Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Climb

What time in your life were words so profound that you needed to sit down just to allow yourself to absorb the power of them? Not because of the words themselves, but by what the underlying meaning of them was. I wouldn’t be able to answer that question easily myself, for I could write an entire book of incredible examples. I’m about to share with you one such experience.

Although I feel like I’m about to resurrect into a brighter season, one full of Light and Sonshine, days are still a bit more gray than I’d like. I’m blessed with periods of empowerment and signs of beautiful growth, but what I see when I look through my spiritual window isn’t as beautiful as what I know is on it’s way.

When Jonnae was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005, I had been working with a personal trainer to prepare for a figure competition (a feminine class of body building). When first hit with the news of her illness, I was ready to drop the goal of building my best body, but quickly I realized that would be quitting…..letting go. Something I didn’t want Jonnae to do, so I used what I concluded was an opportunity to lead her.

I woke up at whatever hour necessary to get my workouts in. If that meant rising at 4:30am and working out in the stairwell of the hospital so I didn’t miss the doctors when they came in for their morning round, that’s exactly what I did. At the time, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. For a mom who lost herself in food every time she was confronted with stress or overwhelmed by emotion, to choose a hard road instead of an easy one, was extremely difficult. I saw the extreme challenge and what seemed like an impossible goal, as THE best way to inspire my daughter to do the same. In extremely different ways, we were both fighting for our lives.

Life continually reveals there’s so much more to learn in the experiences we are having than the obvious. I didn’t just learn how much better my body feels when it’s nourished the right way and active rather than dormant. I learned what victory feels like when it‘s taken literally everything within me to obtain it. I learned EVERY stumbling block can be transformed into a stepping stone if we choose to use it as such.

This morning, I was thinking about a conversation my husband Johnny and I had yesterday. With tears I told him how exhausted I am from climbing mountains. It seems everything requires me to dig deep and ‘climb‘. Where I used to climb with such strength, grace, and even speed, I find now I slip and maybe even lose ground rather than gain it. Things that were easy and once second nature, I struggle with anymore.

I sat down to write about it this morning and had a flash back to when my time was through with my personal trainer; not a very spiritual guy and certainly not one I would predict would be prophetic with his words. But I just recalled what he said to me and have absorbed the power of those words he spoke. He said, “So what’s next for you? You’ve done just about every sport there is.”

I answered him with an “I don‘t know. I definitely need to find something new to challenge me.”

To which he responded, “You have a really strong back. I was watching this rock climber the other day. It was incredible. She was climbing up the side of this huge mountain and I thought, ‘I could totally see Denise doing that. You would be great at it.”

So here I am five years later, hanging on to the ledge of a mountain I never thought I‘d be climbing. Exhausted, but working new muscles and trying to strengthen the ones I have. I haven’t climbed this last stretch with the strength and confidence I know is within me, but those will return. The top of the mountain isn’t within sight, but the view is changing…..and with it I know my strength will return also. I can see the climb becoming more enjoyable. Not necessarily easy, but one I’m up for. I have a strong back, as well as strong legs. God has blessed me with what I need to be a rock climber. My trainer saw it in me, God knows it’s in me, and I’m realizing more and more that I can and will continue to climb. Some day I’ll reach the peak and the celebration and reward will be better than anything I could fathom.

Better every day in every way,


  1. It's funny how people can say or suggest something that stays with us for years afterwards. You write so well, tying it all together.

  2. Although it seems you are alone my dear friend--I know-- that you know-- you are not. There are some people at the base of the mountain cheering for you, some climbing on the same mountain or one nearby... and then there are those at the summit who know you are on the way. When you get there, and you will, you will have a manicure (I know the rocks are tough on the hands) and all you need to feel rejuvenated. AND, I don'think you'll even need a microphone when you speak from that place-- your voice will carry so much further out into the world because you have climbed SO very high.

    XO RR

  3. What an inspiring and thought provoking post. I love that you it with such a feeling of strength despite challenges that are thrown your way. A great reminder to remember what we have instead of what we don't.

  4. Hi Denise. :) I hope you don't mind that I'm saying "HI" here. I was thinking about you and I hope that you are doing well. You do write so beautifully. Thank you so much for letting me know that "I GET TO". God bless you and yours. Take care. El :) (FlyEl from the place where I "met" you. :) )