H is For…

It’s a great month for mental health awareness, September is suicide prevention month and Thursday the 12th was R U Ok day. As some of our followers well know, mental health is a topic that is close to our hearts here at A Mind of Its Own. We’d like to think we are part time advocates and yet full-time suffers who are here to help others by spreading our message that it’s ok to go and seek help, it’s ok to be suffering and most importantly it’s okay not to be okay. So in tribute of mental health awareness we handed over the reigns to the big man and let him do what he does best and write this weeks installment all on his own. He took a big step last week personally in his journey through his battle with mental health. As a team we are proud of what he’s managed to achieve and the courage it took to do something so we’ll sign off and leave you to him.

There are a couple of days each year that I tend to get passionate about, AFL Grandfinal, Hockey grand final and well any sports final that is a good excuse to get on the cans (Tins) not breasts. But days where we get to stop and think about a cause that affects millions of people around the world, those are the days I am most passionate about. The causes that have not only affected me but those I care about and those I wish to help or at least attempt to help through my journey to wellness. As you go through this blog there is a lot of raw and emotional details that quite often gets left out of stories that are told but as some point they all come to light and need to breathe.

The term head fuck (sorry for swearing) was certainly something that was floating through my mind all day last Thursday. Whilst I can talk about pretty much anything there are certain topics that push my anxiety through the roof. Lets just say my body does not react well to stress or anxiety for that matter and given getting up in front of a lot of people is usually not my favourite thing to do unless it involves alcohol it was safe to say everything was on high alert and I was running the various ways it could all turn out in my head and what people would think of me once they knew everything about it or at least enough to start making their own opinions of me and what I am going through on a daily basis.

Sitting their palms clammy, chest tightening, thoughts racing through my head, in front of a group of people that know me as someone I am not. That is not my idea of fun or my idea something I want to do very often. Why was I there? I was there to tell my story, my battle, my fight, in the hope that it will inspire others to at least start the conversation. A conversation, any conversation, what we don’t often realise is that by having a simple conversation that we could be saving someone from themselves, from the darkness, from that abyss. Mental health issues affect everyone at some point throughout their lives. There have been times where I’ve sat at bars drinking my sorrows away talking to absolute strangers about my thoughts and feelings all because I knew the chances of seeing them again were slim to none.

And so last Thursday I dug deep and faced myself, my insecurities and my anxiety and depression head on but what I didn’t count on was the fact it would floor me a couple of days afterwards. I asked myself if it was a selfless act to help others or whether I did it more for me to face my fears. I left out a lot of the gory details but I shared enough that people understood that my journey hasn’t been easy. It took a woman for me to finally go and get myself some serious help. It only took one day where all my insecurities and issues flooded to the surface in a body wrenching panic attack that had me hugging the toilet bowl until I was sick. Sitting in the shower head in hands waiting for the next wave of nausea to hit me while my head swam in a sea of thoughts and self doubts that I couldn’t control.

I knew it was time for me to go and see someone, time to go and get some professional help and time to start putting my mental health first. I may not have done it for myself but I did do it for those I love and care about. I did what I needed to do to ensure I was on the road to recovery, on the road to rescuing what I could from that dark place I had ventured into. In a sense, who I am, hates who I’ve been. Yes, I thought it was weak to speak, I thought it was unmanly to not be ok, to let people know that I was not ok, I thought it cowardly to need help whether it be professional or from family or friends. Five years on and I now see that it takes more courage to speak your truth than it does to find every excuse under the sun to ignore what’s really going on.

So I sat there in a room full of colleagues and told the truth, the more I think about it the more I see that it wasn’t just for me it was for them to. If I got through to at least one person then I know I’ve made a difference. If not then at least I can say I did something that scared the absolute crap out me. It put me out of my comfort zone and made me face something I’ve often kept hidden from the public. It wasn’t that I was ashamed, it was that I didn’t think it was any of their business. I didn’t need everyone to know what I was going through, only those nearest and dearest to me needed to know that was going on. Then one day this blog started, first of all it was only ever meant to be an outlet for me to write as a coping mechanism something I would do to help me through the worst of it. Little by little I grew the courage and confidence until at one point last year the first A Mind Of Its Own post went live. Forever marking a milestone in my journey with mental health and a great day for our new fans who get some of their time wasted each and every week.

And we’ll continue to write, to spread the message and to question everything. I and the team will research what we don’t know, listen to other people and their opinions and continue to attempt to share both sides of the story even if we don’t like and or agree with them. We’ll also continue to highlight the stigma that comes hand in hand with mental health. We’ll give a voice to those who don’t have one or haven’t found the courage and confidence to speak up and ask for help. We are all about creating conversation or at least starting them and watching them go up like out of control bonfire and walking away. In some ways we are the instigators of the conversations that no one wants to have.

The following was written in a dark place at a dark time but it was written to give the reader a sense of what it’s like to suffer anxiety and depression from the mind of some who suffers and who is able to articulate feelings into words to allow a genuine description of what can and does go through the mind of someone who battles anxiety and depression on a daily basis. The description below is how it is to be in my head from time to time. It’s not always this way but a lot of the time it can be a dark fucking place where things make little to no sense. Well at least that dark place has helped us to create some kickass blogs over the past year that we a super proud of like really proud like a parent watching their child’s first dance recital or game of sport. So without further ado we hand back over to the bossman to show you the otherside.

Thousands of words flutter across the screen yet none of them make sense. Like your mind all scattered and your body that’s lost control. The legs that don’t work with the mind running at a million miles an hour. You question yourself and wander into the meadow of self pity and doubt. It’s not all flowers and greenery in your head, it’s the warzone with bullets flying, shells exploding and misery exposing itself to the world. Welcome to the daily struggles, the daily battle, welcome to my warzone. I don’t need you to challenge me I have a constant battle raging in my head. It’s a challenge to draw a ceasefire from the warring parties but there are days that you manage to negotiate a truce at least for a couple of hours before the first shots are fired to break the silence.

There are the days where the body just goes into shutdown or full revolt like the spanish in 1936. From feeling on top of the world one day to laying in the fetal position in the shower as you throw up from the anxiety induced nausea the next. Then comes the embarrassment like you’ve just crapped yourself in front of the entire school during assembling. Stuck in the infinite feedback loop of embarrassment that you let it get to the point you were physically sick and wanting to hide away from the world for days on end. That’s the sort of thing that goes through your mind once you’ve experienced the sweat, tears and chest tightening, nauseating effect that anxiety and depression can have on the body.

You wanted to understand it, see a little insight to daily life, well welcome to the world of an anxious man.Thoughts all battling to take centre stage, all there to make your mind a jumble of feelings, thoughts and constant complaints. And yet ours is just mild can you imagine a severe case of anxiety or depression. They say they understand yet they are often ill informed and question the why. Trust us when we say if we had the answers we’d tell you because we’d like to know ourselves. Why our smiles are often fake and our feelings are hidden behind a mask worn for the world’s sake just as much ours. We don’t really want the questions, sometimes we just want to be left alone in our darkness. Most of the time we’ll rise from our ashes like a phoenix born again until the next major battle.

It could be hours, days, weeks or months but nothing can prepare you for the next onslaught and the army marching through your mind, heart and soul. You might just get a taste of what it’s like for some of us on a daily basis and that will be enough for you to look into the light from the darkness. You still won’t understand or comprehend how we battle, how we strive, how we make it through the days but you will find a respect that wasn’t there before, something born from exposure to the thing you didn’t want to know or understand. Now you know a little bit more perhaps you’ll pay attention when someone needs or asks for some help. Maybe you’ll see the signs as they arise and be able to lend an ear because sometimes that’s all it takes, sometimes that’s all we need, someone to listen.

We’ll leave it there for another week and thank all our pundits for having a read of something that was a little hard for the big man to write but something that needed to make its way to screens of the men and women of Australia and the world. It’s something that we’ll continue to write about and something that will always be close to our hearts. We’ll continue to spread the message that it’s okay not to be ok and that it’s more than ok to seek help. So again we’ll wrap up this party and wish you all a fond farewell until next week or the week after. It really depends on who can come up with a new idea or blog and get it down on paper the quickest but never the less we’ll be back on your screens before you know it. So with that all said and done we wish you a bonza week and we’ll get back to you before you know it. A Mind of Its Own out…

Hand In My Pocket…

WARNING!!! If you thought last weeks post was offensive you probably shouldn’t read past this disclaimer in fact you might just want to put down your device walk to the television and turn on a kids television show. Some people will get offended this week and as always, that’s not our intention but we live in a world where everyone is easily offended. We are sure someone took offense to our talk about accidental fingering of our bum last week. Reader’s discretion is advised…

Before your minds all start wandering and head straight for the proverbial gutter, the title like all of them has no reference to the content of this blog. No this isn’t a post about pocket pool and one’s ability to rub themselves raw through the inside of their pocket for some sexual gratification. No this post, well this post could turn out to be quite offensive to some people as we pointed out in our disclaimer. It’s not intended to be that way but unfortunately we are a precious society who easily get upset or enraged at things that have nothing to do with us or seem to affect us. Why you ask? Because we can’t control the one thing only humans have that all other species lack… Ego. We’ve spoken about it before here at A Mind of Its Own, dubbed ‘Outrage Porn’ we are ready to incite some and hope people will read the post before passing judgement or making a decision that we are beating up the people this post is all about. As always we’ll try to be fair and give a voice to both sides of the coin but we will write it in our slap stick, take the piss comedic way because that’s what we do.

This is a post we’ve been working up to for awhile and one that we wanted to ensure we had all the facts and figures for first before we put it together. It’s been meticulously researched and we’ve spent a lot of time in the bull pen editing and ensuring we don’t piss of too many of our friends from the opposite sex. For some reason this isn’t a topic that men should be writing about or weighing into as we are the core root of the problem or so some would have you to believe. Ok so the sordid topic that is generally frowned upon when written by a man or anyone identifying as masculine is none other than ‘the rise and fall of feminism’. Yeah after the #MeToo movement it’s not something that people want to trifle with in an attempt to get out some pulitzer prize winning piece for the wider community to read. But it is something that has started to make even the most staunchest of feminists question. Have we gone too far? And where would one start an article about Feminism particularly being a privileged middle-aged, white male?

Well that was easy we started with articles written by women, for women on feminism. Not blogs or message boards but actual published articles. All written by paid female writers who never once in their articles whinged about being paid less than their male counterparts or spoke of the injustices bestowed upon women. They were factual and to the point, they related the issues back to the real world and spoke of the ever changing face of the feminist movement. The way empowerment has changed and strayed from it’s true definition and most importantly how the collective has now moved to the singular. It just goes to show how selfish we are as humans, when we need to make things all about ourselves rather than what is best for the majority. Reading article after article along with research papers and scholarly articles all based around feminism and written by women, we started to get an understanding on how the movement has changed. And from an outsider’s perspective it hasn’t changed for the better nor is it empowering women. That’s strike one for us but read on and you’ll see why we’ve taken this stance.

Whilst we agree and are all for fair and equal pay across the board whether you are male, female or identify as something else altogether. If you are doing the same job there should be fair and equal pay. There should also be fair and equal job opportunities, our take on that is the right person for the right job regardless of gender, race, etc. Women’s reproductive rights is something that should not come into question, they (women) should be free to make the choice about bringing life into the world. Equality should be something that is just done, not something that should have to be fought for. Woman should also never feel threatened, objectified, inferior in any environment. Rape, assault and abuse are never ok ever, never. After all isn’t that what the feminist movement was about? Ensuring that females around the world were treated fair and equally? It would seem as there is always is, that there are two systems of thought to feminism, the friendly feminists who just want what is right and fair and then there are the extremists who have found hate and anger at the world in particular at men for our poor treatment and often suppression of them.

Firstly what is #MeToo a movement that even the founder of the phrase feels lost it way a little. Originally coined in 2006 Tarana Burke used the phrase to raise awareness against pervasiveness of sexual abuse and assault in society. Now established as a foundation (MeToo), Burke has been quoted as having misgivings about the movement that went viral in the summer of 2017 giving women a voice against sexual assault and abuse. The only problem here was that Burke never intended it to just be for women. It was for people from all walks of life whether you are, male, female, transgender or identified as something else altogether. People from all walks of life are abused, raped and assaulted daily around the globe. “This is a movement about the one in four girls and one in six boys who are sexually abused every year, and who carry those wounds into adulthood,” Ms Burke said.

Where did it all change, it all changed when Burke teamed up with actress Alyssa Milano and it became a movement with more and more high profile women speaking out against sexual abuse and assault on social media using the hashtag #MeToo. But the movement then took on a mind of its own, not like us however but a militant often malicious mind that attacked and targeted even women who didn’t agree with or spoke out about their concerns and worries that the movement would carry with it for women and men going forward once the initial outrage and shaming was done and the dust cleared. These women weren’t necessarily against giving a voice to what should now be basic human rights they were concerned or worried that the movement would bring about some issues in which people were wrongly accused or women weren’t looked at for jobs. In a sense they were concerned that we weren’t fixing the actual problem we were shifting the power from one party to another. Whilst there are those (women) that will say it’s our time, it’s not really in line with the whole equality thing we are all striving for is it? Strike two against the team writing this in the eyes of those who will no doubt be enraged on our take of the whole feminist movement that behind that was a pivotal moment in history.

What that moment failed to do however was continue to unite women around the globe and we as look as several examples of when woman turned on fellow woman because they didn’t like their opinion or didn’t take the time to fully read and grasp what they were actually trying to convey, you can see why several high profile woman are thinking the feminist movement has lost its way particularly with the millenials who want it all now and have this chip on their shoulders like the world owes them something. In a nutshell they feel privileged and deserving of everything whether they have worked for it or not and no that is not just female millenials it is males as well. However when you throw in a cause or an injustice into the mix they are quite passionate and often militant in getting their opinion across. You’ll see from later examples where a lack of understanding and sometimes simple inability to read and or relate leads to abusing other women who are merely trying to point out that there are certain considerations that need to be made and more importantly thought about when embarking down an unknown road.

To sum up how we (humans) got to this point before we embark down the road where woman decided to pit herself against fellow woman. When people feel a system is failing them in this case the judicial system. They’ll seek an alternative path in the case of the #Metoo movement women felt that the judicial system had failed them and in order to provide a voice against the wrongs happening to them all across the world they turned to the internet. #Metoo was tweeted, posted, and marched around the globe. Women had a voice and were able to speak out against the injustices, the sexual assaults, harassment, abuse, rape and abuse of power that men, yes men have done to women. None of it is ok and no woman should have to put up with any of it ever, it’s not ok. Here’s where this post will divide the readers and some people may find it offensive. Whilst we are all for people being able to tell their stories and have a voice one has to question whether this has empowered women or just handed the power to their oppressors by making them publicly tell their stories. Whilst naming and shaming is a great way to get your message across and there are plenty of arseholes in the world who needed to be taken down have we actually managed to change anything?

Several feminist and well known feminists who have been accused in the past of climbing to fame on top of mountain of men’s decapitated heads or being a dominatrix on the subjugation of men. Who supported the #Metoo movement and feminism have found themselves turned upon by the women they have supported and worked hard to give a voice to over the years. Why were they turned upon? The only answer we can think of for that is because of Ego, because of our inability to control ego and the ideology that has grown behind the movement and ideology that now states if you aren’t with us you’re against us. We have seen it throughout history and continue to see it today particularly with religion and extremists. It’s the extremists who make a movement or religion dangerous and it only takes one bad apple to spoil the rest. Look at Islam, now the most misunderstood religion in the world due to people paraphrasing a book written over twenty four hundred years ago. The same thing could happen to feminism and the #Metoo movement it only takes a couple of extremists for things to drastically change.

Award winning Canadian author Margaret Atwood, the creative mind behind The Handmaid’s Tale books, now a hit TV series available on Hulu in the US and Stan here in Australia is among several women who has received backlash for raising concerns about bypassing the legal system. If the current system is seen as ineffectual for handling matters, what will replace it and who will become the power brokers? Atwood then went on to make a comment that could possibly leave the fairer sex devided. “In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated.” Referred to and attacked by many who stated she was and quote “A bad feminist” after she signed an open letter calling for due process of a professor who had been accused of sexual misconduct.

The problem with all of this is that Atwood was then accused of declaring war on younger, less powerful women. Like she was using her station in life to help get men off charges of sexual misconduct and rape when all she was asking for was due process. She was not the only woman to receive backlash for asking for a ‘fairness’ or equality when it came to judgements of people who had been accused. Accusations are just that and presumption of guilt should not be leveled until all the facts are available for all to see enabling us to make a sound judgment. Otherwise and as Atwood pointed out citing further backlash we may as well go back to the days of the Salem Witch Hunt where accusations were guilty verdicts as soon as they were levelled. Not once Atwood said she is against what #MeToo stands for or represents her issue is with the skirting of a judicial system and the ruining of people’s lives without proof. Gone are the days of innocent until proven guilty.

Looking into the psychology of why women would attack other women we can only head back towards Ego, the only self serving part of every human. Most women will tell you that they have survived at least one mean girl in their past: a girl who dismissed, put down, or even socially tormented them. What does the research say? It probably goes without saying that the research is complex, particularly because it is challenging (or impossible?) to measure a critical, negative, or hostile attitudes given the self-serving bias that makes people want to see themselves as good and upstanding. Yet women continue to earn less money today than men and occupy fewer positions in politics and at the heads of Fortune 500 companies. Independent of what the research shows, it’s understandable on a common-sense level if women feel that they must work hard to secure whatever social power they can, and this may sometimes take the form of exclusionary practices with other women.

The more we read the more things became a little clearer to us. As men we have a responsibility to help make the change whether it be at home or in the workplace just as much as women do. But in order to create equality things need to be equal and women need to start with their fellow woman. For every article that spoke about #MeToo there were two or three outlining the flaws in the women that have merely asked people to stop and think for a moment. They’ve not asked for the movement to be stopped they’ve just asked that wrongs be right through the proper channels, not through through the court of popular opinion where the masses, educated and uneducated alike decide the fate of a fellow human being before they have a chance to state their case or evidence be presented against them. No one is saying that women shouldn’t be given an opportunity for the wrongs against them to be righted or for justice to served. What is being said is that vigilante justice should remain in comic books and the law should hold those accountable whether it be a company or individual they should be made to pay for their deeds.

Instead women now attack women who don’t agree with them and men hide in the shadows for fear of being labelled. Freedom of speech is dying on both the left and the right, we live in a world where you are always on the lookout to ensure you are politically correct and not offensive to anyone. Both women and men are ensuring they tread the line to ensure they aren’t insensitive or crossing some imaginary line that people once knew where too far was. Now the line has gotten underfoot and we trip over it daily, men tend to do it a lot more than women as we struggle to share the power at home, the workplace on the sporting field and everywhere else in life. Equality has a long way to go and we are far from being close to where we need to be as a society but maybe just maybe one day we’ll get there. Maybe one day in a future generation everything will be equal but for that to happen we need to learn to control our egos.

It doesn’t matter if you are male, female or identify as something else altogether ego will be the downfall and the single point of failure when it comes to equality. Why? Because whether its man or woman we are always trying to one up each other and seize control, power does strange things to people and makes the sanest of people mad once they have it. Our egos drive us to always compete, to be the best, to be number one and most of all cloud our judgement when it comes to others. Ego like personality is different to each and everyone of us. They are often another side to our personality and a side that is often not the best of us when it comes to needing to be one top. To take out that number one spot!

What does it have to do with #MeToo and women, Ego is the reason we feel our opinion is the only opinion and is always right, ego is what drives us to right the wrongs, ego is what pushes us to value ourselves above others. Ego in a sense has a lot to answer for but is it responsible for holding us up as we seek out and work towards a truly equal world? Time will tell but for now the message we’ll continue to deliver is men are just as responsible as women for driving the change. We don’t need to feel threatened or emasculated at home, in the workplace or anywhere else we just need to ensure that we are helping to push things in the right direction for everyone as we all have a part to play.

So if you are a woman and you don’t like another woman’s opinion or she doesn’t like your opinion don’t sweat it. We are all entitled to our opinions. You don’t need to throw around accusations on social media or the public realm just let it go. We know it’s easier said than done but in order for the world to find equality we need for the female race to see each other as equals no matter what you wear, look like or how you live your life. We are a race who needs strives to be on top of the pile but we often destroy each other to get there. When we can learn to curb and control our egos we will be in a better place to move forward and truly become equals in this world. We aren’t saying ego is solely to blame but it does have a lot to answer for an example of this and a major part of the #MeToo campaign was women speaking out against men who had abused, raped and used their positions of power to get what they wanted.

Ego and a sense of entitlement drove those men to do those things, the feeling they deserved and had worked hard driven by their egos let them think they could do whatever they liked. Sadly their egos overshadowed the part of their brains that make logical decisions if they were even able to make logical, empathetic decisions in the first place. Some people are just truly evil, narcissistic arseholes who need to be hung and quartered at the first opportunity. Powerful men who are rich are often narcissists who have massive, inflated egos and opinions of themselves. They are also often the same men who feel women are objects and can be treated with little to no respect. They are merely sexual objects for their amusement and pleasure. Without #Metoo these men would still be getting away with these things and the workplace, home and every other place would not feel safe for many women.

We’ll wrap it up for another week and allow you all to digest this week’s blog while we sort through the emails from people who are enraged at our take on what’s going on in the world. Technology has a lot to answer for in all of this, it’s keyboard warriors lining up behind the keys of a messageboard to spread hate and rhetoric against one another rather than spruiking unity, peace and one love. Equality will come when we are all truly equal and treat one another with respect and compassion that all humans deserve and have a right to. Well all except those who seek to do others harm. So going forward be good to one another and do your part. Until next week we wish you yet another good week and you’ll see another post soon. Ok, Peace out…

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.

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.

Losing My Religion…

Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to another week of the wicked sensitive crews blog that like its title takes on A Mind of Its Own. This week we’ve got a cracker install for you! It’s all happening and with Easter literally on our doorstep we’ve been down to the local Coles and raided the Easter isle for a sampling of the this years chocolate cause let’s be honest it’s become all about the chocolate and not some superhero from yesterday who was resurrected over the weekend. We got that right didn’t we? Hopefully all our Christian friends aren’t up in arms anymore than usual they’ve already had it tough this week losing their Wallabies spokesman and all round perfect christian Israel Folau. The poor bloke is on the cusp of having is contract ripped up over the easter period for being a downright knob and preaching hate. That would all but assure his religious weekend was ruined, can the man resurrect his career like his hero jesus did his life.

Speaking of religion it’s Easter and there is so much chocolate around anyone would think we’d stumbled into a bad version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and Donald Trump and his family were busy running around making all the sweets. But that’s not what it’s all about, or is it? You tell us, but it seems in recent years it’s lost a lot of its religious appeal and has taken on a more commercial appeal. People have taken it as having a couple of days off and spending time with their families over a couple of choccy eggs and a frothie or two. No longer do we pay attention to having no red meat on good Friday and heading to church on Sunday for Easter Mass. It’s safe to say in a modern world we have moved towards quality over quantity and by that, any chance to spend quality time with your family takes precedence over observing religious believe you may or may not believe in.

Like R.E.M sang we “we’re losing our religion”, ok, ok we are the most non religious people to grace the planet unless it comes to supporting the Swans then that’s our religion. We’ve never had one, we are more on the heathen, atheist side of the ledger. We are definitely the, going to hell in a handbag kind of people and according to Mr Falou’s recent Tweet we are certainly heading to hell with quote “All the gays, liars, drunks” well that’s us the politicians and half the world heading down to the fiery depths to play with the horny devil in the afterlife. Whilst his Twitter rampage has certainly put a cloud over his sporting career with Australian Rugby it’s found him a new set of friends in middle America, outback Australia and anywhere else they are caught in the early 1900’s way of thought. But at the end of the day that’s his problem and not ours. Whilst he is more than entitled to his opinion he does need to remember he is a respected, well was a respected athlete that young children look up to. The game of Rugby is in a bad state as it is in this country, it doesn’t need one of its best athletes turning away the prospective future of the game if they are gay?

What he has managed to do however is spark the age-old debate whether we truly do have freedom of speech and enrage a lot of rugby fans and a fair chunk of the Australian community. Whether or not he right or wrong in his religious spiel to the world you can be the individual judges. Yeah us on the other hand seem to agree that he is wrong, we live in the twenty-first century champion, love is love and Macklemore hit the nail on the head Same Love is still love. Whether you are Gay, Straight, or some other sexual orientation you are entitled and deserve to be left to your own devices without judgement or fear of judgement or some religious athlete telling you that you are going to hell. But on the plus side at least this time he wasn’t just attacking the Gay community he’s come after all of us that love a drink or two or three. Didn’t god drink wine? Have you had holy wine we hear that stuff will have you on your arse praying to the porcelain god as you expel all the demons from your system.

As an athlete does he not have a responsibility to the community to preach love and not hate? Or at least keep his opinions to the sanctity of his own house. Unfortunately like all athletes he has chosen to live a life in the spotlight and therefore has not only a responsibility to promote his chosen sport but also to be a role model in the community for people from all walks of life. Regardless of whether or not there is a code of conduct, there is a code of common decency. Whether you agree with something or not when you are on the public stage it does not give you the right to preach hate. If your religion tells you it’s wrong that’s between you and your god it is not your stage to stand and preach to the rest of the world. Like the American on the train in Sydney you are entitled to your opinion but there is a time and a place and that time and place it not social media.

In a world where we are so quick to judge, we often wonder if people think about the consequences of posting things on social media before they put it up. Did Israel think of the consequences before he posted his religious hate spiel? One would think no based on the fact that he his now fighting to keep his career alive. Remember with every action there is a reaction, with your dodgy actions your causing negative drama and if you know gods (That would be a Hindu god ladies and gentleman) law you best watch for Karma. We know as a staunch Christian Mr Falou probably doesn’t believe in Karma but surely he believes in what goes around comes around. While he may be able to stand there and preach hate it’s only a matter of time before videos surface of one supposed non-drinker either high as a kite off his face or legless like he’s been getting stuck into the churches wine supply all afternoon. We wonder where he stands on the molestation charges against so many priests, bishops and cardinals. Correct us if we are wrong but wouldn’t these acts be considered “Gay” in the eyes of the lord.

Despite the fact that these acts are not only criminal, but down right despicable and anyone involved in them should be hung and quartered these are supposedly highly religious people who share the same faith as Mr Falou. So sex in the eyes of the church with someone of the same-sex would be considered gay would it not, regardless of age and consent. Call us crazy but isn’t that a little hypocritical? Again we are all for freedom of speech but we didn’t see Israel speaking out against Mr Pell or any of his mates who took it upon themselves to use the guise of god and faith to do whatever they want, whenever they wanted. As we’ve said before love is love and we are against the use of the terms like “gay sex” again sex is sex and if god truly does exist he would surely want a world in which there is love for all not just those who attend church and read into a book written centuries ago based on supposed accounts but someone like Mr Falou would tell you that god himself wrote the bible.

Whilst we realise we are coming across as hypocritical ourselves using our blog to send the message that hate it is not ok. We do believe in freedom of speech and everyone’s right to voice that opinion we are at a point in history where for the first time ever we have the opportunity to all come together in this country and support each other. Unfortunately living in Australia we are still one of the most racist, bigoted, uneducated first world countries even in the modern-day. As a country we have a long way to go to becoming a nation that is supportive and more so inclusive of all walks of life. Like mainstream media we as individuals have an obligation to future generations to show them inclusion no matter what sexual orientation people choose and that’s the thing folks whilst some of you feel it’s a choice it is not a choice. You are born gay and no amount of religious brainwashing or spewing of hate is going to change that.

What it will do it make young children and adults question whether or not they deserve to live on “god’s earth”, this is why so many people are up in arms over Israel Falou’s comments. As an Adult, an athlete and someone who is looked up to by so many he should be ensuring that no matter your sexual orientation or station in life you can become something or make something of yourself. That is an inspiration, that is someone we want to look up to, that is a hero in the eyes of the team here. But instead he is alienating supporters and only being supported by fellow christians, racists and bigots. Or people who as a sporting professional or professional in any sense of the word, who is in the limelight, you certainly wouldn’t want to associate yourself with.

It’s never a good place to be in when you feel like you can’t have your say but as we’ve stated there is a time and a place and in 2019 hate against the LGBTQI community, that time is never and nowhere. In fact we can go as far as to say that hate, whether it’s religiously intended or not, against any community is not ok. Yes we are now in dangerous territory suppressing people’s ability to speak freely however, we are also responsible to ensure the message we spread to the communities, all communities is one of compassion, support and love. Listen to us preaching a future to you all, one in which we are all friends and you can go down your local and have a beer with all walks of life, not just the tradies who’ve knocked off early for a cheeky pint.

That’s what Mr Falou should be preaching instead of hate against anything that is considered normal by today’s standards. It’ll be a sad day when he looks back on his career and all those people who supported him. A lot of people that did, that sit in those stands week in, week out and cheer for him and his team are people that he’s condemned to hell. People that stood and cheered him on as he ran out in the Green and Gold to represent his country. Notice the word country and not god. Whilst he may feel his god was there supporting him he was presenting Australia and that to us and a lot of other people means he was representing the entire nation not just who he or his god tell him to represent. It’s a privilege to play for your country to have the coat of arms resting on your heart but it comes with responsibilities. Not just to your team but to your nation and all those within it.

So as we sign off for another week, Mr Falou are entitled to your faith and to your opinions on said faith but that doesn’t give you the right to preach hate towards others in the community just because your god tells you they aren’t living their lives right. In their eyes and the eyes of many others they are living their lives right particularly the LGBTQI community who are finally being given a voice and yet still have to put up with homophobic taunts, posts and media on a daily basis. To then have one of Australia’s best rugby players come out and tell them they are going to hell not once but twice is disappointing and somewhat upsetting for all of Australia. Take it as a form of cyber bullying that’s how we’ll look at it and any other preachers that tell us and our friends over at the LGBTQI community they are going to hell.

Once again from the team at A Mind of Its Own, we’ve rambled on enough for another week but the bottom line upfront or BLUF as it’s better known is this plain and simple. No matter who you are, what you do, who you do or what sexual orientation you are there is a place in this world and that place should be a place where you can do, say and be who you are without fear of judgement or persecution. We have a long way to go humanity. Until next week, be nice to one another and treat everyone equal, that’s every man, woman and child. Peace out people…

Wicked Sensitive Crew…

It’s 2019 so one would think that people have the ability to overcome and adapt to the world around them, a world where people can be themselves without the fear of being judged or oppressed for their views and beliefs. That they would be free to ride the train in peace whilst reading a book. To not have to sit and listen to someone from another country preach anti-abortion and christian religious beliefs at them and a carriage full of people they don’t know. In an ideal world that would certainly be the case but in the world we live in where anything and everything goes, it seems to be the “norm” that anything that is deemed to be outside of the “norm” is strange and or just weird. Just like the guy on the Sydney train who, yes is entitled to his views and opinions should know there is a time and a place and that time and place is not on an evening train after everyone has had a hard day at work and just wants to wind down before getting home to their loved ones or pets.

Having spent plenty of time on trains across the country we and understand the need and want to just have a peaceful ride to your final destination. Why do you think so many people have headphone in and stare at their phones or tablets from the moment they get on the train to the moment they step off onto the platform. People like to use the time to decompress, the last thing they want is a raving American pushing religious beliefs and telling everyone he loves them. It’s bad enough we have a muppet in the white house let alone a religious nut on a train. If we were on the train we wouldn’t have been as nice as the man who eventually spoke up and asked him politely enough to shut up. As human beings we need to be more sensitive to others particularly in confined spaces. They say a comedian needs to be able to read the room with certain jokes, well the same goes for those who wish to get a point across as we said there is a time and place you just need to know when that time and place is.

Which leads us into this weeks blog, something that we looked at a lot over the week that has just flown by something that all our friends, family and followers out there with mental health issues might understand, something that is slowly changing and softening over time. In days gone by a man was defined by his masculinity, he was worshipped for his womanising ways and controlled the world through manly ways. But as Beyoncé said “Who runs the world? Girls” and any man worth his salt would know that. So why is it that men who are sensitive are seen as soft or less manly? If you are in touch with your feelings you are often on the end of some nasty name calling or ribbing from your mates at school or friends and family members? In a world where we are all striving for equality why is it that some women want all the same things as men and yet they still look for what they define as ‘A real Man’. They still have ‘man’s jobs’ or as we’ve come to know they as ‘Just the jobs they don’t want to do’.

So why as males are we become more sensitive, in an era where hipsters, trendsters and the LGBTQI communities are finally getting a voice. Why is it that the typical, fair dinkum, Aussie bloke become a softy? They say we are in the age of the Sensitive New Age Guy or as the ladies in CLEO, Girlfriend and other glossy magazines designed to create another generation of insecure, body image issued women refer to them as SNAGs. And yes that is a generalisation on our behalf we are well aware that it is not the intention of these magazines to portray a perceived image of what the ideal woman should look like. Perhaps that is just us being overly sensitive but there can’t be much of an argument against the fact that young ladies and women look at the covers of these magazines and subconsciously think that’s what I should look like or why don’t i look like that? Again we digress, and it’s time to get back on track to discuss the growing sense of sensitivity among young males.

When you think of masculine men we often think of the film stars of old that portrayed some of the most masculine characters you will ever see. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Samuel L Jackson to name a few. Just pick a male film star from the 80’s and early 90’s, the characters were all tough, masculine men who took charge and could easily fit that typecast of ‘A Real Man’ that we have been culturally accepting of for generations. Perhaps there is some fault in media that continues to push what a real man should be like. Men shouldn’t be sensitive, they shouldn’t cry, they shouldn’t have feelings and they certainly shouldn’t be worrying about how everyone else is feeling and whether or not they are ok. That is and has been male culture for centuries, since we walked out of the caves and began walking proud and tall we’ve always shown a tough, masculine, non-sensitive side to the world.

It’s a little like wearing a mask that is only taken off in the confines of your own house when no one else is watching. So again we ask what is it that is making men, particularly young men and perhaps more the millennial than generation Y morph into actual human beings with thoughts and feelings. We say that with a little skepticism as some of them are quite rude little bastards who have no manners or respect which is one thing we’d change if we could. Always respect your elders! They’ve been there, done that and a lot of the times got the t-shirt just to prove it. Those that have found some sensitivity and are in some ways redefining masculinity as well as showing future generations that its ok to be sensitive are striving forward with confidence, their heads held high and we might have a few ideas why. The A Mind of Its Own team compiled a few thoughts and reasons why we feel a generational shift is allowing men to become more sensitive with some resistance from an unexpected party.

Ok so is it more sensitive or are males just feeling it’s becoming more and more ok to just be themselves? Are we becoming more accepting of our inner self, of out thoughts, of our feelings. Of all the articles we read there was pattern beginning to map itself out before us. The shift wasn’t just in our minds as sensitive middle aged men writing a blog in between trying to finish a novel that’s been in the works for several years now. It wasn’t that people with mental health issues are more sensitive. It’s a generational thing that points to the fact that yes the world is slowly but surely changing but there is always going to be resistance. Women according to studies are looking for that softer man as they take charge of their lives and families in the 21st century feeling more empowered. We read several articles and blogs before stumbling across an article in Forbes magazine by Jules Schroeder that outlined the 7 following reasons she felt men are opening up to being more sensitive whilst redefining masculinity.

1. They Value Self Awareness. While traditional masculinity says “don’t feel,” modern masculinity says “dare to feel.” Millennial men are committed to knowing themselves on a deep and personal level—even if what they find is difficult to confront or conflicting. Rather than hide from or deny who you are, become curious about who you are and have the courage to represent yourself authentically.

2. They Are Non-Conformist. The rigid gender roles for men and women are becoming more loosely defined as millennial challenge the status quo. According to one international study titled “The Decline of the Manly Man,” the percentage of men who are staying home to care for children is rising today while women are slowly surpassing men in academic performance and closing the income gap. The evolved man isn’t swayed by gender roles or what society deems “manly.” He doesn’t need to be validated externally by conforming. He acts according to his own volition, and he isn’t threatened by women rising, either.

3. They Don’t Want To Compete With One Another. Instead of trying to gain empty status, the evolved man knows his worth lies within. He is secure within himself to the extent that he doesn’t need to put others down in order to feel better about himself.

4. They Value Authenticity. Men have no need to pretend they’re someone they’re not, because they’re not ashamed of who they really are. You can cultivate authenticity in your life by ensuring your outer self is aligned with your inner self. One Boulder, CO-based movement, called the Authentic Man Program, is dedicated to empowering men in their authenticity so that rewarding interactions are made possible.

5. The Want To Be Vulnerable. Outdated masculinity says men shouldn’t show any sign of weakness. But modern masculinity embraces vulnerability as an expression of courage.

6. They Act According To Their Values. A man follows through on his values. He values his own sense of self above others’ sense of who he is so he honors his commitment to himself first and foremost.

7. They Are Motivated To Grow. Evolved men don’t just stop at “evolved.” They are continuously looking for new ways to grow and develop themselves. You can be proactive about your own development by attending education-based events. You will be better able to see your own blind spots in the context of relationships, so considering joining a men’s group or starting your own.

One disturbing fact that came out of researching this piece was the amount of mental and often physical abuse that is brought against men and women. While the values and role definitions in relationships and culture are shifting so too are the figures when it comes to abuse. While men tend to react more physically, the alarming numbers of women lashing out at their partners has been steadily climbing in the last 5 years around the globe. Men are still 50% less likely to report abuse with most citing that it would be seen as weak to do so. Those that did report it stated that it started out as verbal abuse escalating over time, taking a turn and becoming physical. Police were also less likely to believe a male than female when it came to reports of physical abuse with some officers reportedly laughing it off and telling the complainant to just go home and sort it out.

It would seem even as we shift towards equality, slowly, like the hare and the tortoise and men start to become softer, more sensitive and as some females put it more feminine we as humans still feel the need to repress one another. Whether it be through cutting each other down verbally or physically lashing out we are still in the mindset that one sex needs to dominate the other, rather than finding that balance. Perhaps in our generation that is not possible while we still have cultural aspects ingrained in us from the past. But the millennial, perhaps they have an opportunity to lead us into the 22nd century changed where we are all truly equal and it’s ok to be sensitive. Sensitive towards yourself and sensitive towards others and a true picture of what a human being should really be. After all there are no rules that say you can’t be tough, strong, masculine and yet still sensitive, kind and caring. There is nothing to say you can’t have all of those great qualities.

While we feel that people who suffer from mental health issues are a little more sensitive than most people we believe this to be the case for one simple reason. They are more in touch with their emotions. Whether they are able to cope and deal with those emotions is a different question altogether but the fact that they feel on a different level to most people often allows them to understand emotions, feelings and thoughts a lot better once the tools are in place that allow them to filter and sift through them logically. When we set out to write this weeks blog the question we had in mind was why are we so sensitive or from the writers prospective why am I so sensitive? That wasn’t the question that we should have been asking. The real question is why are we always made to feel it’s a bad thing to be sensitive? Or in touch with our feelings? Why is it deemed feminine if we are empathetic, kind, caring and nurturing? Yes generally all female characteristics but nevertheless all traits that can also be shown by men.

Over time we may see a change and these qualities will be accepted in men but for now both men and women will have to continue in their set gender stereotypes that have been cast in stone for centuries. Because let’s be honest for just a second if we may, it’s not just men who judge other men for being sensitive, women are often just as judgemental as their male counterparts when it comes to the sensitivity of men. Still to this day, Friday 12th of April in 2019 it is seen as very unmanly to be in touch with your emotions and have a little bit of softness about you. How many times have you heard the words “You need to grow a pair”, come from the mouth of a woman or “You’re being rather emotional for a bloke”. Far too often as humans we tend to speak before we think, instead of letting our minds filter and process what we are about to say. For some people this may be a difficult process in itself as they feel justified in their position. For others though it is just purely about getting their point across whether they are right or wrong. We tend to refer to these people as the Last Word Brigade.

In another eye opener for the year we’ve learnt that it’s the kids once again leading the way rather than the adults who should know better having spent more time on the earth and experienced more in their lives. Perhaps we should just hand over the keys to the city now and like the lost boys in Peter Pan let the kids govern themselves. They seem to be doing a lot better job than we certainly are when it comes to being in touch with ourselves and the world around us. They say the children are the future and from the looks of things they weren’t wrong. While the kids continue to get it right and grow, we adults will continue to maintain the status quo only to bitch and moan about things rather than making an effort to change them. From the Wicked Sensitive Crew… here at a A Mind of It’s Own we bid you another fond farewell for the week and we look forward to seeing you all the same time next week for yet another install of the blog that keeps on keeping on. Until then Sayonara, yep Japanese this week just to mix it up from the usual European goodbyes.

This Celluloid Dream…

Where is the line? A question often asked and yet never answered. Personally most people know where and when to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. But when it comes to matters that have potentially political ramifications we often have no idea where to draw that said line and say we’ve gone way too far. Recent international events have people up in arms over all sorts of issues that may or may not really have any impact of effect upon their lives. We’ve spoken about victimhood chic in a previous blog but it’s in times of tragedy, loss and of pure evil that we see it come out more and more. Fingers are pointed and everyone has someone or something to blame for the event or issue. With the evolution of the internet we have given a platform or soapbox for everyone with access to a computer or smartphone.

Despite all of that we’ve somewhat had a change of heart, well more a change in topic that we are way more interested in. Well maybe not so much interested but more peaked our interest in the premise behind it. We’ve never been forwards and going backwards here at a Mind of Its Own. We are a bunch of geeks, we love sports, we love comics, we love video games and we love books. After all knowledge is power and who is to say that a comic or graphic novel can’t provide you with information? There is something to be said for fiction that is based around a premise that potentially could become real at some point in time. One of the biggest things about providing something to the masses whether it be a book, video game or other source of media is its ability to appeal and the more likely that it could become real the more it tends to sell.

By now you’re once again asking where the hell we are going with this weeks blog. How outside the box is it going to be and what crazy theme if any will the bunch of clowns hiding behind their keyboards like chairborne commando ready to take Normandy give us? Well we are glad you asked because yeah there is some cray, cray as the kids say in this week’s edition of the nation’s number one outside the box, thinking blog. We aren’t just saying that for shits and giggles. As we dive down this weeks rabbit hole it had us asking some serious questions about what we’d do if the following events ever became reality. In some ways it pays to be a poor writer. Read on to see what we mean by that as this weeks piece come to life thanks to the brains in the office of craze, the wonder writers at a mind of its own blog. Coming soon to internet compatible device near you. (Yep shameless plug!)

As we stated before the team here are a little on the geeky side, we find beauty and creativity in things like comics and video games that some people would look at and go that’s a little childish. To each their own we say. The premise of this weeks blog comes from the story sitting behind a video game franchise. Despite the beautiful open world game that allows the player to explore the city they are in while completing missions. Behind the beautiful graphics and three-dimensional rendering there is a story that would have a massive impact on the world’s population if it were ever to come true. Ladies and Gentlemen we are talking about Tom Clancy’s the Division. Yes for those asking it is the guy that writes books. He’s had a few books adapted into video games and a few games that will adapted into books and movies.

To get to the crux of the story we first need to look at the condition of the world as it currently is. If we were to swear we could sum it up in one word but as it is every week this is a family friendly blog. Where to start is a good question, some people believe that we are overpopulating the world. We aren’t saying they are wrong or right but as our population grows so too does the demand for resources. Put simply our prediction is that future wars will be fought over fresh water and food sources rather than oil, land or religion. In calculation models prepared by the United Nations we are predicted to grow from 7.71 Billion people in 2019 to 9.7 billion people by 2050 and further increasing to 11.2 billion by the end of the century. Some of you are probably sitting there thinking that’s not a lot of people however you need to think outside the box for a second and what that increase could potentially mean.

In order to ensure their survival certain countries could take population control into their own hands. We’ve seen version of it in China through their one child policy or the holocaust during world war two as Hitler tried to exterminate the Jewish as part of his new world order in which the Aryan race was the only pure blood line. Population control has always been a concern for the worlds governing bodies and yes it sounds like a super villain from a Bond film is going to step into the limelight and ensure population numbers are controlled through some heinous crime but in reality that’s pretty much all it would take, one person or a group of people taking matters into their own hands to cause a worldwide problem that we may not recover from. There are no doubt those out there that will say we ruined the earth so we deserve whatever we get however our children and our children’s children did not have anything to do with crimes we’ve committed against the earth.

Let’s start with the story behind the hit game series Tom Clancy’s The Division and you’ll start to get a feel for where we are going with this weeks blog. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day on the American calendar and fastly spreading around the world as a day of sales where shops can clear out old stock before Christmas. The one thing all countries have in common is money and when it comes to sales there is always plenty of it around. If you wanted to control population what better way to do so than spread a virus amongst money to be circulated in the worlds largest day of sales. This is the premise that the Division is based on. A professor creates a smallpox like super virus that not only incubates faster but also spreads and takes effect quicker. The super virus is created with six separate pathogens: Dengue, Ebola, H1N1, Hantavirus, Marburg and Swine Flu.

As with all viruses it rapidly mutates making it highly difficult for conventional drugs or antibodies to identify and exterminate the virus. It also makes it extremely difficult for virologists to create a proper vaccine against the disease. Through distributing the virus via infected bills during Black Friday sales it ensure a rapid spread of the highly infectious disease. Initial symptoms of the virus display as new strain of flu that is extremely contagious and spreads rapidly. Given the premise of the game is for you to help a virologist find samples of the virus while fighting off factions of criminals, military, law enforcement and military contractors who have turned outlaws and are trying to wrestle control of the city from you and the other members of a joint task force you start to see the knock on effects of population control. Two words…

Civil unrest… They say the first rule of treating a virus is containment. Anyone that shows signs of the virus goes into isolation or quarantine as it’s better known when referring to infectious diseases. In the case of our man-made super virus what better way to contain it than section off part of the city and shove all the sick, dying and symptomatic people in there to fight it out over the little supplies dropped in each week. We’ll build some walls perhaps we’ll use Trump’s Mexican wall contractors. Outside that wall we’ll have guarded checkpoints manned by healthy or immune military or law enforcement. No one gets out and really who in their right mind would want to go in? Oh us as we hunt for clues on how to stop the virus and fight all the factions trying to take over the city that’s who’s stupid enough to go into the contamination zone or Dark Zone as it’s referred to in the game.

It’s at this point we start to realise that it wouldn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination for us to actually see this type of thing in the real world. Poisoned water supplies, food, air-conditioned offices, money. Basically anything touched by another human being could be a potential place for some crackpot scientist or world leader who seeks to cement their place at the top of the new world order to contaminate with a virus and watch it spread. Heck the TV show the Last Ship is pretty much based around a virus that decimates the world’s population and trying to not only survive but find a cure. There have been plenty of examples throughout history where biological agents or warfare have been used by armies. It might be a little stretch to say by an individual hell-bent on world domination but then again we’ve had some rather disgusting people throughout history who thought they could create a better world or were that dilussional that they thought they knew what was best and should rule all humanity. See what absolute power does kids, it goes to people’s heads, that’s why we have checks and balances on our governments. No one wants to live under a dictator. For all that’s wrong with democracy it’s doing a lot of things right.

The fact that the United States Government has simulated and war game this type of outbreak is a little scary to say the least. The code name giving to the mock bio-terror attack was also a little on the bleak side. In June of 2001 the United States carried out a mock attack of weaponized smallpox code-named Operation Dark Winter. While the operation was designed to create preventative measures against such an attack it also outlined just how inadequate the national services response would be to such an attack. With a localised attack on one city the mock attack showed just how quickly events could spiral out of control. Concerns of such an attack would spark pandemonium in the communities and in all likelihood spread quickly through continental United States rapidly. The sheer logistics required to contain a virus had the team somewhat mesmerised thinking about all the things you’d need to do. The transportation industry would grind to a halt, travel industry, well as we think about it most of the industries would stop while medical and law enforcement attempt to get containment protocols in place.

Here in Australia I don’t think we would even be prepared to contemplate such an attack or outbreak let alone contain it and start the search for a cure. If there is a government contingency for such an attack or outbreak unlike our American friends it’s not broadcast to all and sundry. All hell would break loose we’d have the Cronulla riots times ten. Imagine all the Southern Cross tattoos that would come out then. Heck you’d see more bogans than usual looting the local chemist. We are an isolated country yes but we are also allies with the world’s most hated country and we aren’t doing ourselves any favours by letting Jim Henson’s creations govern our great land. The fact that we’ve sat and not only thought about it but contemplated what would or could happen in the event of a virus, man-made or otherwise is a little concerning. It shows we are in a great time of uncertainty in the world.

It also has the team thinking that great Minds being the Division might be onto something and we as Australians should be training up a batch of sleeper Agents to be activated in times of emergency to bring peace and order to our great nation because let’s be honest without order there is chaos and chaos uncontrolled is just pure mayhem waiting for someone to come along and organise it. So why not have a group of dedicated individuals both men and women with the skills to rebuild a nation hidden away for when you need them. Or for when our neighbours to the north finally decide to invade after they bought up most of our land and primary industry. A little like a resistance against the anarchy and chaos that would no doubt ensue after a virus wiped out half the population. Heck our hospitals are already bad enough can you even imagine the trouble and outbreak would cause for the Australian Health system. Safe to say the last thing we are prepared for is a major viral outbreak man-made or not.

As you can see ladies and gentlemen whilst the premise of the video game might be fictional it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see the real world application for the use of a man-made virus to control the world’s population or take over another country through biological warfare. There is a big fear the next war will be nuclear but in our eyes it’s the things you don’t see that you really should be watching out for. With Man’s incessant need to mettle, manipulate and tinker with everything in an attempt to make it better or perfect we have created some absolutely horrific viruses or weaponised strains of viruses that occur naturally in nature. We are in a sense our own worst enemies. Only humans have the ability to create death and destruction in a vial all in an attempt to get the upper hand over each other. Safe to say we are somewhat always attempting to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth through our own attempts to discover, to learn, to be better, you could say we found a way to tie in our opening paragraph. Where is the line and where do we draw said line when it comes to trying to play god.

While we pray to the heavens or in our case a thunder-cloud as the rain engulfs the house we are currently writing from as we don’t believe in God or religion. Again each to their own, we certainly hope that this all stays fiction and no one tries to control the world by releasing a deadly pathogen. We are certainly thinking all those crazy preppers around the world might be onto something. Perhaps we should build a mind of its own shelter, an inner sanctum in which we can continue to spread the word on all things no one else wants to. But in saying that the internet might be down. Maybe investing in an old print machine might be an idea. We could make paper out of hemp this time instead of cutting down trees.

Who would have thought a guy running around in a flannelette shirt, pants and some hiking boots

Until next week we’re going to wander off into the waste land that has become Washington D.C and attempt to restore some order to the good ole US of A and cure a virus. Hopefully we won’t have to fight a super Oompa Loompa who’s looking to build walls around things and makes saying China sound more like Vagina. Although in saying that his Space Force isn’t ready so it is a fight that we might win beside our fellow agents at the Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) or simple The Division. Adios amigos and stay tuned we’ll continue releasing a new edition each and every Friday just in time for your weekend incase you get bored, sick or stuck on public transport.

Beat Up Car…

As I sat in a Cafe waiting for my over priced flat white and a fat filled ham, cheese and tomato croissant I found myself watching the people around me. Something that I often find myself doing when I am sitting on my own waiting. Most were busy chatting with there friends or colleagues as they too waited for their overpriced caffeinated beverages prepared by the underpaid barrister who seemed to know everyone who walked into the cafe. Amongst them was the odd person who caught my attention through their anxious, nervous behaviour. Like the bleached blonde who continued to tap her foot as her eyes darted around the room like she was waiting for someone to jump out and mug her. Or the gentleman who was attempting to tuck himself deeper and deeper into the corner in the hopes of burying himself in the brickwork and avoiding everyone in the room.

It was the first time I had consciously noticed myself looking for people displaying anxious behaviours. Was it because I myself was feeling anxious? More than likely it was, I was in a city where despite having grown up it no longer felt friendly. I had burnt a lot bridges here and when my anxiety was through the roof I often feared running into people I knew. We’ll call it FOBS (Fear of being seen) which unlike FOMO (Fear of missing out) often has me ducking and weaving particularly when I don’t want to speak to people. I guess you could call me the Ninja of avoidance at times. It was all in the avoidance of having to have those conversations where despite the sincerity often behind them you still can’t help but feel some judgement particularly by those who thought you were going to go places.

That’s not to say I haven’t, I’ve been plenty of places and tried plenty of different things only to fall back on my passion and a job that allows me the flexibility to write when i want and what I want. Had someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life 10 years ago the last thing on my mind would have been to become a writer. Over the years though that urge to tell stories both real and make believe has grown stronger and stronger to the point where I look forward to putting pen to paper or sitting in front of my laptop with a cold beer and tapping out a short piece for a blog or working away on my book. It’s also become a very useful tool in my battle against anxiety and depression.

Through writing I am able to give a voice to the things I struggle to say or speak about with family and friends. I am able to give my demons a face and therefore recognise them in the dark times I find myself in a pit of self loathing, insecurity and pain. Most of all I am able to make sense of why I am feeling the way I am in that particular moment. Like the parting of clouds allowing the sun to shine through I can once again see what is in front of me and live in the moment, rather than worrying about the past. There are some people who would say that writing is another escapism and allows me to once again avoid dealing with the heart of the issue. But it’s to those people that I now write.

Too often we are quick to judge what we do not understand or what scares us. We are quick to point fingers or give labels and throw stereotypes around before we’ve we’ve even considered the ramifications of doing so. Mental illness and I can’t speak for everyone but I can speak for myself does not define me or govern what I can and can’t do. It does not make me any different from you or the people around you. In fact chances are that one of your close friends or family suffers from some form of mental health issue given that statistics say one in every six people is a sufferer.

Again with the labels, sufferer, yes there are days that I struggle, there are days that I go from feeling on top of the world to wallowing in a dark, dank, stinky pit of depression, rage and anxiety but I am not suffering. In fact these days I am probably more the norm than the exception. The only difference you might find between me and you as you read through this is that whilst I might not physically talk about I have learnt that it is ok and I talk about it through my writing. I give a voice to all those who still can’t but will grow and develop on their own journey to learning that it is ok to talk.

Whilst I might be able to put all this down on a page and spread a message to 100s if not 1000s of people around the globe the sad truth of it all is that I am still unable to often talk about it all with my wife, my friends and my family. I struggle to voice when the pendulum is swinging and I am going from high to low but like a beat up old car I will get there in the end. I will get there because without those people in my life I would not be where I am today. I would not have the courage to share my battle with you nor the ability to articulate to you that opening up and expressing yourself, your feelings, your thoughts it’s all ok and you shouldn’t hide from it.

For years I found it easier to hide from it all and bury my feelings only to become that over sensitive person who wanted to have a deep and meaningful after a few beers at the pub. I was that guy that portrayed complete happiness on the outside only to be a minefield on the inside. One wrong step and I exploded, firing off from the hip without a single thought of what was coming from my mouth. My wife often refers to it as my mindless rambling and the point where she knows that I am not ok as what comes out of my mouth makes absolutely no sense. It will take me a couple of hours to come down from my somewhat convoluted high horse of jumbled thoughts and irrational behaviour. Only to enter the feedback loop from hell and get angry at myself for getting angry.

Even now writing this my mind wanders back to all the times I’ve lost my shit, become over anxious, made myself physically sick by over thinking and more often than not tried to numb it all with alcohol rather than talk about what was wrong or how I was feeling or most importantly what had triggered me and why I was feeling it. It also churns over with ideas on how I could have handled things a lot better. All I needed to do was take some time and think about things. Slow down and allow my thoughts to collate, manifest and be reflected upon before they are splurged out into the world as incomprehensible sentences to later be deciphered on my therapist’s couch as I recollect my latest episode where my anxiety and depression got the better of me.

Yeah it still gets the better of me no matter what I techniques or methods I use to get it under control actually sorry that’s not the best words to use. Manageable is a better word to use, whilst there is a part of me that feels one day I will control my anxiety and depression at this point in time I manage them not control them but simply manage them. On a day to day basis I manage my mental health. Sometimes I’ll go weeks on end without it really getting to me or getting me down. Those are the weeks that I have everything in sync, my routine is tight, I’m exercising and I’m being creative whether it be writing, painting, drawing or building something. Ok so keep my mind busy and active it helps me out, except when I am trying to sleep but I’ve found reading tends to send me into dreamland pretty well.

As I finished my croissant and watched the blonde lady continue to tap out an anxious beat I gave her a reassuring smile to let her know that everything will be ok. The world may not be black and white, it may not be clear cut and dry and it certainly may not always be predictable but it is what you and I choose to make it. Despite those days where you might feel you have control over nothing in your life you do have the options and ability to change things. It was a lesson that took me over twenty years to learn and one that I no doubt thought I never would as I became more depressed and anxious overtime that I wasn’t a somebody and swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck.

In those often fleeting moments where I find myself people watching and wondering what there lives are like and whether they often struggle I am reminded of the greatest, most precious and real piece of information I will ever receive. I am human! We are the only species on the earth that is able to feel a raft of emotions and think cognitively for ourselves. We are the only species that is allowed the freedom of thought. Whether we can voice those thoughts is a different question all together and not one that I am willing to broach in this price of writing. My point being we are blessed with imaginations, thoughts, feelings, pain and the ability to experience it all in the way we want.

Your mental health issues do not make you a monster that should be hidden away from the world. Sure it can be monster that needs taming and made beautiful from time to time but it does not make you a bad person, it does not make you someone who should be a social pariah or shunned by friends and family. It makes you a superhuman in my book. You are someone who battles day in, day out. It makes you often more human than those around you as you feel everything and often have the ability to feel and read people’s energy when you enter a room.

Mistakes will be made, things will no doubt fall apart but just as there a bad times there will be good times and you are human. Your mental health is important and you are important remember that. We each have a story to tell and something to contribute. As the sun dawns on another day and I board yet another flight for another city I urge you all to find your voice whether that be interptive through one of the arts or through speaking with friends and family or even a stranger. It’s ok to talk and will become more and more encouraged as we rid the world of the stigma that mental health issues are taboo and shouldn’t be discussed.

As I write this I know there is much more that should be said and could be said but I have already taken up enough of your time with this health check and sanity piece. On behalf of the team and myself at A Mind of Its Own we appreciate your readership and constant support as we bring you a new piece each and every week. I promise I’ll hand you back to the team next week to give you a zany take on a topic that comes to us in the early hours of the morning when we should be fast asleep dreaming of tropical beaches. Until next week take it easy. TC…

Caveman’s Land…

With a growing amount of anger, fingers race across the keyboard in an effort to not only shed light on this weeks blog but also to outline the injustice that often goes on in a world where the undefendable are taken advantage of. It’s hard for a team to sit there and start this week’s blog with all the bullshit that is going on in the world. Sorry for swearing kids, really sorry but the world is going to hell in a handbag. And where did that saying even come from. Why does hell reside in a handbag? Does it have a orange oompa loompa that is its president? Perhaps he’s riding horseback with his former russian counterpart. Yeah ok this week’s topic has got under the teams skin and we are a little worked up to say the least. Why as humans do we feel the need to interfere with the natural order of the world? If it’s not trying to engineer the human genome we are trying to assert our dominance over the world? Well ladies and gentlemen this week we’ll see what we can do about answering some of those questions or at least giving you a no holds barred opinion of the scum that we share the planet with.

Whether you believe that god created the earth and all that is within it, or like us you believe in science and the Big Bang Theory. We live on a beautiful planet that is full of wonder and enchantment. Sharing the earth with creatures great and small, who have adapted and evolved to the changing environments as we humans continue to destroy the natural beauty around us. Why do we do it you ask? Well that would be the draw of the almighty dollar, greed has fueled man’s ambitions since the dawn of civilisation. With money comes power and with power comes, well comes a lot of arsehats who think that they are the most important people to walk this earth. They will stop at nothing to keep their power and their money. Often they can be linked to sociopath or narcissistic behaviours and very much have a me, me type of atittude when it comes to other people and their feelings.

Given that money makes the world go round, a lot of people tend to just throw money at their problems or the problems of the world. The problem with doing that however is that there is always the leeches of society who see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and make a quick buck. With greed fueling the economy and our markets both the free market and the black market it’s no coincidence that destruction of our planet and its inhabitants go hand in hand with people making money and often millions upon millions of dollars from suffering. From dodgy land grabs to digging up the earth, right through to war and the sale of arms, greed fuels the men and women who we often view as disgusting and irresponsible. This week we are taking a look at a topic that often brings tears followed by anger and outrage when you see images of the suffering and death caused by the money grabbing scum of the earth.

This week we start our adventure in the one place on earth that everyone immediately thinks of when they hear about this topic the one place outside of a zoo where you can still see a lot, but not many of these majestic animals roaming free. Also the one place that sees it’s fair share of death and destruction on a daily basis. Not only do we see the innocent slaughter and destruction of wildlife habitats in the search for gold, oil and other rare earth elements. But also the murder and capture of animals for their skin, bone, oils and other body parts as part of the illegal black market sale and trade of rare and exotic animals. Across the globe atrocities against animals occur on a daily basis as greed and quest for money drives poachers to capture or kill animals. It’s a billion dollar industry that will only continue to grow as the average salary goes up allowing people who have never had access to Animal products before a glimpse of the market. In Africa the sale and exportation of Ivory ranks as one of the biggest threats to both the Elephant and Rhinoceros. In order to remove their tusks or horn poachers will either kill them outright or hack them off leaving the animals to suffer and die from the injuries inflicted during the removal process.

It’s not only the slaughter of innocent animals for their ivory to be made into some desk ornament or object on a wall for a wanker who needs pretty things so he or she can feel validated in their office or den. But the removal of animals from their natural habitats for sale on the black market to collectors that pushes each species prayed on by poachers closer and closer to the edge of extinction. From Gorillas to species of Birds and reptiles they end up in peoples backyards around the globe left in conditions that are often below humanitarian standards and almost torturous to the poor animals who were once free and able to soar or roam across the landscape. Adding to all this is the ever increasing growth of the human population and the destruction of habitats allowing for building of communities and cities often with very little thought or concern for the native species whose areas we have invaded and destroyed since the dawn of time, once again forcing them to either adapt, evolve or perish.

For centuries eastern medicine has used certain animal organs including Tiger Penis as part of their recipes to aile the sick and dying. Apparently Tiger Penis is just an aphrodisiac and was once thought to give virility and endurance. We’re pretty sure eating a penis isn’t going to give you virility and help you conceive. Just be be sure we asked the gay community who confirmed you will not boost your ability to get pregnant. Just like a bears gallbladder and the bile created by said gallbladder that is made into herbal remedies will not help with liver or gallbladder problems. China and Southeast Asia is home to many of the illegal sales and trades of Animals, Animal products and Ivory. For centuries they have used animal parts to ward off spirits or take on the attributes of the animals fresh they are indesting. The ownership of furs, ivory and other skins or horns is seen as a status symbol.

What we tend to find is that these people who like to show their wealth and affluence have no care in the world if an animal becomes extinct, in fact the more endangered a species becomes the higher the price and the more they need to have it. These narcissistic, often psychotic and certainly degranged people only care about themselves and having power and money. They will do anything to get what they want and care very little for authority and the rules. The same can be said for the men at the top off the business organisational structures, the more money that comes across there desks, the more demand and the more they want more of it. The calls go out to their networks and the hunters go to work across the globe. They go to work hunting down Elephants, Rhinoceros, Bears, Gorillas, Monkeys, Pangolin, Tigers, Snakes, Other reptiles and birds. Some they kill others they capture. The carcusas of those they harvested organs or appendages from are found fly blow and often encircled by scavengers.

Those that they don’t kill like bears or tigers are often transported to farms in China where parts are extracted or removed piece by piece. Until such a point the animals bodies give in and they go to a better place. A place away from the pain and torment. For those animals that are sold to private zoo’s or collectors, they are lucky enough to escape the torture and pain and often death. Whilst they are still removed from their natural habitats and this often causes trauma, anxiety and depression they are still alive. This means when authorities do get their acts together they can attempt to reintegrate them into their natural environment. Man’s punchance for greed makes us do disgusting things to other humans and the animals that walk this earth.

We often purely blame the hunters who yes we are agree should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law but even conservation groups aren’t helping to stem the tide. With all the infighting and political agendas as well as petty jealousy and personal ambitions of members often there ends up being very little done to project the animals who are being preyed upon. Whilst illegal poaching has now become a mainstream issue for governments around the globe they to face the same issues as the conservation groups and once again we see the animals continue to suffer and preyed upon by hunters feeding a market demand. In Africa wildlife reserves have employed Rangers who have the power and authority to arrest poachers caught on the their grounds. Often this is the first step in severing the chain but without tougher laws around the globe directed at all levels of the pyramid poaching will continue. Anti-poaching laws often only focus on the collection and distribution of animals and animal associated products and whilst it is illegal to own ivory in certain countries being caught with it is often no more than a slap on the wrist or fine. A fine to a lot of these people is chump change, nothing more than a minor annoyance.

What we need is governments to band together and ensure that poaching laws are enforced and the harshest of punishments are handed out. Taking a life any life whether human or not should warrant jail time. Both the poacher themselves along with their bosses or partners and the purchasers should all have the book thrown at them. When this starts to happen perhaps we’ll start to see some changes and we’ll be able to keep some of our animals off the endangered species list or from extinction. The sad thing is that unless we do something in the near and we mean the very near future it may already be too late for some of those majestic creatures. We certainly won’t be sitting idly by watching in the hopes that someone does something. While we can’t physically pick up the team and move them around the world or pick up a weapon and work against the poachers we can certainly add our voice and work with those by providing financial support to those who are actually doing something. Those that don’t want to sit by and wait for committees, governments, organisations to wade through their own political messes.

Around the globe the Rangers combating poachers are often sadly outgunned both literally and figuratively. There weapons are archaic, the people they are working against often have technology helping them to avoid detection and have the backing of multi-million dollar criminal organisations. The poor rangers are often sporting AK-47s that have seen better days and use old tracking methods to follow poachers. A lot of the time it is too late and they are already on their way to deliver their trophies to ensure they have a payday coming their way. With technology and funding the Rangers and volunteers that make the anti-poaching task forces around the globe will be on a an even playing field with those out to do harm and capture animals all with intention for making a dollar. Animals can’t defend themselves against man and our weapons. We have to stand up for them and have to stand up for a future in which we can see these great and unique beasts in the wild.

Everyday whether it be in the news or social media we see the death and destruction caused by men and women seeking fortune and fame at the expense of defenseless animals. It makes us sick and sad when we see these graphic images of animals dead or dying all in the name of money and man’s need to feel power. The team at a mind of its own have certainly had enough, we’ve read enough news papers, watched enough documentaries and read enough books to know that man is responsible for all the death and destruction going on in the world. We also have a responsibility to future generations to ensure they are able to see all the animals in the kingdom in the wild not at a zoo or museum. It’s time for us to stop living like cavemen and start looking to the future before it really is too late. All creatures great and small deserve to live in peace.

Until next week folks dob in a poacher, dob in a dealer and dob in that wanky knob who has bear heads, elephant tusks and tiger skins draped in his den. It’s not the 1890’s and anyone wearing a pith helmet deserves to be punched in the junk. Poaching whether you are the hunter, seller or buyer will never be ok. We are on the path to extinction and only we can divert the course. You hold the power to ensure a better future for your children and your children’s children. Last thing you want is to be showing your kids a stuffed elephant in a museum in 15 years time knowing we could have done something to prevent the needless slaughter of a beautiful species. We often try to give both sides of the story but this is one topic we will never waiver on, we like knowing that some of the bigger beasts are roaming the jungles and savannas of the world. Be good to yourself and look after what you can, until next week! Peace out!!!

Golden Years…

As a children our minds are at always curious, they are always questioning, always wondering and forever exploring. Our imaginations run wild as we play and develop, but over time we are able to determine what is real and what is make believe. Yet there are still things that even as adults still intrigue us and have us asking questions and believing in things that may or may not be real or exist. So with that said ladies and gentlemen it’s time to put down your laptops, phones and whatever else you are doing head out to the shed and grab a shovel, bucket and anything else you might think will help, if someone has a metal detector that would be great and head off with us on a real life treasure hunt. Yep treasure hunt, like children intrigued by tall tales and legends passed down from generation to generation the idea of buried treasure has grasped us by the balls and got us hooked.

Like many people we are fascinated with history, learning about the past is always interesting, but when you throw in mystery, intrigue and a treasure hunt you’ve got us hook, line and sinker. Well we’ve managed to find a treasure hunt that continues to trouble people and only raise more and more questions over time. To us it seems to be the ultimate treasure hunt with more twist and turns and just the right amount of mystery to keep you wanting more and more. With theories involving pirates, the knights templar, the British, the French, Portuguese and a few well known people throughout history the mystery behind the treasure will draw in even the most doubtful of people. Now before we lay it all out and get you all excited about a treasure hunt we do need to point out that some of the theories behind the stories are a little wild and outlandish.

Having been warned lets sink our teeth into the mystery that is Oak Island. Sitting in Mahone Bay Nova Scotia, Canada. The privately owned island in Lunenburg county sits 200 metres from the shore of mainland Canada and is connected by a causeway. The tree covered island has been the setting for treasure hunters for over 200 years. As far back as 1700 people have searched the island for treasure. With links to the Knights Templar, Marie Antoinette, Blackbeard, The British Army fighting the American revolution there is no shortage to the amount of theories surrounding what treasure is buried on the island. When we first heard of the mystery of Oak Island we were somewhat a little dubious with a few of the theories around the treasure. The more we read and the more we researched, oh ok there was also a show about it that we just happened to stumble on that made us go wow this is cool. Modern day treasure hunters that’s something we can get our heads around.

The Oak Island mystery refers to stories of buried treasure and unexplained objects on Oak Island in Nova Scotia. Since the 19th century, a number of attempts have been made to locate treasure and artifacts. Theories about artifacts present on the island range anywhere from pirate treasure, to Shakespearean manuscripts, or religious objects of great importance. Various items have surfaced over the years that were found on the island, some of which have since been carbon dated and found to be hundreds of years old. Although these items can be considered treasure in their own right, the significant main treasure site has since been lost. The site consisted of an original shaft which was dug by early explorers, now known as “the money pit”. Oak Island has been a subject for treasure hunters ever since the late 1700s, with rumors that Captain Kidd’s treasure was buried there. While there is little evidence to support what went on during the early excavations, stories began to be published and documented as early as 1856.

Since that time there have been many theories that extend beyond that of Captain Kidd which include among others religious artifacts, manuscripts, and Marie Antoinette’s jewels. The “treasure” has also been prone to criticism by those who have dismissed search areas as natural phenomenon. Areas of interest on the island with regard to treasure hunters include a location known as the “Money Pit”, which is allegedly the original searchers spot. There is also a formation of boulders called “Nolan’s Cross”, named after a former treasure hunter with a theory on it, and a triangle-shaped swamp. Lastly, there has been searcher activity on a beach at a place called “Smith’s Cove”. Various objects including non native coconut fiber have been found there.

As Legend goes 7 people must lose their lives before the island will reveal the treasure. To date six people have lost their lives hunting for the Oak Island treasure in what can only be described as accidents. The mystery as to who and why it was put there on the Island still eludes us to this day. For over two hundred years people have explored, drilled, dug, dived and even blown up the Island in an effort to find the so called treasures buried beneath its surface. To tell you the full story and really get you hooked we should go back to the beginning and give you as much information as possible. We’ll say it now, if you are more of a visual person there’s a History Channel show called the Curse of Oak Island that documents and follows a group of modern day treasure hunters who have been captivated by the story for years. There goes half if not more of our readers, let’s face it if people can watch something rather than read they are going to take the easy option. Humans have become inherently lazy.

According to the earliest theory, there is a pit on Oak Island that holds a pirate treasure buried by now other than the infamous pirate Captain Kidd himself. Kidd reportedly conspired with Henry Avery(we had to google who he was), and Oak Island became their community pirate bank, wonder what there customer service would have been like. Another pirate theory involved Edward Teach aka Blackbeard, who said that he buried his treasure “where none but Satan and myself can find it”. An additional proposed explanation is that the pit was dug by Spanish sailors to hold treasure from a wrecked galleon or British troops stationed there during the American Revolution. Others claim that British marines dug the pit to store the loot acquired from the British invasion of Cuba, valued at about £1,000,000 pounds (about $180,000,000 in 2015). John Godwin wrote that given the apparent size and complexity of the pit, it was probably dug by French Army engineers hoping to hide the treasury of the Fortress of Louisbourg after it fell to the British during the Seven Years’ War.

Yet another theory for what is hidden beneath the Island lends it hands to Marie Antoinette’s jewels, missing except for specimens already in museum collections, there are theories the rest were reportedly hidden on the island. On October 5, 1789, an angry mob of Parisian working women, incited by revolutionaries marched on the Palace of Versailles. According to the undocumented (so it’s hearsay?) story, Marie Antoinette instructed her maid (or a lady-in-waiting) to take the jewels and flee. The maid fled to London with the jewels and (perhaps) other treasures, such as artwork or documents, secreted on her person or in her luggage. The woman then said to have fled from London to Nova Scotia. Using royal connections, she contracted with the French Navy to construct the Oak Island pit. In late 2017 the first possible evidence of this theory seemed to have been validated by the discovery of a 500-year-old brooch containing a large garnet.

In his 1953 book, The Oak Island Enigma: A History and Inquiry Into the Origin of the Money Pit, Penn Leary wrote that the pit was used to hide manuscripts indicating that Francis Bacon was the author of William Shakespeare’s works and a leader of the Rosicrucians.Leary’s “The Second Cryptographic Shakespeare”, published in 1990, identified ciphers in Shakespeare’s plays and poems which pointed to Bacon’s authorship. Author and researcher Mark Finnan elaborated on Leary’s Oak Island theory, which was also used in the Norwegian book Organisten (The Seven Steps to Mercy) by Erlend Loe and Petter Amundsen and the TV series Sweet Swan of Avon.

In his book, Oak Island Secrets, Mark Finnan noted that many Masonic markings were found on Oak Island, and the shaft (or pit) and its mysterious contents seemed to replicate aspects of a Masonic initiation rite involving a hidden vault with a sacred treasure. Joe Nickell identifies parallels between Oak Island accounts, the “Secret Vault” allegory in York Rite Freemasonry and the Chase Vault on Barbados. Freemason Dennis King examines the Masonic aspects of the Oak Island legend in his article, “The Oak Island Legend: The Masonic Angle”. Steven Sora speculated that the pit could have been dug by exiled Knights Templar and might be the final resting place of the Holy Grail or the Ark of the Covenant.

Another theory holds that the Rosicrucians and their reported leader, Francis Bacon, organized a secret project to make Oak Island the home of its legendary vault with ingenious means to conceal ancient manuscripts and artifacts. Researchers and cryptographers such as Petter Amundsen and Daniel Ronnstam claim to have found codes hidden in Shakespeare, rock formations on the island, and clues hidden in other 16th- and 17th-century art and historical documents. According to Daniel Ronnstam, the stone found at 90 feet (27 m) contains a dual cipher created by Bacon.

Author Joy Steele suggests that the money pit is actually a tar kiln dating to the historical period when “Oak Island served as a tar-making location as part of the British naval stores industry”. When marine biologist Barry Fell attempted to have the symbols on the stone translated during the late 1970s, he said that the symbols resembled the Coptic alphabet and read: “To escape contagion of plague and winter hardships, he is to pray for an end or mitigation the Arif: The people will perish in misery if they forget the Lord, alas”. According to Fell’s theory, Coptic migrants sailed from North Africa to Oak Island and constructed the pit. However, Fell is not considered to be credible by most mainstream academics.

So with abundant theories and mysteries surround what if anything is buried its not lost on this this here blog that even some of history’s well known faces would get involved in the Oak Island mystery. Not only was he a major investor in some of the digs performed on the island but a young Franklin D. Roosevelt himself participated in a dig on the island. Famous actors Errol Flynn and John Wayne had both sunk money into the island over the years as an attempt to uncover or in this case unearth the mystery that is Oak Island. Vincent Astor heir to the Astor family fortune, his father was the man you all laughed at the first time you saw Titanic who falls off the back of the ship and hits the propellers on the way down. After Daddy died aboard the Titanic young Vincent sunk some of the family fortune into finding fame and further fortune on Oak Island.

We come full circle to our modern day treasure hunters, Oak Island now has several different owners which include treasure hunter named Dan Blankenship, who partnered with “Oak Island Tours Inc.” run by David Tobias. Oak Island Tours eventually dissolved, and in February 2019, it was announced that a new partnership had been formed with a company called the “Michigan Group”. This group consists of brothers Rick and Marty Lagina, Craig Tester, and Alan Kostrzewa who had been purchasing lots from Tobias. It is unclear who is involved to what degree as Blankenship only revealed Kostrzewa’s name to the press saying he was “on board”. Blankenship owns 78% of the island with the Michigan Group, while the remaining 22% is owned by private parties. There are two permanent homes and two cottages occupied part-time on the island.

What does all this mean well it means the Lagina brothers and Craig Tester along with the Blankenships are digging in the ‘Money Pit’ sinking over $2 million into the mystery on top of what they have already sent they are building sand castles in Smith’s Cove while putting some divers down into the Money pit and couple of other holes they’ll dig in an attempt to unearth the treasure. We here at a mind of its own are hoping for maybe some connection to the Knight Templar or at least some pirate treasure at a bare minimum. Whatever they unearth will no doubt be exciting as the Island slowly reveals its mysteries to the world. We just hope that no one else has to die in order for the treasure to show its shiny self. Wouldn’t it be exciting if the Francis Bacon theories were true or the Ark of the Covenant was unearthed, it would certainly change some of the way history has been viewed.

There is so much more to the story of the island and the treasure, we’ve briefly skimmed over the top of it for you in order to give you a taste of the island and its rich history. A history that if true could make someone a very rich person indeed. The answers are out they they just require people brave enough to go and find them. The Lagina’s have been intrigued by the Oak Island mystery since they were young boys. Now successful businessmen they are able to try and shed some light on the theories surrounding the Island, its treasure and the overall history of the Island itself throughout time. The team will continue to track the story and any developments on the island as they hunt for the treasure in the key locations that have become the focus of many hunters throughout history.

As we hang our pith helmets and place our shovels, metal detectors and shifting trays back in the shed for another night. We leaf back through the pages of history and wonder what other great treasure mysteries are yet to be solved. What great mysteries await those who seek to find answers and what in our own country can we dig up to make us rich and famous in the world. That’s something we’ll explore for another day but leave it with us we’ll no doubt unearth some goodness over the coming weeks in which we’ll be able to keep you entertained with. Until next week happy hunting! Oh and kids don’t go and dig up the backyard and if you do perhaps ask your parents first! Adios amigos!