“whats my job on this planet? what needs doing that I know something about, that probably wont happen unless I take responsibility for it?” Bill George - LEGACY

We have been at the coal face with drug addiction for over two years now with 8 males in recovery from ice addiction and 1 male in recovery from alcohol addiction. Our team regularly receives contact from women asking us to work with their husbands, sons, and nephews that have substance addictions. Due to the nature of our teams lived experience all of this makes sense.

What makes working with addiction harder than it needs to be is enabling parents scared of losing their children to the horror stories they hear on the news. A parent that foregoes their own boundaries to protect their children from the emotional and physical pain that comes with addiction, gives the addict permission to walk all over them, especially with ice addiction.

Lately we have been contacted by mothers and fathers that have sons between the ages of 12-17, usually after the Hard Cuddles team has presented or spoken to a younger group of males or females. It has been so refreshing to mentor and connect with the next generation and to see parents being pro-active about supporting their children’s emotional well-being. 

When we started Hard Cuddles, I was well aware the first wave of clients that came through the program would primarily be addicts drawn to the program because of my battle with addiction and we welcomed the challenge knowing that we would be able to create change and target hidden emotions that lay behind an addicts need to distract themselves from their own feelings.

The real change is going to come from encouraging teenage males to understand themselves and why they feel the way they do. It is easy for me to channel my former teenage self as I still very much feel like a teenager trapped in a man’s body. I can still remember the need to fit it with the crowd and I can still remember wanting to impress my friends with risqué behaviour.

The one thing I didn’t have was a mentor that I knew had walked a path similar to mine, a mentor that I could trust and share my feelings without judgement. My father is one of the most loving and supportive males placed on this earth, but he was dad. No way could he have ever smoked bongs in a park or punched on at a train station with his mates. I just assumed he was always a dad.

The idea that a young man can regularly catch up with a strong male role model and share his feelings, his challenges, talk about school, talk about girls and ask for advice on applicable scenarios makes sense. So this is precisely why we are moving towards working more with teenage males in a mentoring capacity, a sounding board for authenticity and truth.

As well as the one on one sessions we are offering an Into the Wild Retreat set up to provide a rite of passage journey for any young man to come away and spend time in the wilderness learning how to hunt, learning how to read the ocean, understanding how a particular eco-system works and connecting with men that have learned how to balance their warrior spirit with empathy.

Teenage males are the future, the team at Hard Cuddles view them as a blank canvas. They have all the structure and materials set up to paint a masterpiece but they need some gentle direction with the brushstrokes. We are now focusing our energy on producing quality young men that will be comfortable with their own company and ready to lead the generation after them.

To all the parents that have seen their children struggling and acted on it immediately, you should be proud of yourselves. From our perspective it is so much easier to mould a young man is in his teens that is still very open to change and exploring different concepts. Letting behavioural challenges go and managing adult males struggling with addiction and set in his thinking, is not.

 Love and prosperity,

James “the hammer” Harding

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“When the whips are cracking, the willingness to learn and the ability to accept change is really what matters. There isn’t any room for excuses.” James Harding

At Hard Cuddles there are two non-negotiables that need to be answered correctly before we begin the healing process of recovery. How do you respond or adapt to massive change? And how do you handle the feeling of being uncomfortable for long periods of time?

The change and un-comfortability components mentioned above, are the two main areas that will always lead an addict back towards addiction if they are not ready or not completely honest with themselves. It doesn’t matter how good the therapist, counsellor or healer is a potential client that is in two minds about their recovery, can cause a lot of doubt for everyone involved.

If an addicts main motivation is to get their parents off their back or appease people around them that are demanding change, it’s doomed from the beginning. And from our point of view it is terribly hard to look two parents in the eye, two parents who see you as a saviour and tell them, “sorry he/she isn’t ready yet.”

One thing we always look for at Hard Cuddles is some FIGHT. What has the individual had to endure? How hard has their struggle been? What level of suffering have they had to withstand? Have they ever gone hungry because they purchased drugs with their last cent?

The hidden truth behind these questions is really very simple. If a person has endured or suffered enough, these experiences will catapult them through certain stages of change and allow the individual to draw on reserves of strength they already know they have.

Take Andy for example; a new client of ours. Andy has been past the point of no return and spent many years in the dark abyss of ice addiction. He has possibly the most compelling story I have heard, but the thing that sets Andy apart from an average addict is his willingness to learn and his ability to accept change. He was ready to stand up and fight for his life and that is precisely what we are looking for at Hard Cuddles.

What we are finding is an addict that has grown up in household of privilege, where everything has been done for them or they haven’t been used to hearing the word no, is going to struggle. To be completely honest this particular type of addict always seems to find an excuse or a way of wriggling out from genuine self-reflection and honest feedback. Struggle is the unavoidable lesson attached to addiction and the struggle will keep repeating itself till the addict understands the hidden truth in the journey.

Don’t be afraid to ask these questions to an addict that is “talking” about change, then let your intuition guide you towards what you think is the truth. Addiction can be a very slippery and conceited scenario, compounded by shame, guilt, lies and deception. So let your internal instinct lead you in the right direction. Park the analytical brain and listen to your truth.

 Why we like to work with addiction is primarily because we see it as the pointy end of mental health. Human beings self-medicating is a sure sign of someone that isn’t particularly comfortable with who they are and also something we understand through our own lived experiences.

If this resonates with you do not hesitate to contact the Hard Cuddles team.

You don’t have to be alone anymore.

Love and prosperity,

James “the hammer” Harding

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 “connection doesn’t care about the laws of the land. Your soul will be pulled to the place it belongs.” – anonymous

 My seven-year-old son decided this year that he wanted to play AFL Football. I was surprised by this declaration as to his previous foray into the world of Auskick had left him emotionally drained and clearly overwhelmed. So as a loving and supporting father I told him that he didn't need to play football if he didn't enjoy it. He decided to have a break from the game, but now he was back!!

 I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that encouraged team sports and this for me transcended into a pathological obsession with AFL Football. I love the game and everything it offers. If you are willing to invest your energy and passion into our game, you will no doubt experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I have spent many Saturdays at a cold MCG in winter.

 Football clubs are various things to different people. It was a football club that welcomed me with open arms and gave me the cuddle I needed to kick start my own rehabilitation. No questions were asked about my appearance and why I was so skinny, they didn't ask about my background and more importantly, they didn't judge me. It was the salvation I needed to be able to trust people again.

 The people involved in that football club offered an avenue to reconnect with the community and feel like I belonged somewhere. I have always felt indebted to football for this reason and at some stage in my life I made myself a promise that if I was ever afforded the opportunity to give back. I would take it. Putting my hand up to coach my son’s under 8’s football side was a no brainer.

 It is surreal to have 15 x seven-year-old boys staring at me eagerly waiting for the coach to give them directions. In a lot of ways, I still feel like a 7-year-old, especially when there is a football in my hands. With no tackling or scorekeeping, the under 8's version of football is about as pure as this game can get. My boys are out to kick goals and emulate their heroes.

 The most important aspect of my role is helping these young men grow and to feel that connection with their teammates, to be part of something unique. You see for certain kids, a coach may well be the most significant male role model in their life at that moment. It is my duty to provide an experience that galvanizes our team and leaves room for individual acts of brilliance.

With my ethos firmly entrenched in the "look after your’e teammates mentality", the players are bonding. They each have their own set of values, emotions, skills, and challenges just like adult beings. It has been incredible to learn how to coach with a bunch of kids that are learning how to play the game. It's the perfect fit we are growing together and understanding each other.

 Personally, I feel a huge sense of pride when I'm watching my boys produce the skills we practice every Wednesday night. When I see them complete an act that is out of their comfort zone, it makes me extremely emotional. Because I remember how scary that is when you're little. I love watching the way my boys get around each other and celebrate like kids, it makes me feel seven again.

 It would be fair to say I have completely invested my energy in something that is out of my control and outside of my comfort zone. I’m well aware of the responsibilities any coach has. So going forward I’m expecting good luck to come my way. From my experience the more you are willing to give of yourself, voluntarily to the community. The luckier you get.


My 8 areas of awareness:

·      Making sure they have fun

·      Everybody gets a chance to play in different positions

·      Equal amounts of game time

·      Managing parents expectations

·      Losing or getting beaten every week isn’t good for anyone’s confidence

·      Personal growth

·      Understanding the game

·      A feeling of connection

Love and prosperity,

James “the hammer” Harding

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“We live in a speed-focused society, with pace comes pressure. Self-imposed pressure.”

 The truly incredible thing about going fishing on a boat is that you have no control over anything, once you get out there. Recently a group of men and myself went down to Portland, Victoria for the annual Southern Bluefin Tuna season. The same group of us having been doing the five-hour pilgrimage for 4 years now. As a keen young fisherman, I would always notice the monster tuna featured in the Herald Sun. All these monster fish were caught down in Portland, at some stage I promised myself that I would go down there and get myself a Barrel (100kg Bluefin Tuna). Initially, the trip was me and a good friend of mine, it was such a relaxing and bonding experience, others were soon eager to join in.

Heading away from Melbourne and into the country refreshes the mind. It is an overwhelming prospect looking out into the openness and tranquility of the journey, nothing but time and space. The mind wanders and you can feel yourself letting go of all the small challenges that were frustrating you. Vast open spaces clear thought in a way that only serves to determine the importance of having your own time. A time where you are free to unshackle your mind from the day to day grind. 

 The sea out the front of the Portland breakwater is a whole different proposition altogether. There is nothing pretty or glamorous about the weather down there, “it’s rough as guts.” There is an understanding with the ocean swell down in Portland, you are going to get a flogging either way.

“Nature will always prevail.”

On the way out this year, I looked out into to distance to see the sun starting to creep its way over the lip of the horizon and I wondered what this day held for us. The mind can play some tricks on you out in the middle of the dark abyss and it’s important to note that your levels of control will be tested regardless. She can be a cruel mistress the sea and such an opportunity to put yourself to the sword, so to speak.

I noticed the absence of sun, hidden behind the clouds creates a quiet mood on the boat. Heading out in dark rain clouds with a windy swell keeps everyone on edge. Men start to go within themselves, concentrating purely on survival. The thought of getting seasick and not being able to handle the environment, highlights a humans need to keep everything under control. 

Big rolling swells reveal a man’s inadequacies. As the boat gets pounded and thrown around by the unrelenting power of the sea, everyone on board begins to contemplate how many hours we have to spend out there. The mind is at play here, over in the distance the sun pokes through a little gap in the clouds and the emotions on the boat lift. We are now heading over towards the light and as a group, we begin to talk and laugh with each other. It’s tough work this fishing, with the stomach anxious and the mind racing with thoughts of negativity. How am I going to get through this?

Bang, bang, bang, FISH ON!!!! Three rods go off at once and we are seriously into the tuna. All the questions and control issues fly straight out the window, as we hook into the strength of the torpedo-shaped tuna. After much coordination and teamwork, all three fish are on the boat. There are high fives and celebrations.  Grown men are hugging and rejoicing, there is blood and Bluefin Tuna all over the deck. Happy days, the mind is distracted with the pleasure of the spoils. The adrenaline is pumping and all thought has evaporated. This is why we as men, make the expedition. A tank full of the fish. For a solid 10 minutes after the fish have been caught, all the boys are up and about and this is when I noticed how powerful the mind can be.

The relevance of survival and the ability to handle the conditions are a distant thought, the adrenaline has taken over the mind and rendered it useless. All thoughts are powerless, we as a collective group of males have taken our energy levels way above our control threshold. For the moment anyway.Not long after this, the wind picks up and the rain starts with vicious gusto. Dark clouds ahead and the mood becomes somber, we face grey rain clouds at every angle in the distance. The positive talk goes and now we must endure some more punishment. Nature will always prevail, everyone on the boat knows we are at the mercy of the sea and that’s what intensifies the situation.

If the group’s energy can rise and fall at the whim of the waves and wind, the mind and its repressing limitations are controlling all the play behind the scenes. One moment I was happily staring out into the horizon contemplating this amazing thought when our skipper asked if anyone fancied a coffee. Which in itself a lovely gesture, for cold and suffering men. The thought of coffee was enough for me to instantly turn green and begin to feel like I needed to throw up. It’s incredible how quickly these feelings came on.

Deep breaths, the feelings I had of anxiety are slowly subsiding and I can feel the color of my face returning to normal. I still feel nauseous for a little while after this. Now the group of men on the boat are all silent and staring at the rain hitting the water, the swell is mashing the boat from side to side. We are all hanging onto to any rail available, the violence of the ocean is throwing us into each other and there is no reprieve.

Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. FISH ON!!! Every single rod on the boat goes off, its mayhem. We have driven over a big school of tuna and all the reels are screaming as these fish are desperate to get away from us. I grab the first rod I see, the skipper is yelling instructions and directing the situation like a conductor.

These tuna are amazing fighters, the second they feel any sort of pressure or resistance from the hook. They dive deep under the boat or try to cross over other lines. It’s quite a humbling fighting a Southern Bluefin tuna, they are a powerful beast. I drag the fish towards me with my shoulder muscles burning, my arms feel like jelly and my deep breathing went completely out the window. I was gassed, struggling for any breath at all.

My fish swims up to the boat and the deckie gaffs it right in the head. I look behind me to see other blokes leaning into their rods and fighting fish, already there is a couple of fish flipping around on the deck. I turn to go and sit down, the skipper screams at me to grab the other rod. Bang, I’m into another tuna. Completely exhausted from the first fish, I draw on all my energy to skull drag the next fish in. The deckie gaffs this one in the head as well and I just stand there, completely exhausted and totally energized at the same time.

I couldn’t move for about 20 seconds; feelings of high energy are running through my body. I enjoy this feeling. Unbridled enthusiasm, for that short period of time my mind is transported briefly into heaven. It’s the happiest and most fulfilling feeling. I’m humbled and thankful for the opportunity to be on the water with my mates, catching amazing fish.

Everyone on the boat goes wild, when the fight is over. It takes some serious communication and understanding to get 7 out of the 8 tuna we hooked up. In any fisherman’s language, that is good going. We turn the boat around and head towards land, the skipper and crew are bursting with pride and smiles. There hasn’t been a fish caught in four days up in Portland, we sorted that out. As a group, we braved the conditions, steamed the 2 hours all the way out to the continental shelf in extreme conditions and endured everything the ocean could throw at us. The sun started to come out and all the boys are pumped up, the cold beer back at the pub is calling. Everyone discusses the way we managed to work together, to get the job done. The teamwork and connection between us are all that matters. We all know that, but no one mentions it. It's a very special bond between us.

Never the less, we learned a lot about ourselves and our resolve as a group. We are all going with the flow of life at this point. Everyone is embracing the moment. It has been a wonderful experience and pleasure to share the same space with these men. Later that evening one of men relays the message of achievement over a beer, he explains to the group that he always feels like he has achieved something when he spends a day out on the water at Portland. What that something is, is hard to put into words. A day on the ocean, is the perfect example of the challenges males face in life. We all know it’s possible to enjoy ourselves, the rewards come due to our ability to endure and go the distance. Our capability is tested by some rough weather and the mind can play tricks on us. Even though we have done it all before, there are points when you start to question your ability.

This can be an extremely vulnerable position for men to find themselves in and an amazing opportunity to look inwardly to discover what you are made of internally. Why does facing the control emotion, reveal so much about our character? Why does the mind put so much emphasis on commanding a situation?

What I learned were lessons on flexibility and being able to adapt to the landscape. I surely would have been seasick, had I not stood up and taken a different approach to my thoughts. Deep breathing refreshed the hold my mind was having over my experience. We are capable of creating exactly what we put our minds too. Absorbing each moment of life as it comes, distracts the mind and allows us to enjoy life just as we are meant to.

For the 2019 Southern Bluefin Tuna Season bookings and inquiries. Email hello@hardcuddles.com Whether you are looking for an adventure as an individual or with a group of friends. We organise the transport, accomodation and the fishing experience for you.

Love and prosperity,

James “the hammer” Harding

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In Australia, 44.8% of all prisoners released are back within those four walls within two years and the current average expenditure for taxpayers to house a prisoner is $286 per day. The question is how can prisoners break the shackles, transform themselves and go on to enjoy a fruitful and prosperous life? Is this possible? Can prisoners be successfully rehabilitated?

The answer is, I for one am not going to sit back and wonder. After spending time inside the criminal world, I began to notice the emotional trauma restricting its inhabitants from personal growth to any sort of resemblance of a happy and functioning life. Many “straighties” who take a life of privilege as a given, would not comprehend how a person continually makes bad decisions.

From what I have seen there really isn’t a choice, it’s the only way they know how. Criminals are born and raised with street smarts and they are always looking for angles and ways of getting ahead, it’s mentality ingrained in the psyche as long as they can remember. The focus is on looking after number.1 and never letting your guard down.

The scary thing is the mindset or program I am discussing can and does work for criminals, at least for a period of time. Never letting your guard down keeps the wolves at bay, but it also keeps barriers up that will not allow in any form of emotional development. Words like vulnerability or openness are treated as a disease and are clear signs of weakness. I am in control here.

This is why I believe for any criminal to break the cycle, they must go back through their whole life and make sense of all the hurt, pain and turmoil they have faced. Make no mistake about it these criminals I am talking about have been created, they are not born this way. I have spent time with violent people and when I listened to their life stories, it all stacks up.

Trevor Hendy my mentor calls it clearing emotional blockages or hooks. Moments in time that have greatly affected a human’s natural flow, these moments create fear or feelings of ineptitude. Now for a criminal that prides themselves on resilience and not showing vulnerability, these moments fester and never get addressed. So they remain dormant…... for a while.

Eventually, there will be a person or situation that triggers the individual and all this repressed emotion will explode in a moment of re-active rage. Instead of calmly working through different processes that allow a person to release emotions gradually, a criminal will engage in a moment of madness or self-medication with illicit substances to ease these strange internal feelings.

It takes a unique type of person to stand in front of 100 inmates at a correctional centre and talk about feelings, in a lot of ways I guess that person needs to be an unconventional person with an ability to think quickly on their feet, very much like a criminal. Am I capable of connecting with an audience of battle-hardened warriors, I'm not sure. But I am going to find out.

Emotional content never goes away, it has to be addressed, it has to be understood, lessons have to be learned, so the individual can move through to the NEXT CONTEST!!! Both I and an ex-inmate, now Hard Cuddles Ambassador Steven Kline have thrown our hats into the ring, we are voluntarily heading out to Hopkins Correctional Centre this Friday to facilitate a workshop.

The workshop is centred around emotional wellbeing, transformation, and rehabilitation. Understanding the strength of our pain and surrendering the ego. We will be asking some hard questions and working through some extremely challenging, dark material. It will be an exhausting and exhilarating all at once. I have spoken in front of many crowds, but this gig has me pumped.

The reason I have such a high level of enthusiasm is because I was lucky enough to get through, I wouldn't say unscathed. But I certainly didn't spend any time inside those four walls. I am eager to learn and appreciate how hard it is to do time in a correctional facility. I feel it is my duty to go back and drag as many of these blokes through to the other side as humanly possible.

The problem is offending and re-offending isn't going away, in fact, it is growing as is our population. The current model we have set up isn’t working, for me, that is a clear indication there is time for massive change. I am forever thankful to Hayley the forward-thinking transition coordinator for the opportunity to try.

Stay tuned for an update regarding the Hard Cuddles Case Study. 10 participants will be hand-selected to take up the Transformation Package: counseling (whilst inside), mentoring (on release), cv/resume, reference, job presentation workshop with our trained professional Alex and ongoing Hard Cuddles support.

When you’re on the dance floor, you gotta dance.

 Love and prosperity,

James “the hammer” Harding

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The most extraordinary thing about sharing time with any individual in a remote location is knowing that human connection is inevitable. Every time I turn off the Princess Highway and point the Toyota Hilux towards my special camping destination, I smile and look at the eager Hard Cuddles participants and say, “nature is going to heal you down here as long as you are open to its possibilities.”

Strange things happen during Into the Wild and these strange coincidences happen all too often. I have spent time camping at some very special places up and down the East Coast of Australia, but for me, there is a strange pull towards Into the Wild. I have never been able to describe that feeling and in a lot of ways, there probably isn't any need too.

During these retreats, I allow males the opportunity to disconnect from technology and the pace of modern society, then reconnect with their true self. It's a chance for men to remember what it was like when they were young boys and the natural curiosity for adventure determined the outcome of the journey. Fishing, spearfishing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, swimming, and surfing.

Of an evening we all prepare clean food with each other then we sit down around a roaring campfire and discuss the experiences of the day. Individuals are afforded the chance to share their feelings under the cover of a starlit sky. This is where the magic happens, an open fire is more of a truth pit and some of the most remarkable self-realisations are easily discovered. So very healing.

 It’s nothing to see a pod of dolphins fly through the front of a wave riding the power of the ocean with effortless ease. Words will never capture how this moment affects a human being, it's so humbling to be in the presence of a dolphin. The true master of the sea. To see them in numbers having fun, completely present and totally conscious ignites something internally.

Gigantic humpback whales migrating with their young, slap the water with their enormous fins to move the wandering children in the right direction. A baby humpback whale came within 50 meters of my position in the kayak throwing itself in the air and smashing the water with its immense size. The ever watchful mother never too far away, always guiding and protecting.

One afternoon when we were all rock fishing two sea-eagles hovered above us eyes peeled ready for anything moving in the water and even though these majestic birds soared high in the clouds we could see the giant wingspan and it gave us all an idea of how powerful they are. Twice a sea-eagle glided down and hit the water looking for a fish to eat, we all starred at each other in silence.

I have always wanted to catch and eat a blue groper, it was explained to me that they are one of the tastiest fish in the sea. What makes them so special to catch is their size and bulk, they don’t give up without a big fight. Walking along the beach we noticed something lying on the shore, it was a big blue groper that had just passed away. We ate it and shared it with the other campers.

The nocturnal marsupials are ever present as we ate this meal, possums, wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, and echidnas. The most special of all the marsupials was the endangered bandicoot that took a particular liking to one of the men on the camp that needed its healing energy. The bandicoot touched his foot completely comfortable with our presence.

We caught much fish on this retreat and what was exceptionally special about eating them was how we disposed of the remains. We tossed the skeletons into the bush, waiting for the goannas to slowly wander over and engulf every single morsel of the leftovers we could not use. The complete circle of life, nothing is wasted.

I took the men to a stone gorge in the middle of the bush, a private oasis where freshwater had carved itself numerous waterfalls and several large pools that allowed us the opportunity the plunge ourselves into the cleansing water. The pools were layered and I spent time floating with the stillness of nature. Such simplicity and silence is just another chance to heal the body.

One special evening around the truth pit of the open fire we shared some truths about our personalities and begun to understand the importance of balance and emotional openness. We let ourselves be totally vulnerable with each other, we healed as one. Rather than talking, we listened to each other and observed our own strengths within one another.

We went Into the Wild with unknown potential and left as a united band of brothers. It's impossible to encapsulate the true essence of this journey in words, ultimately we left parts of ourselves with the animals, we left parts of ourselves within the fire and we left parts of ourselves with the sea. In return, the wilderness gave us all the grounding we needed to find inner balance.


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 When our youngest daughter Claire Harding was born in December 2017, my wife and I decided to name her after my Grandmother on my father's side. So for me, it didn't really come as a surprise to receive the news that my 5th child is not perfect. It was picked up very early that my little girl has significant hearing loss and like her namesake life is going to be challenging at times.

Instinctively I felt the need to accept this information in a positive fashion and truth be told I have always wanted to learn sign language. My reaction was to look at the most extreme case of total hearing loss and begin operating from there. That way if little Claire was granted some hearing rather than nothing at all, it would truly be a gift.

My humble belief is that people choose their life before they come down into this world, they choose the blueprint they want to work with and the lessons they need to learn. This belief allows me to find great inspiration, respect, and admiration for the people that have the strength and courage to choose a challenging life.

After numerous visits to different hearing specialists, it was discovered that Claire has moderate to severe hearing loss and would require hearing aids for the rest of her life. High pitched sounds are always going to be a battle for Claire and deep noises are going to be her strengths. I was elated with the news that my youngest daughter will be able to enjoy her own version of sound.

Then my mind flew back to my own experience at a dance party I attended many years ago at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, an event called Summerdayze. I have no idea why I had earplugs in my pocket that blocked out noise, especially at a dance party when the whole idea of the day is to appreciate sounds and noises coming from the speakers.

I took myself as close as I could get to a large speaker as the DJ cranked his hardcore techno tunes and I placed the earplugs in my ears, what I felt was an intense feeling of sensory deprivation. There was little to no noise coming through my ears and I felt the sound reverberating along the ground then up my legs and through my body. That feeling was amazing and beyond-belief.

Now here I was with my life partner getting our daughter fitted for hearing aids, my beautiful wife was overwhelmed with emotion at the thought that somehow she had contributed to little Claire’s imperfection and my heart hurt for her. She had tears in her eyes and that is when I noticed how vulnerable we all feel when we are faced with something that is out of our control.

We talked and comforted each other as the leaders of our family and my wife stared at Claire with both sadness and happiness. Claire was imperfect in the most perfect way, most parents will feel that their children are special and they have every right to feel that way. Every child is special and our daughter is going to teach us so many different lessons about our own need to be perfect.

Our little girl was brave enough to sign up for this life, to come through and teach everyone she meets that her challenges are blessings, it’s a reason for her to inspire, achieve and overcome, so for that I am thankful. There is this feeling when I look at her, a feeling of deep softness in my heart which means our imperfect little girl has started helping us embrace our own imperfections.

The ongoing support and guidance we have received from the hospital, doctors and ear specialists has been outstanding. I cannot speak highly enough of the health services we have access to in this incredible country. It makes me very proud and appreciative of this place I call home, Australia. Unfortunately, not every country is able to provide that level of care for their people.


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“a pheasant one day, a feather duster the next” Charlie Wootton

I was contacted by a couple of Chinese gentlemen heavily involved in illegal gambling and drug distribution throughout the city and the western suburbs. These particular men were not the type of people that you take lightly, they both had fearsome reputations for getting things done and were extremely low key in the way they handled their business. People that failed to meet their demands seem to just vanish. For the sake of the story, I will call them Mr. Wing and Mr. Wong, I met the two of them at a quiet empty restaurant in Chinatown and I knew right from the start that if I accepted the job on offer, there would be no allowances for mistakes on my part.

Mr. Wing and Mr. Wong were sitting with their backs against the walls of a table at the end of this particular establishment. It appeared to me that they were afforded their own personal table and the owner of the restaurant made a very special effort to please the two of them and anyone that was in their company. The thing I love about doing business with Chinese people is not only there under the radar approach, but also the level of respect they treat people with. Mr. Wing and Mr. Wong were both slight men with immaculate attire, they both wore understated designer clothing that reeked off good taste and serious money. You would easily walk past these two chaps at Prada and not think a damn thing about either of them, really nondescript types. Underneath those clothes they had some serious artwork scripted all over their bodies, not that I knew any of this. My friend that put me in contact with Mr. Wing and Mr. Wong had given me a serious de-brief on where they both sat in the food chain and how seriously I should handle the two of them.






One of the most incredible journeys a man can undertake is bringing a human life into this world with his wife or partner. It's an exhilarating time filled with excitement and trepidation, we are stepping into uncharted territory and that in itself is an extremely powerful and courageous voyage. There are many books and classes that try to help us make sense of the upcoming experience, though nothing can really prepare us for this ride.

There is hope that it will be all rainbows and skittles, but the truth is fatherhood is an overwhelming adventure with many swings and roundabouts. What is not explained is the pressure and vulnerability we experience when we strive to provide a beautiful foundation for the life we have just created. Finding our way through the odyssey of being a responsible parent leaves very little time for anything else in our lives.

A wise man once said to me, “just being there is 80% of it” now this was sound advice from a wonderful father in his own right. The flip side to this statement involves modern technology, there is no use being there if you are not engaged with your child. A number of fathers I see at the park, on their phones is staggering. Being in the present moment with your little ones is the most beautiful thing you can do for the both of you.

Then there is the misses, at times I took my father duties so seriously I disengaged from my wife and became so consumed with being the provider of the family, I lost touch with the most knowledgeable ally at my disposal. The misses can be the greatest sounding board and support network known to man, the tricky part is being emotionally vulnerable with your partner and discussing the challenges you are facing on a regular basis. 

There is no need to battle alone when I began to express my feelings and openly admit I was unsure and struggling with many different aspects of being a dad, my wife and I engaged with each other and took our relationship to a whole new level. The truth is my challenges were very similar to her challenges and together we formed a team capable of overcoming and working through anything that life could present us with. 

Long gone are the days of manning up and soldiering on, the evolution of being a Dad is now defined by our ability to dedicate ourselves to finding the balance between work, health, happiness and supporting our family. Nothing is more important than the love and unity we create within the four walls of our home. Be brave gentlemen and communicate with your partners, they are there to help you be the best version of yourself. 

Love and prosperity,

James “the hammer” Harding

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Who am I?

My name is James Harding, I am a 36-year-old former underworld debt collector, drug dealer and addict. The best way to describe my personality lies in the title of this piece, Hard Energy. I am highly intuitive person and I have used my spirituality to navigate through some incredibly challenging situations. 

I am now a proud father of five children and my focus in life, is using my journey and experiences to guide males towards the light. 


Where have I come from?

For many years the landscape I lived in, required me to bring energy levels that revolved around the word chaos. The underworld was my world for many years and I am proud to say I have endured and survived. It was a baptism of fire, so unrelenting and soul destroying, many friends and acquaintances that I used to call mates are no longer alive. It was a place where violence and treachery were the tools of the trade. To be able to survive in that industry, I used drugs on a daily basis to cope with the emotional turmoil that I had created. 


What I do?

I work with males of all ages and draw on my life journey to create a space where men feel comfortable to share their emotional challenges with me. I support and encourage men to be the best version of themselves in a non-judgmental environment. My experiences with hurt, pain and addiction allow me to cut through the barriers men put up, in order to redefine a clear path for the soul to resurrect itself. 


Why am I doing this?

The path I have walked chose me. It is my clear understanding I was meant to ride the lightning, in order to share and support my brothers. The profound impact a man has when he bears his soul and reveals his vulnerability, creates a deep connection with himself and a stronger awareness of his emotional wellbeing. 


How am I planning on doing this?

I have created Hard Cuddles, which is fundamentally a process where males get the opportunity to evolve and grow spiritually. The programme assists males in working through the emotional content of life, we place the highest importance on bringing attention the underlying truths men seem to ignore. At Hard Cuddles we strip back the ego and then develop a clear way through the hurdles men face on a day to day basis. 


Want to see if Hard Cuddles can help you?
Fill out the Free Consultation Form and let's have a chat

Want to know more?
Check out our Monthly Mens Circles here.

James " The Hammer" Harding
Founder - Hard Cuddles