Happy 2024!

Yikes~! My last blog post was December 18 for my 3-year sobriety celebration. It’s been over a month. A lot has happened since then.

It’s been a cold start to 2024 in my part of the world! Edmonton hit lows in the -40C to -50C temperatures for 2 weeks straight. -40C is the point where Celsius and Fahrenheit meet. And that rarely happens. So, it was cold and we spent quite a lot of time hibernating inside.

2023 Recap November & December 2023 Recap

Sadly, 2023 will be remembered as the year that my wife broke her arm that turned into blood clots in her lungs that turned into us cancelling a Christmas trip to Italy. That changed our whole December and our entire holiday plan.

Sometimes things don’t go as you planned, and sometimes they just go worse than you planned. And Christmas Day would be no exception. It did not go as planned. We made the best of it.

Just like that 2023 ended with us exhausted and traumatized.

I know that 2 months (November & December) does not make a year, but when your year ends in such a traumatic fashion, it’s hard to remember anything else.

We are very thankful for the support of our friends and family and the health care system. They are the only things that got us thru this experience. It was a very tough end to 2023!

Once I found out we were staying in town for the holidays, I bought some cool new Christmas decorations. I had to try to make the most of staying home for Christmas. The force was strong with Santa this year!

The Real 2023 Recap

Following my own advice, I have to be grateful. There is a lot of positive that happened in 2023 and there is a lot to be thankful for. So in no particular order:

  • My wife and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a small party with friends and family with a live band and mocktails. It was a super fun time!
  • I hit my 3-year sober anniversary. Yeah me!
  • I opened my Etsy print on demand t-shirt store in late 2023. Sales have been pretty slow, but I have had a lot of fun designing and posting t-shirts. And I think the store is gaining a little traction in early 2024 with a few custom design projects!! Visit my store to see all of my selections: https://dennisontherun.etsy.com
  • I was accepted to write a chapter with my sobriety story for an Alberta-based book called Run For Your Life. I met some amazing people with amazing stories. Our book is in the final stages of design and scheduled to release on March 15. I’m going to be a published author! How cool is that?
  • I pitched an idea to create a t-shirt for the Run For Your Life book and post it up in my store. This was accepted by the Publisher. It’s a nice value add to the authors and a great way to market the book if most of us buy the t-shirt. It is available as well to friends and family to show their support! Once again, just check out my store: https://dennisontherun.etsy.com
  • In October, I signed on with Larissa Soehn and Next Page Publishing Inc. to write and publish my own book. I’m currently about halfway through my first stab at all of my content. It’s been an enlightening process. I’m learning a lot about writing a book and learning a lot about myself in the process.
  • In August, I completed a 135km ride with the Strathcona L’√Čtape Canada by Tour de France. Thus I achieved another amazing endurance milestone.
  • I ended the year with a 9.1 golf handicap index. I have never finished the year with a single digit handicap. I’m excited to work on lowering my handicap even further in 2024!!! I worked with a sports psychologist during the summer and fall to find the fun again in golf. And winter virtual golf has been a lot of fun.
  • I had a blast at the 2023 OJ Open golf classic and won my first individual trophy. The entire group makes it a fun weekend. This was my first time attending post-COVID and first time post-sobriety.
  • I discovered ChatGPT and Midjourney. They are both AI tools. I had a lot of fun experimenting in 2023. I think AI is here to stay but like cryptocurrency, there is a lot of discussion about how to regulate it and how to safeguard it.
  • I added another year of blogging. I managed to post about one time a month. Honestly, with everything else going on, I found it hard to blog more than that especially with all of the other writing that I’m doing.
  • We enjoyed a very fun New Year’s Eve with a great group of great friends. Ten people, six dogs, great food and great music made for an awesome night of fun! Thanks!
  • I missed on most of my 2023 intentions from the start of the year. But most importantly, I stayed sober for the year. I stayed active. And did the best that I could all year to grow and stay grateful. That’s all I can ask of myself.

Heading into 2024

I saw a great article in late 2023 that recommended you limit your New Year’s Resolutions to what is achievable.

First off, as I’ve said before, I prefer calling them intentions. A resolution according to the dictionary is a firm decision to do or not to do something. While an intention is an aim or plan. It just seems to me that it’s easier to be gentle with yourself if you intend to do something but fall short versus firmly deciding to do something falling short.

Secondly, as the article mentioned, many New Year’s resolutions fail in January. I think this is fairly common knowledge. Most people give up on a resolution in the first month of the year. That’s no way to start the year off. Also, most people have a laundry list of resolutions. Essentially, you are setting up yourself for failure before you begin.

Isn’t it better to seriously look at your life and your circumstances and set the bar a little lower? I think so. That’s what I’m trying to do this year.

Here are my 2024 intentions:

  • Figure out and define my brand. With 2 books on the way this year, a blog, and an Etsy store, I want to be more intentional about my brand. This is a doozy!!!
  • Support and enjoy the Run For Your Life launch!
  • Write more regularly in 2024 to create my own book content. Finish up my writing in early spring for a summer launch. So far so good!
  • Have fun with my Etsy shop and slowly add more products to my store. Think about how I can align my store to my brand more.
  • Run a marathon in 2024. Step 1 is complete – I signed up for the Calgary Marathon in May. I have been training for the last few weeks and completed my first 1/2 marathon training (21.2 km) last week. I’m really having fun with running again but we’ll see how that goes as I ramp up the kilometers on my feet and it gets harder!
  • Learn to play the drums. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I bought e-drums late last year and I have been tinkering with drums and Drumeo since then. I had my first lesson with a drum instructor last week and intend to take lessons this spring.
  • Seek God in a more meaningful way. I don’t talk about being a Christian very much. I’ve been angry at God for a long time for various reasons. I think I’ve reached a stage where I need some healing to happen. My wife and I found a Church at Christmas that we like and we’re giving regular church a shot. So far, it’s been tough, but I’m happy to be reinvesting in my faith again. We’ll see where this journey takes me. For the first time in years, I put back on my chain with a cross. But I did have to scour the house for it. In the end, it was in the drawer that I thought it was but it was buried deep.

Phew! That’s a lot already, so I’m calling it. There is so much more I want to do, but I want to stay realistic about what’s possible this year. And that list already grew by a couple of extra items compared to January 1st.

My New Tattoo

I’ve been thinking about getting another tattoo and I finally committed. It’s a bit of a reward for my 3 years sobriety achievement. At this rate, if I stay sober, I’ll run out of body space before I ever have a drink again!

I booked an appointment with a local tattoo artist in Edmonton. His name is Chris Labrenz and he tattoos out of Black Gold Tattoo. My wife and I actually have a Star Wars art piece by him in our den. We’ve talked about getting a tattoo from him for a long time.

I went into the appointment with something small in mind (maybe a lightsaber or a small cross), and walked away planning a new Star-Lord tattoo on my right calf.

My first appointment was in January and I have a follow up in February to finish the tattoo up. I think it looks amazing already and it’s going to be awesome once it’s finished!!!

I don’t want to brag too much, but Chris called me a trooper and if anyone ever called me a “wuss”, he was going to kick their butt. He had hoped to get through the outline in our first appointment and we finished much more than that!

Check out Black Gold Tattoo and Crimson Empire Tattoo in Edmonton for your tattoo needs. There are some awesome artists at both locations!!!

Wrap Up

2023 was great, but ended poorly. I’m looking forward to a better 2024. I’m hopeful that my wife will recover from her broken arm and blood clots and she’ll be healthier again. We want to travel and be active together and that’s just not possible right now.

I’m super pumped about the releases of Run For Your Life on March 15 and my own book coming out later this year. I’m looking forward to completing my 2nd marathon in May.

2024 looks like another year focusing on gratitude and gratefulness. Frankly when things are tough, you really need to lean in on the positives in your life. It’s easy to get dragged down by all of the awful things that happen. But to survive and thrive, we need to be thankful. I’m also looking forward to leaning on God this year and rediscovering His presence in my life.

So what are your intentions for 2024 and what are you most grateful for? Keep those things in mind. I wish all of my readers the very best and good health in 2024!!!

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