THE BLOG

The 5 Craziest Things I Tried In 2013

12/30/2013 02:23 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014
  • Ann Brenoff Senior Writer/Columnist, The Huffington Post

Some days, I divide the world into people who go to a favorite restaurant and order the same dish each visit and those who listen to the waiter recite the chef's nightly specials and then actually try one of them. There is, of course, the group in-between: those who listen to the specials but knew from the time they made the reservation what they would be eating. At least they go through the motions of considering change.

Change is hard. And change is what comes from being open to new things. In 2013, here are the things I tried:

1) Letting go.
My 16-year-old daughter has always been a homebody. Yes, I've loved that she almost always picked hanging out with the family over hanging out with her friends. I admit it made me the envy of most other moms. This was the year my daughter began inching away from the nest. It started with the door to her room being closed more than it was open and lots of giggles coming from the other side. And it certainly got a major boost when she realized that her imminent driver's license is her passport to future independence.

She's always been a great kid and nothing about that is changing. What's changing is that I will sorely miss having her around and needing me in the way little girls need their moms. Which is why the biggest thing I had to try in 2013 was letting go. She will always be my baby, but now she is also a young woman. She may not need my hand to cross the street, but hopefully she will always still want to hold it.

2) Foot massages.
A stubborn bout of Plantar Fasciitis led me to a month of physical therapy. While exercises are the core of the physical therapy program, we can't forget the foot massages -- the glorious, mood-relaxing, stress-reducing foot massages. (Sorry dear husband, but what you've been doing in this regard is just so not even in the ballpark.)

A foot massage not only makes your tootsies feel better, but it makes all of you feel better too. For years, I have avoided massages. A very bad one -- in a Turkish bath in Istanbul in 1975 -- left me with a sore shoulder for a year and a lifelong aversion to massages. Other than DH and his foot massages that tickle more than massage, my feet have been off-limits.

Now, I am a convert. One of my three items I want with me when I'm stranded on a desert island is a foot masseuse.

3) Eating octopus.
Truth is, I'm a long-time octopus-eater from having spent a lot of time running away to countries where it's a staple of the local diet. But in 2013, I began seeing it increasingly on U.S. menus. Forbes quoted Joe Rieke, who runs the Opper Melang Restaurants, as saying, "In 5 years, octopus will be the new prawn." We have no doubt he's right because in five years we'll have eaten all the prawns and they won't be around any more to scarf down.

I'm glad that octopus is spreading its tentacles far from its traditional base -- not because I love the flavor (it's OK) but because I like being reminded that given enough time, the widespread perception of many things in our culture can change. What was once regarded as being weird and different can become more acceptable -- people too.

How about we just say enough already with trying to define people by their differences? Learn to accept a wider range of people in your heart, and don't just eat octopus because you heard it was now suddenly cool.

4) Engaging haters.
2013 was the year that I tried to understand why some of you think it's OK to be so hateful. The Internet has many fine qualities; you are not among them. I have no room in my life for venom-spewers. In 2013, I responded to several of you who suggested I should die because you disagreed with my views. Yes, you actually did that -- anonymously, of course.

I enjoy engaging with people who take the time to read what I write. I am grateful when they feel strongly enough to post a comment. I don't expect us all to agree but I do expect us all to be civil and if that doesn't work for you, please go play in someone else's sandbox.

I laud websites that now demand you register your real name before they let you spread your hateful thoughts. I think trolls are a passing phase and eventually they will just go away or learn some civility. Until they do, I won't be responding.

5) Slowing down.
I have a tremendous capacity for accomplishing a lot of stuff. I know this because I've traveled the last few years at breakneck speed. In 2013, I realized I was about to crash and burn and that it was unhealthy for me to keep up the pace. My moment of realization? It came on a day when the traffic gods smiled and I wound up at my destination 20 minutes early. I didn't know what to do with myself. It felt odd and unsettling to not be rushing around and I knew why: I had lost the ability to just be still.

I tried just being this year. I committed to learn how to meditate, a major departure from my lifestyle. I also disconnect every evening and I've noticed that my kids are putting away their phones too. I bought some books -- the old paper kind -- because if I read on my tablet I frequently jump over to check my email and I don't want to do that; I just want to read.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Advice To My Younger Self: Work Life Balance