Open Hearted Home
Markus’ Education: SMU
Lilly’s Education: Texas Tech
In 2006, Lilly and Markus Neubauer found themselves working together at a Domino’s Pizza in Lubbock where they spent time at a large sink, washing pots and pans at the end of the workday.
Years later they found themselves at another sink – the one in their first home – washing dirty bottles for their daughter, Heidi.
“We should all have to meet our life partner next to a sink in a commercial kitchen washing dishes because if you can respect each other, talk, have gratitude, and find fun in that, that’s more of what marriage is like than dates in helicopters,” Lilly said.
The Preston Hollow couple will soon be married a decade, a journey that has brought them to their latest endeavor, the family and lifestyle blog “Open Hearted Home.”
Lilly works in marketing and business development for Frame, a dance fitness studio, and Markus works as an associate principal and civil engineer at Pacheco Koch. Together they own and co-author their blog about family life, mindfulness, and their lessons in life.
Raised in Preston Hollow, Lilly graduated from Ursuline Academy and said she inherited a particular definition of success.
“I was a successful person if I grew up and had the corner office, and the biggest house on the block, and a boat, or awesome vacation photos, and I think all of that is amazing,” she said. “We learned through our 20s that we were working in overdrive to earn these things. They weren’t even really things we wanted, we just kind of felt that once we had them, we would be validated, and we would feel like we were good.”
Lilly and Markus were at the height of their professions, volunteering in the city, reading all of the parenting books but were both unhappy. Despite having these textbook definitions of success, something was missing from their home.
They had to reevaluate their relationship with their parents’ definition of success.
“Maybe that’s not ours anymore,” Markus, an SMU alumnus, said. “Well, what is ours? Where do we create that? It starts here at home with the family and having that be the first priority.”
Through their blog and a new approach towards life, the duo has created their definitions of accomplishment.
“American families just really aren’t in tune with their feelings anymore and so since we’re not following our feelings and our hearts, and our intuition, we’ve built and idolized these versions of success that aren’t attainable,” Lilly said.
The blog was a way for the couple to start a dialogue of following an authentic path, rather than finding gratification through outwards goals, approval, or objects.
While they continue to work as a couple and family, they said their desire to keep creating content is sparking more in-depth conversations in their marriage.
“We’re just inviting people in to see hopefully themselves and just the regular struggles and triumphs,” Lilly said. “To end every day and be thankful for any failures we had and proud of any efforts that we put forth.”
Q: What has been your most rewarding accomplishment in your personal life.
A: Creating the open family that Lilly, Heidi, and I share. It’s a space where we can each express what we feel and need and where we help each other grow and improve. Most of all, it’s a place where we can share the biggest laugh about something or absolutely nothing – and every time, it’s the best, most heart-warming moment of my life.
Q: If you could, what advice would you have for your teenage self and why?
A: Grace, authenticity, and integrity will take you a lot farther than hustle. Hard work and self-sacrificing values were propped up in my academic upbringing as qualities of a successful person, but I’ve found those come naturally when I’m honoring myself and using my creativity.