I am someone who has incredibly high expectations. I am not sure when in my life it happened that my standards became so high. I was joking with a few colleagues the other day about how I was raised and how my dad used to vehemently remind us to do it right the first time. I know there are many ways of looking at the world, and that making mistakes is one where we learn the most. That, however, was not how I was raised. I distinctly remember a few specific examples. One time my sister and I were asked to clean our room (we shared a room). We cleaned it, but not to my dad’s standards. When we got home from wherever we were that afternoon, we walked into our room and found every drawer of our respective dressers empty, and every desk drawer empty, and the contents of our shared closet all sat in a massive mixed pile in the middle of the room. I remember him barking some sort of comment to us: “Maybe next time you’ll do it right the first time.”
I was horrified. I do not remember how long it took us to clean it up, or what my sister and I discussed during the process, but I will never forget what my room looked like that day. Now, I can think about a million other ways to get through to kids, and whether my dad was right or wrong, he was definitely creative about getting our attention. He also was a bit scary. I do think his “get it right the first time” mantra in some ways made me use problem solving tactics and critical thinking skills at an early age. You see, my dad could turn a million different ways and I had to be prepared for it, so I thought: “if I do this, what will be the outcome?” or “how about if I do that?” I was not always so savvy to be prepared for how he might react, but I was definitely aware of the consequences of my actions. Never mind that I probably should have just been out playing.
There was another occasion when it was my chore to scrub the bathtub, specifically the soap scum ring. On one occasion when my dad inspected the bathtub (it was a pink bathtub too), to see if it passed his inspection, he decided it was not clean enough and that I needed to start again. In order to ensure I would have to clean the entire bathtub again (and not just work on the soap scum) he poured ketchup into the tub. Again I was horrified. I just wanted him to show me where I missed a spot, and give me a chance to fix it. Starting again felt so unfair. Maybe that is why I detest cleaning the shower/bathtub (thank you Chris).
Did my dad ingrain in me the desire for higher standards? Maybe. Did he know he was doing it? I do not think so. I think I am a by-product of finding creative ways of knowing I had dotted all my i’s and crossed my t’s. I had a backup plan for my backup plan. My brain constantly looks for all the different scenarios and which ones to stay away from and which ones lead to the best possible scenario. It has helped me at home and in my professional life. There are way better ways to teach critical thinking skills and to learn consequences for different choices. I will not be passing on the ways of my father.
There is always a new venture looking to simplify our lives and the world. We now live with endeavors such as airbnb, Uber, VRBO, where individuals can make money using their own homes or car. There is a new one that just launched in Portland called: “Flight Car.”
It is an interesting idea. You go to the airport, park in a Flight Car parking lot. Take a free shuttle to the airport and while you travel another fellow traveler can “rent” your car while you are out-of-town. Flight Car also will wash and vacuum your car before you return. Take the free shuttle back and pick it up. If your car is not rented you still receive a free car wash and vacuum. It sounds like a great idea, and in many ways is not much different from airbnb or VRBO.
Yet, why does it feel odd to me? Of course you are making money, and the longer you are away the more money you make. For me it feels different to have someone rent my car than my house. Many individuals that rent out their airbnb do not rent out their actual residence, rather depending on the city, it is an extra property, and sometimes it is only meant as income. I do not have a really good reason, but my car feels slightly more personal to me. You could have a manual car, and the individual that “rents” it has no idea how to drive manual. You do not know when you get your car back that they have basically killed your clutch. It will not show right away.
While Flight Car indicates that they have insurance up to $1M, it still just feels strange to me. Maybe because in a house you can often fix things easily or replace them. Cars are sometimes not replaceable. If you have a specific year and model of a car, it might mean that it is nearly impossible to get again. You might have the last year and model of that body style. The Flight Car “renter” wrecks your car. It would not be the same as replacing a hole in the wall in a home. I am all for fewer cars on the road and conservation, I just do not think I could rent mine out.
Would you leave your car at Flight Car while traveling?
Can you believe I have never had an enchilada? How is that even possible? I had no idea how they were even made. A taco with lots more cheese, or a soften quesadilla with more cheese. It reminds me of the quote I mentioned in this Chicken Taco Chili recipe:
“I laughed because I recently read Jim Gaffigan’s book “Food: A Love Story” and he mentions how mexican food is all the same ingredients served in different ways. Quesadillas are tacos, grilled in a pan, which are the same as enchiladas and nachos. You get the point.”
In any case, they were good. I felt so full, but I loved all the rich flavors. Maybe we will have to do a week where on Monday we have quesadillas, Tuesday: tacos, Wednesday: nachos, Thursday: enchiladas, what should we have on Friday. They are all the same ingredients. I can now say that I have had enchiladas, and this recipe was oh so good. We did not add the garlic (well I should say Chris did not add the garlic) and we cut the recipe in half. Next time we might make them and add beans and rice. Although if we do I might only be able to eat one enchilada.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet set over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir until softened, about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, chicken, cilantro, jalapeños, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt. Simmer until slightly reduced, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Lay a tortilla flat on a clean work surface. Spread a generous tablespoon of goat cheese in a stripe down the center, then top with about 1/3 cup of chicken mixture. Roll up and place, seam side down, in prepared baking pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour enchilada sauce over top and sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through and cheese is melted, about 20 to 25 minutes (if you like your cheese speckled with brown, remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking).
Serve warm, topped with fresh cilantro and a dollop (or splatter) of sour cream if desired.
Do you ever have those days where you are just pooped? You start yawning at the end of the day and you do not know why? You got a good night sleep (and in my case Chris said I must have slept well because I was not talking in my sleep all night). Yet, somehow you just have no energy whatsoever. I know for me it is often because there are too many items on my to-do list, there are too many things I want and need to do.
There are countless articles, blogs, and videos on the Internet that talk to us about how to slow down, how to prioritize our lives, and how to say no. So if it were so easy, why is it hard for so many of us? I have blogged a few times about wanting to suck the life out of my days. I like to get shit done, but does my relentless nature come at a cost? I hate the days when I am too pooped to run, or when Chris talks me out of a routine that I love (he likes me to have a down day from exercise at least once a week).
Take Monday night for example. It was 80 degrees and sunny and Portland and Chris encouraged me to sit outside with him after work and just enjoy the sun and warmth. It was hard for me to resist, because who knows how long it will be until we have another similar gorgeous day? Yet, even while sitting there enjoying the moment I kept thinking, “I want to go for a run, I want to go for a run.” Why? Why do I drive myself crazy about breaking a routine?
Then last night I was physically and mentally exhausted, so I tried to take a nap after work and I could not get warm and could not fall asleep. Again, no run and it drove me crazy. Part of it for me is I love the euphoria and feeling after a long hard run. I am dripping in sweat and I feel like I truly did something 100% for me and no one else. How much of our day is ever 100% for us? What causes the mental roller coaster for what we want (or think we want) and the choices we make?
I know none of these ideas are new, but the struggle is that sometimes there is so much on our plates that often what gets removed are the things that matter to us most. The things that ground us and keep us going. I know these past few days are anomalies for me. I am relentless and will duke it out with Chris so I can run and catch up on a book, but maybe that is not true for everyone. Maybe it is taking 15 minutes to meditate, or even for those of you with young kids having a long hot shower, and going to the bathroom solo. How do we slow down and make better choices?
It is hard to believe that my day yesterday was so crazy that I missed the entire Boston Marathon coverage. After living in Boston for 4 years, I got addicted to the camaraderie and dedication of Bostonians for those running the marathon. In Boston they have an entire holiday (Patriots Day) where you actually get paid to take the day off and if you feel so inspired go and watch the marathon. Of course Patriot’s Day has nothing to do with the Boston Marathon, but it does have a nice way of working out for Bostonians. We did it a few times. If you get there early enough there are actually restaurants on Boylston Street (where the finish line is) and you can have food and drinks and sit on the sidewalk patio of a restaurant and watch the race in style. I can remember in the early days of Chris and my life together (maybe before we ever really knew where we would end up) we sat together, had brunch and watched the race.
Regardless of whether you are in Boston or not, or whether you watched the race or not, there is a charged excitement and energy around races like the Boston or New York Marathon. Just as there is with the Olympics or World Cup. These are races that show the triumph, drive, and legacy of professional and everyday runners that give it their all either year around as they train to medal in such races, or for those that are trying for their personal best. For me there is something gratifying about someone who works so hard to compete or even try to finish running 26.2 miles. When I saw that the man who placed first was just over 2 hours, I was reminded that he ran 26.2 miles in just over the time it took me to run 13.1 miles. He can run the same amount of miles in half the time that I can – AMAZING!
What inspires me about races like the Boston Marathon is the amount of hours of dedication it takes for these runners (elite or not) to prepare for such a race. Hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even a year back to last year’s race. It might mean giving up on drinks with friends, time with children or other family members. Possibly it means very early mornings to get in those long runs, or being outside in rain, snow, or sleet, or maybe if you live in a warmer climate dealing with extreme heats and dryness. Whatever the weather situation, the time of day, or the toll it takes on your body, training for a marathon is a dedication that not everyone can or wants to do. We are all capable of more than we do, but sometimes there are moments in life when we show that we can push ourselves beyond limits we never were thought were possible. There is also a kindness that other runners spread during a race – see this link for stories of how runners went above and beyond during or after the Boston Marathon.
Running is a sport like no other. This year’s race was cold and rainy. It shows how many people will come out and support you rain or shine while you spend from 2 (elite athletes) to 6 hours to finish running 26.2 miles. Dedication. Perseverance. Friendship. I admire everyone that ran Boston yesterday.