Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Tomato Project

About 7 years ago, so he tells me, Matt (husband) decided that he should like tomatoes.

He's grown up his entire life not enjoying them, and even making that squinty "ew-yuck" face when he does eat them. And yet, despite his dislike, he determined a few things from observing others and health articles:

  1. Other people seem to really enjoy tomatoes, not just marinara - tomato and mozzarella, cherry tomatoes in salads and so forth. There was some healthy envy there, they look so good, he thought.
  2. "Tomatoes are good for you."Everywhere, you read about the benefits of tomatoes in cancer prevention and etc. (I am not making a statement or judgement here about whether or not tomatoes are good for everyone - that's not the point! We each have to decide on our own what's good for us. The point is, this is what Matt decided.)

So, for about 7 years, Matt has continued to order his dishes and sandwiches tomato free (this is raw tomato specifically, not your salsa or sauces). And, here is where the project comes in to play - when a tomato does actually appear on his plate anyhow, he eats it. And chews it, and even while making the face he makes he makes attempts at savoring and getting tomato all over his palet.

Then, a breakthrough! Maybe two or three weeks ago, tomato in mouth Matt announces that it's actually not so bad. Not only not bad, he kind of likes it! Fascinating really. He says he is training his taste buds and next on the list is beans!

So, why am I telling you this story? Why does it matter? Well...it's not actually about the tomatoes or even food, beans included. It is about practicing being different than we already know how to be.

In school we do an exercise called "alternate role" - we choose a character or person and we embody them, practice being them - walking like them, talking like them, moving like them and thinking like them. Then, we share our alternate role with our classmates and get coached on ways we could embody this new role even better. It is a reminder to me that I have the capacity to be different when I choose to be.

It's not about different because I am not good enough - no, not at all. It is about practicing a different way of being in myself, and remembering that how I am status quo is not who I am, it's only how I am practiced and quite effective at being. It's about liberating myself from the "it's just the way I am" phenomenon.

So, Matt and his tomatoes remind me that I can learn to be and do things differently than I normally do. A hits-home example for me is how I used to say, "I'm a night owl" or even "I'll never be a morning person." Well guess what?!? I practiced going to bed earlier, getting up at an earlier hour and de-cluttering my bedroom with the things and behaviors that used to engage me until the wee hours of morning (like my TV) and now (drum roll please) I am totally a morning person! And I really look forward to sleep.

I can flip flop back and forth with ease, maybe even too much ease, when I stop practicing good sleeping habits - it's true. Recently I started staying up late, and it was like getting back on a bike. Yet for the past three days I am back in bed around 11 p.m. - that too is like being back on a bike. I have worked these muscles and they are serving me quite well.

Now I am offering it out to you, as fabulous as you are (AND YOU ARE!) where is a place where you might like to be a little different? Is it sleep? Is it caffeine? Is it a word you say a lot? It could be anything...anything you do, say or think about yourself and your life.

It may not be that you will ever love to eat sushi (that's me) or that you will like watching horror movies (me again), AND you can go ahead and choose something that you actually desire to show up differently. My next project is asking questions assertively. I am going to practice and get it in my body that I can ask questions and even make statements without self-deprecatingI am going to build that muscle. 


What's your tomato?

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