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This year, one of my goals is to try new things because some of the best experiences of my life have come from breaking out of the norm and trying something different.

So far, we’ve gone to new places (Savannah, GA), tried new foods (shrimp and grits), and even took up some new activities (kayaking)…all of which have given us amazing memories. So the other night, when Dave and I found ourselves at an Indian restaurant eating our usual favorites (chicken curry for me; chicken makhani for him), we decided to spice things up. Literally.

“What’s a lassi?” he asked, as I moaned over my curry.

“I think it means young girl.”

“No, here on the menu.”

I followed his finger to the list of specialty drinks standing on our table. Strawberry lassi. Mango lassi. Sweet lassi. “Maybe it’s some sort of soda?”

“Or juice?”

“Or maybe it’s like a smoothie or milkshake or something?”

“I dare you to try one.”

“Ok,” I said, accepting his challenge. “I’ll try the sweet lassi.”

“No way. This is my dare, I get to pick the flavor.”

It seemed like a low-risk challenge. After all, I like strawberry, mango, and pretty much anything sweet. “Fine.”

“Great, you’re getting the salty lassi.”

“The what?” I turned the drink list towards me and sure enough there, under all the fruity flavors, was a salty lassi. I cringed at the thought of a salty drink. “Hopefully it’s like a margarita.”

He smirked, amused by my discomfort, “I’m sure it will be.” He flagged down the waiter. “My wife would like order something.”

The waiter turned to me. “I’ll take a salty lassi,” I said with uncertainty as Dave grinned across the table.

“You want a salty lassi?” he asked with a cocked eyebrow.

Dave’s grin grew wider and I shot him a death glare. “Yes, please.”

“Okay,” he said, shaking his head and turning towards the kitchen.

“What the hell did I just order?” I asked when he was out of earshot.

Dave burst out laughing. “I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out.”

We continued eating but I was disturbed by our waiter’s reaction. He passed by our table at least a dozen times but never with my salty lassi. “Well, I guess he forgot,” I said, after we scraped our plates clean. And despite my desire to try new things, I felt relieved.

The waiter stopped by our table a couple minutes later to collect our plates. “You still want a salty lassi?” he asked, as if giving me a chance to change my mind and save myself.

“Yes, we still want it,” Dave said.

I waited nervously and a few minutes later he delivered what looked like a vanilla milkshake.

“Go ahead,” Dave urged as I inspected it.

I placed my lips on the straw and the flavor that hit my tongue tasted like a mix of sour cream, water, Indian spices, and salt. Lots and lots of salt.

My lips puckered and my nose scrunched.

“How is it?” he asked.

“It’s…different. You should try it.” I slid the glass across the table and watched as he took a big gulp and gagged.

In the end, our salty lassi wasn’t a great new discovery, like Savannah, shrimp and grits, or kayaking. But it took a routine dinner and spiced (or salted) it up, and left us both with a funny memory that we won’t soon forget.

Growing up, my mom tried to convince me to become a marine biologist. “Just imagine it,” she’d say, “you could live by the ocean and work with dolphins.”

Believe me, I was intrigued. I’ve always been drawn to the ocean and I thought marine life was pretty cool. There was only one problem: I didn’t like science. At all.

My dad once said I’d make a great lawyer. I don’t know if he really meant it or if I’d just worn him down in yet another debate about why he should take me to the mall rather than spending the afternoon together in the park, but it made me wonder if I should consider a career based on my keen knack for arm-twisting.

When people make these kinds of suggestions, it’s hard not to question if they have better insight into who we are than we do. It’s enlightening to hear how others view us and what they perceive as our strengths. But if we’re not careful, those insights can lead us down the wrong path and we can end up becoming who the world wants us to be rather than who we really are.

In retrospect, I know I would’ve been a terrible marine biologist because marine biology doesn’t light my fire the way other things do, like writing. (Not to mention, my husband has imparted upon me an extreme fear of sharks.) And I would’ve been miserable as a lawyer because, as it turns out, I don’t like to argue.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean my love of the ocean or persuasive skills have to go to waste, I just have to find a way to use them that is true to me…like writing on the beach and then convincing someone to buy my books 🙂

Who does the world want you to be?

 

Yesterday I attended a birthday party for my husband’s dad and grandfather who turned 60 and 90 respectively. On display at the party was a giant photo collage filled with memories from their lives. As I admired all the things they’ve done and the friends they have I realized that life is the sum of all our choices. It doesn’t happen by accident, it’s the result of courageous pursuits, seized opportunities and chances taken. It’s the result of action.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of life’s demands and slip into a habit of living reactively rather than on purpose. But the photos reminded me that a meaningful life is one of our own making, that every day is an opportunity to add new memories to our own collage.

By the time I turn 90, I hope my photo collage will show a woman who did everything she wanted, loved deeply, traveled far and enjoyed every moment.

What will yours show?

“To be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction is to live twice.”

– Kahlil Gibran

Photo credit

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