She Wants My Money…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shredding The Balloon…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Are You Anyway?…

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

Dear Editor-In-Chief,

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Your biggest fan and supporter.

You

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

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

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

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

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

Another One Bites The Dust…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halcyon…

The Webster dictionary gives us several options as the meaning of the word Halcyon, but we’ll just go with Tranquil, Calm, Peaceful. All things that when you switch on the news seem to things within a pipedream. While there may be pockets of beauty that people would describe as tranquil we live in a world that is far from Halcyon. Most people would say there lives are quite peaceful but what about those that don’t know or ever feel they’ll have inner peace? What about those that suffer from mental health issue will they ever find their own Halcyon or at least a little peace of it that will allow them to have a day or days away from fighting the battle that rages day in day out with there own minds.

When we first started this blog and it’s aptly titled self we never envisioned that we’d actually write several pieces that were personal and a slight insight into the minds behind the publication. Reading back through pieces we can see why people would think that we are mad, or at least a little angry with the world. The world we’ve created for ourselves in a bigger world where all we can do is try our best and be who we are. Not who people want us to be, or believe we should be. Our editor-in-chief has spoken several times about his battle with Anxiety and Depression. About the ups and downs, the highs the lows and the times he’s had to crawl out of that pit and put himself back together like a giant lego set. He’s not alone in going through this there are millions of people around the globe suffering but this isn’t something we haven’t told you before.

What does all this have to do with the word Halcyon besides everything of course. Think of Halcyon as a place in your mind. Now take that image and ravage it with the worst mother nature has to offer. All that chaos and destruction of the tranquil, calm, peaceful place is now replaced with uncertainty and fear. The more information we absorb the further into pit we fall. The black surrounding you like a blanket enveloping your skin and swallowing you up, stretching tighter and tighter around you until you can’t breath. Yeah that’s why this week we’ve gone with Halcyon to point out that you can go from a peaceful existence to a world of chaos within seconds and find yourself at the lowest of lows, you find yourself at Rock Bottom.

So what happens when you hit rock bottom and have to build yourself up again brick by brick. Do you have people you could rely on if this was to happen to you? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself what if? In today’s new age society we have plenty of life coaches that will tell you that you can’t think about the what if’s or have regrets because they’ll hold you back from obtaining growing, achieving and obtaining those future goals. But what if all those people are wrong and it’s not a bad thing to have what ifs and plan for the them. There is no reason you can’t have a future in which you protect yourself against a little pain and angst. Prior planning or preparation, prevents pisspoor preformances. The five P’s used by so many successful people around the world. That’s why people with Anxiety will often fall in a heap if something happens they hadn’t planned for or wasn’t part of their plan. They like to have routine and more importantly a sense of control.

Back to Rock bottom we aren’t talking about trying to prepare yourself for the worst but more so having some safety nets to fall into when the rug is ripped out from under you and your falling through the that floor towards the pit of despair. Because let’s be honest at some point in life we are all thrown a curveball or two that come out of absolutely nowhere and there is nothing we can do about it except stand there and swing. Swing with all we’ve got in the hopes of connecting and knocking it out of the park. There are those people that can bend and not break but for most of us that is not the case. Most of us break when thrown that curveball or proverbial rug is pulled out from under us. As we drift down through the blackness waiting for our bodies to slam into the bottom of the pit that for some people becomes bottomless, swallowing them whole, we are allowed more and more time to think. Time to reflect and this is where the what ifs come into play. By the time you reach the bottom your focus has turned to how in the hell are you going to dig yourself out.

Last time we check shovels and rope didn’t come at the bottom of a bottle but many a person turns to the bottle, while some people need heavier building equipment and find themselves nose deep in Columbia’s finest or Afghanistan’s brown being sunk into any vein they can find. The effects of drugs and alcohol on people’s inhibitions have long been documented throughout history. Hell the CIA and Army used LSD on soldiers during experiments and it was said to open their minds and mouths to things many had blocked out or forgotten. So it’s no wonder that a little dutch courage can have the tightest lipped people talking about their deepest darkest secrets and fears. Give them something a little stronger and they’ll tell you their unedited story word for word to the point your ears start bleeding. Every little nitty, gritty detail will come out, including things you didn’t need to know.

What does this have to do with the pit of despair and climbing your way back out or building yourself back up again. Well we are glad you asked because like always we have little insight and some advice we can provide. Like a shaken up bottle of soft drink it’s not going to spill over until you crack that lid open. Well to a lot of people wallowing at rock bottom in their pit of despair, drugs and alcohol are like those gimmicks people buy of those ridiculous TV advertisements to help them open tight lids on jars. They can often just have a placebo effect, in other cases they can actually work and crack the lid on all those thoughts and feelings that have been pent up well before but also during they time fell through the floor into the pit. Like Mount Etna erupting or that bottle of soft drink you’ve spent the last half an hour shaking. That pressure release can often feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. As everything spews forth onto the ground around you or the people around you.

Too often though that need to be able to talk and get things out, before it spirals out of control, leads a lot of people become dependant on the bottle, bag or whatever crutch they are leaning on to help them through the dark times. But once we’ve pulled ourselves from the pit and put ourselves into some serviable order it will only hold us back from putting the final pieces of our puzzle back into place to create a new or continue our way forward in life. Whilst everyone will tell you that everything is going to be ok on your way down and then on the way back up their is a period where you gaze up from the blackness and wonder if it truly will be ok. That’s before you stub your toes on those bricks and either start to build yourself back up, decide to solidify your foundation or just build a little hut to wallow in all your self pity like a human hermit crab.

Whatever you chose to do know that rock bottom is a place that we can all come back from, the bottom of that pit allows us a solid base to build upon time and time again until we become that person we truly are or the best version of ourselves. You can learn a lot about yourself, about the true you in the dark recesses of that pit. You can learn about the person you want to be, ought to be and truly are. Out of despair, sadness and pain heroes are often born and as we’ve learnt from history, if you just believe in yourself you are your own hero. We have the unique ability to be able to rebuild ourselves time and time again in any shape and form we chose that best suits our needs.

Lean on those around you, do what you need to do but remember no matter how black the pit there is always a light at the end that we can climb towards either on our own of with the help of friends and family. Look after your mind, body and soul, you’ll need them in the weeks and months to come, they’ll be your greatest asset in the rebuilding and climbing phases you will go through. Times will be tough there is no deny that but you got this far so hang in there a little while longer and you’ll make your way out of the pit, hand over hand, foot by foot, inch by inch. You can find strength you never knew you had in the strangest of places. To quote Ayn Rand, for those of you who don’t know who she was, she was ahead of her time and a brilliant author. Pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged it’s a great read and a classic.

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

At Rock Bottom we have nowhere else to go, we have no other options but to either give up and as Ayn said let our our fire go out or to spark and ensure our hero doesn’t perish. As we close yet another albeit brief chapter of A Mind of Its Own we are reminded that life will throw you the unexpected, no matter how much you plan or prepare for it things will happen, they will creep up on you and they will hurt you. How you bounce back from it though is in your hands, you hold the power, not that black pit you find yourself in. Until next week, when you find yourself at rock bottom there is always options and always people you can lean on to help you climb. Adios Amigos!

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!!!