5 Minute Interview: Derek Markham
Alvin: Who are you, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
Derek: My usual internet bio says “I’m a father, a blogger, a WordPress addict, and a social media butterfly“, or something similar, because it’s hard to pin down just exactly what I do, much less who I am. Let’s see, basic facts: I’m 41, currently living in a small town in southwestern New Mexico (previously residing in Colorado) with my wife and our two daughters, our son, one cat, and two recently adopted shelter kittens. Plus numerous lizards, slugs, and giant cockroaches. But that’s another story.
I started my Natural Papa site in order to give myself a writing home, and the topic I thought needed addressing at the time was fatherhood – but fatherhood from a crunchy/granola/tree-hugger perspective. We homeschool, homebirth, live simply and as natural as we can, and I didn’t see any other dad blogs talking about those things, so I began my own. Since that time, the topics have gotten pretty diverse, and I don’t know that it’s a “fatherhood” blog or a “dad blog” anymore. Which is a good thing, I think.
But what I do for a living is a bit different – I help businesses and site owners learn how to integrate the social aspects of the web into their marketing and advertising campaigns, I build custom WordPress sites and teach the new owners how to use and manage them effectively, and lately I’ve been focusing on helping local brick and mortar businesses learn how to they can take advantage of new media and the rise in mobile web access. And I manage some social media accounts and consult for both ongoing and one-time projects, from creative to social. It’s a lot, and I’m lucky that I’m able be independent by juggling all of those. But I’m not gonna retire anytime soon…
What I like about it is coming up with ideas, finding out what the story is, and watching them evolve through collaboration into something bigger. Not necessarily profitable or useful all the time, but I enjoy the creative process.
Alvin: Pick any man in the world as your role model who would it be and why?
Derek: I don’t know that I could name any one man as my role model. Mostly because I went through a process of identifying with one man or another until realizing that they were all flawed, and what I was looking for was more like an archetype, not an actual human. Then, it got easier for me. I’m very much a hands-on type of guy, wanting to learn how to do everything myself, and I guess I think along the lines of a frontiersman or pioneer – willing to go off and live a self-sufficient and simple life. I grew up with the romantic notion of the cowboy as a mythical hero-type, but that’s been hard to integrate into the reality of our modern society.
I had to unlearn much of what I thought a “good man”, a “real man” was, in order to come to any sense of harmony with my wife and children. It’s helped me to grow immensely as a man to really connect emotionally with my family, and to learn to communicate that effectively. I still do dumb stuff, but now I can see it and do better. And I’ve learned to set my own standards for manliness, in which the macho is balanced with the nurturing and loving aspects of being human. I hope to be able to be that guy for my young son.
Alvin: What do you wish to accomplish 1 year from today?
Derek: I wish to have our first ‘tiny house’ building on our remote homestead property, I wish to have at least one of my works in print, and I wish to grow my business to the level that it can support my family to the point of not having to always worry about money issues. Stressing about money is not good for anybody, but for fathers especially, and it can be really hard on relationships as well.
Alvin: Name one thing you feel that makes you an Awesome dad?
Derek: One thing that makes me an awesome dad is that I am always able to fit everything we need for a roadtrip into our car, which is pretty amazing, if you knew us… Seriously, though, I think that because I can treat them as little people, not babies, I’m able to connect with my kids as a friend as well as a dad. And I can be pretty silly. That always helps.
Alvin: What has been your largest step to manhood?
Derek: I’ve done a bunch of things that pushed me to the max in my life, both physically and mentally, and I’ve also gone through some really intense personal stuff, like losing a child, and all those things changed me somewhat toward being a better man. But I think that doing the dance, the relationship tango and the fatherhood fandango, step by step, every single day of my life, being committed to being fully involved in my marriage and with my children, that’s the thing that’s taken me the furthest toward manhood. ‘Cause it’s hard. It’s hard to stick around and learn things about yourself that aren’t so nice and happy, and admit to yourself that you have a lot to learn, and then commit to trying to change for the better. It’s easier to just give up. I know, because I did that once before, too. But if you stick around and work on your half of the issues, you’ll be a better person no matter what the outcome.
Alvin: What has been the best advice you’ve received about being a man?
Derek: “You don’t have to be anybody else’s kind of man. You just have to be the kind of man you can look in the eye every morning.” I don’t remember where that came from, but it helped me to see that I didn’t have to measure myself against anyone else’s yardstick – that I could define success and failure for myself.0