HighCast 034 – Hamish Ta-mé

Hamish is a highlands local and visual artist.

I’m almost a week behind on my blogging. Life has kind of gotten in the way. It’s ironic because a lot of what Hamish and I discussed was about the different ways to do life and the role creativity and art plays.

Hamish is an articulate and funny man. You can tell that he has enjoyed his life and has embraced beauty in the world. His perspective, both in front and behind the camera is nuanced and intelligent, and for want of a better word, unique.

I said on the podcast that I needed to have the conversation. After a tough couple of weeks at work I was in need of inspiration. I needed to hear from, and relate to, creative people and I left the conversation with Hamish feeling reinvigorated.

Creativity, the creative process, creating things, things that others appreciate, is hard. It takes effort and dedication. From time to time, in the administration and logistics of organising the podcast I forget that it should be hard, it all can’t be fun and it’s only through difficulty that creativity really shines. Hamish reminded me of that.

Thanks Hamish.

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HighCast 033 – Tim Wyszynski

Tim is a highlands local and arborist.

I need to get more young folks on the podcast.

Tim’s story and point of view is refreshing, invigorating and funny. He has a voice and tone I often hear on the pages of reddit (shout out to r/australia), that get’s drowned out by others, outside of the web, that seek to speak on his behalf, but don’t understand where he comes from or why he feels and thinks the way he does.

I really enjoyed this conversation because we were able to relate on our hopes and ambitions but also on our anxieties. We both want to live in a regional area that is open, fair and embraces its regionalism. We are both perplexed at decisions about development and infrastructure that don’t make sense to us. We’re both trying to figure out our place and trying to make the most of our challenges and opportunities.

I’m so fortunate to have had another great conversation and get another valuable and different perspective on the world. If I hadn’t of started HighCast, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear Tim’s perspective, let alone bring it to a wider audience.

Thanks Tim!

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Something bigger than ourselves

We look to our leaders for purpose and direction, we look to those with responsibility for inspiration and motivation, and we crave inclusion in something bigger than ourselves.

It’s why we get so disappointed when we witness such poor actions from parliamentarians in Canberra and why we find hope in organisations like NSW State Emergency Service.

Everyone at NSW SES has a leadership role, I know because I witness it week in and week out.

Whether it’s during training, when we’re helping you in storms or when we’re responding to road crashes, every single one of our members is providing leadership to our community and within our own ranks.

I notice it in our meetings when we’re briefed on safety, when we’re performing preparedness tasks on our vehicles and everyone is lending a hand, and when we’re debriefing after a tough job and your team really cares about your welfare.

I know SES is full of leaders, even though it’s often unspoken, but you just know that a task will be completed because individuals care enough and are willing to contribute despite difficulty or misgiving.

We can trust that SES is full of leaders, it mightn’t be said, but it’s always at forefront of mind.

You can tell because ordinary people are willing to share a burden much too heavy for most and give their personal time freely and without expectation of reward.

Leadership at SES is never forgotten because it’s about trust, accountability and respect. 

Respect for your fellow volunteers, for community and for the roundel.

It is professionalism and integrity we display to, and with our rank, and about the safety we entrust when providing our service.

In SES we know that leadership is more than just a position it’s who we are.

If only our parliamentarians were the same.

 

HighCast 032 – Richard Lane

Richard is a highlands local and founder of Wingecarribee Vocal Muster.

Like a lot of guests, Richard came on the podcast to talk about a topic and ended up talking about himself. This is because his story is intriguing and compelling. It is one of passion, frustration and adventure and is as classic as any movie you’ll ever see.

Through the vocal muster, Richard is giving back to community what so many had given to him; tuition, education and most importantly a chance to explore their creativity. The vocal muster is Richard’s way of building community, of creating something bigger than himself and of developing others.

I’m not surprised anymore by the stories I hear through HighCast. It’s almost as if compelling stories, and interesting and creative people, attract to one another because of their drive. I’m glad to have met Richard and to have heard his story, it’s a good one.

Thanks Richard.

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HighCast 031 – Louise Jensen

Louise is a highlands local and advocate for Global Care Africa. She is running a fundraiser to build a home for 50 children in Tororo, Uganda.

Louise had her “soundtrack” or pivotal moment at Christmas 2017 when she learned the story of Caroline from Tororo, Uganda. Orphaned before she turned 10, Caroline was sold by her brother to a man at age 13 . She ran away, fell into drug use and was pregnant at age 19 to a man she didn’t know.

At the age of twenty-six, Caroline began taking in orphans. Now, she and twelve children (11 orphans) live in a three-bedroom home.  Louise is fundraising to support development of a home for up to 50 children and is on a mission to raise $100,000 to do so.

Louise’s story is as empowering as Caroline’s. She has really discovered herself through helping others. She is inspired and determined to achieve her target and seems to have found a purpose and mission she is passionate about.

I said to Louise after recording that her story is probably my favourite. I’ve had favourite and most funny podcasts, but Louise’s story is the best to date. I said on the podcast that I was a bit jealous of the joy she appears to have found. I was telling a bit of a fib, I find excitement in finding stories like Louise’s and I hope that others can find inspiration from her.

Louise is supported by many others across the highlands and wants to offer special thanks to Monica Williams from Robertson who has already funded a well in Tororo Uganda and is a raffle and fundraising extraordinaire.

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HighCast 030 – Scott Hogan

Scott Hogan, President of Southern Highlands Off Road R/C Car Club was guest on HighCast 030.

I must admit I was a bit skeptical about how interesting the story might be. I was wrong! Scott is building a wonderful club for, and built by, community. It’s a family club about participation and belonging and has inclusiveness at it’s heart.

It was fascinating to learn about the R/C cars, the categories of racing and how the club has built it’s own track from scratch.

My favourite part of the conversation revolved around Scott’s passion to bring creativity and excitement to life through toys! He is part of something bigger than himself and is facilitating  learning and personal growth in the process.

Another wonderful story about cool things happening in the highlands. I’m so glad that I pursued the conversation and didn’t let my initial skepticism get in the way. If I had, I wouldn’t have learnt what I did today and met another great community member.

Thanks Scott.

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HighCast 029 – Zac Hulm + Richard Vines

On a beautiful, if a little windy, day in the highlands I welcomed Zac Hulm and Richard Vines into the studio. Zac is Community Engagement Manger and Richard CEO of Rare Cancers Australia, a charity which advocates on behalf of and gives support to Australians suffering from rare forms of cancer.

Today’s podcast was incredibly humbling. I was subdued during my preparedness activities and during the podcast. I was presented with the opportunity of perspective and reflection when talking about people who are far less fortunate, health wise, than myself.

Richard’s wife and Zac are cancer survivors. They are personally invested in their journey and are passionate and articulate promoters of their cause. We talked about cancer, their work and how their work impacts them and their team personally. I was in awe of the work they do, especially with children.

I met Zac at the dentist and got to talking about how they run a national charity from Bowral. The rare cancers team are a great example of the fantastic work that can be done from our neck of the woods with a little know how, passion and some digital innovation.

I hope you enjoy the podcast.

 

1955

The numbers 1 – 9 – 5 – 5 have been a repetitive theme in my life this week.

On Saturday at Bowral Parkrun I ran a time of 19:55. It was the first time I had run under 20 minutes for over three months and quite unexpected considering I hadn’t run under 20:30 in that same time period. Saturday was one of those days as a runner everything just clicked. I got my eating and my sleep right, and in hindsight I’d probably been working up to a fast run for a while and on Saturday everything just fell into place.

Running a 5 km race in under 20 minutes is an achievement for any amateur runner. Consider running at 90 per cent of your capacity for the duration of the run. Consider the physical and mental stresses this puts on you and one can comprehend why it’s not an easy task. Every time I run under 20 I feel fairly exhausted afterwards but also pumped that I’ve pushed my mind and body to the achievement.

Also this week I added Hilltop Hoods to some of my music streaming services. I forgot how good they are. I loved Aussie hip hop and even gave it a crack myself for a little while. Hilltop Hoods song 1955 is one of my favourites. It’s catchy, witty and has a good narrative. I had the song on repeat for a while at work whilst I was seeking inspiration.

In support of the theme of 1955 by Hilltop Hoods I feel like I’ve been transported back to that year and beyond today when I read of the opening speech of new Australian Senator Fraser Anning who called for a ‘final solution’ to Australia’s ‘immigration problem’. He has been widely condemned by most but there are some Australians who have supported his comments.

Whether or not Australia has an ‘immigration problem’ is a healthy debate for a democracy to have. It’s important for us to have nuanced and considered discussions about population, community, economy and environment all of which are impacted or enhanced in some way by immigration.

Senator Anning’s comments are not nuanced or considered, rather distasteful at best and don’t add anything to his argument. They inflame conversation and stop debate. It’s a shame that important discussions like immigration are hampered by careless words and ignorant thoughts. I want my elected officials to be better than this. I hope you do as well.

I hope we don’t slip back in time and can continue to have constructive debate, but if we do, I for one welcome my 1955 overlords..!

I stopped drinking for a year and now I’m going longer…

In July 2017 I decided to take a break from drinking alcohol.

I had commenced training in road crash rescue in my local State Emergency Service (SES) and I decided I wanted to take the responsibility seriously and make sure I was always available. So I thought, I’ll stop drinking for a couple of months to ensure I was always there for my community and for my team.

I wasn’t a problem drinker, but like a lot of Australian men in their 30’s I’d given booze a good shake. Additionally, I was also starting to look at myself and my relationship with alcohol, and was wondering when I was going to start taking things a little more seriously and have a real crack at life.

A couple of months went by. It was a little difficult at first but I was training hard at SES, working hard, and I started a new exercise regime. I therefore had enough to motivate me and push me through the boring Saturday afternoons where I would habitually open a beer whilst I watered the lawn or cooked a BBQ.

A couple of months turned into six and I was really starting to notice weight loss, energy increases and mental and physical wellbeing.  I wasn’t thinking about alcohol at all and I thought to myself, why not do a year…

It was around the 9 months point that I started to tell people of what I was doing. Up until then, I just stopped drinking. I didn’t tell anyone, not for any particular reason, it was partly because I didn’t know what my plans were and I didn’t want to commit to something I wasn’t going to achieve, so after three quarters of a year, I was confident of success, and told people. I would recite the above to people when they asked why…

I sailed into a year easily and immediately my mind turned to drinking. Violently and with a force I had not anticipated. My god, I craved it, I dreamt about it. Everywhere I looked booze reoccupied my thinking. It was at this point I decided I’m going to keep going…

This time, like last, I don’t have any expectations about how long I will persist. I still maintain that I may drink again one day but it’s not in the foreseeable future. That’s mainly because I have so much momentum now that I have built whilst not drinking and I feel as though drinking will burst that momentum. It’s not about not drinking, it’s about the success I’m having without drinking. Positive reasons are so much better than negative.

I learned some lessons along the way:

  • Exercise, particularly intense cardio and lifting heavy weights is as good as any beer I have ever tasted if not better. Particularly early in the morning followed by a shot of espresso before work. It sets up your morning to be super productive.
  • Achievement and momentum is addictive. The more you achieve, the more you want to and it grows and flows from there. If you’d told me a year ago I’d have started a podcast and be on an entrepreneurial journey I would have laughed at you.
  • I used to watch what I ate and was weight conscious but now I can eat (within reason) pretty much whatever I want and I don’t really worry anymore. Instead of alcohol I’ve decided to treat myself with sourdough on the weekends.
  • I have more energy and enthusiasm than I have had in the past 20 years. Combined with better sleep, going to bed early and generally being keen to wake up and discover the world. I’m almost a new man.
  • I have more money and time, and I use that to have a better relationship with my children. I thought I was a pretty good father but I’m almost super dad now… I say yes more often and when I’m with them I’m more present and engaged.

The next point is not a dot point. It’s important and a real lesson for us all.

Somewhere in my life I lost joy. I lost creativity and excitement. In some ways, alcohol, gave me a fleeting glimpse of what I had lost and offered moments of relief from the humdrum and monotony of life but it wasn’t real.

I recently had someone I trust and I respect tell me that I’m the most serious person they’ve ever met. I found that interesting because over the last couple of months I’ve developed a feeling that I remember from when I was younger, a feeling I haven’t felt since I was a teenager and it certainly isn’t a feeling of seriousness…

It’s a feeling that includes a sense of wonder, excitement at what the day might hold, the opportunity for discovery. It’s that feeling that you get when you’re reading a really good story and it feels like the stuff that movies, great pieces of art and music are written about. At the moment, I feel that, and I can tell you that no beer ever tasted that good and probably never will.

In the immortal catch phrase of r/stopdrinking IWNDWYT.

HighCast 028 – Jade + Craig Whatman

Today Jade and Craig Whatman were guests. They are 5th and 4th generational dairy farmers respectfully and owners of Mayberry farm which they are trying to save from the grips of low milk prices and drought.

The Whatman’s have 170 years history dairy farming in the highlands. They represent a generational transition that has seen the number of dairy’s drop from 263 to 8 over the past century or so. They have significant cultural and production heritage invested in their endeavors.

It was sad to hear of their plight. How deregulation and changing climates have resulted in serious deficiencies between farm income and expenses but at the same time exciting to hear their story and their plans to manage their challenge.

They have big plans for the future. Not only do they want to save Mayberry but contribute to other farmers in the district. They’re thinking beyond that to change.org solutions to the wider agricultural issues facing the nation.

Today’s conversation is a great example of wider, world issues playing out in the highlands. Our ability to adapt and build sustainable futures is a problem for all of us not just the Whatman’s. They are feeling the pinch now, how long before we all take responsibility, and as a society, begin the conversation about transforming our cultures to embed sustainability and resilience.