Happiness and Pain

Happiness and Pain

zToday I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.~ Kevyn Aucoin

Today my friends an odd title for a blog on happiness, happiness and pain seem about as far apart as two things can be.  We all have pain, we’ve all lost love and loved ones and for some of us those losses might be quite fresh.  Sometimes we feel as though pain is all that there is in our lives.  Pain is a part of life, we all will experience it at some time in our life and if may feel as though we can’t survive it.  That’s my first point tonight, you have, you will survive the pain in your life.  As the Taoists say, no storm lasts forever, no matter how fierce.  So first, you know this, keep that in your mind.

For me pain has a second edge and that is creativity, I write my best poetry when I’m in pain.  The blacker my mood becomes the more I write, it’s become a psychic survival tool for me.  The writing helps, it burns out the negative energy and brings light into the darkness through art and creation.  My second point, find a way to create when you’re hurting, write, paint, take photographs, build, knit, crochet, hell grab a coloring book and color.  There is something life affirming and positive about the process of creation, even if what you create isn’t all that beautiful.

So tonight my friends, as I write this I’m dealing with some pain of my own, the effects are being exacerbated by a medical issue messing with my brain chemistry.  But I’ve been writing and exercising, eating right and doing the things I know to do to keep my mood up.  This storm, as have all the previous ones, will pass the clouds will part, the sun will come out again and life will be even better than it already is today.  A little of my writing below.  If you’re in pain I’m hoping your storm will pass soon my friend, know that someone cares and look forward to happy days. ~ Rev Kane

Alone in the Depths                                                                                        9/10/16

I miss her
like a drowning man
misses oxygen
at first scrambling for the light
then,
there is pain
finally, utter panic
as I dig for the surface
not enough progress
only to remember
I tied the anchor to my ankles
forced separation from the light
the only hope for my sanity
but I find myself
unable to give myself over
relax,
let it come over me
I ache
I sink
I’m alone in the depths

 

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness is Poetry: Ashe Vernon

Happiness is Poetry: Warsan Shire

Happiness is Poetry: Sapphire

Happiness is Poetry: Doug Draime

Happiness is Poetry: Rev Kane

 

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness and Being Single

Happiness and Being Single

zMy alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude. ~ Warsan Shire

I have never been married, so funny how that feels like a confession of some kind of sin in America.  The expectation of this society is that at some point in early adulthood you should marry.  You know, settle down, have some kids and being a good little cog in society’s wheel works.  I don’t say this lightly, there is an immense pressure in America on single people to marry.  The pressure is even more so on women and there is an even greater pressure on them to have children.  This is the script of American society and we are all expected to play by the script or be cast out to the edges of society, made to feel different.  Never underestimate the potency of making someone feel like they don’t belong.

People very often succumb to this pressure and marry the “best” person they can find, the one that most fits their idea of what society wants for them when they hit the point they think they should marry.  Safety, security, the right looks, a nice enough person, an attractive enough person.  I know I sound utterly cynical but the simple statistic that 50% or more of marriages fail would seem to back up my thoughts on the subject.  Don’t get me wrong, I know of some fantastic marriages.  One of my best friends has been married nearly 30 years and has a wonderful marriage.

In talking one time to a good friend, she was utterly confused as to why I wasn’t married.  In her opinion, I was attractive, smart, fun a good person, successful and I had dated a number of women.  In questioning me she finally came to a conclusion, “you won’t settle.”  She said this to me with a mix of surprise and revelation.  No, I won’t settle, to me there has never been an imperative that I should marry.  If the circumstances are right, then sure, I’d be happy to marry.  But if marrying someone won’t make me happier than I am alone, why would I marry just to fit some societal script, or to alleviate the fear society beats into us of growing old alone.

I am not alone in this thought.  This past weekend I had long conversations with two single female friends, one never married, one who is divorced.  They have similar ideas about being single and both are incredible women.  Both, as I, have made a decision that being happy is more important that meeting societies expectations.

But all choices have their consequences

It is not easy living outside of societies expectations.  There are some huge upsides to being single, the independence, the control over your own life and decisions, but there are down sides as well.  At times, particularly if you’re not well, it can be lonely.  There is no one who will automatically be the person to pick you up at the airport or from a medical procedure, especially if you have moved to a new place, or live where there is no family nearby.  You rely on your friends and sometimes that can be awkward.

In talking with my friends, and I’m in agreement with them, I do not regret the choices I’ve made or where I find myself in life.  You make the most of the situation you find yourself in, wherever you are at.  I would have liked to have had children, but it would have never been acceptable to me to have been an unhappy parent.  Had the situation and the timing been right, it would have happened, but it didn’t.  So now I get to spoil my nieces and nephews like they are my own.

Happiness is a choice and an attitude, you need to be happy with what you have.  You need to make choices that make you happier regardless of what society expects.  So be good to yourself, true to yourself and you’ll have happy days my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness and Losing Weight

Happiness and Losing Weight

a pair of female feet standing on a bathroom scale looking shy about the weight
To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. ~ Buddha

So as regular readers know I’ve settled in a new job, new place, new house and after two years of traveling and having not great health insurance I’ve also been setting about getting all of my routine health screenings done.  I went to the eye doctor and in to get a physical.  I expected that I was in ok condition, I was working out regularly, had lost a couple of pounds and was getting back to eating right after not paying much attention for some time.  I was wrong.  I had been taking a supplement that it turns out was impacting my high blood pressure medication and the day of my appointment was the middle of an incredibly stressful week at work.  So I sat down and they took my blood pressure and it was 170/90, the highest it has been since before I began taking medication 15 years ago.

We did all of the standard blood tests and there would be more bad news, my blood sugar was once again about the line to qualify me as a Type II diabetic, my triglycerides were a little high and my thyroid numbers were low.  I would be lying if I said it wasn’t quite depressing, however like I said, I had already started eating a bit better, I was working out regularly so it is a matter of making more changes.  Part of that of course is losing weight.  I once weighed 250 pounds and when I moved to California in 2002 I lost 40 pounds and got down to around 210.  I have floated between 210 and 220 for the last 15 years, I came of the Appalachian Trail last year at around 207 but had gotten back to about 210 when I reached my new home.

So, it is time to lose weight again and honestly it feels like 2002 again, I’m committed to it and have been taking it very seriously.  So far I’ve dropped from 210 to 194, what I weighed this morning.  My first goal was to be under 200 by my birthday in August and I made it.  My next goal is to make 193 by October 1st and it looks like I’ll make that as well.  My final goal is to make 180 by the end of the year.  I haven’t weighed 180 probably since I was in high school.

People naturally want to know how I’m doing it and I’d love to tell you all that I’ve discovered some magical way to do it.  Heck, I’d be a billionaire if I’d figured out an easy way to lose weight, I haven’t.  The thing with me is that I LOVE food, I love to eat, I love to cook and I typically eat for three.  Throw in an absolute addictive love of Coca-cola and pizza and well, it’s quite easy for me to consume 2500 – 3000 calories in a day.  So for me to lose weight it comes down to a few things, reducing portion size, cutting down to one coke and a slice of pizza a week, and really cutting back on carbs.  It’s funny how things slip in, I thought I was actually eating ok, but once I started thinking about it, I had to change my mind.

When I get ice before the gym at a fast food place I’d do a little shot of coke prior to just filling the cup with ice.  Then of course there would be a day or two where I would end up drinking a whole coke.  I was eating a lot of chicken wings and of course they were breaded, there was a cookie or three here or there, the occasional chicken sandwich at the fast food place.  Even the pot of soup I made each week had barley, rice, carrots so all of that had to change.  So the fast food places are ice only and the occasionally taco salad without rice and I don’t eat the shell.  My soups, beyond the carbs contained in vegetables are carb-free, no carrots, rice, or barley.  My dinners are now meat and vegetables, a lot more salads.  But it’s not boring food, I make a mean funky chicken salad, cucumber bean salads, no-pasta lasagna, chilli and lots of stir fries.  Water and the occasional cup of tea are all that I drink and although I usually allow myself a cheat day each week, I really haven’t been using them.  Although I did for my birthday weekend and after going super low-carb for two weeks after that, I took a cheat day this past Friday.  However, I am proud to say I haven’t had a coke in over four weeks.  I continue to workout five days a week.  It’s working, it takes some willpower and discipline but all in all it hasn’t been terribly hard.

I handled the blood pressure issue by getting off the supplement and returning to my daily meditations in the morning and evening.  I’ve adjusted my attitude at work a bit and in fact the other morning, pre-meds I was 127/72 so things are back on track there.  I have an appointment this week to get put on thyroid medicine, this one might be big.  There have been some things I’ve been dealing with over the last year that make a lot of sense in light of the thyroid issue.  Some skin issues, sleep disruption, needing some extra sleep and I’ve been fighting off my mood dips a lot more than I should be given what’s going on my life and how happy I legitimately am.  So after a few weeks hopefully my body and brain chemistries we’ll be back in line.  One upside, higher thyroxin levels should also increase my metabolism a bit an maybe make it a little easier to make my goals.

So that’s all well and good my friends but what’s the lesson here related to happiness?  The lesson comes from how I’ve been dealing with all of this.  It always comes back to the basics, taking care of yourself and your attitude.  I’ve been tired so I go to bed earlier, working out and eating better help all of this.  For me, as I’ve written about before, I write away the darkness, so in my poetry I rage or explore the pain in my heart and my head, if I write it out I feel better.  Also, I make the decision to try and stay positive, I write this blog, I express gratitude for what I have and I remember to both give myself a break, and some downtime every day.  It’s a simple formula but it works and it can work for you my friends and help you have happier days. ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

 

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Happy?

Are You Happy?

me drink“You have one job, to lead an extraordinary life.”  I’ve seen this quote attributed to a number of people, I’ve also seen it in several different forms so I’m not quite sure who to appropriately attribute it to, but I love it.  It’s my philosophy of life.

Now I’ve had plenty of people, when I bring this idea up, that start immediately writing it off and pointing out that without kids, or a wife I am more free than they are, so I can think this way and they can’t.  They my friends, are wrong, I consider it a lack of imagination.  I know what I’m talking about, I’ve seen it.  What is it?  Well in my journeys and on my adventures I’ve seen every type of human in every relational configuration out doing the same things I have done.  You see we all have responsibilities, we all have limitations but the limit that holds us back to the most is our own brain.  Whether it is buying into society’s script or our own limited imaginations, we are in control of our lives. We decide what we can achieve and how happy we can be.

The Eagles said it best, from Already Gone, “so often times it happens, we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”

I didn’t always know this my friends, I wasn’t born with this insight, nor was I always as happy as I am today.  It took a long time to learn this idea, not intellectually but in my heart, it took time to internalize the concept.  I had to have to experience to truly believe that the more I stretched myself, the more adventures I went on, the more I followed my own script,  the happier I became.  So be yourself, love yourself, stretch yourself, take the road less followed and you might just find more happiness.  So tonight’s main point, a simple question.

Are you happy my friends?  No, not that quick nod, stop for a minute, sit back in your chair and really think about it, are you really happy?  If not, what would make you happy, if you are, what would make you even happier?  That’s the goal, those things, whatever they are, are the items for your bucket list.  But not for off in some distant future,  soon for those items that need planning and resources, NOW for the easy ones.  Even if it seems a little crazy, bring your kids, bring your parents, be a little crazy as the old commercial used to say, try it, you’ll like it.  You might just find a smile you haven’t seen in a while, you might become a bit happier than you are right now, you might even change your life and have many happy days my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Acceptance is the Way

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Acceptance is the Way

unaka quote

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations ~ Michael J Fox

Tonight an excerpt from my soon to be published book, Appalachian Trail Happiness.

When you set out to do a long-distance thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail you know a few things in advance.  You know it will be hard, you know you will be dirty and wet and smelly.  You know you’ll likely lose some weight.  You also know that that you will go through some form of transformation, you’ll change in some way, maybe many ways.  One of the things that hit me while hiking in Vermont and Massachusetts was that the trail teaches you acceptance.

You see when you are out on the trail, life is simplified to the basics, food, shelter, the weather.  The simple fact is that many of the things you deal with each day are completely out of your control.  On the trail you have to accept the topography, whether you will climb big hills, do sharp descents, walk over rocks and in mud, or on heavenly flat trails, you just have to walk.  I’ve taken to not asking hikers I pass going the other way about the trail ahead, it doesn’t matter.  I know the profile and the distances from the guide I carry, but whether it will be hard or easy is first a matter of opinion, and secondly it doesn’t matter.  No matter what the trail holds, we’re going to walk it, so what’s coming really starts to not matter, it’s just another hill man.  You have to accept the trail for what it is and even more importantly find happiness in not only smooth descents, but in the hard climbs and the rocky trails.  If you can’t get to this point, the trail can be a very hard place indeed. And in the end this is an absolutely perfect metaphor being happy in life.

The other big thing on the trail that you have absolutely no control over is the weather.  We all know that we will get rained on while we are on the trail.  However, sometimes it can be a bit daunting.  Starting the trail in early March it rained, sleeted or snowed 12 out of the first 14 days on the trail.  It was a bit much, it almost broke me, I hadn’t quite gotten to the point of acceptance yet.  During my week on the trail in Vermont we got wet and basically stayed at least damp the rest of the week.  When it rains a lot, the humidity stays up, your gear stays wet, it’s unpleasant but it is what it is and you will have weeks like this on the trail so you just have to come to accept it.

Acceptance doesn’t mean you don’t take precautions, I blue blazed Albert Mountain in bad weather because of a bad knee and my poor descending skills.  I’ve stayed an extra day in town or delayed returning to the trail to miss a day of bad weather.  But once on the trail I accept what’s coming, this attitude has made being on the trail a much happier experience.  Being wet, tired, smelly, climbing big hills and hard terrain is all part of doing a thru-hike and with that acceptance comes a level of happiness that sustains you on the trail.

The real trick in life is to find ways to take that level of acceptance and transfer it to life in the default world.  Can you learn to accept that you’ll be cut off in traffic, that pipes will break, the cable will go out and that the package that you paid extra to have arrive on Friday isn’t coming until Monday.  If you can, maybe, just maybe, we can be as happy in our default world lives as a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You May Enjoy!

My favorite trail photos of 2015

My Reader’s Favorite Posts

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

My Favorite Little Hiker

A Walk in the Woods

Quitting the Appalachian Trail

 

Posted in Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness, personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking Forward

Looking Forward

fix trail 1
I shouldn’t say I’m looking forward to leading a normal life, because I don’t know what normal is. ~ Martina Navratilova

It was a very stressful week my friends, several weeks into a new job and lots of deadlines converging at once.  Several problems also popped up, I made my first mistake, a minor one, but still one that caused a bit of stress.  In the end, everything was resolved and nothing terrible happened.  It’s education after all, no one dies when we have issues.  Of course right in the middle of all of this I had my first doctor’s appointment now that I’m back on health insurance.  Things have been going well for me physically, I’m working out regularly and eating right, I’ve lost a little weight.  So I expected things would be fine but my blood pressure  was 170/90, and would rise as much as 210/90 before the week was over and I had to double up my medication.  It’s currently high, 145/77 but has been dropping the last few days while back to my normal dosage.

So now it’s time to figure out how to reduce my stress level at work.  You see one of the things that makes me good at my job is that I truly care about doing a good job, about getting things done.  Of course, that also means that when things don’t well, it impacts me, I take it too much to heart.  So, for my own good, I have to learn to not let it impact me.  Of course that also means caring a bit less about what I do, a bit of catch-22.

So why is the title of tonight’s post looking forward, because that’s what you do my friends.  You stay positive, you solve your problems and you keep heading toward what makes you happy.  For me that means continuing what I’ve been doing, and working towards my goals.  It also means remaining grateful for what I currently have in my life.  That’s the secret friends, move forward, stay positive, be grateful for what you have, work toward your goals and you’ll have many happy days ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happiness is a Quiet Sunday Morning

Happiness is a Quiet Sunday Morning

01
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. ~ Marcus Aurelius

Today the heat broke in the desert, it’s a temporary reprieve, we’re still in the midst of Summer with at least another month of really hot days ahead of us.  In the high desert where I live the heat breaking means it will only 101 degrees today.  I know, that doesn’t sound like much of a break.  But the break is that in the high desert the temperatures drop at night, so when we get days hovering near or below 100 degrees, it means we get nights in the high 60’s and those nights make for amazing mornings.

This was one of those mornings, I woke up earlier than expected, the air was still, 68 degrees.  Clear blue skies, the rabbits and the partridge were lazily walking around on the lawn.  I made an omelet and went out and ate on the deck.  The animals on the properties around me were also waking up for the day, the donkeys were braying, dogs barking, the roosters not wanting to be left out of the chorus made their presence known again and again.

A perfect meditative morning, meditation doesn’t always have to be done on your cushion at your altar.  It can be done sitting in a comfortable chair, on your porch, in the morning summer air on a perfectly happy day.  I hope you’re having a happy day too my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happiness on Facebook

So tonight Facebook blocked my post on being happy at work, perhaps by embedding it they will let it post. ~ Rev Kane

 

How to be Happy at Work

Posted in personal happiness | Leave a comment

How to be Happy at Work

How to be Happy on a Hard Workday

01

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.              ~ Kurt Vonnegut

So the other day at the office I was having one of those days.  You know, the kind of day where you finally get to your morning to do list at about 4:30 in the afternoon.  The day starts innocently enough, then fire after fire erupts that you have to put out.  You had a project to work on, but 2 others suddenly take precedence.  Of course there is data/information that you need, if only that person would just email you back you could actually get something done.  By the third email, well you feel like this.

furious businessman throws a punch into the computer

And of course it’s Monday.

So how do you keep it together, retain some semblance of your happiness on a day like this, you go back to the basics.  First, remember to breathe, literally, take some breaks throughout the day for a couple of minutes to just do some deep breathing.  It will calm you down, clear your head and loosen up those shoulders for a couple of minutes.

Remember to move, find ways to get up out of your chair and walk around.  We all know that sitting down all day is killing us.  But on a tense and stressful day it’s doing it a little bit faster, we have to work, our jobs are in an office but we’re not chained to the chairs.  So move, get your circulation flowing, instead of calling the office 50 feet away, take a quick walk and have a conversation.  In addition to the benefits of walking, some face to face human contact will do you good.

Take a break, not just to do some deep breathing, or walk down the hall but an actual break.  Too many of us hunker down, eat at our desk and work like prisoners in a cell.  Even if it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes, get out of the office, go for a walk or a drive.  Go sit on a bench and stare at clouds.  Taking a break has even bigger benefits long-term for both you and your employer.

Finally, find a way to laugh, a favorite video clip or some reading material to get you to crack a mile.  Getting back to basics can actually help you have a happier day my friends    ~ Rev Kane

Posted in Happiness on the job | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to be Happy Everyday

How to be Happy Everyday

27Every Sunday morning I start out the day wondering what I will do for my Sunday night post.  I try to make these more reflective, a little more focused on my everyday life.  I try to eat fairly low-carb, a result of having inherited some blood sugar issues and having a small addiction to Coca-Cola.  So I watch what I eat and usually don’t eat cereal but occasionally I get a craving for fruit and cereal and buy a box.  I am particularly fond of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but there’s a trick to this, like many cereals.  You see, you have to soak it in milk long enough to slough off enough cinnamon to form the cinnamilk at the end, but not so long as to lose the crunchiness of the cereal.  As I was admiring the fact that I had pulled off that delicate balance this morning, it hit me that I had my post for tonight.  Appreciating the small things.

26You see we can talk all we want about the big changes in life that will make us happier.  Those things are legitimate and what you should strive for in the end.  But what can you do to be happier along the way.  Recently a study identified gratitude as the single most important factor in happiness.  Whether or not that is true, it certainly is one of the key things that makes people happier.  Long-term happiness is typically most closely associated with strong ties to family (biological or selected) and friends.

For tonight I want to talk about gratitude.  We need to be grateful for the things we have in our life that make us happy, the small as well as the big.  Sure we are grateful for family, friends, good health, the money, food and shelter that has been provided for us.  But if you want to be consistently happy you have to do two things.  First, you have to remember that your attitude, how you choose to react to things, determines most of your happiness.  The second is to appreciate all of the little things around us that bring us happiness.  A beautiful blue sky, a partridge running across the yard, a magnificent sunset or maybe the roses in your garden.

25I often see in November people post 30 days of being grateful to their Facebook pages, that’s great, but if you only have that level of gratitude in November, well then it’s sort of like a fad diet.  You make yourself happier for a time but then lose those gains when you stop.  What I’d rather see people do is a gratitude Monday once a week, that way at least gratitude would stay on your mind year-round.  Maybe I’ll start doing a post on gratitude once a week.

So tonight my friends, be grateful for what you have, remember the little things that make you smile and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Happiness and the Benefits of Gratitude

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Posted in personal happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment