On Hiking Alone

On Hiking Alone

01I really like this quote, thanks to my sister for sharing it with me. There has been a lot of talk in comment sections, in the NY Times and on Social Media about the woman who died in Maine. A lot of people are posting reminders, never hike alone, it’s not safe. Let’s understand something, hiking is inherently not safe, you can ask a lot of my hiking friends, or me for that matter. Hiking is a dangerous activity one misstep can lead to damaged, knees, backs, bones or even death. We talked about this a lot on the Appalachian Trail last year.  A wrong turn can get you lost and in some places lost for good. You can get bit by poisonous snakes, mosquitoes (the most dangerous), bears, or mountain lions.  But I’ll tell you this, sitting on the couch will kill you a hell of a lot faster and in less pleasurable surroundings.

fix nh1 colorIt’s not always possible to have a hiking partner and most day hikes are unbelievably safe, at least as safe as any hike can be.  There are also some serious benefits to hiking alone, you’re quieter so you see a lot more wildlife.  You get to be alone with your thoughts and even find natural quiet.  You get to pick your own pace and control how far and how hard you go without inconveniencing anyone else.

fix nh2Now, there are trade offs, there always are, hiking alone is more dangerous and remote hiking can exponentially increase that danger.  I just think in most places, on most days, the trade offs are acceptable, but my eyes are wide open and yours should be as well.  If I die on a hike because I’m alone, I’m good with that, not the dying part, the fact that I willingly put myself in that situation and knew the potential consequences.

3 q day 1More important than having a hiking partner, in my estimation, is preparation.  I think a solo well-prepared hiker is safer than a pair of unprepared hikers.  You should know the area, at least at a general map level. You should have a map, supplies (yes your pack will be heavier), you should give an itinerary to someone and they should know what time/day means you’re overdue and they should be concerned.  You should have a compass and know how to navigate with it.  Knowing at least a little bit about living off the land is also a good skill to have.  You don’t have to be Suvivor Man/Woman, but you should have some basic skills especially if you are going remote.  Knowing how to properly deal with wildlife like bears, snakes and mountain lions is also a good idea.

KODAK Digital Still CameraNONE OF THIS, is to say that people who have gotten lost or died weren’t prepared.  No matter how prepared you are things can happen that you can’t control.  It’s horribly sad when hikers get lost or injured and end up dead.  So please be prepared, be careful but don’t completely abandon the idea of hiking alone, I’m not going to give it up anytime soon, and I plan on having many happy hiking days. ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

My favorite AT photos from 2015

Thru-hike Gear Lists

Thru-hike FAQ’s – Part 1

My Appalachian Trail Resources Page

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Trail Community

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Precious Moments

Posted in Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness, Happiness is Adventure | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Back to the Basics to Be Happy

Back to the Basics to Be Happy

be happy, back to the basics

One way to be happy

Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got. ~ Benjamin Hoff, author – The Tao of Pooh

If you read this blog regularly you know, like others, I suffer through periods where I’m out of sorts and not as happy as I would like to be, life right?  When I write about these times I often mention getting back to the basics to be happy.  It hit me the last time I wrote that, that I’ve never actually done a post on what that means, so here it is tonight.

Getting Back to the Basics

First of all when I say the basics what am I talking about?  I’m talking about the essentials of life, the lower levels of Maslow’s Pyramid if you like.  My short list includes the following; eating, sleeping, exercise, drinking water, shelter, safety and human contact

eating right, be happy

Balanced can also be happy

Eating right

Nutrition is incredibly important, so one of the first things you have to ask when you’re feeling out of sorts is are you eating right?  And what does that even mean?  For me, having blood sugar issues it usually means am I laying off of Coca Cola.  But in general the issue is, are you eating in a balanced way.  Are you getting enough protein?  Are your meals of consistent sizes and eaten at consistent times.  Are you eating late at night just before bed or eating things that are leading to upset stomachs or indigestion?  Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables?  And yes I sound like your mom right now, but making sure your diet is balanced lets your body act naturally and do the things it is supposed to do.  Eating right is a great first step to feeling better and it’s a lot easier to be happy if you physically feel good.

sleep, be happy, happiness

Sleep to be happy

Sleeping

Are you getting enough sleep?  This is a really fundamentally important question for me.  If I’m not getting enough sleep I seem to eat worse, and my mood really starts to tank and can lead me into a bout of the blues pretty quickly.  Sleep is also not always a consistent period, the myth of 8 hours of sleep doesn’t work for everyone.  Some people need less, some people need more.  When I’m exercising regularly and eating well, about seven and a half hours is enough for me.  The worse my diet is the more I need and when I’m eating poorly and my blood sugar is high I often regularly need 9 hours a night.  Having enough sleep is a great way to try to be happy.  A rested brain that has had the chance to recover helps everything look just a little bit better.

taylor swift, exercise, be happy

Exercise to be happy?

Exercise

Regular exercise, I know, it’s the last thing you want to hear about, but regular exercise is really crucial to overall health and to help you to be happy.  When you exercise you sleep better, you reduce your stress levels and a myriad of other benefits to regular exercise.

be happy, getting back to basics

Even squirrels know to get back to basics.

Drinking water

Probably the easiest way to correct feeling out of sorts sometime is just to drink some water.  Being properly hydrated is something that I pay a lot of attention to as someone who hikes, lives and plays in the desert.  Getting dehydrated can actually  be quite dangerous.  I remember the first time I went to Burning Man, the playa where it is held is hot, dry and at a couple of thousand feet above sea level.  I had driven in from land cool, moist sea air in Monterey, CA.  But being a tough guy I started right in setting up and going hard at getting my camp set up.  A friend and veteran burner kept calmly recommending that I take a break, have a snack, drink some water.  I didn’t listen, at least not until the world began spinning a bit.  Then a chair, a cooking and about 32 ounces of water got things right.  An extreme example I realize but staying hydrated is hugely important.

back to basics, be happy

Hopefully your shelter is better than this one

Shelter and Safety

This is one that I really hope is a quick check off of everyone’s list. The biggest of the basics a roof over your head is an absolute basic need.  It’s incredibly hard to be happy if you are homeless because not being sheltered from the elements also means you have no safe place to sleep.  These things though have a less literal interpretation though that is equally important.  Are you comfortable in your home, is your home environment free from stress and conflict, is it a refuge from the world or just another place in a storm.  Safety also means psychological safety.  If the place you call home is not someplace you feel safe and sheltered, it’s hard to be happy.

be happy, human contact

A hug to be happy

Human Contact

One of the things that gets overlooked as a basic to be happy is a decent level of human contact.  There is a lot of research on the benefits of getting hugs.  But any caring contact matters.  One of the things I love most about visiting oldest sister’s house is that fact that my nieces are both hug machines and the older is the best back scratcher I know.  Massage is also a way to get this type of contact.  We release chemicals in our body when we get caring contact that elevate our mood and help us to be happy.

So when you’re feeling a blue, a little out of sorts try getting back to basics to be happy.  Go through the checklist, most of the time something off of the list above is lacking.  So get what you need and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts to Help You Get Back to Basics and Be Happy!

The Best of the Ministry of Happiness

We hear you, We see you, We love you

Happiness, Attitude and Simple Pleasures

 

 

 

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

Slow Down, Relax, Be Happy

Slow Down, Relax, Be Happy

01Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things. ~ Kenneth Branagh

The holidays are upon us, work has been incredibly busy, I’ve been working six days a week for the last month and staying late a couple of nights a week.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel and soon things should mellow out a bit and give me some time to kick back.  I have a great trip planned for part of my break time.

So it’s time to sit back and relax and take it all in, all of life, the sun and the clouds, the people, the madness, all of it.  Just be thankful for life, grab a cup of tea or cocoa and find a spot in front of the fire and just be.

That’s what I’m doing tonight, I hope you are as well so we can both have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Worry, the Enemy of Happiness

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is Reducing Stress

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

A little visual happiness

A little tour around the web and through Facebook for some images to make and remind us about happiness ~ Rev Kane

 

 

 

 

 

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

TED talks on Happiness

TED talks on Happiness

talks on happiness, on happiness, kindness

The Dalai Lama professes on happiness and kindness

If you don’t know about TED talks yet, prepared to become addicted. The TED series takes entertaining experts in their field and has them put together a talk on the new, the unique, the cutting edge of their field.

There is a TED radio hour and this week they put out a series of talks on the Pursuit of Happiness, I particularly like the third talk by Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce and Happiness, enjoy and as always have a happy day my friends! ~ Rev Kane

For those of you who are more visually oriented, some more TED talks on happiness:

Nancy Etcoff on the surprising science of happiness

Nick Marks: The Happy Planet Index

Matthieu Ricard on the habits of happiness

Other talks on Happiness

AT Happiness: Reflections on Happiness

Deng Ming-Dao on Happiness

Videos on Happiness

The Dalai  Lama on Happiness

 

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

Happiness is Thanksgiving, Kindness & Gratitude

Happiness is Thanksgiving, Kindness & Gratitude

aGratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.                                  ~ William Arthur Ward

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

 

I LOVE THANKSGIVING !!!!!!!!

I really do, I love the holiday, I love this time of year, the weather, football season and eating, man do I love cooking and eating.  So, when you combine all of these elements together, all on ONE day, well, that makes me a very happy man. This is an especially happy year as I was in Canada for their Thanksgiving so I get TWO this year!

As I sat down to write my annual homage to my favorite holiday I thought I should see what I’ve written before and holy cow, I wrote a lot.  So for this year’s Thanksgiving post I’ve decided to repost some of the old ones and include a series of links on pieces I wrote about kindness and gratitude because that’s really what this is all about.  As much as the food and the football and the fall weather are spectacular, in the end it is about being thankful for what we have and finding ways to be kind to others.  Truly, if we could just concentrate on those two things in life this would be a better world.

So, enjoy some Thanksgving Day reading, relax and a have a very happy day my friends     ~ Rev Kane

a

Why Thanksgiving is My Favorite Holiday

Happiness and a Thanksgiving Day Hike

Happiness is Thanksgiving Day Dinner – This one has cooking tips and info.

Thanksgiving Stories – some funny stories about other people’s Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving – Some words from the Dalai Lama

1

Happiness & Gratitude for the small things

Friends, Joy, Gratitude & Transition

Quotes about Gratitude, Happiness & Kindness

Happiness & the Benefits of Gratitude

Videos: Inspiration, Kindness & Gratitude

 

21

Angels Among Us, A True Story of Kindness & Giving

Happiness Resources: Positivity, Kindness & Gratitude

Random Acts of Kindness & Happiness

The Dalai Lama on the Kindness of Others

Random Happiness: Stories of Kindness

 

 

Posted in Random Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happiness is Photography: Mardi Gras 2016 – Krewe of the Bossom Buddies

Happiness is Photography:

Mardi Gras 2016 Krewe of the Bossom Buddies

fix bosom buddiesThe Krewe of the Bossom Buddies & Breast Friends is a unique Mardi Gras parade.  It’s a fairly new Krewe and they parade in the French Quarter in the mid-day.  It’s a small, walking parade, no floats, just the fabulous ladies, the men that support them and a band.  I loved this little parade, the ladies were fun, flirty and amazingly photogenic.  It’s a quick parade but the throws are great both the beads and the breasts they hand out.  I’ll let the pictures tell the whole story, enjoy ~ Rev Kane

fix parade 6

The Grand Boobah distributing breasts

 

The lovely ladies of the Krewe of Bossom Buddies & Breast Friends

fix parade 1 fix parade 2 fix parade 3 fix parade 4 fix parade 5 fix parade 7

fix parade 8 fix parade 9 fix parade 10 fix parade 11 fix parade 12fix parade 13

 

And some pictures of the Big Fun Brass Band

fix band 6 fix band 5 fix band 4 fix band 3 fix band 2 fix band 1

Other Photography Posts You Might Enjoy!

Mardi Gras in Mobile

Burning Man 2014

Trekking in the Himalayas

Polar Bears & Northern Lights

Amazing Photo Collections

Posted in Happiness is Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Fantastic Fungi

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Fantastic Fungi

quoteOne of the more surprising and amazing things that I’ve encountered on the Appalachian Trail have been the mushrooms and lichens.  Tonight a little tour of some of these amazing organisms.

First a couple that resembled things, the punisher skull:

skull lichen 1The love lichen

10519182_10153289153324866_6222711512978079965_n

Some are so delicious the forest critters couldn’t hold back

34A few I saw and had to find pics of on the web

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

toadstool 2 toadstool3 toadstool4 toadstool5

And the beautiful rest:

7 9 10 100_0116 DSCF0007 12 11 DSCF0004 IMGP8481 IMGP8482 shroom shrooms

We find beauty everywhere in nature, have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Posted in Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Joys of Traveling Solo

The Joys of Traveling Solo

alone  quote, dyer

It is far better to be alone, than in bad company. ~ George Washington

So I was reading the San Francisco Chronicle the other day and this article popped up, no friends, no problem – great Northern California trips for flying solo. I have absolutely no problem with the content of the article.  The trips they recommend are the pretty standard fare for the paper.  So a mixture of things I’ve already done, some that are ridiculously expensive or trendy and a good idea or two.

The problem I have is the title of the piece.  The title reinforces the ridiculous idea that the only time anyone travels alone is if they are some kind of weirdo who has no friends.  It’s this kind of limited thinking that keeps people from doing things on their own.  One of my sisters won’t eat alone in a restaurant because she fears people will have this very thought.  I know lots of people who travel alone, as a matter of fact my friend Bubbles, not her real name, but what I call her is quite possibly the most social human being I’ve ever met and she often travels alone.

I’ve written before about hiking alone, and tonight I just really wanted to remind people to ignore the sentiment, I’ve written blog posts before on hiking alone and traveling alone.  I’ve even written about the joys of being alone.  Time with yourself can be some of the best time you get, in a world where we are constantly bombarded with people, emails and social media, (see my post from last night), it is really wonderful to have some time just to yourself.  There are lots of articles about why you should spend more time alone, and the benefits that come from doing just that.

So take some time alone my friends and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

 

 

alone quote, marilyn monroe

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

Happiness and the Wuhan Virus

Happiness and the Wuhan Virus

worry, happiness

We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing. We worry too much. We don’t allow our bodies to heal, and we don’t allow our minds and hearts to heal. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

First off let me say that I feel badly for the families of those who have been sickened or killed by the illness caused by the Covid-19, commonly known as the Wuhan,virus after the epicenter of the infection.  It’s a scary disease, particularly since there are a lot of unknowns and the epidemic will certainly have large economic impacts in addition to the lives that will be lost.  But for most of us outside of China, the basic things we should always do to avoid getting ill should protect us.  So wash your hands frequently, with soap, the soap part is really important.  Avoid people who are obviously sick, and most of all touch your face less.  Yes, touching your face less really can keep you healthy.

But this post really isn’t about the virus or the outbreak.  Tonight I want to talk about anxiety and how to reduce it.  It seems these days that we have an epidemic of worry.  Worry is the enemy of happiness and one way to increase your happiness is to reduce the amount of worry in your life.

The 24 hour news cycle and social media

So in our modern world we deal with something previous generations never had to cope with, the 24 hour news cycle and social media.  At any moment we can tap into what’s going on almost anywhere in the world.  The simple fact is that the news stories that sell the most papers and get the most clicks are the ones about negative life events.  By that I mean, disasters, murders and scandals.  There is an old saying in the news business, if it bleeds it leads.   So this means the more news you consume, the more negative things you’re going to read, hear and see about the world.  The fact is that crime rates including murder have generally been decreasing for decades.  You are likely living in the safest time in your life, but does it feel like it?  No, because even though there is less crime, there’s far more access to every murder, every disaster or disease anywhere in the world. So it actually seems like there is more, when there isn’t.

We not only have 24 hour cable news in constant rotation constantly showing all of the horrors in the world.  We also have internet access 24 hours a day to not just the news, but commentary and conspiracy theories.  What’s even worse about social media are the algorithms they employ, if you click on the bad stuff, the bad stuff becomes a higher priority so you see more and more.  It’s the worst nightmare version of  falling into Alice’s Rabbit Hole.

This type of constant negativity takes a toll on you psychologically.  It can enhance or possibly even create the types of anxiety orders many people experience these days.  There are of course ways to combat this and this article gives some good advice.  But the simplest advice I can give you, is that you need to learn to unplug.

fear happiness

Reducing stress and anxiety in your life

Look, bad things are going to happen to all of us.  We will be unlucky, the tire goes flat, the belt in the engine breaks, some vital fluid leaks out of your car.  You and those you love are going to get sick.  I’m not talking about these things, they happen from no fault of your own and when they do, you persist.  You try to be resilient, stay positive and push through until things get better.  No I’m talking about the day to day sort of stress and anxiety we all experience.

Let’s talk about work

First let’s talk about work.  Don’t work seven days in a row, because in fact, you can’t.  The minute you work seven days you’re into the next five day week, so that immediately becomes twelve days in a row.  I know, you’re busy, the work piles up, your boss is on your back, but take one day a week at least and JUST DON’T WORK!  Making this decision almost fifteen years ago was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.  There are lots of stresses at work and the hardest thing you will ever learn is how to wall off work from the rest of your life.  Sure, you care about your job, you work hard and want to do a good job.  But it really is true, on their death bed, no one ever says I wish I had worked more.  Keep that life/work balance that we all need to be healthy.  I’m linking to one of my previous blogs to help you out, tips on keeping work/life balance.

Do a little self care

Self care is a really popular word these days, it sounds really fancy and new age fabulous.  The fact is it has a really simple meaning, it means do something nice for yourself, make sure that you get the things you need to be well.  Because you can’t be there for everyone else, if you’re not doing well yourself.  So find a little alone time, ask for help sometimes, get a massage or go for a walk.  Have that ice cream sundae, if that will make you happy.  Simply take good care of yourself, eat good, exercise or at least move and get enough sleep.  These are easy ideas that are hard to implement sometimes, but the better you do with this, the better you’ll feel, the happier you will be.

The last thing I want to talk about tonight combines where this piece started with what we’ve just been talking about.  I guess you could consider this a form of self-care.

Find time to unplug

So I started this piece by talking about the Wuhan Virus and all of the news that we see around it, as well as the the 24 hour news cycle and the constant bombardment of bad news, politics and conspiracy theory we see on our social media feeds.  The simplest way to avoid this anchor on our happiness is to avoid it.  We all need to take time to unplug.  I know, our lives are intimately woven into our social media and that’s ok, it’s a part of how life works these days.   But take some breaks from it.  Please stay away from your phone while you’re driving.  But set a time at night to stop looking at your media feeds, turn off the sound notifications so you’re not tempted to check in.  Put your phones away during your meals.  Limit the number of times a day you check your feeds.  I know this doesn’t sound like a lot, but the less time you spend getting bombarded with the negativity the better you will feel and the easier it will be to increase that avoidance time.

The bigger piece though is the true breaks.  You need to regularly, weekly would be ideal but likely not reasonable, monthly would be great.  Take a day a month and fully unplug from your feeds.  Do it by getting out in nature if at all possible, take a day at the beach or walk in the mountains.  Take your family for a picnic someplace and then watch the sunset.  Again, the more time away from those feeds, the more positive and then the happier you will feel.  If you can do this, maybe you can take the big step, taking a real vacation.

Taking a real vacation

I’ve written about taking a real vacation before and my advice remains solid.  You have to get out of your normal life and your normal life includes that social media feed you’re constantly on.  Yes, that includes your email as well.  So the next time you take a vacation, take a real vacation.  Let the people you work with know that you’ll be inaccessible for at least a few days while you’re gone.  I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but it’s far more possible than most people are willing to admit.  Honestly, what’s the worst thing that will happen if no one can contact you for three days?  If the answer to that question isn’t people might die, or your business will lose tens of thousands of dollars, or people won’t get paid or will lose their jobs, then fully unplug for a few days.

I’ll be heading to New Orleans later this week for Mardi Gras, you can see my 2016 Mardi Gras photos here.  I’m really excited to be heading back to one of my favorite events in my favorite city in America.  It will be a food and photography trip, filled with ghost walks, cemeteries, parades, amazing people watching, spectacular architecture, lot’s of unique photo opportunities and some of the best food you can find in America.  There will be plenty of interesting people.  What there will not be, are lots of email exchanges with work, or time on social media, beyond posting a few photos to help folks like you follow along with the journey.  If you’re interested in the images I’ll be posting you can follow me on Instagram @reverendmichaelkane.  This will be my first real vacation since I’ve returned to the working world and 8 months was far too long to wait, so I’m planning on making the most of it.

So take some time for self-care, don’t obsess over all the negativity in the news, take some time to unplug regularly and take a real vacation.  Most of all, have a happy day my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

 

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