truly a process of letting go, having a bit of faith and falling forward!
My husband, the sweet man that he is, has been travelling a lot to South America and has brought me home gorgeous textile gifts. The craftsmanship and stunning weaves is like nothing we have seen here in Australia, and has inspired us to venture into new territory and so we are now working on a pretty exciting project that we cannot wait to share…. Watch this space!
Co-founders of Whole Living, Jen Parker and Anamari Becker are the yin and yang in human form. They have mastered the elusive 'equal partnership' in business, and here they share their tricks on mastering the relationship.
Does balance ever really exist, or do we just learn to juggle, spin, and dance to all the things that are going on in our lives? Now picture two people juggling, spinning and dancing, what a great mental image. Building Whole Living is like a dance where we are both juggling. If one drops something the other comes in to pick it up, one will lead and then the song changes and the other may take over. One thing that I truly believe is that we get what we give in this world; compassion breeds compassion, patience teaches patience, and a good cry can clear much heartache.
When we came together, Jen and I said family first! With most small businesses they run you, not the other way around, but we didn’t want that. We dared to say, you know what, we’ll have our cake and we’ll eat it too. haha. So that’s what we’ve stuck to. I know soooooo many yoga teachers that don’t do yoga, they teach 30 classes a week to pay the bills and are so burnt out and over it they don’t step on the mat themselves. Jen and I knew that we had to allow for all the little hiccups that would surface along the way.
How do we make Whole Living sing??!! Communication. Open and honest. It just has to be there. Compassion and patience, essential to any relationship really and my all-time favourite, keep your goals in stone and your feet in the sand. Our goal was always to spread the message of Whole Living, to live a life of purpose, intention and creation. How we do that is not specific. Jen is such a fire cracker full of life, pizzaz and a bit of sass, (well maybe a lot of sass!) Haha! Jen thrives on inspiration and creativity, so to quote Patrick Swayze, I couldn’t, “put baby in the corner”, and to be perfectly honest I’m the same way. Getting out of my comfort zone is my comfort zone, if you know what I mean. I think our little think tank meeting are where the magic happens, every week or so, we get together and ramble, the rambling leads us down winding trails of ideas that often become our next and favourite adventure.
Jen and I always wanted to team up with others and bringing their passions and talents to the people and to be able to do that you have to be out there in the community. But what if you just don’t want to face the world today, we all need time to nurture ourselves, at Whole Living we believe if we love ourselves that will spread. So sometimes that’s how Whole Living grows, in the quiet moments, the puttering, the reflection.
We believe a relationship grows just like anything else; when it is fed, nurtured and supported. Whole living is more than a business to us, it is a reflection of us, our beliefs and our love for others. Whole Living’s seed was sown in education, learning and inspiration, and is now growing into something broader and deeper, something that we dreamed about and now we are watching it materialise in front of our eyes. Bit by bit, decision by decision and a whole lot of love and understanding is how we grow and cultivate our dream of Whole Living.
See more of this dream duo @_wholeliving