Back in the Saddle

This weekend saw the return to something that I love, but needed time away from due to work, study, and mental health, and that thing was Scouts! I was taking part in an International activity referred to as JOTA/JOTI which stands for Jamboree of the Air/Internet. The weekend gives Scouts from around the world to chat to one another and share experiences. It allows the Scout to feel like something bigger than themselves. This weekend was especially special to me as JOTA/JOTI 2016 was my first Scouting event I attended, and JOTA/JOTI 2017 was the first District level event I ran.

The return to Scouts isn’t just about rejoining a great group of individuals or the ability to invest in the youth of the region, for me it marks the end of my study, the stability in my mental health, and the freedom to explore my own leadership and development. Scouts is a global movement that focuses on the growth of the youth through the exploration of outdoor activities. Funnily enough it is also for the growth of their Adults and leaders. I spent 5 years in the Navy practicing and honing leadership, Scouts pushes me to grow even further. Leading children and adults simultaneously poses unique challenges that I hadn’t considered prior to Scouts. Children look for strength, discipline, gentleness, understanding, it can take 5 seconds or 20 minutes to get a direction across. Adults on the other had to look for direction, insight, and evenhandedness. These challenges make every activity worth while.

What makes Scouts, however, is its people. The volunteers that make up the body of Scouting leaders are some of the most selfless, inspiring, and kind hearted individuals I have ever met. They tirelessly plan, organise and run camps, activities, training exercises, and meeting nights. They inspire children to bust out of their bubbles, stretch a little, and try new things. They are also some of the funniest, laid back, and brilliant individuals I have had the pleasure of coming across.

The adventures that are still to be had, will be wide and various, I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead, and the people that I will have those adventures with. Stay tuned to see the journey unfold.

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

Running on Empty

As you all painfully aware, mainly because I don’t hide anything, I have an exceptionally full plate. I work full time shift work as a Nurse, study for my Bachelor Full Time, am a Father to my three children, Husband to my Wife, Chair of the Diploma of Nursing Society, Assistant Group Leader of one of the local Scout Groups, and somewhere find time to stop and recharge. This has meant that I am very time poor most of the time and I cut corners to make things work. Unfortunately you can only run like this for so long before you start Running on Empty.

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In the past week I have spent time invested in some portion of the aforementioned activities. I had work as normal, three days of Residential School, an assessment, a Badging Ceremony to organise, scheduling for Scouts, mentoring other students, being a dad and husband, and sleeping sometimes. For those who follow my twitter already know, I was originally rostered on two night shift at the same time my residential school was planned. This meant that I would be awake for about 64 of the 72 hours of residential school. Thankfully my Nurse Unit Manager was awesome and noticed what was going on and cancelled my second night duty. It made the Res School so much more enjoyable, and I got so much more out of it. I am constantly appreciative of the hard work of those around me. I have been encouraged to speak up when I am in situations like this one so that I can self care. I suppose I still carry a lot of the Navy’s Adapt and Overcome mentality that I tend to just deal with the hand I am dealt, forgetting that I am in the real world now and I can actually ask for help…. and I’ll likely get it.

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In addition to asking for the help, managing my time, and cutting back, I am endeavouring to actually stop, relax, and simply exist from time to time. Thankfully, again due to the wonderful people around me, I had that opportunity on the weekend. A good friend of mine, you know who you are, invited the family and I over for dinner and fire. And I can’t say no to a fire. It was a great night of just chilling, shooting the breeze, and having a couple of quiet ones in front of the fire. It nights like that where I can top my tank back up again. It is no where near full, if only to dull the warning light long enough that I don’t have to worry any more, but it is helpful.

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Emotionally things aren’t as positive. I am still struggling with motivation, even the simple act of dragging myself out of bed can be exhausting. My mood is still low, with spikes of amusement or cheer, normally involving my children or friends. My thoughts are still negatively driven, the self talk is getting worse despite efforts to change, and the ideations continue, though no plan or intent at this point. I wonder if the medication is working effectively, or if the depression is just in a low cycle, or if I am not doing enough? But these thoughts I know are not conducive to recovery. If I continue to dwell or cycle through the what if’s then I will always wind up thinking negatively. My Mum reminds me to think positively and focus on the good things that are in my life, and I do, and sometimes being reminded to focus on whats right in front of you can be useful, but doesn’t always help. I guess I will just have to keep working at it.

For those following my twitter (#MaintainTheRage) you will have notice the continued work towards our garden and the life that has sprung forth. For those of you who haven’t, I have included the photos below. I am getting a little bit of joy out of seeing the fruits of my labour, and I think that will only grow as they are planted and sprout food, because you know food.

 

That’s basically the week that was, don’t forget to follow and subscribe to this page to receive updates, follow the hashtag #MaintainTheRage to see everything as it unfolds, and thank you for being a part of this community.

Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Coming Full Circle

October 14 to 16 2016 was my first camp, JOTA/JOTI 2016, as a Scout Leader. I had no uniform, no training and no clue. Since then I have had some crazy adventures, lots of training and plenty of lessons learnt. This year, 21 and 22 October was the 60th Jamboree of the Air (JOTA) and 21st Jamboree of the Internet, and my first time organising and running the event for the Central Coast Region (Central) Scouts and Guides at Seeonee Park.

This post will be a compare and contrast between how I saw the event last year as a fresh eyed Scout Leader and this year after having a Scout Section for the entirety of this year as a Solo Leader, following all of my formal training as a section leader, and after meeting and collaborating with the other leaders in the Region.

2016 JOTA/JOTI

2016 JOTA/JOTI

2016 JOTA/JOTI

I arrived on the Friday of JOTA/JOTI in 2016 to a flurry of Scouts, Parents and Girl Guides. There where children in and out of uniform running through the campsite with screams of laughter and joy. I also saw leaders running around with clipboards and paperwork, smiling and trying to rein in their respective Scouts and Guides. I saw parents who where happily dropping off their children and leaving with an autograph, a small conversation and almost hurried footsteps from the campground.

The activities where laid out into stations, the leader all discussed what they would be doing, how and when. There was laughter, coffees, and oh so much food. It was an orchestra of chaos and control.

The Friday was mainly set up, parade, dinner and a movie. This low key entry was a deceptive introduction to the fun of the following day. My first lesson of being a Scout Leader is, though being comfortable is important, having a quick set up sleeping arrangement is more important. A 8 person tent, which I have set up by myself previously, though comfortable, is completely impractical to set up at 2300 when the Scouts are asleep. So solution to that, buy a swag.

The Saturday began with my son coming into my tent at oh my gosh its early and letting me know he spewed in his tent. So with an early wake up, a change of clothes and a quick message to the wife, we packed him up, sent him home and avoided a Gastro outbreak. Crisis averted, lesson learnt regarding the health of the Scouts and not dismissing the early symptoms of stomach bugs, virus’s and anxiety.

After a cup of coffee, or six, the day began. The kitchen crew cooked up an absolute storm of various porcine products, eggs, toast, cereal and leftover dinner from the night previously. The activities started in full swing rolling after a brief wash up of dishes and breaking the numbers into smaller groups.

I was helping my Scout Leader, Curlew, with a Navigation activity as it was something I was reasonably comfortable with given my time in the Navy. The day seemed to flow seamlessly, the groups rotate, some Scouts and Guides got the activities really easily, others needed a little more guidance, but generally they had fun. The thing that struck me was the things the Scouts and Guides would attempt to get away with, and how often a leader would need to stop the activity to correct behaviour. Lesson leant, no matter the age apparently you WILL need to tell them to not lick that, don’t touch that and don’t EAT that.

Saturday night was my first real insight into the social side of being a Scout leader, it generally involves sitting around in a circle, occasionally sending a Scout back to bed or comforting one who is missing their parents, and talking about the day, our pasts, or general smack which causes a roll of laughter and red faces. Scouting at its best.

JOTA/JOTI 2017

JOTA/JOTI 2017

JOTA/JOTI 2017

This year was a complete contrast, I was no longer a fresh eyed Scout Leader simply attending and helping out, but the Activity Leader running JOTA/JOTI for 2017. I was no longer shocked by the behaviour of the Scouts. I knew what to expect during the weekend, I knew the activities, I knew most of the leaders, and everything was planned out, the only thing out of my control was the weather, and that wasn’t too bad. Just a spot of rain.

The Scouts and Guides were responsive to my leadership, they generally followed the directions given to them, the leaders knew what was expected of them and information was filtering through so decisions could be made about schedule changes, activity changes and child behaviour.

The weekend, considering everything, went really well, the adjustments made to the schedule made the day flow easier, the activity changes made the stations more useful and entertaining given the weather constraints and I walked away with a bucket load or dos and don’ts for next year.

All in all it was a great learning experience for myself, a great social catchup with the leaders from the region, a fantastic opportunity to achieve some site work at Seeonee Park, and a great activity weekend for the Scouts and Guides.

Its been a long year, there have been 14 Activities or camps I have organised for my Scout Section, with 4 of them being a region level event, I have crammed all my training into the year, nearing completion of my Diploma and there is still so much to do, and what I want to do.

I can’t wait to see what the next 12 months has install for me, my Scout Section and the Region in which I belong. I can’t wait to see the growth, the changes, the improvements in all of it. Thank you Scouts Australia for giving me the opportunity to Serve our youth and Warripari for accepting me into the family.

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.

Placed Upon

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

Scouts – The Journey so far

I have been reflecting a lot on my Nursing Journey to this point and how it has been shaping me and my ideals both professionally and personally. Last weekend I completed the last of my formal training weekends for Scouts which triggered my mind to reflect on the Journey with Scouts thus far. The Journey has been short, but like a hurricane, it has seen much activity and many lessons learnt.

5th October 2016

It was my first night at Scouts as a newly volunteered Leader for Scouts Australia. My local group, Warripari, put out the call to parents for all who had the time and persuasion to volunteer as a leader to come forward… I was it. It started as a chance to assist the two other leaders, spend some extra time with my son who was, and still is, Scout aged, and to share some of my knowledge gained from past lives with the next generation. Little did I know how quickly the Journey would pick up pace.

15 October 2016

My first camp as a leader, I had the grand total of two weeks experience at Scouts and a standing history of Naval officer training; I could tie a series of Navy knots, some of which the Scouts used, but not as many as I liked; navigation was different to what I knew as there where suddenly hills and tracks to be concerned with and not a vast open ocean; the people under my charge where suddenly very young, very curious and not as willing to blindly follow orders as I had experienced… this was going to be a steeper learning curve then expected. I did however, persevere. The camp was a great success, I learnt very quickly that Scouts will have fun regardless of what they are doing and sometimes you have to let them push the boundaries a little in order for that to occur. Its not about completing the task the way it was designed, its about the journey and what was learnt along the way.

4 November 2016

Basic Scout Training for Leaders camp. After many hours slaving away in front of my laptop completing my eLearning modules, and preparing the myriad of attachments required for the course, I was finally ready to attend the camp. I didn’t quite know what to expect upon arrival, but I quickly learnt to be ready for almost everything. One of the first tasks we had to complete was the construction of a Queenslander Tent, which is pictured below.  Now, I had never erected one of these tents previously, I didn’t know what parts were the tent and which weren’t, I had never even seen one of these prior to the camp, this was my first hurdle. Thankfully the training staff where very accommodating and instructed myself and the other course members on how we should construct the tent. First evening of the weekend done, now we can sleep. The next day was filled with construction (now referred to as pioneering), cooking, paperwork, fires, paperwork, safety, paperwork, and discussions on how we can teach our Scouts without making it boring and tedious. Day two squared away. The final day was similar to the second with paperwork and discussions surrounding the Group, how to grow said Group, manage conflict resolution and the like. We dismantled our tent city, packed everything away and following a quick debrief we made our way home. Basic Leadership course, DONE.

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Term 1 2017

The leadership of the Scout Section shrinks from three to two as one of the Leaders moves onto the Venturer unit within the Group. Things get serious. Myself and the other leader have a robust plan of training, teachings and activities that will see the Section develop their skills and become better Scouts for it. For the most part, it worked. We had many a wet night during the term which saw a lot of our activities and plans be changed from awesome outdoor activities to small scale inside activities but we persevered. The Scouts continued to learn, some moved onto Venturers, others moved on completely, we gained some Cubs coming into the Scout section as they became old enough and the section continued. I was learning more and more as a new Scout leader and completing more of the eLearning towards both my Outdoor Skills and Advanced Course. The term went well, no major activities or camps, just lots of lessons to be learnt, for both the Scouts and myself.

Term 2 2017

Its only me… The other leader has taken a Regional position… Three to One… how did this happen…? I was confident in my ability to lead by this point but I am not going to lie, there were times when I look out at the Scouts and think, nobody do anything silly, nobody get themselves hurt, please pay attention and just do what your told. I should have had as much confidence in the Scouts as I did in my self, but I didn’t. Thankfully, they surprised me. The Scouts are resilient, patient, awesome and attentive, sure they’re still kids and have their moments of silliness and inattentiveness but on the whole, awesome. I would complete the Basic Outdoor Skills course on the 28th of May, which highlighted two things, navigation on land is not too different to navigation at sea, and I hate hills. I would also complete my Advanced training, which begins my four months of probation before receiving my Wood Badge and becoming a fully qualified Scout Leader. The Scouts would see two camps and more lessons on their Journey to Pioneer and Adventurer level cords.

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The Journey to this point has been amazing, I have learnt more about myself then I thought I would. I have learnt how resilient the Scouts can be, how much they can learn and grow, how much they really look up to us as Adults (even if we don’t think they do) and how much the Scouts can achieve when they put their minds to it. I originally came into this with the thought of imparting my experiences onto the Scouts, building the leaders of tomorrow and shaping our world. Little did I realise that’s what would happen to me.