Josh Misner, PhD

Mindful Living in a Distracted World

86 Days and Counting

Today, I realized (thanks in part to my ADHD son, who is keeping track) that we are 86 days away from the single most massive transformation in our lives in history, a relocation from northern Idaho to SoCal, specifically the greater Los Angeles area.

People around here, 90% of whom are former Cali transplants themselves, whether during the infamous Great White Flight of the 1970s or the more recent migration of conservatives to the north, ALWAYS ask us first and foremost, without reservation or shame: “WHY?”

We typically answer from the top-down, with higher-prioritized reasoning first, followed up by ancillary rationale.

  1. Friends/Family: The vast majority of our #SASFA19 shipmates are located in SoCal, spread out between the Greater LA area and San Diego. These people shared 20,000 nautical miles across 12 countries and 4 continents with us. We shared bouts of seasickness in the Bay of Dismay (Biscayne), we suffered through the neverending pork served by the ship’s kitchen in our daily buffets, and last but most important, there are countless thousands of priceless memories we shared together that are ineffable to bystanders and non-participants of the Semester at Sea experience.
  2. Housing: Up here, housing has gone crazy, as with the rest of the country. Idaho is now one of the top fastest-growing states in the United States, and the housing market cannot keep up. No offense against our current landlord (because he’s fucking awesome), but our house is 1300 ft2, 2 conforming bedrooms, 2 nonconforming beds down in the basement, and a bathroom that seriously more resembles a coat closet. Seriously, two people cannot walk by one another in the bathroom, even if they tried. And it’s selling for $500,000. Half a freaking million. That same half-mil will get you a 4-bed, 3-bath house in Cali in the right neighborhood with marble, travertine, and maybe even a swimming pool.
  3. Scenery: Here in CDA, we have mountains and a lake. That’s it. Oh, and like 7 feet of snow in the winter, so you can really only enjoy all that for <50% of the year. Once you’ve seen part of it, you’ve seen it all. From those who have grown up here, there is nothing super special about it. Period. In Cali, we have the beach and ocean. There are cedar forests. There are vast and diverse deserts. There are mountains and canyons. Hell, we have the Grand fucking Canyon within reasonable driving distance. In comparison, eight hours’ drive south from where we currently live? Boise. Fucking Boise. To get a “real” change of scenery, we have to head west, to Seattle or Portland.
  4. Opportunity: There are literally HUNDREDS of colleges and universities in the LA/SD area. HUNDREDS! I personally have the opportunity to spread my professional wings and fly. Additionally, I could do consulting, writing, videography, publishing, and significantly more than what is available here, where there are literally FOUR institutions I could potentially work for, and one of those would require an hour commute every day. That. Is. It.
  5. New Perspective: In SoCal, we have exposure to vast amounts of other cultures, whereas, in north Idaho, we have “Whitopia.” Look, I’m indigenous, and my partner is Scandinavian with some indigenous lineage as well, but it gets old after a while trying to constantly morph our perspectives into the majority view of the area. This area is—no shit, 95% white—and that homogeneity gets old after a while. Okay, it’s been old since the early 2000s when we moved here and recognized it, but after doing Semester at Sea and being surrounded by cultures from all over the world, we’ve realized that Whitopia isn’t for us. Look, I’m not (completely) judging all the white folx moving up here to be around their own, but at the same time, we feel like that dilution of character and color has gotten to a point where we can no longer stand the tribalism that comes from it as a whole. This last summer, the constant flag-waving MAGA parades and “All Lives Matter” bullshit, combined with grown-ass adults yelling at us and our children from the passing cars got old REALLY fucking fast.
  6. Adventure: In fall of 2019, we took a really big chance. We packed up everything we owned into a 10×12 storage locker and took a rental van to Seattle, where we boarded a plane to Iceland. From there, we visited Poland and Germany before we boarded a ship that took us all over the world. We had NO idea what to expect, and the idea of uncertainty was addictive. We want that for ourselves again, for better or for worse. We want to experience this world for all it has to offer, or as John Keating in Dead Poets Society said, we want to suck the marrow out of life.

86 days.

Damn, that seems short. We still have to order the Pod to move. We have to go buy boxes and tape from Lowes. Hell, I have to pack up (carefully) the pop culture museum that is my office at work. We have SO much left to do that 86 days doesn’t seem like enough.

One way or another, it will be.

And I, for one, welcome the change.

The Damaging, Dangerous Illusion of Choice

Is The Coronavirus Outbreak Making You Anxious? Here's Why This ...

All too often, I’ve been in the position of either participating in or being a spectator to the following arguments:

  • Addiction is a choice. Why should my tax dollars go toward providing rehab and therapy for someone who chose to get high and party?
  • A lot of people choose to be homeless. I don’t know why, but maybe they’re just lazy and don’t want to work for a living. McDonald’s is always hiring, so I can’t understand why they don’t just get a job instead of holding a cardboard sign and begging all day.
  • I don’t believe in tipping waitstaff, baristas, or delivery drivers. They chose to work in a profession that pays horribly and relies on tips. If they don’t like it, just go find a better job.

Perhaps you have as well.

While each argument has numerous points deserving of debate, there’s a common denominator running through each that arguments fail to address: the illusion of choice. Continue reading “The Damaging, Dangerous Illusion of Choice”

Making Room: The Most Profound Lesson 4 Months at Sea Taught Me

I started working on our family’s travel plans for Semester at Sea six months or so before we left the US on the adventure of a lifetime. As I pored over apps like Travelocity, Hopper, and to try to find the best (i.e., cheapest) deals and arrange for the two-week excursion scheduled to take place prior to our arrival on the ship, I was dumbfounded by a simple and rather annoying condition to European air travel: maximum bag weight. Perhaps this outs me as a naive and unseasoned world traveler, but I’d never run into such a thing before. Continue reading “Making Room: The Most Profound Lesson 4 Months at Sea Taught Me”

Three in the Morning

A lot has transpired in the last two weeks since I blogged here. We left Poland, had to skip traversing the Kiel Canal in Germany because of technical difficulties (with the canal, not the ship, thankfully), spent about 6 days in Lisbon, Portugal and Cádiz, Spain, and now, we’re crossing the Mediterranean just north of Algiers.

I have some catching up to do on recording our experiences in Lisbon and Cádiz, but for now, I wanted to post a poem I penned a couple of nights ago while battling insomnia. Continue reading “Three in the Morning”

Peeking Behind the Iron Curtain

When I was a kid, living my best parachute pants-clad life in the 1980s, I was a devout fan of Mad Magazine.

My fandom, of course, was fueled primarily by my love of the cartoon, Spy vs. Spy.

Continue reading “Peeking Behind the Iron Curtain”

Survival By Accident: Reflections on Gdansk


As I sit up in bed on our ship, the MV World Odyssey, Polish food in my belly and a hint of Dubrowka bison grass vodka in my veins, I cannot help but reflect on what an incredibly profound day today has been.

Today was my first field class, meaning that I took one of my three communication courses for Semester at Sea on a “field trip” of sorts, this time my intercultural communication class on an exploration of the impact of the Holocaust on the people of Gdańsk, Poland. Continue reading “Survival By Accident: Reflections on Gdansk”

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