It’s time for the obligatory year end wrap up–which this year doesn’t feel so obligatory since it’s been a really pivotal year that has seen a lot of turbulence coupled with some really positive changes for me personally which I think translate to LivingVertical as a project.

I started this year in Utah with a baby on the way–lots of question marks about what that would mean and no real clear vision for how I would be able to make ends meet. So I decided that I’d have to put LivingVertical on the back burner and head back east to try and help establish my family and prioritize their needs over living my dream. It felt like the end or some kind of crossroads where everything I had envisioned and worked to create had suddenly lost relevance in the face of unworkable logistical challenges.

Stefanie was in Massachussets for the delivery and as I was reminded on more than a few occasions, the east coast is not exactly the climbing mecca of North America. My attitude wasn’t great going into this–I didn’t have any sense of equilibrium. I had put LivingVertical ahead of much of my personal life–which was a decent band aid until it became pretty obvious that I couldn’t make the band-aid stick any longer. With grim resolve I made up my mind to just suffer–even if that meant getting a job bagging groceries. Last summers expedition was admittedly esoteric; I knew that it wouldn’t really “sell”.

At the time that I had conceptualized the Wind River Project (over a year prior) it seemed rebellious and edgy to do something that thumbed its nose at corporate sponsorship and took a deliberately obscure path just to prove a point. By the time it came down to brass tacks, I had a baby on the way and suddenly those Everest type big-box expeditions with their funding and PR teams started to sound pretty good.

wind river project climber matt spohn
PHOTO: www.blakemccordphoto.com

I wrung my hands up until Lilo was born–and then she came along and all the dreams and visions seemed to fade away. I just kind of didn’t care any more. It was liberating. Funding or no funding. Bagging groceries, guiding or office work. It all seemed a bit meaningless so long as it gave me the time to spend with this little girl who crashed into my life and refocused everything I thought I knew. I stopped wringing my hands; deep down, I just wanted to skip the expedition and play with Lilo.

diabetes and climbing adventure Steve Richert

Fortunately my sense of duty prevented me from doing this; but as I headed out to Wyoming I was only half there. I did my best to stay positive through the weeks that followed but I’ve never been great a pretending and I am pretty sure that I was a lousy climbing partner, creating an emotional drain on the people around me and pretty much embodying some Puddle of Mudd songs from back in the day. I appreciate Matt, Blake, Jeffrey and Martin putting up with me and understanding and encouraging me despite my less than stellar behavior. We had many long conversations about “what comes next” for me personally and for LivingVertical. The upshot seemed to be that I would get a job in Massachusetts doing “whatever” and that LivingVertical would go away, more or less.

Fast forward to 2015.

LivingVertical hasn’t gone away–and while I do have a job that’s based in Boston, it’s not “doing whatever”–I’m helping empower people through grassroots research driven by people with diabetes. LivingVertical is actually thriving as my parallel work at the T1D Exchange/Glu moves forward simultaneously in a kind of symbiotic relationship. I had kind of run out of things to say earlier this year–or at least it felt like everything I said was getting less and less cohesive. Entering a new compartment of the diabetes world has definitely helped change that!

So here is a sneak preview of some of what I am working on for 2015: Project365 streaming online–the FULL feature as well as the Wind River Project film and the Team LivingVertical film which are both in production now–as well as new episodes of the “Diabeticast“. Additionally I am working on plans for a diabetes story-telling project which is unlike anything I’ve created yet, another big expedition and film (not 100% sure on the destination yet!) and more climbing coupled with life on the road.

landscape photography sunset in Idaho

I am pretty sure that all of the ideas on that list won’t work out exactly how I thought–but I am also pretty sure that there are some great things in store that will wind up on the list as a result, so I am ready to trust the process, find new adventures and bring my diabetes along for the ride. I believe now more than ever that diabetes is what we make of it and I am going to do my best to carve out my part of the tale while the knife is still sharp!

diabetic climber Steve Richert project365 Zion Utah