Sleep, Creep and Leap…

Once I got the outside of my house looking kinda Tuscan Villa-esque, I realized that the walls needed some sort of wall-climbing plant to complete the old-world, authentic feel I sought.

Neighbor Deb suggested ivy.

“But don’t expect it to shoot up overnight,” she warned. “It will take a year to sleep, another year to creep, and then the next year it will leap.”

She spoke the truth. The ivy sat in the ground the first year with as much animation as a just-injected botox recipient.

Year two looked suspiciously like year one. Only browner.

But alas, Deb may have been right. Because this Spring, I’m seeing some signs of actual life, signs that this ivy may soon start to take off.

The ivy parallels nearly every positive change we try to make in our lives. Take health and wellness as an example. You decide that you are going to make some healthy changes. So you put down the smokes, pour the booze down the drain, take your favorite pizza delivery place off your phone’s speed-dial, and cancel your subscription to the Smoked-Sausage-of-the-Week Club.

As soon as you cut stuff out of your life, you feel like crap. I mean, you feel like you’ve just completed a marathon. You’ve hit the wall even though the last curls of smoke have yet to leave your house, much less the effects having left your lungs.

So to make your misery complete, you start to replace some bad habits with good ones. So you hit the gym. You eat vegetables. You walk or ride your bike instead of driving your car in nice weather. You count calories. You join support groups for quitters-of-the-bad and beginners-of-the-good.

And for all of your troubles, your blood pressure stays elevated. Your waist maintains the girth of a Redwood tree. Now that you’ve quit smoking, your sense of smell has returned. Great. The world around you smells like an unflushed toilet. Your taste buds are renewed, too, so you can savor the flavor of every carrot stick, each stalk of celery, every gagacious bite of cabbage.

For all of your efforts, you see few dividends. The changes you put in place do little…at first. But (and thank goodness there’s a but) while feeling great won’t take off immediately and pronouncedly like a rocket into the sky, it will begin to inch up. Slowly, your choice to make healthy changes in your life will creep into some positive results. And when you stick to your discipline and your healthy commitments long enough, you will feel leaps better over time.

You’ve started planting seeds of goodness in your life. Kudos! I’d encourage you with the following thoughts:

  • Don’t be weary in doing well. I think St. Paul said that (from the Bible, not the Beatles);
  • Remember why you chose to plant those good things in your life to begin with. What were your values on that matter? Stick with your values and not how you feel. When you want to jump off your good path and back on to a bad one, feelings will help you make the wrong choice every time. Values will help you stick it out;
  • Find someone who models success in the areas in which you wish to improve. Don’t be stubborn and try to do it alone. Find an expert, and be willing to follow his/her successes instead of plotting your own potential hit-or-miss strategy; and
  • Reward yourself. If you set a goal when you began, you probably didn’t think in terms of a lifetime achievement award as much as being successful for the next hour, day, week, etc. How can you reward yourself for your new choices and your new discipline?

Happy leaping! But don’t expect to circumvent the sleeping and creeping stage first.


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