Don’t lose the precious things

Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you. ~ Oscar Wilde

I wrote the poem below, Precious Things, last week and it’s what I want to talk about tonight. But I want to start by telling you about is a jade Buddha I bought in China. I have always loved two types of stone, jade and turquoise. I still haven’t found a turquoise piece that moved me enough to buy. However, when I was in China, I really wanted to find a jade Buddha. The one I ended up buying, I think more than anything else, I bought because of the way the salesperson talked about jade. He told me that if I buy a piece a jade I need to understand that jade is like a living thing, if it is ignored, it dulls and loses it’s value. As such, owning a piece of jade brings responsibility, it must be loved and polished regularly to keep is luster, quality and value.

I loved the way he talked about jade, it made me feel that the connection I always felt for that stone was a reflection of what the stone itself needs and in some way was asking for. It will now be obvious why I wrote about the feeling I was having the way I did.

Tonight I want to talk about the precious things in our lives. And yes, we have precious possessions, I have my jade Buddha, my Day of the Dead paintings, my Thankas, my grandfather’s rifle that he carried in World War 2 and my granny’s family bible. More important than those possessions though, are the precious relationships in our lives.

In our lives we have people that are incredibly dear to us. For many people, a lot of these people are the people that are closest to us both emotionally and geographically, people we see often. However, some are those who are emotionally close but geographically far away. This is especially accurate for a nomad like me. Those precious relationships are harder to take care of, it’s easy to let life get in the way and let weeks, months and sometimes even years go by. Regardless of near or far, we at times let life get in the way and we neglect these relationships. When we do, like precious jade, those relationships dull and begin to lose their value and worst of all can be lost altogether.

Not too long ago, I mentioned to my brother that I felt a bit like unpolished jade. As I mentioned in my post, nobody is happy all of the time, I recently went through a tough time, and some of the people who I support, who I felt like were precious people in my life, were not there for me. And this is where that feeling, and the poem came from.

So my message tonight is a simple reminder to pull open that drawer and polish your relationship jade. Make that call, write that letter, text or email, go visit that person and give them a hug. You’ll have happier days for the effort my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Precious Things                                                    9/15/21

We all have precious things
we keep them tucked away
hidden from the world
just for us
but sometimes
we neglect that which we love
not out of love lost
nor lack of caring
but because the world, our life
just gets in the way
we allow that which keeps us busy
to neglect that which is truly precious
it dulls
it fades
then losses its value
again found,
we wonder
how did this happen?
time goes on

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A Day of Rest

So, if you’ve been following this blog you know that recently I’ve been talking about some of the struggles I’ve been having. As I continue to climb out of the well of depression, there are simple things that I always do. Mostly these involve getting back to basics, making sure you are eating well (I’m getting there), make sure to exercise (doing good on this) and make sure you are getting enough sleep (I am).

Along with the basics one of the things I always try and do is give myself a pause, do something I enjoy and so that’s what this weekend was all about for me. I like watching football and am a die hard Pittsburgh Steeler fan. So this was a big weekend, week 2 of the college football season and week 1 of the NFL season. So I watched a lot of football this weekend and best part of all, the Steelers, who were underdogs against the Buffalo Bills, pulled out a most excellent victory on Sunday. It’s always a slightly better week when your team wins.

Another thing I truly enjoy is cooking and so this weekend I did a little cooking. Part of eating better is getting back to a more blood sugar friendly diet, so essentially reducing carbs. I’m easing back into it so one thing I made this weekend that will be serving as meals for the week is a chicken stew. Think chicken soup, thickened into a stew with potatoes, carrots, peppers, scallions and corn. Not the most blood sugar friendly dish but not terrible and really, really tasty. Tonight when I ate the first full bowl of it, it just needed something extra. What that extra turned out to be was cinnamon, adding a couple of dashes of cinnamon to that bowl was absolutely fantastic. For the first day that really feels like fall, it was perfect.

A little more blood sugar friendly dish I made for the week was my no noodle lasagna and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Meatballs, sausage, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms with ricotta and mozzarella cheese and sauce of course. Baked up in the oven and just as satisfying as the lasagna with noodles. I typically add sun dried tomatoes but unfortunately I was out of them.

For the Steeler game I cranked up some typical game day snacks, and binged out on some buffalo wings, fried shrimp and tator tots with my last coke for a time.

I also took it easy this weekend, I worked out lightly and walked on Sunday, but I also slept in a bit and didn’t have any goals other than to take it easy. I also requested some vacation dates to do some camping in the Mojave in October during a meteor shower. All in all a nice mellow weekend and also why my typical Sunday post is coming out today on Monday.

So at a more general level, take care of basics, take it easy, breathe and do something that you enjoy and you’ll have a happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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I Miss Burning Man

happiness burning man
Rev Kane in his first year at Burning Man

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. ~ Jawaharlal Nehru

So maybe because it’s the time of year that it normally happens, maybe it’s because I was in the Nevada desert last week and got the feel of the morning desert air. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling a bit trapped at the moment, a bit depressed, a bit judged. Whatever it is, although I’ll likely never go back if it happens again, I miss Burning Man.

For those of you who are unaware, Burning Man is a festival that typically takes place in the Nevada Desert outside of Gerlach, during the week leading up to Labor Day. It takes place on BLM land on an open desert patch known as the playa. It’s an amazing place, a festival that has been taking place for over thirty years, that has grown to an incredible near 100,000 people in the desert.

Burning Man is an amazing place, an ethereal city built out of and returned to the dust in about a two week period. Theme camps are built and provide the ultimate adult playground for a week. It’s a city and a culture that is beyond imagination, and truly is something that has to be experienced to be believed or understood. I’ve heard it, and described it, in a myriad of ways. It’s been described as a waking acid trip, and a naked pagan art festival in the desert.

But what I really miss about it is a couple of very specific things. First, I miss the ability to get completely out of my life for a week. Second, I miss the beauty of being in a place where no one is judged. As I’ve often said, if you look 360 degrees at Burning Man, you will never ever be the weirdest person, and if you are, I really want to meet you.

It’s a week, that while it’s hard desert camping, sometimes in extreme heat and heavy winds, it’s also an easy, stressless week where you can let things go. It can be a cathartic week in many ways.

For the last few years I’ve camped with Camp, Oh Know You Didn’t. The camp features a confessional bar, where you must confess a sin to get your first drink. The perfect place for a reverend to bartend. The stories that people tell are beyond your imagination, I promise you. But beyond the stories, there’s something magnificent about this set up. When you meet someone for the first time, and immediately confess a sin, you’ve bypassed all of the normal surface bullshit and small talk you usually engage in when you first meet. You immediately are talking at a deeper level and that makes for some truly spectacular conversations. I’ve had some of the best conversations of my life at that bar.

So I’m missing Burning Man this week, I’m missing freedom, community, deep connections with other humans in a place where I’ve never seen a fistfight, or an argument between anyone except people in a relationship and then even rarely. In our politically divided, Covid infested, literally burning world, it sure would be wonderful to step out for a week. ~ Rev Kane

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Nobody is happy all of the time

So I missed my Sunday night post for the first time in a quite some time. My apologies to those of you who look for that post on Sunday night or Monday morning. The fact is I was on the road to a funeral in Nevada. The thing is, the last 15 to 18 months are have been tough on all of us. It stacks up, COVID hits, work turned into a 70 hour a week marathon, you lose people to COVID. The pressure and stress get to everyone in one way or another. So in my job, I become the person who reaches out to the people I manage. Some were dealing, some were falling apart, so you get drained doing what you can for them. As a strong person, a person that many people come to when they are struggling, you get drained by being there for them. And after the last 15 to 18 months there has been a lot of that. I’ve been what they call languishing for some time. I’ve written about it here a bit.

This semester at the college has been, as predicted, the most difficult yet. We’ve seen an uptick in COVID case related quarantines and exposures, the faculty and staff have taken to laying a whole lot of blame on the deans, of which I’m one. The normal, half-joking “dark side” comments, have morphed into a full out regular assault at board meetings and anywhere else they can, to let everyone know how “evil” we are. There has been late and limited information that I need to do my job from above, my direct bosses are great, but above them, well, it’s been challenging.

I’m too far into my career, been doing this for too long, I’m worn out. Quite frankly, it’s time for me to find another gig. As a nomad I can tell you the Appalachian Trail is screaming my name right now, as is Antarctica, Scotland, New Zealand all of the places I’ve been or want to see are calling hard right now.

I’ve been blessed to have about three years of very little drama in my life, which has not been the norm in my existence. But the last year and a half has worn down my reserves and the last few weeks have felt like the universe decided to kick me while I’m down. I’ve fallen back into the well of depression for the first time in years. It’s at these times you find out important things about your world. As much as I’m their for so many people, you hope they’ll be there when you do need them. It’s partially my fault, when you take on so much on your own, people can forget that at times you need support as well. Times like this remind you of how alone you truly are in this life.

Now that’s all the bad news, there was definitely some good news in the last couple of weeks because there are some really good people in my life. Some of the people I manage bought me lunch for my birthday, a friend I grew up with and his wonderful family had dinner with me on my birthday. While in Las Vegas for the funeral, friends from New York had me to their house for dinner. That wasn’t the important part, it was the way I was greeted, both of them grabbed me and hugged me, they really and truly asked how I was doing, most importantly they meant it. We had a wonderful dinner and it was a great night. My brother and sister-in-law sent me a really amazing present, I got to Zoom with my littlest niece and nephews.

The other good news is that when I used to fall into this well, it was freefall and the walls of the well were smooth and black, there was no light, hitting the bottom hurt. Hitting the bottom hurt this time as well, the real difference though is the work I’ve done, mostly through writing the Ministry of Happiness. There’s a little light in the well today, and more importantly a ladder on the wall. For so long, when in the well I had no idea how to get out, that’s different now. I know the way out, this long weekend will give me the space to start that climb.

What I hope you take from this tonight is that since we all know these times will come, we have to understand how to be ready for them. We have to develop our own resiliency, whether that comes from building our own internal fortitude, or whether it comes from the careful building and nurturing of our support structures, even better doing both. Don’t wait until you’re in the well before you do the work, do the work now, and if you do that, you’ll sooner get back to happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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A Critical Reminder

Forgive me tonight friends as I take a very circular route to get to where I want to go. About thirty years ago, Christ is it really thirty years?! I woke up one morning and headed for the kitchen in my apartment and there was a bum sleeping on my couch. I looked at him, he opened his eyes and said, “who the hell are you?” I replied, “I live here, who the hell are you?!” He smiled, “I liver here too.” That’s how I met my friend Keith, over the last thirty years we’ve certainly had some adventures, he’s one of the few humans who can truly get me to misbehave.

Turned out Keith, who’d just been deported from England, was my roommate Dan’s best friend from high school back in Las Vegas. Dan, being one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, had told him he could live on our couch. We would all go on to be roommates for a while, friends for much longer.

They must have done some kind of standardized testing in fourth grade because in fifth grade a couple of students got split out for advanced math work. There were three, the first two were of no surprise, everyone knew they were the smart kids. Hell one would eventually end up literally being a brain surgeon. I was the third and it was the start of a friendship that has grown and lasted for nearly fifty years. It started with John teaching me how to play chess, getting me into comic books and would continue through me being the best man in his wedding. He lived in the country and I was a street kid living with a single mom in the city. So we were school friends and in some ways led very different lives. As we got into high school he was a nerd, did his smart kid school thing and went home, collected comics, read, went to movies. I was a chameleon, during the day in class I was a nerd, after school I played a varsity sports in all three seasons, at night and outside of school I was a juvenile delinquent street kid. But I collected comics and read and went to movies and in high school John and I bonded around our love of science fiction, Dr. Who, movies including seeing this crazy new movie Star Wars together in the theater. We would see the opening days of the first 6 Star Wars movies together in two different states and three different cities.

The other night the phone rang, it was Keith, I couldn’t answer and he immediately texted call me, I knew something was up. Keith’s had a really tough last year or so and I was dreading what might have happened. Something had happened and honestly it was something that hadn’t in any way crossed my mind, Dan was dead. He died on vacation in Maui, while in the surf, they’re still not sure what exactly happened, but he was gone.

The next night, I was scrolling through John’s Facebook page and noticed a comment from a relative expressing condolences. I messaged him immediately, his mom had died.

At my age, pushing sixty, all of my friend’s parents, and mine are at least in their eighties, so it’s not a huge surprise when one passes. Although, as those of you who have lost parents know, no matter how expected, it’s still never easy. And honestly, I don’t normally get too impacted by these losses, but this one is a little different. John’s mom was one of the singly kindest humans I’ve ever met. She was someone who always made you feel welcome in her home, all ways seemed genuinely concerned about your well-being, always made time for you. There was a definite shortage of people who treated me like that when I was younger, so it meant a lot to me.

My friend Dan was similarly a truly nice person. He was a flaming liberal with a huge heart and more than anything was an incredibly moral person. We say nice guys finish last, but that never applied to Dan, he was highly intelligent and an incredibly talented and successful criminal defense attorney who led advocacy for clients at a level that changed the very system he worked in for the better. His loss has devastated so many people I know, it’s utterly heart breaking to watch all of this go down.

There’s an expression and a song by Billy Joel, only the good die young. If it’s true, you’re likely all going to be stuck hearing from me for a very long time. Whenever really kind, good people pass young I’m always brought back to my first experience with a really kind soul dying around my age.

Bowling was an important part of my life when I was younger. I remember my very first strike, on lane one at Hendrick Hudson Lanes. I was reminded of it often, the locker I shared with my mom was next to lane one. I bowled with a guy named David March, he was a tall, skinny kid with red hair. He was also the nicest person I knew at that time, a truly sweet and kind kid. He got terminal cancer, wasted away and died.

These are where my thoughts are right now as I watch friends grieve, as I grieve.

And there is a message in all of this, and it’s the quote by the Buddha that accompanies the image on this post, we think we have time. You never know, my friend a healthy 55 year old man went into the surf as he’d done a hundred times before and suddenly he was just gone.

You know that person you’ve wanted to call forever, that thing you’ve wanted to see or do, that relationship you need to mend, just do it. I know, we hear this a lot, but we don’t do it, the trouble is, we think we have time. ~ Rev Kane

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Breathe, Make the Best of Things

There isn’t a lot of good news available these days. The pandemic is ramping up again in the US with COVID rates, particularly in the Southeast hitting some of the highest rates we’ve seen. This has taken the joy out of what is normally a celebratory back to school time of the year. So while people are still posting images of children heading to school in their next grade, there is also a lot of nervousness around safety, controversy around parental choice and the need for vaccine mandates.

Massive fires are burning not only in the US, but across the globe including whole Greek Islands on fire. The US is leaving Afghanistan, and many feared this would mean the Taliban would come back into power, but no one thought in would happen in a week and Kabul has fallen today. To top it all off the worst IPCC climate report ever released has just come out the same time as the month of July was named the hottest month in recorded history. The cherry on top, two hurricanes are going to hit Florida this week.

It’s easy to spend time on social media doom scrolling yourself into anxiety driven paralysis.

So often the simplest advice is the best, breathe, relax. Even though the world may seem like a total shitshow right now. It’s important to remember that you should primarily focus on what’s under your control. You can’t fix Afghanistan, or solve global warming on your own, you can’t stop the entire pandemic.

So control what you can control.

Nervous about COVID, get vaccinated, wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, minimize your social contacts and don’t put yourself in situations where you will be in enclosed spaces with a lot of people for an extended period of time. You can’t perfectly protect yourself but you can greatly reduce your chances of getting ill, and particularly from getting seriously ill if you follow these certain steps.

Limit your news, social media and doom scrolling. Remember, almost all social media algorithms amplify what you look at the most. So, for instance, over the last year I’ve made a point of each day sharing a couple of pretty pictures off photo sites on Facebook. As a result, my Facebook feed’s suggested posts are mostly pretty nature pictures, by doing things like that your timeline becomes a less stressful place. I’ve also unfriended anyone who adds to my stress on my timeline, yes, even family members.

On Instagram, you only get posts from who you follow, so don’t follow anyone who posts things that increase your anxiety in any way. Also, limit the time you just cruise videos through reels on Instagram, Tik Tok and You Tube. The algorithms track what you stop on, so when you’re on those sites only stop on things that make you happy and as soon as something goes the other way, move on.

On Twitter, anytime I read a post that triggers bad feelings I unfollow the person. If the post is from someone you don’t follow, but liked by someone you do, you can unfollow that person and it will help improve your feed. Also, over the last few months, I’ve been liking and following poetry and writing prompt posts, like the pretty pictures on Facebook this has turned my feed into 80% writing posts, much more enjoyable, far less doom and gloom.

Then of course, as I’ve mentioned many times before, when you feel out of sorts there is some Taoist philosophy I have always found to be profound. It simply says if you feel out of sorts, then return to the basics. Eat good food, get enough sleep, exercise, make sure you feel safe. Make sure the basics are solid and it’s easier to bring everything else in line and have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Back to school, go easy and a new project

Nothing in the universe can stop you from letting go and starting over. ~ Gary Finley

So tonight a grab bag of things to talk about, going back to school, going easy on yourself and a new project I’m working on.

Back to school

It’s that time of year for those of us tied to the school year calendar. So that means students, parents of students, teachers, administrator and anyone else working in education. This is an incredibly confusing and anxiety filled year for all of us and I’ve recently written about it on my Higher Ed Mentor blog in a piece called The Hardest Semester of Your Career. For all of us, there are masking requirements, or not, vaccine requirements, or not. Some of our jobs have changed to a remote status for at least part of the time, or not. Some of our jobs have changed permanently and as it’s being reported in the press, many of us have gone on to new jobs. Something I consider a silver lining for the COVID pandemic is that more people have decided to make happiness a larger factor in their lives and are chasing jobs that put happiness and life satisfaction ahead of money and climbing the corporate ladder.

For me this means a return to full-time or near full-time life on campus. I never fully went remote, I’ve had programs that I manage on campus for the last year. It’s been an incredibly frustrating process of continual change, confusing regulations and lots of moving parts that are often clarified with no recognition of the impact on managers like myself. So I fully expect this to be one of the more complicated and frustrating semesters I’ve ever faced. And with the Delta Variant and COVID cases on the rise again, I’m sure it’s due to get even more complicated. Well, one to three years til my next major life move, so here we go again.

Take it easy on yourself

Really just a reminder for all of us to not only provide grace to others in these tough times, but to provide grace to yourself. We’re all living through a time where we’ve been traumatized in one way or another. We are continuing to deal with lots of uncertainty in our world and lives. This means we are all anxious, we are stressed and as such we are all “off” in some way. I’ve talked here about my difficulty with motivation, something they call a state of languishing, over the last year. Not the get out of bed, or go to work lack of motivation, but motivation for the extra and frankly more important things I do in life, my writing, photography, travel, etc….

So understand that it’s okay if you’re not quite at normal in some ways. None of us are at our best, so be graceful and forgiving with yourself. Take a deep breath and try and put a better step forward tomorrow and if that takes longer than usual to be successful, that’s okay right now.

The Shambling Apocalypse

So on the note of projects that have been languishing, for some time I’ve had a Facebook page called The End is Here. I’ve been meaning to do a broader blog but the project has been languishing. There are a lot of little things to getting a new blog up and running. Picking a name is so much harder than you think, because you also have to consider the availability of domain names and similar names on the internet. My working title was the slow motion apocalypse but there’s a metal band with that name, so I moved on. After the name, you need an image, you need to pick a design theme and with every design theme there are an array of tiny differences from what you have used before that are amazingly frustrating until you get them figured out. I’ve also adjusted the Facebook page to correspond with the blog name.

The blog will center around the idea that we are already in the apocalypse albeit not like the movies but moving in slow motion. Experiencing a pandemic, economic and political instability, falling fertility rates, resource depletion and global climate change. My perspective is always a bit analytical as well as focused on how this all impacts you and what you can do to mitigate the effects on you, your children and the other people you care for and about. So, if you’re interested you can check out the blog at the ShamblingApocalypse.com

Upon learning of my new project a friend commented on Facebook, from the Ministry of Happiness to the Shambling Apocalypse, it’s been a hell of a year, and it has. However, regardless of what is happening in the world, you can always have happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Build a new better and happier you

It’s never too late, to be who you might have been. ~ George Eliot

I love the picture because of the idea of transformation that is encompassed by a ripped and bulked out minion. But I don’t just want to talk about physical transformations, although it’s where I’m going to start.

This post is focused on one single and simple message tonight, continuous improvement. We should all be attempting to get better over time. This does not have be obsessive, or overly taxing, but what’s the point of being alive if you aren’t learning anything from the experience?

So let’s start with our physical health, while yes, we are talking about continuously getting better, that doesn’t mean being in better physical condition at 60 than you were at 20, but it might. What I mean by this is at any point taking an assessment of where you are at and figuring out what needs to change to make you better. Developing a plan to do it and then following that plan. For me personally over the last year that has mean eating better to improve my blood sugar, working out in a different way to keep my cardio fitness outside of the gym and lifting more consistently to build some more muscle.

The goal at no point was to become fully Keto, never eat a pizza, run a marathon or become some kind of body builder. While I think you have to establish goals to give yourself something to aim for, the real win comes from doing better today, this week, this month or this year than you did the last. For me that has meant getting my blood sugar in the normal range, dropping some weight and running a 5k. I’m still not the best eater, I’m still technically overweight and the time for the 5K I talked about last week, wouldn’t even win the 80 and above category at any race. My sister, who just recently was also diagnosed with diabetes has done a much better job with her blood sugar and is regular 40 to 50 points lower than me. I’m proud of her for that and mention it here because she’s particularly happy when she beats me at things, so here’s a little public recognition to make her happy. Hey, it’s the Ministry of Happiness blog after all, we’re all about spreading happiness.

The key and most important thing is to assess where you are currently and simply figure out how to do better. How much? That’s up to you, but even small improvements over time can be beneficial from a health standpoint as long as you continue to make them.

Equally as important as your physical health is your mental health. This is the thing I have written the most about on this blog. And is something particularly on my mind as I officially report back to my office on campus this week.

Working from home has been tough for many people, due to complications with multiple people at home, lack of childcare, technical issues, etc… But for me, it’s been an absolute wonderful change. Now to be clear, I’m only talking about my at home work experience. COVID 19 has been horrid in so many ways for so many people, I’ve lost friends, happily no family members and we’ve all suffered mentally to a degree from the pandemic. However, for a heavy introvert and a person who is to a large degree a homebody, this was nearly my ideal work experience.

As a person whose main job is to manage people it has been nice to have some control over that aspect of the job. You see normally I have little control over interactions, you see people pop in the office, catch you at meetings, stop you in the hall, want to discuss things in the bathroom or while you’re walking across campus. They seem especially excited about talking to you at the exact second you have something due to your boss, or are about to leave campus for the day. Working from home all of those contacts come electronically. I choose when to reply to emails, texts and whether or not answer the phone when someone calls which gives me control over my time and space, an introvert’s dream.

Additionally, I have been able to schedule my time the way it suits me best and in a healthier way. I get to sleep in later since I don’t have get dressed up, eat before work or drive. I can eat later when I actually prefer to and cook food instead of re-heating things in a microwave all the time like I have to at work. At work, lunch almost always means eating at my desk while answering emails in between meetings. While at home I can actually take a break and eat while watching TV and spend 30 minutes away from business. This makes for a less stressful day. Finally, there is so much wasted time in the office, If there’s 30 minutes or an hour between meetings but I get interrupted with three, 10 minute conversations spaced apart, I basically lose the hour. What this means effectively is that I’m far more productive at home than in the office. I also can use the time in between meetings to do a short workout. This has led to me lifting more regularly over the last 15 months than at any other time in my life. Not to mention all of the multi-tasking benefits at home, doing laundry or cooking while I’m also working which has freed up a little extra time every night and on the weekends.

Being face to face with more people on a daily basis both in terms of social interaction and possible COVID contact makes this shift back a bit of an anxiety inducing event. Of course I’m a manager, so my job is to make sure that everyone else is taken care of, comes back in the way that’s best for them, and to help them with all of their mental health needs. Which of course begs the question, who is responsible for doing that for me? And regardless what may be on paper, the answer is also me.

In the end, the answer for all of us is that we are ultimately responsible for our own mental health. So remember if you are in a similar situation you have to stand for yourself. This means understanding your contract, your rights as an employee and how your supervisor works, but also what pressures they are under. You need to ask questions and you need to ask for what you need and want. Suffering in silence doesn’t do anyone any good and you don’t know what flexibility might exist if you don’t ask, so ask.

You also have to do all of the things you’ve always done to reduce stress and anxiety at work, but even more so. Don’t fall into the fallacy that things are as they were before or that you somehow now have to work harder to make up for lost time during the pandemic. Make sure you work when you work and take time off, that you do the things that help you reduce stress and don’t push so hard you burn out. Please take care of yourself my friends and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

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Something I’ve never done before

So today I did something I’ve never done before and it felt pretty good. I achieved a goal I’ve been chasing for a time. In March of 2020 I went to Mardi Gras, sure we’d been hearing about COVID 19 but it was in Europe and like SARS and MERS there was a pretty good chance it seemed it might be another primarily Asian epidemic. Shortly after returning from another amazing time in New Orleans COVID got real, real fast. A week or so later, we were closing campus, moving most classes online, suspending others, a week later we were working from home and are scheduled to return for the first time August 2nd, almost 18 months lataer.

Given the reality of things the gym was not a safe place to work out. I got a small bench and some dumbbells over time and was able to figure out my weight work, however my concern was with cardio. As someone who has high blood pressure, keeping my cardiovascular fitness is really important to keeping my blood pressure in check. So really there were two options, start jumping rope, which is really an excellent option but one I never seem to get into, or starting to run. I really hate to run, I mean really hate it. As I’ve said for years, I only run if there’s a ball in front of me or a dog behind me. But, given the options, I started in April of 2020 running the track at school. Man, that first night was incredible, I ran a very slow quarter mile on the track, walked a quarter then ran a second. The next day I was amazingly sore, it was a surprise, I typically walk 3-6 miles with no problem, but just this small bit of running beat me up bad.

I progressed over time but then we had to close the track at school down due to COVID. So I ended up finding a park to run in and kept working on it. I eventually even ran 2.4 miles one morning. My goal had been to run an Easter Bunny 5K but that race was cancelled and my motivation for running has flagged from time to time with no clear goal ahead. So a couple of months ago I set two goals, first to hit my goal weight of 175 by my birthday at the end of August, and to run a 5K by Thanksgiving. After my vacation I’ve been slow getting back to my weight loss goals, but I’ve re-entered the gym and the track at school has re-opened so I’ve been running regularly again (2 days a week) and even doing short runs on others day at the gym on the treadmill.

So this weekend I decided to tag a couple of things on my bucket list, the first was to see a great white shark and the second was to try and actually run a 5k for the first time. The shark trip was unfortunately a bust on the shark front, it was a little too cold for the white sharks to be at the surface. But it was a beautiful day on Monterey Bay, we saw a mother and calf set of Humpback Whales really close up and I did get a bucket list animal, I finally saw a sunfish, also called a Mola Mola up close. Didn’t have a chance for a good photo but got to see this giant about 7 feet away from me.

It was a really exciting encounter, I’d been a boat when one was spotted before but all I caught was a fin tip as it disappeared. This time I got to see it right at the surface, dive down a few feet and come back to the surface all on it’s side, only to tip back vertical and dive out of sight. In addition the tour company gave us vouchers for a free trip since things hadn’t panned out well. So a pretty awesome day all in all, as well as getting a slight sunburn while wearing SPF 50, once again proving I’m the second whitest man in America.

So after such a great Friday I was geared up to attempt my 5K on Saturday but I woke up Saturday and decided nope, lazy day, so I read, binged a bit of Killing Even and was basically lazy all day. So today was the day, I got up, ate a piece of coffee cake I’ve been saving, some eggs and a couple of hours later made my attempt.

My standard run right now is 6 laps, a mile and a half but I’m about to tick up to a mile and three-quarters. So today I was heading for 13 laps in order to get the 3.25 miles which is a 5K. Hitting lap seven I felt ok, ten laps would be 2.5 miles and the longest I’ve ever run. Around lap 9 I started to flag a bit and started thinking ten laps would still be a personal best and would be ok. Then my savior showed up, he was about 18 months old, an adorable little dude learning to ride his scooter. As I was doing lap 9 he got really excited to wave and say hi as I went by, it made my day. So we became running buddies, each lap as I came by he would say hi and wave excitedly, I would ask him if he wanted to race, he’d giggle and say no and the next lap we’d do it all over again. It was a nice pickup in my mood on each lap and he helped me hit my goal.

So I did my 5K, at the speed of an 80 year-old with a limp but I did it. My hope is to run one each month and even to do an official 5K race at some point. I grew up with a guy named Buddy, we been friends since little league and Bud runs the Turkey Trot 5K every year on Thanksgiving and I’ve always admired him for that, so I might just have to adopt his tradition.

Here’s a picture of me right after I finished and a minute before I grabbed my water bottle and laid naked in the periwinkle like a dork with the sun upon my nose. Ok, I kept my clothes on and it was grass, it was campus after all and I didn’t want to get arrested and fired.

The point tonight, beyond selfishly celebrating my achievement, is to remind you that you do need goals. Even little successes make you happier so you need to celebrate them. The bigger and more important point is that you should always try to get better. No matter your age or circumstances you can always get better, it just takes the will to do it. So take a deep breath, find the motivation and a way to reward yourself and go for it, get better and have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Happy Little Whale Watch

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~ John Burroughs

I’ve written recently about being a bit in a funk, throughout the pandemic I’ve felt a bit lethargic, not really productive in my personal life. So this week I’ve made some more effort to get things rolling, I’ve been clicking off some of the things on my to do list. During the summers we get Fridays off, I really haven’t done much on the Fridays so far and they are running out far too quickly. So this week I put my Friday to good use and did a little whale watch out of Moss Landing just north of Monterey. It was an ok day, cloudy but the water was really calm and the temperature was good. We saw a few sets of humpbacks, a nice couple of pods of Rizzo Dolphins and the normal set of Monterey Bay critters, Pelicans, Otters, Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and some really cool Moon Jellyfish.

Hoping to head out again in a couple of weeks to do a Great White Shark trip, hoping it works out as well, enjoy the photos and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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