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.

Most writers daydream about two things: the day their book appears on a best seller list and the day it gets made into a movie. I’m quite certain I’m not alone in admitting that I mentally cast all the characters in my novel a long time ago. And, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve also thought about costuming, set design, camera angles, and the award-winning score.

I’m not a fool. I know it’s extremely rare to have your book made into a movie…but it’s fun to dream. Although, there’s one rather enormous detail that I choose to blissfully ignore: the fact that authors aren’t usually involved or consulted when their work gets made into a movie.

Granted, this isn’t always the case – Stephanie Meyer is on the set of every movie in the Twilight Saga, but that’s the exception not the rule. Consequently, authors are sometimes less than thrilled with the end result because any number of things can go wrong: the wrong actors are cast, key scenes are cut, or the author’s original intentions are lost in translation, like these 7 worst film adaptations. One of the most famous examples of an author hating a film adaptation is Stephen King of The Shining.

Unfortunately, it seems like there are more disappointments than successes when it comes to adapting written work for the big screen. But, while I can think of many more book-to-movie adaptations that I didn’t like, there have been a few that I really loved.

For example, I thought Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts was a great representation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s soul-searching journey through Italy, India, Indonesia. I felt Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen was exquisitely translated to the big screen. And, of course, there’s my long-time favorite: Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook which I’ve watched at least a dozen times.

I’ve also heard that the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird (my favorite classic) was excellent, but I haven’t seen it yet, so I can’t comment.

I’ve racked my brain trying to think of other movies that I loved,  but those three are all I can come up with. So I ask you…which film adaptations do you love?

Spending the past four weeks on crutches gave me the opportunity to view my life from a different perspective. Some of what I experienced was challenging: opening doors without falling over, climbing stairs on one foot, and staying clean without getting my foot wet.

Some of it was painful: you wouldn’t believe how badly your palms and armpits ache after a day on crutches. (I have bruises and calluses to prove it.) To make matters worse, I developed tennis elbow from all the crutching, which made it difficult to do things like lift a coffee cup, blow dry my hair and pull up my pants.

Some of it was funny: did I mention I couldn’t pull up my pants?

And some of it was surprising: it turns out, having Dave do all the chores, cook all the meals and wait on me hand and foot was nice for the first few days, but then I just felt guilty. I also discovered how much I miss the gym when I can’t go and that there IS a limit to the amount of comfort food I can eat.

The most surprising thing of all, though, was how quickly I lost my leg muscle. Despite years of running, hiking, skiing, swimming and biking, four measly weeks of not using it caused my right calf muscle to shrivel up to half its original size. Seriously. If you glance at me quickly, there’s a good chance you might mistake me for a pirate with a peg leg.

It made me think about how creativity sort of works the same way. Have you ever noticed how rusty you feel after even a few days off from doing the thing you love? If I go a little while without writing, I find it’s hard to get my creative juices flowing again. I forget plot lines, struggle to find the right words and totally lose momentum. It’s like creative atrophy. But when I’m writing every day it feels like the ideas are abundant and the prose flows without effort.

If we start thinking of our creativity like a muscle that needs to be exercised every day, rather than a hobby that can only be indulged when we have some free time, I think it can help us become more committed to its strength and development. Though you won’t find it any anatomy books, think of your creativity as a muscle that exists within your heart and mind. Treat it with same devotion you have for the gym, a yoga class, or your daily walk, so it will grow stronger, perform better, and be there when you need it.

How often do you exercise your creative muscle?

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