Engage

What is your favorite holiday? I think mine is Halloween. I hope you had a great one, full of spooks and treats. I have been feeling a little slow and dreary lately, and have definitely been dragging my feet here on the blog, with a pitiful 8 posts for the month of October! Thanks for sticking with me. I love this page, and want to keep building the momentum we’ve gained since its origin in March.

October was themed “discovery.” My words on the month were,

“October brings the first brisk bites of fall weather, with the accompanying sense of opportunity. It is a time of year that people consume all sorts of flavors we neglect the rest of the year: apple, pumpkin, nutmeg, mace, squash! The same goes for color and texture. The other day I bought goldenrod high heels and a royal blue velvet clutch. Granted, the purchases were for a specific wedding outfit, but the color and texture were so unlike me! I think I caught a little bit of this autumn influence.”

Ways I was an explorer in my own world:

-I did in fact wear those goldenrod heels and royal blue velvet clutch to the wedding. It was quite a statement. People were referring to me as “the girl in yellow shoes.”

-I tried something very intimidating and started teaching my middle school students how to play guitar. I also taught my intermediate students a Halloween dance that they performed today. And all of it was… okay. It’s been going well. So trying new things pays off.

-I have made a new habit shift and am not snacking incessantly every night. Tip for others trying to limit their snacks: turn the tv off. Find something else to do. I am playing music while I work tonight, and it provides comfort and company without encouraging me to check out for an hour. Rather, I feel more engaged.

-As frustrating as it has been, I have put a hold on personal spending so that I can provide health care for myself and my cat (who is having a hard time lately), so that I can kill my leftover summer debt, and so that I can by that stock I want and start an money market account. Most difficult, I am committing to a summer job, which will turn my normally blissful hot summer days into… a job.

As I look ahead to November, I am thinking of overused words like “self-care” and “presence.” Not that these aren’t important, but it feels like everyone is talking about it and no one is doing it? What do those things even mean? There is a spa down the street from my climbing gym, but the money I would spend there could buy me two personal training sessions. Is the gym my self care? I am so tired after climbing late at night. Should I be relaxing at home instead? But does that really make me feel better??

Those words are too vague to use as my theme, because I need clear direction in these long and dark months. So, my mantra for the month, both here and guiding my everyday practices, will be engage. I strive to be engaged in each task I commit to, and engaged in my life. At work, in my exercises, while I make music, with my partner, with my family. There are a lot of fun and loving ways to connect that I strive to practice this November.

Happy Halloween!
-K

 

The October Roundup:
Wake Me Up When September Ends?
Discovery
Reflections and Intentions
Fall Outfits in Three Moods
Four Things
Weekend Update
The Mysteries and Thrillers My Friends Recommend
The Day After Friday the 13th

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The Day After Friday the 13th

I spent Friday the 13th on a walking ghost tour of Chicago. Walking through the dark and brisk city, imagining a time when fires and 20 feet rivers could wipe out hundreds of people had a hollowing and thrilling effect. Old Chicago legends were debunked and rebunked, and if you’ve ever been on a ghost tour you know what I mean by that. I was familiar with a few stories, including the murder house of H. H. Holmes, because of the brilliant podcast, Lore. These folklore tales are always based in history and documented accounts, but are designed to stimulate your imagination.

Imagine my delight when, on this extremely dark and rainy Saturday the 14th, I discovered that the new Lore tv show was released yesterday! I watched the first episode this morning, and it is the perfect Halloween-season show. I’m all about a terrifying episode of American Horror Story, but Lore is great because it is based in fact, does not exaggerate the already awful events being recounted, and can be watched alone. I can’t really watch American Horror Story or even Black Mirror on my own in the evening because I get freaked out. Lore just made me really really curious. It made me think things like ‘oh my god nighttime before electricity was so scary!’ Back then, if it was windy outside, your candle might go out and you are already afraid of sickness/death/ghosts/demons etc. It’s kind of like the haunted version of drunk history?

Our tour guide described our ghost tour as a moving campfire. We took our spooky stories to the road! The Lore podcast has always been that for me, oral history and scary stories to accompany late night drives. Now these chilly tales will be even better enjoyed from my warm apartment with a cup of hot cider in my hands.

 

 

The Mysteries and Thrillers My Friends Recommend

Approaching the beginning of October, I reached out on Facebook to find all novels thriller and mystery. I love these genres but have barely scratched the surface! I was excited for the variety of recommendations my Facebook friend gave, and it was fun to see which books resonated with different people. So, courtesy of my acquaintances new and old, here is our October reading list.

All things Agatha Christie
-Lee

It seems one can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie. I have not yet approached these standards of murder mystery! I found this Amazon author’s page helpful in exploring my options with Christie. Do you have a favorite book of hers?

Gillian Flynn: Sharp Objects and Dark Places
-Sara

We’ve all ready Gone Girl, right? I guess I finished the book and just sort of forgot about the author. I enjoyed the book, although sometimes all of the hype before the story leaves me a little let down after I finally finish it. One quality I like about these stories is how the truth of the crime stares you in the face the entire time, but the events throughout the story fill you with self-doubt. The answer to the mystery somehow sneaks up on you!

Gaslight Mysteries
-Christa

This murder mystery series has a midwife as a main character. Any time there is a midwife, you can expect a female centered plot. Bonus: the title of each book has “Murder” as the first word.

Double recommendation for Child 44
-Sara, seconded by Rikky

This Child 44 Trilogy must be incredible. The comment section below this recommendation left few details, just a strong insistence that I must read it. There is also a movie? Somehow this is my first time hearing about the books or movie!

Darkly Dreaming Dexter
-Sean

Amazon tells me that devout fans of the show might not love the books. But then again, most people who read a book first always hate the tv version. A freaky book to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Final Girls
-Kate

Kate says “I just finished Final Girls and it was the best book I’ve read in 2017. There were so many wonderful twists and turns. I had no idea whodunit until they revealed it. I read a lot of mystery and thriller so I like to think I’m good at this. Trust me you will enjoy it. It’s the perfect end of summer, beginning of Halloween season read. If you read it lemme know your thoughts!! I’ve been dying to talk about it.” I’m sold.

Tony and Anne Hillerman Books
-Bethany

These books will transport you to the stillness of the west and the sinister mood of not knowing who in your small, close-knit community can be trusted. This police procedural models the inefficiency of “the system,” and the need to keep your bits about you at all times. I ready Skinwalkers just after moving back from out west, and the spooky superstitions are told with the candidness any Navajo will tell these tales with.

 

 

 

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, or, On the Segregation of the Queen
-My recommendation

A Mary Russell novel, the first book of this series introduces Sherlock Holmes and his partner, not sidekick, but partner in solving mystery. I retired-ish Holmes takes on only cases than interest him, and starts the novel guiding and teaching Ms. Russell. By the end, she is able to keep up, and even wins a few matches of chess against the infallible Sherlock.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Series
-My recommendation

The Millennium trilogy is by far my favorite series of books I have ever read. Larson’s writing is captivating, and the main character Salander is such a badass. If you enjoyed the movie, Swedish or English, trust me, you won’t be able to put these books down. I do like the new books, continuing the series under a different pen. They don’t have quite the same impact on me as the originals, though.

All of Ruth Ware’s books
-Recommended by Sara and seconded by me!

I have become such an intense fan of Ruth Ware and everything that she has written. I loved “In a Dark, Dark, Wood,” but I was addicted to “The Woman in Cabin 10.” Ware’s characters are ferociously independent, but the events that lead them to risk are so relatable. A bachelorette party, a work trip, a high school reunion. We all pretty much do all of those things at some point, and they are usually considered safe and pleasant experiences. After finishing “The Woman in Cabin 10,” the gruesome murder of Kim Wall was discovered. I couldn’t get over it because I had just finished this book and been living in the mindset of the protagonist, a journalist who is kidnapped my a murderous owner of the ship. Ruth Ware’s books are almost too real.

 

Thanks to all of the recommendations, friends! Do you have any favorites that I missed?

 

Related: A Collection of Book Lists
Related: True Crime

Weekend Update

I know, I know. “Weekend Update” is already taken. I’m using it (for now, at least) to introduce my new beginning-of-the-week posts. Moving from Reflections and Intentions to something that requires me to be more thoughtful and genuine with all of you. 

What I Did

I wore this alpine meadows outfit at a wedding. Apparently I became semi-famous as “the girl in the yellow shoes.”

Speaking of the wedding, we stayed in the most beautiful hotel that had a curved, purple velvet chair. I read this book front to end in that chair (and on the plane). Adding a curved, purple velvet chair to my dream apartment list.

I began the first of several administrative updates to my blog. I am hoping to expand in many ways, including affiliate links in my holiday posts, which will help me divert more time and attention to those details. I would also like to open up The Wonder Of to guest submissions. More news to come!

What I’m Going to Do

Go on a ghost tour of Chicago with some awesome friends! Even better, we are going on Friday the 13th! I am excited for this spooky evening.

Teach guitar to middle school kids??? Keep me in your thoughts.

Pay my debts and plan for the holidays. If I get those things cleared now, I should be stress-free by December. I think. I hope. Planning to give you a peek into my holiday travel arrangements, including details on multi-city flight bookings, and a top secret update about some of TSA’s newest changes.

Related: 

Discovery

Fall Outfits in Three Moods

Four Things

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Four Things

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I think everyone should try their own Face the Foliage project in the spirit of changing leaves and all things fall. What a good opportunity to take a mindful walk and make art.

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This sweet potato round-up is seriously good. I’m between these tempting noodles with cashew sauce (?!) and the sweet potato peanut stew. Yeah. Sweet potato peanut stew.

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My next read, if only to watch the movie after.

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I can’t stop watching these mesmerizing animations of Nigerian hairstyles. What a cool art project.

 

Fall Outfits in Three Moods

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The Look: Alpine Meadow

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The Essentials:  A floral dress in the colors of your soft clutch and bright pumps

The Mood: Energized

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The Look: Franco Feet

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The Essentials: A graphic sweater and ankle pants with french loafers and subtle textured socks in velvet or sheer

The Mood: Mysterious

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The Look: Urban Witch

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The Essentials: Purchase this rare celestial shirt and pair it with raw-hem denim. Find delicate gold charm-like jewelry to make this ensemble sophisticated, not angsty.

The Mood: Powerful

 

Reflections and Intentions

Reflections
-Kept my boyfriend’s birthday gift a secret for a whole month and surprised him with a kayaking trip through downtown Chicago!
-Kept eating right, kept exercising, kept losing weight.
-Took a sick day and felt better for it. It’s hard to know when you are really sick and when rest will fix it. Hint: rest will always fix it.

Intentions
-Schedule group personal training and other exercise opportunities (read: hiking, dancing) for the upcoming months
-Stay one day ahead of schedule so flying to a wedding this weekend is zero stress
-Really, TRULY stay up to date on the blog

Intended
-meet my blog goals. Sorry for the inconsistency, guys!
-My Climb Like a Girl program is almost over. I need to set a new personal challenge.

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Discovery

I really enjoy the personal challenge that comes with each new theme. September was all about resiliency, which translated for me as a strength and firmness. I am excited to learn and evoke more playfulness with October’s theme: Discovery.

October brings the first brisk bites of fall weather, with the accompanying sense of opportunity. It is a time of year that people consume all sorts of flavors we neglect the rest of the year: apple, pumpkin, nutmeg, mace, squash! The same goes for color and texture. The other day I bought goldenrod high heels and a royal blue velvet clutch. Granted, the purchases were for a specific wedding outfit, but the color and texture were so unlike me! I think I caught a little bit of this autumn influence.

October brings instant thoughts of festivals and Halloween. A month of celebration and adventure, people from all walks of life partake in a bit of blatant paganism. Expect a post on the vital relationship between women and their personal witchiness. It’s coming.

My personal resolutions for discovery including learning something new, trying on a new viewpoint or lifestyle, and trying something I think I don’t like (swimming, pickles, etc.).

Expect invigorating challenges, new things, whimsical stories, and the expected spookiness on the blog this October.

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Wake Me Up When September Ends?

I feel like I sort of blacked out during the month of September. Everything started out fine, and is still fine really, but I lost my focus. I stayed busy and did what I needed to do, but this blog definitely fell back in priority.

Kudos to your readership, though, because we maintained our following with only 11 posts in the month. I am working to maintain some regularity with posts throughout October. I have a lot of great drafts in the works and hope to publish them in the coming weeks. Thank you for sticking with me!

September’s theme was resiliency. Here were some of my early September thoughts on the topic.

I can be resilient.

Resilience requires constance. A commitment to one way- the harder way, usually. I commit to a job that makes me weary but brings the weary up. I commit to food I need even if it’s not the food that I want. I commit to moving when all I want to do is be still.

I think that is how to be resilient. Commit to a few hard things.

I am happy to say that, now in October, I did these things. I started some ass-kicking weight training, I went outdoor rock climbing, my boyfriend and I kayaked through downtown Chicago. Oh, and I lost 10 pounds and counting. It’s been a strengthening month.

Here is a collection of posts from this month on the theme of resilience:
Strategies for Resilience
Learning to Ride a Bike
5 Rules for Your Side Hustle
Game Changing Workout Gear
On Female Friendship
What I Ate in 10 Days

Thanks for sticking with me!

Related: The Best of August on The Wonder Of

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Reflections and Intentions

Reflections
-I forgot my keys. It’s definitely Monday.
-I went rock climbing outside  !!!!!!
-I am rectified in CPR.

Intentions
-meet my blog goals. Sorry for the inconsistency, guys!

-My Climb Like a Girl program is almost over. I need to set a new personal challenge.

Intended
-Climb a V2 at the rock wall
-I’m climbing outside and camping this weekend!
-Get more sleep. (Tuesday night maybe?)
-Do more things that aren’t Netflix. Bike. Play piano. Play a long game of chess.