What Happened When I Took On A Year-Long Quest To Change My Life

Today I finished a year-long effort of abstaining from alcohol while simultaneously improving myself in five key areas.  It’s been a year of tremendous self-discovery.  If you are unaware what the hell I am speaking of, I called it “The Quest,” and I started it on October 3, 2017.  “The Quest” started quite differently than how I am now finishing it.  I did, however, layout that it would be fluid in nature and I would change things as I saw fit.  I lived up to that much.  

As of now, I have decided I will be doing four quests in total, treating each quest like a year of college and adding onto the learnings and accomplishments of the year prior.  This gives me a direction to take my creativity and life goals, as well as an outlet to write.

I learned so much this past year and the results were resoundingly positive.  If you haven’t been following along on my path, the goal was to create lasting change by removing distractions, turning bad habits to good, and focusing on five “silos” for growth.  The five silos were: Mental Health, Physical Health, Creativity, Career/Learning, and Relationships.

Accomplishments (the five silos)

Let’s start here, with all the good things that I accomplished over the past year in the five key areas.

First, and foremost, I did not take a single sip of alcohol in 365 days.  I’ll call that, Accomplishment Number One.

Physical Health: Lost approximately fifteen pounds, maintained strength, increased endurance, aesthetically look as good as I’ve looked in years.  I feel healthy… very healthy.

  • My diet has been mostly on point.  I eat far less sugar and carbs than I used to.  Due to my activity level, I may actually need to increase calories, but I have become quite comfortable being leaner than my past bulky self.
  • Worked out approximately 4-6x a week over the course of the year.
  • Sauna, Steam and Cold Therapy 3-5x a week.
  • Regular outdoor activities and exercise (also mental health).

Mental Health:  Noticeably altered my perspective, removed negativity, gained clarity, learned to reframe my thoughts and how to fix a negative mental state.

  • Drastically increased my ability to meditate, which in turn has positively impacted my mental health more than anything I have ever done.  This is a habit that I practice about as often as I go to the gym.  Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more.  I, as a result, find myself breathing through negativity and am less anxious than before.
  • Journaled regularly, which helped digest feelings, prioritize goals and work through emotional baggage and thoughts.
  • Regular exposure to nature.

Creativity:  Wrote more than I had written in many years, something I have always loved to do, but had been neglecting.

  • I started and continually expanded and defined a blog and vlog.
  • Improved my video editing skills.
  • Wrote blogs, book chapters and journal entries.
  • Recently started painting.

Career/Learning:  Started a new career, became truly self-employed, and had some early successes.  Learned a range of topics, read books, and applied new knowledge.

  • I committed to, put in the necessary 90 hours, studied for and passed the Washington state real estate exam, allowing me to start a new and exciting career.
  • Significantly cut back on indulging in unimportant time sucks and always try to choose the option at that moment that creates a better or more productive outcome.  This has led to many more hours reading, workouts, more informative viewing options (such as watching a show that teaches rather than just entertains), etc.
  • I read or listened to the following twenty books:

1. Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

3. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

4. Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

5. Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

6. 4:2 Formula; Getting Buyers Off the Fence and Into a Home by Jeff Shore

7. Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahnuik

8. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

9. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

10. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

11. Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

12. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

13. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

14. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

15. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

16. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

17. I Can’t Make This Up by Neil Strauss and Kevin Hart

18. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babbin

19. 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson

20. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

21. All the other books I have indulged in, but either got distracted from or put down in favor of another before finishing.  This was probably the longest book I listened to or read all year 😆

  • Outside of actual book studies, I learned how to manage a blog, meditate efficiently, exercise better, control my weight, and other miscellaneous things.

Relationships:  I have cut out of my life most of the toxic people and have been working to improve my relationship with my girlfriend.  This is more of a personal endeavor, and one that is harder to articulate progress in.  I do feel closer to the people in my life that are meant to be there, and less worried about trying to fit people in that do not try to do the same for me.  Lastly, I am less worried what others think of me.  Although, I am unsure if this was ever a severe ailment of mine, everyone suffers from this on occasion and I can definitely can be a people pleaser.

Where Did I Fall Short?

  • Still a Procrastinator:  Using this post as an example; I should have wrote this last week and then easily posted it today by clicking a button, instead, I have had to write this all up this evening, which took an immense amount of time to do.  I procrastinated.  I tend to do this with most things.  A habit that I will be looking to address in Quest Part Two.
  • My God-Damned Thumbs: I still pick them constantly.  This must stop.  It’s such a bad habit, but I don’t know if it’s rooted in anxiety, or more so, just something I have started doing while I’m thinking or listening.  I did conquer this habit for about two months out of the year, but somehow it came back, probably around when I started practicing real estate.  What a fucking creature of habit, I am. 
  • Patagonia: Unfortunately I have some time before I will be able to afford this trip. 
  • I Like My Sleep:  God damnit, I need to get up earlier.  I, think, this week, I figured out the hack to this: Get excited about the day.  We’ll see the progress that comes from such an epiphany.  I realize that I dream really deeply and have a difficult time breaking from my dream and placing value on getting out of bed over the comfort I feel while lying in it.
  • Money:  Not where I want it, yet.  This will be one of the main focuses in Quest Part Two.
  • Feeds and Screen Time:  I know I just stated this as a positive thing that I have gotten better at.  That’s not entirely true, as I didn’t even have social media before I started real estate.  What I am getting better at is how to better manage this.  It really has to be a cognizant effort or it doesn’t resolve.
  • Writing:  I have, yet, to finish writing the book I said I was to write.  This will, also, roll over into Quest Part Two.
  • Yoga:  My weekly yoga practice never stuck and became something I do on occasion, rather than part of my weekly exercise routine.

What Did I Learn From This Process?

Mostly, I learned that anything I put my mind to, and fully commit to, I can accomplish.  I, also, learned that things happen faster than they seem to, but not without effort.  Patience is, however, key to seeing a goal all the way to fruition.  A year is less time than it seems to be, but longer than most attention spans can hold.  More can be done in a year than expected, but five years of continual progress results in a landslide of change.  I heard this somewhere… probably Tony Robbins or some shit.. but, whatever, it’s relevant.

Would I Do It Again?

100%, absolutely.  As I stated above, I will be taking on another three years of quests that will be different in structure and objective, but build off of what I have completed this year.  This is, again, in attempt to simulate a college-type learning scenario.

Abstaining from alcohol was not difficult once I got started, and though I am looking forward to having a couple beers, I do not plan on overindulgence and know that I have the ability to cut it off entirely at any given point.  I could happily go the rest of my life without ever having another sip of alcohol. 

What Would I Do Differently?

Pertaining to quests, less is often more.  I loaded too much shit into the outline of “The Quest” from the get-go and that resulted in periods of inefficiency where I became frazzled with all the “to-dos” and started neglecting things that were much more pertinent to take care of.  In fact, when I started this whole thing, I was more focused on writing blogs and making sure that I meditated than doing taking care of much more necessary tasks.  Structure is good, but too much structure kills creativity, progress, and is hard to sustain.  In regards to journaling, this was especially true.  As I made my journal more complex, I ended up abandoning journaling for a period.  Keeping a checklist and writing a daily or bi-daily entry seems to keep me on track enough; overcomplicating the process killed the habit entirely, exhausted the free flow nature of it, and was ultimately unproductive.

The same was true with other aspects of “The Quest.”  For example, trying to meditate every single day became a chore, albeit one that I enjoyed, but when it was left unchecked off my to-do list, I became disappointed in myself.  This is actually the opposite effect than the one I was trying to create.  I translated that into a learning experience not to force things and have found that if I just fit my meditation in where its comfortable, I get it done.  With that said, trying to keep on schedule for the first couple of weeks is a good way to kickstart the habit.

I, now, find that I meditate, read, journal/write more days than I do not. 

Exercise is the one area where this does not apply.  If you do not feel like going to the gym, then go to the fucking gym.  A workout, simply, solves most problems and clears the cache.  Also, if I do workout, I am more inclined to meditate and do a heat/cold rotation.  If you are injured or need a rest day, there’s always room for exceptions, but don’t compromise on your commitment to your health and well-being.

Linking these habits to one another, also, seemed to improve the likelihood that I would get them complete. 

What Aspects of My Life Changed the Most Drastically?

Well, first off, I look completely different than I did when I started this.  I wasn’t in terrible shape then, but there is a stark difference in fitness level.  I worked out pretty regularly before I started “The Quest,” and had already started a pretty solid regimen.  What I did not foresee was that I would somehow get down to, and sustain, my body weight at +/- 180 pounds.  Putting weight back on has actually become a difficulty, this is partly because I just don’t like eating a crazy amount of food, but also, my metabolism resembles more of what it did during my high school years than my post-thirty ones.

My overall well-being has significantly improved.  I feel much more dialed and cognizant of how I spend my minutes by actively trying to live in the present.  My perspective is positive and most of my negative thinking is kept at bay.  I, ultimately, learned to control this by noticing who and what I am talking about, stopping myself from gossiping, and framing things in a manner that end in a specific point, rather than some flow of consciousness-styled rant.  Mainly, I have stopped ranting entirely; something I used to do daily.

I have become a much better writer.  Exercising that muscle either through this blog or in my journal has become an irreplaceable outlet for my thoughts.  I will further curate this into an actual talent in the coming years.  Writing a book is still something I long to, and will, eventually complete.

Preparation, as mentioned in an previous post, is something I now consider necessary to advancement.  As well as, taking action.  Learning to balance the two to become more efficient is a necessary skillset that I has seen development.

Random Side Effects:

1.  Foul Language: I cuss less… like, much less.  I have been called out in the past for using “fuck” three-plus times in a single sentence.  The other day, while discussing some random topic, I realized I hadn’t swore in multiple strings of paragraphs.  This was not a work discussion, this was talking to my girlfriend.  Don’t get me wrong, I still probably cuss more than your average Joe, but much less than I used to.

2. Articulation:  My language and conversation skills seem to have greatly improved.  I feel as if I am talking, and perhaps, writing clearer and with more purpose.  That could be my perception, but it could also be from an increased mental acuity coming form mindfulness techniques and the knowledge gained from reading books.

3. Listening:  I’ve become a better listener.  I don’t know what combination of new habits to attribute this to, but I am less likely to cut someone off in conversation than I used to be.  I, also, try not to automate my responses.  I think listening to Audible is part the reason for this, as there is no place to interject oneself when you are listening to a book.

4.  Emotions:  Control, is what I most notice.  I am able to better control MOST of my emotions.  Especially anxiety or unease, as well as lurking depression.  When I do suffer full blown depression, it becomes harder to rebound from.  I have found the cure though, and that is becoming productive when it arrises.  Usually I can tie my depression to some sort of burden I feel I am carrying.  Once I make the burden actionable, it lightens the load and I can move past it.

5.  More Open to New Ideas:  I stopped shutting down ideas that I found imbecilic, and instead embrace new ideas with curiosity.  If for no other reason, to learn why people think the way they do.  So, although I find Alex Jones to be an absolutely insane, crazy person, learning what makes people believe in such obvious falsities intrigues me.  He is still a piece of shit, but one that can be shrugged off.

6.  Funny:  I cannot confirm if this is true or not, but I feel less funny than I used to be.  Maybe it’s an unfair statement, but I used to consider myself a pretty funny guy.  Now, I just feel more focused on accomplishing goals, and much less on making people laugh or being clever.

7.  Narcissism:  I am aware of the narcissism involved with blogging and vlogging, hash-tagging and just social media overall.  I would have relentlessly clowned on this very blog just a year ago, but I also wanted an outlet to write and a way to hold myself accountable to stay on track towards my objective.  It worked.  So, fuck it, I now blog and vlog…  I know it is self-indulgence at its finest, but until I accomplish what I have set out to, that will have to be an asterisk.

8.  Loss of Interest in Media:  I, currently, hate spending time watching TV.  More so, I hate spending time staring at my phone.  Although, I do still find myself on the couch watching Netflix, I have started turning it off when I am disinterested.  I had this conversation with my friend Jarod this week, and we both were on the same page here.  When I am watching TV, I should commit fully to watching TV.  No phone in hand, no searching for hours for something to watch.  Just turn on the show, watch the show without distraction to completion, TV off, next task.  This really should be applied to any activity.  Be present in everything you do.

What Habits Will I Continue?

Most of them.  Removing only the overly-structured constructs that I initially put around goals in an attempt to accomplish them. 

What Habits Will I Discontinue?

I think, when I started doing this blog, I said I was going to run regularly.  I don’t think that will stick as a regular activity.  I have no intention of running much, as it can hurt my knees.  Plus, I find hiking, biking, or even rowing, more enjoyable.  I do like trail running though, which I would gladly do more of.

What Would I Like to See More of Next Year?

More Alpine.  More Stability.  More Money.  More Adventure.  More Mountains.  More Learning.  More Yoga.  More Mindful.  More Hustle.  More Patience.  More Love.

What About the Future Most Excites Me?

I am done worrying about the past or the future.  Even getting pre-maturely excited about the future tags it with an expectation that may or may not conclude how it plays out in actuality; resulting in disappointment.  The excitement that I feel is towards the opportunity to tackle the goals right in front of me, right now.  I am excited to do that everyday, with everything I decide to do.  I am excited to approach every task with an enthusiasm and vigor that continues to grow as I further learn to hone my presence in the moment.  Balancing all the different aspects of my life gets me excited, too.  As does, increasing my knowledge.  This all fills me with a significant amount of purpose.  That purpose brings a sense of calm, and that calmness is better than excitement, it’s contentment.  Contentment is balanced and consistently a good place to be.

 

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

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Do Extreme Things Daily

After reading different books and watching different shows, there is one commonality amongst the people that interest me most.  They push harder and further in an often unestablished direction that has never been done quite the same before.  Wim Hof, for instance, climbs snow and ice covered mountains in shorts by controlling his adrenal system with very specific breathing patterns.  He, then, teaches people how to climb snow and ice covered mountains in shorts doing the same.  That is a pretty extreme way to earn a living, or a reputation, but it’s awesome.  Hamilton Morris flies around the world learning about drug culture and the effects of psychedelics.  Leonardo da Vinci juggled painting, science, inventing, and engineering… he could also play instruments and write poetry.  Joe Rogan is arguably the best interviewer of our time, he’s also a stand-up comedian, practices MMA fighting, hosts the UFC, has an acting career, and a grab bag of other miscellaneous talents.  Bill Gates created Microsoft, but, arguably, more importantly, established philanthropic channels to solve some of the biggest problems facing our world.  There are plenty of impressive people we could list, and Walter Isaacson will likely write a number one best-selling book about them like he has on the aforementioned Leonardo da Vinci, as well as, Steve Jobs and Einstein.  My point is, people who do extreme things find extreme success, or, at the very least, fulfillment.  Don’t believe me?  Check in with your buddy from high school who peaced out to some ski village or gave up the corporate life to drive around in a van and surf the world’s biggest waves.  It doesn’t have to be monetarily based, but often that’s a byproduct.

The people listed above were probably, or are probably, odd.  That’s a good thing.  Odd people do not follow social norms or let trivial obstacles stop them from accomplishing some big hairy audacious goal.  It’s not part of our current discussion?  Elon Musk gives zero fucks.  Maybe these people don’t even have a big hairy audacious goal, and are just following their internal compass (Oh yeah, that’s a call back, baby: A Journal Entry Concerning Time; Finding Your Internal Compass).  There’s a lot to be learned here, but as I was sitting at my table considering the best way to market my real estate business to gain some new clients, I came across this video of Wim Hof and through today’s numbing and annoying brain fog, I saw something clear.  Nothing, except myself, is preventing me from jumping in ice water at this very moment.  And, when the opportunity arrises to jump into ice water, instead of taking the comfortable route and remaining warm and clothed, the alternative would be to jump in headfirst until the cold no longer stings.

On a recent trip to the North Cascades, Adam and I did just that (Quest Update: As Summer Adventures Come to a Close).  On our drive home, we spontaneously came to the agreement that we were going to follow an impulse, pull off to the side of Highway 20, strip down and into our swimsuits, and jump into a turquoise blue, glacier fed, alpine lake, known as Lake Diablo.  After an incredible couple days of hiking along the PCT, on the eastern side of the National Park, this quick dip was still ranked up there as one of the perks of our trip.

So, you haven’t gone for a run in a long time; lace up those shoes and knock out eight miles today.  Go lift the most weight you’ve ever lifted or go swim the furthest you’ve ever swam.  Meditate ten minutes longer than your longest session.  Prospect 100 more people this week.  There is no failing, only doing.  Honestly, seven years ago I could hardly call myself a skier.  After my girlfriend Brandi and I agreed to go on our first official date at Stevens Pass, I decided that skiing was something I was going to do from that day on.  I, also, suppose, perhaps unknowingly, that I decided I was going to do more than ski; I was going to ski well.  After that initial day on the slopes, I bought some gear and skied every chance the snow would allow.  If the opportunity arose, I would pack my skis with me on work trips in an effort to get turns in on the hills of Montana and Idaho.  I would isolate myself in a hotel room for multiple weeks to visit clients, but more importantly, so that I could ski more.  I pushed myself down runs that were hard until they became easy.  After my first season back on skis (I skied semi-regularly as a youth until I was about twelve years old), I was skiing double black runs by the end of it (not very well, but I never got injured 🙃).  Now, however, I can ski just about anything you throw at me in almost any conditions, although I’m not Candide, so don’t expect me to ski dirt, even if it were possible, I like my skis too much.

Skiing is an easy thing to love, it’s a quick-paced, adrenaline-filled sport that puts you deep into the moment, removing thoughts about work obligations, bills coming due, begrudged politics, etc.  Jumping into an ice cold lake doesn’t seem quite the same, but it is on a smaller and more basic level.  What you’re doing when you take that plunge is taking the now into your own hands, continuing your narrative on your terms and shifting the monotony of daily life into one of spontaneity and excitement.

In closing, there’s plenty to be excited about and a world of opportunity to explore.  Do something extreme and scratch the itch you didn’t realize needed to be scratched.  Take whatever it is you desire to do to the furthest place you can take it.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

A Journal Entry Concerning Time; Finding Your Internal Compass

Time is probably the most precious commodity that we, as humans, have.  As it passes by, our lives go with it, leaving only memories and wisdom behind.  It’s interesting to watch how many people fill their days with activities they otherwise hate, and their minds with worries of the future or empty entertainment that keeps them distracted from the present.  People that I know and love spend much of their lives worried about how they’ll retire, and often, they skip past the part of their life where they are the most capable and able-bodied.  Others don’t take any time to do this, live only in the moment, and are miserable because they have yet to find how to properly fit into this world.  I watch as people circumvent their own dreams and aspirations for the realities of others.  They do this by using their time to watch television, scrolling Facebook or Instagram feeds, or gluing themselves to the always BREAKING cable news programs designed to breed anxiety and further division.  I still fall into these time-sucks, but I am now cognizant of what they’re accomplishing and how their accomplishments change me for the worse.

Other ways this can be emulated is in the working of a nine-to-five for a company that often does not align with one’s own ideals.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with watching your favorite show on television, and we all need to put food on the table, but the truth is, most of the time we spend in front of digital media is 100% useless and is just a method of escapism that keeps us from fulfilling what is authentic to us as individuals.  The goal here being: to create a reality that is preferable to the one we are told, by society, to follow.

Preparation, however, should not be skirted, and it is important to take steps to create a stable future.  Dwelling on it as life’s main objective, however, seems to lead to missed opportunities, as well as a somewhat bland, and perhaps, meaningless life.  Often, with people who follow this course, once in retirement, purpose is still missing.  Family seems to make up for some of this, as well, a family lends itself to a larger purported purpose, however, with one’s individuality unfulfilled, even the most accomplished businessman, might feel unaccomplished if their true desires and potentials were never fully met.  If they never tried to write that book or taste the snow on top of that one mountain.

As I close out my first “Quest” —the year of self-improvement that I started following my brother’s wedding on October 3, 2017; a day that began with a hangover as I moved to cease my consumption of alcohol and focused to redirect bad habits into good ones— this has been one of the take-away lessons that I have learned.  Last night, as I was journaling, I wrote about it.  Below is that entry.   img_4436

With little more than a week left in my Quest, I will be sharing the changes that have occurred in myself, and the lessons that I have learned along my path.

For me, finding my internal compass has been one of those lessons.  A lesson that can only be learned void of distractions; when one clears their mind and turns off the outside voices.  There are so many profound and exciting revelations that have come from this year’s experience, and I cannot wait to share with you what those have been and how I plan on continuing my growth in my upcoming Quest Part Two.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

Quest Update: As Summer Adventures Come to a Close

I haven’t been blogging or vlogging in quite a while.  I put a pause on this while my friend was supposed to update my website, but since my website still hasn’t been updated, and while my Quest inches closer to completion, it is time to bring you a compelling story of… well, okay, it’s just an update on things that I’ve been up to.  Super provocative stuff here, guys!

Prelude

I am down to the last couple weeks of alcohol-free living.  I feel fantastic overall, and had an incredible summer full of camping, hiking, peak scrambling, biking, backpacking, a wedding, but mainly, working.  Much of my time in the last few months has been dedicated to growing my real estate business, maintaining my fitness, staying consistent with my Quest objectives, and some hiking/adventures when they could be squeezed in.

The Last Little Bit

So, let’s rewind a month when I was in the Enchantments for five days and then came home, grabbed my pre-packed bag of wedding garments and jumped on a plane to Cincinnati to celebrate my friends, Zach and Meghan, tying a knot.  I stood beside Zach as his (co-) best man and had a wonderful time meeting his friends and family.  Also that week, I saw my friend, Steve, who I had not seen in years.  It’s odd how with certain people it doesn’t matter the duration of time that passes between visits, when you get back together with those people, it’s as if nothing has changed.  Zach and Steve are two people in my life that that applies to.

Going back about nine years to when I met them, I was not too keen on Mister Zach.  I determined he was a pompous know-it-all ass before I properly got to know him.  I figured out, however, that he was just socially inept and had a pretty tough initial guard up.  However, once I broke through that guard we became great friends.  We even ended up all living in the same apartment building.  During that period I was their “Kramer,” not because I used the n-word on stage like some raving lunatic, but because on a daily basis I would just open their door and walk into their abode without so much as a door knock.  Much has changed in our lives since I had last saw them… especially with Steve who now has a toddler.  Together, in a group again, it was as if it no time had passed at all… with the exception of Zach’s ability to grow a beard, my inability to retain my hair, and Steve getting … errr… a little rounder.  Ha.

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Zach on his big day biting my girlfriend’s arm

After Zach’s beautiful vows, and my appropriately hilarious and oh-so touching speech that shattered the expectations of everyone involved, but most importantly, the bride and groom 🧐, Steven and I woke up the next morning and drove my bishhh to the airport.  We proceeded to kick her wiggity-wack ass out the car and then drove to Cincinnati’s very own King’s Island.  King’s Island is a theme park.  I’m 34.  Steve is like 38 or some shit?… Basically, two full grown adult males had a date going on all the rollercoasters and rides that a midwestern theme park had to offer, and it was the best day ever!

But let’s not so quickly leap over the Enchantments, as it was an incredible trip through a beautiful, albeit smokey, region of the Cascades.  During our stay we visited all the different alpine lakes, swam in a few of them, climbed Little Annapurna, night hiked up Prusik Pass to watch a very unimpressive meteor shower, slept next to mountain goats  with their rambunctious kids in my hammock, and did some other miscellaneous scrambles.  We were very lucky to get permits, and although the smoke was a hinderance, it could have been much worse.

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Brandi’s signature hiking pose.
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My towel and his vistors

 

Full Enchantments Post coming soon with video footage.

So, that was a month back.  This past week Brandi and I attended a double header baby shower (one after the other) for two of my dudes.  I, then, packed up and went camping near Winthrop, WA, on Monday with my good friend, Adam.  We hadn’t spent any time together this summer so we had planned a couple days in the North Cascades.  The weather decided to be a cranky biotch, so we shifted our trip to the eastern side of the park where it is not quite as rain prone.  We hiked along the PCT and spent a couple days eating, as Adam likes to say, some “good food” in the woods along a creek.  With the weather starting to change, it’s probably the last multi-night camping trip for a while, but I was able to not miss much work at all.  It’s somewhat convenient taking most of your days off in the middle of the week.

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During one of those weekends in there we went camping with our friends Jon and Bre.  On this camping trip we found an amazing riverside camp spot that was completely isolated from other passer-byers.  Jon was generous enough to bring along some delicious stogies he had picked up in the Dominican Republic.  Unfortunately, I had Open Houses to attend on both Saturday and Sunday that weekend so I had to drive back into civilization both mornings and didn’t get to disconnect on this particular trip like I normally would.  It was a very long and deliberate route that I wish had been avoidable on Saturday morning… but, hey, when duty calls.  Clearly getting outside hasn’t been much of an issue for me lately, so no harm no foul.

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My dooooood Jon and I thumbin’ up & hangin’ loose

Beyond that… work + gym + plus a random weekday outing here and there is what my life currently consists of, and I a pretty okay with that.

The Quest

As for the Quest… As I had stated earlier, and as of today, I am two weeks out from completion.  That’s a huge benchmark and I am getting pretty excited to, again, be able to drink a cold and delicious beer.  Although, I am admittedly still wrestling with the idea of continuing with the absence of alcohol, that is seemingly a wrestling match I will lose.  Not because of some innate need to drink, but instead, because I do like having beer and a certain amount of alcohol is probably beneficial to things like my career and social life.

What has changed? 

There is more that has changed than that I recognize, but, simultaneously, not enough has changed for me to give up and go back to my post-Quest life.  Many of my new habits will stay with my for the remainder of years I have left.  Especially meditation, journaling, consistent exercise, hot and cold therapy, writing, and reading.  In fact, a couple weeks ago I realized that I am a completely different person than when I started this a year ago.  I, also, found out what doesn’t work and what I was just doing to say I did it.  Having some crazy journaling schedule… yeah, that did not come close to sticking.  Reading a ton of books a month became more of a chore and hindered performance in other areas.  Not watching TV sounds fun until you get bored out of your mind.

I am, however, in drastically better shape, I feel smarter, better read, more consistent with my mood, less anxious, less depression, I have started a completely new career where I work for my self, and I am better fit to deal with adversities that I face.

I do have a few new Quest concepts that I will further define and start once this one comes to fruition.  My next quest will focus on my shortcomings and areas of my life I wish to further improve.  Unfortunately, my current quest will not be 100% completed quite yet, as I still have some saving to do until I will be able to afford to make it to Patagonia.  That is still going to happen, however, and hopefully at some point in 2019 I’ll make it a reality.  Of course, it has to work out seasonally as well.  Stay tuned.

Summer is out, Fall is in

The seasons changed rather quickly this year, going from incredibly hot to rather cold overnight.  Summer is officially over this coming Saturday, and I am stoked to see some yellow and orange leaves and have some cooler weather to go hike in.  I used to call the fall shoulder season, now I just look at it as the cooler time of year to go hiking.

Lastly, congrats to my sister and her boyfriend on their engagement.  Ditto to my friends Jake and Jen!

IT’S ALMOST SKI SEASON!!!!

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

VLOG #13: Melakwa Lake & Kaleetan Peak

Last week my adventure buddy Austin and I did what we love to do and found a fun hike and scramble off the i90 corridor to complete.  We headed out the night before, slept in hammocks near the trailhead, and then proceeded to burn the ever-loving piss out of my shoulders and back in the shape of the pack I was carrying.  There were fun times.  Great views.  Some route finding and steep rock faces.  We slipped at one point, that’s not on the video.  And, we jumped in the lake.

Sooo… Enjoy the vid!  No tunes added on this one, so it’s just the incredibly enjoyable sounds of nature… rather the commentary of two adventure dudes yukkin’ it up on the trail.  #CaptivatingAF

This weekend marked ten months of a booze free life; two more to go and I am officially done.  Who knows what will come then, but the initial quest is getting close to complete!

 

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

 

VLOG 12.1 – Day One: the Spider Gap

Starting our trip at approximately 9 AM on the 4th of July, our first day consisted of hiking from the trailhead to Lower Lyman Lake.  A pretty ambitious, however unintentional goal that was the result of finding unsuitable camping conditions at Lower Lyman Lake’s higher brother, Upper Lyman Lake.

The hike started out like most other’s do here in the Northwest, meandering through forested slopes as we gained elevation, finally reaching the Spider Meadows.  From their we climbed up to the Spider Gap glacier, then down to Upper Lyman Lake, followed by Lower Lyman.  Here is a video account of Day One of our trip.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

My Reflections in Nature; The Final Quarter

9-Month Quest Update

At 9:30 last Saturday night I was running up a road back to my girlfriend’s white Nissan Rogue after completing a stunning backpacking trip through the Glacier Peak Wilderness in the Cascades (full trip report and vlog coming very soon).  Three of us took on a 44 mile trek and I was pretty damn exhausted while finishing the last three miles, trail running up a mountain towards our transportation.  All of this in celebration of the Fourth of July, or more just an excuse for a backpacking trip, which also happened to coincide with my nine months of living alcohol free.

One reflection I had while walking through these stupidly beautiful and varying landscapes, was how similar life is to the adventure we were on.  Challenges in the outdoors can be very complex and require quick thinking, just as in real life.  They can take you off track due to faulty route finding which in turn costs you time on the trail pushing goals and camps further from reach.  They’re physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding.  You’re always being faced with new challenges, both minor and major, some grueling, some require digging deep into your fear and conquering it, but they’re always overturning and linking from one to the next followed by breaks of insane beauty before reemerging you in chaos.  You learn from each of these experiences and move on with the knowledge of how to handle a similar situation later.  Shifty rocks, unstable snow, darkness setting with no camp in sight and mosquitos biting the shit out of any exposed skin, legs cramping, dehydration, exhausting heat, numbing cold.. the list goes on.  No matter what happens during the trek, it must be finished at some point, in some way.  The option to bow out and just not finish what you have started does not really exist after a certain point, unless not being alive is an acceptable outcome to you.  Which means, when unfortunate circumstances arise, you have two options: be mentally miserable, bitch and complain, or you can find a way around the obstacles that present themselves and make the best out of your misfortune.  Since we are just a bunch of organisms attempting to ping our neuro receptors with jolts of dopamine, adjusting your mindset to do the latter is possible.

The past nine months have been the most transformative, life altering months of my life.  They’ve been productive in ways that will benefit me for years, perhaps decades, to come.  Yet there is still an internal turbulence brewing that works against what I am trying to accomplish.  I have had to learn to silence that turbulence, and also, energize it when necessary.  To get to a place where that is possible, I need to completely calm my ever-pulsing brainwaves.  Meditation has done me wonders.  Intense exercise also helps clear the thought tinnitus riddled with politics, work tasks, relationship issues, and other trivial, lizard brained bullshit.  But the activity that proves the most effective is, without a doubt, spending multiple days outdoors with a set goal to obtain.  Removing myself from the stresses of modern life and replacing them with survival and nature allows a deeper cleansing than you’ll find at any Gold’s Gym and earns me a fresh perspective.

The days spent away this last week were more like a firmware update than a vacation.  I regained my purpose for this quest.  Remembered what it is that I am working for.  Realized the progress I have made so far.  Saw where I can make improvements.  Got calibrated.  A lot has changed in nine months, more positive change than at any point in my life, and I still have three more to go to finish off this year long assignment.  In reality, it never stops, until it does, and I want to make it the best it can be all the way up and to the ending.

“You want to know what anger is?  Well, just observe the sensations that arise and pass in your body while you are angry… … … Whenever I was angry, I focused on the object of my anger — something somebody else did or said — rather than on the physical reality of the anger.

… The most important thing I realized was that the deep source of my suffering is in the patterns of my own mind.  When I want something and it doesn’t happen, my mind reacts by generating suffering.  Suffering is not an objective condition in the outside world. It is a mental reacting generated by my own mind.” Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, excerpt from Tribe of Mentors, by Tim Ferris

 

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane