Thoughts, Ideas & Experiences from Mark Adam Douglass

The Non-Traditional Wedding Speech

As most of you already know, and have probably seen me spamming all over Facebook, Jess and I finished our fabulous #JAMSeptemberToRemember with our wedding. The whole wedding was an amazing success, even though there were some unforeseen events. The success of the day is a testament to Jess's hard work and dedication to make it a truly special day.

For my newly wed wife, I planned a little something special for her, which was a non-traditional speech and a couple of performances. Unfortunately my speech was interrupted, as it was a little longer than usual, and they needed to cut the cake. Although some thought it was too long, the most important thing is that Jess loved it. And as it got cut off, I fumbled over the finish, and didn't get out the main point of my speech, so I have adapted my speech into written form here.

So if you weren't there, you get a little insight into our wedding (besides all of the fabulous photos floating around. And if you were there, you can relive the experience, or skip to the end, just after the Piano Performance.

Adapted/Planned Speech of Mark Adam Douglass, 30th September, 2014

Before Jess

I love stories

And tonight I'm going to share a few

I’ve lived a life full of many different stories, and there are people here from many different parts of those stories. Whilst they know their little part, a lot of people don’t know about other parts of my life.

Tonight, I’d like to share some of those stories.

Firstly, there was my mum. She was there in the beginning.

I was born in Balmain Hospital, and we lived in Leichardt, then Dulwich Hill, then Dharruk, a suburb of Mount Druitt. Whilst Mount Druitt has a bad name, I think I turned out alright.

I think my favourite line I heard from someone about me and Mount Druitt is: I can’t believe you speak so well for someone who comes from Mount Druitt”

Whilst growing up in ‘The Druitt’, I made two great friends who lived across the road. Daniel and Jason. Unfortunately our lives drifted apart in our early twenties. I do miss those guys though.

And whilst growing up I have many great memories of family get-togethers, like Christmases and Birthdays. My favourite part of all of those: the great conversation over a delicious meal. That to me is what makes an event special.

I was vice captain in Primary School, and very good at mathematics, which earned me a place in an Academically Selective High School.

During the high school years is where two major paths of my life were born.

The first was mathematics. I was always in the top class, I scored 90 something in 3U and 4U mathematics, and I went on to study mathematics and astronomy at university, excelling in pure mathematics. I then later did an education degree, and became a high school mathematics teacher.

Both at school, and outside of school, my other passion was sport, and being physical. I could play almost any sport, and loved learning physical things. I never excelled in any particular area, except race walking!!!

My sister also enjoyed doing physical things. She used to go to a gymnastics and dance school, and one time when we were picking her up, towards the end of year 10, I found myself fascinated by Gymnastics. So I decided to try it out.

Starting gymnastics at 16 was tough. I was inflexible, weak, and didn’t bounce. About 6 months after I started, the club introduced acrobatics. My heights and size, big and lanky, compared to the others in the club, small and light, was a great advantage. So I started throwing all of these dancers around, and I was hooked!!!

Two years later, when I was 18, I discovered juggling. A street performer was doing diabolo, and I was mesmerised. I talked to him after the show, and he told me where to buy one. So I did, along with a book, and I taught myself.

Throughout university, I studied mathematics, and trained in acrobatics and juggling. A beautiful balance of the physical and mental.

1998: I did my first paid gig, being part of the opening of the 10,000th Burger King in the world, and I was paid with fire clubs, from my dear friend Sid.

1999: I represented Australia at the World Gymnaestrada; I graduated from university with Bachelor of Science (major Mathematics, sub-major Astronomy); My daughter Kayla was born.

2000: I spent the year deciding what was next, and working at K-Mart; I performed in the opening and closing ceremony of the Olympics

2001: I graduated from university with a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary Mathematics)

2002: I did my first year of teaching at Elderslie High School, a public school in south-west Sydney.

2003: I did my second year of teaching at Kambala, a private girls school in Rose Bay.

2004: I continued working at Kambala; I ran the first Sydney Juggling Convention; I went to the International Jugglers Association convention in the USA, and did a 3 day workshop with my now-favourite juggler, Jay Gilligan; I attended my first European Juggling Convention, which had 4,500 jugglers; I started working at the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, where I ended up meeting my best friend James, who was the Best Man at the wedding; 2004 was also my year of TV, and I was "We’ll Call You", "Sunrise Weather", "Sydney Weekender", plus another similar one, and "Home and Away"; through Home and Away, I met Nat, and throughout the years met lots of other lovely jugglers, magicians, clowns and other performers, many who attended the wedding, like Myke, Adrian, Dylan, Bec, Heidi, and Nadia.

2005: I organised the second Sydney Juggling Convention; I attended the New Zealand Juggling Convention; I attended the Tasmanian Circus Festival.

2006: I organised the first International Guest for the Sydney Juggling Convention, Matt Hall.

2007: I was the International Guest for the South African Juggling Convention, which is how I met Garth and his family, who have since moved to Australia, and he made the amazing balloon Bride and Groom for our wedding; I also competed in the stage competition of the International Juggling Convention, against people from USA, Germany, Russia, Japan, and of course, Australia, where I made it to the finals;

2008: I simply continued doing gigs, and attending conventions in Australia.

2009: I moved to Brisbane, where I managed the circus school at C!RCA. Through that experience, I met so many wonderful people, and had many wonderful students, including Ashleigh, whom I mentor now. And the strength of the relationship extended to her parents, Kerry and Tony, who drove all the way down from Brisbane; I also made a truly strong connection with Sue and Dane, my ballroom dance teachers, who also travelled down for our wedding, and who we often stay with when we are in Brisbane. I am so thankful for what they taught me about dancing, and life.

At this point I read a beautiful piece of writing that Ashleigh wrote about the effect I've had on her life, and her well wishes for Jess and I. You can read it here.

2010: I organised a small tour with my favourite juggler in the world, Jay Gilligan, with shows and workshops in Sydney and Brisbane; I was a major part of organising and training of C!RCA Zoo, the youth circus, to perform at Brisbane Festival, a major highlight of my circus teaching career.

2011: I moved back to Sydney, and sadly my uncle passed away. I re-established my performing career, and had my first surgery, for an issue that's been plaguing me for the last three years, with four surgeries.

And most importantly, I met Jess through online dating.

In order to honour the time before I met Jess, I put together a little juggling performance, which included: Hat, Cane, and Ball; Juggling 3, 4, and 5 balls; Hoop isolations; and one act that Jess loves sharing the story about, but has never actually seen performed live, juggling a bowling ball, an egg, and a cup, finishing with the egg smashing in the cup, and me drinking raw-egg.

After Jess

Even in the 3 years together, Jess and I have already created many great stories.

I still vividly remember the first time I saw Jess, walking down the street in her black boots and black dress, then walking across the road to the Thai place where we had our first date. Exactly 1 year later, we re-lived that same date, but this time, with an engagement ring on her finger. And then 3 years, to the day, we are getting married, here, now, in front of you. 

After 6 months, we moved in together. We lived in Thurston St at Penrith, Brown St at Penrith, and then, as Jess had always lived by the beach, we moved to the Central Coast, and lived in Ozone St in The Entrance, and now live in Norfolk St in The Entrance. 

One conversation I vividly remember from our first date is Jess telling about her desire to paint, but how she wasn't getting much done. I basically said, remove the blockages, drop the excuses, and just paint. And so slowly, and steadily, she painted a little, and the first Christmas we were together, I received the first completed paintings she had done in years. And then, and snowball of creativity took over her, and during one period, she painted over 150 paintings in 3 months.

Jess also got addicted to photography. And I've written so much in that time, more than any other period of my life, with one period of 18 months, writing and publishing every day, and releasing two books. And we combined the photography and writing, with a blog called Minimalist Couple. We started an artists collective, The Central Coast Collective, Inc. We started a website business, JAM Digital. I interviewed 50 people for the 50th anniversary of a soccer club, and together we created a book, sharing stories and photos. Also, during that time, I was doing a lot of after school tutoring, first at a gifted and talented tutoring centre, and then at a few other businesses, until just recently, when we opened our own tutoring franchise. Through these few years, especially the last year and a half, we have met some wonderful people, including Dez, June (who was our celebrant), Donna (who was our caterer), Shari, Ellen, James, and Sumant (who was our photographer).

And lastly, one other pursuit for me has been learning to play piano, and so I created a piece especially for Jess, and especially for this day, called "Falling In Love, One Day At A Time".

I played a piece of music on my electronic piano.


And even over just the last month, we have created many memorable moments in our #JAMSeptemberToRemember. Besides wedding preparations and running our business, this month has included: Jess skydiving on the 1st of September; Mark being trained in Online tutoring for our business; our tastebuds being tittilated at our menu tasting; meeting one of our favourite authors, Seth Godin, at a full day seminar; meetings about our radio winnings - we won $21,000 worth of radio advertising through a competition; a fun board games afternoon with families from our tutoring centre; being filmed for a documentary for SBS 2, in relation to our work with Minimalist Couple; a Bachelors weekend for me at the Melbourne Juggling Convention, where I taught 10 workshops, orchestrated a mysterious collaborative juggling performance called the 12 Days of Juggling, and received a meat tray lap dance; and we went to a good friends wedding, 3 days before ours.


Of all the couples I’ve met over the years, the ones who are truly in love share the most magnificent stories. I look forward to creating so many more stories with the love of my life, Jess. And from now until we are old, I look forward to sharing those stories with anyone who will listen. Especially our children and grandchildren.

To a life filled with magnificent stories

Our wedding will be a story I share with people for a long time. One story in particular I look forward to sharing is what we are about to do next. The story of our wedding waltz.

Jess and I finished with us dancing a Wedding Waltz, of which we only choreographed the first few bars, and then simply danced the rest, floating around the floor in one another's arms, lost in one another's eyes, and enjoying one of our favourite songs.

That's all I had to say :-)

Taste Of The Climax

Taste Of The Climax

Our September To Remember will finish with a very important climax: our wedding day. 

Today, we got to have a taste of what that experience will be, with our caterers delighting our taste buds with delicious dishes, which were both vegetarian and gluten-free. 


 Whilst the days are counting down to the wedding, there are many more adventures to be had between now and then. I can't wait to tell you all about them.



September To Remember

We have an amazing month ahead of us, and it will surely be a month to remember. 

It starts with Jess jumping out of a plane tomorrow, whilst I try to catch her, and finishes with Jess and I getting married. And there is a whole bunch of other great adventures in between. 

I'm going to (attempt to) write about our daily adventures here, and you can also keep tabs on us on Facebook with #JAMSeptemberToRemember. And if you're not Facebook friends with Jess or I, then please send us a request. 

What are you going to do so you can also have a September To Remember?

Double Procrastination Experiment

Procrastination 1: Washing up dishes.

Procrastination 2: Backlog of emails.

Experiment: Set up space so I can do either. When I feel myself wanting to procrastinate from one, I can do the other. When I feel myself procrastinating from the other, I go back to the other.

Results: A success. I got a lot done, and enjoyed myself in the process.

Business Is Booming

Well, maybe booming is a little strong, but I would definitely suggest we are successfully growing our business. After just two weeks, we have 14 students enrolled, with a few assessment and enrolments hanging in the balance.

I am loving many elements of this new business. One element I didn't realise I would love, although I have loved it in the past when I was managing the circus school at Circa, was how connected you become with the whole family. I am loving the depth of the relationships that are forming, and look forward to watching them grow, and waiting for them to start blooming.