Growing new edges

mules 3“If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your consciousness.”

Les Brown

(Part 1 of a 2-part blog series about moving beyond our comfort zones.)

I knew the Grand Canyon, a spectacular wonder of nature with expansive and diverse views, would be one of the greatest places to shift my consciousness and imagine infinite possibilities for life.

Little did I know that the big “stretch” I would embrace involved moving through a great fear of heights that I was not fully aware I had before this recent trip. I have taken chair lifts into high mountains to ski and hiked many other trails here in Scottsdale, Arizona, without any angst about height.

This fear caught me off-guard. Looking at the magnificent views from the top of the Canyon standing by a guardrail felt somewhat safe.

Hiking down into the Canyon on “the Bright Angel Trail” was a totally different experience. I am still unsure how that trail name fit this experience, except to say I made it out alive!

As my companion and I declined, a pack of mules carrying supplies (pictured above, left) was climbing up on the twisted path, with barely enough room on either side of them to maneuver the switchback. I later read that these mules (which are a cross between a horse and a donkey) are sure-footed and steady. They definitely looked calm, like they had a much better grip on the trail than I was feeling I had.

Looking at the 5,000-foot drop to my left, while continuing to meander down the narrow and curvy trails with walking room for barely two people, terrorized me for a few moments longer. There were no side rails or any buffers that would prevent someone from falling over.

In fact, once we reached the first rest area one-and-a-half miles down, we learned that 250 people are rescued each year. According to the informative sign, which showed a picture of a young, fit, man: “Many of those rescued are smart people like this.” I am not sure that warning provided any needed advice to be careful, because at this point, I was already about as cautious as I could get.

Miraculously, I pushed through my fear and took in many splendid views. As we climbed up (and going up takes twice as long as going down, something I was glad my companion warned me about), I felt enormous relief. I literally had walked through great fear and felt triumphant.


Grand Canyon blog

The narrow curves ahead on the return trip were less scary, and I even found myself picking up my pace.

Reaching the top was both a relief and a celebration of not turning back when I got scared. Instead, I applauded myself for staying with my fear, taking several deep breaths, and choosing to focus on the experience around me. I also expanded the view of myself, learning I have more courage than I once thought.

Each day most of us are presented with situations that can take us out of our comfort zones. We always have a choice of how to respond.

Is there any fear you are being called to challenge to broaden your life in some way?

If so, I would love to hear how you walk through it.

Next week, in part 2 of this blog series, I will share insights on embracing the discomfort of the unknown when our plans change.


With courage,  Gail courage









  1. I allow myself to ground within and breathe as I move through fear.
  2. I allow myself to embrace growth by extending beyond my comfort zone.
  3. I allow myself to celebrate my courage for taking a risk. 


Share this post

  • Ann marie says:

    You are brave and courageous especially to make the move to Arizona
    That certainly was a mountain to climb and descend!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Sometimes we’re “called” to expand our lives in ways we hadn’t planned, and we find the courage to accept the ways we are being redirected in life. Part of being “brave” is surrender, to allow in new possibilities that are delivered by grace versus our own will. The move to Arizona continues to provide me with a new set of eyes in which to view the world.

  • Gladys says:

    Congratulation on taking that tour ride. I was at the Grand Cayon, about 20 years ago, and could not find the courage to go!….

    It is O. K. that I did not go…………………..I still love myself…..

    Be Well
    Be Happy
    Be of Strong Courage



    P. S. I am Angela Dushane’s friend and took a course with you in Danvers about 5 years ago…………..

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Gladys: Of course I remember you from my seminar–and years later when you were so kind to me after my health scare. And yes, you are right to honor what feels right for you and choosing which fears are worth pushing through and which are not. I did not ride the mules either. I was on foot and did not realize until I was a bit of a ways down how scary this hike was for me as the curves seemed to get narrower. The choice to continue on came after I took deep breaths and centered within, instead of reacting from a moment of panic. I looked at the trail ahead and it did not seem as twisted. I did not make that same choice a few months ago when I was hiking in Sedona and got dizzy from my new prescription sunglasses. I stopped and never regretted that choice! Great to hear from you. Love, Gail

  • >