Happiness is Serenity

Happiness is Serenity

happiness

Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is.    ~ Thomas Szasz

Originally published in 2015

So as I’ve embarked upon my latest adventure I’ve made a stop in Monterey, CA one of my favorite places on earth and staying at one of my favorite places.  The Monterey Beach Resort is dead on the ocean, the beach mere feet from the hotel.  As I sit here in my room working on this the noise of the surf is in my ears, the ocean in peripheral vision.  Sleeping under these conditions is one of the most peaceful things I can experience.  Regardless of what is going on being here brings me peace and serenity.  So here are a couple of images out of my window.

100_1818 100_1814 happiness, serenity

Here’s hoping you have found some serenity today as well, and a had a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Ten poets you’ve never heard of but you’re going to love

Ten poets you’ve never heard of but you’re going to love

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

Tonight to wrap up the last night of National Poetry month I want to feature 10 poets you likely have never heard of but I think you are going to love.  I want to first talk about my own trip to finding a love for poetry and my own poetic writings.  I grew up a blue-collar kid in a working class neighborhood.  No one in my family had ever been to college, so although my mother, and through her, I became an avid reader.  She read fiction and mysteries, I was drawn to military histories and science fiction.  No one in my family read poetry.

My first exposure to poetry came through English class, first in middle school then in my high school English class taught by the best teacher I’ve ever known, Frank Sullivan.  He introduced me to so much culture, I can’t even express what I owe him, happily I was able to tell him that before he died.  His class brought me to an absolute love of theater and in particular Shakespeare.  We read a lot of poetry in his class, one that I loved was The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner.  I liked Shakespeare’s sonnets, I dug some of William Carlos Williams’ work, but in general I found most of the poetry we read uninspiring.  I found most of the “famous” poets we read wrote very structured poetry, high level poems with lots of heavy vocabulary and flowery language.

So, a few years after high school when I started writing myself, mostly to help burn off the negative energy that fueled my depressions, I didn’t think what I wrote was poetry.  I didn’t have a label, it was just what I did.  Then I encountered the books of Charles Bukowski and I found them fascinating and read several before I realized that he also wrote poetry.  Reading that first book of poetry by Charles Bukowski was one of the most significant things I’ve ever done.  His poetry spoke to me so much, it made me feel and so much more than that, it reminded me of my own writing.  Now let me be clear, I do not put my work on the level of Bukowski’s.  But it was raw, straight-forward, unstructured, used utterly plain language.  There were poems about being drunk, being an asshole, about how hard his life was and for the first time, I’d read poems that looked like what I wrote.  I would come to find that there was a whole lot of modern poetry that did the same thing and as such came to realize I love this type of poetry.

The poets that I’m featuring in this post tonight all have the same thing in common, they are not conventional, they come straight at things and most importantly, they make me feel, I talk more about that below. Within the discussion I link to the posts I did with a taste of each of their work.  If you like them, consider going out and buying some of their work.  Poetry doesn’t sell, almost no one makes a living in this world as a poet.  I can tell you this from comparing how my book about hiking, Appalachian Trail Happiness, vastly out sells my poetry book, Otherness.  So supporting them by buying some of their work is not just putting a few coins in their pocket, it is supporting them as a person, as a poet your writing is taking a piece of your very soul and making it public.  When you buy a poet’s work, you’re positively reflecting on their very soul, poetry is an utterly personal endeavor, so please consider supporting their work.

The first one, pictured above is Warsan Shire,  Beyonce apparently used some of her words so you may have heard her name.  I first discovered her work a few years ago and instantly fell in love with it.  It’s raw, hard and touches you in places in ways most poets don’t, as I’ve mentioned here before that the goal of my own writing, stealing a line from jazz musician Art Pepper, is not that you like it, but that it makes you feel.  Warsan Shire my friends will make you feel.

doug draime, poetry, writing

Doug Draime

Doug Draime is one of several I will say this about, I found his work for the first time in the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.  So when I first started doing Happiness is Poetry posts I selected Doug Draime to do a post about.  His work reminded me of Bukowski, it was raw, straight on and made an impact.  So I did the post about Doug Draime and then, to my great suprise got an email from him.  I had never considered reaching out to him but realized that was an option for the poets I was writing about.  While corresponding with him, he’s a great guy, I also asked him to recommend to me some younger, lesser known poets he was aware of and his first recommendation was Hosho McCreesh.

Hosho McCreesh, recommended by Doug Draime absolutely fit the mold of an outlaw poet.  I don’t want to be utterly repetitive but raw, with impact, I really dig his work.

Adrian Manning, so down the tree of reaching out to someone, post their stuff and then get a recommendation. Hosho McCreesh recommended Adrian Manning and his work is fantastic.

Wolfgang Carstens recommended by Adrian Manning is a seriously interesting guy, his words are angular, sharp, they seem revel in the terror of honesty, good stuff. He’s also interesting in the different formats he uses to show his work including illustrated poems.

suzanne burns, poetry, writing

suzanne burns

Suzanne Burns I found on the internet and then reached out to her, she was incredibly gracious and after publishing my piece about her she sent me a couple signed copies of her books.  Super nice person and a fantastic poet.

Ashe Vernon – I was sitting in a friends house and noticed a book of poetry. Knowing we have similar tastes I picked it up and scanned through a few poems. I will admit, not everything I read moved me, but when it happened, whoa, it happened hard. For me, Ashe Vernon, in the baseball sense, is a home run hitter. Like all home rum hitters, she doesn’t hit one out of the park every time she swings, but when she does, you need to get out the tape measures because it’s a monster and there’s nothing more beautiful than a monster home run.

Trista Mateer I found on the recommendation of Ashe Vernon.  Her work is very raw and wonderful, cut open your chest let your heart spill out on the table kind of wonderful.

Alan Kaufman is one of the editors of the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and so I dove into work as a result of looking for a poet to feature one night, good stuff.  He really doesn’t really conform to what you expect, and that’s a very good thing.

poetry, happiness, d.a. levy

d.a. levy

I first encountered D.A. Levy in the American Bible of Outlaw Poetry a book I consider to be the best collection of American poetry.  Levy was from Cleveland a Buddhist Jew, who wanted to read everything and write everything.  He was someone who always seemed to be searching for something and I think that’s one of the reasons I identify and enjoy his work.

A bonus poet, Peter McWilliams, I know I said 10 but it’s kind of hard of to do a list like this and leave Peter McWilliams off of this list.  McWilliams holds a special place in my heart, you see I was introduced to McWilliams by someone who I consider to the be the love of my life and also the first person I truly ever trusted to read my poetry.  McWilliams fascinates me, check out his biography, but as a writer what has always amazed me was how he could write a poem in so few words that would hit me as hard, or harder than much longer pieces.  I leave an example of this as the end of this piece, I hope you like it, and as always, have a happy day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

poet, poetry, writing, love

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Holiday Happiness: The Poetry & Wisdom of Khalil Gibran

The Poetry & Wisdom of Khalil Gibran

1

The holidays are a very stressful time for everyone and an exceptionally hard time for some.  So, until the New Year I’ll be posting a Holiday Happiness post each day to try help folks out who are struggling.  As always you can reach out to me at Happinesskane@aol.com for a kind word or someone to listen. ~ Rev Kane

 

Tonight one of my favorite writers, Khalil Gibran, decided to do a mix of his quotes and poetry.  Enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

 

01

A Tear and a Smile

I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart
For the joys of the multitude.
And I would not have the tears that sadness makes
To flow from my every part turn into laughter.

I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.

A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding
Of life’s secrets and hidden things.
A smile to draw me nigh to the sons of my kind and
To be a symbol of my glorification of the gods.

A tear to unite me with those of broken heart;
A smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.

I would rather that I died in yearning and longing than that I live Weary and despairing.

I want the hunger for love and beauty to be in the
Depths of my spirit,for I have seen those who are
Satisfied the most wretched of people.
I have heard the sigh of those in yearning and Longing, and it is sweeter than the sweetest melody.

With evening’s coming the flower folds her petals
And sleeps, embracingher longing.
At morning’s approach she opens her lips to meet
The sun’s kiss.

The life of a flower is longing and fulfilment.
A tear and a smile.

The waters of the sea become vapor and rise and come
Together and area cloud.

And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys
Until it meets the gentle breeze, then falls weeping
To the fields and joins with brooks and rivers to Return to the sea, its home.

The life of clouds is a parting and a meeting.
A tear and a smile.

And so does the spirit become separated from
The greater spirit to move in the world of matter
And pass as a cloud over the mountain of sorrow
And the plains of joy to meet the breeze of death
And return whence it came.

To the ocean of Love and Beauty—-to God.

 

01Beauty

And a poet said, ‘Speak to us of Beauty.’

Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?

And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, ‘Beauty is kind and gentle.

Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us.’

And the passionate say, ‘Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.

Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us.’

The tired and the weary say, ‘beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.

Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow.’

But the restless say, ‘We have heard her shouting among the mountains,

And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions.’

At night the watchmen of the city say, ‘Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east.’

And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say, ‘we have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset.’

In winter say the snow-bound, ‘She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.’

And in the summer heat the reapers say, ‘We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.’

All these things have you said of beauty.

Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,

And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.

It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,

But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,

But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.

It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,

But rather a garden forever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.

But you are life and you are the veil.

Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.

But you are eternity and you are the mirror.

 

01Pain

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses
your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its
heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the
daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem
less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart,
even as you have always accepted the seasons that
pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the
winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.

It is the bitter potion by which the physician within
you heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy
in silence and tranquillity:

For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by
the tender hand of the Unseen,

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has
been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has
moistened with His own sacred tears.

01

Other posts you might enjoy

The poetry of Raina Maria Rilke

The poetry of Rumi

The poetry of Langston Hughes

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Take your own path!

Take your own path!

Appalachian Trail, hiking, happiness
White Blazes make me happy

The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it. ~ Kalpana Chawla

I was thinking about something today, something I refer to as the script. The script is that generic normal American pathway that we’re all expected to take. It’s a way to summarize the expectations for the life of a “normal” American. We all know the pathway. You go to high school, play sports or be in the band, you go to college, you go a little crazy but you settle down before graduation and find a partner and a career. Sometime in your late 20’s as you settle on the career ladder that you’re going to climb you get married. You might wait a couple of years, but no too long, because you have to start a family and buy a house. So by your early 30’s you’re locked in a career path, you’ve got a couple of kids, you’ve established your couple friends who also have kids. You work too much, take your two weeks of vacation every year, we all know the vacation. Get in the car on a Friday night or Saturday morning, drive like hell to a rental house or hotel at the beach. Get sunburned, buy stupid trinkets, do too much then pile back in the car the next Saturday and drive too many hours home to be ready to go back to work no less stressed than when you left.

Now what’s wrong with that you might ask? Nothing, if that pathway makes you happy. The problem is that we also attach to it the idea that not following the script is a failure. In America different is very clearly bad. Ask any woman in her 30’s who hasn’t had kids yet, how many times a day she gets asked about having kids? I can’t count how many times in my early 30’s I heard when are you going to settle down, find a woman and start a family? You see not following the script is an indication that there is something wrong with you.

For people who are gay these expectations and disappointments are especially tough. This goes for anyone else who is considered different, whether it’s related to their gender identity, the sexual orientation, the religious beliefs or lack there of or non-traditional political affiliations. People, intentionally or not, make others feel bad by proselytizing the script. I can honestly say that I was well into my 40’s before people stopped trying to make me feel bad for not following the script and accepted I likely never would, and that frankly I didn’t care about their script.

Tonight I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to follow that script. The script is shit! It never fit me, it doesn’t fit a lot of people, in fact I’ll go so far to say there are plenty of people who follow the script who are very unhappy because it doesn’t fit them but they’re living it. I personally know a number of people who got married because it was the right time in their life, not because it was the right person or relationship. I’ve watched people get married because they feared living alone, we all know, that living alone means you’re a relationship failure, or something is wrong with you.

The script is deeply embedded in society, I’ll never a forget a first date I had. The date was going great, we had things in common, we talked easily, we laughed and I could tell she really liked me. Then she asked me the big question, “have you really never been married? Then, she was more honest than most, she followed up with, “you seem great, and that makes me wonder what’s wrong with you?” I said to her, you’d be happier if I’d met someone, got married and couldn’t make it work, utterly complicated my life and possibly threw some kid’s lives in turmoil? So, that would make me ok, making a bad decision, but not having found the right person, so not just getting married to get married makes me defective? I was about 35 at the time. She was completely perplexed and stunned then, she said, “I never thought about it that way.” I let her know at that point that her lack of thinking is why we wouldn’t have a second date. She was offended, called me a couple of names, now that she’d confirmed there was something wrong with me and stormed out. The night worked out ok, the waitress had been in earshot during the conversation, brought the check, smiled and said, “I think you dodged a bullet,” her phone number was on the check.

The thing is you could see that this woman, and most of society are convinced that the script is success in life, it’s not. And I know this because I’m almost 60 and a lot of those people who earlier in my life had assumed my life was a total failure, now have great admiration for the unconventional path I’ve followed. They see someone who utterly ignored the script who is happy, in a good place career wise and financially, who has also traveled the world, had many adventures, written books and is a very interesting person overall. They never saw that as possible, they didn’t think you could find success unless you followed the script.

So if you don’t fit, GOOD! Build your own path, take the road less traveled or even untraveled. Find your own way. Will it be easy, absolutely not, will people look at you weird, question your sanity, make you feel bad, yes, unfortunately they will. But there are enough of us square pegs in the world who will cheer you on. I’m here to tell you that your own unique path can lead to success, happiness, a well-lived life and provide you with many happy days my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness Moments: Four Trolls on a Bridge

Happiness Moments: Four Trolls on a Bridge

Appalachian Trail, hiking, happiness

White Blazes make me happy

So a new little writing experiment for the blog. I’ve been wanting to find a way to do some free writing as practice. And I’ve been wanting to capture the moments in my life that have brought me true happiness. I need that little pick me up right now with everything going on in the world and no real chance to travel. So, some writing about happy moments in my life, hope they bring you a little happiness too.

For tonight’s post I’m going to get a little lazy, since I’ve already written a post about this.  And even that post was a bit lazy because it’s basically an excerpt from my five star rated book on Amazon, Appalachian Trail Happiness.

I loved my time on the Appalachian Trail, one-hundred nights, a thousand miles and although tough, very few bad moments during the over three month adventure.  One particular day very much felt like a scene out of a movie and is a really wonderful memory on a day when I hiked the majority of the day with four members of the AARP gang, I hope you enjoy the story.

Four Trolls on a Bridge

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Happiness is Poetry: Edgar Allan Poe

Happiness is Poetry: Edgar Allan Poe

poe, poetry, poem

Edgar Allan Poe

Sometimes I’m terrified of my own heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants.  The way it stops and starts. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

I have always loved Edgar Allan Poe’s stories.  The Cask of Amontillado had an incredible impact on me the first time I read it.  I didn’t come to Poe’s poetry til much later, you see he likes to rhyme and I have an innate dislike for rhyming poetry.  But I was far too quick to judge Poe, the more I read of his work, the more I have come to like it.  He paints amazing pictures and creates a mood that I truly envy as a writer.  Below are a few of his pieces, enjoy and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Annabel Lee       (1849)

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;–
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
She was a child and I was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love–
I and my Annabel Lee–
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud by night
Chilling my Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me:–
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of a cloud, chilling
And killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we–
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in Heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:–

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea–
In her tomb by the side of the sea.

 

The Sleeper     (1831)

At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin molders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.
All Beauty sleeps!- and lo! where lies
Irene, with her Destinies!

O, lady bright! can it be right-
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
Laughingly through the lattice drop-
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully- so fearfully-
Above the closed and fringed lid
‘Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,
That, o’er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come O’er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress,
Strange, above all, thy length of tress,
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
For ever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold-
Some vault that oft has flung its black
And winged panels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o’er the crested palls,
Of her grand family funerals-

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
Against whose portal she hath thrown,
In childhood, many an idle stone-
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne’er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
It was the dead who groaned within.

 

A Dream within A Dream     (1850)

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

 

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25 Life Tips

25 Life Tips

Advice is like snow – the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind. ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I am fortunate enough to have some amazing friends, one of them is the girl who sat next to me in my senior year Psychology Class, Shari Berman.  Below is a note from Shari about her experiences and what she’s faced in life as well as some of the work she’s doing.  The one thing I’ve always admired about her is her seemingly endless well of positivity.  It has absolutely served her well.  Tonight, with her permission of course, I’m sharing one of Shari’s blog posts, her 25 Tips for Life.  Give it a read and check out her site and blog and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

A note from Shari Berman

A cancer diagnosis at age 25, changed my perspective and ultimately the way I live my life. Young adults typically do not face serious illness and I have learned how to live with uncertainty and how to practice gratitude. Living intentionally and with purpose has been my mantra and I share my unique perspective in my blog Best Life After Cancer. 

https://shariberman.net/

 I have been advocating for patients for years to improve their experience with the healthcare system and helping empower them to make decisions about their care. My newest venture is educating patients about medical cannabis and how it is used as a complementary and alternative therapy. Cannabis is a tool in our overall wellness, and I help people understand how to best use it to improve quality of life.

Visit me at Canna Healing Consulting https://www.cannahealingconsulting.com/

25 Life Tips

1. Life is short. Don’t wait for the perfect moment to DO or SAY something important to you.

2. Death is not failure. It is part of life and the more we accept that fact the more we can live intentionally and without as much fear.

3. A simple act of kindness can make someone’s day and leave a lasting impression.

4. You have the ability to make an impact. Leave your mark. Share your experience, your knowledge with others.

5.“Hope” is powerful.

6. If you don’t know what to say to someone in crisis, try saying “I don’t know what to say. But I want you to know I am thinking of you.”

7. You are stronger than you think. Trust me, you are.

8. Life is better with a dog.

9. Trust your gut. Intuition is powerful.

10. It is important to take a “time-out”. Walking clears your head

11. People will surprise you. In time of crisis there will be those who disappear, and others you might not expect, who will be by your side. People cope differently.

12. There are no guarantees in life. Life isn’t fair. Don’t take things for granted. In a blink of an eye life as you know it can change. None of us are immune to life’s challenges.

13. Cancer sucks.

14. Learn how to say “no”. You don’t actually have to do (certain) things you don’t want to do. You don’t need to please everyone. Be thoughtful on how you want to spend your time.

15. A good friendship goes both ways. Some friendships grow with you, others do not. Nurture the relationships that are most important to you.

16. You don’t have as much control as you think. As hard as it may be not to worry, it really doesn’t change the outcome. Let go of what you cannot control and focus on what you can control.

17. Every one has a story and a journey. What you see superficially is usually not the full story.

18. In the end it is all about our relationships with each other. Remind yourself what is most important to you, ESPECIALLY on those days when everything seems to be going wrong and personalities and emotions are involved.

19. Get rid of stuff. All the stuff you ever owned may be important to you but probably not to anyone else. Just more to throw out in the end.

20. It is so important to laugh.

21. Life is full of curveballs. Expect the unexpected.

22. You don’t always have a choice in the cards you are dealt, but you do have a choice in how you will respond.

23. Breathe. Slow down. Find your “happy place” that soothes your soul.

24. Stay true to yourself. Most of the time it doesn’t matter what people think and they don’t always care as much as you think they do.

25. Take time to live in the moment. Appreciate what you have today.

 

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Happiness Resources: The Power of Hugs

Happiness Resources: The Power of Hugs

happiness, hugA hug is like a boomerang you get it right back, right away ~ Bil Keane

 

Tonight as a companion to a recent piece on Happiness & Hugs, a tour around the web to show you just how important they are for you.  So give a hug and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

 

Ten Reasons to Give More Hugs

happiness, hug

Happiness Tip: Give 8 Hugs a Day

happiness, hugs

How Hugging Makes You Healthier & Happier

happiness, hug

The Art of Smiling & Being Positive

happiness, hug

The Amazing Power of Hugs

01Smiles, Hugs & Laughter, a New Kind of Happiness

 

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Let go, tune out, be happy!

Let go, tune out, be happy!

Over the years we’ve talked about so many particular aspects of happiness. We’ve talked about how worry assaults our happiness. We’ve talked about removing difficult people from our lives, we’ve addressed not being afraid. And many, many more things that impact our happiness. We’ve looked at the philosophy of Deng Ming-dao, of the Dalai Lama. I’ve even posted touching stories, Like Remember the Sweet Things, that go to the very core and nature of appreciation and happiness. All of this is great information and can be helpful, but we do have to make sure we also don’t over think things. Sometimes you just have to let go, tune out of your normal life and do something that makes you happy. Keep it simple.

That’s what this past weekend was for me. You see this past week/weekend included a synergy of two of my favorite events in sports. The NFL draft, and the Kentucky Derby. I’m a big Pittsburgh Steeler fan, I’ve attended training camp, flown to Pittsburgh for a Thursday Night Football Steeler game versus their biggest rival, the Baltimore Ravens. During NFL season, those close to me know not to bother me during the time the Steelers are playing unless it’s an emergency.

Steeler coach Mike Tomlin at training camp.

Horse Racing has been something I’ve been interested in since 1973. As a nine year old my grandmother and her boyfriend took me to the Harness Races at Saratoga Raceway. It was a top shelf kind of night, we were up in the clubhouse with the good food and the lovely indoor seats. And my grandmother told me that I could make $20 worth of bets over the evening. So in the first race of the night there’s a horse running called CC Byrd. It was a 8-1 shot and I decided to bet all $20 to win. Now my grandmother and boyfriend tried really hard to talk me out of it but I was an arrogant little shit and said since they said it was my money and my bets I could do what I want. So they decided, and told me that it was a mistake and would be a good lesson for me to learn how to be more careful with my money. You can probably see where this is going, CC Byrd came screaming home for the win and I got a $180 payout. Now for a nine year-old in 1973 I was rich and horse racing was forever in my blood.

I’m not an adrenaline junkie in the sense of needing to drive fast or do dangerous things. I know some people think that the adventures I go on are nuts and explain them away as me being just that. However, as I’ve talked about, my adventures are always thoroughly researched and I’m always really well prepared for them. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t some danger at times, but I’m usually taking a much smaller risk than people realize. But without a doubt, that small adrenaline/dopamine blast you get from gambling is something I like very much. But I’ve never been someone who enjoys just random chance. For instance, most slot machines seem ridiculous to me, I like games where I have some choice, some input, some way to increase my chances of being successful. So with slot machines what I like is Video Poker, I have some impact in the particular game with the best odds. The same with craps, I can choose to bet in the best way to maximize my chances of winning. Of course, there’s still random chance involved and that’s what brings that little blast of brain chemicals. When you’ve done the prep-work, made the right decision, and then bam, win money, it’s an absolute thrill for me.

Horse racing works on this level for me better than anything else. And I will mention here that yes, I know, some people are very against horse racing. I do acknowledge that there are some problems in the industry that need, and are being addressed. If those problems can’t be resolved than maybe horse racing needs to go away and I would support that, but until that’s resolved I will continue to enjoy watching and betting horse races. For me, working the information, handicapping a race and especially when you see something that really makes a longer shot look like a possibility, and that horse comes in to win, it’s absolutely thrilling.

So this past week as of Thursday night I basically was shut down for the weekend except for the working hours I had to put in on Friday. I ordered a pizza and had my first coke in a month and sat back and thoroughly enjoyed the first round of the NFL draft. My team took a controversial pick that I liked, it was all great fun. On Friday, at the end of the work day, the Kentucky Oaks was running at Churchill Downs, it’s the big precursor race to the Derby on Saturday. The race was pretty easy to handicap and Malathaat was a pretty easy favorite to back. I’d played this horse earlier this spring at Keeneland, it’s a magnificently talented horse and was spectacular at Keeneland. It ran an equally fabulous race in the Kentucky Oaks. There is a bet that happens, a double where you pick the winner of the Oaks and the Derby. Malathaat was the easy bet, the Derby this year was a pretty even race and a tougher bet.

malathaat winning Kentucky Oaks
Malathaat winning the Kentucky Oaks

About a month ago I was really high on a Bab Baffert horse, Medina Spirit. But after watching it run at Keeneland I was really disappointed in the effort and came off it in favor of chasing a long shot in the Derby. But I had bet Medina Spirit in a futures bet a month ago, and covered the horse to win at the Derby just in case. As you probably know, Medina Spirit got the right trip for that horse and won. I also had included Medina Spirit in the Oaks/Derby Double. So I won about $90 on the derby which covered the wide range of bets I had made and left me with about a $20 profit. On the Derby, I always go big, because catching the right bet at the Derby can mean literally winning thousands of dollars if a long shot comes in. So I got Medina Spirit to win, but missed on the much higher paying exotic bets.

Medina Spirit Kentucky Derby
Medina Spirit winning the Kentucky Derby

On Derby weekend I typically go to whatever racetrack I’m closest to for the day. It’s a huge day at every track and lots of inexperienced betters all day means that payouts are better and I usually do pretty well on those days. Of course COVID impacted that this year so I had to play online, but it meant, like horse betting in a casino, I got to play multiple tracks all day, I was playing seven different tracks and bet over 50 races for the day, it was a blast. By time I got to the last race of the night I had broken even, which is always the goal, to have a lot of fun and not lose any money, if you win that’s just icing on the cake. I got to the last race of the night even but I had the four horses in the final leg of a big three I was still alive in. They all paid enough to allow me to cover the other horses in the race and still be ahead, which guaranteed it would be a winning day. But sitting back is not really my way, and so I played the race beyond covering the non-related pick three bets. As the race finished, two horses were in a photo finish for third and fourth. The photo revealed that by a nostril it came out the way I needed it to which meant a huge hit on the final race of the day. In all on the race I pulled down over $700 in profit! It was an amazing end to a really great day.

The point of all of this is not that I won some money this weekend. It’s that I thoroughly disconnected from all of the stressors in my life and did something that is just plain fun for me. Along with the draft and the races, I ate pizza, I made homemade nachos, I made a big batch of zucchini fritters and had a really good piece of red velvet cake. I took a couple of great walks in the sun and worked out one night. I slept in late and generally just relaxed. And that’s the point, from time to time we have to find the space to do this. We need this for our own mental well-being but this is also a really important part of life. It’s the old Ferris Bueller line, “life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you might just miss it.” It’s also the old cliche we all know, quote and pretty much ignore, “from time to time you have to stop and smell the roses,” or play the ponies. Whatever it is you do, it’s really important to have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness Moments: Crosby, Stills & Nash

Happiness Moments: Crosby, Stills & Nash

crosby, stills & nash

So a new little writing experiment for the blog. I’ve been wanting to find a way to do some free writing as practice. And I’ve been wanting to capture the moments in my life that have brought me true happiness. I need that little pick me up right now with everything going on in the world and no real chance to travel. So, some writing about happy moments in my life, hope they bring you a little happiness too.

Crosby, Stills & Nash’s music has always held a special place for me, their music has always hit very emotional places for me.  The lyrics in these songs have also always fed my imagination.  As a traveler, songs like Southern Cross and the Marrakesh Express made me long to go to Morocco and into the southern hemisphere where I could see these things.  So, tonight a trio of happy moments tied directly in one form or another to Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Our House

A long time ago I was living in Sacramento, CA.  I’m also a horse racing fan and was at Cal Expo for the harness races.  I saw a beautiful woman standing at the rail during one of the races, and she was there for the next as well and really seemed to be alone.  I placed my bet for the next race and decided to be a little bold.  So I walked up and stood next to her at the rail.  I said hi, and as you do at the track asked which horse she was betting.  She told me, and I jokingly told her that she was wrong, I had the race dialed in and told her what I knew the trifecta (1st, 2nd and 3rd in order) would be.  I told her it would pay well and when it came in, I’d even buy her a beer.  She laughed, “deal”, she said.  The horses came around the final turn and were set up exactly as I predicted and came thundering home exactly as I said.  She walked away after the race and I went up to cash in, make my next bet and buy us each a beer.  I came back to the rail and she was nowhere in sight.  I stood at the rail and just as the race was beginning she walked up and stood next to me.  I reached down and picked up her beer and handed it to her.  She laughed, “you really bought me one”, I told her I’d promised.

We would watch the races together and she would give me her phone number before the end of the night.  A couple of days later I called, answering machine.  This happened several days in a row.  At that point, I realized I was likely being blown off and had nothing to lose.  So I started calling her machine and leaving funny messages, she had told me her dogs name and a little about her roommate.  So I left messages chatting with her dog, telling jokes, flirting with her roommate.  I finally got a call back and a date.  I would later find out that the reason she finally called back was that her roommate had given her an ultimatum, either she call me back, or she was going to call and go out with me.

We would date sporadically over about a year, nothing very serious but a lot of fun.  She was amazing, smart, beautiful and had a great outlook on life.  She was always up for an adventure and I always enjoyed spending time with her.  One night I took her to Cal Expo, not the race track but the concert venue, to see Crosby, Stills & Nash.  I have this really amazing memory of having her in front of me, my arms around her singing along to Our House at the concert.  She melted a bit that night and it was probably the closest moment we ever had and was a really simple and happy moment for me.

The Southern Cross

While in graduate school at the University of Tennessee I was a teaching assistant for an Ecology of the Amazon course.  We would take students to Brazil for ten days, we would lead them around the city of Manaus for several days doing cultural and scientific sites.  We would then take them onto a boat and go up river in the Amazon on the Rio Negro, living on the river for four days.  I did this class a few times and it was always an absolutely amazing experience.  Fishing for piranha, swimming in flooded forests and seeing pink river dolphins.  But one of the most amazing things were the stars at night.  Laying on the deck of the boat or on a beach staring at the sky was simply amazing.  With no light pollution what so ever, there were just layers upon layers of stars in the night sky.

One night we took the students to a really unique place, a floating bar on the river.  Some industrious locals had created a floating bar on top of massive Amazonian tree logs.  It was a small place but they served drinks and some barbecue.  So we went there for dinner and for drinks for those old enough.  My Portuguese was not very good at this point and I spend a large part of the night pecking through a choppy conversation with a couple of Brazilian women.  At one point, two of us went to sit at the edge of the bar’s platform.  Sitting there, looking at the stars my new friend pointed up, and there it was, the Southern Cross, it was clear and bright and wonderful and immediately Crosby, Stills & Nash rang through my mind.  I don’t think I could have picked a more perfect way to see the Southern Cross for the first time.

Marrakesh Express

The CSN song that has most driven my imagination however is Marrakesh Express.  The idea of riding a train, which I love, combined with being in Morocco always drove my sense of wonder.  Combined with the descriptions of the square in the old city, “charming Cobras in the square,” made me long to see Morocco and Marrakesh in particular.  A couple of years ago I made it there.  I had hoped to take the train to Marrakesh but it didn’t work for my trip.  So I flew into Marrakesh, and after spending several days in the old city, including time in Jemaa El-Fna Square I would take the train out of Marrakesh.  The old city was absolutely incredibly and overwhelming and indeed, there were cobra charmers in the square.

rev kane cobra selfieLeaving  Marrakesh I took the Marrakesh Express in reverse, from Marrakesh to Tangier.  On the train I would have the amazing fortune to sit next to a woman named Hannah.  She was a Brazilian traveler who had studied in the US had been traveling in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.  At the same time, I had just been traveling in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.  She would change trains in Casablanca, fitting in itself, and I would go on to Tangier.  But for four hours we talked non-stop bouncing between English, Spanish and Portuguese it was one of the most magnificent conversations I’ve ever had, helped of course by the surroundings, the fact that she was brilliant and beautiful and that we were riding, on the Marrakesh Express.

 

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