Three UCalgary Alumni Power Couples
By Kala Ortwein
Last Valentine’s Day, the University of Calgary celebrated 50 years of campus romance, so it’s no secret that Cupid spends plenty of time here.
This year, we are interested in alumni who have reached #powercouple status. Whether they are building an empire together or they are finding ways to better the world individually, these UCalgary alumni have figured out how to balance their professional, personal and love lives. The bottom line: You've got to be ridiculously good together to make it work.
We spoke to six proud alumni who shared some of their tried-and-true self-care routines and (realistic) date nights in spite of their 80- to 100-plus-hour collective workweeks. They also answered the important question that all of us struggle with: Who should do the dishes?
Rosalynn Peschl, BComm’10, and Houston Peschl, BA’98, MBA’10
Name: Rosalynn Peschl
Job Title: Instructor, Haskayne School of Business, Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Hours worked per week: Currently on maternity leave; regularly, at least 40 hours.
What is your ideal (and realistic) date night? A yummy meal with good wine.
Who does the dishes? Houston is an amazing cook and cooks all of our meals, so I usually do the dishes.
What does self-care look like for you? A little time with my horses is always good for the soul. I also love a hot bath with a good book; a good deep-tissue massage goes a really long way, too.
What advice do you have for other couples who are still figuring out work-life balance? Figure out what is most important to you; don’t let others dictate that. Then think about where you want to be in five years and work backwards from there. Make decisions today that help you achieve that five-year “future state.”
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? TBD. We have an eight-week-old son, so finishing an entire meal together right now is luxury. Maybe Houston has something up his sleeve…?
Name: Houston Peschl
Degrees: BA’98, MBA’10
Job Title: Instructor, Haskayne School of Business, Entrepreneurship
Hours worked per week: 50+
What is your ideal (and realistic) date night? Having a nice dinner at home with my wife, son, Atticus, and dog, Luna.
Who does the dishes? Whoever does not cook.
What does self-care look like for you? Being far away from the city, and ideally riding a horse or a bike in the woods.
What advice do you have for other couples who are still figuring out work-life balance? I would encourage couples to define what wealth really means for them.
As Steve Jobs said before he passed away, “Non-stop pursuit of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me. The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.”
For Rosalynn and I, we actively set goals to create a career that could allow us to be continuously challenged intellectually, and have the ability to spend time doing what we love doing. I also encourage each person in the relationship to pursue his or her own goals with passion and excitement. I think knowing where you get your energy restored is so important, and when to recognize when you need to do some self-restoration.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? No clue….
Jennifer Bysterveld, BA’97, and Heather Gallant, BSc’10
Name: Jennifer Bysterveld
Job Title: Project Manager – Construction
Hours worked per week: 40-50
What is your ideal (and realistic) date night? We would make dinner together and then go hear some live music at a nearby pub.
Who does the dishes? Heather loves to cook and is an artist with food and flavour. I love doing prep work and watching what she does. And I am happy to do the dishes after, if she doesn’t beat me to it.
What does self-care look like for you? Turning off when I am off work. Walks, baths and lots of rest are small luxuries I like to indulge in. Being outdoors and connecting to the natural world is also very important to my mental health and understanding my place in the world.
What advice do you have for other couples who are still figuring out work-life balance? There are so many opportunities to spend time together doing small daily activities. Cooking together is one of our favourites. It is the perfect downtime where we can carve out some time and engage with each other. The small moments give balance and are actually the most special.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Adult Night at Telus Spark. I have never been and I can’t imagine anyone more perfect to enjoy this with than Heather.
Name: Heather Gallant
Job Title: Environment and regulatory manager – Oil & Gas
Hours worked per week: 50+
What is your ideal (and realistic) date night? I love to make dinner for us, and we often go to the local pub afterward. It’s small and full of authentic and interesting people. They also consistently have some of the best local music I’ve ever seen. It’s very cozy, close by and welcoming, and it’s my favourite typical date.
Who does the dishes? Jen typically does the dishes. She knows I hate doing them.
What does self-care look like for you? I cook quite a bit; it’s meditative for me. I also like to get outdoors whenever possible for walks. We live near some amazing paths along the river and taking even an hour to get fresh air and exercise can make such a large difference in stress levels.
What advice do you have for other couples who are still figuring out work-life balance? When work is overwhelmingly busy, I plan nothing else in addition. That way, any free time is dedicated to my partner. The harder part is disconnecting from work mentally so I am present during that time. I think it is important to make a concerted effort to not let a busy work schedule consume your thoughts when you have time together, especially if it’s limited.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? We are going to adult night at the Telus Spark Science Centre. I’ve never been, but I’m a slight science nerd and am really looking forward to it. Plus wine.
Anar Simpson, BSc’86, MCS’01, and Todd Simpson, BSc’87, PhD’91
Name: Anar Simpson
Degree: BSc’86, MCS’01
Job Title: Global Ambassador, Technovation and Deputy, UN High Level Panel, Women’s Economic Empowerment
Hours worked per week: 35…ish
What is your ideal (and realistic) date night? Dancing the night away! And, before that, cooking a great meal together.
Who does the dishes? Usually the person who did not cook.
What does self-care look like for you? Being fit in body and soul. The former is easier to attain.
What advice do you have for other couples who are still figuring out work-life balance? Be present in each sphere since work is really a part of life. Being able to put work on “mute” when you are at home is a great skill.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Spending it with Todd. With our travel schedules, sometimes this does not work.
Name: Todd Simpson
Degree: BSc’87, PhD’91
Job Title: Venture Partner, iNovia
Hours worked per week: Some weeks, 60… some weeks, 30
What is your ideal (and realistic) date night? A stroll along the waterfront; dinner with an amazing view; dancing or another activity with a group of friends.
Who does the dishes? [I’m] the dishwasher. For many years, Anar was. Hopefully, we split things much more equally now.
What does self-care look like for you?
WISE: Wellness (Fitness, eating right), Intelligence (always learning), Spirit (morals, always do the right thing) and Empathy (see other viewpoints, understand and help others).
What advice do you have for other couples who are still figuring out work-life balance?
Always be home for dinner. Things ebb and flow; focus on the longer term and don’t overreact to short-term issues. Family has a higher correlation to happiness than wealth does.
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Every day is Valentine’s Day: [A day of] respect, support and love [for] Anar and our daughters…. And maybe some English chocolates.
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