Climbing Stairs

My word for 2018 has been “Expand”. For the past four years, I have selected a word of intention to focus on. Each year I carefully determine one word that I will give attention to in my daily life. My word is an area I want to grow in, learn about, challenge myself with. It may be a need I have, it may be a desire for my life or an acknowledgement of something that is missing. As 2018 is wrapping up, I have found myself reflecting on my word more and more.

I chose “Expand” because I wanted to see what I was capable of - could I do more? Could I expand myself to go beyond my own limitations, could I handle more than I thought I could? Could I grow my mind in areas deeper than I have previously? Could I love more, give more, do more, be more? Could I expand beyond my tired, my doubt, my fear?


When we were in Santorini last month, I had a moment with my word “Expand” while climbing stairs. It felt like a majority of our time in Greece was spent climbing stairs. Once we got to Santorini, this remnant of a volcanic caldera, this land quickly informed me that traveling up and down staircase after staircase would become our new normal while navigating this seaside town. One day we made the walk from Fira to Oia and added on the short side trip out to Skaros Rock. After spending some time out at the rock, we had massive stairs to climb to get back to the path. It was twisty and steep - the kind of stairs that when you look up from your endless climb, you can’t see the top of the stairs. And in that moment that I looked up, I felt so defeated. Wasn’t I closer than that? Shouldn’t I be able to see the end of these stairs by now? How much more will I have to climb?

I started thinking about the goals we set for ourselves. How much harder is it to keep going when you can’t see the finish line? What challenges are presented in the moments that all you feel like you are doing is climbing and you can’t see your goals any clearer? Sometimes it feels like you are just taking steps of faith hoping you are moving in the right direction, but you are tired and frustrated. Would the climb up those stairs that day have been easier if I could have seen the top stair? If I knew how much further I had to go, would that have made a difference in my mindset? And then I thought about my word for the year, ‘‘Expand”.

I realized in that moment, the point was (and is) to prove to myself that I can do more than I think I am capable of. I can keep focused even in times of exhaustion or doubt and take the next step. One foot in front of the other, just keep moving. It didn’t matter if I could see the finish line, or even if there was a finish line, the point was to keep that momentum going. So what if it took me longer than I thought it would and was more physically taxing than anticipated. I wasn’t going to quit. I wasn’t going to stop in the middle of the stairs and dwell there for the rest of our trip, I had too many things I wanted to see and explore.

So why would we do that in our lives? Why would we stop mid staircase when it isn’t going how we want it to go? Why would we stop when we feel tired? Why would we stop just because we couldn’t see what outcome lays before us? Why would we stop when there is so much to do and see in this magical world? Why would we stop when we have the capacity to expand? We are incredible creations that are sadly limited by issues in our own minds. But those limitations don’t often exist in reality. We look up and we don’t see what we want right in front of us and we stop in a pile of exhaustion and defeat. But we have huge hearts and strong spirits that can propel us onward with an inner power. We don’t have to create this power, we only need to access it because it is already within each one of us. But we do need to practice it. It becomes easier and easier to stop once you do. So don’t stop. Rest if you have to, but never quit. Put one foot in front of the other and continue that energy forward. Expand beyond what you believe you are capable of doing. Visualize that goal at the top, even in the times that you can’t see it and never let anything or anyone keep you from climbing those stairs. Because once you do, the view from the top is so much more rewarding than the one back where you stood when wanted to give up. And the journey of the climb prepares you and fills you up for that moment shortly after, when you’ve reached your goal, to turn and take the next step up a brand new staircase that awaits you.

Onward into 2019 with great courage, creativity and a grateful heart for our ability to expand.