One year ago today I set out upon a journey; a journey that I did not know how it was going to end. As I stood there, looking up at this mountain, this almost impossible task that lay before, only one thing was on my mind: my family. I stood here several times and several times I had started up the mountain only to fall back down time and time again. I had fallen so many times I did not know if I would have the strength to try just one more time. However, with unsteady steps I stumbled through my first week.
At first it was not as hard as it had been before. 30 days passed. No sweat. 60 days. Easy. Then right about 90 days in I hit steepest slope I could have ever imagined. My safety nets were gone. The ropes had run their course. I knew that at that moment as I hung helpless from that cliff, it really was a life or death situation. One slip and I would literally fall back into where I was before and I would probably have never gotten back. So with a heavy breathe, I kept reaching for those higher hand holds.
I grinned and bared it for several months. Scrapping my knuckles on each new step, sometimes even bleeding as I clung to the wall with all my might. I would look down to see where I had been and then up to see where I still needed to go. However, at all times I kept reaching up.
Soon the climb started to get easier again. Gone were the days of doubt and worry. Confidence and optimism found there way back into my vocabulary. Even when the storm clouds rolled in and the wind began to blow, as if it was intentionally trying to knock me off my mountain; I would just squint my eyes, grit my teeth and keep moving higher and higher.
As I stand here, I have found other things to occupy my mind. Occasionally, the thought of cigarette will pop back into my head, but it is quickly gone. It only serves as a reminder that my journey is far from over. The danger is still real and I must remain vigilant in my quit. But for now, I will stand here and enjoy the view, breath that fresh air, and take a moment to remember. I would also like to thank my family for their patience; my girls for my inspiration, my wife for her undying love and for so many of the Exers who blazed the path before me, lending my your guidance and encouragement. Finally, I must thank God because through Him all things are possible.