Yeah that’s right. Bears are terrifying. That’s the blog.
I am so sick and tired of this Winnie the Poo sounding, “Man, I hope we see a bear on this hike” having bullshit I hear every time I go into the woods with my friends. Sure, seeing a little black bear in the distance while you’re in your car on “Going to the Sun Road” gets the dopamines flowing. But when you’re actually in the woods without the protection of a massive metal cage on wheels while driving a road traveled by millions of visitors every year, spotting a bear is a whole different story. Bears are big and dangerous, wild animals that should be left alone to tend to their own business.
Let me just start with a brief history of notorious bear and human relationships.
Short Faced Bear
Back in the olden days of 1.8 million years ago until only 11,000 years ago, an absolute beast of an an animal existed, deemed the Short Faced Bear. This freak of nature weighed a solid 2,500 lbs., had a height of about 12 feet standing up, and if you can recall early history, LIVED WHILE HUMANS DID. As people much smarter than me can speculate using geographic means, there was a bering land bridge that stretched from Russia’s North-Eastern point to Alaska’s Western coast, in which people who lived in Asia would use to travel in order to inhabit North America.
What they couldn’t count on was this ginormous tank, murder beast that literally could not be stopped by any means. Scientists say this bear was so deadly, that it prevented human migration entirely across the bridge for a period of time. Nobody was stopping to admire nature when they approached this thing; they either died trying to get past it or cut their losses and turned back to Russia. Just imagine, you freeze your nuts off in Asia for years while fighting Woolly Mammoths and Saber Tooth Tigers, so you decide to march 620 miles to possibly find something better, just to be met with a big hairy killing machine that prevents you from crossing.
No thanks. I’ll fight Manny from Ice Age any day of the week over the Short Faced Bear.
2. Hugh Glass
Alright the story of Hugh Glass is pretty insane. This guy was a frontiersman and fur trader who operated around Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota in the early 1800s. He had built himself quite the resume of badass activities, from being a pirate to living with the Pawnee Native American tribe. He was an expert navigator and survivalist who had taken on many dangerous missions across the Western United States, until his legendary encounter with a Grizzly in South Dakota. Upon running into a bear and two cubs, Glass prepared to be charged and was able to get one successful shot off from his musket as the bear began to maul the shit out of him. I mean, have you seen The Revenant? This bear comes back for seconds, then thirds “Oh don’t mind if I do”, just annihilating Glass before ultimately dying of the gunshot wound. This griz tears the guys scalp off, absolutely shreds the entire rest of his body and leaves his legs utterly useless.
But guess what. Glass isn’t dying like this, he’s a former pirate of the Black Pearl for Godssakes. And this is what the movie doesn’t show, Glass could not use his legs at all so he -crawled- the entire 500 mile trip to his fort destination. He survived the ordeal and became a legend in his own right. Take a guess who would not be able to navigate, survive the elements, and crawl 500 miles to the next help station while bleeding relentlessly? Me. Or probably any normal human that lives in the 21st century, because that is WAY too hard. There’s no chance I’d survive that initial mauling even. Bears aren’t snuggly or graceful animals. They have giant knife hands along with pointy teeth and beady little dark killer eyes. Hugh Glass would certainly attest to that.
3. Timothy Treadwell
What if we were nice to the bears and wanted to treat them like one of our own? Maybe we try and bridge human society and bear society together? Sounds like a nice idea. Having a bear friend would be awesome, I bet he would know some pretty legit fishing spots at least. I know the University of Montana football team could certainly use a grizzly bear as a linebacker; he’d probably even become All League.
Timothy Treadwell thought similarly. The titled “Grizzly Man” thought he could cohabitate with bears in Alaska and they would learn to accept him as family. To the amusement of many, he was able to successfully do this for 13 consecutive summers. Each bear had a name and different personality, and they would all reside in the same area. He was never armed, and did not even carry as much as pepper spray. Unfortunately, this fairytale story came to a tragic halt in October of 2003 when he was mauled to death by a fully grown Alaskan Brown Bear.
Looks like we aren’t meant to live with bears after all.
To wrap it up:
No, I don’t want to see a bear in the wild, bro. We aren’t meant to mess with them. Sure it would be cool at a distance, if I’m in a bear resistant, protective unit. Bears will not wander over, lick you, and beg for some pets like a dog. Bears will literally rip your face off and walk away as if nothing happened. There is no other thing on the planet where it is recommended to carry a gun and pepper spray in-case you come into contact, and many people still want to have that BeAuTifuL and nATurAL encounter. That’s like saying you’d love to run into a serial killer on a jog because it would be so cool to see one, but hopefully it won’t attack.
No thanks. I’m totally good without meeting any bears in my travels.
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!
There are a ton of options for skiing within the western part of Montana, whether this is in our beloved home state, or one of our close neighbors. There is plenty of fresh powder to go around…
To Start off this list we are going to lay down a few guidelines. All of these ski resorts are within 200 miles of Missoula, and for those of you that were worried…They all sell beer as well.
The Montana Snowbowl (15 miles outside town)
Snowbowl will always have a special place in the hearts of Missoulians, for its close proximity to town, and your ability to go from class to the slopes in under 20 minutes. While Snowbowl may have its ups and downs, you can always count on good skiing when they get some fresh snow up in the bowls. Priced at $48 for a student day pass, it’s not going to break the bank too bad. But they make up for it with $4 beers in the lodge at the base.
2. Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area (105 miles outside town)
Lookout pass ski area is known as the #1 Powder Place, and they definitely live up to that name. Lookout gets the most fresh snow out of all the resorts near Missoula, and for the most part, has pretty good weather. This resort is about an hour and 45 minutes from campus and never gets too crazy so you’ll always have a parking spot. A student day pass for Lookout will run you about $46, but the snow makes it worth it!
3. Discovery Ski Area (91 miles outside town)
Discovery ski area is located about an hour and a half from Missoula and will never let you down. With a really good mix of steep groomers and powder-filled trees, this resort is perfect for everyone. For those seeking a thrill, Discovery has an expert only backside of the mountain with some truly crazy runs. The only downfall of this resort is the road up to the lodge can get pretty bad, but you’ll always be able to find a ride up from the bottom. Discovery will run you about $50 for a day pass, but you’ll be able to go on a different run every time all day.
4. Lost Trail Powder Mountain (75 miles outside town)
Lost Trail is another favorite among locals, for its close proximity to town and amazing snow. You can almost always count on fresh snow at Lost Trail, and when the Montana side is open it is absolutely mind-blowing. This resort is never too crazy, and it also has a hot spring just down the road for an after skiing relaxation break. A day pass will run you about $45 and you’ll be able to get food and beer at the base lodge for a pretty reasonable price.
5. Whitefish Mountain Resort (140 miles outside town)
Still known to many locals as “Big Mountain” because of the name change back in 2007, but none the less this mountain is absolutely insane. The most powder you can find in western Montana and offers some of the most diverse terrains. Even though this resort is pretty far from Missoula, it makes up for it with the beautiful views and the chance to go on an inversion day. A day pass will run you about $83 and that’s pretty steep for most college students, but a trick it to go buy 2 day passes for $120 from Costco.
6. Blacktail Mountain Ski Area (120 miles outside town)
Blacktail is known for having some serious terrain, with steep faces and ungroomed runs all over the mountain. This resort gets a good amount of powder and can definitely prove to be tough in some spots. With its close proximity to Whitefish, the resort is pretty easily accessible and doesn’t break the bank at $45 for a day pass.