And Now for Something Completely Different…

Hi everyone, Stefanie here.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog, huh? As I said in my last post back in December, I’m not much of a writer as I prefer to document my life in photos and have never been very good with words. However, as we approach the 5th month of Project 365 there’s going to be a very relevant shift in my role and I felt it was best for me to personally announce this and explain why it is happening.

Since day 1 it has been our goal to be as transparent as possible in regards to where any contributions are going and what we are working with money-wise.

From our Indiegogo campaign we raised $7, 485. After subtracting the fees from Indiegogo and Paypal  we ended up with about $5,500. Since we’ve had so much equipment graciously donated to us, cameras, tents, ropes, solar gear etc, we’ve been very careful to only use the contributed funds to things directly related to Project 365. What does that include? Gas, food, camera accessories (filters caps, tripod mounts etc), 2 pairs of discounted shoes from FiveTen, and a couple of dromedaries to keep us hydrated.

What doesn’t that include? Any of our personal expenses that existed before the project started: cell phones, student loans, car insurance, credit card debit.

Before we left New York in December we both agreed that our priorities for the Project were as follows:

  1. Stephen is going to climb everyday for 365 days no matter what, even if the only person paying attention on day 360 is his belayer.
  2. We would document as much of the Project as we could with whatever help and resources we had available.
  3. We weren’t going to neglect personal financial responsibility in order for the project to be completed as we originally, idealistically envisioned it.

So how are we paying for our personal expenses?  From our personal savings and from the sale of most of our “non-outdoor gear” and clothing before we began the project in the fall of 2011. However, my  personal resources are dwindling and I am at an impasse as to how to address my financial responsibilities.

This leads me to the point of this post. Before leaving for the trip I was able to save up a decent amount of money. However it wasn’t enough to get me through the year but it was enough to get us started on the project and we both decided that we would cross that bridge when we came to it.

I stepped up to that bridge in March. Just as I started thinking that I only had enough money to see me into the first part of the summer, I was offered a job. This job literally came out of nowhere, in response to  a long forgotten resume, posted to a hiring website well before Project 365 even existed as an idea.

I was timid about accepting the offer even though it would save me from defaulting on my bills. How would it affect the Project? What will supporters think? Will it look like I’m abandoning our goal? Honestly, I had many sleepless nights thinking about everything and many hours were spent discussing pros and cons, first as a married couple and then as climbing partners.

And then we got to Zion.

This last month has been one of the best months for Stephen as a climber. He did his first big-wall aid climb, he sent his hardest sport climb to date, and has improved on desert cracks beyond where he has ever been. He did all of this climbing with people that weren’t me. People that would push him past his comfort zone, and make him climb harder than he ever has.  For me this was an affirmation of what I needed to do.

I’ve always known that Stephen and I are on very different levels physically and mentally when it comes to climbing and I’ve always felt as though I hold him back from his full potential and vice versa. I’ve become a comfortable top rope climber, I rarely get on the sharp end and never really test myself as I’ve become comfortable with always allowing Stephen to take the lead. We have different goals in climbing and that’s ok on a personal level–but for him to really break through as a stronger climber, our match-up isn’t ideal.

Therefore our amazing time in Zion has lead us to decide that I will take the job that has been offered to me. So what does that mean for the remainder of Project 365?  Honestly, the only one that will notice my absence on a daily basis will be Stephen.  Being in constant access of interent I’ll now be able to keep the social media part of it more up to date and it will also allow me to start really pushing the Project to larger media outlets, which has not been easy to do working out of  Toyota Tercel with inconsistent internet access. I’ll be away for a few weeks starting on May 15 and then I’ll be joining Stephen again around my birthday on August 2 (possibly sooner).

We started Project 365 with a lot of variables in play–money being one of them. We knew that our roles might have to shift in order to make this Project succeed fully and that has been a very organic process and we look at this as simply another detour that has the potential to really benefit Project 365 in the long run.

I encourage anyone who is outraged by this progression to leave a comment below or contact me personally, stefanie@livingvertical.org . I also encourage anyone who supports this progression to leave a comment below or to contact me personally.

This hasn’t been an easy choice, and the thought of missing out on some of my favorite locations hurts my heart a little. The thought of trusting my husband’s life with other climbing partners makes me jump to irrational fears of death and destruction. But I’m trusting that this happened for a reason. In a depressed economy I was offered a job before I even started looking–and I don’t believe that happened by chance.

If you’ve made it to the end of the post thanks for hanging in there. If you scrolled down to the bottom because it looked a bit TL;DR : I got a job and I’ll be gone for a few weeks while Stephen climbs with other people. 

Comments ( 13 )

          • Carmela Lauria says:

            As always have enjoyed your blog. I understand completely and know that you are making the right decision. I also believe that things happen for a reason and this one has come about for many reasons and at the right time. I wish you well and of course will continue watching and reading about Steve's continued progress and look forward to the amazing pictures and heartfelt blogs that come with the project and the days ahead. Good Luck Stefanie! and Don't worry about Steve as always you both will be placed in my thoughts and prayers.

          • cliffmama says:

            That must have been a tough decision, but it makes sense. Does he have enough climbing partners to continue his goal? Is it going to change your itinerary?

          • Stefanie says:

            Thank you. The only real change to his itinerary is going to be more flexibility. We have a few friends that plan on meeting him in Yosemite next month but he’s also on the look out for some partners, especially for Squamish/ Banff if you know of anyone. On days he’s not able to climb with a partner he plans to boulder and/or do some easy soloing. I hope we can climb together when I return to New York. I really want to climb with other women.

          • cliffmama says:

            Is your job in NY? Where? (The company I work for is hiring in Kingston – looking for people to do stuff like social media & internet marketing.) It would be great to climb with you. Give me a shout when you’re back in the Gunks. Have Stephen give me a shout if he has destinations he needs partners for. I seem to have accumulated climbing friends all over the place. Just wish I had the time and freedom to hit the road and visit everyone!

          • Stefanie says:

            Thanks Jannette I will definitely let you know when I get back to NY and if Stephen needs partners anywhere.

          • Mr. Kitty says:

            I support / understand your decision…and I think you should write more…not sure what you mean about not being a good communicator, especially after reading this peace of your heart.

            Meow *huskily*

          • Stefanie says:

            Damn it Kitty! I leave you for a few months and you learn how to use a keyboard??

            Thank you, Stephen also thinks I should be writing more. and perhaps I will.

          • Bill Maloney says:

            Cannot imagine anyone that would not support your well thought out decision. Best to you and Stephen.

          • Rick Praetzel says:

            I see only the highest quality from you these days. This project is purifying everyone around it. Congratulations on everything you two are achieving. Rob misses you.

          • Steve says:

            Thanks Rick! I miss Rob and Bill SO MUCH!!!! My phone is charging or I would text him and tell him! I went into Food4Less to pick up some greens and their health food section consisted of trail mix and jerky. I also miss Sol Foods.

          • Manny D Suriel says:

            Wow! What can I say? For one thing for some one who doesn't like writing you articulated your thoughts extremely well as it was a very fast read.. Also the process you followed to take the decision was very well thought out and with extreme matureness. I am so very proud of you that words can not express how I feel.. You will always have my complete and full support no matter what endeavors you pursue. Tell Steve that I have his back all the way from Dubai..

            Miss and love you so much.

          • Stefanie says:

            I’m not sure we ever would have gotten this far with out your unwavering support since I called you about this crazy idea.

            I love you so much and every day I feel like I won the parent lotto. Can’t wait to see you.

          • Firefly says:

            I am so proud of you both and you know you always have our support. To quote Brian, “Ain’t nothing goin’ on but the RENT!” We feel you. And we’re here for you. Wishing you both nothing but love, luck, happiness, and health.

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