Playing Favorites

playing favorites arugula salad 1Here’s what I love: salad. For me, there is nothing like a big pile of greens, some interesting add-ins, and a yummy dressing to make my heart go pitter pat, my mouth water and my tummy go rumbly.

And friends, I have come across the absolutely most delicious fabulous wonderful dressing. I found it on Heidi Swanson’s brilliant food blog, 101 Cookbooks. First, thinly sliced shallots are cooked until crisp in oil to make (what else?) shallot oil, then add a little soy sauce and honey and SHAZAM: Shallot Oil Dressing. (You can see the recipe from which it comes here.) I’m telling you right now, a shingle would taste awesome with this stuff on it.

It is my favorite dressing and here’s the thing: I just. Keep. Making. It.

We all have favorites. Favorites are fun. I’m always a little bit happy when my favorite yoga pants are clean or when my favorite song comes on the radio or when I’m watching Jon Stewart.

It’s helpful for me to remember, though, that at one time all of those things weren’t my favorites. At one time, I didn’t even know about them. My (fully opaque) LuluLemon yoga pants and Michael Franti and shallot oil dressing were just out there, floating, waiting for me to discover them.

Then there are old favorites, something I used to lovelovelove but haven’t worn, done, listened to, or cooked in a long time. This happens to me a lot in my closet at the change of seasons: Oh YEAH, I love that blue sundress (or those felt fingerless gloves or those cowboy boots)!

Sometimes, a favorite was once something I thought I wouldn’t like so I wiggled away from it with my nose scrunched up. Take hot yoga and Brussels sprouts and The Wire, for example. I was circling around them, staying clear of them, until something shifted and I gave them a try. And then, hey!, turns out it was pretty great!

All kinds of favorites are fun.  And a favorite can become a habit. Not a bad habit, necessarily, but a limiting habit. Doing something different takes more effort and energy.  Why bother when I like this thing so much?  Yet it’s so much fun to discover something new and wonderful.  Why not branch out?

The answer may lie in a paradox of what the brain leans toward. The brain loves familiarity and repetition. The brain also loves novelty. (This is why marketers put the words “New” and “Improved” on the same old products and put new packaging on products without changing them. “Same great taste!  Fresh new look!”) Depending on your personality, you may tend more toward one or the other. The key for me is to notice when I’m leaning too heavily on the repetition and when it’s time to shake things up a bit. Like maybe make a Morrocan Carrot Salad or go out to watch the basketball game.

In which direction do you lean?  Do you favor favorites or are you always trying new things?

This week, celebrate your favorites – really savor how much you enjoy them. Go back to some old favorites and reconnect to the pleasure of them. And be open to the possibility that a future favorite might be something that you are avoiding. A Brussels sprout favorite awaits you! There are a world of favorites just floating around, ready for you to find them.

Last night, I found a bottle of Goddess dressing in the cabinet. It used to be my favorite. I think I’ll crack it open. Well, maybe after one more batch of Shallot Oil dressing.

COMMUNITY COLLABORATION:  If you take Nia classes with me, write your one of your current favorite Nia song, a old favorite, and maybe a Brussels sprout favorite in the comments below.  I’ll do my very best to include them in classes next week.  Together, we can make some spectacular playlists!  Whether you take class with me or not, I’d love to hear your favorite favorite stories!

  1. Meredith said:

    Susan, just about anything by The Budos Band, although Budos Rising or Adeniji are great. No lyrics in the songs, but oh, the music! On Monday please, pretty, pretty please!

    • oKAY! A band I don’t know! Let me check it out and see what we can do! 🙂

      • Meredith, iTunes is messin’ with my mojo. If you email me the songs at, that would increase the odds for Monday morning! 🙂

  2. Meredith said:

    And here’s another: Walkin’ On the Sun by Smash Mouth.

  3. cshuler271 said:

    Hi Susan,
    I am LOVING your classes! I have so many favorite songs.
    As I was browsing your playlists I noticed Bonobo. One of our family favorites is *Ketto.* I also liked *Walk in the Sky* when I was peeking around.
    A couple of my all time favorite slow yoga songs are *Baba Hanuman* by Shantala and *Let Your Heart be Known* by Steve Gold.
    I stumbled across *Bomba* by Novalima (album is CobaCoba Remixed.) You might like it?


    • Sweet! I love Bonobo and will check these out! I love having lines on new music to play with. If they don’t show up this week, keep coming…they may appear another time!

  4. Laura said:

    Hmm, I read your request in two ways, so I’ll answer in two ways. First Nia-specific songs:

    1) A current favorite: “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga (second fave: “The Way You Move”)

    2) An old favorite: “Corazon Espinado” by Santana (big surprise, eh?) or Ziggy Marley, “Love is My Religion”

    3) Brussels Sprouts fave: “Stairway to Heaven” or whatever that song is from R2 that I think of as “the cheerleader song” (all the arm movements followed by the leg)

    Now just songs:

    1) A current favorite: Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” (still haven’t tired of it, which surprises me) or Janelle Monae’s “Q.U.E.E.N.”

    2) An old favorite: Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” or Talking Heads’ “Take Me to the River”

    3) Brussels Sprouts fave: The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” (my reasons are complicated…)

    • Excellent, excellent! This is great. Looking forward to playing with it all!

      • laurala said:

        Whoops, I guess the routine is R1. Why did I think R2?

      • Hee Hee! Stairway’s actually in the Radical Sabbatical routine! And you’re just getting all Star Wars-y thinking about R2D2!

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