5 Reasons Why You Need to Ride in Montana

You know how everyone from Montana says “Montana’s the last, best place”? Well they also say “Montana’s the last best place to go horseback riding”.

Conway Tweetie glancing at wild flowers

Here are the reasons why you need to mark “a horse back ride in MT” off your bucket list.

1. The connection that you feel between the horse and the wild Montana landscape, it feels like it all becomes one.

2. You have the one in a million chance to feel the freshness of all four seasons in a single ride.

3. Sun- gaze at the big sky filled with blue and cotton ball clouds that are above you.

Montana Sunset

4. Riding in MT will increase your love for life while peeking over the breath taking scenery.

 

5. As the great Dixie Chicks would say the “Wide Open Spaces” makes MT irresistible.

Rio Warbar grazing fresh green grass

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life” -Dolly Parton

By Desiree Altmaier

Get Out of Your Own Way

All my life I have abided by this plan.  A plan involving a series of life goals to be completed in a particular order at a particular time with little variation.  I am very much a perfectionist – refusing to accept any standard short of perfection and breaking at the seams when things stray out of my control.  It is something that I found little fault in until I realized that it was actually getting in the way.

I grew up in Charlo, MT, a small town about an hour north of Missoula, MT.  You can verify this with my parents, but I believe I got off to a good start – not getting into a lot of trouble growing up, smiling for pictures, and eating my fruits and veggies.  Like most small-town kids, I was involved in a lot of school sanctioned activities.  I stayed busy spiking volleyballs, dribbling basketballs, or leaping over hurdles after school.  I was a part of several student groups aimed at developing various skills and helping the community – all while maintaining good grades.  I had the support of my family, the tight-knit community, and all the hours invested into me by my teachers and coaches.  When it came to my senior year of high school, I knew where and what I wanted to study before that notorious “last first day.” I was too proactive for my own good.  I filled out as many scholarships that came my way to ensure I could afford my college education without taking out loans or burdening my parents.  I received my high school diploma and was set to attend the University of Montana and study Marketing through the school of business administration in the Fall 2014.

Everything seemed to be going according to this meticulous plan I had my mind set on.

Although I know many non-traditionalists, adventurers, free spirts and the like that contest this idea entirely (and there is nothing wrong with that), I imagined my life following this ideal order in which I went to high school and graduated with good grades and big dreams for college.  I would start college the following fall with an idea of what you wanted to study and make a career out of.  I imagined meeting all kinds of people, growing as an individual, graduating 4+ years later, and stepping immediately into the ideal career the day after I receive my diploma.  To date, my life has followed this plan.  As I near the end of my college endeavors, I fully expected to make the later part regarding a career a reality.

Up until recently, I felt that I had to tailor my life to this rigid plan otherwise I wouldn’t succeed at getting where I want to be in my life.  I would fail myself, my family, and everything that had gotten me to this point.  I felt so constrained by this expectation I had put on myself to follow this plan exactly that the thought of not knowing exactly what I want to do with my life – let alone after college – was alarming.  As you can imagine this was a HUGE obstacle in my plan. I assured myself that I would figure it out.  I had to figure it out, but I was running out of time.  Quickly the seams of my sanity pulled further and further apart with each passing day.

I finally realized that it didn’t have to be this way at the source of many great epiphanies – a long car ride.

It all bubbled to the surface after spending a much needed four-day weekend away from Missoula.  On the ride home with my long-time boyfriend, we started talking about school and how we planned to turn our degrees into a career.  As the conversation progressed, I realized that I don’t honestly know what I want to do with my life, and I probably won’t find my ideal job right after college.

The more I thought about it, the more ludicrous this expectation seemed to me. Not only did I come to terms with that fact that it’s okay to not know exactly what I want to do, but how could I possibly know what I want to do for the rest of my life?  Why should I base the next 40-60+ years of my life on a mere 20 years of life experience and knowledge?  I was fed up with the preconceived idea that I had to stick to the plan.  I realized that it was unrealistic, and although it is a potentially suitable path, it is not the only path.  I finally committed myself to being less of a perfectionist and letting life take its course.

I don’t know exactly what I want to do and that’s okay – but I’m not going to stop trying to figure it out.  I want to be honest with myself and let go of the things I can’t control.  I want to search for opportunities to grow and become more of the person I want to be – whether that be job opportunities, painting, internships, traveling, volunteer opportunities, or voicing my thoughts in my first blog post.  I am a business student, but I don’t need a big corporation and paycheck for a satisfactory life.  I don’t want to get washed up in something to big.  I want to be purposeful and make an impact with the work I am passionate about.  I want to network with people not because “a bigger network makes you a better prospect” but because I want to have genuine relationships and get to know others who are finding or have found themselves to.  I want to be inspired by what I am doing.  I’ve realized that there is so much more to life than simply making money and living for the weekends.  If I want to accomplish these things, it is unlikely that I will get it all on the first try.  So, I need to stop thinking I will.

This is the type of realization that everyone seems to come to at some time in their life – a series of “mid-life crises.”  I have shared my quarterly life crisis in the hopes that it might inspire those of you that feel burdened by plans, expectations, social norms or whatever it might be to come to terms that sometimes it really doesn’t matter that much!  Even more so, I wrote this for myself – to hold myself accountable and remind myself to let go and live a little looser.

I will always plan, but I have made a pact with myself to not be tied down by it.  Someone once said, “Just because my path is different doesn’t mean I’m lost.”  I haven’t always believed this, but I’ve decided to start thinking this way.  Don’t be afraid to get lost occasionally and embrace your own journey.


Aspen Runkel is a student at the University of Montana pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.  When she graduates in May of 2018, she will have majored in Marketing with a certificate in Digital Marketing and a minor in Media Arts.  She enjoys painting, cooking, DIY, and being active with sports, hiking, and traveling.

Lace Up: Anyone Can Be A Runner

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.51.02 PM The amount of times I have heard “I’m not a runner” or “I’m not built like a runner, therefore I can’t run” has really started to piss me off and honestly, whoever I walked by this weekend saying these things, thank you for the inspiration to prove you all wrong.

I’ll start by being completely candid, I am a bit biased to the whole physical activity hoorah. I grew up playing competitive soccer up until the day I left for college. I mean, yes, it’s a lot of running and disciplined conditioning, but I never had to run longer than 3-4 miles at a time in those 15 years of playing. I should also add that each of those miles had to be in 7 minutes or less (the struggle was totally real).

Once college started, all concepts of physical activity went out the window and I was now struggling to run 1 mile, on a Sunday, while trying not to gag over the smell of Captain Morgan and Fireball seeping through my pores. Cool.

Freshman year ended and those attractive 15 pounds needed to go (this isn’t where running saved my life, I just got cut off of my campus meal plan when I moved out of the dorms). Exercise became important again and I was back in shape but I still couldn’t run more than 2 agonizing miles, maybe 3 on a good day.

IMG_8584Come Junior year I accepted an offer for an internship in Seattle and decided I should find things to do that would let me see the city in a unique way. This is where running made my life great. I signed up for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Seattle, by myself. Turns out I wasn’t alone, a few of my friends had already signed up and planned on taking a road trip to run as well. Training became fun as we increased our distance by one mile each Sunday and spent the majority of our runs singing and talking in very breathy sentences. Come race day, 13.1 miles never seemed so doable.

To make a long story longer, I caught the running bug. Since my first half in Seattle, I have completed two more half marathons, improving my time each time.

The point of this was to show that anyone can lace up some shoes and hit the pavement. I can’t lie like some Pinterest post and say it’s as easy as that. Running is an investment in your time, your body, and your wallet. Ugly running shoes changed the way I felt about running. YOU MUST INVEST IN UGLY RUNNING SHOES. My GPS watch complimented my competitive drive by keeping my pace (so that I wasn’t trying to run 7 minute miles for 13.1 miles straight) and my running belt was crucial for holding my phone, keys and ID. Looking the part makes performing the part so much easier.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.15.13 PMI’m not saying go sign up for five half marathons or to start out running 9 miles at a time. I challenge every one of you to start by going outside (weather is a horrible argument), plug in some pump-up tunes or grab a friend to distract you, and start off slow. If 1 mile is all you’ve got, then it’s one more mile than those sitting on the couch. Happy Running 🙂

*Serious about it? Comment below for more tips and help on joining a world wide community.

Growing Up: 21 Things I’m Still Working On

At 21, I’ve learned some really good lessons so far! But there are also a lot of things that are still uncertain, or that I simply don’t know. I’m workin’ on them; here are a few…

1. Going to bed early.

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I try so hard every night. It never happens. 2016 maybe?

2. How to talk to people.

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I’m not going to say I am THE awkward penguin, but making conversation with someone can definitely stress me out.

3. What good wine is.

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They’re all delicious and heighten my hopes and dreams…Am I missing out on some big secret?

4. Laundry.

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Let’s get real. Do I really have to separate my darks and my whites?

5. Why are there different kinds of forks at a nice meal?

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One is enough isn’t it??

6. What is stock and how do I do this thing called investing?

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Thank god I learned Hot Cross Buns on the recorder and how to locate a library book using the card catalogue system though…whew.

7. How to spend money on things that matter.

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Should I buy those boots that I don’t need and look strikingly similar to ones I already have? LOL probably.

Which brings me to my next point…

8. How to save money.

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Is there maybe a formula someone could give me? That’d be great.

9. How to say no.

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This is a hard one for me. What can I say; I’m a people pleaser.

10. What my political viewpoint is yet.

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Growing up in a lower middle class family, and then being taught and molded by (mostly) wealthy business professors tends to pull you in opposite directions…

11. Who I am.

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Ok. I know this may sound a little cheesy, but I really don’t know all there is to know about myself yet. What makes me tick? What stresses me out most? What kind of ice cream is my favorite??

12. How to be flexible.

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Nuff’ said Lorelai.

13. What my strengths/weaknesses are.

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You can’t really Google this one yet…

14. How I have become so much like my parents in so many ways??

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Seriously tho. How did this happen?

15. To love the parts of myself that no one claps for.

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Still learning this one.

16. Taxes.

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How do I even…?

17. How to stay positive and look for the good.

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This line made me rethink my entire existence.

18. Accepting disappointment.

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Disappointment is such an uncomfortable feeling for me; I often let it get in the way of my moving forward.

19. Letting go of control.

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Let’s just say Monica from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is basically my spirit animal.

20. Putting myself first.

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People pleasers generally struggle with this.

21. Eating Well.

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Kit Kats and ice cream are wonders of this world and why can I not eat them all the time?!!

Did you like this?? Check out my first post: 21 Things I do know to be true

4 habits that shorten your life!

"The angry baby's fist"

"The angry baby's fist"

For many people, happiness is the ultimate goal of their existence whereas for some others is considered to be an elusive success. But why it’s so hard for us to get rid of negative thoughts that might keep us back, preventing us from developing further our inner skills?

Through this short article we will attempt to figure out which are the 4 primary bad habits which contribute negatively to our mentality getting us older faster than anything else.

Live according to others’ indications
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Bernard M. Baruch, American philanthropist

Parents, friends, colleagues and other favourite or not persons, directly or indirectly, pressure or push you to comply to or follow a specific way of thinking, behaving and making decisions. That does not mean that these people hate you. They just have different expectations for you and try to give advice by indicating you what’s right and what’s wrong. You should take into serious consideration that you are the only one who has the authority to indicate what action you will take in any situation you get involved. If these people really care for you then, they will accept and respect your choices without questioning or dissuading you.

Resist to change
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”
Confucius, Chinese philosopher

Changes occur every day in your ordinary life affecting you in various ways. Changes, for instance in the workplace, are often irrevocable and in case you decide to resist, your life will get tougher and at some point unmanageable. The best possible way to accept smoothly all these changes is to be fearless towards them and stay flexible adapting your life accordingly. Keep in mind that there will be changes that will surprise you; others that will make you feel mixed emotions and a lot more which will have a positive impact on you. It goes without question, be open to changes.

Judge people
“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation.”
Paulo Coelho, Brazilian novelist

As human beings we have the predisposition to criticize behaviours, situations and people themselves. Nobody is perfect and you know that. It’s worth trying to focus on how to improve your weaknesses as these efforts will distinguish you as a person and personality towards the others. Having that in mind you will stop judging other people’s lives, behaviours or achievements and aim on the goals that really matter for you.

Blame yourself for every personal failure
“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”
Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor

Successes and failures are part of our lives. We succeed or fail when we sit for an exam at the school or university, when we submit a project or research to a professor or employer, when we nurture our children and a lot more examples. Do not blame yourself for mistakes you’ve done in the past or failures you’ve been through and not overthink of them because you will probably end up wasting your brain power and energy on underestimating your capabilities and hurting yourself.