Our first type 1 diabetes meetup is in the books for 2016. It’s always a learning process trying to do something new–especially when it involves coordinating activities for a group of people. Part of this process has meant really distilling the purpose of these events and getting a clearer idea in my own mind of what I want these meetups to provide–the service that they can be to the diabetes community at large. There is a need for independence and freedom within the diabetes community. The outdoors are a place where we can tap into those ideals as a group and disengage from the narrative of disease, sickness and limitation that is so pervasive.

There is a lot of idealism invoked in outdoor writing–I am a willing participant in this trend and I own up to it–but there are also some stark realities that are part of the picture as well. Free meetups require more effort on the part of participants–more scheduling and planning in lives that are already quite busy. On the other hand, that same investment is what makes the experience more valuable. I realize that many people want things planned for them and arranged for them. I realize that schedules, structure and predictability are the markers of success–as it’s defined by our healthcare team and most of the internet.

Adventure is a chance to do things differently. To create our own normal. To go into a situation and say ‘I may not have all the answers, but I bet I’ve got all the tools I need to create solutions to whatever obstacles may arise along the way.’ That is the service that I want to give to the diabetes community. No frills, no bells and whistles. No free junk that you don’t need or schedules that tell you how your time should be spent. Adventure requires you to step outside of your comfort zone–and out beyond the normal is where the entire world of possibility opens up. That is where the opportunity to create your own normal–begins in earnest.

Not everyone who came out was a climber. Not everyone who came out knew quite what to expect. It’s not a convention or a conference or an event. There were no registrations or pharmaceutical vendors selling their wares. There was just a group of people who were stoked on getting outside and taking their diabetes a little further than the internet says that they should.

I hope that more people join us out here–even if only for a little while. Out beyond the limits and the rules. It’s not without risk and it’s not easy. No one will hold your hand or plan your meals. We will compare notes on the meals we choose and problem solve to get everyone what they need out of the experience. We will share snacks and ideas on taking our diabetes further. We are in this battle together.

Our type 1 diabetes meetups are for the scrappy and the independent. However old, young, experienced or capable you may (or may not) be–we simply want to create more opportunities to rewrite the narrative that we’ve heard since diagnosis that still overwhelmingly dominates the internet: Sick, weak, helpless, hopeless and doomed without a cure or the latest treatment option. 

This is our re-write. Healthy, strong, capable, hopeful and open to new medical options–but unwilling to live in fear of a future without them. 

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Ok. So here’s where I’d like to hear from you. I am always open to ideas, questions and comments about this post or any of the work we do!

Speak up, your voice matters! steve@livingvertical.org