Timberwolves at New Jersey…

It’s funny how people will come in and out of your life. They drift from one Dunbar number to next and often back and forth between the various different social groups in your life. If you are wondering what we are talking about you’ll need to go back to last weeks post and have a read. But it does help us lead into this weeks A Mind of Its Own, yep plug an old piece and get a segway into this weeks blog well played by us. Anyway, we used to have a mate and this week’s blog goes out to him. Yep we had a mate just one! I’d say he sat most of the time in between our clan and tribe level on the Dunbar matrix. He was never a really good close mate that we’d confide in but someone that we hang out with on regular occasion when we were younger.

We’ll call him Abe because it was the worst name we could come up with and he was often a bit of a knob to people in his younger immature years but who wasn’t right? Abe had this argument he’d bring up whenever he’d had a couple of beers and was well on his way to being obnoxious and annoying. The argument we’ve presented before but we’ve never really gone into detail and explained the why or how. So the premise of the argument is that it’s not a sport unless it involves a ball. Over the years it has provided hours of fun and conversation around the pub, club or bar as people try to disprove the theory that it’s not a sport unless it involves a ball.

Already the cogs are ticking away in your head as you think about so called ‘sports’ that don’t involve a ball. It’s at this point that obnoxious Abe would start shooting down peoples suggestions of sports left, right and centre. Like a gunslinger from the wild west he was first to draw and quick to blow a hole in his challengers arguments no matter how good a point they made that their sport was indeed a sport. It’s usually a lot of the individual sports that were the first to be shot down in flames. From there things progressed to some team based sports that even as sensible human beings we struggled to comprehend how they had become sports. But if it can be commercialised you can guarantee our allies in the US of A will have turned it into a money making scheme.

According to the definition, A sport is an activity that is competitive and athletic, and which requires some particular set of skills or physical abilities to be carried out. But good old Abe could never be swayed on his sports stance. The man even had a book planned but quickly gave up on the idea when he realised the title “Balls and All” was already taken and that he’d actually have to write it himself.

So what’s a sport, well the following is a list of some sports according to Abe:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Dodgeball
  • Football (Soccer, Gridiron, AFL, Rugby Union, Rugby League)
  • Tennis (Including Table)
  • Quidditch
  • Lawn Bowls
  • Lacrosse
  • Polo
  • Field Hockey
  • Bowling
  • Billiards
  • Cricket

The list goes on and there are so many derivatives of sports that we could literally list pages upon pages of them. But we aren’t here to talk about what is a sport we want to focus on what isn’t. If it doesn’t involve a ball it’s not a sport, plain and simple. What’s that athletics is a sport? No sorry it isn’t athletics is a bunch of life skills we all need and here is why. In the wild you need to be able to run away from big game so running is not a sport. Huddles is not a sport, when you are running away from the police you need to be able to leap over fences without stopping and high jump well that’s just even bigger fences. Javelin you say, nope another life skills that’s just hunting skills. Discus is just a heavy frisby, the only two athletics events that are actual sports are shot put and hammer throw. Yes the hammer is a ball on a chain a little like paddle tennis in your backyard.

Swimming is also not a sport and the most easy to argue. If you don’t swim you drown! It’s really a no brainer. Most water sports fall into the it’s not a sport category and can be classified as recreation activities. That includes synchronised swimming, diving, fishing, surfing, water skiing, wakeboarding or water pistol fights. Boxing, MMA, wrestling and any of the martial arts are not sports they are additional survival skills you may one day need when and if the zombie apocalypse comes or your country is invaded. Horse racing, motor racing and boat racing are not sports either they are activities, recreational or otherwise and none of them involve a ball unless its car soccer that’s a sport. The prevalent rise of gaming is also another recreational activity that is not a sport even if you are playing a sport on the screen.

We then move on to all the adventure sports like rock climbing, base jumping, hang gliding, street luge, white water rafting or kayaking, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, kite surfing and anything else that has a high likelihood of injury are all not sports. Rock climbing like tree climbing is something you did when you were a kid, cliff diving with or without a parachute is just silly. Laying on a skateboard and flying down a hill is also not a sport and something you did when you were 12 years old. The rest all just fall into recreational activities or modes of transportation.

Then there are those sports that just become questionable like hockey, played on the field it’s a sport, on ice the argument becomes a little dodgy as it’s a puck and not a ball however many a bar brawl has almost started over this one and apparently it is a sport because the ball was originally used however some genius came up with the idea to slice it in half as it travelled better over the ice. Over the years the ball was just flattened down into the puck we now know. So Abe’s argument on this one is that it’s just a squashed ball. Badminton is another questionable sport but again it’s a ball shaped object with wings a little like the golden snitch from the Harry Potter invented game of Quidditch, which has geeks running around on broomsticks across ovals all around the globe.

Anything that requires firing a weapon that was once used to kill other humans can not be classified as a sport on the premise that if it kills it’s not a sport. Archery, shooting, ice skating are all hunting skills and help put food on the fire when the world goes to shit or you just don’t have time to make it to Coles or Woolworths. Like fishing is not a sport, if you don’t catch a fish you don’t eat. What’s the saying ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime’ It’s a part of the survival skill set that we all need to have in our lives. Heck you can combine it with as many other activities as you like and it still doesn’t make it a sport, yeah we are calling you out Biathlon, skiing and shooting has been done to hunt and kill in snow covered countries for centuries that doesn’t make it sport.

Dancing is something that you do in nightclub and therefore is not a sport even when you add ribbons or some batons and call it rhythmic gymnastics. Even when you throw in a pole and the man or woman does some acrobatic stuff on the pole and gets paid money to do so, it’s not a sport despite the guy having balls. And there’s another group of activities that aren’t sports. Gymnastics isn’t a sport either, except for that one floor event where they throw the bowling ball around that’s a sport. The balance beam, rings, uneven bars, trampoline and other floor events are all things that belong in a circus or a children’s jungle gym. Some of those skills could be used for survival though. Another so called sport to rise over the past decade is CrossFit and even the smart people here at A Mind of Its Own question whether that’s a sport.

We’ve decided that CrossFit is not a sport unless there is a medicine ball carrying event that is the only portion of this so called sport that is actually a sport. The rest is a bunch of fitness fanatics jumping over boxes, lifting weights, climbing ropes and doing all the things the military seem to do. To take it one step further it’s not a sport but do people try and classify bodybuilding as a sport? We know there is a lot of doping in professional sports but professional modeling competitions where you need to look like a triangle seems to have more Anabolic Steroids than the Bombers medical unit before James Hird was sacked. It’s a peptide party and only Essendon are invited but the coach didn’t know a thing about it… Hmm we think not!

As you can see there is an argument that can go with every example and if we wanted to we could take up a lot more of your time with what isn’t a sport but we’ve provided you with some of Abe’s best examples of what isn’t a sport. The man has an argument or come back for every example of a sport that he would have declassified from being a sport and the whole Idea started over a beer or two which funnily enough has now become part of a sport that has its own world championships. And yes ladies and gentlemen it’s a sport, Beer Pong the sport in which drunk men and women throw, you guessed it a ball into plastic red cups to make the other team get drunker and drunker. Run out of cups on the table and you lose. It’s a simple sport but nevertheless it is a sport.

Abe has been arguing for at least the last decade and no doubt has started a campaign or two for the rights of real sports. The problem though with Abe’s argument is that a lot of real sports are starting to die. With our interconnected world more and more children are staying inside and playing video games or chatting away to friends on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or any other online instant messaging system available. Heck even text messages are instantaneous these days unless you are on network Vodafone oh noooo. But in all seriousness, where did the kids go that had great imaginations and would play outside for hours on end until they were called inside for dinner. Oh that’s right the world changed and creeps roam the streets praying on women and small children like the monsters of myths, legends and fairytales.

So no matter where you fall on the great is it a sport debate, just remember the words of Abe the great. If it doesn’t have a ball it’s not a sport, if you can drive it, ride it or kill with it, it’s not a sport. The great sport debate will rage on throughout drinking holes around the globe for years to come. The Future of sports is unknown but we’ll no doubt see more and more technology involved in our favourite sports. From drones for viewing to GPS and heat mapping of players movements around the sporting field to no doubt robots taking the place of humans at some point in time throughout the future. It’s a scary new world for sports, those with balls anyways.

Yet another chapter to be filed away in the A Mind of Its Own chronicles. As the sun dips beyond the horizon on another day we’ll close this blog by saying the following. If you are a professional athlete and have taken offense to this because you don’t have a ball in your sport, take it up with Abe you can find him at the Raiders club in Canberra. The gungahlin one just FYI, for those looking to spark up the great debate over a beer or two and a slap on the pokies. I hear he’s a big fan of Where’s the Gold these days! On that note and the no doubt several calls we may get from Abe we’ll say goodbye and wish you all a pleasant week wherever you may be in this wonderful world.

Oh and if something doesn’t make sense there is a good chance Google can answer it for you, it’s helped us to research a lot of the things we write about here.

Things We Lost In the Fire…

After last weeks foray into self-help books and people not being able to be themselves or needing to wear a mask to the world. We thought we’d dive a little deeper into the study of evolutionary anthropology and look at one of only a handful of men who have a number named after him. Once we’ve done all that we’ll attempt to make light of why we struggle when presented with so much choice and why our choices often lead to what is more commonly known as the ‘fear of missing out’ or as the kids tend to say these days FOMO. So as we kick of another week of A Mind of Its Own we welcome old friends and new friends alike to yet another addition of Australia’s favourite blog. The country just doesn’t know it yet…

Being a topic that has piqued our interest us for quite some time now we thought it was only prudent that we lend our hand to spreading the message that is the study of evolutionary anthropology and psychology. It’s only fitting that we start with the man that introduced us to some of the studies that captured our imagination. It was Mark Manson who pointed out Professor Robin Dunbar and his now famous number in a talk he gave about his most recent self help book ‘Everything is F#cked’ that he gave at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The team attended as part of our exploration into the self help world and it’s so called gurus. (See previous blog for more context around the topic). So who is Robin Dunbar?, What is the Dunbar number and how did he come up with it? All will be revealed below along with some of our own observations, calculations and salutations.

Robin Ian McDonald Dunbar, born 28th of June 1947, for those that are into Astrology he’s a cancer, yep a crab. The man hails from our motherland, yes England and we wonder whether he’s ever thrown out the convict title when referring to all of us in the land down under. An anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist by trade he specialises in primate behaviour. However when asked what his research is all about Professor Dunbar usually responds with the following. He’s written multiple books on psychology, evolution, anthropology as well as scientific and research journals. Been interviewed on several occasions regarding the Dunbar number as well as had several people try to disprove his theory only to come back to the magic number around 150.

“My research is concerned with trying to understand the behavioural, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates (in general) and humans (in particular). Understanding these mechanisms, and the functions that relationships serve, will give us insights on how humans have managed to create large scale societies using a form of psychological that is evolutionarily adapted to very small scale societies, and why these mechanisms are less than perfect in the modern world. This has implications for the design of social networking sites as well as mobile technology. We use conventional behavioural and cognitive experimental approaches, combined with network analysis, agent based modelling, comparative studies of primate brain evolution, neuroimaging and neuroendocrinology to explore explicit and implicit processes at both the dyadic and the group level. An important feature of our behavioural studies has been the constraints that time places on an individual’s ability to manage their relationships, and the cognitive tricks used to overcome these”.

So how did he come up with the Dunbar number and what is it? There is a complex answer and a simple answer to what is the Dunbar number and if you read on well explain how Professor Dunbar came up with it. But First things first. The Dunbar number, what is it? It is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust and obligation. There is some personal history and not just names and faces. That’s the simple answer, the more complex answer goes a little something like this. The way our social world is constructed is part and parcel of our biological inheritance. Together with apes and monkeys, we form part of the primate family. Within that family there is a general relationship between the size of the brain and the size of the social group. We fit within a pattern. There are social circles beyond it and layers within it but there is a natural grouping that averages around 150. The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, you’d invite to a large party. (In reality, it’s a range: a hundred at the low end and two hundred for the more social of us.)

From there, through qualitative interviews coupled with analysis of experimental and survey data, Dunbar discovered that the number grows and decreases according to a precise formula, roughly a “rule of three.” The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face. While the group sizes are relatively stable, their composition can be fluid. Your five today may not be your five next week; people drift among layers and sometimes fall out of them altogether.

Firstly, it’s a little confusing as there is no specific number actually assigned as the ‘Dunbar number’, as previously stated above however 150 is a common number which is associated and the answer as to why will become more apparent as we explain how Professor Dunbar came across his numbering during a study. As to how the study came about well thanks to our cousins in the animal kingdom. Yes primates, whilst working on why primates spend so much time grooming each other he wanted to test a hypothesis that says primates have big brains and the reason why is because they live in a complex social world. Grooming being social, he hypothesised that all these things should be able to be mapped together. He started plotting brain size, group size and grooming time against one another in which he came out with a nice set of relationships.

According to the good professor, he had a light bulb moment rather early one morning around 3am where he wondered what would happen if he plugged humans into the study. After doing so he got a number of 150 connections, on first glance it looked implausibly small given that most people now live in cities. It turns out the number was the typical size of hunter gatherer societies. It was also the average size of a village in the Domesday Book (A manuscript record of the “Great Survey” conducted in much of England and parts of Wales in 1086 by order of King William The Conqueror).

The number turns out to be much the same when you have better data available. An example of this is parish registers in the 18th century. County by county the average village size was once again 150, except for Kent which was 100. Professor Dunbar has no idea why it is smaller but hypothesized that perhaps there was a higher density of people with bigger brains in Kent throughout the 18th century. Unfortunately the records available can not prove or disprove this theory. A quick google search though did tell us that the population in England exploded throughout the 18th century which is contrary to the Dunbar number and the parish records that state the average size of the village was 100 people.

The professor further hypothesized that the number most likely dates back to the appearance of anatomically modern humans around 250,000 years ago and by going back in time and estimating brain size we can see community sizes on the decline. Through evolutionary strategy we evolved and adapted as a social species. Most animal species aren’t as intensely social as humans, apes and monkeys. They tend to pair up and mate for life unlike primates, who whilst they tend to mate monogamously it’s not always for life or the same partner. We guess the lesson behind that is there is something computationally demanding about maintaining close relationships over a very long period of time as we all know.

Ok so when we started out on this little exploration into the Dunbar Number we were under the assumption that it was a number based on connections you could have in your life, which is correct but we being the A Mind of Its Own team thought it was a little simpler than it has turned out to be. Like most topics we tackle it’s just raising more and more questions but slowly the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to create the picture. So before we wrap it up for another week, we’ll answer two more burning questions and for once try to tie it all together in a nice neat bow for you, rather than leaving it ambiguous and unfinished as we’ve so often done.

The first of the final two questions is can we grow the Dunbar Number? Again there is a simple answer and complicated answer. In modern times we are caught in a somewhat of a bind as community sizes were designed for hunter-gatherer type societies, when people weren’t living on top of one another. Days gone by your 150 would be scattered over a wide area but everyone shared the same 150. It made for a dense interconnected community that policed itself. You didn’t need lawyers and policemen. If you stepped out of line you more than likely had granny to answer to. For the last twenty-two years, Dunbar has been “unpacking and exploring” what that number actually means—and whether our ever-expanding social networks have done anything to change it.

The problem we face is the sheer density of people, it stretches our networks rather than keeping them compact. Most people will have friends scattered around the world who don’t know one another. This in turn means we no longer have interwoven networks, therefore leading to less well integrated societies. So the question now becomes how do we recreate that old sense of community. That’s a social engineers problem that needs to be worked around. The alternative is that we evolve bigger brains, they’d have to be much bigger and that would take a long time.

The second of our final two questions actually started out our interest in all this and we have written about technology and whether it has killed off social interaction on several occasions in the past. What role does the internet and social media play in the Dunbar Number? Like an onion there are multiple layers to this question. Can you have meaningful relationships online with the old number of 150? Well the answer is yes according to Professor Dunbar. Using the example of Twitter, we can find out what you had for breakfast from a mere tweet. Can we really get to know one another better though? Digital developments have helped us to keep in touch when in the past a relationship might have died through distance of various other circumstances, however due to our biology in the end we actually have to get together to make a relationship work.

As humans we still rely heavily on touch and as hard as the crazy science guys have tried we still have worked out how to do virtual touch, perhaps when we cracked that big nut it may lead to a true Dunbar Number? The last and final piece to our puzzle is where does choice come into all of this? Living in an interconnected world we have an abundance of choice at our fingertips. We have everything we could possibly need at the palm of our hands. Every aspect of our lives can be managed from a device and for every aspect there are multiple choices. If we look at social media and the amount of connections people have on average, most people would say they have more than the average Dunbar Number. Most of the A Mind of its Own team certainly have more than 150 followers or are following 150 people whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the other social media platforms.

Ask yourself this question though, out of all those people who you follow or are following, how many of those people do you truly trust and feel an obligation towards to maintain your friendship. We can guarantee you that number won’t match the number you follow or thought. You may be able to arrange them into the various patterns of Dunbar Numbers but there will be some that float in between groups. So here’s our take on the whole Dunbar Number, the internet why the world is so ridiculously F#cked at present. Whilst many people will blame social media it was the internet that ruined the world. We (Humanbeings) thought that by providing each other with as much information as possible at our fingertips the truth would float to the top. That’s not the case our brains aren’t developed or evolved enough, if you will to compute that amount of data and work out whats fact from fiction.

The internet has provided us with freedom of choice when it comes to deciding what’s truth and what is a lie. The fact our thinking brain and feeling brain can’t make an educated decision due to the amount of data available has led us down the garden path in more ways than one. Unsubstantiated facts have have become the truth for many around the world as their feeling brains take over and that fact whilst not having any truth or in most cases science behind it, it now becomes their truth and the knock on effect is that each time they relay that fact if becomes more and more the truth they believe. Give someone too many choices whether it be selecting one festival to attend out of all them across a year, you are guaranteed that person will have some from of regret or FOMO.

In societal aspects this can be related to dating and the rise of online dating platforms like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish and eHarmony. The fact that divorce is on the rise, polygamy and polyamory are now both acceptable in society leads one to believe we now have too much choice when it comes to finding a mate. In a society of swiping left and right, we no longer base our connections on more than just looks and are we truly getting to know people? An example of this are the boys and girls who are seeing multiple people at once as they can’t decide on just one person through fear of missing out that someone better might come along. Again we have too much choice and aren’t making the strong connections we would have made back in the day before we lived in an interconnected world. In relation to Dunbars numbers a lot of these people would start in the acquaintance group and depending on whether a relationship developed or not they could move up or out of the larger number.

On an even deeper level, there may be a physiological aspect of friendship that virtual connections can never replace.

So as we gift wrap this latest blog for you we can sum it up by saying, the internet killed the world and gave rise to anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and a lot of the internet’s other whack jobs. It’s responsible for providing a platform or soapbox to every man and its dog to play their violin and whinge their woe is me story. Or spew their hateful rhetoric across the internet. Whilst we are more interconnected than ever, we are not as interwoven as we have been throughout history and therefore our Dunbar Numbers stay relatively the same. Social media and internet dating sites and applications have given us too much choice and therefore we are not happy with the choices we are making. People no longer try to work things out due to this and sexually transmitted infections, apparently people didn’t like catching a disease are on the rise in 1st world countries. So all in all as Mark Manson put it, “Everything is Fucked” until next week do some thinking and work out who your 5 are. We know ours.

“Words are slippery, a touch is worth a 1,000 words any day”.

Love The Way You Lie…

We all have a past that’s the thing we need to understand, we need to work through and sometimes more than not we need to move past. That’s the thing about the past though it’s in the past, it has already happened and unless you’ve found a way to bend time and travel through it into the past there is not a goddamn thing we can do about it. What we can do though, is live in the gift that is now and make it so great that we have a grasp on what will become of the future, what we can do is make the most of the now as it will greatly impact what the future holds for us. As many a great philosopher and scholar has written we are able to mould the future to an image that most suits us, most suits our purpose.

With all the self help books and gurus in the world you would think by now that someone would have written a survival guide for getting through the day to day. We all experience things throughout our lives. Pain, death, loss, trauma, you name it and you will no doubt experience it at some point in your life. You’ll try to fix what you think is wrong with you or wrong with your life through various different means. You might try to fix it through reading the latest self help book about boosting your confidence or being a better person. Or opening up to pain, opening up to new ideas, new ways of thinking, a new you as all the guru’s books and bloggers will tell you and make you believe. Funny how a little bit of marketing can make you pick up a book, read a magazine and more importantly make you want to improve yourself.

Here at A Mind of Its Own we are all for the betterment of oneself and we encourage learning but does that need to come at the cost of who we truly are? Do we need to change who we are? Do we need to become someone different, someone we really aren’t or is it more a case that we don’t like who we truly are as a person and therefore are always searching to become a better person, a different person, a person that is as far away from our true self. A mask if you will to the public, a front that is put on to hide the real you, the one that stares back at you in the mirror that you lie about because the truth might just hurt you a little too much to accept. Where are the self help books that talk about that, that talk about how it’s ok being yourself and not needing to change.

Scouring the internet we searched and searched for a voice of truth, a voice that would say it’s ok but what we found were that people even the writers of these self help books don’t want to be themselves they found an excuse to believe in their own spin, their own hyperbole. Don’t get us wrong we’ve read our fair share around the office and the closest we’ve got to actually accepting some of the self help is Mark Manson. His style of writing and spin on the self help industry is somewhat refreshing in the fact he basically tells you not to give a fuck subtely. In his most recent book he tells us everything is fucked so in terms of telling it like it is he the closest we’ve come to someone telling us that its ok to be who you are and that things won’t change but here’s some tips and techniques on how to get around it all.

With social media and blog post everyone has become an expert on giving out advice about what and how people should live their lives. Every second person will give you their opinion on what you should do if your life falls into a heap, which books to read, which podcasts to listen to youtube videos that helped them get through a tough time in their lives. They tell you what you should eat, how much exercise you should do, how you should look after your mental health and the lack of educational degrees they have. Oh wait they won’t tell us about that as that would result in less followers and we couldn’t have that. Add to this we have the ramblers.

The social media ramblers who lives are posted across the internet and feel the need to document their entire life as well as telling you what you should be doing to be your best self and get yourself into that frame of mind to become that person you really want to be. These are the people that tend to flip and flop from one cause to another. They go through life bouncing from one place to another with little understanding of who they are and what they truly want. But they have a place in the self help guru guidance arena. Again, opinions are like arseholes everyone has one and the internet has allowed everyone to voice theirs.

So when someone writes the perfect self help book which is to tell everyone that it is more than ok to be yourself and that you are going to have good days and bad days, it’s called life. And life ladies and gentleman is always going to test you to make sure you know you are alive and that you will not be able to float through it, you will have to fight and sometimes you’ll have to get bloody both physically and mentally. You’ll want to give in from time to time but you’ll push through and you’ll actually learn a few truths about yourself that you hadn’t expected to learn or even knew about yourself. Had life not happened and you were forced to take a path and not know what could have happened would have learnt these lessons and things about yourself? Chances are highly unlikely.

After writing most of this blog we sent the team on a mission of exploration to watch the self help guru himself Mark Manson give a talk around his books and the inspiration and research that goes into writing a book for others. If this was a newspaper we may of had to write a retraction and eat our words. After reading his books and diving further into the research behind them it’s quite quickly apparent that the man has a good handle on the fact that life is F*#ked. It’s what you make of it right? We’ll yes and no, a lot of it has to do with psychology and the way we react to things that happen. A lot of it has to do with how we were raised, some of it is even genetic but what it all boils down to is the fact that as human beings we aren’t necessarily mentally equipped for the 21st century and all it has to offer.

We’ll talk about it a little more in next week’s blog but a lot of it has to freedom of choice and living standards alongside the fact that we now live in an interconnected world. All of this creates a social anxiety in which we aren’t often prepared for or know how to deal with on a day to day basis. We only see people on their perfect holidays, with their model girlfriends, having babies, buying a house or car and living out the lives in front of everyone else.

So we asked some hard questions of the team in an attempt to understand why we lie to ourselves and those around us, particularly when we’ve gone through something life changing. Something painful, soul crushing, soul destroying that changes us to be something we aren’t, someone we aren’t and wear a mask to the world. A lot of us choose to run, to hide and further mask our pain and discomfort with the world but for what benefit? A few minutes, hours or days of relief from the pain? Whatever it may be we all choose the path in which we walk and how we choose to react to a situation or event in our lives. Who’s to say it’s right or wrong other than you, we all decide what’s right for us in that moment but if we are going away from who we truly are at some point we’ll call ourselves out on it.

Or we’ll fall too far to save ourselves and become confused with what is reality and what is a lie. We’ll no longer wear the mask but the mask will wear us. We will have become that person we were trying so desperately to be instead of the person that we are because we are either scared of ourselves or so insecure in our own skin that we feel we need to be someone else altogether. By now we are just rambling but the point is this, throughout our lives we will all do it at some point, whether to impress people or make ourselves feel better. The key is to not get lost or entrenched so deep in the lie that it starts to become your reality and something that is far from the truth.

Just so you are aware this is not a self-help blog or the beginnings of a best seller this is and always will be A Mind of Its Own, a blog that will tell you all about the things people don’t want to tell you. We’ll write about the hard stuff, the political stuff, the down right dirty stuff and yeah from time to time we’ll provide you with some advice. Whether you choose to take it on board is up to you. The things we write and the opinions expressed throughout these posts are ours and ours alone. We will always try to be fair and give a voice to both sides of the story in order to let you make your own mind up. That’s part of the reasoning why we started A Mind of Its Own, we wanted to give a voice to the people who don’t have one and the topics that people would prefer are swept under the rug and not discussed.

We are a little public service announcement that no one really wants but everyone really needs. Our readers come from all walks of life and all have their own stories to tell. So when it comes to self-help and wanting to better your life. Leave it to the psychologists and people who have been to university to take advice from when it comes to bettering yourself. As for diet and exercise advice we also recommend you take it from someone trained not the local instagram lady who looks good in active wear who stole her program from her trainer and is now selling it for likes on the world wide web. We might often be a cynical bunch over here but we say a lot in jest we just feel strongly that things should be left to the professionals when it comes to matters of mental health and health in general.

So we’ll leave you for yet another week and remind you that next week’s blog will flow on from this weeks as we dive a little deeper into the psychology behind freedom of choice and how modern life gives us way too much choice that we just can’t cope with due to our brains not being able to process all the information we provide it. But that’s a story for next week’s a mind of it’s own. For now we’ll leave you with some lyrics from Passenger and wish you all a great weekend. Look after yourselves and take it easy hombres. From all of us here we wish you all the best in your weekend endeavours and make sure that if you decide to misbehave make sure you do it well. Ok peace out…

“When I was a kid the things I did were hidden under the grid, Young and naive I never believed that love could be so well hid, With regret I’m willing to bet and say the older you get, It gets harder to forgive and harder to forget, It gets under your shirt like a dagger at work,The first cut is the deepest but the rest still flipping hurt,You build your heart of plastic,Get cynical and sarcastic And end up in the corner on your own. Cause I’d love to feel love but I can’t stand the rejection, I hide behind my jokes as a form of protection, I thought I was close but under further inspection, It seems I’ve been running in the wrong direction”. – Passenger – The Wrong Direction.

She Wants My Money…

Another week and another dollar into the taxman’s pocket. Speaking of tax it’s that time of year where we look at what the government took from our pays shudder a little, palm our faces and start a return in which they no longer make it easy for you to claim the minimum amounts back without receipts. And so the saying “you’ve got to spend money to make money” becomes true because if you want a good return you need to have some things you can claim back. The team here are just hoping to get a return and not a bill this year…

Speaking of taxes the world has gone a little mad lately with equality taxes in the business world. As always we’ll provide you with some examples and to be honest we are not for or against them but it did get the old rusty cogs in the noggin beginning to turn as we thought about the future ramifications that movements like this on the small businesses level could have and furthermore is it actually helping or just doing more damage to society and the future generations who will need to attempt to fix any damage that is done.

Where to start, well let’s just put it out there, we are all for equality and believe that everyone should be treated equal. It would certainly make the world a better place for everyone. So when we take matters into our own hands and decide that we are going to put in places taxes or rules against one portion of society it doesn’t make us any better than the group that was originally being suppressed and so the vicious cycle continues over and over never to be settled. Society just hasn’t learnt and perhaps it’s human nature for one group to rise up and hold another down.

A cafe in Melbourne recently started charging men more for their coffees in an attempt to bridge the wage gap between men and women. Whilst we don’t have an issue with this and are quite happy to be charged an extra 50 cents to a dollar as long as the coffee is good that is. You can start to see that there would be those who would have an issue with it and surprisingly it wasn’t just men who had an issue with it. Women were against this particularly when getting a coffee with there husband before work or during the day. The extra charge to there bill was unexpected and when explained to them it was essentially a “man tax” there were a few deeper conversations had about the total of their bill.

Another example was a festival company in the US who decided to charge white people more for their tickets. Essentially it was a white person tax. Several African American performers spoke out against this sighting it as “racist” and threatening to boycott the festival altogether unless they made ticket pricing the same and equal for everyone. Safe to say the event organisers are seriously looking at a change of heart around the “White Man Tax” but for the time being if you are white or have a white persons name you will have to pay an extra $100 dollars on top of the already expensive $300 ticket price for the two day festival. Again we question the sanity around this decision and why you would want to insight further divide the community.

Whilst we support movements, ideologies, religious views as long as they are not against gay marriage or the community and peoples opinions. As we’ve stated before though opinions are like arseholes everyone has one, some people two. Freedom of speech is encouraged, ranting on social media is encouraged, heck standing in the street holding a sign is even encouraged but what’s not encouraged is people thinking their opinion is more important and valuable than others. That’s not showing equality or being equal with your fellow human beings. It raises more questions than we actually have answers for at this point in time. What it is doing, is pitting women against women, man against man, same sex partners against same sex partners, communities against communities and so on and so forth.

As we scoured the internet for further information and articles on equality, gender pay gaps, racial equality, religious equality, hell any equality we could find we did come across several articles questioning whether we were going too far the other way. One article sighted that we are now being unequal towards stay at home mothers. Or women who leave the workforce to have children. Unfortunately women are still the only ones able to give birth and yet there is a stigma around women who are on benefits choosing to stay at home and look after the child or children. The stigma then tells us that those mothers then have further children to keep those benefits coming and often find skeezy men who hang on their coat tails for said benefits.

Now before anyone gets upset this all came from an article written by a woman, yes a woman and titled ‘Has Feminism Gone Too Far? Or Will We No longer have a place for Mothers in Society?’ by Olga Levancuka. While Feminism is the fight for women’s equal rights, the article questions whether this has backfired as much as it has in the last decade. To quote the article, the women in question are those who want to work, and don’t mind to be equal…but once they decide to have children, they just want to be a stay at home mum. Not the most respected respected task among the career minded professionals, or amidst the men who are tired of being the workhorse for the preservation of their offspring and expectations of their not so distant future where the kids fly the nest and they are left with neurotic, controlling women who have lost their positions of strength with the children gone.

Often what used to be considered caring rather than controlling is now directed at their husbands. Men, given that they have finances coming in, are still in control, often feel free and do divorce the women who fail to become anything else but mothers. Alas, their maternal services not only are no longer required, they are also suffocating to the male who wants to feel manly and respected. Instead their balls are constantly grinded and are blamed for related and unrelated misfortunes to the mother in question. As a result, many men or sons of such men, stay further and further away from the desire to marry. As for women? Women stay further and further away from the perspective of being married and with children.

Is there something, perhaps, the feminists or people fighting for women’s equal rights neglected? Perhaps the right to be a mother? Or is the situation worse for the women who want to be equal and have kids? In a sense that men no longer treat them with a required gentleness and only see them as a restricting harness for their future life? It is no longer a secret that the UK’s demographic would be in shatters just as Japan, Italy and other countries, if not for their high birth rate among their immigrant community. The majority of which are either on benefits or their women do not have as many rights? Or perhaps they are not even interested in equal rights, given they do just want to be a stay at home mums and they expect, yes expect for men to be a provider and always a provider.

Meanwhile more men use the excuse of feeling pressure that she just wants marriage and children, should they have a desire to break up. The article further sights that women are scared to be genuine about their motives in the relationship. It’s not they just need a male for love and a relationship. Biologically women are programmed to give birth. Though lately, it seems to be a punishable desire. While on one side, the campaign for women’s rights is flourishing, women, on the other side are drowning in confidence issues. If they don’t get married and have children by 38, the apparent age of desperation, has been pushed so much further, there must be something wrong with them.

Just while the feminists were fighting for equal rights, men had found an opportunity to fight for their freedom. Why commit when you can have your cake and eat it too? We reached out to the author of the article for a comment, she has yet to respond to the team but reading through some of the feedback on the post their was both positive and negative feedback from the majority of female respondents. Another article in the Irish Times published on international women’s day by yet another woman and titled ‘Feminism has become obsessed with victimhood’ the articles author goes on to speak about how Feminism has turned inward and she feels it is disempowering women because so much of it is speaking about what women can’t do as opposed to what they can do and what they have achieved over the past decade.

It seems that in the last decade the push for Gender equality has out shadowed and in some cases overtaken the push for equality in core areas of basic human rights. Religion still often shadows over gay rights. War crimes and atrocities shadow over the basic needs for food and water. And at the core of all of this we are still battling with each other equality but pushing one side of the equation down while the other rises up and takes the place of the oppressor rather than suppressed. But why?, Do we stop and question that at all? Do we stop and ask ourselves why we are trying to swing equality back the other way rather than wiping the slate and building a foundation on equal footing, together, men, women and children.

So when we look at adding taxes that single out one demographic of our community we are no better than those who have come before us and created inequality in the first place. It made the team scour the internet in the search for further evidence that it’s a need of people within society to create inequality. A thought provoking paper written in 2017 by three Yale scientists argued that is not inequality in life that really bothers us, but unfairness. According to the paper over 10,000 papers have been written around “inequality aversion”, people seemingly have a natural aversion to inequality and there are plenty of laboratory studies to back it up. In said laboratory studies when people are asked or subjects as they are often referred to in studies divide resources among unrelated individuals, they tend to divide them equally.

If a previous situation has led to a pre-existing inequality, people will divide future resources unequally in order to correct or minimise the inequality between others. It’s seen as a moral good when resources are divided equally and often express anger towards those who benefit from unequal distributors. Even studies done with children showed they would rather throw out additional items than have them distributed unequally amongst the other children even if the other children would never find out about the unequal distribution. So if kids and work out the whole equality thing why can’t adults and why can’t we bring the laboratory studies into real world application.

A recent study by Norton and Ariely received a lot of media attention that people underestimated both the amount of inequality in society and prefer a more egalitarian society to the one they think they live in. The summaries were accurate, all participants in these studies did prefer more equality than the current situation. The results also suggest that they were not particularly worried about large inequalities. Subjects claimed that in a perfect society, individuals in the top 20% should have three times as much wealth as individuals in the bottom 20%. When given a forced choice between equal and unequal distribution of wealth and told they would randomly be assigned from the richest to the poorest group, over half of the subjects explicitly rejected the option of equal distribution.

So the data would suggest that when it comes to real-world distributions of wealth, people have a preference for a certain amount of inequality. This preference materialised in a study conducted in 16 other countries across people from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. So how do you go about reconciling the studies with the real world. One politician tried that by promising to close the wage gap altogether not just between men and women but between on all sectors and roles by bringing everyone down or put to around the $70K regardless of the role you perform or how many years you went to university to obtain a degree to doctors. We could just ensure that everyone doing the same job is paid the exact same regardless of age, sex, race, religion etc.

Perhaps in our generation we will never see true equal rights across around the globe nor will we see equal pay but we are working towards it and we are working at ensuring a brighter future for everyone but that will take everyone and if we are too busy squabbling rather than trying to help each other there is a certainty, we will never achieve any equality whether it be gender equality, wage equality, age equality, you name it we’ll not see it unless we work together. But until we can put the past aside we’ll continue to go around and around in the vicious circle we are currently caught in where one group rises and pushes another down so they feel what the other has almost like a vicious revenge.

So we’ll close the door on yet another chapter that certainly took on a mind of its own as we looked at taxes, implementation of taxes against certain groups within society and then went on to discuss equality or lack there of in our society and try to explain why it happens. Unfortunately we don’t think we accomplished anything we set out to do but hey it isn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last time. So as we bid you another farewell all we ask is that you be a decent human and as the kids say, you do you as it seems to be the thing to do lately for all people in this world. So without further adieu adios amigos until next week…

Shredding The Balloon…

Many people have asked why the space between posts as the team was well on track to deliver one blog a week for the year. Well to be honest the team pushed themselves to the extreme the last couple of weeks and really found their limits both mentally and physically. What is something that they normally wouldn’t consider doing the team decided to challenge themselves and raise a little cash for a good cause at the same time. Enter the Oxfam Trailwalker Series. A bunch of hikes designed to raise money to combat poverty around the globe as well as test those participating in the walk.

To start with the fundraising model is actually quite smart ensuring that each team raises a certain amount of cash before they do the walk. Not to mention the entry fee you need to pay as well. So before you even start the walk you need to come up with $500 and once that’s done you need to raise $1600 before you can actually start walking. Anything on top of that is a bonus and the more you raise the more things become accessible to you. Like what you ask well to start with there’s names instead of numbers on your race bibs, the opportunity to have your own portaloo at each checkpoint, the chance to win a GPS device for your team. Oh did we mention it was a team based charity walk? Well it’s a team based event consisting of 4 team members which we’ll introduce to you over the next couple of chapters.

With two options in length, of the walk people! Come on we aren’t talking about wood so get your mind out of the Bunnings catalogue. It was only natural we’d pick the longer of the two as our superman complex kicked in and we saw a need to prove a point to the doubters in our world. So straight off the bat the 55km was scratch off the list and 100km was signed, sealed and, hopefully delivered. By the end of this blog you’ll see whether we actually made it or not. Now to pick a team of suitable pundits to embark on this silly journey with. Here’s where the hilarity ensued as we tried to screen suitable candidates. Our criteria wasn’t as strenuous as some of the interviews we’ve attended in the past consisting of two main criteria.

The first being that they need to be able to at least make the majority of the distance, the second being that we needed to be able to put up with them for an extended period of time up to 48hrs. So with the hunt for team mates well under way it wasn’t long before we filled our first slot. For privacy reasons we’ll call him the ‘Legal Beagle’, part super lawyer, part dad, he was an easy pick for the team given his natural fitness and ability to entertain with his random fun facts. He is often referred to as Captain Google in close friend circles. The Beagles analytical nature and want to win all the time made the number pick in the draft to walk with, pun possibly intended there we aren’t 100% sure.

As the weeks dragged closer and closer it looked highly unlikely that we would be entering the walk as the Beagle and Boss struggle to find the third and fourth members of their team. No foursome meant no walk and no walk would mean, well they would both have a weekend to do whatever they damn liked without having to stress out about how they would make it through 100kms of walking. As other teams grew around them the twosome wondered whether they would indeed to the walk. Alas someone heard their pleas and came to their rescue. In the aid of what would be two unlikely heroes we’ll call them the Receptionist and the Accountant fitting names to round out the team.

In what sounds like a group of misfit vigilantes ready to keep the criminals off the streets of Brisbane the team of walkers were formed. Each one brought something different to the team, each one had a unique character that would come out and entertain the others at some point during the 100km walk. There would be moments throughout the walk in which they would need to lean on one another, draw strength and most all encourage each other to continue putting one foot in front of the other over and over again until they reached the finishing line. So with the team now assembled, they began training, well the majority did the Boss was a little busy re-living yesteryear on the hockey pitch and isn’t the biggest fan of early mornings walk around a mountain.

Lists were made, provisions purchased, maps read and supplies stockpiled. Many a review was read about the best shoes, walking poles, power gels, hydration and packs before they were purchased and apartment tested for the big day. So back to the two newest members of the squad the receptionist well he’s a character all in himself. He’s a contradiction of a man who loves fine things and yet has hippyish free spirit about him that fights with his want to be rich and have nice things. The accountant on the other hand seems to like to have a little bit of fun, enjoys a drink or two but has his head screwed on. So while the Boss frolicked around the hockey field the rest of the team trained most weekends in preparation for the walk.

With two of the team having already attempted to complete the 100km beast, there were no illusions about how hard it was going to be. But there is a difference between knowing something is going to be hard and actually experiencing just how hard it is. Which was a lesson that all team would learn over the of the 2nd last weekend in June. They would each have a different build up to the day but they would bind together once they started on a journey that would be mind changing and mind blowing well for some of them, that’s the thing with experiences and journeys everyone takes something different from them. They walk awaying with something that is everlasting, always a memory that they can reflect back on in years to come.

As the morning dawned the team were all up early and preparing to take on the challenge as best they could. Running late the Boss and the Beagle missed breakfast after planning a Maccas coffee and McMuffin but instead had to settle on a petrol station sausage rolls and pies. Discussing this down the track with the Legal Beagle it may have led to some complications for the Boss during the walk which provided the team with a lot of laughs throughout the walk but we’ll get to that later down the line and no doubt introduce you all to the wonderful world of walking. Walking you say that’s easy well that’s what our four friends thought before that buzzer sounded at 8:30am on Friday the 21st of June.

The team were a little delayed and ended at the back of the pack with plenty of people to wade past on there way to the finish line. This was due to the receptionist come Team leader giving a command despite the teams questioning of said command. So they finally crossed the start line and began a game that would last all day and through the night. Little did they know this game would actually spur them on and lift their spirits at the lowest of times throughout the walk. Along with the Boss’s need for a tune or two about walking or with walking lyrics and they were set with fun and games. If you throw in the Legal Beagle’s love of a good statistic or knowledge dump about science then they had the entertainment portion of the walk covered.

Set in amongst the national parks and reserves of Brisbane’s Mt Glorious, Mt Nebo and Mt Cootha the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker is like being on a stairmaster for 24 hours straight well at least that’s how it’s been described to us. Taking a look at the topographical maps we can see that there are a fair few hills to ascend and descend along the route with some dramatic changes in altitude as you start your walk through D’Aguilar National Park and wind your way towards Lake Manchester but before we get there we’ll give you an insight into the mindset and bodies of the team as they trek to waypoint three which is just under half way (45km). To start with the team were setting a cracking pace between the startline and checkpoint one walking a very decent clip of 6km p/hr.

Making their way to checkpoint two they were still setting a reasonable pace and had worked out they were faster up the hills than going down them. The minds were still strong and the legs were feeling great, spirits were high as they entered their second checkpoint for the day passing by a happy volunteer dressed as Zorro, with a foam finger motioning them towards the checkpoint, well we think it was Zorro but then again dehydration may have started to set in. They could fill up on water, get some food and recharge for a couple of minutes before setting out on the trail again. It was at this point that things started to get interesting for the Boss and hilarious for the rest of the team. Just a kilometer past the check the Boss started sweating profusely, yes the hills were strenuous but this was something else entirely.

Gut cramps wreaked havoc as he staggered along the trail. His team mates a little concerned at the amount of sweat pouring out of him. Finding a tree he urinated relieving some tension on his stomach but it still wasn’t enough another 500 meters down the track and he was wrench with more gut craps. Within seconds he was on the side of the track pants around his ankles releasing the demons from within. The nausea and pain he’d been feeling were now replaced by the pungent smell that covered the ground below him that he quickly tried to cover up with biodegradable baby wipes after cleaning his bottom. Oh and you thought this was over it was the beginning of what was dubbed the “Gascapades” and a severe case of swamparse. Feeling better well moderately better he trudged on with the rest of the team embarrassed and ashamed of what he’d just done.

With checkpoint three insight and the legs starting to tire, blisters and bruising starting to grace their feet the team strode into the checkpoint well ahead of the time they thought they would. The dinner was the best thing they’d had to eat in a long time and who would have thought a simple tuna pasta bake could taste so delicious. The Boss had rekindled his love of Tuna and the team were energized and ready to continue what was now starting to feel like a vietnamese concentration camp death march. Three BBB cream was applied to prevent chafe and aid those who already had chafe, massages were given, blisters lanced and water refilled. Off into the night they set head torches lighting the way as they stumbled towards the finish line.

With tired legs, chaffed arse cheeks, blistered feet and a range of other ailments the team found the second half hard going but surprises were a foot and swamparse, so was the methane power needed to get them up and down the hills. As they crossed a small creek a slithering friend reared its head as the accountant stepped right over it, kicked it and then ran for the hills while the receptionist decided to play Steve Irwin and attempt to flick the snake away. The rest of the team skirted around it as quickly as possible before the little slithering snake could take a chunk out of them or poison them. Although at the time they were probably hoping the snake would bite them and put them out of their misery.

Checkpoints passed and water packs were refilled filled, delirium began to set in and the Boss was not making a lot of sense as they stumbled along into the darkness. Foot after foot they continued minds and bodies fighting with one another. The body slowly getting ready to keel over at the first possible option and assume the fetal position. The mind willing on the body to finish to reach that finish line to cross the pain barrier and achieve something that people didn’t think they could or would achieve. As morale dimmed they leant on each other to provide a boost to the team that was sorely needed. Along with the cuppa soups and hot chocolates the sugar boosts were helping push the team along.

With the sun beginning to rise they climbed the last peak of the hike. The excitement grew knowing that once they reached the summit it was all downhill into the finish line. At least they could all roll downhill to make it home. According to the team whilst there was excitement that they were going to make it to the finish line and actually walk 100km in under 24 hours there was still the pain and ongoing internal struggle. Silence washed over the team as they ascended the peak and descended down the other side. A euphoria washing over them as they saw the finish line below, the green of the inflatable line like the lushest grass they had ever seen and actual grass. The shoes would be coming off and the wet grass felt between their toes.

Twenty three hours and twelve minutes later they had completed a course of 100km that wound up and down mountains, across creeks, over uneven terrain, having to use ropes and deal with both physical pain and mental pain including blisters, chafing, bruising and muscular cramping. When asked later what the toughest part of the walk was most of the walkers would agree it was the mental fight with themselves. The internal struggle of whether to give in to the pain or put one foot in front of the other and continue on. Whether to keel over and just sleep where their body fell the cold engulfing them as they rocked themselves to sleep. Literally what happened to most of the team once they made it home and had a shower.

So as we tally up the walk on an individual level there were over 25 litres of water consumed, over 8 sandwiches, 8 coffees, 2 cuppa noodle soups, 2 energy gels, half a box of glucose tablets, 5 muesli bars, a couple of bags of lollies and two bowls of Tuna pasta bake with croutons. That’s how much food was consumed on an individual level by each member of the not so funny titled team of Four Guys one Trek, some may of eaten more than others and some may have had more gut cramps and had to the crap on the side of the trail more than others. They had made it! The physical pain was over for the time being until delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) kicked in a couple of days later. They joy and elation felt as they crossed the finish line mixed in with other emotions.

As we close this chapter of A Mind of Its Own we take our hats off to the boys and the effort to raise some funds for a good cause and soldier on through 100km of torment. Those physical and mental pain barriers that were pushed through, the self doubt, the self loathing and self chafing. Well done guys, it’s an achievement and one done in a great time with a great bunch of blokes who pushed each other through to the end. If you are looking for a challenge and a good way to raise some money we recommend you look into doing this or just jump on a stairmaster for 24 hours straight.

Boys On The Docks…

Welcome back, we are halfway through the year and on track to deliver you another exciting piece of writing. We think we’ve finally found the answer to why those Mexicans south of the border are officially the worst. Aside from being the home of great coffee, Australian Football and Australia’s underbelly of crime. So slowly you are starting to get a picture of why Victorians are the worst Australians. We say that in jest having lived there for a short period of time however and it would go against all our morales to tar everyone who lives down there with the same brush but we just can’t escape the evidence mounting up against the southern state of Australia.

You know by now the team here like to read and we like to be as up to date on recent events as possible. We are big fans of free press and appreciate a good investigative journalist article. Hence why when we were doing a quick social media scan an article on Vice caught our interest. The guys over at Vice have been doing some of the most hard hitting, insightful and explosive journalism for years now. They are the guys that will bring you the pieces that people don’t want to know about but will read and left wanting more at the end. So getting back to our mexican friends with a little help from the lovely folks at the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). We were quite interested in a couple of reports written by the commission regarding waste water. You heard right wastewater and we bet you didn’t know they were testing your toilet water for drugs.

Might make you think twice about what you are putting in your body as well as what goes down your toilet. But then again if you are putting things into your body that aren’t really meant to go in their then you are obviously not too worried about what’s coming out of you and going into the sewers beneath our cities. So let’s backtrack as the sampling of sewer water has us intrigued and we wonder how long it’s been going on right under our noses or in this case our arses. And just FYI they are only testing the water not your poo. Why don’t we start from the beginning because after all every story needs a beginning, middle and end. We have the end, that’s the toilet water that contains all your drug infested urine and feces but where did it all begin? And no we aren’t talking about the jungles of Colombia or Peru, or a caravan in some trailer park with a pill press or myth lab in it.

We are talking about the waste water testing scheme. Starting in 2017 the scheme tests wastewater. The studies and results are shared and sponsored by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. Now in it’s 7th iteration the reports ran twice a year provide ACIC with a wide range of information regarding the drugs and alcohol being consumed and used throughout Australia. The program provides statistically valid datasets of drug use and distribution patterns across a large number of sites in capital cities and regional Australia, which are being used to build a comprehensive and increasingly detailed picture of national drug consumption. That last sentence was directly lifted from the ACIC CEO’s forward in the report. The aim of the reports and the data obtained is for ACIC to explore how they can use the data in the long run to combat the war on drugs.

What statistics are pertinent to the average everyday joe blow aussie you ask? Well considering the report covers over 54% of the nation, roughly some 12.6 million Australians, wastewater has been sampled. Spare a thought for the poor men and women who had to stick a vial in the shit infested wastewater to get a sample. That’s a job I don’t think we would want but someone has to do it. The statistics will surprise you, well we think they will surprise you, we were certainly surprised by some of the statistics. Surprised but not shocked because let’s be honest the war on drugs is somewhat of a failing. Governments try to fight the cartels and syndicates across the globe but at the end of the day money speaks to those in power and corruption riddles every government from the lowest levels right through to the top.

Here in Australia whilst we are somewhat lucky to be so isolated from the rest of the world, we also have our friends in the five eyes community to help us fight the war on drugs. From our customs and border protection teams to our navy patrolling the waters in which we are surrounded right through the police working at the street level working to stop the spread of drugs. We guess the teams at ACIC are also involved now with their shit water samples and universities who test said samples to see what Australians are shoving into their bodies on a daily basis.

There are 25 countries involved in sharing data from the wastewater and well guess what ladies and gentleman our fine land ranks quite high on the list despite our isolation from the main continents. When it comes to beating everyone we may as well be last because like Ricky Bobby said, “If you’re not first, you are last” and well ladies and gentlemen we only come in 2nd behind the US for combined use of stimulants behind the United States and well they are on the doorstep of Mexico who we all know love some feed and cocaine so they should be first. So what’s our excuse oh and if you wanted to know our number most used stimulant of choice around the country after alcohol and tobacco which we all know are both legal is Methylamphetamine.

After Meth its cocaine followed by MDMA so really that isolation isn’t helping us but keep in mind we are number out of the 25 participating nations, most of which are European and Canada. So if you included South America and Asia we may not rank as highly but we still take a lot of drugs whether that started out as band aid solution for people and morphed into a full blown addiction or you got caught up in the wrong crowd. Or you just do them recreationally when you are out and about or to relax from time to time, the long and short of it not is that your toilet water is now being tested and given the scientific advancements of the last 5 years it won’t be long till they can track it right to your toilet and the arse that drug residue came from.

Looking at the states it safe to say that our friends in NSW, Sydney in particular are paid too much as they seem to be doing the most Cocaine, while South Australia took out the Methylamphetamine award,Tasmania does the most MDMA, Northern Territory does the most MDA, the dirty mexicans aka Victoria has the highest consumption of Heroin, Tasmania make the list for a second time with the highest consumption of Oxycodone. The banana benders and South Australians share a love of Fentanyl. Northern Territory gets a second hit with it’s people consuming 5-7 cigarettes on average a day and if you are looking for who consumes the most booze stay in the top end because those mother fuckers love a drink in both their capital city and regional areas. Sorry for swearing kids, out bad.

We aren’t done yet, the South Aussies love the Mephedrone better known as Bath salts, drone, M-CAT, White Magic and meow, meow. We had to google its a synthetic amphetamine. New South Wales and Queensland share a love of synthetic psychoactives in Methylone recording the highest averages. And once again the South Australians love a bong or joint or two recording yet another high in the intake of Cannabis. Safe to say that Australia is a country that likes to sample a variety of legal and illegal drugs. Our cities tend to do the majority of them but the regional areas aren’t too far behind.

What can we take away from this little insight into Australia’s drug intake? South Australians love drugs, Sydneysiders do a lot of blow and Queenslanders love prescription drugs and well the Northern territory loves cigarettes and drink. The two really go hand in hand and big tobacco would be loving life should the industry not be in a steady decline already due to killing hundreds of millions over the centuries just as alcohol has. The only difference is they are both now regulated and heavily taxed in most countries but particularly ours. One thing the report doesn’t go into detail about is how law enforcement and the government are going to combat the war on drugs with their new data and information.

We did get some sweet acronyms out of the report though and a new love for the people that come up with these acronyms. Like SCORE which is short for the Sewage Core Group Europe, the group of countries that wade through their peoples wastewater to come up with the results for the continent. Which are then shared with the other participating countries who also share their shit and piss results contaminated with drugs. The next report from the ACIC is due out in the 3rd quarter of the and we are hoping that it’s just as fascinating the last seven reports have been. Will there be an increase or a decline across the states in drug intake will South Australia still be a hotspot on the map for drugs and alcohol?

We’ll have to wait and see and no doubt we’ll keep you in the loop and our friends over at Vice will no doubt have something to say about it all. We are always interested in seeing what our fellow Australians are doing along with the rest of the world when it comes to all things illegal. We’ll watch on with baited breath as we wait for the results and research the next steps to the war on drugs. It’s been one of the more interesting topics we’ve looked into over the years since we started A Mind of Its Own and we are appreciative of the fact that the ladies and gentleman over at Vice brought the ACIC report to our attention. We hope they continue to enlighten us and provide the intelligence needed to combat the war on drugs.

Below is the link to the ACIC wastewater report as promised by us:

https://www.acic.gov.au/publications/intelligence-products/national-wastewater-drug-monitoring-program-report

If you are enjoying the blog please leave us a comment or hit us up on social media, we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and yes we don’t mind shameless plug every now and then plus besides you our fine fans, how are we supposed to spread the word and grow the following for A Mind of Its Own and bring you more and more pieces that fill the void in your week and allow you to escape. Yes we know its not the same for everyone and that we each have our reasons for reading this fine blog but we know that for most of you it’s a little bit of a time waster and we enjoy writing it for you.

As we close on what has been yet another piece of time wasting, toilet reading material we’ll leave you to think about the ACIC report on your toilet water and the drugs. Until next week we’ll leave you with a riddle, what black and white and read all over? Yeah you know it, you know the answer and it’s a great place to start if you want to understand what’s going on in the world. There are plenty of things we are always unaware of until we read a paper or watch TV, most of the time the details are polished over. The world around us is full of education and answers you just have to open your eyes, ears and most of all your mind. So without further deliberation we wish you a warm week and you’ll no doubt hear from us again shortly.

Everybody Here Hates You…

A rant to end all rants… to every Chief Executive Officer, that’s ever collected a bonus bigger than $500,000 dollars we urge you to pay attention, not yourself (pun intended). This week we looked at the wonderful world of the high powered corporate CEO. The team went undercover as employees of an IT firm and attended several Business Updates and meetings to really gauge how much influence these million dollar men and women really have. Yeah most of them are men, how’s that for quality, that’s not a tick box that’s getting checked very often at the top of the corporate ladder when we are all about empowering the females of the world. Still often very much a boys club up at those lofty heights of the ivory towers. There is a reason the saying isn’t shit flows uphill.

Sitting in a CEO roadshow talk we wondered why he would feel the need to talk about buying a car with cash and not needing to test drive it or paying for first class tickets for his son to fly to Europe in a room full of people where some of them may never get to experience first class or pay cash for a car. Furthermore to discuss how much money the company has in the bank and yet put a hold on pay increases to the staff seemed a little careless and somewhat insensitive to us, but then again we were imposters in a room full of disgruntled employees who were too afraid to voice their frustrations and complaints to a man who seemingly managed to get paid his bonus every year. Was it fair no, did he work as hard as the staff who ensure the profitability and existence of the company probably not, did he deserve his bonus definitely not but did he get paid his bonus? You betcha he did as do all good CEO’s when it comes to getting their yearly bonus.

Nevermind the already large salary they take home every year for steering the ship in the right direction they’ve earned that inflated salary just like they’ve grown their massive ego over the years and that sense of entitlement. They’ve worked hard and kissed a lot of rings and arses to rise to their lofty position. Don’t forget the careers of others they brought down in flames over the years so they can rise above the proverbial ashes as the hero the company needs. These are all stereotypes of the narcissistic men and women who hold down the position of Chief Executive Officer. There are no doubt many, many more but are they at all true and how many people had to work under the reign of a narcissistic CEO? Well if you asked the writing staff here who have all held down a corporate gig at one point or another throughout their lives they’d say a lot of them are true and there would be plenty of disgruntled staff in the workforce across the country.

Hitting up our old friend Google we thought it best we did a little research into what it takes to climb the corporate ladder in most organisations (The legitimate way without knifing your fellow employees) and what makes a good CEO. We didn’t have to go far before we came across an article in the Harvard Business Review. Being one of the top business schools in the world it is surely a reputable and well written article one would assume. But as all good mothers teach us “Assumptions make an Ass out of you and me” so we were relieved when we began reading through the article that it was factual, well written, evidenced and therefore reputable. It pointed out there has been a longstanding link between narcissism and leadership as pointed out by both Schopenhauer and Freud and many others over the years. The article went on to point out that despite the fact that self-aware and humble individuals make better CEOs companies continue to hire Narcissists steer the ship.

With facts pointing out that narcissism has been on the rise for several decades now which to put it plainly means that the world we live in is becoming increasingly self-centred, overconfident and somewhat deluded. These increases seem to also appear more exacerbated among leaders since those in charge of judging leadership potential often mistake confidence for competence. Which raises the question of how much of the blame should be shouldered by society and how much is on the individual for creating this inflated sense of ego and narcissistic society we find ourselves in. According to the Harvard Business Review there is a natural tension between peoples selfish and prosocial drives. They then related humans to hedgehogs in winter. Apparently we need to get close to warm up bet when you get that many hedgehogs together it can become a little prickly.

The tension between our desire to get along with others and our desire to get ahead of them represents a fundamental conundrum of human affairs. The main role of leaders is to manage this tension within their teams. A lot of this is done through their authority, vision and higher sense of purpose. The idea is that a leader provides a meaningful mission to the group that erodes the individuals selfish instincts.Thereby everyone works towards a common goal in this instance it is obtaining the companies targets for the year. The more profitable the company is the more it should equate to cash in your back pocket. It never does though so don’t get too excited and start buying that new car or planing that extension on your house.

What you can take to the bank though is that when it comes to company performance there is more of a likelihood of you being retrenched than the CEO not taking home his bonus ending in six zeroes for the year. Speaking of retrenchment there will no doubt be some creative accounting to ensure that bonus as well. We’ve often questioned what goes through the minds of the men and women that run multi billion dollar companies. Do they empower their staff or do they micromanage down to the fine details? What we’ve found from our research is that you will often get a mix of the two. They will however have a stronger leaning one way or the other which will become apparent when they are either hovering over your desk or have one of their cronies doing it for them.

If walls could talk we are positive they’d have some stories for us that would almost be unbelievable but unfortunately with hollywood bring to light some of the worst things CEOs have done throughout history. Nothing is unbelievable these days nor is it a stretch of the imagination to see someone like Kevin Spacey playing the role of your current boss’s

Boss. Maybe we are being harsh towards the men and women that run the companies that keep the global economy churning over and over. Maybe it’s hollywood that jaded our view of the corporate high flyers. In one recent Gallup study conducted in the US of more than 7,000 employees over 50% had resigned from a job because of a bad boss or CEO.

Several articles pointed out that the pay gap between the CEO and the average employer has increased significantly since the late 1950’s often to the point where the CEO has taken home the average employees salary within the first couple of weeks of the new financial year. And they question why there staff think they are corrupt and greedy, so maybe it isn’t just Hollywood that’s painting them in a bad light. I mean when employees read things like that or start to question why they can’t get the tools or support they need to be successful in their roles and yet there’s money in the budget for the CEO to fly away on some junket.

Of course the more greedy the CEO the more the investors, stockholders and higher level executives get in their pockets but it doesn’t necessarily translate to employee satisfaction when the higher ups are lining their pockets and the employees who are doing all the hard work are struggling to make ends meet. On top of that the only thing they seem to care about is increasing revenue to increase their pocket change. It’s a world that most of us will never understand and more than likely never be a part of. Whilst we don’t like to judge what we do like to see is the little guy being given a go from time to time. We in every sense of the word a fan of the under dog. The typical Aussie battler, the guys and girls who actually make the Australian economy tick over those are the guys and girls we support.

So where did we land on the CEO’s of this world? Well we are sure that outside of the office most of them are good people. But in the confines of the work environment there might be some who are supportive and all about their staff and growing the company while the majority are quite possibly on the other end of the spectrum and only care about making cash and don’t really care about how it’s made or who they have to step over to make it. That’s part of the reason they make it to the top, they have ambition, drive and motivation to succeed and the narcissistic part of them will do whatever needs to be done to get to where they want to go, they won’t mind stomping on a few people as they climb the corporate ladder a few rungs at a time.

At the end of the day everyone is different and every CEO is no doubt different, there will be good ones and bad ones and no doubt some ugly ones. There will be the greedy ones, the needy ones and the downright dirty ones we guess you could say they are a lot like partners. You’ll like some, love some and absolutely loathe some but it’ll all depend on how much you enjoy your role and how much you are willing to take from the money men. It’ll be a slow climb but if you want it enough you’ll get there and that salary will increase over time. Maybe not to the level of your CEO but enough to have the future you want and deserve. After all the key to happiness is ensuring that you have just enough to get what you require. After all too much is waste and not enough leaves you scrabbling month to month to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head. It’s all about earning just enough to provide for your family and live comfortably.

If you ever get into a position of power remember this blog and remember to look after the little guy. Remember not to be a jerk and money hungry. Empower your people, give them what they need and be humble. You were once in there shoes and once had the exact same thoughts about your CEO so don’t be that guy or girl. Just be the person you wanted your CEO to be when you were working. Be the good guy or girl that people always knew you to be as you were coming up through the ranks. That’s all people will every ask of you, that you are true to yourself and true to them. After all as the saying goes, the truth will set you free and pretending to be something or someone you are not will not instill a lot of faith in your leadership abilities with those looking up at you from below the ivory tower.

They say money is a killer and literally things that lead to money have certainly killed a lot of poor souls over the years. As have the men and some women who have been in charge of large operations that run money or make money. Heck even leaders of countries can be viewed as CEOs who are often corrupt and megalomaniacal to the point of being needing to be retired early by some special forces team from a foreign nation or overthrown in an internal power struggle. The common thread here being that most people in power have a narcissistic streak within them that makes them feel like they are kings of the world.

So whether you want to stand at the top of the ladder or bottom and peer up while shit flows down you will no doubt have to deal with a CEO at some point in time throughout your life. There’ll be layers in between but quite often they will be just as bad as the CEOs above them. So as we close yet another chapter in the Mind of Its Own chronicles we’ll leave you with this little tidbit. Not all people are the same and you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover. These are all part of life’s lessons though and you’ll learn them for yourself. You’ll also understand a lot more, the older that you get about how the world works. The little ins and outs. Until next week, take it easy, look after yourself and as the kids say. You do, you!

Ghost Man On Third…

Well ladies and gentleman, we made it through yet another election period and like Steven Bradbury we’ve seen the Liberals come from behind to retain their seat at the head of the kids table. There was no doubt a party or two thrown on the taxpayers dollar on that very saturday night as Scomo and his cronies celebrated their win over Shorten and his anti-vaxxer friends who wanted to screw over the old retirees and take more of their hard earned cash in taxes. Taxes that they’ve paid for over 45 years of their lives working hard to provide for their families. Now in the twilight years of their lives one would think their contribution to society is well and truly paid in full.

Anyways we were damned if we do, damned if we don’t with either party, at least this way we might get a little bit more back in our pockets each month. At the sacrifice of the environment says the little angel sitting our shoulders. Again we are damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Moving on from Australia’s failing political scene, there’s some good news and some bad news this week. After nearly 3 years of coastal living the team at A Mind of Its Own are moving back to the big smoke. We are heading back to Brisbane to a new base of operations deep within the urban jungle. We’ll still be the same old blog that loses it’s way like a sidetracked conversation but we’ll be in the thick of it and have a few more things to write about in our sarcastic sense of style.

So what do we write about this week we asked ourselves as we stared around the bullpen at each other wondering who had the best idea for a blog. Is it the weird foot fetish guy idea or the drunken banter that blokes say. The what women want, the what women need or the inequality women face on a daily basis. Or should it be the hope that we all need in our lives to get by. With so many ideas tossed around it became a struggle to sift through all the things that could and more importantly should be written about. Like a lucky dip we threw them all in a hat and waited for someone to come along and draw out this weeks lucky topic. We left that choice outside of the bossman’s hands due to the rather dark gloomy cloud he seems to be carrying around with him wherever he goes lately.

And the winner of this week’s blog goes to (insert drum roll in your head please ladies and gentlemen) Observations of Life… Ah yeah what the hell is going on? Isn’t every week an observations of life and where have you guys been we hear you asking? You are absolutely correct the whole idea of the blog is a weekly observation of something in life. Well we decided to go to a place called Hiatus, no it’s not a physical place but a place where our minds often go to recover and recharge and reset to prepare for what is to come for the rest of the year. It’s also where we disappear to when our actual jobs that pay us get in the way of running this blog and our other extracurricular activities. While we were on Hiatus though we able observe people around us and how they went about their lives, the little intricacies and random things that people do without even thinking about doing.

As we strolled around the boardwalk along the Brisbane river soaking in some sun after what has been an unseasonably cold week for usual warm north of Queensland. We watched the people going about their lives on a Saturday morning. Our first observation was that we truly do live a multicultural society. A nation founded on immigration yet still so subservient to the bigots, racists, misogynists and scumbags that seem to hold the power and run the country. In a country where we voted and yes we did vote ‘YES’ for gay marriage we are still so intolerant towards the LGBT community. We walked past a couple walking with their little boy and we warmed by the love and compassion shown by both men towards their son. It also didn’t hurt that the little man cutely said on que as we walked past “Not you dad, you dad” pointing to his other father.

With the markets on down by the Powerhouse there was a cacophony of people of all ages, races and sexual orientations. For a minute we were reminded that this is what life should be like. Families, Friends and strangers all intermingling as they go about their mornings procuring their produce or wares from the vendors of the market. For a minute we forget that the world outside this little place is a hair trigger away from imploding into yet another war, man made disaster or total chaos. As we look around it’s easy to forget all that. Just looking at the news on is reminded of just how badly the top of food chain has done over the centuries since we stood up straight and walked out of our caves. For the smartest species we are actually quite dumb and moronic in our approach to life and others around us.

Whilst we might be able to create technological masterpieces for some reason we are never able to treat each other with the respect, compassion and overall decency that should be afforded to one another. We sat for a coffee watching the people around us, yeah a little creepy we guess but who doesn’t love people watching? A couple of older gentleman were sitting around sipping their coffees and discussing all things life. They reminded us a little of why we write this blog to create a voice for those that don’t have one or to talk about the topics that no one wants to talk about in today’s politically correct society where someone is bound to be offended by someone else’s opinion. We’ve said it before though opinions are like arseholes everyone has one but have we gone too far? Is there really freedom of speech anymore these days?

A question for yet another day that we’ll try and tackle without offending someone or everyone although that is quite hard in an era of outrage porn and woe is me. But enough digressing back to our observations on life, love and religion. Ok no love or religion they are two topics frowned upon by the editor whenever he reads these blogs. That’s to say unless it is something he’s written to outline how harsh the world can be. Sitting in the car later that same day we listened to Mark Manson’s new book, Everything is F*#!ed, the message of the book hit some of us harder than others. Ok hit the big guy driving like a sledgehammer to the face as he started weeping uncontrollable at the realisation that he too was going through a “Crisis of Hope”. Yeah it is one of those self help books we recommend you read and pretty much available anywhere there is an internet connection or bookstore.

So with the kleenex out and the blubbering died down to an acceptable level where we could once again hear the rest of the audiobook we continued to listen while trying to relate or empathise with our lives. It’s funny how as humans we are the only species with the ability to be able to do that. Able to relate to someone else pain or happiness, able to put ourselves in someone’s shoes that are not our own and feel for them the emotions they are feeling. Empathy it’s a weird and wonderful thing that allows us to produce emotion, they call it active empathy but there are a lot of people in the world who must have inactive empathy as they can’t or choose not feel for other people. They could also be known as narcissists possibly, maybe, ok yeah definitely…

Our day of observations was leading to more questions than we had the answers for, it was one of those days we would end up staring into the foam of our latte and pondering the ins and outs of the world. Would we question the writings and observations of those that have come before us, damn straight we will as Albert Einstein wrote “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reasons for existing”. And so we question everything because we aren’t done learning. The day we are it’ll hopefully be the day our husk of a body dries up and the consciousness transfers to the next vessel to continue the journey and learnings of the world. Deep we know but sometimes you have to get a little deep in thought to find some of the answers you are looking for.

Are we rambling this week, chances are quite good that we actually are but in the spirit of getting something out to the public from time to time you just have to go with what’s in your head and this week it was all about observing our fellow humans from the mums pushing strollers and prams through the shops (Yeah no idea what the difference is) to the drunk abusing people on the sidewalk and the little old Asian lady struggling under a mountain of bags, one things we all have in common is that we all have a story to tell. Some of those stories may have similar or relatable pieces but like each and everyone of us those stories and memories are just as unique and individual as our DNA. Nevertheless there is a story to be told under the emotions and masks of each of the people you see on the side of the streets. Like a ghost sometimes we just need to bring those stories into the light for them to be told.

That DNA we spoke of that is so unique to you, it carries stories passed on from generation to generation, the trials and tribulations of our parents and their parents before them. When you really think about it we are all carrying and craving information. As we sat through a presentation the other day a slide with side by side pictures came on the screens before us. One photo was black and white and the other well a picture from today. The thing they had in common you ask? Well they were both of people sitting on a train. In the black and white photo the people were reading books or newspapers and in the colour photo from today they all had their heads stuck in a device but in both photos they were doing the same thing. They were all seeking information, every person on both those trains at two separate times in history were all devouring information whether they were looking at ads in the newspaper or online shopping, reading the sports section or watching the game live on their device throughout time they were all seeking knowledge and information.

They say knowledge is power and throughout history we’ve had men and women seek out knowledge (information) to improve or maintain their status at the top of the pile until someone comes along with either more knowledge or the knowledge of how to wield a bigger more advanced army and overthrow them. They say wars are fought over resources or religion but someone in history forgot to include ego in there. Throughout history many a knowledge sapping, maniacal megalomaniac has gone to war over a bruised or inflated ego. As Ben Parker (Uncle of Spiderman) said “With great power comes, great responsibility” what was left out was that you shouldn’t include your ego when it comes to matters involving others. We figure old fake tan himself, Mr Trump has never heard the quote. Which by the way, was originally spoken by Voltaire and yet we commonly attribute it to Uncle Ben a character created by the late Stan Lee for the Marvel comic universe.

It’s funny that we often look to the past and compare it to the future when we have the ability to change the current situation we are in. We look at the now and wonder why aren’t we as fit, fast or thin as we used to be. We cry out for a person we used to be because we are not comfortable with the person we truly are and have grown into and more often than not we follow Alice back down that rabbit hole and the cycle continues to repeat itself over and over again. Never learning from the past and continuing to attempt to bring it into the future. What’s the definition of stupidity? Attempting to do the same thing over and over again to get a different result… Yeah we all do it from time to time but surely there is a point when you just wake up and go I am this version of me now and I need embrace it to live my life to the fullest.

Maybe some people just prefer to always be searching, maybe they need that internal chaos within them to get through day to day life. Maybe they truly don’t know what they need or want in their lives but the one good thing is you’ll never see them sitting still wondering what could have been had they accepted life, they strive for what they want and feel is best for them at that particular point in time. We are all unique and all different that’s one thing our observations of watching people have taught us. People are strange and often a little weird but that’s just who we are. You can’t and you shouldn’t try to change who you are, we need to be more loving and accepting of ourselves as people. Maybe you should try a little people watching and you will see that live isn’t as bad as you once thought it to be.

For now the team will leave you with this, as you grow old, never regret the life that you’ve had, never fear the unknown that lurks in the dark, never be afraid to show emotion, never shy away from who you truly are. We are all on this earth for one reason or another and whatever your beliefs are, no one can take those away from you. They can just disagree and become annoying to your way of life and belief system. As the kids say, you do you! Go be a creep like us and sit at cafes listening in on other people’s conversations while watching people walk past going about their days. You’ll be amazed by what you see. It’s like that Clint Eastwood movie there’ll be The Good, The Bad and the The Ugly! We wish you all a pleasant week and promise to go a little more in depth next week with a topic that surprised even us! Caio!

Who Are You Anyway?…

This week we let the editor-in-chief take the reigns and share a letter he wrote to himself in a drunken haze, while he had to do a lot of editing, rewriting and sometimes guessing as to what he had written we thought it would be a good idea to share it with you all as an example of when things go shit that you can often remind yourself that there is always a future out there that you control. Because when you are at rock bottom the only way is up and sometimes we just need the rope and harness thrown down to us so we can start pulling ourselves out of the hole, hand over hand. So without wasting anymore of your time we’ll handover the keyboard to the boss and allow him to hit Ctrl+V and paste the letter and allow you all to read, ponder and question like we did whether we should have him committed.

Dear Editor-In-Chief,

If you are reading this it’s for a good reason, you wrote this letter to remind yourself that despite how you are feeling right at this very moment in time, as your eyes move from line to line reading every word and taking it all in. Things will get better, they have to get better and you will heal, we all heal. It just takes times and time is something you have plenty of. Make the most of the days, weeks, months and years you have on this planet and continue to have no regrets. There’s a difference between doing something and paying it lip service but you have always known that. It’s ok to be sad and upset, it’s ok to be angry but most of all it’s ok to feel the way you do. It’s natural and it’s part of the process, they say you’ll go through all the emotions and maybe you will, maybe you won’t there will however be a process that you will go through. But remember this letter is to remind you that in time things will get better but before then you will have some choices to make. Some that are easy, some that will be hard but at the end of the day you are the one who gets to decide on them. As you’ve always said you make your decision and you stick by it.

 

Like an absentee voter on election day, you have been missing for the last couple of weeks. While your body fills the seat in which you sit typing this, your spirit and mind are nowhere to be seen. Like a lost cat of dog you may need lost & found posters stuck to every light pole in the area offering a reward for your soul and spirit to be found. They are truly missing and with them you have lost the rest of yourself. You are a walking husk that resembles a zombie more times than not lately. Sleep eludes you as you lay awake pondering the future, past and present. You’ve lost the ability to find joy in life and people are starting to notice. Your colleagues at work and friends question how much you are sleeping and what you are doing with yourself in your spare time. They worry about you as does your family. You’ve never been one to take things lightly and we know you’ll be assessing everything and questioning yourself and everything going forward in life.

You might feel that life sucks at the moment and your life is coming down around you. Those foundations you built and planned on expanding upon are cracking, splintering and starting to literally fall to pieces like some dodgy tradesman’s handiwork. What you forgot to remember was the one thing you’ve told yourself time and time again. No plan survives initial contact and what could possibly go wrong, will certainly go wrong. Life has a habit of throwing people curveballs and though you might not be able to see it in this point in time you aren’t the only person who is going through things at this point in time. That being said you have some decisions to start making and for that you will need the following things.

 

Firstly you’ll need a clear head so do yourself a favour and put down the bottle. Sit and ask yourself how much alcohol you have consumed since that fateful day in late April? How many hangovers have you had? Ask yourself how your body feels and whether it’s coping with all the poison that you continue to pour into it night after night alone in the dark attempting to numb the pain and loss you are feeling. Put on your big boy pants mate, pour the drink down the sink and start to take life by the proverbial balls, take it like a man, yeah wrong choice of words but you know what we mean. You need to take a breath and put your general wellbeing in front of your current need not to feel a goddamn thing. There is a lesson in all of this somewhere and once you clear your mind you’ll have a little bit more of an idea what that might be but until them the wheels will keep spinning in the haze of your mind.

The second thing you need to do is stop looking for answers and reasons as to why. All it is doing is causing your anxiety to sky rocket and your depression to drag you back towards to that dark pit. Having been there before you know it’s not a good place for you to be and you’ll just make things worse for yourself than better if you let this drag you down. You want answers we get that, but sometimes there are no answers and you know that better than most people. You can feel the pain and hurt that comes with each word spoken between you. The tears you’ve shed are only just the beginning of the rough road that you will need to walk over the next couple of months. There will be good days and bad days but firstly you need to stop looking for answers, they’ll come over time and at present there are no answers. There is no one to blame, there isn’t a single moment that lead to this, this is life and unfortunately it will surprise you from time to time.

 

Not having someone or something to blame can be hard but it gives you something a lot of people don’t get and that’s opportunity, an opportunity to still keep some form of friendship, some form of decorum between the two of you and most importantly a piece of your heart still intact. Having that piece of heart allows the memories of the good times to far outweigh the bad. But should you continue to search for answers your mind is always going to be second guessing everything and everyone throughout your life. You deserve happiness and to have everything you want in your life you just need reminding of that from time to time, reminding that at the end of the day you are both good people who deserve the best in life and to be truly happy. It takes courage to speak your truth, remember that as you forge through the fog that is currently your world.

Thirdly don’t close yourself off from everyone and everything, in times like these it’s easy to throw up walls to protect yourself. It’s also very easy to shut yourself off from the world and become a hermit. You though need human interaction, you will go crazy if you are left alone with your thoughts and feelings. We are not saying distract yourself and not think about things we are saying don’t become a hermit. Don’t become detached from all the things that make you who you are. Make you the person that started on this journey, the person you have always been, the person you will always be. You owe it to yourself to get one foot in front of the other and continue on in the world. It’ll be hard, it’ll be damn hard but what alternatives do you have?

Drink yourself into a black hole after working so hard to get yourself out of the pit, spiral out of control and watch your life to continue falling apart? Lose your job because you are two hungover to turn up to work. Your friends give up on you because you don’t want to help yourself and turn them all away as no one could possibly know the pain and hurt you are going through. All that self pity won’t be worth a damn when you are on your own and a full blown alcoholic who needs rehab but no one is willing to help push you there. The only person you have to blame is yourself, you had an opportunity to make a decision early on in the piece how you handled this. Hence this letter. You are better than that and that is exactly why you made yourself write this letter to remind you that no matter how bad things get there is always going to be some good come from the worst of pain and loss.

Chin up and straighten that upper lip soldier, cry when you need to cry and lean on your friends and family. You are not alone and things could always be worse than they currently are. This will pass and the pain will heal with time remember that and if you need a reminder read through this letter and remember all the good times. Until then you are loved and appreciated always remember that. Get back into a routine and get yourself back to the fit, fun, friendly person you know you are. It won’t make the pain go away but it will certainly help you as you’ll have something to focus on and a goal to work towards. Until then believe in yourself you are your own hero.

Your biggest fan and supporter.

You

When writing this the intent was to remind myself that no matter what the darkest days hold there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. While friends and family will be there to provide support and love they can’t be the ones to push you to forge forward with life that is on you and upto you to pull yourself through the fog into the light. It’ll take time as does everything when you are healing or trying to get past something that has hurt and saddened you to the core. At the end of the day i know I will be fine and I’ll be able to move on with life but for now I’ll shed a tear or two knowing that a chapter has finished in my life and that I have no regrets. Some of the best memories in my life have been made over the past couple of years and I’ve met some amazing and uniquely wonderful people who all have a story of their own to tell.

We all go through tough times in our lives, times that test us and show us what we are truly made of and what it takes to come back from the darkest of pits the lowest of days and highest of highs. Life, it’s never a guarantee that everything will be ok or go the way you want it to, that’s the thing about life it will continue to test you to ensure you know you are alive and show you that you are stronger than you thought. It’s shown me through all the tears that I am stronger than I thought and that at some point i will be ok and I will get on with life but for now, I’ll take it day by day and get one foot in front of the other. After all it’s all i can do while I heal and mend the wounds.

Friends and family are there for me and I am thankful to each and every one of them that has reached out and shown me that I am not alone through this time. Even those who’s support i feel I don’t deserve have shown me that there is a goodness in everyone and that people move on with time and are able to get on with things that means that you can two. They say life is what you make and well you’ve got yet another chance to make something of yours and show the world who you truly are and what you are made of. Though life is hard in these days, never give up for your day will come. Anyone who is a Bliss n Eso fan will know that one and the song those lyrics are from is something of an inspiration as it With Friends like you.

Two songs that remind us to never give up and that we are our own heros and when you reach rock bottom you will bounce right back. Not to sound like a broken record but over time things will heal and change for the better. Like the title of this weeks blog the coming months will be telling in answering the question of “Who are you anyway?” we are no doubt about to learn a thing or two about ourselves and who we are and furthermore who we want to be when we come through the otherside of all of this. With all this advice I have given I hope some of it has sunken in and I’m not going to ignore myself but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done the old, do as I say not as I do speech.

In what was one of our more heartfelt posts for the year we are hoping that we’ve provided you with an example of what you two can do when things aren’t going well in your life. A simple letter can be a constant reminder through the dark times that things will eventually get better. It’s not always easy to remain positive when things are falling down around you but all you can do it try and believe in yourself. It’s all one can do to get through day by day. Until next week remember you too can get by with a little help from your friends and its more than ok to ask for help, heck we should all be asking for help more often. Unfortunately that thing called ego often stops us from reaching out in our moments of need. Park the ego and get on with it. Until next week believe in yourself you are your own hero…

Another One Bites The Dust…

This week on A Mind of Its Own we head out on the road once again to the Nation’s capital. In the midst of a looming election battle we check out ground zero for the biggest school yard fight in the country. Sitting a top of hill parliament house preschool is home to some of the nation’s biggest babies, bullies and bellends. There petty little squabble for leader of the playground is now playing out on every TV station around the nation. Tit for tat they bad mouth one another while making promises to they’ll never keep or be able to keep if they win the keys to the monkey bars. With a date set for the big class vote of the 18th of May the battle lines have been drawn the polls are in place and we head for yet another prime minister in what that last 12 months. We go through them faster than a six pack of tinnies on a warm day.

Already pretty angry as we watch the the boss and his wife go through a separation we’ve noticed a couple of things that have got our back up and made us think no wonder. Whilst separating from someone you love can always be difficult and in a lot of ways painful that doesn’t mean you have to be a dick and create additional angst. The more angst you create the harder it’ll make it. But really had our back up was observations made while out watching the bossman drown his sorrows in top shelf whisky, wine and inane conversation with anyone who would listen to his tale of woe is me. Listen to him carry on you’d think the poor bloke was losing a leg or no longer able to see. Ok so we might be over exaggerating but when you have four days of solid drinking and begin thinking that you are now an expert on relationships and marriage you need to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror.

One also needs to take a good hard look at their bank balance and question some of the choices made while drinking spirits. The drams of Macallan for a $100 each were probably not the wisest choice but savouring the warmth as it hits the back of your throat and rolls its way into your intestinal tract is a brief reminder that pain heals, chicks dig scars and glory lasts forever? Maybe it’s just the warmth touching you for the briefest of seconds or maybe it’s the numbing of the mind for several hours of inebriation that you’ve engaged yourself in only to wake up and feel the weight of the world once again on your shoulders dragging you back to earth. Showing you yet another hurdle that’s thrown up in life’s journey to teach you lessons. They say everything happens for a reason and there is a huge group of people out there that will tell you it’s true. Learn from the lessons that life teaches as it throws you a curve ball or two throughout your time on this here planet.

Now onto the observations made while in a state of constant inebriation for the past weeks, days and we make no apologies for it. While the corporate card is out and the drinks are flowing there are plenty of seagulls like us to help the boss lick his wounds. That was one of the first observations we made and many will agree with us we are certain, as they all have at least one of these mates we’ll call them the seagulls. They are the person who will always want a beer but never seems to be around when it’s there turn to shout. Always the old “aww did I miss it sorry I’ll get the next one” only to once again houdini there way out of yet another round. They are the seagull mate we all have floating in our lives somewhere and no matter how many times you sit down with them and have the chat with they never seem to change. Their tight fisted ways will continue throughout your days as friends.

One of the biggest observations we made was around the young peacock males that congregate around bars and clubs in the hopes of finding a mate. Or as heard one flannette clad young man who looked like he’d just walked off the set of houso’s say “Keen to cop a root tonight”. There is a reason we have the #metoo movement and a lot of these young men aren’t doing the rest of the male population any favours with their behaviour. Ever wondered why women feel abused and objectified by men? Just spend an hour in a bar or a club and watch the way these young cowboys interact and treat women. It’s almost like a sense of entitlement washes over them with each sip of their beer or overpriced vodka, lime and soda. As they strut their wares only to find anger when they are turned down by attractive females who lets be honest are most likely way out of their league, they morph once again into a hurt child and begin slinging names around the bar like it’s their god given right for a woman to talk to them and go home to bed with them.

Watching the boss transform into the hulk and telling them to have some respect or he was going and we quote “Knock some respect and common sense into them” whilst was quite funny for us to see and got a couple of claps and thank yous from people in the bar. Not someone to often speak up when in public we asked him why he said something he’s response was both measured and to the point. As someone who is going through a separation watching other men conduct and display themselves in such disrespectful behaviour was both angering and disappointing. Women don’t deserve to be treated that way ever, there is no excuse for calling someone a slut for walking away from you ever. In fact walking away from you and your poor behavior is the correct response. Why would a woman go for someone who’s initial reaction is to call them a slut when all they’ve done is politely declined your advances on several occasions.

Why is it when you give a young male a drink he feels he is entitled to say and do whatever he likes. A sip of dutch courage flowing through the blood stream allows males to be pure arseholes to any and everyone. We were young once however our parents taught us to respect women, hell they taught us to respect everyone and the age old adage of treat others how you want to be treated has always been a solid base for us. Yes there are always going to be people who don’t like you or respect you but that is life. You just need to get on with it and ensure you continue to stay true to yourself and your values. Good manners cost nothing, being a good person also costs you nothing and having respect for others should just be a given. Women should be able to go out to a bar and have a drink with their mates without being harassed by testosterone filled, ego inflated, boneheads who have a sense of entitlement only rivaled by those fed with silver spoons all their lives.

Women on the other hand just tend to lose there common sense and forget to dress for the weather. Far too often we see young ladies wearing far too little clothing for the weather they are in, Canberra for example besides being full of politicians, porn salesmen and meat head footballers starts to get cold around this time of year. So when we say dress for the weather a little dress and no jacket is not appropriate unless your intention is to catch a cold and watch it develop into full blown pneumonia. You can still look hot, gorgeous, attractive or as the kids say “on point” and still be fashionably warm. You might look fashionable but we can can guarantee you’ll be regretting it as you lie in your lovely hospital gown connected to a drip of antibiotics so they can course through your veins to fight off the infection attacking your lungs all because you chose fashion over function. Fathers all over Canberra have no doubt been shaking their heads for years and asking their daughters if they are really wearing that, before stepping out of the house and ignoring dads wishes for them to at least take a jacket.

Our other observation made was that if you are going through something that is life changing you won’t find the answer at the bottom of an expensive whisky glass or bottle for that matter. Whilst it might numb your pain for several hours, days or months. At some point you are going to have to deal with it all. Like ripping off a band aid it is often better to just get it over with and deal with it all rather than delaying it and numbing yourself to the world and pain. However that being said we all deal with things differently and certainly have to respect our own process for dealing with our emotions, thoughts and feelings. As we’ve stated a few times throughout the A Mind of Its Own journey it’s ok to ask for help even if its just to have someone sit and listen to us and let us get those tears out. After all tears clear the windows that guard the soul.

Whilst it’s fun at the time their are better things you can expend your energy on, that being said if you need to blow off some steam and it’s an outlet by all means have at it hoss. Just remember it’s not a long term solution unless you fancy your liver packing it in early and killing what brain cells with hadn’t already drowned. While your body and brain are screaming at the genocide being carried out by you on their inhabitants, your heart is breaking over and over again like a tape stuck on loop in your old walkman. As much as numbing it all feels good you’ll no doubt hate yourself for it in the weeks and months to come. You are going to go through pain in your life and unfortunately there is no manual for your life. We are individuals and as individuals we are all very different in the lives we lead the journeys we will go on. All the self helps books in the world will not prepare you for everything life throws at you.

Until next week we bid you another fond farewell and will remind you that in times of need it’s ok to reach out and ask for help rather than reaching out of the closest bottle to give you answers. Unless you are looking for a message in a bottle the only thing you’ll find is a hangover and some drunken memories once the fog of drunk lifts over time. You’ll forever be trying to piece together the moments you lost. We’re here to listen to anyone who needs and provide advice when it’s asked for. Or to just continue doing what we do best and writing killer blogs week in week out for you to lose yourself in. So as we close the book on what is one of the more random blogs we have written we start to wonder what the future holds and where we’ll be through it all. But for now live in the present and make the most of the writing to help our friends and family.