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The Aftermath (sort of)

The Aftermath (sort of)

Since completing Project 365 last week I stepped away from climbing and blogging to relax a little bit–to take a bit of time to revel in the success of this venture. I found that relaxation was hard to come by–and that anxiety was plentiful. In order to stay occupied I have been spending my time editing photos and preparing to share my account of the final 5 days of Project 365 and the grand finale. “Processing” would probably be the appropriate term. I have only bouldered a little bit and that little bit has been very comforting. Good habits can die hard too.

For the last year I have been focusing on the minutia of the daily routine of climbing and traveling, to the exclusion of most everything else–without having much time to actually stop and digest what was happening. Many days I would just force myself to zone out everything other than getting through the days climbing because I couldn’t think about all of the unknown and risk beyond that without my mind imploding. Not having a home and living on the road forces you into a different headspace. Now, we have a small apartment, and the reintegration has begun. On January 16th, everything just sort of hit me–like I had come to a complete halt, a near reversal of all my momentum up til that point. To be honest, I feel very little completion. I don’t feel relieved on a grand scale. I don’t feel like the Project is truly finished.

I have felt a bit rudderless, like I am drifting without much direction. Sleep is hard to come by and I have been forcing myself to enjoy watching cartoons and I even started playing old Nintendo games on my computer in between editing and writing to try and keep my wheels from spinning out of control. It’s been a challenge–an adjustment. I wasn’t prepared for it–and I have heard from other friends who have taken on big projects that this type of comedown period is normal. It occurs to me that challenge IS change and there isn’t really an effective way to prepare for change other than accepting that you have to ride it out and let it get better.

I feel like drawing a connection between this point I am making and living with diabetes is too obvious for me to bother specifying, but I could be too deep in my head to recognize that such a point needs to be made. Sometimes (many times, in my experience) no matter what the challenge, you have to let it get better which only happens when you stop trying to make it better. So that’s what I am doing–surrendering to the process.

I can feel the adjustment happening a little bit at a time and I know that this is all for the best. I also have been sorting out ideas for the future–both personally and for LivingVertical as an organization. It’s been obvious to me for some time that Project 365 is a good start–a good way to demonstrate our mission and raise awareness, but my goal in the next steps are to DO more to engage others.

I have been getting a decent amount of questions on our facebook page and I am excited to start answering those questions in the coming blogs. The focus of LivingVertical now is fulfilling the perks for Project 365 contributors and creating the documentary about the Project to give back to the community. I am excited at this challenge–but we are producing this work in house (meaning Stefanie and I, working out of a dimly lit one bedroom apartment!) and we are learning as we go. Contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe, movies are not put together through the week in order to entertain people on the following weekend. My goal is for you to be watching our film in approximately 6 months. I am excited to share the play by play of that process with you all!

So yes, this blog is sort of an icebreaker to get the ball re-rolling as we look toward new horizons. I am interested in taking questions–so please leave comments here or on the LivingVertical Facebook page. This week, I will be telling you about the last several days of Project 365 and the hail-Mary finish–with a LOT of photos!

 

365 days later

365 days later

One year ago I started climbing in an attempt to share my vision of diabetes advocacy and empowerment. Today, on my 15th anniversary of my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes, I can’t really believe that it’s over. Maybe that’s because it’s not…

I have repeatedly gotten the question in the last few weeks: “What will you do once the project is finished? Will you stop climbing?”

In short my plans are as follows:

  • Take a week off to relax and establish a more permanent residence in Springdale Utah where Stefanie and I have decided to settle now that the project is complete.
  • Begin moving forward with creating a documentary out of the 2 terabytes of raw footage and photos that were captured over the course of this year.
  • Continue sharing the LivingVertical mission of empowering, inspiring and educating–naturally both on line and through in person presentations
  • Solidify my plans for the next LivingVertical climbing project, update the website and announce what I hope you all will find to be some exciting new goals as we refine our focus moving forward.

Regarding my personal climbing:

I have had a great opportunity to take on Project 365 and I learned a great deal about myself and developed as a climber. Having said that, Project 365 was not a focused athletic endeavor since so much of my effort was spent in travel, blogging, filming and establishing LivingVertical as an organization. I have been wearing literally every hat on the proverbial rack, and so while it may sound greedy, I have to admit that I have not “scratched the itch” in terms of my climbing. I look at the completion of Project 365 as the beginning of serious training and moving towards finding my limit in an athletic sense. The best is yet to come!

 

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Update from Red Rock

Update from Red Rock

Climbing with Jason has been awesome and I am looking forward to the remaining two days we have together.

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Today was our first day out together so we kept it pretty casual for the first bit then after a decent warm up we started working on my project together.

This route has been my nemesis since February 2012 and while I was able to do all of the moves, I was unable to link them all in a single push without falling. I tried Saturday to go for it and while I dusted off the cobwebs I was still unable to send.

I felt utterly defeated and got in my head. Fear of falling is a lot harder to block out when you’re using a rope because you’re constantly reminded that its a very real possibility.

This route is very personal to me. And climbing is a deeply personal. I know that even without sending this route I would have a great deal of support and love for completing 365 days consecutively.

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But I want this. I want it for me. I am not content to push only the limits that others have or perceive. I have to push MY limits or I am just acting.

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Fear is real. Fear is something I am dealing with a lot. I try to hide it sometimes and stack the deck in my favor so I can cheat around it. But unless I confront and overcome my “adversary” there can be no progress.

Climbing, diabetes, heights…these are just masks worn by our fear. We must be responsible to fight that fear or else we are living our lives in muted colors. The summit, the “send” are arbitrary things we compete for–the growth is in breaking through barriers.

So this route has tested me. It will test me more until I choose to break through. I came very close today while working the route with Jason. I panicked and doubted myself. I wanted to hang. My forearms were flamed and my head was rattled. I was about to give up and he yelled up to me “no, keep going”.

So I did. Not very far but I made it to the next bolt and a couple moves after. I didn’t obliterate the “wall” in my mind but I put a few big cracks in it. I pushed myself farther physically on a lead climb than I have yet.

I’m ready to take the next steps.

The final week of Project 365!

The final week of Project 365!

For the last several months I had been wringing my hands about where and how to complete Project 365. I had been getting the questions of “where?” a lot, and I had an internal battle raging as to this decision. One part of me was feeling like I havent done enough “bad-ass” stuff during this year and suggested that I really pull out the stops and try to summit some desert towers in Moab that I missed last spring, then finish the final day by doing a winter ascent of the Grand Teton.

After coming to grips with ice climbing over the last week and weighing the benefit of actually being able to enjoy the climbing as well as finishing off a project route that I have left sitting for the last 9 months…I have decided to pursue another direction. I will finish the project in Las Vegas (Red Rock, NV) where I will be able to devote priority to capturing footage with Nick Percell, our cameraman exraordinare, and where the last days will be a true culmination of the project, with my two main partners in this endeavor–Rob and my wife Stefanie.

To top it all off, I will finish the project climbing with a new partner, Jason Behrstock, a fellow type 1 climber from my home state of New York!

I met Jason through our Facebook page–he sent me a message while I was in New York and we tried to arrange a time to meet up and climb over the summer. The weather wasn’t favorable and rather than have Jason make the trip upstate from the city to get rained out, we opted to postpone climbing together.

Since that time, Jason has been an incredible support as we have navigated the ups and downs of this project. Knowing that there are others like me who have a similar vision of their diabetes combined with the love of challenge and climbing is in itself a huge encouragement! As the project has progressed, partnering with climbers like Jason and Martin and Jessica has made me realize that the idea of diabetes as an incentive to push limits rather than accept them is not just a figment of my own imagination but actually a legitimate (if understated) perspective!

You may also remember this route that I spent several days working this past spring–without success. It stuck in my craw a bit but I believe that I am ready to send at this point and I feel like sending this route with another type 1 climber while surrounded by Rob, Nick and Stefanie will be an awesome way to complete project 365–both from an athletic standpoint and from an idealistic one too!

Stay tuned for the play by play!

Risk management: the siren song

Risk management: the siren song

This weekend I have been enjoying some highball bouldering. I haven’t been on a rope most of this month so I have been trying to find ways to push myself by upping the ante, climbing things that you would really not want to fall off of. Granted, boldness is a relative term, but this is my take on it.

Day 353 highball from Living Vertical on Vimeo.

Climbing is something that starts in the heart. Its like an attraction that you have to a given route–like a relationship in its infancy. You know that if you really feel strongly that it could wind up hurting you in the long run. But when it’s gotten under your skin, no amount of rationalization can stop the snowball from gaining momentum. In my head, there is a certain tipping point, that when it’s crossed, I know that resistance is futile.

Friday, out of nowhere, I got the signal. I just woke up feeling like today was the day for a big boulder to get climbed. Part of me was hesitant, but that part was sitting in the passenger seat, not driving. I drove down to one such boulder and set up a couple of cameras to capture some shots. Putting on my shoes I thought to myself…’is this a good idea?’ I had been looking at this particular line for a long time (years?) and I knew that it was just a matter of time till I gave it a go.

I thought about it and once I got to the top I concluded that it wasn’t a terrible idea. Climbing back down the backside of the boulder however proved to be a spicy affair. At this point I reopened the debate with myself about the wisdom of my choice. It would be the height (no pun intended) of irony to get injured or humiliated (‘excuse me, would you mind driving into town and returning with the biggest ladder you can find–oh and don’t tell anyone please!’) less than five feet from the side of the road…

Eventually after climbing up and down a few possible exit routes, I was able to put the pieces together and I was safely back on the ground, no worse for the wear. I thought about what I learned from this experience–why I had done it. What could I carry forward?

I learned that it’s good mental training. I knew that the rock was solid. I knew that all the moves were there. The only variable in the equation was me–and my goal is to be able to control myself in order to negotiate the moves. Part of this process is also about being honest in my self-assessment and knowing when and where to draw lines–knowing when to follow my heart and when to engage the brain.

The following day I chose to explore another highball boulder that I had scoped out earlier. This boulder was the definition of the siren song of climbing. A beautiful rock, with a beautiful line, straight up the face–in a beautiful position. The afternoon light hit it perfectly and as I walked up to it, I almost was able to overlook the ferocious maw of the yucca plant growing directly at the base of the fall line…

In this picture, I am placing my crashpad over the Yucca plant. I use the word ‘placing’ interchangeably with the word ‘impaling’. It just stuck there, floating, gored by the sinewy spines. I tried not to think about it. I didn’t want to psych myself out.

‘Just don’t fall’ I thought.

I got about 3/4ths of the way up and before committing to the face (out left up the line of obvious holds) I tested a few of the holds that I considered integral to being able to do the final moves to actually reach the top–and several of them crumbled in my hand. I was disappointed but read the handwriting on the wall and cheated up and right to the top via an easier line.

You can see in this photo the line of holds that would lead me to my left (out over the Yucca!) and these were the holds that were coming off…so while I finished straight up from this position, avoiding the truest line, I felt closure. I didn’t complete the route I had come out to do. I acknowledged that it simply wasn’t safe and I decided that I would not come back to it. It felt strangely good to exercise reasonably cautious judgement and not feel hounded by the lack of completion. It felt good to walk away knowing that this one would be better left as is…

But I found another boulder problem to fill this momentary gap!

This line isn’t as tall (although I swear the fisheye lens distorts the reality of this thing–it’s taller than it looks!) as the other two but the likelihood of falling, right at the top where the hardest moves reside, is a lot greater since the moves are harder, the angle is steeper and the holds are smaller!

I spent about an hour working out these moves but ultimately got shut down by my fear. I know that I can do the moves and the landing (should I fall) is a LOT better than either of the other two routes. Also the rock quality is very good, so in a lot of ways I have found a beautiful line that combines good movement and good rock with a spicy-but-not-too-dangerous top out.

I am really excited about this line because it represents a good balance that I am learning to achieve in bouldering. Each time I push my limit and raise the stakes I feel like I am learning more about myself and about my motivations. Fear is a part of any challenge–like diabetes or climbing. Learning to accept that fear after interpreting it is both important and rewarding. Its an ongoing process, I think.

I have been learning to experience and accept both sides of fear. The rational fear that is a legitimate warning of what not to do and the irrational fear that always challenges every decision I make. Its interesting seeing this from a climbing perspective because this is something I have dealt with in diabetes, long before I ever started climbing. I had a bad hypo (severe low blood sugar) episode when I was still in college that made me experience panic attacks every time I would inject my insulin for almost two years after. Even now, when I feel like my sugar is dropping I will eat like the world is coming to an end–because I know that it’s theoretically possible that mine is. But more often than not I am able to listen to the fear sufficiently to treat my symptoms and overlook the irrational fear that tells me to keep eating even while I am waiting for the food I’ve already eaten to hit my bloodstream.

Its just part of life–managing risk. It’s something you are faced with every day, living with diabetes, like it or not. I am excited to take advantage of every opportunity for this condition to pay back dividends in other areas of my life.

Sure diabetes is an obnoxious roommate, always leaving dirty dishes in the sink and being overly affectionate with it’s neverending series of floozy girlfriends in the common living area. I hate the loud music waking me at all hours of the night and the loud chewing noises. But moments like this, when I get to collect the “rent”, I feel like I might just be able to tolerate this unseemly tenant.

 

Taking Diabetes to the next level

Taking Diabetes to the next level

My new years passed as did my Christmas–as somewhat of an afterthought, which nearly slipped past unnoticed. I returned from my 349th consecutive day of climbing, thankful to have survived the initial learning curve of ice climbing in the Wasatch Mountains in Northern Utah. Rob and I had just gotten down from the mountain just as a snow squall blew in. I was concentrating on feeling my fingers and toes while capturing the last minutes of the day in video and still images–while wearing massive, clumpy gloves. Im not sure which of us was the first to acknowledge the holiday–but we forgot again and remembered it several times over.

It just seemed very…distant.

My big achievements on New Years were less about my prowess climbing ice, but rather the fact that I had managed to keep my Dexcom CGM sensor in tact throughout countless layering sessions in the least hospitable weather conditions I have encountered during the project. I had long wondered what proper, technical ice climbing was like. Now, I know…unfortunately, it’s not easy to describe. It’s certainly cold–which slows everything down and makes all of your movements seem clunky and less precise. Layers upon layers take time to painstakingly arrange in order to balance your temperature–too cold and you are in trouble. Too warm and you start sweating and then as soon as you stop moving, BANG your’re freezing!

Its another balancing act–like diabetes! And like diabetes, I found workarounds to get the job done. I learned the value of stripping down to your skin in order to change base layers–20 degrees in a dry t-shirt feels much better than 20 degrees in a wet t-shirt with several layers on top of it! I found that powder on my feet keeps them from sweating–thus keeping them much warmer!

Managing blood sugar in this environment is a lot more cumbersome than in other scenarios I have encountered. The layers (two pair of gloves too), the fact that glucose meters are not rated for use at such cold temperatures, the fact that it takes seemingly forever to do anything are definite obstacles. You cant do much with double gloved hands, so first thing, the gloves must come off. Immediately the clock starts ticking. Don’t lose your gloves! Unzip one layer, unbuckle your harness. Pull up your shirt and fish out your insulin. By this point you’re getting a little bit numb but you have to prime the pen and shoot up, manipulating your needles and such with precision. Then once you’ve dosed, its a race to get everything covered up, tucked in and rewarmed while your hands are still functional. Oh, and make sure your insulin gets put back inside your jacket because it needs to stay warm enough that it doesn’t freeze.

Whew. All done. Now time for a snack. Try to open packaging with gloves on…AARRRRGGGH!

The physical act of ice climbing, aside from the challenging context of the cold, honestly felt very foreign. I thought that there would be more cross over from rock climbing to ice climbing. Turns out, I am a complete gumby and felt pretty demoralized, struggling on moderate terrain. Its very technique oriented–not nearly as force oriented as you would think, given all the kicking and axe swinging that it entails. Its really very balancey and delicate. You have to be forceful but smooth and precise–not struggling against the insecurity of your position. Again, lots of parallels with diabetes. Accept it, and rise above it or struggle and flail for all your efforts.

I initially wondered if the “feeble” circulation of a type 1 diabetic would be able to handle sustained exposure to cold let alone allow me to get after it and perform adequately. In ice climbing, there is a term called “the screaming barfies” which references the rewarming process of very cold hands that are also pumped out from the simultaneous strain of climbing. I encountered this phenomenon and survived it. Turns out, I stayed reasonably warm and diabetes lost another chance to lay me low in the mountains. I have room to improve and I am excited to make that happen.

The new year’s arrival reinforced how the end of the project has been looming over the holidays and the thought I have been left with (more of a question really): how do I take it to the next level? What comes next?

Certainly the project needs to be wrapped up and processed once it’s complete. We have to send out the perks to all the wonderful people who contributed to this journey. I will be creating a cogent (hopefully!) documentary out of the 2TB of footage that we have captured and will be giving that documentary back to the community to empower people with diabetes…

But that isn’t the end. I can’t yet see exactly what’s around the corner, but I know there is a lot more to do–this project has whetted my appetite, seeing what one person can inspire through taking on moderate challenges on a daily basis. I say moderate because most people of average athleticism could keep pace with me on any given day. The act of repetition and the psychological duress of being apart from my loved ones are really where the meat of the challenge occurred.

So…what variables are in play in order to go bigger? Bigger challenges–harder routes, longer, more austere objectives? More people engaging a given challenge? Yes. The next level is out there. I am ready and I know I am not alone in this.

The mountains are harsh. Scary. Unpredictable. There are plenty of limitations out there that I can’t overcome. Gravity, rock quality, difficulty of a given route, weather…But type 1 diabetes is not one of those limitations. I will not live quietly beneath the perceived limitations of this condition–and I know I am not alone in this.

 

 

 

 

Northbound: diabetes on ice

Northbound: diabetes on ice

Winter is more or less here…and even the warm refuges of the southwest are begrudgingly submitting to the influx of less comfortable temperatures.

But it’s not all bad-while climbing has been a grind due to the abundant moisture, it has allowed for some beautiful pictures and moments that capture a very different Zion from the one most people experience in the warmer months.

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So I figure if you can’t fight em’ the next best option is join em’! On that note I am heading north to try ice climbing with Rob who will be meeting me in Salt Lake City. I have wanted to try ice climbing for a long time since that is one arrow I really must have in my quiver if I am to be really capable in the big mountains.

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Ice climbing is scary. It’s not comfortable. It’s cold and wet and contains new hazards that I am not used to managing. And maybe that’s the point of going north for now rather than south–it’s time to push my limits again to keep the growth happening.

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So I got all packed up and I am hitting the road–with plenty of camera gear to chronicle my experience. This morning got off to a bumpy start with a series of over corrections to my blood sugar but I know with a little patience that will smooth out and not stop my progress.

I am still not 100% sure where the final days of project 365 will be, but stay tuned because I have a few ideas and I will be sharing them here once they are a little more certain!

Some days you eat the bear…

Some days you eat the bear…

It’s Christmas eve for the vast majority of the world, but for me its day 342. I can smell the finish line and everything else is falling by the wayside. I am aware of the holidays, but I am pretty detached at the same time. Currently I am in Springdale UT, outside of Zion National Park and the weather has been my second biggest adversary, checking in just behind the voices in my head.

Climbing has been good, but I have been dodging rain a bit more than I had expected to. It finally dried out enough to do some more intensive bouldering and since I am now alone for the next several weeks, it seemed to be the green light to really get after it, and work on some of the projects that I have in Moe’s Valley down in St George. Being alone is the biggest challenge for me with climbing–having a partner to keep me out of my own head is very  important.

Today my plan was to climb after breakfast. I shot a little video and cleaned up and organized my gear and prepared to head out. My sugar was not abnormally high, but it wasn’t low either. I was running around 150, so I figured that I would be good to go, especially once I began climbing. It had been hours since I’d eaten anything…

Driving down to St George my sugar started climbing. I was unbelievably un-psyched: feeling lethargic, blood sugar rising and heading down to boulder in the cold and muddy desert while alone in a new place for christmas–and this is another gripe that has lain dormant but in the presence of high blood sugar I felt obligated to fume about the irony that I would find myself dodging precipitation whilst in the desert!

I hate writing about hard days because I feel like it’s complaining and I hate bitching and moaning, even when it’s coming from me…but I definitely just went with the “fake it till you make it” approach and forced myself to go through the motions. I plodded out to the boulders and slipped in the mud–mercifully unobserved, but it was right on par with the rest of the day. I leveled out right around 195 and I found some “easy” boulder problems to warm up on.

Easy is a relative term…because while these routes felt super easy several days ago, today they felt like pulling teeth. Throw for the hold up and left. Fingers snag the hold but I can feel my bodyweight peeling me away from the rock. I land hard, and stumble into the mud near the dry area beneath the boulder. Repeat many many times.

As I kept trying, I began to stop caring about the fact that I was feeling weak. I just got lost in the movement, however desperate it was. Eventually, the pieces came together and I began to get closer to the “zone”. I wasnt feeling strong, but I was able to re-calibrate my goals for the day based on where my upper limit was showing itself to be.

In the end, it was still a real tough outing, but I kept after it. I worked on one V4 problem which I sent after some effort and it felt really good to sort out the moves and put it all together, feeling it get easier each time I tried it until I sent.

It was nearly dark by the time I walked back out to the car–my sugar was beginning to drop with the hiking out and I accepted the fact that some days you eat the bear and some days the bear eats you. But knowing that I made it over the mental/emotional hump, managing to psych myself up enough to get after it with high BGs, I felt a little bit of comfort knowing that while the bear certainly ate me, I’m pretty sure I gave him a fair bit of indigestion in return!

Quick update–our Facebook page has broken 1000 likes! This is a milestone along a path that has been paved with the love, support and care from so many of you. I cant thank everyone enough for your support. Days like these are where I am forced to really dig deep, I really appreciate the community of friends and family that have been here for me.

so…Merry Christmas! Go eat the bear, before he eats you!

Does diabetes interfere with climbing?

Does diabetes interfere with climbing?

As of todays writing (335), Project 365 has tallied 72,809 feet of vertical gain. I am excited to approach todays question regarding how Diabetes interferes with climbing. The truth is that I don’t think it does. I think that there are always a million reasons not to place ourselves in a position of challenge or uncertainty, but that is just life and human nature. Diabetes is quite simply a reason–either a reason to get after it and be strong, or a reason to say ‘the hell with it’ and stop trying.

I was recently asked if I felt like Project 365 has been a success in terms of raising awareness and empowering people with Diabetes. I believe that the essence of this project has been to really hammer home the idea that Diabetes is simply a reason and that what it prompts us to do is our choice.

A whole bunch of folks who see diabetes as a reason to get outside and push their limits. This is what diabetes means to me. (see the preceding blog post for more details about the Insulindependence Diabetes Wilderness Festival!)

Greg Florian, crushin’ it at the Insulindependence DWF in Joshua Tree!

From what I have learned personally, feedback from others and from the experiences I have shared with a handful of the Diabetes community this past year, I believe that a measure of success has absolutely been attained since that message has been effectively delivered and made real on some level. We cast off into a vast unknown and took risks, had lots of ups and downs, made tons of mistakes and had some amazing “summit moments” too.

I love climbing because it pushes me into situations where I can’t predict what will happen and I have to be present in each moment and trust my ability to respond appropriately. Diabetes does the same thing–it keeps me in that zone of awareness even when I am off the rock. I have accepted that I can’t control everything that happens in my body, and with my blood sugar but I am confident that my responses will be appropriate and sufficient to keep me and my partner safe.

The preceding statements have not been approved by the FDA. Climbing is dangerous in all of its manifestations and if you take advice from ^this guy^ you do so at your own risk.

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The human element

The human element

This past weekend, on days 325-7 of the project, Stefanie and I had the privilege of attending the Insulindependence diabetes wilderness festival in Joshua Tree National Park.


I have spent much of Project 365 in relative isolation–even having Stefanie with me of recently has been a treat–and most of my interaction with the community has been via social media. Friday afternoon , we rolled into Indian Cove Campground and took some time to explore before everyone else arrived.

I always wonder what other people will experience when they come out to climb with me-what are they expecting-what will they take away-and what can I contribute to that experience? I worry a lot that I might not fit in or that people that I meet in person will be disappointed when they see the “real me” as opposed to the Twitter/Facebook/Instagram “me”. Being in large groups of people has always felt risky to me.

Stef and I spent a couple of hours climbing around and shooting some establishing shots and we headed back to camp around the time people started arriving just after dark.

I know how hard it can be to stay organized while living with diabetes–organization is a HUGE sticking point for me–almost to the point of obsession. I was overwhelmed at how the Insulindependence Crew (led by Greg and his Fiancé Sarah) proceeded to set up a functional dining area and kitchen which managed to keep upwards of 30 people fed while accommodating gluten free dietary needs as well!

As more people arrived, I started a fire and people began eating dinner and gathering around. We all talked about what we were looking forward to-some of us were climbing, others mountain biking and a third group was hiking on the following morning. It was a whole lot different than just talking about it online or blogging. I felt a little bit shaky at first, as though I was getting adjusted to being  part of a group, in person. I think that there were others who also got a chance to move past that initial feeling and that made the experience all the better!

I made a lot of great new friends and strengthened connections with friends from Insulindependence that I had met earlier in the project. These folks have all been SO supportive of what we have been doing and getting to spend time with them in person was so much more nourishing than the bare minimum of true interaction that digital media affords us.

I felt very at home hearing everyone talking about insulin and CGMs and the myriad of sub topics associated with this condition. We all had different methods and philosophies on management but we all came out to the wilderness–a place that pushes us outside of our routines, our comfort zones…because we refuse to have our limits dictated by a medical condition.

When I am out in the wilderness by myself, I don’t think about what I am missing, but having had the opportunity to share this type of experience with other PWD, it seems strange to think that I have gone so many years without it.

The following days we climbed and biked and hiked–and I did Yoga for the second time ever. I was VERY challenged by Yoga and it was really wild to learn new things and to find new areas of challenge to explore!

I was most directly involved with the group that went climbing and I was super impressed at how everyone worked together and how well everyone climbed. I have seen a lot of people struggle with climbing in my time, but I feel like the positive attitude we have cultivated helped “elevate” the performance of this group, despite the fact that we all found something to challenge us through the days event.

I have been very inspired through this weekends events and relationships. I even decided to start wearing my Continuous Glucose Monitor again and I have been experimenting with new placements (back of the arm is working great right now!) that don’t interfere with climbing movement. I enjoy reaching out to people through digital media, but at the end of the day, nothing can top the human experience and interaction. This is the essence of what Project 365 is advocating: getting out, getting after it and embracing challenge as a means by which to elevate our lives.

Special thanks to the fine folks from Insulindependence–including but not limited to: Blair Ryan, Peter Nerothin, Greg Florian and Sarah Hradek, Josiah aka THE HAMMER, Amrie Weiss and many more that I am probably forgetting…

Also I would like to give a special shout out to the folks from Goal Zero  thanks to them our nights were well lit by their gear and many phones and devices stayed charged thanks to their empowerment!

Quick update from Grand Jct Colorado

Quick update from Grand Jct Colorado

Rather than offering a verbose explanation of the last several days, I wanted to give a concise update.

Stefanie and I have been on the road for 3 days; we left my dads in NY after an eventful thanksgiving and the Tufts University presentation and once we got all the gear in the car, it’s been a westward push with minimal interruption.

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Along the way I have been climbing the most readily available things and getting all juiced up to arrive back in Utah!

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Driving has been uneventful-but as always we have seen some remarkable sights that make it all memorable in its own way. My blood sugar has been pretty cooperative too–I think eating less is helping that out.

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Tonight we will hopefully arrive in Zion (Springdale, UT) where we will be basing ourselves for the last stretch of the project. We have really found great friends here and a support system that will help us finish the project strong.

I have been asked a lot about where day 365 will find me–and I have not yet got an answer for that. I hope to share my thought process with you over the next few weeks and once I know, you’ll know!

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