What I Learned from Spending My Summer Solo in Montana

Oh hey there, long time no blog. It’s been a wild three months since my last post, but I wanted to share a little recap of what I’ve been up to.

As some of you know, I spent my summer working at a resort on Flathead Lake in Bigfork, Montana. If you don’t know where that is, don’t worry. It’s right where that little red pin is:

Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 9.42.19 PMSo basically I worked at a resort on a lake that was just 40 minutes south of Glacier National Park (also known as that big green thing to the right of the lake). I worked usually five days a week and spent my days off doing everything under the sun: hiking, climbing, kayaking, camping, wake surfing, and white water rafting to name a few.

When I first went out to Montana, some of my friends and family expressed concern with me going out there alone. I heard things like:

Won’t you get lonely?

What’s there to do out there?

Aren’t you scared?

Truthfully, I was terrified. I had NO idea what to expect. I had been out to Montana a few times before with my family, but this was my first completely solo adventure.

Words cannot even begin to describe how valuable my experience was. I spent time learning about myself and others. I did a bunch of things simply because I wanted to. I often found myself stopping and asking if this is real life. I met so many incredible people. I learned so much in such a short period of time, and I want to share some of that with you. So in no particular order, here are some of the things I learned in Montana (and some things I saw, because I know reading can get boring):

1. Always trust your gut. Gut feelings are REAL and you should trust them, because they’re almost always trying to keep you out of danger. Or push you in the direction you’re meant to go.

2. True friends love you for who you are. It’s okay to show them your flaws, your imperfections, and your quirks.

3. It’s okay to do thing by yourself. Actually, doing things by yourself can be super beneficial. It teaches you how to be confident in yourself and your abilities. This summer, I did a lot of things alone that I wouldn’t normally do. I walked around the farmer’s market. I booked a white water rafting trip with a bunch of strangers. I hiked solo, a lot. I camped. I took road trips. I never knew I was capable of doing any of those things by myself until I actually did.

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Flathead Lake

4. You can’t will something to work. No matter how much you want something to work, sometimes it’s just broken. And if you’re not willing to put in the work to repair it, it’ll stay broken forever.

5. iPhones are expensive. It’s best not to lose yours.

6. People can tell you they’ve changed but it’s best if they show you. And the same goes for you. You can tell people all you want that you’ve changed but you have to walk it like you talk it. (Look at me staying #hip)

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Avalanche Lake

7. Everyone’s family is fucked up in their own ways. Sorry, someone had to say it.

8. You have to love yourself first. I’ve been searching for this feeling for such a long time. There’s this sense of peace that comes along with loving yourself, and everything else just seems to fall into place after that.

9. Nobody’s paying as much attention to you as you think. Oh man, is this something I really needed to learn. And honestly, it’s something I need a reminder on every once in a while. But it turns out that most people are actually paying more attention to themselves than anyone else.

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Storm Castle

10. Slowing down is a necessity — don’t make it a luxury. Before I spent my summer in Montana, my life was insanely scheduled. I spent my days bouncing from one activity to the next– from class to work to the gym to hang out with friends to meetings. I didn’t pause and take time to slow down. Although slowing down in Iowa City looks a lot different than it does in Montana (think: reading a book on in my hammock with a great campus view versus reading a book in my hammock with a great mountain view), I’ve learned that it’s necessary to take that time for yourself to just breathe.

11. Speaking your feelings will get you closer to what you want. Honestly I used to be a huge feelings bottler. But I realized that it only makes you explode when things get to be too much, which usually gets you in the opposite direction of where you wanted to go. And plus, telling people exactly what you want and how things make you feel is the only way they’ll ever know.

12. Forgiving someone doesn’t excuse their behavior but it prevents it from negatively affecting you. Yeah, this one was hard to learn. But it’s important.

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13. Never trade authenticity for approval. I spent my 4th of July drinking wine and playing board games with an elderly couple that was staying at the resort in their camper for a few days. At one point, the woman looked at me and said, “You remind me of someone, but mostly you’re you.” This really resonated with me. The most valuable thing that I have to offer is that I am authentically me.

14. Don’t look before you jump, it’ll scare you. I learned this as I was literally about to jump off a cliff, but it’s pretty applicable to most major life decisions as well.

15. Feel the music. Music has the wonderful capability of making us feel things. Sometimes all you need is to stop and listen.

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Beehive Basin

I want to extend a huge thank you to all the people that took me under their wing, guided me on adventures, laughed with me, and most importantly let me be authentically myself. You guys mean more to me than you’ll ever know.

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A Guide to Navigating Generic Brand

As a broke college student, generic brand is my best friend. Growing up, I never truly understood the value of generic brand items, because I was fortunate enough to not have to. It wasn’t until I started buying my own groceries that I realized how much money you can save on similar– if not identical– products just by paying a little bit more attention.

I want to share with you my tips on navigating generic brand. These are just some simple guidelines I use at the grocery store when deciding what products to buy. It’s really not hard to eat healthy on a budget as long as your conscious of where you’re choosing to spend your money. Continue reading “A Guide to Navigating Generic Brand”

Taco Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice

While I love having a kitchen now, I’ve struggled cooking for one person. Even with meal planning/prepping, it’s easy to buy a bunch of fresh produce and let it go bad. Because let’s be real, when you come home from a night out with friends or a long day at class or work and start snacking, you’re not going to throw together a salad. You’re going to eat chips. Or trail mix. Or a slice of last night’s leftover pizza. It’s just how it is. (I guess I’m selling myself short here. I tend to keep healthy, non-perishable snacks on hand. It’s just that fresh fruits + veggies aren’t at the top of my list for favorite snack foods.)

It’s easy to buy produce with the intention of eating it and then let it go bad in the fridge. To circumvent this problem, I’ve tried to incorporate it in the meals that I prep for the week. These taco stuffed peppers include cauliflower rice for an extra nutrient boost, as well as all the goodness you get from sweet peppers. Read more for the recipe. Continue reading “Taco Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice”

One Avocado, Four Toasts

The avocado toast addiction is real. So real, in fact, that I made a video showing you how to prepare four (!!!) different kinds using only one avocado. Watch how I did it in the video below.

Note: this was for a school project and my very first attempt at any type of cooking video, so bear with my subpar production skills. 🙂

I Ate Nothing But Pasta for 3 Days

In the health and wellness world, detoxing seems to be all the rage these days. Instagram feeds are filled with influencers marketing ineffective “fit teas” and sugar free ice cream. Elimination diets and three-day cleanses bring people together to wallow in self-pity and hunger, with hopes of shedding a few pounds in the process.

From the juice cleanse and the soup cleanse to simply spending three days fasting, there are countless options out there. Most of them have been proven ineffective for weight loss and improvement of overall health but still seem to remain relevant due to highly intelligent marketing teams and uneducated consumers.

Pasta has never been considered healthy, but I’ve also never met anyone that doesn’t like it. A few weeks ago, I was assigned a project for a class where I could essentially write about anything I wanted, so I decided to challenge the norms and do a pasta cleanse. Continue reading “I Ate Nothing But Pasta for 3 Days”

12 Of My Kitchen Staples

Ah, the good ol’ kitchen staples. The go-tos. The MVPs. Whatever you may call them, you probably have certain ingredients in your kitchen that you always keep on hand either because you use them so much or because they go with just about everything. Or both. I figured I’d share a few of my own kitchen staples to get you inspired to stock your fridge/freezer/cabinets so you can easily (and cheaply) whip up something delicious for your next meal. Note that you can usually buy these things in generic form, but I’ve noted some of my favorite brands when applicable. Continue reading “12 Of My Kitchen Staples”

Friday Faves: Perfect Bar

Finding the perfect protein bar can be quite the struggle. Do you compromise taste for low sugar or real ingredients to meet your macros? While there are thousands of protein bars on the market, only a select few of them make it to my pantry. I can be pretty picky when it comes to bars, so that’s why Perfect Bar holds a special place in my heart.

When searching for a quality protein bar, I look for real ingredients I can pronounce, affordability, and low sugar. Continue reading “Friday Faves: Perfect Bar”