I start my mornings slow and quiet. Some days, I must fight for the quiet, fight to slow my thoughts. My well-being depends on these early moments of the day. Morning is a sacred and hallowed time where I can come as I am.
I wrote the last pages of my book, The Joy of the Disinherited, during one of these still mornings this year. It was Father’s Day. I was at the end of my writing journey, but I was just getting around to writing the beginning of my book, the preface. Beginnings often elude us until we make peace with the middle and end.
I titled the preface The Practice of Remembering. That morning, I placed a bookend on the long, deep self-examination of my psyche that’d been required to write my memoir in essays. This year, with the close of each essay, I came to know myself better. I came to know the power of confessional writing. More importantly, I came to know the power of remembering, and learning to use it as a means of release. Releasing that which no longer served me — my misremembering, grudges, disappointments, and painful memories that I’d held in silence. With this weight off my shoulders, I became a freer version of myself.
As it turns out, this release would prove necessary for Hurdle to thrive.
"We are all still processing the change, the trauma. We are all still trying to understand what to release, and what to keep."
- Kevin Dedner, MPH
Parallel to my own conversion this year, Hurdle was also changing. In 2021, we:
- expanded into three additional states
- closed our first two deals with a large U.S. employer and a payer
- doubled the size of our team
- hosted a symposium on Black Mental Health in partnership with the Kennedy Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity and NAMI
- developed strategic partnerships with social impact investors, and
- delivered over 5,000 therapy sessions through our growing network of therapists trained in cultural humility.
You could say, Hurdle’s expansion came for such a time as this. In 2021, we saw:
- well-documented increases in treatment-seeking behavior among minorities
- mounting U.S. public health advisories warning against the mental health challenges confronting our most vulnerable populations, and
- payers and employers stepping up to figure out how to support minority members.
This year, Hurdle’s mission became a clarion call echoed by many: Knock down the invisible barriers to mental healthcare for those who need it most.
Hurdle’s 2021 evolutions may have been for such a time as this, but they were a long time coming. We have been change-makers in mental healthcare since 2018. For the past three years, we’ve shone a light on the limitations of existing care for People of Color. We’ve offered a clinically proven path to help our BIPOC brothers and sisters live with joy and power. Over the years, our moonshot mission has required unencumbered creativity, bold, focused leadership, and compassion. More importantly, our sustained presence and growth in this space have required intentional acts of remembering and releasing. Remembering our mission and vision when the midnight oil burns hot. Releasing the clunky processes, the busy work, and the mindsets that no longer serve us.
At the close of 2021, I find myself wondering: If I had not released the weight of my story this year, would I have shown up with the necessary mojo to support Hurdle’s growth? What weights are others carrying that Hurdle can help them release so that they can arrive at the doorstep of 2022 light on their feet?
I imagine your 2021 has been a year of transformation too. News headlines attempting to offer their own bookends on this year reflect back to us a world still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic and increased attention to matters of racial justice. This year, we witnessed the Capital Insurrection and a circuitous path to legal accountability for those involved. Derek Chauvein was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for the second-degree murder of George Floyd. Juneteenth became a federal holiday. Private citizens went to the moon. Art, cinema, sports and music mirrored our collective efforts to interpret the tumult of the last two years.
We are all still processing the change, the trauma. We are all still trying to understand what to release, and what to keep. Our internal work — remembering, releasing — must continue long into 2022 and beyond in the name of our collective healing. It will be heavy work, but we — you — are not alone.