I work in a small office. Two bosses, two staff (both part time). I’m half of the staff. One boss is out on family leave with a brand new baby daughter. The other boss is out on family leave with an adult son who had to have emergency surgery out of state and was alone there and needs to be brought back home to recover. We, the staff, have been holding down the fort without much in the line of work to do.

My office is the one with all the copy machines and files and a pile of detritus that needs to be recycled but just stacks up and gets larger and larger and larger. The other office is where the tiny fridge and the microwave are. So we wander around this spacious environment during the day.

I was on a trip to the fridge to retrieve my salad for lunch when I saw my coworker with a bowl of something indefinable. I asked what it was. Her husband is from a more rural background than either of us and he was accustomed to eating rutabagas. This was her first rutabaga and she was eating some of the leftovers for her lunch. We discussed food for a while and then I had to look the vegetable up online. I found that what I was picturing in my head was kohlrabi and not rutabagas.

Mandi said they tasted like a cross between potatoes and squash and didn’t quite have the consistency of a potato. The pictures I found showed many different whole rutabagas but also French fries and hash browns and mashed rutabagas were shown. According to Wikipedia, they are a cross between a turnip and cabbage.

I had to stop for pistachios, bananas, and unsweetened almond milk on the way home from work so I picked up a rutabaga (and some parsnips) along with them. I knew Dick had a pork roast in the Crockpot and I figured we could try the rutabaga with it. He also cooked an acorn squash, making a wonderful meal – if we liked the rutabaga.

Herb roasted rutabaga

Herb roasted rutabaga

Now get this – we did. It’s not like the “bird seed” he tolerated for me. We actually liked it. One rutabaga was huge and it has to be peeled using a real sharp knife and then chopped up and boiled, just like potatoes. It could have stood to be cooked a little longer, but it wasn’t bad. There was a huge dish of this stuff if we didn’t like it. But we did!

Rutabaga fries

Rutabaga fries

Tonight, we will have leftover pork roast and I’m taking leftover rutabaga and making hash browns out of it. It tasted like a regular dinner without the starch and glycemic peaking afterward last night. I’m looking forward to the same tonight.

Rutabaga hash browns

Rutabaga hash browns

I would never have tried such a thing without the WLC. I’m not an adventurous eater. I’m picky. I’m probably more than picky. I’m very, very picky. I don’t like many things and I hate taking the time and making the effort and then not liking what I have in front of me. When we go out to eat, I usually get the same old stuff because I don’t want to waste the money on food I can’t or won’t eat.

Today’s blog post at the Whole Life Challenge is about spices. You need to spice up your food so it doesn’t get boring. Almost all the spices listed were for hotness stuff. I have never tried a curry because even the smell makes me retch. I don’t like hot; I don’t like jalapenos and pick them off my nachos; I’m not all about making it so hot that I can’t tell it is boring crap underneath the hot.

I’m not even adventurous with my spices! I know I like sugar and sweetness in all its forms. I’m also partial to salt. Salt is good. I need food to have the correct consistency or I can’t eat it – the whole problem with mashed potatoes that I’ve been spitting out since I was an infant (or so I was told).

I think one of the most amazing things about this journey is that I’ve been hungry enough and outside my comfort zone far enough and for long enough that I am actually trying new foods.

Thirteen months ago I started something new and different. Something I was sure I couldn’t do and would be a failure at, CrossFit. When I started, it was nothing short of pitiful. The warm-ups were kicking my ass and WODs were simply beyond me in every respect. But I kept at it. Each day was a victory not because I did anything – but because I didn’t quit.

And then a miracle happened. Some of the days became a victory because I did something. It wasn’t just about not quitting, it was about actually achieving something.

I stepped outside my comfort zone. I tried something totally different. I had never lifted a weight (other than sacks of groceries) in my life. I’m not anything to really write home about now, except when you look at where I was just 13 months ago. I have incrementally improved and continue to do so.

These forays into the unknown are a challenge. They are scary. They are daunting. They are a really frightening way to see if you are still alive or merely living. At my age, there is a lot of merely living. We old coots are stuck in our routines. We’ve been doing stuff this way for fifty years or more. This is how we’ve always done it, whatever it is. To take that chance and risk failing and embarrassment and shame is so fear-inducing that it is easier to just pick up the remote and change the channel. Instead, I’ve changed my life.

Risk. Risk it all. Take a chance. You might find a rutabaga.

The lowly, lovely rutabaga

The lowly, lovely rutabaga

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