Happy Memories

This weekend saw another camp with friends and family at Seeonee Park, a local Scout Campground. We sat around and chewed the fat, we played cards, we burned things, we threw the kids in the back of the ute and drove around the grounds, but best of all we simply existed together. These things all created Happy Memories, but there were also the Happy Memories that were triggered by activities. Memories of driving around Nan and Grandads property running errands, memories of bouncing around in the back of the ute mustering, and enjoying the quiet serenity of rural landscape after a hard day’s work.

The weekend just gone was a camping weekend for my eldest son’s 17th Birthday. He had a couple of his friends come out and camp with us and we wiled away the weekend with activities and food. We sent the teenagers on a scavenger hunt that led them all around the campgrounds and discover the hidden gems that Seeonee had to offer. We also threw everyone in the back of the ute and went for a tour around the grounds. This served as a trip down memory lane for most of us and a shared experience for the younger children who have never had the joy of bouncing around in a ute tray. It was these simple happy memories that were created over the weekend that make it all worth while.

Back of the Ute

Back of the Ute

On Friday we had arranged to meet at Seeonee at 0900 to set up before the day got too hot. As usual, I arrived way to early. So I took the opportunity to drop off camping supplies to the different areas around the site, I set up the kitchen, and ensured the campsite was getting water from the town supply. As I was driving around performing these errands, I was reminded of the errands and chores I used to perform around my Nan and Grandad’s farm. More often then not, when I was visiting I would be responsible for the morning and afternoon feeds and waterings. I would either walk around with the food or drive around to the different areas to feed the cattle, chickens, pigs, horses, and whatever other animals happened to be housed at the time. This solo time around the farm was fantastic. I loved the smells, the sounds, the sights, the rewarding feeling you get after you finish working with your hands. Just all of it. It was nice to be reminded of this.

Droughtmaster Cattle

Every time the family and I visited my Nan and Grandad it was Mustering time. Didn’t matter if it was May, December, or August, it was Mustering time. During the muster the days were long and hard. They required a lot of concentration, a lot of hard manual labour, and your fair share of risks. I loved it. I loved moving cattle between paddocks, I loved moving them around in the yards, I loved preparing them in the crush, and loved the tasks that were performed there. By the end of the day though, you were physically and mentally exhausted. My grandparents had this wonderful patio area off their house that overlook the bull’s paddock and the yards. As we finally stopped and the sun was beginning to set the peaceful serenity of farm life became apparent. There would be some distant mooing, the short cluck of the guinea fowl, the whiney of the horses, but mostly the silence; the gentle rustling of trees, the occasional chime of a an outdoor ornament. That memory of the calm after the storm is one of the best memories I have of farming life.

After a Long Day

These memories, both new and old, highlight the need for experiences over things. Nothing was centred around the latest phone, the hippest look, or an expensive restaurant, they are all simple memories of activities or events shared with others. I love the idea of owning land and having a small collection of animals for private consumption. I love the idea of looking across the vast horizon and seeing nothing but nature. I love the silence. I love the peace. I love this barren outback we call home.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Recharging

Last week I wrote about where my headspace was at, the immediate actions that were taken, and the decisions that still had to be made. This week I have been reaping the benefits of the changed medications, Thiamine, and the ever recharging event of Camping. All of these have been attributing to a greatly improved mood, improved motivation, and reduction of both negative self talk and suicidal thoughts.

Medications

Medications

As discussed last week, my Psychiatrist has upped my Venlafaxine to 375mg, added 1mg of Risperidone, and added 100mg of Thiamine three times a day. I will admit it took nearly four days for a noticeable change to take effect, however, once it did it was hard and fast. Like a switch had been flicked over, the negative self talk stopped, the suicidal ideations stopped, I was more engaged, more motivated, and generally more like me again. My wife is almost completely convinced that it’s the Thiamine, mainly because she hates Risperidone, but I am also beginning to see merit in her theory.

Out Camping

Out Camping

One of the best ways I recharge and recenter is camping. I find nothing more relaxing then sitting around a fire with a bunch of mates, enjoying the serenity, chewing the fat, and forgetting about all of life’s stressors. This weekend was no different. My friends and I decided to go camping this weekend for my birthday. We picked a suitable location, in this case it was Cockscomb Veterans Retreat, booked it all in, and set off. My brother and I were the forward party that arrived early and set almost everything up. Over the course of Friday afternoon we were joined by everyone else. We ate tons of great camp food, some of which was a little more charred then desired but that’s camping in the end of it all. We played trivia games, thanks to Jess, which showed our intellectual prowess, and shortcomings all at once. We walked through the peaceful forests and admired the majesty of Constitution Hill, which we can sadly not attempt to climb. The kids had an absolute blast getting dirty, exploring, and generally causing mischief. It was an amazing weekend that we are attempting to replicate every month or two, as we all need to camp more, and we all need to rest and recharge.

Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill

Other then that I have very little to report, which is actually a good thing in the long run. I would like to thank everyone for their love and support through the continued roller coaster that is my mental health. I thank you all for continuing to read, share, and support Maintain the Rage, and I hope that I can continue to share stories and experiences that spur conversation and action.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

2nd Year

Well I thought the First Year went by quickly, it seems as if I blinked and the second has disappeared. I thank everyone for coming on this journey through depression, weight loss, nursing, parenting, and life as a whole. It has meant so much to me that you have decided to come along for the ride.

Second Birthday

 

Firstly, the numbers. In the past twelve months I have written 67 posts, starting with Quoth the Raven and ending with this one. I have written about my success, my stumbles along the road, and the treatments I went through to save me from myself.  I began to share about my struggle with weight, and the steps taken to change the image that was in the mirror before me.  I explored more of my own struggle, ideas behind death and the nursing implications, what it is to father someone who is not your biological child, and a pictorial view of the town I love so much. From these posts, and many more, we can sum up the year with some key numbers;

  • 64,659 Words Total
  • 696 Words per Post (average)
  • 139 Comments
  • 348 Likes
  • 6,288 Views, of which the top five countries were
    1. Australia
    2. United States
    3. Canada
    4. United Kingdom
    5. New Zealand / India

These are just the figures from the Maintain The Rage website and do not account for comments, likes and shares from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, or Reddit.

When I started Maintain the Rage I had the intention of sharing what I had learnt, my tips and tricks, and general advice. I quickly realised that I would immediately be thrown into the Do these five things if you want to be rich, successful, and sexy category. I shifted to sharing about my life, not in an attempt to illicit pity or praise, but to show that you can do all the things you want to do, to juggle the different activities, work, school, family, and life, to show that even if your are struggling, thats ok. I hope that this has been a well received shift and that I have made the right choice. But judging by the reads and conversations with people in comments, direct messaging, and face to face contact, I am going to say it was the right move.

For the future of Maintain the Rage I am going to stay the course, I will continue to share my journey as a Parent of both a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and a 16 year old, my life as a Nurse, my journey through life with my Wife, my Scouting life, and my struggles and successes with depression and anxiety, and the victories and struggles through weight loss.

I thank everyone of you who have come on this journey with my and hope you have enjoyed and taken away something from the posts. I encourage all of you to ask me what you want to hear about, and what part of my life you are curious about. I also encourage you to share this blog with family and friends, not for mere likes or views, but so we can expand the community that Maintain the Rage has and continue to share together.

Thank you again,

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Dear Mum

Dear Mum,

There are so many things I want to say, and I feel that I lack the vocabulary or the nuance to say them all. Firstly, and more obviously for-mostly, I love you. That isn’t to be taken lightly or seen as a passive line, I mean I love you. You are selfless, generous, loving, kind, and caring. You are the largest influence in my life for those traits in me. Without your influence, I would not be half the man I am today.

Always by my side

Always by my side

You are alway willing to sacrifice your time and your energy to help others. The number of times you have taken the girls for a weekend or longer to simply help Alinta and I out is beyond calculable. You care for the children and are willing to care for them our way, not yours, simply to be kind. You put others before yourself, often to your own detriment, and think nothing else of it. The example you have set for Ashley and I, and our children, lays us in good stead. The example of selflessness you have set has given me one of my most valued traits as an adult. I will never be able to live up to the standard you have set, but I will continue to try.

Mum and Dad

Mum and Dad

Your generosity, to date, knows no bounds. You are more then willing to pick up a tab, pay for the coffee, or pay for a meal, without even giving it a second thought. You have taken to be sneaky just to be generous, which is both frustrating and appreciated. Your generosity is held high amongst my friends circle, and they can even see the same generosity in me. You give more than just financially, you give with your time, your heart, and emotionally. Your level of generosity has impacted almost everyone you have come in contact with. The number of stories I have heard from people you have worked with, or come in contact with that highlighted your generosity is ridiculous. Don’t ever change your giving heart.

Mum & Darby

Mum & Darby

I knew growing up that you loved us. Even when we where in trouble as kids your love could be seen through it all. You invest so much of yourself into others, through your love, that you leave others better then when you found them. I have the inordinate joy of seeing you love on the girls, like you no doubt loved on Ashley and myself. I see you hold them, hug them, kiss them, play with them, and put them first. I see the mother that you were, and the Grandmother that you now are. It warms my heart, just to see you with them.

Answering the "Phone"

Answering the “Phone”

The kind hearted nature that you have it obvious. You do not try and be kind, that would show through, it comes to you as second nature. The above scene is an excellent portrayal of just that. With Darby sitting in your chair at work, you don’t hesitate to answer the mouse as if it were a phone, when it was passed to you by Darby. You entertain Darby by playing along to her game, in her reality, instead of bursting her balloon and dragging her back to reality. Your kindness has always been that way. Simply ask any person you have ever worked with or engaged with, and they will say you are kind, almost to a fault.

Mum on the Boat

Mum on the Boat

You care for us, our wives, our children, your husband, and somewhere in there right at the end, yourself. You always make sure that I am taking enough breaks, relaxing enough, taking time to care for myself, often while you are sacrificing yourself for someone else. You are actually interested and invested in our daily lives. As the great mother you are, you are still making sure I am sleeping enough, eating enough, drinking enough water, exercising enough, and generally existing at an acceptable level. I am eternally grateful for the level of care you continue to provide.

Wind Farms

Wind Farms

Finally, you can have a laugh. Sometimes at a joke that’s funny, sometimes at someone else’s expense, and sometimes at your own. You always have a smile on your dial, you try and lift the mood of the room by saying something timely, or funny. You know when it’s appropriate to pull a prank on someone, like about banking hours, and when its time to leave it alone. I enjoy the moments of stitched up laughter that we have shared, and I look forward to many more like them.

Christmas Mum

Christmas Mum

You have always been my greatest support, even if I didn’t realise it. You have been my rock, my safety net, my sounding board, my confidant, my example to live by, and my loving Mother. As I said at the beginning, there aren’t enough works, or words that are of a high enough calibre to describe what you mean to me, and those around you.

I love you Mum.

Luke Sondergeld

Dear Wife

Dear Wife,

I know you hate these public displays of emotion, especially affection. They cause you to feel anxious, shy, and force you to become a little more recluse. I know that what we feel is between Us and God. I know that everything I am going to say here is of no surprise. And it shouldn’t be. This should be nothing more than an overly public confirmation of everything you already know. But I am going to share it anyway.

While I am writing this you are baking treats for our children and trying to pry out of me what I am writing. I am doing my level best, and failing, at trying to hide it from you. You tell me that somedays I am a brick wall, and this is true. But even still you manage to leave your mark, and it doesn’t go un-noticed. I know some days it seems like I am not present, I’m sucked into my phone, or zoned out on TV, or even simply staring off into space. You try to engage with me, I give simple one and two word answers and seemingly get annouyed when I have to answer anything more. All in all, a wall. However, every conversation, every comment, every question, is graffiti on that wall. It is something that I will see, and feel, and show forever. Every conversation is cherished. Every moment together is precious.

Graffiti on the Wall

Graffiti on the Wall

You could very well be the most loving, kind, good hearted person I know. You not only see the silver lining in almost every situation, you see the good in every person, and every action. There are days were I feel like I am the worst human being, not worth anything, and generally useless. You always take the time to life me up, encourage me, show me what I am, what I am capable of, and the worth that you and God sees. I love your selflessness, your drive, and your inability to do something half arsed. You kill yourself over a computer, planning, researching, replanning, organising, building, and scripting every class you teach. Every classes script is uniquely written for each student. You endeavour to make sure that every single person in that classroom has the very best shot at learning, and growing. It is that that level of dedication and self sacrifice I strive to even get even half way towards, so that I can be the best nurse, the best father, the best husband that I can be.

Self Sacrifice

Self Sacrifice

My love for you grows every day. Every day I get the opportunity to wake up next to you, fall asleep listening to your faint gremlin like snore, every time I come home to your embrace, even hear your voice on your voicemail. I am so incredibly lucky to have you in my life, let alone have you as my wife, the mother of our 3 beautiful children, my confidant, my sounding board, my common sense, my anchor in the storm, my shield, my shoulder to cry on, and my warm body to curl up with. Every day I think I couldn’t love you more, and every day I am exceedingly delighted to be proven wrong.

If not for you I would not have come to know Christ in the very real and intimate way we should. I would probably have wound up miserable in the middle of the ocean somewhere pining for my next drink in one moment, while struggling with my direction and sense of self in the next. You showed me what was possible, the love that He can provide. You showed me how much closer we could be with Him in our lives. You nurtured me through my stupid questions, and encouraged me to lean in. You are the physical embodiment of what Jesus Christ has asked of us. You are kind, love others, you share the word at every possibility, and you live your life like it is the only bible someone might read. You are amazing.

I Love You - I Know

I Love You – I Know

If by now you can still stomach me being open for just a few word longer I will conclude. Alinta, you are the kindest, sweetest, nicest, most loving person I have ever had the pleasure of crossing paths with. You take me at my faults and use them to help me grow. You soften my often hasty, and rash decisions, but you still allow me to lead or decide as necessary. You are the love of my life, and I just wanted you to know that.

Love you Always

Luke Sondergeld

Dragging the Chain

Despite being as supported as I am, you know who all you are, being well medicated, having professional help, and generally doing infinitely better than 6 – 12 months ago, I still find that I am dragging the chain a little. Now, most people would say the I am just being too harsh on myself and I need to cut myself some slack, but I still feel that I am sometimes actively avoiding chores, activities, social events, and family moments. This cannot continue.

Let’s start with around the house.  I am constantly reminded of my inaction with the forrest that has befallen my herb garden, and the terrible state of my vegetable gardens. I have had none of the motivation required to actually just sit in them and pull everything that isn’t edible out. I managed to gather the necessary energy to poison the Nutgrass that has conquered much of the garden, but even this has required follow up action that just hasn’t happened. I continue to come up with excuses as to why I can’t do it; it’s too hot, I just finished work, I’m busy doing something else, I’ll just wait till it’s cooler, I’ll do it later this afternoon, and the list continues. I would love to see my gardens be back to where they were. Unfortunately, this doesn’t just stop at gardening, I find it almost completely draining to look after the girls. Like all 1 & 3 year olds, they are exceptionally demanding, they are contradictory, they yell and scream and cry and then as if by the triggering of some self defence mechanism are completely adorable. I find myself just letting everyone else take care of the girls, even our eldest son sometimes, this isn’t the best but until I can stop dragging my chain on this one, it will have to do.

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The garden at it’s completion

I want to prefix this paragraph by saying I love my job, I would never do anything, or fail to do anything, that would be a detriment to my or anyone else patients. However, my motivation to actually go to work is, at times, a little low. I find it difficult to get out of bed, I drag the chain the entire time I am getting ready, and even on the car trip to work my mind continues to come up with ways that I could not work that day. I do find though that once I am at work I am almost, energised. The lack of motivation could have been spurred by a run in with a couple of staff, it could be because the workplace is a little slow at present, whatever the reason I need to stop dragging my chain on this one.

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Must stay motivated for Work

Finally, I have been dragging my chain when it comes to Maintain The Rage. I have skipped weeks, struggled to write anything meaningful, constantly put off writing, and otherwise simply want to put this by the back burner. I know that’s no fair to the readers, it not what I want for this blog, it’s not what I want out of myself. There are many reasons behind this chain being dragged; it takes a large amount of energy and thought power to write a post and most days I just don’t want to put that kind of energy into anything, and from an ego stand point the readership has fallen from over 1500 a month to less than 500. Now I know a lot of you will say that 500 a month is still great, and others will say it’s not about the numbers, and to an extent they are right, but like the thank you after a job well done, a good reader count following a post is a nicety. I really do appreciate every single reader, and I love the interaction we can get with comments, personal messages, or emails and I don’t ever want that to stop.

Study

I started Maintain the Rage to share, help, and encourage. I don’t want that to change

So as you can see between my depression and decreased motivation I am dragging the chain in almost every facet of my life. I want to improve it, I want to take charge of every facet of my life and do all of the things that I want to do in it, I want the motivation I had when I started this blog over 18 months ago. I don’t know if I need more sleep, more prayer, more coffee, or some sort of combination of these and more, but whatever it is I hope I can stop dragging my chain before it becomes habit.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Setting Goals

Each year it is not uncommon for people to set New Years Resolutions, or goals for the proceeding year. Though I do not personally subscribe to the idea of a News Years Resolution, like January 1st is the only time of year you can set goals, I do subscribe to the notion that we should be constantly growing and moving forward. To that end I have three overarching goals for 2019, along with a slew of smaller ones, that I would like to see achieved.

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Goal 1

My first goal is probably going to be the hardest to achieve. I want to weigh 95kg before the year is out. Now some of you are probably thinking that should be a reasonably simple goal, that I should only have to shave 5-10 kilos and I will be done. Alas, no. To reach this goal, please note this is before Christmas and New Years befalls us, I need to shave 32kg from my frame. I need to lose the weight for my own health, the longer I carry this thick layer of visceral fat, the more and more likely I am to develop a serious cardiac issue. I also need to lose the weight for my kids, if I don’t shave the weight I won’t be able to run with them, hike with them, swim, jump, or play with them, and I can’t have that. That is not going to be an easy journey, however, it is a journey I have been on before. I know I can lose the weight, I just need to actually exercise, stop eating and drinking so much sugar, and cut down my portions from what I want to eat to what I actually need to eat. So Goal One, lose the weight.

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Goal 2

This one seems a bit of a no brainer but is here for a very valid reason. My second goal is to continue to Blog at least once a week. The reason this is a valid goal and not something  that is a given, is at times my depression outweighs my desire to share with everyone. Somedays I look at my computer and the only thing I feel I can contribute is a long paragraph of crying and some terrible pictures of me doing as much. Sharing with this community is as much for my benefit as anybody else’s, I feed off your reads, your comments, and your engagement. I love hearing about how a story I have written has impacted someone, or is changing the way we deal with ourselves and others. So this is why Blogging is my second goal for 2019.

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Goal 3

Again a goal that should not need to be written, but valid none the less. My final formal goal for 2019 is to Complete my Bachelor of Nursing. The reason this goal is so important is Nationally 25% of Nursing students drop out of the course, that is just the voluntary ones, then you have the failure rate of up to 40% on top of that. That is more than half of the students who begin the course will not see the end of it. In 2018 I had an interesting year (for those who are interested please read the Mental Health related posts) I managed to pass my written assessments, pass my exam (if only just), and I got through my clinical placements. It took a lot out of me to accomplish simply completing my second year, and that is I something I do not want to have to go through again. Hopefully, and God willing, I will be able to manage my depression and anxiety, study hard, and pass my Bachelor. This will the provide me with a better paying job, an expanded scope of practice, more opportunities, and a fantastic sense of accomplishment. So my final formal goal for 2019 is to complete my Bachelor of Nursing.

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Informally I would love to, accumulate, assemble and paint 2000pt of Tyranids, play more Warhammer with my friends, spend more time with the kids, lean in closer to God, attend Anchor as much as my rostering allows, continue to grown in my faith, serve the Church more, spend more time with Family. I find the informal goals to be the things we all ascribe to achieve, and for one reason or another we fall short. I am finding if you write your goals down, have them in front of you all the time, and stay focussed you can achieve great things.

Why not share your 3 goals for 2019 in the comments below, who knows you may find a Goal buddy for 2019.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Christmas 2018

Tis the season and unless you have been living under a rock, with earplugs in, completely blocking out the outside world, you are no doubt by now completely overwhelmed with Christmas carols, sales, advertising, lights, trees, and that one person at work who seems a little too involved in the whole Christmas Cheer side of things. I am going to start by saying I am not exactly Christmas’s biggest fan, not the reason behind the season which is the birth of Jesus Christ, but the commercial, Santa Clause, snow effect, carolling, blinking lights, nonsense that the day and subsequent season has become.

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The main issue I have with Christmas is commercialism. Now I understand that our, and many other of the economies around the world are based on the premise of commercialism, and commercialism to the highest order. The idea of buying for $1, selling for $2, and putting it on sale for $3 reigns supreme. I also understand that lots of people’s welfare and income are based around the premise of buying and selling. What I don’t appreciate is being forced into buying things to decorate ones home to make it look like a winter wonderland, when  its 40 degrees celsius outside, 104 Fahrenheit for those in the States. I also don’t like the idea of an overweight Northern European man, breaking into my house, consuming food and beverages, then leaving suspicious packages around the place.

The entire premise behind the modern Christmas seems to boil down to buying gifts you can’t afford, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t talk to all year. Me and mine keep things simple. Our children are the only ones who get gifts, they are usually either practical or necessary, and friends and family are told that the only people who will have presents bought for them are the children, of which there are none outside my two girls. Even this limitation on the season still has my back up. I still don’t understand why there is a need for exchanging presents, hanging ornaments, and elaborate fables.

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I will add, I do participate willingly in a ‘secret santa’ with my friends and family. This involves all of my friends putting the names in and having to purchase 1 gift, and all of the family doing the same. This way we can meet the social preconceptions without too many financial implications.

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The other issue that I have with the majority of Christmas is the focus on the trees, the lights, the big guy in a red suit, the presents, the ham or turkey, and the decorations. The reason for the season is the Birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Now this post is not meant to be preachy, or beating you over the head with my bible, but it is only fair that I share my thoughts behind Christmas, and this means talking a little about Jesus.

Firstly, to quell the naysayers regarding the 25th of December actually being Jesus birthday or not, I will honestly say I have no idea, nor do I care. Historically people have pegged Jesus birthday in March 28th, somewhere in October, November 18, and a myriad of others. My thought is, the Queen has two birthdays a year, and only one of them is on her actual birthday, and frankly my faith isn’t hinged on whether Jesus was born on December 25th or not, the fact the He was born, lived, died, and rose again, matters.

Secondly, you can find any number of Nativity stories, songs that run the story, and so on, but to really get the story one has to get if from the source, Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2. For those who don’t have a bible at home bible.com is a great free access bible, if you are on your phone then You Version is a great free bible app. I also encourage you to head to your local church to enjoy the carols and story of the birth of Christ. So my reason for the season is to celebrate His birth, and share with others his-story wherever I can.

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So thats my story regarding Christmas, it may not fit the stencil that everyone else lives by, it may even offend a few readers. The aim of this post was not to offend anybody, put anybody off side, or guilt anybody, the aim was to share my story and views on something that has a very assumed belief attached to it. I encourage everyone to enjoy the season any way they see fit.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

End of Treatment

This week saw the end of my treatment. No more Electro Convulsive Treatments. No more trips to the hospital to have a current run through my head in the vain hope that it will set me straight. It also means, hopefully, an end to the annoying memory losses I have been experiencing the past couple of weeks. It also, hopefully, means I can just move on with my life and go back to living it.

Its not all doom and gloom however, this week my youngest daughter was dedicated to the Lord, and my oldest son was baptised. So both of those events are rating pretty highly on my calendar.

Joseph Baptism

Joseph being baptised at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Rockhampton

I was able to participate in tabletop gaming of both the board game and Warhammer variant. The board game variety was Lords of Waterdeep with my wife and was an enjoyable time had by all. And the other involved large and expensive pieces of plastic in a game called Warhammer 40,000 and was enjoyed with the lovely boys and girls over at Hammer and Anvil Gaming. I just have to get to the end of the whacked out season that is the University calendar, then I can commence work on the five new knights, and one work in progress knight that I have surrounding me at present.

Mid Battle

Mid Battle

As time goes on, I am left with thoughts of the good times shared amongst friends and family. I am reminded about the not so good times, the times that found me in a recovery ward following ECT. But nevertheless the good have severely outweighed the bad. And I hope to keep the scales tipping that way.

As I write this post my son is prepping for his missions trip to Vanuatu. I am so immensely proud of him undertaking this trip. Every time I turn around, he grows up just a little bit more. I wish him all the very best on his endeavours to Vanuatu, and I pray that the island is kind to him this journey.

In the mean time, I will enjoy the time with his sisters, my daughters, who continue to grown up each and every day. Every time I turn around they are bigger, smarter, funnier, and achieving more than the previous. I love you, my girls.

I will keep the message this week short and sweet. We are still looking for the designer of the Maintain the Rage logo. Head over to our competition page for all the details.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Kicking Goals

One coping mechanism I have adopted to deal with my Depression and Anxiety is to keep busy. Sometimes I border on being too busy and burning myself out, but generally I am at a steady pace of flat out. One of my projects that I have been working on has taken its next step.

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Over the past couple of weeks I have been turning some white lines on the grass in my backyard into proper raised garden beds that will house our vegetables, some 20 odd varieties. The whole process actually took shape rather quickly, when I actually got moving. We stepped out roughly what we wanted, how it was going to look and what type of vegetables to grow, then we marked it all out, chased down materials, bought and collected them, then built the beds. Then we organised the six cubic meters of dirt to fill the beds, drove out to collect another ¾ of a cubic meter, then covered the whole lot with straw. All in all, a tiring but rewarding process.

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Other then completing tasks and getting things done, it was a great time to spend with my parents, brother, and sister in law. It was so nice to know that they were willing to come around and sweat it out all in the name of family. After a terrible couple of weeks battling isolation and loneliness, even in the midst of company, it was great to feel that connectedness again. The day was also an opportunity to bond with my boy a little more as we toiled in the yard. He actually had the opportunity to watch the whole project come together, be a part of the construction, the preparation going into the garden beds, and will also help with the germination of the seeds, and eventual planting and maintaining of the vegetables. I believe this is a key skill that we are losing very quickly.

IMG_5341When we lived in Western Australia, my wife had a worm farm set up in her back porch. It was a way for her to deal with food scraps in an eco friendly manner and generate fertiliser for the garden and lawn at the same time. I felt guilty as I asked her to leave it behind when we moved as I didn’t know what kind of set up we would have on the other side. Nevertheless now that we are heading towards reducing our waste and growing our own produce I decided to buy my wife, and subsequently the rest of the family, a new worm farm. This achieves the same as above with the added benefit of feeding our worms the produce they just help feed. Its all very Lion King and Circle of Life.

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So now I have three beautiful new garden beds, an extended front garden, and a treasure trove of seeds coming in the post. It will be great to see the garden grow and produce food for us to eat. It will be great to teach the kids about cultivation and self sufficiency. I am probably the most anti-green person I know, but even I feel good about the whole project. One day I would love to be able to scale this project up to a size where the family unit is actually self sustainable, vegetable and fruit wise. But for now I will settle for the handful of cherry tomatoes, fresh baby spinach and home grown jalapeños.

Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Waiting Game

My wife is 38 weeks pregnant, which means at any point she could spontaneously spawn a new little human, and I can’t wait to meet her.

My wife was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes early in her pregnancy, which  meant that we had to closely monitor her blood sugar levels and also change the way we eat. It didn’t mean the elimination of carbohydrates, but rather spreading them out over the course of the day. Every meal was allowed three serves of carbs, each serve being 15g of actual carbohydrates, and every snack having one to two. Having these smaller meals and less of the carbs meant that while my wife has been growing a little person inside of her she has actually lost seven kilos. Now, before you all jump up and down, the baby has developed beautifully and is a health weight, if not a touch bigger than average.

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Actually our Baby

One of the consequences of being gestationally diabetic is that the infant tends to be a little larger than average. Currently our little one is tracking above the curve, and if she was to go to full term could weight up to 8lbs and 9ozs or 3.88 kgs. Having said that, our obstetrician has advised us that providing my wife is fortuitous and her body is in a fit state, he would want to induce the baby at around 38 weeks. He says this eliminates the likelihood of spontaneous fetal death, which is great. This also means, to an extant, we can plan around the birth. We can almost pick a day, which for a roster like mine is fantastic.

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I am looking forward to being a father again, holding a small person in my arms, feeding, burping, rocking, and generally caring for them. I am looking forward to the smells and sounds of the cherub and the joy they will bring the house. I look forward to seeing them grow, and learn, and absorb, and change with every passing day. I look forward to seeing the smile on my wife’s face as she hold the little blossom we made together. I look forward to our growing family. Stay posted Ragers, there will be photos to come.

Maintain the Rage,

Luke Sondergeld

Placed Upon

Through out our lives we get called a lot of different things, whether by virtue of our job, by our loved-ones, our friends and those around us. These names, these titles, carry with them a certain level of expectation from the person giving them to us; it places us in a position that we may not fully understand ourselves.

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For myself, I’ve been called, and still am called many different things;

Each of these comes with their own level of expectation and assumed level of knowledge and understanding. It is a huge responsibility to accept some names, and for some people it can be what breaks them.

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When I was in the Navy, simply being referred to as Sir meant that I not only had an understanding of the situation being discussed but would have the answer to any questions and strategic oversight to know what to do next. In the same breath, when I was referred to as Mr. Sondergeld by a superior, that expectation shifted to a subservient role, I was expected be able to follow, blindly if needed, any direction that I was given to follow. Between my counterparts, my ship mates and those I served a while with, I was Sonny. The young officer who bent the rules when dealing with enlisted rates, took a relaxed outlook on most situations, believed that the best answers often came from those below, not above him, and someone who could get the job done, or at least know the guy who could. I was still just one man, one young officer, but all of these differing expectations and levels of understanding were valid.

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In our daily walk we often have differing levels of expectation put upon us, as a Father that is extremely obvious when a young boy starts the conversation with “Dad I want to ask you something” or when your little girl is standing at your feet, tears in her eyes, quietly sobbing and mumbling ‘Daddy’ with her arms extended. These are the everyday expectations that can break people, and we as a community need to support them and let them know its ok to not have all the answers, and know they are not alone.

There is also a change in our behaviour when these names are used, when we are called out by a particular appellation we respond in a particular way, like a child being referred to by First, Middle and Last name by a parent.

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My Son and I both participate in Scouts, myself as the Leader of the Scout section and my Son, who until recently was a Scout, is in the Venturer Section. I had a rule that the second we put the uniform on, I was no longer Dad, I am Bass. This did two things, it meant that he knew that he was on the same standing as any other Scout, and secondly every other Scout knew he was going to be treated the same. It was also a bonus for myself as I didn’t have to worry about trying to seperate my brain between Dad and Bass. The changes in behaviour between a Scout Leader and a Father are surprisingly subtle, both require finesse, discipline, honesty, integrity, leadership, quick wit, behavioural management and patience. The main difference is I personally have one Son and 20 Scouts. So the scale, and subsequent odds, are a little off.

Wife and I

In the relationship between my Wife and I, we refer to each other as Wife and Husband. To some this may seem odd, demeaning or detached. But we see it for what it is, a voluntary commitment to each other to the exclusion of all others till death do us part. I have referred to my wife as Wife in conversation with people who have not known the reasons behind our family tradition, and have been met with hostility, shock, and at times amusement. To me there is no greater pet name, than Wife, and nothing makes my heart sing more than hearing my beloved call me Husband. For us this works, for others, maybe not. But even this endeared name that we have embraced carries with it a level of expectation, that we will be supportive of one another, be a united front, openly communicate, place the other before ourselves, make time for each other, share, love and laugh together, but most of all Love each other. And that’s an expectation I don’t mind living up to.

Do you have a name that has been placed upon you? Something where the expectation is sometimes too high? Do you know someone who has a name bestowed upon them that they can’t live up to? Is there a name you don’t think fits? Write it down in the comments section below and share your story.

Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Legacy

Last week I discussed Mentorship in my article Walking With where the idea of providing what someone requires to achieve the goal they have set is a kind of Patronage. This week I want to discuss Legacy. If we consider Mentorship as answering the question of How, Legacy is answering the question Why?

Legacy is what and who we leave behind to carry on when we are gone, in both the physical and mortal sense. As a Scout Leader I am imparting my collected knowledge and wisdom onto the Scouts in the hope that they take it with them into their lives and make their worlds a little bit better. As a member of CQUniversity’s SRC I try and leave the University a little better than I found it through culture change, policy changes and initiatives that better the Student Experience for all. As a Father I endeavour to teach, show and guide my children through life in the hope they won’t make the same mistakes I did, that they go further, do more and achieve their goals, just as my parents did for me.

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The creation of Legacy is less about planning and more about being responsive to the environment you are in. As a parent, the needs of my children change constantly. I can’t plan what they need to make their lives better. I can plan strategically by ensuring that I remain employed, feed them, ensure they receive a good education, and stay safe. But I cannot plan their career, their partners, their lives and where they are going to live. As a SRC member I must be reactive to the needs of the students, I can also be proactive and identify issues before they become problems for the students and the University. The Peer Assisted Study Scheme that I helped develop and implement was birthed from an inherent need the students didn’t know they had. I saw a void in the support structure of the TAFE students and endevoured to fill that void. This, I hope, will leave a lasting legacy on the University and the student body. When a student graduates feeling supported and feels empowered to go further with their study, I can stand tall knowing the legacy I left contributed.

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This whole blog, not just this post, is about Legacy. I share my stories, my life, my journey and my reflections in the hope that others will read them and make positive changes. I know people who have contacted me directly and shared how different posts have pulled them out of a tight spot, or steered their lives into a new direction for the better. That’s why I write, to inspire, to reflect and make real impact on people’s lives.

I encourage everyone to think about their Legacy and what they are leaving behind. If we don’t think of Legacy we are destined to leave either nothing, or worse a negative Legacy that is actually a detriment to the next generation. As a challenge, take a moment this week to reflect on what you are leaving behind and make a concerted effort to change it. Start living life selflessly for the next generation, start the small turns of the ship now before we run aground, make the world of tomorrow better today.

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What did you reflect on? What are you going to change about your legacy? Make a declaration today in the comments section below, who knows maybe your change will help someone else change their Legacy.

Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Baby Lessons

There are numerous baby websites, books, journals, and magazines that will gladly tell you that there is a million things you should get for your new bundle of joy. Couple that with friends, family, mothers, in laws, outlaws and everyone in between, there is a lot of information to sift through.

With the announcement of My wife and I having our second child together, third in total, this week I felt it prudent to share some lessons learnt from the first one, Darby. I will cover the things that I Would do again and the things that I most certainly Wouldn’t.

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Would

  1. Invest in a decent bedroom fit out – Darby’s bedroom suite, graciously paid for by my Parents, was of a good enough quality, that we are actually able to pass it down to the next child.
  2. Buy Nappies, or diapers for our American brethren, in bulk – Quite frankly the 96 pack of Huggies that we were purchasing, sometimes felt inadequate
  3. Buy wipes in bulk – In the midst of a poo-nami you can never have too many wipes, they can be found in packs of nearly 400, and sometimes this doesn’t seem enough
  4. One Piece outfits – I WOULD BUY ALL OF THEM!
  5. Invest in a good quality Baby Car Seat – the one we bought Darby, well actually my parents bought this one also, is so good that we could use it for the new bub and buy a bigger one for Darby
  6. Teething toys/rings/jewellery – If the child can chew it they will, might as well make it safe for them
  7. Take regular photos – In the first 12 months of Darby’s existence I took something like 9000 photos, on my phone. I still feel like I don’t have enough
  8. Spend more time reading – I don’t feel like I have spent enough time reading with Darby, it is something I am currently rectifying but feel that I should have done more earlier
  9. Buy Nappy Poop Bags – These things are basically dog poop bags, for babies, and I tend to buy whichever is cheaper. When you child opens the back door to hell in their nappy, these things make it bearable enough to make it to the outside bin
  10. Feed my child Formula – We endeavoured so hard to make sure Darby was breast fed as long as possible, but you can’t squeeze blood out of rock, so my wife and I have decided this time we will go for as long as we can, and if thats 3 days before formula, then so be it
  11. Continue to Vaccinate my children – I will never not vaccinate my children, EVER!
  12. Let my wife spend more time at home – We were in a financial pickle with Darby, and as such my wife very graciously returned to work after 3 months. This time, however, we are going to try and have her home till the children are at least in school
  13. Let them eat dirt – Seriously there isn’t much in dirt that can hurt them long term, let them eat it
  14. Continue to encourage social activity – Spend time with other mums and dads, especially ones with children the same or similar ages, the children love the play and interaction
  15. Use a Bumbo earlier – These little foam chairs are amazing, supportive and encourage great posture. Sometimes I wish they made them for adults
  16. Heed this advice – There is plenty of advice out there, these are some simple things I have found with experience and common sense
  17. Johnsons Night time Baby Bath – Seriously, I don’t know if there is Nightquil in this or not, but it actually does what it says it does

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Wouldn’t

  1. Buy/use a baby monitor – Other than the fact that you can hear Darby from down the street, the monitor gave a false sense of security that was actually unnerving after a while
  2. Buy a huge complicated baby bag – They are heavy, expensive and complicated. Really a couple of nappies, a change of clothes and some food, you can fit that in any bag
  3. Buy a baby bath – Use the kitchen sink, child too big? Move into the laundry, use a Bumbo in the bath, they’re waterproof
  4. Buy any two piece outfits – Seriously the child is either going to be squirming, crawling or vomiting on the thing anyway, a one piece and a singlet is more than sufficient
  5. Try and dress for a fashion show – basically for the same reason as above, people may find it cute and adorable, but try changing a baby in a jump suit, that has no buttons, zip or other poop access
  6. Buy anything you can’t undo – if I have to remove something, or many things, to change the child, it’s too hard and needs to be thrown out
  7. Pack the kitchen sink – You can go to the shops for a five minute trip without anything, just the child and a rag
  8. Listen to all the advice – There is so much advice out there, if you try and do everything you will give yourself a hernia. However see point 16 of Would!
  9. Buy anything before the baby shower – Other than the fact you will no doubt inherit a lifetime supply of nappies and burping cloths, there could be something that you may not have thought of, or something that is expensive if not handed down
  10. Stress about people confusing your babies gender – My darling little girl has as much hair as George Costanza, and we refuse to dress her in pink. So naturally she gets called a boy fairly frequently, it used to bug me, but now I just laugh
  11. Try and see the child in the car – I set up an overly elaborate mirror setup in the car so I could see Darby when I drove, guaranteed she would roll over and knock it over, vomit on the mirror or otherwise ruin my plan
  12. Stress about whether or not she is going to wake up in the morning – SIDS is a real thing, and I know people who have been struck by it, so don’t mistake my words, but if you spend all night checking on your child every 15 minutes, you will be the one in hospital before long
  13. Fly with a baby – Unless I absolutely had to, I wouldn’t do it again

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So there is 30 Woulds and Would nots with the upcoming child. Do you have any hints, tips, tricks or Would and Would nots? Is there something you would move from one list to the other? Then add them to the comment section below. Or head over to our connect page and drop me a line.

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Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Maintaining Boundaries

When I was younger, my parents, especially my Father, wanted to ensure that I was self-sufficient, self-motivated, but most importantly, self-disciplined. We all learn what is right and what is wrong, we develop a morale compass that points us in the right direction, the hardest thing to teach our children is how to read their compass and navigate by it.

One of the waypoints to self-discipline that I was taught by my parents was Boundaries.

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Boundaries come in many forms

We all give our children boundaries for protection from injury, shame, or from others, but our children, and others often see these boundaries as a fence to keep our children in, and not the harmful things out. These boundaries during the formative years of our children’s lives set the tone for years to come, if a child is allowed free reign in the first five years of their lives, they will grow up to believe that is normal and never respect any boundaries, whether at home, at school, work or beyond.

When I was a child my parents would set boundaries to allow me the ability to explore and learn, but to remain safe. They both allowed me to make my own mistakes, and learn from them. I remember a when I was around 13 years old, and we were on summer break. My parents were working and I was roller blading with the children next door. Before my parents left that morning they told me to be careful and not get hurt as we where going to the beach for a two week holiday that weekend. No where in their instructions did they say, no roller blading, no building jumps, no doing tricks, no restrictions, just don’t get hurt. So being the indestructible 13 year old I was, I built a jump out of bricks and plywood, set it at the bottom of a steep driveway and went for it. Needless to say my 12 hours of roller blading experience didn’t stack up to my ambition. I summarily landed on the right hand and fractured my wrist. Needless to say I spent the next two weeks of our beach holiday on the sand watching everyone else have fun in the surf. Lesson learnt the hard way.

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It wouldn’t be the last time I fractured either

I currently have two children, a 15-year-old son and nearly 2-year-old daughter. Both of them have different boundaries, not due to favouritism, or sex or behavioural traits, but because as we age and mature our boundaries need to grow. My two year old has a fairly tight boundary, she is allowed to explore most things, but she isn’t allowed to touch DVDs, nick knacks, rummage through drawers or cupboards, or play with things that aren’t hers. This is as much about teaching her that there are limits to what she is allowed to touch as it is about protection, as I am a nursing student and have all sorts of things that she could get in to.

My son, however, knows what is dangerous to touch and what isn’t, or at least I like to think so, so his boundaries are wider, and the expectation is that he himself would know what he can and cannot touch. His boundaries are now extended out to the point where he is learning when it is appropriate to use the things he is allowed to touch, like iPads, TVs, games and other distractions. We as parents don’t sit with him during his homework, we don’t do it for him, we only revise and give feedback if it is asked for. This allows my son to earn the mark he deserves, not the one I do. It also teaches him, sometimes slowly, that he needs to work before play.

The boundaries for my children will continue to shift and grow as they do. Eventually they will be removed completely, or at least as far as they are aware, to allow them check their compass’ alignment and decide for themselves what is good and bad, right and wrong, acceptable and not.

I still have to remind myself that my children are smart enough and strong enough to survive without a complete stranglehold on their lives. Sometimes my children tell me, painfully, when their boundaries are ready to be moved. Sometimes I move their boundaries too soon, at the detriment of their safety, their confidence or their trust. We as parents have to remember that we are still learning our craft ourselves and not to be too critical when things don’t go completely to plan. We also have to remember to set our own boundaries with our children; we are parents not friends, we are confidants not judges, we are to support our children and build them up not tear them down or destroy their self-esteem. Most importantly we need to let them know we love them no matter what.

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How do you Maintain Boundaries with your children? Do you feel that sometime they are too restrictive or not confining enough? Share your thoughts in the comments below and lets begin a dialogue.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Childhood Rage – Part Two

Continuing on from Part 1 that was published last week, I covered how my wife and I maintain boundaries and structure, push for improvement and love unconditionally, as a united front with both of our children.

This week I will be discussing how I try to, and sometimes don’t, hold it together when things don’t go according to plan. I will also be talking about how we are all human and lose our temper, but as parents we need to regroup and own up to those actions. And finally, I will cover how important it is to understand the children you love so dearly.

A quick shout out to Brian Gordon for the use, from Google, of the below image.

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Children will push you. They will look like little angels, playing in their room, smiles and laughter, then silence… fearful, fearful silence… then screaming, then finger pointing, then tears, and tantrums and kicking and flailing on the floor. Then, for no reason, a sudden declaration of hunger but everything you offer is not good enough, they then eat a bowl of dog biscuits, happily, and finally fall asleep face down in the dog bed. You may feel at this point, slightly elated, but you know sleep is fleeting and soon the small demon that lives in your house, that you named, nurtured and show off to all your friends as your little princess, will wake up.

Dramatic, I know, but a story that I am sure will resonate with a lot of parents out there. At times you have probably thought to yourself Do they do it on purpose? Do they just hate me? Did I do something wrong? Was it the salami I ate during pregnancy? I can assure you it’s none of these things. Children, like adults, have a fickle mind and can’t always articulate the ideas that are in their heads. I remember a moment when my daughter, only 18 months old, woke up and came barrelling out to give me a hug, I picked her up, go to give her a cuddle, then she started smacking me in the face while crying. So I put her down. She ran to the kitchen and began pulling all of her bowls out of the cupboard and throwing them everywhere. I assumed she is trying to tell me she was hungry. I offered her a myriad of fruit, nuts, crackers, cereal, toast, sandwiches and yoghurt. What didn’t immediately get denied and pushed away is accepted, placed in her mouth and summarily spat out in disgust. This then led to continued crying.

I was at a loss. I didn’t know what my daughter wanted, other than food, and it seemed that no matter what I offered it wasn’t good enough. Eventually, however, I managed to work out that she wanted the left over baked vegetables from the night before, which she saw go into the orange container, and I did not. It would have been very easy, and somewhat understandable, for me to have lost it during this exchange. I also know that there are parents out there right now who have had, or are having, moments with their own children and the just feel like they need to scream. But please, hold it together, they need you to be stable, understanding and nurturing. Most often the child doesn’t actually know what they want, or at least how to tell you what they want. And this goes double for emotions, a child will often bite or hit in frustration at a situation. So remember you are the parent, hold it together, wait for reinforcements, and tag out if you have to.

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Regroup and own up

My wife will be the first to tell you, I have a slight issue with my temper. I like to think that I am passionate and emotionally invested, which often manifests itself as an over display of noise and words. But I do. I get frustrated, annoyed, and quite frankly angry when I have repeated for the 437th time today for my son to chew with his mouth shut, or wash his hands after going to toilet, or not bite his nails, or to check both ways before crossing the road. I don’t always handle situations the best. I know my wife is not exactly Mother Theresa either. But we are only human, as are you, and we all have our moments.

I remember one faithful day, my son Joseph was simulating a once begotten herd of frozen snails, ALL DAY! I was trying to be patient, I was trying to be the calm, collected, cool Dad who gently reminded him to hurry up a little, and what chores he had left, and how there were only so many hours in a day. I even took a step back and allowed him to complete the tasks he had been given in his own time, within reason. After an hour, I decided it couldn’t hurt to go and check to see the progress of my son. He wasn’t even doing the jobs that had been given to him. He was playing, as most 14 year old boys do, and not really doing much of anything that would be considered constructive. And I may have lost my cool. I jumped up and down, I ranted, I raved, I yelled. I am almost certain children for three blocks thought they were the ones getting in trouble and stopped what they were doing.

It was not my proudest moment. I left him standing in the backyard after receiving a large dose of Rage Dad, and I walked inside with a loud crash behind me of the door slamming shut. My wife, God bless her, walked outside and very calmly instructed our son that it would be in his best interest to complete the tasks that had been set out for him post haste. I however, went into my room, and sat quietly and reflected for a while. I thought about how I acted, I thought about how it would have made Joseph feel and collected my thoughts. Joseph had still done wrong for dragging his heels the whole afternoon. So I found my son, gave him a hug which he begrudgingly accepted, I told him that I loved him, I apologised for losing my temper and we sat and talked about why I was upset, what he needed to do and how the afternoon was going to play out. I then reminded my son that I loved him, gave him another hug, and left him to his chores.

I am in no way a perfect parent, none of us are. The important thing to remember is, the words we say in anger can cut our children deep, as we often say them so impassioned that they believe them to be true.  They have to know that we love them, that we do everything we do because we want the best for them, and we need to apologise for behaving the way we did.

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Understand the children

As a nursing student we are taught about the developmental theories of the likes of Piaget and Erikson. These theorists describe stages that we all go through and what we achieve in these stages. Erikson for example talks about going through stages as being either successful and learning a virtue or unsuccessful and developing a deficiency. Erikson wrote for the infancy developmental age of birth to 1 ½ years;

If the care the infant receives is consistent, predictable and reliable, they will develop a sense of trust which will carry with them to other relationships, and they will be able to feel secure even when threatened.

The child will attain Hope if successful and Fear if unsuccessful. Now Erikson has himself acknowledged that his theories are more observational and general in nature then defining developmental truths, but the thought is the same. Most children will go through developmental groups, The Wonder Weeks group refer to them as Mental Leaps and describe 20 events in the early development of your child that will test you, but grow them.

As our children get older, they develop their own personalities, attitudes, feelings, ideas and moral compasses. We as parents may not always understand our children quirks, most of the time we won’t know where they developed that particular idiosyncrasy , but we accept them all the same. Our children are different and unique, God made them that way. Our job is to understand them, love them, and nurture them.

There are a myriad of tools to assist in understanding your children, three that I have used, or at least found to be useful are;

But as parents we generally know, instinctively, what our children are like. I know that Joseph is eager to help out around the house provided someone else is helping, he hates being forcibly isolated, he learns best when someone shows him, he hates being cold, he benefits from being told that you love him but responds best to physical touch and quality time, he likes to be included in what is going on, and is a stickler for time and structure. So get to know what makes your child tick, they are all different. I am still trying to work out my youngest, Darby, but I know if I keep at it I will find out eventually. I hope.
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To wrap up, try and hold it together, regroup and own up to your mistakes and understand your children. These three things aren’t the be all and end all, it is only just scratching the surface of how difficult it is to raise children and what we need to do as parents to ensure we not only survive, but make sure our children thrive. We need to continue to grow as parents, and to let our children know that we are all learning too, we all make mistakes and we all need a little patience sometimes.

If you have a story about your children and the tests they have put you through, or have hot tips of your own that you wish to share, write them down in the comments below and share them around and don’t forget to subscribe using the Maintain Your Rage button.

Maintain The Rage,

Luke Sondergeld

Childhood Rage – Part One

Following my post last week about how my wife and I Maintain the Rage in our marriage, my 15 year old son asked me why I haven’t written about him, and the joys of being a Dad. So here it is, Childhood Rage how I endeavour to raise my two children to be somewhat respectful, independent, useful and productive members of society, and how I Maintain my Rage when my best intentions don’t quite work out.

This topic is too much for one post, so I am going to split this over two weeks, this week will be focussed on what I do as a parent to achieve all of the things I mentioned previously, and next week I will go over how I regroup and Maintain my Rage when things don’t go according to plan. With that said, along with my wife as we are a united front, we maintain boundaries and structure, push for improvement and love unconditionally.

Maintaining Boundaries

Any good parenting course, book, blog or otherwise will  always talk about the need to maintain boundaries, to have rules in place, to be a parent and not a friend, and to know when those boundaries have become blurred or ignored completely. I know that from an outside perspective I can be seen to be a hard task master. A dear friend of mine shares a similar regime and he calls his a ‘Dad-Tatership’. Ultimately, I want the best for my children, I expect the best out of my children, just as they should expect the best out of me. I have a clear set of rules for my eldest son, who is nearly 15, including a chores list, do’s and do not’s, pocket money, and expectations for schooling. These are all outlined in a contract, which he signs, and we renegotiate every Summer Holidays. The rules and punishments he helps develop (that stops the fighting later on) and the expectations are listed by myself and my wife.

I run pretty tight ship, there is an expected bed time, there is an expected morning routine, there is the expectation that there is work before play, there is an expectation of manners and respect, and there is an understanding of knowing ones place. My son knows he can come and talk to either of us about anything, whether he takes that up is another thing, he knows we love him, he also knows the reason for the boundaries and expectations are to prepare him for the real world.

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I am a firm believer in no empty threats, if you tell your child If you do that I am going to kill you, and you don’t actually kill them, its empty, the child knows that you aren’t going to kill them, and therefore the assumption will be, they can get away with it. The threat of the other parent also doesn’t sit well with me either, as a parent you need to be able to discipline and control your child when needed, if you use the other parent as a threat or weapon the child is going to realise you do not have control of the situation and abuse it.

Words can be powerful for children, as can actions, the child needs to know that the punishment for breaking the rules isn’t because your angry, but because they did the wrong thing. This could mean the best course of action is to send the child away for 5 minutes to collect your thoughts and calm down, then go and see the child and calmly explain what the punishment is and why. It is also important to know what is going to allow the child to reflect on what they have done, a smack on the hand or tap on the backside can sometimes be the most appropriate punishment, but I know, for example, my son hates to be separated from people, and not be included in things, so the most effective punishment for him is to remove him form what is going on and leave him alone.

We have recently taken to the 12 Labours of Hercules as a punishment. The idea being he will receive a list of mundane, boring, but constructive tasks, like pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and washing cars, and have no electronic devices until the tasks are completed, the punishment will last as long as it takes for him to complete the tasks. If its a day, sweet, if its a week, sweet, the record to date is 6 weeks, for a task that actually only took two hours when he finally sat down to do it.

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Push for Improvement

First up I am just going to say, I don’t celebrate mediocrity, not with myself, not with my wife, not my children, not with anybody. If you complete a task as given, or complete something that is an expectation, like your job, I won’t celebrate it and tell you how awesome you are. I will thank you for completing the task, because acknowledgement is important, but no celebration. If you go above and beyond, or do something unexpectedly well, that will get celebrated. I expect a lot from myself, just as my parents did for me and themselves. This attitude is how I purchased my first home at 19, joined the military at 21, bought my second home at 27, and how I am now studying Nursing at University. I push myself to the absolute limit and expect nothing short of awesomeness. I am therefore going to expect the best from my children. Having said that, if they are just starting to learn the guitar and they smash out smoke on the water after 15 minutes, that gets celebrated, if six months later, they can still only punch out Smoke on the Water and haven’t progressed, I will start to push. If we push our children and expect better of them, they will continue to grow and flourish. Fight mediocrity and Push for Improvement.

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Love Unconditionally

I love my children, I love them when they are happily playing, I love them when they are quiet, I love them when I at my wits end and close to pushing them out of the car. I love my children. And that is unconditional.

Love, especially with children, needs to be that Agape Love, the unconditional, not matter what, kind of love. My children, God bless them, test me every day. My daughter just the other night pitched a fit because she was hungry, she pulled out of the cupboard what she wanted, pitched a fit because we prepared it for her, then pitched a fit because we served it to her, pitched a fit when we left her to eat it herself and finally pitched a fit when we ignored the previous fits. But I still love her. My son continues to push the boundaries between being stationary and moving. I have seen herds of frozen snails move faster than my son in the morning. I am perpetually frustrated by constantly telling him to chew with his mouth shut, or not talk with a mouth full of food, or do the simple tasks that he needs to do every day, like put on deodorant or comb his hair. But I love him.

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My children know that I love them unconditionally, even when I lose my temper and yell and scream, I love them. They also know that I am here for them no matter what. That’s what we need to be as parents – there for our children. We are not their friends, their play pals, or their life sized dolls, we are their parents. We are their protectors, their confidants, their guides, their sages, their fences around the play pen, the guardians in the night and shelter in the storm. We as parents need to act like it more often.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Our Rage

I have decided to talk about my favourite subject, my Wife and our life together. But before I loose the male portion of my readership this isn’t going to be a love story with walks on the beach, champagne breakfast and how I was the perfect embodiment of Casanova. Instead this is going to be how my Wife and I stay together, keep it together and Maintain Our Rage. The three main concepts I wish to convey with regard to Our Rage are; Communication, Priorities, and Making Time.

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Communication

All good relationships, whether marriages, friendships or working relationships are based around solid, effective, two-way communication. Our marriage is no different. From the onset Alinta and I set out to communicate every idea, thought, question and issue. Other then the normal getting to know you questions, one of the first discussions we ever had was around the intent of our dating. A hard discussion, but one that ultimately set the tone for our relationship. Alinta shared that dating should be with the intent to determine suitability for marriage, and not some summer fling, thankfully I tend to agree with the notion and the matter was sorted. But the matter was still raised and we discussed it, something not too many people would have given similar situations.

Communicating, discussing, relating, talking, sharing, and listening are all part of the exchange of information in a relationship, and it extends beyond simply sharing of thoughts and ideas. My Wife and I made the decision very early in our relationship that we would never go to sleep angry, we would instead remain awake and discuss what is on our mind and come to an agreement, or at least understanding, before saying I Love You and going to sleep. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been many  sleepless night because of this rule, but it has meant the irritations, habits or disagreements cannot take strongholds within our relationship and rot it out from the inside.

Our marriage began with a six month separation due to work commitments whilst I was still serving in the Navy. This meant our normal sitting arm in arm on the couch conversations weren’t happening.  We missed the personal connection that comes with being in the same location, myself especially, but it didn’t stop us from communicating. We would spend hours on the phone at night taking about our days, reflecting on how different things made us feel, and delving deeper into our relationship through our words.

The most sage advice I ever received in regards to a relationship is Never stop talking. This isn’t to say that you should continue to talk AT your partner until they submit, or fill the air with so much talk and noise that your partner cannot think, but to never stop talking to each other, never stop sharing, never stop reflecting, never stop saying I Love You.

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Priorities

In my 30 Lessons Learnt by 30 I mentioned priorities and how they govern everything I do, how I organise my time, and ultimately what gets my energy first. The lit of priorities, in order are;

  1. God
  2. My Wife
  3. My Family
  4. My Employment and Education
  5. Myself

Now, some of you are going to be asking Why is God first? And it’s a valid question. God forms the focal point of our family, He determines what blessings we should or shouldn’t have, where we go in life, how large our family should be, everything. Our entire life is conducted through the lens of Is this what God has planned for us? To that end, my wife is  next on the list. I ensure that she is the first one to receive my attention when I get home, when I wake up in the morning, she is the last one to get my attention before going to sleep, she is the first (most of the time) to know when plans have changed and she is the first person I consult on anything to do with the rest of the list, including how I spend my me time. I would encourage everybody to organise their lives into a priority list, but don’t do it haphazardly. My priority list has been carefully considered and prayed over for a long time. It took a while for me to realise that I am at number 5 not number 3. And I am OK with that. You need to be ok with it too. This priority list also helps when it comes to decisions about time. Our lives all get busy from time to time, some a lot busier than others. By having my wife as the second on the list, when I get asked by my mates to come to the pub, or come hang out, I will either ask to bring my wife, or decline in favour of staying at home. Same goes with unwarranted overtime, excessive extracurricular activities and the like. I will either decline upfront, or at least consult with my wife to make sure she is going to be OK with the level of commitment I will need to put into something else. See back to Communication to understand why.

So my advice, set a list, put it aside, come back to in a week, think about the decisions you have made in the week. Did they fit into that priority list? What needs to Change? Make the necessary changes and do it again, and again and again until you have a list that works for you.

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Making Time

The need to take time extends to most facets of our lives, and taking time for those we love is no exception. Alinta and I, endeavour, to spend time as a couple, just the two of us, no kids, no distractions, no anything. That doesn’t always come to fruition but we try. Sometimes the us time is merely sitting next to each other at our desks and mutually ignoring one another while we work, study, blog or otherwise. Sometimes it is as simple as watching a movie together on the couch. Whatever the activity is we endeavour to make deliberate time for it.

As I mentioned previously, I personally endeavour to make sure that the first person I spend time with when I get home, is my wife. Without her our family unit doesn’t not have its united leadership. When we are out and about we endeavour to be sitting next to one another, walk with one another, hold each others hands, and all the other cliche things, that normally make people sick due to there sweetness, but we do endeavour to do these things. It is what helps us remain united and strong together.

So make time to spend with your loved ones, take a vacation together, get off early from work and surprise your loved one, small tokens of love and appreciation will always go further than singular large gifts. Time is our rarest commodity and the most cherished, share it once in a while.

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So to conclude we may only be on the early steps of the journey but we have enjoyed every minute of it. I look forward to the memories we will make together in the future and the times we will share. I look forward to the trial and tribulations, the good times and the bad, the sickness and the health, until death do us part.

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Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld