The Steep Stairs of Seven Falls

The two hundred and twenty-four steps introducing the Seven Falls hike at the Broadmoor kicked my butt. But not at first. I tackled this staircase with the energy and confidence of an Olympian, passing a guy in a NY Giants t-shirt with a curt “excuse me” as I ascended up the cliffside. He warned me to pace myself. But I was thrilled to be there, stretching my legs, expanding my lungs, and anticipating the view from the top. I picked up speed. Halfway up, my exuberance caught up with me as did the NY Giants guy. His “excuse me” was much more gracious.

I eventually made it to the top to take in the breathtaking view, but not before it took every breath I had—and multiple stops. The stairs I ascended had placed me parallel to the falls that descended. The rushing water speckled my face with cool drops while the impervious rock face, a burnished copper that brightened in the sunshine, distracted me from the steepness of this crevice—at times. Other times, I was laser-focused on climbing each step, holding onto each breath, and trying to contain each thought of doubt by searching for equally loud remarks of amazement.

This is exactly how I feel about writing a novel. Two years of tinkering, six years of serious writing—drafting and re-drafting and re-drafting. And I’m not finished. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. One professor predicted I’d need ten years to complete. I scoffed. Another professor warned of the complexity of the topic, another lamented about the overall publishing process. They may have all been wearing NY Giants shirts for all I can remember. Yes, I had my cheerleaders, those who have believed in the project from the beginning. I believe both types of people are important in this kind of endeavor.

Unlike my hike, this process has not been motivated by only the prize at the end—the view. My motivation has been the belief in the story. I have enjoyed the journey. I have stopped to take a breath. I have asked for guidance from so many people along the way. And I have learned about myself. Hard things, important things. There has been constant trepidation, the drumbeat of doubt that is inherent with this kind of venture. As someone who values efficiency and maximizing effort, acknowledging the possibility of a fruitless hike was difficult. But then, I’ve never truly known a fruitless hike. There is always something to be gained from putting one foot in front of the other in pursuit of a goal.

Yet, the journey has been amazing. The friends I’ve met along the way, the information I’ve collected, the places I’ve traveled, the understanding I’ve gleaned have all been immeasurable. Because of the subject matter of this novel, this journey prepared me for the difficult conversations of our time about race, privilege, the pain of our history. I could not have arrived at the depth of understanding without this journey. And it continues. I’ve committed myself to engage in this topic with humility and curiosity and endurance, knowing that the NY Giants guy could pass again at any moment.


  1. One of your best written pieces yet !! I can so see you climbing these stairs with all your excitement for life ?.Always know that I am one of your cheerleaders waiting impatiently for you to take that deep breath at the end of your climb and be able to enjoy your accomplishment ❤️

  2. You have a wonderful gift. I’m so glad to be on your journey….at least you’ve made me feel like I am. Hugs, Elaine

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