Just the word conjures up nausea for me. I can feel a cold sweat breakout on my hands and feet. My body braces. I feel as though I am there at one of the many scary cruxes I have faced climbing and skiing. When I think of that word I can hear my skis sliding on ice. I can picture the pumice and unforgiving rocks over my right shoulder. I can feel the cold wind on my face and see the narrowed vision through my goggles. I feel my ankles tighten and my legs hold an awkward pose for fear of losing my edge and sliding into the abyss. The thin metal edge of my ski is the only thing holding my body as I glide. Sometimes my mind starts to wander to what could go wrong and I am quick to bring it back to the moment. The crux is never a time for a mind to wander.

Why would we ski here? What could be worth the risk? The only thing that gets me through that moment is a glorious bowl of soft snow. No real runs. Hardly any people. Just an open powdery space to take your skis and your abilities to their limit. It’s worth it every time.

I can’t think of a better metaphor for my life right now. Every day feels like sliding on ice. Every day I don’t collect a paycheck for my work. Every penny made is reinvested into the dream. The potential consequence grabs my attention every now and then. But just like skiing into the bowl, there is no time to waste on what could go wrong. I am lured through each day with the hope of finding a space where I can take my abilities as a therapist and a human being to their potential. The rocky ledge over my right shoulder in this case is the possibility that the mental health field will continue to label and limit people with mental illness for their common every day problems furthering the divide between those able to achieve and connect and those pushed to the fringes of society. The risk lately has felt immense. Not only as I watch our personal bank account suffer but I feel more than ever people are ready. There hasn’t been a better time to empower people. People are fed up with all sorts of status quo and it’s an awesome time to be alive.

In May, Michael and I will be presenting our concept and research project to a nation wide group of our colleagues, former professors and fellow researchers. We may be the only ones who don’t receive a paycheck for the research we do and to be honest, it’s what thrills me the most. We are able to say and do whatever we want. Unbound by university doctrine or fear of losing a salary.

It conjures up the exact same nausea and cold sweat as skiing into the bowl….

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