Alice will do anything for beef jerky or peanut butter. Anything, that is, except go up stairs.
In my ancient house, there are 13 steep and narrow steps to the second floor. One friend says climbing them is akin to scaling a wall. Not an unfair comparison, actually, considering you have to ascend and descend sideways, gripping the handrail like a safety rope.
So if two-legged creatures have issues with my stairs, imagine what a four-legged pup must think. In Alice’s case it’s, ‘Are you KIDDING me?’
I spent two-and-a-half weeks bribing Al with her favorite treats, the ones that make her “sit” and “stay” and reward her for doing her business outside. I would set a bit of jerky on the first step. She’d reach for it, no problem. Second and third steps? East peasy. Fourth step required a bit of stretching, but with a bit of snout and tongue maneuvering, she got it.
The fifth step took some contemplating and some pacing back and forth across the threshold. After she had time to think about it (“How bad do I want that jerky?”), Al would skittishly hoist her back legs on to the first step and stretch just far enough to nab the jerky before running into the dining room to feast.
When I set a jerky on the sixth step, she looked at me from below like, “Um….no, human. That is NOT happening.” Even though every time I went upstairs, she’d sit at the bottom looking up, wondering, no doubt, what was up there, the jerky treat sat on step six for days.
So imagine my surprise last Wednesday at about 9 p.m. when I heard something moving around upstairs. As far as I know, my house isn’t haunted, so I stood up from my desk and looked around for Alice. She was not on her couch or in her crate or sniffing around the garbage can. Windows and doors were all securely shut, so she hadn’t escaped. The only place she could be…
I looked up the stairs and there she was, peering at me from around the corner of the spare bedroom, her tail thumping against the door, like she’d discovered some secret passageway to Nirvana.
I don’t know what motivated Alice to climb the stairs on her own, but I find great inspiration in her actions. No amount of bribing, cajoling, firm tones, soft tones, or words of encouragement from me were going to convince her that climbing the stairs was in her best interest. Only she knew what was right for her and when.
Al slept on her bed beside me that night, and I thought about the 19 steps that challenged me eight years ago. I had to climb them every day to get to my second-floor apartment, and every day I’d look up to the doorway at the top, draw a deep breath, and grab the metal railing. My knees crunched and my hips popped, and my lower back burned, and by the time I go to the top, my head was pounding and I could barely breathe. Then I’d sit down on the closest chair and tell myself, “That wasn’t so bad.”
But it was that bad, and everyone around me knew it. And yet no amount of bribing, cajoling, firm tones, soft tones, or words of encouragement were going to convince me that losing weight was in my best interest. Only I knew what was right for me and when.
Like Alice, eventually I figured it out, but I did it on my own terms and in my own time. Brave Alice and her determination to discover what was at the top of the stairs is no different than me or you or anyone else who finally says, “I’m ready!”
In the process of writing this blog over the last few days, I was fortunate to read Jen’s post, “Transitioning My Eating
” (she writes the blog, “A Prior Fat Girl”) about her move to transition her eating from more to less processed foods. She wrote: “A lot of you have been very vocal in telling me I should do this for years. But I wasn’t ready then, mentally or emotionally. I wasn’t there yet. Something changed though…in the past couple months. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching @dietitiancassie
’s tweets, and the articles she’s sharing. Or maybe it’s because of the conversations with my co-worker, Darcy, over the past couple months. Or maybe it’s because I’m just ready.”
“Ready” doesn’t always mean “I’m super confident that I can succeed!” “Ready” means ready to take a chance on the process with a hope that the outcome will be in the ballpark of our expectation. And if the process or the outcome aren’t what we thought it would be, if our path takes us somewhere else, well, then, we still took a chance because we were “ready.”