Vertically Challenged

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After a long summer of travel I’m home for almost a month. Between Joy Trips I’m spending the next few weeks getting some perspective on what this project is all about. A recent note from climber Steve Richert helped me to remember why it’s important to find passion in our daily lives and to encourage others to pursue their dreams.

It’s Labor Day weekend and Fall is just around the corner. As we make the transition from one season into the next I’m giving some serious thought to what it means to be happy in our work and exactly how each of us can find passion as well as purpose in the things we do every day. Through Project 365 Steve is demonstrating that despite suffering from type-1 diabetes he can lead an active lifestyle to keep the disease at bay. Climbing everyday for a full year on an extended road trip across the United States Steve reminds me that life’s journey is what we make of it and what we make we can share.

Personally I struggle with certain amount of guilt. I love what I do for a living. But many, myself included, hardly consider what I do work. As a professional journalist I travel around world, meet interesting people and eat exotic meals. Outdoor product manufacturers let me try out their latest gadgets. I get free clothes. And I’m constantly invited to go play someplace cool.

But every silver lining has a cloud. On the flip side, I don’t make much money, I’m constantly away from my family, I don’t get regular exercise, my diet is atrocious, I’m at least 20 pounds over weight and I’ve got chronic back pain from sitting too much. Editors don’t always buy the stories I have to sell. And my sponsors can very easily decide to invest their marketing dollars somewhere else.
Though it may seem glamorous and exciting adventure journalism is a job like any other. But it’s the profession I’ve chosen for myself and I’m dedicated to doing my very best. So if you think that landing a dream job is the answer to your prayers you’re going to eventually wake up to the reality that anything worth pursuing in life requires a lot of hard work, commitment and sacrifice to get you where you want to go.

So I’m officially done apologizing to myself or anyone else for loving what I do. My purpose is to help tell the stories other people who are just as passionate about the things they do every day and hopefully encourage my readers and listeners to find and follow those things in life that make them happy. I’m inspired by people like Steve Richert.

For the past 8 months Steve has been traveling as a professional climber. Working on routes primarily in the west he’s pushed his body past the limitations of his illness while providing a solid example of what’s possible with concerted effort and dedication. Struggling against the typical difficulties of a long road trip Steve also endured a two-month separation from his wife along with the challenges one can face while taking on one of Yosemite’s big wall climbs.

“A bear broke into my vehicle and my car had pretty major brake problems,” he wrote to me via Facebook. “And I got completely humbled when I attempted climbing El Capitan.”

But these obstacles were easily offset by a major victory. Project 365 came to the attention Roche Diagnostics, the makers of Accu-Chek diabetes supplies. The company recently signed on a sponsor.
“This partnership has already enhanced our ability to share our project with people all around the US–we were able to attend an event at Stone Summit Climbing Center in Atlanta GA that brought us together with several kids with diabetes and their families,” Steve wrote. “We showed some of our video that we have shot and got a chance to climb with them. The results of our outreach even at this point are super exciting and we know this is the beginning of something amazing.”

This Indianapolis-base company shares Steve’s vision of effective diabetes management. Working with Roche Diagnostics he aims to continue Project 365 through the end of the year and have a great many inspiring stories to show for it. Finding happiness and personal satisfaction through travel and outdoor recreation for the benefit of others is a mission Steve and the Joy Trip Project share in common. So I hope those who read this blog will support Project 365 by watching this video. Roche Diagnostics will donate $1 for every person who clicks “like” on YouTube. You can support Steve by sharing the link and help him earn up to $15,000.

I’ll be back on the road again soon and through the course my travels I aim to bring you more inspiring stories like Steve’s. I only hope that you discover as I have that no matter what you do for living you can share your passion with those around you and inspire others to do great things every day.

The Joy Trip Project is made possible with the support sponsors Patagonia, Rayovac and the New Belgium Brewing Company

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Author:James Mills

I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

4 Responses to “Vertically Challenged”

  1. September 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    “But every silver lining has a cloud. On the flip side, I don’t make much money, I’m constantly away from my family, I don’t get regular exercise, my diet is atrocious, I’m at least 20 pounds over weight and I’ve got chronic back pain from sitting too much.”

    Wooo, I feel your pain, literally. I discovered the downside of all the perks to being a journalist and social media enthusiast is severe back pain which became diagnosed as something even more severe. But it allows me to travel and explore — I can’t imagine life any other way.

    • September 4, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Gina. The pain in my back started to subside once I had the stick removed from my ass! I’m enjoying remarkably more freedom of movement and infinitely more joy!

  2. September 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    this looks fantastic! will be sure to give this climb a go! great post! keep up the good work. :)

  3. September 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    “So I’m officially done apologizing to myself or anyone else for loving what I do.” You’re right, adventure journalism isn’t easy and some look at it as a dream job. The grass is always greener on the other side, I suppose. Some do prefer to take the easy route and stay in a job, even if it doesn’t make them happy. It is all about choice – I’m glad you made a choice to go on this thing called The Joy Trip Project.

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