3 years sober

Wow! 3 years sober. That’s amazing! It’s definitely worth celebrating. I’m so proud of myself. One day at a time = 3 years! But, even with a big milestone today is just another day and unfortunately life has been pretty crazy.

My last blog was October 30. That seems so far away. You can read it here: Big announcements. I talked about my kickoff to Movember, the kickoff to my Etsy store, an update on Run For Your Life, the end of leather working, and sharing that my wife broke her arm. Big announcements indeed. Since, then I had hoped that life would settle a little…but it hasn’t.

So I’m back with updates!

Movember

It’s mid-December and I haven’t had a chance to wrap up my Movember campaign. It was an excellent campaign.

I started with a goal to raise $1,500 and match that with 1,500 minutes of fitness activity in November. That works out to 25 hours of fitness, which is 50 minutes per day. I also dedicated myself to Chia-Movember once again.

My team supported me far more than expected. I raised $2,260 for the month! That’s $760 over my goal. Wow. That’s so incredible. That works out to 38 hours of fitness activity for the month, which is more than 1 hour per day.

Honestly, I had the fitness hours right up until the last day. Then a couple of late donations came in. I finished up the last hour of activity on December 1, first thing in the morning!

In total for the month, that was approximately: 30 hours of walking, 7 hours of running, 1 hour of cycling and 30 mins of rowing logged.

My hair and moustache filled out quite nice. I actually got a few compliments on the moustache and people asked me if I was keeping it. The answer is NO! But thanks for the compliments.

A huge shout out to all of Team Dennis that supported me with donations or words of encouragements. A big call out to Carol and Lin, my Platinum super supporters! THANKS!

Run For Your Life

Note: The graphic is one of my tshirt designs. It’s not a Run For Your Life graphic. I’m still waiting for those to be completed and released.

My chapter is complete. The publishing company is working thru the final design of the book. I can’t wait to see it.

The team has met a couple of times virtually, and had an Edmonton in-person event last week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the in-person event due to a family emergency (more on that below).

I really enjoyed the virtual class From Author to Iconic hosted by Visibility on Purpose. I learned a lot about making yourself a brand. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to implement any ideas yet. Life has been a little too crazy.

But a couple of the things that I learned:

  1. I need to build a personal brand. I am the value. I’m the author and I need to lead with that. I also realize that I need to rework my blog site and build it with a purpose in 2024. Don’t lead with my book, but lead with myself. My blog site should be the same!
  2. I need to have solid, quick talking points for my books. People will be asking for overviews and a quick synapse on my story and I need to be prepared to talk about it clearly. On the weekend, we had a Run For Your Life Christmas virtual party and did some breakout rooms. One of the questions to discuss was “What is the key message behind your chapter?” I half-jokingly started with “don’t be an alcoholic”. I realize now, that even joking, that sounds silly, and that’s not the message of my book. With 3 years sober now, my progress and growth is about so much more than not drinking. Of course, if you are an addict, you’re better quitting, but my experience and writing is about so much more than that. I know that my real message is to look inwards, evaluate and make changes that benefit you, and don’t wait. Don’t wait for your incident. Make change happen today. That’s my real message. Time to build that up!
  3. Find my it factor. Find my irresistible. If people are interested in me and what I have to say, they’ll be interested in my book.
  4. You can’t interview the book. Media outlets and people want to talk to me. They cannot talk to my book. So what do I have to offer to people? I need to think about that more and implement it both in my book, and in my day-to-day.

Run For Your Life has kicked off a ton of stuff for me this year. Stuff is such a general word, but this opportunity has opened so many doors for me.

  • First off, Run For Your Life (RFYL) comes out in March 2024, and I’ll be a published author for the first time. The other writers have some amazing stories. We are an incredible group of passionate Albertans with stories to tell. This is so exciting. I can’t wait to read the entire book. Prepared to be inspired by our stories!!!
  • I signed a book deal with the publisher of RFYL. Larissa from Next Page Publishing is amazing. I’m planning on calling my book Dennis on the run and it will focus on my addiction to alcohol, my recovery and my life learning lessons from that. I’ve planned out the book and have started writing chapters. I’m hoping for a summer or fall 2024 release of the book on Amazing Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
  • I’ve met a number of interesting people contributing to the book. Christy Holt is a co-publisher with Larissa on RFYL. I followed her on Facebook. She is an amazing person and has her own book out. I highly recommend you follow her. She’s a local Edmontonian making a difference. Her book Unstuck (for women) looks amazing and it’s on sale right now!
  • All of that has lead to a lot of inward thoughts and development of self. I’m still figuring out who I am. Writing a “self-help” book with my own experiences is quite emotional. I find myself squinting through tears while I’m writing. I’m always in deep thought, and ideas can hit me anywhere…anytime. I’m always dictating to my phone or making a note about a chapter, a thought, or a revelation. It can be hard to turn that off sometimes. But I’m 100% a better person because of it. I can’t wait to see what 2024 brings!

Here’s a quick excerpt from my chapter:

Not this again. Another morning, another hangover. Most of my mornings were like this.

Since COVID-19 hit in March 2020, I had been working from home. I was feeling isolated. I was idle, overweight, and out of shape. I was drinking heavily and was tired, exhausted, and hungover most days. I was lying to myself and others. I was in a dark place in my life, and I didn’t realize it until it was too late.

Then “the incident” happened.

I hope you’re thinking to yourself – “I can’t wait to read more…!”

Stay tuned for more excerpts and more information about the book release in 2024! I believe we have a kick-off release party on March 15 in Edmonton, and April 6 in Calgary. I’m super excited about this!!

Dennis on the run – Etsy store

In my last blog, I announced my new Etsy print on demand t-shirt store. I’ve had a lot of fun creating and publishing new designs since then. I’ve expanded my designs to include t-shirts focused on: sobriety, dogs, Christmas, fantasy, fitness and steampunk. A lot of my designs feature my prompts into AI art created by Midjourney with fun and whimsical designs.

I know that some people are against AI. But I’ve really enjoyed learning Midjourney and learning how to use prompts to get out a design that I’m happy with. It’s harder than you might think. IMO, the creations are still mine. I just don’t have the art-skills to create these myself on paper or on computer. But I’m able to describe what I want and have AI try to do it for me. It can be really challenging and rewarding! I find it so relaxing and meditative at times coming up with a concept.

I spent the last 6 weeks creating better designs and better mockups. My store features over 70 designs. Here are some of my new designs:

I’m still waiting for my first sale. My wife did order to make sure that the end-to-end process is working. Research shows that it takes a while to get your sales going. I’ve learned a lot about Etsy (store), Midjourney (AI Graphics), Canva (Design tool) and Printify (on demand vendor) over the last few weeks. I’m able to get designs out pretty quick now. For the most part though, this is just a hobby.

I am my best customer. I’ve ordered quite a few samples. The designs looks really great printed out, and the shirts are a nice, soft cotton. If anything, this has fired up my love for graphic tees and instead of buying them from the store, I can build my own!

I think I need to figure out my brand in 2024. My designs are a little all over the place. Most of my designs contain one passion or another, but I’ve got a few that I’m trying to hit niche markets like my cute axolotl and capybara or my floral designs. None of my shirts have gone viral yet…but I’m having fun with it.

Etsy store link:
https://dennisontherun.etsy.com

Drums

It didn’t take me long to pick up another hobby once I sold all of my leather crafting gear. I picked up a set of electronic drums. I bought a set of drums about 20 years ago and took some lessons. But I ended up dropping it, and selling the drums. So this is try #2.

That’s my hobby life for you, out with the old, in with the new.

I bought an excellent, low priced beginner e-drum set from Alesis. They are great and a lot of fun. I have access to Drumeo, which I’m using for most of my learning thus far.

I might look at lessons into next year. I’ll see how it goes.

Life & Lemons

In my last blog, I talked about lemons related to my wife breaking her arm.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? Sometimes it’s hard to see “why” something has happened. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge an event happened and there isn’t a reason. Shit just happens.

Truthfully, I already had enough lemons, and lemonade, I don’t need more.

My wife and I have been thru 6 weeks of recovery from a break of her humerus bone. It’s definitely no laughing matter. It’s been tough. I’m quite exhausted from managing the household and the emotions from it. Life has been tough. It’s been equally or harder on her as well.

We were looking forward to moving on from the break. We have an awesome trip to Italy planned with friends over Christmas. And her break would be healed and her physical therapy started just in to leave on December 21.

We got our COVID-19 and Flu shots completed in time for the trip. And it was quite rough for a few days afterwards.

Unfortunately, my wife pass out or blacked out the day after our vaccine shots. I was napping upstairs because I wasn’t feeling well after the shots. A big boom shocked me awake from my slumber! I ran downstairs to find my wife lying on our stone floor, barely conscious. It’s truly terrifying to suddenly find your spouse lying on the floor, and you don’t know what happened. Had I traced her body position with tape, it would have looked like a crime scene. She was laid out on the floor; just lying there.

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

She slowly gained consciousness and I eventually got her sitting and then over to the couch. We spent some time breathing and relaxing. She told me that she went downstairs to grab lunch, and when she got upstairs again, she felt herself passing out and she tried to get down to the floor before she fell. I think she was partially able to do that. Things could have been much worse if she had fallen forward or smashed the back of her head.

I thought maybe after weeks on the couch and the vaccinations, she got up too fast and got light headed. She was complaining about her breathing, but she was also in a bit of a panic. So I left her on the couch to rest while I attended an important meeting at work.

She texted me halfway through the meeting and said she was not doing okay and couldn’t make it to the car for a ride to emergency. I need to call an ambulance for her. What?!? OMG! I disconnected abruptly from my virtual meeting with a quick “I’ve got an emergency and have to go!” I ran downstairs to check up on her. She wasn’t doing very well.

Okay, I’m calling an ambulance…wait, how do I do that? I’ve never done that before. Is this a 911-emergency or is there a non-911 emergency number for an ambulance? ACK! I felt silly for a minute. If you’re calling for an ambulance, it’s an emergency so of course you dial 911. So I called 911 for the first time in my life.

It seemed like an eternity waiting for the paramedics to arrive. And Paula started acting weird like she was dying. At one point, she just muttered “I love you” over and over again to me. Somehow, I stayed pretty calm. I tried to slow her breathing, encouraging her to take bigger breaths. She appeared to be hyper ventilating.

Finally, the paramedics arrived. They came into the house to talk to me and Paula and ran a bunch of tests like blood pressure, blood oxygen, ECG, etc. Whatever they could test, they did as far as I could tell.

At the end of the day, her tests were all okay. I believe they thought that she was experiencing some COVID symptoms and was panicking a little. They said they didn’t think she needed to go to the hospital, but said they would if we wanted. We declined to go to the hospital but agreed if the symptoms worsened, we would head to emergency.

Paula spent the rest of the night with labored breathing, complaining about a tight chest. We thought that maybe she hurt herself during the fall. It was a bit complicated because of the vaccinations the day before followed by the fall. We really didn’t know what was contributing to the problem.

The next day was a final check at the Sturgeon bone clinic on her arm. She continued to complain about her breathing and discussed it with the bone clinic staff. They were kind enough to run some tests and once again, everything checked out.

But she kept saying that something was wrong. She mentioned that it didn’t make any sense. She couldn’t even walk 100 meters without getting totally out of breath. So the nurse hooked her up to the oxygen tracker and walked her around the clinic. Immediately he could see that her oxygen levels dipped when she walked. We found something!

After another minute, the bone doctor came in with “good news and bad news” for us. The good news is that your arm is healed and it’s healthy. You can start therapy. The bad news is that we’re taking you to emergency, we’re worried about blood clots. So they wheeled in a pretty rickety wheelchair and rolled Paula to emergency.

Long story short, after hours in emergency, under going more tests, an ultrasound and CAT scan showed that Paula had a moderate blood clot in her lung, caused by the initial fall & broken arm 6 weeks ago.

GAWD! More lemons!

I’m so thankful that we found this problem and that things didn’t get worse. We were treated by ultra-professional people in the Sturgeon Hospital. We were there in 3 different wards from Thursday thru to her release on Saturday. They put her on blood thinners and managed her until she stabilized.

The hospital was full for almost the whole time we were there. The hallways in emergency were packed with people. Apparently, there is a bad lung virus making the rounds on top of the normal emergencies that happen on a daily basis.

We spent 3 days in the hospital. Physical therapy for her arm was delayed. She’s off of work for another 3 weeks to recover from the blood clot. And we’ve had to cancel our Christmas trip. Boo!

All in all, a terrible week. But we’re grateful for all of the care from the staff at Sturgeon and our friends and family. A special thanks to Brad, Sandie and their family that took our dogs into care for 2 days with no notice. Thanks to Paula’s family, Karen and Matt for visiting us in the hospital. Thanks to Mike for calling every day. Thanks to Paula’s office and my publisher Larissa for sending edible chocolates. Thanks to my employer Alberta Blue Cross for being patience and providing me with the time off required to care for my wife. We are really overwhelmed by the support we received during this difficult time.

So, yeah, it sucks and it’s hard to stay happy and grateful when your life is threatened by an emergency. I’m trying to stay grateful. I’m trying to keep a positive perspective on this. Some people dropped everything to support us on a moment’s notice. You spoke with your actions, not just your words. And we are so grateful for that.

I’ve always wanted to be that kind of person. And I thought I was. But I realize through my drinking days, I just wasn’t a dependable friend. I want to be that person that drops everything for my friends and family. You have inspired me to be better.

I need more time to process this and reflect on who I want to be in 2024 and how I am going to accomplish that. So stay tuned to hear more about my journey in 2024 as I figure out who the “eff” I am!!!

Wrap up

It’s been a doozy of a year. I’m looking forward to wrapping up 2023 with a quiet couple of weeks. Instead of going to Italy, we’ll be spending our Christmas vacation at home relaxing and resting. It’s a well needed break from life.

I thank you for following and reading my blog for another year. I may or may not publish again one more time in 2023. Writing takes a lot of emotional energy, and I’ve been extremely short on that for the last 2 months.

As you and I look forward to 2024, we’ll think about goals for the next year. I can’t remember where I heard it, but a wise person mentioned this year to me that you should stick with 3 goals for 2024 that you can meet. There is no sense in making or having a bunch of unreasonable goals that you aren’t going to meet. Set the bar a little lower for yourself and experience the euphoria that comes with meeting your goals. I think I already have enough lofty goals for next year, no sense in making things harder on myself. Anything above that is bonus!

So when you are thinking about 2024, keeps things simple and manageable. But still reach for your dreams if you can!

There are lots of exciting things happening in 2024 to look forward to:

  1. Hopefully, a healthier wife so that we can make plans for 2024 and start travelling the world again!
  2. Run For Your Life release in March 2024. Yeah, I’m an author!
  3. Dennis on the run release in late Q2 or early Q3 2024. Yeah, my own book!
  4. I’m considering running my 2nd marathon at the Calgary Marathon in May 2024. Stay tuned for more information. I’ll need to ramp up my training starting in January for that.
  5. And possibly race in the L’Étape Edmonton 100 kilometer race again.

Those are some lofty goals already!

I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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