Don’t walk away, no matter what

The rate of separation and divorce caused by the stress of multiple pregnancies and births, especially in the first year are truly sad. It’s vital that if a family is to survive, Men more than ever, need to discover a way to endure, and subsequently step up to the toughest situation they will most likely ever encounter.

The strain of the arrival of one child can be enough to break a relationship In the early days. Marriages and partnerships fall prey to overwhelming resentment and fear. Sleep deprivation only fuels the flames of a stressful situation, as does rising pride and intolerance. And when a couple are struggling to cope, and anger and fear take hold at the centre of a relationship , It becomes an almost impossible situation.

Unless one, or both parents are able to pull back and open a line of communication, the wall is already in place, and can be incredibly hard to dismantle. The babies pick up on the nervous energy, become unsettled, and also suffer from the effects of an emotional instability under their roof. Everyone suffers.

As a member of a couple of multiple Dad sites. I can share with you one of the main pieces of advice given to expectant fathers, from men who have walked, and are walking this path,

‘Don’t get divorced in the first year, no matter what. Ride it out and see where you are when you make it to that point’

Gives you an idea of the seriousness of the event, and the emotional weight involved. It’s kind of scary to even comprehend what’s involved with multiples. To be in the middle of it is a whole different level of existence. And we are lucky to have three healthy girls. Our experience has gone as smoothly in that sense as it could go. Other parents have had a lot more to deal with than us.

When I began writing this blog it was simply to document my experience. Along the way my eyes have been opened to a sad reality. As difficult as it is for the parents, it is the children who will suffer the greatest from the breakdown.

It’s a common misunderstanding to point to an external situation as the cause of symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Even the children themselves are seen as the cause of a family failing. Sure, a traumatic experience can begin a cycle of internal conflicts and obsessive, destructive behaviours. But as big as some of those events seem,

Maybe it’s not so much the event, but the inability to meet it without becoming overwhelmed that causes the real damage and conflicts. How we meet these pressures in life determine which way they will tip us.

What a woman goes through to bring a child into the world is a huge mental and physical strain, men do not suffer the same which is why it’s our job to bring stability under our roofs, no matter what is thrown at us. Nothing is personal even when it seems that way, and it is going to get tough. So we need to be prepared.

We have to be conscious of of our situation. To be present and awake to what is happening and useful, rather than being constantly drawn into the negativity of it all, day in, day out.

There is always a underlying pull to retaliate with a loved one who is only struggling themselves. It’s when we are overwhelmed that we do and say things we don’t really mean, it’s usually from a place of fear.

So if a Man is able to step back when tempted to bite and react, if in those heated moments he can observe his own anger rising and not become affected by it. Then in that moment he can surely bring clarity and patience to any given situation during the day. No matter how big or irrelevant that moment may seem or how much other’s may be reacting.

Mum needs to know Dad can handle the situation, the family is counting on it.

I am in no way a man who doesn’t still get pulled into stress from time to time, But I have found a way to improve my home life through meditation. I don’t know a new multiple Parent who has time for therapy to talk about their problems at home. Medications as a way of coping only tend to make matters worse with depression. They just suppress the problems, the agitation continues.

The solution to recovering from depression and meeting daily stresses in the stream of life needs to happen quickly if a family is to thrive. When stress is met with grace, remarkable things happen.

Here’s a link to a 12 minute exercise that allows you to begin sharpening from stress. I hope you find this to be of use, if you can stick with it you won’t regret it, or will your family.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

The greatest gift I can give my children

Becoming a Parent has been life-changing beyond explanation. New perspectives shine with clarity, and priorities shift to meet a new purpose. There are also concerns for any expecting parents that arise concerning the world they are brought into. It is a mine field of corruption, dishonesty and temptation. It is also one of immense beauty, truth & light.

A path of love, courage, tolerance and virtue is one I hope my girls remain on. It is my role as their father to show them how to stay on that path. I hope from the many mistakes I have made in my life, I have at least something valuable to pass on. As It is those mistakes and failures as a human, once driven by resentment and a selfish spirit, that brought me crashing to a need to become a better man. Failure can become a great teacher in the absence of pride. With rock bottom came my personal opportunity to begin to learn.

It would be easy to make excuses for myself and my failings, rather than be willing to grow from them. Nor would it be much use to beat myself up continually for my mistakes. Resentment is just as bad when turned on oneself, it’s a trap that many never escape from. No one is perfect, but being entrusted as a father to four children and as a husband, there is much more of a need to move towards that ideal.

It’s a given that I will/do get things wrong.

There is much as a parent that I can do to contribute to my children’s foundation, that will be the difference between them struggling through life, and effortlessly evolving with confidence, without being affected by the harsh realities of the world around them.

I work hard to provide for them, to have a roof over our head, clothes to wear, and food on the table are needs my family require that must be provided by me. These are the basics. I want for them to have a good start in life. There are skills and knowledge we will pass on that will help them find their way in the world. There are also other financial commitments I will have to meet further down the road that will help them along.

But there is one thing that I can do that I believe is the greatest gift any Man can give his children. To show them how to forgive. To not resent the darkness in the world, or the mistakes and wrongs of others, or they themselves will make along the way.

I will show them a way to let go of anger. Whether it’s towards another or themselves.

With the ability to let go comes a freedom. Without harbouring anger and it’s debilitating mental and physical symptoms, a human is free to thrive, unaffected by the stresses of the world. I want my children to have this opportunity.

I have a job to one day prepare them for life beyond the comforts of a protective home. I can think of nothing more important to the wellbeing of themselves and their future than the ability to live free from the crippling effects of resentment. Life is stressful, it’s unavoidable.

It is a natural gift I lived without for decades, my inability to meet stress without it overwhelming me became the cause of all my problems. My Father was never shown, or his path would have been different. My path in turn would have been different. I eventually had to forgive him. It wasn’t his fault. People who are overwhelmed with life and the problems they encounter stop being themselves, they do and say things from a place of fear.

My ten year old daughter understands this. She is rarely effected by any negativity that comes her way. Because she knows forgiveness, and can see the truth of others struggles. It’s a powerful discernment and one I will nurture in all of them.

if love is the absence of hate, it’s my responsibility to show them this.

The not so immortal stuntman

As a kid I grew up watching Saturday tv shows like The A Team, and The Dukes of Hazard. My particular favourite was The fall Guy with Lee Majors. For one he had a cool truck, could handle himself in a bar brawl and did lots of stunts.

It was decided in my overactive mind back then as a child, I needed to be a stuntman. It was my destiny calling that I would jump out of moving vehicles, off buildings, out of trees and generally attempt anything that would put me at risk. I pretty much got started straight away.

Instead I ended up embarking on a journey of mental illness and alcoholism with a spattering of stuntman like victory’s and failures. Mostly just doing stupid things drunk. Problem was that when I was drunk I believed I was immortal, and when I had a paranoid schizophrenic episode as a late teenager It just reaffirmed I was immortal. And even If I wasn’t I didn’t care. I had a very up and down life.

In my life I have survived

Chronic alcoholism.
Abuse.
Mental illness.
A drunken trip through the heart of Mexico.
A drunken trip through south east Asia.
Drs prescriptions.
Broken bones.
Fights with men I clearly had no chance against.
Falling off high things drunk and breaking things.
A Scorpion sting.
Home tattooing.
A really upset gang member in New Zealand.
Home brewed sambuca.
Gallons of sugar cane spirit that apparently puts one at risk of blindness.
A year on a remote island with no alcohol, tv, phone or internet connection for most of my stay.
Psychiatrists.
Strange women.
Wandering drunk and lost at night through the project housing area of St. Louis.
Mescal.
Swimming at night naked after a shark sighting.
Beer Chang.
Snake wine.
Air Laos.
‘Dave the dirty anarchists’ brew of special brew and mushroom tea at Glastonbury festival.
A nasty stabbing incident.
Drunk skateboarding nights through the streets of Melbourne.
The sex in the city movies.

To name a few.

I never really considered my immortality until I reached my end with alcoholism and the person I had become. That led me to a much more peaceful existence. It was the only other road to take. And I am grateful that I made this far with just a few scars and bruises. Especially now I’m a parent.

Last week I was taken into hospital struggling to breath with chest pains, the second time in almost as many weeks. The X-ray shows an infection on the bottom of my left lung behind my heart. Now on a second course of antibiotics waiting for it to shift, being told to rest.

It has scared me a little, being unable to get on with my work and home life as I normally would. The realisation again that I am not immortal, that I do need to slow down occasionally, a stressful year may have caught up a little bit more than I anticipated it would. With a family now relying on me I have to take a step back now and again.

I’m not the car with no breaks anymore. And I’ve always learn the hard way.

A time for real music

As all is well presently with the bambinos, currently sleeping between 10 – 12 hours solidly each night, this post is a little break from them. Although it does concern all my children. It is about music.

My Dad was a busker, a very talented self taught finger picking guitar player. He also had a talent for song writing. So I grew up, never far away from the sound of a guitar. He believed he sounded more like Bob Dylan then Bob Dylan. So also as delusional as talented. I managed to develop a rather distorted ego myself as a musician in later life.

In short I loved music from an early age. I loved everything about it. The way it made me feel, the places it would take me and the story’s that were told.

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When I was around 5 or 6 my brother and I set up my Mums little record player. It was one of those old school ones, like a box,  with the speakers that detached from the top to expose that iconic turntable and needle arm. Next we pulled out a box of old 45’s (singles to you younger folk).

What followed changed the course of my existence, I made a discovery that would ignite a passion in me that is still burning like the glowing embers of an eternal fire in my soul.

I placed a record on the player. It had  ‘Jailhouse Rock’ – Elvis Presley written on it. I dropped the needle and with the crashing beat of the rhythm of the drums, guitar riff and powerhouse vocal, I lost my little ADHD mind. It was epic and I’ve never forgotten that moment, the wheels on the bus and the laughing policeman would never cut the mustard again. And so it began. My love for Rock n’ Roll.

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I soaked up everything thing I could, I especially loved my Dad’s old blues collection. From Taj Mahal to Muddy waters, when I was a kid the only devices we had were ones that played music. What a wonderful time that was.

I went on to teach myself the guitar, eventually learned to sing, got a crappy band together with some mates and absolutely loved it, the bands and myself did improve over the years. Music also became an escape. From my mind and my problems. That’s never a healthy thing to avoid reality. But there were times that distraction temporarily saved my life enough to get through a personal jam when I had no other means of dealing with things.

Music became a part of who I was. I’m now at a time where music is no longer a means of escape but simply a beautiful thing to be enjoyed, shared and appreciated.

Last night I read the news that AC/DC’s Malcom Young passed away. A band I have loved over the decades for their bluesy riffs and powerhouse vocals. It saddened me a little that another influence of mine has moved on. Last year there were so many, from Bowie to Prince.

These artists are from a different generation and time. I wonder what my girls will have to grow up with, musicians and songwriters who will stand the test of time and create more than superficial pop songs?  I hope so. I make sure I play them music from artists and writers that pioneered the way for others.  Songwriters and story tellers like Joni Mitchel and Jonny cash. Bands like the Beatles and the Stones. Artists like Steve Vai and Mozart, and of course good old fashioned Rock n’ Rollers like AC/DC.

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They may not like it as they develop their own tastes, they may think it’s old, crappy and not cool. But it may also ignite some passion to discover. And as a father who’s been carried at times by the music that surrounds me, at least I’ll be happy knowing I gave them some exposure to music that will never be lost, from a tiny moment in time that music was everything and changed so much, and will never leave a greater mark.

Temper-temper

Nothing is more destructive to a family environment than anger. Wether its a Dad’s inability to deal with his emotions with the stress of daily life , or a mothers impatience, There will be casualties.

Impatience, jealousy, bitterness, anger, annoyance are all forms of resentment. Even fear is just anger around events that are yet to happen. Everyone experiences that deal, getting angry with someone because we already fear they are going to let us down or fail us is just one example. Fear creates tension, the ripples effect everyone in a home. Children are more sensitive to it than anyone.

We live in a society in which anger is seen as a normal healthy emotion, it’s marketed as such, one to be managed. Think about the last time you saw red, or felt that agitation rise into your chest then that heat in your face as it overwhelms you. Heart racing, head boiling, Acting or speaking out in rage, bringing hell on earth. Only to experience the guilt and embarrassment after the event has passed, when you finally return to ‘consciousness’.

Looking at the damage anger brings I’d label it anything but a healthy emotion. The prison system is full of young men labelled with what is termed as borderline personality disorder. Are they sat there because they were unable to manage their anger successfully, or are they sat there because their anger is managing them?

Who really wants to admit that its a problem, and take an honest look at it’s effects on those closest to us. It’s much easier to justify and rationalise it as a just normal behaviour that ‘everyone has in a relationship’.

As recovered alcoholic I’ve been on the front line with men and women who’s family’s are destroyed by the real cause of all obsessive behaviour and internal conflict, unrecognised and suppressed anger. I’ve watched the relationships and marriages fail, the children suffer in the middle of it, the suicides, the chaos and madness. I’ve also lived and survived it.

I have also seen men and women establish a new order of things and begin to bring a spirit of patience to a home.

Alcoholics are an extreme example of where anger can take someone. But even the smallest attitude of intolerance can cause as much damage to a child’s environment.

As a parent now, raising a family I have even more of a responsibility to stay out of anger. No matter what goes on around me. Keeping my own council and remaining consistent and conscious is the only way I can do this deal. I cannot afford to throw my toys out of the pram and not expect it to effect my Family. My actions affect everyone under my roof. I cannot run to justifications and self pity as excuses for an inability to control my temper. Simply put it would eventually end my home life.

‘So what’s the solution’ ?

The solution to meeting stress without becoming overwhelmed by it is incredibly simple.

Not easy, but simple.

The solution to anger is to be able to observe it.  To be in a position to be able to step back as it rises during the day, without struggling , to just let it pass in that moment. To become conscious of it.

This only happens when we are awake to see it happening. So each time we are presented with an opportunity to react. In that moment, grace replaces a prideful spirit. Instead of stress digging at us, we sharpen from those moments.

There is no avoiding stress in the stream of life. But we do have an opportunity to strengthen from it. To begin to deal with life with a natural courage that comes from practicing consciousness,  rather than reacting badly and running from it. Family life can never be the same because of it.

The ripples of patience slowly replace the damaging ripples of intolerance as a result.

There is a specific type of meditation that brings this state of consciousness. It is a simple exercise that allows you to pull back from thoughts. To bring you back to the present moment, the only place anyone ever needs to be. The only place my family needs me.It’s complimentary, there’s nothing to learn or buy. No gurus to follow.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

It is a personal experience. One you may or may not be ready for. But believe me it is a game changer.

This is the guided meditation. If stress, anger, overthinking is becoming a real problem and you’ve exhausted other options as a solution, this may be exactly what your searching for.

You’re welcome.

 

Strengthening from stress

From what I’ve gathered from social media posts, today is World mental health day. So a good opportunity to land my post on the subject, and also offer an alternative solution to anyone who may be suffering.

As a parent, and someone who has been through some quite serious mental health problems, I have a huge responsibility to my family to be consistent. In my behaviours, my actions and my presence. I can not afford to be emotionally battered by the negative effects of stress day in day out, and still maintain an authoritative loving position in my home. My family count on me.

Children especially pick up on stress, It is an unseen force with horrible effects on the mind and the body. I have seen how unsettled my babies Become with any unbalance in our home. Even the health visitor is aware of the problems that stress can cause to unborn babies aswell as Mum’s and Dad’s. It is why It was so important to stay out of anger and arguments with my wife during the pregnancy. It’s one of the reasons she is still able to produce milk for them all. And one of the reasons they survived the pregnancy to arrive healthy.

being a parent is full of stressful moments, they are inescapable which is why these moments must be met with grace.

Not all of the suggestions I’ve read would be all that helpful as a busy parent. For example,

I get home from work tired, as it’s a physical job, I also work alone so need to be switched on throughout the day. As I walk through the door I am handed a baby and told with a loving grin good luck as my wife heads upstairs for a much-needed break. I walk into the front room and the other two are at a healthy volume.

As I sit with all three babies, Ava crying because she has a little bellyache, Lacey is just grumpy and getting louder, and Blakely is fine and not sure why she’s screaming but doesn’t want to feel left out.

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It’s on!

in that moment I feel a little heat rise to my head, Just from the sheer volume and pitch of the noise, and I have also misplaced my earplugs.

closing my eyes and imagining myself on a sandy beach, with cool waves lapping at the white shoreline is just plain silly, completely impractical and lets face it, nonsense as a real solution to rising stress. This is no time for fantasy away from the reality of the moment.

Nor do I have time to start chanting and pinging Tibetan singing bowls. My little chickens simply would not put up with it, besides –

A, they need a cuddle with Daddy, right now

B, I don’t have any Tibetan singing bowls

I need to remain calm for the sake of my little ones. so what do I do?

A few years ago a good friend offered me a way to live in the stream of life and sharpen from stress by way of meditation, rather than becoming continually overwhelmed by it. This is the most important practice I can ever do as a recovered alcoholic, more importantly, as a husband and a father.

It is not your usual self-help, self empowerment exercise. Far from it. But it is a way to become still, pull back from the stream of thought (we all have problems over thinking), and be able to observe our thoughts without being overwhelmed by them. The good and bad.

There are many situations and times throughout the day that the opportunity to react to stressful situations arise. If I am conscious from meditation in the morning, I am able to observe that temptation, rather than struggling, and getting taken over by it. I deal with life very differently now, instead of stress chipping away at me as it used to, I strengthen from those encounters. I react differently.

Its how i dealt with the stress of the pregnancy, it’s how I deal with my home and work life. Its how I overcame ongoing anxiety and depression. Amongst other things.

I pass this on, as it’s complimentary. There is nothing to learn or buy, no teachers or gurus or classes to sign up for. It is non religious. It is however spiritual in nature, and is not a toy. It can be a little uncomfortable the first few days as you begin to awaken, if you decide to commit to it.

If you are suffering from internal conflicts like depression, anxiety, over thinking, obsessive behaviours of all kinds,and these cause ongoing problems in your life this is a simple solution to that.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

(first thing in the morning, last thing at night)

As I said before this may not be for everyone, but if you are looking for a way to live differently, free from medication, free from the effects of anxiety/depression and stress, for the future sake of your family and your own mental health, you won’t regret it.

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From the mouths of babes

Occasionally, in between tales of sleep deprivation, which leave the mind verging on insanity, and cute photos of our triplets (and they are coming). I will be sharing observations, drawn from my experience that you may find helpful, or of interest as a parent. That may help them become better adults.

Or you may think it’s complete nonsense, in which case you are fully entitled to do so and disregard.

All children are born with a natural ability to see what’s what, and say what’s what without judgment or fear of offending. They blurt out some brutal truths at times. It’s actually quite a beautiful thing that is usually knocked out of us (hopefully not literally) , as we begin to grow up.

Sure there is a tact that needs to be mastered along the way, and most of the time just seeing the truth helps us make the right choices in the stream of life.

And truth is always truth, and  Children are incredibly honest, sometimes to the embarrassment and dismay of the adults. It’s safe to say my parents were at a complete loss with me from an early age.

It happened to me many times as a child with my father, and also with teachers. I would be honest, then I would get clipped round the ear for being honest. I learned honesty would get me in trouble. So I became dishonest to make my life easier. My moral compass was set off track almost from the beginning. So much so that I came to resent honest and well-adjusted people. It remained that way for many years.

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The world became confusing to a little me pretty quickly

A little while ago my daughter Frankie, pointed out that a girl at school was telling lies about her, and was instantly told by a grown up not to be mean about the girl.

My daughter wasn’t being nasty, or bitchy, or mean. She was pointing out something she had seen. She wasn’t judging but discerning. A big difference.

As grown ups we tend to miss things, or refuse to look at things that are of the utmost importance when it comes to raising confident, and less confused children.

Teaching children that being honest is mean, is not only backwards, but will cause untold problems for them as they head into the world.

They will lose sight of what is right and wrong. They will grow up harbouring resentments and struggling with their own conscious as they suppress the truth from fear of being a bad person. What an awful path to set them on.

Children are able to discern. The only thing that will snuff that gift out will be what we as adults , especially parents teach them.

I love my daughters ability to see the true from the false without judgement or emotional attachment to what she sees. It is that gift that will help her make intuitive, sound decisions in relationships and in life. I will help her nurture it as much as possible.

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A clear vision is what makes a journey safe.