More than a staircase.

After a year of work with my personal trainer, I was asked how exercise and training has improved my life. I searched for words to describe such expansive impact.

There are obvious answers. I love that I can dress for an event at a moment’s notice rather than choosing from whatever fits. And sure, nothing beats moving through your day with muscles and tendons working as intended, lightening efforts. But it’s bigger than that.

I’m no longer held back by the condition of my body. From anything. Last year I looked around at things I wanted to do, knowing my body wouldn’t take me there without a heavy lift, if at all. Now I have a daily reminder that we’ve moved past that. It’s my staircase.

A project once indefinitely back-burnered, I had dreamed of taking my 90’s stained oak handrails, spindles and newel posts to a classic black and white. Hand-washing and sanding 28 feet of handrails, posts and spindles would precede coats of primer and paint or stain, applied from various odd body positions.

Even at my best, it would take days or weeks, including drying and curing time, squished into my life and work schedule. Any mistake in color or sheen could double the effort. Worse, if I really messed up, I’d have to call in a professional to fix my mess, resulting in irreparable damage to my pride.

Then one morning in February, I woke and realized I felt fine. I felt so fine that I was willing to take a risk on a finish that might not work. After days of hard prep resulted in waking up feeling no different – no pain, no exhaustion – I got to painting.

I chose to paint the under-rail around the spindles lying on my back. I used a small craft brush for hours to avoid taping every spindle. At one point I glanced at the tile floor below and had a flashback to Charlton Heston channeling Michelangelo, on his back atop the scaffolding to paint the Cistine Chapel. Unlike Michelangelo, I didn’t have to be concerned about what the hand of God looked like, but you’d think I did given my intensity.

Now, if I consider skipping the gym, the staircase – completed just as I had envisioned – reminds me of why I need to go. It’s not about what I look like today. It’s about what I’ll be able to do tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “More than a staircase.

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