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Zara Michales

Valuable lessons from loving parents

Zara Michales draws her strength from the love and support of her mum and dad. As small business owners, Sandra and Peter Michales have always worked long hours. But even so, during the 33 years they’ve run their local corner store, they’ve always found the time to help their five children pursue their dreams.

Growing up, Zara Michales and her siblings were always very active and loved playing sport. Sandra was in charge of driving them to soccer, softball and gymnastics practice, and she and Peter were always on hand to give them moral support.

“My mother made sure we all got a chance to do what we wanted to do,” Zara said. “She was at all my soccer games to cheer me on. She was our champion.”

Looking back, Zara is amazed by mother’s unwavering patience and support during those years – even when Zara developed an interest in music and started playing in the school band.

“Our band played that awful song, Tequila, and Mum came to every performance,” Zara laughed. “And when the school band was given the chance to travel to Germany and Austria to perform, my parents paid for me to go along.”

Strong values

While Zara’s parents have financially supported her to follow her passions in life, they also made a point of teaching her the value of money.

“My dad built up a great business from scratch – he even had to borrow $100 in change from my uncle on the first day,” Zara explained. “Mum also worked behind the counter until late in all her pregnancies.”

“I learned about earning your own keep from my teenage years,” she added. “If I wanted to do something, I had to earn half of it by working in the shop, and they would match everything I earned.”

But the money message that stayed with Zara the most came from her grandfather on her father’s side. As an immigrant from Greece, he’d arrived in Australia with nothing and worked hard to support his family and contribute to his new country.

“His advice was: ‘Do what you love, and the money will come’,” said Zara.

Following in their footsteps

The wisdom and guidance Zara received from her family have held her in good stead as an adult. She’s turned her love of soccer and physical fitness into a career as a qualified personal trainer. Like her parents, Zara now runs her own small business, and spends her time teaching fitness classes to children, mothers and the elderly.

Zara is eternally grateful for her parents’ support over the years. On her mum’s birthday each year, Zara thanks her by making scrapbooks and slideshows that celebrate the life Sandra has made for their family. And while Zara used to feel that her dad was tougher on her than her mum, she’s now grateful for the determination and resilience she’s learned from him.

After giving their children so much, Zara’s wish for her parents is that they’ll now take time out for themselves.

“My parents are coming into their 50s now, and their physical health needs to be their main focus,” she said. “I think it will be an important transition time for them.”

Zara believes that hard work and good financial management have helped prepare her parents for retirement – now all they need to do is enjoy it.

“I really hope they’ll travel, so they can see and enjoy the world,” Zara said. “I want them to stop worrying about us, so they can just take a step back and enjoy the moment.”