Today is the anniversary of the day that changed everything about my life, in a way that was completely unplanned and unexpected.
It’s 17 years today since I met my husband, business partner, and love of my life Stuart.
Actually that’s a bit of a lie, we’d both attended Monash Uni together back in the late 80s, but while we knew each other there was never any hint of romantic involvement, despite the stories Stuart loves to spin for our kids about how he chased me but I would never give him the time of day. Completely factually incorrect, and the magnitude of my callous rejections seems to grow with each telling, much to the kids’ great delight.
The reality was that we certainly knew each other and were both part of the same friendship group, (and had equally terrible bad 80s hairstyles as illustrated above!) but that was as far as it went, and we finished uni and went off to lead our separate lives, where I married my high school sweetheart and Stuart interspersed working in pharmacy with summers in the UK playing professional cricket.
Our worlds collided again on a Friday night in 1998 at a mutual friend’s birthday dinner. Stuart had just arrived back from the UK and I was still recovering from the demise of said marriage. I’d moved on from my initial slightly dramatic position of ‘life as I know it is over and I might as well focus on my career as I’m never going to know personal happiness of any kind,’ but another serious relationship was the absolute last thing I was either looking for or planning on.
Stuart, on the other hand, went home from that dinner and declared to his parents over breakfast the next morning that by the end of the weekend he would have a girlfriend, and he expected to marry her in the not-too-distant future (cue more than a little panic at my end when he disclosed that piece of information the following week!). History however, will record he was correct, we were engaged four months later, bought our first pharmacy the following week, which quickly moved on to see us with four pharmacies in three states and over 100 staff by that Christmas.
We paused briefly to get married in a beautiful celebration with family and friends at a winery in country Victoria the following April, 14 months after that initial dinner, then returned to the job of building a national business and riding all of the highs and lows that are part and parcel of the life of business owners. We quickly discovered that as well as being crazy about each other and very happily married, we were also excellent business partners whose skills were different but very complementary (many years later this was actually scientifically confirmed when our leadership team undertook Gallup’s Strengths Training, and the Gallup facilitator told us we had the best set of complementary strengths for business partners that she’d ever come across, not something we’d really factored in that first night at the Hofbrau Haus!).
That’s not to say it’s always been easy, nothing could be further from the truth. Business challenges have presented way more regularly than personal challenges, but the fact that we’ve always been there for each other has allowed us to weather both types and not only survive but thrive.
From a vow renewal in Vegas last April to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary (fulfilling my long held dream of a Vegas wedding with an Elvis impersonator celebrant), to the myriad Epic parties we’ve held with our teams around the country, we’ve always made it a priority to celebrate whenever the opportunity arises and this in turn has become a vital part of the Epic culture.
We’re very different; the fact the kids call me ‘The Enforcer’ and Stuart ‘Holiday Dad’ probably illustrates where some of those differences lie! But rather than being a source of frustration, we’ve been able to move on and turn that into a position of strength, knowing that we each bring different skills to the table and allocating roles and responsibilities accordingly.
So on the anniversary of the day my world changed forever, I always pause to reflect not only on how glad I am that I didn’t skip out on dinner that night in 1998, but also that no matter how much planning and preparation you do, you never know when the moment or meeting that can change the path of your life might occur.
I’m so fortunate to have met the person I walk hand-in-hand with each and every day, facing together whatever challenges present along the way, and I will never take that privilege for granted.