Here it is, a milestone, a celebration of a re-birth, an anniversary to be proud of, two years without alcohol. It has come with little fan-faire and excitement, but is reflected back on to what has come in the second year of the best decision of my life, I am amazed with the changes and accomplishments that have been gained. Re-reading what I had written from last year at this time to remember how it felt after 365. At that time just the satisfaction to have made it one full year without falling off the wagon, but no word on how my life had changed. This year was just incredible and this is what this post will entail.
If you have been reading this blog, or know me in person, pretty good chance you know that I adopted the Paleo lifestyle about six months ago. Again, my friend Russ, inspired my immersion into Paleo, by sharing his success with it and passing on information. The results have been spectacular. I have lost close to 60 pounds, just by adapting away from a high carb, grain based diet to one of protein, fat and vegetables, with some fruit and nuts tossed in. I have fully switched and cannot imagine ever going back. My energy levels have never been higher, body been trimmer and sculpted, digestion this good, and testosterone levels sky high. I was even featured on robbwolf.com. Robb is the guru of the Paleo lifestyle, and to be part of the community has been massive. Social media has allowed me to connect with many like minded individuals, sharing ideas and "food porn". This has led me to all sorts of new ideas and inspirations due to my vastly increased confidence and social capital building.
Edible Valley was an idea that was proposed by myself to my good friend Jon as a way for us to re-connect our friendship. Little did I know how much this podcast would change my focus on life to be almost completely independent of imported food and building of friendships with local farmers and chefs. There are now dozens of wonderful people in the Valley that I can now call my friends, including some of the most successful chefs, renown farmers and food writers. We also were offered to record our podcast in a radio studio, with the producer helping us out and doing the edits for us, which has been a huge blessing and now I call many people from Jet FM my friends. We are constantly getting wonderful feedback about our little show, and being modest, down playing it all the time. I am really proud that Jon and I have been able to keep this thing together, and so grateful for the support of so many. Thank you all deeply.
Edible Valley has also ignited my love of cooking. Hanging out with a chef one night a week, visiting the farmers market near weekly, and building inventory of my own hunted, fished and gathered foods have made cooking exciting again. Also learning the unique recipes that can be created using Paleo ingredients to mimic traditional dishes has been so rewarding. I had great success with salmon fishing this summer and also was lucky to take three deer this season, plus butchered half a hog(Tannadice Farms) and a bunch of chickens(Ash Berry Farm) that were purchased from farmer friends of mine. Scratch cooking is so rewarding with ample opportunity to secure amazing ingredients, stuff that most aren't lucky to get. The Comox Valley is Paleo paradise and I hope to expand on this coming in 2013. Stay tuned.
I learned to make sausages, pepperoni, cured deer ham, and pickled eggs. My canning went from a few jars of peaches to include salmon, tomato sauce, chutney, pickled beets and cukes, and salsa. I tried and had success fermenting cukes and cabbage into sauerkraut, and also made kombucha. In the spring I hope to do some kind of butchery demo and sausage making class at one of the local retailers. I really want to help people learn to build self sufficiency in their lives, getting away from the "system" of corporate control of our food, health care and well being. I wish for folks to have practical skills and common sense, and do for themselves. I have joined 13skills.com and have pledged to work on 13 individual skills in 2013 to enhance this freedom in my life. Teaching is one of those skills. The words of Jack Spirko have influenced me in so many ways opening my eyes to the realities of the world, encouraging myself to build self sufficiency, and to be prepared for emergencies large or small. The Survival Podcast has become a massive part of my education, and working on 13 skills is very exciting.
My blog has been rolling along nicely. With Natalie and I into the last stretches of our 52 weeks of adventures, I am feeling burned out, and unmotivated to write about it. Not sure how many words have been written over these weeks, but there have been so many, and photos too. We have done some pretty cool things this year, including cycling, camping, hiking, foraging. Many of these were firsts for my girl as well. She recently helped me butcher a deer, and I will be helping her build those skill for herself in '13. I want her to start life with the ability to do for herself the things that I had to learn as an adult.
In my personal life, aside from all the social media and homesteading stuff, it is going well. I am single now, since June, and have adapted well. I am sometimes lonely for short periods, but working to embrace that and enjoy the time alone, trying not to fill in all the empty spaces doing things constantly. Twitter and Instagram help with that. I am steady sharing my pictures of cooking and other foodie stuff with the Paleo community. I have connected with some really great people as I previously stated, including another Paleo gentleman in the Comox Valley, as well as new friends in the Edible Valley circles. I also have re-friended someone from high school and that has become a very important relationship. Natalie is doing amazing and she is such a great kid who doesn't bat an eye at all the "weird" stuff her dad is doing all the time. She is very happy to follow along with me and I hope she can spend more time in the field with me hunting in the years to come.
What path would life be on if I had not stopped drinking? There is no answer, but I can honestly say that these accomplishments would not have happened, without a doubt. The crutch of alcohol would have gotten in the way of the openness I feel in my ability to communicate with people. My shyness has disappeared and the ability to approach strangers is gone up exponentially. The future looks bright for this guy, and am so proud to be able to say that. I am on a path to greatness, even if I never blog, pod or use social media again, because I have a shelter, food, heat, water and love. What else does one need? Just the confidence to know that there is nothing to be afraid of, and I can overcome any obstacle in my way! To another year of excellence and Happy Holidays to all my readership. Thank you for coming on this ride with me!