Rocky dad uses blog to bring unity to CQ
AN AVID blogger and local father of three has opened up about how the hobby has helped him through some dark times, tackle his weight, and help share what a wonderful community Rockhampton is.
Luke Sondergeld's blog MaintainTheRage.com celebrated its second birthday at the end of last month.
The 32-year-old full-time nurse at Hillcrest Private Hospital said he started blogging as a way for him to reflect on his own life.
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"I needed a way to sort through my own thoughts and get it all out," he said.
"I originally started writing in general, just keeping a very casual journal. My wife started reading them and suggested I stick it up on the web and see how it goes.
"I gave it a little bit of a thought and created the site at 11pm one night on half a whim.
"I started writing and started getting really good positive feedback."
Mr Sondergeld writes in his blog twice a week about a range of topics from his nursing studies, to being a husband and father, and the way his faith ties in to living in a 21st century world.
"I have also blogged about my struggles with mental health, particularly last year, from suicide attempts through to recovery," he said.
The posts on the struggle with mental health had a lot of engagement from people because, he said, "it normalised the conversation and allowed people to come forward with their stories".
Putting his story out there also helped him to reflect on where he was and why he was there.
"It helped me work through my own headspace because you do become a little bit defeated, and by reflecting on it you can see where you came from," he said.
"You realise you have come a long way, improved, and stepped out of the big hole you were in and now you are on the other side of it all.
"I've heard from a couple of different people suffering from self-harm and suicidal ideations, take a turn and seek help, which was encouraging.
"Now I am walking alongside them, we check on each other, and make sure we are all continuing on the journey."
Another blog topic that has received a lot of community engagement has been his journey through weight loss.
"I introduced Wednesday weigh day about 16 weeks ago, to both share my journey and keep me accountable," he said.
"By having these very real images of the weight I am at, and where I am heading, week in and week out keeps me on track because you have your entire audience watching you through this journey.
"I get really good feedback on my recipes. A lot of people say I can't believe you come up with this, I can't believe it tastes like real food but only 1200 kilojoules.
"That has enabled people to realise they can actually tailor what they are eating reasonably easily and enjoy all of this wonderful tasting food.
"It's not all rabbit food and boiled chicken, it's something that's healthy and hearty. I've had more and more people try and con recipes out of me as time has gone along."
In early May, Mr Sondergeld wrote a piece called My Rockhampton, which centres around the things he feels "make Rockhampton... Rockhampton".
The piece was met with a lot of positive feedback from readers and put a national spotlight on the community.
"I was having a study day over at the CQUniversity Rockhampton City campus and needed to get away from the computer for a bit, so I started to go for a bit of a wander through the streets," he said.
"As I was wandering I kept seeing these images of the town that really echoes what Rockhampton is to me, why I love this city, and why I continue to stay here.
"I have seen most of Australia, and Rockhampton has this wonderful sense of community about it and has a lot of things people look for in big cities. It has some of the best cafes in the country and a lot of things the big city offers with a small-town feel.
"You could turn around twice and know everybody, it's great and it really feels like we are all just here to support each other.
"I put My Rockhampton together to show why I like this town and why I am staying here in the hope others across the country will see images like this and not shy away from regional centres, and travel to see them instead of always going down to the south-east corner."
He said he received quite a few private messages from people saying they had never realised there were so many beautiful things in Rockhampton.
"They had never walked down these back alleys, or never looked at these buildings in the light I had showed, or even knew some of these things were there," he said.
"I have had a couple of people who have been encouraged to explore the city and go down these side streets, try and find these old buildings and look at these old memorials and get a feel for themselves of what Rockhampton has.
"It went in a direction I did not anticipate.
"I anticipated more of a 'those are some nice pictures and that's cool you feel that way', but the fact people are now going out to look at Rockhampton and see all the views it has to hold is amazing."
The journey over the past two years has been an interesting one and the blog evolved alongside that journey.
Writing about his life, the struggles and successes, was far better received, with more engagement and fitted with the way he wanted to Maintain the Rage.
"If Maintain the Rage is one thing, it is community," Mr Sondergeld said.
"You are not alone in anything you are going through, whether it is mental health, studying, parenting, working, or trying to juggle all of them at once.
"These are the struggles we all have to go through and Maintain the Rage has allowed people to open up and share their stories and swap with everyone else in the community."
Writing for his blog twice a week is not something he sees himself stopping any time soon as he says there is always something to write about, new things to try.
His advice to people who want to start their own blogging journey is to just get in there and do it.
"Have a real think about what you want it to be and what direction you want to head in, but don't be afraid to change that," he said.
"If you want to write a parenting blog and then find out half way down the track parenting is not what you want to do, don't be afraid to change direction.
"It's not because you are failing at a parenting blog, it's because you as a writer are changing and evolving. So, don't be afraid to explore new ideas or thoughts."
Check it out
Check out Luke Sondergeld's blog today at MaintainTheRage.com.
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