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How do you walk up hills?

Do you enjoy the climb, treating it the same as a flat? Do you pause a lot, feeling overwhelmed by the mountains looming ahead? Do you avoid them altogether and stick to the gentle familiar flats you know you can walk? Or do you put one foot in front of the other and grind until you reach the top or at least a nice vista?

The last version is me. I just want to get fucking through it already and see the view. Yes, I’ll be proud of all my hard work later when I’m wiping off my sweat and staring down at the mountain I’ve just past/mastered.

What I really can’t handle is any snags or stops along the way. Drives me crazy! My momentum is shattered and we have to work harder to start up again.

Enter my dog, Juneau. My sweet fur baby who I adore and cherish. My walking buddy. A creature who has mastered living in the moment and enjoying the journey, not just the destination.

My “fur bestie” Juneau

When Juneau and I walk, on a hill, a flat, a beach, whatever…she does the dog thing. She stops to smell the roses, and pee on them. Constantly. Again, it has the potential to be utterly unnerving. Yet somehow on most of our walk routes, I’ve adjusted my attitude toward it. We’re not out getting exercise for Amy. Amy is getting time in nature and precious time with Juneau. Juneau is getting exercise and stimulating her mind, body and soul. By adjusting my perception, the constant stops no longer bother me. In fact, I often enjoy them too, in my own way.

Not alway so on hills however. When the incline hits my legs, something clicks in my brain that says GO and do not stop until the top is beneath your feet. Well, that obviously isn’t something Juneau is ready for so we end up in a bit of a tug-o-war, which is ultimately pretty silly.

Don’t get me wrong. This drive keeps me motivated and has served me well over the years. My method “works” but it also has its limitations. I suppose many of our habits fall under this category.

This morning, as I was getting frustrated on a hill while she stopped at EVERY SINGLE FENCEPOST to sniff, I remembered hiking in Bukhansan National Park in S. Korea. What my husband and I thought would be an “easy loop trail nature walk in the trees” was a fucking steep mountain! We did it. We made it to the top. But guess who had to take a ton of breaks and rest and let my heart slow down and catch my breath? Yup, me.

Heading up and at the top of the mountain at Bukhansan National Park, South Korea

Sometimes the mountain is steep. Sometimes we have to take moments to rest, learn, sniff along the way. And that’s ok. Even if it means a little extra motivation is required to get the engine going again. The reward at the top is still there and perhaps its even a little sweeter.

We all have to face challenges in life…climb hills. Even those of us who hide from hills and stay stubbornly on the flat track will eventually be presented with a hill to climb. Such is life.

But what if, instead of being overwhelmed or frustrated or angry or feeling like a failure during the breaks? What if we choose to embrace them? Stop and take a deeper breath. What if while Juneau is peeing on a fence post, I get the pleasure of watching a humming bird dancing around a flower. Or what if we discover a secret fairy corner tucked away under a fern frond? Or take a chance to stretch and realize how much stronger and faster our legs become when we take a second to care for them.

My new affirmation for hills, is learn to enjoy and experience the grind just as much as the view from the top. There is magic in allowing yourself to sit in the moment of hardship and pain and work.

When I apply this to my own work and my current weightloss journey, I realize that many of my recent setbacks have been the result of my reluctance to do the work. It wasn’t going to be FUN, so I avoided it. And guess where I got. Nowhere fast. As I’ve done personal work to heal my pain and stigmas around both marketing work and body image, I’ve noticed each day feels easier. The work is less of a grind even though I’m certainly on a steep hill right now in both those arenas. But I enjoy doing the work more. I feel accomplished at the end of the day and relish in the little micro achievements, like getting my website up (only stalle don that for 5 months!) and being able to do real push ups (no knees). Those are pretty big deals! They aren’t the ultimate goals, but they still deserve to be celebrated.

So as you embark on your next hill and get stopped, for whatever reason. Allow yourself a moment to look around and take it all in, even if it hurts and looks dusty and there is no view. Its a moment that is leading you to your destination. It’s a moment giving you a visual of what growth looks like. Take it in and relish it. You will never be in this moment again.

Much love and namaste,


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