We do a lot of measuring in diabetes–but are we measuring what matters? As you may know, I’ve been on the east coast for about a week or so and I’ve been doing a little “experiment” that I’d like you to participate in. I am sharing a video each day–on my YouTube channel. It’s been a great opportunity to work on my video story telling (starting with some lighter “cat videos” to get warmed up!) as I prepare for a big climbing project this fall and it’s the pathway I am following as I push the message of empowerment and redefining the limitations of life with type 1 diabetes. I’m still sharing blogs because those are good outlets for photographs, opinion pieces and technical discussion– but the play by play of my adventures–well, that’s moving to a different stadium with more seating. I truly hope you’ll subscribe to our channel and be part of a new frontier (new for LivingVertical) that we are navigating. These forays are always way better with friends.

During my time in New York City, I had a chance to meet up with a good friend and we did an informal interview for the vlog. It got me thinking about some of the common complaints and touch-points that I’ve been noticing a lot in the community. There’s a tension between a segment of the diabetes community who think diabetes isn’t that hard–and others who think it’s basically impossible. I have been looking for years for a way to bridge that gap and inspire those who are burnt out–and borrow from the success I have had in order to equip those willing to fight on.

I know that it’s cathartic to hear leaders in our community say that it’s impossible to control our blood sugar. While I don’t disagree with this assertion, I believe it’s an incomplete message without equal priority being given to the things we can control. Effort is the focus. Effort is good or bad. Effort should absolutely be judged–because effort is one of the things we can control. Clear black and white language must apply to our self-review or else we will create loopholes to escape our responsibility.

I write this as a flawed, lazy and impatient person who spends a good deal of creative energy trying to trick my “future-self” into doing the right thing from the comfort of what will soon be the past. I’m not advocating open season on judging each other–since that process is already working out beautifully on Facebook in this harmonious political climate–but I’m saying that it’s worth holding ourselves accountable. We are not delicate snowflakes that will wilt under the duress. We will grind our teeth at times and soldier on, better off for having done so.

I would ask you to stay the hands reaching for your pitchforks and torches–because the quality of the effort is not determined by the outcome. You can do everything right and get the wrong results. I’ve seen it happen in climbing, in losing friends to their own demons, in diabetes too, of course–and the only refuge we have is knowing that our best effort was given in the fight. Sometimes that must be enough.

I’ll give a quick example. When I started LivingVertical, I got some pretty hateful comments from people who were complete outsiders. They judged my desire to use climbing to empower and inspire as being a flimsy publicity stunt that would ultimately detract from getting funding for real, meaty solutions like a “cure”. My initial reaction was to say “What the hell?! I show up trying to give people this gift and I get kicked in the teeth?” It’s true that my critics were trolls and they were completely out of line. It’s also true that encountering that judgement gave me a moment to pause and examine what I could be doing or saying to increase the clarity of my purpose. It made me that much more committed to examining my own intentions. I avoided a lot of pitfalls because I did not want to do anything to validate the trolls.

Adjust expectations and emphasis to favor the effort and let go of the outcome. Then, choose your battle and fight like hell.