Appalachian Trail Happiness, the Book

Appalachian Trail Happiness, the Book

at-happPlease forgive my shameless plug tonight but I wanted to provide all of the purchasing information for my book in one place ~ Rev Kane

Come take a thousand mile walk with me on the Appalachian Trail.

When I wrote the book I had originally included a glossary, but I incorporated it in the text, a book club I recently met with said it would be helpful so here’s the glossary.

Also, I thought it would beneficial to include some photos from the book here.

What I hope you can get out of this book is a feeling for the Appalachian Trail Community: thru-hikers, hostel owners, trail towns and trail angels who all conspire to make hiking the AT an amazing experience.  I knew the community existed, but the positive impact it had on me—the power of this community—completely caught me by surprise, a really pleasant surprise.  Sure, there will be a good bit about the trail, the geography, the weather and the mountains, but it’s mostly about the people, the culture and my own twisted brain.  The book is drawn out of three things: my journal entries, descriptions and definitions of trail terms, and the writings I undertook while hiking the trail. I also answered three questions every day; what was the most beautiful thing I encountered, what did I learn, what made me happy today?

Amazon & Kindle   – You can find both the paperback ($9.99) and ebook ($2.99) at Amazon, if you buy the paperback you get the ebook as a bonus for 99 cents if you are so inclined.

Createspace  – If you order through Createspace ($9.99), Amazon doubles my royalty.  I’m assuming they do this to help drive traffic to the Createspace store.  So if you want to help maximize my royalty this is the best way.

Signed Copy – If you would like a signed copy please contact me directly at  For these I have to order a copy from Createspace, then sign it and ship it to you directly, due to the double shipping I charge $15 for this option.

No matter how you buy the book, I’m thankful that you have and thank you very much for supporting my work and I hope you enjoy it. A quick synopsis is below. ~ Rev Kane

Please check out my blog the Ministry of Happiness

Find us on our Facebook Pages, Appalachian Trail Happiness or The Ministry of Happiness

Checkout my photos on Instagram at @reverendmichaelkane

Find us on Twitter at @ministryofhappy

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AT Happiness: Trail Community

AT Happiness: Trail Community

The AARP gang, me, Backtrack, Kingfisher and Awesome

The AARP gang, me, Backtrack, Kingfisher and Awesome

One of the first questions I was always asked before starting the trail was, who are you hiking with on the AT?  Whenever I would answer I was solo hiking people would become concerned.

Two utterly amazing and interesting folks, Patches and Airborne.

Two utterly amazing and interesting folks, Patches and Airborne.

I would try to explain trail culture and the moving community that exists on the AT.  In reality I didn’t even fully understand how close hundreds of solo hikers could become.

Damn Yankee (grew up 20 minutes from me in NY) and Backtrack

Damn Yankee (grew up 20 minutes from me in NY) and Backtrack

First off, pace becomes a sorting mechanism and those who are on a similar pace see each other again and again at camping areas, shelters and resupply towns.

Michael Kane and John Stewart head for the AT

Michael Kane and John Stewart head for the AT

Second, only if you have done this can you really understand how hard it is and what people are going through and this creates compassion and solidarity.

Me and Tough Cookie (she's back on the trail after appendicitis surgery 6 weeks ago)

Me and Tough Cookie (she’s back on the trail after appendicitis surgery 6 weeks ago)

Finally we come to depend on each other, this community, to stay safe and informed. There is an incredible grapevine on the trail that passes on weather information, resupply info, news about friends, trail magic info as well as safety concerns.   We look out for each other, although of course this grapevine includes its share of trail gossip as well.

Backtrack and Shaggy Hobo

Backtrack and Shaggy Hobo

Here’s a recent example, Lucky Strike lost his phone.  Another hiker, Jedi picked it up. These two have never met, but Jedi took the phone, called the last number and found a way to intercept a resupply package and get the phone to Lucky Strike.

Me and the Mad Hatter

Me and the Mad Hatter

It is common for someone to leave something behind on the trail and turn around to retrieve it only to find someone carrying it up the trail to them.  That may not sound like much until you consider that we actually actively try to reduce our pack weight by ounces and we’re often heading uphill over mountains.   We lookout for each other.

Me and Cliffhanger

Me and Cliffhanger

All of this has led to trail friends quickly becoming selected family, in three weeks I’ve already made what I expect will be lifelong friends, many are in the pictures in this piece and have provided many happy days my friends – Rev Kane

Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Readers’ Favorite Posts

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

Favorite AT Trail Photos for 2015


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Health, Diabetes and Happy Cooking

Health, Diabetes and Happy Cooking

Healthy eating, diabetesThe easiest diet is, you know, eat vegetables, eat fresh food.  Just a really sensible healthy diet like you read about all of the time. ~ Drew Carey

Well if you have read this blog regularly you know that I struggle with blood sugar regulation and at times lose that battle and end up in the range of being categorized as a Type 2 diabetic.  Over my last year traveling I quite frankly ignored this reality.  I ate what I wanted, I drank Coca Cola’s with abandoned and even though I was still quite active it meant my blood sugar was thoroughly unregulated.  I paid the price in that my numbers when I finally got back to paying attention were higher in June than they have ever been.  This is of course is a problem for a number of reasons, the most pressing for me of course is that I have a heart condition and diabetes, along with my genetically driven high blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack.

Now for me I have two conditions that are beyond my control.  First off I have a congenital birth defect, a bifurcated aortic valve,  that has led to an aortic aneurysm and eventually will lead to open heart surgery within the next 5 years.  The second is the fact that my high blood pressure is primarily a result of a genetic condition inherited through my mother’s side of the family.  Happily modern medicine has done lots of research on this and there are medications, because my grandfather died of this condition in 1969.

However that leaves my diabetes, the predisposition also runs in the family, this time a gift from my father’s side of the hereditary tree.  But a pre-disposition is just that, it makes it easier me for to become a diabetic but it still needs my help.  The fact is three things more than anything else contribute to me having poor blood sugar, my eating habits, my weight and my level of activity.

I’ve always been a fairly active person, even at my least healthy point in life.  A point in which I wasn’t working out regularly and weighed 250 pounds, 60 pounds heavier than I currently am, I was still active.  I remember a really awesome winter hike in the Smokies back than with my friend Andrew.  We pounded a 14 mile round trip up to the summit of Mt. Leconte with about 8 inches of snow on the ground.  That was around 1998, and in the subsequent twenty years a lot of things have changed.  In a couple of successive step downs I got my weight from 250 to 230, about 5 years later from 230 to 215 and two years ago from 215 to 200.  Since coming to my new home and job I’ve dropped to 190 and my goal is to be at 175 by the end of this year.

happiness, everest

happiness, everest

At the Everest Rock Bar after the white knuckle flight to Lukla on the trail to Everest

So I’ve been steadily improving my weight and starting in 2010 as part of my preparation for hiking to Base Camp at Mt. Everest, I began working out regularly at the gym, not just walking and hiking like I did previously.  But the simple fact for me is that my eating habits have always been my weakness.  I love Coca Cola, just about the worst thing I could drink for me.  I love pizza, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes all which are not exactly things found on a low carb diet.  I know I’ll get at least one comment of how all it really takes is just to eat these things in moderation and I’ll be fine.  Unfortunately for me, that’s just not reality, but is a fallacy I’ve been willing to accept for a long time.  I often say that humans have two superpowers, rationalization and denial and I have certainly employed both when it comes to eating.

So all of this has led to where I find myself now, pretty much up against the wall in terms of my blood sugar.  If I’m not able to get this under control in the next couple of months I’m going to end up adding one more medication into my life.  And given I’m already on five related to the conditions I can’t change, I really don’t want to add a sixth for something that is essentially within my control.  So it means it’s time to get very, very serious about this.

So I’m being a bit militant about my diet right now.  This has meant adding more vegetables but not starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn.  It’s meant mirroring some aspects of a Ketogenic Diet, but not going full Keto, adding some fat, but adding a lot of fat is not the best idea for someone with a heart condition.  I’m also actually cutting down on my meat consumption a little, I eat meat most days but not everyday, and not a lot of red meat, but I’m cutting back a little.  So this means more vegetable fats, more leafy vegetables including salads and completely avoiding the high carb foods I love.  For the meantime I’m even forgoing my normal cheat day.  Finally the plan also includes intensifying my cardio workouts.  I typically workout 4-5 days a week but I’ve added two days of running into the mix.  I am not, nor do I enjoy running, but it’s the easiest way to up that intensity.  And finally to make that stick I’ve set a goal and actually running a 5k, so on April 11th I’ll be doing the Big Bunny 2020 5K in Cupertino.  I figure no matter how slow I am I should be able to outrun the children.  For those of you who know me well, I’m sure this little announcement is a shock.  I’ve always said I only run with a ball in front of me or a dog behind me.

One of the necessary and fun parts of this little journey has been looking for new things to cook.  I’ve really become enamored with they have some great recipes and I’ve been experimenting.  I love to cook and always doctor and personalize recipes to my own taste but I’ve tried to the following in the last week and have been really happy with them.

Zucchini Au Gratin

zuchinni au gratin, scalloped zuchinni

Spaghetti Squash with homemade sauce

spaghetti squash

spaghetti squash

I’ve also been playing with some new ingredients like Shirataki Noodles, and used them with shrimp scampi.

shirataki noodles, shrimp scampi

So you may be asking what does this have to do with happiness?  The thing is that we have things in our life that reduce our happiness and poor health is one of those for me.  So what’s important in this process is the idea of constantly getting a little bit better, whether it’s your health or your happiness.  First, you have to figure out what the issue you is you want to address, you have to decide it’s something important enough to change so that you have the desire to do so.  Then you have to make a plan and work the plan, all with the goal of just doing a little better today than you did yesterday and very importantly, forgiving yourself if you don’t and then recommitting and getting better tomorrow.  If you can do that my friends you’ll have happy days.  ~ Rev Kane

health, food, quote

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Happiness and the words of Thich Nhat Hanh

Happiness and the words of Thich Nhat Hanh

“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese born Buddhist monk with a long history of peace activism and has brought Buddhist teachings to a wide Western audience.  I link below to a piece in the Ecologist by Thich Nhat Hanh entitled, Thich Nhat Hanh: happiness is possible without simply consuming all the time.  In the piece he discusses how our western consumer based lifestyle can be an impediment to happiness and how changing this can help, give it a read.  As always, have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Friday Smiles & Happiness

Friday Smiles & Happiness

smile, smiles, friday, images

Smile, you’re stronger than you know

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us. ~ Ashley Montagu


A light post for a Friday with some images to make you smile and feel good about the world ~ Rev Kane

smile, smiles, friday, fun, fun friday

Appropriate for a hot Friday

First a post about CANDY!

happiness, smiles, friday, candy, images

Candy makes smiles

A quick story about a mother dog saving her puppies from a fire

Friday, smiles, fun friday, dog, puppies

Happy puppy story for your Friday

love, burning man, fun friday, smiles

Burning Man – Love installation

quote, quotes, wisdom


butterfly, happiness

be happy, fun friday, smiles

Wishing you a happy Friday full of smiles

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fun Friday: Drunk History

Great Quotes and Good Laughs

Funny Internet Memes

Uplifting Friday

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Secrets to Happiness

Secrets to Happiness

18Found this on a quick web search, a quick bit of wisdom to help you have a happier day leading to a happier life ~ Rev Kane

Secrets to Happiness

  • Live beneath your means and within your seams
  • Return everything you borrow
  • Donate Blood
  • Stop blaming other people
  • Admit it when you make a mistake
  • Give all the clothes you haven’t worn in the last three years to charity
  • Every day do something nice and try not to get caught
  • Listen more; talk less
  • Every day take a 30-minute walk in your neighborhood
  • Skip two meals a week and give the money to the homeless
  • Strive for excellence, not perfection
  • Be on time
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Don’t argue
  • Get organized
  • Be kind to kind people
  • Be even kinder to unkind people
  • Let someone cut ahead of you in line
  • Take time to be alone
  • Reread a favorite book
  • Cultivate good manners
  • Be humble
  • Understand and accept that life isn’t always fair
  • Know when to say something
  • Know when to keep your mouth shut
  • Don’t criticize anyone for 24 hours
  • Learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff

Some more pieces you might enjoy!

Happiness is Adventure

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

Happiness is Micropoetry

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Happiness and your own personal weirdness

Happiness and your own personal weirdness

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.  Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.  ~H. Jackson Browne

Recently I have been a bit down in the dumps, for me personally things are going fine, however several people I care about are having significant health struggles and another friend recently passed away.  I’ve recently heard a quote in a film today that sort of sums up my mental state.  I’ve hit an age where it is becoming less and less about what I might do, and more and more about what I’ve done.  This mindset has really started to highlight how different I am from most people.

You see I’m a gypsy and right now I’ve done some things home and work related that have really tied me to one place for a time.  These are good things mind you but for me they have added a level of stress into my life that I really could do without right now.  People don’t understand this, for them these same things are accomplishments, fulfillments of the things they considered goals in their lives, affirmations that they are on the “right” track.  For this reason they are confused that I am not excited about the things I’ve done.

This is a very important lesson in life, we are all truly unique, what may inspire feelings of success and happiness for one person may create feelings of stress and failure in another.  This is why we really need to listen to people, get to truly understand who they are and what motivates them.  And why we need to be compassionate when people react in ways we truly find bizarre, if we care about them and their happiness it is the least we can do.

Have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Are you living or existing?

Are you living or existing?

life, living, quote

My motto in life

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. ~ Lao Tzu

We focus here at the Ministry of Happiness on how to live a happier life.  Recently, while talking with a friend we started talking about a person we know who lives a less than wonderful life.   The crux of it seems to be that this person is no longer living, they are just existing.  As far as I understand life it is a one-way, one-time trip and from my perspective that means we should get everything we can out of this experience.

I get why this doesn’t happen for so many people, thinking about the nature of life and death can be terrifying.  We get distracted with the day-to-day necessities of life, work, family, bills, and groceries.  It’s easy to focus on this day-to-day until years have passed by.  We constantly realize again and again that we haven’t talked to old friends for years, that our dreams haven’t been realized and that our bucket lists aren’t getting any shorter.

living, existing, life, happiness

Live a full life

THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN!  It is our choice my friends, our task and responsibility, our duty to ourselves to sit down and right this wrong.  It is one of the most important ways in which we can make ourselves happy, a responsibility we owe to ourselves.  This is one of the best ways to make ourselves happy, and if we are happy then those around us are happy as well.  So give it a shot my friends, give someone a call, check off a bucket list item or make plans to do so.  Go full on cliché and actually stop and go smell some roses, live my friends and make it a happy day ~ Rev Kane

Other Happiness Posts You Might Enjoy!

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

Writing Away the Darkness

Appalachian Trail Happiness, Where to buy the Book

My Polar Bear Adventure

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Happiness & Beauty, does being pretty make you happier?

Happiness & Beauty, does being pretty make you happier?


Beauty is power, a smile it’s sword ~ John Ray

Well my friends according to a study done by the University of Texas and printed in USA Today apparently it does.  However, let’s understand the mechanism, it’s been long-established that people considered traditionally good-looking, more symmetrical facial features, earn more than those who are not considered good-looking.  So all of those years you’ve been claiming your sister, brother, friend was getting a benefit from being physically attractive, guess what, you were right!

The benefit is limited to economics and things like first dates, but being more successful on those fronts promotes a better self-image, increases confidence and being financially better off reduces stress and that is why pretty people on average are happier.  However, this is an average, I know some really unhappy pretty people and some down right happy people who wouldn’t be considered physically attractive.  So all in all, there may be some merit to being classically beautiful, but there is so much more to happiness.  So even if you’re only as pretty as me:


You can still have happy days my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Pieces You May Enjoy!

Happiness is reducing stress

Happiness & Selected Families

Happiness, Simplicity & Letting Go


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Happiness in the Simple Pleasures

Happiness in the Simple Pleasures

leaves, fall, photographyLife is truly lived in the moments of simplicity! ~ Avijeet Das


For the last couple of years there has been a bit of a push back on the idea of seeking happiness.  You see a lot of posts like this one, Stop Chasing Happiness.  The piece is actually pretty good and there are some great tips in it about how to live a happier life.  Yes, I get the irony in that sentence.  Part of the issue is the ambiguous nature of the word happiness.  Other than a 70’s mood ring, there isn’t a way to know now I’m happy, now I’m not.  Also, people often put unrealistic expectations on the term or continually defer to, I’ll be happy when…. instead of enjoying the happiness they are experience at the moment.  This is one of the reasons I often say the suggestions I make will help you live a happier life.  No one is happy all of the time, nor should anyone expect to be.  It’s important to take pleasure, contentment and find happiness in your everyday ordinary life.

backscratcher, simple pleasure

So tonight I want to talk about some of the simple pleasures in my life, in order to get you to think of some of the same in your life.  I’m going to start with having my back scratched, man, there isn’t much that’s better than a good back scratching.  My oldest niece is a world class back scratcher but she lives about 3000 miles away.  Luckily, backscratchers exist.  I spent about three months living in my aunt’s cabin in Utah one year and next to the bed was a simple wooden backscratcher.  I became thoroughly addicted to how good it felt at night to scratch my own back.  So much, that when I stopped traveling that year and settled down to work, the first thing I did once my apartment was set up was to order a backscratcher.  I still have it 15 years later and still use it almost every single day.

head massager, simple pleasure

Several years ago my wonderful friend KC gave me a gift.  As you can see from the image it looked like some artistic rendering of an alien jellyfish.  I’m always thankful anyone would give me a gift but was more than a little skeptical about this crazy looking thing.  Then when I got home I started to try and use it and there was a moment as the little tentacles rolled along my scalp that I had one of those full body spinal shivers.  The kind where that wave of pleasure rolls through your body and you have that moment of physical and mental bliss.  I’m even more addicted to this thing now that I’ve shaved my head, head massages are a pretty normal part of my life these days and still incredibly wonderful.

We all have these simple pleasures.  For some it’s a quiet cup of coffee or tea early in the morning before anyone else is awake.  For others a nice piece of chocolate and I think for all of us, a really good hug qualifies.  I could list a ton of others, sitting quietly listening to an album in the dark, laying out flat and having my spine crack back into place, a really great piece of pizza and a coke.  Whatever those small things are in your life isn’t important, what’s important is that we take time to stop, appreciate and be mindful of those moments.  These small moments come so much more frequently than the big moments, that if you add them up over time, they’re likely more important.  So don’t let them slip by my friends.  I’m now going to go sit in my favorite reclining camping chair and massage my head while I listen to some music.  Hope you can find some time today to indulge in one of yours and have a happy moment my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

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