The “Thank You Stair Climb” Challenge


This past weekend I was standing in the outer hallway of my church’s community building. It is a lovely hallway—one side bordered by ceiling to floor windows. I was admiring the courtyard below.

As I stood there, I could hear someone coming up the stairwell behind me. At first, I did not pay too much attention but the closer she got to the top, I could hear her saying slowly and deliberately “Thank you…. Thank you…. Thank you…..”. The rhythm and cadence of her words were such that I felt she was saying “thank you” each time she placed her foot on a step.

But it was the tone of the words that caught my interest. The words were spoken in a deliberate manner….. slowly….. and were truly filled with quiet gratitude. Finally, the “Thank You” stair climber appeared.  We chatted for a few minutes and then went to our Sunday School class.

But as the day and then week progressed… I could not get her “thank yous” out of my thoughts. You see, there was a quiet intensity to them that has not let go of my heart.

And the question, of course, what were they about?

I know she is married to a good man….. were her “thank yous” about that?

I know she recently was diagnosed with cancer….but she has a good prognosis. Was she thanking God for any of this?

Or, was she merely being grateful for a beautiful day?

I do not know.

But I know this….. I could not shake the deliberateness and tone of her voice… with each step…. she was holding something/someone in her heart or mind…. and she was offering thanks…. slowly, thoughtfully, and with intention.

So, this week… I started thinking….. what if I created a personal “thank you” routine….. when I walked up the stairs…. at my house, at work, at church…. I too would say thank you each time I put my foot on the next step. I would visualize something/someone—and express my gratitude out loud.

I have friends who participate in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs where they are paying tribute to a FDNY firefighter by climbing or walking the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center.  That kind of Stair Climb seems impossible to me.

So, I thought—OK—let’s do something different. I am going to create my own personal Stair Climb aka the “Thank You Stair Climb”—how hard could that be? After all, she made it look easy. And I also decided I would not try to do this every time I went up the stairs—but I could (probably) commit to 2 or 3 times a day.

Well, I immediately ran into an issue—on my first attempt.  

Apparently, I like to go up the stairs quickly—at the speed of light. I had to slow myself down—a lot—to get the words “Thank you” out of my lips before I took the next step.

It has been harder than I thought it would be….. this deliberately slowing  myself down to express gratitude. Even trying to do it just 2 or 3 times a day—it seems to take FOREVER to go up my stairs at home. Slowing myself down has been painful if not impossible.

I will not lie—I am struggling with this challenge. Sometimes I am ½ way up the stairs and I have to fight the urge to yell quickly “Thank you Thank you Thank you” and run up the rest of the steps.

I am having to learn to not travel through life at the speed of light but instead to travel at the speed of slowness and to make time to be thankful.

And I have much to be thankful for.

They say practice makes perfect—and it takes a while to train for a marathon or any kind of physical challenge—so I am in training now—each day—as I practice the “Thank You Stair Climb” Challenge. My current goal is to do this once a day—being truly deliberate about expressing my gratitude as I take each step—a simple goal but still challenging.

And, as I practice, I cannot shake from my mind the memories of the intensity—the strength—her words of gratitude conveyed as she said them out loud ….. step by step.

I want that kind of strength.

What about you, dear reader? It is this a challenge worthy of your time?

It is both simple and complex—

And you begin training for it  – one step at a time.



8 thoughts on “The “Thank You Stair Climb” Challenge

  1. This is a noble challenge, Janet. Right now I would do well as I still have to take steps carefully while I heal. I can walk down fine but still can’t pull body weight up with the new hip. I could recite the Lord’s Prayer on each step I’m so slow!

    • It does take a while for the quadriceps to recover. My surgery was in January and whereas I truly feel as if I am at full strength now, when I do step up exercises at the gym onto a platform…i do great with my right (non-surgery) leg but my left leg still wears out. I think it just takes a while..or it may always be a bit weaker–but it does not slow me down too much now! It will get better I can promise you that!

      • What in the world am I going to do when I can’t get anymore sympathy for this??! True confessions: my doctor gave me a form for a six-month handicap parking placard. I don’t use it often but when there is absolutely no reasonable parking I will park in handicap spaces until in expires. Suddenly my leg becomes very weak and I have to “limp” into the store. Do you think I am destined to go to hell for this malfeasance?

      • Hmmmm — Jesus did not seem to cover this topic…… but then again there were probably not handicap parking spaces for donkeys then….. and as you only have this luxury for a limited 6 months… I think you are safe…. As long as your limping includes dragging your leg a bit and moaning. (and really… he gave you a handicap parking sticker form???? They seem to be much looser with “handicap requirements” in your part of the country. I think my doctor would have laughed at me!!)

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