Wes Farnell is a Business Owner

Wes Farnell is probably my best Skype-friend in the whole world. We have never actually met in person, but have somehow managed to strike up a friendship that extends beyond the boundaries of business.

We met whilst I was working in the wonderful world of coffee, pushing plastic cups throughout the world. He, along with his wife Jen, was our Canadian distributor and we’d Skype regularly. Often conversation would turn to the progress of our young families.

For this reason, I knew Wes would have a good take on being a Dad to Morgan and Logan. He is intelligent, wacky, witty and knows his way with coffee.

Meet Wes.
— Lach

"I think that my philosophy on Fatherhood has everything to do with my Father"  Wes Farnell

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

Excited!  So excited! (I hope the exclamation marks convey that). I wasn’t scared or worried but this was probably down to naivety rather than anything else.

What was the birth of your kids like?

There is nothing that I have ever done, before or since, that can equate to the amazing and unique experience of being there for the birth of my children.  As we chose to have natural births, I had to remain as calm and collected as possible so that Jen didn’t freak out at me freaking out.  With our first, Morgan, he didn’t want to come out and decided that he’d make it a challenge.  It went from being controlled and relaxed, and even a little funny (you can find a little humor in everything), to intense, scary, relief, and ultimately a massive amount of joy and emotion.

With Logan, it was a very different experience, as he wanted out: as soon as he realized it was go-time he wasn’t waiting for anyone.  Of course, the same emotions were there but, when you have very little time to think about it and things go super smoothly, it’s definitely more of just the joy.

One other thing that stands out in my mind is how immensely proud I was of how Jen dealt with the differing circumstances of each birth.  I’m pretty confident that I would have begged for drugs and passed out if we had traded places.

What do you think Fatherhood has taught you?

 That sleep is a luxury, not a right.

And that there is no greater responsibility than caring for, nurturing, and developing your children to be the best people that they can be.

What is the most challenging part of being a Father so far?

We had our first child, moved country, and started our company all within three months, so I would say that the biggest challenge was - and still is - making sure that I spend as much time as possible with my family, whilst making sure that our business continues to be successful and grow.

What is the most rewarding part of becoming a Father?

Watching the boys develop and grow in to the men that they will become.  Every day there are new cognitive and social developments - a new opinion, expression – and it is so exciting, and usually hilarious, to be a part of.

What was your life like before you were a Father?

Both Jen and I had corporate jobs in London – we worked hard (well we thought so, at the time), we went out most nights, we travelled a lot. We enjoyed our lives to the fullest.  But that was a different chapter!

 Do you have a Fatherhood philosophy?

I think that my philosophy on Fatherhood has everything to do with my Father:

·         Do the best you can

·         Whatever life throws at you, be a positive role model

·         Be there whenever you are needed

·         Don’t shy away from the difficult conversations and tasks

·         Encourage and facilitate learning

·         Be honest and truthful with your kids

·         Show as much love as possible to your entire family

·         Have awareness and compassion for the people and world around you

There’s more, but this is a good start…

What elements and memories from your childhood do you look to replicate for your kids?


A feeling of safety and security, and knowing that I was loved – I think that this is an essential element for any child growing up.

What is Eight Ounce Coffee Supply all about and where is your business heading?

From an operational point of view, we import cool specialty coffee gear and then distribute, wholesale, or retail it.

But the basis of our business is to work with, and support, great people – employees, suppliers, and customers – and to help in generating a great community in the industry we are in.

And make some money.

With regards to where we are heading – it’s a tough one.  We have big opportunities, and plans, in many different directions.  Much of it is directed by opportunity and how much sleep we can get by without.

Tell us about the challenges of establishing a business and a family at the same time?

Making time for my family and time for myself.  There will always be challenges, whenever you have children, or start a business.  But you have to recognize this beforehand and remember where your real priorities lie: with your family.

What unique aspects of Canadian culture and lifestyle do you think will be advantageous to your children’s upbringing?

Of course, easy access to poutine and maple syrup will give them a massive head start in the global markets.

Aside from that, Canada on the whole is safer, has more opportunity, and feels more socially balanced than the UK.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the UK, but it is exceptionally expensive and socially divided.

How do you manage sharing so much of your life with your wife- both at work and home?

We are super lucky that we are perfectly complimentary for each other in our relationship and in business.  We love spending time together – lots of time – and our skillsets are balanced.

We also have the same goals in life and in business – which is essential.

What influences your worldview these days?

 My small group of close friends, my experience of life living outside of North America and, of course the BBC.  It may not be perfect, but it’s the best news organisation in the world.  And when every second of your day is accounted for, you need a single point of reference.

What are your strongest memories of your own Dad?

Loving, funny, fair, and the light in any room. Ok, this is true, but I have two more specific memories:

I had chosen to miss school for several days in a row with one of my friends so we set up at my house, and watched TV (I lived with my father and brother as my mother had left several years earlier).  My dad was ‘informed’ by one of my schoolmates, via her father who happened to work with him, that I was not actually in class.  She was apparently concerned for my wellbeing.

As we were on the sofa at home, watching only the best daytime shows the networks had to offer, I heard the sound of a smooth V8 coming up the street, and I quickly proceeded into panic mode.  I hid my friend in the closet and lay on the sofa pretending to be sick.

This did not have the desired effect, and I was swiftly returned to school where I was, ironically, suspended for two weeks.  What I learned that day was that the disappointment of my father was worse than anything else he could have done to me.  This is a memory that has always been with me.

The second: one morning, my Dad was leaving for work and, for some reason, I called him back, hugged him, and told him that I Ioved him: he replied in kind.  Those were the last words we ever exchanged.

Do you think he did a good job?

I would like to think so. 

What was the best thing he ever taught you?

My Dad wanted to travel the world when he retired.  He was stationed in Kenya when in the Army and wanted to return.  He also wanted to travel around the Middle East.  As he died at 57, he never got this opportunity so, whilst not directly, this instilled in me the lesson not to put things off until tomorrow that you can do today.  Life should be lived, not put on hold.

As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

I believe that one of the biggest challenges that we all face is the adultification of children.  There is no doubt that the exposure that our kids have to excessive sex and violence has a negative impact on them and you can only protect them from it for a small window of time. The challenge is to equip your children with the skills to be Follable to assess what is, and what is not acceptable, but it will be a difficult task.

What are the key things you want or hope for, for your kids?

To be confident, to do something they value, to believe and commit to everything that they do.  And, when an opportunity presents itself, to grab it with both hands.

What do you think of Fathers today?

In the past few decades, many fathers have learnt that they can have an emotional relationship with their children, not just an authoritative one: this can only be a good thing.  However, I can only base this opinion on the fathers that I know.

I think generally speaking, that every father wants the best for their children: many may not have the skills to deliver it.

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should aim to achieve?

To instill a range of moral and social values in your children, and to give them the ability and strength to formulate their own views and opinions.

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Brad Eastman is an Artist

There is something about the detail and order in Beastman’s work that appeals to the inner control freak within me. It is both creative and structured. You may have seen his works on walls across the southern hemisphere, in galleries, murals and on the streets.

Brad was kind enough to come grab a coffee with me when I was in Bali recently and we chatted about his life over there, as well as creativity and fatherhood. He comes across as a considered dude with a relaxed outlook and wise head. He and his wife Kel, along with their two kids Eamon and Evander, seem to be living the life in Canngu, Bali.
He is an Artist, Creative and Father.

Meet Brad.
— Lach

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

I was excited, happy, scared, nervous and had a head full of questions and potential scenarios playing out in my mind, both good and bad.

 What do you remember from that experience of the first birth?

You definitely get that sense of overwhelming emotion when you see this new human you made, it’s awesome! Leading up to the birth is just a rollercoaster and full of wonder, you just don’t know how your life is going to be after the baby is born. I also gained a huge amount of respect for my wife and all mothers out there; having a child takes such a huge toll on their entire body and mind.

What do you think Fatherhood has taught you?

How amazing and absolutely insane human life is. I have also learnt almost too much about baby products.

What is the most challenging part of being a Father so far?

Those kids chew up so much of your time and energy, it’s really hard to maintain anything at the same level you did it before you had kids. Also a 2 year old can be the biggest test of your patience that you will ever have in your life.

What is the most rewarding part of becoming a Father?

Just knowing you created a human with the woman you love is so rewarding. Seeing them learn new things everyday is just the best. And hugs from your kids are the best.

What was your life like before you were a Father?

Much more slow paced and more stress-free I guess. My wife and I had so much more time to spend together; our life was more about enjoying each other and sharing our experiences. Since having kids our life has somewhat automatically become about the kids more than us. We are trying to change that from now into the future. Also before the kids we were much more spontaneous and able to go do anything anytime, now we tend to revolve our life around their schedule because it just makes things go smoother.

 You have two kids now, how has having the second child differed from the first time around?

Two kids is more than double the work, it just makes doing things so much harder. Looking after two kids alone is really hard work. Also I think we have been much more relaxed as parents with the second child, we just felt really confident in the parenting and sorting out of a baby,because we had already done it once before.

What elements and memories from your childhood do you look to replicate for your kids?

I want my kids to be well travelled and remember good places, good people and good times. Those memories from my childhood are so strong. Otherwise I don’t think I’m looking to relive my childhood through my kids or anything. I’m positive their childhood will be way different to mine, and hopefully a lot better too!

Tell us about how you came to be an internationally known artist splitting time between Sydney and Bali – this wouldn’t have been an overnight thing?

I have no idea how I ended up where I am now in terms of my art career, I just kept making my art over many, many years and now I am in this place where I can support my family doing what I love. It’s awesome! Moving the family over to Bali has been such a good decision, we love the lifestyle and location here in Canggu. Being here, my wife and I have lots more time to spend with each other and on our creative projects.

Your aesthetic is quite recognisable and vibrant- where do you draw your influence from outside other artists?

Growing up I was influenced a lot by skateboarding culture, I loved all the artists and designers behind all the branding and board graphics of the 90s. Then I studied graphic design when I finished high school, after that I have always been influenced by design aesthetics, geometry and colour theories. I never stopped drawing pictures and eventually just developed my own style which is a reflection of everything I am interested in really. The work has just developed and progressed forward for the last 15 years. At the moment I am influenced by patterns in nature, aerial landscapes, Balinese handicraft and ideas of the future.

How do you balance running East Editions (your business with your wife), creative pursuits and family?

Really badly, I am quite hopeless and balancing my time effectively. My head is always full of all the things that I need to get done, and I never seem to get ahead and get them all done. My wife is always cursing my time management! Hopefully I can find a good balance with it all soon, at the moment I pretty much just constantly work my arse off and hope everything gets done and I don’t forget to do something important.

Do you see raising children as a creative endeavour?

Yeah for sure I do - my wife and I created two humans together, it blows my mind!


What would be the dream project to work on?

I have no idea... but hopefully it lands in my email inbox soon.

What are your strongest memories of your Dad?

My parents owned and ran an awesome retail store while I was growing up, the store was really unique and full of gifts, games and novelties. My dad worked almost every day there at the store my whole childhood, so I always have these great memories of my dad at the shop and we used to always be in the shop too and playing around the shopping centre it was in. He loved that store. My dad also plays the piano really well, so I always remember him on the piano too.

Do you think he did a good job?

Yeah I think so! He worked his arse off to provide me and my three brothers an awesome upbringing in a big house with bikes, skateboards, music, computers, clothes, games etc - all the stuff you want to try and learn as a kid. He was always really encouraging of all my creative experiments growing up, and I think he managed to ensure I had good manners and was kind to others.

What was the best thing he ever taught you?

He taught me to be patient and that learning new things takes lots of time and dedication.


As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

Every day is a challenge, I have no idea what the biggest challenge will be. But that’s why it’s so awesome having kids, it’s like the ultimate life challenge. You just never know how it’s all going to pan out. I love not knowing, it makes my life exciting and it has more purpose and meaning.

What are the key things you want or hope for, for your kids?

I hope they can be confident in who they are as a unique person and just pursue all the things they love in the world with confidence. I really think they will have an awesome life if they can do that. I will also encourage them to be risk takers.

What do you think of Fathers today?

Meh... It’s a retail industry cash grab.

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should aim to achieve?

A solid friendship with your child.

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Guy Mason is a Pastor

Guy Mason is the Lead Pastor and founder of City on a Hill church in Melbourne, Australia. It is the church I have been a part of for the past 7 years and I’ve know Guy for pretty much that whole time. He is a master communicator, deep theological thinker and someone who is able to take the message of the bible and apply it to contemporary culture. Something so many others fail spectacularly at. The church has benefited from these gifts, starting out with only a dozen members meeting in a pub to now over 1,500 across three different locations. If being a Pastor to all these people doesn’t keep Guy busy enough, he is also Father to Summer, Zach and Jacob. He is a church planter, long suffering Melbourne Football Club supporter and a genuine go-getter. Meet Guy.
— Lach
 "Someone once said to me that a child will never love their father as much as a father will love their child." Guy Mason

 "Someone once said to me that a child will never love their father as much as a father will love their child." Guy Mason

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?


We’d been trying for two years when Vanessa came in with that stick for the pregnancy test and was in tears, so it was a very moving time. It was part relief because we’d been trying for a couple of years, with no luck or success, and part thankful because I knew it meant so much to my wife. Then complete nerves for me. I was like 'Oh crap!'

How did you handle not being able to conceive straight AWAY?


I think that is the thing. When you are young, you are told don’t even look at a women the wrong way unless she gets pregnant! Then when you are married you expect it to happen straight away, and that is not what happened for us. It took time. For me it was fine, personally I was OK but the sore point was seeing my wife who was very keen to be a mum. The thought that maybe she couldn’t have kids was getting worse and worse. Every month, when she realised she wasn’t pregnant, it would be a sad time. For example I remember the day she found out her sister got pregnant again and she just burst out in tears. There are those mixed emotions when you want to celebrate with people but at the same time it is really difficult. Now since then, I have met a bunch of people who have been through similar and much more difficult situations where they cant have kids. It’s actually very common but it is something that we just don’t talk about culturally.

What is the most challenging part of being a father?


I am a selfish person and kids require you to be very other-centred. I think consistency is the thing. I can have great moments where I am like 'Yep, we are at the swing, we are having fun, I’m encouraging, I’m pushing' then other times where I am like 'Dude, I just cant be bothered serving you right now!' You have ideals in your mind of great moments and its going to be like this, but the great moments actually require lots of discipline, service, patience and consistency, so I think overall that is what is tricky.

What is the most rewarding part of being a father FOR you?


I love seeing the world through kids eyes again. We are all kids and I think childishness has a beauty to it. Like Zach is just bent on how strong God is.
"Can he beat a ninja?"
Yes.
“What about 500 ninjas?” and it just keeps going on and on. I just love seeing his little mind play with that. “What if it wasn’t the real God but a fake God- would he win?” It just goes on! Summer was always obsessed with these little flowers and just helping her to see God’s creative hand at work in creation.

WHAT DO YOU MISS ABOUT THE TIME BEFORE YOU WERE A FATHER?


I miss road trips! Like ‘Hey Ness, let’s get in the car and go for a weekend to Torquay!’ Travelling, things like that just becomes more challenging. It now takes four hours to leave the house!

What is your Fatherhood philosophy?


I feel like in God I have a perfect example of love. It’s a love that is consistent, unconditional, other-centred, secure, affirming, strong, discipling when it needs to be. So to me, that is what I look to.  I want to say OK my heavenly Father has loved me in these ways; he forgives me, he welcomes me, he encourages me, he equips me, he empowers me. That’s the kind of Dad I want to be.

How do you approach your work as a Pastor of a church with balancing a family?
 

I think being a Dad has probably helped as I think I have learn more about God from being a Dad. Someone once sent to me that a child will never love their father as much as a father will love their child. You can really feel that. A kid is just there kicking around doing what they want, but you really have this affection for your child and it makes me wonder is that how God thinks about us? Wow,he thinks about us?! He wants the best for us. He says stuff that I sometimes struggle to believe and understand, but now that I get it he probably thinks it is for my best. A lot of those things have really helped me, just understanding that dynamic. Like a good parent, I also want to be a Pastor who leads in that way. So for me that is providing love, encouragement, being present, seeking to serve, seeking to encourage, speaking the truth with love. All of those kinds of things, so it has helped me in that regard.

I planted the church when I was 27. Going through a bit more life experience and meeting more and more people, you just see the complexities of life. Some people have really great seasons, other people have really difficult seasons. I think a good father is going to be there for his children through all seasons and a good leader of church is going to be there through all seasons.

Tell us about role as Pastor of City on a Hill Church. That is a bit non-conventional in today’s world isn’t?


Yeah totally! I never thought I would be a church leader or Pastor. I didn't grow up going to church or believing in God. I became a Christian when I was 16. I grew up like most Australians where there wasn't Christianity in your face and that kind of stuff, so to me it was life changing and I was like ‘man I want to tell other people!’ If you find a great anything in life- a great movie, restaurant, surfing spot, then culturally you want to share that with other people. To me I’d found Christ, or Christ had found me, and totally changed my life and I wanted as many people to know about that as possible. I didn't think I was always going to work in a church. I had worked in media and communications for a number of years, really enjoyed that, but I just thought there was an opportunity to help lead a church to engage with people who didn't necessarily grow up going to church. To create a church that brought down some of the cultural barriers and where people could engage with big questions. I know all of us, whether your religious or not, we’ve all got big questions about life, we all want to know the 'Why?' of life. I wanted a church where we could engage with that.

As a Pastor what frustrates you about perceptions of Christians from those external to the Church?


Well I guess a bunch of them are right! I think Christians are known for what they are against, not what they are for. I guess religious people are to blame for that because they are always up bantering about what they are against. It would be good if people took time to ask ‘ OK what are they actually for?’ because our faith is about what we are for. The enthusiasm that Christians have for sharing what they are about, comes from a good heart. They genuinely love people in a way that I’ve experienced to be remarkable and that doesn't always come across. I guess another is this idea of do-gooders. There is this weird myth that Christians are holier than thou, where actually the centre of our faith is this acknowledgement that we are sinners! So Christians by definition are those that recognise that they are not good, that they are not righteous and they are not holy and it was Jesus who died for them. Somehow we haven't reflected that well, we should be more authentic.

AS A PREACHER You're essentially a full time communicator- how do you approach that?


To me everything about Jesus is super engaging and life impacting, creative and colourful. So I just want to do a really good job at expressing that. To me, it should be colourful and creative and thoughtful. I hate the idea of a boring sermon or a boring dull church. As a communicator I love words, so I love to think creatively about the words I will use. Words are powerful. For either good or bad! I also love story. Post-modern culture looks to story. Story forms who we are and the generation we are in. We see it throughout scripture, Jesus was a phenomenal story teller. I want to let those things come through, I suppose because I enjoy them first and foremost but also because its important in my role.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?


I have always been inspired by people who want to make a difference. Outside of the scriptures, I love people who just give something a go. I have always found it difficult with people who just want to exist versus those who want to live. It brings to mind that quote from the great philosopher William Wallace who says “Every man dies, but not every man truly lives.” I love that! You’ve got to live for something. Now that doesn't mean that I agree with everything that everyone lives for, but at least I agree with the premise that you should do something, create something, build something, write something, stand for something! Life is a tremendous gift and here in Australia we have so much opportunity so I think ‘Man, lets do something!’ So I am always encouraged by men and women who do that.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE CREATIVITY?


It is taking something that is nothing or bland and moulding it and shaping it into something that is beautiful. Art should move you. Does it move you to thought? Does it move you to tears? Joy? Does it take you to your childhood? Does it take you to a fear? That’s what I think art does. Whether it is music, a great painting or a poem, it doesn't matter it should move you in some direction. Christians should be excelling in this, and there have been seasons where Christians have, because we believe in a God who has created out of nothing- the world! If you look at how the world is, you cannot help but see that God is creative. Everything that we do, our creative works and creative actions, are just a mirror of his creativity. 

What do you think about your own Dad-Do you think he did a good job as a father?


My Dad is an amazing man. I always looked up to him. He’s a great storyteller and has an amazing ability to relate to people. He was a really well recognised photographer, he worked with almost anyone you can think of- Presidents, Prime Ministers, Celebrities. I’ve met Mick Jagger with him! He photographed Audrey Hepburn, Nelson Mandela, all these phenomenal figures. He had kids pretty young. Mum and Dad were young when they got married. My Dad got pretty caught up in the alcohol and clubs and drugs that went with the party scene and celebrity lifestyle. So he wasn't around a lot when I was growing up. My parents separated when I was 9 so if you had of asked me then, he was very spontaneous but he wasn't there. We have always kept our relationship. I had been praying for him for many years and he became a Christian two years ago. Just seeing how God has transformed him and changed him has been amazing. Honestly, I believe in God, but I thought that was too big for God. Yet his life was changed, legitematley changed. It was an amazing experience.

HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR KIDS WILL GO GROWING UP AS SON AND DAUGHTERS OF A PREACHER MAN?


I didn't grow up going to church, my parent didn't go to church so I don't have a lot of models to look to. I am often meeting with other pastor kids and I just find that there are a great variety of responses. Some kids hated it, especially if their parents were hypocritical, so I am absolutely committed to authentic living. What I preach from the front I want to live through the week. I do not want to give my kids a false representation of faith, that’s a big one for me. I also want them to know that Christianity is something to enjoy and to be excited about and have fun with. I want them to realise they’ve got to make their own decisions and take responsibility. So I seek to disciple them in the sense of teaching them about Jesus, answering their questions and all that sort of stuff.I suppose though, I just want them to have a normal upbringing.

What do you think is the most important thing every Dad should be doing?


I think the question of priority is really important. To raise a kid you’ve got to sacrifice a lot, so I always find it a challenge to get the order and priority right. What I want and aspire to is to say; first and foremost I live for God. Second, my wife. Third, my kids and fourth, career etc etc. Now that is easy to put in an order like that but in reality those things flip around all the time. I think our day and age is so fast paced, so driven for success and so career orientated that kids just get left to the side. As it has always been said, kids grow up fast! My daughter is 8! That staggers me. I want to be there. I want to create good memories. I think that’s very important- it’s not just providing for them practically its providing good memories.

HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO REMEMBER YOU?


I hope they remember me as someone of enthusiasm, fun and empowering. What I mean by that is I always sought to help them fly and flourish. Over and above everything, I want them to see me as a man who loved Jesus with everything I’ve got, loved other people as much as I could and was very committed to family, their mother and obviously to them.

As a father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?


think it is just the concept of presence. It goes back to that priority thing. Church life is very demanding, it's a lot of people! City on a Hill is now 1500 people and it's growing. It’s kind of endless, it's like a painting you could just keep working on and developing, it is never finished. And I love it to! That’s the other thing. So there is much there that could lead me away but I know that the best thing for my church, and me too, is to love and lead my kids well. I’ve got to keep reminding myself that but its just a constant challenge on how do you get that balance right? They're just stepping into a crazy world. There are so many challenges, new challenges that I just hope I have good relationship with them so we keep the conversation going.

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Ben Sanders is an Illustrator

I first heard Ben Sanders talk about his creative process and life as an illustrator a few years back. Afterwards I got talking to him about the creation of his children’s book “I’ve an Uncle Ivan”. I was impressed. They say we all have a novel in us, but I’d be happy with a good kids book. So recently a mutual contact suggested he would be a great Father to profile, and as I was already a fan of his mid-century inspired, intelligent illustrations, I followed him up. I was a little suprised to find he was living in Bolivia as a missionary! He is an Illustrator sought by top brands and publications across the globe, plus an Author, a Designer and the Father to Ruby and Max.

Meet Ben.
— Lach

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Dad?

I was quietly chuffed. I had a grin on my face even when I was asleep.

What was the experience of birth like from your perspective as an on-looker?

Oh man, as much as I was looking forward to the arrival of my first kid, I was NOT looking forward to the birth. Call me old fashioned, but I would have preferred to have waited in the hall and be spared the drama, like the men in those old black-and-white movies. Wait for the sound of a baby crying then light up a celebratory cigar. But men have a responsibility these days to support their wives through what is a much tougher time than the guys are going through.

The birth of my little boy was much more traumatic. In fact it was an emergency situation. I am very happy to have my wife and little boy come out of that situation alive. In both cases I felt like an ‘onlooker’ but at the same time it was very important that I be there for support.

Describe the feelings from those first few days at home with a new baby...

Actually quite weird having a little ‘thing’ in the house after years of just being a couple. I remember watching my wife fitting in so naturally into being a Mum. Took me a while to get ‘up to speed’ with being a Dad. Those first couple of weeks I didn’t work so it was a nice start to parenthood. I enjoyed it a lot.

 What Fatherhood has taught you?

I thought I was full of patience pre-kids. Patience isn’t patience until it’s fully tested, and kids seem to find new and creative ways to do just that.

 What is the most challenging part of being a Father so far?

A year ago we moved to Bolivia. Helping my family adjust to a new culture and language has been my biggest challenge, but I have to say the kids have taken to the Bolivian way of life quite well.

What is the most rewarding part of becoming a Father?

It would have to be story time at the end of the day. When it all goes to plan, we’ve settled down after a big day, enjoyed a story, prayers, hugs and then there’s silence in the house.

What does having kids make you think differently about?

Well for starters, you think less about yourself. That has to be a good thing!

 Tell us how you came to be illustrating for a living?

Before illustration there was adverting art direction and graphic design. I really enjoyed those jobs and would have happily continued these without a whiff of a problem. But I was compelled to make a move into full time illustration when I realized that I enjoy drawing more than anything else. It took less than a month to leave the advertising agency I was working for, take a holiday to Thailand then start my illustration business. That was 2006.

But if we rewind to 1986, I was 12 years old and I landed my first freelance illustration brief from a small publishing outfit. I was commissioned to produce thirty two illustrations for stickers and other stationery items. They were sold worldwide and meant that as a spotty teenager I didn’t need to push supermarket trolleys on weekends. This should have been a big clue to my future career. 


What would be your dream brief or project?

A jazz album cover.

You have a strong mid-century aesthetic, where do you draw your inspiration from?

I’m fond of post WWII poster artists, like Herve Morvan, editorial illustrators like Jim Flora and book illustrators like Sasek. It doesn’t get better than these three masters.

What is your creative process? Does it involve being around or away from the family?

I used to have a defined creative process which involved isolating myself from everything, locking myself away and pumping out the best material I could, surrounded by inspirational creative works on the studio wall. But now I live in Bolivia and I work in my house. The creative process has to keep going while my family is around or when I’m working alone. During a typical day now there are all sorts of distractions and interruptions. I’ve learned to block out most of the noise (although it does help to be partially deaf!). There is a certain level of noise I think that is good for creativity, and the sound of family activity in the background can actually be quite nice at times. Some of the books I’ve written are directly inspired by my family, and so I really should at least partially credit them.

When your kids are drawing at home do you critique their work?
 

Ha! Yes I do! Sounds cruel does it not? Both my kids are very talented artists, and I’m never harsh with the criticism. I encourage them to do better, and I sometimes give pointers, but most of the feedback is just praise. The kids have both said at different times they’d like to be an illustrator when they grow up. I work hard on not pushing them too hard in any particular direction. My father encouraged me an awful lot when I was young. He is an exceptional artistic talent, and if it wasn’t for him it would be very unlikely that I’d be doing what I do now without that close input, encouragement and transfer of his knowledge.


You tend to read lots of kids books as a Father, so what were the key considerations and influences for when you were creating your own?

Firstly fun! Some children’s books with great messages are let down by a lack of enjoyment. As a parent I might like the message, but if the book is not fun to read the kids won’t want you to read it to them again. I don’t create ‘cute’ stories for kids. The bookshop shelves are full of those. I like to create stories with interesting characters in relatable but unusual situations.


You’re living in Bolivia, which is a big change from your hometown of Ballarat -what has that experience been like for you and the family and what was the motivation behind it?

Yes, despite the city of Sucre, Bolivia being a similar size to Ballarat that’s where the likeness ends! My family and I live in a completely different culture (Quechua) while learning a new language (Spanish). We are here with Pioneers Australia helping out on a few projects. My wife works with women who are affected by family violence. This is a huge problem in Bolivia with over 80% of affected by violence in their own home. My job is to illustrate for a small magazine that assists street children to remain in school, gain medical attention and provide hope for their future. I also provide creative assistance for a Bolivian-based children’s curriculum called Siembra. My family really feel strongly about the issues faced by the poor, and motivated to help using the basic skills we’ve been given.

What are your strongest memories of your Dad?

Dad playing cricket with me in the driveway. He really knew how to bamboozle me with orthodox spin. Really good times.

Do you think he did a good job?

Yes, Dad did a super job. He modeled a good work ethic, played with my brother, sister and I when we were growing up. He took us to interesting places on weekends and holidays. He’s involved in our lives, listens and is interested in what’s going on. He’s a quiet man, a thinker and has faith. All things I’ve been influenced by greatly.

What was the best thing he ever taught you?

Be stable. My Dad is a rock.

As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

My boy is not the most confident kid in town. His anxiety causes him to misbehave at times. It will be a challenge to help him understand that he’s okay, he can relax and that it’s alright to try new things.

What are the key things you want or hope for, for your kids?

I hope they are encouraged enough to use their talents to make a difference for others.

What do you think Fathers today should be looking to achieve with their kids?

If fathers are able to achieve maximum amount of time spent playing, drawing, reading, making, laughing, praying, folding paper planes, wrestling, kicking goals and being silly with their kids while they are young, that’s the basics covered yeah?

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Follow  Ben on Instagram 
Check out his site, folio and blog
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* Image credits: Supplied by Ben and the Internet
http://www.marklobo.com.au/news/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Mark_Lobo-Field_Trip_Melbourne_05.jpg

 

Matt Pryor is a Songwriter

Matt Pryor is one of those guys whose voice has soundtracked my life. He fronted one of my all-time favourite bands, The Get Up Kids, and has gone on to record more amazing music with projects such as The New Amsterdams and more recently under his own name. He even spent a few years making kids music with The Terrible Twos. More recently, his podcast Nothing to Write Home About has filled many a work day and his song commissioning venture with Downwrite provided me with the best anniversary present I could ever pull off. Thanks to the connectivity of social media and Matt being such an open guy, I was able to get a bit of an insight into the mind of the dad of Lily, Elliott and Jerzy. That was despite being on the road doing gigs for The Get Up Kids 20th Anniversary Tour. He’s a Podcaster, Songwriter and Father.

Meet Matt.
— Lach
"Don't be a dick to people, stand up for what you believe in and maintain a healthy DIY work ethic." Matt Pryor

"Don't be a dick to people, stand up for what you believe in and maintain a healthy DIY work ethic." Matt Pryor

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Dad? 

I was stoked.

How was the experience of the birth from your perspective as an on-looker?

I was scared all three times.  The first one was the roughest as the hospital ignored the birth plan, and there were lots of complications.  It was rough.

What Fatherhood has taught you?

Patience.

What is the most challenging part of being a Father so far?

Currently, it's letting them have independence.  It was much easier when we could make all their decisions for them.

What is the most rewarding part of becoming a Father?

Watching them grow up and become cool people. They can stand up for themselves, it makes my life hell but it will serve them well!

What was your life like before you were a Father? 

I got a lot more sleep.

What did having kids make you think differently about?

Again with patience.  I'm a control freak and I had to let a lot of that go.

The Get Up Kids are an amazing band- do you see them as your defining life's work or is that an ongoing pursuit as a musician?

It's what I'm most known for but to say that my defining life's work was done in my 20s would be sad.

How do you fit songwriting, recording and touring around family life? 

It requires and lot of scheduling and a decent amount of discipline.

Do you find your songwriting influenced directly by family life?

Not really, other than there is less time to do it.

You’ve got a strong punk rock ethos- what elements of that do you try to pass onto your kids?

Don't be a dick to people, stand up for what you believe in and maintain a healthy DIY work ethic.

How much of a role does music play in your household? 

Pretty big.  My kids all play. They all play piano, the older ones play guitar and the youngest is starting drums.  My daughter is really into Neko Case and the boys like video game songs right now ... Oh, and Manchester Orchestra.

As someone who is required to be away from their family often for work, how do you handle life on the road?

The kids and I text.  I try to stay positive.  I don't travel unless it's for a good reason.

Tell us about how your podcast ‘Nothing to Write Home About’ came about?

I was listening to some other podcasts and thought "I can do that!" - so I did.

With things like the podcast, your custom Downwrite song service (which I was a customer of for a recent anniversary- the wife loved it!) and a recent run of shows from your living room with StageIt - you seem to be innovative and open to trying new things in finding an audience. What’s your take on the pros and cons of the internet for creatives/musicians?

I think, overall, it's positive.  I don't like to tour so I have to be creative or get a real job.  I think the trick is to try and keep the quality high as possible.

What elements from your childhood do you want to pass onto your kids?

I hated my childhood.  So, hopefully nothing.

What are your strongest memories of your Dad?

That he wasn't there.

Do you think he did a good job? 

He taught me what not to do.

What was the best thing he ever taught you?

How to drive I guess, I don't know.

As a father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

Teenagers!

What are the key things you want or hope for, for your kids?

That they are happy.

What do you think is the most important thing every Dad should aim to achieve?

Happiness and openness with their kids.

MORE

Get Matt to write a song for you (like I did!)
Follow Matt on Instagram or Twitter
Check out the fantastic podcast, all Matt's music and more via his website
Buy any album from The Get Up Kids and thank me later
Catch The Get Up Kids LIVE across pockets of the USA in December

* IMAGE CREDITS (with thanks internet!)
Matt Portrait by www.joseph-william.com
http://iheartlocalmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/eDSC095811.jpg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/threadless365/11178154173
http://www.enemy.at/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/IMG_5779.jpg
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevelouie/2769000320/sizes/l/
http://www.saladdaysmag.com/the-get-up-kids-circolo-magnolia-milano-recap/

Kaye Baum is a Great Grandfather

Papa was one of the first people I thought about profiling when I started this project. At 83 years old and a Father of four, Grandfather of ten and a Great Grandfather of two, I figured he could provide some interesting perspectives. A retired Mechanical Engineer, he has been married to my Nan for over 50 years and together they are an amazing couple. I really enjoyed the process of putting this one together. He is a man motivated by faith, family and food. Meet my Grandfather, Kaye.
— Lach

"I think that was one of the big steps forward when the father was allowed to come in and be present when the baby was born. "  Kaye Baum



CAN YOU REMEMBER HOW YOU FELT WHEN YOU FIRST FOUND OUT YOU WERE GOING TO BE A FATHER?
 

I suppose I was very worried in a way, around how I was going to handle it all. I remember having thoughts about wanting to do my best to help. We didn't know in those days of course if it was male or female. You didn't know until you’d had the baby! We didn't particularly want to know anyway. We were just happy to have a baby that was healthy! I think I probably became very excited about it all - it was great. I didn't have any hang-ups as such, other than about knowing what it was going to be.


WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THOSE FIRST FEW WEEKS WITH A NEW BABY?
 

I was so over the moon because we had this little girl, just a lovely natured little girl. I was really delighted and proud. In those days we didn't have much money, we couldn't afford a pram. We didn't want a pram though, we wanted a pusher as Helen wanted to be able to push the baby around in the shops and that sort of thing. 

IN THOSE DAYS DID YOU GO INTO THE HOSPITAL WITH NAN WHEN SHE WAS DELIVERING THE BABY?


They didn't let you! It wasn't the done thing. That was hard. I think that was one of the big steps forward when the father was allowed to come in and be present when the baby was born. You just went home and you didn't know what was going on. You got a phone call when the baby came and told what it was, you know ‘You’ve got a lovely little girl’. I remember Helen was very proud and all smiles - that was on the first visit.


DID THEY GIVE YOU ANY CLASSES BEFORE THE BIRTH ABOUT WHAT YOUR ROLE AS A FATHER WAS TO BE?


No. No classes. My role was to be loving and caring. I knew that. I never read any books on it or anything- I don't think they even had any books on it!

TELL ME ABOUT A CHALLENGING TIME WHEN YOU WERE RAISING YOUR FAMILY OF FOUR KIDS?


It was a very happy time. Then Lindy got a kidney problem. We were told that it happens to a dozen babies in the world. It is a very rare type of thing to happen. The doctor didn't really know how to fix it and that was worrying. That was hard, that is still vivid. She was in primary school at the time and what happened was just a very worrying time. Shell wanted me to go over to Holland to do a maintenance course with the engineers over there. We didn't have any answers, and Helen would have come with me normally, but that didn't happen. Helen was home by herself. It was a strained situation I was in, being over there at that time and it was hard- I remember that.

That was the only real hardship I had in my life, I didn't know what was going to happen to Lindy. Anyway when I came back, things weren't changing, things weren't getting any worse but they weren't solved.

The doctor didn't know what to do and we prayed it about very much. When I came back, I’d been thinking about it a lot and we talked about it, Helen and I. We said ‘I think that those drugs really aren't helping her at all and she might be better letting her system fight it and she may come around.' I said I think we ought to talk to the doctor about this. Luckily he was a Christian doctor, and when I said we’d prayed about it and that sought of thing, he said 'Well as a matter of fact we’ve been discussing the same thing. Taking the drugs off her. We’ll be careful about it by taking the drugs off her slowly and carefully.' She just came out of it and it went. Vanished. It was a success. Now who did that I don't know…but that’s what happened. I suppose that made my Christianity very strong after that. I’ve never forgotten that.

 

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR DAD AND YOUR UPBRINGING, DO YOU THINK HE DID A GOOD JOB?


Yes. I’d say so. There was no lack of love on either side - Mum or Dad. 

I think I was pretty strict, because Dad was pretty strict with me. We talk about that now as brothers, we were bought up very isolated. All the brothers never fought with each other, we were normal. I was talking to my brother, Ian, about it all last week and I said to him how we never argued with each other, we all got on well because we all had plenty to do when we got home from school and milked the cows and chopped the wood. Then we always had plenty of time to do our own things like making model aeroplanes and kites, all those normal things that you like doing. I suppose as a kid we were never inside much. It was a pretty good upbringing. But you didn't need to relate with other boys much except at school, they were all in similar situations I suppose being at a country school. So I had a sheltered upbringing in the those early years.

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST FROM YOUR FATHER'S CHARACTER?


He always stood up for you. I think when I got older, things had become a bit more easier for him. When he got money it got easier going and I think that made a difference. He wasn't under so much pressure. You see my father spent his money far too freely- he didn't know how to handle money. When he first got married he bought farms and he was a very hardworking man. He had to be because he went broke, the banks took over all the lands he bought because couldn't pay the interest. There was a drought and he used to have a team of horses, this was the period before cars and tractors were around. He couldn't sell the hay or anything because it didn't grow- we had a 10 year drought. The banks foreclosed on him and he went bankrupt. But I was young so I didn't see any of that.

He then did nightshift. He wanted to work at night because he wanted to work during the day and develop the twenty acres with an orchard of fruit and that sort of thing. On top of that he branched out into chooks and eggs, because he a local fruit and vegie round. That was part of it, developing into the poultry farm and that was really a big money spinner for him. 

He must have had a hard time but it didn't really worry him. I don't remember him getting down or worried about life. Fond memories of him really- that’s all I had. I didn't realise all this was going on, except when I later heard about it when I was much older. I think the older ones knew more about it than I did.

WHAT WAS YOUR PHILOSOPHY OR APPROACH TO LIFE BACK THEN?
 

I didn't have any money either. There wasn't much difference- we were battling and I had a brother Vernie who built my house on one of Dad’s blocks of land, before I was even married actually. I borrowed and I had to have at least 70% of what I borrowed saved up. That’s how the banks were working in those days, which was good because it taught me to be rigid in how I spent. 

Our first house had orange cases for a lounge suite until we could save up. When we did buy a new suite we started to feel a bit prosperous! How did it affect me? I didn't even think about, I just knew I had to work. I used to organise spec houses and I built about 3-4 spec houses on Dad’s twenty acres. I worked hard on doing those sort of things, I’d be doing that on weekends, digging foundations.


YOU ADOPTED YOUR YOUNGEST SON - TELL US ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE.


Well we’d had several miscarriages and we wanted another baby. We heard about the Presbyterian Church in Melbourne adopting out Children. We had to apply of course, and they had to look at us for about two years. We had to go up there and be questioned. They were very thorough in how they went about placing out their babies. Next thing, we got the message that we were going to get a baby! We were just about to head off on a trip down the coast on a bit of a holiday with the kids. I remember they said 'no you just take the baby with you and carry on as normal.' So we did. It was great.
 

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER AS AN ENGINEER?


The thing that was really so easy for me, and I say that we lived in the best of times, was when we left school there was a job for you. When I finished my engineering course I had a job straight away to go to.

I got a cost scholarship of fifty pounds every quarter to go to the Gordon. I didn't feel I wanted to go on and be a builder or a tradie, I wanted to go do more studies so I did- I got my Diploma in Mechanical Engineering.

I went to the glassworks and they were just starting to bend the glass for cars. I then got the job at the Shell refinery and it was about half again as much money. I was working up in the design office doing drawing which is the best job that could happen to an engineer. I had to know all the fittings and Australian standards. 

I was 31 years with Shell. I got along with my men very well. I understood that I had to train them.

You worked on a wage. I would get called in the night and work until morning. You never got extra pay because your salaried. I think it did me good because you were toughened. I remember some nights sleeping on the concrete floor waiting for machining to be done. I could go to sleep at anytime…on the floor or anywhere, I learnt to do that.

I don't think I missed out on anything (with the Children). I didn't really think about it. 
 

YOU HAD BOTH BOYS AND GIRLS - DO YOU THINK THERE IS A DIFFERENCE IN HOW YOU RAISE THEM?


I think you’ve got to put some stops in. I remember Lindy coming home smoking, she’d been at university but and I said no that’s not going to be. I said 'no Lindy, you are not going to put our hard earned money into smoke!' And she did, she stopped. I nipped it the bud. She came out and demonstrated that she wanted to smoke and I said no that's not on. Now what I would have done after that I am not sure.

I think I was strict. There was a certain amount of what was right and wrong and instilling that into them; be smart with your money and don't do stupid things. Keep it simple! I suppose thats how it mainly evolved. I said I am going to be honest if I can possibly be. But I don't think I was at all times.

Sometimes you do the wrong thing. You can't be right all the time.


WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A GRANDFATHER AND GREAT GRANDFATHER?


I find it very hard, when you are old and they are so young, to relate! Deafness is a thing that is very difficult for me. See, I can't understand what Archer my Great Grandson is saying to me. It must be my hearing. A child has different ways of pronouncing words and it is very hard to identify the differences. That is the hard part for me at the moment. But of course I enjoy having them around. They are full of life and they have no worries in the world. It is nice to keep it that way. You’d love to see it stay like that. You don't try to interfere with it though- you want to see them happy and that is it.

WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO FATHERS FROM ALL THAT YOU'VE LEARNT OVER THE YEARS?


Strongest advice I would give would be; first of all you become a believer in Jesus Christ. Now the only thing that is very important to understand in being a Christian, is how do you know that Christ is true? Somebody had to witness that Jesus Christ came back to life after he was crucified! More 500 witnessed this in Corinthians according to Paul. Now ok, so what did he try to teach us? We’ve got to help other people and give to other people. In things that we’ve done, Helen and I, we have always stuck to that. I’d say to you, there is only one person in control. Not the Pope, not the Prime Minister, God is in control. 



WHAT DO YOU THINK EVERY FATHER SHOULD AIM TO ACHIEVE?


As parents, from day one of children's lives we need to guide them and nurture them wisely. I trust most parents are looking for all the help they can get to teach their chidlren to take the best path possible for the future. A good leader has to be a teacher and have a purpose or a goal. The best things in life are never on sale; contentment, peace, enjoyment, friendship and forgiveness can never be bought and only taught by example.

Tim Diamond is a Humanitarian

Tim Diamond is a man leading an amazing effort to change the lives of young people in Uganda through his work with the Cotton On Foundation. The team do some amazing work in southern Uganda, helping to bring hope to communities where it may not have otherwise existed.

For the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to witness the impact Tim and his team have with the work they do, working alongside them. It wasn’t until a recent work trip to LA that I got to know Tim a bit better. I think any guy who is willing to give up his last night of a trip to the States to go shopping for Air Jordans for his kids Kobe, Cruz and Harper, is worthy of a Blackframes appearance. He is an advocate, fundraiser, humanitarian and likes to think he can still dunk.

Meet Tim.
— Lach
"We really can’t underplay the role of men in the community, particularly the example they set." Tim Diamond

"We really can’t underplay the role of men in the community, particularly the example they set." Tim Diamond

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

Elation. 

Celeste and I were told not to expect children due to her endometriosis. So we were super excited. Unfortunately a miscarriage was awaiting us. But soon after we had three little boys in almost three years. It was awesome and unexpected.
 

What has Fatherhood taught you?

Don't sweat the small things. You've got such an amazing team, that love you and will be with you through thick and thin. Everyday I walk in the door, I'm thankful - even when there's three little boys screaming and wrestling on the ground fighting over a toy, two in their jocks and one dressed as Yoda (it's a bit of a mad house).
 

Did you grow up always wanting to have kids someday?

Yes. For me friendship, brotherhood (I have three brothers) and family are such an important part of my life. We grew up in a busy house and with busy community lives. 
 

Tell us about a time when you felt you had no idea what you were doing as a Father? Were you scared?

I think through the 'sleep deprivation' years it's so hard and you can sympathise with new parents. It's really tough, and sometimes hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. 


What is the best thing you have achieved as a Father?

Learning patience. In a busy world, it's natural to want your child to 'be the best they can be', to have all the experiences you didn't have and to give them the world.  Just patience in letting them discover their own world. 

What does having kids make you think differently about?

The world in general feels different. Particularly in my role, I find myself thinking about children that don't have all the opportunity and safety of my boys. Kids that are the same age, that don't have parents or someone to look after them and love them. That plays on my mind a lot. 


What do you miss about the time before you were a Father?

Independence. Adventure. Although, I love the fact that it's a different adventure now. You can be more of a child too - get down to their level and see the world through their eyes.

Tell us about the work of the Cotton On Foundation and how you came to be involved?

Since 2007, Cotton On Foundation has raised funds in all Cotton On Group stores and used those funds to develop communities across the globe, primarily focusing on children's education. 
Our work is quite unique. Global retailers don't usually start their own NGO, but we also run our development work with a direct focus on relationships.  Knowing and understanding the communities and people we work with is essential. We started off raising around $150,000 in our first year, we now raise around $10m globally - and apply those funds to eradicating poverty. 

We also have a host of local projects in Australia through our 'Community Projects' arm. I've been a part of the business since 2006, but really by chance. Nigel, the owner of Cotton On Group was kind enough to give me a go back then and things have worked out.

Having travelled regularly to Uganda and Africa, what has it taught you about life?

Be grateful - we're privileged where we live and the opportunities that we have. And have no judgement. It's easy for us in life to judge without knowing or understanding people's circumstances. 

What impact do the local Men and Fathers have on communities in Uganda?

They have a huge impact - often with negative results such as family violence, lack of motivation, substance abuse and infidelity. That was really evident through our early years. 

We've since seen amazing progression from local Fathers, setting great examples, starting new businesses, farm production has increased, they take HIV awareness classes and adult literacy classes and they're more proactive in their children's education. The new group of young men emerging show great potential of being more active, and engaging family members.  

We really can’t underplay the role of men in the community, particularly the example they set. When we look at Uganda being a country of children (48% aged 16 & under), we’re working with an influential and important generation that will bring the country out of poverty.

Having kids of your own, how do you handle the emotional side of what your work exposes you to?

It's really hard. I know what it takes to raise three children, but when I see a ten year old boy having to look after his little brother and sister - that's hard. His parents lost to HIV, lack of clean water, not knowing where the next meal will come from... That's a common story in Uganda and whilst it's tough to witness time and time again - it's also an incredible motivator.  No child deserves to live like that. 

You have taken your Kids to Mannya (Uganda) before- how do you think this has helped shape their worldview?

Honestly, I think they're too young to actually fathom it. But what I believe is that the experience will stay with them and help shape their personalities. Just seeing firsthand how other children live over there has given them knowledge and understanding that they never had. They also now know where Daddy goes when he has to leave home.

Tell us about the type of life you want to create for your family?

Live simply. Encourage adventure and follow your dreams 


Where do you find inspiration?

 My work is inspiring, on a daily basis - I get to work with and meet some amazing individuals. My wife is incredible, and my family really rounds out my life - I couldn't do my work without them.

What are your strongest memories of your own Father from when you were a kid?

He was hard but fair. Strong willed, incredible businessman, hard worker.  Whilst he was busy, he was always there for me, and he showed me the importance of family. Times get tough, there'll be ups and downs, but work on it and stick together. 

He's also the most generous person I've met. 

Do you think he did a good job?

He did. It was a different era too, back then, bringing up four boys, it was so much different to today. He also really changed as he got older - showing more affection, emotion, and talking openly about the important things in life - that helped my growth as a young man. 


As a Father, what do you see as your biggest challenge ahead?

 Bringing up confident, self respecting and genuine young men. I think it's the same challenges as every parent - and it's a strange, shifting environment with worldly access now (internet and social media), the impact of drugs, expectations, and social politics for young people. It's a big challenge. 

What is your Fatherhood philosophy?

I love to teach through experiences, interact with my kids through activity. Tell stories, create adventure and just try and have fun. 


How do you want your kids to remember you?

That I truly love them. 


What do you think is the most important role of Fathers in today’s world?

 I can't nail one and I constantly work at these to be a better dad:

- Give them time and be involved 

- Listen to them 

- Praise them and show affection 

- Be great to their mother 

- They're always watching - set an example 
 

MORE

Support the work of the Cotton On Foundation by purchasing any Foundation product in Cotton On Group stores or check out www.cottononfoundation.org

Follow Tim on Twitter @timjdiamond and Insta @timjdiamond
Read along on Tumblr matesonajourney.tumblr.com

 

Zach Sanders is a Photographer

Zach Sanders’ work kept coming across my eyeballs on social media at the beginning of this year. I eventually followed along and was served up a constant array of amazing images, captured fresh off the ocean. Zach captures a unique perspective of his part of the world, also known as Norfolk Island. In our correspondence he has struck me as a really creative, caring and chilled out dude. A committed family man, he is dad to young Charlie and is living his own version of the dream life on his island farm.
Meet Zach
— Lach
"If you feel inspired from looking at one of my images, then I have done a good job." Zach Sanders

"If you feel inspired from looking at one of my images, then I have done a good job." Zach Sanders

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

It was actually a bit of disbelief, excitement, then “oh what have we done!” but in a good way.

What Fatherhood has taught you?

I guess fatherhood has taught me the value of life and how precious these little people are. I would also have to say it teaches you that life is not all about you. You have a family that comes first whereas when you don’t have kids, everything seems to be about you.

What is the most challenging part of being a Father?

Time management is what I find the most challenging. I work a full time job and try to do my photos on the side, as well as my partner having her own business on a dairy goat farm making cheese, so time is the most challenging thing. Especially because we are such a close little family and do everything together!

What is the most rewarding part?

Everything! Seeing them smile, laugh, learn - it really is the most rewarding part. When I hear my little man laugh is just melts my heart.

What is the best thing you have achieved as a Father?

Well Charlie is only two so I don’t think I have achieved too much yet… that might be a good question in about 10 years.

What does having kids make you think differently about?

Everything! I think as soon as Charlie was born I kind of grew up (if that’s such a thing). Everything revolves around what you are going to be doing as a family, not as a single person. You have a huge responsibility now so you have to be thinking about the best for them.

What do you miss about the time before you were a Father?

I can honestly say nothing at all. To tell you the truth I can’t really remember what it was like without Charlie and I don’t think I ever want to.


Tell us about a time when you felt you had no idea what you were doing as a Father? Where you scared?

The moment Charlie was born haha!  Em and I hadn’t really had anything to do with kids before Charlie, so when he was born it was like “Oh now what, how do we do this?” So yeah, you could say I was pretty scared.

Tell us about your how you came be a Photographer?

I always loved photography but as I was always chasing surf, I never had any money as I always worked any job just so I could get in the water. This eventually made me move back home to Norfolk Island having no money. I managed to save for some camera equipment when I was diagnosed with quite bad depression and getting out and shooting in the water took my mind off everything. So from there on it just became my passion and what I loved doing.

What do you try to capture with each photo?

Just the natural beauty of whatever I am shooting. If you feel inspired from looking at one of my images, then I have done a good job.


Dream project you’d love to work on?

We are actually working really hard on our dream at the moment which is to be living on the farm and having fresh goats’ cheese and a café and a gallery for my photos. It has been a lot of hard work but I think anything worth much is always hard work at the beginning.

How do you find living and working in such a remote place like Norfolk Island?

It is my home and where I was born so its not hard at all. I have lived probably over half my life in Oz and I think the more you are away from Norfolk, the more you appreciate it. I moved back home about 8 years ago and at first found it a little hard and had to get away at least twice a year but now that everything we are working for is at home, there really is no need to get away other than to travel which me and my partner love. Norfolk is a really special place and blows me away every day, so it is a pleasure to live here.

What's a typical day look like for you...

Get up between 5.30-6am in the morning and look after Charlie until I go to work at the airport. Work at the airport from 8-4 then come home to my little family. If the waves are really good I’ll go shoot from the water or if its in summer every now and then get out in the boat and shoot some spearfishing or just the ocean.

Tell us about the type of life you want to create for your family?

Just a happy healthy lifestyle. We live on a small island, so just to work on our land, surf together, swim together, eat fresh produce off our land - that sounds good to me. We also want to travel with him a lot and let him see other places and cultures. I think that’s really important to open their perspectives up.

Where do you find inspiration?

I have thought about this one a lot and I can honestly say I’m not to sure…Every day life I guess.

What are your strongest memories of your Dad from when you were a kid?

My parents split up when I was about one years old. My dad had always been a heavy drinker so I don’t have too many…

Do you think he did a good job?

I think he could have done a lot better! But you know for me, this has made me even more driven to be the best dad I can. I really want my kids to look up to me and enjoy their dad and remember all the great things we have done together.

As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

Teaching Charlie how to be handy because I’m the least handy person in the world.

How do you want your kids to remember you?

Loving, fun, supportive and probably most of all - someone they can look up to.

Why do you think the role of Fathers is so important in today’s world?

I’m not to sure as I think single parents can do just as good a job, like my Mum did for me though being a male it would have been awesome to have that father figure there to look up to and want to be just like them.

Andy Sargent is a Designer

Andy Sargent is someone I met during a past Marketing job. His was the design agency responsible for making the brand look pretty and I was the client. During that time I learnt that not only was he a savvy design thinker who didn’t care too much for trade show stands, but a genuinely nice human. I also recalled him being an engaged Dad, regularly talking with enthusiasm about his kids and running marathons.

Since leaving that role, I have come across his work in many realms. Friends of mine who are designers quickly turn into fan-boys at the mention of his studio South South West’s name.

I wanted to get an insight into his parenting style with Otto and Coco, and how creativity plays a part in his life as a Father and Designer.

Meet Andy.
— Lach
" I’m not a believer in luck or fate, so I think opportunities and happiness can be cultivated and created by providing the right environment and grounding." Andy Sargent

" I’m not a believer in luck or fate, so I think opportunities and happiness can be cultivated and created by providing the right environment and grounding." Andy Sargent

Photography by Toby De Lorenzo Just Like Frank

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Dad? 

I was 21 at the time so as you can imagine it was overwhelming for the first few months or so, but at the same time exciting of course.

How was the experience of birth, from your perspective as an on-looker?

Incredible. Something that is hard to put into words.

Describe those first few days at home with a new baby...

The first few days after each of our children were born were very similar.  After the birth I felt like my feet were barely touching the ground. I remember the first few days at home as being pivotal in the sudden realisation that it’s all very real, and that even though you really don’t have any training or advice for every aspect of parenting, it’s instinctively within us all to look after one another and our children.

What HAS Fatherhood taught you?

Fatherhood has offered me perspective. Being a father so young, at the time when most people are jumping around quite a lot without too many commitments, I feel as though having that perspective and enormous responsibility helped shape me, prioritise and understand who my true friends were/are. Fatherhood has also taught me to be patient, that nothing is perfect and that things don’t always go your way. 

What is the most challenging part of being a Father so far?

Balancing time. Learning to be patient. Always trying to lead by example. Not using the car horn too much.

What is the most rewarding part?

The most rewarding part is having the privilege of raising two amazing children and watching them grow, learn and develop daily. Right now, this year, one of the highlights of my week is coaching Otto’s basketball team who are all around the same age. It’s really rewarding helping them learn to work as a team, support one another and develop their games.

What does having kids make you think differently about?

Priorities. What’s really important in life. What experiences are genuine and formative and which ones are transient or of no consequence.

Photography by Toby De Lorenzo Just Like Frank

Tell us about your agency South South west?

SouthSouthWest started almost 8 years ago as a three-way partnership between myself, Jonathan Price and Adam Gibson. We all studied together at University of Tasmania and had loosely discussed the potential to working together in the future. We all took different paths within Fine Art degrees including graphic design, painting, photography and printmaking ,all of which remain fundamental to the studio today. These days, Jonathan and I are still running the studio and are lucky enough to have eight or so super talented employees as well. 

What have been some your favourite briefs to date?

This is a really hard one but the one single brief that springs to mind was for the Nike Identity and event experience for the 2013 NBA All Star weekend. The brief was incredibly inspiring and challenging and at the time was our biggest, most public example of capability we had been briefed on. At the end of the day the brief was “imagine a 16 year old kid who’s crazy about basketball, think about what would totally blow his mind”.I’m still really proud of the outcome despite the work being a couple of years old now.

Because we work with a full range of projects and people, big and small, there are also many other smaller projects that are up there including a recent project for a new custom engineered cycling company by a group of passionate riders and engineers. 

How do you balance running a business and family?

It’s tough, but there are also big advantages. My wife also runs her own business and does an amazing job as the ‘primary’ carer at this stage. We’re lucky we can control our workloads (to a degree!) as well as plan to be flexible around school holidays and family holidays.

You are based in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Why do you think that area of the world seems to be such a creative and cultural hot spot?

Fitzroy and Collingwood are great, there are a lot of creative studios in the area. There’s an industrious and entrepreneurial spirit in the creative scene. That is, there are a lot of people doing inspiring work of all types. I think what has traditionally driven the influx of creatives is cheaper rents, hopefully those days aren’t over.

You do some design work in Botswana – tell us about how that came to be... 

We had a joint venture company in Botswana for a few years working on some large branding projects across the government, tourism and education sectors. A friend and business mentor of mine, who is a strong advocate for design, was leading a trade mission to South Africa and Botswana and talked me into taking part. It was a great experience to design for an entirely different culture, particularly in Botswana which is a leading example of  a well governed, rapidly developing African nation. These days we are more focused on the US and a growing list of companies we work with there. 

What in your opinion is good design?

There are so many different conditions that determine what good design is, but some of the more simple are:

Design that’s invisible. Design that functions and communicates so well that it doesn’t overpower the medium or the message.

Design that makes you smile. A lot more subjective but something I look for in design and process. I generally think if the designer has enjoyed the process and the creation, the enjoyment will show in the work.

Design you can feel. Design that makes you feel something, tells you a story, takes you somewhere, moves you. Again fairly subjective.

What has design taught you that you’d want to pass onto your kids?

The process of design itself requires discipline, patience, understanding, practice and creativity which are all good things to be able to pass on. More broadly, I’d love to be able to pass onto my kids the ability to find a job/career/calling they are passionate about and the potential for them to pursue it as a career. 

Photography by Toby De Lorenzo Just Like Frank

What are your strongest memories of your Dad?

My dad was incredibly supportive of me and the choices I made as a kid. He would always make time, regardless of the time of the day or the weather , to bowl to me in the nets, coach my soccer team, teach me and train me to play rugby and all the general running around involved in being a sporty kid. His style of parenting was probably more subtle than I think I am with my kids, but I always knew he was in my corner. 

Do you think he did a good job? 

He did and he still does. I had a great childhood and as adults, we’re great mates. 

What was the best thing he ever taught you?

A moment in particular that sticks with me is when the recession hit in the 80’s and he went through a bit of a rough patch career-wise. I remember how it seemed to effect him and how he bounced back which I can totally understand and relate to now. Both my parents have always worked really hard which I admire them for and have learnt from. 

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF FATHERS TODAY?

It seems like it’s more accepted that Dads are allowed to show love, passion, sensitivity and fragility more than they once might have, which i think is positive and healthy for children to see. I feel there is more awareness of both parents being less defined by gender,  combining or interchanging roles and duties that might have traditionally been defined by gender. 

what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

It’s hard to know but I know there will be many. As our children have grown there have always been little phases of growth/transition/development to negotiate. Being the best father and role model for my children and providing them with as many opportunities in life is probably pretty high on the list. Specifically for my son, teaching him what it means to be a modern man is also right up there.

What are the key things you want or hope for, for your kids?

Happiness and opportunities would be the biggest hopes. I’m not a believer in luck or fate, so I think opportunities and happiness can be cultivated and created by providing the right environment and grounding. 

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should aim to achieve?

I think this is deeply personal and scalable beyond comprehension so I think it’s best to keep it as simple as always being in the moment.

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South South West
 southsouthwest.com.au

Marinus Jansen is a Coffee Roaster

“I came across Marinus back when I was working in the coffee industry. This is a world fuelled by passion but also much attitude, ego and hipster smack. Marinus was straight up. He clearly loved his coffee and his business, but just didn’t buy into the scene. He became one of my favourite people to deal with, and I got a feel for his character and business savvy and street smarts. This guy runs the growing Padre Coffee empire, flies planes, writes computer programmes and fit-outs cafes quicker than your Mum makes beds. Through all this he still finds time to be father to Ethan. Meet Marinus.
— Lach
"If you look at everyone as a child, and imagine how they would have been at kindergarten, it strips away your expectations and reveals who they are.  This is much easier place to start." Marinus Jansen

"If you look at everyone as a child, and imagine how they would have been at kindergarten, it strips away your expectations and reveals who they are.  This is much easier place to start." Marinus Jansen

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Dad? 

Pretty excited, and huge relief to be honest. Ethan was literally a miracle baby.  My wife has always suffered endometriosis and we had been told a couple of years earlier to expect a 0-2% chance of ever having a child.  So after 2 years of endless surgery, a bus load of ‘specialists’ and finally IVF, we were both absolutely beaming when we found out. 

How was the experience of the birth from your perspective as an on-looker?

Brutal !  The doctor I had met a few times, but the rest of the crew were professional surgery crew on standby, and I found them rather impersonal and invasive- it wasn't what I expected! They asked if I wanted a photo in the operating theatre – for god’s sake people! It’s not a tourist attraction, my memory will serve me just fine thanks. 

Ethan was delivered via caesarean and then Julie had an additional hour of surgery – so it was a mad rush to get him out  and get on with surgery.  He came out (literally pulled) and his arms opened out like a bit of a ‘Hello Everyone – I am here’, we snuggled him up to Julie but only briefly, before we were whisked away so they could put her under.  

Ethan and I sat in the nursery for about 2 hours – just on a chair - me just holding him, him staring at me and sort of grunting (as you do when you unexpectedly arrive). After a couple of hours I left the nursery to go and find Julie as I was getting a bit worried – no one has any answers in a hospital.  After about 30  minutes of dealing with just plain hapless nurses, a really staunch (and very senior) midwife took pity on our situation and slapped back a couple of the nurses for being insensitive. Seconds later,Julie and I were reunited and that’s the point I knew everything was going to be OK. Julie was beaming, Ethan was calm and we all just knew we'd made it.

Describe the feelings from those first few days at home with a new baby...

Apart from how excited we were, we were pretty unprepared, due to a complication with the pregnancy. Julie got taken into hospital for the final two weeks of the pregnancy ‘just to be sure’  and that left a mad scramble for me. Being home was just fabulous, an escape from the world and everything in it – Ethan was just perfect - funny how I can’t remember him ever crying! I’m sure he did, but we were both so relieved and happy. I spent most evenings with Ethan asleep on my chest reclined on the couch.

What Fatherhood has taught you?

Lots and lots and lots…. the big ticket items - love unconditionally, forgive everyone and don’t wait. I think for me fatherhood has been a real journey to question all of my beliefs, including what I thought about my parents, siblings and their actions. It’s amazing how simple, vulnerable and misguided my parents were, when I thought they knew everything. 

I finally stopped thinking people don't try very hard and started thinking about how harsh the world is on everyone for instilling the belief that we should all be this or that.  If you look at everyone as a child, and imagine how they would have been at kindergarten, it strips away your expectations and reveals who they are.  This is much easier place to start.

What is the most challenging part of being a Father so far?

First incident was a near loss of my wife. Ethan was only 2 and she went in for an operation that went wrong.  They worked it out over a seven hour operation, but it really scared the hell out of me and the pain it caused Ethan was evident. When he saw his mum in recovery, he started crying hysterically as he knew something was wrong.  That was a challenge and I’d throw it all away today to make sure we don’t go there again.

Day-to-day it’s all about being present. Sometimes work is demanding, or people are selfish with my time, and I miss or if I’m offhand about something small, this will leave me feeling low.  We make time as a family to build Lego, tell fart jokes, play cards and teach each other magic tricks.  Reading practice is my favourite, as I love hearing Ethan’s voice as he interprets the words. I have recordings of him at 18 months telling me stories about what he did today and we often listen to them and laugh. I’m sure there will be more challenges, but it’s all about making time and enjoying the time you get together.

What is the most rewarding part of becoming a Father?

Finally understanding that there isn't anything too big or important out there that can't be fixed somehow. Being free of limits.  I think being a father, while challenging in every way, is a reassurance that life is important no matter where, how, what or why you are doing or being.  

What was your life like before you were a Father? 

Busy – real busy.  I think that hasn’t changed much, I drink way too much coffee, exercise a lot and have a extraordinarily long list of hobbies that I can’t keep up with.  Looking back I don’t think I miss the changes. Fatherhood isn’t a chore for me it’s a great game with no rules.  But I don’t miss anything, nor feel like am missing anything.

What does having kids make you think differently about?

People with other kids and how they cope or don’t. I’m starting to think there are two types of parents – people who cope and people who don’t. Those who don’t always blow my mind! A three hour plane flight and you didn’t think to bring a snack, book, toy or some colouring pens?!…. Amateur! Here help yourself to our stash. 

People who talk over their children or kids that talk over their parents. We all have it way too easy and taking time to treat your children like humans isn’t hard or even time consuming, so when I come across people who treat parenthood like some chore they have to do, that they got stuck with… well - don’t get me started!

How did you come to be running a coffee roastery?

Good question, I was weened on coffee at 18 months by my Dutch Grandmother who didn’t believe it was healthy to have breast milk (or speak English), she forced my mother to switch me to black coffee with sugar. 

I guess you could say that came back to haunt me when I got into cafes in 2002.  Main reason for moving back into hospitality was the corporate trudge.  I didn’t need to work anymore, I had a lot of little projects I wanted to have a crack at and my wife was one of those people who was very practical – should we open a café ? – yeah sounds good to me…. and so we did.  

Three cafes later we decided roasting our own coffee was going to be a lot more rewarding  than having a coffee supplier who couldn’t/wouldn’t produce what we were after – oh yes – little did we know… and so when we accidentally bought an old derelict building in Brunswick and we thought we’d give it a shot.  

My initial business partner turned out to be pretty scary and that ended badly but it was just a brief distraction and a lesson in the end. 

Roasting was a bit of a grey area back then and finding anything or anyone who had actual knowledge was hard.  There is a difference between people who know what they are doing and people who tell you they know what they are doing. So it was a great journey of reading, experimenting and just slowly building a knowledge.  I had some great people to share it with – all of them still in the business today and that made it.

We’ve always pushed to have great staff ahead of a great business and I think that’s why it works so well for us. Even on a bad day it’s a great day.

You’ve recently relocated to Noosa. How has that experience been for you and your family and what was the motivation behind it?

Motivation – the cold. No the real reason is a very tightly held secret.  One day on a drive to Canberra from Melbourne in 2006,Julie and I wrote a list of things that we wanted to do with our lives, sort of a bucket list but for lifestyle.  Julie wrote her list and then we swapped driving and I wrote mine.  Then we stopped for a coffee and compared.  And it went something like this….

Have Children
Live in a shack on the beach
Get a Dog 
Write a Cook Book (Julie)
Have a big old shed to build stuff in
Finish my pilots license (Me)

Going back to what Fatherhood taught me – don’t wait.  While a move like this will never be great timing – we have a lot going on in Melbourne with Padre Coffee - it’s also perfectly timed as our team all own part of the business and run it very well, so it has worked out from that point of view and now we’re opening in Noosa. It’s a good local expansion.

From a family perspective we couldn’t be happier. There's a gate at the bottom of the garden that goes out over the sand dunes to the beach, our little lemon beagle puppy (Wilson) is happily chasing tree frogs and Ethan is settling well into school and learning to surf.  I’m flying again out of Rainbow Beach and Julie is writing her second cook book.  We are working on getting a new shed…. 

How do you balance running a business and family?

How? You can’t.  Balance is such a far off ideal I can’t even start to imagine.  My rule is to put your heart and soul into everything you do, no matter how much or little time you spend at it. I think success is all about being present when you are doing something.  

Very early on Julie and her mother used to tell me I worked too much – really ? – state the obvious folks! The issue wasn’t time, it was forcing time when you did have it. It’s much more important to just spend time and enjoy it, than to try and be someone on-call. No one is keeping a tally – nor should they-  ten minutes of quality time can be worth more than years of being ignored.

What do you think is behind the seemingly universal appeal of coffee and cafes?

Our culture dictates their appeal, especially Melbourne as the weather promotes indoor activities for ¾ of the year.  But basically my philosophy is that we are all very interested in other people.  Cafes these days are all about welcoming strangers into your ‘house’.  

Add to that - cafes are very safe environments (no drunks or big loud groups) and coffee will only help people talk to any and everyone who will listen. How many times have you spoken to a stranger in a café versus on a tram?  

Cafes are a conduit to our culture and society, a meeting point to discuss the absurd, inane or the news of the day and coffee is the fuel.  I think it’s simply a nice safe social environment and it doesn’t involve as much ceremony as a restaurant, so more of us are involved.  

Many times we’ve had people having a chat  to complete strangers while waiting for a coffee and they turn out to be neighbours or in the same gym class. It’s a real ice breaker for a community. Hence the attraction perhaps…

What are three things everyone should be looking for in good cup of coffee?

Flavour, Flavour and the other one – Flavour.  Coffee is essentially a poison, we know this because if we drink enough we’ll get sick.  Roasting and preparing it gives us a drinkable, albeit caffeinated, beverage that tastes amazing but enjoyment is in the flavour.  

I could say a balance of tannic and citronic acids, gently softened by protein based sweetners developed in the last few minutes of a roast, the lack of woody or bitter flavours showcases the skills all the way from the grower to the roaster, through to the barista, but that would just be complicating it!

As a parent and as a cafe owner, how do you handle the issue of kids in busy cafes?

It’s all about staff engaging and treating the children as grown ups and not grown up grown ups, I just mean slightly older than they are.  Kids love it, parents love it, staff love it and the kids act and respect the café more. Sure they may be a little loud or make a mess but that’s what we all did when we were younger.  Sometimes you get the odd exception – but in most cases that’s not a child who is to blame for that.

What perspective on people and life have you gained from working in cafes, that you’d want to pass onto your kids?

Compassion, work ethic and I’ll have a conversation about anything with anyone and I feel like I’m a lot more connected and better off for it.

What are your strongest memories of your Dad?

Tobacco and sawdust, and the way he smells.  I knocked my head open on a slide in a playground when I was 4 and had his singlet wrapped around my head for the trip to the hospital. I’ll always remember that trip but the smell of his singlet is the strongest memory.  We used to see him once a week so I kind of ruined that outing.

Do you think he did a good job? 

No, he was absent through no fault of his own. Here comes the forgive part – my mother and father were both very selfish people and divorced soon after I hit 18 months, partly due to a culture clash, partly due to the fact that they hated each other.  My mother has a background of schizophrenia in her family. She isn’t herself I don’t think but she has always been paranoid about it.  My father is Dutch – ‘Hallo ! What is up with you ?!!’. I can’t imagine how anyone would have thought that would ever work. In a way the best thing he ever did was show some kindness and compassion when he could, but not being around he missed it all. I’m a product of many different role models as a result and his influence is minimal.

What was the best thing he ever taught you?

How to swing a hammer.  He’s been a builder for 40 years and a damn fine craftsman. When I was old enough to hold a hammer he taught me how to swing it.  It sounds simple but even today I still show people how to swing a hammer.  The swinging hammer isn’t the point, teaching someone with patience is. I guess he taught me that believing someone can do something is more important in teaching them, than them thinking they can.

Over the last few years, I’ve taught baristas, roasters, countless staff and managers,  shown staff how to wire up an ethernet cable and diagnose a problematic thermostat. It all comes back that memory and I guess that idea – yes you can, just have a go, adjust it a little – there you go you’ve got it now.

As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

Keeping up. I’d like to be part of my sons life more than anything and if it’s just to congratulate him or teach him how to swing a hammer then so be it, but I think he’s going to want to fly, dive, climb, date girls, surf, fix an old car, get motorcycle license – and I want to be able to keep up and grow with him.  Hopefully he’ll have kids and we get a second shot as Grandparents, but I think it’s going to be all about keeping up and being around and getting involved.

What are the key things you want or hope for, for your kids?

Main thing is to find someone he loves, secondly and probably just as important – perspective. I know from experience myself it’s hard to get perspective sometimes and it can lead to wasted years.

What do you think of Fathers today?

Tough one. I think it’s remarkable how varied and different parenting can result in little to no effect on a child. I know from my father that there are no rules to parenting, so it’s a tough question.  I think generally fathers today have it a lot tougher as we pay higher taxes, live and work at remarkable speeds and have so much more technology and invasive expectations that it’s a difficult job.  Everyone seems to make it work. The fathers I know all have different approaches and, like anything in life, you glean tidbits of why some things work better and some don’t.

What do you think is the most important thing every Dad should aim to achieve?

I think being present and active in your family’s life. The world is a wonderful, crazy and sometimes harsh place and in my eyes your Dad should always be there to make it all easier and help you out. Whether it’s advice, a hug, a cup of coffee and a game of chess or simply showing up to help with your broken down car  and sympathise with you even though he told you not to buy it in the first place. I think I’m more confused than ever about what I should be aiming for now that I am a father, compared to when I wasn’t. But hey – that’s life.

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Padre Coffee padrecoffee.com.au
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Max Olijnyk is a Wordsmith

Earlier this year I took a course at the Good Copy (a writing studio in Collingwood, Australia) to help me write good and that. Called ‘Stop. Grammar Time.’ the class helped me understand just how bad my writing was and where the typos and grammar errors would be lurking. One half of the teaching duo was the charming Max Olijnyk. It wasn’t long into the course that I realised I had been a fan of Max’s writing in Vice, The Age and Broadsheet for years. When we got chatting and he mentioned he had recently became a Father to Fred, then I knew I had to profile him. He is a writer, photographer, designer, skater and just a nice dude. Meet Max.”
— Lach
"They just seem to always be either: boring and beaten down, as if they’ve given up; or gleefully happy, as if they have been drugged. I suppose that was part of my anxiety leading into this. Am I going to become one of them now? Am I already like that and don’t realise it?" Max Olijnyk 

"They just seem to always be either: boring and beaten down, as if they’ve given up; or gleefully happy, as if they have been drugged. I suppose that was part of my anxiety leading into this. Am I going to become one of them now? Am I already like that and don’t realise it?" Max Olijnyk 

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

It wasn’t exactly a surprise because we had made the decision to start ‘trying’, but it happened really soon after that decision had been made. I was more excited than I thought I would be, but it felt quite unreal.

What has fatherhood taught you?

I’m not sure yet.

What is the most challenging part so far?

Trying to work when I can hear Fred playing in the next room.

What HAS BEEN the most rewarding part of becoming a Father?

I think it is in the way Fred responds to my presence. Making him laugh feels really nice.

Do you have a fatherhood philosophy?

No.

What does having kid make you think differently about?

It forces me to reconsider all my selfish thoughts. It doesn’t stop them; it just makes them seem more ridiculous.

What do you miss most about the time before you were a Father?

I suppose just not really being accountable. I miss going to the movies too. 

What did you find tricky about your partner's pregnancy?

No matter how many books I pretended to read or reality shows we watched, I found it difficult to imagine what it was going to be like to have a baby. Rosie was completely absorbed by it. I was more absorbed in making the most of my ‘freedom’ before this life-changing thing happened. I became more anxious about it as the due date grew closer and I’m afraid I wasn’t very supportive.

What sources of information did you use to get you through thAT time?

I spoke to a few of my friends who have had kids. They didn’t really have any advice for me apart from to just go with it. We attended a birthing class, which I was quite sceptical about but ended up being quite enjoyable. It was good to do something together and it made the prospect of the birth experience more of a real thing in my mind.

How was the experience of the birth as an onlooker?

It was a really emotional, intense experience. Things changed very quickly and our birth plan went out the window when Rosie had to have an emergency C-section under general anaesthetic. I met Fred before she did. I really liked him as soon as I saw him; he already had so much character. I followed him around and then got to hold him on my chest for an hour or so before Rosie came back from surgery. I wrote about it here 

Describe the feelings OF those first few days at home with a new baby...

They were both in the hospital for the first week. That was pretty weird, but quite good because the nurses could show us how to do things properly, so by the time we got Fred home we were old hands at parenting. Ha! I felt strange. A mix of everything. Rosie took to the whole thing with great grace and happiness, which is/was very impressive to me. One of the nice things I remember from those first few days was dancing with Fred while listening to music. It was a beautiful feeling and I still do that quite a bit, even though he is a lot heavier now.

So how did you became a writer? 

I’ve been good at writing since I was a kid. I remember getting knowing I was doing something good with my time, like I was connected to energy when I was writing. I still get that sometimes, and that’s when I know I’m writing well. I’ve always made my own zines and stuff, but I only started getting paid to write when I was in my late twenties. I studied journalism at university, which taught me a bit. Working has taught me the most.

NOW YOU ARE A FATHER, What is your writing process?

I’m still getting used to it. I’m finding it difficult to find the right headspace to write well when I’m at home. It’s tricky.

What influences and inspires your writing?

I get most of my inspiration from my friends and things that happen to me. If a story makes people laugh when I tell it, then I know it might be worth writing about. A few writers who do a similar kind of thing to what I hope to do are Jon Ronson, John Jeremiah Sullivan and David Sedaris. I suppose it is creative non-fiction. I’m also very inspired by comedians like Louis CK, Sean Micallef and Stewart Lee. I’ve always been influenced and inspired by skateboarding, of course.

What role will story telling play in how you raise your kids?

A huge part, I hope. We read to Fred all the time and he loves it.

How will you look to encourage Fred’s creativity?

I will give him lots of love and encouragement when he shows enthusiasm for anything.

What are your strongest memories of your Father?

I used to love it when he told us ‘candle stories’, which were true accounts of stuff he got up to with his mates before I was born, mainly around our shack on the Yorke Peninsula. I think they showed me that even when you get into an intense situation, you can get out of it and find humour in there. And that crazy things can happen to you and you will still be you within those desperate moments. That’s very comforting, I think. Man I loved those stories. My favourite was Stingray Rock.

Do you think he did a good job?

Yes.

How do you want your kids to remember you?

I don’t know. Fondly?

What do you think of Fathers today?

I don’t really think about them. I probably should think about them more. They just seem to always be either: boring and beaten down, as if they’ve given up; or gleefully happy, as if they have been drugged. I suppose that was part of my anxiety leading into this. Am I going to become one of them now? Am I already like that and don’t realise it?

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should aim to achieve?

I don’t care what anyone else does, but I want to be someone Fred feels comfortable talking to. I would like for us to make each other laugh a lot.

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Jamie Murray is a Black belt

I’ve come to know Jamie Murray through our church, City on a Hill. Jamie runs Renegade MMA gym in the Melbourne suburb of Kensington , just around the corner from where I used to live. Over that time I have seen his business grow, and the vision he initially had for it come to life. His gym is one with a mission, to see people’s lives impacted. It is a gym built on a great culture, and Jamie is key to that.

I have been put through my paces a few times at Renegade and have witnessed the impact his gym has. Last time I was there they gave me a free t-shirt which now makes me look way tougher when I wear it at the gym.

When you speak with Jamie you cant help but be impressed. He is more than a Black belt BJJ champion (although he is one of those) but a devoted Husband and Father to 5 kids - Alex, Elsa, Will, Liana and Fifi.

This guy is passionate about two things - jiu-jitsu and Jesus, and his work at the gym sees him acting almost as a chaplain for the local community. He is a character of great character. Humble, generous, honest, funny and loving.

Meet Jamie.
— Lach
" I don't like MMA particularly, I don't follow it. I don't go home and watch it. I watch enough of it here with the dudes rolling around! I go home and watch the Wiggles or X-Men, whatever the kids are watching." Jamie Murray

" I don't like MMA particularly, I don't follow it. I don't go home and watch it. I watch enough of it here with the dudes rolling around! I go home and watch the Wiggles or X-Men, whatever the kids are watching." Jamie Murray

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Dad?

I was about 25 when we got pregnant with Alex our son and like most blokes I figured I knew it all. ‘This is how its going to be, this is how its going to work, this is the way its going to happen’ and I couldn't have been more wrong about any of it! I was overjoyed to be a Dad. At the time I was like ‘we are going to lose this and that’ but you don't lose anything as a parent, you gain so much.

What HAS Fatherhood taught you?

I always loved the idea of having a tribe of kids and as you have them your heart just opens up. It’s been an amazing journey. Before kids, you’re self centred. It’s just natural. Kids teach us that it isn’t about us!

When you grow up you think the world revolves around you. But becoming a parent made me stop and think there’s something more here, something larger at work. Just knowing those areas in your heart have opened. When my son was born I was filled with all this joy and pride and pleasure.  When my daughter was born 18 months later, there was this whole new part of my heart opened up that I wanted to protect and guide and father. I was new at it and didn't know anything but I was keen to learn and keen to grow. You need to realise your own shortcomings and parenthood brings that out. It shows you where you fail, how to evolve and it challenges you.

What is the most challenging part of being a father?

A healthy kid, is not always a happy kid. Sometimes for them to be healthy they have to be a little bit unhappy. If my kids says ‘I want a coke’ and its ten o’clock at night, they’re going to be unhappy! If you're always trying to make your kids happy, your not always doing the right thing. You need to have that balance. You can be their friend, but you cant be just their friend. You need to be the parent as well. 

I think though one of the biggest challenges most dads have is talking to their kids about sex. I think when they are little and they want that toy or they want that coke, most parents figure that out. When they hit puberty, that’s when most parent feel challenged. You shouldn't start the conversation at puberty, that should start at 5! I told my kids one day when we were cooking eggs. The littlest was about 3 and the oldest about 9 and they asked “Where do babies come from?” and so I told them! ‘The man takes his pecker, and the women gets her front-bum and they put together… after they are married and after they are in love.’ There was silence for ten seconds then they burst out in laughter! They said “aaahhhh I’ll never do that!” It was hilarious. We’ve always kept it humorous. It’s just about having that ongoing conversation and making it accessible. And look it’s not perfect. I’ve made mistakes. I wouldn’t say what I’ve done is right for everyone but I would say if you don't talk about it, that’s not good.

What is your Fatherhood philosophy?

I am there, often, at a regular junction. In the morning I am cooking brekkie, finding those lost shoes and getting them ready for school. I am the morning guy because, like a lot of people, I work shift work and at night I am hanging out at the gym. We are in a 24/7 environment in this culture but I am there every morning to touch base with the kids. The second thing is, when I say I am going to be somewhere, I’ll be there. Like this morning, my son had a swimming carnival and I was there hanging out with him, encouraging him and getting his towel for him. So if I say ‘Here I am regularly and here I am when you need me’ between those two things they know I care for them and we value that time. In a big family I make sure I get a lot of one on one time with each kid, even if its just a trip down to the supermarket.  It’s presence -I think that’s it. Just being there.

What are your strongest memories of your Father?

I grew up going go-kart racing and pistol shooting on weekends and we did that together until I was about 12. When I got to about 14, I started wanting to play guitar and explore artistic stuff and I didn't want to go go-karting anymore. So what did my Dad do? He didn't crack the sads, he went and bought a guitar. He sat next to me, we started learning a few chords and writing songs together. He saw what I was interested in and invested in me. I was very fortunate. Its only now that when I meet other men and talk about life that I process how fortunate I was to have a dad like I did. He had a dad who was the same. We’ve spoken a lot about people who don't have that relationship, and we can’t relate. We had amazing fathers and a great relationship that not everybody has.

I say that knowing there are a lot of men out there who haven't had that relationship modelled well and struggle. I think a lot of the things I am doing, I shouldn't  get the credit for because I had it modelled to me well and that counts for so much. So I am trying to model that for my kids. The best thing they can see me do well is to pursue Jesus - that's the best thing I can do.

Tell us about your about your Christian faith and why YOU follow Jesus?

I grew up in a Christian home where Mum and Dad modelled Jesus as best they could. Mum was AOG Pentecostal and Dad was Salvation Army, and they encouraged me to seek Jesus myself. I saw a lot of it but they never pushed me. So when I was 18 and moved out of home with a girl, they weren’t happy but they bought me a freezer! “ We aren't happy about this, but here's a freezer cos we love you!” and I look back now and think about how that thing is still working 20 years on! 

I went through a rebellious period like a lot of people do but having children made it different. I wasn't going to a church but I still had a bible. All the kids got dedicated, we got married by a Salvation Army chaplain and would go to church every Easter and Christmas, but for me it was a religious thing. 

I got diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and the Doctor said to me you need to meditate and do yoga. Now I didn't need yoga, I do jujitsu and that is yoga on steroids! What I did feel is that I wanted to return to prayer and I guess at that time Jesus was pursuing me. There was a guy who walked into the gym, one of my best and closest friends, and he said to me “You’re a Christian are you? What don't you tell people about it?” He just challenged my heart. I also had my daughter come home, she’d heard the gospel from a  religious instructor at school and wanted to go to church. We were church shopping, and I took my wife along. I remember sitting there thinking “Ahh man we are going to lose our Sundays!’ and I wasn't too keen about it. And I turned to my wife and tears were just rolling down here face. It was the first time at church, and bang, she was saved! So God just swept in through the hearts of my family.

I wrestled with it because I knew what it meant. If I am going open a gym its going to be in the middle of Melbourne, its going to be everything on the table. If I am going to have kids, I am going to have 5. If I am going to be a Christian then I am going to take the gospel seriously and let it affect all areas of my life. The more I get to know Jesus , I believe he’s making my capacity to love greater and he’s helping me to be a better father. He’s used the vehicle of jiu-jitsu and he’s used the vehicle of parenthood, but ultimately it’s Jesus.

Tell us about your business at Renegade?

It started with five of us and God has grown it to 250 people. We have an amazing amount of wonderful people involved. Probably about 30% are Christian but we also have an amazing lesbian community here, and that’s not something I advertised for but they feel safe and comfortable here so I am honoured.

How do you balance being a Christian with running a gym that trains people in Mixed Martial Arts?    

In every Christian community you are always going to have people saying this and that, but I bury my head in the trench of grace and say ‘you go away and argue it, I am just going to be here on the mats, loving people ferociously and seeing what Jesus does with them’. We don't live in a world that is lovey dovey. It’s a world where confrontational violence is a reality. Having said that I’ve never had a fight in my life. I don't like MMA particularly, I don't follow it. I don't go home and watch it. I watch enough of it here with the dudes rolling around! I go home and watch the Wiggles or X-Men, whatever the kids are watching.

How do you see what you do as a creative expression?

Bruce Lee said that martial arts is ultimately an expression of one's self. He’s the guru, he never meant much to me in my life, but I agree with that statement. I see a lot of musicians that train here. I wrote songs and played in bands for years, but when I got into jiu-jitsu I drifted away from that. I am still very thankful, as my music was an act of worship to God, I wrote a lot of songs and explored my faith, but I believe jiu-jitsu bought me back to faith, it gave me a deeper understanding of faith. It taught me to set goals, achieve them and be a better husband and father. God has worked larger in my life through jiu-jitsu than music.

As a father, what do you see AS your biggest challenge ahead?

Teenage years will be a challenge- boyfriends, girlfriends …how am I going to stay out of jail by not killing them! I want my kids to stay in community. We have plans, long term, to have an investment property where all their names are on it. So it will force them to talk to each other, at least about the property! The function of the investment will be to tie the family together and manufacture the necessity for a relationship. Too many families drift apart. I’ve seen too many families in my world fracture over money. I pray that doesn't happen to my family. I pray they pursue Jesus and I want to see each one staying in relationship. I just want to keep loving and serving them because that’s my first ministry, my wife and my kids. It’s got to be for any Dad- that’s key. As much as I love Renegade, if it burned to the ground I wouldn’t loose sleep because my family are safe.

What do you think is the most important thing every FATHER should be doing?

I think fathers today have a tough job, because they need to be counter cultural. Dads are painted in such a crappy light, they have an uphill battle just to say ‘Hey I’m functioning, I’m providing, I’m trying to do the best I can’. They should lead well and complement their wives. They need to love and serve their wife above themselves. That’s leading well. And their wives need to do the same for them. That’s what my wife does for me and that to me is what makes a good marriage.

How do you want your kids to remember you?

As someone who pursued Jesus, as a man of God. 

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Renegade MMA  www.renegademma.com.au
3/60 Stubbs Street. Kensington, Victoria Australia (Make sure to hit up a trial class and tell them Blackframes sent you!) 

Help Jamie support the underprivileged kids of Bali by getting behind his World Record attempt with Grappleathon www.gofundme.com/grappleathon

 

Yannick Thoraval is a Writer

It was at my first job out of university that I met Yannick. We were working in the marketing department of another university and living the life of big budgets under an environment of poor leadership. He immediately struck me as a real-life Jason Bourne. He spoke four languages, had three passports and was a keen attender of kickboxing classes. He turned out to be probably the smartest guy I’ve met, a great writer and even better friend. Since then I have witnessed him become a father to both Charlotte and Alex and seen him take on one life venture after another. He is always busy writing the next chapter of his life.

Meet Yannick.
— Lach

"Then I realised there is no later. You don’t find time you make it. So I wrote the novel before work, after work, on holidays and weekends. I tapped the book out, one sentence at a time."

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

I thought, “game on.” I wanted to do it well, you see. I felt I had something to prove. Still do.

What do you remember about the births of your children?

It’s corny, but I remember feeling awe and respect for my wife. The births were not gentle, tender, life-affirming experiences. Both required medical intervention. They were stressful.

What has Fatherhood taught you?

That parenthood, indeed life generally, gets easier when you stop trying to control everything.

What is the most challenging part of being a father?

I used to enjoy spending time alone, like, a lot of time alone. I used get entire weeks of solitude, camping or biking or whatever. It was my way of clearing the clutter of every-day life. Now there are people around all the time, little people, who have constant and unreasonable demands, and lots of little plastic stuff that I step on and have to repair with super glue. So the loss of free time has been an adjustment. They’re 7 and 4 now, so it’s getting better. Incrementally. 

What is the most rewarding part of being a father?

Watching the kids exhibit the values I teach them, caring for others, for each other etc. Even something as simple as watching one kid get the other one a glass of water is a joy. The ability sympathize lays the groundwork for the children to get the most out of their relationships later on.

Tell us about how you managed to find time to write your first novel ?

I had been using the busyness of life with kids as an excuse: to not write, to not exercise, to eat poorly. I was still in the trap of seeing parenthood as some kind of temporary state. I always thought, ‘later, when they’re older, I’ll find time to do X,Y and Z.’ Then I realised there is no later. You don’t find time you make it. So I wrote the novel before work, after work, on holidays and weekends. I tapped the book out, one sentence at a time, often on the notes function of my i-phone. It also helped that I have a supportive wife who wants me to succeed. I don’t know how single parents do it. They have my highest respect.  

Your book deals with big issues like global warming and the existence of God- how will you be encouraging your kids to grapple with these areas?

Those issues and questions are big. But their source is local and personal. That’s why I stress value lessons. If you live life only for yourself, I tell them, it’s never going to be fulfilling. That’s the message of my book too, (The Current, available on Amazon and elsewhere, [sorry, couldn’t help myself]).

As a writer, what sort of story would you like your children to tell with their lives?

An honest and self-effacing story. I spent a lot of time pretending to be different people. I did self-destructive things to win the respect of people whose names I can no longer remember. I want my children to feel more secure in themselves than that.
 

What was your approach to work before and after kids?

I know I’m supposed to say that I realised work was just a distraction and that family was all that mattered. But my ego won’t permit that. If anything, I feel my relationship with work became more complex. I demanded more from a job: more money, more flexibility, more satisfaction, more prestige, more meaning.  I’ll let you know when I get the balance right.

Biggest crisis you faced as a Father and how did you survive?

It’s pathetic, I know, but the biggest issue for me was/is not having my wife’s attention directed solely at me anymore.  I’m emotionally needy and high maintenance. I’ve only just thought of this now, but I suspect I channelled a lot of that emotional energy into my book.

What do you remember about Your Dad from when you were a child?

Dad was this guy who drifted in and out of family life. He was always at work, or sleeping in, or in another room. He made cameo appearances. I don’t think he likes children much. He’s French, you see, and, over there, children are turned into little adults, they’re broken in, like wild horses, their flamboyancy and natural curiosity replaced by self-doubt and good table manners. So what I remember most about dad was tiptoeing around his imminent anger, his frustration at us just being kids.

And it kills me when I behave the same way.   

So how does being a father change how you relate to your Dad?

Your question implies there has been a change, it begs for some kind of positive outcome, some kind of learning. My father told me, point blank, that I’m a better dad than he ever was. I’d like to say that I had an ‘a-ha’ moment when I realised ‘oh this is what dad was up against,’ but I haven’t. If anything, I’m less tolerant of his disapproval now that it’s directed at my children.

Do you think he did a good job?

He provided for the family.

What do you see as the role of Fathers in society?

What a father’s role is and what it should be are getting closer to being the same thing. A father essentially frames the norms of acceptable male behaviour. He is a benchmark against which children will set their expectations of maleness. Dad informs his children’s understanding of what male relationships will be like (in friendship, marriage etc.). Fathers also model norms of acceptable behaviour for their sons. It’s not about teaching your kid how to kick a ball, it’s about helping your child to interpret and apply social and cultural values through a male perspective, through a man’s experience of the world.   

What do you think of Fathers today?

I think we’re supposed to believe there’s some kind of identity crisis for the modern father: ‘how can men really be ‘men’ in the context of ever shifting expectations etc. It's a tired proposition and a wrong one.  

I think fathers have never been more encouraged to openly parent than they are today. Go to any kiddie swimming pool in a Melbourne suburb on a weekend and you’ll find it’s mostly men (tatts and all) splashing around in there with their babies at ‘water awareness training.’

When I talk to older fathers, the baby boomer generation, for example, they seem jealous that we can embrace being active dads. I get the sense many of them wanted to be more involved, but it wasn’t ‘manly’ to do so back then, it was a cultural restriction, as it is for many cultures today.

Best advice for Fathers?

I struggled with this question, came back to it several times. How do you answer this without sounding like a jerk? So here’s the advice I would give my pre-dad self: ‘stop perceiving kid-related activity (e.g. playing, bath time, bed time story etc.) as a delay or an obstacle to what else you might be doing/achieving. The children will instantly feel less annoying.’   

Where do you find inspiration?

Three elements drive me to write: ego; legacy; curiosity. 

How do you want your kids to remember you?

As someone who always had time for them, and someone who always tried to understand their point of view, even if I disagreed with it. 

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Buy the The Current via Amazon
Check out Yannick's website

Sam Larson is a Shop Owner

I came across Sam and his business, Lone Flag, on social media and was won over by his community mindedness, love of coffee and an eye for good design. Through this process I also got the occasional glimpse into Sam’s life as a dad to Rylee and Cru.

Despite only ever sharing some emails back and forth across the Pacific, I knew Sam would be an ideal fit for Blackframes. Thankfully he was willing to be profiled as the responses below are packed full of wisdom and insight.

It is rare but encouraging for me to find people that share a similar outlook on matters of life, family, faith and style.

Meet Sam.
— Lach

" I want them to see me as a man who had integrity, loved others, served God, lived without fear and took chances." Sam Larson

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

Shocked….we weren’t planning on it so it came out of nowhere. I just thought my wife had been sick for a minute, I didn’t even consider it may be pregnancy.  I wish my first response was excitement but honestly I was just driving my car when she called, trying to figure out how much my life would change. 

What Fatherhood has taught you?

Selflessness. When I was watching out for myself I was inherently selfish. I couldn’t help it. I’d think about what I was  going to do that day and my time. Once I became a dad, it really helped me curb that a bit. Life became about serving a child and a wife instead of just me surfing and working on projects or spending all my time with friends and at work.  It’s been tough, I think I’m a selfish dude, but it’s also super healthy. I want to be someone who is a servant and focused on the needs of others and being a Dad helps to foster that in a great way. Loving something that small and vulnerable changes a lot of the vices in you and forms you into something better.

Tell us about a time when you felt you had no idea what you were doing as a Father?

When I left the parking lot of the hospital after the birth of our first child, Rylee, I remember driving home at 15mph the whole way and thinking we were going to have to keep this thing alive. I was terrified because we had no idea what I was doing. Everything prior to that had been theoretical, then it all of a sudden became real and this crying/screaming mini-thing was in the back seat. Every parenting book I read prior to that went out the window. 

What is the most challenging part of being a Father?

Prioritising time so that your family becomes the first focus is one of the toughest things for me. My faith and my family are the number one things in my life, but my wife and I also own our own businesses that feel like they are relentlessly pulling at us. We’re constantly busy, constantly underwater with projects, always scrambling. Sometimes in the midst of all that I lose focus on the fact that work is fleeting and that my family, and having a legacy as a dad that loves his wife and is constantly present in his children’s lives, is far more important than any business. 

What is the most rewarding part of being a Father?

Everything. Your heart is capable of a lot more love than you thought possible before. Seeing a little person and how they want to be with you, how much they rely on you, and how much they love you is an empowering thing. 

What is your Fatherhood philosophy?

Serve God, love your wife and be present in their lives. If I do those three things, my family prospers. 

What does having kids make you think differently about?

Finances and time. Kids make you realise that you spend a lot of time and money on things that don’t matter, and that priorities and simple things have value. 

What do you miss about the time before you were a Father?

Freedom and time. I felt like I could go and do anything, at any moment without the responsibilities. Oh…and time with my wife. It’s increasingly harder to have a date or spend time together with kids. You have to really make that happen intentionally or you lose the spark. 

Tell us about the story of Lone Flag?

I’ve spent the past 10 years working for lifestyle brands and over time felt like I wanted to do my own thing. The experience was amazing, but there were always creative direction elements that I couldn’t control and I wanted to create something from the ground up that was really my thing. I’ve always been entrepreneurial, it’s just that the older you get, the harder it is. Risks are hard when you have a family.

I’d dreamed of starting the brand and opening the concept space, but it wasn’t until two years ago that I got crazy enough to try. I stopped caring about failing or what would happen if it didn’t work and just went for it. My wife said yes (she’s amazing) so I dove in, spent every last dollar we had in savings, worked 15 hour days and nights, and here we are today. 

What are three easy and classic style tips for guys out there?

Well-fitting denim, basic shirts that are tailored well, and boots/classic sneakers will never, ever go out of style.  I would also encourage guys to take pride in the way they look, not in a self-centred hubristic way, but just in a way in which you focus on excellence. If you do your job well, take care of your family well, eat well, etc…why dress like a slob? The way you dress is a part of how you look at yourself. A few basic pieces that fit well will make you feel more put together and confident and your wife will thank you too. 

You place a premium on community- why do you feel it so important and what would you like your children to take from that?

I’ve always wanted our physical space at Lone Flag to be more than a retail store, I want people to come and feel welcome. I want relationships to prosper here and people to feel as if it’s a place they can talk to someone and be known on some level. We are at our best when we are in relationship with one another and encouraging one another. Businesses can (and should) incorporate that philosophy as well. At some level I just thought that If I’m going to have my own business, and take all the risks, and feel the pain of trying to make it happen; I might as well enforce the values I care about as well so that it has a legacy greater than just a place of business. Hopefully my kids see that some of what I do is because I want to put others in a place where they are first, valued, and important. 

How do you balance your roles with your business and your family?

It’s tough, this is the hardest part of what I do. My wife has two businesses and I do contract work with brands alongside of running Lone Flag. It’s a lot on our plate but that’s what it takes to make your dream a reality. I have to really focus on making time for my wife (for the two of us) as well as making sure we are staffed with great people here who can take some of the load off me so that I can spend more time with the kids. Hiring good people makes a huge difference, but it’s still tough. 

What role does faith, beliefs or political ideals play in your life and the way you bring up your kids?

Faith is huge for us. I’m a Christian, but I’ve been a wanderer of everything in my past. There isn’t any element of love, meaning, purpose, or grace that inspires in the same way the hope we have in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us. I want to live that story in my life and my legacy and have my kids see and know that I serve God first with my actions. Outside of that, I’m not sure that God cares about my politics, only that they are shaped by my outlook of putting others first. We won’t force any beliefs on our kids, but we will live ours and bring them up in a way which honours God. 

Your wife is quite creative in her own right. How important is the concept of creativity in your marriage and family?

She is way more creative than me. Kelli has had a design business and been an artist and designer long before my time. Creativity is important to us because we want to be creators of new things for others and inspirational to our community. The different avenues we happen to be in for our careers both enforce our abilities to act out creatively and do things differently. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I have to get out and get into other businesses. Sometimes I’ll get away and surf and then just drop in at local retailers, coffee shops, and lifestyle stores I respect in our city or LA. Almost always I walk out with an awesome experience, new friends, and a whole new outlook on what I’m doing at Lone Flag.  We’re not interested in competing with other stores here, that’s too much effort. I’d rather just be friends with them all and support one another and get inspiration from each other. A lot of the businesses in San Diego that are run by friends of mine are the biggest inspirations for me. 

What are your strongest memories of your Father from when you were a kid?

He was there for everything, he had a moustache, he shook your hand and looked you in the eye, and he loved my mom. Those things defined him as a man I wanted to be like. 

Do you think he did a good job?

I think there are things he could’ve done better, much like me as a dad now. All that matters though, is that he never made me doubt that he loved me, never made me earn his approval, and only ever supported every crazy idea I’ve had to date and been the first one to be a fan. He still purchases things from Lone Flag. I’ve learned a lot from him. 

As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

I just want to avoid the pitfalls of falling out of touch with my kids or sort of checking out for times as the business goes up and down. Staying focused on the main priorities and the things that matter will always be the toughest struggle. 

How do you want your kids to remember you?

I want them to see me as a man who had integrity, loved others, served God, lived without fear and took chances. 

What do you think is the role of Fatherhood in the USA today?

Be there for your kids. Love your wives. We have too much absence here in the United States. 1 out of every 2 kids won’t have a dad in their life. That’s something as a culture we need to address. 

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should be doing?

Serve your family. Servant leadership is something I believe in. Actions always speak louder than words. 

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* All photo credits to Sam/Lone Flag

Michael Moore is a Barber

I first met Michael Moore at a party. It was his son’s 2nd birthday and everyone was high on food colouring rather than drunk from wine. We connected straight away; bonding over a love of coffee and a youth spent listening to punk rock.

Father to Charlie and Josephine, Mikey is a little man but has huge personality and drive. We’ve become quite tight and he’s my go-to Dad friend, always up for a coffee trek and good conversation.

I wanted to kick-off the profiles with Michael as he’s such an interesting and cool guy. I’ve seen firsthand how engaged he is as a Father and we often speak about the current approach we are taking with our kids, trying to stay a step ahead of them.

Where he was once on-track for a big corporate career in the hotel world, he now has found his passion working as a Barber where he can finally let all that impressive ink get some air.

He’s passionate about good fades, good coffee, his bike, his babe and his babies. He’s the perfect guy to kick off the Blackframes profiles.

Meet Michael.
— Lach

"...find a good barber. And once you do, grow old together." Michael Moore

Q. Tell us about your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

Expressions of ‘F**K, F**K, F**K!’ before emotions of flat out denial. This was of course superseded with euphoria but only after the cold sweat had subsided. 

Hardly the picture perfect start to family life, but in hindsight the best inception a father could ask for given the calamity that is my children.

Q. What is the most rewarding part of being a Father?

Man, I cant even begin to describe.

Q. So what is your Fatherhood philosophy?

Be present

Q. Does having kids make you think differently about stuff?

Happiness and how it can be found in the bottom of an empty box. It blows my mind that our children, armed only with a sunny disposition and a lick of creativity, have everything they need to have a good day. Think about it - why does this change? I now try to treat every day like an empty box and make what you will of it. Deep right! 

Q. What has Fatherhood taught you so far?

To stay present in all moments. For example - never leave the house without saying a genuine goodbye to each other. It breaks my heart to think that so many people are lost daily and never took the chance to stop to say a genuine goodbye to their kids and loved one.

Don't be slave to routine and haste - take that moment each and every time it comes, as it pays dividends in the end. 

Q. What is the most challenging part of being a Father?

Being present at all times.

Q. What do you miss about the time before you were a Father?

I can truly say nothing. I loved my time then and I love my time now. It’s different good.

Q. Tell us about your how you came to be working as a barber?

I was losing touch, working ridiculous hours and generally failing to meet my single obligation as a Father: to be there. My career trajectory read like a book; white collar, big company and six figure salary. So safe and so white bread, but who for? 

I made moves and did what it took to change that. I became a barber because I wanted to. I have always been barbered and felt strongly about growing the trade. I’m highly passionate about tradition and grooming. It was the right fit. 

Q. Top three things a man can do to style his hair?

Just one - find a good barber. And once you do, grow old together.

Q. You’ve got a distinct look and style, so how would you describe the ‘culture’ you are trying to pass onto your kids?

Man, I have never even thought about that! I really just hope that they take pride in themselves and express that in the best way possible. 

Q. Tell us about a time when you felt you had no idea what you were doing as a Father? Were you scared?

This pertains to my eldest. The story begins at a much begrudged family reunion. After playing the rounds and many wet kisses later C.P and I decided to blow off some steam and hit up the little playground we had spied earlier in the day.

Like all good play sessions, things went off with out a hitch; we identified early the apparatus of choice, the friendliest dogs and the meanest kids. Steering clear of the latter we made for the A-frame. Things begun well with the standard one foot up, followed by one arm up and then repeat. Nothing out of the ordinary.

However, upon reaching the 3/4 mark, C.P made a misguided hand placement causing him to bump his head on the joinery.

Hardly the catastrophe and very much the routine but this thud had a different noise, or more worryingly, no noise at all. As I was already supporting C.P, I gently lifted him off the frame to inspect the collateral damage.

It was at this point that the status of being a dad melted right out of my feet. C.P had yet to scream, that was coming. At that moment he was still in a state of breathlessness. That moment before the shrill and for good reason.

Like a knife to butter, the edge of the climbing frame had opened my sons baby fresh skin open right above his left eye. Just like his missing cry, the raging wound was yet to weep. But it was all coming. In an instant the wail was released and like the Trevi fountain, my sons forehead exploded with blood gushing over his entire face and toddler fresh attire. Garh.

Long story straight - I dealt with the entire moment with a clinical precision, stopping the bleeding, calming the patient, reducing the swelling and seeking further care. But that's not the point.  The point being that this was the first time in my life where the person at hand did not need my expertise, my council, my further recommendations.

No, this was the first time in my life that someone just needed me, my security, my reassurance, my being. Did I pass? I think so, but it was was not without intense fear of failure. This was the first time I genuinely felt that I was not qualified for the job*.

*Disclaimer - there have been many times since.

 

Q. What are your strongest memories of your Dad from when you were a kid?

I never lived with my Pa but I can vividly remember just feeling that he was invincible, the strongest man on earth.

Q. Do you think he did a good job?

Yeah absolutely. For better or worse both my parents set me on a path that I am incredibly grateful for.

Q. As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

Remaining present.

Q. How do you want your kids to remember you?

With good hair.

Q. What do you think is the role of Fathers today?

I’m not qualified to answer this.

Q. What do you think is the most important thing every Father should be doing?

Don't make me say it again - but just be in the moment with your children! I get that its not appropriate for every dad to quit their corporate obligations to become a full-time little league coach, but can you just put the phone down! Little Johnny doesn't get deadlines, but he knows when you’re not into him. If you’re looking for your next promotion, start with your kids! 


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Follow Michael on Insta: @mikey.slicks
Get cut at Uncle Rocco's Barber Shop, Port Melbourne uncleroccos.com.au @uncleroccos