Last week I asked what you like most about spring. The thing that I enjoy the most about spring is watching the plants and flowers emerge. I can’t get a decent lawn to grow in my yard so I’ve resorted to lots of flower and vegetable beds instead. Sometimes I forget what I’ve planted in various places so every spring I walk around my yard giddy with the excitement of greeting long lost friends. I think what I really like best about spring is that it’s a time of new beginnings and possibility. Somehow in the spring I feel like there’s still plenty of time to get everything done that I want to do this year, that I can accomplish anything. No more dark dreary winter days cooped up in the office, now I can exercise more, experience the sun on my skin, and play in the dirt!
White peonies are one of my favorite flowers and I received several plants from my grandmother’s garden shortly before she passed away. Last spring the plants came up and they were beautiful and full – but there wasn’t one single flower on those bushes. Now, I know from experience that it can take a couple of years for a plant to bloom after they’ve been planted so I wasn’t terribly concerned. But this year, as I watch the little shoots pushing out of the dirt again I became curious WHY the flowers take so long to grace my garden. Flowers require a large amount of energy from a plant and new plants will often conserve that energy in order to develop a strong root system during the first year or so of growth.
But it’s not just in my garden that I find myself a little impatient for the beauty of obvious growth. I anxiously tap my foot looking for the flowers, the results, all too often and in all areas of my life.
I know that I’m doing the work. There are green leaves everywhere. But I have to wait for the beautiful blossoms of success. And waiting can seem unbearable sometimes.
I start wondering. Did I plant a dud (is this the wrong diet)? Is my ground fertile enough (do I need more supplements)? Is there enough sun – or shade (should I exercise more or do I need more sleep)? Did I forget to water my plant enough (how many glasses did I drink today)? Those questions are important because sometimes the conditions aren’t optimal for growth. Maybe you need to tweak your diet a little bit, maybe you need to get more sleep, or drink some water, maybe you need to stop eating after the kids go to bed. Maybe you need to push yourself a little more when you do a Minute Movement. Whatever it is, if there is something that you know you need then choose to take action now. You don’t have to wait until January to make adjustments to your life.
What if you really are doing everything right?
Then that’s when you have to be careful not to lose heart. Don’t dig up your plant and throw it in the compost heap. It’s those times while the plant (or the program) is working – while we are working – to create something beautiful that we have to have patience and faith that the changes will come and that they will be amazing.
Make your minutes matter!
“What is the worst thing about yourself that you like?”
How often do you know that there is something that you need to change about yourself and don’t realize that maybe you’re struggling to make that change because, on some deeper level, you really enjoy that behavior?
What if you have a habit of sneaking a candy bar on the way home from the grocery store? You know it’s a really bad idea – especially if you have to grocery shop every couple of days! But, if you secretly really like the experience, you aren’t likely to make a change.
You can simultaneously want to change – and enjoy just about any behavior (or addiction).
Exercise (or lack of exercise)
We went on college visits over spring break and I came back chock-full of crazy stories of people we met during our travels. I really try to avoid talking bad about people (especially people that I know) because I believe that gossip is inherently wrong. I decided years ago that positivity was far more in line with who I want to be and that I would especially not allow that side of myself to further contaminate the virtual world.
But when I found myself chatting about our spring break trip with a neighbor yesterday afternoon my snarky side snuck through my defenses. Truth is that I kind of like that ugly part of me. When I let ‘her’ loose people tend to laugh and have fun (and my ‘normal’ personality is remarkably more mundane than ‘Snarky Tina’). It was FUN to share the stories of strange families and college tour guides with abysmal grammar who were planning on using the university’s resource center when they were ‘like forty’ and still didn’t know how to manage their finances.
The truth is I like that side of myself a little bit even though I know that’s not the person I want to be. Even worse? Gossip probably isn’t the worst of my negative traits.
I’m trying so hard to tackle those difficult areas this year and that requires me to be honest with myself.
So what bad traits do YOU love to hate?
Spring is in the air which makes me incredibly excited for so many reasons, not the least of which is that I LOVE
playing in the dirt gardening. I could spend an entire weekend weeding and planting and digging – it might be my very favorite thing. And even though my body gets sore from all of that work, I always feel great when I’m working outside (and I’m usually reluctant to come back inside)!
I always thought that it was the sun and fresh air that made me feel amazing but apparently there are microbes in the soil that ‘stimulate serotonin production making me relaxed and happier’. According to this article ‘Gardeners inhale the bacteria, have topical contact with it and get it into their bloodstreams when there is a cut or other pathway for infection’, which is great news for me because when I finish working in my garden I am COVERED in those healthy microbes!
kind of like that!
Maybe it’s time for a new flower bed around here…
I hope the weather is nice enough this weekend for you to get out and play in the dirt. I can’t wait to hear what you plant!
You may have seen this article in the past couple of weeks called ‘Can Family Secrets Make You Sick?’, it seems to be making the rounds on social media. When I first met our behavior specialist, Ken Howard, we touched on this subject. Ken told me that sometimes, when I person is very overweight and is making progress toward his or her weight loss goals, they will hit a point at which they stop progressing and start gaining the weight back quickly. These people tend to have experienced abuse in their past and are often subconsciously using their excess weight as a shield to protect them from additional painful or frightening circumstances.
Whoever said that children are resilient got it wrong. Kids will learn to hide their pain but it doesn’t really go away until it’s addressed and can surface later in life through illness, addiction, and unhealthy relationship patterns.
If you’re feeling stuck in any area of your life, consider finding a good therapist or a support group to help you make your minutes matter.
Several times in my life I’ve decided that I was doing everything wrong and tried to overhaul my entire life in order to ‘get my life together’. I would create an exhaustive list of what the ‘Ideal Christina’ looks like and from that list, I would make a list of all of the changes that I would be making in my life – starting NOW. What ended up happening was that I was completely overwhelmed within days and by the end of the month I’d have given up completely.
And I’d feel horrible about myself.
I mentioned near the beginning of the year that I don’t typically like to save self-improvement for new year’s resolutions, so it was not at all uncommon for me to go through this cycle multiple times each year. I think that I completely gave up on improving myself at all last year because I just felt completely spent.
As I reflected on the upcoming season of Lent (a time of penance observed prior to Easter in which to reflect and work on the things that prevent you from reaching your true potential) food came to mind. My diet is a huge stumbling block for me. The thing that seemed the most problematic was that I eat late at night and that I eat at my desk (both ultimately mean that I’m eating in secret). So I made a promise that I would stop eating after dinner – unless everyone was eating (like for family movie night) and that I would not eat at my desk. As I write this, it just occurred to me that I have a jar of almonds that I was snacking on the other day (aak!) but other than that I’ve stuck to my promise pretty well. I’m beginning to feel a wonderful sense of self mastery – AND I’ve also lost about 3 pounds in the last two weeks which is awesome (but was not necessarily the purpose of this exercise).
In a couple of weeks, when I feel confident that I’ve created a new, positive habit I will add another thing from my incredibly long list of areas that I need to address and I’ll work on that until I feel ready for the next step.
I can do this.
So, what do you think? Do you prefer a complete overhaul or do you like to take it one step at a time?