Last night was my company's Christmas dinner. It took place at Maggiano's Little Italy, which is my favorite Italian restaurant, which was awesome. Even better, the opposite of what usually happens at these kinds of banquet-style functions occurred, in that the vegetarians--who typically get the shaft and end up with salad and bread, maybe a bland steamed veggie plate--were treated to WHATEVER WE WANTED from the regular menu, plus all the appetizers everyone else was getting, plus a vegetarian angel hair pasta and dessert and all that. What's more, our server brought out the chef to take our orders personally, and they served us *before* they served the rest of the table. It was a very nice departure from the norm.
Now, I have to confess that has absolutely nothing to do with this post, except as back story in an overkill kind of way. So when they first brought me and my veggie coworker (who happened to be sitting next to me) our menus, I was tempted to skip the opening of it altogether, as all I've ever ordered at Maggiano's was fettuccine alfredo, which is consistently excellent.
But something clicked over in my mind during that moment and I had a strong reaction against that idea: the idea of getting the same thing I always get because it's safe and comfortable. For the past five years, I have been doing a whole lot of safe things, in a limited number of limited ways, and I have to say it hasn't led to much in the way of growth, expanded experience, or even simple joy.
Very suddenly, fettuccine alfredo was sounding incredibly unappealing. "You know what?," I told my coworker, "I've always, always ordered fettuccine alfredo." I then shared some of the thoughts I've been having about changing things up, opening myself to new experiences, etc. "Forget it, I said. I'm ordering the gnocchi."
We laughed at the limited capacity this living-on-the-edge new menu choice had to improve my life in any significant way. But I honestly felt power in taking that tiny step to break one repetitive pattern in my life. That's what this blog is all about, anyway. "One thousand steps starts with one." If I can change that pattern of behavior, why can't I change all the behaviors that have held me back?
I've decided to embark on an adventure of the trying new things variety. I was going to wait until the new year to do this, to make a clean Jan 1st - Dec 31st package of it, but that seemed suspiciously like something I would have done before, of a way I would have behaved before The Great Gnocchi Awakening (hereafter referred to as The GGA).
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, right? If so, I figure 365 should be all the better.
Now of course, I'm not talking skydiving on a daily basis or anything. I imagine these experiences will encompass the profound and the shallow, the big and the small.
And speaking of the small...Today's new activity: Holding a Newborn. I visited my dear friends Kelsi and Jeff and their son Max today. He's 3 days old, and a tiny smidge of a guy with dark dark hair and the longest baby toes on God's green earth. Ok, so I've held a newborn before, of course. But I never held *this* newborn before. After all, he's brand new! It was not only wonderful to meet him, but it was wonderful to be able to hold him with a confidence I didn't have when I first held Kelsi's older son, and with the absence of any fear (now, having successfully navigated through the first year of my own baby's life). It was a purely pleasant, joyful experience, and I'm so thrilled for Mama & Papa, and for my own chance to watch another baby grow and learn.
Look at those! Watch out, Max. Your Auntie Nicole is gonna bite those off! :)
I'm looking forward to seeing where this project/experiment takes me. And I'm about as open as a person can get to any suggestions for new activities from any of the people reading this blog :) Looking for somebody to bake a mincemeat pie with, pull your rickshaw, volunteer at the wherever with? I'm your woman.
And for the record, the gnocchi was fantastic.