Grow up and Read About Some Dragons

Cole Junso

As we get older, we forget who it is that we wanted to be; is that true? I think part of it is. I remember aspiring to be a famous author, professional basketball player, or well-known artist. A younger version of myself couldn’t find a reason why I wouldn’t be able to be all three. Now, I want to make sure that I have enough money to pay rent. My goals and aspirations have shifted over the years. However, some things about myself haven’t changed since then. I still have a wild imagination and want to make sure I have an impact on this world. Reading fiction has had a large impact on my life and these stories have always been my favorites to delve into, for a variety of reasons. Fantasy stories can play an important role in building critical thinking skills, empathy, and even help in finding positive role models.

Fiction can create scenarios we never even thought possible. This helps broaden a person’s imagination, which many times develops into creativity and helps apply critical thinking. This happens because not every story gives the reader a sense of closure. Sometimes, the reader is left only to their imagination about what could have happened after the last words on the final page. When reading we often think we know how a situation is going to play out and what the outcome might be. Maybe that comes from our experiences, things we have read in the past, or maybe we just have an expectation about how a story is supposed to move forward. I prefer a story in which I am not given that closure, then I am forced to use my imagination and come up with alternative outcomes. You’re given the perspective of multiple characters, and every single one has a different personality, motivation, and ending to their story. This helps build a sort of empathy for the characters in the story, which will hopefully translate to real world situations.  

Developing a sense of empathy for characters that may not exist in the real world seems like an odd concept, but characters in fictional stories almost always reflect real people. So, in a way, understanding fictional characters can give the reader insight on how people function in the real world, and how they may tend to hide their true feelings and emotions. Understanding that fact is important when working with other people and figuring out how to deal with different social situations. Fiction often presents the idea that not every person’s life is exactly what it seems to be on the outside. My experience reading fantasy novels has helped me improve upon how I treat people and taught me to handle situations with more sensitivity and, ultimately, more empathy. In fact, some of the most influential characters in fiction novels are the ones that have an immense amount of empathy. These types of personas that we read about could play a more important role in our day to day lives than we realize.   

Sometimes these fictional characters can give us, even as adults, people to look up to, someone to help mold our ideas of who it is that we want to be. An important step into what makes a human being successful, is the drive to always be better than you currently are. If I am constantly improving myself as a person, then ideally, I am improving my impact on the people around me. The characters that we find in fictional stories can be so influential that, as a reader, you find yourself caring for them. At times, it can feel like their decisions matter and you genuinely care about the choices they make. Luckily, a lot of stories end happily, and you see those characters in a positive light; good defeating evil seems to be a common theme. These role models, from tales that could never be true, carry their influence into the real world. The reader might strive to make more of an impact, just as their favorite hero did.

Reading is truly important. It has helped people calm down from tense situations and rest a little easier. It greatly enhances vocabulary and expands knowledge for all. For some people it has provided an escape from the real world and given them positive role models to follow. There are a multitude of obvious reasons to read books, and fiction stories should not be left out. Fantasy novels have improved my imagination and creativity, while helping me apply those skills to critical situations. I know and understand people a little more after diving into fiction. It has given me insight on how to best interact with others in various situations. Reading has given me positive people to look up to, admire and strive to simulate. Find a way to be better than you are already; pick up a book about old kings, magic, elves or dragons and remember the imagination that made being a kid so much fun.

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What Losing Friends Has Taught Me

By Gianna Pagano

My Sophomore year of college I met a girl and we instantly connected on so many levels. From that moment forward we became best friends and we were practically inseparable. We did everything together, and I literally mean everything. She was the person that I looked up to for advice on family, friendships, boyfriends, and even academics. Not only was she nice, but she was smart, loyal, spontaneous, hilarious, and most important, she always supported me whenever I needed her.

As we get older and mature into who we decide to become, we often grow out of friendships or lose touch with them. A lot of the times these falling outs can be completely unintentional. Whether we get busy with school, work, family, new relationships, or we simply just change, the truth is that this is just the reality of life. 

I’m sure many of you have experienced something similar, and you can relate that it isn’t easy. There was never an argument or a huge fight that ended our friendship, we simply had a falling out. The past few months have been extremely difficult for me, and I feel that both my friend and I have missed out on being there for each other for many important events.

Having a falling out with a close friend can be emotionally draining, so here are 5 recommendations that helped me and can help many others going through the same process:

Give yourself time to process your emotions and understand the situation

A breakup with a friend can be just as tough as a breakup with a significant other, and it is normal to experience a wide range of emotions. To cope with your emotions, start by giving yourself time to grieve and assess your feelings about the situation so you can come to terms with the reality of losing a friend. During grieving, ask yourself: Are our problems beyond repair? Did they do something unforgivable? What caused this to happen?

Since the breakup with my friend, I have experienced about every emotion possible. I initially tried to brush it off and pretend I did not care. However, as weeks turned into months, I realized I was genuinely hurt by the situation and I missed her. I experienced a range of emotions: jealousy, anger, disappointment, loneliness, and confusion. I cried, A LOT.

It is important to remember that it is okay to feel vulnerable during these situations. You might force yourself to hold in your emotions, but bottling up your feelings is not healthy and it is normal to cry it out. 

Look at the situation from their perspective

Everyone has flaws, even you. Try to be more self-aware and understand you might have been in the wrong too. If you both equally contributed to the falling out, then you cannot throw all the blame on them nor should you hold a grudge. It is better to ask yourself: Why did the friendship end? Should I have tried harder to maintain it? Remember, friendship is a two-way street and it takes two people to communicate.

You should take into consideration how they are feeling. When you lose a close friend, it is likely that they are also experiencing the same or similar emotions as you are. And guess what, she probably misses you just as much as you miss her.

Do NOT make your mutual friends choose a side

I cannot express this one enough. A good friend would NEVER try to put their other friends in an uncomfortable position by forcing them to take a side. This problem involves two people, and no one else. Your mutual friends might be hurting too because they’re conflicted and feel they now have to split their time. Making your friends choose a side will only cause more drama and could ultimately make you lose those friends too. 

When both of you are in the wrong, you must be mature and refrain from speaking negatively about them. In my situation, I know that the girl was and still is an amazing person, so I never could say anything bad about her. Talking crap to your mutual friends puts them in an even more difficult position, and frankly, it will make you look petty.

Make new friends

Moving on is never easy but making new friends can be when you put yourself out there. While you may think that no one will ever compare to your lost friend, surrounding yourself around different people can fill the void and offer you new friendship qualities. Evaluate which qualities you look for in a friendship, then find the courage to expose yourself to new people.

I used to struggle when it came to making friends, and when I was younger, I honestly did not have that many. After my falling out, I decided to put myself back out there because I was tired of feeling left out. I ended up meeting a few girls recently that welcomed me in with open arms and have since become people I could not imagine my life without.

And finally, reach out when you are ready

If you are as stubborn as I am, this will be the hardest part. This requires you to be the bigger person and to take initiative. If you realize that you still want them in your life, start by apologizing or reaching out. If the two of you are still unable to resolve your issues, then at least you know you did everything that you could.

I found myself reaching out many times during the first few months, but I eventually stopped because nothing was changing. We would agree that we both missed each other and wanted to resolve our issues, but after each time I reached out, I never heard from her again. It turned into a never-ending cycle and only caused me more pain. I finally had to accept that when she was ready, she would let me know. 

If the friendship was genuine, remember that this is only temporary. Eventually you will both come around and have the opportunity to discuss the situation, but for now it is going to take some distance. In the meantime, be patient, focus on yourself, and understand that sometimes people change.

The reality of showing horses with non-horsey parents.

The learning curve is steep.

            Really steep. Mom always said, “The more you know, the more you don’t know.” And her go-to line, “Everything I know about horses I learned from Makenzi.” I started riding when I was 3, and went to my first horse show with my very own horse when I was 10. It was an adventure. I didn’t know what lead we were on without looking, I wore my mom’s old motorcycle chaps, I had sparkly, button-up Murdoch’s shirts, sparkly belts, and pink boots. I was hooked! Each show we went to, my parents started learning what to bring, how I should look, and the in-and-outs of horse showing by strictly observing. I didn’t start out with a trainer…just Mom, Dad, and me. Talk about dedication.

Pig tails, dad, and horses

 

Mom’s the checkbook. Dad’s the driver.

Not really, though. Mom still jokes about this, but they are so much more than that. After years of sitting through lessons, literally hundreds of hours, they know what to look for and can usually place a class pretty accurately despite being non-horsey. “I have no idea how you would do this, but I think his head looks a little too high. Can you fix that?” “POSTURE ALERT.” “Smile.” (I hated that one.) Although it snuck up on them, they know so much more about horses and showing than they thought possible…the hours added up.

Horse showing or camping?

 

Food, clothes, and hair.

My mom is the queen. Always needing a job, but never quite knowing how to help, we agreed very early on that she would be in charge of food, clothes, and hair. She, of course, took these jobs extremely seriously. Bless her heart, she would bring me homemade turkey sandwiches between classes, have all my show clothes dry cleaned and organized, and she would spend all day checking my hair and handing me hairspray because GOD FORBID one hair be out of place. Pinning my western hat on was a job she adopted, because one time, at one show, my hat came off and tumbled through the arena. Again, a job she took seriously, she would wedge bobby pins between my skull and my hat, making my head bleed on more than one occasion (she’ll deny this). My mom was the best at all of these things, and I’ve met a lot of horse show moms.

Mom after shoulder surgery with me at the Las Vegas Championships 2016

 

“Lookin’ good, Dood. Need anything?”

Dad. With a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito in his hand he found at some long-lost, locally set-up concession stand. As an early riser, he would be up not long after me, wondering around the show grounds, making friends with the other “show dads,” and finding questionable food and coffee. He’d memorize the menu and rattle it off periodically throughout the day…just in case anyone was getting hungry. His signature move was finding me, usually while putting in a tail or blacking hooves, and say, “Lookin’ good, Dood. Need anything?” I’d usually say no, but sometimes I’d ask him to go grab something from the trailer and he’d leisurely oblige, happy to help…after all, he might find another hidden concession stand or someone he hadn’t met yet.

Me, Pilot, and Dad…tired and sweaty

 

Diva behavior is not tolerated.

“Change your attitude before I rip you off of that horse!” –my mom. Horse showing has a way of bringing out the best…and worst in people. Although I knew my sweet, little mother couldn’t reach me, let alone “rip me off” my horse, it wasn’t an idle threat. Yelling, getting mad at my horse, being snotty or demanding were all actions punishable by leaving the horse show. From observation, horsey parents had more patience for their child’s meltdowns and tantrums (usually.)

Looking like a diva is important, though

 

I’m so proud of you.

Win or lose, my parents made sure I knew this. Because they never pushed me to ride and show horses, I never felt unneeded pressure to do well (I was hard enough on myself.) Some exhibitors with horsey parents would come out of the ring after a bad ride or a bad pattern and their mom (or dad) would just tear into them. Tears would fly and yelling could be heard throughout the stall barn. If I had a bad ride, my parents would meet me outside the gate, understand my frustration, and try to reassure me it didn’t look all that bad…even when it did.

Winning, winning, winning

The decision to show horses was mine and mine alone. My parents never thought twice about supporting this crazy sport. From buying trucks and trailers and horses to sitting in an arena for 10 hours at a show, I cannot repay them. Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart and never ever look back.

 

 

How To Make String Art


Are you looking for a cute wall piece to liven up your living room, or a cute meaningful gift for someone that is hard to buy for? Why spend a ton of money at a department stores for decorations or gifts, when you could simply make them yourself!

I have always been one for arts and crafts, and with pinterest constantly filling my head with crafty ideas and do it yourself projects, string art just looked and sounded something cool to do! If you know how to handle a hammer and can tie a knot, this project should be easy and fun.

Here are my steps start to finish to help you to successfully make a beautiful and one of a kind string art project perfect for a gift, or simply as a decoration in your own home. Trust me, people will be asking where you got them.

 

Lets Get Started!

 


Step 1: Tools and Supplies

First you must decide what kind of material you would like to work with( wood, canvas, etc.), and collect all of the supplies you will need. In this project, here is a list of the supplies used:

  • Wood (size is optional, however it must be at least a half inch thick to ensure nails can be        hammered deep enough to prevent them from coming loose)
  • Nails- (16mm-25.4mm long)
  • String (color is optional)
  • Printed string art pattern or stencil
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Hot glue gun (optional)
  • Wood Stain (optional)
  • Paintbrush (optional)

 

 


Step 2: Hammer Time!

For this project, I chose to print out an outline, and tape it to my surface. If you would rather, you can draw the image straight on the surface, and follow the lines that way. The benefit of taping your outline onto the board is that you can remove the stencil later on and not have unwanted lines left behind. It also makes following the pattern very simple and easy.

As you can see in the pattern above, the lines are quite complex. If this is your first time attempting string art, I would suggest a less intricate stencil, and work your way up to more difficult patterns.

When hammering the nails, space them about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch apart.

Once you have finished hammering, go back through and make sure each nail is secure. This is VERY important to do to ensure that while stringing, the nails will not be pulled out, or loosen. This is also crucial to do before the outline is removed because when pulling the outline off, nails that are not secure will come out.

After removing the outline, I chose to stain the piece of wood in order to create a more bold background for the string to stand out from. This step is optional, however, it definitely adds to the piece.

 


Step 3: Ready, Set, STRING!

For this project, I decided to do a thick cross string pattern.

Essentially, there is no pattern to follow, simply begin by tying a double knot around one nail, this will be your starting point. Be sure to leave a long tail to connect your end piece of string with. From there, create the outline for your pattern by looping the string around the outer points of the pattern.

Once you have the outline strung up, begin crossing the string through out out the nails and fill in the pattern. Decide whether you want your pattern to look more ‘holey’, meaning the board beneath is visible, or more filled in where you cannot see the board.


Step 4: Finishing Touches

This step is just for tying up all the loose ends. (Literally)

Be sure that the string is tight and you have gotten the look you want. For extra securing purposes, use a hot glue gun to glue the two trimmed end pieces that are tied together. This is of course optional, however it does help the piece to last for years to come.

Katie Buckley is a University of Montana Senior in pursuit of a Marketing Degree as well as a certificate in Event Management. She loves Pinterest and gains a lot of her DIY inspiration from the creativity of others and hopes to share her own ideas projects with the world and inspire others.

Be Something You Are Not

Hello people of the Internet and welcome to my first ever blog post! As an amateur blogger I am feeling fairly uncomfortable and stressed about having others read my writing. I’ve googled about 10 different silly questions about blogging do’s and dont’s. Also, I have started writing about five different topics that have all been shit. I have gained a lot of respect for the blogging community by attempting this post.

These feelings of stress come from the fact that I am forcing myself to try something new. This reminds me of times in my life when I was an amateur at things like surfing and rock climbing. I am trying to force my way into being part of a subculture that I haven’t associated with before. I keep telling myself that the feelings of uncertainty and tension shouldn’t hold me back. This is because the tension of trying to be something I am not is what promotes personal growth. One way I have found of doing this is by experiencing different subcultures.

A subculture is a group of people within a culture that differentiates itself from the parent culture to which it belongs. Subcultures have always been a part of any society. Wherever there is a group of people that do not conform to the social norms of the larger society there can be found a subculture. These cultures can be great agents of social change. For example, think of the hippies in the 1960’s and how their subculture impacted music.

The subcultures that have had the biggest impact on my life made me feel uncomfortable. The people I meet in the surfing and rock-climbing subcultures straight up made me feel dumb when I first started. I can’t even begin to count how many times I felt out of place or in over my head. However, these experiences lead me to grow into the person I am today. The people that made me feel dumb when I first started have become my closest friends.

Attempting to be something I am not has provided me the opportunity of learning a lifetime sport. Given me an excuse to travel to new parts of the world. All while put me into contact with individuals and organizations that have broadened my thinking.

I hope that as a gain more experience as a blogger that it will not take me a week to write a post. Hopefully I can cut down on some of the grammar errors too. Thank you for reading and I hope you can find a subculture that forces you to be something you are not!

Matthew Young- An east coaster who moved to Montana to get away from the shitty snow and get himself an education.