Quest Progress Report; “YOU KNOW WHAT, DUDE!”

PART ONE:  At this very minute, it is 5:43 AM, though it will likely be much later when I finish writing and posting this.  I have been up since 5:00 AM.  So what?  So, that’s progress, baby, THAT IS PROGRESS!  But let me start with why you haven’t heard from me in the last couple of weeks.

I ch-ch-checked a major accomplishment off my to do list last week.  Yeah, it’s a Biggie Smalls of a win for me.  In the last couple weeks I have finished my real estate hours and quizzes, passed the national and state exam – on the first try, and been in the process of getting licensed and settling in at a brokerage (for the sake of keeping my blog unfiltered, I will not be dropping the name of the brokerage I am with, if you would like to know so you can make a listing with me in the greater Seattle region, you can email me at alifetosummit@gmail.com).  I had to take a break from blogging and other things to get this done, but now that it is done, I can get back at it.

My little brother is in town this week and I was catching him up on everything that’s been going on with my self-development/improvement.  He seemed pretty blown away at the progress I have made since his wedding.  He, immediately, commented on how lean I was upon first seeing me.  I am down to 182 pounds (as of yesterday) and feeling fucking awesome.  After getting sick over the New Years, I have found it hard to gain weight back to the 190 pounds where I usually sit, but my strength is back up, I just, currently, have a really low body fat percentage.  When I was a kid my dad had jumped into glacier-fed Lake Chelan and joked that the reason he wasn’t cold was his extra layer of fat.  I never forgot that and have teased him about it since then, but now that I have lost my extra layer of fat, and I do get surprisingly way colder.

Based on actions of my past self, this week should be one that would have me angry or down in the dumps.  However, even though my computer mysteriously deleted all my files for no apparent reason – literally all of them, and even though there is a certain level of stress that coincides with starting a new career, my demeanor is confident, collected, and I am ready to swan-dive into this new venture.  I started writing a book about a month ago and one of the chapters I had already penned was one of the files I lost.  I had sent the other chapters to a friend to see if it was a book he would actually read, but Chapter Three had not made it to that, or any other, friend.  My new stance: It was probably a decent chapter, but maybe I can rewrite it to make it even better; it was good practice.

Alright, I am going to take a break, as it is now almost 6:00 AM, and I am going to hit the gym.

PART TWO:  Holy Moly!  That was a solid gym, sauna, meditation, and cold shower sesh!  I feel infuckingcredible.

Expanding on that, let’s get into fitness.  So, my gym routine is staying at a steady 4-6x per week for weights.  Cardio on occasion – I should do a little more running, and I try to get a session of yoga in once a week.  My problem is that I am having a hard time gaining my weight back after getting sick a month ago, as mentioned above, so doing additional cardio is not going to help that.  Also, I think that this ongoing shoulder pain is hindering my upper body gains, as I can’t lift very heavy on chest or shoulders at the moment.  I’m trying some rehab exercises, but if this persists, I am going to have to get into a specialist.  I was getting AT LEAST one ski day in a week, but that has subsided since I decided to put everything aside to finish getting my real estate license.  Now that that is done, I am hoping to get a couple days in per week to finish off the season strong, though it’s likely I may get too busy to do so.  Ugh, responsibility.

I, actually, have an awesome weekend planned out.  Tonight, one of my best buds is coming to hang out to go watch Robert Kelly with me at the Parlor Live in Bellevue.  If you don’t know Robert Kelly, he is a New York comedian from Boston (New York now, Boston is where he started) who runs in the same circle as Bill Burr, Jim Norton, the late Patrice O’Neal, etc.  He has a podcast called, “YOU KNOW WHAT, DUDE!,” which I used to listen to regularly.  He was also a regular on “Opie and Anthony” before the show disbanded due to Anthony Cumia being a racist douche on Twitter.  Although I have since unsubscribed from Sirius XM, I imagine he is still regularly on the Jim and Sam show (which kind of is the replacement for O&A), regardless there are plenty of podcasts that he is a guest on besides his own.  Anyways, Robert Kelly is hilarious and I have been wanting to see him LIVE for many years.

On Saturday, I am hoping to skate off to get a day of turns in at Stevens Pass, and then, in the evening, I am meeting up with my little brother, my sister-in-law, and some of his friends in Seattle.  And, lastly, Sunday is my youngest sister’s birthday party, she’s now 17, and we are all getting together at my father’s place to have a cRaZy celebration.  All-in-all, a kick ass schedule is laid out before me for the coming few days.

These kick ass weekends used to include alcohol.  When I saw my brother the other night, all my siblings were drinking.  I, of course, was not.  Thing is, I want to drink a beer, but thinking about it no longer weighs me down.  I am past needing to have alcohol at all, and had a rad time without it.  The only time I want alcohol is when I catch the scent of a beer I actually want to drink… I tend to love certain IPAs, sours, and, honestly, many others.  Truth is, I just like beer.  It tastes delicious, but my need for it is gone, and that is something I am pretty happy about.  Grateful, even.

Which brings me to my last point of the morning: Gratitude.  Gratitude is something I have struggled with, especially during hard times.  The reality is, there is a lot to be thankful for and trying to train my brain to realize what it is I’m thankful for has helped change my outlook lately, even through events that would otherwise put me in a negative place, like losing every single one of my motherfucking files and documents.  Whenever I’m ungracious, overwhelmed, or just indifferent, I can just go outside for a run, into the mountains for a hike, sit in a chair and meditate, etc.  The options are truly endless.  Finances can be fixed, relationships can (often) be fixed, being gracious is the antidote for the negativity that stems from your hardships.  It’s the fix.

So, what am I grateful for?  Here are five things:

  1. A girlfriend who has sat by my side while I have been sorting through my brain’s internal complications, personal bullshit, and career.
  2. The outdoors and the hobbies I have in them that bring me pure and utter joy.
  3. My new real estate career and the accomplishment of taking the first step to get started on a path I could actually dig.
  4. My physical health, and, increasingly better, mental health.
  5. Friends and Family that have my back 100%.

Now, what are you grateful for?  What are you taking for granted or putting a negative spin on?  Once you figure that out, all you have to do is make the decision to reframe your thinking… Not easy, but doable.  Get after it.

Cheers 🤙 ,

~Dane

Powabunga, Dudes; Not-So Bloody Thumbs

A powder day.  If you are like me, there is nothing quite like it.  Deep snow accompanied with the ability to drop off steep cliffy mountainsides without (likely) causing harm to yourself.  It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those whose cup it is, there is nothing quite as exhilarating… perhaps, the exception would be jumping out of a plane.  I have also done that and I think I would still rather have a day of powder skiing, but it’s a close call…  Hmm… whatever, flip a coin, they’re both bad ass… either way, today rocked.  Now, let me share with you the amazingness that is POWDER.

Yesterday I woke up and did what I always do first thing on any given winter morning, I checked the snow report at the local mountains – Crystal and Stevens.  Low and behold, ten inches of fresh snow had fallen at Stevens where I am a proud holder of an overpriced seasons pass.  Fuck me.  I did squats two days ago and my legs had not fully recovered.  I got out of bed and winced slightly at the pain in my quadriceps.  Skiing today was out of the question.  However, upon checking the NOAA forecast, exactly what I was hoping for was confirmed.  Another 4-8″ was expected Wednesday night followed by 10-16″ on Thursday.  Fuck me, twice.

I headed to the gym and got a lift in, a long stretch and sauna session followed by the routine ice cold shower.  I then ran some errands and washed my ski gear.  The excitement grew.  Tomorrow is the first real powder day I will have had all year thus far.  I had a 10″ snowner – a boner for snow, for the layman.  For clarification, these snowners are often much larger than one’s actual boner.  Just saying, I don’t rock a Ron Jeremy sized piece… unless it’s a snowner.  I put the hedgehog’s snowner to shame.

This morning I woke up, and again, checked the snow report.  The report claimed that it had snowed four inches overnight.  I got up, packed up the dogs and my gear, and headed out the door.  I stopped for a coffee, grabbed a sandwich for breakfast, one for lunch, as well as a tasty maple bar that I justified eating because I was going to undoubtedly burn it off on the hill.  Once I got near the top of the pass, the snow gods smiled and so did I as the rain turned to flakes and the roads became slick with slush.

Parking around 9:00, I ran the dogs for 15 minutes or so as I put my boots and jacket on. Then I locked those two bitches up – they’re girl dogs so this isn’t rude, it’s accurate – and skied down to the chairlift.  I did not catch first chair, but it did not matter because the skies were puking snow.  There was definitely more than just four inches of fresh white powder on the hill and I, again, smiled ear-to-ear as I headed towards the backside of the mountain loudly whooping with joy.

On the backside, I ran a couple cumbersome laps.  My legs were still a bit tender from squats, but not nearly as bad as yesterday.  I figured they’d warm up but they were definitely slower to do so than normal.  Shitty visibility wasn’t helping the cause.  I stuck to the trees to counter the whiteout conditions; trees tend to offer contrast and increase the visibility when the open slopes don’t.

With every lap I got a little better.  By the third or fourth chair up the mountain I met two dudes, Ben and Andy, who must have pitied my lonesome self, and so, invited me to ski with them.  I accepted the invitation and the rest of the day was spent lapping untouched powder stashes all around the hill.  The powder was so deep we even lost a ski for a period of time when Andy fell at the bottom of a run.  Beyond that, we got cliffed-out (when you end up in a place that is not skiable and requires either hiking back up hill or crossing your fingers that you don’t get injured should you decide to drop the unskiable cliff) on a particularly sketchy portion of the mountain, which, once navigated, resulted in the deepest untouched powder stash of the day.  We, also, created enough slough that we were fully aware that avalanches were a danger to be considered.  We skied together until a little after 3:00.  We had the best day ever.  Lesson: The bond of skiing makes strangers best friends.

It snowed a foot before I made it back to my car.  I left the hill pleasantly exhausted and as I drove back towards civilization I noticed something.  My bloody thumbs were fully healed and were no longer bloody at all.  Things are changing, people… things are changing!

Powabunga 🤙 ,

~Dane

 

Bloody Thumbs; the Mountaintop

Yesterday, on the way back to my dwelling unit from the rainy slopes of Stevens Pass, I was examining some thoughts that were coming and going.  These thoughts ranged from things that needed to be done or addressed, to financial obligations, Christmas presents that need to be bought, plans that need to be finalized, news that I read earlier in the day and I realized I was suddenly picking at my thumbs with an elevated level of anxiety.

My thumbs often bleed.  Not because they randomly bleed without cause, they bleed because I pick at them nervously until I crack the epidermis and leak my life juice out the side of my nails.  It’s not a healthy habit.  I’ve done it on and off for years… many years… actually, make that, many, many years… like since I was 14 or 15 years old.  Lately, however, I have been abstaining from such a childlike reaction to my internal anxieties.  Although I do still pick at my thumbs, I do so much less than I used to and they are starting to look less like bloody nubs and more like what they’re supposed to look like.  Still, I do not feel I am far enough along in my habit of not picking to say that it was something that I used to do.  I, again, still pick.  I am hoping to not pick by the end of next month.  All I have to do is not pick… easy, right?   We’ll see, I guess… I have faith.

When I noticed my thoughts drifting towards this hole of anxiety, the hole that leads to picking, I backed off the thought, took in a deep breath and realized I was creating unnecessary stress for myself.  I told myself to enjoy the moment instead of dwell on things that were currently out of my control and as my perspective shifted I started to observe the lush and wet forest, a waterfall and the river below the road, and the surrounding peaks as I drove through the Cascades that were getting hammered by a dreary mid-December day.  From there my mind shifted and began to wonder. I began imaging myself looking down from atop one of the high peaks and back at my car as it drove across US Interstate 2.  These are the type of peaks that I have been to the top of where the sound of the highway becomes a distant hum and you just exist, there, on top of a fucking mountain.  It’s moments on top of those mountains that let me escape from feeling trapped in the monotony of “it all.”

While this thought manifested itself in my brain I had the profound epiphany that moments are incredibly fleeting and what had currently been stressing me out was nothing more than a snapshot of a bigger and more complex ecosystem.  Ecosystem may seem like an odd word, but I would beg to differ.  From that mountain’s peak, whatever peak it may be, my daily problems vanish and are replaced with one necessity: survival.  On that mountaintop I’m just another creature, with admittedly much better gear, amongst other living things like goats, pika, bears, deer, deer ticks, trees, mice, etc.  For me, that’s a really peaceful place that silences my restlessness.  More importantly, from there, I don’t even notice the car pass, I don’t worry about the things that I was thinking about that make my thumbs bleed.  Instead, from there , I just observe.

My thoughts didn’t stop there.  I, then, imagined that version of me on that mountaintop and I zoomed out further.  Now, I see more of that ecosystem and one barely visible man on a mountain looking at a passing car.  One more zoom out and I fall out of sight and my problems no longer exist at all because I’m now looking at a large body of tree covered wilderness with Glacier Peak and the North Cascades… And another zoom out and there are cities bustling with human life integrated into the landscape… And then it’s just a ball suspended in nothingness.  You get the idea; it keeps going.

The visualization of me looking back at myself made me realize that the feelings I had felt were not only going to pass, but they change drastically based on what my surroundings and mental state is.  I came to realize that the only thing that mattered was how I reacted to the feelings because of the butterfly effect it creates.  There’s no reason that driving back to society should give me any sort of anxiety, (I mean, Christ, I just spent the day skiing) so every time an emotion occurs that I recognize as negative, I should react in relation to how I want to live and how my reaction will align with my goals.  The counter to this would be to let the emotion consume me, start overthinking something I have little to no control over, hence building a stronger neurological connection to it; bloody thumbs.

Looking down from the mountaintop I am calm, content and happy.  I’m definitely not weighted down with unnecessary stresses. I’m just there thinking about how cool it is to be able to be on top of a god damn mountain.  Even while hiking to the top of the mountain I would not be stressed.  During the trek, there is just one goal to accomplish: get to the top.  My thought process from here was that anything currently fucking with me is just another boulder I have to get around to conquer the target goal of the summit.  When I am hiking and these obstacles present themselves, I am calm and figure out how to do circumvent them with the guts to scramble to the top if it’s necessary and not too dangerous.  The same principles should be applied to my life.  1. Define the goal. 2. Do not stress over the obstacles 3. Be content with the journey and the destination.

The visualization of looking back at the mountaintop from space goes even deeper down this rabbit hole.  It ventures into the unknown and stares back like the snapshot of time, the underlying stress, doesn’t exist at all.  In fact, from this great of a distance, the picture of Earth suspended in space is the same image if I were to focus on the car or on the mountaintop.  When you look from this angle, that passing thought is just one moment in the mind of one creature on one planet in one solar system in one galaxy in one universe… and that’s about all we understand.  There’s probably a lot more to that story, and we may never know what that story is.  The take away is that it doesn’t matter.  From this distance, it’s just a beautiful sea of stars, planets, comets and whatever else, all moving around colliding with each other.

My brain shifted to evolution and how being human lies within our ability to think and reason.  Thinking has allowed us to break free of primitive life by granting us the ability to create the tools needed to build flourishing societies which in turn birthed cultures, but it also allows us to break out of those practices and start new ones… new thoughts, new technologies, new advancements that shape new societies and the new societal normalcies that go along with them.  As populations have grown and technology has advanced rapidly and evolved our methods of communication, it has given more people access to new ideas and more outlets to spread those ideas as well as their own.  These ideas often differ from the ideas of our peers, but all of them make their own case for what is right or wrong.  Other species are incapable of this level of thinking.  An ant, for instant, isn’t going to decide to break free of the colony, study physics its whole life, create the theory of relativity, and establish a whole fundamental change and foundation for a new era of science.  An ant is going to do ant shit; I think they like carrying leaves and making hills.  But, why would I underestimate an ant, do we really understand the intricacies of all the animals that are and have been?  Still, with the gifts of human intellect comes the ability to knowingly change the environment around us.  Left unchecked, however, the human mind can get absorbed with the stresses of this modern environment that we navigate.  This is an unnatural environment that is wired to keep us unsatisfied and always desiring more.  That is built into the algorithm.  Social media is an undeniable example of this, the way you interact with it and the algorithms that feed you nonsense based on things you have clicked on.  As we have seen in the short period of time that social media has been around, people tend to fall into camps and share similar ideas that counter or compliment other camps.  This is a very tribal thing to do that may just be inherently human, the method by which the tribalism is created is the only unnatural factor.  Which brings me to the something I’ve been pondering lately, what things do or nuances do I have that are exclusively inherent to my genetics, ancestry or, even, human evolution?  Are thoughts constricted to our environments and upbringing?

Which brings me full circle to the habits that we create to deal with this new highly technological environment and the reason I pick my thumbs.  We have all these new habits that we have all created to remain “productive,” entertain ourselves, keep up with current events, know what is right or wrong, offer us the tribalism, grant us human interaction that, I would say, humanity is currently lacking.  I don’t necessarily think all these habits are good or bad, instead, they just are.  What’s bad is forgetting that this environment is contrived and that we should use the tools that we now have to help shape our environment to the one we want to live in.  Getting sucked into the stress does not help change that environment and instead becomes the tool that drives us instead of us using a tool to assist us in creation.  I forget that sometimes and when I do, I need to remember the mountaintop, find my peace, and come back to find myself without self-doubt and ready to get after my well-defined goal.  But, mainly, can I just not pick my damn thumbs?!

Cheers 🤙,

~Dane

 

Author note:  I keep promising things and not following through.  For example, I was supposed to post my weekly journal yesterday.  It’s not because it’s my intent not to follow through, I would like to.  I sometimes don’t post what I write as it becomes too personal, I just flatly don’t like it or I find myself just writing to write and don’t feel it’s worthy of being shared.  I don’t like carrying the stress of posting on a schedule, instead, I am going to, from here on out, post when I want to post.  Sharing my experiences, thoughts and status reports when I feel I have something important to share.  Thank you for reading and I’m excited for what is to come.