Friends can be a tricky avenue to maneuver. Within friendships, you have a person, other than yourself, who can be affected by the choices and decisions you make. There’s conflict and restoration. There’s an external being that feels emotions toward you. There’s someone who cares deeply about your life. This relationship can be both beautiful and broken. As a young adult with little life experience, I’m in no way a friendship expert. However, I’ve had many people in my life who have taught me how important it is to have great friends. Life becomes a wonderful journey when you start to do it with people. Especially when those people are great friends.
You need honest friends. We’ve all heard, “honesty is the best policy”. It’s real, especially with friends. Having people who are honest with you is not as common as one might think. The people that encourage you one hundred percent of the time aren’t great friends. Sounds bold, right? What if that friend encourages you to do something that you will regret for the rest of your life? Great friends tell you what you don’t want to hear. The caveat is it must be in truth. What your friend says must be based on a reputable source for it to be truth.
You need loving friends. To be a loving friend, he or she needs to be a solid friend. These people are so secure that no matter the cause, they will forgive you. It’s an unconditional type of love. It’s a love that won’t leave you because of your own brokenness. Because we are all imperfect. A great friend is someone who sees the parts of you that the world doesn’t see and still chooses to stay.
You need great friends. Life is hard to do on your own. It’s demanding, chaotic, and draining. However, it can also be beautiful. The joyful moment’s everyone has in life are meant to be shared with others. Shared experiences of high points in life that make an impact on you are memories meant to be made with people. We are designed to live life with people and to let others in and to be let in.
Seek great friends. Life’s burdens are too heavy to carry on one back. Let others lighten the load and have the freedom to be vulnerable, laugh without restraint, and be loved unconditionally.
We are all scared of change, whether it is a change in our daily schedule or change in the weather. This creates a bit of uneasiness in with us. I personally believe when you change an aspect of your life and it makes you uneasy that is when the best thoughts, ideas, and personality comes from. I have found that schedules can have their advantages and disadvantages. They are very good in the sense of keeping you in line and focused but there is an aspect that is missing and that is “what are we missing?” Within this post, I am going to share a couple of ways that I have achieved seeking discomfort in my daily life. These are very simple ways that you can get out of a rut and experience something new.
Go a different route to class/work
We get stuck in the same process every day. We take the same way to get to our destination and you may never know what you are missing if you take a different way. We see the same parking spot, the same sidewalk, and sometimes the same people. I have found that when I walk a different way to class I realize a lot of different things that I have never before. I run into old friends that I have not seen in a while.
Sit in a new spot in the classroom (non-COVID times)
When we were not in all COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing. I always challenged myself to sit in a different spot every week or so if the professor allowed moving spots. If they did not allow spot moving, then I would enter into the classroom and choose a spot next to people that I did not know. This was a challenge to me because we are all okay with what is normal to us. We find security in our own normal.
Try a new place to eat
I have to be honest with you, every time I am hungry and too lazy to make food I immediately go to McDonald’s without even thinking about it. This is a massive thing I have struggled with. It is just comforting food that I know will fulfill my need for food. We always lean to what is comfortable to us, instead we should be seeing what else is out there and trying new food or places.
Ask a friend that you have lost touch with to catch up
This is honestly one of the hardest to do. We all live in a life now of people’s opinions of ourselves are taking a lot more personally then they have ever. We strive to get the most likes on our pictures or the most views. This can take a toll on someone’s mental health and self-image. That is why I try to connect with people that I have not talked to in a while. This might be a high school friend that you got distanced because of college or a college friend that just split ways with you. This can be very overwhelming at first thought about reaching out to this specific person, but you could make this person’s day if you simply sent them a text.
Do anything that makes you scared.
In daily life, I say ‘I don’t want to do that’ or ‘I don’t like that’ this is something I have been catching myself say, and it all roots down to fear. Fearing something that you do not know anything about is one aspect of life that can stop you from doing anything. Living in fear is not a way of life it is a blanket.
These are some aspects that I have learned by following and living the sole purpose of seeking discomfort. This originated from a YouTube group called Yes Theory. If you have any time to spare go give them a watch and a listen.
To start, remember that you have got this! You are starting an adventure that will have lasting impacts on you and your family, regardless of your starting support network size. You can do this.
Here are a few tips to make the transition a little less stressful as you go back to school:
Start Building a Support Network
The more support you have through your college experience, even if it is just for yourself, the better it will be in the long run for you and your kids. We’ll talk about some support network ideas for the kids in just a moment.
Begin in your school’s student success center. In the business school, they have been a great resource for me. They have assisted me with my resume and they have been an encouragement for so much of the hard steps.
They even made a way for me to have access to career fairs that would have been difficult to attend with my daughter. The first semester of the evening career fair, they even offered to watch her! The second semester, they asked a MISA (Management Information Student Association) member to watch children for the event. That is an amazing resource! They have been incredibly good to me. They would not have known my need, however if I had not taken the first step to meet with them.
Meet with your Professors
I cannot stress enough how vital this is. Your professors want you to succeed and want to help you!
Every professor in and out of my major has been wonderful. I do feel like I was incredibly blessed haven chosen the MIS degree path. My professors have supported, encouraged, given hard advice, and pushed me to be the best I could be and not limit myself because of the fact that I am a single mom and a non-traditional student. I have signed a contract for an amazing career, before I graduate, because of my professors.
They did things that made it easier for me to succeed. For example, I brought my daughter to class on the days when she was out of school in the middle of the week.
Here is the truth though, I emailed or talked to my professors to make sure it was okay to bring her with me. I never wanted them to think I took it for granted and I wanted them to have an option to say no. They have never not allowed me to bring her with me. Every time I have needed to bring my daughter, all of my professors have been gracious towards me and her.
Do Not Limit Yourself to Just Your College
Ask about resources that will help you succeed in your learning and then follow up and utilize them. Need help with writing? Go to the writing center. If you have a kid that is young enough to go to ASUM childcare, utilize that resource. If you need help with almost any high fail rate class, there is a study jam or tutoring to be found in the evenings or in the Lomasson building.
The generosity of faculty, staff and other students, was one of the things that most surprised me in this experience as a non-traditional single parent student.
Support For Your Child
How Do You Balance Homework And Parenting?
My daughter was 8-years-old when I began school, so we were able to have conversations about what it was like to be in college from the start. We do a lot of talking through her feelings when it gets hard and she feels like she is not getting the level of attention that she needs. I try to be as validating as possible about how challenging it can be for her, too.
We make compromises as well. So, for example, I will set a timer for ten minutes and I will stop working on homework once that goes off just to be present with her. I will sometimes set another timer to know when to get back to my assignments.
How Do You Handle Out Of School Days While Still Having Class?
I typically take my daughter with me. She gets screen time during the classes, which is a treat for her. Plus, I let her know that I am excited that she gets to attend class with me. Like I said before, my professors have been very kind to her and I have also found that other students make her feel welcome to be in the class.
Another option, here in Missoula, are drop-in daycare centers. The one that I will use on occasion is very loving and my daughter feels safe there.
How Do You Handle Your Child Being Sick?
The university does not have a great solution for sick kids. However, after growing my friend base and support group, I have found that there are some faculty, staff and other students are willing to help me and not just from my own college. I have also found that my professors have been very understanding through the process of having a sick child. So seriously, talk to your professors!
The building of a support network is very important to your success as a student. I believe that if you are willing to put yourself out there and be friendly, you will be able to have the support group that you need. I have found that the University of Montana’s faculty, staff and students are an incredible group of people that, on the whole, want to be in your corner as you pursue your educational goals!
Mandy Fischer is a single parent to an amazing 10-year-old daughter. She will be graduating the Spring of 2020 from the University of Montana with a Business Management Information Systems degree. She recently accepted a position with Deloitte that begins after graduation and is excited for the future!
Wintertime in Whitefish, Montana is one of the most beautiful seasons to enjoy the small ski town and all it has to offer. This town doesn’t slow down after a winter storm, it celebrates it! Are you thinking about exploring this hidden gem for a weekend getaway? This article will give you the perfect weekend itinerary for what to see and do while you’re here.
8:30 am – Breakfast at Buffalo Cafe
A local favorite, Buffalo Cafe offers amazing breakfast options to keep you energized for your full day ahead!
10:00 am – Ski on Big Mountain
A trip to Whitefish is never complete without a day at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Endless slopes and an approachable mountain offers a day of fun for all level of skiers and snowboarders.
3:00 pm – Apres Ski at Hellroaring Saloon
After hittin’ the slopes, enjoy an apres-ski drink and nachos at Hellroaring Saloon, located next to the village on the mountain.
5:00 pm – Massage at the Spa at Whitefish Lake
You’re bound to be sore after a day on the mountain, so treat yourself to a massage at the beautiful Spa at Whitefish Lake!
7:00 pm – Dinner at Tupelo Grille
Be sure to book a table here, and be ready for one of the best meals in town. Featuring local cuisine influenced by cajun and southern flavors, the superb service completes a meal here.
8:30 am – Breakfast at Loula’s Cafe
Loula’s breakfasts include the standard fare as well as popular originals like Lemon Stuffed French toast with raspberry sauce or Eggs Benedict with white truffle oil.
9:45 am – Pick up a Packed Lunch from Montana Coffee Traders
Before you head off for the day, pick up a packed lunch from Montana Coffee Traders. They offer a variety of sandwiches and snacks that you can bring with you to the park which is helpful because most restaurants in West Glacier are closed in the winter!
10:00 am – Drive to Glacier National Park to snowshoe
The beautiful Glacier National Park is only a 30-minute drive away from Whitefish and offers miles of scenic snowshoeing trails. You can rent snowshoes from multiple places in town as well as outside of the park.
7:00 pm – Dinner at Abruzzo’s
Finish off your day with a delicious traditional Italian meal at Abruzzo’s. They offer extensive selection of shared plates, grilled steaks, fresh seafood, and a small but decadent dessert list, all prepared in-house and served alongside an Italian-focused cocktail program and an Italian-centric wine list.
If you went to school in the 80’s or 90’s you probably played the computer game The Oregon Trail. While on your exciting and fateful journey you learned about dysentery and getting run over by a wagon. Luckily, on this journey you have very little chance of those things happening. However, there is a high chance you will learn about our ancestors and have a bit of fun. So let’s get started…
We’re going to begin our journey west in Independence, Missouri. All of the historic trails—Oregon, Santa Fe, and California, started at or near Independence. This was a popular “jumping off” point where the pioneers
could stock their wagons before their arduous journey. Spend some time getting acquainted with the trail at the National Frontier Trails Museum. This museum researches, interprets, and preserves the history of the pioneers who traveled along the trials. After seeing the museum head to the Independence Courthouse Square, this was the official start of The Oregon Trail. Walk around the square and try and get a sense of what it was like to have all of your earthly possessions crammed into a wagon to set off on a dangerous journey across the continent.
Make your way west to Rock Creek Station which is near Fairbury, Nebraska. Rock Creek Station was a Pony Express station and road ranch that served the
pioneers along the trail. It is here where Wild Bill Hickok shot his first man. You can see reconstructed buildings, pioneer graves and trail ruts. While in the area you should definitely check out the wonderful Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Nebraska.
Keep heading west to Kearney and The Great Platte River Road Archway, one of the coolest spots along the trail. The monument is a museum that honors the people who followed the historic trails and built America.
After visiting The Archway head to the south side of the interstate to visit Ft. Kearney. This was an important outpost along the trail, it allowed the pioneers to resupply and offered them a safe resting area in a sometimes harsh territory.
Continue on brave pioneer, you’re 15% finished with your journey!
We are next headed to the Scottsbluff area and there is A LOT to see here so make sure you have some snacks. This would also be a great area to make your home base for a few days. The first landmark you can see from a distance is Courthouse and Jail Rocks.
These are the first rock formations that the pioneers would have seen on their journey west. At one time there was also a Pony Express station located here.
Just a mere fifteen miles further west stands Chimney Rock.
One of the most awe inspiring and famous landmarks along the trail, Chimney Rock rises over 300 feet above the valley. Do you have some quarters in your pocket? If one is a Nebraska state quarter then you will see a wagon in front of this majestic landmark. While you’re here make sure to check out the pioneer cemetery.
After Chimney Rock head over to see the fabulous landmark Scotts Bluff National Monument. Scotts Bluff encompasses over 3,000 acres and towers 800 feet over the valley.
Visitors to the monument can walk in the footsteps of the pioneers of the Oregon Trail, drive to the top of the bluff via the Summit Road and stand in awe at the sight of the bluffs rising up from the prairie.
Before you leave Scotts Bluff pay your respects to an Oregon Trail pioneer, Rebecca Winters. Her grave lies on the eastern side of the town of Scottsbluff at the corner of South Beltline Highway and US Highway 26. Rebecca died in 1852 after contracting cholera, a friend chiseled her name on an iron wagon tire which still stands on her grave today.
Keep heading west, pioneer, to Ft. Laramie. You’ve made it to Wyoming! You’re a quarter of the way there! The fort was constructed in the 1830’s to support the fur trade and it soon became the largest and most important fort on the frontier. Travelers would stop here for several days to rest, mail letters home, and resupply. Today you can stroll the grounds and visit some of the many restored buildings and ruins.
Just down the road a bit from Ft Laramie is the town of Guernsey where you can see Register Cliff and the Guernsey Trail Ruts. Register Cliff contains the engravings of hundreds of trail pioneers in the soft sandstone. Register Cliff, along with Independence Rock and Names Hill, is one of three prominent “recording areas” in Wyoming.
The Guernsey Trail Ruts, or the Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site, is an amazing section of preserved trail ruts. Decades of pioneers, wagons, and animals wore down the sandstone two to six feet. Take some time and walk in the ruts.
Next on our journey is the town of Casper, Wyoming. This would be an excellent place to rest for a couple of days. While you are here make sure to visit the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. This museum showcases the several different trails with artifacts and interactive displays.
Just a few miles away is Ft Caspar, this is a military post that was named for Caspar Collins who was killed during the Battle of Platte Bridge Station. Yes, Caspar really spelled his name that way.
Independence Rock, which lies about an hour southwest of Casper, is a large, rounded monolith that is known as the “register of the desert.” The rock was a major landmark for the pioneers, they needed to make it here by July 4th to ensure they made it across the Rocky Mountains. If you walk all the way around the rock you’ve walked about a mile. Also try and climb to top so you can see the many pioneer inscriptions.
Head west on Highway 287 and south on Highway 28 you’ll see some of the most gorgeous Wyoming landscapes, you’ll be traveling through what’s called South Pass. This is also the half way point of the journey west. Hopefully, you’ll get to witness the graceful antelopes bounce through the sage. Make sure to stop at some of the roadside pull offs where you experience both the past and present.
Next you’ll want to make your way over to Montpelier, Idaho and visit the National Oregon/California Trail Center. This is a living-history center, which sits directly on the site of the historic Clover Creek Encampment on the Oregon Trail. The center contains displays and artifacts and depicts the pioneers’ journey along the trail.
Fort Hall is just a short drive from Montpelier but it would have taken the pioneers several days to get there. The fort was originally used as a fur trading post but soon became a major resupply center for the pioneers. They had been traveling for weeks since a resupply and hundreds of thousands of immigrants made use of Fort Hall.
Keep cruising along, pioneer, we are almost there!
Just west on I84 is Three Island Crossing. This was a major point for the pioneers. It was here where they had to decide on whether or not to cross the dangerous Snake River. If you remember from the Oregon Trail game many pioneers never made it across.
The last stop on this Oregon Trail journey is the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, Oregon. Yes, you made it to Oregon! This 500 acre site features original Oregon Trail ruts. The center also features dioramas, artifacts, and theater presentations.
Well, pioneers, you’ve made it to Oregon! Hopefully, no one drowned, died of dysentery, or got bit by any snakes. There are many more amazing places to see along the trail, hopefully you’ll be inspired to go on your own manifest destiny across the plains, prairies, and mountains of the west.