About Uphills

Thanks for everyone who has welcomed me back from my one month sabbatical (and yep, February is NOT the longest month.). I am grateful for the time after what has been a very demanding six years. I will be sharing observations on Sunday, March 5th and in many other places and spaces. One I want to share here is about uphill climbs.

Here is where the story starts: I don’t like steep climbs.  Never have.  Tend to avoid them.

Yet last week I found myself on a mountain side in the town of Lucia, CA.  Actually just south of Lucia, right where Highway 1 got buried beneath a mud slide a few years ago.  During my three day retreat at the New Camaldoli Monastery, a present from my family for my big birthday last fall, I was determined not to stop my 10,000 step a day walking practice.

The only problem was, another landslide had closed the one-mile path and the only other option was the very steep driveway—which, with many switchbacks was a very long downhill and then…a dreaded uphill.

The first day I was leaden-footed on the decline, slapping my feet against the pavement. And on the uphill, breathless would be an understatement. Yet, when I made it to the top—I also felt victorious. And on the last third of the climb, I started to notice that a long, hard climb is less difficult when you stop resisting the idea of a long, hard climb.

The second day I was careful to walk downhill with intention.  On the uphill, I tried to pace my breathing so that it sounded less like an explosion and more like an exhalation.  On the last third, I truly reveled in my pace, even picking it up as the day was rainy and I was soaked with precipitation and sweat.

The third day the sun came out as I walked onto my porch.  And I saw a rainbow over the ocean from the top of my two-mile descent.  And when I walked up, I did so with few pauses—sometimes walking backwards to be sure I didn’t stop however moving nevertheless.

And now? Well, I was glad to be back on flatter ground for my morning miles with Crystal Ball the Bully. However, I think every now and then, I will find a hill.  “It’s okay, Crystal,” I will tell her.  “It’s a journey so lean in.”

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