There’s a highly overposted meme floating around the corners of social media like a decomposing rodent in the brackish backwaters of a flooded slot canyon that consists a list of quazi-inspirational directives culminating with the phrase “…and dance like no one is watching”. I’ve always scrolled past in disgust when that meme pops up in my feeds–but I’ve recently realized that there’s some truth to that which I may have overlooked. It’s easy to be true to your vision when no one is watching. That’s a task that becomes considerably harder when you realize that people ARE watching.

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That in turn becomes harder yet when some of those people who are watching hold the ability to help give you a career based off of your work. It’s been difficult to ignore that, having just become a parent–and the concept of providing has grown beyond figuring out how to live out of my car and stay afloat for a year. Instead of saying what I’ve wanted to say, what few others seem willing to say, I’ve tried to keep my head down and my mouth shut and behave. Fit in. Play the game. Chase the funding and hope to avoid burn out in the meantime.

While in the doldrums over the last few weeks I watched an amazing documentary about the band Rush (whose original drummer actually had type 1 diabetes) on Netflix. I HIGHLY recommend it–they have a reputation for being true to their vision and not changing or tempering their sound to appease record companies and make money. Two quotes in particular stood out to me as I grappled with the issues of marketability in my own world:

Alex Lifeson (guitar) said “We decided that we’d rather play OUR music OUR way for OUR fans and go back to working at the farm equipment store (that his father ran) than accept orders from the record companies.”

Neil Peart, now in his 60s and recognized as one of the best percussionists in the world had this to say: “People have a fantasy, and I don’t want to trample on it–but I also don’t want to live it…

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I’m writing this blog from the hospital where I have just welcomed my daughter Lilo Richert into the world in the early afternoon of May 24th and you might say that it’s helping me crystalize a lot of things. It’s a shift in perspective; a further development in the changes I’ve been going through of late–and things are starting to come into focus.

I just realized that I have been worrying about what everyone else in the diabetes community and the diabetes industry thinks of LivingVertical and I forgot about how I feel about LivingVertical as though my perspective needs to be validated by some outside source. The hell with that. No wonder I was feeling uninspired–chasing the approval of others is a fast track to burning out.

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So here’s how I feel about LivingVertical: really, really stoked. We have an amazing team–passionate, talented and poised to do something that’s never been done before. We are attempting to be the first all diabetic expedition to establish a new technical route in the wilderness. The significance of this may be lost on many people–but it is super inspiring if you take the time to unpack it, which I intend to do through a short film series documenting this expedition.

It’s something that involves significant risk management and exposure; it’s not a guided trek up a tourist peak. As a TEAM we can come together with our diabetes and all, and use that as a means to push FURTHER. Big, exploratory adventures aren’t just for other people that we should sit back and read about. They are out there, for US TOO, diabetes and all!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how I’m going to support a child–I think that working a “real” job (or creating my own) AND pursuing my passion is as valid as simply getting paid for living my dream and turning it into work. I’m open to either possibility though–it’s just that letting go of expectations has finally given me the freedom to get back to basics–and that is where the magic happens.

No excuses, no waiting for a cure. Crushing fear and stereotypes in the vertical world, one climb at a time. Game on!

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