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.

What I Ate in 10 Days

Taking control of eating and spending habits requires resiliency. Here is an account of me saying no to doughnuts because they look better than they taste, but sometimes saying yes to cake for the opposite reason.

Saturday
5:48: I don’t know why I am awake, showered, and dressed at 5:48 on a Saturday morning. I am sipping lukewarm coffee and working on the blog. ☕️

7:30: My classic green goddess smoothie. I have this almost every day, so photos and recipe cwill be found below.

8:45 I’m glad this week isn’t the money diary because I just dropped my car off for repairs. 😱 Anyway, we are downtown getting a lavender latte because Pickwick (Now Hero coffee?) is literally the cutest coffee shop in the whole world.

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I ended up eating 1/3 of my boyfriend’s Manhattan Bagel. 10/10 would have again.

1:30 We tried to go to a football game. That turned into a fruitless 45 minute bike ride followed by a frustrating moving of the car from one shop to another, and finally, a desperate stop at Potbelly. I ate the whole classic smoked ham and swiss sandwich (with tomato and lettuce, please!) along with some tangy salt and vinegar chips and an S. Pellegrino that I sourced from my refrigerator. Then I had a Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cup. 🚴

6:00 A post rock climbing feast at Green Street Smoked Meats. While I really only needed half of either, I ate all of a serving of pulled pork and loaded baked beans. No regrets.

9:00 A mini Trader’s Joe peanut butter cup while I soberly sipped water with my friends. Later: 1 (maybe 2?) baby pigs in a blanket and many, many tortilla chips.

Sunday

11:00 I had a lazy morning of sipping coffee until suddenly the coffee hit and I was STARVING. I hangrily rampaged the kitchen and whipped together a winning brunch of one pot bacon, green beans, and potato.

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12:00 A handful of pretzels I think, a chocolate covered banana, chunky monkey ice cream… skipping breakfast was not a great strategy.

4:00 Woops, I took a long nap. 2 dark chocolate peanut butter cups and a bowl of popcorn, because I haven’t been grocery shopping yet. I washed and prepped kale, which is almost like eating it.

7:30 Kale and butterbeans! 🍲

9:30 One more peanut butter cup and like 10 more pretzels (oops)

Monday

8:00 Another hangry day, because I have fasting bloodwork sometime between 9 and 12. This appointment and its many requirements means that I have the day off work.

8:54 I am so hungry.

9:26 I’m not getting less hungry.

9:54 Like, coffee would be nice. I wouldn’t mind not eating if I could have a hot drink.

10:12 Seriously, how long can this appointment last?

10:35 The nurse just guessed that I am run by looking at my legs. HIGH PRAISE.

11:35 Okay, I went a little crazy.
I just consumed:
-a egg and cheddar biscuit with butter and jam
-a chocolate almond croscent
-leftover kale and butter beans
-two cups of coffee
-a handful of pretzels

All at once. I really didn’t spread it out. This is a case for eating small meals throughout the day, also a valid argument for not skipping breakfast.

5:30 Taco night! I had mine on kale to compensate for my wild and crazy brunch.

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10:30 Sneaking snacks of pita chips and hummus before bed.

Tuesday

7:30 My school week breakfast and lunch routine is pretty consistent. The night before I make a green goddess smoothie.🍐🍌🍐🍌🍐Having that with coffee!

11:00 I have a snack of carrots and celery in garlic hummus. I clean my teeth and garlic breath with a giant honeycrisp apple.

1:00 Lunch is always last night’s leftovers on a bed of kale and spring mix lettuce. Tacos were made up of sweet potato, black bean, corn, onion, and red pepper. Add a lime wedge and enjoy! And then an orange. Everyone loves the smell of fresh citrus. It’s a pleasant aroma that lingers.

6:00 Our meal that was so good I forgot to take pictures followed by a chocolate cake with too many shortcuts and a decedent icing.

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8:46 Too many tastings of the icing. My stomach hurts, bad.

9:48 Still feeling bad. Maybe it was taking medicine with the cake? Dad swears by coconut water to cure acid reflux. I had some. It seems to help.

Wednesday

7:30 I wasn’t kidding about the consistency. Green goddess smoothie and coffee. I owe you some photos and recipes!

11:00 My afternoon carrots and celery in garlic hummus with a side of giant honeycrisp apple.🍎

1:00 More taco on kale followed by an orange. 🍊

5:00 Sneaking in a baked potato with olive oil, salt and pepper before my climbing class. I meant to pack tomorrow’s lunch before I left, but…

5:20 Popcorn with olive oil and BOTH Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Sorry not sorry. Those were followed by two hours of working out. 💪🏾✌🏾

9:45 Pita chips and hummus.

Thursday

7:30 Green goddess smoothie and fresh coffee! Here’s the smoothie recipe. Instead of almond butter, I use almond flour.

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11:00 Carrots and celery in garlic hummus with a side of giant honeycrisp apple.

1:00 More taco on kale followed by an orange. I brought my canteen of coffee today, and that is a much needed pick-me-up this afternoon. ☕️

6:00 Leftover Indian food from earlier in the week!

8:30 Instead of popcorn and chocolate, I had a few pistachios and then I blended banana and cocoa powder together. It tasted like dark chocolate pudding but it was essentially the nutritional value of a banana. Brilliant.

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Friday

7:30 Basically the same food day as yesterday. A green goddess smoothie and fresh coffee for breakfast.

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11:00 Snack time: carrots and celery in garlic hummus with a side of giant honeycrisp apple.

1:00 More taco on kale followed by an orange. I sipped from my canteen of coffee while I had a surprisingly DELICIOUS birthday cake from the teacher’s lounge. A great way to celebrate Friday (and my principal’s birthday). ☕️🎈 🎂🎉

6:00 Leftover Indian food from earlier in the week, and a big bowl of popcorn.

Saturday

7:30 First breakfast: banana bread loaded (unnecessarily) with butter. Much coffee.

10:00 Second breakfast: a brat burger grilled fresh at the farmer’s market.

1:30 An extraordinarily late delivery of our order from a great little place called Two Cats Cafe. I had a curried omelette, the Morning in Mumbai, unsweetened turkish coffee, and a nutella strawberry banana smoothie.

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5:30 Mom’s potato soup, which tastes like cozy nights in the warm kitchen during cold weather months. Followed by Mom’s pistachio salad. There was a bite of a “cookie” from my brother in there- that cookie turned out to be a spicy cracker. I was so surprised that I I just spit it out.

8:00 A huge cuppa coffee as I hit the road. 🚘

11:30 A much needed slice of late night pizza as I returned home. 🍕

Sunday

8:30 You know how you microwave a frozen burrito and it is frozen on the outside so you end up putting it in for 4 minutes like three different times and then it is lava hot on the inside? Yeah. Bonus points for this burrito being homemade, and for my boyfriend and I have the foresight to freeze it for later. 10 points to Gryffindor!

11:04 Hmm. I’m still hungry.

12:00 Okay, I went to the grocery store and picked up some fruit so I could make a peanut-butter strawberry banana smoothie. Very good. Very filling.

5:30 Gardetto’s. A desperate snack on the road.

7:30 Potato soup (Thanks mom!), grilled cheese and apple cider.

Monday

8:45 I spent like an hour this morning making all of my meals for today and half of tomorrow, and then left without my breakfast smoothie! Luckily, my very thoughtful boyfriend was willing to meet me halfway to work and drop it off. Love the green goddess smoothie and getting all the good stuff in first thing in the morning. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget my coffee.

11:00 You know the drill. Hummus and carrots and celery! Then my honeycrisp apple.

1:00 Veggies on a bed of kale, an orange. An S. Pellegrino because I need a little crisp fizzy pick me up.

6:00 Leftover pizza and a cup of strawberries during my climbing break, and some coconut water to replenish those electrolytes!

 

Thanks for reading my food diary! You learn a lot about yourself and your habits when you track your lifestyle in this way. Next up: money diary. Any suggestions for habit diaries?

 

On Female Friendship

Image from Glossier

When I was in high school, I boasted about the fact that I had no girlfriends.

It was trés cool to roll with the boys. And that’s what I did! Forever the friend, I drove my buddies in my mom’s minivan to heavy metal concerts and we pulled off the most ridiculous stunts at band practice. Sometimes we would break into an abandoned “haunted” house just to have the shit scared out of us and other times we would watch bad movies and recreate the gross signature meal. I’m looking at you, Troll 2 Nilbog Pie. I have grown distant from these friends, but I love and miss those guys, and they shaped who I am today.

I remember the first time I made a real, reliable girlfriend. The kind that you click with instantly and remember forever. I was away, traveling, and when I met these girls from bigger and faster cities, for the first time I felt like I was listened to completely, and more than that: I felt heard.

I was not the butt of the jokes with this crew, and intelligence and argumentativeness were validating qualities. They were funny and danced with ease and comfort. They felt like all of the good parts of femininity that I had been stuffing away so that I felt cool and accepted with the boys.

Flash forward:

In college, I was back to my old ways of worrying about whether or not I was accepted as one of the guys. When I wasn’t concerned about my friendships with some, I was pursuing romantic interest with others. I keep in touch with a number of them, but the people that I will always love are the women that spent time with. What I miss most are late night debates about the politics of colonial America (?) or playing tunes on the porch a lazy Sunday morning with all the girls. I will never forget the minutes that felt like hours during which we considered all of our pizza options and everyone’s personal tastes before inevitably settling on Hawaiian. I not one single women entered my life as a friend and abandoned me as a friend. Every female friendship I have made in the last 5 years has lasted and developed and has been deeply meaningful.

I am so excited that now, in my formative years of adulthood, I am learning how to seek out these independent women to have in my life as supporters and friends. I made my first new friend in my new city 6 months after moving! I realize now that you can’t meet new people when you sit on your couch and watch Netflix. By learning how to rock climb, I have made one new friend, who shared her friends with me (even bringing me to a B.Y.O.F. party… Bring Your Own Friend!). I have recently joined a group of women training to be better and stronger climbers, I am amazed at the ease of new friends who want to put themselves out of their comfort zone and learn something new. When my friend joined a rowing course, she noted how few men were on the beginner team, and said “of course it’s all women signing up and trying new things!” Of course there are adventurous men signing up and trying new things, but one of the amazing qualities about women who seek personal independence is that they aren’t afraid of something new and different.

This new group of women I have been climbing with is already very special to me because we can all share a sense of camaraderie formed from being awkward and uncomfortable together, laughing at these struggles, and drawing power from them.

So here is to long and lasting friendships with great women.

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Image from Glossier

Game Changing Workout Gear

In the spirit of resiliency, I am trying many new hobbies and trying to stay extremely active. Here are some workout accessories for an active lifestyle.

Biking

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Wall Mount
Easy access, wall art, and home security for your bicycle.

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Phone Bracket
From here you can operate maps and track your speed and distance.

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Stationary Adaptor
So that you can bike and watch tv at the same time!!! Very good for winter exercise.

Running/ Walking/ Hiking

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I love my Allbirds and I love their versatility. They make me feel lighter and bouncier!

gokey-bracelet
The Gokey is a really convenient way to hold your key while running. I have lost my keys out of my shorts key pocket or off my shoelace before. This would have been very handy!
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Everest Fanny Pack
Affordable and in like 20 different colors! I am sold on the classic Everest fanny pack, and I order one in a new color whenever the need arises. (I actually wear one while I teach, to keep my emergency radio and student rewards accessible!)

 

Accessories

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Foam Roller
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Resistance Band Rainbow Set
Life Hack!!!! If you can’t do a full pull-up, you can attach a resistance band to the bar, place one foot inside of the resistance band, and go! It is amazing. I am using this trick to try and achieve one pull-up by the end of my four week rock climbing training session!

Workout Leggings

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Stirrup Leggings
Perfect for protecting ankles from the cold while biking, running, or keeping pants in place during yoga.

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Oxblood Mesh Leggings
Now that I am doing all sorts of new exercises like biking and rock climbing, I feel I need some variety in my workout clothes. I also feel like quality and durability is increasingly important, as these activities involve more friction.

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Hunter Leggings
A perfect shade of green. I could live in these on a camping/ hiking trip, for sure.

5 Rules for Your Side Hustle

One way I’ve realized for me to feel more independent and content with a high-stress job is to have a little side hustle running. I tried driving for Lyft, and I am ready to peel off my stickers and downgrade car insurance. It’s a hassle and frankly, I’m overqualified. I can earn 5 hours of Lyft money in one hour of private piano lessons. Here are my strategies for a little money to pad my rainy day/ sunny day accounts.

  1. Ask what you deserve. 
    There is no better time than when you are your own boss. This work is your overtime, and if you are going to put in extra hours you might as well earn what you deserve. If I am going to spend 2 hours teaching piano after 8 hours of butting heads with students, then that money best be worth my time, because it’s going to take a lot of energy and patiences.
  2. Don’t hate it. 
    You had a food service job in college and it drove you crazy. Don’t go pick up an evening shift at the place down the street! For the love of all that is good, find work that you can at least tolerate!
  3. Don’t let it interrupt your main gig (unless that’s secretly the plan)
    Look, for now teaching provides health insurance, a somewhat reliable income, and summers off. I am not going to jeopardize that consistency unless I have a solid footing for another career in place. That doesn’t mean I won’t explore other skillets and options, but it does mean I won’t pick up any crazy night shifts that will affect my ability to work the next day.
  4. Promote yourself
    Just like when applying to and interviewing for jobs, you are your own best advocate! Tout your skills and achievements loudly and proudly, because you deserve to make gains from your accomplishments.
  5. Schedule on time and off time
    Extra work and money can be a little addicting. When you start lining up your new opportunities, be sure to schedule solid time to yourself. Solid time doing what you love, like hanging out with friends or having dinner with your partner, but also some time to yourself. It’s healthy. You need it. Don’t go crazy with your side hustle.

 

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Learning to Ride a Bike

I learned how to bike when I was really young. Somewhere between the ages of 5 and 7 if I had to guess. It is curious, actually, that my parents made a point of buying each of us bikes and teaching us to ride. We lived on a busy, narrow road, the kind with ditches on the side and blindman curves throughout. There were certainly no sidewalks or bike paths in that entire side of town. There still aren’t.

The process of learning went like this. I would pedal all over the front yard and pace across the fifteen feet of uneven patio-style sidewalk and zoom and skid down the steep gravel driveway with my training wheels on. At some point, the training wheels were removed and my dad would walk me back and forth on the tiny sidewalk, letting go every once and a while. I have no memory of the actual transition from needing help to riding independently: one minute he was holding on, and then suddenly I could do it on my own.

I do think that is how we remember skills that we learn when we are young. There is no process or technique; we have known how to do this for so long that it is innate. Some people are this way with swimming or playing an instrument. Learning those skills as an adult, though, and practicing at them alongside people who have those skills internalized is intimidating and humbling. I have been thinking about this as we bike along the lakeshore path  in Chicago. Several times a week, we pass a woman in her thirties or forties who wears a bright blue helmet, has a broad and sturdy bike, and moves glacially slow. Her legs push the pedals in a controlled cyclic motion and her hands are firmly planted on the handlebars in the bicycling equivalent of hands on two and ten. We pass her immediately each encounter, but she is never surprised, she just moves methodically ahead, eyes focused on the path ahead of her.

I am sure she just learned how to ride.

Obviously, having not asked her directly, I have no way to truly know her history of biking. Maybe she just keeps her bike on a low low gear? The way she moves, though, with a steady pace and careful balance, I am sure that she is a student driver, if you will.

I have been biking my whole life, and was  still very intimidated to bike on the road to get to lakeshore path, and then equally intimidated to ride along and be passed by speedy “real bikers.” The kind that have those ugly sporty sunglasses on, those alien-shaped helmets and those tight, padded pants. Those guys. I cannot imagine mustering up the same courage if I was new and unsure and all alone but guess what? This woman does that. All the time! She practices with regularity and determination. Color me impressed.

I guess in a way I do that with other things. Practicing my instrument even though I started five years later than the masters and always feel a little behind. Enrolling in a rock climbing training course with real climbers even though I can’t make it up the wall right now. Having conversations about child behavior with parents who are older than me. There is definitely a fake it till you make it confidence requirement for learning and growing in different skill sets.

I think that watching this woman’s focus and determination has given me a fresh inspiration to try new things and to commit to hard things. It is really tempting to withdraw from uncomfortable challenge, but the struggle makes us stronger.

I’ll be sure to wear a helmet.

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Strategies for Resilience

I have said before that I think we should make resolutions throughout the year. As I am readjusting to a work schedule, I am quickly reminded of how difficult it is to stay happy and healthy while working full time. Here are some of my strategies for staying active and alert this year, but also in just the coming weeks.

 

Sign up for fitness opportunities that are outside of your comfort zone!
Rock climbing, rowing, paddle boarding, kayaking, biking… whatever! Whatever is new and different and scares you just a little bit. Trust me. It is so good for you to be out of your comfort zone.

Do something alone.
Take a trip. Go downtown just because. Take yourself to dinner and a movie.

What do you love the most? Do that a lot.
For me, that is camping. I vow to camp at least once a month until it is way too cold.

Reconnect with your passions.
I became a music teacher because I love music, but I only play when I have an event coming up. Solutions: schedule an event, join a group, go to jam sessions, etc..

Have a job just for fun.
My boyfriend and I are hanging up posters for giving music lessons, because we get to work one on one with students and make a little extra money in the evenings. In addition to having a pleasant working experience, we are also building a small financial cushion to help during those unpaid summer months or career transitions.

Make new friends. (And keep the old!)
I made exactly one friend in my first year living in Chicago! I also made friendly coworkers, but that’s different. It is amazing how happy and relaxing it is to spend time with another person, and to get out of the house to do something with them. This year I want to continue making friends, and will work harder to visit my friends in Chicago and beyond.

Don’t disconnect.
There are a lot of ways to distance yourself from difficult work. Last year, I became closed off at times. I would avoid calling my family because I didn’t want to share the details of my day or week, and would be quiet and angry when I would get home. I would just sit on the couch fuming for hours! I realize now that I need to take some time to myself, like a 30 minute walk, or listening to upbeat music on the drive home, and then I need to reach out to the people who love me and share my day and listen to theirs! Connect with the people you love.

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