I grew up in blue collar Penrith. I can clearly remember this uncomfortable pressure each time someone asked me what I was going to do after I left school. I was living the tension between blue collar familiarity and white collar possibilities. I had no idea! I left at the end of year-10 and got an apprenticeship as a compositor. That didn’t last for long. I went back to school but I had trouble applying myself, so I left and started as an apprentice electrician.

I went back to school again, this time with attitude. I went on to study primary school teaching, I thought it would be a fun gig befriending and telling jokes to kids. Clearly, I had watched too much Welcome back Kotter. When I finished, there was an oversupply of teachers, so I headed off to Europe backpacking for a year. On return, there were still no jobs so I did a Graduate Diploma in Information Processing. Back then, I barely knew what a computer was, but there was plenty of work and it was interesting. I ended up working in IT for 20 years.

I remember, towards the end of that career, the moment at Melbourne airport when I picked up a book by Steve Biddulph; Manhood. It talked about the plight of men in our culture, how we have learnt not to feel our emotions. How we often have fractured relationships with our fathers, and are rarely tuned into our purpose. I thought this is me. I could relate to feeling like I had to hide my emotions behind a mask of bravery, and I’m ok’s. I recall my teenage and young adult years doing what I had to, to fit in.

Telling jokes and wild stories, drinking too much, playing league and travelling. I remember another traveller asking me “Are you running from something or looking for something?”. Both, I thought. 

The back of the book listed a Men’s group run by the Men’s Wellbeing Association of Queensland. I went along and attended a few sessions. I was invited to a Men’s gathering north of Brisbane for 3 days. When I arrived, there were over a hundred men, some in flowing gowns sharing emotions and vulnerability. Hugging each other - hugging me. I was way out of my comfort zone. At some point during the weekend, I found myself on a lake in a canoe with a man who told me he was gay. As we paddled along and talked, I gained a sense of just some of my ingrained prejudices. I realised I might need to let go of some of these beliefs so that I could connect more with others.

I wanted to keep the growth process going. I joined an 8-week Men’s program that happened to be run at the Gestalt Centre in Brisbane, which then linked me to a Diploma in Gestalt Psychotherapy. I continued in IT for a while then realised I needed a career with more heart. I moved to Northern NSW and started working with men in the DV space.

I then got a position with Juvenile Justice in the restorative justice area, as well as working with a group who ran Rights of passage camps for young boys and men. I completed my Masters at Gestalt Therapy Brisbane and have been teaching there since 2010.

In 2016, I was offered a 4-month contract with Interrelate in Orange. I made two CD’s to get me through the 10-hour journey; Road Trip to Orange One & Road Trip to Orange Two. They say the longest journey for men is from their head to their heart. What a journey!