By Cathy Leestma

Being raised in Florida where we had access to fabulous white, sandy beaches and not a hill or mountain in sight causes me to pause and try to explain my fascination with mountains. And in particular why I climb mountains because truly, if you know me, you know that I am a mediocre but very enthusiastic sports woman. It would make more sense for me to walk on a level path. I don’t have the blessing of great balance so bicycling and horseback riding are not good ideas. And even when I walk uphill, it’s much safer for me to be on pavement as opposed to a ledge or stony path. Timber!3_dreamstimesmall_4890008

Nevertheless, going up and over mountains on foot is part of my almost daily exercise. When I reach the summit I pump my little fist in the air and yell “FREEDOM!” I am a brave heart indeed.

There are little games I play along the way to make the uphill parts of the climb bearable. My newest game is played so that I don’t stop and rest until I reach the summit. I call it “watch my feet”. Climbing a fairly steep mountain after a few steps you sense your slowing way down, and looking ahead you think “there is no way on God’s green earth that I am going to make it up this mountain.” And so convinced, you make excuses not to continue. But with the “watch my feet” game, I don’t look up, I just keep looking at my feet and it works. My mind is off the incline.

Climbing hills and mountains are a great way to clear your mind. I strongly encourage climbing as a way to encourage creativity, solve problems, give yourself a fresh vision and maybe the most important, give yourself a break from the computer, which I am going to do right now.

The mountain is calling! Happy 2016!