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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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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The Best of August on The Wonder Of

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On travel

Backpacking in Banff National Park

Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike

Hiking in Jasper National Park

Vacations: Good, Bad, and Beautiful

In the City

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Entertainment

Book Lists

Unexpected Party Playlist

5 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Roadtrip (Or Right Now!)

Books I Read This Summer

Every Movie I Watched this Summer

I’ve Never Played Poker Before

Ten Best Album Covers of Summer 2017

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Outer Space

Space is my Jam

Eclipse Experiences in 5 Regions

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Professionals Series

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Applying for Jobs

10 Ways to Get Ahead and Get the Job

Dress for Success: The Professional

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Reflection

On Ritual

Changing Mindset

True Crime

Weekend Getaway

Resiliency

 

 

Books I Read This Summer

Well this is it, folks. Summer is officially dead to me. I’m in meetings all week, and as far as I’m concerned it’s fall. I will wrap myself in bright sweaters and soft leggings each evening, seeking premature cold-weather comfort to stifle the chill of being in the frigid air condition cell all day.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. Let’s reminisce about the summer! It was too short and I was too busy, but I did my part of escapism and read several novels. Here are the books I read and the journeys I read them during.

Handmaid’s Tale
I started this before I was out for the summer, but it was solidly summertime! Dark and horrifying, drawing eery parallels to modern times, this was not a light summer read.

Hillbilly Elegy
This was also not a light summer read, but my timing was appropriate. Reading about the struggle and consequential political defense of working class whites, I read this while visiting my hometown in southern Indiana. Many of the economic factors described in the book have happened exactly in my hometown, and reading this helped me understand some viewpoints I have always railed against without trying to understand.

Woman in Cabin 10
This was a haunting summer read that I have found even more chilling since the news of this true crime case. I devoured this book, even trying to read it slowly and stretch it out, it only lasted three days. I loved Ruth Ware’s book “In a Dark, Dark, Wood” and this did not disappoint.

A Man Called Ove
This book is tender and sweet, and brings joy and laughter where you least expect it. Featuring a crotchety old man, a mangey cat, and loving neighbors, this book brings the solemnity of age and joy of youth. This is a read that everyone can enjoy.

The Lying Game
I couldn’t get enough of the Ruth Ware books! As soon as I saw that she had another book out, I begged our hosts in NYC to take me to a bookstore. I visited two or three before I found it, and in true form, finished it in two or three days. Ware’s thrillers are so captivating and the main characters are so relatable, I really can’t bring myself to put them down.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
I am still working on this one. Think Sherlock Holmes meets young scholarly woman. In this story, the beginning of the Mary Russell Series, Sherlock and a young woman have a platonic and professional friendship where they study and conduct science experiments together, and work side-by-side as sleuths solving cases. These mysteries are tame, not scary, but thoughtful and interesting. Mary Russell is a headstrong independent woman, showcasing traits that were not popular in women during that period. It’s a feminine take on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals, set in the countryside instead of the city, happening during wartime in the early 20th century.

 

 

 

Changing Mindset

I want to change my circumstances. The people who love me insist that, while my circumstances are not ideal, they are bearable. They say I need to change my mindset.

How does a person change their mindset? A way of thinking feels like something you acquire and can barely and gradually adjust, like posture or breathing. You carry yourself in one way, behave this way always, and never notice it. And you notice it so rarely you can hardly change it.

I feel angry and anxious when I think about the circumstance I want to change. I also feel, in small parts, grateful to be self-sufficient. Proud to be independent. Loving towards the people I care for. In small parts.

So perhaps the way to change the mindset is to make those small parts big parts. Grateful to be self-sufficient. Self-sufficient enough to buy something I really don’t need, but really would like. Proud to be independent. Free to take a trip over the weekend, just because. Loving towards the people I care for. I can reward those people, thank them, care for them in more loving ways. If I make the small parts big parts, maybe the big parts (anger, anxiety) will become small parts.

Maybe not. Maybe I will bribe myself with presents and distract myself with outings to get through this. That is not changing my mindset, that is enduring. But I already know that I can endure.

So, maybe if the small parts are big parts, then the big parts will be small parts, and I will be happy again. Maybe I can change my mindset and accept my circumstance.

 

Reflections and Intentions

Reflections:
-Visited the Chicago Field Museum
-Enjoyed a whole week at our apartment FINALLY
-Ate kale every day
-Started a novel?!?!?!
-taught myself poker and rummy

Intentions:
-Continue our Professionals series
-Make a pinhole viewer and observe the eclipse
-Get ready to go back to work

Intended:
-Run! Bike! Walk! Hike!
-Build new Rituals
-Clean my apartment/ my life

Related:
Back to School
5 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Roadtrip
Space is my Jam
5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Applying for Jobs
Book Lists

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I’ve Never Played Poker Before

I’ve never played poker before.

That’s a lie. I think I’ve played poker before, but I barely remember the cards over the loud wine, and I definitely don’t remember the rules. The others, Erin, Jeff, the strangers, they say it’s easy.

You are dealt a hand, they explain, and then you place your wager. Then you make a statement of confidence and offer up your money. I do the math… the twenty dollars I may lose in two minutes were made during one or two long, grueling hour at a job that I hate.

I think of all the times I have heard someone evaluate another’s “poker face.” Everyone is an expert. You have it or you don’t. The poker face isn’t a lie. You want to convince others to match your bet, everyone is claiming a strong enough hand. You don’t want to reveal that your hand is too good, or not good enough. A poker face isn’t any true deception, just a quit calm surface where everyone wonders.

I’ve never played poker (except, maybe once), but I am average at chess. Excellent at euchre. My poker face is probably okay, but my strategizing face is a dead give away.

You know when you play chess and you count 8 moves ahead with your knight on the black square? And if your opponent doesn’t notice then you will have his queen? That strategizing face gives me away every time. Dad always moves his queen.

I played chess online for awhile. There is no frown from counting too long to give you away. No straight face bluff face poker face to cause doubt in your opponent. No face at all, really. What is the point of puzzling against one another in attempt to rob your friends of their dignity if there is no face? No endured faces of forged frustration or glee. No face of fury or disappointment at the end?

Now that I think of it, I definitely played poker once. I can’t forget those faces.

 

On Ritual

Rituals We Build

We build a ritual of evening tea, or easier, evening drink;
Rituals of candles, or worse, smoke.
Nightly rites of meditation, of running, or more accurately: of eating, of sitting.

Breaking a pattern of consumption for a practice of reflection, production.
Importantly: My Rituals are My Own.

Halting a custom of 9 to 5 misery and 5 till 9 dread
And building a new habit of morning gratitude and a nighttime celebration of joy.

Once I knew a ritual of music and laughter.
I will know that ritual again.

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Book Lists

“Everyone is always looking for the next good book to read.” That’s what my mom told me when I expressed surprise at the popularity of all the posts about favorite books. I have written lengthy descriptions about my favorite Summer Re-Reads and detailed reflections about popular books on controversial topics, such as The Handmaid’s Tale or Hillbilly Elegy. The Wonder Of is unrolling a new Book Lists page as a central location for all of the book lists that we publish. If you just finished a great novel and want to find one in a similar theme, check for more from our Nature Week Book Club or maybe What We Read on Vacation.

The Book Lists page will be regularly updated and reorganized, so be sure to keep checking back. If you’re curious, I’m reading this book now. What are you reading?