Paper Mountains

“Choose your mountains carefully. Don’t choose mountains that are made out of paper.”

Artist: Unknown

It’s funny how often I get inspired ideas when I’m in a virtual spin class or in the shower. Places where I normally don’t carry pen and paper with me. During one of my most recent spin class rides the instructor said something that not only inspired me, but also got me thinking… “Choose your mountains carefully. Don’t choose mountains that are made out of paper.”

Paper mountains, now that was an interesting concept.

(Paper mountains are mountains that no matter how hard we try to climb them, we can’t ever reach the top. There’s nothing solid enough to gain proper footing so instead we just waste our time and energy.)

While I was pedaling my bike I began to think of all the mountains I was climbing. How many of them were made of paper?

I don’t know if it was the mountain inventory or the instructor’s cues but I found myself pedaling faster. With each pedal stroke and thought about my own mountains my heart rate began to rise and sweat started to congregate on my forehead…then came the sudden realization…

I’d been climbing one mountain repeatedly over the last few months. And dammit, it was made of paper. Not pretty card-stock paper, but tattered, flimsy paper made up of anger, sadness, and negativity.

What was causing all the anger, sadness, and negativity wasn’t important. Thankfully I recognized that highlighting the “whys” would only keep me on that mountain, expending precious energy.

I had already done enough of that.

Instead I wanted to choose a new mountain. A mountain of substance; one that was worthy of my time and energy.


With each pedal stroke instead of focusing on the mountain of my choosing, I found myself saying out loud, “I refuse. I refuse. I refuse. “

Thank goodness for virtual spin classes, because if anyone had been privy to my outburst of refusals and what followed they would have thought I’d lost it. What came next were statements made not only out loud, but with absolute resolve and determination.

“I refuse to allow anyone to take away my joy with their criticisms, with their negativity, with their bitterness, with their close-mindedness, with their masked bigotry, with their own self-hatred.”

“This is my mountain called Joy and I refuse to allow anyone who wishes to be in a place of doom & gloom to share it with me. They can climb their own mountain and I will respect that, remembering that I cannot change them or their thinking. I can only change me.”

And as I kept pedaling the following terms and conditions for my mountain became clear…

  • I will say “yes” to me by making myself more of priority, which is not to be confused with selfishness. It means that if I truly do not wish to do something because I know it will mess with my joy… I will be willing to say “no”.
  • I will model joy in the conscious things I say and do. Understanding that it’s OK to have negative thoughts. But instead of giving them voice, as Joel Osteen says in his book the “The Power of I Am”, I will let them “die still born”.
  • I will honor my body and listen to it. If I’m tired and need a rest, I will rest.
  • I will steer clear of gossip.
  • I will watch my own self-talk to make sure that what I’m saying to myself is kind.
  • I will continue to do my gratitude exercises every day.
  • And rather than judge someone’s behaviors I will send them love and light, remembering that we all have bad days.

As the class came to an end so did my journey up my paper mountain. I’m now ready to begin my climb up my new mountain. My mountain called Joy.


My friends, I close with two questions for you…

What is the mountain you choose to climb?

What are your terms and conditions for climbing that mountain?

Until next time, here’s to leaving those paper mountains behind.

Much love to you all…

Originally published at

Originally published at

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