Happiness & Relaxation

Happiness & Relaxation

The sensation of energy expands with increasing relaxation. ~ Ilchi Lee

cupcake

I think today’s post falls into the category of duh philosophy.  You know it’s like when people tell you exercise is good for you, duh.  But we all need time to decompress, I think we all get this from the vantage point of taking vacations, although I think many of us take vacations that stress us out more than our non-vacation lives.  A bit of advice, if your vacation includes multiple schedules and destinations, if you’re concerned about how things will work or if they will time out, then your vacation is liable to make you more stressed than relaxed.

However what I’m talking about today is more of the daily relaxation.  We all need to find that few minutes or bit of time each day to relax.  Some people meditate in the morning or at night, others go to the gym or for a run.  Some people find fifteen minutes a day just to sit somewhere quiet or take a walk away from work or home.  Heck, take a ten minute walk to the store and get a piece of chocolate everyday, whatever will give you peace and a little bit of a break.  I see lots of articles about how having a drink or two each day is good for you, in my opinion it’s not the drink, it’s that the people who do that take a little bit of time to relax each day, we should follow their example with or without the alcohol.

For me, photography is one of the ways I relax, shooting pictures and even the organizing and sharing them is very relaxing for me.  Photography is usually a big part of any time off I take and this past couple of weeks was no exception.  So, in hopes of giving you a reason to take a couple of minutes to relax and hopefully raise a smile or two, here are a few shots from  an arts festival in the Nevada desert, enjoy and have a happy day my friends             ~ Rev Kane

Other Photography Posts You Might Enjoy!

Polar Bears & Northern Lights

Mardi Gras in Mobile

Scotland

The Himalayas

Ireland

 

 

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Angels Pay it Forward, We Should Too

Angels Pay it Forward, We Should Too

Cheryl Hogle

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have. ~ Robin S Sharma

We lost one of the truly special ones this week an angel.  Her name was Cheryl Hogle (pictured above from my time in Plattsburgh) and happily I got to tell her this in person a couple of years ago in Pensacola.  Cheryl was one of the single most important people in my becoming a professional. She, at a time when she had no business doing it, looked at a guy who had thoroughly abused drugs and alcohol to the point of failing out of college, who was overweight, had bad hair, was badly dressed, a wise-ass who didn’t know when to shut up, and who looked far worse since he was usually standing next to Bryan Hartman.  A person who is the epitome of the opposite of my description, and she said I want to give you a job with a ton of responsibility because you can handle it. She was right and it changed my life.  What makes her more special is she did this for hundreds, likely thousands of others in her life. There are a lot of tears being shed, mine among them. My only hope is that at the end of my life, I have earned 1/10 of the love and respect Cheryl Hogle has earned.

I met Cheryl Hogle at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh.  I transferred there after failing out of my first college the Rochester Institute of Technology.  I was more than a bit cynical about attending SUNY Plattsburgh, the tour guides, the admissions counselors and later the orientation folks again and again talked about SUNY Plattsburgh as a special place.  I didn’t buy it, but it seemed like a good school and it was a positive move forward, so I went.  Man was I wrong, over my three years at SUNY Plattsburgh, I would come to not only agree but become a huge advocate for how incredibly special that college is.  I’ve thought about it for years, why?  What makes that place special?  Maybe it’s the unbelievably bitter cold of Adirondack winters, perhaps that builds camaraderie, perhaps only the best can survive it.  Maybe it’s the staff, the faculty, maybe it’s something in the water?  Doesn’t matter, it quite simply is what it is and I’m thankful to have experienced it.  My three years there were some of the best of my life.  I don’t have a lot of close friends, but many of them come from my time there.

My first year I was elected Dorm Council President for my dorm.  Cheryl Hogle was the advisor to that group.  During the spring semester Resident Assistant applications went in, Cheryl encouraged me to apply.  I was surprised, I didn’t have a lot of confidence at that point in my life, but hell, free room and board and a single room, I was in.  I was accepted and started the selection process.  Cheryl Hogle did a wonderful job of not only training us, but really driving home the importance and responsibility of the job, that we in fact had people’s lives in our hands.  I was proud to be selected and true to her words, had a couple of incidents, an epileptic student with a grand mal seizure on the street in the middle of winter, a student with a severe asthma attack, students who cut themselves and were dealing with all manner of psychological issues.  The training and the responsibility within that job was far more than I could have ever imagined taking on at that time in my life.  It made me a better person and instilled in me a confidence and sense of responsibility that in a large part, is responsible for my career success.

I’ve chosen to work in education and specifically at the community college level.  I hope that the work that I have done, has had some of the same impact on the students, faculty and staff that I have worked with, that Cheryl had on so many people.  It’s my attempt to pay forward what was given to me by Cheryl and so many others that helped and mentored me through my education and early career.  The Ministry of Happiness is another way I try to do this.

There  are a couple of points that I want you to get out of this post tonight.  First, tell those folks who have helped you what they mean to you.  I got to tell Cheryl, many did, her Facebook page is covered with testimonials similar to mine about what she did for people.  Tell people, you’re old teachers, mentors, parents, whomever helped you.

Secondly, pay it forward, the way you can best honor the folks who did this for you, is to do it for someone else.  It’s the best way to help others and yourself, have happier days my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness & Acceptance

Happiness & Acceptance

acceptance, acceptance is the way, happiness, Be happy

Acceptance is the way

Happiness can only exist in acceptance ~ George Orwell

“Acceptance is a beautiful thing, but it’s also something that I’ve struggled to master. Acceptance, the opposite of resistance, is simply allowing things to be as they are, and acknowledging internally that they are what they are. Nothing more, nothing less.”  This is a quote I took from a blog post on happiness.  I feel this concept is of major importance to all of us, which is why when I started this endeavor I named the church, the Church of Abnormal Acceptance and the ministry the Ministry of Happiness, I really feel the two are ultimately intertwined.

Acceptance is essential to personal happiness, in order to be happy you have to accept yourself.  This for many people is not an easy thing.  The very concept of looking into the mirror and saying hey I’m ok, or even better, hey I’m great, is not something that a lot of us can do and believe.  But it is imperative that you get to that point in order to be happy.

Very simply what these means is that you need to accept yourself as you are right at this moment.  Yes, you have faults, none of us are perfect and accepting your faults is part of the process.  Accepting your faults is not the same as condoning your faults.  Acceptance is the first step to improvement and change.  We’ve talked before about the importance feeling safe and the safest you will ever feel is when you’ve accepted yourself and realized you’re a good person.  One who can get better, but is good none-the-less.

So let’s start this week with a simple exercise, before you go to bed tonight, and when you get up in the morning look at yourself in the mirror and say these words, “I’m ok, and I will get better.”  In the beginning you may not even believe it, but do it for 21 days, that’s all it takes to form a new habit, and let’s see how you feel after three weeks.  You are ok my friends, and so much more than that, have a happy day ~ Rev Kane

Other Happiness Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happy Anniversary – Ministry of Happiness: Our Best Posts

Happiness is Taking Risks

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Acceptance is the Way

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Happiness is New York City

Happiness is New York City

happiness, new york

A really amazing mural in Little Italy, my favorite piece in the city

Give me such shows — give me the streets of Manhattan! ~ Walt Whitman

Coming home to New York, since the birth of my nephew Yogi, also means a trip to NYC,Little Italy specifically where my little one year-old nephew resides.  He’s a magnificently huge child, neither of his parents are large but Yogi is the biggest 1 year-old kid I know.  He’s also horribly terrified of his Uncle Mike, he cries when we chat on Skype and he howls when I invade his apartment.  It almost makes me long for when he was 3 months old and went right into my arms.

Now I know his reticence is temporary and by time he’s 2 we’ll be fast friends.  In the meantime I visit and try to as gingerly as possible invade his space.  On my third visit we reached a bit of detente and he even let me pull him around in his inflatable ducky, victory!  Well a victory of a sorts, still great to see him, my brother and sister-in-law, really love spending time with them.

Of course they live in Little Italy so a plate of gnocci was in order as well as a fabulous cannoli.  I even negotiated myself into a lovely $4 hat featured in the picture below.  It was really cold in Manhattan on Saturday and I had forgotten my hat.  Putting the new one on I realized I looked like some Norwegian fisherman who had invaded the city.

One of the highlights of this trip was getting to see my friend Erik, someone I hadn’t seen since he left California in the early 90’s.  We were first year law students together, he continued on and I walked away after that first year, but we remained friends and it was wonderful to see him, we’ve only recently reconnected via Facebook and his greeting was quintessentially him, “So what have you been doing for the last 20 years and why are you so damn happy!”  I couldn’t have hoped for a better opening, the truth is he is pretty happy these days as well, something neither of us could have claimed all of those years ago.Both of us have dealt with some personal demons and are on paths to doing what really makes us happy in life.  It was a wonderful conversation and I’m thankful we were able to connect.

happiness, friendsd

Erik and I on a chilly day in NYC

I do love visiting NYC, I love a city where people walk, where there is massive diversity and you can hear 3 languages or more on the same block.  I really love how available good pizza is and all of the different food options that are literally everywhere.  So it was a great weekend of friends, food and family, I hope you had an equally happy weekend my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

fearWe can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark, the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light ~ Plato

One of the biggest problems I see in society these days is fear.  It most often shows itself in the form of worry, people are afraid and so they worry about so many things that could go wrong, or harm them, or might happen.  I’ve written about this problem before in a piece entitled, Worry the enemy of happiness.  But today I want to talk more specifically about fear for two reasons.  First I see people expressing a lot more fear these days than I ever remember hearing and seeing before.  Secondly, most of the things that we fear are irrational.

I often hear people, usually people who want your support in some way, saying how smart people are and I’m not sure I agree.  Now you know you’re smart so of course that statement must be true.  However if it was, I don’t think we would so often see people letting their emotions overwhelm they’re intellect.  You may argue people are smart but they don’t use it.  This is like arguing that Billy is a really fast runner, he just never runs fast.  Possibly true, but not very likely.  What is often said about people that I do agree with is that people fundamentally want to be good and kind and happy.  I have seen this demonstrated, not so much in day-to-day society but in times of deep sorrow and tragedy.  People get caught up in a me first attitude day-to-day, but when confronted with the truly harsh realities of life their better nature usually comes to the fore.

Let me point out, in relation to our fears, exactly why I’m not convinced people are very intellectual.  I know perfectly fine human beings who climb into a car and drive every day without a care.  In the United States, nearly 33,000 people died in car crashes in the United states in 2013, nearly 100 per day!  Those exact same people will not wade more than ankle-deep in the ocean because they are afraid of sharks.  On average in the United States, ONE person per year is killed by a shark, six are killed worldwide.  There are normally less than twenty shark attacks in the US each year.  Our fears about sharks I have a feeling went up significantly in the 1970’s with both the book and the movie Jaws.

01Our fears are driven not by an intellectual evaluation of risk but our emotional reaction to the object of fear.  In the last ten years, less than 100 Americans have been killed in the US by terrorists.  If you want a bigger number you can go back to 9/11 and the total will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 3200 people in the last fifteen years.  In the last ten years, there have been roughly 300,000 deaths due to gun violence in the United States.  Yet I hear much more concern about terrorists coming to the US to kill us than I do about fearing gun violence from other Americans.  Again, this is driven by emotion not rational risk analysis, but I get it, the image of planes flying into towers, massacres in the streets of Paris, news of deaths in San Bernardino cause an emotional reaction.

Having an emotional reaction to something terrible is utterly normal, reading about someone being attacked by a shark or killed by a terrorist at a cafe should elicit a fear response.  That you react emotionally to the event does not impact your happiness.  How you choose to react and act past that initial response is what can damage your happiness.

If your reaction to shark attacks is to spend hours worrying about a shark attack before you go to the beach you’re impacting your happiness.  If you are unable to enjoy yourself in the water because you are very afraid that impacts your happiness negatively.  Worst of all, if you won’t go to the beach at all, or won’t go on a cruise or let your kids swim in the ocean you are letting your fears keep you from doing things that will very likely make you happier.  Some may argue that if you have that fear then staying home is the best option, you’ve escaped your fear and aren’t stressing.  But I’ll give you another way to look at this, you’ve let your fear dictate the way you live your life and have reduced the number of positive experiences you are able to have.  If you begin to avoid everything that harm you pretty soon you’ll be living in a padded room.

I see the same thing with terrorism, yes, there are people in this world who are willing to kill you.  They want to kill you for nothing more than your nationality, religion, color of your skin, sexual orientation or any number of other things that someone has deemed is wrong.  For this reason I see people speaking out in unkind ways about people they have never met.  I see political leaders using this fear as a foundation for bigotry.  Hatred and suspicion will never be a path to kindness, generosity or happiness.  And I would argue that most people see themselves as kind, generous and want to be happy.

When we come back to actual risk however, we see that terrorist truly pose very little risk to our lives.  This does not mean we shouldn’t work to reduce that risk for us and others, but it also doesn’t mean we should act in ways that are counter to our core values.  In particular where refugees are concerned, I believe we should continue to vet refugees the way we do, do a good job of weeding out those who mean to harm others.  We have the data that in fact shows over the last ten years there has been very little risk created from the hundreds of thousands of refugees we’ve admitted to this country.  We typically admit about 70,000 refugees per year into the United States.

04I don’t think we should fantasize that we can ever devise a perfect process, or that people may not change after they are in the United States for years.  We’ve seen this fear before in the United States, fear of Italians, of Jews, the Irish, Mexicans and Communists.  And yes, throughout our history we’ve allowed folks to immigrate to the United States who have turned out to be mafia members, criminals, Communists and others who were not a positive force on our society.  But this number has always been small, we emotionally fear the new, those we see as other, in reality these people have always and will almost certainly always pose a very small risk to each of us.  On the other side think about how these people have enriched our society and culture, it is part of what makes America the envy of the world.

02So let’s get back to being happier in our daily lives.  We need to reduce the fears that we have and hopefully this will lead to reducing worry and the stress that it brings that is so detrimental to your health.  My recommendations are as follows:

  1. Reduce your news intake, particularly your cable news intake.  You don’t need to watch 4 hours of coverage about the latest attack regardless of where it is or how many people have died.  Understand that local news also has a formula that will cause you unnecessary worry.  Whatever tragedy occurs, attack, earthquake, meteor strike, Ebola, local news will always do a story, entitled, <insert horror> can it happen here? Even if the answer is no that story will still make you worry.

2. When you do start to fear and worry about something, do a reality check.  I’m afraid of Ebola, let’s see how many people have ever died of Ebola in America, zero, ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about that.  It may not eliminate the worry but it should put it in proper context.

3.  This will seem counter intuitive, but scare yourself, stretch yourself.  I am a huge proponent of adventure leading to happiness.  I can tell you from personal experience, the more you test and scare yourself and succeed, the more you will begin to realize that your fears aren’t as real as you believed them to be.  And focus on that, if you’re afraid of shark attacks go to the beach and just watch.  Lot’s of people frolicking in the surf and no one is getting voraciously consumed by the epitome of swimming death.  Focus on the reality of your experience instead of the fantasies of your fears.

4. Finally, actively work to stay positive, when you are worrying or afraid, ask yourself is there another way to look at this situation?  Instead of focusing on the 6 shark attacks this year, how about focusing on the hundreds of millions of people who swam in the ocean without being attacked.

I hope these tips can help and I want to make a final comment related to social media.  It’s easy to express your fears behind a computer screen and to dismiss other opinions.  Online we seek out others who echo our opinions, be careful.  If we have a fear about sharks and we post and read posts about shark attacks, the algorithms for sites like Facebook will feed you more posts about shark attacks.  In those posts you see lots of comments for people with the same fears which amplifies and confirms your own fears.  Be smart about how you use social media and don’t respond to others who disagree out of emotion and fear.

03So my friends, try to reduce your fear and worry, try to focus on more kindness and generosity and have a happy day.  I’ll end this piece with one of my favorite quotes from Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, I have always found these words to be profoundly wise and have quoted this to myself at times when I was truly afraid. ~ Rev Kane

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.          ~ The character Paul from Frank Herbert’s Dune

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Remember the Sweet Things The best story you’ll ever hear!

Happiness, Worry & The Dalai Lama’s Thoughts

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

Happiness Resources, Positivity, Kindness & Gratitude

Stories of Kindness

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Getting Older Ain’t for Cowards

Getting Older Ain’t for Cowards

beauty, age, happiness

Beauty in age

Enjoy yourself it’s later than you think ~ Chinese Proverb

I had an interesting day on Monday.  Of course there is a quote, that most people consider a curse, may you live in interesting times. A little nerdy side note, I read an article recently about the origins of this quote, apparently it’s not an ancient Chinese proverb.  But Monday felt a bit like a curse in the way it went down.  I went in for elective surgery but it never happened, my blood pressure spiked and so they canceled me out.  Then of course I was sent to a specialist to see what was causing the spike.  The cardiologist then heard a murmur and so now we have blood tests, new medications, an echocardiogram and a stress test.  Hopefully everything is ok, the new medication lowers my blood pressure and I get my surgery rescheduled.

Knowing you are mortal

But the whole affair, particularly opting out of risking a stroke for an elective procedure, got the wheels turning.  A conversation with a friend who is also having some health issues really gave the wheels some juice and at that point John Mellencamp came into my mind.  That’s right, the same guy who put out songs like Jack and Diane, and Little Pink Houses did an album in 2008 about getting older and dying.  It’s a really spectacular album entitled Life, Death, Love and Freedom. There’s a track entitled, Don’t Need This Body, that is really amazing and not at all what you are used to from John Mellencamp. The first line is the title of this post, this getting older ain’t for cowards. It certainly isn’t, and it really isn’t when you finally come to truly understand that you’re mortal.  I told my friend while talking to him at the end of my long Monday, that the reason we feel the way we feel is that at our age we finally KNOW that we are mortal.

aging, happiness, life

Beautiful

This is not a trial run

As far as I know, hell as far as anyone knows for sure, life is a one-time event with no encore.  You can take that in a morbid direction but that’s not how it is intended nor how I mean to take it.  You see there is  positive inspiration in this idea, it gives life a poignancy and makes time an extremely precious commodity.  I’m a little weird in the fact that I’ve understood this from a young age.  Partially it comes from the fact that the first significant death in my life happened when I was five.  My maternal grandfather, someone I spent a lot of time with as a baby and toddler, passed away at the age of 49.  Throughout my life that number, 49, weighed on me, I understood that maybe that’s all you get.  I also understand that our medicine is better, but that I suffered from the same ailment that killed him so long ago.

Then, as a teenager I had friends die, drowning, hit by a train and three suicides.  All of them died before their 20th birthday, one as young as 12, so I knew that maybe that’s all I would get.  That’s the depressing side, the hopeful side is my paternal grandfather who not only lived to 90 but got in a street fight at 87.  These have always been my brackets, today to 90.  I have always feared not getting enough time, so I’ve always tried to make sure if I wouldn’t have the time, I would work hard to get as much life as possible in the time given.

advice, plan, happiness

Great advice

Live for the moment, plan for forever

There is a dichotomy that I try to hold in my mind, you can find it in a lot of quotes.  Live for today, celebrated and enjoy every moment, but never fail to plan for the future.  Holding those two thoughts at once is not always easy, but for me, incredibly necessary.  Hence, I prepare for retirement, but I take my chances at adventure whenever I see them.  I am trying my friends, to squeeze out as much life as possible out of however many years I get and my hope for you is the same.  I write a lot about my adventures, some of the best, photographing polar bears, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and hiking in the high passes of the Himalayas.  Hopefully I’m just getting started and hopefully you are too my friends and having many happy days. ~ Rev Kane

aging, life, happiness

Have a happy day

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Happiness is focusing on the good things

Happiness is focusing on the good things

double bow 1

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Life is hard, and if we are to be happy in this hard existence we must remember to focus on the good things.  This is not easy.  This is not easy at all when a family member is diagnosed with cancer, when your child is having problems in school or in life, or when someone breaks into your home and threatens your very security.  We hold so many things dear and when those things, whether they be material things or the more important safety, security or health are threatened, then life seems like it can break us.  We can feel our lives to be an insurmountable obstacle that we can neither climb nor escape from, not even for what would be just a precious few hours of rest and peace.   When we are at this point and our mental reserves are shot it is incredibly hard to be there for our loved ones the way would like to be, the way they need us to be.  So what do you do?

Taoist philosophy tells us to be patient, there are so many things in life that we cannot control and it is useless to waist your energy against an immovable obstacle.  So be patient and wait, wait for what you can control, what you can change and then make that change.  This is excellent advice, but what do you do while you’re waiting for that opportunity to change things?  You focus on the good things, the cliché is, count your blessings, but it is a worthwhile exercise.  And while you are thinking about the good in your life, make sure you smile.  The quote below from Mother Teresa is one of my favorites, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Because what we must remember is that a smile, even if forced, will make us feel just a little bit better and that’s a start.  Even more importantly, in the middle of our pain, or grief, or frustration, by smiling we can still help others.  Sometimes in the middle of a purely shit day, a smile from a friend or even a stranger can turn things around.  And if you’re smiling at them, they’re likely to smile back and make both of your days just a little bit better.  So smile sunshine, things will get better and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do. ~ Mother Teresa

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

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Happiness is Poetry: Ashe Vernon

Happiness is Poetry: Ashe Vernon

01There are poets who sing you to sleep, and poets who ready you for war, I want to be both. ~ Ashe Vernon

I was sitting in a friends house a couple of months ago and noticed a book of poetry.  Knowing we have similar tastes I picked it up and scanned through a few poems.  I will admit, not everything I read moved me, but when it happened, whoa, it happened hard.  For me, Ashe Vernon, in the baseball sense, is a home run hitter.  Like all home rum hitters, she doesn’t hit one out of the park every time she swings, but when she does, you need to get out the tape measures because it’s a monster and there’s nothing more beautiful than a monster home run. You can find Ashe’s books on Amazon and see more of her work at Latenightcornerstore.com.

So tonight, for our weekly poetry post, a few of Ashe Vernon’s home runs.  Enjoy, and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Softness

don’t you dare, for one minute,
believe that my kindness makes me
anything but insurmountable.
i did not unzip my chest to every kind of hurt,
and stagger back, wounded and alive,
just to hear you call me weak for trying.
i opened my door to heartache—
i gave her the fucking key.
my softness for wayward strangers
has made me nothing less
than a halfway house for aching soles.
so when you open your mouth
and call me ‘baby’
understand that i am not your next victim
in a laundry list of broken girls.
you think i don’t know you? people like you?
people with mouths for hands.
i’ve got skin like topsoil
and your teeth could never take root.
so when you go looking to make a plaything
of a sunburst,
you better look for someone with less fire
than me.
because softness or no,
i will eat you alive
before i let you make a meal of me.

*****************************************

Golden Delicious

You were melt-in-my-mouth—
Tuesdays under the sky.
I picked your words like
fruit from the vine;
we were decadent.
Stretched out in the sunshine-touch
of each other’s lips,
your skin hot like a Texas summer,
I could have spent forever
tucked against the apple orchard of your chest.
My sundress hiked up around my thighs.
The two of us, laughing, with
“Someday” on our tongues—dripping down our chins,
all gold and vibrant.
We were ripe for eating.
We were sticky-sweet.
We were less Forever than we thought.
And when the cold set in,
I was still eating apples
even after you’d dug up your roots and gone.
(You said I held my hands too still.)
I wasn’t doing nothing.
I was putting down seeds
and waiting for Spring.

*******************************

The next in a series of poems that are not about you

It’s so easy for love to hurt me.
Hate has never cut half as deep,
or ached for half as long.
Hate barely hurts at all.
But love?
God, it blisters. It bruises.
I can’t stop picking the same
old wounds

*******************************

The Summer I Turned 20

The summer I turned twenty, I cut off all my hair,
got wicked drunk and took shots at the stars,
kissed a girl for the first time.
I didn’t fall in love, but I tried to.
It was the summer where three people died—
where tragedy was never more than
two weeks away from itself.
First, it was Allison’s brother.
Then, Mary’s fiancée.
Then, my father.
One. Two. Three.
The men in our lives, gone in a heartbeat—
too much death under one roof,
too much emptiness for the Texas sun
to lay claim to.
We dug up parts of ourselves we
could never put back in the ground,
that summer.
We learned that sometimes
people wear grief too differently
to hold one another:
that no one knows what to say because
condolences don’t pry nails out of coffins,
that tombstones are not grave-markers for the dead,
but stone slabs the living carry on their shoulders.
We learned that the aftermath of death is
unique as a fingerprint.
Allison’s was brave.
Mary’s was quiet.
And mine,
mine was furious—
I wasn’t done with him, yet.
There were too many battles left unfinished—
this was not how I wanted
to win the war.
Grief looks ugly in the mouth of a girl
still relearning how to love her father.
It is a useless extra limb on the body of someone
with ten years of bad blood to make up for.
When you know your father as little more
than sickness in a skin-suit, there
is nowhere for the rage to go when you’ve lost him.
I didn’t speak at the funeral because
I couldn’t trust myself to be kind and
much as I wanted to be angry at my father,
his memory didn’t deserve that.
My mother didn’t deserve that.
See, there is this impossible love that children carry
even for the parents that hurt them,
and I remember what he was like
before the pain and the medication
got the best of him.
And I just wanted to be good enough
for that man.
To everyone who knew me when my father was alive—
to my mother, especially.
I am sorry for the rage I hung my shoulders with.
I am sorry for becoming
all the worst parts of him.
I’m sorry that I went looking for a place
to bury all that heartache and that
I became graveyard, instead.
But the one who taught me
loud,
the one who taught me
chaos and thunder and boom
was Dad.
And I learned it well.
I didn’t have Dad’s excuse: how
the medication wore my father’s face
for him: shook my home down to its foundations
then left when there was nothing left
to lay waste to.
I just kicked and screamed and rattled
hoping that someone would hear me.
I am quiet, now.
Dad
is quiet now.
And sometimes
I miss the way his voice
could fill the house.”

****************************

Other Poetry Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness is Poetry: Warsan Shire

Happiness is Poetry: Doug Draime

Happiness is Poetry: Sapphire

 

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Making a Happier Week #MagnificentMonday

Making a Happier Week #MagnificentMonday

Look up, laugh loud, talk big, keep the color in your cheek and the fire in your eye, adorn your person, maintain your health, your beauty and your animal spirits.  ~ William Hazlitt

So, been thinking, I see a lot of people complaining about how negative social media is and I agree, hell I contribute as a lot of us do.

So how about we do something about it. Monday is often a hard day of the week for folks, so how about we start trying to have Magnificent Mondays. By that I mean a day where we don’t post on politics, religion, violence, etc… including sharing that stuff.

And instead try to make one beautiful post, a photo, a poem, flowers, some art, something funny, happy stuff. We can catch up on the other stuff on Tuesdays.

So I hope you’ll give it a try. I’ll remind you about it again on Sunday. If you like the idea spread the word, would make us all a little happier and a bit less stressed and build #MagnificentMondays.

Thanks, and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

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It’s about constructing your own reality

It’s about constructing your own reality

happiness, responsibilityYou must take responsibility.  You cannot change the circumstances, the weather or the wind, but you can change yourself.  That is something you have charge of.  ~ Jim Rohn

It’s funny how ideas come to me for the blog each week.  Sometimes I sit down and dream and think and dig out an idea like digging a tick out of your dogs back.  Sometimes I google happiness and look for something to write about.  A lot of times though, something happens in my life and that thing resonates and like a kernel or seed begins to germinate and grows into something to write about.  Tonight’s posts is one of the more esoteric forms of this phenomenon.

I remember the idea coming to me, but exactly where it came from is not so clear.  Perhaps it popped out of something on Netflix or from the recent Douglas Adams’ book I’ve been reading. Perhaps it was embedded in something I encountered on a social media feed or an NPR podcast.  I can’t quite put my finger on the source but the idea is clear and fundamental to our lives and our happiness.  It’s a simple idea that is really wholly contained in the Jim Rohn quote above.  In your life there are a lot of circumstances, a lot of them you can’t control.  For instance, where and who you are born to is something you had no control or choice in.  Those starting blocks inevitably lead you into certain circumstances in your life that are for the most part unalterable.  The perfect analogy is a game of poker.

karma, happinessYou are dealt the cards you are dealt, and to steal a quick quote from the Kenny Rogers “every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.”   Those unalterable circumstances are the cards you’re dealt.  Sometimes in your life you’re dealt a royal flush, and I know a couple of people who were.  Sometimes you’re dealt a really good hand and sometimes let’s face it, you’re dealt complete shit.  The reality is that there is only one hand that can’t be beat in poker and that’s the royal flush.  People dealt that hand never think about it, because they can never lose and they live their lives that way.  But the rest of us at various times get various levels of good and bad hands.  But because every other hand can be beat by something, there is always the possibility you have that hand, so no matter how good someone else’s hand is, a bluff can sometimes work with the worst of hands.

What that convoluted analogy boils down to is that although your circumstances may be terrible, there’s always a chance you can make it work out well.   The real deciding factor in how good your hand (your circumstances) is ultimately, is how well you play it.  YOU are the most important thing in this picture and your attitude, your expectations and your effort decide how good things can be.  YOU create your life and you can make the most out of what you are given, or you can whine and cry and blame the circumstances of your life.  Now I’m a realist and sure if you’re born into a poor and uneducated family, in a poor place, if you have societal disadvantages due to your appearance, ethnicity etc… you will not likely be as successful as someone born to wealthy parents in a rich area who is tall, healthy and beautiful.

But there are examples everywhere you look of people who bucked those odds.  People you see, meet and read about every single day who have overcome bad hands.  What’s special about these people?  it comes down to a few of things:

happinessAttitude

I don’t know if I can adequately express how important your attitude is to how successful and happy you will be.  But I’ll give this example, you go through the grocery store checkout and the checker, never makes eye contact, doesn’t greet you, rings up the groceries then hands you the receipt without a word.  The experience leaves you feeling a little out of sorts and unsatisfied.  Let’s contrast that with my experience the other day in a store where that first experience is the norm.  The cashier said hello, asked how my day was going and actually waited a beat for an answer.  She smiled, she was engaging and thanked me when she handed me the receipt.  It was so pleasant in fact that I complimented her on her attitude.

Now imagine, I’m in that line and I own a store or a company that has the need for a customer service related clerk.  Her attitude might get her a job offer, it will certainly get her more pleasant responses from her customers.  And that positivity loop makes work a better day for her, so she goes home in a better mood.  That makes her experience with her family a bit easier and better.  That simple feedback loop provides her with a happier life than she would otherwise have, and what did it take to get there?  Effort.

Effort

Effort, this is where the personal responsibility in our life comes in.  What started the positive feedback loop that person was on, was her effort.  She decided to initiate it by making a conscious effort to encounter the world on a positive footing and that’s what she got back in return.  You may have an incredibly talent, I have a nephew who has tremendous natural talent as a golfer.  But that alone is not enough to become a professional golfer or get a golfing scholarship to college.  If he wants those types of successes he needs effort and discipline.  The talent is the cards you’re dealt, but if you fold, you don’t win.  You have to take the step of extending the effort to put yourself into a better position.  And what also really helps is to have  positive expectations.

Expectations

One of my favorite concepts in psychology is called the self-fulfilling prophecy.  A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.  The image below simplifies it as well as you can.

henry ford, quote

This means that it is incredibly important for you to believe things can be better, that you can achieve the goals you set and occasionally, that you believe you can fly.

So here’s the thing folks, we create our own success and happiness through three simple things, our attitude, our effort and our expectations.  So if you believe you can achieve something, if you carry with you an attitude that creates positivity and you work real hard you can achieve any reasonable goal, most unreasonable goals and the occasional miracle.  And without a doubt my friends, you will have more happy days. ~ Rev Kane

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