Sleep and Happiness

So I turn to talking about sleep tonight because last night I hardly got any. Apartment complexes with thin walls sometimes make it really tough to sleep, particularly when your neighbor doesn’t understand the simple physics of how bass notes penetrate walls. Of course he may have figured it out a bit when the bass vibrations of my fists pounding on the wall at 2:30AM penetrated his space.

It’s pretty amazing the range of health benefits that the medical world attribute to sleep, including helping regulate your weight and blood sugar. I think we’re all well aware of the mental health benefits of sleep. All you have to do is observe a new parent and you’ll see pretty quickly what sleep deprivation does to humans. They have a tendency to be cranky, mentally unfocused and distracted people. When you consistently don’t get enough sleep those are the same types of things that happen to you.

According to the CDC, something like 70 million Americans suffer from sleep issues and I think we all know how often we don’t get enough sleep. A recent study showed that sufficient sleep was the single most important factor in your daily mood. And caffeine is no substitute for good sleep.

The tips for getting good sleep are pretty consistent across multiple sources and focus on several things including having a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding devices shortly before bed, keeping your home in low light before bed, not using your bed for anything but sleep (and sleep related activities) and avoiding big meals and caffeine shortly before bed. Finally, regular exercise, like it does for so many things, helps you get good sleep.

So take care of your sleep my friends and you’ll have happier days. ~ Rev Kane

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I Love the Rain

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~ Langston Hughes

I love the rain, I love almost everything about it. I love laying in bed and listening to the rain pounding on the roof. I love the feel of the blast of cold air that precedes a downpour at the front end of a thunderstorm. I love watching lightening crack across the sky and the way thunder rumbles my entire being. As a child living in the Northeast, we had a large picture window with a small shelf that ran along the window. I would climb up on that shelf and sit in the window to watch the thunderstorms across the valley. One of the best smells in the world is the smell of fresh earth after the rain.

I’ve been fortunate to have lived and traveled all over the world. As such I’ve experienced so many different kinds of rain. There are the regular thunderstorms that open up every afternoon with regularity in hot and humid Florida summers. There’s the summer thunderstorms that build up in the Northeastern summers after days of heat and humidity, creating giant anvil clouds that climb into the sky. Then, that downdraft of hard cold wind that rips across the land, right before the clouds unleash their fury and drown the world. There is rain in the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil that feels like a hot shower and rain in that same forest that you can hear, but gets captured by the canopy and never even touches you. There is the rain after the rain when you’re hiking on a trail. You’ve hidden away from the big rain and after you finally come out to hike again you’re walking along and the wind blows and the rain in the trees suddenly comes crashing down on you out of nowhere, it’s always a surprise blast of chilly water.

When I lived in the Mojave Desert, rain was a blessing, it always came too fast, too hard and never lasted long enough. But rain in the desert brings gifts and I was fortunate to live there one year when the rain came at the right time, and the right amount and the result was a super bloom of flowers.

The only rain I don’t like is the constant cold rain for days that happens in the Western winter or the Eastern spring. I never liked it but then during my first two weeks thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail I got rained on like ten of the first fourteen days. It left me cold and constantly wet, and truly demoralized me. Until the injury that ended my hike, that rain was the only thing that almost truly drove me off of the trail.

Rain hit the Bay Area today, our first real rain of the year and I was excited to go out for my daily walk while the bands of light rain from the storm filtered through, it was wonderful. I have many great memories of being in the rain, one of my best dates involved getting caught in a downpour with only her dog’s car towel for an umbrella. So here’s to the rain and the happiness it brought me today. ~ Rev Kane

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Returning to feeling right

We all hope for rebirth breakthrough moments ~ Dane Cook

My three week birthday celebration is in it’s final week as I’m hanging out in Reno. Why Reno? Well, it’s a 4 hour drive from home and I came into town on the Tuesday after Labor Day. I’ve spent a lot of Tuesdays after Labor Days in this town, typically transitioning back to the default world after Burning Man. So as expected I’ve seen a lot of dusty cars coming back from the burn, and have run into a fair number of burners here since I’ve been in town and that makes me happy.

Over the last three weeks, I’ve had some fun, done a bit of gambling, ate some good food. Here in Reno it’s been just laid back time, I’ve got a massage scheduled for tomorrow and the NFL starts tomorrow night. Then back down the hill, a stop in Roseville for good pizza and great cupcakes before I head back to the Bay and hopefully much cooler temperatures.

Driving up here I rolled through a Sacramento record high temperature of 116 and even 117 in Roseville/Rocklin area. Walking around on one stop and being out of the car at 114 in Dixon brought back memories of living in the Mojave Desert for a few years.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts the last year or so I’ve been languishing and really haven’t quite been back to being myself. That happily has changed over the last month or so. It’s taken months of doing all of the things I know I need to do to lift my mood to get there. Unfortunately, what seems to have helped is for lots of tragedy and shit to go wrong in my life. This is an incredibly sad thought, but for me, chaos and tragedy is what feels completely normal to me and I think, helped me come back to normal. We all get wired during our lifetime by how our life happens and how we are taught to operate. For some people, being a doormat becomes normal, for others being aggressive and angry, for me it’s having to solve problems and deal with tragedy. The important thing for all of us is to recognize our wiring and how it impacts our lives. Then if necessary, compensate or if need be, work with someone to get yourself rewired.

Over the last few months there has been a lot of death and illness in the orbit of my life. Nothing I’m personally suffering from physically, but people close to me have become ill and/or died. Too many in too short of a time period, I’ve also had some heavy thinking I needed to do surrounding my retirement decisions and in fact have decided to remain in California and in my current job longer than I had originally planned. This also precipitates some changes in the way I live my life and my future plans. But over the last few weeks, I’ve dealt with what needs to be dealt with, made the decisions I’ve needed to make, and I’m feeling much better.

This doesn’t mean things are perfect, but I’m happier and working on the next things that need to be dealt with, some financial and others. For the first time since the pandemic, I’m really feeling like life has restarted and I’m moving forward again, happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Pleasure, Meaning and Engagement

Happiness is not a goal, it’s a by product. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

A lot of the research around happiness boils happiness down to these three things pleasure, meaning and engagement. So for something to make you happy it first needs to be pleasurable. It needs to be something that you find meaning in, and finally that what you do matters.

On my birthday one of my sisters posted the picture above, it’s a picture from six or seven years ago with both of my sister’s children. It was the first time I’d ever gotten them all together at once for a picture. My sister posted it with a comment that if you knew the story, you knew why this picture would be important to me.

It’s not a complicated story, but it is a story of happiness. I have always loved children, children are so amazing, they’re free flowing and open to madness and magic and kid logic is my all time favorite thing. Kid logic is when a munchkin strings together several accurate logical ideas to come to an absolutely insane conclusion. So for instance, if you tell a kid that drinking milk will make you bigger, they may look at you and tell you to stop drinking milk because you’re already too big. Of course they may mean too old, or they may mean too fat. 🙂

One of the best parts of my job is the time I get to spend interacting with the munchkins at our campus child development center. The other day a burnt lunch set off the fire alarm, when I showed up in the toddler room they surrounded me and all told me the story of the fire alarm all at once, it was hilarious and delightful.

The story of the picture above is simple happy story. I’ve never had children of my own. I often joke that I always wanted kids, just wasn’t keen on the wife and marriage idea. But that never came to be for me. One of the most important people in my early life, who I may or may not be named after depending on which day you ask my mother, was my Uncle Mikey. Technically my cousin, Uncle Mike also didn’t have kids and loved them He was the relative who had the cabin with the big pool and so we all spent a lot of time swimming and hanging out at Uncle Mike’s in the summer. In many ways my life has paralleled his. So my role as Uncle Mike is incredibly important to me and brings me great happiness.

Hanging with, talking to, buying presents for and looking out for my nieces and nephews is pleasurable to me. Being someone who is a resource and a guide to them is really meaningful to me and finally, it matters. We all needed, when we were growing up, someone other than our parents we could go to when we needed advice or help. My oldest nephew is about to go to college, he leaves next week and this week I got a thank you note from him for his graduation present, which included a bit of a life lesson lecture. The last phrase in the note was, I won’t let you down, what we do for our nieces and nephews matters.

I hope my friends, that you have things in your life that are pleasurable, have meaning and matter to you. ~ Rev Kane

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An Indulgent Birthday Post

If you’re not getting older, you’re dead. ~ Tom Petty

So I hope you’ll forgive me tonight, this is a somewhat indulgent bit of of writing, with no real attempt to connect it to happiness other than maybe the phrase, happy to birthday to me.

It’s my birthday, and I always get a little reflective around this time of year, I think that’s pretty common. I like my birthday, granted if I’m being honest, I have hadn’t had a lot of great birthdays. But your birthday is the only holiday, that is yours alone, unless you’re a twin. A few stick out, one I particularly enjoyed was my 21st birthday when I saw Power Station in concert, great night, good friends, good show. Of course 40 was a big one, I set up a full year of celebrations and celebrated my actual birthday in Reno and the whole next week at my first Burning Man.

I think most of us move through multiple lives, I’m not talking reincarnation here, maybe the more accurate phrasing would life phases, but I prefer to think of them as separate lives.

My first life is the one I least remember, it’s that way for everyone I’m sure. While I have incredibly early memories, I have memories as early as two years old, I don’t remember a whole lot of detail until kindergarten. My first life ended when I was seven years old. In 1971, I became one of the first kids in my elementary school to have divorced parents, in fact, the only other person that I was aware of that did, was my friend Aaron Harris. We would form a bond that has lasted deep into adulthood.

My second life lasted until I left home at 18. It was a roller coaster life, full of magic and mayhem. I had amazing and fun experiences as a child. But I grew up in a tough place, at a tough time and along with the fun I had as a child, there was also a lot of tragedy, trauma. and responsibility. There were some incredible highs, winning Babe Ruth League championships, my first girlfriend, and secret civil engineering work. The lows were deep, violence at home, violence in the street, friends committing suicide and the deepest point, my own suicide attempt. But that life ended the day I walked into my dorm room at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).

An interesting side note, RIT is not located in Rochester, in fact it’s located in South Henrietta, so in fact the acronym should technically be SHIT. A fact not missed by students at the college who frequently print up t-shirts highlighting this fact, downside for the administration of being a college with a printing program. Nothing in any of my lives has ever proceeded in a straight line, so going to college was no exception. I had good grades and decided to become an electrical engineering major by participating in a deeply scientific career exploration process. I met with George Esposito, my high school counselor and former little league coach, who said to me, you’re good in math and science, your dad works for the power company, how about electrical engineering? Sure, why not, and just like that I had a college major.

I had an inkling that it wasn’t really what I wanted to do, and in the process of applying to college I found a bit of a loophole. You see RIT offered a 2+2 transfer program, the way this program worked, was that you spent your first two-years at Eisenhower College, just east of Rochester on the shores of Cayuga Lake. Eisenhower College was a small liberal arts school that had been acquired by RIT in 1979. This was a great plan, I could do my general education work at Eisenhower and then transfer to RIT. Then in the summer before school, the doorbell rang, I answered the door and a man said, “telegram for Michael Kane.” That’s right, an actual damn telegram like something out of a classic fifties movie. The telegram informed me that Eisenhower College had been closed and I would be transferred to RIT. This is one of those nexus points in my life, I often wonder what would have happened if I had gotten the chance to attend Eisenhower. I think I might have made the choice to move on from engineering to education, biology or social science, something I actually had an interest in studying. But it didn’t work out that way.

I have a full sensory memory of the first moment of my third life. It occurred after my parents and I dropped everything in my first dorm room and I shewed them away. My third life started as I walked back into that first floor dorm room, embedded in the Sigma Pi Fraternity dorm at RIT. I remember seeing the three beds, realizing I was in a triple, the campus was now overcrowded due to the Eisenhower’s closing. I had arrived first, so I took the single bed, foregoing the bunk beds. I set my boombox on the dresser by the bed and found a radio station. I can still smell that recently cleaned dorm room odor, I would be reminded of it many times as a resident assistant each fall as we re-entered the dorms. Joe Jackson’s Stepping Out was playing on the radio station. The first piano chords of that song always take me right back to that room, the smell, the sights, the absolute feeling of trepidation and excitement, that moment, the beginning of my third life was the very definition of freedom in every sense.

But to quote Kris Kristofferson, although most of you probably think Janis Joplin wrote Me and Bobby McGee, “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” And that really summed up my reality at that point and my third life was short lived. But damn it was fun. I’m not supposed to say this sort of thing, becoming an addict and a drunk, being drunk and stoned for two years is supposed to always be related as a cautionary tale about how terrible substance abuse is on your life. And while in fact, it did get to that place, the trip was fucking fantastic. I was free of home, of the psychological abuse I’d lived with, the rules, the bullshit, the inbred, ingrown mentality of the city I came from. I was loaded all of the time, having fun, breaking boundaries, expanding my mind. I did a lot of LSD during those two years and it was great. I learned the importance of confidence in being able to get close to and intimate with the so called fairer sex. I was living the perfect party boy life of a college student, the holy cliche of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Perhaps the highlight of the rock and roll was when my girlfriend Maryanne, left me with tickets for a show on campus. She was into new wave music so I didn’t plan on going, I hadn’t heard of the band. My friend Mark and I were getting loaded and nobody seemed to be around, I remembered the tickets and so we grabbed them and walked over to the ice arena. It wasn’t very crowded, most people were sitting down and we walked right up to the front of the stage. The lights dimmed, the fog machines kicked in full blast then the red spotlights turned the fog red as U2 kicked into Sunday Bloody Sunday. We became instant fans, that album was constantly playing in our fraternity house for the rest of the year.

My third life ended in March of 1984 in the office of Dean Kenyon. You see I’d failed out of RIT and was petitioning to be readmitted, they frowned on 0.24 GPAs. I had been trying to get re-admitted through the Phoenix Program but my math level was higher than the person who tested people, so that didn’t work. And Dean Kenyon ended my third life with one of the most caring and honest conversations I’ve ever had. After reviewing my files Dean Kenyon looked at me and said, “I see the issue, you’re a fuck up.” I was in absolute shock that he’d said this to me. He continued on by telling me that I was obviously quite intelligent and capable, but I just didn’t care enough about myself or school. He made me an offer, he’d readmit me immediately, but if I ever had a quarter below 2.00, I was out, permanently, no appeal. He reminded me that even the best engineering students had a bad semester from time to time and ended up below 2.00. He then told me that the other option was to go home, take some time and get my shit together and if I wanted to return, to call him an he’d readmit me with no conditions.

This was one of the most impactful conversations I’ve ever had. He was completely right and my life completely fell apart, I spun out, hit rock bottom and then proceeded as Dean Kenyon had suggested, to get my shit together, thus starting my fourth life.

My fourth life was, as the others had been, a rocky road and it was my longest life lasting over twenty years. The one consistency was that the trajectory continually pointed up. It started by getting back to college, getting into the right major. I did a lot of exploration and completed several degrees. I spent time in Brazil, worked in international development, found my way to California twice and met, fell for, got devoured and destroyed by and survived the love of my life. Throughout this period I suffered from depression and found ways to deal with it until the point that I rarely suffer from serious depression anymore.

My fifth life started in the fortieth year of my chronological life. I transitioned from being a student to a full-time professional. It was the year of my first burning man. It ignited the lifestyle I developed where I would quit my job and travel every few years. It has become the life that has been the least bumpy, where I’ve become the most comfortable with myself, meaning I’ve also told a lot of people to go to hell and let them leave my life. It also has become my most financially stable life. My fifth life is ending, there isn’t an exact date but soon my sixth life will be underway. It will take place on the east coast, and will hopefully be a centered around family, friends and nature with far more writing, painting and guitar playing.

Just a little reminiscing tonight, happy birthday to me.

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Life Advice

So this week two things lined up to inspire this post tonight. The first resulted from an issue at work that gets under my skin every time. So I posted this bit of life advice online:

Don’t be the type of employee who follow the rules or does your job only when the boss is looking over your shoulder. Be better than that.

The second was seeing the image below on Twitter, but similar posts fly around on Facebook as well.

My favorite bit of advice, for obvious reasons is Don’t pick a fight with an old man, if he’s too old to fight, he might just kill you. I think I have a new poster for my office.

There’s a book on my list of books to write, that list is unfortunately long and I need to get in gear and get them written. The book is a book of life advice to leave behind for my nieces and nephews. I think the list above would be a lovely place to start.

As the image states, a lot of this all just comes down to common sense. The fact is we all know how to be good employees, we all know it’s wrong to screw off when the boss isn’t around and only work when they are present. The true quality of every person is how they act when no one else is watching. If someone drops their wallet in front of you and walks away, your quality is determined by the choice you make at that moment. We all know the right thing to do is pick up the wallet and chase after the person to give it back to them. But if no one else is watching do you do that, or do you pocket the wallet and later pull out the cash and throw it out? We all encounter these type of situations regularly and over your life you develop a pattern of choices. These choices determine at the end of the day whether or not you’re a good person or not.

So what does this have to do with happiness? One thing I’ve learned over the years is that living a happy life is very much the same things as being a good person. In every situation, with every new day, we encounter new situations that give us a chance to be happy or not. How can I say that? Well, what matters in many situations is not what happens to us, as much as how we chose to deal with the situation. It can be as simple as choosing not to lose your cool when you get cut off in traffic, or when your toddler wipes out their bowl of cereal all over the floor. Now we have no choice with the truly catastrophic things that happen to us, at those times we need to grieve and heal. However a day, a week, a month, a year, a lifetime of making the happier choices leads to a life of happiness. We talked about micro habits recently, and this is another opportunity to employ that strategy, start with just making one conscious happy choice each morning when you wake up. Each day decide to start with a small positive affirmation when first looking in the mirror. Tell yourself, this will be a happy day. It’s a small choice, a few seconds of thought, but doing it consistently can help you have happier days. ~ Rev Kane

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Focus on what’s important

When I was growing up it was always made clear what success meant. It meant working long hours, taking second jobs if need be, regardless of what toll it might take on you personally, regardless of whether you like what you do. One goal, work hard and make money to support your family. I learned my lesson well and by that I mean I looked around, saw how miserable everyone was and learned the exact opposite lesson that I was supposed to learn.

This meant that I determined at a pretty young age that I wanted to do a job I liked. And more importantly I needed to get an education. As a young man I lost my way, became a drunk and an addict and got booted out of college. This put me right back where I didn’t want to be. So I did a lot of jobs, I worked at the supermarket, worked as a maintenance worker in the state park system, did grounds-keeping work and some construction projects along the way. I spent some time helping out roofing in the summer and it was miserable work. The day I fell off a roof, luckily on to some unfortunately prickly bushes, I had relearned my lesson. Over the next year I got my life together, and eventually finished my education, ok, really eventually like 15 year later. But finishing my education allowed me to never have to work a job I hated.ever again. Sure I have frustrations with my job, but while stressful, it’s not incredibly hard and I’m paid incredibly well. I also have a great retirement system that will allow me to retire at a reasonable age.

As I’ve talked about many times, over the last twenty years I’ve left my job and traveled once just about every three years, usually traveling a year and once, for two years. I’ve written, talked about and proselytized work/life balance for about a decade now. I’ve pushed people to do what they love, to keep things in perspective and make changes if need be. At times, I’ve referred to myself as the world’s oldest millennial because my attitudes reflect more of a millennial mindset than that of a Boomer or Gen X person as I could be categorized.

The other day I heard one of my coordinators say the following while I was in a meeting, “We are not the generation that works ourselves into the ground and not take care of ourselves.” I was so happy to hear that because I’ve preached this attitude for the last three years as the leader of my academic division.

The thing to remember friends is to focus on what truly matters. Yes, work can be, and in my case is important, educating people is an incredibly important thing for our students and our society. But even a job with purpose isn’t the most important thing in most people’s lives. It’s time with family, friends, being kind and giving and taking the time to learn and laugh with them. So focus on what’s important and spend your time where it matters most. That’s a strategy that will certainly lead to happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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The Importance of Consistency

Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come. ~ Dwayne Johnson

When I first starting working out, a guy I really looked up to told me this simple thing. Stick to your schedule, even if you’re not feeling it go to the gym. Sometimes you’ll workout for 10 minutes and go home, but more often than not you’ll do a full workout. Either way, you worked out and kept the habit up. This was the best advice I’ve ever been given about working out and I think about it often, it has gotten me to the gym many nights when I felt like buying a donut and hitting my couch.

Being consistent is incredibly important. As a manager, while I love my superstars, but I love my consistent people even more. No matter how well you might perform, it’s no good to anyone if one day you’re amazing but the next three days you’re awful. My best employees are the ones who I can depend on to get their work done well, day after day maybe rarely being amazing, but equally, they are rarely not up to the task.

Consistency is also what builds trust between people. That friend you know you’ll hear from every couple of weeks, or even once a month, hell I have a few who I know I’ll hear from every year on my birthday. Think about it, someone may keep your biggest secret, but if they tell everyone all of your other business, do you really trust them?

One of the areas I’ve recently rediscovered consistency is with the idea of micro-habits. A quick Google search for micro habits will show you dozens of articles with titles like 12 micro habits you can do today. Let me save you a lot of time, there is a lot of research into the benefits of micro habits. The thing is, it doesn’t really matter what the activity is, as long as you repeat it consistently. The thing about micro habit development, that is different from say your New Year resolutions, is the size. Often for New Year resolutions we’ll say things like I’ll run a mile every day, I’ll do 50 push ups a day, I’ll go to the gym five days a week.

The difference with micro habit development is that you take really small bites to start. So instead of I’ll run a mile every day, I’ll run around up to the corner store and back every day. That may only be a hundred yards each way. But the goal is to be consistent and do it every day. Sure, by the end of the year, you’ve only run 40 miles, but you can look at it the other way as well. First, you ran 40 miles you wouldn’t have run. Second, you’ve established the habit of running every day, so it’s much easier to extend your distance, than it is to start a new habit of running. This works for so many things, drinking less coffee, swearing, weight lifting. Drink three cups of coffee a day? Cut down to two and a half. And of course, you don’t have to wait a whole year before you step up. So, you could cut down the half cup for three months, then have one full and two half cups for a time, etc…

I’ve been using this technique for a number of things, I’ve used it to get far more consistent about flossing, about walking daily and doing crunches. I had tried from time to time to consistently do crunches daily. I’ve done well for a time doing 40 or 50 a day, but each time it burns out. So I started doing 10 a day and after about three months, I have stepped up to 20 and will soon be stepping up to 30. With my running, I started one day a week, running 100 meter portions of the track on four laps, I’m now up to running 2 miles, twice a week.

The important things is, I don’t reward myself for the bigger achievements. If I’m not feeling it, I might not run the full 2 miles on a day. But I reward myself for running, that way the motivation and reward is focused on the consistency, not the achievement. And I feel a lot better about myself when I focus on things in this way.

And of course, you can use this to be happier. Does eating chocolate make you happy, reward yourself each day with a small piece of chocolate. And you can do this with a drink, a quick bath, a few minutes of aromatherapy, reading, a little time in nature or a moment of silence. Try it and have ever growing happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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You’re not alone

People who have never dealt with depression think it’s just being sad or being in a bad mood. That’s not what depression is for me; it’s falling into a state of grayness and numbness. ~ Dan Reynolds

I have a person I connect with on Twitter, she’s part of the Twitter writing community and we connect over writing and the occasional political meme. She outwardly is the person you want to be, happily married, very attractive, smart, witty, great sense of humor and seems to be very kind. Well the other day she pulled the mask off and in a highly confessional post and admitted that she is suffering from near clinical depression. She talked about the weight of carrying the mask for everyone and she just can’t do it anymore. It was a really honest and shameless post. Those of us who do and have suffered from depression get this feeling.

Reading her post I was reminded of when I was at my absolute depressed worst. I was working at Hartnell College at the time. I was completely blown apart, but I was fully masked every day. Literally no one understood what was really going on with me. They all thought things were great, little did they know I was on the phone every night for an hour with a friend who was emotionally holding me together, that I spent most nights falling asleep weeping.This went on for several months and one day I was walking down the hall at work.and I saw one of my staff coming toward me. She was one of my worst employees, and we had no connection and rarely spoke. As we were passing she stopped, put a hand on my arm, looked at me and said, “why are you so sad?”

As boxers will tell you it’s the punch you don’t see coming that knocks you out and holy shit I did not see her coming. I was devastated, I mumbled, “I’m fine” and made a beeline for the restroom. Where I sat in a stall and had the only panic attack of my entire life. After I finally got myself together I went straight to my car and went home, called in sick the next day and melted down.

Happily, those days don’t exist for me anymore. I no longer drop into the black well of despair for weeks at a time. I spent a lot of time, corresponding with the creation of this blog, learning about depression, happiness, myself and my triggers. I built strategies for righting the ship when things started to get bumpy and haven’t dropped fully into the well in almost 15 years.

As I’ve talked about recently, I’ve been languishing recently as a result of COVID and just the general shit state of the world. But last week during my vacation, without the distractions of work and a lot of time to go walking something hit me. I realized I’ve actually been living with a low level of depression for some time now. With all of the madness in the world, I really hadn’t noticed. It’s low level, so I’m still completely functional at work, handling my other obligations, I’m exercising, sleeping ok, back to eating well again. Recently I’ve even made some progress on not languishing, getting things done that have been on my to do list for some time.

So, how am I depressed? The thing that I’ve realized is that I find no joy in anything right now. I thought maybe it was just because of COVID and the fact that I hadn’t been doing a lot. But I’m realizing that even the things that normally bring me joy aren’t cutting it right now. In fact, even a really good pizza back in New York, while wonderful, didn’t hit the way it normally does. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the only way to solve a problem is to acknowledge and understand it. I have ways to work out of depression, I’ll start implementing those now that I’ve realized what’s actually going on.

The main reason for this post tonight is to acknowledge that right now many of us are feeling this way, many of us are masking well every day and people have no idea what we’re going through. I’m here tonight to tell you that you’re not alone. That it’s ok, that you can get through this and if there’s no one else, I’m here, happinesskane@aol.com drop me a note, let’s have chat. You’ve got this. ~ Rev Kane

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Hate will not make you Happy!

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

My inspiration for this post came from a personal ad. I was scrolling through my Facebook page and the dating line comes up as it does every day. Occasionally I click along the pictures, usually rejecting most, clicking the occasional like although I’ve never even got to a point of communication with anyone on the site, online dating never works for me, apparently I’m only pretty enough in real life.

But an attractive woman caught my eye and I clicked on her profile. Her brief statement said something to the effect of, “I’m interested in a man being a man, no liberals, because if you are a liberal, you’re obviously a moron.” I found the statement incredibly interesting. I’ve seen online personals before that say things like no liberals or no MAGA fans. And I absolutely get the point of not wanting to connect with someone on a dating site who has significantly different political beliefs than your own. But what really struck me was the anger, the desire to actually offend people of another political persuasion, just for reading your public profile.

I see this everywhere these days in America. We have become a country that no longer believes in free speech, but free speech as long as you say something I believe in. Don’t confuse this with me supporting hate speech in any way, I abhor how much people recently have been using the idea of freedom of speech, to protect that which is purely hate speech. It also happens on both sides of the aisle, a professor where I work wore a MAGA hat to school, and while I disagree with everything that hat stands for it is political free speech to wear it. Now in other parts of the country people will and have reacted negatively to Black Lives Matter t-shirts, rainbow flags etc… Hell the state of Florida is now actually banning this level of free speech in it’s classroom. But we must allow for difference of political opinion, or free speech dies.

We are living in an incredibly polarized time in America. It is difficult at times to deal with the amount of hate and intolerance that is thrown around, It is likely leading us to a bad place in our country, but that discussion is a matter that is best left for other discussions. What I want to say tonight is that while we may disagree with things, while we may even work politically to change things for what we perceive to be the better, we should not hate.

Hate is a poison, but it’s a poison that resides within us and as such it poisons us. It discolors the way we see the world and taints our interactions. If you believe in Karma, then putting hate into the world will only bring hate back to you. While hating things and beliefs that we find abhorrent feels good in the moment, in the long run it breeds only bitterness.

So my friends, yes, oppose those things you don’t want to see in the world. But don’t let it be a hate filled opposition, don’t let hate fill you, it will not lead to happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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