It has been so long since I have written anything here that some sort of retrospective seemed appropriate. Fall has been a time of assessment, reflection, and transition for me over the years. Let’s look at some milestones.

30 years vegetarian. The last time I ate meat or fish was the fall of 1993, either September or October. My body remains fit and capable. I am actually getting a little stronger and a little healthier every year.

13 years caffeine free. Last caffeine, December 2010. Very liberating. It is hard not to think of caffeine as a drug after feeling the physical withdrawal symptoms upon quitting.

10 years alcohol free. Last Drink, October 14th, 2013. I quit drinking the first time in 1993 and was two years sober before turning 21. I’ve only had one relapse. It lasted 19 years. It is sort of funny remembering that in order to start that relapse, after 2 years in NA, becoming a group leader, and serving as an area rep, I had to have a friend buy me alcohol because I still wasn’t legally old enough to drink. – – I don’t miss booze at all; not a single thing about it.

9 years since the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Completed my northbound thru-hike September 26, 2014. It is a bittersweet reverie. I cherish all of my PCT memories – from learning that the trail existed, to completing the trek several years later. The bitter side is two-fold. I have lost touch with most of my PCT friends. Some from the natural gravitational forces of life, but others I let slip away or pushed away – whether intentionally or not. I’m still both thinking and stressing about this. The other bitter element is that my plan for the next trail is in a stall. As a lover of milestones, I planned to hike the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in 2024. None of the prep I’ve done is wasted as so few logistical elements of this hike can change, but I have put the CDT plan fully on hold with no new time frame established. I’m uncomfortable not having a specific, realistic new target start date. To mitigate that sensation, I am doing some things to keep pushing forward, like fixing my teeth, saving money for this adventure, and planning out my mail drops.

7.5 years debt free! Whoooooop!!! To be fully accurate, it is 7.5 years since I have paid a penny of interest. I paid off my last interest bearing debt in May of 2016. I have acquired some new debts due to dental and medical bills, but have all these debts on zero interest repayment plans. I’m a tetracycline baby. The impact on my fetal development was dental. I had tons of cavities as a kid and many of my adult teeth never developed. Approaching my 49th birthday, I still have one baby tooth, “K”. Baby teeth are not designed to last this long, so I have had several extractions and new fake teeth implanted, which isn’t cheap. When I replace K soon, it will be my 5th implant since 2016. This has only been possible because of interest free deals with Care Credit.

5 years running only one business – Nick’s Dog Care, founded November 17, 2018. I have had a few small side projects, and one of these almost became a second business, but so far, I have kept it to just one. It is a big change, and it has been a nice one. I do not miss a single thing about 20 hour workdays. Now I do more like 20 hour weeks.

4.5 years since I played golf. Last round, May 2019. I have given a few lessons since then, and still enjoy helping others learn the game. I was able to execute shots as an instructor that I could never quite manage as a player; bending shots out wide left or right and bringing them back to the center again. I have many good memories and a few nice trophies. I don’t foresee being in a position to choose to spend the time and money it would take to get my game back together to pursue this tricky sport again. While my coaches praised my form and swing, that swing was giving me increasing levels of back pain with increasing frequency. That’s a whole new set of medical challenges and bills that I do not need. More on this later, but I am now a novice archer and find that target sport similar enough but much easier on my body and astronomically less expensive to pursue.

4 years free from sugar/sweets/sweeteners. Last sweets, December 2019. Since then, the only sweet things I consume are unprocessed whole fruits. Not as bad a physical withdrawal as caffeine, but it was noticeable for a while. The only downside is thinking about the physical changes I will go through when I start eating every possible form of sweet during the CDT hike, and then stop again afterwards.

2 years since my first surgery (other than dental) – bilateral inguinal hernia repair, July 23, 2021. Recovery was brutal. Everyone said it would be easy and quick. Sadly, they were very wrong. Two weeks after surgery, I still struggled to walk from my bed to the toilet, 15 feet away. Turns out I’m allergic to oxy, which is probably a good thing, so I had ibuprofen and ice for pain relief. I had to keep ice packs on the surgery sites for as many hours of the day as I could stand the cold. I couldn’t work at all for a long time. Once I could shuffle around, I started working for my existing clients again, but didn’t feel comfortable taking on any new animals until about 6 months later. Good times.

I’ll leave you with that for now. I have another post about recovery, anger, and emotion set to publish 10/16/23. Be well folks. Rock On!