Traveling Alone

Traveling Alone

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This is why I travel alone to places that challenge me and today has certainly been a challenge. Now this has to be kept in perspective, all of this is self imposed and I could take a taxi to the airport and fly back to more comfortable surroundings tonight. But today my sister’s family is mourning their family dog of 14 years who they had to put down, so my heart goes out to them.

A lot of who I am in my both my personal and professional life is the guy who is in control, who knows what is going on, who has answers, hell often the answer. It kind of oozes out of me, people often just stop and ask me questions and I have no idea why. Maybe I just look like I work everywhere.

So I travel to get out of my comfort zone, to feel a little out of control, to not always know what is going on. Typically it means some unfamiliarity, it means a physical challenge of some sort to test myself.

This trip was planned to be different,  I have not typically traveled solo in countries where I don’t speak the language. But here I am in a hotel room in Madrid about to board a train at dawn for Oviedo.

Last night and today have been stressful, last night my phone stopped charging. It gave me a moisture detected error and then at one point froze and wouldn’t turn off, all at 14% charge.  I was able to do an emergency reboot, on the Samsung Galaxy 7 it’s just a really long depression on the power button.  That allowed me to Google the problem and troubleshoot, happily it worked out and eventually last night I got my phone to start charging at 8% and it seems to be working fine.

It was an amazing level of anxiety that set in, our phones have become everything.  Without my phone I would not have had my train ticket or information, couldn’t blog, on this trip for the first time ever my phone is the only camera I’m carrying. On my phone are GPS downloads for the route I’ll be hiking including all of the information about places to stay, resupply etc… Now I do have some analog backups and could buy a cheap camera, but the scope of the immediate loss without being where I could replace it was anxiety inspiring. This is what I asked for, right? Definitely outside my comfort zone, lol

Now what I know is I’ll work things out. That’s what having increasingly challenged yourself does, it builds your confidence and your skill set.  And at the end of the day the stakes are not so high. So these may be stressful, but they will be happy days as well.

To of course add to it all, my hotel has the ultimate evil elevators for a control freak, they do everything and you can’t alter it.  You type your floor, it tells you which elevator, once you get inside there are two buttons,  door open, door close.  I chuckled at my total loss of control as the elevator went wherever the hell IT wanted to.

There are funny little differences here, watching the Big Bang Theory dubbed, the seeming need for colorful sandwiches,  a large police presense and this little beauty in the hall.  Haven’t seen one of these in decades.

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Time to crash, hope you are all having  a happy day my friends, my adventure kicks off early in the manana. – Rev Kane

 

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We’re All Screwed Up, but We Can Be Happy

We’re All Screwed Up, but We Can Be Happy

01Redemption is not perfection. The redeemed must realize their imperfections. ~ John Piper

Tonight’s post is about two things redemption and acceptance.  Perhaps however from a perspective from which you’re not used to thinking about these two things.  You see tonight I want to talk about redeeming and accepting ourselves.  Let’s face it folks, we’re all screwed up!

Admit it, I just did in front of the entire world-wide web, life is a complicated exercise.  We were born to parents who had no manual, no guidebook, perhaps some family and friendly advice by people who themselves had or were in the process of screwing up their own children.  I don’t necessary lay a lot of blame on parents.  Very few of them screwed up their kids on purpose.  For the most part it was their lack of understanding of who they were that led to the issues they created.  If you’re a parent, give yourself a break right now, take a moment of peace.  I promise you at some future holiday dinner their will be a discussion, an argument, or an explosion of emotion where you are blamed for ruining some aspect of one of your children’s lives.  Buck up, you chose to have kids and it comes with the territory, you blamed your parents, they’re going to, or already have, blamed you.

You know what they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step.  So you’re screwed up, suck it up buttercup, we all are screwed up as well.  However what happens in life is that you have a decision to make.  There is a very significant fork in the road and it leads to two places.  The first fork leads to self-loathing, victimhood and unhappiness.  The second fork leads to acceptance, redemption and eventually happiness.  YOU get to make that choice no matter how screwed up you are right now.

We all had rough childhoods, sure there’s a degree here.  Some of you were born into abject poverty, or drug addicted parents.  Some of you were beaten or worse.  Many of  us dealt with psychological abuse, where we told we were no good, useless, less than.  More of you than we would like to admit grew up having to be someone you were not.  Some of you suffered because you weren’t allowed to have designer clothes or backpack in Europe for a gap year.  Something I had to learn at one point was the degree of insult is not able to be compared between folks.

If you were beaten down physically or psychologically it doesn’t seem to be on the same level of someone who didn’t get to go skiing in Aspen with their friends.  What matters is how it was received and felt.  I know for those of us who had really hard times this is a difficult concept for us to accept.  But we can’t invalidate what others went through just because we perceive our pain as worse or more valid, pain is pain my friends and its severity is in the eye of the beholder.

The real issue is how we dealt with our pain.  My choice was denial and self-destruction.  I spent my late teens tuning out and spiraling out of control.  My tools of choice were drugs and alcohol, but many of you picked isolation, violence, crime, risky sexual behaviors.  Some of you were truly savants who played across the whole spectrum of self-destruction.  No matter what you believe in spiritually, if you went down these paths you feel like a sinner.

01Now, you can take your past, the folks and things that screwed you up, your destructive behavior and you can wallow in it, become a victim and live an unhappy life.  That’s a choice my friends and I know at this point a lot of people stopped reading.  How dare you blame me for what was done to me, I’m not.  I’m saying that in order to find happiness, if that is what you want, that you have to take responsibility for your life.  You can my friend and you can be happy, it starts with forgiveness and acceptance.

01Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart, not sure I could ever have said it better than that.  To move forward you have to let go of the past and you can’t do that if you are constantly thinking about it, getting angry or sad.  But how do you do that?  First let me offer a resource, a really nice piece entitled, Letting Go of Past Hurts.  It has some solid and straightforward advice.  What I can talk about is what I have done to get where I am at this point in my life.

Right now, I want to go back to the quote I used at the top of this piece.  Redemption is not perfection.  The redeemed must recognize their imperfections.  I would add and be ok with them.  Perfection is a goal that won’t be attained it’s just a way for us to say succinctly, I want to move forward.  My pain in my life was very much directed at my childhood.  My relationship with my father was absolute and total shit.  I grew up with a single mom who was trying her best, but little money, working full-time and raising two kids, well inevitably there were gaps.  The neighborhood I grew up in was tough, I saw and experienced things I shouldn’t have, at least not at the ages I did.  I got out of their as soon as I could at 18.  But you bring your problems with you, as much as you want and may even be able to legitimately blame people and surroundings at the end of the day it’s in your head and heart where the real battle lies.

The anger and disappointment I carried with me is what allowed me to let myself slide into escapism and self-destruction.  I hit rock bottom and made a conscious decision not to die, to do something better with my life.  It was a momentous decision in my life but instant bliss did not follow.  I curbed the symptoms but the underlying anger and disappointment remained undealt with for a long time.  Through my late twenties and early thirties, even though I had what on the surface was a good life, I was dealing with extreme bouts of depression and wholly felt unsatisfied with myself.  It took the dissolution of a relationship and nearly my mind as a result before I found a suitable outlet, my writing.  It was through my writing that I found ways to express my anger, burn off the negative energy.  At first what that did was level out the dips a bit, then it came to nearly eliminate them.  Now, when I feel myself starting to dip I can almost always write my way out of sliding downward.

Creating the Ministry of Happiness helped as well, it provided an outlet to further explore the concept of happiness and practical ways to live happier.  In many ways the culmination of that growth has been the last, absolute amazing year I’ve had.  My path isn’t the only one my friends.  But I think the general idea has to be the same for most of us trying to take that responsible fork in the road.

  1. You have to admit and understand your pain and where your problems lay.  Not just oh yeah I have problems, but understanding them.  For me, anger at my father, difficulty being open with people (obviously that’s changed), having trouble trusting others.

  2. You have to take responsibility for your own shit.  You have to believe you are the one who is responsible for your happiness and commit to actively doing something about it.

  3. You have to actually do something.  It’s easy to think about all of this, acknowledge what has to happen then sit down on the couch and watch and episode of the Big Bang Theory.  What are you actually doing to move forward.

  4. You have to have patience.  This all takes time, instantaneous bliss may exist but I’ve never seen it.  This process is like yard work, you have to keep at it or it all can dissolve into chaos.

  5. You have to forgive and accept yourself, hell ultimately you have to come to love yourself.  You can dislike parts of yourself, I’m overweight, I need to lose another 20 pounds but that’s just part of me.  You can dislike parts of yourself or your life but love who you are as a person, this is really important.  You have to become your own best cheerleader and reduce the negative thoughts in your head.

  6. Finally, you have to have fun.  You have to enjoy life, find out what your passions are and engage in them as often as possible.

You can do this my friends and you have help.  There are likely people who are around you who can help, if not, reach out, I’m here and I’m happy to help.  The goal at the end of the day is for all of us to have happy days. ~ Rev Kane

 

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

Our Best Happiness Posts of 2015

My favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Travel Makes You Happier

Happiness is a Powerball Jackpot

 

 

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Everybody is just winging it!

Everybody is just winging it!

winging itThere are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently. ~ Pamela Druckerman

There’s a conversation I often have with students and I had it again recently and so I thought I would share it with you tonight.  One of the things students often freak out about, particularly as they are about to graduate or transfer, is whether or not they are truly ready.  You see they look around at all of the professionals they encounter in their life, all of these confident and competent looking people.  They see people making decisions and moving forward and they think, my god, I have no idea how they are doing that.  We’ve all had a similar feeling on the first day of work at a new job.  There is always that moment at some point the first day where you’re sitting at a desk thinking, I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing.

The secret I let the students in on, the one they never believe, is that all of these folks are just winging it.  Sure, after being in a job for a few years you know damn near everything there is to know about your job.  But new things always happen, your responsibilities change, however in that first week, first month, first year we all feel a bit like frauds.  It’s one of the reasons people are so afraid to get out of their comfort zones, they don’t want to look like they don’t know what they are doing.  People in general are terrified of looking bad in front of other people.

branson, wing it, quoteOne thing to keep in mind my friends is that this reality applies not just to our jobs.  With our family, our friend in almost every way in everyday life we’re all just winging it.  There was no manual to how to get through puberty, how to date or even how to be a parent.  Sure we call on friends, family those who have gone before us, but in the end, we’re all just winging it.  And you know what, that’s just fine, it’s a core part of being human.  So don’t worry about it, don’t stress over it and just relax, do the best you can and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts on How to be Happy!

How to be Happy Everyday

How to be Happy through Resilience

Overcoming Demons to become Happy!

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Happiest Places in the World

Happiest Places in the World

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.                               ~ Maya Angelou

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So tonight my friends we take a look at the web and refer you to some of the happiest places on earth.  Have a look, plan a trip and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Brazil –  One of my favorite places on earth, I have been fortunate to spend some time there particularly in the Amazon.  Brazil will teach you meaning of the word saudade.          What Brazil can teach the world about living well.

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DenmarkWhy Denmark is the Happiest Person on Earth and it’s not the weather.

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Norway – In 2011 Norway topped the 2011 Happiest Country List, amazing that the countries like Norway, Finland and Sweden are always high on this list, the piece gives you an idea why.

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Canada – The only non-European country in the top 10 for 2013, the only question, Why are Candadians so Happy?

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Quotes About Happiness, Gratitude & Kindness

Quotes About Happiness, Gratitude & Kindness

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Some quotes to help you have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness Resources: Balance

Happiness Resources: Balance

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

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Tonight a little twirl around the web to find you all some resources on one of my favorite subjects, balance.  One of the things that I frequently see people do is lose balance in their life.  This typically comes in the form of working too much, or at least losing the understanding that work is not your whole life, that other things are more important than work.  Is this you?  Well if you think you can’t take a vacation, or when you are home or on vacation if you can’t unplug from work you may fall into this category.  It’s not easy the first you truly unplug on vacation or at home, but unless you’re a medical professional or someone similar no one dies if you don’t answer the phone, but remember my friends you only get one shot at life, one shot to hang with your kids at the age they are at right now, so wind down, unplug and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

From our friends at Zen Habits, 5 Essential Zen Habits for Balanced Living

How to create a balanced life

From the folks at life hack, 10 Simple Ways to find Balance in Life

A nice piece from Whole Living, How to find Balance

Finally a TED talk, How to make life-work balance

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Waiting is the Hardest Part

Waiting is the Hardest Part

rev kane, interview, happinessPatience is not just the ability to wait, it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. ~ Joyce Meyer

So a few weeks ago I wrote a post about some decisions I was trying to make related to my current job search.   This time around is a little bit different for me.  Normally, as my regular readers know, I typically work three or four years and take off to travel for a time before returning to work.  However this time around, there’s an interesting convergence shaping up.  You see, I need twenty years in the retirement system to get the retirement I want, and I need to be at least sixty to collect it.  I turn sixty in six years and if I work the next six years I will hit twenty years of service at the exact same time.  So this time around I’m looking at staying in a position for six years.  I’m always fairly careful about my job selections, but this time I need to be extra special careful and there are some things I need to get out of this trip.

comfort zone, change, happinessI do need this time to make sure I hit salary goals that will set my retirement at the right level, effectively I’ll get 50% of the my next to last year’s salary when I retire.  So I need to make sure wherever I start on the next salary schedule, that by year five I’m at a level I want to be at for my retirement.  I also need to be in a job that will be able to give me enough of a sense of accomplishment that I can happily stay in the position for six years.

So I’ve started the application and interview process, I’m happy to say that I’ve been offered interviews for four out of the five positions I’ve applied to so far and the fifth one, is the one I’m most sure I’ll get an interview for.  There’s a sixth position that doesn’t close until the end of this week and I’m confident I’ll at least get a first round interview for that position as well.  So things are going really well at this point.

I’ve done a first, second and third interview for one position, and it’s a position I liked of course, that’s why I applied, and it is  a position that has seriously grown on me through the interview process.  I think I have a shot at getting an offer and it’s something I will seriously consider.  Here’s the wrinkle, I also have interviews for two positions, one is the position I’m most interested in, that will pay significantly more.  So I may soon have a Cornish game hen in hand, with a turkey in the bush and  I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

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Fear is killing your happiness

It’s funny when I started this process again I was initially a little gun-shy.  My brother had just been through a horrible job search process.  And as I started mine, and as things always take longer than you expect my self-confidence started to wane a bit.  It’s nice now, to have had interviews and have interviews coming up to start feeling that the self-confidence I normally carry in relation to my work is being validated.  Who knows how all of this will work out, it will be interesting if I decide to pass on an offer.  As a blue-collar kid, I’ve never passed on a full-time professional job offer, and it will be interesting to see if I’m willing or able if I’m in that position given it will be for the highest salary I’ve ever earned.

My friends what I want you to take out of this, is that first of all, fear is a liar.  We all spend time afraid of things that we shouldn’t.  It’s important to believe in yourself, to have confidence and to take risks.  Never sell yourself short, and sure, you may fall down once in a while, but you won’t die from a miss or a little failure.  And once you reach a little further than you think you are able, and succeed, well it will make for a very happy day my friends, so take the leap. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness is Not Safety

Happiness is Not Safety

maslow happiness safetyThe quote above has been flowing around the internet and possibly truer words have never been spoken. If you don’t move forward, take chances, risk yourself in some way, you stagnate. True, you revert to a place that is more predictable that is safer, but is that better, is that someplace you’ll truly be happier?

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I say no, and I give you this example. Remember the first time you fell in love, remember that amazingly terrifying feeling of falling helplessly and loving every second and every breath you took during those moments. You never get there, you never feel that way without making a change, taking a step forward, a risky step at that. Yes, often that feeling was followed by the normal rollercoaster of love, but would you avoid the downside, trade that most amazing feelings, for being safe and never hurt but never knowing love. No matter the pain you’ve felt I don’t think you would.

Rev Kane relaxing in the arctic snow flurries

Rev Kane relaxing in the arctic snow flurries

Too many times in life we opt for safety, security, predictability.  We pass on a wonderful job opportunity because it means moving and uprooting our lives.  We let our doubts work their evil on us and scare us with the idea we might not be good at the new gig.  What we effectively do is let the current box we live in and the script that society has handed us define who and what we will be.  Stop it!  Scare yourself, you can never truly know how amazing you are, what you are capable of or how wonderful life can be until you step out onto the edge and try something new.

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This idea is amazingly relevant for me right now.  I just came off of a year of doing just this.  When I told my human resource director at my last job what I was doing, that I was stepping away from work he was actually confused.  “You won’t have health insurance, you know you won’t acrue any time towards your retirement?”  Now these are idiotic statements and although I didn’t like him very much I can’t say he was a truly stupid man.  What had happened was I had stepped out of the box and it was inconceivable to him and so he started quoting the things that our society has scripted for us, things that keep us safe, health care, retirement, blah, blah, blah.  You know what’s not in that script, FUN!  The script doesn’t talk about enjoying life, trying new things, exploring this amazing world and the greatest gift we’ve ever been given, our life.

100_0032By time I start working again sometime in the late spring or summer, I will have been off of work fifteen to eighteen months.  Not only didn’t I die or ruin my life but I had an utterly amazing year.  Now I know what some of you are thinking.  Sure, you’re single, you make good money when you’re working, you don’t have kids, it’s easy for you.  My reply is bullshit!  You know plenty of single people, how many of them have ever left their scripted lives and just traveled for a year after the age of 30.  We all have complications and responsibilities in life.  All of these can be addressed if you are willing to take a chance, to give up the scripted safety for a bit.

land 25There are whole websites, like Families on the Road, that cater to folks who have taken their kids out of school and hit the road for months or years at a time.  What people think is that this sort of thing is half-assed and irresponsible, it’s just the opposite.  In order to do what these people did, what I did, it takes a lot of planning.  I planned for three years before I took this year off.  It took that long to figure out the plan, how to pay for the time off, how to save and create the finances needed to cover the responsibilities and bills we all have whether we are working or not.  Irresponsible, how could creating the coolest year in your kids whole childhood be considered irresponsible?

happinessLife goes by so fast, it seems like a month ago I was at a parade for the US Bicentennial in 1976, college seems like last week, the birth of my fourteen year-old niece hours ago.  Don’t let life slip by my friends.  One of the greatest compliments I have ever given was by a co-worker in Tennessee, she looked at me and said, “my friend you are a sampler of life.” The fact that being that type of person is not normal is one of the saddest things I can think of, we get one shot, why the hell not make it the best ride possible.

happiness, appalachian trailI know it’s hard, I know it’s scary, beyond terrifying even.  It’s as scary as climbing a thirty foot rock wall with a thirty-five pound pack on your back.  I know that fear all too well, but what I’ve learned every time I’ve done something like this, is that it pays more dividends than you can possibly imagine.  I love that so many of you who read my writings do so to come along for the ride.  I’m happy you do, but what I want even more for you, is for you go for your own ride and take me along.  I don’t want you just to virtually experience my happiness, I want you to create your own.  You’re never too old, too fat, too bald, too small, too broke to do this, it just takes the desire to do it with a bit of planning.  So be bold my friends, identify the step and take it, boldly, bravely and take the happiness you deserve and along the way, and always remember to have a good day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

How Travel Makes You Happier

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Our Best Happiness Posts of 2015

My favorite Appalachian Trail Photos of 2015

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

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Resources for Being Mindful

Resources for being Mindful

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Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.        ~ Thich Nhat Hanh 

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

We hear a lot about mindfulness these days and a lot of us don’t really know what it means or how to be mindful.  So tonight some links to help you get a better feel for what mindfulness is and how to incorporate it into you life.  Thich Nhat Hanh has written several good books on the subject of mindfulness that I think you would enjoy.    A lot of the discussion you here is about mindfulness meditation, but tonight we’re focusing on incorporating mindfulness into your everyday life.  Below some links to get you started on exploring mindfulness, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

What is Mindfulness – A very nice explanation to what the term means.

The Mindfulness Guide – As always the blog, Zen Habits hits the nail on the head with a simple guide to how to incorporate mindfulness into busy life.

Mindfulness is Daily Activities – Some interesting and simple ways to be more mindful about things you do everyday

Mindfulness Driving – Certainly many people could benefit from this.

Things mindful people do differently – A nice piece on some ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your daily life.

 

Some other pieces you might enjoy!

A mindfulness day as a way to happiness

Reflection & Meditation

Happiness & Mindfulness

The Dude on Meditation & Buddhism

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Happiness is Laughter: George Carlin

Happiness is Laughter: George Carlin

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George Carlin on stuff

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George Carlin on worrying and arrogance

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George Carlin on Airport Security

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George Carlin on traffic and driving

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