As some of you know, I spent the past year in braces.  And last week, they came off!  (If you want to read the chronicle of the year, read my What’s In A Smile blog.)

As most braces wearers will tell you–especially adults–much of the time in braces is spent fantasizing about the foods we’ll be able to eat post braces.

On the top of my list were dried dates, which I love love love.  But I abstained for the year of my braces treatment because those chewy gems would have gotten stuck all over my braces brackets and wire.  I guess I didn’t want to spoil a joyful eating experience.

A few days ago, I received the 15-pound box of dried dates from my date supplier in Southern California, the Date People.  (I freeze most of the dates, and also will share with friends.)  Rather than get just one variety, as I had in the past, I ordered the 4-variety pack.  I didn’t know what it would include.

I opened the box and immediately ate one each of the four types–deglet noor, zahari, halawi, bahri–which range from light, firm and not too sweet, to brown, round, plump and chewy sweetness.  Because I had ordered the chewy/sweet ones in the past, that’s what I thought dates were supposed to be.  So my immediate reaction to the firmer deglet noor was disappointment.

But you know what?  I have come to appreciate those more understated deglet noors.  I find them nutty and refreshing.  This reminds me that flexibility comes from being open to variations on a theme.  In this case, the theme was dates, and I got the benefit of “stretching” as part of a variety-pack.

There’s nothing as lovely and cozy as a well-known routine, and beloved treat.  And it can be difficult to let go of that security to try new things.  But by trying new things, we discover new possibilities. 

So consider how you could add the spice and potential new discovery by going for variety.

  • Next time you’re at your favorite restaurant, order one thing tried and true, and one new dish.  Or invite along some friends so you can try the dishes your friends like.  You may discover a new top favorite.  Or not.  In which case you still have one dish you can enjoy whole-heartedly.
  • Is there a neighborhood you like to walk around?  Or a park that you regularly visit?  Change it up by taking a different route to get there, or vary the path you take when you are there.  At the fork in the path, take the right instead of the left.

Here’s to celebrating the wonderful variety that is all around us, and within us.