Are you proud of yourself that you no longer lose your temper, bite your fingernails, or have a messy desk? Perhaps you feel as if you have finally arrived since you no longer wait until the last minute to "do your homework". But have you ever thought that you were finished with a pesky old habit and then unexpectedly find that it is there all over again? You know: You thought you kicked a habit once and for all and suddenly, for no apparent reason, you are nibbling those nails, or procrastinating once again? Bummed when it happens? Don't worry – Think Peppermint!

In the 90's the two of us rented a little cottage in Woodstock, NY. Our landlord had landscaped the grounds so we were unable to plant a vegetable garden on the property but fortunately we had a large deck with southern exposure. One summer we bought old oak barrels and built large wooden planters that were six feet long by two feet wide that we filled with rich soil, humus, fertilizer and compost. In these we planted a range of vegetables and herbs. We had tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, lettuce and arugula. We planted dill, cilantro, oregano, thyme and marjoram, too. Since we wanted to make ice tea with sprigs of fresh mint, we also planted one small peppermint plant in the corner of one of the long boxes. Little did we know the properties of mint.

Peppermint plants not only grow up and out above the ground, they also do so underground. Of course all healthy plants put down roots but peppermint puts down rhizomes, thick white stems that grow sideways only to pop up above a distance away, masquerading as whole new plants. Not so much of a problem at first. A little extra peppermint here or there was fairly easy to weed. But what we didn't realize was that while we may be pulling out the above ground plant, the roots were virtually impossible to pull. These hardy creepers ranged far and wide and grew until we had new little plants popping up in the midst of all of our other herbs. We pulled what we could but the rootstock is not only robust but also, as we were to discover, it winters over very well.

After harvesting at the end of the season, we dumped the planters all in one pile in a nearby field. The next spring, we mixed in compost, and fertilizer and then refilled the planters and oak barrels, replacing them on our deck filled with fresh plants and seeds for a new season.

As things began to sprout and grow, suddenly we had peppermint — everywhere. We hadn't realized that while the plant died back, the roots did not. Unbeknown to us at the time, when we chopped up the soil, we also chopped the remaining rhizomes and each little slice of rootstock now became a viable plant. For the rest of time that we had those planters, peppermint became a matter of maintenance, not eradication.

By now most "bad" habits you have are well developed as rootstock in your life. When you get engaged, on board, enlivened about your life, these habits go dormant. But trust us, the ground is fertile and those roots are still viable. No need to be discouraged or feel like you "haven't gotten anywhere" when your personal peppermint pops up its minty little head. Weed it! Nip those young leaves in the bud. Get back to work. Re-engage. Judging yourself for the regeneration of habits you thought you were over and done with is like adding a big fat dose of Miracle-Grow. Awareness, on the other hand, is a natural pesky-cide. It neutralizes those pesky ol' habits so that you can grow what you want in your garden and not be plagued by your old roots.

Author's Bio: 

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have taught individuals, couples and organizations across the globe how to live in the moment and unwire the knee-jerk behaviors that get in the way of living life with ease. Together for 30 years and counting, people still ask Ariel and Shya if they are on their honeymoon. To find out more about the Kanes, their books, videos & seminars, visit:

The Kanes' newest book "How to Have A Match Made in Heaven: A Transformational Approach to Dating, Relating and Marriage" has won numerous awards, including the Mom's Choice Award Gold Medal, and is now available in English, Spanish and German. Learn more at