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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What makes a person rich?

True wealth is not of the pocket, but of the heart and of the mind. ~ Kevin Gates

What makes a person rich? Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet by the standard definition of having a lot of money, they are all very rich. Of course we can go the other way and be purely philosophical and rely on the old standard, and consider anyone who has their health to be rich. But honestly, I don’t think either of those are a good measure of a person’s wealth.

Let’s be clear, having your health, a job, a place to live, enough money to take care of the things you need are the basics we all strive for, and without them it’s hard to consider yourself rich or wealthy by any definition. But happily for most of us, we have these basics.

I truly believe that many of us are richer than we realize, because for me, what makes us wealthy are the collection of amazing and precious moments that we accumulate in life. The birth of a child, their first words, their first steps, the first time they ride a bike without training wheels. That amazing gift you got that you always wanted, that first kiss with that special person. That crazy night in high school or college when you and friends did that crazy thing that turned into an adventure and worked out, likely because you didn’t get caught. These moments are always experiences, sometimes there are mementos a picture or some small item, but the real currency are the memories and feelings of those times.

I consider myself wealthy for this reason, I have spent my adult life seeking out experiences that would create special moments and memories for me. Some people call this pursuit checking off items on a bucket list, but I call it living a full life. And I’m really fond of how someone labeled me at one point due to this attitude, they called me a sampler of life. I consider that to mean someone who makes an effort to experience as many things as they possibly can. This fits me incredibly well and is a characteristic that I’m quite proud of.

We can all do this, it will take different forms and shapes depending on our lives. For some of us it will be achieved by spending a lot of money, for some of us it will occur in exotic places all over the world. For some of us it will be done inexpensively and for others close to home. As I’ve traveled through my life I’ve done a little bit of both. The key issue is desire, desire to make these things happen. That means when you have the spark of a thought, to put yourself in position to potentially have one of these moments, you have to go for it. Life is short, and at the end of it we regret the things we didn’t do. These moments can pass you by if you’re not careful and you only get so many chances at them, don’t miss them.

This idea has been on my mind a lot lately, as someone who seeks out these types of opportunities the pandemic has really put a damper on these types of moments in my life. I seek out a lot of these opportunities through travel, whether it’s to visit family across the country or to find adventure. So this week, particular after having, due to COVID, miss out on flying to New York and trick or treat with my little nieces and nephews I needed to plan an opportunity. So I reached down into my bucket list and planned a trip to Mexico to hang out with grey whales in February in San Ignacio Lagoon. I hope to recreate the picture below with me in it.

I desperately need this trip, it is my hope that it is my first step in a true return to some kind of post-COVID normality, whatever that looks like.I hope you’re finding similar opportunities my friends and making the time to do them. ~ Rev Kane

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The Importance of Criteria

Acceptance of one’s life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices. ~ Paul Tournier

I love long distance hiking, being out in nature for weeks or months at a time means you’re surrounded by natural beauty all of the time. The friendships you make doing something like that can quickly and surprisingly become lifelong in a short period of time. There’s satisfaction in the physical challenge, setting new personal bests of physical accomplishments sometimes daily. But it’s the mental aspects of long distance hiking that are the most amazing to me. You learn so much doing long hikes. You learn a lot about hiking, you learn a lot about the country and surroundings, you learn a lot about yourself. And you learn about a lot about life, on the Appalachian Trail, more than anything else, I learned about acceptance. I was thinking a lot about my time on the trail over the last week.

You see probably the biggest impact on me from our pandemic times has been curtailing both my ability and willingness to travel. Lot’s of places have been and still are shut from access. Some make me too nervous to attempt. The two big adventures I had planned over the last two years were to be a cruise to Antarctica and hiking the Overland Track in Tasmania, Australia. Well right now Australia is still shutdown and taking a cruise just seems like a really bad idea. Both also involve long air flights and right now the idea of a really long plane flight is for me, an uncomfortable proposition.

Travel is my happy place, being able to travel to new countries and encounter new wild places and cultures are what brings me some of my greatest joy in life. So naturally, as my worklife has devolved into a bit of a shitshow, my mind turns to travel and the lessons I learned long-distance hiking. This week I really kept thinking about a phrase you hear a lot on trails, “never quit on a bad day.” This is great advice on a trail. You see long distance hiking is hard, sometimes incredibly so. So you don’t want to quit on a tough day because often it’s an emotional decision based on the reaction to what you’ve faced that day. I can give an actual example from my time on the Appalachian Trail. My first 14 days on the trail included 12 days of either snow or rain. Being cold and wet everyday wears you down. I faced a particular long, hard, soaking wet cold day at one point. It was a day I was able to get off trail and get in to town. But it was off schedule, I had planned to hike another day and go into a completely different town, but honestly I was ready quit. It had all just felt like too much and I was miserable. When I got to my hotel room I turned on the TV and heard the weatherman say rain, rain, more rain, cold shitty weather forever. Ok, reality was it was just a really bad forecast for the next day. So I went down to the desk and booked a second night. I was really close to quitting the trail. But I got a hot shower, had a really great meal and got a good night’s sleep in a warm hotel room. I woke up the next morning and had a tasty, hot, southern breakfast. The sun came out and my mood shifted, the storm came through and right after, the sun came back out and the weather forecast showed a warming trend. So I spent that afternoon doing a resupply and the next morning, after listening to the storm all night from the comfort of a warm, dry bed, I headed back out.

This past week at work very much felt like that night in Georgia when I left the trail soaked, cold and demoralized. That’s where my mood has been at work recently and last week I wrote about the idea that I’m at a crossroad, but using a phrase I like better, a nexus point. I heard, “never quit on a bad day” ringing in my head a lot this week. There is no chance that I’ll be quitting, I’m locked in to July 1, 2022. I need that date to reset my salary according to the conditions of our pension system and guarantee the pension level I set as a minimum for myself. And honestly the emotional reaction is to quit July 1st, my job has begun to feel untenable.

But I’ve always joked I’m half-Vulcan and tend to make decisions based less on emotion and more on logic. Never quit on a bad day. So this weekend has been all about how to best deal with the situation I’m facing. I’m blessed, I have options, I’m very good at what I do and have enough flexibility in my life that I can get a new job, probably fairly quickly. But I’m ready to make a pretty significant change in my life. I’m really tired of managing people, it’s a truly thankless task, particularly in higher education. So just shifting jobs means more of the same thing, likely for less money, (I’m really well paid) and of course a new job means a new three year commitment and I’m not willing to make that if it’s doing the same thing. So what’s the answer? I decided this weekend upon two things, the first, how do I immediately get some stress relief and second, what are the criteria for a move?

The immediate stress relief has come in the form of telling the world via Linkedin and this post that as of July 1st I’m open to new opportunities, including short-term. Who knows, maybe something I haven’t thought about may present itself and it’s time to be open to new perspectives. Second, I have to plan some travel, some real travel and I’m actively engaging around what I can do that will be comfortable, safe and get me out of my life for a bit.

The longer term answer is to develop criteria for when it’s time to make a move. So I’ve set those criteria and they include becoming debt free, I’m very close and can easily get there before July 1st. It includes have a set amount of money in my savings, and that’s likely to be the biggest snag. It is something that I’ll monitor over the next couple of months but I will likely take more than six months to meet that criteria. So this means that I’m likely in my current situation til either January, 2023 or July 2023.

The thing about setting criteria is that it takes the worrying and thinking off of the table for me. The mental wheels don’t have to spin, the answer always comes by answering the question, are we there yet? Do I still have debt, have I met the savings goal? If either answer is no we keep working. It does also allow me to plan, I’ll likely know by this June, based on my rate of savings and debt payoff when I’ll hit those goals, January or June of 2023. It also gets my mind set around the fact that I’m definitely gutting it out for the next year.

There are wildcards, most of my debt is student loan debt, will the Biden Administration provide any student loan debt relief? Will I hit a minor lottery payout? Either of these could get me to my goals a bit to a lot quicker.

The only thing that bothers me in this situation is a promise I made to myself in 1990. I grew up watching almost every adult around me work jobs that didn’t make them happy, some we’re downright miserable. But I understood why they did it, they did it because it was the best option available to support their family. You see almost none of them had a college education or any kind of specialized training that would give them options. I worked a lot of shit jobs while growing up, while attending college and I did them because I had to. Perhaps the most embarrassing time of my life, (I had avoided working fast food in high school), was having to grab a job at Burger King one summer while in graduate school in Kentucky. I purposefully took a job twenty miles away from campus in Lexington so I wouldn’t see anyone I knew, I was ashamed, but I needed the money, and frankly the free food. When I graduated with my masters degree in 1990 I made myself a promise. I now had a graduate degree, I had skills, I’m smart and I’m a hard worker so I knew I’d never have to work a shit job again and I promised myself I wouldn’t. I’ve left three professional positions that I liked once they become bad jobs, typically because of new and bad supervisors. Once because the faculty I worked with made the job untenable and I’m in that situation again. So it’s upsetting to me to gut out my current gig for maybe eighteen more months in violation of that promise. But like those adults I grew up around, I’m doing it because it’s what’s best for me and my family long-term.

So what this means is to shut up about it, suck it up and count the days while doing whatever I can to make the job more tolerable and finding ways to get my travel in. I can tolerate anything for a time and honestly if it gets worse, I can always honor my promise from 1990, and my criteria will keep me on track, working for the promise of happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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An important nexus point

The whole point is to live life and be – to use all the colors in the crayon box. ~ RuPaul

I have always liked the term nexus point. It’s a point of importance, intersection and change, if you want to be more artistic and spiritual, you could say it’s a point where destiny and opportunity intersect. I’m quickly coming upon one of these points in my life. In the retirement system I’m in you earn 2.0% for each year of service if you retire at 60 or later. The other piece of the equation is that the percentage is taken against, the average of your highest, consecutive three years of earnings. My new reset date, a new highest three year average comes in June of 2022. So at the end of this June I will have 16.5 years (33%) and a new set point. While this won’t make me rich in retirement it’s a pretty solid monthly check, particularly since I’ll be debt free when I retire. This past week was a pretty big week on the debt front, as I paid off the bigger or my remaining two student loans.

My original plan had been to work in my current job and retirement system until I turned sixty and then retire. My thinking was that I could access Medicare at 62, so I figured I could afford private insurance for a couple of years before Medicare. Unfortunately, that was an error, the age for Medicare to kick in is 65 and I will likely need heart surgery at some point in the next five to ten years. So I need to be well covered. So this change put my plans into a bit of chaos. This information coincided with the COVID pandemic and my job, which has always been a hard, stressful and thankless job, turned into a really difficult haul. I spent six months working 70 – 80 hour weeks. We had to redesign everything we do in the online environment, additionally, given that a majority of my job is personnel management, I had to spend a lot of time taking care of them. Of course all of them were going through the hardest period of their career and people’s reaction ranged from acceptance, to nearly mental breakdown and all were expecting me to have all of the answers, many times answers that were being created completely on the fly.

We all have gone through tragedies during COVID, and in my job for a time it really felt like tragedy management. As this fall semester came into view I thought that perhaps things would get better, but unfortunately that has not been the case. The additional pressure of the pandemic and large amounts of change, has amped people up. Our enrollments have crashed, so budgets will be tightening and people are stressed. With the entitlement that exists in our system, particularly around faculty and with faculty holding a general belief that all administrators are evil, folks at my level have become the recipients of a lot of negativity. We are routinely called names by the faculty on public comment at board meetings, we take one on one grief over every decision and faculty do not seem to understand that we are not operating in a business as usual environment. There has been massive faculty angst over our full return to campus in January and the District and executive leadership continue to march forward with new initiatives. Personally for me, I’m also having to cover an additional full-time 40 hour per week management position.

While I’ve been told I’m doing a good job, the survey tied to my evaluation had a rating level of superior, and from the evidence it’s obvious I’m doing a better job than anyone has done in my position in the last ten years, it continually doesn’t feel like enough. We’re constantly told we have to do more, we’re constantly receiving negativity from faculty, what has always been a hard job is quite frankly untenable. I’m someone who has always prided myself on focusing on getting things done. But right now, at the most complicated time in the history of higher education, it’s almost impossible to feel like you are being successful, that you’re doing anything but checking boxes and treading water. At this moment, the only reason I’m still in this job is that I’m paid very well and I need to reset my salary for retirement purposes. Spending every day at work, overworked and beyond unappreciated for what I do is demoralizing and dehumanizing, and quite frankly realizing the people you supervise and work on behalf of don’t care about you at all makes it incredibly hard to stay motivated. So at the moment, the joke is I’m nothing but a money grubbing whore doing what I have to do to make that money. This has never been who I am and being in this space has thrown me into a months long low-level depression.

So a change has to come. And the nexus point starts to form around June 15, 2022, the first real date I could make a change. But I have criteria for making that change. They include a certain minimum retirement level which I am very close to next June. I need to be debt free and as I mentioned I’m closing in on that milestone. I have a certain dollar figure of savings I need to have and I’m not sure if I can get there by next June. The better answer would be to end my time here in June of 2023, it bumps my retirement higher, it helps me make my savings goal. But right now seven months seems like a long time, nineteen months an eternity. But I do know that time goes by fast, of course if I hit my criteria in January of 2023 that could be a compromise position.

I’m somewhere from a half, to a year and a half away from massive change. My plan, driven by the horrible financial situation related to health care and insurance in this country, is to continue working after I leave my current position. The primary reason is to have health insurance. So my forming plan is to work at something fun with health benefits that I enjoy and is significantly lower stress than my current gig. I’ll need to work until sixty-five until medicare kicks in and from sixty on I’ll have that salary and my retirement from my current gig. Since I’ll likely be in some system for over five years I may even vet into a second retirement which would be great.

I have a geographic preference as well, the dearest people in the world to me are my nieces and nephews and my littlest ones are all in or around New York. So I want to be within a few hours of them so that I can be a bigger part of their lives. I want to be rural, as I have a deep interest in both natural foraging, hiking, camping and developing survival skills. I want to own a property where I can be involved in all of this. This puts me in a several hundred mile circle around New York City. This of course is a pretty broad area encompassing southwestern New York, the Adirondacks, Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, Western Massachusetts, and Southern Maine. The nice thing about the broad region is that it open up a lot of possibilities in employment. Particularly in terms of staying in higher education as a program director or academic advisor there are literally hundreds of colleges in that range. And of course remote work only requires an internet connection and airport access.

So right now all of this is swirling in my mind and the depression I’ve been dealing with and the stress I’m under are all ganging up on my psyche. I’m distracted and forgetful, I’ve been having a really hard time focusing, I’ve missed two meetings this year, a first for me in my career, I’m very short-tempered right now and I’ve even made the classic reply all error that I’ve never done before.

But I’m not unhappy friends, you see I’m an incredibly resilient person. I’ve been in much worse spots in my life. I know that once I get more focus on the decisions around the next move and solidify when I will make it, I’ll become more energized. Now that I’m fully vaccinated and boosterized, now that travel opportunities are opening up, I will get on the road again for real. Travel is the true food for my soul and my little road trips over the last year have been good, but not what I need. So once I figure out my next trip and really start planning that will happen as well. Unfortunately the solution at work is to stop caring about how well I do my job by drawing hard lines around my time, this will disappoint people, but I have to take care of me first.

If there is any lesson in this rambling diatribe tonight it’s to take care of you and yours first. We must always do what’s best for our life and I do mean our life as in personal life. While we all have to work, our work life is secondary, I’ve preached this for over a decade now and every day I’m more and more convince of how truly important this is and is what will lead to happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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I’m becoming my grandfather

Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. ~ Betty Friedan

I’ve realized something recently, I’m becoming my grandfather, my paternal grandfather to be specific. It really hit me looking in the mirror wearing a mask the other day at work. It was mostly about the fact that I really can notice, now that I shave my head, the elongation of my ears over the last decade. It’s one of those disturbing facts that I know for absolutely no reason, the fact that your ears and nose continue to grow throughout your life. This was something that was always quite obvious with Grandpa Kane. We don’t really look alike, he, as you can see from the image above, looked prototypically Irish. I’ll never forget watching the first scene of Angela’s Ashes and realizing ever old Irish person in the scene looked a whole lot like my grandpa.

In addition to my ears, and even more so, I find myself adapting my grandfather’s attitude. He laughed a lot, and he wasn’t usually laughing with you. People in general both amused and annoyed him, I’m so identifying with that emotion at this point in my life. He wasn’t one of those get off my lawn kind of old men, he was much more intense.

The story I told about him at his funeral was about his garden. He loved to garden and it’s a love that he helped inspire in me as well. He always grew tomatoes and roses and one summer a man from the neighborhood with some developmental issues went in the yard and stomped the garden flat. My grandfather was a hard man, he earned it. You see he’d been drafted into the army for World War II at 33 years-old with four small children at home. He ended up as a Ranger and his first action was on the first wave on D-day, a couple of weeks later he was hit by shrapnel from a grenade and captured by the Germans. He spent a year as a prisoner of war, he escaped, was recaptured, spent a night in a death camp, the story of that night was the only time I ever saw him cry.

So he was a hard guy, a man who worked as a steam pipe fitter in New York City. He was also not shy about throwing his hands, he grew up in a different time. He was a young man during the Great Depression. So, at 87 years-old, weeks after the garden incident he saw the man with his father and he unloaded verbally from the top step of his stoop. The man’s father made the mistake of looking at my grandfather and saying, what are you going to anyway old man. The answer was a full body flying right cross off the stoop. The man, in his 50’s, was almost certainly just trying to control my grandfather but in the ensuing scuffle my grandfather fell, hit his head and ended up in the hospital.

I happened to come home from grad school that night and there were too many people in the house. I asked what’s up, they said Grandpa and I asked if he was dead. The answer, no he got in a fight and is in the hospital, made me smile. When I finally saw him the next day, I asked him what the hell he was thinking. He looked at me and he said, so seriously, “I hit him up under the gut with everything I had, and he didn’t go down. I might be getting old.” Quite honestly I believe that was the first time he ever considered himself old, I smiled and hoped that I could hold off on that thought until I was his age, so far, so good.

So that thought hitting me, that I’m turning into my grandfather was bittersweet. It was a reminder that in fact I’m old enough to be a grandfather, many of my friends are grandparents. It was a reminder that there are far fewer days ahead than behind for me. It was a reminder of how much I miss that old bastard our walks and our magnificent conversations. But remembering him is always sweet and the thought that I’m becoming him does make me happy. If I can be that alive, that feisty, that amused by life and that willing to throw a punch into my eighties, I’ll consider my life a success.

Where is started

So here’s to many more days my friends and hopefully turning into a fiery old Irishman. ~ Rev Kane

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The importance of protecting you

For many reasons in life, we are willing to sacrifice who we are as a person, to achieve things we desire. Most often we see this in social situations, I think we all know that person who’s interests and even their very personality changes based upon who they are dating. We all do this at some level, most commonly at work. I think almost all of us where a mask or two at work.

It’s an interesting dichotomy that exists in our society. We talk very much in this country about American individualism. We tell children to follow their dreams, that they can be anything they want. We have great little sayings like, let your freak flag fly. But do we really mean it? In fact, we look down on people who don’t conform to societies norms. We tell children chase your dreams, but it’s not too much longer before we start saying things like, you can’t make a living as an artist or any other none mainline gig and push our kids to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer.

Work may be the worst place of all. We are all in character almost all of the time. I was reminded of this recently in a workshop. The workshop involved talking about your childhood nickname, it’s origin and meaning in your life. At first I posted my actual childhood nickname, insane Kane. Then, quickly changed it to citizen Kane. You see even though this was a workshop where we were supposed to be dropping our walls and sharing deeply with each other, you know at work, you really can’t do that. You see there’s “professional life.” So in your “professional life,” you’re meant to be authentic, but only within certain boundaries. I watched several participants similarly pull their punches on their childhood nicknames by sanitizing their stories.

You see we love the fiction at every job that we’re one big family. That when we have meetings like this, that we often call retreats, that we are really sharing ourselves, growing closer and bonding. But the fact is we’re only comfortable with people sharing Leave it to Beaver-esque level stories. You can do some tragedy, a death in the family, a defect you outgrew, a mean-girl story. But if you had real hardship, if you took wrong turns in life, well those just make everyone uncomfortable.

You see at the end of the day, it’s only the special people in your life who are willing to take you as you really are, who won’t judge you for being different, that’s what makes them special. The fact is we all spend a lot of time wearing masks for the sole purpose of hiding the real person we are, because we don’t want to be judged, it’s a necessary but exhausting game.

So I have another workshop tomorrow, we’re supposed to do a narrative of the high and low points in our lives, those turning point moments. But were I too talk about the actual things that have happened in my life, I can’t even imagine the looks, the thoughts and the judgement I would face. I’ll be honest, at this point in life, I’m exhausted with the game. Exhausted by the pretense that we put forward that we want to know each other, when truly, for the most part, we really don’t. But we all know, except with those special people, you must play the game to protect the real you. ~ Rev Kane

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Desert Happiness

What makes the desert beautiful is that it hides a well. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I dealt with what they call languishing throughout the first 18 months of the pandemic, I’ve been making a real effort lately to jump start things. Particularly since work has been off the rails nuts. One of the things I had decided to do was to get more camping in this fall. There’s something cleansing about being in nature for a couple of days, I sleep really well when I’m camping. The one place that has become a surprising favorite of mine has become the desert. One of the many things my times at Burning Man has given me is a deep appreciation for the desert. Even more so desert mornings. There is little better than quiet desert mornings as the sun comes up. Cool, dry air, birds chirping, typically little to no wind and the world just seems calm and right.

So to satisfy missing my time in the desert at Burning Man and to do a little camping as I promised myself I would, I headed out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I was happily able to get into the campground on Thursday night before the weekend crowd rolled in. The first 24 hours were absolutely amazing, it was completely peaceful, I took a lovely easy two mile hike at sunset and made a friend.

I had been so excited about getting out of town I forgot a few things, and stopped on the way in to pick them up. Of course, as the sun went down I realized I also forgot my lantern. No worries, I had my flashlights and my headlamp. So as darkness fell I pulled them out and realized I had forgotten my batteries box as well. So all I had for light was my windup emergency flashlight. Luckily the market in town was open til 8PM and at 7:45 I cruised in to pick up batteries, let there be light. So I was fully geared up for the weekend following a really pretty sunset.

Day two found me up at dawn for the sunset pictured at the top of the post. I headed out early up into the mountains on a three mile hike up to real life desert oasis. It’s a hike I’ve done before, it’s not terribly challenging up through a number of canyons until suddenly brown and rocky turns into green and rocky with a little tiny oasis surrounded by lush palm trees. There are more pictures from the whole weekend at my Instagram account @reverendmichaelkane. The holy grail in Anza is to spot bighorn sheep and while there was a lot of sign on the trail, no bighorn. However, I did see my first bighorn sheep on this trip. As I was driving in I was slowly pulling into a vista pulloff and as I did I almost hit a female bighorn sheep. She was just five feet away and was absolutely beautiful, I was so excited to see her.

Once I was back from my hike I set up my hammock, it’s been so long since I’ve been in one of my hammocks, it had been warm the first night and I was annoyed I hadn’t set the hammock up as I would have absolutely slept in it the first night. After taking a nice little siesta after my hike I did my one standing ritual in Borrego Springs, I hit Pablito’s for their Spicy Enchilada Verde plate, they were delicious. Friday was such a beautiful day in the desert, overcast, about eighty degrees and the clouds started to breakup as the day went on and it gave me hope that I might have clearer skies for the Draconid Meteor Shower. Unfortunately they didn’t breakup enough, I saw only one meteor, but laying on a hammock, watching the skies, listening to music with a blazing fire pit made for a really fantastic evening!

I spent the rest of the weekend rolling up through California listening to football on the radio and doing a little exploring. Even found a Bigfoot.

Time in the desert always helps me clear my head, I’ve been completely off my game for the last two months, after this weekend I feel I’m more focused and ready to get back on track in a lot of ways. Definitely happy days this weekend, hope they were for you as well. ~ Rev Kane

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Don’t for the Simple Pleasures

Very often what it is that makes us happiest are the simplest things in life. One of those for me is the opportunity to have conversations with munchkins. I love the way toddlers think, they have not yet been jaded by the world, or even weighed down by normal logic. As part of my job I oversee a wonderful child development center with a great director and master teachers. So occasionally I get to pop over to the center and interact with the munchkins. Just last week I had the privilege of being run over by a Sponge Bob car.

I also have some munchkins in my personal life, my brother has three small children two, five and seven. I absolute love hanging out with them from the littlest who is completely in charge. Recently I point blank asked her who was the boss of the family, she without hesitation answered, “I am.” It was an answer everyone agreed with. Interacting with them doesn’t always mean they’re nice to me, her oldest brother actually thinks I’m not very bright. Whenever I say something intelligent he has this look on his face like, hmmm, how did the dumb guy figure that out, lol.

Often these simple things are also free, I’m a great fan of walking. From walks in the park to months long walking treks. Anytime I’m out walking I’m happy, anytime I post pictures of myself from my treks I seem to get comments about how happy I look in the image. I had a particularly happy walk this week, two good friends came through town and we walked along Pacifica Beach and out to Mori Point. Not a lot better than walking along the beach with good freineds as the marine layer comes into shore cooling things down, it was a wonderful walk with wonderful company.

Tonight a simple message, while yes, we want to work on the complicated and the big important things in our lives, don’t forget those simple pleasures that bring you so much happiness. ~ Rev Kane

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I Love the Fall

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~ George Eliot

I love fall, there’s a smell on the air that always says to me it’s Fall. Sometimes I catch it on the wind before the official start, sometimes not until sometime after the official start of Fall. This year it happened right on schedule and so this weekend was the first weekend of Fall for me. I did some writing, watched some football but mostly I did some cooking. One of the the things I often make this time of year is gumbo, it’s the double bonus of a nice simmering pot on the stove and always puts my head in New Orleans.

Even the weather came in line this weekend, bright sunny days, cool, good sleeping nights. Life is always a bit better for me once the Fall arrives. My entire life this has been the time of year I spend the most time outdoors. Most people like the Spring or Summer, but I prefer the Fall. As such I’m heading out next week to the desert to do some camping, take in the Orionid Meteor Shower and just spend some time clearing my head.

A short post tonight, with no real message beyond revel in the times, the people and the things you love.

I’ll end with a funny story about the photo above. This is a shot I took on a campus I worked at about seven or eight years ago. It’s one of my favorite photos and was even published in USA Today. After I took the shot I decided to share it with friends who worked at the college. I sent an email with the subject “shot on campus this weekend.” Unfortunately in a world where school shootings are a reality, that particular subject line scared the hell out of people and they let me know, oops.

Enjoy the Fall the my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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