Off The Beaten Path: February 24, 2017

I’m trying something new with some of my blog posts. Late last year, I brought back my old “Running and Reading” posts because I realized that I was reading a lot of great articles that I wanted to share with others. I admit, it got burdensome to keep the posts fresh and light and relevant. Most of what read, given what I do for a living and where I reside, is all political. Not necessarily one-sided, but issues-oriented. I want to steer clear of that. There’s enough of it out there, and I need a break from it, too.

Also, when I relocated to DC back in 2014, I used to write posts called “Off the Beaten Path” to update friends and family back home in Nebraska about what I was doing in DC besides “running all the time” and working my “I’m not sure what she actually does in DC” job. I attempted to revive that recently, but then I sat down to write it and realized that I really don’t have a whole lot going on right now. Or at least not enough to keep the post going and keep it interesting. I get the sense that readers gravitate toward bloggers who “keep it real” but there’s a fine line of keeping it real and oversharing that I enjoy a graceful dance with, so I could write about how I am struggling to accept where I am in life… or I can keep it on the sunny side up.

So, I’m going to try consolidating things and see how that works. Even if no one ever reads it, I swear sometimes I keep up this blog because I just really enjoy the simple art of writing. Let me know what you think!

What I Read This Week

Last Sunday, I followed the Fort Lauderdale A1A Hal-Marathon on social media. I’m still having some withdrawals from the December Islamorada Half-Marathon and driving the A1A into the Florida Keys is on my bucket list. I definitely remember seeing the photo of the now-former second place finisher, and having a sort of gut feeling that something might not be right about it. I was still a little stunned when later, the website Marathon Investigation discovered that this runner had cut the course and cheated her second place finish. Not only did she cut the course, vehemently lie about it, and deny it when asked, she went back and rode a bike along the course to post fake GPS data to “prove” that she didn’t cheat. It’s kind of unbelievable, the lengths some runners take when cheating. First of all, I can’t understand why anyone would cheat a race. Are they really so insecure in their personal journey as a runner that they’d stoop to these levels to prove to the rest of the world that they are fast? I mean, who gives a crap?? Regardless of their intentions to cheat, I’m grateful that someone took the effort to investigate this incident. I’m glad someone understands metrics like cadence, heart rate, and pace enough to see how you literally cannot manipulate running stats to cheat at running. All notions of character and integrity aside, you cannot cheat at a race and not get caught. There are people who care enough about preserving the integrity of the marathon and road race to go after you.

What I Ate This Week

Pay day is about a week away and I realized that I actually have quite a bit of food stocked up. Some of it is leftover from recipes, some of it I bought and just never used. So, I challenged myself to use what I had on hand for meals instead of going out to buy all new ingredients. It was quite fun, and I got some great new meal ideas. Also, the fun of this little challenge is that you really don’t know what you’re going to get every day because it’s all based on what you have on hand. I did this for breakfast and had oatmeal with raisins and hemp seeds on Tuesday then oatmeal with dried cranberries and sunflower seeds on Wednesday and oatmeal with peanut butter and honey on Thursday.

For lunch, using some leftover bottom-of-the-bag quinoa, a carton of reduced sodium black beans, frozen corn, and leftover salsa verde from a recent chips-and-salsa binge, I threw together a pretty awesome mason jar lunch. My job has me drifting around from place to place for meetings, so this was a super easy on-the-go healthy option that was actually really satisfying and easy to carry. Mason jar meals are my favorites anyway, specifically for this reason, and also because the creativity for salad combinations is ripe and the jars are light to carry and easy to just throw in a work bag without worrying about leaks or carrying a separate lunch bag, which I hate doing since I walk a lot along my commute and don’t want to be a bag lady.

Here’s what I used for this recipe, in order of the way I want it structured when I dump it into a bowl (or just put it all in a bigger jar and shake it up before eating it straight from the jar):

Mason jar quinoa dish with salsa verde, roasted corn, black beans, and tricolor quinoa.
Mason jar quinoa dish with salsa verde, roasted corn, black beans, and tricolor quinoa.
  • 2 tbsp salsa verde (probably any salsa will do)
  • 1/2 cup of black beans, rinsed and heated on the stove with a dash of avocado oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder, and cilantro
  • 1/2 cup roasted corn (for this part, I poured two bags of frozen corn on a baking sheet, drizzled with avocado oil and seasoned with salt and pepper and left it under the broiler on high for 15 minutes or until browned)
  • 1/4 cup  of tri-color quinoa, boiled in 1/2 cup of salted water until absorbed

If you want to make it a salad, just chop up some mixed salad greens or spinach, and that should be your top layer above the quinoa. If you have a large jar, you can shake it up and eat directly from the jar or you can dump it into a bowl. You can add cheese, too, but consider bringing that in a separate container since you don’t want it to get soggy. You can heat it up if you want, or at room temperature is just as good.

Something New I Tried This Week

I have a sterling silver bangle bracelet that I love, but it got a little bit tarnished and sticky somehow. Not sure what got all over it, but I really wanted to wear it some more. I decided to test an old method of polishing jewelry, so I boiled some water and poured into a foil-lined bowl with 1 tablespoon each of Dawn dish soap, salt, and baking soda and let it soak for about 15-20 minutes. It came out shinier but the sticky residue was still coating it somehow. But it was nonetheless a quick fix as I was getting ready for work and I got to wear the bracelet that day.

What Got Me Through a Week of Running

Motivation and discipline are two different things. You will not always have the motivation, so you must have the discipline.

Something I Did For Myself

I have been considering new directions for my career. I’ve needed space from people and things in my life to just figure it out and reconnect with myself. And one day, I sort of just sat up straight and realized that I want to pursue a second Master’s degree. Even if it means that I take a long time to get it done  by doing one class at a time or I just start the process of learning new skills and realize that, while beneficial, this isn’t the path for me. So, I inquired into an accelerated Masters in Public Health degree program at George Washington University. Now comes the part of deciding if it’s right for me. Regardless, it feels good to realize I still have some ambition left in me after a somewhat jagged career path the past several years. And, after graduating with my Masters in Public Administration almost 6 years ago (wow), I’m finally ready to get back into learning. There was once a time in my life when academics and the learning process was incredibly fulfilling. I feel like I am due for it again.

What I Looked Forward to This Week

Almost everyone in the country is experiencing some sort of unseasonable warmth right now, including D.C. Coincidentally, my company’s belated holiday party is on Friday, the day when temps are supposed to average in the high-70’s to near-80 degrees. So, we decided to take the party to the rooftop of our building for a little “July in February” BBQ game night. I cannot wait.

What I Am Binge Watching Right Now

“Once Upon a Time.” I’m somewhere in the fifth season, and not totally feeling the turn-to-the-dark-side theme of this season. However, it’s my favorite form of escapism TV right now.

Random Thought of the Week

I realized that I find stores oddly comforting. I walked into a Rite Aid before work one morning to buy a bottle of water, and that song “Brandy, You’re a Fine Girl” was playing on the speakers overhead and it took me back to my days of working retail in high school and in my gap year between college. I always liked working the morning shift. No one had come in yet to flip through and inevitably mess up the piles of neatly folded clothing, the registers had enough cash to start out with, all the returns and misplaced merchandise from the day before had been put back in place, and you and your colleagues just sort of hung around small-talking until things picked up a little. I don’t remember ever feeling frustrated that I wasn’t in my “dream job” back then. I just sort of enjoyed where I was. It was a nice little memory, a nice feeling to have again. It reminded me of a simpler time in life.

One Thing I Wish I Didn’t Do

I wish I didn’t take an Uber to work on Friday. Now that I’ve been a DC driver for almost 3 years, I am a terrible backseat driver and I had to watch helplessly as he drove past an obvious route to my office that would have gotten me there at least 15 minutes before a conference call I had scheduled that morning. Instead, I got a nice tour of the GWU campus by way of the backside of the World Health Organization and the bottleneck of traffic over by the Embassy of the European Union.

Something That Frustrated Me

Every two years here in Virginia, I have to get my stickers on my license plate renewed. However, the Virginia DMV literally every single DMV is collectively the first circle of hell. So, in order to avoid it, I decided to renew online. Despite having three years of catalogued records of emissions inspections that my Elantra have passed, I can’t get past a certain screen that takes me the part where I confirm that I want to renew my license plates and submit payment. I’ve been wrestling with this all month long. And now, given that my plates will expire in about 4 days and despite my best efforts, I probably have to go to the DMV in person before work next week. * Angry sigh. * Just a citizen trying to do the right thing and having a hard time about it.

What I Laughed At This Week

My Favorite Outfit of the Week

About a year ago, I ordered a dress from ModCloth that, despite being the largest size, I can only wear on my skinniest days. You feel me, girls, you know the days when your stomach doesn’t bloat at the first scrap of food and you realize that the small exercises you’ve been doing at the gym are working? Pardon my vanity, but it felt pretty great to wear it again because it’s gorgeous.

Something That Made Me Feel This Week

Cancer is an a**hole, but finally people are starting to be real about the struggle. Seeing this photo from ScaryMommy.com about the harrowing experience of a young boy named Drake, who is living with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L. B Cell) was enough to make me cry on impact. It’s not fair what some people have to go through, especially kids with cancer. But I am grateful for the bravery of others to post such a private struggle in the public realm. I did not know what is what it is like for them, I could never have imagined it for myself, and this is as real as it gets.

One Life Lesson I Learned This Week

Don’t live your life in one day. I struggle constantly with just keeping my focus on what I am presently doing and not inviting fears about the rest of my life into 24 hours. It’s too much.

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