When Jung discovered that she was allergic to gluten, we enjoyed going out to restaurants more than we do now. It had always been a challenge to find restaurants which served food we all — adults and children — liked and now we had to add “gluten-free” to our list of requirements. One of the few local restaurants which qualified, however, was a Thai restaurant. Although the food was good there, we had some negative experiences with service there until the manager made a point of assigning us a server, Tram, whom he could trust to treat us well. He was right.
Not only did Tram understand what we needed, she soon got to know our tastes and began to suggest food that was off the menu. As our mutual trust grew, she took to surprising us: after asking us what we felt like or didn’t feel like eating that day she would secretly put together a meal for us — we wouldn’t know what we were going to get until it arrived at the table! Going to this restaurant was more fun than going to any other because we knew we could trust that the food would be delicious, safe for Jung to eat and that we wouldn’t get bored. When Tram was promoted to manager, she insisted that we call ahead to let her know when we were coming to eat so she could continue to serve us surprises.
It’s been a while since we’ve been to that restaurant, only because Jung took to cooking after MyCrownShift and we enjoy eating at home a lot more now, but we were reminded of Tram today when we realized how much stress has fallen away from our lives since we began living “off the menu.” Because we now see and choose beyond what conventional wisdom offers to us, we live much more in accordance to our values. Even though we are working harder now than we ever have before, because our work is in line with our values, it doesn’t tire our souls — only our bodies.
Living off the menu — akin to thinking outside the box — allows us to live a life that is healthy, delicious and seldom boring. Most restaurant menus are put together by someone who is trying to appeal to the most potential customers while trying to offend the fewest. The result is something which the mythical “average person” will enjoy. The problem is that none of us is that person! Each of us is unique and has particular likes, dislikes and needs. We had to give up control and have faith in Tram that she would treat us well when we went to that restaurant, but the results were well worth it. Living off the menu is no different: it requires giving up control and having faith, but as unique people, we never want to live any other way again.
Look around your own life for choices outside the four corners of your menu — you can make, create, or build custom-tailored options that are uniquely suited to your taste, preference, and delight!