next shot.

I’ve been clean and sober since December 18, 2020. It’s long enough that I’m losing track of how long I’ve been clean. I still feel great. I love mocktails and have started to enjoy the occasional alcohol-free beer.

I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo to celebrate my decision to be sober. Sobriety tattoos should be very personal and meaningful. I’ve been thinking a long time of what that means to me. On Sunday, I finally went to my local tattoo shop and got it done.

Crimson Empire Tattoo

During our travels to local Comic Cons, Paula discovered Chris Labrenz at one of the Edmonton or Calgary events. Chris happens to be a local tattoo artist that specializes in pop culture tattoos at a shop called Black Gold Tattoo. This shop also happens to be right across the parking lot from our vet. I stopped by Black Gold Tattoo initially, but no one was available at the time. The front desk person recommended I check out walk in at Black Gold or Crimson on the weekend.

Crimson Empire and Black Gold happen to be a part of the same set of tattoo shops/owners. And they both had walk in availability on the weekend. Crimson is actually very close to my home and I felt my best chance of getting a walk in spot was going there.

I lined up 1/2 hour before open and ended up being first in line. Vinny Nguyen was handling walk in customers on Sunday. So I worked with Vinny. I was super happy with Crimson. Flint at the front desk was awesome, very welcoming and patiently answered all of my newb questions. The shop is super clean and has plenty of windows and lights. It looks out onto a run off pond. They played some great music.

If you’re in Edmonton and looking for a tattoo shop, consider Crimson!


What font did I use? I have no idea. I worked with my tattoo artist to pick one out. We discussed my concept and he pulled my concept into a tool and generated 29 pages of fonts. I looked at a few IT fonts and a typewriter font as well. I wanted something clean looking but with a little bit of subtle flair.

I felt like I was sitting there for an hour picking thru fonts (it wasn’t that long…). We took some screenshots of my top 10 fonts, and lined them all up. All 10 were very similar with micro differences. I kept gravitating to the same 2, and eventually picked the font that I liked the best.

Why Roman Numerals?

Roman numerals are cool and at a glance easy for me to remember the date.

XII = December
XVIII = 18
MMXX = 2020

My sobriety date is December 18, 2020. This is a constant reminder of that date and the importance to me. There is a lot of online discussion regarding putting a date with a sobriety tattoo. If you relapse, then the date “resets” or isn’t valid. Even if I relapse, this original date is important to remember.

I also just preferred the look of roman numerals over a full written date format.

Why next shot?

Next shot is a bit of golf philosophy mixed with life philosophy for me. To me, these terms are synonymous:

  • Next shot.
  • One day at a time.
  • Be mindful.
  • Stay present.

I considered all of them. But only next shot was deeply personal to me.

Next shot started as golf psychology for me after seeing a sports therapist. The premise is that:

  1. You can’t change your previous shot.
  2. You can’t change what’s happened in the round so far.
  3. You can’t control what’s going to happen in the future on the golf course. There are too many factors out of your control. You can’t control the weather, obstacles on the course such as sprinklers or yardage markers, bad bounces, good bounces, other golfers, etc.
  4. You can’t hit your best shot without focus.
  5. The best you can do is stay present and focus only on your next shot.
  6. Then walk up, and do it all over again. Easy-peasy right?!? Like most life lessons, “next shot” is easier said than done.

Next shot reminds me to stay present, be mindful and take things one day at a time. It’s not always easy to do this but this has become my mantra.

Wait! Isn’t a shot also an alcoholic drink?

Yes, a shot happens to be a reference to an alcoholic drink but only in certain contexts. There are many uses of the word shot including:

  • A shot of tequila.
  • Hit me with your best shot. (Pat Benatar)
  • I shot the sheriff. (Bob Marley and the Wailers)
  • Golf shot or shot on goal. (sports)
  • Give it a shot. (try something)
  • Snapshot (photography)

So, there are lots of uses for the word shot. I thought about trying to do a play with words and adding “last shot” to my tattoo in some way. For example, my last shot of alcohol was on Dec 17, 2020 which led to my new philosophy and sobriety of next shot.

last next shot.

last shot.
next shot.

I decided to stick with the phrase that means something to me personally and the date of my sobriety.

next shot.

It’s short, sweet and meaningful to me. It’s a reminder for me to be mindful and stay present. With the placement, I’ll also look down during my golf setup and see this key phrase. It’s a constant reminder of a huge change in my life. It’s a reminder of my philosophy.

It’s in a semi-visible place on the inside of my left forearm. If someone asks, I’m happy to discuss my sobriety and the meaning behind the tattoo. At the end of the day though, it’s for me.

What about other tattoos?

I do have one other tattoo already. It’s on my left shoulder and remains hidden to most people because it’s almost always covered by a shirt. It’s a picture of Mickey Mouse from Fantasia. The tattoo is approximately 30 years old.

This may be the start of more tattoos. I’ve had a few ideas brewing but I haven’t done anything yet. I’ve heard once you get started tattoos, it’s hard to stop.

Future tattoos could include:

  • A small, plain cross – I’m a Christian and I believe in Jesus.
  • Puppy paws – We have painted paw prints from all of our dogs. I would like to add these as tattoos. And add angel wings or a halo for our little Leo who is no longer with us.
  • Star-Lord – He is my favorite super hero. I just love Star-Lord. Seems like this would be a great idea to collaborate with Chris Lebrenz on.
  • Oilers logo – This is my favorite team and I can see adding an Oilers logo at some point.
  • DK logo – Yes, I have my own logo created by Paula. It’s cool!
  • Little Mermaid – I love the little mermaid. She is almost on par with Mickey Mouse as my favorite Disney character.
  • Purple lightsaber – Because I love Star Wars and I love purple. No, I don’t love Mace Windu or Samuel L. Jackson.
  • Running/cycling – I could design something around my favorite hobbies. My first marathon is significant as will my first 140km bike race this summer.

Maybe this is a small step to a large set of tattoos. Or maybe It takes me another 30 years to get my next tattoo. That would take me into my 80s. Haha!


People get tattoos for a variety of reasons. I would guess each tattoo is a representation of something important for that person. Tattoos are viewed differently in different careers. Society is changing so that we don’t judge people with tattoos but it’s a slow process. Certain careers seem to be more open to visible tattoos and other careers seem to be more closed. Either way, it’s a personal decision.

I’m very happy with my decision. I was pretty emotional talking to my wife about it the day before. I’ve had a few moments of reflection about it afterwards. It will serve as a constant reminder of this decision in my life. I don’t want to forget the tremendous changes in my life that I made because of that moment. I love who I am more than ever, and it significantly changed on December 18, 2020.

The tattoo will take a few weeks to heal. There is a second skin bandage on the tattoo for the next week. I’ve been told to not submerge my tattoo for the next week or two but showers are fine. Maybe it’s not real to me until it’s healed; it’s still kind of a work in progress.

Are you waiting on a tattoo? What’s stopping you? What is your next shot?

next shot.

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