We conquer

Marmolada is the highest mountain of the Dolomites, Italy. Photo by Marco Bonomo via Wikimedia Commons.

Marmolada is the highest mountain of the Dolomites, Italy.
Photo by Marco Bonomo via Unsplash.com.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” — Edmund Hillary

Hillary makes an excellent point. The mountain can’t be conquered by any person. But its magnificent, inevitable presence can be a venue for the building of skill, courage and resilience. It’s not surprising that mountains have become a favorite metaphor for the challenges of daily living.

Perhaps you face a year of daunting challenge in 2017, as I do. Or maybe your year promises to be typical, but holds an as-yet unrevealed crisis or obstacle that will take you by surprise. Either way, I hope we will remember the mountain and work with the reality of whatever lies in our paths. We can survive, and maybe even thrive. I really believe that.


  1. MaryAnn Clontz

    Such a message of HOPE & encouragement, as is the way of my friend: Julia!
    Years ago, there was a visiting preacher who described 7 mountains we encounter in life. Ones to climb, ones to circumvent, ones where we are to wait. I do not remember the rest, but I remember the impact to recognize that not all mountains are to climb. He, also , emphasized God does not ask us to deal with our mountains alone. He will always help & hears our cries for help!
    Terri, Chris & I had lunch last week at Terri’s home. One topic was how much we admire & appreciate you. Terri looked up your blog of that day & we were very emotional listening to the poems you glean for us. Please keep “feeding” us with joy, love, sadness, peace, tears, & real life as we are living for Jesus! You are appreciated!
    I love you!

    • Mary Ann, thanks so much for your words of encouragement. I always am very glad to hear if anyone finds my writing useful. I like the idea of the different kinds of mountains. Was one of them “appreciate?” Some mountains are beautiful even when they present challenges. I know you can guess whom I’m thinking of! 😀 Love you. Thanks for being here.

  2. Linda Blackford

    You have an amazing amount of strength, Julia! You probably don’t feel that way, but I’ve been through similar heartache in my life and I know what it takes to keep moving through it. We all grieve in our own ways, but one thing we all deserve from ourselves is gentleness and patience through whatever we have to endure. Defeat Despair continues to be a source of strength to all of the friends who read it, and having done some writing myself, I also know it helps the writer work through things and gain strength as well. I’m sure I’m not the only one who looks forward to each message from you, not only because it helps us, but also because we are encouraged knowing you are fighting the good fight, and continuing to move forward. With love and prayers!

    • Linda, thanks so much for your understanding and support. It helps tremendously to know others have been there and somehow survived. Yes, writing has always been therapeutic for me; a source of comfort, healing and adjustment, if not complete acceptance. I am truly thankful that you and others are kind enough to tell me my words have helped others in some way. I so appreciate the love, prayers and warm thoughts I find here among those of you who have become part of my life through this blog. Thanks for being here!

    • Sheila

      💛 I agree. Beautifully written compliment and so heartfelt from many! 💛

  3. Ann

    Here’s a poem of hope you might like –

    Sometimes – Sheenagh Pugh

    Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
    from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
    faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
    sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

    A people sometimes will step back from war;
    elect an honest man, decide they care
    enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
    Some men become what they were born for.

    Sometimes our best efforts do not go
    amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
    The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
    that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

    • Ann, this is WONDERFUL! It’s a definite keeper. I had not read this poem nor even heard of the poet. Thanks so much for sending it to bless me and all the others who will read it. Thank God for all the things that do go well. We tend not to notice many such things, but no matter how mired in self-pity or sorrow we might become, spring rolls around, the flowers bloom, animals delight us, people rise and go about their tasks, and children come up with zingers that keep us laughing. I’m awaiting signs that the frozen field will melt. Thanks for encouraging me as I wait.

    • Ann, what a gorgeous poem. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ann, thank you for sharing that poem. Sometimes I forget that those things are all true. Wow!

  4. Julia, I believe it’s our resilience that carries us through. The more challenging life is, the more prepared we are for what comes next. But while our strength and resilience keep us moving forward, we have to step off the path and let our feelings of sadness, loss, frustration and loneliness find there place, too. I know you will survive and I know too that you’ll thrive. Grief is exhausting business. Arms around you.

    • Thank you, Alys, for all the ways you are helping me through this time. I feel as if I am cutting myself gargantuan amounts of slack right now, and to be honest, I sometimes wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. As you say, it’s exhausting business, and as Linda B. said in her comment, we do need to take it easy on ourselves at such times. One thing I keep asking myself when I feel as if I’m letting go of too many responsibilities: when will I ever need this respite more? I am so grateful for your kindness and help.

      • Julia, exactly! You have to take care of yourself, and letting go of things is a great step on that journey. I’m often amazed at how much work we can create for ourselves. It happens gradually over time, but then an illness, injury or death brings it all into sharp focus. I’m glad you are still blogging, Julia. I think it’s a wonderful way for you to express yourself while staying connected to the world. I hope it brings you a level of pleasure.

        Hugs, dear Julia.

        • Thank you, Alys. Blogging is a solace, but as with so many other joys, I have so little time for it lately because there are so many things Jeff was doing that I now have to do. This is why I’m working so hard to jettison the cargo — both things and activities — curtailing some and totally eliminating others. It’s true that very little is absolutely necessary, so that helps. Work of any kind will definitely expand to fill every inch we give it. Thanks for the hugs– they are appreciated and returned!

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        So filled with peace & joy as I read: “cutting myself gargantuan amounts of slack” and that you recognize the need of this respite! Love & prayers!

        • Thanks Mary Ann. I hope I don’t regret it later as I’m digging out from beneath everything that is quickly piling up!

    • MaryAnn Clontz

      Alys Wonderfully helpful words of encouragement!

      • Thank you, Mary Ann. So nice of you to leave a kind comment.

  5. May your new year bring small comforts and large ones, and you find solace and joy amid the strife. God be with you and yours, Julia.

  6. Amy

    Even though I grew up very near the mountains I always appreciate them the most from the lower elevations. What wonders God has wrought but maybe not for all of to trek about in. 🙂 I hope your challenges are met each day with a faith and hope. I love you.

    • Amy, I agree that mountains– as with so many other blessings– are best appreciated from a distance, when one can get a glimpse of the total picture and see just how remarkable they are. Kind of like a lot of people I know. 🙂 ❤

  7. I hope that you are able to find the strength to navigate your mountains in the coming months and find a way to thrive. I’m sure that the past two weeks have been a particular challenge. Much love ❤ ❤ ❤

    • Thank you– and yes, they were a particular challenge, but also not without peculiar graces. I am grateful you are here with me during this very precarious transition. Thanks and love to you and all who are supporting me here!

  8. Harry Sims

    “We can survive, and even thrive.”

    I took the “maybe” out!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂


    • I like it! 😀

      • Harry Sims

        The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep.
        Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, “Kemo Sabe, look towards sky, what you see?”
        The Lone Ranger replies, “I see millions of stars.”
        “What that tell you?” asked Tonto.
        The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, “Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, the Lord is all powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What’s it tell YOU, Tonto?”

        “You dumber than buffalo. Someone stole tent.”

        It’s a good to have a good day.

        • In terms of conversational style and observations, Lone Ranger = me and Tonto = Jeff. I’m thankful for the practical types among us! BTW having years ago seen an actual buffalo in close proximity, I do have to say that they don’t appear to be the sharpest tacks in the animal tool kit.

  9. Have you heard that saying, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” ? I truly believe it Julia. Know one can know your pain, only our own will be a familiar reminder of what you’re going through. I also think each new sunrise is an acheivement to be proud of, a day forward.

    I just read an interesting article that made so much sense to me. It spoke about ‘time’ and why when we’re scared and feel threatened, time seems to go so much slower. That, in itself, makes grief so all enveloping somedays. Like it’s swallowing us up. But infact, real time doesn’t change, it’s only our perception of it.

    It could be my way of avoiding and suppressing, but when I keep busy and include happy things in my day, they fly by and I feel brighter. Maybe, deep down inside, there’s a whole lot of stuff I need to iron out? Maybe so, but I sure have a lot of good days in between.

    You might enjoy the article too, while not an Rx for grief, I thought it interesting and perhaps even practical


    Thinking of you with love,xo K

    • K, what an interesting article! I long ago noticed that the first time I went anywhere (especially if I was navigating or driving) it seemed to take much longer than on subsequent trips, or even on the way back from the first trip. Now we have an explanation for that. As for time, I have always felt that it was an invention, and a relative one at that. Daddy believed that and he instilled that in us, I think. Thanks for sharing this article. I wonder if this means that our DC day did not last 48 hours as it seemed to at the time, hee-hee…wandering around Ft. Myer in the rainy dark was easily 8 hours or so! 😀

  10. Sheila

    Julia, you are conquering your mountain of grief as it gradually becomes “sweet sorrow”! A friend lost her husband, attending a football game in Atlanta where he had a stroke and never regained consciousness. This was in October and her grief was unlike anything I’d ever known. We would talk, she would cry, and this went on for weeks. Then after Thanksgiving we were together and she was so different. She told me how “the change” had come about. She was going through some things and there stuck in a Bible was her husband’s birth certificate that she’d never seen. The thought of him as a tiny baby made her smile, then laugh. It had happened and she knew she was on her way to being happy again. Different but happy! I’ve thought of you so often when I recall this little story! 💛

    • Thank you, Sheila. That’s a sweet and encouraging story. I still feel mostly sad (and deprived and cheated and so on) when I see photos of Jeff, even baby ones, but perhaps over time that will get better. And of course, it’s not as if I would part with the photos or the memories. For me, it’s a roller coaster, with the high points being “OK, I guess I will survive somehow” and the low points being “I cannot stand this for one second longer.” Maybe with time, the overall trajectory will be a bit elevated. For now, I’m just hanging on and enduring. Thanks for being here with me!

  11. Good morning, Julia! The main difference that I see in conquering the mountain and conquering our internal challenges is that conquering the mountain is inherently evident. We see it happen, others see it happen, we even stop and take pictures! (Well, not everyone takes pictures.) Also, we can anticipate the challenges that are known to be typical in climbing a mountain.
    No so, ourselves. Challenges can be subtle and completely unexpected. Only God knows (and sometimes we know) when we’ve reached some measure of success.
    We could even “take a selfie,” and few people would ever know if we were faking it.
    Sometimes, I’d almost rather climb a mountain!
    On the bright side, we can’t live on that mountain peak (so I’ve heard). Yet any personal victories remain ours, and remain with us.
    What an interesting comparison! I will definitely contemplate this, further.
    Love to you, on your mountains or in your valleys!

    • Thank you, Susan. I’d much rather appreciate the mountain from a distance, literally or metaphorically. Mountain climbing, as a sport or activity, is something that’s never held any appeal for me. Unlike going undersea or even to Mars, there seems little point to it. My bewilderment at why people undertake such activity has not been ameliorated by all the bad press mountain climbing has been getting lately. However, many people throughout history have been forced to climb mountains not by choice, but simply because they were in the way, and some died in the attempt (e.g. see: pioneers; Donner Party) which would be especially tragic, since they could not even claim to have died while doing what they loved. But even for those of us who are terrified at traveling narrow mountain roads in places such as Pike’s Peak, there’s no denying that the view is breathtaking, and (almost) worth it even for the less adventurous among us. 😀

  12. Amen and thanks, Julia. No better phrase to remember when at every turn the unexpected may lie.

    • Thank you Alan. We are getting a little taste of snow here, which always brings New England to mind. Even though it’s winter, I never quite expect it around here. 🙂

  13. blseibel

    I have been away far too long wrapped up in “stuff” but have thought of you often. I am sorry for your loss. You are a testament to resilience that leaves me in awe.

    I’ve let myself fall into despair recently and coming back here is what it needed. I have much to be thankful for and just need to give up the pity party and motivate myself out of this pit of apathy.

    • I’m so sorry to hear you have been facing an uphill battle too. I know how paralyzing despair can be. It becomes a vicious cycle, really. I appreciate your kind words, and if anything here or elsewhere on the web is helpful, I hope you will give yourself some time to read inspiring thoughts and “think on these things.” One thing I love about this and other positive blogs, is that so many people one meets at such places online are champions at making lemonade. I hope you can find many happy people to hang with, to help you keep looking up. I’ll pray for you to be granted lots of grace to shine the light into the darkness. Thanks for being here with us.

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