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

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Vlog #6: Str8 Up Killin’ It!

Here is the long awaited VLOG (barf in my mouth) that I have been promising you.  Enjoy… well, as much as you can enjoy a VLOG, which is probably not very much…. I really am setting this content up to succeed.  #SelfDepricatingHumor

If you have suggestions of what you would like to see more of, or less of, for that matter, leave them below in the comments!  Just don’t be a pecker.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

Six Months Down, Six To Go! The Quest Continues.

Holy balls!  I’ve reached the top of the mountain and am about to start heading back down.  Well, probably not, it usually takes much longer to summit than descend, however, I am six months into this quest of enlightenment with another six pending… And I feel great about the crazy amount of accomplishments I have made during this period.

So let’s take a lookie-lou at what’s been going down over the past six months…

  • I have turned exercise into a routine, lost a shit ton of weight (20 lbs I didn’t even know I had to lose), now have abs and have gained a solid level of endurance.
  • Drastically changed my diet to include more vegetables and greens, less junk food and cheat days, which has, in-turn, greatly improved my energy levels and focus.
  • I finished my real estate hours, passed the Washington State real estate exam, got hired on at a brokerage, sold my first house (within a month and a half of starting), and am successfully building a sales/referral pipeline.
  • Further made meditation and journaling life long habits (with a couple of lapses, including a recent one).
  • Read/Listened to two+ books per month (since the new year, but was reading prior, just not on a schedule).
  • Refrained from having a sip of alcohol.
  • Started writing regularly, again, and am working on writing a book, as well as regularly updating this blog – sometimes more than other times.
  • Retained my love and exposure for the outdoors (though, admittedly, less than I would like to – this ski season is the first I have skied less than 20 days in a very long time, although sometimes sacrifices must be made to better other areas of life and free up time to do much, much more skiing in the future.).

I’m sure there is other shit that I have accomplished, too, that’s a pretty solid list of not-so-humble brags.  All in all, I haven’t had such a productive six months in my entire life and I am stoked to see where I am six months from now!

With that all said, I still have plenty of short-comings and things to further and greatly improve on, but this is a celebratory post, so I will keep it as such.

I will follow up with a VLOG at the end of the week.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

Dealing with Boredom; the Realities of Sobriety

I have been saying how great I am doing with the “one year, no beer” challenge that I have taken on.

“Killing it,” I say.

“Feeling great,” I brag.

I am over 90 days deep and physically feeling pretty fantastic as the alcohol has left my body.  People notice it in my face, I can see it in my skin, I look a little different than I did three months ago.  The truth of the matter is, however, that there is one major side effect of drinking from 15-34 and then just stopping cold turkey. . . boredom.  I am “out-of-my-mind” bored.  I am filling my time with new habits and replacing the time I spent drinking with other more exciting things, sure, but on a regular Tuesday night when I am a little stressed out, I do not have a beer in the fridge to turn to to help dull my senses or make me giggle for a couple hours.  That couple hours of being buzzed, tipsy, or even drunk, seems like a waste of time, and it is, but sometimes it’s a nice release from the realities we face on a day to day basis.

I used to be, or at least thought I was, the life of the party.  The hilarious guy who would say outrageous things and get all my friends laughing hysterically with stupid antics.  Hold-nothing-back type jokes coupled with clown on a stranger’s haircut type rudeness often left me beloved by my peers and hated by the unfortunate targets I came across.  Granted, I was becoming more tame with age regardless of the break I am taking from the bottle, but that guy is gone now and has been replaced by a more serious person who would rather spend time with his dogs than a pub full of drunk strangers.  Sure, I still have some good zingers here and there, but it’s not the same… I’m not the same.  The normally restricted zones that alcohol lets you step into are now roped off.  I find myself often pondering life, meddling through depressive states, writing, reading, running, lifting weights, staying at the gym for hours, and, generally, being boring as fuck.  What has happened to me?!

I turned 34 a week ago.  So, I guess that’s probably what happened to me; age.  Mid-fucking-thirties… Boooo!  Even if I were not taking on this quest of no alcohol and self-improvement, I simply cannot party the way I used to.  Drug infused Saturdays are a thing of the past.  The idea of doing some of the things I did in my twenties not only doesn’t sound like something I want to do, it gives me anxiety just as a thought.  Drinking a fifth of alcohol over the course of a day sounds like a humiliating and terrible experience that will end with me wincing in pain for days after.  Add recreational uppers to the mix and I can feel my kidneys shutting down.  With that said, a couple beers after a long day, the same doesn’t quite ring true.  The opposite does; it sounds wonderful.  I do not really think of it much -although Christmas was a little challenging with my drunken silly siblings- because I feel better than I have in a long while and have committed myself to accomplish a goal.  Committing myself to accomplishing a goal does not make the boredom just disappear, though.  It’s there and it can be hard to deal with.  This is also why it’s easy to get sucked into something like video games or some other unproductive activity that seems harmless but is a huge time suck… because I am bored and seeking the same level of entertainment that was once fueled by ethanol and debauchery.  That’s the reality.  That’s the struggle.  And I will keep doing just fine and persevere through it all, but in the back of my mind I know why I am feeling how I am feeling.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane U.

 

 

Vlog #4: Reflecting on Relationships & the First 90+ Days of My Quest

Happy New Year, everyone!  I think I forgot to say that on my last post, but even if I didn’t, let me say it again… Happy New Year!

This weekend I was hit with an unfortunate reality that to better my life I need to rid it of a particular person who should otherwise be a fundamental part of it.  Unfortunately for me and those associated with this person, they are too toxic to be around.  This Vlog post centers around that and the relationship category of my quest.  I also completed my first 90 days of sobriety, had a birthday and added some short clips from the latter months of 2017 to the backend of the Vlog.  Which I still hate saying…

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

a Sick Ass Drill

I bought a drill the other day.  No, that’s not a brag, more so, an admission of guilt.  I am not adding a cool new power tool to the man shed.  Nope, I bought a drill because unless someone just forgot one at my house, I have never actually possessed a drill or even went out seeking one.  Mainly, I’ve just had friends with drills that I know how to buy beer for when I need to hang a TV or fix some shit.  Although I will attempt to tune and wax my own skis and I am known to go on multi-night backpacking adventures that require some manly skillsets, in general I’m not a particularly handy person and definitely require a qualified friend overlooking 98.5% of any automotive work I decide to take on.  Having recently rented a fixer-upper that the landlords didn’t full fix-up, I have had to get better at jerry-rigging dishwashers, fixing clogged plumbing, and other miscellaneous handyman-esque tasks.

When I decided that I was indeed going to buy the drill – and, yes, there was a decisive moment – I passed this info along to my significant other who priced out the different drill options in the area.  I, of course, wasn’t fully convinced that she found the best deal so after peeping the Black & Decker option at Target that she told me was the best deal, I insisted that we at least check Home Depot.  Target eventually won over the Deep, as my girlfriend had predicted.  Good job, Brando.

Once I got that bad mammajamma (aka the drill) home I enthusiastically strapped on its first suitor, a circle saw I purchased to cut a larger doorknob hole in the front door, and proceeded to scratch the paint off a door that I was somehow unaware had been constructed of metal.  Back in the car I, again, headed to Home Depot to get some dowels to better stabilize the drill… that helped slightly with stabilization, but less so with widening the hole that needed widening.  That’s when my buddy, Nate, came through and told me that I had the wrong type of drill bit.  Back to Home fucking Depot my Durango vroomed to return the first bit and get another more toothy and aggressive bit which helped me remove more paint off the door.  Nate decided he shouldn’t let idiots operate power tools in his much more qualified presence, so, long story short, there was then a bigger hole with a new, semi operational doorknob and lock in it.

Eight trips to Home Depot later, the door is finally fixed to the standard I was hoping it to be.  After the first installation, it had to be replaced, again, because the deadbolt wouldn’t lock or unlock without the Hulk present to do it for you.  But why did I need to fix the door to begin with, you ask?  Well, that’s where this tale continues.

Last Wednesday with Christmas behind us, Nate and I were heading back to the gym to get a much-needed workout in.  As we walked out of the house, Nate closed the door behind him locking the bottom handle for safe keeping.

“NOOOOOO!!!”  I cried as he informed me of his actions and with my knowledge that the bottom lock doesn’t easily unlock.

I torqued the fucker, sprayed WD-40 in its hole, wiggled it, jiggled it, and then called some dickhead locksmith that thought it was okay to charge me $170 for fifteen minutes of, what was essentially, taking a sledge hammer to a door handle… it might have been a crowbar… a spade’s a spade.

By the time the door handle was removed, it had been an hour and a half since I had taken some pre-workout and beta-alanine and I needed to get to the gym.  If you have ever taken these types of workout supplements you know why getting to the gym was necessary.  If you have never had this lovely cocktail, imagine drinking two and half Rockstars and then finding an angry beehive to sting you repeatedly.  However, and this is complete man logic, since the beginning part of the pre-workouts effects were waning, we decided to take about another quarter to half scoop before we went to gym.

Our workout lasted about an hour before we retired to the sauna and steam room for 20 minutes or so.  When I left, instead of feeling the normal euphoria I feel after a workout and sauna session, I actually felt kind of ill and that my skin was still crawling. I couldn’t nap, get my body temperature to feel right, or get rid of nausea I was feeling until I took some ibuprofen.

Oh wait, ibuprofen gets rid of a fever, that’s why I temporarily felt better.  Five days later after shivering uncontrollably through multiple nights and following up those shivers by profusely sweating through my sheets, I went to urgent care for a fever that wouldn’t cease.  Turns out I dehydrated the piss out of myself, spiked my internal temperature and somehow got a urinary tract infection, or made an existing one much worse.  The doctor was concerned and confused why I had ketones, e-coli, sugar and protein in my piss and gave me a solid scare when she asked if I had diabetes.  I broke down the above story to her and after I informed her of the excessive pre-workout, lack of hydration, sauna and steam room escapades, plus my inability to piss, she seemed to somewhat agree with my theory.  Of course, there’s still the possibility that I had the flu coupled with everything else.  Regardless, I am now better.

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So that’s what I did through the New Year, got sick as shit and missed out on a powder trip to Idaho and British Columbia where the snow was coming down by the foot.  Coooooooool…  But that’s all good because today is my birthday.  Today also marks the third month of being alcohol-free and starting this quest of self-improvement.  With the New Year here and the first quarter of my quest successfully complete, I’m ready to get back on track from a week of sickness and conquer the damn world.

One last thing before I bow out for the night.  Yesterday I called back to the urgent care to get the results for the lab tested urinalysis and it was confirmed that e-coli was the culprit for my urinary tract infection.  I, then, for peace of mind, inquired how that happens and if it’s internally or externally contracted.  The medical professional on the line stated, “well, the butthole is next to the penis and if it came in contact with poop…”

Wait, did you just say butthole, doctor?  Who am I speaking with?  Is this a patient who accidentally answered the phone?!?  Jesus Christ Almighty, thank you for the anatomy lesson on where buttholes and penises are located.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~ Dane

Taking on Distraction & Changing Habits: Quest Progress & Update

Journal-type entry. Update on my quest’s progress. The difficult task of a complete rewiring of the brain.

So, changing habits is harder than I thought it would be and this challenge is exactly just that; a big mothef*cker of a challenge.  But, that’s okay because that was the purpose of it.  So far I have found that it is easy to keep focused on a new activity for a couple of days, but trying to simultaneously turn all these different objectives into new habits and practice them daily, bi-daily or weekly is a demanding process and requires a total rewiring of how I’ve operated over the last couple years, in some instances, over the entirety of my life.

For instance, getting into the gym and exercising daily has been pretty easy so far.  However, only moderate success has been had when trying to facilitate running, weights, hiking, yoga, etc., into a balanced exercise routine.  I find that I can do one or two of these extremely well, but when I do the one well the others don’t get prioritized properly.  And that’s just within the Physical Health vertical that I have, so far, seen the most personal growth within.

Below is how I have done in each category so far this past week:

My Sobriety:  So far, so good.  I haven’t touched booze, and have very little, if any, desire to do so.  It is harder when out and about on town.  Drunk people are definitely more drunk than funny when you are not on their level, which tends to make you want to drink, but I don’t foresee this really being that difficult.  With that said, staying out late with people who are partying hard will likely get clipped from my routine.  After spending Saturday night out with the girlfriend until approximately 2 AM, I was not pleased with how tired I was on Sunday and the lack of productivity that came along with that exhaustion.  Yesterday I was a bit crabby and irritable because of this.

Physical Health:  Killing it so far.  Weight lifts are going up across the spectrum.  My weight is down about 10 lbs.  My stamina and intensity is increasing quickly.  I leave the weight room feeling simultaneously destroyed and euphoric.  I was able to easily hike 19 miles with 6000′ of elevation gain and 7800′ of loss last week (see posts on The Enchantments), and even ran the last 5-6 miles.  I need to put more emphasis on stretching and yoga, although I have been stretching in the sauna, shower in the morning and between sets at the gym.  That is going to be a higher priority this week.

My neck and shoulder are giving me pain on and off… Need to resolve this.  It’s been going on for months.  Also is why I am putting such an emphasis on yoga.

Mental Health:  I practiced some light meditation throughout last week, but not as much as I had hoped to.  One time-save I found is to do my meditation in the sauna after a hard workout.  Doing that pretty much clears the mind and leaves you feeling on Cloud 9 afterwards, plus it kills two birds with one stone.  I would also include my hike through the Enchantments as a boost for my mental health.  There was a drawback though, after doing that physically taxing of a workout I was left in somewhat of a mental fog throughout the middle of last week.  My energy has been pretty good since, however.

My general attitude was mainly up last week with a couple of lulls.  Waking up this morning I felt like I could take the world on, so that’s a good place to start..  There’s definitely been an underlying feeling of stress from outside forces that I am letting have a negative impact on me and that I need to put to rest.  The resolution would seem to be to either cut off the artery that is feeding the stress or face it head on.  I think that is dependent of where the stress is coming from, outlets like media should be easier to control.  But financial or relationship issues should be taken on aggressively to a place of resolution.

Basically: Stop f*cking procrastinating, dipsh*t.

Creativity:  I have mainly been blogging and editing videos for this vertical, but that has actually seemed to give me a creative edge over my prior self and reawakened my desire to write.  I, honestly, think I would like to write a book at some point and  am planning on launching a podcast as well.  I’ve also spent a lot of time brainstorming business ideas and those ideas seem to be getting stronger and better articulated.

“FINANCES & CAREER” CATEGORY HAS BEEN CHANGED:
A good friend of mine, Erik, made the point that finances and career do not go hand in hand and suggested I separate the two of these verticals.  I further liked what Ray Dalio had to say about the topic in his book Principles, how money wasn’t his objective but what followed his passion.  Thus, I have changed Finances & Career to reflect Learning & Career, a category I find that goes hand in hand.  Also, although financials will be a piece of my self-improvement process I will rarely going to post about this vertical, as somethings should be kept private and off the internet.

Learning & Career:  I spent some time reading last week, but have much more improvement to make in this category.  I guess creating the habit of reading is an important step in the process.  This week I will be focusing on this much more than last week.  Also, last week’s mid-week hike kind of threw off a lot of my schedule.  I will not have that same problem this week.

Relationships:  Last week was an interesting week under this vertical.  One of my best friends, Nate, is moving to San Diego for a massive career change and opportunity.  I am beyond stoked for him, however, I am a bit saddened.  His girlfriend, and a good friend of ours, Jocelyn, is not going to be going with, but instead, she is moving in with us.  It will be great having her around and I expect Brandi and her to have an awesome time living together.  Also, I have been trying to make more time for certain people who I have been seeing less and less over the years.

One thing I have been contemplating is:  “What do I bring to the table for my friends?”  I don’t know the answer, but it is something to think about.

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(Picture of Brandi (right), Me (middle), and Nate aka Naterbator aka Babybody (left) – this picture was taken prior quest, don’t judge the beer in front of me.)

Overall, this last week was a lot of fun and I achieved some great things.  I do need to focus more on the overall goal here though.  I have actually come up with an idea to make sure I am “Leveling Up” properly.  The idea is to make a point system where if I accomplish something during the day, I get points based on what it is that I accomplished (i.g. Under the Physical Health vertical:  lifting weights = 1 point; yoga = 2 points; etc).  Then I add them up at the end of the week and see how I did across all verticals.

My biggest challenge so far has been to remove simple distractions that suck the time out of my day.  Getting on Twitter or Flipboard can easily suck hours out of my day and I need to control that impulse.  Once I conquer that, I think there is a lot more I will be accomplishing per week.

Alright, time to take it all on.  Thanks for reading!

Cheers! 🤙

~Dane