Interviewed by Prue, edited by Mick.
“… we had a swim in the ocean in the middle of July … and that completely sold us.” – Adrian Hanks
Oh my goodness. I have just come back from interviewing Adrian Hanks and had so much fun with him and his wife, Arleen, that my attempt at keeping our chat to two hours was an epic failure. Arleen cracked me up with her version of events on how she and Adrian got together – she was adamant she wasn’t going to have a relationship with him. She had already had two husbands and wasn’t planning on a third. Eh hem! Together their stories are amazing, but Adrian’s in particular is so varied he had me continually back tracking, trying to keep up with what he has done in his life.
Our chat started over a water filter, of all things. Well, not exactly a water filter, but an alkalising system. This gadget sat on the kitchen bench and told you, complete with mock Japanese/American accent, the ph level of the water you were about to consume. Apparently, novice alkaline water consumers should begin their experience on a pH level of 8.5, graduating to level 9.5, the optimum level, after a couple of weeks. Talk about fast track high achieving – I like it. The reason for this graduation is apparently due to the detoxification qualities of alkaline water. If the novice water drinker starts on 9 it could give them a bit of a toxicity rush… it’s too intense. But once the body detoxes a bit, one can graduate to level 9. Woo hoo. As it turns out, Adrian sells these systems… and there I was thinking he was a plain old psychophonetic therapist…
Formerly from Armidale (approximately 500kms north of Sydney), I asked what brought them to this beautiful neck of the woods?
Well, we had a swim in the ocean in the middle of July … that completely sold us. Think about it… Armidale and ocean??? …and Armidale in the middle of July? Actually what really happened was Arleen was running a week-long course in Tweed and we decided to check out Byron on the way home. After that dip in the ocean, we were almost convinced to move here.
Arleen is originally from Cape Town in South Africa, and when we married (in 2005) and moved to Armidale, it was a bit of an affront for her. She never liked the place. Basically we were there because my kids were there. So when we proposed moving to the Byron area, three of them moved with us.
What, you have more than three?
Yes, we have six between us. You know… blended families and all that.
Arleen’s mother (Granny) with Adrian (is it me, or could she pass as Adrian’s mother?), and Arleen with Timeeah – one of the six kids
Crikey, six kids! And only three came to Byron. What did the others do?
Well, Arleen has two kids and I have four. One of Arleen’s, Travis, lives in South Africa with his father, and the other one, Timeeah, lives with us. She’s 12, but moved to Australia with Arleen when she was five. Travis is about to come and visit us for a month because he’s just finished year 12 and is taking a gap year. In the past he has come and stayed with us twice a year. I have Solomon who is 24. He has just come back from being deployed in Afghanistan…
So he’s a soldier? That appears to me to be quite a contrast to how you have lived your lives, given your earlier mention of Rudolph Steiner. Were all the kids educated in the Steiner system?
Yes, and Solomon was the first. He was my intro to Steiner, but he’s always had leadership qualities and he’s taken that through to the army.
What would Rudolph Steiner have to say about producing a soldier?
I think he would say it’s his Karma. It’s his passion, it’s his mission.
As a father, how do you feel about it?
My take is… I support him to follow his life’s journey… I support and follow him but I don’t have to like his choices. I also see the army as an initiation for him. It takes courage to go to deployment.
Oh absolutely. We could obviously talk at length about what it is like to have a ‘child’ deployed but there are three others to cover here, so, back to the other kids…
So the next one is Alexander, who just had his second child and my second grandchild.
Whoa, a grandfather twice and not yet 50! How does that feel?
Interesting, because for a while I struggled with what to call myself, then I spoke with a good friend and she asked, ‘Why don’t you own it’? You know, own the title of being a grand dad and call myself ‘grand dad’. I couldn’t argue with that, so I’m really stepping up to the plate with the ‘grand’ aspect of my life.
Then there’s Oliver. He’s just finished year 12, then Genevieve who’s 16. All the kids have lived with us at some point, but predominantly with their mother.
Ok, so you moved to Byron Bay, did you have anything in place on the business or home front?
Well, first up we found a house on Friday Hut Road, closely followed by studio space in Byron. Then we put the kids into Cape Byron Steiner School.
What did you need a studio for?
We offered a range of healing modalities- counselling and psychotherapy, life alignment and massage.
Wow. Who did what out of all that?
We both did Psychophonetics. Arleen is the life alignment practitioner and teacher and I’m the massage therapist.
So tell us a bit about Psychophonetics and Life Alignment
Yehuda Tagar founded Psychophonetics at Persophone College in South Africa… it is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner .
It’s a form of coaching, counselling and spiritually based psychotherapy. The essence of the work is working with sound and movement (if needed), hence phonetics. For example, if a client came to me because he/she felt they were struggling to move forward, we would ask them to describe visually how it feels, we call it a gesture… we ask them to gesture the feeling of the experience with their hands and/or full body. Then we might ask them to step away. We call that ‘enter, exit and behold’ so you enter into the process, then you step out of it, take a look at it and observe it. This is beholding it. Our role is to help people find their passions and restore their full potential.
The master didjeridoo maker, and player, carrying out some healing work.
I’ve steered away from counselling to some degree and stepped up coaching with Conscious Life Development Foundation. I have put all the work I do under one umbrella ie my mens work, my eco soul bush experience and coaching and counselling. As you know Prue, I have a regular monthly newsletter which usually discusses a particular topic, for example, endings and new beginnings. We support local businesses by posting free ads and we do an events page as well. I also do a book review and a people profile.
Wow that sounds like a lot of work. Do you do it solo?
Yes, but I also encourage and accept other peoples articles.
And you also have a blog?
Yes, called ‘The Boy and the Cake’ which is about Little Adrian and Master Adrian. It’s a take on how we can easily get pulled into the emotions, reactions and actions from – if you like – the needy inner child. Through stories I share how I have personally overcome those challenges.
So it seems you eat, breathe and practise what you preach?
Yep, I try very much to walk my talk.
I also have a book coming out in mid 2013 entitled ‘Where Am I Right Now’. It’s part personal development, part life story, and it also has exercises and tips on how to stay present and reach one’s full potential.
I understand this is your second book because you self published a kids’ book a couple of years ago.
Yes, that’s ‘Wendy and the Fairy Ring Secret’ which I distribute through my website www.conciouslifedevelopment.com and locally in Byron Bay at outlets such as, Natures Child and Essentially Byron. My second book however, has been picked up by a publisher, which is really exciting.
Seven years down the track, you are clearly set up in business and in home life. What then are the joys of living in this area and what are the challenges?
I love the warmth, I really love it. And I really love living in Bangalow… it has a different energy to Byron and the village atmosphere in Bangalow is really gratifying. In this area there is always something to do whether it’s music, plays, workshops, the beach, bushwalking, snorkelling… there’s just so much.
And the challenges, do you have any?
I think working from home instead of a regular nine to five work place is challenging… although I don’t see what I do as work – more a passion and vocation – living in a holiday and beach environment does make it challenging to focus and requires a fair bit of discipline. For example, when I go down to Byron for a meeting and see the beach, it takes some discipline not to stay.
Oh yes, I’m sure we all get that. But hey, you hold your meetings in cafes, that surely aint all bad? Do you have a fave?
Yes, it’s either at Utopia in Bangalow or Why Not in Byron – they make the best LSD (Latte Soy Dandelion). I also love the Conscious Café in Byron. They are organic, dairy and soy free… and their salads are phenomenal… the colour, the taste, everything. If Arleen and I go out for lunch we struggle to go past the Cardomon Pod and we like The Balcony for their tapas. You can always get good vego with tapas.
Do you eat out much?
No, mainly at home.
I have discovered working from home entails preparation of three meals a day. Do you ever tire of cooking like I do?
Well, we have a live-in cook… everybody calls her Granny. Her name is Eileen, and she’s Arleen’s mother, and she cooks five days a week and we cook on the weekends. Sunday is often pizza night … I was a baker in a former life.
Adrian has also studied Bio-Dynamic Agriculture… is it any wonder his veggie patch is thriving? And check out where the path leads to…
… to his shed… complete with pool. Some shed! I’m sure there are thousands of blokes out there with massive shed envy.
What style pizza base do you do?
I have my secret pizza… it’s one word. Basil! When I make my dough I add basil… generally thin bases and tonnes of garlic.
Whats your fave combo topping?
Slices of tomato, with fresh basil leaves tonnes of sea salt, so the toms soak it up and plenty of garlic and cheese.
So you are total vego… where do you get your protein from?
Eggs… and the natural proteins in organic vegetables.
I am so jealous of Adrian and Arleen with their live-in cook – what an amazing arrangement. Lucky them. There was so much more to explore with these two warm, open, honest people, like Adrian being a master didjeridoo player and maker, how Arleen is Adrian’s psychotherapist (how scary would that be, living with your psychotherapist???!!!) and the story of how Adrian wore down the very adamant Arleen and married her. Perhaps there will be a part two? Thank you Adrian for your time and enthusiasm… it was a complete joy.