Let’s all lose weight in 2022!

Let’s all lose weight in 2022! The weight I’m talking about is not the pounds around your mid-section but the emotional weight we all carry. These are incredibly stressful times, so it’s time to do some of the things you need to do to lessen the emotional baggage you are carrying, which in turn will reduce the stress your facing and in fact, less stress may make it easier to lose those pounds as well.

The first step in this process is really looking at yourself, not with the blinders we typically wear, but from the perspective of others. So take a look and think about what relationships in your life are causing you the greatest amount of stress. Those are the relationships that you need to cut down or lose to reduce your emotional weight.

Now I know this can be hard, very often the relationships that cause us the greatest stress are relationships that we feel obligated to be in. Typically this means it’s a relative, a long-time friend, or someone you’re romantically involved with. The very act of doing something about these types of relationships can be stressful in itself, however the net effect will be lower stress in your life.

The first step, particularly with relationships that you feel obligated to continue, is to speak up and let the person know that there is tension. It’s imperative to clearly and calmly share your feelings, let the person know how you feel and what is bothering you about the relationship. Your first hope should always be that having an honest conversation can lead to repairing the relationship to a point that it isn’t as stressful.

It’s important to remember that you and your feelings matter, you have the absolute right and responsibility to take care of yourself first. So if the relationships can’t be improved or repaired it may be time to move on from them. My best advice here is the way you end anything, be clear, unambiguous and emphasize that this is what is best for you and that has to be your priority. Try to not be angry and emotional when you make that statement and if you’ve made a good faith effort to make things better, than don’t get guilted into giving people additional chances to change.

Sometimes the relationships, work or other stressors in your life are difficult to deal with, that’s when it’s time to get help. There is no shame in getting help, the stigma around therapy and counseling has really diminished in recent years. Help has also become exceedingly accessible, there are traditional services, but also apps and therapy by phone and online and they’ve become much more affordable.

Finally, a reminder we’ve made here many times, that exercise can help reduce stress. While it won’t fix your relationships, exercise does reduce the hormones in your body that are caused by stress.

So let’s all make a concerted effort this year to lose some emotional weight, I promise it will lead to happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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2022 is going to be a big year

I believe that 2022 is going to be a big year, big good, big bad is of course the question, but I believe big never the less. The first thing to acknowledge of course is that at the moment we are seeing the highest umber of COVID infections since the pandemic began two years ago. Happily, due to vaccines and better treatments, hospitalizations and particularly deaths have not similarly spiked. We still are looking at 1500 deaths a day, which is horrible, but that number has not spiked the same way cases have, one day recently we had 1,000,000 positive COVID results in one day. However in particularly bad spots hospitalizations have risen high enough to impact the ability for hospitals to function and this is still a problem.

As such of course a lot of us are beginning to once again have significant work disruptions. My college is shifting to virtual meetings this week and has an emergency board meeting this Tuesday night to see if we will be going to full virtual instruction as well. So regardless of what is decided, we are looking at another chaotic start to another semester in the pandemic era. I’ve already had more staff report positives for them or their families since January 3rd, than I did all of last semester.

But 2022 is the year where I will hit the number of service years I need to both reset my retirement salary level and my years of service. Which of course means that this year is a year that I can make a major career change until either I hit medicare age or universal health insurance comes to America.

It’s also already been a huge year on a personal front. I met someone nearly twenty years ago who undoubtedly will be the love of my life. That our relationship was incredibly complicated, utterly non-traditional, amazingly intense and undefinable even to us is more than accurate. That we have a connection to each other than neither of us can explain or escape is also more than accurate. But too much time, distance, uncertainty and complications has drove a wedge between us over the last few years. And in 2022 it has all come crashing down and we’ve said goodbye, big year.

But 2022 is also shaping up to be a year of milestones. I’ve quite accidentally bounced into setting an initial pace of bucket list items each month, so what the hell, let’s see if we can’t go 12 for 12 this year. Yesterday I completed my pistol training safety course that both qualified me for my license to purchase in the state of California but also my concealed weapons permit that’s good in 25 states. It was an interesting experience, while I grew up hunting and shooting rifles and shotguns, I’d never fired a pistol before yesterday. Within the training I was able to handle and fire .22, .38, .40 and .45 caliber pistols. Using firearms is always very intense and while we were not shooting over a lot distance, I was happy to see that I had some proficiency including shooting a bullseye on my very first shot with a .45 caliber pistol.

In February, as I’ve mentioned in a recent post, I’ll be heading to Mexico to have an up close grey whale experience in the San Ignacio Lagoon in the Sea of Cortez. So the question becomes, what’s up for March, I’ll have to get back to my bucket list and see what I can check off next. But of course I’m always happy to hear suggestions from you my friends, so feel free to make some recommendations in the comments.

May your 2022 also be big year with lots of happiness for you my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Happy World Introvert Day

Yes, in our over commercialized world everyday is some kind of day like world day old bagel day. Literally every single day has a cause or recognition including today January 2nd. Today is four national days including national: buffet; cream puff; personal trainer awareness and national science fiction day. But seeing a post earlier today on Twitter wishing everyone a happy world introvert day of course struck a chord with me.

I’m a huge introvert and that part of me has grown over the years. I took my first Meyers-Briggs assessment when I was 18 or 19. At that time I tested as a mild introvert, I would take the test a number of times over the next 10-15 years and each time my introvert score got larger until the point that the last couple of times that I took the test I topped out on the introvert scale.

Being an introvert is just one more thing that makes me feel like a damn alien on this planet. Introverts are generally misunderstood. People actually often argue with me when I tell them I’m an introvert. You see most folks think that all introverts are weird, socially awkward loners who are unable to socialize or speak in public. Since I do pubic speaking and interact well in crowds it confuses people.

I think the best way I’ve ever heard how to define the difference between introverts and extroverts, is that it is how people charge their batteries. Extroverts gain energy by being around and interacting with others. Introverts charge their batteries by being alone. So as an introvert I can be social, can interact with people but it drains me. I work in a job that is all about interacting with people, so at the end of the day I need time alone. This has been a problem in relationships with women who are not introverts. Often they don’t understand this need and feel that I’m avoiding them, and this has happened throughout my life with all kinds of people who are close to me.

So today lots of love to my fellow introverts out there in the world, my wish for you is that today you find time alone with a good book, a cup of your favorite beverage and no interruptions from the world of people.

Everyone is different, we all have different needs in order to be happy. We know what those needs are and you don’t do yourself, or anyone around you an good if you don’t get those needs met. So if you’re an introvert find some time alone, if you’re an extrovert find a way to interact with people, if running makes you happy run, if it’s baking, bake and BTW I’m partial to oatmeal chocolate chip cookies if you’re looking for baking ideas. Life is short, too short not to do what you need to do to be happy so go out there and get it.

~ Rev Kane

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What 2021 taught us.

New year 2022 and old year 2021 on sandy beach with waves

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance. ~ Alan Watts

I always start my annual New Year’s Eve post with the same sentiment, happy amateur night! My neighbor Jack Wrigley originated this line, at least in my experience and I’ve always thought it perfectly encapsulates the evening. I’ve haven’t gone out to a party for New Year’s Eve in over 30 years. In my early twenties I made the scene a number of times and it always seemed to go the same way. People, overly dressed, drinking at a level they were not accustomed to (amateurs) and getting more loaded than they normally do. This always led to far too many sloppy drunks, somebody puking on my or my date’s shoes. Even worse, far too many drunk dudes with bad manners or chip on their shoulders. I don’t suffer idiots, even drunk idiots, so it seemed every New Year’s Eve I would end up escorting some idiot out of the party, or have to walk away from a ridiculous potential fight. So I packed it in some time ago in terms of New Year’s Eve celebrations. By far the best New Year’s Eve (NYE) celebrations I’ve been part of have involved a few friends and a fire pit. So happy amateur night however you celebrate.

Every year teaches us something and 2021 was no exception. But I want to start with NYE a year ago, I remember the sentiments twelve months ago very well. We were excited and ready for the pandemic to be over, we had fond wishes that 2021. Fairly quickly that optimism faded as we all watched in horror as rioters stormed the capitol on January 6th. We all got re-acquainted with COVID via the Delta variant and found out how vulnerable our global supply chain truly was. We’ve seen even something as wonderful as a COVID vaccine become the subject of further political polarization. Hell, Betty White even died today a few days short of her 100th birthday. A universally loved star whose death sort of contained the feeling of the whole year.

So what are the lessons that 2021 taught us that we need to take into 2022? The first is to temper your expectations. I’m not big on this one, I without a doubt have always been a dreamer and believe that you should dream and dream big. I’ve taken on big adventures in my life and done things in ways people didn’t think could be done. I’ve been able to do this by not ignoring reality and thoroughly planning those adventures. So dream, but don’t ignore reality, keep your expectations within the realm of the realistic. Which 2021 taught us meant that you can’t ignore COVID, find ways to achieve and do the things you want to do but be realistic about what doing them in a COVID world will mean and do them safely.

We were also reminded by 2021 of that universal idea that the only thing that is constant is change. And 2022 will bring loads of it of course, as any other year does. I hear the term the new normal, stop looking looking for normal, embrace the idea that things will change and adapt to make the best of the new world that we are in, we are never returning to the old normal. I know you’re tired, I know you’re stressed, but it’s time to accept the changes in our world, embrace them, do the best you can and find new ways to provide a happy life for you and your family.

So Happy 2022, a year where you will learn to adapt and make the most out of our new reality and find a happier you. ~ Rev Kane

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Acceptance and Action for Happiness

Acceptance has never been an idea I’ve been very comfortable with. I think it comes from the fact that I had some tough times as a kid and the idea that I couldn’t change things was too horrible of an idea to believe in. And of course, there are many, many things in your life that you can, and should change if you want to be happier. The Serenity prayer that I first got introduced to in Alcoholics Anonymous says it incredibly well.

Although I learned this prayer in the early 80’s, the idea of acceptance is really something that didn’t settle in until I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail in 2015. It was on the AT that I really learned acceptance, the trail taught me all about it. You see on the AT, one of the most important things every day is the weather. The temperature, whether it’s rainy or snowing, or how hard the wind is blowing all have a massive impact on your day. In my first two weeks on the trail there was precipitation almost every single day. It started with snow and freezing rain and transitioned to cold rain for days and days and days. Being cold and wet, day after day is a miserable state of affairs. But you can’t change the weather, what is going to come, is going to come. I started out on the trail fighting that idea and I was miserable, it culminated in me almost quitting the trail in Helen, GA. Happily a couple of nights in a hotel to dry out and some surprisingly good food got my mood sorted and allowed me to go back out onto the trail.

I’m so thankful it worked out that way, because it was the beginning of my journey to understanding the importance of accepting things you can’t change. As I adapted my attitude on the trail to paying attention, preparing for, but generally not caring so much about the weather, everything got better. By the time, three months later, that I finished my AT journey the weather had become almost a non-factor. It had to in order for me to effectively keep my mood up and keep going on the trail day in and day out.

The same reality exists with the pandemic. I think some of the frustration that all of us have felt has been our denial of the reality of COVID. The 1918 flu pandemic effectively lasted for three years. We all believed with better medical knowledge, medicine and vaccine development that we’d get out of this quickly. I remember the optimism in March of 2020 that this would over in months, then surely within a year and now as we enter the third calendar year of the pandemic, with a new variant raging across the United States, it’s time for acceptance and action.

Let’s talk about acceptance first. While there is an argument to be made that we, as in humanity, could change the pandemic. I’m talking about people wearing masks, social distancing when appropriate, and people getting vaccinated and boosted. This doesn’t seem to be what we as a society have chosen to embrace. As such, we all need to accept the reality that COVID is with us for some time. If for no other reason than the vaccine inequality that exists globally. As long as we have countries that still have vaccine rates in single digit percentages the virus will have plenty of bodies to infect. And the more infection that occurs, the more mutations will occur and sooner or later new variants and subsequent infection waves will follow.

So this means that COVID is with us for some time and that likely means at least some of the time being masked up in public settings, needing proof of your vaccination status for travel and likely at least annual booster shots. It means keeping our social circles smaller and making better decisions about who and how we spend our time. It means that safety will have to be a more conscious part of our decision making process. This is what acceptance looks like with COVID.

But as I said, it’s about acceptance and action. Taking a deadly disease seriously is not weakness, living in a safe and prepared way and making smart, safety related decisions is not living in fear, but living smartly, prudently. We do this with all sorts of things. We wear seat belts and strap babies into carriers when driving. We’ve learned over time that drinking and driving is a bad idea, we don’t burn brush in the middle of a windy, dry summer day. We take these sensible precautions to keep ourselves and our family safe. And we must do that with COVID as well.

We of course have to live our lives, we can’t just shelter in place forever. So the action part of this is a two part type of thing. First, we stay safe and prepare and second we carefully choose the things we want to do. This will mean changing things in our life, we all will need to decide what level of risk is acceptable. Will you have a family gathering at your house without making people take a fast COVID test that day or the day before? Will you continue to socialize with unvaccinated people? When traveling how careful will you be? Will you continue to pick less crowd related vacation opportunities. Camping, renting AirBnB properties and other less crowd intensive vacations have continued to become more popular during the pandemic. Likely these type of vacations will remain popular.

For example, I’m taking my first international vacation since the pandemic began. While it will include a couple of days in a resort, most of the trip will be in a beach camp. The main activity will be going out on boats to get up close to grey whales. So except at night sleeping in my tent, the majority of the trip will be spent outdoors. While I’m a bit concerned about flying, I broke the flight into two shorter legs instead of one long leg. I will be double masked on the plane, a K95 and cotton mask over top. I don’t plan to eat or drink on the plane. Given that I’ll be in Mexico I’ll have a required COVID test before returning and plan to take an at home test two days after returning, and not going back to the office until I’ve done that. We all need to do a better job of not just being worried about our own health but considerate of our impact on others as well.

Once we accept our new reality and take the appropriate actions, we can feel safer, more comfortable and happier in our COVID times. ~ Rev Kane

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A thank you to teachers

Tonight a joint post on two of my blogs the Ministry of Happiness and Higher Ed Mentor. It’s been a crazy year in education and as we wrap up the fall semester and I’m seeing what some of my faculty are doing to help students, and helping some students get their teachers to do what they should, I started thinking back on my own teachers.

Teachers are such an incredible part of everyone’s life, it’s rare that someone doesn’t have some teacher along the way that did something amazing and impactful in their life. For those of us who have decided to work in education, this is especially so. Tonight I wanted to just reach back and thank some of the most impactful teachers in my life.

First of all thank you to all of my teachers and teachers in general, it’s a much tougher job than people realize and an incredibly important job in our society. I think the first teacher I have to thank is my fifth grade teacher Mrs. Garno. She showed up at my house one night to express her concerns about me to my mother, and officially was the first teacher to call me on my shit. You see, I was a street kid from the wrong side of the tracks and ran with some serious juvenile delinquents. I pulled a lot of shit in school but I had learned early on, if you were a white kid with straight A’s, you could almost always get away with pointing the finger at someone else. But somehow, Mrs. Garno saw through that and actually prevented me from participating in something extremely stupid, thank you.

I have to thank my third grade teacher Mrs. Nicholson for making me feel special. That woman loved me, she believed in me, she saw potential in me no else had seen and she wasn’t shy in telling me about it. And she kept up with my life until the day she died. She was one of the few people in my early life who made me feel like I could be someone special.

In eighth grade I got put into an advanced math class, doing high school work in junior high. Ms. Spinelli, in addition to being smoking hot, (that was impactful to a 14 year-old boy), she was also a great teacher. It was in her class that she brought out the best in me academically and made me realize that my path to success in life would certainly start with academics.

In high school I had two teachers who were married to each other, one in Biology and one in Calculus who taught me how to be rigorous academically, whatever academic success I had in college is in some part to the skills imparted on me by Ma and Pa Russell.

The greatest teacher I ever had was my 4 year, high school English teacher Frank Sullivan at Hudson High School in New York. He has been the best teacher I’ve ever seen in action. When I became a teacher I emulated him more than anyone else I’d ever seen teach. He was crazy, active, dramatic and he hit us with what was really important in life and he did so while expanding my cultural experience on a massive scale.

As an undergrad at SUNY Plattsburgh I had one truly unique teacher, Larry Schaffer. I took his elective Biopsychology class because I had gotten to know him a bit and because of what everyone said about his class. Of course the semester I took the class he completed revamped it and we spent time working through in a discussion format, books by Stephen Jay Gould. What Larry showed me was that it was a ok to be a personality as a college teacher and the importance of being willing to shake up what you do, even if it was already successful. He also emulated what a student centered caring professor looked like.

As an undergraduate I had student teaching assignments and as a student teacher at Plattsburgh Junior High School I worked with Maynard Jubert. They called him Mr. Science and he was a master at active learning. He taught me so much about integrating hands-on activities into the classroom setting and how to do so in such a way that it enhanced the flow of the classroom.

The last teacher I’ll talk about is Professor Philpott at UTK. I took his graduate level multi-variate statistic class as an audit because I needed one technique within the class. But the class was so good I attended every class and even took the exams. What made his class so good was that as an education major I had always been taught that the best thing you could do is to teach every concept three ways. Talk through it, show it visually and then have students experience it with their hands. Philpott said he would do this in multi-variate stats, and he did. He had this crazy board with coat hangars set into it that he would bend around and then stretch a knit cap across it to allow you to hold an actual three dimensional model of every function we discussed, a true master class in teaching and statistics.

So thank you to all of them and all of you who teach, you do so much and have impacts you’ll never know about but are so important, to so many people.

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What an amazing time we live in

Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock. ~ Alvin Toffler

Ok, sure, we are living through a global pandemic, social media and the internet have us on future shock overload, global climate change is an existential crisis come to life. But within all of that we live in incredible times. I often think about the life my grandfather led, he was born in 1919 and died in the year 2000.

Grandpa Kane

He never had a driver’s license and the only time in his life he drove a vehicle was in Europe during WWII. As a kid, telephones and radios were just becoming a normal thing in homes. He lived through the depression, as I mentioned fought in WWII and was in his 50’s when the first man walked on the moon. He lived through the 60’s, the 70’s and even through the beginning of the computer age in the 80’s. Imagine how different his life was as a 10 year-old child, telephones and radios just appearing in his life to living in the 90’s in the age of the internet.

Amazing technology is ubiquitous these days and surrounds us at every waking hour, to the point we see the absolutely amazing as mundane. As a kid I always loved when there were video phones in science fiction movies, where there were computer systems that would set an alarm and wake you with the current weather and the day’s major news. Of course, these were always huge screens, often accompanied by a virtual assistant. Sounds like Siri set my alarm and show me the news. The Jetsons with their flying cars, robots and moving walkways was set in the way, way out future. So sometimes, like I did this week, I encounter something amazing and new and it hits me how utterly amazing this world is that we live in.

While not zipping around the skies we do have flying cars, moving walkways are in every airport, not in the US so much, but in Japan robots are becoming more and more common place. Because of the internet and the process speeds available in something as small as a phone, we have video calls with our friends, can download a full Hollywood movie to our phone in minutes. We have satellite phones to such an amazing degree I once made a call on a 16,000 foot mountain in the Himalayas, one of the most remote spaces on earth. We have self-driving trucks shuttling goods on American roads and self-driving cars that within in a few years will not be uncommon. We have laser eye surgery and because of CRISPR are doing things with gene modification that were in the realm of science fiction a year ago. And rich people can buy a ticket and fly, albeit briefly, into space.

Then of course we can talk about Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence, AI, is doing incredible things and is already ubiquitous in our lives. It is behind all of the algorithms that drive the social media that we all use. It handles many of the automated call trees for customer service, it allows me to make calls while driving by saying, call Rooney. It’s increasingly being used in math and science, AI has solved math problems that seemed unsolvable and has even begun to detect mathematical patterns that humans have been incapable of comprehending. There are predictions that AI, by 2050, will be able to do anything a human mind is capable of doing.

One last note, first a term synesthesia. Synesthesia refers to a condition where someone’s senses effectively get cross wired. So for instance a color could have a taste, or a sound could cause a visual experience. So while scrolling on Twitter yesterday I saw something, there is an AI at wombo.art that will draw and image of your username or anything really, sort of like an AI with synesthesia. Below is what it drew for The Ministry of Happiness, the image at the top is how it drew Rev Kane.

These are absolutely amazing times and given that the rate of technological change is ever increasing, it will be amazing to see what’s still to come in my life time. Happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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How to keep balance during the holidays

Love this image from, https://www.facebook.com/hol.madness/

The holidays are here, Thanksgiving is over and the shopping season is fully under way, I can tell by the fact that driving in any commercial parking lot feels like I’ve been dropped into Death Race 2000. So this time of year people are pretty feverishly shopping and planning for vacations, visitors and holiday dinners. And of course we’re all doing it in an pandemic environment that makes everything harder. We’re also all still very much on edge as you can see by the ubiquitous freak out going on over the Omicron variant.

The fact is that holiday travel, the colder weather keeping people inside and flu season likely means we’re in for a fairly predictable COVID winter season spike. If Omicron is truly what it’s been billed to be so far, more transmissible and less virulent, it’s likely to be an economic issue and frankly a pain in the ass without being the life threatening issue COVID has been so far. I can say this for two reasons, first it’s being reported as such initially, and secondly, unlike the Delta spike, we have a much higher level of vaccination, at least in the United States. Of course, higher infections rates, even if the death rate doesn’t spike, will mean more closures and quarantine notifications. And likely more restrictions related to mask mandates and social distancing.

All of this will add an additional spike of stress to, what for most people, is the most stressful time of the year. So while I often talk about work/life balance from the perspective of keeping the work side of the equation in balance with life, this time of year it often bounces the other way. At this time of year, for a lot of businesses, things drop into a bit of a lull. In some countries other than the US, this time of year worklife almost completely comes to a halt. For those of us working in education we face a unique type of reality. First, everything accelerates to a fever pitch for a short period of time and then everything pretty much stops until early January.

So how do we keep our lives in balance during the holiday? I offer tonight three very specific suggestions and the first is something I talk about quite a lot, planning. You have to plan your time more, not less during the holidays. This will help you make decisions, perhaps you have invitations to multiple holiday gatherings. Making a plan will help make sure you don’t get overwhelmed or let people down. If you wing it, you may think you’ll make all three but without thorough planning you might end up getting locked into one and miss one or even the other two. So while it doesn’t seem very festive, setting and plan and letting the people you will be visiting know what it is, you can make multiple gatherings and not let anyone down. Also, by doing this, you might discover things. If you tell someone you’re not coming til later, you might find out that gathering is focused around dinner or that someone you particularly want to see will only be there early. Planning, although it may seem work-like, is very much your friend. It also may help you make the hard decisions like what events you truly can’t make it to, by making that decision early you can save harder conversations closer to the event when hosts are likely to be more stressed and emotional and reduce hurt feelings and guilt.

Self-care cannot disappear during the holidays and exercise in particular is even more important. During a time when we are likely eating more and less healthy than any other part of the year and we’re more stressed, it’s important to make sure we continue to exercise. You want to at least put a small dent in the extra calories you’re consuming and far more importantly work off the stress of the season. Since we often exercise alone, it’s also time to yourself to get away from the holiday madness for a bit. If you have little kids or a family you just can’t get away from, well then make exercise a group/family event. Walks in nature or even walking around holiday events, sledding or skating if you live some place with winter or similar activities can help you get the exercise you need to knock off the stressful edges. One particular thing I like, particular in places with winter snow on the ground, are night walks. Even a small night walk on trails or parks you know well, take on a completely amazing and adventurous quality at night.

The last one I’ve taken from a piece on a site called house of dragon, is called choose gratitude over guilt and it’s really fantastic advice. What this means is that we need to change our perspective during the holidays. Often when we decline an invitation we feel guilty, instead, you need to be grateful that someone wanted to spend time with you. You need to be grateful for your life and what you have, and make you and your closest family (selected or otherwise) the priority. You’re not required to make every party or family gathering, you’re not required to make any in fact. Remember to make you and yours the priority, express gratitude for what you can do and be thankful for your own peace of mind, peace in life and what happiness you have. You are not responsible for other people’s happiness, so do what keeps you and yours happiest during the holidays.

Also a suggestion on gift giving, for those who are close to you, take the time to think what will actually make them happy. Don’t forget the power of nostalgia, reminding people of their childhood or things they did with you when you were a child. Some of those simple reminders are the most powerful gifts. For those outside of that circle of those closest to you, don’t stress over those gifts, really at that level it is the thought that counts. So make the gift affordable and useful, it’s one of the reasons I am very fond of giving good food and wines as gifts. They show you care, and are things people can enjoy without costing you a lot of money.

Finally tonight, a note to my fellow introverts. You’re not responsible for the happiness of others, you don’t have to say yes to any invitation, there is no required time for attendance at an event. I know this time of year is tough, for those of us who really don’t like crowds or parties, we suffer this time of year in a paradoxical sort of way. First, we get hurt, because we keep fewer social connections we get so few invitations this time of year, and that reminds us we’re different, that we have a tendency to be a bit more lonely than other people. Secondly, we get committed to do work holiday parties and family events that we are incredibly uncomfortable attending. While also hurting people’s feelings by turning down invitations to gatherings because they often don’t understand why we do that. Forgive yourself for saying no, it’s ok to do what keeps you happiest and feeling safe this time of year. Also, if you are absolutely committed, there are sometimes work or family functions you can’t avoid, remember you do have some control. That’s right, you may have to attend, but it’s still your life and you are responsible for you, so show up, do your hellos and to quote Paul Simon, slip out the back Jack. While there may be 50 ways to leave your lover, there’s also 50 ways to leave a party. You have no obligation to say goodbye to the hosts or anyone else, so leave when it’s most comfortable for you, quietly, without explanation and without guilt.

I’m hoping you all have a wonderful holiday season and remember to take care of you first, celebrate second. ~ Rev Kane

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Food makes me happy

I love food, I love to cook and I especially love to eat. As I relayed in last week’s post one of the several reasons that I love Thanksgiving so much, it is very much a cooking and eating holiday for me. So this week there were a number of meals on the menu. The night before Thanksgiving I made a traditional holiday dish for the Italian side of my family, a meatball lasagna, the last piece will serve as my lunch tomorrow. For Thanksgiving, I made roasted Cornish Game Hens, mashed potatoes and stuffing and something a lot of people don’t like, but is Thanksgiving to me, a can of jellied cranberry sauce. My traditional Thanksgiving desert is a homemade banana and chocolate pudding pie. My next foray was a traditional Mexican meal, tamales and re-fried beans, I’d meant to do roasted chilies as well but I forgot them while shopping. Today for breakfast I made traditional Southern Biscuits and Gravy. For dinner I made nachos and yes, accompanying much of this were cokes.

Using the game hen skeletons I made a lovely bone broth that I supplemented with some traditional chicken stock and made a really lovely chicken soup that I’ll be dining on this whole week. This bit of an eating orgy is also a last carb related foray. I need to get my blood sugar back under control, I need to lose the final 12 pounds to reach my goal of 175. So I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this weekend and honestly for the first time in almost a year and a half, I’m really starting to feel like myself again. And that means jump starting my writing projects, getting my sugar in line as I mentioned and finalizing my plans for my next step in life. I finally feel like I have the mental space to make all that happen.

Over the next couple of days I’ll finish the only part of Christmas that I like, wrapping and shipping out the presents I’ve bought for my nieces and nephews. I think I’ve done a really good job this year and I’m excited to hear their reactions.

I hope you all have a wonderful break for Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate.

~ Rev Kane

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The hard days of the holiday season are here

I pray you heal from things no one ever apologized for ~ Unknown

It’s the holiday season, how do I know? Well today the parking lot at the supermarket was completely madness. People just walking in the driving lanes like it was a crosswalk. People backing into parking spaces, combined with the crazy walkers creating levels of gridlock that rival Manhattan on a Friday night.

I’ve made no secret of this on the blog, but the holiday season and particularly Christmas is my least favorite time of the year. This time of year people in public get harried, rude and just plain act crazy. With the time change the days seem even shorter than they are, it gets dark way too early. The next couple of months are just composed of far too many cold and dark nights.

But of course it’s not just that, emotionally this is a hard part of the year for those of us who haven’t or don’t had the type of typical family that most people have. Even worse, this is the time of year where everything in the media is the typical Norman Rockwell image of family. Every commercial, every TV show, every movie it seems centers around these large family gatherings. So for those who look around and don’t see anything like that, it can be really hard.

My dislike of this time of year goes way back, I can’t ever remember liking the Christmas season. The irony of it all, I have written about before how Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. So I do get a little boomeranged this time of year. I go from what will happen next week, a week of getting out in nature and eating really well, to things getting dark and cold in my world. And I know that I’m not alone this, which is why shortly after Thanksgiving I start posting additional posts entitled Holiday Happiness posts. I do these to give folks an opportunity to have access to pieces that they can access to hopefully help them through a hard time of year.

To those of you who don’t feel this way, who have Norman Rockwell holidays, or at least large groups of close family and friends to celebrate with, happy holidays and enjoy. ~ Rev Kane

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