Beat Up Car…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Golden Years…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Decade Under the Influence…

Of all the asinine things in the world we’d have to say we’ve hit the mother load this week as we head into another chapter of A Mind of Its Own. Just when we thought the world couldn’t surprise us anymore, just when we thought we were slowly starting to get on some stable footing and just when we thought there’d be some good news to come across our desks. The world flips us on our head and pushes us into a deep, dark pit of despair once again. Why you ask? Because for people who are meant to be at the top of the food chain we do some very stupid things. Things that often leave us scratching our heads and asking whiskey, tango, foxtrot (WTF)? And if you don’t know what that means we aren’t going to spell it out for you this is a safe environment that tries not to offend readers with profanities.

Human Beings for all our brilliance often do some very dumb things, recently an article came across the desks of one of the writers who often provides this fine blog with ideas, inspiration and from time to time a piece of writing or two. The article whilst on first glance was quite mundane and something that normally wouldn’t interest the team here at A Mind of Its Own. But after a second glance and a few giggles, like we were back in primary school hearing the words penis and vagina for the first time. Reading it again and again we began to see the stupidity that comes when people see something that could potentially be used as something else or will give them an ability to get more likes on social media.

So we’ve all walked past one of those Lush cosmetics stores, you know the ones you can smell them from one end of the shopping centre and you’re standing down the other end on the lower level. Yeah you know the one we are talking about now. Well it seems they’ve brought a new bath bomb range just in time for valentines day, what that’s not a surprise you say given they are known for their fruity chemical cocktails that get lobbed into your bathtub turning the water every colour under the sun as they foam up the water from their fizz. Well our dear friends this isn’t just any bath bomb range this is the bomb range to end all bomb ranges in your bath. The range includes an emoji peach, a banana and the one phallic symbol that every dirty text message since emojis were invented has included and been banned by instagram. Yes folks you’ve heard it here they’ve come out with the big eggplant emoji in a bath bomb. That big purple monster can add some fizz along with a little hilarity to your valentines day bath.

What’s the big issue you ask? It’s a little fun and something that might spice up your romantic overpriced, commercialed day. Well the issue ladies and gentleman is that some of our female species and potentially male have decided that since it looks like the big eggplant they’ve been sent in many a text message from people feeling in the mood, they’d try to use them as a sex toy. Instead of that fizz dissolving in your bath it’s now fizzing away in vaginas and anuses all around the world. Again we can hear people saying what’s the issue with that? If people want to use the Eggplant emoji bath bomb as a dildo why can’t they? Firstly just don’t and secondly well just don’t there are several medical reasons as to why you’re not supposed to put bath bombs up your vajutes or butt.

If we hadn’t found several articles on it we wouldn’t have believed it ourselves, by doing exactly this you are compromising the good bacteria inside your vagina, direct quote from a doctor, someone who actually took the time to go to university for 6 plus years and learn all about the body. This particular doctor though specialises in Obstetrics and gynecology so we trust her judgement on the matter. Oh and she’s a woman so she has one, a vagina that is. To put it bluntly you are killing all the good bacteria that helps your vagina self regulate, yeah we learnt that as well this week, the vagina is an amazing organ that cleans itself. They don’t teach you that in sex education, instead they introduce you to the banana yet another phallic symbol that has often been where it shouldn’t have as well. Causing a slight itch or at worst a severe urinary tract infection.

The fact that bath bombs include the following ingredients some of which are chemicals we might add is a clear indication as to why you shouldn’t put them where they don’t belong. Citric Acid, Bergamot Oil, Ho Wood Oil, Litsea Cubeba Oil, Tonka Absolute, Fresh Aubergine, Cream of Tartar, Water, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Coco Sulfate, Propylene Glycol, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Tin Oxide, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Alcohol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citral, Coumarin, Hydroxycitronellal, Limonene, Linalool, Perfume and Colours a shit load of colours each with a different 5 to 6 digit number.

If that’s not enough to turn anyone off from trying to make love to one of these eggplant emoji shaped bath bombs we don’t know what is. The fact that putting any of the above in your vagina screams please give me a serious urinary tract infection if i put this where it shouldn’t go, should be enough to stop people but alas it doesn’t. Despite all the warning labels and warnings from specialist doctors people are still trying to use them as sex toys which takes us back to our above statement about humans being stupid. Maybe some of it’s inherited, maybe some of it’s the internet and social media and maybe just maybe its something do with our laziness as people. Always looking for the quickest and easiest way from point A to B.

Ladies and Gentleman if you feel that you need to make love to an emoji that looks like an eggplant we have done our research for you. Guess what? You are in luck! There is a company that makes an actual sex toy shaped and coloured like the emoji symbol so many people are using as a dick in text messages these days. It’s made of latex and apparently is safe for you to stick where the sun doesn’t shine till your little hearts are content. So instead of sticking that bath bomb up there and compromising your bodies internal ecosystem spend the money and get one that you don’t have to worry about the effects on your foo foo or butt hole.

Is it just the team here at a mind of its own or is social media not only allowing people to do dumb things but driving them to do them as well? With the main driver behind Instagram being to get likes, influence others and grow your network. The trend of “Doin it for the Gram” has seen a spate of idiotic post make their way onto instagram and other social media platforms. We can only imagine the posts making their way onto instagram the days and weeks following the release of lush’s new bath bomb emoji line. #Soreanditchyvagine not put these in your peach etc. There you go folks coined a new hashtag right here. If it’s not people shoving things into orifices they don’t belong, then it’s something else completely idiotic.

Scrolling through Reddit we came across a feed for something called the Tide Pod Challenge you’ll have to forgive us if this is old news but like the ice bucket challenge or the somebody Kardashian lip challenge we were and always will be late to the party. So this tide pod challenge what on earth could it be. Living close to the ocean our money was on something stupid involving the ocean and getting dunked. Lucky we didn’t have a bet down or that money would be going straight to the house. They say the house always wins, in this case it would have won without a challenge. The Tide Pod Challenge like the ice bucket challenge made its way onto social media when a teenager ate one of those prepackaged laundry pods that wash your clothes or dishes and dared his mate to take up the mantle of the challenge.

Again are people getting dumb? That shit can kill you! Depending on the ingredients you might be lucky to just get away with explosive diarrhea but more than likely if it doesn’t kill you it will give you caustic burns to your cheeks, esophagus and stomach. So while you’ve got explosive diarrhea there is a good chance you will also be bleeding from your bum, coughing up blood and not in a good way at all. Good one humanity we are really showing our finest selves on the internet these days. And we thought people experimenting with there sex toy like bath bombs was bad enough, nope some idiots on the internet had to go and one up them and eat washing powder. Seriously what is wrong with people these days? If anyone knows the answer we’d love to hear it. It’s bad enough we can’t seem to find a decent leader to look after our country and our closest ally is ruled by a freaking umpa lumpa who wants to build a wall and a space army.

It seems even the smart people are being struck by dumb although the more research we do here regarding Mr Musk the more we begin to question whether he actually does have any smarts or he’s just got some very smart people working for him who have some genius level ideas that once down on paper make him a fortune. Example in point is that he managed to sell 20,000 flamethrower guns to the public. Our American friends are already crazy enough without there own flamethrowing guns. Toted as the extreme BBQ lighter it wasn’t long before internet erupted with people doing stupid things with there newly named ‘not a flamethrower’ due to some law around calling it an actual flamethrower.

Wait, wait, wait you can’t call it a flamethrower but you can sell it to the public? The majority of who will no doubt do something completely idiotic with it? Who’s the silly person here Elon Musk for thinking this is a good idea? Or the authorities for allowing his drilling company BORING to sell the damn things to the public in the first place? Either way the man with the mouth that never seems to stop and who thinks he’s smarter than everyone in the world made $10 Million selling flamethrower guns and internet got a new bunch of idiots doing stupid things with guns that throw flames. High five said no one with half a brain anywhere!. We’d love to say all these incidents are isolated to the continental united states but unfortunately they aren’t. Australia is seeing its fair share of idiotic things as people are regularly warned and advised by professionals not to do things and yet we keep doing them.

Then there are the people who just don’t have brains, like the countless people who get into bar fights after getting so plastered they don’t remember what day of the week it is or how they got to the bar in the first place. They then end up with an injury that requires a couple of stitches or a bone being reset. Managing to get themselves into a cab, they show some signs of brain function. Right up until the point they dial 000 on there way to hospital and ask for an ambulance. Yeah you might be drunk but surely you are not that stupid, folks it’s time to wake up and stop taking the silly pills. We are top of the food chain for a reason, we have brains and imaginations on top of that we have opposable thumbs and are able to think for ourselves, fend for ourselves and most importantly be ourselves. Unless yourself is a complete moron, then be someone else please for the love of humanity.

So ladies and gentlemen, if something doesn’t look like it should be placed in one of your orifices don’t do it that includes bath bombs and pods. If you have the opportunity to buy a flamethrower just don’t. Unless you are planning on joining a militia, joining Trump’s spaceforce or like most people who bought one just don’t have a brain. One thing writing this post did, was teach us that despite all the warning labels, public announcements and common sense people are always going to do what they want and as they say rules are their to be broken right? Seems if it can hurt, is bad for you or can ultimately kill you someone, somewhere will do it and with social media these days, there is a good chance that someone is filming it for the world.

Until next week stay safe and heed the following public service announcement. Dumb people will continue to do dumb things over and over again continuing to get the same results. Smarter people will do it once or twice before realising that they are being dumb and Smart people just won’t do it at all. Don’t use your bath bombs as sex toys no matter how appealing it might be. Don’t eat your dishwasher tablets because curiosity got the better of you and last but not least leave flamethrowers to the military those guys are trained professionals. Be good to your folks and we’ll be seeing you next week for a brand new episode of A Mind of Its Own…

Everything Must Go…

The one thing traveling certainly creates is the opportunity to meet new and interesting people from all walks of life. People that you may not interact with on a daily basis. People who you normally wouldn’t consider your type of people. People who challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone and try something a little different. The other thing travel does is create an opportunity to collect stories and ideas as you go. Everyone has a story to tell and if you give them enough time they will tell your their story/stories over a coffee or alcoholic beverage. Well at least that’s what the team tends to do when they begin tell stories of their endeavours to complete strangers in attempts to pass the time.

Having travelled a lot over the last couple of months, the team at A Mind of Its Own has had the opportunity to sit and listen to a lot people share their stories, experiences and knowledge. Whether it be in direct conversation or through the ancient are of active listening and people watching. Yes we know it is a little creepy but you should really try it some time. Sitting there, over hearing people talk in cafes, bars, restaurants or the airport lounge. Like we did you will hear thousands of stories that range from the believable to the downright insane but there is always someone there sharing with friends or family. By sharing our stories we ensure they are passed on from generation to generation or captured for time eternal when someone takes the time to write them down.

For centuries human beings have shared stories whether it by to pass on history or for entertainment purposes. Humans have always been fascinated and intrigued by the storyteller, from the days of cavemen sitting around a fire grunting their history to children to modern-day parents taking their children to the local library for storytime. Before books, magazines, movies and social media we told each other stories ranging on true to flights of fantasy. From the day we are born till they day we move on from this world we continue to listen to and tell stories whether it be by recounting a memory or moment in time or creating something fictional from the creative recesses of our minds.

Mystery, Horror, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Action and Adventure, Western, Romance and Drama are all categories born from the imaginative minds of storytellers, from everyday people who found an idea and expanded upon it creating and building each scene, each character in their mind like a picture while they recount their story to those who were willing to listen. Even as you recount a memory to family or friends you can’t help but see it moment by moment in your mind, clear as the day it actually happened. As technology advanced and humans developed we were able to take down accounts of those stories. Firstly on stone, then papyrus, finally paper and now digitally to forever live in the cloud (Some guys computer and server in India or the Philippines).

Your favourite writers, artists are great storytellers who have earned a living out of using their wonderful ability to charm and create a story in the minds of their readers, listeners, viewers or even on a blank canvas. Yes each painting, drawing, sketch, doodle tells a specific story in the mind of its creator, yet the person looking at it may see a completely different story in their head. It is their ability to draw in an audience that allows them to craft their art and become masters in their chosen field. Even the guy at your local bar, you know the one we are talking about. The one with his favourite stool that no one else sits in (Well no one who’s a regular anyway), no matter what day it is he’s there sipping on his mid strength sharing a yarn or two with anyone who is willing to listen.

By the time you’ve had your third beer you are enthralled by the man’s life and the things he has seen. The pictures floating through your mind are reminiscent of a motion picture, you give faces to the people, colour to the picture and create life all within the recesses of your own mind. Like a wizard casting a spell, the storyteller has you once again has you entranced and under his spell. Instead of worrying about the outside world for the first time in a long time you find yourself present in the moment. Sharing a drink, a laugh and a story with someone you might not necessarily take the time to stop and talk to on an ordinary day. But you’ve sat there enough and overheard enough of his stories that it’s piqued your interest.

Sitting around the office we began to banter around some of the more out their stories of people we had heard or had recounted to us over the past couple of weeks. There were stories of tragedy, stories of pain, stories of growth and great triumph, stories that made us laugh till a little bit of wee came out and then there were the stories that just had us scratching our heads and asking if that had really just happened. After bantering about the stories we began to storyboard them in what would later be known as the Travel Diary of Deviant Men and Women. We wondered if taking the names and places out could we share some of them with our faithful followers. After a quick google search around proprietary information and copyright laws it became quite clear that as long as we didn’t claim them as our own we were good to go and able to share them with you we just had to ensure that we included a disclaimer..

The following is a collection of storytellers we’ve gathered from around this beautiful country during our travels over the last couple of months. We have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from our memories of them, In order to maintain their anonymity in some instances we have changed the names of individuals and places. We may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations and places of residences. Google told us we should include a disclaimer so that no one sued our backsides. We are in love with Google here at A Mind of Its Own, it’s like an all-knowing prophet that provides us with much-needed free legal advice. Could google be the fabled Cyberdyne Systems of the Terminator franchise? Oh and that isn’t us saying if you have legal issues just google everything. If you are in trouble go and see someone who went to university studied law, passed the BAR or whatever we call it in Australia and is practicing law as a paid professional

Trying to choose our stories and their storytellers is like you trying to pick your favourite children, yes you all say you don’t have a favourite but deep down we all know you do!. We ummed and ahhed amongst the team as to who should be included and which stories. There was also the element of what was safe and what wasn’t safe for publication after all we are a family friendly blog who never posts anything that is Not Safe For Work (NSFW). At the end of the day it came down to the coin toss, stories and their tellers pitted against one another in the ultimate decision-making process. Heads versus tails, two on a Wednesday outside of the Anzac period is frowned upon but look we aren’t gambling with any money, just people’s ability to tell share their stories on our esteemed platform.

Some of the stories we’ve heard over the years have been better than others like the guy who’s sister arrested him for public urination off a bridge in the wee hours of the morning (pun intended). Or our first story-teller the ‘sausage king of Canberra’ as we came to calling him, had us in stitches with his self-proclaimed status of King, but his realm is not one that most people would want to rule over particularly in this day and age given the #metoo movement and push for greater equality and rights for women. Just all round treating woman better, well not just women, treating everyone in general better.

So SKOC for short is one gentleman that certainly had us somewhat baffled and enthralled at the same time by his stories. He works with some pretty high up and influential people in the country who would be pretty shocked to hear that his hobby and so-called Kingdom was collecting pornography. Not only did he collect it but then he also categorised it and saved it. The kid had over 3 terabytes of porn and growing, safe to say he was also a virgin who doesn’t have a girlfriend. But nevertheless he had us mesmerised by the stories he told, in such detail that we knew then they weren’t a lie. But to be safe we often fact checked his stories just to be on the safe side.

The second cab to pull away from the curb contains our next story and it’s teller. Riding in the backseat while pecking away at some document to ensure is employer doesn’t get screwed in some major deal. Joey, Joseph or the law as he is better known to his friends and family has become someone we trust, admire and perhaps even look up to a little. A self-proclaimed trendetarian he’s always working on some diet he’s read up on the internet and happy to share it with any and everyone including his wife and kids. Most of his stories though if he’s not recounting something legendary his kids have done come from time before all that.

A time when we was young and wild and free thanks Snoop you are still a great rapper even if you now have to collaborate to make a decent song. Back to the law, he’s a bit of a storyteller in general but once he’s had a couple of the finest low carb beers available there is no stopping. There are stories from his misspent childhood through to his university days and even some of the nights out we’ve had out with him over the last couple of years when things have become a little hazy. As some of his mates may remind him frequently when they get together and he gets on a low carb beer induced roll ‘we’ve heard this one before’.

Being a father it’s no wonder he’s a good storyteller and we can’t wait till the day he can sit back with his son’s or daughters, we can’t remember how many he has or what sex they are (Ok we know how many, their sex, ages and names, we are trying to protect his anonymity), and recount his youth with them over a nice cold tinnie or two, no doubt it will be low carb but we’ll never get him on full fat frothies. Regardless of his poor choice in beer we’ve had a good yarn or too and shared some stories with him over time and hope to share many, many more.

Our third and final storyteller is the greatest of them all, a man who had seen it all, done it all and was made out of solid stone. Tough as nails and yet compassionate and caring at the same time. He was a man that books should be written about, a man that in our eyes was a hero, a legend and an all round great man. Yes before we go on, we acknowledge that we have haven’t been very equal in our choosing of storytellers and for that we apologise. We have nothing against women or women who tell a good yarn, in this case they just lost out to luck. That simple toss of the coin excluded them from making the cut.

A husband, father, brother, grandfather and son, he was the best of men always there with an anecdotal reference, a story or to lend a hand. He was a many that told many a story both fact and fiction, from the times they’d finish work and ride their horses down to into, and yes you didn’t read that wrong, into the bar to the times he played football for Fitzroy. He would sit with you listen and then tell you a story that would put everything back into perspective.He was always ready with an example of the good old days, of a time simpler before technology began taking over our lives and the lives of those around us.

An accomplished horseman watching him work with stock whether it be sheep, cattle or other horses was reminiscent of watching the man from snowy river. He could hunt, fish and camp with little to no supplies. A true man of the land, a true cowboy a man with many tales to tell, a man who died with many of those stories still in him. Someone that the team here will always hold dear to them he was a true storyteller and someone who lived a long full life that allowed him to gather his own stories and those of others around him to pass on. An inspiration that helped start this blog he was always someone who told you to follow your dreams no matter how many times you stumble and fall. If you keep getting up you will eventually get what you want. They can take everything from you but they can never take the fight. Not a truer word could be said. Not a truer more genuine storyteller will ever be found.

So as we close our blog on the storytellers, on the men and women who have inspired, encouraged, educated and often distracted from the day-to-day worries of life we take our hats off to the Kings, Cusslers, Rowlings, Lees just to name a few and other storytellers of the world who have inspired us and future generations of storytellers, artists, poets and musicians to continue telling stories whether they be fact or fiction the power of a story is stronger than we realise. The power of a story can often be the thread holding society together, a dream a mere idea that can give power to bigger things. From that one little spark of an idea grows into something to be shared throughout time, from generation to generation.

So from the team here at A Mind of Its Own, if you find something that inspires you to create, to inspire, to share, to dream! Do it, if it makes you happy, if it makes you stop and think and want to inspire others then we encourage you to do whatever it is that makes you want to share your story and stories through your passion whether it be a hobby or your job. As we bid you another farewell until next week, stay safe and be good to your parents, they’ll share the most stories with you throughout your lives.

Reason Is Treason…

Well it’s all over red rover! We are back in the office googling funny pet videos pretending to work instead of being out on road driving past, cane fields, more cane fields, cows, more cows, oh look some sheep for something different! A beach, a lake or a river! The trip has come to an end which sitting in an office all day listening to people drone on about spreadsheets, finances, sales and other crap, that is offending our minds still set in holiday mode has made us want to crawl up under the desk and cry a little. It did make us wish that A Mind of Its Own was a travel blog… OK only for a split second we take on all the things other people want to avoid and travelling is certainly not one of them.

After last week’s piece on Outrage Porn and if you didn’t read it go back and read it before you start jumping up and down going what the fuck and being morally outraged that a decent publication like ours would even talk about porn. Like so many kids have said to their parents “It’s not what you think” so just read it before you make your mind up. Getting back on track after last week’s piece we’ve been worried as to what we’ll be able to come up with this week that will be so provocative that readers will want more and more. What topic can we absolutely kill in our quirky way that seems to work for us, what can we make the third post of the year all about? Who can we offend this week without trying, as we morally outrage people who just need to be outraged about something for their week to function normally.

Well we took one look at politics and the words, “not a chance”, reverberated around the room in a continuous echo. Between Trump back at his wall building best and our own politicians coming up with hairbrained ideas the world of politics is well a little like a circus you could say. Maybe politics isn’t such a bad topic to cover after all there is always something hilarious going on or someone coming up with a stupid idea on how we can run the country just that little bit better or build a wall, start an army for space or in our case eradicate a pest problem we’ve had for years through our work for the dole scheme. Thanks Pauline you are our favourite clueless, racist, Ranga!

As we walked past Parliament House, yes the team are once again in the Nation’s capital soaking in the sun and dry heat, on another work excursion which will no doubt have a travel disaster story somewhere along the way. It got us thinking about the big playhouse on the hill. Have you ever watched Question Time on ABC? Well if you haven’t we suggest you do, try turning the volume right down and do what we do. Make up the words for them, they only argue like school children anyway, speaking over the top of each other and yelling out abuse if they don’t agree with something or someone. It’s quite hilarious even with the volume on. In a sense it is literally like watching kids on the school ground argue about which spice girl is better or whether G.I Joes are better than transformers.

If it’s not Pauline telling us how to fix the Cane Toad problem like they are cans at a recycling centre it’s old mate Scott Morrison our current PM telling us what we supposedly want to hear after his holiday on NSW central coast. Apparently old ScoMo ran into some locals who told him exactly what all Australians wanted and needed for the country to run successfully. Our question was how many schooners of Tooheys New were consumed before he found his balls and asked the yokels. We certainly weren’t asked, were you? That’s the thing we’ve always found with politicians, they are all professional liars. They’ll tell you one thing to get your vote and then either forget about it or make up a lame excuse as to why it couldn’t be done. Parliament reminds us a lot of the school yard, it’s made up of jocks, nerds, bullies and geeks the only thing they all have in common is they want power and are happy to stampede over one another to get it.

As Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker “With great power, comes great responsibility” well unlike Spiderman our politicians are anything but responsible. We’ve got Neonazi members of parliament attending rallies and throwing down white supremacy salutes, we’ve got a former fish n chip shop owner who sold her shop to people of chinese descent after claiming that we are being overrun by the chinese and should be fortifying our position. You’ve got a former farmer / deputy prime minister who got his staffer pregnant, yeah the media cried scandal as soon as they heard that news. We’ve had more politicians resign due to their dual citizenship than we have cricketers who got off the mark against India in the recent test series.

Where can we really go from here? Surely we can’t find anything else that could upset the children in the big school yard on the hill? Ah we would all be oh so very, very wrong! There was bullying in the parties and even some sexual harassment from a female member which whilst might not be that shocking to hear but it’s usually our over privileged male politicians doing the inappropriate fondling at events. There are plenty of those stories and none of them unfounded, as the MeToo campaign continues to grow around the world more and more women are speaking out against sexual harassment, misconduct, assault and workplace bullying. Suggestions a plenty flood in as to what we could be doing better in Australian Politics.

One of the first things that comes to mind would be to keep a Prime Minister for their full term regardless of sex, gender (Apparently they are two seperate things these days, the non-binary thing still confuses the hell out of us) race, age and anything else that could be considered discriminatory but instead of doing that we have party back backstabbing like we are fighting over the popular boy, girl or non-binary at school. Which results in a change of Prime Minister every 6 months or so. It’s no wonder world leaders giggle at us, points at us and laughs at the commonwealth colony that can’t get their act together while the rest of the world continues to develop.

The state of Australia’s leadership on the world state is almost as laughable as Donald and his wall. We said almost the fact that he’s still banging on about building his wall and that it will lower crime rates has us rolling around the office in fits of laughter. Drug cartels already have a way around the existing walls along the US/Mexico border and like all immovable objects there are always ways around them. Has Trumpasaurus Rex been paying attention to the tunnels dug under the border at all? We think not, what’s to stop the cartels using other methods to move their merchandise? Narco submarines, airplanes, cars, human mules. Yeah nah your wall is going to make all the difference just like your taupe and oompa loompa tan Mr Trump.

Twenty Nineteen could see yet another change in leadership of this great island nation as we head into an election early in the year. Before too long your TV screens will be flooded with scare campaigns about what will happen if you elect the Liberals or Labour, National Party, Greens, One Racist Party, sorry we mean One Nation. Scandals a plenty will grace the front pages of newspapers and the country will go into shutdown while a caretaker government moves into office until the results of the class presidency are readout to the plebs whom they govern and make decisions for. We’ve hit google several times already this week to get its advice on who we should vote for. Like a magic eight ball it pretty much told us to try again later once they received some brown paper bags from one of the parties who’ll want to come back top of the search results list.

No conspiracy theories here right? Every government acts above board and is forthcoming with each and every decision they make right? History has a habit of repeating itself and judging by the amount of dodgy dealings that have gone on throughout the years around the world we doubt that the Australian government, both current, past and future have all kept their noses clean. We know backroom deals are a done thing in politics, business and even the dark recesses of the world where shady shit is the norm. So why would we feel that electing one shady official over another was going to lead to our government being open and honest with the people it serves? Yes it is a privilege to serve the people of a nation not a right but a lot of politicians can’t see past their own ego to realise that.

They say if you have a problem with something you can either do something about or you should be quiet. Well i think the last thing the Nation needs is A Mind of Its Own running off on tangents every time there was an important decision to be made. They want to open a detention centre in the visitors centre at Uluru? And A Mind of Its Own sure build another 4 new boats for the Navy or better yet let’s create another branch of the military for space!Why should Donald have all the fun. While we are on the topic can we build a wall between us and New Zealand? There are far too many Kiwis hitting our shores every year and not returning! The Gold Coast is full of them! Deport them all we say. See what we mean? The A Mind of Its Own team getting involved in politics is not a good idea! We’ll write about it, comment about it, bitch and moan about it but not get involved for the simple fact that like the blogs name the people that write it are just as random as the content often is.

For all our Australian readers, as you head to the polling booths on the 18th of May this year, please, pretty, pretty please do your homework on who you want to run this country at least for the six months after the election. Based on trends their own party will want them out within the year as they fight amongst themselves as to who should lead Australia on the world stage or who looks better in a pair of budgie smugglers on the north shores of Sydney. We just hope who it is starts to do things important for Australia to continue growing and developing as a nation. Invest in the things that actually matter. Education, Health and Australia’s declining sporting ability should all be top of mind come Federal Budget time on the hill.

So once again we’ve skirted the edges of a topic that could well and truly be controversial, we’ve ignored all the important things and focussed on the lack of ability to govern nations and take into account the things the public really require and we’ve focussed on all the things that the politicians are well known for. In the political world it’s all sex, drugs and rock n roll as we head into the election period. As Pauline once famously said ‘I don’t like it’ which gave the nation one of the best political parody songs of the last decade. But didn’t seen to do any damage to her political career as our bigoted country folk continue to vote for her and her racist ways. Is Pauline a secret Neonazi? Does she have history with the Aryan race? Heck we could write a bunch of conspiracy theories relating to the ranga from Queensland who built her political career covered in batter and chicken salt.

Closing another chapter on a discombobulated Mind of Its Own we look at a blog that makes little to no sense and attempt to summarise into something that resembles intelligence and English. The 18th of May 2019 make sure you vote and vote for someone your values align with and you want to represent you as a world leader. Oh and remember all those sneaky little backroom deals. Just watch those if you vote for an independant, they aren’t as independent as they make out and tend to align themselves with a major party. From the team here in the Nation’s Capital hangout in the gallery above parliament waiting for the kids to come in swinging with their verbal punches at one another we bid you farewell and good tidings until the next installment of Australia’s soon to be favourite blog.

With Friends like you, Who needs Friends…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, there’s toys in every store if you head to the toy section all year round not just at christmas and if we go to the butcher we can guaranteed unless you are going to play with your Christmas Ham they aren’t going to have toys so the song is doing a little false advertising but that’s ok. Like Easter though as soon as one major event is over it’s time to roll out the next. In this case most shopping centres have been rolling out their christmas decorations since October. Christmas tunes are blasting our years as of November and come the start of December there is no escaping the fact that Christmas is well and truly upon us, followed very closely by new years and then before you know it Australia (Invasion) Day. After Australia/invasion Day you can finally relax and enjoy some down time until easter but you will start to see easter eggs as of the 27th of January.

We’ve lit the candles on another cake and started the macarena in order to celebrate in style. The padlock has come off the drinks fridge and someone has said it’s time to party like it’s nineteen ninety nine. Does that mean we should all hide and worry about the Y2K bug or channel our inner Prince throw on our best purple velvet suit and rock out? Who knows but for the team here it’s GO time and time to celebrate all the good things that came with the year. Time to let the hair down and time to throw the rule book out the window along with all our cares in the world. So tip your head back, throw back a drink or two and settle in with us to celebrate. By the way the title has nothing to do with the Blog as per usual and we are still waiting for someone to tell us what they all have in common…

So with the year creeping rapidly towards a close and A Mind of Its Own reaching yet another major milestone with this post. We thought why not look back on the best of the blog through 2018. With the half century now posted on the scoreboard we are waving our bat and saluting the crowd unlike the Australian cricket team who are still suffering from the ball tampering incident earlier in the year and are coping it from the Indian’s currently tourning. As we salute the stadium and our fans (that’s you guys) from being such good sports and being so patient with us throughout the year. We thank you for providing us with some great feedback, your continued support and your viewership on a weekly basis. Without you guys this blog wouldn’t work and we certainly wouldn’t have managed to write about some of the more stranger topics that we have covered over the year like Trump’s Space Force which we are still super excited about if it ever grows legs. It’ll be the best thing he’s done since the apprentice.

We also wouldn’t have entered contests like shit blog weekly and dunny readers anonymous or the Australian Blog awards. Saving that last one for our 2019 debut into the blogosphere. Truth be told we’ve loved every minute and every edition on of A Mind of Its Own in 2019. We’ve grown the family and added two office dogs who do very little to contribute other than tearing up the cease and desist letters we fail to receive on a weekly basis as our mail clerks seem to spend more time chewing them, than reading them. In some ways we are lucky that we are a totally digital platform otherwise I can guarantee a lot of these blogs wouldn’t have made it to print with those to furballs.

In what was a big year we managed to make a mockery of the Commonwealth Games, attack the plastic fantastics on the Gold Coast on more than one occasion, Harass Trump on several occasions, find the infamous owl statue in Canberra that looks more like a penis, no we are not joking about that just google owl+penis statue+Canberra and laugh continually at the bosses run of misfortune when it came to travelling for the job that keeps the doors open to this fine establishment. The writing was superfluous, we handed over the reigns on more than one occasion and even let the office pooches have there say or two. We put ourselves at the edge of our comfort zones and pushed our bodies to the limit to give you what we call life in a nutshell. There were diets and fads, gym sessions and drinking, fashion and travel. There wasn’t a topic too big or too small that couldn’t take on A Mind of Its Own…

From bumper stickers to ball tampering we covered it all and gave it that special twist that you’ve come to love and respect from the team. There have been heartfelt moments, tears, more than a few tantrums and on the odd occasion a little blood in our endeavour to bring a voice to the topics our fans want covered. A lot pain goes into finding things that people don’t want to talk about. We are raw, open and honest with our thoughts, feelings and often criticism as we poke fun and holes in things throughout each blog. Inspiration has been found through various different mediums whether it be an event, a situation or a person, something has inspired us to write the 49 blogs that have come before this one and the however many that will certainly follow. The team are not done yet unravelling the mysteries of the world around us. With a new year there will certainly be a whole heap of new topics coping our no holds bar approach.

So what did we cover over the year? We started out with Music and discussing everyone’s theme songs before moving onto Arsegate The Commonwealth Games greatest shame, the bunnings sandpaper bonanza, a look at Australia’s most favourite and endeared bird that should replace the emu on the coat of arms. We touched on questionable tattoos, athletes decisions, man’s need to fuck things up. There wasn’t a topic that didn’t make it to the drawing board in the office before some bright spark in legal told us it was a big no, no to write about that or unethical, in fact the works politically correct were used on more than one occasion forcing us to stop, look and listen like we were crossing a mental road. We continue to advocate that it is ok to talk about mental health issues particularly if you are a man and we even reviewed a video game or two.

We’ve renewed our free subscription to Google in order to search for any information we don’t have on hardfile or can’t get off the streets or our trusty informants who continually drop knowledge bombs like red spots specials at your local supermarket. We are also entering into the PodCast arena with a sweet little doozy that will be called ‘Blankety, Blank, Blank powered by A Mind of Its Own’ Your favourite blog gets a real voice unfortunately both James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman were way too expensive and also unavailable so you’ll be stuck with the not so dulcet tones of the boss as he nasals his way through a different topic each week with hopefully some special guests and hosts otherwise it may not be a long living podcast that you will all grow tired of fairly quickly.

From year to year we’ve set goals, this year was all about discovering our style and setting up a fan base. In the new year we’ll set some big goals and like Buddy Franklin wheel around to our left and let fly from fifty through the middle. Why will we achieve our goals? That’s simple because of the people that read this blog week in week out. It’s you guys that make this blog, it’s you guys that we’ll continue to write for and continue to work hard at bringing you the topics that really matter both home and abroad. So with our 50th blog we thank each and everyone of you for taking the time to read our weekly post. Our fans are our biggest source of inspiration.

Without further adieu happy 50th blog post to us, at the beginning of the year had someone asked us if we’d write almost a post a week we probably would have said NO, but it’s become a religious thing for us by which we feel extremely bad if we haven’t posted for the week. We have some amazing fans who continually leave us comments on the website or for those that know the writers and personally comment to them about one of the posts or a specific line. Again we thank all of the fans from the casual readers to the die hard never miss a post fans.

To the next milestone we are thinking we’ll do it in quarters but who knows we might just let you all know once we’ve cracked the ton and can wave the bat around for the second time proudly knowing we’ve achieved another major milestone. But like they say you have to celebrate the wins no matter how big so we’ll celebrate when we can. In the office we’ve cracked open a nice bottle of scotch shared a dram or two and stumbled out to celebrate with friends and family. Or in some cases on our own or with the office hounds.

Until next week and another new post we bid you farewell and hope you’ve cracked a can or two in our honor. If you don’t read next week blogs we wish you a Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate this time of year. It’s a time for family and friends. And as a side note we don’t condone drinking, we do condone celebrating, enjoying yourselves, having fun and by all means being safe! As long as it’s in moderation! Adios Amigos!

Leave the War with Me…

There is something to be said for finding your happy place particularly in times of need. Go to your happy place… It sounds like something out of an Adam Sandler film perhaps it was Happy Gilmore as he attempted to putt for the millionth time in order to get enough money to get his grandmother’s house back from the debt collectors but whatever it was he found a place in which he could be happy and himself. So what’s your happy place? Given it’s Christmas and it’s often a hard time of year for so many who are battling their own demons, we thought it appropriate we look at anxiety and depression and how to cope with them throughout the silly season.

Once again we’ve handed the reins over to the the creator of this here fine piece of media to discuss Anxiety and Depression through the holiday period. Knowing it’s a time of year when things start to become a little tiring, a little stressful and somewhat difficult to cope. We handed over the writing of this weeks blog to the Grumpy old man of the office after all it was the least we could do considering we didn’t get him a christmas gift. He has all sorts of coping mechanism for dealing with his anxiety and depression but his best and favourite outlet or his ‘Happy Place’ if you will is sitting right in front of a keyboard listening to the click, clack of keys as he taps out some writing from the original mind of its own. So without further adieu we hand over the keys to the kingdom to the man, the myth, the legend? (Insert questioning face emoji)…

It’s good to the see the team still have a sense of humour after I’ve banished them all to the naughty corner and told them coal is on the cards this christmas unless they get their acts together. It’s been a long year here at A Mind of Its Own, a long but enjoyable year. We’ve covered so many topics and continue to advocate that its ok to talk and more importantly it is more than ok not to be ok. The challenge comes in knowing it’s not weak to ask for help but takes more strength than most people realise. It’s at this time of year that I genuinely become drained both physically and emotionally. As people, we often don’t realise how much we give to others throughout the year. We support both friends and family in some cases so we don’t have to deal with what is going on in our own backyards and in other cases because it’s just what we’ve always done. We’ve always been that shoulder to lean on, that bag to punch, that friend that is always there when we need them.

We do it all without little regard for ourselves and our own physical and emotional wellbeing. Like most things though in life, we can only take so much before it all comes crashing down like a proverbial house of cards. For me it manifests itself in various ways but one in particular is sheer tiredness. I find myself sleeping more and more and feeling somewhat lethargic throughout the day. I struggle to keep my emotions in check and find myself leaning more and more on my coping mechanisms. The big one for me being my writing and spending my time my happy place. There is something cathartic about putting all my thoughts and feelings down on paper whether it be with a pen or taping them out in the virtual world. To me nothing beats that sound of the click, clack of keys as my thoughts appear on the screen before me.

Overtime I have learnt not to fear what I write and more importantly to share it. Whether that be with close friends and family or strangers through this blog. Having to get past the vulnerability and being scared of what and how people will perceive my writing has helped me to not only share my story but helped in my day to day struggles as I battle my own mind, thoughts and insecurities, as i get them out for the world to see. It took me a long time to be ok with letting people know I suffer from mental health issues, but now that I have I realise i am not alone and there are so many people around the world battling day to day like me. Spreading the message that its ok to talk and it’s ok not to be ok is something that didn’t come easy at first but now it’s second nature and hopefully by putting myself out there I am encouraging other who a struggling to speak up and seek some help or confide in a loved one or friend.

Having multiple projects on the go at once allows me to pick and choose depending on my mood, emotions and feelings which one I work on. It also allows me to plan for the future in terms of my writing. When things get really dire I find myself exercising a lot more and even meditating to keep myself balanced. Whilst the brain is a beautiful thing I find that mine can often be destructive and troublesome given the time to wander and analyse life way too much. The constant question of self and those around me becomes tiring and at some point once that fuse it lit and begins to burn out I know there will be an explosion. How it all comes to a head is anyone’s guess. It can be any emotion from anger to sadness or a mixture of them all that leaves me feeling ashamed.

Ashamed that whilst I have gotten better over the years, I still can’t master my emotions. Being reflective I know that I only have myself to blame. I’m the one that takes on too much, who tries to be there for everyone. Who carries the world upon my shoulders as though it is my duty to ensure everyone is ok. Without looking after the one person I rely on the most. ME. It’s a flaw that I own, that I know I can work on overtime. During this holiday period I urge everyone to make sure they take some time out to look after themselves. Self Care is so important and is often overlooked. I can honestly put my hand up and say that my own well being is always the least of my concerns. Finding excuses is not hard, there is always some doing it tougher than I am or going through something that requires immediate attention. Like I said finding an excuse to not have to deal with myself is always easy. Its doing the hard things we often shy away from.

It’s usually this time of year that things will bubble to the surface, those questions that have been haunting me all year, the self loathing, the feelings of being stuck in a dead-end job and the unreasonable insecurities that tend to rear their ugly heads as I have way too much time on my hands to think and over analyse. In years gone by I have busied myself with as much as possible, cramming my days full of things to do as a way of distracting myself from the thoughts brewing inside my head. Hence why for me in particular the holiday season is a good time for me to do a lot of self care and to get as many of my thoughts and feels down as possible. It’s a time in which I can utilise all the tools and techniques I have learnt over the years while I reset.

Whilst it is important particularly over the holidays to ask if people are ok and to be there for friends and family it is so important that you stop, take some time out for yourself and ask yourself if you are ok?. Do the things you need to recharge. Go get a massage, read a book, go to the beach, write, see a movie, go for walk, be active. Whatever it is that helps you find your happy place, a place where you can be you and have no worries. As Bobby McFerrin sang ‘Don’t worry be happy’. Some people will read this and say you are just bandaging over the problems and you are not getting to the root cause of the issues that are making you anxious or depressed, i am inclined to agree with them but I will also caution that, that is an ongoing journey and not something that is going to be fixed overnight like a pantene advertisement.

So this Christmas give yourself the gift of Self Care, you can still be there for everyone but it is important that you do look after yourself and not just those around you. Do the little things that make you happy and stick to your routines. If you gym every morning make sure you do that, if you meditate than do that, if like me you write, than write till your little heart’s content, whatever it is that makes you feel good do it. There is nothing selfish about looking after number one. After all how are you expected to look after everyone else if you can’t look after yourself. The little coping mechanisms you use to get through the days will be so important this holiday period as you will often find yourself with more time on your hands as businesses shut down for Christmas and New Year and without work as distraction for some of us that gives our minds plenty of time to wander.

One thing I often overlook is leaning on friends and family myself, whether it’s a pride thing and having to admit i need some help and can’t do it all on my own or whether its purely because I prefer to listen. I know this Christmas I will have to lean on those around me at some point. I will need my friends and family even if it’s just for an hour, a day or a week. I am only human and at some point I will fall into an emotional heap. There have been times in the past where my wife has found me on the shower floor in absolute tears because everything has become to much or my hands will make fists and hit a tree only for to realise that was stupid as it swells and requires ice. But without my friends and family to lean on it would be a battle that was constantly draining. The hardest thing again is realising its ok to vulnerable in front of them. You don’t have to be tough all the time and letting down that guard will often save you a lot pain and suffering on your own.

The holiday period is a time to catch up with friends and family but don’t feel obligated to do so. I am forever reminding myself that just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean I have to. There is nothing worse than dragging yourself along to something when the last thing you feel like doing is being around people and having to make small talk. You don’t have to make up excuses, don’t even need to explain why, what you do need to do is what’s best for you. If that means not attending something because you need time to yourself than take. All too often we feel we have to do things because it’s the right thing to do, the socially responsible thing to do. At the end of the day I say what’s best for you is the socially responsible thing to do, holidays are a time for doing what you want, with who you want. It’s nice to be invited places but that doesn’t mean you always have to say yes! It’s ok to say NO thank you.

If you take one thing from this blog today it is to look after yourself over this holiday period. Easier said than done, I know. I know better than most but I also know that without self care and those around me to lean on instead of everyone leaning on me I’d be a shell of emotions come the new year and questioning whether 2019 was just going to be a year of the same circles going round and round once again. Self Care does not mean you have to ignore everyone it just means looking after yourself and doing what you want and need to be the best version of you. You can still be there for friends and family you just need to put yourself first for a change. Look after you and you’ll be able to spare some emotional capacity for those who need and want your help.

For me everyday is R U Ok? Day, I will forever ask it and I will always be there to lend an ear or a shoulder for those in need. I also know that I need to look after myself in order to do that. Finding my happy place wasn’t easy but now that i know what it is i’ll always have an outlet or coping mechanism to help me through the bad days because there will be bad days. These days the good far outweigh the bad but it has taken a lot of work both mentally and physically to get to this point and the educating is far from over. There is still so much work to be done before I can truly say I am OK.

So from the main mind here at A Mind of Its Own, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Remember it’s ok not to be ok and it’s certainly ok talk. You do you as they say and look after number one this festive season. That self care is of utmost importance during the silly season. Friends and family will be there for you, as you are for them. Lean on them if you need to, there is no shame in asking for some help. From the team and I until the next episode which by the way is another milestone edition! As the title say leave the war with me and I’ll continue to fight it… Peace out hombres…

Beauty in the Bricks…

As the heavens open up and bathe the earth once again we thought it was about time we hit you with a dose of the best distraction pill available on the market. That’s right the doctor has spoken and prescribed you with a dose of A Mind of its Own to aile your woes. It’s been a couple of weeks since we last graced your screens with our rather unique brand of blogging, straight from some of the strangest minds in all of Australasia. Our off kilter approach to the worlds issues has the health authorities wondering whether they should have us all thrown in the loony bin.

For the first time in a while the team here stopped and took a look at the world around them. The ins and outs of what was happening in the world and the human beings ability to continue to adapt and overcome. There are plenty of unanswered questions about the world, particularly those about our purpose and how we came to be at the top of the evolutionary food chain. But all those can wait for another time and another place. If you wanted to read about that you’d have logged on to National Geographic or the Discovery channel website.

What do the people want to actually read about? You know it’s funny as human beings one would think we wanted to hear about nice things happening in the world but as the marketers say there are only two things that sell news papers. Sex and things that no one wants to hear about like murder, robbery and anything of the ill elk. Well sex isn’t really our forte and we promise you’ll never get a 50 shades of grey from us.The things no one wants to hear about, well they are rather depressing. Hence why the team here tend to have no idea what’s happening in the world. The news is never on and the papers are rarely bought and if they are it’s only to help start the fire at the manor.

So what does this weeks blog have install for the faithful A Mind of its Own followers, good damn question. With so much happening around the world and so much happening around us there should be a million and one things for the talented team here to write about but it seems like a case of writer’s block has infected the whole team. Without a dose of antiblocktics lying around we’ve had to tough it out and pull together something that will hopefully make sense and allow you to enjoy yet again another blog from our stellar team.

We’ve had some great feedback over the past couple of months from our followers ranging from great content to it’s an enjoyable read while i’m on the toilet. The last one was a little strange and disturbing but at least we now know that we are making toilet breaks around the world a little easier on the minds of those reading along while they void their bowels of their last meals waste. Sounds pretty shit it if you ask us, pun intended! So besides being a toilet break filler for those that need one, we tend to try and be educational, funny and a little on the crazy side when we can.

Speaking of the crazy side, the team has been playing a lot of Red Dead Redemption 2 as of late on the Xbox. An escape from reality as some of the wives continue to point out but never the less a distraction from the troubles in the world around us. The Rockstar games western themed second installment of the Red Dead series got us thinking about when times were a lot simpler. Simpler, yet harder in some aspects. Riding around America in the early 1800’s on a trusty steed with a pistol strapped to your thigh, the wind running past your face as you gallop through plains and meadows chasing your next dollar by robbing a stagecoach or train that’s if you wish to be an outlaw. You could be part of a posse chasing down those outlaws and bringing them to justice. Each to their own we say.

Oh how the world has changed since the days of the wild west, no longer is it socially acceptable to-day drink, well it is as long as you are at a function and it’s in a licensed venue or in the comfort of your own home. Office settings are not an acceptable place to drink or start a brawl when someone offends you and you need to defend your honor. You can no longer sit in the main straight swigging from a whiskey bottle, saying howdy and tipping your hat to every man, woman and child that walks past unless it’s concealed in a brown paper bag even then it tends draws a lot of attention.

A lot has changed since the days of outlaw gangs and cowboys. People no longer ride horses in gangs and have swapped the graceful beasts for the metal version on two wheels. They still tend to draw the outlaw tag and often are stereotyped into being part of a gang whether they ride for recreation or they truly are outlaws who run drugs, guns, prostitution and rob people or places in order to make a living. When we referenced that it was an easier time we were referring to the fact that towns or cities were small and miles in between, you could disappear for weeks on end and live off the land if you had to. Taxes were something you generally avoided and wearing chaps as a male was acceptable in all places aside from a strip club.

There were many other things the team came across that we noticed were different from back then till now. Hygiene wasn’t really high on the priority list with bathing happening every so often in some cases they took better care of their trusty mounts then they did themselves. You could camp where and when you pleased without the need of a permit and payment for use of the ground. Hunting just happened and tended to be your source of food while living off the land and there was no such thing as a balanced meal.

In fact everything that is now considered bad for you was considered to be good for from smoking through to sucking out the poison from someones snake bite and drinking heavily while operating firearms from a horse. Ok so maybe we’ve painted a picture that all cowboys were drunks that’s not the case but they did tend to drink quite heavily. Saloon brawls were a common occurrence and duels were an actual thing. Yeah fastest draw wins literally, their life and their honor back. Pace it out ten steps and fastest to draw their weapon and fire, it was as simple as that and it was done for money and for pride on a regular occurence with most of the town watching on..

We don’t think you could challenge the new graduate who mouths off around the water cooler to a duel, gun him down and walk away a hero these days. Firstly murder is not ok, secondly the workplace is not the place for firearms unless you work at a gun shop and thirdly today we are told to use our words. One thing that has changed overtime is chivalry, it is no longer deemed chivalrous to pay for everything and be a gentleman. People are just as likely to go on dates these days and the lady pays. Call us old-fashioned but some traditions shouldn’t change and good manners cost you nothing.

A lot of things may have changed for the better however there are a few things that make us turn around these days and think toughen the beep up. Where as in the old days you would be pushed in the mud and taught that it was not ok to not be tough. Hence the place we are in today where it is not ok for men to show weakness, compassion and anything that would not be deemed manly, it definitely was not ok to talk about your feelings as a man in the wild west. You would be labelled a yellow belly or a coward. But at least kids weren’t soft and got trophies for participating even if they finish last. As Ricky Bobby said “If you ain’t first, you’re last”.

So what have learnt from playing a game that is a lot like a my little pony simulator for men, teaching you to tend and care for your mighty steed? Other than being drunk in the 1800’s was a mandatory requirement each day. Being an outlaw was somewhat cool despite having to hurt and often murder people just so you could earn a living. After all you were your own boss, grifting from town to town, gang to gang. Stealing was a common occurrence and if you were good at it you tended to have your own gang. The law often appointed themselves and were just as corrupt as they still are today. The tobacco industry was in its infancy of becoming a world power, the church was its usual god fearing, preaching self and railway tycoons were the one true power throughout the land.

Much like today if you had money you had power, if you had power it often went to your head and you only wanted more of both. Whilst being a cowboy looks somewhat cool it would have been a hard life both mentally and physically. For now we are just happy that we were born in this century and have the luxuries that allow us to live quite comfortable lives. Oh and the fact that when we run out of ideas as to what to write about we can turn to an alternative source of inspiration. Virtual reality or augmented reality, well in this case video games that got us thinking about how life has changed and how we have a little more respect for ourselves and each other. We said a little…

One slow and we say slow because it’s still dragging its heels through the mud like a lame mare, change that has definitely changed is the way women were treated. We aren’t saying its in a good place now but it is certainly a lot better than back then. Like a caveman belting a prospective wife over the head with his club and dragging a woman into his cave. The wild west was not short of its share of violence against women. So the team are glad that has changed and there are no more damsels in distress requiring a cowboy to come along and defend their honor. These days there are a lot of women who would kick your arse at the mere suggestion. You go girls! As some of the younger generation are pointing out they can do anything including the things you thought only men can.

From the often confused and wonderful minds here it’s time for us to say farewell for another week, tip our hats, spit out our tobacco, slap our horses on the rump and ride blissfully into the sunset. We hope besides learning that day drinking was a thing and cowboys now ride motorcycles the message from this weeks post is that violence of any sort if not ok, especially against women. Until next week partners we hope you enjoyed another foray into A Mind of Its Own. Stay tuned for a double dose this week as we come at you with another post about god knows what but it is sure to keep you distracted somehow.

Fire for Effect – Teaser 2

Chapter Fifteen

Ibrahim glanced at his phone for what was the second time in the space of a minute. He willed it to vibrate once again. Struggling to contain his excitement Ibrahim paced around the living room of his penthouse apartment. With views of downtown Chicago, he was able to look out over the sprawling cities skyline all the while thinking of what was to come. The message he’d received two minutes earlier had lit a fire in his belly. Ibrahim had been waiting for years to receive this particular message. As soon as he’d received it he’d opened up a second secure texting application to send off several messages to members of his cell. Inviting them to his residence, they would be briefed on the mission to come. Surrounded by his fellow warriors he now impatiently waited for further instructions to be sent via the encrypted messaging application installed on his smartphone..

Throughout houses, mosques, churches, apartments and secreted rooms all over America men and women of both Russian and Arab descent sat doing the exact same thing Ibrahim and his cell were doing. As they received orders they memorised them before deleting the message or burning the piece of paper that it had been transcribed onto. Some of the orders were directions for weapons caches buried outside major cities, others included targets and some were cryptic that only those closest to Yuri and Fatima would understand. Plans that had been decades in the making were now being kicked into gear all over continental United States.

By 9:00 that evening Ibrahim was standing over a map of Illinois placing pins across the state as the cell members crowded the trouble. Each person in the room had been given a specific task to complete.Three sets of different coloured pins were dotted around the state of Illinois, each time a pin went in the map Ibrahim referred to the copy of the Koran he had carried with him since entering the country 6 years ago. There were only 3 red pins dotting the map, while the rest were either green or yellow. The majority of the pins sticking from the maps surface had a green head. The green pins were safe houses or exfiltration points for the cell members who would not become martyrs on their missions for Allah. The yellow pins indicated weapons drops dotted all over the state and the surrounding boroughs of Chicago.

His group of Holy warriors sat reading reports, looking at surveillance footage, youtube videos taken by tourists and websites dedicated to travel blogs around Illinois. They jotted down notes and conferred with each other on approaches and exit strategies to locations, weapon drops and safe houses throughout Chicago before screwing them up and throwing them into a steel trash can that would later be set alight destroying all evidence of their meeting. They would file out of the building one by one over a period of several hours. Some would leave through the front of the building while others would leave through the parking garage at the rear of the building.

The plan for Ibrahim and his followers was to head through the great lakes into Canada where they would hide out for months if needed before hopping a flight back to the middle east where they would be greeted as heroes of the war against the infidels. Ibrahim knew in his heart that none of them would make it home they would die on foreign soil taking the fight to the infidels as Allah had intended for each and every one of them.

Over in New York, Pravin spoke to his cell with passion and commitment to the cause as he pointed at photos pinned to the wall behind him of his garage. A white sheet hanging from the ceiling acted a screen while he showed showed video footage of major tourist attractions that had been taken by members of his cell on a projector borrowed from his work. Like an army general he pointed out their ingress and egress routes. Discussed response times of the NYPD and the likely weapons they could expect. Each man and woman sat before him was to memorise their role in the operation. They were given an alias and told to learn it before the next time they met.

In Washington D.C and Los Angeles two more cells worked on the finer details of the plans that had been slowly evolving since the late 1980’s. In years to come when the world looked back over the events of the next couple of weeks they would slowly, come to realise that the Russians had indeed won the cold war. They had created an alliance that would serve them well into the next two decades bringing terror and fire to their enemies doorsteps. All the while they would publicly denounce the actions of such terror groups while behind the former iron curtain they were rejoicing at the destruction of the western world and their cold war enemies.

The six cells were spread across the United States and operated independently of each other. They were all tasked with their own missions and whilst each mission was similar in nature. Yuri and Osama had been specific in their wishes before they had passed on their vision to their son and daughter. Each of the six cells would split their cell into two teams, one of the teams would cause maximum terror attacking a major landmark while the other team would take out a designated infrastructure target. Yuri Junior had picked out the infrastructure targets while Fatima had picked the tourist attractions that would be hit, her sadistic nature being fed with each location she picked and the thoughts of lives that would be taken from the world..

It had taken Fatima’s father years of meticulous, careful planning from his safe house in Pakistan. He had sought Yuri’s council on several occasions. After the success of the 9/11 plans in which they had hijacked several commercial jetliners to use as missiles by piloting them into the twin towers and the pentagon. Since 9/11 the US had beefed up their homeland security presence in all major cities quite significantly. Planning often ground to halt as intelligence gathering exercises stalled for months on end as it became increasingly harder and harder for the members of the cells who were of middle eastern appearance to move freely around the cities without scrutiny.

The majority of intelligence gathering was then left to the Georgian and Russian members of the cells. There caucasian appearance allowed them to move freely around the cities, often playing the role of tourist as they snapped photos in front of targeted landmarks or hours of footage walking through the cities. Each cell was comprised of 10 couples or 20 twenty people in total, once the cells split into the fire team for their separate missions they each had 5 women and 5 men who were all highly trained in the use of explosives, small arms and long arms. They had been trained by former special forces soldiers in the woodlands, deserts and tundra of the American landscape.

Across the other side of the world Yuri and Fatima sat watching the small monitor as Catherine slept in her cell. Still under the influence of drugs pumping around her system. Slowly they would either break her in interrogation or she would become addicted at which point they would stop injecting her until her body craved it. Most people would then sell their deepest, darkest secrets just to get their next fix. Over the last couple of days they had changed strategies and started injecting her with heroin instead of the truth serum. Her body was becoming addicted as they increased the dosage with every interrogation session. Fatima stared menacingly at the screen before turning to Yuri and pulling him closely. ‘What is it my dear you look worried? she said.

Sighing deeply he turned back to the screen before speaking, ‘My father warned me of this, of the Americans and their stubbornness. We may kill her before she spills her secrets my that troubles me. We need this to work! I promised my father and your father that I would see their plan through even if it killed me’. His voice was mixed with both anger and worry.

‘My dear you think too much, by this time tomorrow the American whore will be begging for her next hit and will do anything for it. That includes betraying her much loved country, I promise you’ Fatima said before kissing him passionately and leaving him with his thoughts as she began preparing herself for bed. Sitting there for a moment longer staring at the screen, Yuri removed a piece of paper from his pocket. He had carried it with him for the past 5 years, it was always on his person no matter what he was doing. Over the years he’d thought of destroying it but everytime he come close he’d look at the words on the page and pocketed it before he could go through with it. Today was no different, he stared at the page before him knowing that he had memorised every line but Yuri could not bring himself to part with the page until the mission was complete.

The page was split in 6 sections within each section there were two dot points under a major location and a name. The first of the dot points was a major infrastructure target like a power plant or water purification plant, the second item was a major tourist attraction. Scribled at the top of the of the page in chicken scratch were two words that had only been spoken in selected circles over the years in Yuri’s home.

Operation Awakening

California – Los Angeles – Vladimir

  • Double Canyon Power Plant
  • Universal Studios

New York – New York – Pravin

  • Nine Mile Point Power Plant
  • The Intrepid, sea, air & space museum

Illinois – Chicago – Ibrahim

  • Jardine Water Purification Plant
  • United Center

Nevada – Las Vegas/Boulder City – Mishka

  • Hoover Dam
  • Nellis Air Force Base

Virginia – Washington D.C – Natalia

  • Possum Point Power Plant
  • National Air & Space Museum

Texas – Houston – Asif

  • Lyondellbasell Refinery
  • Space Center

It was all there before him on the page as it had been written years earlier with Fatima, the two of them had painstakingly researched their targets to cause maximum damage and fear in the hearts and minds of the infidels. They would strike a blow for mother Russia and Osama’s AQ, forever forging a relationship that had been created all those years ago in Afghanistan.

Across the hall Anatoly stared at the roof thinking of his father, his mind wandered forever questioning whether he was doing the right thing, What would his father think if he could see him now, would he agree with the choices he’d made, the friends he was keeping and more importantly his unrelenting urge to help his uncle’s crusade against the West.

His thoughts soon drifted to the woman in the cell below them, he imagined her without the bruises and cuts that dotted her body. He had seen her naked and knew she kept herself fit, she had a great figure and reminded Anatoly of the women he used would chase in bars when he was a much younger man on the streets of Moscow. It had been years since he had enjoyed the warm embrace of a woman. His tour of Afghanistan and now his uncle’s mission had put a stop to life as he knew it.

His wife and child didn’t even know he was alive, as Anatoly saw it they may never know he was alive. He knew his uncle’s plans would be seen out and if he didn’t agree to participate he may likely be killed like all those he had seen brought before his uncle who had refused. As he thought he knew he needed to talk to the American woman. It was her only way to survive and she could also be his only way out from under his aunty and uncles spell. Smiling he closed his eyes and found a peaceful place as a plan formulated in his mind.

Forcing her eyes closed as her body began to tremble as it went into the first stages of withdrawal. She’d watched Fatima smile every time she tapped a vein and depressed the plunger on the syringe. Euphoria washed across her body as the drug threaded its way through her veins into the nervous system covering her with a warmth like a blanket leaving Catherine feeling relaxed and carefree. She would feel her brain slowing down along with her breathing and in those moments she would step into another realm as her brain drifted away from the reality of the world.

With withdrawal effects began to wreak havoc on her mind and body, Catherine knew it would not be long before she gave in to Fatima and Yuri telling them all they wanted to know about the CIA’s mission to uncover what they had dubbed the ‘The Bin Laden Connection’. Weeping to herself the nausea finally became too much as she rolled over the side of her cot vomiting violently into rusty tin bucket that had been placed next to her bed. Catherine looked down seeing a plastic water bottle, whilst her mind was clouded with the effects of heroin there were moments of clarity. In this particular moment she knew it wouldn’t be long before they realised she was awake and escorted her off to another session of torture and interrogation.

She would get her next fix, in the recesses of her mind a dark whisper found its way out and hoped that with the next fix she would overdose or her body would simply shut down before she spilled her secrets with the new Bin Ladens. Catherine had lost all track of time and days, she no longer knew how long she had been kept prisoner nor what time of day it was. It was only the brief outings where she was chained up like a dog that she got to see the sun or moon high above the castle.

The castle remained quiet in the early hours of the morning as the waves crashed against the cliff face that protected Swallows Nest from a direct attack from the sea. Yet tonight something stirred in the seas surrounding the castle. The men on guard could feel the cold sap through their clothes entering their bones as though death were approaching on the wind. Search lights combed the darkness for threats lurking amongst the blackness that seemed to be enshrouding the castle more and more as night wore on.