Dead Man Walking…

Firstly a massive apology to all our friends, family and fans! It’s been awhile since we’ve graced your screens with one of our off the cuff and yet hilariously outrageous blogs. It’s safe to say we’ve been a tiny bit distracted with getting another little project up and running. Now that’s in full swing we can get back to putting the fingers to the keyboards and taping out some much needed time wasters for you ladies and gentlemen, in a time when we are finding ourselves with a lot of spare time. Safe to say living amidst a global pandemic, it’s piqued our interest and we’ve decided to take an investigative look at the wonderful yet dangerous world of virology. What is that you ask? Read on dear friends and discover for yourselves…

Well depending on which website you go to it’ll tell you that Virology is either the study of viruses or a branch of science that studies viruses, same same but different?. Either way we are currently looking at viruses whilst we have a show about pandemics playing in the background. Why a show about pandemics? Well that should be pretty self explanatory given we are currently all locked at home because of one. Many of us for the first times in our lives are having to adapt to what could potentially be the new normal for the next six or so months. With COVID-19 still ravaging many parts of the world, the fight to flatten the curve and keep people at home is an ongoing battle. Even with some locations reporting low to no new cases people shouldn’t feel they are being given the green light to become complacent and go back to their old way of life. Should we even be going back to business as usual or should we be using this as an opportunity to check in and make some changes that will better all of humanity and the environment? We’ve all heard about the wildlife now returning to clean waters, such significant reductions in air pollution that it’s visible from space and the release of animals back into their natural habitats.

It was around 1898 that scientists first started to isolate viruses and assign them to specific diseases. Over time as technology has improved and with that so has our ability to classify and identify viruses. It wasn’t until 1960 that Nobel Prize winner in Medicine and Physiology, Peter Medawar (for his integral work in the area of transplantation), to paraphrase, defined viruses as a piece of nucleic acid surrounded by some extremely bad news. Early pioneers in virology had a limited collection of medicines, techniques and equipment available to them to be able to classify and identify viruses as microbial agents. At the time of their discovery, microscopes lacked the sufficient power to see viral agents. How to grow cell cultures was unknown to scientists and probes such as antibodies and nucleic acids to mark infectious agents were not yet known and identifiable. Thankfully technology has come a long way and we are better able to research and study viruses, and from there develop medications such as antivirals and vaccinations.

A virus is actually quite different to bacteria or fungi, the other two types of infections we as humans have to face. Whilst bacteria and fungi are cells that can survive on their own accord, viruses are much smaller than a cell and require host cells to provide the energy and nutrients required to survive and replicate. Most of the time hosts are unwilling or ignorant to the fact their body and cells have been invaded. Virus’s spread and transfer through direct cell to cell contact such as through respiratory passages, open wounds and the sharing of bodily fluids. Or they hitchhike a ride through an intermediate host such as mosquitoes and the saliva they inject when they bite. Studies have shown that viruses can replicate both inside insects and the host cells ensuring smooth transition from one host to another. A good example of this is the viruses that cause yellow fever and dengue fever. Viruses attach themselves to hosts cells through receptors on the cell’s surface much like interlocking puzzle pieces. They then begin the process of invading the cell and replicating either within the cell until it bursts and spreads integrating itself in to a cells DNA so that each time the cell replicates it also replicates the virus

So now that we have a basic understanding of viruses, let’s delve a little deeper into them and look a little closer at the main one affecting the world today because let’s be real this isn’t the first pandemic the world has suffered and it won’t be the last. Throughout man’s time on earth viruses have ravaged the population, think the Spanish flu or in more recent memory Swine flu. Over time we have developed the science and medicine necessary to combat viruses through vaccines and various other means. But there will always be viruses out there that we do not know about it. It is estimated that at any one time there are over a million undiscovered corona viruses within the animal population, however most of these strains of the virus aren’t transferable to humans. Bats appear to be the prevalent carriers and studies as recently as 2015 in the Yunnan province of China showed the genome sequence of the Betacoronavirus (RaTG13) in the Intermediate Horseshoe Bat was 96% identical to that of SARS-CoV-2. Fast forward to February 7th 2020 and it was learned that a virus even closer to SARS-CoV-2 had been discovered in Pangolin. It’s similarities registered a 99% genome sequence.

Now before you go blaming the poor little pangolins as being the cause of COVID-19 recent studies of the Malaysian pangolin have shown they are less similar with only a 90% genomic concordance. Not sure what this means? Well these results have led scientists to the conclusion that the virus isolated in pangolins is not responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic currently raging. Furthermore if we have previously been able to identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus in animals why is it now causing such a problem for humans. Well further studies have shown that whilst the virus identified in bats can’t enter human cells and the one isolated in pangolins can, the comparison of these genomes suggests that the SAR-CoV-2 virus is the result of a recombination between two different viruses, the process where virus’ restructure themselves in order to overcome adversity and adapt to new environments and hosts, In other words it’s a chimera between two pre-existing viruses. This recombination mechanism has previously been seen in coronaviruses in particular in explaining the origin of SARS.

For recombination to occur, the two divergent viruses must have infected the same organism simultaneously. That still leaves questions unanswered, the main one being in which organism did the recombination occur. Was it a bat, was it a pangolin or was it another species? And above all under what conditions did this recombination take place? Whilst the threat of man made biological weapons produced in labs is a valid risk to the world’s population in this case it looks like mother nature is taking care of things herself.The environment and mother nature has a way of creating its own biological time bombs or chimeras that are just as deadly to the world as man made viruses. The world has known of these threats for centuries in one form or another, some called them curses, some call them diseases and overtime they became known as viruses. It’s even kept up to date with technological advances and we can give them to our computers.

To further confuse people it is because of the process of recombination, that the specific strain SARS-CoV-2came into existence and formed into a virus that is transferable to the human population. It shares genetic similarities with other human respiratory coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS. However the subtle differences in the virus’s genetic makeup translates to significant differences in how readily it is transmitted and the symptoms of infection experienced.. SARS-CoV-2 has all the same core genetic makeup as the original SARS-CoV which caused global panic and outbreak in 2003, and it shares genetic similarities with MERS which emerged in the middle east in 2012.This new virus has weaponised it’s itself, it has versions of the same general equipment for invading cells and replication, however SARS-CoV-2 has a totally different set of genes called accessories, which give this new virus its advantages in specific situations. Not enough is known yet about the roles these accessories play and all of the advantages they give SARS-CoV-2 however an example can be seen in the MERS virus in which a particular protein shuts down a cell’s ability to sound the alarm about viral invaders.

The scientific community has banded together throughout the pandemic in a surprisingly fast and effective manner to pull together results and research allowing us to understand SARS-CoV-2 and it’s disease COVID-19. We understand how it infects the human body, how it’s transferred, partly how it came about and potentially a vaccine to combat this coronavirus in the future. The current pipeline for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines isn’t as full as we would hope but that comes down to the tough science and time it takes to actually make a successful vaccine for human use. The trials alone would take years to seek approval from the various governing bodies before being released world wide. The reason behind this is that no current vaccines for coronaviruses are on the market and no large scale manufacturing capacity for these vaccines exist, we need to build these processes and capacities.

Creating these processes and capacities for the first time can be tedious and time consuming. Funding has been awarded to several highly innovative players in the field, many of them may be successful in eventually creating a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. After consulting many medical journals and spending a weird amount of time on Google looking at YouTube videos and reading about how vaccines are created we’ve come to understand, after further Googling and videos, in attempting to make vaccines most of the companies that are trialing them are targeting something called RNA. What is RNA? Well read on and get lost with us…

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a bit like Deoxynucleic acid (DNA) in the fact that both are nucleic acids composed of a sugar, a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base. We all learn about DNA being the building blocks of all life forms, but don’t often hear about RNA’s. Like DNA, RNA is assembled as a chain of nucleotides, but unlike DNA, RNA is found in nature as a single strand folded onto itself, rather than a paired double strand. There are 3 types of RNA’s that work together to produce proteins that are essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes.Messenger RNA (mRNA) transcribes the genetic information from the DNA, Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) directs the translation of mRNA and Transfer RNA (tRNA) is involved in the actual transfer of the initial genetic information into protein synthesis. Are you with us so far? You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with the process of developing a vaccine… well many viruses encode their genetic information using an RNA genome.

New technology has allowed us to take a step away from traditional vaccines and to start to take a look at using RNA in vaccines however it has not yet been used on a global scale — meaning scientists can’t yet predict what manufacturing problems might crop up. The idea for this type of vaccine is that a group of RNA’s would attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus when it tries to infect the body. Our bodies naturally have these RNAs however with age and comorbidities they diminish. The vaccine would be designed to boost the specific RNA required for combatting COVID-19. Other groups, such as Duke, the Imperial College of London and Fudan University in China, are also exploring this promising approach. RNA technology leaves researchers with many unsolved challenges, compared to more traditional vaccine types that are already mass produced. One Of these problems is storage to ensure the vaccine doesn’t degrade, which is especially tricky because by nature RNA‘s are intrinsically unstable molecules.

Yet another problem the world is facing in developing a vaccine is securing enough accessory chemicals, critical for vaccine production. Many of the RNA based vaccines are formulated with “magical chemicals” for lack of better words, that look like oil droplets. These accessory materials are expensive and hard to make in large quantities. With all the technology available no one has figured out how to scale up their manufacturing or get the costs low enough so that everyone can get the vaccine.

More traditional methods for vaccine creation are also being researched, where variants of the SARS-CoV-2strain are placed into the vaccine with the idea that our body’s own immune system will be able to develop the antibodies required to fight off the virus when it tries to invade the body. . Pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax and Clover are all at various stages of testing this approach. Protein subunit and recombinant protein vaccines use an approach that is similar to existing vaccines used for HPV and Hepatitis B.

This is all sounding quite promising however even this more traditional approach to vaccines comes with its own distinct scale-up challenges. These vaccines may require booster shots to provide lasting protection against COVID-19. For other vaccine candidate types, scientists are unsure if one dose is enough to generate and maximize a protective immune response, meaning each person might have to be given multiple doses which further complicates an already complicated manufacturing scale-up. All the issues of development, manufacturing, scale-up and distribution, would be nearly insurmountable for one group to tackle on their own. Of the confirmed active vaccine candidates, 56 are being developed by private industry developers, while 22 projects are being led by academic, public sector and other non-profit organizations, according to all the googling we did whilst researching vaccines.

The pandemic has brought unprecedented collaboration among vaccine developers across the world. The National Institute of Health is launching a public-private partnership to speed up COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options, known as ACTIV — short for Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines. Scientists continue to work tirelessly to curb the pandemic through developing a safe, effective vaccine that can reach people across the world. The so-called lab coat wearing experts hope that the enthusiasm for collaboration on a COVID-19 vaccine will transfer to other vaccination efforts in the future.

So to sum it all up into even more words, we are a little while off a vaccine curing us all from the disease COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. There are going to be newer and even deadlier viruses for us to contend with in the future and now is the time, if not earlier for the world to be identifying them, creating vaccines, medicine and or nanomites to ensure that we do not have to go through pandemic after pandemic. If there is one good thing to come out of all of this though and that’s the environment is starting to spring back. The holes in the ozone layer are starting to close over, animals are migrating back to their regular patterns and we are seeing species that haven’t been seen in years. So when you sit at home and try to find a silver lining to all that is happening in the world around you it’s this. Life is bouncing back, the planet is bouncing back and so will mankind.

The only hope is that we bounce back with some form of respect for what we have and learn lessons from all of this. What’s the saying, “Lack of preparation leads to piss poor performances”. In taking a look back we can safely say the world was not prepared for a virus on this scale or how to contain it. A vaccine is still most likely 12 months away if not longer and each country needs to ensure that it is able to manage in times of crisis that includes Pandemics. Well that’s enough from us and it feels good to finally get something down for you all. Also if you are interested in hearing the voices behind the blog head over to your favourite podcasting app and download “Conversations with The Captain and Commander” trust us you’ll enjoy it. For now it’s adios amigos, stay safe and stay home to save lives…

Wasn’t Expecting That…

A couple of months ago during the height of the bush fire season we wrote about the apocalypse, we didn’t go into detail or discuss the four horsemen but we did discuss what apocalyptic event could potentially wipe us out, which then turned into a little preppers guide to the end of the world. Little did we know that the specific blog would be read by family and friends and the following events would ensue and thus the great people of this country would react the way they have causing pain and heartache for thousands of their fellow countrymen. Well ladies and gentlemen we (not this fine blog) but the nation of Australia have officially lost the plot. We’ve officially gone off the deep end and look it’s a little troubling if we are honest. As we dive into this week’s blog and change tracks like a runaway train we’ll hit you with yet another double punch as we had already started another piece to provide you with when we decided that we needed to weigh in on matters at home.

Let us take you on a little journey to discover the facts and figures around why Australian’s are currently duking it out in the middle of their local Coles and Woolworths. Why panic is beginning to grip the world, why conspiracy theorists are having a field day and why if you own shares you are losing money hand over fist at a rapid rate. In order to do that we’ve decided to look at a chronological order of events. We’ll give you the who, what, where, when and how in the hopes of giving you a little more information and dispelling some of the myths. It might even calm people down hopefully but we’ll see what happens. We may have the opposite effect on the masses and we’ll have riots in the streets inspired by the words from those idiots over at the A Mind of Its Own Blog. So without further distraction or segways we’ll crack the egg of this week’s topic and let the issues of CoVID-19 simmer in your minds while we tap away at our freshly sanitized keyboards in our air conditioned offices where people can easily spread disease.

CoVID-19 or the Coronavirus as it’s better know came to light in late December 2019 when the little, we say little but when there are roughly 11.8 million inhabitants it’s far from little, city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China, reported a pneumonia that was sickening dozens of people. It wasn’t till the 31st of December that the World Health Organisation (WHO) finally caught wind of this. According to reports Novel Coronavirus (nCov) was identified in early December with the first case diagnosed on the 12th of December. Eleven days later the first death from what would become known as CoVID-19 was recorded. Now depending who you listen to and what articles you read the time lines are little skewed, the number of deaths is inaccurate and the virus was released by the US to kill off Chinese and Iranian’s. Fast forward to the 21st of January and other countries are now reporting their first cases of the Novel Coronavirus. The US, Japan, South Korea and Thailand all recording their first cases. All the people diagnosed had been to Wuhan and all of them had visited a live animal market according to all reports.

By the 23rd of January the Chinese government had decided to impose travel restriction into and out of Wuhan. This could well have been 23 days too late, in an attempt to restrict the spread of the virus they shutdown flights, trains, buses, ferries and ringed the city with checkpoints. By the 30th of January the WHO had declared a global health emergency for just the 6th time in history a designation reserved for extraordinary events that threaten to spread internationally. If you weren’t watching the news on the 5th of February the cruise ship the Diamond Princess was quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan while crew and passengers under went screenings for CoVID19. 700 cases would be later confirmed making it the largest outbreak outside of China. February 11th saw the WHO renaming the novel coronavirus to CoVID-19 with the Co standing for Coronavirus, Vi for Virus and the D for disease. The 19 tacked on at the end is the year in which it was identified. Health officials purposely avoided naming COVID-19 after a geographical location, animal or group of people, so as not to stigmatise people or places.

Yet people are avoiding anyone of Asian descent as they are ignorant, somewhat racist and most of all ill informed. There was even a case in Chinatown, Sydney where a man suffered a heart attack and no one wanted to help him for fear of catching CoVID-19. Our first case was diagnosed on the 25th of January with three other cases being diagnosed by the 27th across two separate states. On the 28th January Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy makes a fatal mistake in telling the nation there is no need to wear masks as there has been no human to human transmission in Australia. By the start of March there were 27 confirmed cases across the country the number would rise quickly as the first cases of human to human transmission were confirmed. To date there have been 91 confirmed cases, only 3 deaths reported in elderly. But what is CoVID-19?

To break it down for you all, CoVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Like our two headed Tasmanian friends from down south it’s a little strange. Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases they are what the smart white coat wearing ladies and gentlemen call Zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred from animals to humans. But how do they transfer you ask? There are 5 main ways in which Zoonotic diseases can transfer from an animal to human.

Direct contact: Coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, mucous, feces, or other body fluids of an infected animal. Examples include petting or touching animals, and bites or scratches.

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Indirect contact: Coming into contact with areas where animals live and roam, or objects or surfaces that have been contaminated with germs. Examples include aquarium tank water, pet habitats, chicken coops, barns, plants, and soil, as well as pet food and water dishes.

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Vector-borne: Being bitten by a tick, or an insect like a mosquito or a flea.

Foodborne: Each year, 1 in 6 people get sick from eating contaminated food. Eating or drinking something unsafe, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, under cooked meat or eggs, or raw fruits and vegetables that are contaminated with feces from an infected animal. Contaminated food can cause illness in people and animals, including pets.

Waterborne: Drinking or coming in contact with water that has been contaminated with feces from an infected animal.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from global patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir. The science is a little hard to explain and we’ve had to do a lot of research in order to understand what it is but to paint you a tiny picture they are called Coronaviruses due to the fringe they have which is reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona. The name “coronavirus” is derived from Latin ‘corona’, meaning crown or halo, which refers to the characteristic appearance of the virus particles (virions), they have a fringe reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona when viewed under two-dimensional transmission electron microscopy, due to the surface covering in club-shaped protein spikes. From what we could translate into our tiny non-scientific brains it’s these protein spikes that attach to cells in the host body and begin replication of the virus. We also found out that the common cold is also a coronavirus, don’t believe us Google it!

So there’s a virus and a disease but what’s the difference? A virus can’t survive without a living host and the disease occurs when cells in your body are damaged as a result of an infection. So the virus in this case is SARS-CoV-2 and damage it causes to your cells resulting in disease has been named COVID-19. Coronaviruses cause colds with major symptoms, such as fever and sore throat from swollen adenoids, primarily in the winter and early spring seasons. Coronaviruses can cause pneumonia – either direct viral pneumonia or a secondary bacterial pneumonia – and may cause bronchitis – either direct viral bronchitis or a secondary bacterial bronchitis. If you aren’t up to date with your doomsday virus and what will kill you the symptoms you need to look out for are fever, cough, shortness of breath and in some cases diarrhea.

How could you get it you ask? Well it is most likely transmitted from human to human via respiratory droplets from either a cough or sneeze, the impact or blast zone is usually around 6 foot, it is also possible that indirect contact via contaminated surfaces is another possible cause of infection as viral RNA has been found in peoples stool samples who are infected. What does that mean for us? Well the usual cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and wash your hands after using the bathroom or spraying your DNA over them through your mouth or nose. The stats state that at least 60% of the world’s population will be infected with SARS-CoV-2 and mortality rate is something like 3% so there is a good chance if you get it, you will survive. If you are older you are more at risk of the symptoms being more than just mild. Those under 20 seem to be the safest group, representing the smallest percentage of those who have been infected globally.

Ok so you know the who, what, where, how and when now but the burning question for us is why are we having to use rough as guts paper towel to wipe our derrieres because Australia has gone into panic mode and is stocking up on toilet paper? We kid you not, supermarkets can’t get the stuff on the shelves quick enough and the people stocking up like the worlds about to end can’t explain why? We’d kill for just one roll of 4 ply, that quilted goodness against one’s rectum feels so much better than the paper cut razor blade of death paper towel we’ve been using for the past week. Like the potato famine of 1845 to 1849 the supermarket shelves are bare of the number one bathroom product, bogroll, dunny wipes, loo roll call it what you like it’s in short supply or non existent and to make matters worse people are even buying all the paper towel, sanitary wipes, tissues anything they can get their hands on to wipe their bums they are buying in bulk. It’s got to the point we have people throwing fisty cuffs in the isles just to get some dunny roll. We even checked out several supermarkets to see for ourselves, standing in the isle we couldn’t help but laugh at just how far the prepping some people had gone with the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and contracting COVID-19.

Like all crises there are those who are keen to make a quick buck off the misfortunes of others. The fact that we have countries closing their borders and restricting travel and supermarket shelves are left bare of pasta sauce, pasta and toilet paper shows an evident fear in the Australian populace. Check out eBay or Facebook marketplace and people are selling packs of toilet tissue for well above the recommended retail price. The memes that have been generated are both hilarious and disturbing at the same time. There are even cases in which people are stocking up with 14 days worth of food and supplies in case they need to quarantine themselves or hide out for fear of catching the world’s latest Coronavirus.

Viruses mind you which have been around for centuries and will continue to be around for centuries to come. There is some psychology behind why people have chosen toilet paper to stock up on opposed to any other item. It’s an everyday necessity in the modern, western world and therefore the fear of being without it or missing out runs high within the community. Don’t forget in some countries they are still squatting over holes in the floor and hoping for a clean break without having the luxury of toilet paper and here we are punching on in the isles over it. Is it that people have not researched what COVID-19 is, enough to understand or is it just a knock on effect to our already fragile minds after the worst bush fire season to date. There is no doubt some psychologists, looking at the causation and effects of this and the science community, are working double time to understand the virus and whether or not a vaccine can be developed.

For now though we just need to take a couple of deep breaths and chill out when doing the grocery shopping, there is no reason to punch on with your fellow Aussies over bog roll, after all the old saying sharing is caring rings true and last time we checked toilet paper will not protect you from catching a virus despite wrapping yourself to look like an ancient Egyptian mummy. So maybe you don’t need the 3 packets of 24 rolls that are taking up your entire trolley or the whole box of hand sanitizer. Like you do every flu season, wash your hands after using the bathroom or coughing and sneezing, if you are feeling sick stay at home and if pain persists please see your doctor. Chances are you’ve had a coronavirus in the past and just not known about it. That’ll just about do it from us here, we’ve given you an overview of the virus and yes it’s a close relative of the SARS virus and MERS virus, go google them we don’t have time to explain what they are if you haven’t heard of them.

Until next week don’t hog the bog roll, be kind to your neighbours, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and most of all just be a good human being. From all the crew here at A Mind Of Its Own, look after yourselves and avoid public areas where large groups tend to congregate if you are that worried about catching the coronavirus and for all our slow mind friends no you can’t catch it from drinking the beer, the poor company have suffered enough over the past couple of months with American idiots Googling if they’ll contract it after a hard night on the Coronas. With that said it’s time to sign off for another week… Take it easy!

I Slept With Somone In Fallout Boy…

Firstly no one has slept with anyone from Fallout Boy here at A Mind of Its Own that we are aware of, yeah we might joke around that we identify as a helicopter or glow stick from time to time but the writers here are very much heterosexual and more often than not a lads, lad. Sorry if that bursts anyone’s bubble but as they say the truth shall set you free. After what’s been a big couple of weeks at our other jobs, you know, the one that pays for us to be able to continue this side project with passion and gusto we’ve finally managed to spend some time behind the keyboard pumping out some blogs that actually interest us. Safe to say politics bores the absolute crap out of us!. Give us controversy and madness, we are all for it and apparently so are our readers who seem to have similar minds like ours that spend a fair bit of time in the gutter.

A Mind of Its Own has always been an outlet, a way in which we can be open and honest about things that we often struggle with in day to day life. It’s given a voice to mental health issues particularly anxiety and depression, it’s also allowed the writers to be reflective and often take lessons out of what has been written or what they themselves are writing. We are truthful in what we write and will always give both sides of the coin as we toss it in the air and throw caution to the wind. Over time though we have learnt that people often don’t really want the truth when it comes down to it. As the famous line voiced by Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men goes “You can’t handle the truth”. Human’s often struggle to hear what is often true or to often speak the truth for that matter and why? Well there are various reasons in which you will soon learn as you read on.

Be honest with yourself for a minute, we’ve all done it at some point throughout our lives, heck some people even make careers out of it (Politicians, conman etc). Lying is something that we do as human beings, we are the only species capable of deceiving each other with what is often something so simple and so small and more importantly, not needed at all. But we’ve all done it, whether you’ve lied to your boss to get time off work or your parents about going to a party or most importantly yourself about why you lie, everyone has lied it’s part of what makes us human. Honesty may be the best policy, but scheming and dishonesty are part of what makes us human. Throughout history there are 100’s if not 1000’s of examples of people who have lied about who they are, what they do, what happened, how it happened, why it happened etc.

So for some home truths to start with, we decided to write this week’s A Mind of Its Own on Lying, as well to be honest it all just fell into place with things that were going on around us. The boss-man had been lying to himself about why he was feeling the way he did, he’d been lying to everyone that would ask him if he was OK, but most of all he’d mislead and he’d not been honest with someone that he cares about. That’s the thing about lying, dishonesty and keeping things to yourself, we all do it for various reasons, whether it be to present a false image in order to hide our inadequacies or to protect the feelings of others or in some cases just as a poor excuse when confronted with something we were supposed to do.

Not all lies are harmful, In fact sometimes lying is the best approach for protecting privacy, ourselves and others from malice. Some deception such as boasting and lies in the name of tact and politeness can be classified as less than serious. But bald-faced lies (whether they involve leaving out the truth or putting in something false), are harmful, as the corrode trust and intimacy, which lets be honest once again, in a lot of peoples eyes this is the glue of society that keeps us all together.

Lying, as it turns out, is something that most people are very adept at. Most people lie with ease, some in big ways and some small. We lie to strangers, we lie to coworkers, friends and to our loved ones and family. Our capacity for dishonesty is as fundamental as our need to trust others. Ironic that this then makes us terrible at detecting lies. Being deceitful is woven into our very fabric, so much so that it would be truthful to say that to lie is human. One of the strangest, yet truthful sentences you will read on A Mind of Its Own. The commonality of lying was first documented over two decades ago by Bella DePaulo a social psychologist at the University of California in a study in which they asked 147 adults to jot down for a week every instance they tried to mislead someone. This research showed that on average subjects lied one to two times a day without even realising it.

It’s been speculated that lying as a behavior arose not long after the emergence of language. The ability to manipulate others without having to use physical force would have likely conferred an advantage in the competition for resources, a mate and could be akin to the evolution of deceptive strategies in the animal kingdom such as camouflage. Sissela Bok an ethicist at Harvard University was quoted saying “It’s much easier to lie in order to get somebody’s money or wealth than hit them over the head or rob a bank”. Here’s where it all gets interesting and as you all know we love a topic when there is a heap of research involved. As lying became more and more recognised as a deeply ingrained human trait, social science researchers began working to illuminate the nature and roots of the behavior.

How and when do we learn to lie? What are the psychological and neurobiological underpinnings of dishonesty? Where do most people draw the line? The research is beginning to suggest that we’re prone to believing some lies even when they are unambiguously contradicted by clear evidence. This suggests that our proclivity for deceiving others and our vulnerability to being deceived are especially consequential in the age of social media. Our ability as a society to separate truth from lies is under unprecedented threat. Just like learning to walk and talk, lying is something of a developmental milestone. Parents may find it troubling that little Tommy or Tessa has begun to lie. It is more they see it as a loss of innocence in their child. However the emergence of this behavior in toddlers is a reassuring sign that their cognitive growth is on track according to Psychologist Kang Lee of the University of Toronto who has conducted several studies on the psychology of lying in children.

Sadly for all those parents out there the research also suggests that we only get better at lying with age. In fact the Studies Doctor Lee and his colleagues conducted with children around lying suggested that the older the child the better the deception or lie became. Why, you ask? Well remember that little thing called empathy? The increase in the sophistication of the lie comes with the development of a child’s ability to put him or herself in someone else’s shoes. Known as Theory of Mind, this is the facility we acquire for understanding the beliefs, intentions and knowledge of others. A fundamental of lying is the brain’s executive function, the required abilities required for planning, attention and self control.

In studies conducted by Dan Ariely at Duke University, they paid subjects a dollar amount for each math question they got right, the participants were told to shred their sheets before reporting their answers. Little did they know their answer sheets didn’t actually get shredded. What fascinated Ariely the most was not that people lie but rather why they didn’t lie a lot more. Even when the value was increased for each right answer most people didn’t increase their level of cheating. Something stops us from lying all the way, the reason Ariely believes is that we want to see ourselves as honest, because to some degree we have internalised honesty as a value taught to us by society. Which is why unless you are a sociopath most of us place limits on how much we are willing to lie. Ariely and others in the field have shown that this is determined by social norms arrived at through unspoken consensus, a little like taking home a few pencils from the office supply cabinet it OK as long as the bosses don’t find out but your colleagues are ok.

There appears to be no agreement among psychologists and psychiatrists about the relationship between mental health and lying. However there are certain disorders that exhibit specific lying behaviors. Individuals diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder tend to tell manipulative lies, while narcissists may tell falsehoods to boost their image. The Sociopathic disorders tend to have the strongest link and as pointed out exhibit specific lying behaviors. Unless you are a pathological liar, which could be an underlying indicator of a mental health issue as there is motivation behind the lie in the first place, however more research needs to be conducted.

Over the last two decades researchers have studied the brain in order to see if there was anything unique about the brains of individuals who lie more than others. Using three different controls groups broken down into repeated liars, those who met the criteria for antisocial personality disorder but not frequent liars and those who were neither antisocial or had a lying habit. The research showed that the liars had at least 20 percent more neural fibers by volume in their prefrontal cortices thus suggesting that habitual liars have greater connectivity within their brains.That then poses the question as to whether this predisposes them to lying because they can think up lies more readily or is it the result of repeated lying?

Another joint study conducted by Psychologists Nobuhito Abe of Kyoto University and Joshua Greene of Harvard University scanned the brains of subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging machines (fMRI) found that those acting dishonestly showed greater activation in the nucleus accumbens (a structure in the basal fore-brain) that plays a key role in reward processing. As it turns out the more excited your reward system gets the more likely you are to cheat. Or in other words, greed may increase one’s predisposition to lying. Tali Sharot a neuroscientist at the University of London found that the amygdala’s response to lies got weaker with each lie, even as the lies got bigger.

Tim Levine, a psychologist from the University of Alabama outlines in his ‘truth default theory’ that much of the knowledge we use to navigate the world comes from what others have told us. We implicitly trust others in when it comes to human communication and without that trust we would be paralysed as individuals and cease to have social relationships. He even went on to explain there is little harm caused when we occasionally get duped. We are hardwired to be trusting which makes us intrinsically gullible we’ll use Frank Abagnale Jr, a security consultant whose cons as a young man went on to inspire the 2002 movie Catch me if You Can. He explains that scams work because people believe what they want to believe and aren’t searching for a lie.

It’s called the Liar’s Advantage according to Robert Feldman, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts. “People are not expecting lies, people are not reaching for lies and a lot of the time, people want to hear what they are hearing. According to Feildman we put up little resistance to the deceptions that please us and comfort us whether it be false praise or the promise of impossibly high investment returns. Researchers have also shown that we are especially prone to accepting lies that affirm our worldviews. Alternative facts have thrived on the internet and social media because of this vulnerability in humans. Debunking false truths or fake news does not demolish their power because we assess the evidence presented to us through a framework of preexisting beliefs and prejudices.

A recent study out of the University of Western Australia by doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology, Briony Swire-Thompson documents the ineffectiveness of evidence-based information in refuting incorrect beliefs. Studying our closest friend across the seas (The Americans) they gave them two statements to choose from. The statements both false saw that people chose with bias, for example one of the statements was about Trump in which Trump supporters immediately believed it. When presented with the evidence that it was incorrect they readjusted their view but only for a short period of time. Within a week they were back to believing the original statement. Other studies have shown that evidence undermining lies may in fact strengthen belief if them. So you run the risk of watching them grow and become hulks in front of you if you try to counteract their inaccuracies.

When it comes to lying it looks like the deck is stacked against us people, yeah we can attempt to justify them by telling ourselves it was just a ‘white lie’ or a little ‘fib’ to ease our guilt or cross our fingers behind our backs as if it somehow suspends the rules and we can judge ourselves on the right side of communicative fair play, but at the end of the day we lie because of behavioral conditioning as well as cognitive evolutionary biology. Lying can bail us out of awkward situations, spare the feelings of others. Preserve or strengthen alliances, Enhance social standing, keep us out of trouble and even save our lives. Lying is unfortunately tied into our self esteem, it’s all down to the shifting sands of the self and trying to look good both to ourselves and others.

Men lie no more than women, but they tend to lie to make themselves look better, while it is said that women are more likely to lie to make the other person feel better. Extroverts lie more than introverts according to research. Lying tends to be short term focused, when we decide to deceive someone whether to save our self image or self worth we aren’t thinking long term but if the person finds out it can have long term consequences. We need to become more aware of the extent in which we tend to lie and focus on the fact that honesty yields more genuine relationships and trust.

So if we look at what we now know about lying, we are faced with yet another seemingly adult decision in our lives, to admit we are liars or to just continue through life justifying that everyone lies and evolutionary? The problem with lying and science has now backed this up is that, the more you do it, the easier it gets and the more likely you are to do it again. “We are our own judges about our own honesty” It is both behavioral and evolutionary, we do do it for various reasons both good and bad, everyone has lied at least once if not more in their lives and we as humans have become very adept at it. To lie or not to lie that is the question but like all things in life it’s a decision that only you can make in that moment but remember the truth always finds a way to the surface.

So until the next blog all we can do is apologise to those we may have wronged, lied to and deceived throughout our lives from our hearts to yours we are sincerely sorry. Weird apologising to people at the end of blog about lying but as we said we like to reflect on our writing at the end and take something from it. From this blog we took a lot that we didn’t expect to. We don’t condone lying but we now understand a little better why people do it and from the looks of things most people don’t lie to be malicious, in fact most lies told are to protect others. The truth however shall set you free as they say and so with that in mind we say honesty is the best policy and be true to yourself, love yourself. Until next time take it easy…

Broke and Hungry…

Everyone can write, well almost everyone, there are those that unfortunately are left behind by society and struggle to string a sentence together through no fault of their own initially. However as they grow older they do have a choice to do something about it. It is never too late to learn, to teach, to guide, to share but it is a choice as to whether or not you want to better yourself. This blog is often a way for us to better ourselves as we research topics to ensure we are providing you with not just an opinion piece but something factual and inspiring. Over time our style of writing has evolved to the point we’ve even noticed it as we read through some of the past pieces that have graced your screens. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the fundamentals and the purpose of A Mind of Its Own…

This week’s blog idea came to us via the south coast, as many of you know much of Australia has been devastated by bushfires in recent months and yet the spirit and sense of community is so strong and apparent in these areas it would melt the coldest of hearts. Despite the destruction and devastation people are getting on with life and it hasn’t dampened their imaginations or want to learn or share with others. So to our good friend known as the Hammer thank you for your ongoing support and inspirational ideas for this weeks blog. As much as we enjoyed the conversation about starting a bush dildo racing league we feel the thought and controversy behind the suggestions offered up will have the pundits running to the local Bunnings or hippy shop.

Again this is another topic that we’ve had to research as our knowledge was limited despite the fact that we use it on a daily basis. With all things that we (Human’s) don’t understand there is an inherent fear, a fear of the unknown, just look at vaccinations and the reaction from those that don’t understand or want to understand the science behind them. As humans we tend to react before we understand all the facts or have done any research into things. So we thought before everyone overreacts we’d do some research and read a few papers on the effects of this week’s topic on your health. But in order to do that we first need to give you an understanding of what it is that we are writing about and thanks to the Hammer how this all came about. So let’s crack in and get started, welcome to another week down the rabbit hole Alice…

What is 5G and why does it scare people so much? Wireless networks have been around for decades now and if you believe the Americans they developed the technology for WiFi or wireless and yet there is strong evidence that it was a “Failed experiment to detect exploding mini black holes the size of an atomic particle” by our very own Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or the CSIRO as they are better known that uncovered the keys to developing WiFi and subsequent wireless mobile networks. 5G literally stands for fifth generation, 5G surprisingly like its name is the fifth iteration of the global digital cellular wireless networks. Since the introduction of 1G and GSM there have been great advancements in technology, speed and ability of the cellular networks.

5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into small geographical areas called cells. Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the telephone, converted by an analog to digital converter and transmitted as a stream of bits. All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver (transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a pool of frequencies that are reused in other cells. The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high bandwidth optical fiber or wireless back haul connection. As in other cell networks, a mobile device crossing from one cell to another is automatically “handed off” seamlessly to the new cell.

OK so we now know that 5G is the thing that will allow our phones to communicate, send messages, watch YouTube, stream videos, video chat and all the rest. The major benefits of 5G though are the speeds at which we can connect and if all the reports coming out are correct the network will be faster than your home internet connection. By faster we mean a hell of a lot faster reportedly at almost up to 10 to 20 Gbps fast. That’s up from the 10 Mbps the current 4G network roles out. Goodbye NBN and hello 5G and a larger data plan. We may just see a lot of Aussies doing this and “hot spotting” from their mobile devices. It would make sense wouldn’t it given that our internet is slower than some third world countries. Yeah the NBN was a great outdated Idea by the time it was rolled out, oh wait there are still parts of the country waiting for the NBN to be switched on.

From a technology standpoint having fast, speedy, reliable networks to connect your mobile devices to is amazing. However there are pundits out there that believe the health effects from 5G are much more significant compared to the generations of cellular digital networks that came before it. Firstly we aren’t saying they are wrong, there is still a lot of research to be done on the effects of high energy radiation on the human body. Yes we hear you and yes we just used the word radiation. Before we all get our undies in a twist let’s look at the actual science behind and not just focus on the articles being pumped out by reputable news sites such as Facebook and alternative health websites. The latter are the same sites that tell us vaccination is killing children and bad for us, so they are rating quite low on the list of things to read here at A Mind of Its Own.

Whilst sighting studies and research from reputable places such as the world health organisation (WHO) those studies do say that there is still a lot of research to be done to prove the effects 5G has on the body. Some of the articles go on to explain the following effects without having the science or research behind them to actually back it up. They are more opinion pieces, that have gathered stories or taken from other articles without fully understanding what they are putting out into the ether that is the internet. The new 5G network generates radio frequency radiation that can damage DNA and lead to cancer, cause oxidative damage that can cause premature aging, disrupt cell metabolism and potentially lead to other diseases throughout the generation of stress proteins.

These claims are quite scary on their own and until the science is there to back them up quite unsubstantiated. They create panic and fear among communities rather than generating conversation and understanding. Again like all things in life we fear the unknown, the unexplainable and most importantly what we don’t understand. At a Mind of Its Own we aim to give you both sides of the proverbial coin and educate rather than cause panic and misunderstanding among the masses. So let’s take a deeper look into the science behind 5G networks and what the potential health risks are compared to earlier generations of digital cellular networks.

Like 5G its concerns are only the latest iteration of headlines and unclaimed, unfounded sentiment on the world wide web by people who often don’t have degrees let alone doctorates. The main concern is electromagnetic radiation that includes everything from WiFi to smart meters. At the root of all concerns about cell phone networks is radio frequency radiation (RFR). RFR is anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to radio waves to the light produced from your monitor or light the sun. RFR clearly isn’t as inherently dangerous as some of the sites and blogs make it out to be, so the problem becomes discovering under what circumstances they could potentially become dangerous.

Science and the guys that do it Scientists say that the most important criterion about whether any particular RFR is dangerous is whether it falls into the category of ionizing or non-ionizing radiation. We aren’t in the sciences so we’ll need to go to Wikipedia to find out what non-ionizing and ionizing. Simply put, any radiation that’s non-ionizing is too weak to break chemical bonds. That includes ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, and everything with a lower frequency, like radio waves. Everyday technologies like power lines, FM radio, and Wi-Fi also fall into this range. (Microwaves are the lone exception: non-ionizing but able to damage tissue, they’re precisely and intentionally tuned to resonate with water molecules.) Frequencies above UV, like x-rays and gamma rays, are ionizing.

Dr. Steve Novella (Sounds like a made up name, we assure you it is not), an assistant professor of neurology at Yale and the editor of Science-Based Medicine website, understands that people generally get concerned about radiation. “Using the term radiation is misleading because people think of nuclear weapons, they think of ionizing radiation that absolutely can cause damage. It can kill cells. It can cause DNA mutations.” But since non-ionizing radiation doesn’t cause DNA damage or tissue damage, Novella says that most of the concern about cell phone RFR is misplaced. “There’s no known mechanism for most forms of non-ionizing radiation to even have a biological effect,” he said in a recent report. Or, in the less refined but more visceral words of author C. Stuart Hardwick, “radiation isn’t magic death cooties.”

Of course as is always the case, just because there’s no known mechanism for non-ionizing radiation to have a biological effect, that doesn’t’ mean it’s safe or that no effect exists. But in order to find out those effects, researchers will need to continue conducting studies into the effects. One recent study was released by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an agency run by the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States. This widely quoted study about cell phone radio frequency radiation, found that high exposure to 3G RFR led to some cases of cancerous heart tumors, brain tumors, and tumors in the adrenal glands of male rats. The study was a good objective lesson in how hard it is to do scientific research of this type. The science points out, the number of tumors detected were so small that they statistically could have occurred by chance (which may be more likely since they were only detected in male subjects). Moreover, the level and duration of the RFR exposure were well in excess of what any actual human would ever be exposed to, and in fact, the irradiated test rats lived longer than the unexposed control rats.

“Experienced researchers look at a study like that and say that doesn’t really tell us anything.” Ongoing studies aside, 5G is coming, and as mentioned, there are concerns about this new technology. A common complaint about 5G is that, due to the lower power of 5G transmitters, there will be more of them. The Environmental Health Trust contends that “5G will require the buildout of literally hundreds of thousands of new wireless antennas in neighborhoods, cities, and towns. A cellular small cell or another transmitter will be placed every two to ten homes according to estimates.” Says Dr. Novella, What they’re really saying is dose is going to be higher?. Theoretically, this is a reasonable question to ask. But skeptics caution you shouldn’t confuse asking the question with merely asserting that there’s a risk. As Novella points out, “We’re still talking about power and a frequency less than light. You go out in the sun, and you’re bathed in electromagnetic radiation that’s far greater than these 5G cell towers.”

It’s easy to find claims online that the greater frequency of 5G alone constitutes a risk. RadiationHealthRisks.com observes that “1G, 2G, 3G and 4G use between 1 to 5 gigahertz frequency. 5G uses between 24 to 90 gigahertz frequency,” and then asserts that “Within the RF Radiation portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, the higher the frequency, the more dangerous it is to living organisms.” But asserting that the higher frequency is more dangerous is just that—an assertion, and there’s little real science to stand behind it. 5G remains non-ionizing in nature. The FCC—responsible for licensing the spectrum for public use in the United States weighed in as well. Neil Derek Grace, a communications officer at the FCC was quoted saying the following, “For 5G equipment, the signals from commercial wireless transmitters are typically far below the RF exposure limits at any location that is accessible to the public.” The FCC defers to the FDA for actual health risk assessments, which takes a direct, but low-key approach to addressing the risks: “The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.”

In 2011, the World Health Organization classified RF Radiation as a Group 2B agent, which defined it as possibly carcinogenic to humans. In saying that you have to look at all the other things they classify as a possible carcinogen. They have been put in the same class as things like caffeine. It’s like saying everything causes cancer. Part of the problem with the WHO declaration is that it’s focused on hazard, not risk, a subtle distinction often lost on us non-scientists, not unlike the rigorous distinction between “precision” and “accuracy.” (Precision refers to how tightly clustered your data is; accuracy refers to how close that data is to the real value. You might have a dozen mis-calibrated thermometers that all tell you the wrong temperature with a very high degree of precision.) When the WHO classifies coffee or nickel or pickles as a possible carcinogen, it’s asserting hazard without regard for real-world risk. Dr Novella went on to explain, “A loaded pistol is a hazard because theoretically, it can cause damage. But if you lock it in a safe, the risk is negligible.”

Scientists will continue to test new network technology as it evolves, to make sure the technology we use every day remains safe. As the NTP study showed, research into radiation risks is difficult and often inconclusive, meaning it can take a long time to make real progress with quantifiable data. For now, everything we know about 5G networks tells us that there’s no reason to be alarmed. After all, there are many technologies we use every day with a substantially higher measurable risk. With 5G the hazard is low but not zero and the actual risk appears to be zero.

As we’ve pointed out there are risks but they are low, very low risk and there is still not enough evidence, support or research to point to a definitive yes or no. So for now ladies and gents we recommend that you not read anything on Facebook or any sites suggested through the book. If you do be sure to at least do your own research before you make up your mind on whether or radio frequency radiation is good or bad. On that note we’ll leave you to it for yet another week while we go and research next weeks blog so we can get to work on the writing for you fine people. Adios amigos until next week have a frothie or two for us. A Mind of it’s own team out (insert Mic drop).

Heels Over Head…

In an attempt to get some normalcy back into this here blog we are attempting to do the double and if we are lucky potentially the triple this week, we know our adoring fans have missed having something to read each week and our mental health has missed having the writing escape each week that allows us to research each and every topic we write about. That includes bin chickens and bush turkeys folks, two of Australia’s best birds and almost becoming more iconic than the galah or the cockatoo. Unlike most of the blogs we write though, this week’s doesn’t have a lot of science and or research behind it but has more gone with a gut feel, views and those old arseholes, opinions. So without further adieu we’ll crack on into another addition of A Mind of Its Own.

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about online dating and the ins and outs, the pitfalls and the disappointment it can often bring or how it just makes a lot of people feel rather shallow and self conscious. Just like a lot of social media these days. In a follow up to that piece we decided to look at something that has always baffled us, something that just seems to be the norm, something that society has yet to really challenge and those that have, would no doubt have been labelled or even worse put down and ridiculed for their views and opinions. But it does tie in with not only dating but most facets of life, particularly where things have been spelled out for centuries. Maybe not so much in black and white but in that shale grey colour that interior designers tend to love so much these days.

No matter where you look there are rules that govern our lives, some of them are written and passed through parliament becoming a law or legislation, others are more suggestions or have become the social normal throughout the centuries, they aren’t written down but more passed on as things that just are and should be done. It’s these so called social normalities or “unwritten rules” that we want to take a look at and try to get an understanding of the how, what, where and why behind them. How did they become something that everyone did, what happened for that to even become an unwritten rule? Where did it happen? And why did it happen? That’s a lot happening in one sentence. We’ll focus on dating as that’s where most of these unwritten rules seem to exist but we’ll throw in some other examples as we go that just pop up in everyday life.

This all came about as we discussed dating with people after the posting of “I’ll Be Your Man”. Through sharing their personal experiences and leaning on the Boss man here for his unedited thoughts on the world of online dating we were able to get an understanding that there are perceived certain rules in which men and women need to abide by in the dating world. We say rules but some people will say guidelines, either way they are there and they often govern how people interact with each other in the dating world. An example of this is the first date and how long you should wait before you contact someone after. Is it 24 or 48 hours and why should you have to wait to wait at all, to tell someone you had a good time with them and would like to see them again? Because someone made it a social normality that a lot of people have followed throughout the years?

Correct that’s exactly why, someone with an opinion and soapbox to spruke it from suggested that it could be perceived as needy or too keen if you interact too soon after meeting someone in which you may want to pursue something more than just a friendship with. Overtime it just became dating advice and slowly an unwritten rule that you gave it time before contacting them and making a second date. If you didn’t contact them it was understood you weren’t at all interested and that has now taken on the term ‘ghosting’. So we know ghosting isn’t a new thing that men and women do, someone just put a label on it and gave the millennials something to grasp on tightly to while they rock themselves to sleep in the corner because Ted or Tamara just disappeared without an explanation. Our Human need for closure and want to understand everything that comes into play there.

Forgetting all the rules for a minute and standing on the edge of the philosophical lake with the rule book in hand ready to fling it to the depths of the water. What if you did meet someone who you wanted to break all the rules for?. What if that person ticked a lot of your boxes? You know the rules we are talking about, the unwritten ones, ladies and gents, we don’t condone the breaking of statutory rules that govern society to keep us safe unless they are archaic and need to be torn down like a derelict building poisoning the skyline. There is a freedom discussed and whispered in circles that men and women talk about. Freedom that allows us to make decisions and not be governed by unwritten rules. That allows you as an individual to throw the social normalities into the lake and never have to worry about them ever again.

The rules that say you shouldn’t talk about certain topics when you getting to know someone, the rules that say if your marriage falls apart you shouldn’t date until you are divorced, the rule that says sex before marriage is a sin. The rules that say you should follow those rules and not jump in feet first. But ladies and gentleman you wouldn’t go and buy a cow from the market without trying the milk before taking it home would you? It’s the exact same with sex and a lot of things in life. That’s probably not one of the best analogies we’ve ever used but you get the point. Life is full of unwritten rules in which we’ve allowed ourselves to be governed by because they have become the societal norm over centuries. If evolution has taught us anything it’s that we should be breaking the mold and bucking the trend is good for us. It took a world war for women to be allowed to vote and work in traditionally male dominated roles. Yes it’s still going on today but we are evolving (ever so slowly).

In a world full of rules there is something liberating about not following them, something internally inspiring about following your heart, head and gut. Some might even say there is something enlightening about going your own way and doing your own thing when it comes to breaking the social normalities. If we aren’t challenging things what are we doing? Are we just becoming more sheep in the proverbial flock ready to follow around a Shepard? Surely not, as intelligent beings we have the ability to choose, to make decisions and to stick to our convictions and values. As the kids say you do you. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t follow all the unwritten rules as some of them are just part of being a decent human, what we are saying is that you have the ability to pick and choose. When it comes to dating as people that like to wear our hearts on our sleeves all we can say is follow your heart.

There is the age old story of the Hare and the Tortoise to take into account though, you know the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ but there are also the internal factors and feelings that you can’t often be explained and or ignored. Yeah take things slow but the one thing that will always be a saving grace is communicating. And lessons learnt tell us that communicating everything as well as setting expectations early is paramount. Even if it is ugly, bad or makes you feel a little ashamed and less of a person. Don’t show up just because you feel that it’s expected, the path to authenticity is paved with good intentions that often find us in pitfalls doing what we feel we should rather than being truly authentic with people we care about. That’s not just dating that’s through all facets of life.

So what are some of those other unwritten rules that we should follow? We’ll there are the little subtle ones like keeping left on an escalator or chewing with your mouth closed, because no one really wants to hear or see you chewing. Or not being on your phone whilst being served at a checkout and making people wait in the line behind you to finish your call or always letting people out of a door before you enter, particularly lifts, buses and trains. There are some weird ones that are more for personal comfort more than anything else like leave one urinal in between you and the next person where possible. There are also the consideration rules like giving up your seat on the bus or train to the elderly or a pregnant woman. Or replacing the toilet paper if you are at the end of the roll. It’s courteous and just a decent thing to do, it’s all part of taking that empathetic path.

Maybe that’s just the answer, maybe the whole solution to unwritten rules, that are societal norms is to just be empathetic in your approach to life, put yourself in the other people’s shoes and think about how it would make you feel before acting. Flick the rule book out the window and just approach life with an empathetic attitude. When dating if you want to call someone after the first date place some empathy in your thought process and sometimes you just need to take a blind leap of faith and know that no matter what the outcome you are going to be OK. Everything we do in life has a lesson there for us. A teaching in which we learn a little about ourselves and the world around us and if you aren’t learning or are opposed to learning you might need to check yourself on the way out the door. And do everyone a favour don’t let it hit you in the arse on the way out.

Some would argue that more and more we are breaking those unwritten rules as society becomes more self involved and selfish on an individual level. In some regards this is true and we’ve argued before that the youth of today lack respect. But in all fairness it’s not just the youth we all get caught up in our own little worlds and with social media and everything in the palm of our hands it’s easy to overlook little things and other people. In the eyes of this here blog it is just that, a lack of respect for those who have been there before them, to wear in the path through the jungle that can often be this world. Lack of respect does not necessarily mean challenging the rules or even breaking them, it’s a naivety in which our youth have that they are entitled to everything. Technology is partly to blame and society can take the rest of the fall as we’ve allowed them too much freedom and with freedom comes choice. Too many choices results in a lack of commitment hence the vicious cycle that is often online dating.

What have we learnt? Other than hindsight is a beautiful thing that we can learn from? Well, as always, communication is key, be open, be honest and most of all be authentic. If that’s not you as a person then don’t try and be someone you are not. Life is too short to wear a mask to the majority and show the real you only to those in your inner circle. In terms of the rules to quote Josh Brolin’s character Matt Gravers in Sicario “Fuck it All”, rules are there to guide us but some of them need to be challenged and often broken or rewritten. We are big proponents of following your mind, body and soul. Yeah we might sound a little hippy saying that but intuition is something we should all take a little more notice of and follow. If it fucks you, learn from it but most of the time it’ll steer you on the right path and put you where you need to be, doing what you need to be doing at that point in time.

Just because the rule isn’t written down doesn’t mean it’s not a rule, there are many of them and to reiterate what we previously said some of them are just polite and some of them just help to make us decent human beings. Some of them are old fashioned and need to be torn down like the Berlin wall, some need to be challenged like America, would a despotic dictator and some of them we can just keep as they make sense. Like all things in life everything is interpretive and can be taken and interpreted differently by everyone. Maybe take that empathetic approach as we suggested or just continue to accept them as the social normal. Whatever you decide all we can urge is that you follow what you want, there are enough sheep in the world already without adding more to the flock.

Until next week we’ll leave you with some wisdom and words for the wise. If you find yourself in a situation that socially dictates you follow some archaic rule whispered centuries ago think about it before you follow it. If it doesn’t sit with your values then don’t follow it, plain and simple. Unless it’s an actual law then follow it, unless you feel you look good in an orange jumpsuit. Then go for it we say, but don’t start complaining when your new cellmate Trent starts spooning you without consent. From the team we wish you all a happy corporate card day or valentines day for those that like to celebrate it. We like to celebrate love every day here at a mind of its own, not just on days we are told to by large corporations looking to fill their pockets. So until the next one all the best cobbers…

I’ll Be Your Man…

Another week and we have to report the fires are still burning, the air quality in Canberra is still worse than Beijing. But we aren’t complaining things could be a lot worse and we could be burning along with the rest of the country. With New Year’s having been and gone many of us would have set resolutions aligning with our hopes, dreams and goals all in the aim of bettering ourselves as we enter into a new year and a new decade. Whether it was dropping a few kilos or learning to speak Spanish, whatever your resolution what people should really be resolving to is to stick to the goals they set for themselves. Break them down into smaller achievable targets that are realistic rather than going for the big bang approach which has been proven to rarely work. With that said it’s time we moved on to this weeks blog and a topic we are sure a lot of people around the world are interested in hearing about.

Dating is often a hard and soul crushing experience, particularly in the age of the internet, outrage porn, self help books, blogs and podcasts, post industrial, post feminist world. There are no longer clearly defined roles of in today’s society. That goes for both men and women, it also goes for those who don’t identify as either but rather as a helicopter or something else entirely. So when it comes to dating what are the roles, what are the responsibilities and more importantly what are the rules? We live by the rule of consent here at A Mind of Its Own, but we aren’t talking about sexual consent that is a given and defined by the line, No, Means NO! We are talking about consent to allow yourself to be comfortable and be yourself with people you want to date. As a good friend put being authentic is the best thing we can do to attract like minded and like value people.

What is often not outlined in the dating game, and let’s be honest it is often a game, because we can not and do not allow ourselves to be ourselves, is that unless you are happy with yourself and who you are as a person, you aren’t going to attract the people you want to be with. You can read as many blogs, books and listen to podcasts on dating advice but the crux of dating is that you need to be comfortable with who you are and what you want in life. Plain and simple put yourself first and yes it’s ok to be selfish and be who you want to be, not who you feel you should be for others. Whether you are male, female, a helicopter or identify as something else entirely you need to be happy with yourself and as we said earlier the happier you are with yourself the more likely you are to attract the people you want.

At the age of 33 the Boss man had everything going for him, he was happily married, he had a great job (Still has that job but not sure about how great it is), he was planning for the future including a little family of his own. He was in a good place mentally, physically he was looking OK (May have got a little Fappy, for those playing along at home that’s Fat Happy) but could have gone to the gym a little more. Come his 34th birthday though everything had changed, life as he had known it ceased to exist. The last thing he thought he’d be doing was dating again. In a sense he was starting again, for a man that wants a family he was at rock bottom, starting all over again scared the absolute shit out of him. He questioned everything, his hopes, dreams and ambitions. Would he have a family of his own?, Would he ever find that someone special again?. There was a lot of self doubt and a lot of destructive behavior that he thought he had left behind in his early 20’s. Over time he would realise he was being a massive douche and well that’s how we ended up with this blog.

What a shallow and wonderful world dating in the 21st century has become, it’s an adventure all on it’s own. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Happn and not to mention the specific hook up apps that are available. You name it and there is a dating site or application for it. But what’s it really like to date in today’s modern age of screen time and instant gratification. Well hopefully we can answer all the questions and more as we dive head first into the world of dating, we won’t be taking any self help books with us or cheesy pick up lines but we will be giving you a first hand account of what it’s like out there in the big wide world of dating. We won’t pull any punches or lay down and just take (Pun intended) we’ll give it to you straight. Rejection and all, it’s all part of dating and there is no point holding back anything as it would take away from the real experience.

Firstly it was worked out quite quickly that you need certain things to create a dating profile regardless of whether you are an attractive person or not, we’ll get to why being attractive gives you a leg up shortly. Firstly gym selfies seem to be a must, if you are male a topless flexing pic is always a good idea and if you are female a sports bra and some weights if you don’t do the gym then a beach selfie with your assets on display seems to be the go, helicopters we’ll assume shining rotor blades and if you identify as something else then take from one of the first two examples. Other things you will need is a photo of you drinking, a mandatory boozy photo seems to feature quite heavily just to show people you are fun, a photo with a dog is a must and if you don’t have one borrow one, we have two here that are available for hire throughout the year. They just need a little scratch here and there behind the ear and are very food motivated. Apparently a sense of humour is required and you will also need to have a primary school reading level to make sense of some of the bios you come across but more often than not, people do not list a lot about themselves it’s all part of the supposed mystery or they just post a shitload of emojis that make no sense whatsoever.

As we progress further into the blog we’ll list some of the acronyms we’ve had to work out or have deciphered for us by the boys and girls over at the National Office of Intelligence. We’ll also give you some tips whether they are helpful or not is a different thing but they do say those that can’t do teach. Dating what’s its purpose? Solely to find a mate, another half, someone to spend our time with, someone to share our hopes and dreams with. It’s a scary prospective whether you are just setting out on your journey or have been there and done that before but failed to get the t-shirt. When we spoke to the bossman the last time he dated Tinder and all the other apps weren’t around or were just coming in and solely used for hookups. He was part of the old school where you had to go and make a connection with someone face to face. You didn’t get to text back and forth for ages before you actually meet the person. As we developed a severe case of Tinderitis from swiping we began to uncover some things about the dating world in a town like Canberra. Firstly, it’s small and we say small we mean small, one of those places where everyone knows someone and there a less than 6 degrees of separation. Secondly it becomes easy to develop a reputation if all you are doing is sleeping around.

It’s also no surprise that you will come across people you know, but more importantly you will stumble upon people you’ve always found attractive or had fanciful flights of ending up with. Imagine joining up to online dating and having one of the first people you come across be your wife who’s just left you. It happened to the bossman and is probably why he went through such a hate phase of the fairer sex. Here’s the thing about dating in the 21st century, you will feel shallow at some point throughout your dating experience. But let’s be honest, if you don’t you may be somewhat narcissistic and could do with a trip or two to the psych. Looks are the initial attraction, we’ll always admit that, you are going to swipe on people that appeal to you from the list of things that you find physically attractive when you are looking for your for your ideal mate.

It’s biology, plain and simple, we all have that list of things that attracts us to people from a physical perspective. From there once you’ve swiped or liked someone, it’s a guessing game as to whether they will tick any of the other boxes on our ideal mate wish list. What one person finds physically appealing another may not, we are all different and are attracted to different things. Physical attraction is the initial attraction but with most people who aren’t just looking for the old “Netflix and chill” there are then the other attributes that are important. Intelligence, values, morals etc all play a part in what makes us select the people we do to be apart of our lives.

At some point you are going to feel rejection, you are going to wonder why after swiping your thumb or index finger down to the bone why you aren’t getting matches or why people aren’t writing back. You will wonder whether it’s you or something you have written, you’ll question yourself over and over again as you go around in the little dance circle that is internet/online dating. Firstly you need to work out why you are actually there, are you after a temporary fix, some gratification to know you are still attractive and still able to attract someone, are you actually looking for someone to share your life with or are you just there to get your rocks off and establish no emotional connections whatsoever. It’s all about intentions. No matter whether it’s dating, friendships, work, whatever it is your intentions will set the tone of what happens. You might hide your intentions behind an act but at the end of the day your true intentions will shine through.

We spoke about self-help dating books briefly in the blog and whilst there is a raft of them they will all give you different advice. Some will tell you to ignore women and play hard to get, others will give you a raft of pick lines and there are the ones that tell you to just be yourself and be vulnerable and try not to come across as needy. Ok so we’ve only read one book like that and it was Models by Mark Mansen. Yes the same guy that wrote The Subtle Art and Everything is F*cked wrote a book on dating long before both of those. In fact that’s how he got his start providing dating advice to men. Reading through his book it’s all about intention, honesty and being vulnerable and we break it down even further it’s about being yourself, the true person you are not the mask wearing that so many people throw on through their neediness and insecurities. While being honest is often hurtful people will thank you for it in the long run. If you are looking for a dating book, we do recommend you Models, the principles displayed in this book are applicable to all aspects of your life, not just dating.

When we asked the Boss-man what dating was like he summed it up in one word, Crap, dating makes you feel crappy if you haven’t worked on yourself and understand your values and what you want from life. The boss-man understood this but had not worked on himself enough to ensure he was ready for what was to come, for the rejection. In a sense he was needy, he was seeking validation and approval because he’d been hurt and didn’t have a good relationship with himself. Upon meeting a girl who ticked some or all of the boxes he would become over invested and despite the fact that he didn’t realise it he was being needy. The girl or girls he was invested in would often find this a turn off and split and run for the hills. Because they were less invested than he was, his over investment became a massive turn off.

Sitting with the Boss-man while he sipped a whisky and swiped away on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Happn we began to question how serious some people were about finding a significant other. Yes we know there are those that are on there for the sole purpose of instant gratification who are also slightly narcissistic, but then there are those people who have insecurities within themselves that don’t even post a picture of themselves. That’s the thing about the world of online dating you end up with people from all walks of life looking for all types of things. From ONS which is a One Night Stand, to people in open marriages, couples looking for a threesome, the Netflix and chill crowd, it’s a minefield to navigate and when people don’t put at least one picture of themselves, it’s like a lucky dip at the school fete. As it has so often been said you’re values determine your behavior when it comes to dating. That’s the entire point YOUR values determine your behavior not what you think others want, your values will ensure you do what is best for you when it comes to dating.

One thing people struggle with is the ability to be open and honest, to just be themselves and just say what they want particularly when it comes to sex. Women in particular feel they’ll be judged for wanting just sex and nothing more, they worry they’ll develop a reputation and it’s understandable given that for centuries, we (Men) have made them feel that way and in some cases made them sexually repressed. Online dating has allowed women to explore their sexuality and feel a little more comfortable while they do so but until we as a society can make them feel truly safe they’ll continue to be a little less honest about what they want for fear of being labelled a slut or worse, particularly in a small town like Canberra. Throw all that into online dating and you start to get a good idea of why it is such a minefield. It’s not just women who do it though men are the masters of doing it, it all comes back to intentions and sooner or later your true intentions will come to light.

There are no rules to online dating, so once you’ve matched with someone there is nothing left to do but start a conversation. There are many opinions on how you should start a conversation and what you should and shouldn’t say but at the end of the day it’s not what you say or how you say it but again the intention behind it. Just be open and honest and be yourself is the best advice we can offer you. You need to know what you are, and aren’t OK with and set those expectations for the start. If you aren’t into games then you need to be up front and let it be known you won’t tolerate games. According to several magazines, books, podcasts from relationship and dating experts women will actually find this more attractive. They say those that can’t do teach? Maybe that’s why we write a blog each week? Who knows but for now we’ll just continue to write about things that make people feel a little awkward.

What works for one person might not work for another, put yourself in comfortable environments, if you really want to get to know them don’t go into a crowded bar or pub where conversation is difficult the first time you meet them. Go for coffee or a walk, do something that allows you to have a conversation and really get to know them, that’ll tell you if you want to go on a second date or not unless all you really want is sex then do whatever has been working for you but again be open and honest about your intentions rather than playing the game and ghosting. Look we’ve all done it for whatever reason but we can guarantee you’ll feel much better about yourself just being honest with people about what it is exactly that you want. It’s partly why women often ask the question when you first starting talking to them “What exactly are you looking for from this?”. Time is precious so treat people with respect, don’t waste their time particularly if you wouldn’t like your time being wasted. That little empathy you’d want people to show you, you should be showing others it’s all part of being a decent human.

One question that comes up is when should you get off dating apps if you meet someone you like? Again it all comes down to intentions, you need to let that person know you are keen to see where it goes and that you are only interested in dating them so you can see where things go. From there, remove yourself from the online dating scene. What’s the worst that could happen? You end up right back on the dating apps and websites and hey we are all going to face rejection at some point in our life, some of us more than others but if you meet someone you want to get to know better and see where it goes remove yourself from online dating and be open about it. That’s our advice but you don’t need to follow it or listen to it for that matter, as the kids say you, do you! Again it’s all about your intentions.

So to sum it up online dating isn’t for everyone, it is often soul crushing and makes you feel shallower than the babies end of the local paddle pool and is more often than not fraught with twists, turns and upside down roundabouts you weren’t expecting. That’s not to say that you can’t meet people or that special someone through online dating, everyone has their own experience and will get something different out of it compared to friends or people you know who have or are currently dating. All we can say is that the more open, honest and yourself you are, the more likely you will attract the same qualities and values in a person. Your intentions and your values will define what and who you attract in the dating game. It’s like all things in life if your intentions are true and noble, you are open and honest with people and show some vulnerability you will attract the same.

Again we aren’t dating experts and probably shouldn’t be out here giving advice but we have been there, done that had the wedding band. Whilst the first time didn’t work out hopefully the second will and if not then third time lucky as they say. But until then we’ll follow our own advice and speak our truth, be a little vulnerable and be clear on our intentions. That’s all we can do and along the way, you lucky readers may get the odd hilarious dating story but we are in no rush to be in a relationship and at the end of the day we know the universe has a plan for us just like it does for you.

Until next week we hope you’ve all had a great start to 2020 and the new decade. It’s been tough for some of our fellow Australians who have lost people or houses in the bush fires and as we’ve done with the last couple of posts we urge you all to lean in anyway you can to help out in the community. For those of you dating and looking to find that special someone we hope 2020 is your year and if it’s not don’t give up there is someone out there for everyone. As always our advice is just that advice and we are by no means qualified to give dating advice other than the fact we are currently in the same situation as so many Australians, single and ready to mingle. So until next week we’ll sign off once again…

Work On Me…

“From Birth to death, everything in between is a memory and will later become your history” – T.M Cullen

With Movember in full flight and the upper lip getting a little itchy, while I sport the worst attempt at a moustache for charity since Caitlyn Jenner went the full snip (Too soon?). I only thought it fitting you all heard from the man behind the blog. The month of Movember is a timely reminder of mental health and health issues for men in general with Movember being the foundation in which research is launched into a myriad of growing health concerns. For me it’s a double edged sword, a month in which I am proud to raise money for something that is close to my heart and also a reminder of a former life that helped to push me in this direction but also threatened to break me all over again. A life full of memories both good and bad, a life that I am thankful I got to experience but also one that taught me a lot of lessons about life and about myself.

Known as Daily Write Cullen to the readers or the Bossman to those who contribute to the literary genius that is A Mind of Its Own. I thought it only fitting being almost 2 years down the track that we, more specifically I, tell you the real story about how and why this blog came to be. The inception of what has become a weekly fluff piece or time waster for some people has become a life saver for me in some regards. It’s given me something to focus both my time and energy on week in, week out. It’s an outlet when I am not working on my book, keeping fit by hitting the gym or playing sports. Whilst many will call that a distraction I would say that it’s a healthy distraction that allows my creative side to flourish and gives our fans and friends something to laugh at each week.

What you are about to read is a story that a lot of people will be familiar with, a story that is probably no different to anyone else’s who suffers from anxiety or depression. It’s a story that helped to create this blog and furthermore the rekindling of the love for the written word. I’ve never been good at talking or writing about myself and when you throw my anxiety and depression into the mix it’s even harder to document and talk about. It’s something that over time I have become more and more comfortable with and accepting of. It’s been a part of my journey and a part of my growth to who I am today.

So to start I need to paint you a picture. Looking back at my youth and growing up there were never any traumatic events or occasion that would trigger anxiety or depression for that matter that I can recollect. Even speaking with my parents now about it all and asking questions there is still nothing that we, as a family can put it down to. I was a happy child who despite having parents who divorced when I was very young and having a stepfather who was often a giant arsehat, had an upbringing in which my mother and father strived to give me everything I needed to be successful in life. Like all kids I fought with my brother and sister but over the years have come to realise just how much they mean to me to the point I have their first initial tattooed over my heart.

I grew up with parents who despite being apart, both wanted the best for me and wanted to see me succeed in whatever it was that I chose to do in life. They supported me and bent over backwards to ensure I could go away on sporting trips to represent my state and had everything I needed while doing that. They supported my hopes and dreams and mum was always driving me to training, games and trials. Academically they could have pushed me a little more but at the end of the day I got their in my own way and perhaps that was the lesson they were trying to teach me. Whilst you can help someone as much as you like at the end of the day if they aren’t willing to do it for themselves they’ll never truly do it.

Along with my grandparents they instilled in me great morals and values. In essence they’ve helped to mould the man I am today. There have been others along the way from coaches to friends and family as well as heroes and idols. They all played a part in shaping who I am, but ultimately I was and I am responsible for the person who I’ve become. I don’t blame anyone or anything for my journey and how things have now turned out, after all everything happens for a reason and I would not be who I am today without the lessons life has taught me. The older I get the more I can look back at moments in life and recognise those life lessons and specific events in which they happened. I also have a lot of hindsight moments after the fact but that’s part of being human.

So what does all this have to do with A Mind of Its Own well the answers lie below. When we look at a piece of art, we all see it differently, we interpret the artists intentions and message differently. I guess that’s what it’s like living inside my head as thoughts and feelings whirl around doing back flips, forward flips and somersaults or perhaps that’s what it’s like for everyone living with anxiety and depression in general but I can only speak for myself. While many people are organised and methodical with their thoughts and feelings, my mind is more like a Jackson Pollock painting with paint flying everywhere across the canvas. That’s probably how the first draft of this blog will look before it’s tidied up, spell checked and proofread. A scattergun approach of thoughts on a page to be deciphered and reordered to make some semblance of sense. But that’s the thing with life right?, sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense, no matter how many questions you answer.

I guess I’ve always known there was always something there, a demon lurking within, that was destructive and angry always threatening to pull me down into the dark pit of despair. From a young age there were signs and indications that I can look back at now and identify for what they truly were. From Anxiety attacks when I was younger and forced to do things I didn’t want to, some I now see as silly (The kindergarten Zucchini in Bikini attack comes to mind, a good story for another day) to the day after day of crippling depression that I would cover over as exhaustion or over doing it from training too much.

The funny thing is that there has always been a sport to mask it whether it be cricket, hockey or footy, in fact looking at it now sport or keeping active whilst being great for my mental health just helped to cover up what was really going on inside me. I would feel great from working out and getting a release of endorphins for a day or two but would come crashing down if my routine was thrown out of whack or things became out of my control. I would focus on burying myself in work, assignments and the latest video game in order to not have to admit to myself or deal with the fact that there was something that I was struggling with. That there is something that I will always struggle with.

Our parents and their parents and their parents, parents never spoke about their feelings or thoughts. It was just something you never talked about, there was and still is a stigma around mental health.It was almost like if you did talk you were crazy or losing your mind and on the off chance you found the courage to talk about your inner demons, there was a good chance you were shunned or called some not so nice names, before they threatened to lock you up in the mental asylum and throw away the key. Being male you were probably told to grow a pair and man the F*ck up. It was never ok to talk about your thoughts and feelings. Whenever I hear the saying “Children should be seen, not heard” it always reminds me of the stigma associated with mental health issues and that it’s still seen in certain circles as being not ok to talk about.

The older I got the easier i thought it would be to ignore the pain, thoughts and feelings that often dominated my mind, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. I would analyse everything and question myself and those around me. Have you ever been alone in a crowded room? Well I have, well at least that’s how I often felt and sometimes still feel. I could be surrounded by friends and family and yet still feel completely and utterly alone and that no one understood me. One would think that would be a clear indication that there was something wrong but being a somewhat wannabe tough guy, I would for many more years continue to ignore that there was something wrong and that i was not ok. I was of the elk that it was weak to speak and men didn’t cry despite the nights I’d shamefully hide my crying in the shower. It wouldn’t last long I would meet my match and someone that would push me to my limits until I would become physically sick and finally break.

To date I’ve truly loved two women, what does this have to do with anxiety and depression you ask? Both have managed to bring me to my knees and both times I tried to be someone I am not. I tried to hide what was going on within me and I changed into someone I thought I needed to be not who I truly am. Compared side by side both these women are actually quite similar in a lot of regards. Which had me questioning whether I have a type and whether that type is someone who is not a good match for my mental health but that is a question for another time and place. The one good thing to come from one of those relationships was this here Blog and the fact that I finally found a reason to get the help I needed. It would set me on a path of recognition and respect for myself and the battle that I’ll continue to face throughout my life. It wouldn’t be an easy journey but it certainly was, and is a necessary journey and one that will continue to answer a lot of questions about myself and where I want to go with my life.

Ultimately it would take me sitting by the toilet, tears streaming down my face, throwing up for no apparent reason whilst thinking my chest was going to squeeze the life out of me or my heart was going to explode out of said squeezed chest while my mind whirled with thoughts of what ifs and worst case scenarios before I finally realised I needed help. In hindsight it should have been sitting in the shower crying that did it but no it was becoming so anxious that I was physically ill that did it for me. The next challenge was speaking up and asking for help, which isn’t so hard in theory but something that I struggled with for a long time and with practice have gotten better with over time. I am thankful to the man who helped me through it all and put me in touch with one of Australia’s leading psychologists, he has become a true friend and someone that I can lean on. If I am honest the reason I first sought help wasn’t for me but more for the woman in my life at the time, yeah part of it was my want to be in a good place with my mental health to ensure we had a future together.

Whilst the marriage didn’t last the coping mechanisms and process to help combat the highs and lows will always remain. I would take the first steps to ensure I was on the path to a better, healthier relationship with my mental health. It wasn’t the easiest of journeys I’ll be honest about that. I would wage several skirmishes within myself before I finally accepted what was happening and what needed to be done. When the suggestion to go on medication was tabled I was strongly against it at first. The fear that it would numb me to the point I’d lose my creativity, just created more and more anxiety. What would my friends and family think? Would I be less of a man? Why did I need to do this? All the questions that ran through my head and which I would over analyse for days and days until speaking with the shrink who calmly outlined the benefits and gave me some assurances that I would still be me.

Welcome to my world Sertraline, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. Yeah what the Fork is an SSRI? I asked that question when I first heard, thankfully good old trusty Google was there to inform me. Along with the leaflets and information packs handed to me by both the doctor and chemist. SSRIs treat depression and anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that carry signals between brain nerve cells (neurons). SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin into neurons. This makes more serotonin available to improve transmission of messages between neurons. SSRIs are called selective because they mainly affect serotonin and not other neurotransmitters. So I was now on drugs to help me out for a period of time to be determined by the psychologist, my doctor and I. The good thing was I was still feeling like me and I had time to think rather than reacting straight away to things happening around me. I wasn’t experiencing side effects, my creativity was there, my sex drive and even my emotions.

A plan was beginning to form as to how we would tackle my mental health and whilst I was still feeling a little emasculated being on antidepressants and having to talk to a psychologist on a regular occurrence. I was slowly developing techniques and strategies to combat the day to day effects of anxiety and depression. I would also find myself doing plenty of things I never thought I would like meditation and yoga for example. From cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT), Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT) and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy I would try them all. I would take little bits and pieces from the sessions and build my own tactics and techniques for dealing with things. I would also find out what worked for me whether it was a release or coping mechanism if you will.

I would still have days where I would fall back into the pit attempting to claw my way out, but they would be few and far between. Over the months following my official diagnosis of general anxiety disorder or GAD as it’s known and depression I would rediscover my love of writing. At the suggestion of the psychologist as a way to deal with recognise and acknowledge my thoughts and feelings at the exact moment. I began to write things down What started out as a journal or diary of thoughts and feelings that were noted and then left on the page never to be thought about again until they were or are discovered in a box months or years later would bloom into something that has now become a piece of pride to me. As I sat one afternoon watching tv and flicking through the unrealistic lives of a lot people on social media, my ex wife said to suggested to me a blog would be a great way to get everything out and could potentially help others going through the same daily struggles. I was going to write a blog, I was going to write for others and not just myself. There was just one slight problem that I would need to overcome.

Whilst the idea of a blog was exciting and gave me something to focus on and pour all that unharnessed and often wasted energy into. I still had my anxiety and depression to deal with. As I wrote piece after piece they sat there waiting to be posted and this is where my anxiety would kick itself into overdrive. I would start to overthink and over analyse what people might think of the blog, of the topics and most of all of me. As I battled with myself whether to post or not to post, it eventually came to the point where ‘Dutch Courage’ or drunk Tim as he is better known pulled the trigger and hit the big post button.On the 13th of March 2018 the first post hit the website much to the disgust of my anxiety. I read that post as I typed this one out and laughed at the poor grammar, spelling mistakes and the fact that my life has changed so much since that day.

In what would become a voice for the people, an educator to the masses and a soapbox for the downtrodden. A Mind of Its Own was born out of a want and need to write. It would go through a couple of iterations before it became what it is today and over time a writing style would develop that is fun, factual and engaging. Well at least I feel it is all of those things. As we’ve said before no topic is safe from the Mind of Its Own twist and the more taboo the topic, the more likely we’ll write about it. The research that goes into each piece is a constant reminder of the research that I did when I was trying to understand and build a picture of what was wrong with me. As it turns out there is nothing wrong with me and writing A Mind of Its Own each week has helped me to see that I am ok, I will be ok and if I’m not ok that, that’s ok too. Living with an anxiety and depression is a common occurrence we just don’t talk about it enough.

I still get a little anxious putting things out there for the world to read and judge me upon but for me that is part of the healing process. The moments of pure vulnerability before I hit the post button each week remind me that I’m alive and that no matter what the world throws at me I’ll get through it. But in all honesty I could never have done any of this on my own.There have been a few people who pushed me along the way and to them I am thankful. There are my friends and family who read every post including the ones I warn them not to and show their love and support constantly and then there are the fans. Without them this blog doesn’t have a purpose. It is for you that these are written. Some of the topics have been suggested and some we’ve just winged from the start but every single one is for the people.

What started out as an outlet for me, has grown into a giant manchild of a blog that will continue to tackle the things that you don’t want to talk about but are quite happy to read about as you take your afternoon toilet break as a way to escape from your job for just a few minutes. It’s also got me thinking that a career in writing could be on the cards after all women love a struggling writer don’t they? Or is that just in the movies? Either way I’ll continue to put out the content week in, week out as it helps with my mental health and if people want to read it all the more better. And if they don’t they are missing out. Where else can you get some slapstick humour, digs at celebrities and actual facts all in one place? I literally spent the last ten minutes wracking my brain for an answer. I couldn’t find one maybe the Onion?

And so ladies and gentleman that is the origin of A Mind of Its Own, it started out as an outlet and soon grew legs and some courage to stand up and take its place alongside the fashion blogs, travel blogs, beauty blogs and the boring blogs that live in the dark corners of the interweb to be a blog that can literally take on a mind of its own and isn’t afraid to stand up and say it’s not ok. That’s the story folks, I needed another outlet that I enjoyed to help with my depression and anxiety and this here blog became just that. We’ve covered a wealth of topics and as previously stated will continue to cover any topic that sticks its head above the parapet.

So from all of the team here this Movember pull out your wallet and donate to someone doing Movember. It’s one less coffee, beer, wine or spirit this week and a great cause. The funds raised go to research into various men’s health issues (Cancer, mental health, suicide prevention) as well as support programs. and Hey it’s a great reason not to shave and raise some money. There’s a link below to my page or you can hit up someone else’s but please, please donate today. Until next week ensure you check in and ask someone if they are ok? Do it for me or someone else you know who’s battling. A single conversation can change someone’s life. Adios Amigos and until next time, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and if you have any suggestions for blogs you’d like to see written hit us up in the comments section.

https://mobro.co/CullenTim?mc=1

Fuck Authority…

Apologies to our beloved fans and friends, we’ve been incommunicado for a couple of weeks now and you have all been very patient while you’ve waited for you next installment of A Mind of Its Own. Well we have some good news and we guess some bad news. The good news is you’ll no longer have to hear about the gorgeous weather of Queensland and Northern NSW or our team outings to the beach. And the bad news we are now in the thick of it, we are in the Nation’s Capital where it all happens and we’ll be able to keep you updated with all things legislation, legal and political as well as our usual anything goes twist on the topics that no one wants to talk about but everyone wants to hear about.

It’s not often we go on a rant but when people start attempting to jam values down our throats you can be sure it gets our goats. They say anger should be tamed and is the rawest of emotions well when you start to talk to the team at A Mind of Its Own about values and what you want to see from them. It certainly makes for an interesting conversation as well as an interesting blog that we put together outlining all the contradictions against the values that are being set out in which we should follow. For those that personally know anyone who has put time an effort into writing for this blog, you know that we have our own set of values, our own code that we live by. As a coach that we didn’t really get along with once said to us “You are only as good as your word”.

What made us start to write this was a little injustice, a little anger and a little in the fact that we feel we have and are good at what we do whether it is writing this blog or our day to day job that pays the bills and keeps the lights on here. You can tell us what to do, you can micromanage us but at the same time we work best when we are left to get along with whatever it is we are doing. Values to us are going to be different for each and everyone, they are a personal choice and they are compass on the path to morality in our eyes. A guiding light if you will, what you value, who you value and how you value those those things in your eyes reflects on you as a person. So it’s safe to say when we see someone talk about values only to steer clear of following any of them or completely ignoring them in the face of greed and corruption we tend to become a little irate.

Companies do it all the time, they’ll create corporate values employees are to follow as part of their contracts and yet the higher up that corporate ladder you climb the less likely you are to actually follow any of them. Call it corruption, call it greed, call it whatever you want but let’s be honest most of us aren’t great a wielding the power that comes with being a corporate bigwig working for multimillion dollar company. As you can imagine there are some passionate and potentially ego driven thoughts on this as we watch all these companies with a corporate responsibility to make the world a little better for those less fortunate. However most people running these companies tend to have some narcissistic traits that allow them to only think of themselves and the bonuses that will come their way. Do they then take these values into their personal lives?

One could only assume that would be the case, however the psychology behind it all it quite interesting to say the least. We can only assume and we all know assumptions tend to make and ass out of you and me as they say. So how do you go about working out what is important to you in terms of what you value in life. In a way this all ties back to the choices that you will be faced with throughout your life. What we fail to realise is that a lot of the choices we make will be underpinned our core values. These values tell us what kind of people we are, or want to be and provide us with guidelines or imperatives for our actions. We are somewhat governed by our values as they influence our decisions. But how do we choose our values and align them to to our lives, and all that we do?. Well let’s attempt to answer that for you, as well as outlining how big corporates shit all over their own values all day, every day in the quest of dollars.

Firstly what is a value? Well there is the dictionary definition but we are much happier with the definition given by Barb Markway and Celia Ampel in the ‘Self Confidence Workbook’. “Values are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity,”. A lot of our values are handed down to us from our parents, our teachers, if you are religious than we guess religious leaders and finally from our societal environments we live in. Over time you will have somewhat rebelled and turned your back against those values or changed your mind on having some of them at your core as you’ve learnt about yourself and the world around you in which you are continuing to grow. Most people will decide on 6 to 8 core values which will steer them through life. They may change some of these throughout time as they reassess life but for the most part they will remain the same.

If you are unsure about your list of values or would like to clarify them, the first thing you need to do is create a list of values and for your sake make it wide ranging. The broader the list the better or you can just go on the internet and hit Google up for a list of values in order to help work out what your core values are. Dr Russ Harris has kindly provided such free lists on his website. From here you can pick your 6 to 8 values and hey by all means change them if you change your mind, it’s a good activity to do every now and then. Words on your list could be as following as an example, Financial Security; Compassion; Health/Fitness; Nature; Accomplishment; Creativity; Dependability; Loyalty; Beauty; Bravery; Gratitude; Love; Connection/Relationships; Learning; Leadership; Survival; Self-Preservation; Security; Adventure; Family; Work; Success; Calm; Freedom.

There are several other ways of working out what your core values are and labelling them, another way is to look at people you admire or love the most and why they are so important to you. By doing this you think of the values they embody most. You could also see a career counselor or life coach seeing as our values are a defining factor in our career choices. There is also online inventories and looking at yourself and learning, we also have the good and bad in life to look at that will help us with deciding on our core values. Most of you will already know what you value the most. It’s often just the reminder or prompting we need to remember them and solidify them in our minds. What we don’t remember though is we’ll often have values conflicting at any given time throughout our lives. At any given moment our values can be called into question, many of us often pay lip service to values or lose sight of our values as new and exciting things come into our lives.

Sometimes you’ll have to defend your values against difficult people, such as psychopaths, extreme narcissists, and master manipulators, who seem to be guided by negative values. With such people, it can be a challenge to stick to the positive values in your life. But that’s what will ultimately define your own set of values when you are faced with challenges that require you to block out all the outside noise and negativity to make your own choices in which people will want you to follow their behaviour and actions. It’s all part of not being the sheep and part of the flock and standing as a lone wolf on the periphery of the field watching and waiting to act. But when we look at organisations who define their values, they tend to want sheep, no wolves allowed because apparently being a good corporate citizen means you can’t and shouldn’t have an opinion or act on your own. You can think it, just don’t show it as it will no doubt shine a light on the values that are never upheld.

Take corporate company, we’ll call them Corporation A, they decided they needed 7 core values in which all they wanted their staff to abide by and demonstrate. There is just one small problem which you will soon see as we outline the values. Now there is no rule to how many values you should or shouldn’t have. Each of us will find our core values and priorities them based on what we want and or need in our lives at any given time. In a way we have our core values followed by our subsidiary values that will interchange when we require. Well that’s our take on it anyway now back to corporation A.

According to the company website “Values are the behaviours we want to see” sits above there Seven (7) core values. The seven values in no particular order along with their little spiel about each of the values are as follows:

  1. Trust – Building a trusting environment through being open, honest and transparent with each other.
  2. Respect – Through showing respect, we remain genuine and act with integrity towards each other and our customers.
  3. Simplicity – Simplicity means being straightforward, clear and focussed in all we do in the workplace.
  4. Focus on the Customer – We demonstrate value by listening, collaborating and delivering personalised and innovative solutions to enable shared success.
  5. Accountability – We each own our results and feel empowered and trusted to deliver required outcomes for us and our customers.
  6. Purposeful – We are passionate and driven to deliver with purpose for our customers and ourself.
  7. Learning – We are empowered through learning to continually develop insight and knowledge to add value to our customers.

Written like this they seem fairly reasonable and like values most good corporate citizens would want to get behind and support but when put into place would most corporations actually live up to and follow their own core values. Maybe from the outside looking in, they are and when speaking to clients it will look like the values are followed and supported but that is often far from the truth. Big corporates are in the business of making money. As such they will say and do whatever they can to win your business. They will paint you a picture of a wholesome, supportive, inclusive organisation that has equality at the forefront of everything they do for you and your company. The sad truth though, behind that mask is a different beast who’s greed doesn’t align with their values at all. The values above start to look a little like this:

  1. Trust – Building a trusting environment through being open, honest and transparent with each other. People will tell you that Trust is earnt and not given which we completely agree with however we do feel tenure and revenue generation should be taken into account when trusting your staff to do their jobs autonomously and with empowerment. Communicating openly with your staff at all levels is a sign of trust, empowering your staff is a sign of trust and doing what you say is a sign of trust. All things that are often overlooked by big corporate.
  2. Respect – Through showing respect, we remain genuine and act with integrity towards each other and our customers. Respect like trust is earnt and the harder you work, the more you give, the more you should be respected in an organisation. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Respect in Multi-million dollar corporation often hangs on the price tag of your suit or the amount of money you make for the company in question. The more you make the more you are respected until you aren’t because you choose to speak up or think outside the corporate box.Your ideas may not gel with the big wigs and their thoughts about the bottom line.
  3. Simplicity – Simplicity means being straightforward, clear and focussed in all we do in the workplace. In order for things to be simple it requires respect, trust and communicating with staff and clients, when we don’t do this, things tend to become rather convoluted and far from simplistic. People lose focus, nothing is ever clear and the workplace becomes an environment in which people do not thrive.
  4. Focus on the Customer – We demonstrate value by listening, collaborating and delivering personalised and innovative solutions to enable shared success. This is often overlooked by big corporations as they see value in doing what is going to make them the most money, not what is in the clients best interests. As long as they are making us money and decent margin there will be little collaborating and personalisation until it comes time to negotiate an extension to the contract..
  5. Accountability – We each own our results and feel empowered and trusted to deliver required outcomes for us and our customers. Owning your results would mean being empowered and you might have started to see a pattern here? All your values whether they are in the workplace or personal are interlinked. Organisations need to be trusting of their staff to empower them and allow them to become accountable.
  6. Purposeful – We are passionate and driven to deliver with purpose for our customers and ourself. While this should be the crux of delivery to all clients across all industries the all mighty dollar tends to drive whether or not a company is passionate about the delivery and purpose of said delivery to a client.
  7. Learning – We are empowered through learning to continually develop insight and knowledge to add value to our customers. Linked to all of the above and the fact that we are continually learn throughout our lives it saddens us when organisations are only willing to invest in their staff and empower them as long as they can see the dollar signs flying back at them in the short term. We are all responsible for our own learning however working for a multimillion dollar corporation they should be putting in place learning and development plans for all of their staff no matter what level they are within the organisation. As they say you have to spend money to make money.

Unfortunately it’s not just Corporation A who have values and seem to only follow them when they are trying to sell themselves. There are those people who will continually pay lip service to their own values as they feel that they are what society wants them to value and show in their lives. It’s those people who often tend to also fit somewhere on the narcissistic scale and always have an excuse or someone to blame as to why they are the way they are. But enough about people and companies disregarding their values. You are the Captain of your ship and master of your soul so it is on you to decide what’s right for you in terms of your goals, values and morals. They’ll influence each other but at the end of the day you are responsible for you and you make the decisions that set you on the path you are now headed down. The next step is the right step, value yourself and chase those dreams.

Well that will just about do it for another week and our return to regular broadcasting. We are back and now settled amongst the politicians, fireworks, porn and now weed. Canberra the place where all things illegal become legal at some point after all the biggest hypocrites always tend to be the people running a country. Don’t forget if there is a topic you’d love to see us cover you can leave a comment of contact us via the contact page. We’ll make it special and give you a shout out for doing so and it’ll be given that Mind of Its Own attention and detail. So for another week we bid you a fond farewell and good tidings, speaking of Christmas is fast approaching and the multi million dollar consumer industry is already pumping out the hype and decorations. Adios Amigos…

Growing On Me…

To adult or not to adult that is the question, whether it is immature to live in your youth and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous hangovers or take arms against a sea of problems. And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep, no more and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that is heir to a hangover. It is a consummation devoutly to wish it away. To die, to sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream. There’s the rub, for in that sleep of hangover what dreams may come. When we have shuffled off to our jobs, it must give us pause, there’s the respect that makes calamity of such a long life. There’s something to be said for trying to relive your youth while you walk the earth in an older man’s body.

Yeah ok we may have just bastardised some of Shakespeare’s best work but heck who hasn’t had a crack at modernising that man’s greatest works into something that the youth of today can relate to or even understand. Then again with all their technology and instant gratification, freedom of choice and want it right now society they live in. No wonder they lack maturity and the ability to be part of society from time to time. Hence why we need to make the choice to adult or not to adult these days and it is just that a choice. In today’s society you can be anyone you want,anything you want and do pretty much anything you want, freedom of choice is at an all time high along with divorce, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction and sexually transmitted infections.

Last week we spoke of hopes and dreams and this week we thought we’d follow up with growing up and being an adult. It might have something to do with all the sore heads and hangovers experienced by the writers here at A Mind of Its Own over the past couple of weeks ok the past month. In what has seemed like celebration after celebration the minds have grown weary and the body a little sore as they are poisoned with the flavours of the world. A journey around the world through alcohol but without the flights and hotels, the sights and sounds but with all the hangover experiences that often come from being in a city and sampling the local delights. But what is it all for? To numb the pain or quieten the mind? We all have our reasons and often a time throughout our lives we fall into the people we were not the people we have become.

And so we decided that this here blog you are now reading needed to be written in order for us all to give pause and question our actions and behaviours. Particularly those of the past couple of months as we attempt to drink our weight in beer, wine, whiskey, vodka and well anything containing alcohol someone joked that there was licking of wet wipes, we can promise you there wasn’t. There was cause for some celebration but a lot of it was an excuse to reclaim some of our youth as we tried to keep up with the younger blokes and prove to ourselves that we aren’t past it or ready for nights at home with a cup of tea instead of a pint of beer. As they say, It’s all for the character and the arrogant afterglow. What your parents handed down to you to handle. Make sure you carry torches when their putting out your candles, predictions can be unkind but unwind them still. Don’t erase the part of you that’s responsible for your will.

So as we sit here looking over what the last couple of months have brought us in terms of personal and professional development or lack there of. The lessons learnt and the lessons that needed to be learnt one thing has become more and more apparent. We are people that need to adult not just because as we type this out we realise that we are getting older and older every minute but more so because we want to follow our hopes and dreams. One thing we have learnt is that they certainly don’t come at the bottom of a bottle like trinket in a box of cereal. Reliving your youth every weekend certainly won’t help you reach those dreams, particularly if you are spending some of your weekend hungover and feeling sorry for yourself or hugging the royal dalton.

We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t let your hair down and have a good time every now and again but like all things, it’s something that should be done in moderation not just for your body but for your mind as well. Alcohol is a depressant expect for tequila apparently. Not everyone will agree with this approach and that’s ok because it depends on what you want out of life. The saying “Live your best life” is something that will resonate with everyone. It’s just whether we choose to adult and live that best life following those hopes and dreams. For some people this will mean making changes to their lives for the better. For others it will just mean continuing on doing what they have always done day in day out since they made the decision to grow up and act their age. And then we have the people that just decide to go the other way and hold onto their youth refusing to grow up.

We have never been ones to lecture or instruct, in fact we have always attempted to be the ones to start a conversation and get our readers thinking. The whole idea behind a mind of its own was to get people to think about things and start talking about them. Start talking about the things that no one wants to talk about or that have a stigma around them. We’ve written about mental health issues and will continue to shed some light, as well as start the conversation around them and the stigma that comes with them. The more we talk about these things the more common knowledge and accepting it becomes within the populace. And so as part of our decision to adult we will post a blog each week and continue to shed light for the people of the world. It’s not our duty or purpose it’s our want to write along with our ability to write that allows us to do so.

What does choosing to adult look like you ask? Well it’s different for each and everyone of us. For the writers here it’s drinking a little less, looking after our bodies, exercising a little more and frequently, eating healthier, along with being open and honest. Following our truth and allowing us to become more and more open with ourselves and those around us. Finding that vulnerability that we haven’t had or wanted to have in our lives. Knowing that it’s ok to not be ok from time to time and most of all striving towards all the things we want in our lives. It means not questioning everything that happens in life and accepting the person we are, flaws and all because the more you try to change that person, the more you lose who you truly are in this world. And in a world as superficial as the one we currently live in where social media only shows us the good in people’s lives it’s pretty easy to lose the true you in all of that.

Being an adult or adulting doesn’t mean you have to become boring and have no fun at all but it does mean that you need to start prioritising what’s truly important to you in this world and the next. You begin to see life in a different manner and begin to put others before you. You sacrifice the little things in order to get the big things or the things that are most required for you and those that you love. Most of us begin to make good decisions and prepare for the future we put money away for a rainy day, we pay our bills, we make time for those we want to spend our time with. It means doing the things you often don’t want to do, like the days when you just want to lounge around in bed and know that you have to get up and go to work whether you like it or not. It’s all part of being an adult. With age comes responsibility to yourself and to others, it’s just the way it is. You can choose to adult or you can choose to continue to act like a child and never grow up like Peter Pan in Never never land.

We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again and we’ll probably said it until we are blue in the face, everything in life comes down to a choice. You hold all the power and you get to make the initial choice that puts you on the path. Without action the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that, intentions said by the man Jordan Belfort himself. So you can choose to sit around and talk about things all day, every day or you can be a person of action who actually wants to get on with things and be an adult. Be you and follow your hopes and dreams. If you want to write, write, you want to dance, dance. If you want to practice law or medicine, do it. But the point is to do something and stop being people that talk about things. Actions speak louder than words as they say ladies and gentleman. It’s time to adult and time to stand up if that’s what you want to do. You can party every now and then but for now it’s time to write the next chapter in your book of life.

Equally if you want to be the centre of attention and the person everyone knows will be up for some fun go ahead no one is going to stop you but don’t be surprised when people question you about growing up or being someone you are not. Whilst it might upset you perhaps people know you and see you for who you truly are. Something that you’ll learn as you mature and decide to adult full time and not just part time as you make your way to work. Or when you hangout with friends and family who have all made the step in the direction to adult or at least attempt to do so. You’ll question things and you’ll want answers to questions that you may never get but guess what? That’s life sunshine not everything is going to happen the way you want it to. You’ll have good times and bad that’s just the way it is welcome to the world of growing up and being an adult now either shit or get off the pot!

So what’s the point of all this, well the point is that at some point in life we all have to grow up but it’s up to us when we choose to do so and much we choose to do so. Life is what we make it and growing up is a choice we choose to make at some point throughout life. It just comes along at different times for all of us. Some of us realise on a night out that we have grown up and are ready to wind it back. The young drunken kids stumbling past us are a constant reminded that we are too old for this shit. The 4 day hangovers are just another reminder but what it really is reminds us that we are ready to truly settle down is the want to be better people. Not that any of us would change the lives we’ve had. They’ve made us the people we are and allowed us to do the things we have including write this blog week in week out.

The writers of this blog are attempting to grow up, attempting to adult and looking to reach for their hopes and dreams. It starts with this blog and finishes with the book the bossman is currently writing along the way we’ll hopefully see a family and catch up with old and new friends. In the meantime we’ll pump out a conversation starter each week and get the people talking about all the things that they don’t want to talk about. Who knows next week we might even talk about the cost of tampons or sanitary pads that’ll get our male readers attention and our females readers wondering whether we’ve lost the plot finally and started to really kick the pot on the topics of the world.

Given that we are attempting to adult and be better people, we’ll stop wasting your time for the week and sign off with some rambling golden advice. Be good to yourself, be good to your friends, be good to your family and heck be good to strangers while we are at it. What’s the saying treat others how you want to be treated. It’s what a good adulting person would do right, well it’s what we’d do and it helps us lead into the next installment of A Mind of Its Own where we’ll attempt to talk about values without ranting or angry but we can’t make any promises. Adios Amigos…

Like Toy Soldiers…

Remember in school when you were told you could do anything you want if you put your mind to it? Well to some degree that is true, hopes and dreams are in reach and if you work hard enough you can certainly follow those dreams, however, sometimes life gets in the way and stops you from reaching those dreams and goals. Take the A Mind Of Its Own team for instance they all wanted to something else when they were children. Some of them followed their dreams and some of them came to their dreams later in life. Then there’s the genius behind A Mind of Its Own who is working on his dreams as a side project but before he found his love of writing he had a couple of other dreams that never came to fruition. So does that mean you should just give up on your dreams when you hit a few little speed bumps in the road? Nope, not at all…

Asking around we all went from dreams of being superheroes, ninjas, wrangling unicorns, being a cowboy, a spy, a ballerina married to Michael Jackson who drives a Mr Whippy van, an assassin. Ok so not everyone has dreams of becoming an imaginative, impractical professional when they grow up. Some people actually have dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, nurses, police officers, hairdressers and other reputable career choices. So how and at what point do most of us go from imaginative creative hopes and dreams to practical, mundane careers that take us through to retirement. At what point in life do we mature enough to know that what we once wanted to be will no longer be within our reach.

For some of us it’s not until you receive the final rejection notice to say because you beat your body up playing sport when you were younger, that you will not be accepted into the service of your country despite passing all the requirements. Or the fact that you gave up on a potential career as an athlete because you weren’t driven enough. But at some point it clicks in that you can and will do great things in the world but it’s going to take some work, hard work that will often make you question the why. University isn’t for everyone and not everyone will go on to higher education and earn a degree or certifications for that matter. What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander as the old saying goes.

And so to the home of research for answers, no we aren’t using Wikipedia for answers this time we are heading to a place that is bountiful in resources and books that will hopefully answer some questions we have burning away in our little brains as to how we become mature. Not since university have we set foot into a library and there is a reason why, firstly librarians whilst this one was easy on the eye and not your stereotypical librarian but she was still very grumpy and very unhelpful. In her defense we really weren’t too sure as to how or what we wanted to research regarding this week’s topic. Did we start with maturity or did we start with hopes and dreams, were there books on hopes and dreams. To the stacks we wandered and peered at row upon row books with titles that were somewhat ambiguous.

The first big book we opened was a psychology journal that we then had to go and find a dictionary in order to understand. We learnt a few things about people that we didn’t quite understand as well as confirming a few facts about the next generation that we really wanted validated. Yes ladies and gentlemen all your thoughts and fears have been confirmed the youth of today whilst being apparently intelligent are well behind the curve when it comes to emotions. According to studies, the science variety from the ages of 11-14 we lose connections between cells in parts of the brain that enable us to think clearly and make good decisions. So on that note maturation must happen in most people after the age of 14 or 15.

Pruning the brain, or synaptic pruning, What happens is that the brain prunes itself, going through changes that will allow a young person to move into adult life effectively. “Ineffective or weak brain connections are pruned in much the same way a gardener would prune a tree or bush, giving the plant a desired shape,” wrote Alison Gopnik, professor of child development at UC Berkley. According to Ian Campbell, a neurologist at the U.C. Davis Sleep Research Laboratory. Mood swings and uncooperative and irresponsible attitudes can all be the result of these changes. Sometimes, we can’t explain why we feel the way we do. Our brains are changing from a child’s brain to an adult brain.

So we now know that our maturity is affected by changes in the brain and that it prepares us for adult life. So perhaps it through these years that we lose track of those hopes and dreams that just aren’t quite realistic or impractical as we go through maturation and those weak connections are pruned away to create adult ideas and adult hopes and dreams. It’s strange how we go from being carefree and footloose to having to be an adult on a daily basis. As we continued to search for connections as to how and why we grow and mature as people we read a lot of journals, articles and even a magazine or two on the science behind the psychology of why we develop intellectually and make changes in our lives. We aren’t saying that people follow their dreams from a young age but the majority of people change what they want to do.

A lot of us fall into jobs that we don’t necessarily want to do, we work away until we become so good at what we do there is no other path or we get paid a decent salary and have become accustomed to the lifestyle we are keen to keep. There are still plenty of people between the ages of 30-50 that don’t know what they want to do with their lives. A couple of the writers here are in that boat. Heck the bossman would love to write books for a living and the dogs well they’d love to be free range puppies that could do what they like when they liked. But as some point we all have bills to pay and people to look after so we all work and our hopes and dreams go off to die in a field of shattered dreams with most of the other adult population.

Where does the inspiration come from for those that know what they want to do for a living, what makes their brain pruning different to everyone else’s that they continue to carry those hopes and dreams into adulthood. Now there are always going to be elements or environments that influence and impact those final decisions to make sure we are truly dedicated to the path we are walking. It’s like all things in life, you know you are truly focussed and dedicated to a dream you’ll make it come true or die trying. Take athletes for example they are dedicated to their hopes and dreams following them through to the very end of their career but what about when their bodies give out? Do they have new hopes and dreams, do they continue to hold onto the life they formally had or do they create a new one after they’ve achieved as much as they can on their road to glory.

Diving into articles on the wonderful world of the interweb we came across several on why athletes are so driven to achieving their hopes and dreams. In one such article posted they explained that athletes have skills that are transferable to everyday life. These skills are gained through years and years of playing their sport and navigating through daily challenges of life. Traits such as Grit, Persistence, Competitive and Confidence are valuable throughout the various aspects of life.

Athletes usually endure failure better than anyone else because they experience so much of it throughout their athletic careers. By nature, athletes are goal driven; they often set high, specific expectations and goals to obtain awards, as well as championships. At one point or another, they are unsuccessful at achieving the goal(s) they set; which can be considered a failure. All athletes handle failure differently, but almost all eventually learn through it in some way. They persevere and continue to perform, despite experiencing failure. After all, it is said that the true measure of an athlete’s character and ability, is in how they handle themselves in the face of adversity or failure. Every single person experiences failure no matter the circumstance, but like Rocky said: “It is never about how many times you get knocked down. It’s about whether or not you get up afterwards.”

Below are several things that we can learn from athletes failures:

  1. Failure allows reassessment and feedback. It’s life’s greatest teacher. Successful athletes who experience a lot of failure in their career, are often some of the most successful because they are able to re-evaluate why they didn’t reach their goals, change direction and move forward. Failure is simply just feedback for what you need to do next time in order to be successful. It helps you analyze what went wrong in any given situation and take measures for getting it right next time. Babe Ruth, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, set the record for the most home runs in a season. In the same season, he also struck out more than any other player in Major League Baseball. According to the Seattle Times, he struck out 1,330 times over his career; however, he was able to rise above his failures to hit 714 home runs. For Babe Ruth, failure was just feedback, telling him what he needed to do in order to be successful in the long run.
  1. Failure brings about resilience and mental toughness. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from any type of adversity or how to adapt in a disruptive situation or occurrence. Mental toughness is the ability to consistently perform toward the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances. In athletics, these both can refer to trials due to injury, critics or fans, weather conditions and other uncontrollable variables. Most often it implies experiencing failure in some type of way. Resilience and mental toughness instill that “Never give up” attitude in athletes and pushes them through to reach their goals. The greatest athletes continue to be resilient and mentally tough despite the obstacles they face. Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, were down 3 games to 1 to the Golden City Warriors in the 2016 NBA finals. Although, the series seemed out of reach, they gained resilience and mental toughness, coming back to win the series 4-3 and ending the season as the 2016 NBA Champions.
  1. Failure is the only way to succeed. We only grow or reach success out of being in uncomfortable situations and that’s exactly what failure is. Failure is downright uncomfortable and never feels good. It certainly hurts a lot to lose and fail, but regardless of the emotional toll it takes on you, it is the quickest way to learn how to win. Take legendary NFL coach Tom Landry, for example. As the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Landry led the team two Super Bowl victories, five NFC Championship victories, and is one of the most winningest coaches of all time. He is also widely known for having one of the worst first seasons on record, not winning a single game. In each of his next four seasons, his team also recorded five or fewer wins. He failed repeatedly and that is largely why he is known as one of the greatest coaches of all time. Even Michael Jordan is quoted by saying: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Athletes who fail over and over, only to eventually succeed, are the ones who resonate the most in our hearts. They are the ones who we cheer for the hardest and the ones who give us hope that anything is possible, regardless of how unachievable the goal might seem. When these types of athletes succeed, it shows us that failure is never fatal and that it is okay to not get it right the first time. We may not always realize it, but athletes inadvertently teach us about how strong we are and what we are able to accomplish if we keep pushing on. Most of all, athletes teach us that even if failure is in sight, going through it is the only way to reach the plateau of success.

It’s safe to say that we should and often do look up to athletes as a source of inspiration or guidance when it comes to following our hopes and dreams. They set examples of what we should do and more importantly they show us that it’s ok to fail every once and awhile. But they allow us to hold onto those hopes and dreams while showing us that things take time and hard work. You can have hopes and dreams but they’ll remain just that if you don’t have a little spunk about you to fight for what you want. That’s the extra drive that those athletes tend to have over the rest of us, those extra skills that we don’t seem to be to possess until we’ve failed once or twice.

So until next week we’ll leave you with this, follow your dreams, keep your hopes and most of all work towards them even if they take your entire life to come true you hold on to them. Keep on working and make it happen no matter how long it takes, stay the path, stay true to yourself and never stop dreaming. Oh and always dream big, without big dreams this little blog would never have happened and the people who write it wouldn’t be where they are today. So we’ll leave you be as you continue to pursue your hopes and dreams and we’ll get to work on the next installment of A Mind of Its Own. Adios amigos…