Dr Charise Deveney is the founder of Let’s Talk Psychology Practice and one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. I’ve had so much fun getting to know her and learning from her in the lead up to our first Brunch Session where she is our special guest speaker.
Here, we do a little role reversal as she very kindly allows me to ask the questions of her.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Charise and I am a mother to three gorgeous, noisy, energetic, and all consuming little people. I have a 7.5year old son, a 5-year old daughter, and a 2-year old daughter. About 8 years ago I decided to set up Private Practice for myself just prior to the birth of my first child. It was crazy timing, some would say, but it just felt right for me. I had a desire to have the flexibility to work the hours that I wanted to work around being a Mum. I have worked in Private Practice for myself ever since and have never looked back. I value being true to myself and self-care. I am driven, passionate, compassionate. My family and friends are central in my world and I am always happy to drop what I am doing if my family or friends are in need.
I value balance and am constantly reflecting on how my motherhood and work worlds are working together. Over the years I have learnt to flow with the demands of running my business and being a Mum, to not take things too seriously, and to be present in my moments regardless of what is happening.
2. What has surprised you most about motherhood?
I don’t actually think I knew what I was getting myself into when I became a Mum. I think that the most surprising thing about Motherhood for me was learning to adjust to the ever changing landscape. I was also surprised by how much my children have taught me about myself. It is like having three little mirrors surrounding me at all times.
3. What is your favourite thing about your work?
Work is more than just work to me- it is part of my being. Over the years I have put together a team of psychologists who are incredibly skilled, supportive, and passionate about what they do. I have an amazing practice manager that keeps me organised and grounded. As a result, being at work never really feels like I am at work- it is a place where I feel energised and engaged.
My work is incredibly varied and rewarding on so many levels. I am a people person and I am intrigued constantly by the stories of peoples lives. The favourite thing about my work would have to be sitting with clients in their deepest and darkest moments and hearing about their most tightly held experiences, thoughts, and feelings and then watching them transform and regain the life and relationships that they so desperately desire. I am constantly humbled to be witness to observing my clients making sense of their experiences and then feeling relief from what ever is going on for them.
5. Did you have any great a-ha moments when you started your own business?
I think that my first great a-ha moment came when I was transitioning into motherhood for the first time. You see, I was 38 weeks pregnant when I decided to set up my own private practice. I planned to return to working soon after his birth and had given myself 5-weeks away from clinical work. I had planned to return very part-time just seeing some of my most regular long-term clients. The balance had begun even before I was in motherhood. I had planned to take 5-weeks away from work however it only ended up being 3-weeks since he decided to stay tucked up inside for an extra 2-weeks past his due date!
My a-ha moment came when I found myself early on in my postpartum period adjusting to motherhood and adjusting to running my own business as a clinician and as a business owner. My son ‘woke’ up to the world when he was about 5-weeks old and the really juggle began. I remember times when I was amazed at how much I could do in any one moment- I could eat my lunch, breastfeed my baby, and run through my next clinical session in my head. It was a steep learning curve and from then on I realised that motherhood and working was about flowing with the ever-changing experiences that presented the unpredictability of caring for a newborn baby and working. My second great ‘a-ha’ moment came when I questioned what I was doing working whilst being mum to a newborn. As you can imagine, this was associated with significant guilt and emotional turmoil. I worked hard to remind myself that in any given moment I was doing the best I could be doing. I also learned a lot about myself- that being a psychologist was not just something that I did for a job, that being a psychologist was as much a part of my being as was being a Mum. I gave permission for both to sit side by side and I let go of any self-judgement.
My third a-ha moment was when I realised that in order for me to be in my own business I needed a lot of support around me- support from my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law, friends, and peers. For without their support then, and now, I would not be where I am today. What this means is that my kids have had the opportunity to form strong attachments not only to myself and my husband but also to significant others in our life. They know that we would stop everything for them and they also know that there are a lot of people around them that love and support them. To see their faces light up when they are with their grandparents or with my girlfriends is priceless.
6. How do you personally manage the juggle between motherhood and running your own business?
In order to manage the juggle between motherhood and running my own business I am constantly assessing my balance- that is the balance between being present in my motherhood role and present in my working role. Taking time out is very important to me and I schedule my leave in order to step off the grid and immerse myself fully in my family relationships. This offers a time boundary for me.
My support network is invaluable. My husband is amazingly supportive and the nature of his work means that he is able to share the parenting load with me. We tend to flow with each other: sometimes he takes more of the parenting load when his work is quiet which allows me to more fully pour myself into my work and at other times I take more of the parenting load when his work is busy. I also have a wonderful network of friends around me and we are constantly picking up and dropping off each others children. What this means is that there is always someone around to help out when someone is in need.
I also make sure that I have my own downtime scheduled in my week. For me downtime exists in the form of yoga and other exercise with friends. This keeps my mind balanced and when my mind is balanced I am more effective at managing the juggle between motherhood and running my business.
7. What are you hoping will be the number one takeaway our audience will receive after our February Brunch Session?
My greatest hope is that the audience will play with the idea of flowing with their experiences as they unfold without judgment, guilt, shame, or regret. I hope that the audience members realise that they are not alone in their ongoing struggle to find harmony between running a business and motherhood. What this looks like is cultivating acceptance, letting go, compassion, and self-kindness. Only then can we be more present, true, and available to our children and to ourselves.
8. If you could give one piece of advice to mums who run their own business, what would it be?
I don’t think that I can limit it to one piece of advice- so my cluster of advise would be: work smart- focus on your core business; surround yourself with a good solid support network; make sure that you are doing something that you enjoy and that you have a passion for- it will energise you; and learn to flow with experience rather than fighting to hold onto or avoid any given experience. It is also so important that you find the balance that works for you- the balance between working and down time will be different for everyone.
9. What's your favourite way to unwind and take some time out?
My favourite way to unwind and take time out is to pack the kids and husband in the car with our camper trailer on, drive up the coast, and find a remote stretch of beach to camp on- a place where I can switch out of my head and right into my experience- to play, swim, jog, do yoga, read books, and eat yummy food!
When I can’t take leave I unwind on my yoga mat and have a daily yoga and meditation practice.
Be Brave, Live Fierce
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