Welcome to my new tinier life

Welcome to my new tinier life

There is only one day left, always starting over; it starts at dawn and is taken away from us at dusk. ~ Jean-Paul Satre

Vacation is Over

Vacation is over, I’m writing this post on my last day before I start my new job.  I will have been off of work for three weeks less than a full year.  It’s been a good year and let’s start off tonight with a little recap.  I left my job in the Mojave Desert and headed east stopping to see some friends along the way including a good friend from grad school I hadn’t seen in person in twenty years.  I used upstate NY, where most of my family is, as my base of operations and landing spot between trips.  So I got to spend a lot of time with my family, especially my nieces and nephews, I have eight, soon to be nine.  I have a little niece due to arrive in the next few weeks and I’m very excited.  I also caught up with a lot of old friends.

redwoods, travel, photographyScotland

I headed first to Scotland where I hiked the Western Highland and Great Glen Ways.  I love Scotland, it’s a beautiful country and the Scottish people have always been incredibly friendly and welcoming to me.  Helped in no small measure by the fact that genetically we’re related and I certainly look Scottish, especially when I’m sporting the big beard.  In addition to hiking I spent some time in Glasgow and Edinburgh.  Edinburgh is one of my favorite large cities and I was there during festival so the town was full of life and art.

Spain and Portugal

I left Scotland to head to Spain to hike the Camino Primitivo, one of my less satisfying hiking experiences.  The combination of too much road walking, too many dogs and too much heat led to my decision to abandon the hike only a few days in.  Even in that short amount of time I met some really great people and visited some beautiful places.  Long distance hiking is special that way.  Leaving the trail I headed back to Oviedo, a city I really came to like.  It’s a mellow city with some amazing architecture and history and in true Spanish fashion is a city that comes alive at night.  Single people, families all are out in the squares and restaurants socializing til late at night.  It was a new culture for me but one that really suits my natural night owl tendencies.  From Oviedo I headed north  to Gijon and the beach, a place with amazing giant tidal swings and a coastal hiking trail that connects to one of the Caminos.

I left Spain to visit three cities in Portugal, Aveiro, Porto and Lisbon.  Each city had it’s charms and I enjoyed my time there.  If you’re going to Portugal prepare for hills, Porto and Lisbon especially are beautiful hilly cities.  Like most cities they are complex, high priced tourism mixed with ancient history and poverty.  I enjoyed exploring all of them.

Morocco

I then left Europe for my first trip  to Africa.  I spent a week in Morocco, not nearly long enough but three days living in the souk in Marrakech wore me out.  It was the living embodiment of the Crosby, Stills and Nash song although I took the train from, not to Marrakech.  The city was amazing and the sights and smells utterly amazing.  The best people watching I’ve ever encountered.  I would sit at the cafes on the square and watch the con men make their money.  This did not make me immune, I paid far too much for the photo below and learned a valuable lesson.  Never negotiate with a man holding a cobra.

My favorite scam was performed by two gentlemen I named the Monkey Guys.  Two large and imposing looking Moroccans who had well-trained monkeys.  They would slip up behind a couple and toss the monkey on the guys back.  The monkey was trained to scramble up on top of the man’s head and sit there.  Then the Monkey Guys would pop up, apologize and say, “but what a great picture.”  They would get the woman to take a picture then put their hand out for the tip.  So the couple faces having a monkey on the guys head, that isn’t moving, and a large, scary looking Moroccan dude demanding money.  Everyone I saw in this situation paid.

I spent a few days in Tangier but I was worn out and had booked a beautiful hotel with a rooftop pool and bar and although I walked the city a bit, spent most of my time enjoying laying by the pool, being waited on and having a spectacular view of the city and ocean.

The Ferry to Barcelona

I did one of the most interesting things I will likely ever do next.  Instead of taking the 45 minute ferry from Morocco to Tarifa, Spain I decided to go on a little adventure.  So instead I booked a 32 hour ferry ride to Barcelona.  The ferry was like a mini-cruise ship and I’m sure felt that way were you booked into a lovely little cabin with a bed and your own bathroom.  That was not the way I traveled.  No, I had a Pullman Seat in a giant cabin with over 100 other people.  There were four such cabins, which included 400 Moroccans, 2 Swiss hippies with dread locks and me.  The crew was almost entirely Filipino and Italian, but we only ever saw them at meals.  Oh, and only three sets of bathrooms.  Some of the folks on the cruise were professionals, they had sleeping set ups, some had brought air mattresses and slept in the nooks and crannies in the hallways, it was amazing.  The bathrooms, generally degraded the entire trip.  Sleeping was like trying to sleep on a plane or a bus but in non-reclining seats.  Happily, you could go out on deck and it was a beautiful voyage, at least aesthetically.  The intercom system was very much like the intercom on the NY Subway, imagine the teacher talking on a Peanuts special.  There was little organization when we disembarked and the only languages being spoken were French, Arabic and Italian.  The first two I don’t know and the third is a language I can read but hardly speak.

While disembarking I actually walked all the way to land level only be turned around because it was for car drivers only, walked against the crowd all the way back up three levels to be turned around and sent out the way I had started.  All of this to be bused, delayed and dropped off at the closed port terminal at midnight with no phone service, and no taxis or buses serving the port at that time of night.  My GPS said 4 miles to downtown Barcelona and my hotel, so I walked.  Happily it was a mostly deserted port area at that time.  Barcelona was a great city, but there are too many people there.  On any of the popular streets it’s like walking at rush hour in Manhattan, but the art, the architecture and the restaurants were amazing.

From Barcelona I took the train to Madrid, I only spent a couple of days transiting through Madrid but didn’t enjoy the city.  It likely had a lot to do with where I was staying, my brief pass through and the heat but other than its usefulness as a transportation hub, I wasn’t really excited by Madrid.

Oaxaca City, Mexico

I bounced back through Scotland and to the US for a few weeks before starting my final adventure.  I moved to Oaxaca City, Mexico for two months.  The links back to the pieces I wrote about that experience will give you a lot more info and photos.  Oaxaca served to check off a major bucket list item for me.  I collect Day of the Dead (DOTD) art and years ago I bought a piece from and artist in Oaxaca.  He talked lovingly about the city, the art scene and the amazing DOTD festivals in the city.  So I knew someday I would have to go and I did.  Oaxaca is wonderful and what I really should write is it’s awful, boring and unsafe so don’t go.  I should write that because Oaxaca is at the edge of becoming a cool travel destination and more and more tourists are visiting the city.  There’s a reason for this, Oaxaca is a UNESCO World Heritage site for food, it’s a safe city, it’s in the poorest part of Mexico so everything is unbelievably cheap.  The people are amazing, accommodating and friendly, the food is as good as anything you’ll find in SF, NY or LA.  There is art everywhere, awesome natural sites to go see, the best Mezcal I’ve ever tasted and the weather is like the weather in San Diego.

I attended language school there, there are a ton of language schools in the city.  It was a great experience and I made some good friends, of course one of them Joan, was Scottish.  I really loved my time in Oaxaca and it’s some place I will continue to visit and likely someplace I’ll spend a couple of months every year in retirement.

Business was slow today

Back in the USA

I returned stateside, spent some time in New York, a month on the Gulf of Mexico and then drifted west.  Back in California I spent time interviewing for jobs and then moving my possessions from Southern California to the Bay Area, I’m living just outside San Francisco.

My Tiny New Life

I have tagged my new life as my new tiny life.  Everything, mostly because of cost, is tinier here.  I am living in a 600 square foot apartment.  My parking space is between two poles that leave me with about 3 inches of clearance on each side of my mirrors.  I’ve continued to work on downsizing my life and have worked my excess possessions outside the apartment down to a 5 by 5 storage space.  So my life has shifted from a 1400 square foot, split level apartment and a 10 by 10 storage space to 600 square feet and a 5 by 5.  I only have 6 years to retirement, I’ve stayed under 200 pounds for over a year for the first time in 20 years, everything thing in my life seems to be shrinking.  This however is not a complaint, just an observation.

I’m excited for my new life, my new apartment and my new job.  I already in 3 weeks here have more of a social life than I had in two years in the desert.  I have friends in the bay area to re-connect with, I live between the ocean and the bay and we had a really hot day the other day, it was in the 80’s.  Compared to the triple digit life in the desert this is a joy.  I’ll wrap this up here, I have a date to go into San Francisco for dinner and to a book reading, like I said, happy for my new life.  As always, have a happy day my friends.             ~ Rev Kane

 

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Happiness is Photography: Scotland

Happiness is Photography: Scotland

Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.  ~William Feather

happiness scotland

Rev Kane goin native in the Scottish Highlands

Five years ago I had the pleasure of walking across Scotland, from Fort Williams to Inverness via The Great Glenn way.  A really pleasant walking trip about 6 days, staying each night at inns and B&B’s.  I was fortunate to see very little rain, low levels of midges and to be walking while a flotilla was moving day-to-day along the same path along the lochs.  The Scottish people are wonderful, kind, welcoming and in an instant will invite a wild looking red bearded American to dinner with family and a glass of whiskey.  Here are some images from my trip.   In Scotland I had nothing but happy days my friends.  ~ Rev Kane

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Loch Ness

Loch Ness

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Loch Lochy

Loch Lochy

Flotilla with Viking boat trailing

Flotilla with Viking boat trailing

Highland Cows

Highland Cows

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Have to love Scottish town names

Have to love Scottish town names

Drumnadrochit, home of 2 Loch Ness Monster Museums

Drumnadrochit, home of 2 Loch Ness Monster Museums

Lake overlooking Inverness

Pond overlooking Inverness

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

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Random Happiness: Fun Science

Random Happiness: Fun Science

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. ~ Isaac Asimov

stewieToday we focus on fun science, and we go from interesting video’s to the truly insane.  Don’t we all have a friend who caused a large explosion in their own house on Thanksgiving and burned off their eyebrows?  This post is dedicated to my friend Keith.  And as such let me just say I’m posting these videos for entertainment purposes only an idiot would do this stuff at home and would probably earn a Darwin Award in the process, you’ve been warned. ~ Rev Kane

First a video a roundup of the highlights from 2012 for NPRs Science Friday

Also from Science Friday some cool time-lapse photography

A set of odd and bizarre science facts

Theo Gray has just become my new favorite scientists, 7 experiments from his book Theo Gray’s Mad Science:  Experiments you can do at home but probably shouldn’t;

Even more deranged science experiments

Finally, build your own parabolic solar death ray, some videos

Demos

The basic death ray

My favorite one

One more

How to build one

Plans

Where to buy what you are seeing

 

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Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

fearWe can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark, the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light ~ Plato

One of the biggest problems I see in society these days is fear.  It most often shows itself in the form of worry, people are afraid and so they worry about so many things that could go wrong, or harm them, or might happen.  I’ve written about this problem before in a piece entitled, Worry the enemy of happiness.  But today I want to talk more specifically about fear for two reasons.  First I see people expressing a lot more fear these days than I ever remember hearing and seeing before.  Secondly, most of the things that we fear are irrational.

I often hear people, usually people who want your support in some way, saying how smart people are and I’m not sure I agree.  Now you know you’re smart so of course that statement must be true.  However if it was, I don’t think we would so often see people letting their emotions overwhelm they’re intellect.  You may argue people are smart but they don’t use it.  This is like arguing that Billy is a really fast runner, he just never runs fast.  Possibly true, but not very likely.  What is often said about people that I do agree with is that people fundamentally want to be good and kind and happy.  I have seen this demonstrated, not so much in day-to-day society but in times of deep sorrow and tragedy.  People get caught up in a me first attitude day-to-day, but when confronted with the truly harsh realities of life their better nature usually comes to the fore.

Let me point out, in relation to our fears, exactly why I’m not convinced people are very intellectual.  I know perfectly fine human beings who climb into a car and drive every day without a care.  In the United States, nearly 33,000 people died in car crashes in the United states in 2013, nearly 100 per day!  Those exact same people will not wade more than ankle-deep in the ocean because they are afraid of sharks.  On average in the United States, ONE person per year is killed by a shark, six are killed worldwide.  There are normally less than twenty shark attacks in the US each year.  Our fears about sharks I have a feeling went up significantly in the 1970’s with both the book and the movie Jaws.

01Our fears are driven not by an intellectual evaluation of risk but our emotional reaction to the object of fear.  In the last ten years, less than 100 Americans have been killed in the US by terrorists.  If you want a bigger number you can go back to 9/11 and the total will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 3200 people in the last fifteen years.  In the last ten years, there have been roughly 300,000 deaths due to gun violence in the United States.  Yet I hear much more concern about terrorists coming to the US to kill us than I do about fearing gun violence from other Americans.  Again, this is driven by emotion not rational risk analysis, but I get it, the image of planes flying into towers, massacres in the streets of Paris, news of deaths in San Bernardino cause an emotional reaction.

Having an emotional reaction to something terrible is utterly normal, reading about someone being attacked by a shark or killed by a terrorist at a cafe should elicit a fear response.  That you react emotionally to the event does not impact your happiness.  How you choose to react and act past that initial response is what can damage your happiness.

If your reaction to shark attacks is to spend hours worrying about a shark attack before you go to the beach you’re impacting your happiness.  If you are unable to enjoy yourself in the water because you are very afraid that impacts your happiness negatively.  Worst of all, if you won’t go to the beach at all, or won’t go on a cruise or let your kids swim in the ocean you are letting your fears keep you from doing things that will very likely make you happier.  Some may argue that if you have that fear then staying home is the best option, you’ve escaped your fear and aren’t stressing.  But I’ll give you another way to look at this, you’ve let your fear dictate the way you live your life and have reduced the number of positive experiences you are able to have.  If you begin to avoid everything that harm you pretty soon you’ll be living in a padded room.

I see the same thing with terrorism, yes, there are people in this world who are willing to kill you.  They want to kill you for nothing more than your nationality, religion, color of your skin, sexual orientation or any number of other things that someone has deemed is wrong.  For this reason I see people speaking out in unkind ways about people they have never met.  I see political leaders using this fear as a foundation for bigotry.  Hatred and suspicion will never be a path to kindness, generosity or happiness.  And I would argue that most people see themselves as kind, generous and want to be happy.

When we come back to actual risk however, we see that terrorist truly pose very little risk to our lives.  This does not mean we shouldn’t work to reduce that risk for us and others, but it also doesn’t mean we should act in ways that are counter to our core values.  In particular where refugees are concerned, I believe we should continue to vet refugees the way we do, do a good job of weeding out those who mean to harm others.  We have the data that in fact shows over the last ten years there has been very little risk created from the hundreds of thousands of refugees we’ve admitted to this country.  We typically admit about 70,000 refugees per year into the United States.

04I don’t think we should fantasize that we can ever devise a perfect process, or that people may not change after they are in the United States for years.  We’ve seen this fear before in the United States, fear of Italians, of Jews, the Irish, Mexicans and Communists.  And yes, throughout our history we’ve allowed folks to immigrate to the United States who have turned out to be mafia members, criminals, Communists and others who were not a positive force on our society.  But this number has always been small, we emotionally fear the new, those we see as other, in reality these people have always and will almost certainly always pose a very small risk to each of us.  On the other side think about how these people have enriched our society and culture, it is part of what makes America the envy of the world.

02So let’s get back to being happier in our daily lives.  We need to reduce the fears that we have and hopefully this will lead to reducing worry and the stress that it brings that is so detrimental to your health.  My recommendations are as follows:

  1. Reduce your news intake, particularly your cable news intake.  You don’t need to watch 4 hours of coverage about the latest attack regardless of where it is or how many people have died.  Understand that local news also has a formula that will cause you unnecessary worry.  Whatever tragedy occurs, attack, earthquake, meteor strike, Ebola, local news will always do a story, entitled, <insert horror> can it happen here? Even if the answer is no that story will still make you worry.

2. When you do start to fear and worry about something, do a reality check.  I’m afraid of Ebola, let’s see how many people have ever died of Ebola in America, zero, ok, maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about that.  It may not eliminate the worry but it should put it in proper context.

3.  This will seem counter intuitive, but scare yourself, stretch yourself.  I am a huge proponent of adventure leading to happiness.  I can tell you from personal experience, the more you test and scare yourself and succeed, the more you will begin to realize that your fears aren’t as real as you believed them to be.  And focus on that, if you’re afraid of shark attacks go to the beach and just watch.  Lot’s of people frolicking in the surf and no one is getting voraciously consumed by the epitome of swimming death.  Focus on the reality of your experience instead of the fantasies of your fears.

4. Finally, actively work to stay positive, when you are worrying or afraid, ask yourself is there another way to look at this situation?  Instead of focusing on the 6 shark attacks this year, how about focusing on the hundreds of millions of people who swam in the ocean without being attacked.

I hope these tips can help and I want to make a final comment related to social media.  It’s easy to express your fears behind a computer screen and to dismiss other opinions.  Online we seek out others who echo our opinions, be careful.  If we have a fear about sharks and we post and read posts about shark attacks, the algorithms for sites like Facebook will feed you more posts about shark attacks.  In those posts you see lots of comments for people with the same fears which amplifies and confirms your own fears.  Be smart about how you use social media and don’t respond to others who disagree out of emotion and fear.

03So my friends, try to reduce your fear and worry, try to focus on more kindness and generosity and have a happy day.  I’ll end this piece with one of my favorite quotes from Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, I have always found these words to be profoundly wise and have quoted this to myself at times when I was truly afraid. ~ Rev Kane

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.          ~ The character Paul from Frank Herbert’s Dune

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Remember the Sweet Things The best story you’ll ever hear!

Happiness, Worry & The Dalai Lama’s Thoughts

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

Happiness Resources, Positivity, Kindness & Gratitude

Stories of Kindness

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Happiness Resources: Making Change Happen

Happiness Resources: Making Change Happen

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Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself ~ Leo Tolstoy

Tonight a couple of quick resources related to making and keeping positive change in your life.  I especially like the first piece it has a lot of great advice, so give it a read and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

First a great piece on the Anatomy of Change

Personal Growth: Four Obstacles to Personal Change

Five Steps to Positive Life Change, this one is a little more theoretical and wordy

Appalachian Trail Happiness: Change Can be a Good Thing

Amazing Advice & Wisdom about Happiness & Change

fearOther 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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On Burning Man & The Appalachian Trail

On Burning Man & The Appalachian Trail

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Rev Kane in his first year at Burning Man

Rev Kane on his first day on the Appalachian Trail

Rev Kane on his first day on the Appalachian Trail

 

If you are unwilling to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary ~ Jim Rohn

 

 

 

First a little background, I am currently off the trail and rehabbing my knee but I have been walking the Appalachian Trail since March 7, 2015 in celebration of my 50th birthday.  So far I’ve covered about 700 miles of trail and my knee willing I will continue to add to that total for the rest of the summer.

The Appalachian Trail 2180 miles from GA to ME

The Appalachian Trail 2180 miles from GA to ME

I have also attended Burning Man seven times in the last ten years, with my first burn occurring in celebration of my 40th birthday in 2004.

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My favorite art piece from Burning Man – Bliss Dancing

While on the trail I am constantly seeing parallels between the Burning Man and Appalachian Trail (AT) communities.  This is particularly powerful in the way thru-hikers view the trail and their fellow thru-hikers and the way that burners view Burning Man and their fellow burners on the Playa.  So tonight I thought I would expand on a few of these overlaps.

the man fixMagic

Trail magic is one form of magic on the AT, this is when people show up out of the goodness of their hearts, with no thought of payment or return, save gratitude, and provide food, drinks, rides and all kinds of kindness.  But this is not the magic I want to talk about.  On the trail you often hear the phrase, “the trail provides.”  My best example of this was my friend Backtrack breaking a trekking pole on a hike.  He was of course upset, poles are expensive and more importantly invaluable in helping you navigate the trail safely.  When he arrived at the shelter he expressed his frustration to a fellow hiker who simply said, “well then, you should take that one.” In the back corner of the shelter was a solitary trekking pole.  A coincidence, sure, but when you see and hear about these type of coincidences happening over and over you start to believe.

The summit of Mt. Unaka

The summit of Mt. Unaka

I became a believer in my first hour on the trail.  I’m a writer so I of course carry several pens on the trail.  As I started my first day I got to thinking about the fact I wanted to write in the shelter journals.  I was also a little skeeved out by the idea of all the people who would have handled those shelter pens.  In that moment I was silently berating myself about not keeping one of the pens I was carrying easily accessible when I looked down and saw a brand new pen laying on the trail.  The trail provides.

Bliss Dancing at dawn

Bliss Dancing at dawn

The really amazing parallel with Burning Man is the very often heard phrase, “the Playa provides.”  I have seen dozens of instances of this, needed car parts, costuming items, kitchen utensils, I once told a Burning Man virgin that I truly believed you could stand up in center camp, shout out a need for anything and it would arrive minutes later.  Of course I told this to a complete wise-ass, so he stood up on a bench and yelled I want a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.  As he stepped down a woman behind him said, “here you go.” I almost passed out, she was standing there with two friends and they had racks of cookies they’d just brought over from their camp to gift to people.

Dawn at 5000 feet

Dawn at 5000 feet

For me, my greatest example is related to my singular food passion, pizza.  There isn’t much in this world I enjoy more than a half-pepperoni and mushroom pizza.  For several years on the Playa there was a camp called random pizza.  They brought out pizza ovens and each night would make pizzas and then go out and randomly give them to people on the Playa. I believe it was my third year and I was walking down the Esplanade with two friends and I starting ranting about how utterly ridiculous it was that given my love for pizza that I had never received a random pizza.  Less than a minute later a guy tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I believe this is for you.”  A pepperoni and mushroom pizza.  Sure not half cheese like I normally get, but wow, I was a believer.  The Playa provides.

monkey rock fixHow, as a scientist do I explain this, is it just coincidence, perhaps.  However, I think even as a scientist we need to leave room in this world for the unexplainable and the truly magical.

Community

While on the Playa, (it doesn’t always hold up when they are off), burners are some of the finest and most amazing individuals I’ve ever met.  On the trail, (it doesn’t always hold up when they are off), thru-hikers and AT hikers in general, are some of the finest and most amazing individuals I have ever met.  The funny thing, is that there is little overlap between these two communities, likely due to the AT having an East Coast focus and Burning Man happening on the West Coast.

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Just your basic fire breathing land octopus art car

The commonality here though is easy to define, burners and hikers are risk takers, adventurers, and samplers of life.  These are folks who are willing to turn their lives upside down for a chance to experience something new, unusual or magnificent.  Basically we’re weird, we don’t think like folks in the default world, for the most part both of these communities believe the standard script of American life – high school, college, job, car, marriage, kids, retirement and death – is not what defines how their lives will proceed.

Another thing about these two communities that I love.  There is a fierce loyalty and protectionism that exists in these communities.  Both the AT and the Burning Man festival have shockingly low instances of serious crime.  We watch out for each other, take care of each other, love each other.  People are often shocked that people start a thru-hike alone, particular that single women start alone.  They are shocked because they don’t understand our community, we are family on the trail, you don’t always like everyone in your family, but you’ll be damned if anyone is going to do them harm.  The Burning Man community has much the same feel to it.

Playa/Trail Names

One of the most basic similarities between the AT and Burning Man our how we refer to ourselves.  Burners have Playa names, hikers have trail names.  The great thing about these names are they provide an opportunity for people to reinvent themselves, to be present, be social and yet be masked behind this new identity.  Are you someone who is always been shy, well on the trail or the Playa your name might be Social Butterfly.  You can be a completely new person in both places and I think this is incredibly freeing for many folks.  Of course you can also get named by the community in either place but this also serves and a badge of inclusion into the community, an opportunity to always have a conversation starter about how you got your name.  The list of names at both events is as varied as you can possibly imagine and probably a bit more varied than that.

The original AARP group after their climb out of the NOC

The original AARP group after their climb out of the NOC

So that this piece doesn’t get massively long I’ll stop here, but there are lots of other similarities, the isolation and wild nature of the environment for both, costuming – a burner on his/her way to Burning Man is just as easy to spot as a thru-hiker in town for resupply.  Spontaneous group formation whether it’s the People United for Nothing (PUN) at Burning Man, or the AARP group on the trial.  Both groups are viewed as a bit nuts by the public, the media is a bit fascinated with both groups, both thru-hiking and Burning Man are massively misunderstood by the public.  Both populations are groups of massively happy people, that alone makes them special and why participating in both has provided me with many happy days my friends ~ Rev Kane

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Worry the enemy of happiness

Worry the enemy of happiness

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will ~ Epictetus

worry

I seem to know an awful lot of people who worry a great deal.  I’m constantly being told things like be safe, call me when you get there, and grilled from top to bottom about my next trip.  Now, maybe it’s just because they care about me and I happen to go on adventures that most people deem, well, a little nutty.

It does seem though that their worry extends beyond my occasional nuttiness.  It also may have something to do with the fact that in my life I’m surrounded by women.   According to a really interesting article of Gallup Poll results women are significantly more likely to worry than men.  So great, people are going to worry and given we live in a world with disease, war, poverty and lawyers it makes a bit of sense.  Heck biologically worry is actually a good thing, it forces us to prepare for potential dangers it’s when worry is overboard that we have an issue.

So what are the issues and what can we do:

Be realistic, don’t worry about an asteroid hitting earth, first the odds are incredibly low and you can’t do anything about it.  Also, don’t be overly concerned with crime, the violent crime rate in America has been declining for the last twenty years and is about that same as it was in the old days, the mid-70’s, this trend exists for almost every type of crime we just hear about them more because of the 24 hour cable news cycle.   The message, it’s ok to worry but worry about something worth worrying about.

Is the problem solvable, really, why are you worrying, is it something that you have no control over?  If so, than great, stop worrying just to worry and start thinking about how you can solve the problem.  If not, then really try to stop worrying because you can’t do anything about it.

Make the choice for happiness, and I know that’s not easy, no one snaps their fingers and stops worrying but work on worrying less, work on being happier.  Of course you’re reading this and it’s a good start, take the advice we put forth here to heart, it can help you be happier and that emotion is more powerful than worry.

Remember worry is contagious, this is significant in a couple of ways, first stay away from other worriers or people who feed your fears.  Secondly, be aware of the fact that your worrying can impact your children and others around you.  Don’t spread your worrying.

Finally, as with everything, relax, breathe, take time to let things go and focus on the good, hug your kids, spend time with your lover, surround yourself with positive helpful people and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Resources to Boost Your Mood

On Being More Mindful

Resources for Overcoming Loss

The Power of Hugs

How to be Happy

Habits for Happiness

Resources on Meditation

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Social Media and Happiness

Social Media and Happiness

happiness, choice, happy

Be happy for this moment, for this moment is your life. ~ Omar Khayyam

Being Happy

The United States is the unhappiest it’s ever been, does this surprise you?  First let’s define what I mean by this, the statement comes from the fact that in annual global happiness surveys, the United States has ranked lower than ever before.  This honestly doesn’t come as no surprise to me.  At this point in time, the United States is more politically divided than it has been in decades.  We see study after study that indicate that our children are more anxious and fearful than ever before.  We see it at the college level now, recently on NPR a college health center director talked about seeing much higher levels of depression and anxiety amongst college students than he has before in his 20 year career.

This political divide, extra stress and anxiety paired with both our twenty-four hour news cycle and social media make living a happy life harder and harder in our society.  There are some general tips on how to be happier, that we’ve discussed here before.  It is after all the focus of this blog, if you want to find additional articles just search through the personal happiness category in the archives on the side of the page.

Social Media

But tonight I want to focus on social media specifically.  We are all tied up in so many ways online with our social media accounts.  We have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, we get sucked into political discussions, get exposed to a constant stream of negative news  and inflammatory stories, afterall the more extreme and controversial the posts, the more likes sites get.  Then of course when we post, we now have to be concerned with likes and shares and comments that people post and the arguments that flare up between people who comment.  Honestly, at times it can all be too much and we have to develop strategies to protect ourselves and particularly our happiness.  And the answer is to not just unplug from the news, social media and the world.  I’ll never be someone who believes putting your head in the sand is the answer.  I’ve connected with too many old friends, and keep in touch with so many people who live far away from me, for me to ever say that social media is inherently bad.

Recently, I’ve found myself struggling a little bit, all of the negativity that gets blasted at us constantly was really bringing me down.  What got to me beyond the political divisiveness, the way people treated each other and even the negative news was that people just generally seemed miserable.  One thing that truly drives me nuts is the meme level thinking people generally apply on social media.  Everything is in absolutes, whole genders, races, religions and political beliefs are hammered with no complexity, nuance or depth of thought.  We’ve lost any semblance of empathy or compassion for anyone who isn’t just like, or at least thinks just like us.  So what’s the answer?

Again, I don’t think the answer is leaving social media.  So what I chose to do instead,  was to be far more deliberate about my social media usage.  First off, I identified where on the web I was encountering the most negativity.  For me, I really only use Twitter and Instagram to post out and not to read.  So Facebook was my biggest source.  The next step was to identify which of my friends’ pages impacted my happiness the most.  If someone only posted things that were significantly negative I unfriended them.  This happily was only a couple of people.

There were some folks whose posts weren’t necessarily always negative but posted enough that I felt like I didn’t need to see their feeds anymore but still wanted to stay connected and I utilized the option of not following them but still remaining friends.  Finally, there was a small group of friends where the decision was really difficult.  You see they are people that I really enjoy knowing what is going on in their lives, but there was enough negativity in their friend’s comments or in their posts that I needed to unfollow them as well.  I then went through my friends list to refollow folks I know who post positive stuff.  You see when I travel, like I have been in the last year, I unfollow almost everyone in order to keep my feeds manageable.

I went through this whole exercise a couple of weeks ago.  There have been a few results.  First, my feed is a bit shorter.  Second, there is far less negativity that I’m being exposed to every day.  Third, this has led to a noticeable improvement in my mood.  So all in all, I think this is something that can work to help you improve your happiness.  So my friends, take control of your social media feeds and have a happy day.  ~ Rev Kane

 

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Happiness, Smiling & the Art of Being Positive

Happiness, Smiling & the Art of Being Positive

happiness, smiling, art of being positive

Happiness, Smiling and the Art of Being Positive

Smiling has an amazing range of impacts and I meant to write about that today until I found an absolutely amazing piece about smiling on the web, I think the article is absolutely perfect and here it is:

The Art of Smiling

A natural flow from smiling is to be positive, remember that smiling, being positive and in the end being happy is a choice.  You choose to decide whether your boss’ attitude, your team losing, or even the other driver in traffic is going to set you off, or if you decide to let it go and not let it disrupt your happiness.  From the piece linked below here are some fantastic tips:

Hints and tips on becoming more positive

  1. Train yourself to notice when you are happy and try to collect five happy moments every single day.
  2. Get Active – physical activity releases happy chemicals in our brains.
  3. Sign up as a volunteer research shows that helping others gives us a sense of wellbeing.
  4. Keep in contact with your friends – scientists report that individuals with a good social network are more likely to be positive people.
  5. Write a letter of thanks to someone who has helped you or had a great influence on you. This will increase your positive and contented feelings.
  6. Eat healthily, drink plenty of water and get sufficient sleep. It’s hard to feel positive if you aren’t treating your body with care and respect.

The link to this piece is below, have a great day and remember, happiness is a choice, choose to have a great day.

Being Positive

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Why I’m Happy Right Now!

Best Happiness Posts of 2015

Happiness is Art: Storytelling

Happiness & Positive Vibes

Staying Positive When You’re Taking Criticism

 

 

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Happiness is the Smoochy Monster

Happiness is the Smoochy Monster

Love is not singular except in syllable. ~ Marvin Taylor

burning man love

Life is a crazy and unpredictable thing, and although it is not easy to do, there often truly is a silver lining within the greyest cloud.  It was this thought recently that led me to think about my cousin who I call the Smoochy Monster.  As a young teenager my cousin was in a four-wheeler accident, nearly fatal, the resulting brain injury very much changed her and all of our lives.  The accident resulted in both physical and mental issues for my cousin; she has a bad leg and suffered a traumatic brain injury that severely impacted her memory abilities.  She has gone through some very hard times over the last two decades since her accident, but today, I want to talk about the silver lining from her accident.

The silver lining is simply that my cousin has become one of the most loving creatures on the face of the planet.  She is a hugging and kissing and loving monster, hence why I have started calling her the smooch monster.  She has also become one of those rare individuals who still writes letters, now these are not Shakespeare but they get the point across, she loves you and they are a joy to receive.

The second part of the Smoochy Monster’s personality is that she has also become the global ambassador of goodwill.  She will engage absolutely anyone with her signature, “hey babe” and start a conversation.  The most amazing thing about the Smoochy Monster is that something about her is utterly disarming, the most antisocial person folds in front of the Smoochy Monster’s charms, resulting in giving her the high-five she’s certain to request from them.  I think we should take her to the middle east and turn her loose on the Israeli’s and Palestinian’s, I believe if given the access she could create world peace.

So today a shout out and bit of love to the Smoochy Monster who has given so many a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

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