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where there is little risk, there is little reward

issue n o 299 october 2019

alexis pike: color me lucky

montana woman m a g a z i n e


montana woman


Autumn is a season of change. There is wonder in the new air. You can feel it on a blade of grass, hear it in the wind, see it on the riverbank. The ashes of summer transform into the cool night rain. In its decay, the world is alive. An end becomes a new beginning. Let this season be a new beginning. Let life reset itself. Let your soul nestle into a blanket of stars on a quiet evening. Give yourself the time you need. I want to share this new season with you— all that it holds. May this magazine be a source of inspiration and reflection; may you find solace in a shared story; may you find yourself here. –M

contents FEATURES |


COLOR ME LUCKY MSU professor Alexis Pike discusses risk & reward in life and her most recent work


TAKEN BY THE WIND Sometimes you just have to listen to your heart and go for it— Stephanie Evans talks about taking a chance on yourself


SAGEBRUSH WOMAN Sarah Calhoun & the story of Red Ants Pants in White Sulphur Springs



SADDLE UP Beyond fight or flight


ACCURATE TAX No risk in being prepared


REAL ESTATE FOR REAL LIFE Broader investment strategies







HANDCRAFTED Autumn mug rugs MAKER’S SPOTLIGHT Laura Viren: Lulu’s Pottery 4

the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom –anaïs nin

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CREATING WITH STATION 8 Creating traditions THE WRIGHT WAY Inspired by nature











IN ABUNDANCE The money questions MINDFULNESS MATTERS Leaving your comfort zone A WOMAN REINVENTED Embracing risk

INTENTIONAL AGING Life on her own terms NON-PROFIT SPOTLIGHT Sparrow’s Nest FRONTIER HOSPICE Being home with family









LEVITATION NATION Weight Training 101 RISK & REWARD Lessons from the Flathead River THE MANE EVENT Jackie Petersen: farm girl IT’S TIME TO GET

UNCOMFORTABLE Why we should care about the climate

RAW The time is now ON MOTHERHOOD & MENTAL HEALTH Why being a stay-at-home mom is hard as hell KALISPELL REGIONAL Beauty behind the curse


HERITAGE Great-grandma Mollie’s Ham & Bean soup


FRONT PAIGE BAKES Gluten-free & vegan lemon poppyseed cake

montana woman This magazine has been in publication since 1994 and is a resource for women throughout the state of Montana. Montana Woman is a platform. It’s built by women, for women. It’s a place to celebrate our achievements, a place to support each other, a place to acknowledge the resilience of the women of this state. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you’re from, you’re here now. In all of your loudness, your boldness, your fearlessness— you are here. We’re here, together.

We publish a statewide magazine every month that features women across Montana— the movers and shakers, the go-getters, the rule-breakers, the risktakers. We all have a story to tell.

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OWNER & EDITOR megan crawford

CREATIVE DIRECTOR megan crawford

ADVERTISING carrie crawford megan crawford

PHOTOGRAPHERS paige billings megan crawford kelsey weyerbacher

EDITING DEPARTMENT megan crawford kelsey weyerbacher

PUBLIC REL ATIONS carrie crawford kelsey weyerbacher

ADVERTISING & SUBMISSIONS: contact the editor at or (406)260-1299

All material appearing in Montana Woman Magazine may not be reproduced in part or in whole without written consent of the owner.

printed by century publishing in post falls, idaho 6

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All contents © 2019 Montana Woman. The views expressed by the writers are their own and do not reflect the opinions of Montana Woman Magazine.


from the

EDITOR sat at my desk, thumbing through the pages of Alexis Pike’s photo book, Color Me Lucky. Then it hit me: two pages without photographs.

where there is little risk, there is little reward. So there I sat, genuinely contemplating what I would do next, all because I read an Evel Knievel quote. Alexis knew what she was doing when she put that quote over two pages in an artist book. Coming up to that point, I was trying to decide whether or not I would take on this magazine. I was pretty sure I wanted to, but I’m an overthinker— it’s not a decision that happened overnight. I went through every what-if I could think of: what if it’s too much, what if I can’t come up with anything good, what if I’m not good enough; but then I saw those two pages. Of course it’s going to be hard at times. It’s absolutely going to have its challenges. That doesn’t make it not worth doing, though. Life requires risk. There are times when you have to throw everything to the wind and run blind, never looking back. So here’s to the risk-takers, the rule-breakers, the go-getters, the movers and shakers— we’re here. We’re here in our unapologetic boldness, lifting each other up as we go. People may doubt us, tell us that we can’t, tell us that we’re naïve, say that women can’t. But we can. We can do anything. We can run a magazine, we can raise children, we can get degrees, we can farm, we can sew, we can yell, we can. Take that leap. Move to that city. Take that job. Own your worth. Be willing to gamble on yourself— after all, your bet looks pretty damn good. All the best,

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acknowledgments There is a whole team of people behind this magazine. They may not be directly involved, but their presence is here— on the corner of a page, on the dot of an i, bound into the spine.

My mom, for being my biggest fan and never doubting my abilities or holding me back, for always being here. For listening to every idea, answering every stressed phone call, and sitting through every Skype rant. None of this would have happened without your constant support. You’re a trooper. Kelsey Weyerbacher, for being a bright spot of motivation, inspiration, and encouragement. For always having the words I can’t seem to find, for being the editor to the editor, for always playing Beyoncé in the darkroom. Chris Anderson, for being the mentor I never even dreamed I could have, for answering every frantic email, and for every glass of wine shared. Teaching me graphic design was a good thing, too. Alexis Pike, for being a total powerhouse and for introducing me in the art of marketing yourself, and for being a damn cool woman. Thank you for being a role model for knowing and owning feminine strength. Lauren Brogdon, for coming to every exhibition and every thesis critique, for listening to my ideas, and for hosting every Downton Abbey viewing session in your dorm. We made a pretty great orientation overflow group. The women at The Shops at Station 8 and Glacier Bank in Columbia Falls, for being pillars of support, even if you didn’t readily know it. The folks at Century Publishing in Post Falls, Idaho, for making this magazine come to life. My friends and family, for being here all along the way— from elementary school photo competitions to junior high orchestra concerts to cheering me on as I moved to Montana. Nana and Papa, the Rowsons, the Marlens, the Kollerts, the Mitchells, the Browns, the Petersons, the Brogdons, the Vlachs, the Adamiaks; to the teachers that saw that girl sitting in the front row and understood that math wasn’t her thing; to the professors that pushed me to realize my abilities; to the peers that helped sequence projects and said what print needed more blue or more red; to my students; to everyone along the way. And my dad, for always being here, even though you’re gone. We’ve come a long way from you painstakingly trying to teach me how to build model airplanes.












not pictured: mindy cochran, rachel hopkins, kris sell mon tan awoman .com | o c to b er 2 01 9


new Montana Woman stickers! visit for more info


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behind the cover COVER MUSE: alexis pike PHOTOGRAPHER: megan crawford LOCATION: bozeman BIKE & HELMET: tessa witmer, hattierex HAIR: jackie elsberry, velvet salon

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yocaunnot swim horizons uangteil oc ur to lose e r o h s sight fo r n ew

y o u h av e the

of th e

william faulkner




In 1932 Doctor Walter Cannon first identified the fight-or-flight response to acute stress. Cannon identified a surge of stress hormone cascade that was essential to survival. His original research focused on male subjects. Since then, 83% of stress research has been conducted on males—primarily male rats. The justification for focusing on male test subjects? “...Females have greater cyclical variation in neuroendocrine responses [so] their data present[s] a confusing and often uninterpretable pattern of results” (Taylor, UCLA). Translation: women have monthly hormone fluctuations that scientists can’t create a control for, so they just left females of any species out of their studies. As a result, we’ve been told since the 1930s that the “natural” response to stress was fight-or-flight. This assumption implies that those who didn’t have the urge to challenge or avoid stressful situations weren’t “normal.” In a landmark study, Dr. Shelley Taylor and her UCLA team plumbed three decades of stress research. By isolating female responses to stress, they confirmed what many of us had already noticed: men and women are different! Taylor found that, while both men and women experience acute stress, our bodies and our minds respond differently. Both genders do share a stress response capacity for fight-or-flight. However, females use it less and, instead, respond to stress with what Taylor describes as “tend and befriend.” Tending involves nurturing activities “designed to protect the self and offspring that promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process,” writes Dr. Taylor. Dr. Taylor says the female stress response of tend14

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and-befriend makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, where a woman’s primary focus is caring for their young. Responding with fight-orflight might leave offspring vulnerable and alone. Stress hormone production is also different depending on gender. During periods of stress, males produce androgens such as testosterone, along with the stress hormone cortisol. Females produce similar rates of cortisol and lower levels of testosterone. But women also generate a unique mix of stress hormones, including oxytocin: the “caregiving” hormone associated with attachment between mother and infant. Oxytocin creates a feeling of relaxation and reduces fear. More abundant levels of oxytocin promote soothing, nurturing, and relaxing emotions—the natural stress response researchers refer to as tend-andbefriend. There’s a fascinating observation of the role gender plays in stress on world-class whitewater kayaker, Anna Levesque. On her website, www., Anna describes how differently men and women (all adrenaline junkies) prepare to launch themselves into churning whitewater rapids:

… when women are at the top of a rapid that makes them feel nervous, most of them like to talk with other paddlers in the group to get feedback and support. According to the tend-and-befriend theory, this is a perfectly natural reaction for women. Since men generally experience fightor-flight, they don’t usually want to talk about the rapid because they see their line and want to run it or walk it and get on with it. Both responses are natural and acceptable, but because there have traditionally been more men in the sport, women have often been expected

to act and react like their male paddling friends. This has led to women doubting their ability and feeling inadequate.

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The research is in: for the first time in 77 years, a new paradigm for stress has emerged. We are gaining a new appreciation of just how differently men and women respond to stress. Move over fight-or-flight, women and men can saddle up for the stress management benefits of tend-andbefriend.

JERI MAE ROWLEY is an inspirational speaker, master trainer, and saddle maker’s daughter who delights audiences with her unique brand of “Western Wit and Wisdom for the Workplace™.” Learn more from her website:

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Take a walk. Eat a healthy snack. Write a thank-you note. Send it. Brush your teeth. Listen to music. Take a bathroom break! Ask someone to tell you about a positive experience. Listen.

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no risk in being prepared s the year moves along and dives further into autumn, it’s never too early to think about the upcoming tax season. Before the overwhelming holiday season begins, taxpayers can take the downtime to put together a checklist to make sure everything is compiled when the New Year begins. If you have a CPA or tax preparer, sending in your information and documents earlier will make it a smoother ride when you file your taxes. Any fundamental changes such as an address, phone number, or marital status are important details to amend on the tax returns and inform the preparer of those changes. This preparation stage is an excellent opportunity to review current withholdings and any current tax situations that may increase or decrease your overall bottom line for payments or refunds. Before the end of the year, double-check the amount that’s taken out of your paycheck for Federal and State withholding. You may consult with a preparer to determine the amount that should be withheld for Federal and State taxes to put yourself in the best possible tax situation. If you determine that enough isn’t being withheld, increase your deduction and deduct more before the end of the year. The same goes for any investments that you sold or withdrew money from. You should confirm that Federal and State taxes were deducted from any sale or withdrawing of investments. The percentage deducted should be at least 20-25%. The usual amount for Federal is around 10% and nothing for State. Another aspect of preparation is determining if any estimated taxes should be paid. While estimated taxes are usually paid quarterly, a quick review to determine if the amounts are correct or if more needs to be paid is a good idea before officially filing any returns. All of these reviews help keep you informed and composed while filing your tax returns or providing the information to the tax preparer. Below is a quick reference checklist of documents that you’ll need to have to complete your tax return or give to the tax preparer for completion. 16

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Any W-2s of all jobs you’ve worked for the current tax season. 1098-T, if you went to college or graduate school. 1098-E, if you’re paying off student loans. 1099-R, if you withdrew money out of any investments, or 1099-B for any stock sold. 1099-G, if you received unemployment funds or received a state refund. Any receipts of all charitable donations.

Any insurance forms received from providers or employers. This is not required for the 2019 tax season. A copy of your driver’s license or another form of identification.

For more information and guidance, contact: LAURA LYNN REYNOLDS Accurate Tax Professionals, 431 1st Ave West Kalispell, Montana 59901 (406) 257-4555 or (406)-270-3113



People ask me about the stock market, a lot. I guess it’s because it has been very volatile of late. It’s interesting because I don’t know anything about the stock market nor do I care to. I will say that it sure seems to be politicized these days, and the news cycle and politics seem to have a huge effect on how well the market is doing. I got out of the stock market many years ago, in fact when I left Wall Street, I got out of that market completely. I like to invest in things that are tangible. Real estate, precious metals, cash in the bank and businesses that I control, are really my favorites. I like to walk on it, touch it, have a say in it; that’s where I chose to invest. I know many stock brokers and financial advisers and they are really good at what they do, however I lost faith in the “market” being the market a long time ago. So with that, getting back to people asking me about the stock market. I will advise them that it sure is smart to be diversified, and that includes real estate. Buying real estate as an investment, really doesn’t have to be that complicated. If you are a hands on “manager” it can be a very satisfying side business. If you would rather have someone manage your investment property for you, just like a fund manager manages your IRA for a 18

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fee, that can be arranged as well. Residential and commercial real estate investment property can be a super way to provide income and asset appreciation over time. If you are interested in buying real estate as an investment, first things first, you need to set up your team. You need a banker, an accountant, an attorney, a property manager, contractor, home inspector, insurance agent and Realtor. There are a ton of strategies to get into such as foreclosures, short sales, fix and flips, and buy and hold. And there are great tax advantages in the real estate investment sector, which provides a lot of incentives to build wealth. A 1031 exchange allows an investor to defer paying taxes on the sale of investment real estate and invest the taxes you would have paid, into buying a bigger and better investment. You can also purchase real estate in your IRA, HSA, Roth 401k and pretty much any tax advantage investment vehicle. You have to be comfortable with the market, and you need to make sure you have access to great advice. Whether you buy a rental duplex and have a professional property manager manage

your property (asset) or you do it yourself, it really comes down to the asset class you like and the returns and utility that it provides. Making sure your assets are protected is another aspect to consider. This is where your attorney can really add a lot of value. Questions arise like: Is it best to have your real estate owned by an LLC (limited liability company) or held in a trust? What impact does this have for your estate plan or is it a short term asset that may have more risks like tenants? If you hold your real estate in an LLC, what other tax advantages does that structure provide? Your team will all work together for you. If you want to start investing in real estate, there really isn’t any better time than right now. Here’s the thing, start talking with these professionals, and start getting educated about the market. There may be different areas of Montana where some real estate investment returns might be better. For example, I have an ownership interest in the Keller Williams Realty in Billings, MT and I have been advising my agents here in Kalispell that if they have investors looking for investments, they may want to take a look at Billings. If the buyer is going to get the property professionally managed, and the investment brings proper returns, why not? Some specifics to think about, for example, you might be able to buy a single family house a lot cheaper in Billings compared to Northwest Montana or Bozeman for that matter, and get it rented for fairly comparable rents. That to me screams value. For a rental income strategy this means less money at closing, plus comparable rent equals higher returns. If you are looking for a ski condo for VRBO (vacation rental by owner) and are priced out of the Whitefish ski condo market, look for other opportunities across the state, maybe Red Lodge, MT, possibly Lakeside, MT. Thinking a little bit bigger and broader may

provide more and possibly better investment opportunities. I sponsored the Montana Young Professionals Network convention earlier this summer in Kalispell, and one of my take aways was that many young professionals have some angst about their student loan debt burden. One professional asked how could she get started investing in residential rentals in a market like Bozeman, where the average sales price was around $405,000. I mentioned to her that there are other opportunities in the state that may be more attractive, from a numbers perspective, so we began a dialogue to find out what was important to her. Whatever your investment appetite is, make sure you understand it, and make sure you get the very best advice you can afford. If you are interested in discussing more about the opportunities in this real estate market, please give me a call at 406-471-6750 or email me at



oments between the turning seasons are fleeting shifts of time that seem to nestle in and whisper a familiar hello. Days bookend each other with crisp, cool twilight hours as the leaves change from green to gold. The new wind makes you want to reach for a good, long book and a warm cup of cocoa. To go along with that cup of cocoa, you’ll need a homemade mug rug! These little coasters cozy up to any mug, and the absorbent cotton yarn will make sure it won’t leave a stain on your table. I chose a yarn that has hues of butternut squash, pumpkin spice, and a hint of wintergreen. I also used a thick felt in a soft shade of oatmeal to complement the lighter hues in the yarn. There are endless color choices of yarn, and I’m sure you’ll find the perfect match for your mugs at home!

supplies: • • • • • •

100% cotton multicolored yarn Tape Felt or denim Ruler Hot glue gun and glue sticks Scissors

step one: Start by finding the end of the yarn and put it in one hand while holding the yarn ball in the other. Stretch out the string of yarn from fingertip to fingertip to measure out six wingspans. My wingspan is approximately five feet, so you’ll need about thirty feet of yarn. Match the two ends of the yarn together and straighten them out to find the middle. Fold them in half to match the loop end with the two loose ends. Repeat this step again until there are four strands on each side. Take the top loop and tape it down to a flat surface. Now, take the two strands and put them over and under each other so that it makes one twisted strand. Once you reach the end, put a knot in it while still leaving approximately two inches of tassel. Using the scissors, clip any loops left on the tassel and trim any long pieces. Repeat this step for every coaster you’re making. A 95yard skein of yarn makes about 9 coasters.

step two: Plug in and heat up the glue gun. Next, cut the felt into 4 ½” x 4 ½” squares. Take one of the felt squares and find the approximate center. Now, take one of the twisted yarn strands and hot glue the looped end into the center. Keep the twisted strand nice and tight and make a spiral around the center, hot gluing each section as you go around. Add an extra dollop of hot glue to the underside of the knot right by the tassel. Be careful to only glue the knot and leave the tassel end free of glue. Repeat this step for the remaining strands and felt squares.

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step three: Next, take one of the finished felt squares with the attached yarn and carefully cut around the outer edge without clipping the side of the yarn. Repeat this step for all of the remaining coasters. Once they’re all cut out, it’s time to fray each tassel. You can use your fingers to untwist the individual threads or use a toothpick to comb them out. Your sweet mug rugs are ready to snuggle up to that delicious cup of hot cocoa! As the daylight shortens and life begins to slow down, I find that I want to surround myself with the comforts of home and start the season of crafting. Making mug rugs can be an enjoyable creative outlet for adults and children alike! It’s a quick project with a few simple supplies that makes a perfect, homemade gift for family and friends. Break out the marshmallows, pour a hot cup of cocoa, and get busy crafting!


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s : t r ’ h e g mak spotli



y name is Laura Viren, and I’m the owner and clay-covered woman behind Lulu Pottery. Very few things in my life make sense to me, but for some reason, clay does— the way the wheel spins, the feeling of the clay in my hands, and the unlimited potential outcomes of every vessel that goes into a final firing. It speaks to me in a way that no other artist medium or academic study does. I first sat at the potter’s wheel when I was 9, and I knew from that moment on that I wanted to continue finding ways to be around clay in any capacity possible. For the next 15 years, I played with polymer clay, took every ceramic class I could, and participated in summer art camps to fuel my love for the ceramic arts. Pottery remained a consistent hobby of mine until 2012 when I finally decided I could either dream of being a potter, or I could take a chance and go for it as a career. After completing my first degree in Public Health as a fail-safe, I decided to go back to school for a post-bachelors degree at Montana State University and officially take the ultimate plunge and follow a career related to the arts. I’ve never looked back, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I studied both Graphic Design and Ceramics, and then took an

apprentice position at a local production pottery studio while doing my independent study in Ceramics. One year later, Lulu Pottery came to life with the encouragement, guidance, and love of my husband and family. For me, Lulu Pottery seemed to fall into place. I felt like I have failed at so many other things that I had nothing left to lose. Although academia is important, and I agree with it as a primary source of education, I always felt as though I was meant to work with my hands. The transition felt right. After working in production pottery for a year and still not making a decent living financially, I finally decided there wasn’t much to lose. So I went for it. By the time I registered my business and got my paperwork together to become official, my husband and I also decided that we put off having kids for long enough. For the first five years, I put everything I had back into my company and my children, which meant watching them by day and working nights to fill orders. My children are now 3 and 4 ½ and love to help “momma in the studio.” I love them and my husband so much and can’t imagine another path. I wouldn’t change my journey for the world, but I am glad I’ve finally hit my stride as a working mother. I finally feel content with where my family and company are.


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I’m driven by my passion for clay and its complexities. I’ve always loved the delicate features of porcelain and its infinite possibilities. Each piece begins as a blank canvas, and throughout its’ making, begins to tell a unique story. I believe those who are drawn to ceramics are subconsciously seeking an experience. Functional art is tangible. Its very existence waits for us to wake up in the morning to give it life and purpose. We tend to remember the way it felt in our hands or on our lips as we take that first sip, and it becomes a more intimate experience. With technology so abundant, I think we secretly long for something definite and familiar in our lives. These handmade pieces create conversation and evoke a personal interaction. They bring us together for gatherings, events, and celebrations where we get to enjoy them as functional artistic centerpieces or as gifts for loved ones. I love making purposeful art that can be enjoyed and experienced every day, and I strive to create beautiful, timeless, and durable wares using simple tools and a strong passion. I hope everyone enjoys using Lulu Pottery and much as I enjoyed making it. The hardest part about my entire adventure was feeling like I didn’t fit into any one version of a normal career path. Pursuing a career in the arts felt so risky to everyone else, but doing something I didn’t love every day felt like an even greater risk because I wanted to live a life full of passion. Ultimately, I’ve never looked back on my decision to become a full-time potter. I try to encourage young, aspiring artists to ask themselves what

they would enjoy doing the rest of their lives, and then find a way to make it happen. Inspiration flows fairly steadily nowadays. Ceramics is a long, complex process, and by the time one idea comes to fruition, I’ve already had time to think through and have the next vision ready to go. I’m most inspired by my clients. They always have fun and creative ideas that spark life into my job. For example, if I meet with a florist and they want something drawn on paper to come to life for a custom floral arrangement, that’s what I do best. I function in 3D because it just makes sense— it’s how my brain operates. Having challenging orders placed pushes me outside my comfort zone and forces a forever learning experience with ceramics, which is what I fell in love with in the first place.

To see more of Laura’s work, visit her website at Select pieces are also available at 32 locations across Montana.



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creating traditions CRE8ING WITH STATION 8


lmost two years ago, I was invited to purchase a business I love. I’m so grateful that I was given enough support and encouragement to take the plunge. I will confess, though: taking on a successful business is intimidating. If I failed, I would let myself down and disappoint the one who lovingly grew the business up from nothing. I set out to maintain all the wonderful things about the shop that our customers love, but I wanted to add my stamp on the business. It was with visions of Gilmore Girls and Stars Hollow (and all of their quirky events in the town square) that I decided to use the shop’s yard as a space for family and community events.  The shop has become known for its fantastic events over the last 11 years. Things like our annual Holiday Open House in November, our Children’s Christmas Market in December, and our Yard Sale during Heritage Days are just a few. While keeping these time-honored traditions, I also wanted to create new ones. This past year, we’ve hosted new events such as our annual Winterfest in January, Frayday, our celebration of Frasier, the shop dog, with an adoption day and pet food drive, and my favorite new addition: Fall Festival! Anyone who knows me knows that I love this time of year the most! The cooler weather, the colors of the changing leaves, and the layers we get to wear— what’s not to love? At the shop, like most retailers, it all gets started in August. I thoroughly enjoy bringing out the boxes of fall décor and transforming the shop into a cozy, leaf-filled haven. With everything I love about fall in mind, I was determined to create an event that celebrates the season. That’s how our annual Fall Festival was born! Last year, we had great deals inside the shop and a host of fun games outside for kids and families. Apple bobbing, pumpkin painting, bean bag toss, sack races, and a cider press were some of the nostalgic festivities we had outside.  This October, our second annual Fall Festival is on Saturday, October 12th, from 10am-3pm. Like last year, we’ll have games and prizes for the kids outside and new inspiring décor, decorating ideas, and deals inside for the grown-ups! My sincere wish is that you’ll make this sweet festival a part of your family traditions, and that you and your kids will look back on Station 8 with fond memories. So put on your favorite wool sweater, bundle up your little ones, and come down and see us at the shop— we’re looking forward to it! On Behalf of Station 8, Rachel Hopkins owner




ature has always been a great source of inspiration in design, and for a good reason: its soothing effect intrinsically creates a warm, inviting, and relaxing atmosphere. You’ll find that it’s easy to integrate the outdoors into your space seamlessly. Today’s most popular interior design styles use a mingling of natural materials— from textiles, leathers, and trimmings, to wood, stone, metal, and glass. People often want to create rooms that bring to life an interplay of varied textures and surfaces that are diverse and correlate well to our region. At Wright’s Furniture, we strive to offer endless design inspirations, home decor products, and helpful tips to achieve a natural aesthetic.    Wood is often the first thing that comes to mind when adding a natural aesthetic to your home. In addition to being durable, it instantly adds texture and warmth to a room. There are several varieties of wood and finishes, and there are just about as many styles of furniture and accessories. When it comes to choosing the right kind of wood, the choices are infinite. From mahogany to ash gray, it’s easy to find the perfect shade to enhance your decor. Some of our favorite furniture manufacturers are those that specialize in handcrafted USA made solid wood products that will fit any aesthetic.   Try using branches in vases, pine cones in bowls, and large house plants to add natural texture to any room. Decorative teak wood bowls, driftwood designs, and reclaimed wood candle holders create a beautiful impact. You can also add other elements from nature, either real or faux, such as feathers, furs, antlers, and leathers. Choose a color palette with neutral tones. Shades of brown, gray, taupe, white, and cream should be favored. Consider adding accents of emerald green, cerulean blue, mustard, rust, and other earthy tones. Our design center and complimentary design service allow you to custom-order from thousands of fabric, leather, and finish colors to achieve any style or texture.   Candles are an effortless way to add natural color and, in some cases, aroma to a space. Using a nature-inspired scented candle will bring the freshness of the outdoors inside. Scents such as clove, alder, and cashmere can help enhance the feeling of the new season.    If you are feeling unsure of how to start but still want to make a change, you only have to look outside to find inspiration. As the leaves turn and the temperature drops, using the colors of fall in your space will add a natural aesthetic and can help make the season something to love.


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M O N TA N A’ S C O M P L E T E F U R N I T U R E & D E S I G N R E TA I L E R S I N C E 1 9 76 It’s no accident that Wright’s Furniture in Whitefish has become a favorite destination for home furnishings and accents. Since the first family members opened the business doors in 1976, Wright’s Furniture has focused on providing competitive prices backed by service and highly knowledgeable staff. Now, the third generation of the Wright family is active in the business. Wright’s Furniture provides endless variety, carrying product lines from hundreds of manufacturers, plus specialty furniture, accents, and art from local artisans and craftspeople. With over 60,000 square feet of combined showroom and warehouse space, a vast display area is provided, allowing more floor settings to view in search of design ideas. Prices range from low to high and “Apples to Apples,” Wright’s guarantees the lowest price within 250 miles. To further extend their commitment to satisfaction, Wright’s “Satisfy the Customer” policy is unparalleled, allowing the return of items immediately after delivery if not happy with the selected product. Ready to serve with 25 caring employees, Wright’s Furniture is open 7 days a week. Wright’s offers in-house design services, product specialists, special orders, service repair, and free delivery for trips less than 100 miles round trip. The Wright’s welcome you to stop by at 6325 Highway 93 South in Whitefish and explore their unique and interesting selections as so many people have done for three generations. Wright’s Furniture, Montana’s Complete Furniture and Design Retailer since 1976.

O P E N D A I LY 6 3 25 H I G H WAY 93 S O U T H , W H I T E F I S H M T 40 6 -8 6 2 -245 5 FREE DELIVERY | FREE DESIGN SERVICES

where there is little risk

there is little reward

color me lucky FEATURE |




purple banana seat bike, two friends, and a steep alleyway. For Alexis Pike, that was the beginning of Color Me Lucky.

At age 6, Alexis and a friend climbed on her new birthday bike and headed down an alleyway. As the alley got steeper, she peddled faster, flying toward the gravel on the other side of the road. Pike woke up to the sound of ambulance sirens. As the sirens faded, she realized that they weren’t for her. She got back on her bike and rode past her friend, who had gravel in her knees. In a haze of adrenaline and tunnel vision, she headed home for help. “My mother was a pianist and would accompany opera singers— she was practicing, and I was afraid to interrupt. So I stood outside the door, kind of waiting, and then I finally knocked, and I said ‘I think I’ve hurt myself.’” She spent four days in the hospital with a fractured skull. “I had to wear a motorcycle helmet when I rode my bike because they didn’t have bike helmets back then.” She managed to convince her dad that she needed a new bike, so she traded the purple banana seat bike for a stunt bike and Pike’s luck began to change. Risk, though, wasn’t just a one-time thing. There were micro and macro risks, emotional risks, and the less occasional physical risk, which she became a bit more cautious of after the fractured skull. Color Me Lucky is Pike’s latest photography project, exploring desire, sexuality, masculinity, image, and risk that the 1970s daredevil, Evel Knievel, embodied. Born in Butte, Montana, Knievel represented what Pike set out to accomplish on her purple banana seat bike. Her artist statement points to the risk-taker in all of us and our want for “the momentum that carries you forward, even when you know there’s a train wreck ahead.” Alexis grew up in Twin Falls as a sixth-generation Idahoan. She distinctly remembers seeing a wall of framed photographs in her father’s law office— all half-siblings that she didn’t know. But, even from a young age, she knew they were important because their pictures were framed. Those images molded her relationship with mon tan awoman .com | o c to b er 2 01 9



photography and her love of the snapshot. “It was about looking at photographs to establish my family tree,” she recalls. “When I went into making images, it was all about the influence of the snapshot and how that becomes our entrance into art as individuals… it’s something we can all relate to.” Her interest in photography started at 19 with a Canonet from her father. She was enrolled at Boise State and had taken a few art classes, but her father suggested taking a photo class to learn how to use the new camera. Right out of the gate, Pike’s professor told her she wouldn’t be able to take the course with a Canonet since it lacked full manual control. “That’s fine; I didn’t want to take the class anyway.” She told her dad that she wouldn’t be able to take the class, so he asked 38

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what she would need. A friend took her to a pawn shop and found a Pentax MEF Super, “and the whole world opened up from there.” Now an associate professor of photography at Montana State University, Alexis’s desire to teach came from her college mentor who shifted her perspective. “I wanted to give back what I had received. I didn’t go to grad school to become an artist; I went to grad school to get the credentials to teach.” She taught kid’s art classes and worked in ceramics, painting, and photography while she was in undergrad, alongside running the color darkroom. As a graduate student, she taught continuing education classes. “I was always preparing that foundation to teach.”


But her journey to where she is now isn’t a straight line— she navigated an unstable career field, moved to Portland, bought a house on her own, and raised her son as a single mom. She taught at universities across Portland, working from job to job. She could have gone to law school and become a partner in her father’s law firm, but that’s not where her passion lied. “[I pursued] a career that does not pay well, that often does not have secure employment… [I was] waiting for the perfect job, being selective about where I was going to apply.” For Alexis, doing it on her own was empowering: “This is mine— I did this.”

personal risk— adopting three kids, dating again, and documenting a subject with a heavily male demographic, all as a middle-aged woman. “I knew that story was there, but I couldn’t figure out how to weave it in. How do you take something like Evel Knievel and daredevils and talk about being a middle-aged woman, and what goes with that?” The project became clearer with the help of a longtime friend and Portlandbased photographer, Shawn Records. “He helped me take that story I wanted to tell about myself and my own risk-taking and weave it into the overall scheme.”

In 2015, while she was working on Color Me Lucky, Alexis adopted her two nieces and nephew, growing her family from two to five. The project then began to dig even deeper into

Another major turning point in the project was a photograph of a Spanky Jr. jump from Evel Knievel Days in Butte: mon tan awoman .com | o c to b er 2 01 9



“I snuck behind the barrier to get inside so I’d be closer. I was photographing with a 50mm lens, so you really had to be close. I remember when the car launched I could feel the debris, and I was just terrified, you know— don’t break the camera. I had never taken a photo like that in my life, so it was totally foreign. I looked at the images and it was like “oh my god, I captured it, I got it.”

A monograph of Color Me Lucky was printed by Savannah-based publisher Aint–Bad in March of 2019. Now that the project has come to fruition and Evel Knievel Days have temporarily ended in Butte, Alexis is working toward new projects, revisiting projects, and creating a new experimental darkroom class. She’s editing a project on the Oregon Trail called A Photographic Reconsideration of the Oregon Trail. “I’ve been photographing along the Oregon Trail for most of my photographic career, but a major part in the past 12 years. So I finally thought ‘okay, let’s just make this a project.’” She spent a summer traveling along the entire 2,000mile route, from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. The body of work looks at

Recognize [doubt], embrace it, use it as rocket fuel

That image became a source of creative fuel for Color Me Lucky— it legitimized her ability to capture what was happening, to take the risk, to see herself in Evel Knievel’s jumps and wrecks, but to peddle faster down the steep alley anyway. 40

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She’s also been frequenting Liz Phair concerts in the west in pursuit of a new project. The project looks into “how long it takes to come into your strength as a female.” The influence started in her twenties, but has reemerged in her forties: “I have all of those screenshots, stories, and text messages— everything— from my dating app days [and] her album, Exile in Guyville, which influenced me so much as a female.” Alongside new projects and being a mother of four, Pike added a new experimental color darkroom to her curriculum for the fall semester. She’s going back to her roots with the new class, back to her days of running her alma mater’s color darkroom, back to the time her days were filled with doubt. But, this jackalope-loving, camera wielding, kickass mother of four says of doubt: “recognize it, embrace it, and use it as rocket fuel.” While some of her risks have morphed over the last few years, Pike’s risk-taking doesn’t end with Color Me Lucky. Working in a male-dominated sector, reconstructing a family dynamic, building a new class from the ground up, and inspiring other women to come into their own— all while being unapologetically and fiercely female— is a testament to her strength and willingness to just go for it. For Alexis Pike, it’s time to don the leathers and take flight.


western migration alongside migration as a whole. “Why was it acceptable that we migrated west? Why is it not acceptable that people want to migrate north?”

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taken wind by the

Stephanie Evans mountain moon spirits



Every so often, there are those magic people that just get it. Whatever it is, they know it. Evans is one of those people: sage, effervescent, grounded but floating among the stars at the same time. Hailing from the Bitterroots of southwestern Montana, Evans has long been drawn to the stories of strangers. On a trip to Salmon, Idaho for the eclipse, she met a woman on a motorcycle. They started up a conversation as strangers, and both left with a sense of lightness. “I don’t even know her name,” Evans recalls.

… Evans began teaching classes at Yoga Hive in Kalispell and Whitefish in June of this year, and now she’s starting her own business: Mountain Moon Spirits.


t was a Sunday. A man walked into The Shops at Station 8 in Columbia Falls, and Stephanie Evans immediately had a gut feeling. “I just had this buzzy feeling on my body, so I knew that was sort of a warning of ‘just be open.’” She didn’t know who he was, but he seemed lost. Evans had flashes in her vision of death, fear, and sadness. She looked at him, touched his arm, and got him a glass of water. “You need to call your family, you need to tell them you’re okay, you need some food, you need to rest.” He didn’t know why he was in the shop, why he drove there. He was on his way to Glacier National Park. As he drove away, Evans felt a release of panic. “I was shaking, I was freezing cold, I was crying.” That Monday, the shop got a phone call. Someone left that man’s phone number for Evans to call, and she did. He planned on driving his car off of a cliff on Going to the Sun Road, yet after meeting Stephanie, he drove back to his family in Oklahoma. She still stays in touch with him.


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Yoga isn’t new to Evans, though. She started doing yoga about 24 years ago with her kids. That version of yoga was lovingly called “yogurt,” and it was all intuitive. Now, with Mountain Moon Spirits, Evans is building a trifecta: yoga, retreats, and officiating weddings with Elope Montana. From someone on the outside, it may seem like an unusual mix of services, but for anyone who’s met Stephanie, it makes perfect sense. She understands people in a way that most people don’t even understand themselves. About six years ago, Evans had a vision for a business. It involved retreats that would offer healing and wellness to those who needed it. Today, that vision has evolved into Mountain Moon Spirits. The new venture comes along with a mix of emotions: excitement, anticipation, fear. “I keep visualizing this great, big protective bubble that’s just allowing people to come in. It just feels right. It feels like a family reunion, and everyone’s happy.” Growing up in the Bitterroots, Stephanie was always outside. “I felt like I could transport myself to a make-believe land whenever I wanted— I needed to, actually.” Her grandparents had a ranch in Hamilton, and that was her peaceful, content spot. She felt safe in the mountains. Evans would walk around the house with a round mirror when things felt unsettled. “I felt like I lived on the ceiling. It’s a trick if you feel overwhelmed— live on the ceiling for a little bit,” she laughs.

Moving to the Flathead Valley was a fresh start and escape from the Bitterroots. She and her husband headed north to the valley with their three kids after receiving a job opportunity in Somers. For Evans, it’s a place of peace and healing, of beauty and tenderness. Whitefish, though, was the beacon— that was the magnetic place. Evans now resides outside of town, in between the Kootenai and Flathead National Forests. She has two birdhouses for nesting swallows in the yard. A small prism dances in a window projects bits of rainbows in the entryway. The bathroom door sometimes slides open on its own— it’s a perfect spot. “Since I’m finally in Whitefish— which I was [always] drawn to— [I’ve realized] that it was part of the bigger picture. I just didn’t have all of the details yet.” Evans is still just as imaginative as she was as a child, but now she doesn’t feel so alone. “It’s like a second childhood right now. A not so scary one.” She recalls her own four children, and that each birth was a reminder that she needed to be alive. “Growing up, I was suicidal… I’m surprised I’m alive.” Each child brought a new perspective and a gentle reminder that she was needed. Starting her job at The Shops at Station 8 while being a mom was a reminder to put herself out into the world. Each new job, each step, each leap was a reminder to stretch out and find her true self. Living on her own, leaving a job, and starting a new business, Evans is embarking into new territory. But while the world whirrs around, Evans is seemingly calm in knowing. “If you’re going to jump, just jump… the time is now.” That’s the thing with coming into your own— there is no time better than now. When you have the chance to discover a piece of what you’re meant to do, you have to run with it and find the rest of the puzzle. “If you don’t do it, you’ll wonder. There’s no time for dreaming… the time is now.”

Mental health is a journey that affects 1 in 4 Americans (NAMI). You are not alone. You are heard, you are loved, and you are so wildly important.

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sage brush woman sarah calhoun: red ants pants



“Sarah, you’re onto something big here. I think you need to move on this now.” He had worked in production and design for Patagonia for the past 20 years. Calhoun grew up on a Connecticut farm, and after she graduated from Gettysburg College with a degree in Environmental Studies, she became an outdoor educator for Outward Bound and Youth Corps. From bailing hay on the farm to maintaining ski trails, Calhoun found that every pair of pants ripped, required patching, or didn’t even fit to begin with. There were workwear pants, but they were made for men. And so began the start of Red Ants Pants. Ivan Doig’s 1978 novel, This House of Sky, brought Calhoun to Montana. There was a dream of Montana: the rugged, wild landscape; the grit and determination of its people. She left Connecticut and came to Montana, having never visited the state. “…the expanse of it all: across a dozen miles and for almost forty along its bowed length, this home valley of the Smith River country lay open and still as a gray inland sea, held by buttes and long ridges at its northern and southern ends, and the east and west by mountain ranges.” —This House of Sky Calhoun started out in Bozeman, but something was missing. To her, it didn’t feel like the Montana she read about in Doig’s memoirs, so she set out to the exact location he wrote about: White Sulphur Springs. Boasting a population of 925 residents (2017 Census) and about one square mile of land— 100 miles away from larger cities— White Sulphur Springs isn’t necessarily the easiest place to start a business, especially if you’re going in with no experience. But Calhoun dove right in: she bought an old saddle shop


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on Main Street and got to work. She renovated the storefront, lived in the back of the building, and rented out the upper units. She inserted herself wherever she could in White Sulphur Springs: coaching the volleyball team, volunteering as an EMT, joining the arts council, helping at cattle drives— wherever she could help, she did. Calhoun became an integral part of White Sulphur Springs. As Calhoun found her place in Montana, she also learned the ropes of business along the way. She got a job sewing backpacks to learn about production from the floor, she worked with the women who made the pants on design, source, and textile, and she found local women to make belts and aprons. Every Red Ants Pants product— pants and shorts, shirts and vests, towels and carpenter pencils— is made in America. Shirts are screen printed in Bozeman, pants are sewn in Washington, and leather belts are stamped in White Sulphur Springs. Despite the steep learning curve, Calhoun built a company from the ground up without a background in business. “It’s been helpful that I didn’t have a business background and [that] I’ve never taken a business course in my life,” she observes. “I’m really able to think and operate outside of the box because I don’t even know what the box is.” 2011 witnessed the creation of the Red Ants Pants Foundation, a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to the women of rural Montana. The Foundation has three main outreaches: the Girls Leadership Program, Timber Skills Workshops, and Community Grants. These three branches work to support small-town Montana: mentoring young women in the fundamentals of leadership, teaching women the basics of carpentry, and supporting Montana organizations and individuals. The Foundation has now given $110,000 in community grants. With her dreams wild and boundless as the prairies of the Smith River Valley, Calhoun looked ahead. Women needed practical workwear, and she made that happen. She wanted to support rural Montana and preserve traditional skills, and she made that happen, too. The Foundation needed more support, so the next obvious step was to create the Red Ants Pants Music Festival. Once a year, out in the dusty fields of White Sulphur



arah Calhoun sat with a copy of Small Business for Dummies at the Leaf & Bean in Bozeman in 2005. She knew that there was a need for women’s workwear. And not just workwear that a woman could wear— workwear for women. A man noticed Calhoun’s book of choice and asked her what business she would be starting. A week later, he took her by his shop and shared his contacts and advice for starting a clothing company.


Springs, musicians, artisans, restaurants, locals, and everyone in between caravan out for the three-day festival. The first year, 2011, was a true cross-section of rural Montana: local schools filled gopher holes, first responders volunteered their services for the weekend, farmers helped cleared the fields, the football team picked up trash, the county watered down the soil. Meagher (Marr) County came to Calhoun’s aid the same way she came to theirs. That’s the thing about small-town Montana: when someone needs a hand, someone else is there to lend their own. 6,000 people came together at a cow pasture in the middle of Montana to a festival that started without a budget. Twelve different bands performed over those three days in late July. Traditional demonstrations from crosscutting to fence building to cooking over a campfire take place alongside the concert. That’s what makes the Red Ants Pants a bit more magical: it’s grown to become Montana’s premiere music festival, but its roots still run deep. In 2019, 16,000 people attended the festival, and over 16 bands performed.


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Attendees took part in a yodeling contest, people practiced yoga together in the morning, and star stories were shared in the evening. It’s not just a music festival: it’s a celebration of Montana. In 2013, according to an economic impact survey, an estimated $2.8 million was generated in White Sulphur Springs and its surrounding towns over the three day festival. This is coming from a county that was once written as having the lowest income in America (The Economist), from a woman who’s introduction to professional business practices was Small Business for Dummies. To say that Calhoun is a powerhouse is an understatement. From the White House to the homesteads of rural Montana, Calhoun has made a lasting impact. In 2011, the first year of the Festival and the Foundation, Calhoun was named the Entrepreneur of the Year of the State of Montana and was invited to the White House. She’s given TED Talks; been on the cover of magazines; been featured by National Geographic,


CNN, and MSNBC; was inducted to the Montana Business Hall of Fame; was awarded the 2018 Event of the Year. But you would never know it. Despite the accolades and press, Calhoun remains a sagebrush woman. At the heart of it all are the wild, capable women of Montana. For Sarah Calhoun and the Red Ants Pants team, the sky is the limit. With new projects and a book on the horizon, there’s no telling what’s next. After all, there isn’t anything like the drive and determination of Montana’s women. All of Red Ants— the workwear, the festival, the workshops, the grants— all started with a woman and a pair of pants.




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he other morning, I listened to an inspirational video. It’s something I do every morning to set the tone for the day. Yesterday was about “how is it going— really?” The speaker, Darren Hardy, told a story about a friend of his who had a financial goal of growing his business to seven figures. He’s in Real Estate sales and he relayed how the week unfolded. There were the late nights stuffing mailers, afternoons spent at the printers creating flyers, and time with prospective clients who were lost if he didn’t get to them on time. He was busy and tired and considered making a change. Darren asked how his wife was and how their date nights were going. He asked how his kids were and what fun vacations they were going to take, how his training was going for the ½ marathon he said he was going to run in. You know, the questions that cause you to pause and think about the things that really matter to you. The way I typically pose the question to my clients is  “what is the money for.”  Yes, achieving the seven figure mark takes dedication and growth as a leader, and success has its own wins.  It’s our families, communities, and life experiences that are really what the money is all about. For me, the questions were a great eye opener. How would you answer them?

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU WOULD NEED TO CHANGE TO BE ON TRACK FOR CREATING THE LIFE YOU DESIRE? Time is the ultimate leveler for each of us. We all get the same 24 hours in a day. We choose how we spend it and who we spend it with. The results we create in life develop over time with the day to day activities we choose to participate in. This week I visited a client who just lost her younger sister— it was an experience that shook her to the core. She’ll turn 65 next month and she realizes that yes, she loves her work and can’t imagine not doing it. Yet every minute she spends working, it’s a choice over experiencing other things that life has to offer. Her grandchildren are growing up quickly, and her husband retired a few years ago and desires to travel more. We’ve all heard that balance is key, but perfect, ongoing balance is a myth. I know there are choices that can bring us into the fullness of life that each of us desire. If you’re ready for a reality check, look at your check register for the last 60 days. It will tell you where your focus lies. Is how you’re spending your money getting you where you want to go? Our spending is a true reflection of


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what’s important to us. It’s the measure of how we invest the resources we have.

SOMETIMES AN OUTSIDE SET OF EYES AND A MIND THAT IS NOT AS EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO YOUR NUMBERS CAN BE SUPPORTIVE IN THIS PROCESS. We are here to help! Awareness is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. We designed this tool, The Financial Ease Quiz,  with that in mind.  In less than 4 minutes, you’ll know the best place for you to make a change to have the best return on investment for your time and money.  You can find the quiz at and get started now! Enjoy the results that come with focused activity to create the life you desire.

montana woman m a g a z i n e


y e a r s

i n

p r i n t


open your phone's camera and point it at the QR code

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stepping outside of your comfort zone.


I’m a firm believer that personal growth only happens when we leave our comfort zone. When I’m continually manicuring my comfort zone and making sure to mitigate every little feeling of unpleasantness to ensure maximum okay-ness, it becomes clear to me that I’m stunting myself in the human development process. We need a certain amount of friction to learn and grow. It’s like one of my favorite quotes by spiritual teacher Ram Dass: “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”

I’m someone who consciously practices stepping outside of my comfort zone. It’s worth noting that most of us abandon our comfort zone on a pretty regular basis just in being human and leaving the house. However, there’s a difference between finding ourselves suddenly taking a risk and doing it with intent. Every time I leave my comfort zone, I’m taking a risk. Granted it’s typically a small risk, but I’m someone who subscribes to the motto: start small to work big. I’m not looking to take huge, bounding, daredevil leaps— I’m interested in going slow and steady (and continually). Every time I step away from my comfort zone, I take another small step, and another, and another. And just in case this isn’t evident, expanding your comfort zone isn’t easy. It will be uncomfortable. Truly. So we’ll know if we’re doing it correctly if we physically feel uncomfortable. The work of comfort zone expansion 54

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involves feeling the discomfort. Rather than retreating away from it and trying to manicure our homeostasis to exclude it, we need to step into it and be present. I often use the imagery of driving a car. Let’s say I’m experiencing fear of something. For instance: I’m a spoken word artist, and fear arises any time I’m getting ready to do spoken word on stage in front of people. While I don’t have a fear of public speaking, I do have a fear of performing my music or spoken word. When fear enters my internal landscape before getting on stage, I picture myself driving a car and imagine my emotions are riding along with me as passengers. Then I talk to the fear, who is now situated in the car with me. “Okay, look here fear,” I say, sometimes even out loud, “you can stay in the car and all but, you aren’t allowed in the driver’s seat, and you can’t ride shotgun. You’ll have to kick it in the backseat.” When I conjure up this imagery and talk to my fear, it allows me to acknowledge that fear is present within me. It shows that I’m also committed to not letting fear run the show. I don’t want to kick it out of the car and pretend that it’s not there, because it is there. But I also don’t want to turn over the keys to it or allow it to dominate my situation and dictate what I do.  It’s important to mention that the presence of fear isn’t always an indicator for me to push through it and do the thing, whatever the thing is. Sometimes when I feel fear— or any flavor of discomfort— I allow

PSYCHOLOGY OF OUTDOOR EDUCATION. 4'X4' ©DORI BERGMAN 2019. Dori Bergman paints women in the outdoors with a focus on mental health. She received a Bachelor’s in Wilderness Therapy and is currently getting a Masters in Outdoor Education. Bergman’s dream is to start an outdoor program for young girls struggling with anxiety and depression. To see more of Bergman’s art, visit her website at or follow her on instagram @myoutdoorart.

that feeling to inform my choice to avoid the thing. Otherwise stated: I pick and choose my moments. If we start expanding our comfort zone in the interest of self-growth and skill-building, it’s important to tune into ourselves and access our own wisdom about when to step into discomfort and when to protect and reflect. Whether we choose to step into discomfort or not, the key is to do so consciously. Keep in mind that if we wait until we feel like stepping outside of our comfort zone, we will likely never do it. Again, this work is going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to

feel awkward and strange and even counterintuitive. I’ve found that the more that I angle myself in the direction of leaving my comfort zone, the more at ease I feel in an ever-widening field of situations and with an ever-increasing array of people. I’m interested in building skillsets in resilience, balance, patience, understanding, compassion, kindness, inclusivity, and generosity. To grow in these areas, I have to expand my capacity to be comfortable in my own skin in a variety of backgrounds with a variety of people. It’s as simple and complex as that. mon tan awoman .com | o c to b er 2 01 9


LIFESTYLE | Too often, we look to make big moves— trying to make significant shifts in one fell swoop. In doing so, we set ourselves up for not being able to follow through or keep up the momentum and going sustainably. So if you do decide to embark on extending your comfort zone, start small to work big. I advise folks who are looking to start a meditation practice on their own the same way: consistency is more important than the duration of time you sit for (because many folks try to start too big in this area too). Small, consistent steps are likely to be more supportive than large leaps that thrust you way outside of your comfort zip code. It’s best to visit the suburbs of your comfort zone and gain some familiarity there first before wandering off to the big city. Nicole is the director of the Open Way Mindfulness Center in Missoula, Montana, where she leads retreats and organizes events. She also serves as the program director for Be Here Now, a weekly meditation group she founded in 2002. For more info:


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local organic produce •natural grocery• beer & wine •vitamins & supplements •pet food •beer & wine making supplies •knowledgeable staff


design ideas:


A roll of film, a diesel school bus, a box of fresh pencils. Safety yellow may not be the first color that comes to mind when you're decorating, but small accents of it can brighten up a space. Bold and energetic, yellow is a perfect counter to a cloudy autumn day.

clockwise from top:



a woman reinvented: embracing risk ARTICLE & IMAGES BY BARBARA FRASER

s I sit at my desk, the morning sunshine comes through my window and lands softly on the roses in their vase. They are from my garden, and their enchanting scent fills the air; each new addition of various lavenders has been the highlight of my summer. I lean back in my chair, and a smile spreads across my face as the wonder of the moment floats in the room. To write for Montana Woman is an event in my life that I would never have expected, for so many reasons. I did allow myself the occasional daydream of someday writing for a published venue— conversations with friends of the “what ifs” were like a dangling carrot in front of me. I have a book to finish, a blog to get back to, and the joy of my photography and pieced together ramblings on Instagram that feed me for now. But life frequently brings us circumstances that we don’t see coming and can take us completely by surprise. Writing my first article for a magazine that’s under new ownership, and where the excitement of creating is contagious, is especially exhilarating. But it’s also my hope that there will be new readers who join those who have read for years, and that all will find inspiration, encouragement, and even companionship between the pages. When I was in high school, I knew— with that sense of knowing we have when we are young and idealistic— that I wanted to become a writer. I had spent years writing furiously; imagining the day when I could drive off after graduation in a pickup with my dog and write stories inspired by the people I met along the way. It sounded so perfect at 18, but once I got out into the real world, I discovered that life wasn’t just daydreams— it included heartbreak and bruises. After four years, I realized that the desire of my heart really was to find a man to share my life with. To raise 58

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sweet, lovely children together, live in a charming white house, and have a faithful dog to complete our story. By the time you read this article, I will have experienced the third anniversary of my husband’s unexpected death. The man who captured my heart as I did his, who shared my life in every way, and who loved me more than I could comprehend, went to work one day and never came home. Through the years we had multiple houses, always one home; faithful dogs, often two and three at a time; and sons that we raised to become three of the most wonderful men I have ever known. In those three decades, my writing consisted mostly of notes or cards, Christmas letters, and an uncountable array of journals filled with only a few pages that were then neglected and packed away until the next fancy-covered beauty was discovered. I wholeheartedly believe in the opportunities of a fresh start! In these last three years, my life looks the same in so many ways, and yet completely different in others. Life is full of twists and turns, and the contrast between the ups and downs is actually part of what makes the ups so delightful, and the downs so catastrophic. Some days, we find ourselves crumpled on the ground, struggling to breathe, and unable to find our way forward. I have discovered that fighting it will not shorten the process, so now I gather my Kleenex and wait for the tear-drenched pile to grow. I then remind myself that I am braver than I have ever been. My doubts are more a part of discovering how to navigate my journey, not uncertainty as to the goal of my life. There is no magic equation in escaping hardship; no amount of money, power, influence, planning,

praying, negotiating, or outsmarting will keep it at bay. But there is also a beauty to it, which is something I would not have been able to accept as a new, heartbroken widow. I have acquired strengths in myself that tragedy has built on, but could have easily been extinguished if I had let them. I have gained wisdom with each experience I encounter, and I am learning the value of discernment, now that making decisions relies on my judgment alone. I also have an appreciation of still being alive— survivors are a resourceful lot! The day Danny walked into my life led by a dog— that day changed everything as I knew it. We both truly expected and prayed that we would become the cute old couple that looked more and more alike as they aged. The couple that somehow made their dreams come true despite life’s unexpected obstacles and that fell in love over and over again, until some soft evening when they died in each other’s arms. But this was not how our story ended. And so, the risk-taking in my life was renewed. Eventually, I began to find my way. At first, I questioned my abilities, my ideas, and my growing dream. But when I searched for everything that Dan had ever written to me, I found my notes, letters, and journal entries. They showed the promise of a writer. I began to understand that while my attention had been focused elsewhere, I had been experiencing a beautiful life that would become the foundation of a new career. One that has waited patiently for its time to come. My husband, who will always be the love of my life, the sons that we delighted in beyond expression, the daughter-in-law who always has been family, and even the home we shared that I always wanted— they all continue to nurture me each day as I become a more seasoned, successful widow. My strength comes in rediscovering who I am, making decisions for my life that sometimes surprise me, and feeling alive in a way that can be downright intoxicating. Losing Danny is part of my story, and sharing what that looks like and how I find my way forward is its foundation. I will share my experiences and offer hope to anyone enduring the devastation of loss. I remember searching for it myself over a thousand days ago when I couldn’t imagine getting through one. I want to assure others that they are not alone; it is one of

the most difficult experiences of grieving. If you aren’t a widow or widower, you may think my writing isn’t relevant to you because you don’t share my experience. I ask you to reconsider. I may have insight for those who have someone in their life who has stood in my shoes: a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, or even a total stranger. Loss comes in many forms. Being my husband’s widow carries as much realestate as being his wife, and I make no apologies for that. I have no intention of allowing it to slip into my past. I joke that I got “left behind” for a reason: to figure out why. What makes us risk-takers? Often, what comes to mind are those who climb the highest mountains, jump from perfectly good airplanes, perhaps gamble fortunes on risky projects, and even risk life and limb. But I think the real risk-takers in life are everyday people who live in the moment of courage. We take risks every day when we put our feet on the floor and get out of bed. There are no guarantees that we will crawl back into it at night— this fact became extraordinarily real to me the night of Danny’s death. But, it has also encouraged me to do my best with each day and live the fullest life with the time I have left before me. I strive to look at obstacles as opportunities and to know that I am up to the task more than I realize. This growing confidence allows me to also seek guidance and even ask for help when I need it. I decided that I’ve been preparing for this moment for many years and that if the opportunity has presented itself, then I am truly ready. I think that deep inside, risk-takers don’t really believe they will fail. That conviction creates capability.



If you haven’t spent much time in a gym, the weight room can be intimidating. I mean, 50% of the weight machines look something like a medieval torture device. Exercises named things like “deadlifts” and “prisoner ups” and slogans like “no pain, no gain” certainly don’t make weight lifting (aka resistance training) feel any more welcoming. Coupled with the misconception that “weight lifting can make a woman too bulky,” it’s no wonder that stepping into the weight room can give women pause. But the truth is that bulking doesn’t come from weight lifting, it comes from food and our choices in the kitchen. Weight lifting while eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods results in lean, sculpted bodies. Weight lifting also brings health benefits ranging from increased bone density, metabolism, and endorphins (the feel-good chemicals in the brain), to a decreased risk of injury, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Fortunately, in 2019, the taboo associated with women weightlifters is less prevalent than it once was. It’s time for all women to step into their power and debunk the stigma once and for all! So, let’s talk strategy.


There are as many different resistance training systems as there are leggings in my closet (which is a lot). To name a few: circuit training, HIIT (high intensity interval training), Olympic lifting (where you attempt a maximum weight single lift), the Blitz System (where a single muscle group is isolated per day, i.e: Monday, chest; Tuesday, back; Wednesday, shoulders; and so on). I know it can be overwhelming to know where to begin, but I have suggestions to help get you started:  If you have access to a gym, definitely consider 60

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trying a class! Instructor-led classes can really help get rid of the guesswork involved when starting out with resistance training. If your schedule doesn’t work with the class times or you prefer to work out alone, keep in mind that most gyms will do a free introduction tour. Be prepared to tell them you would like to start weight lifting and ask them to show you a few easy-to-use machines to get started. After you’re in the swing of things with a few simple exercises, challenge yourself to add one new machine into your routine per week. I realize this may be stepping out of your comfort zone, but I encourage you to push yourself on this. Trying out new things is good for the spirit as well as the body! If you don’t have access to a gym or weights, body weight exercises like squats, pushups, tricep dips, and crunches can be done anywhere, anytime, at no cost to you. I am a huge fan of “supersets.” You take three different exercises and group them together. Aim for 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. Once you complete the superset, repeat it up to four more times.  Sample these types of strength training (and others!) until you find one that you enjoy. The fitness studio I own and teach at has a slogan: “fitness is fun.” I am blessed with the opportunity to design fun workouts for our clients, and I know other gyms strive to do the same. Life is too short for boring workouts! Finding a strength training format that you enjoy will help your stick-to-itness to a lifetime practice.

FREQUENCY. The average adult should include regular resistance training 2-3 days per week with the specific purpose of maintaining muscle mass and bone mineral content over the life span. Adhere to this and watch the magic start to happen for you.

the exercises too quickly. I always say “slow and controlled,” and think about engaging the muscle on the eccentric part of the motion (where the muscle is lengthening). For example, keep the bicep engaged when lowering the weight after the bicep curl.

REST DAYS...YAY OR NAY? If you have ever noticed your muscles being sore after a big play day, you have experienced DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This occurs because the weight lifting process creates micro-tears in the muscle, which is good because the muscle fiber that grows to repair the tear makes the muscle bigger and stronger. This repair process occurs during rest days. Not a believer in rest days? Then you are just continually tearing down the muscle, not giving it a chance to rebuild or repair, and are missing an essential part of the strength building process. Take at least one day off between exercising each specific muscle group to give your muscles time to recover.

Errors that increase the risk of injury include skipping the warmup, using too much weight, improper alignment, and not keeping the core stabilized. If you are new to resistance training, consider starting with a personal trainer or a group fitness instructor who can help you navigate these problems. You could also start with simple machines that place you in the position to ensure the core and scapula are correctly stabilized.

COMMON TRAINING ERRORS. The most frequent error I see is folks performing

In this era of female empowerment, it’s a great time for all Montana women to explore the world of strength training. Always remember that we can be of better service to our family and community if we take care of ourselves first and foremost. Happy lifting!

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Risk and Reward ACTIVE & OUTDOOR |




he main theme of this issue is “where there is little risk, there is little reward.” Right? Right.

Let’s set the scene: it’s late July. A perfect Montana summer day— a bluejay sky, a light breeze, a few innocuous clouds here and there. It was a day made for the river, so we went. There were four of us: me, my mom, our friend Novalee, and her friend Angela, who had never kayaked on the Flathead River. We loaded kayaks into the truck and headed to West Glacier. Our original plan was to kayak on the Flathead from West Glacier to House of Mystery which, as the car drives, is a 12-mile route. But it was no biggie! It was the hottest day of the week! Like I said, it was a textbook definition river day. We left West Glacier around 4:00, just a bit later than we planned, but that was also fine. Things like that are always late. Besides, raft tours were leaving at the same time. If they deemed it a good day for the river, we weren’t going to argue. So there we went, merrily paddling along, skirting through the small rapids that lie between West Glacier and Blankenship. We stopped along the bank to skip rocks, eat snacks, and sit in the current. We watched people fly fish, cliff jump, and float the river in tubes that were tied together with a rope. I sat out in the water and was just peachy— I cannot emphasize how perfect this day was (note the past tense though, it’s important). Toward the end of our break, it started to cloud over. Again, no big deal. We’ve kayaked in rain, you’re already wet to begin with. Rain on the river is serene, so bring it on. Right? We passed Blankenship, which is about halfway through the float. This was at around 6:30. The shoreline was packed, and people waved as we paddled by. We thought they were just being encouraging, but it was definitely more of a “farewell” sentiment. Not too far after Blankenship, we hit a set of rapids that were not there when my mom and I last kayaked that part of the river. Granted, the last time we kayaked that part of the river was September of 2018, but that’s a minor discrepancy. We fearlessly paddled on. The clouds started to get darker, and every few


minutes we heard thunder rolling in the distance. Again, no big deal, we’ve kayaked with thunder. It’s only a problem if lightning gets involved. There were more rapid sets that we didn’t know existed, some decently sized boulders inconveniently dotted across the river, and absolutely no people. The raft guides got out at Blankenship, along with everyone else who noted the turn in the weather. This is a good time to remind you that for our friend Angela, this was her inaugural voyage onto the Flathead. I am sorry, Angela. We traveled onward, into a headwind, in the rain, thunder booming closer, and the stray lightning bolt here and there. I think it’s safe to say that at that point we were all nervous, but we were just fibbing for each other. “It shouldn’t be too much farther!” “We’ll just keep going till it gets really bad!” However, the line between bad and really bad is about six lightning bolts happening at once. It got to the point where the storm wasn’t just behind us, it was off to the side, at the mountains in front— we were center stage. We kept going as much as we could, our arms practically useless after four hours of paddling. At this point, we were just trying to find a bank that could hold the four of us and our kayaks. We were conveniently in the section of the river that’s totally exposed to lightning on one side and a 45˚ angle on the other. Just when we were about it call it and land on whatever spit of land we could, we saw it. A set of stairs climbed up the left bank. They might as well mon tan awoman .com | o c to b er 2 01 9



have been bathed in golden rays of light with cherubs gently floating down from the clouds above. Angela crawled up the stairs to find the front door while we pulled kayaks up on the muddy bank. Not long after, she appeared at the bushes at the top of the hill to let us know we could come inside. So there we were, totally drenched, in a thunderstorm, crawling up a set of metal stairs to the chosen house on the river. We were greeted by a sweet golden retriever and Tina, who let us know that we weren’t the first stranded rafters to grace her home. This was a regular thing. She welcomed us in, wet shoes and all, and asked if she could take our picture to commemorate another Stranded Rafter Rescue. We all got to talking— “so how did you end up here? How do you know each other?” “How often to strangers crawl up those stairs to your house?” I told her about Montana Woman, she told me she’s a defense attorney (which hello, how cool is Tina? Tina is a gem, especially at this point in time). Angela told her about her heart healing sessions, which Tina serendipitously was fascinated by. We were a ragtag group of sopping wet kayakers, standing in Tina’s 64

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house, bonding over shared interests. After the storm passed, Tina drove us down to the House of Mystery to get my car and bring it to our new endpoint at Glacier Bible Camp, which was only a 5-minute float from her house. Once we got the cars situated and triple checked that the storm had passed (and stopped for a picture with the hero of the day, Tina), we headed back down to our kayaks. By then, the float was beautiful. All of the clouds turned shades of marigold and peach, it was warm and still, and there was absolutely no one else on the river. The bank at Glacier Bible Camp was not as wide or flat as we imagined and we did have to haul four kayaks up to the road at the end of the day, but I think it’s safe to say the risk was worth the reward. However, if it were up to me, I would not kayak in a lightning storm again. But think of the Tinas you would miss out on if you didn’t jump headfirst into a storm! There are a lot of storms out there, but there are also some really great Tinas.

A smooth sea skilled sailor never made a

fr an kl in d. ro o sev elt


farm girl



f you went to the Northwest Montana Fair in August of 2019, you might have walked by Jackie Petersen. It could have been when she was showing her pig, Dribbles. It might have been in the draft horse barn where she was displaying her yearling, a Gypsy Vanner and Shire cross named Phoenix.  Maybe you attended one of the NWMT Pro-Rodeo Pageant events this year where Petersen was competing for the teen title. If you stopped by Murdoch’s in Columbia Falls one evening during the Fair, you might have seen Petersen working, having traded her blue Future Farmers of America jacket for a brown vest. Wherever you saw her, you would likely have guessed she was a typical farm-raised teenager. One who wears boots, jeans, and a western belt and buckle by choice even when not showing an animal. Jackie’s life has been anything but typical. Jackie’s care became the responsibility of the state of Montana when she was just six months old.  Her tiny body bore the mark of a mother unable to cope in the form of a bruise that covered her entire thigh. Petersen was placed in the category of “Abused and Neglected.” That was when she caught a lucky break. Gene and Vicky Petersen took her into their home and family. She would find herself, age-wise, in about the middle of what would ultimately be 18 children adopted by the Petersens. Vicky had altered her personal priorities as

more children needed a home. She had given up her beloved Arab horses by the time she met Jackie. An older daughter and Jackie turned out to be horse-crazy enough that Vicky brought horses back to the 10-acre Petersen farm. Looking back, Vicky wishes she had always kept farm animals after she watched how much animals helped the children. The Petersen children mostly came from homes where biological parents were losing a battle with addiction. Jackie says her biological mother’s issue was more about a lack of parenting skills. Vicky found that farm animals, especially the horses, gave something special to children who didn’t get early nurturing from humans.  The animals seemed to teach the kids to calm themselves, feel and give love, and be responsible. Vicky saw the children bonding more readily with the animals than people.  Vicky got their son, Rider, his own sheep for his 8th birthday. The shy boy, who rarely talks, will proudly show Nelly to a visitor and run through the barn with her like she’s his playmate. Vicky talks about how great it was when she heard Rider talking to Nelly like she was a person— he promised Nelly treats for her good behavior. That gave Vicky hope that Rider is on his way to opening up to people.   Jackie’s love of horses, combined with Vicky’s, has brought a draft horse yearling to the farm, an Arab mare named Bella, and a mini-stallion


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ACTIVE & OUTDOOR | named Shadow. The family also took in two mini-mares and their foals from a hoarding situation. Jackie has been weaning the foals and getting the mares used to halters. She misses the support and company of the first horse-loving Petersen daughter— a girl who used to take her plate to eat at the window so she could always see the family horse. That daughter was lost in a car accident at age 18.   Petersen wants to complete her senior year at Glacier High School and become a horse trainer and a plumber or welder. She also wants to be a lavender farmer with her mother to make essential oils and a Cowboy Poet who performs her own original works. She could likely do all of that. A morning visit to the farm finds Jackie watering the animals with Dribbles, the pig, following her like a dog and sometimes charging into a stall or pen ahead of her. A handful of younger Petersen children join her, some to help, some to play.  Jackie tries, unsuccessfully, to get 4-yearold Freedom to go back to the house and put on matching shoes. She patiently manages the chaos while Vicky gets some sleep after a nightshift as a nurse at Kalispell’s Heritage Place.   Jackie is also considering becoming a mason, like her father, but he’s not pushing her in that direction. Vicky and Gene encourage the children to follow their own hearts. Petersen is taking that lesson into a journey that is undoubtedly going to be fun to watch.



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it’s time to get uncomfortable.


why is climate change so hard for us to accept? How can we read disastrous headlines, know terrifying statistics, hear all the doom and gloom and still fail to act? I’ve felt the discomfort of fear in my stomach when I hear the news. I’ve felt dread and helplessness when I realize the scope of the problem— so what’s my problem? Why do I still live this “normal” destructive life? How can I still be buying food in plastic containers and driving my car everywhere?

The answer: because my brain is hardwired to seek comfort. Last winter, my family and I went on the trip of a lifetime to West Sumatra. We planned for over a year, saving and organizing for our three-week surf trip. We spent 12 days on a boat cruising around the Indian ocean: surfing empty waves, snorkeling reefs teeming with fish, walking deserted beaches. These islands are the most gorgeous place I’d seen. White sand beaches, coconut palms, incredible turquoise water. But when we’d pull up to some of these beaches, instead of being covered in seashells and hermit crabs, they would be covered in plastic. Plastics of all kinds— anything that floated. It broke my heart. We have to do better than this. Before our boat trip, the climate crisis seemed far away. It seemed like something that would affect other people, not my family on our little farm. It was far off in the future, not something my

children will have to survive but not be able to fix. It seemed out of my control, not something I had been contributing to. But there it was on the beach: plastic spoons from my lunch, a lost flip flop, chip wrappers I’d eaten years ago still haunting the sand, plastic grocery bags from times I’d forgotten my cloth bags, water bottles from hotels, and empty shampoo bottles. My distance from the problem of ocean plastics dissolved and there it was— right in my face. I decided it’s time to get uncomfortable. I vowed to do better, no, to do my best. I came home from Indonesia ready to make bars of shampoo! No more plastic in my family’s showers! We’ve been hearing about global warming for over 30 years now. We’re numb to the doom and desensitized to the gloom. No wonder we’re exhausted by the news! My heart has ached countless times for the people and animals on our planet. I know that carbon dioxide is the culprit, and burning fossil fuels by driving or flying contributes to the problem. And yet, I still have a car that burns fossil fuel. To reconcile this hypocrisy, my brain tells me many reassuring justifications. I have begun hearing these excuses for what they are: my brain’s attempt to stay in my comfort zone. I now have an answer. “It’s time to get uncomfortable.” It’s time to deal with my climate despair and grief. Educate myself on the problem our world faces and take action every day. It’s on the schedule. I was heckled on the internet recently because my efforts to combat climate crisis are “insignificant.”

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How cute that I thought my plastic-free showers were going to save the world. These are the justifications we tell ourselves (and each other!) to ease our discomfort. “That change is too small to make a difference.” “Just a few plastic shampoo bottles a year is insignificant.” “I’m not as bad as some people.” And those are all true if just one person makes the change. But what if millions of people are changing? If every household in the US bought just one bar of shampoo instead of a plastic bottle, we’d save 122 million plastic bottles! Over 550 million plastic shampoo bottles are ending up in landfills. I can’t even conceive of that number. Simple switches seem insignificant until they’re multiplied by the millions. So, it does matter that we bring our own cup for to-go coffee. It matters that you choose the product with less packaging, carpool to work, and grow your own vegetables. We live in the age of information. We can challenge ourselves to be resourceful and innovative and come up with new ways of reducing and reusing. And then we can share that information with others, encouraging them on their journey and reinforcing that we are all in this together. I am not a perfect zero-waste person. But I’ve been on this path of trying to do right by the planet for many years; I’m well versed in the 5 R’s (reduce, refuse, reuse, recycle, rot), even if I fall down on the execution of them sometimes. I’m a thrift store zealot. We’ve spent the last 15 years building our homestead: growing food, planting trees, raising animals. But again, I’m far from a perfectly green person. I’m not the zero-carbon guru you’re looking for! Would one zero-carbon person save the world? No! It takes all of us regular and not-great-at-this or newto-this people who are willing to care and to try! 72

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The social proof is all around us: folks carrying water bottles or stainless coffee cups, shopping at farmer’s markets, walking and biking to school, curbing waste in their businesses, recycling, reducing their energy use. We might not be able to see each other using LED bulbs or buying energy star appliances like we could see solar panels, but every good choice reduces the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Every dollar we spend is a vote for something. What do we want to see more of ? Plastic water bottles on the beaches? Or do we vote for sustainable, reusable, and low carbon products? Individuals are the base for the political change necessary to make meaningful changes toward a livable planet. So, internet trolls can say these small changes are insignificant and irrelevant, but millions of people are willing to make these changes and are willing to get uncomfortable. Carbon consciousness is the new normal. Our children will not be able to fix the global warming crisis. The time is now, and it’s up to us! So call your representatives, and add climate actions to your to-do list. It’s time to get uncomfortable. Sarah Harding grew up in North County San Diego. She spent her childhood surfing and loving the ocean. She and her husband, John, moved to Montana when they were 22 and spent the second half of their lives farming and raising a family. Now they’re Coconut at Sea Soap Co.; a family business determined to reduce the amount of plastic in our world. Sarah is a steadfast fan of her husband and two children, who are her absolute first priority. She believes in kindness, resourcefulness, and playful creativity. Sarah and her family live on their tiny homemade farm in Whitefish. For more information on her soap and shampoo bars, visit her website at


Simplicity is key! Humans love overabundance by nature, but we don't need a lot to have a lot. From clothing to cleaning supplies to food, we can make more conscious choices.

er fuse

The easiest way to eliminate trash is to not create it in the first place. Learn to say no to unnecessary plastics.


Look for what's sustainable. Carry a reusable water bottle, bring your own coffee mug, switch paper towels for cloths. If something breaks, try to repair it first! If it can't be fixed, give it a second life (an old shirt can become a cleaning cloth!).

the five R’s:



Reducing, reusing, and refusing will help eliminate waste. If there's anything left, be sure to separate it out and recycle. To learn about where you can recycle in Montana, visit


Compost your yard and food waste if you can. You can set up your own bin or find a local composting company

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on her own terms JENN PRUNT Y | MY GL ACIER VILL AGE

She woke up at 6:30 and was grateful for the extra sleep. She made her way to the kitchen and started the coffee. Looking out the window, she realized she hadn’t filled the birdfeeders in a while. She thought about Charlie. Though she didn’t miss the demands of caring for him the months before he died, she missed him. She missed their morning coffee, and she missed cooking his eggs: over medium with a dash of Tabasco. She missed his touch and his company. For 52 years they’d been inseparable.   Ordinarily, she’d flip on the news, which too often turned into a couple of hours of game shows before getting dressed for the day and fixing herself a bite to eat. What was the rush? She was glad she’d moved to Kalispell to be closer to family. However, since she was no longer able to drive, some days she was lonelier than ever. She wanted to check out the local Senior Center, but that meant she’d have to trouble someone for a ride. She probably wouldn’t go anyway— she just couldn’t get used to doing things alone.   But today is different. There’s no time for TV. She had recently joined a local Village as a member and as a volunteer,  and today she is baking cookies for a Village Gathering downtown. She 74

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is excited that it’s Mary picking her up; they have a lot in common, and Mary makes her laugh. In addition to the new friends she’s made, she appreciates being able to call the Village for rides to appointments and church. The plumber she found in the Preferred Providers Directory fixed the garbage disposal at a discount,  and the volunteer that helped fix her screen door was a true gem. She knows her kids are glad to help with these things, but she doesn’t want to lean on them too much. Now they can enjoy their time together instead of making it all about her to-do lists.      Waiting for Mary, she starts to plan the menu for a book club she’s hosting next week with Julianne— her famous ginger snaps perhaps? Mary said she needed to stop at the store after the gathering; maybe she’ll pick up a few things. Being part of the Village makes her feel like she’s living her life on her terms again.  The Village Movement began in 2001 with a group of retirees committed to aging in their own homes and on their own terms. They created a grassroots, membership organization that did just that. It allowed them to age in place by supporting each other and connecting to a community. They

created the Village to Village Network in 2010, a nonprofit organization providing resources, guidance, and tools to help other communities create their own Villages. My Glacier Village is proud to be one of the more than 350 thriving Villages in the nation (and in six other countries).   In keeping with our Peace of Mind promise, for services outside the abilities of our volunteers (plumbing, in-home assistance, housekeeping, health and wellness, etc.) members will have access to our Preferred Providers Directory. The directory is a list of businesses and service professionals who are highly recommended by members and volunteers and who’ve gone through an application process.   The Village Movement has been changing the way we age for almost 20 years, and we’re excited to be bringing a chapter to the Flathead!   For more information or to become a member, volunteer, preferred provider, or sponsor, please visit our website or call Jenn at 871-3988.   For a list of activities and events, visit our Events Calendar at We can’t wait to meet you!

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non-profit spotlight:

Sparrow's Nest Dedicated to ensuring safe, supportive housing and resources for unaccompanied homeless high school students in the Flathead Valley. ARTICLE BY MAX CURTIS | SPARROW'S NEST

Founded in 2014, Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest MT is a non-profit located in Kalispell. We are dedicated to ensuring safe, supportive housing and resources for unaccompanied homeless high school students in the Flathead Valley, enabling them to graduate and become productive, contributing members of our community. Sparrow’s Nest serves youth in need of long term housing ages 14-19. Sparrow’s Nest adopts a family-like model to support our residents while they work to complete their high school education. This model enables the organization to disrupt the youths’ lives as little as possible while they deal with the turbulent matters of youth homelessness. Currently, Sparrow’s Nest owns an eight-bedroom coed facility with seven bathrooms, a full kitchen, rec room, computer room, two staff offices, and a case manager’s office. Our facility is communally funded and was built with the help of countless dedicated volunteers and businesses throughout the Flathead Valley. They believed in Sparrow’s Nest and worked so hard to see it become a reality. Sparrow’s Nest uses a broad definition when defining youth experiencing homelessness. Typically if a teenager lacks a regular, fixed nighttime residence, they will be considered homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. However, due to a variety of reasons that teens are referred, there are a multitude of issues why high school students are seeking assistance. Aging out of foster care has quickly become one of the most prominent reasons for referrals. Often, youth will be put out on their own on their 18th birthday after previously being in the care of the State. With nowhere else to turn, 76

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they are expected to navigate life without guidance while still attending high school. Another reason Sparrow’s Nest sees referrals is due to some form of physical, emotional, sexual, or drug abuse in the home. Often guardians lack the resources to safely house youth, leaving them with little option to ensure their child’s safety. While offering no therapeutic counseling regarding abusive trauma, Sparrow’s Nest encourages its residents to seek counseling outside of the home. Our youth does so with assistance from the case manager. Often teens find themselves doubling up with family or friends, which inevitably detracts from retention and productivity at school. Youth who have their own fixed residence are significantly more likely to graduate from high school. After completing the intake process, the needs of each resident are assessed, and an individual living plan is implemented to help ensure their academic success. Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana uses a three-tier interview process to determine acceptable candidates for the program. The first tier is a paperwork packet wherein the youth can detail their circumstances and how they have come to need stable housing. We also ask what their background is, and what Sparrow’s Nest can do to help. Usually, the first tier is completed under the supervision of the referring adult. The second tier is a meeting between the youth, the case manager, the house manager, as well as whomever else the youth wishes to have present for support. The purpose of the second tier is to get to know the applicant and come to a better understanding of the circumstances that brought them to require the need for Sparrow’s Nest services. The second tier concludes with a

urine analysis of the applicant to confirm that there are no drugs present in their system. After the completion of the second tier, a tour of the home is given with the house manager and case manager to answer any questions or concerns. The house tour provides the applicant with an understanding of what is expected of them while living at Sparrow’s Nest. The third tier of the interview process involves sitting down with the applicant. We go through the house rules and the program contract, choose a room, and make them feel welcomed and comfortable in their new permanent living arrangement. All residents living at Sparrow’s Nest are there voluntarily and are able to vacate their room with proper notice after giving 20 days written notice. Sparrow’s Nest prides itself on maintaining a cohesive team where staff mentor residents through example and experience. The organization employs ten individuals who wholeheartedly believe in the mission and instill the values of education and hard work ethic into the youth in the care Sparrow’s Nest. The facility is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Without help from dedicated local volunteers, this program would not be as successful as it is today. Currently, the board of directors has seven individuals with a variety of experience in the professional field. The board operates using a democratic process, whereby board members vote on different issues and implement change where needed. Being a local non-profit in the Flathead Valley, Sparrow’s Nest relies heavily on community support to ensure residents are receiving the best possible care during their high school years. Community members are encouraged to donate in three major ways. First, monetary donations are instrumental in operating the Sparrow’s Nest house to meet the needs of the day to day life while also providing wages to the committed staff. Secondly, volunteers

are encouraged and welcome to participate in events around the valley to raise awareness of Sparrow’s Nest. At events, volunteers are tasked with engaging the community while giving an overview of what Sparrow’s Nest does to fight teen homelessness. Lastly, members of the community are able to donate in-kind, directly to Sparrow’s Nest, whether it be hygienic products, food, clothing, school supplies, or other needs for the house. Sparrow’s Nest provides resources and assistance with whatever life throws at vulnerable youth experiencing homelessness. Even if a student is unable to secure a spot in the permanent living facility, they are still able to receive assistance from the case manager for a variety of reasons. As of June 2019, Sparrow’s Nest has housed over 20 high schoolers and watched 90% achieve their goal of attaining a complete high school education. Countless other students have received assistance through case management services and public assistance services. If you would like to support Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana in its worthy endeavor in helping unaccompanied homeless high school students, the mailing address is PO Box 8384 Kalispell, MT 59901. Sparrow’s Nest is available directly via phone at (406)309-5196 Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. If you would like to learn more about Sparrow’s Nest of Northwest Montana, feel free to visit the website at www.

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ho s pice is:


Julie was in unfamiliar territory. Her mother, Diane, had been diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. Diane could no longer care for herself independently so, she had moved into her daughter’s home. Julie was nervous about taking on the new role as her mother’s primary caregiver. She was unsure about what it would take to honor her mother’s wish to stay home, surrounded by her family. Overwhelmed by all the unknowns in caring for her mother in these final months, Julie reached out to Frontier Hospice to learn more about their services. Julie and her mother met with a nurse who was able to answer their questions of what to expect during this time, and how to keep her mother comfortable. This discussion helped them decide that it was the right time to enroll Diane into hospice services. One of the first tools that Frontier Hospice shared with Julie upon her mother’s admission was a booklet entitled “Nature Gave Us Butterflies.” As Julie soon discovered, this guide was a helpful resource to end-of-life transitions. It addressed specific symptoms and issues that her mother was experiencing and other scenarios that could arise at the end of life.  Additionally, it outlined easy-to-follow tips on how to comfort her mom through the symptoms. “Nature Gave Us Butterflies” also detailed the chronological timeline of the signs and symptoms

to expect in the months, weeks, days, and hours before her mother’s death. Julie appreciated the way the information was presented and the way it reinforced the support and guidance she was receiving from the hospice care team. The book also described the active dying process and what Julie and her family could expect. As her mother declined significantly, Julie was comforted by the clear picture she received about the physical signs and symptoms of dying, as well as its emotional and spiritual signs and symptoms. Through the hands-on training and resources that she received from her mother’s hospice care team, Julie became more and more confident in her role as her mother’s caregiver. She was also proud to know that she and the entire hospice team were helping to fulfill her mother’s wish to stay home, surrounded by her family at this stage of her life. Hospice is a program of care and support for people who are terminally ill (with a life expectancy of 6 months or less if the illness runs its normal course). Hospice services typically include physical care, counseling, medications, equipment, and supplies for the terminal illness and related conditions. While Julie’s story is fictional, it depicts what can happen during a hospice patient and family’s journey. Contact Frontier Hospice at 406-755-4923 to request a free copy of the “Nature Gave Us Butterflies” booklet.

set your intentions for the season.




he process of self-discovery has many twists, turns, and moments of doubt. A sense of wandering and wondering, stumbling until, finally, we reach a sense of clarity, for the moment at least. The thought and process of taking risks has been on my mind for quite some time. I’ve never felt 80

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like I was the type of person that was a risk-taker. Sure, I’ve felt spontaneous and adventurous, but a risk-taker? Never. Now though, with that question in my mind and heart, I realize that it’s the simple things that can be risks. It doesn’t have to be a massive leap of faith to make it a risk. It can be a simple smile for a stranger. It can be a trip to a box store. It can be a simple faith of

just feeling. Feeling all the feels. The good. The uncomfortable. The lovely. The unknown. The most significant risk we can sometimes take is merely showing up as our true selves. I ponder this moment of clarity for a bit as I sit on the patio of my favorite Whitefish restaurant (a risk, right?). I contemplate the ability of my mind to wander and the overwhelming amount of feelings I experience when I am amongst all of these people. I realize, being in a small town in Montana, this may not seem busy to someone from the city. For me, it is a lot. Let’s put into play the fantastic sensation of an empath with social anxiety, which is so much fun. There’s’ the sensation of being claustrophobic, the quickened heartbeat, shallow breathing, hyperventilation (quietly of course) and the tingling of the body as I transcend my body and take a look from above…I breathe. I focus. I slow my breath. I orient myself and realize: I need to be present for all of this! For the whole experience. Let the guidance unfold. I am hypersensitive to the noise, the emotions, the light, the smells. As I take a deep breath, I realize: I am so fortunate to have a good sense of paying attention. The ability to feel. The sensitivity to pay attention to all the seemingly small details. The ability to recognize that it is the little things in life that make up the whole. The smell of freshly baked pizza, the sound of a screeching toddler, the feel of the evening summer breeze on my skin. The gooseflesh it brings. The comfort in the discomfort. The chaos. As I allow myself to settle from the euphoric high of the chaos, I remember that anxiety and excitement come from the same place in our brain. I remember that I am in tune with almost every body and mind in this restaurant. One of the superpowers of an empath is absorbing what others are experiencing. I realize that this super-concentration of emotions is fantastic! I’m like a magnet! How lucky is that? How lucky am I? Breathe…breathe..breathe…. Lucky? Yes. Fantastic? Yes. It’s a risk to be vulnerable. It’s a risk to show up as you are. It’s a risk to let your true weird shine. Yes, you heard me: your true weird needs to shine! It needs to shine brightly and proud. Show the younger generations that it is the most important thing to let your light shower the world with being authentic, honest, and real.

I guess I really am a risk-taker. We are all risktakers in our own right. Maybe a trip to Costco is a risk in itself. Maybe showing up to your favorite restaurant is a risk. Maybe putting on pants in the morning is a risk. Maybe pulling ourselves out of our own self-induced misery every morning and showing up as our own, true authentic self is a risk… you never know what judgment is going to be thrown at you, right? My point is, dear people of Montana, be you! Show up regardless of the judgment! Risk feeling like an ass. Show your children that it’s fantastic to shine your bright, glorious, light, no matter what! Take that risk every day. Take a deep breath and allow the process of discovery to unfold before you. Take a chance and be your true self. Be your true self for your children. Be your true self for that stranger on the street. Be your true self so that the universe can recognize you for who you are. Be your true self so that you can finally see who you are. Take a risk. The time is now. It is always now. Stephanie Evans is a lover of nature, ceremony, movement, and adventure. She is the mother of four magical spirits and a writer, ceremony officiant, yoga instructor, and retreat leader. She was born in Montana with the spirit of a fairy, the mouth of a sailor, and the heart of a hippie. She learned early in childhood that Mother Nature and expression with movement and words were three vital ingredients to a beautiful life. The ability to release tensions, aggressions, anxiety, and fear while in nature is a tonic. She would like to share with all who walk into her path how to open their senses to all the magic that surrounds us in this beautiful state and to extend it into their life. Body, mind and spirit.

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on motherhood mental health

why being a stay-at-home mom is hard as hell ARTICLE & IMAGES BY KELSEY WEYERBACHER

Yesterday, my son threw a type 3 tantrum in the parking lot of the grocery store. Screaming, limbs locked, holding on to the cart like his life depended on it, while I tried to get him into his car seat. Connor, my 4-year-old, was wearing a not-sosubtle, massive, black cowboy hat while throwing down the protest of his life as people walking by turned to look at us, and one older man sitting against the side of the grocery store had even stopped licking his ice cream cone to watch.  I won’t lie when I say there was a moment when I considered walking away to sit in the air conditioning of my car to pretend he wasn’t mine. There was also a moment when I realized why my mother used to twist the baby hairs at the back


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of our neck when we weren’t behaving in public. And there was another profound moment when I considered throwing myself onto the scorching asphalt to scream too. My son doesn’t usually throw tantrums. In fact, there have been very few times in public when I have been mortified by his behavior (save the one time he pointed to an elderly woman in a store and excitedly exclaimed, “Mom! Look! She’s having a baby!!!”— luckily, she laughed). But, I stood, in the 94° parking lot, holding my child around his stomach while his knuckles turned white as they held the grocery cart and continued to let out the most pathetic whine/scream/cry this side of a faked professional male soccer injury. His tantrum today? Because he didn’t want to leave the grocery cart at the store.

I became my son’s mother almost a year-and-a-half ago by swiping right on Jesse’s Tinder profile. Jesse was a single dad, new to the dating game after having been left by his ex-wife. I was a grad student with a dog and many fewer responsibilities than a toddler. I finished my final year of graduate school while simultaneously learning how to be a mom. I taught writing courses and took classes three days a week, and watched Connor the other two days while I read students’ papers and wrote my own. I held his head while he puked, slept with him when he had yet another ear infection, cleaned up after him when he decided super glue on his carpet would be a really good idea, gently tossed him into the swimming instructor’s arms when he didn’t want to jump into the pool, and spent five hours sewing him a stuffed animal fox because I refused to pay $48 for the one he wanted on Amazon. Becoming a mom was difficult, but Connor is worth it. It was even more difficult after graduation, when Jesse and I decided it would be a good time for me to stay at home with Connor for the summer while I looked for work and before he started preschool in the fall. And, I’m privileged to know we were financially able for me to do so. What I didn’t anticipate during these past months was the profound sense of isolation that consumed me. I didn’t understand how tired you could feel after a day of tantrums and hands all over your face and legs, the multiple times you pick up toys and messes and it still looks like a bomb went off when Dad walks in the door, and the way your ability to converse changes when 90% of your day is spent speaking to a 4-year-old and explaining that garbage just shouldn’t be shoved in heating vents. Before long, I forgot what I was good at. I forgot that I was an individual outside of being a mother who has hobbies and passions and likes to go to the grocery store by herself. I struggled getting out of bed when Connor woke up in the morning, then struggled

feeling guilty that Jesse was already gone and at work by the time I woke up. I beat myself up when I didn’t have supper ready on time, and I cried when I didn’t have the energy to cook at all. If you’ve never stayed home with kids for at least a consecutive week, you’re probably thinking: “What makes this so hard?” And it’s hard to understand if you’ve never done it. But, I invite you to try: As a Stay-at-Home Mom (SAHM), I have no time to myself and struggle to hold my own identity outside of “mom.” Every moment of every day is spent with Connor in my proximity. He’s supposed to be fed healthy foods, dressed in clean clothes, bathed semiregularly, only have so much screen time, understand morals, be engaged in pre-K activities, clean up when asked, say please and thank you, pronounce his “r’s” with clear enunciation, know how to spell and write his name, understand how to play nicely with others, and he never shuts up. My child can talk from 8am to 8pm without pause, except for nap time. And nap time? Well, shit, mama. That’s the only time you actually get any of the things done you needed to do for the day. Because don’t forget about the laundry, cleaning the house, the bills, the errands, the home projects, the phone calls to doctors and preschools and your own mom, when you ask, “how am I supposed to keep doing this?” Being a Stay-at-Home Mom is hard as hell. There. I said it. We live in a society that tells us a parent should stay home with their children if they are financially able. Women are told we should enjoy it and that we should think of how good it is for the kids. But, we often forget to check in on Mom and see if it’s good for her, too. With 1 in 4 Americans living with a mental illness (CDC) and 1 in 5 parents staying at home with their children (Pew Research Center) we have created an mon tan awoman .com | o c to b er 2 01 9



environment for mothers to suffer in silence with yesterday’s cereal stuck in their hair while they cry on the floor of their bathroom as their toddler screams at them from outside of the door because they didn’t want that episode of the Magic School Bus. But, the truth is, with the presence of community on social media platforms and the resources available on the internet-at-large, us moms need to band together under the shared realization that our jobs as SAHMs aren’t always Pinterest crafts and bonding moments. We have the ability and the means to support one another and we should!

take his first steps. I didn’t hear him call me “MaMa” as a first word. But, I did get to hear him call me “Mom” for the first time. And, holy crap, is that coolest feeling in the world.

As a Montana woman living with mental illness myself, I understand all too well the pressures that becoming a mom hold. We live in a culture that stigmatizes mental health, but even more so stigmatizes mothers with mental illnesses. The misconception about parents with mental illness is that we aren’t capable. And I’m going to call that what it is: bullshit.

I’m here to raise my hand and say that after I finally got Connor disconnected from that stupid grocery cart and into the car and home and in bed for a nap...

Despite my off-days, my down-days, and my baddays, I’m a damn good mother. If my illnesses have taught me anything, they have only taught me to be a kinder human. I’m kinder to my son on his offdays when he’s not listening and feeling grumpy and doesn’t know what he wants. I’m understanding when he has a down-day and he’s sad and upset and doesn’t know why. And I’m loving on the bad-days because I know what it means to feel out-of-control and out-of-sorts. Together, Connor and I have learned the power of the snack, nap, and re-attack. Along with Jesse, we are always growing, learning, stumbling, and trying. I always knew parents took all forms, but I didn’t expect to be one of the parents who used a different mold. I didn’t give birth to Connor. I didn’t watch him 84

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I’m here to tell you that you aren’t alone. I’m here to tell you that taking the risk to be open and vulnerable about your mental health as a mother and parent is brave and bold and healthy and wonderful. I’m here to validate you in saying: It’s okay to not be okay. I’m here to remind you that being a mom is hard as hell, and being a SAHM is no damn joke.

I took a shower and cried while listening to Beyoncé. And that’s okay, too. Kelsey Weyerbacher is a writer, fabric artist, and mental health advocate who stays at home with her son in Belgrade, Montana. You can join her SAHM conversation on Instagram: @kweyerbacher




National Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) day is something that the team at Glacier View Plastic Surgery loves to celebrate, and this year, they’re celebrating their 2nd annual BRA day. This day helps the community celebrate breast reconstruction and the cancer patients who have been through this emotional process.

collaboration with Michael Hromadka, MD, a boardcertified plastic surgeon at Glacier View Plastic Surgery, and the team at Glacier View Plastic Surgery specialize in breast implant surgery. They help meet with patients that have a breast cancer diagnosis and then work together to discover the next steps that they are most comfortable with.

There are many myths out there about the breast reconstruction procedure, one being that these women are merely getting a ‘boob job,’ yet it’s so much more than that.

The reconstruction process has two categories: immediate and delayed reconstruction. The advantage of having immediate reconstruction is that there’s just one procedure, and the plastic surgeon works in conjunction with the oncologist breast surgeon to have everything done at once. Delayed reconstruction has its advantages as well. Most women feel that delaying the reconstruction process gives them more time to focus and research on which treatment would be best for them.

“These women really want to look and feel the way they did before the diagnosis of cancer,” says Michelle Spring, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon at Glacier View Plastic Surgery. Hearing the words “you have breast cancer” could be one of the scariest things a woman might hear in their lifetime. According to the National Institute of Health, one out of every nine women are affected by breast cancer. The diagnosis of this cancer can leave a woman feeling emotional and overwhelmed. If surgery is part of their treatment, reconstructive surgery may be something that a woman decides to do to help rebuild their shape and look, and most importantly, feel like themselves again. Women who have breast cancer need to know is that they have a voice, and they have a choice. “When looking for a plastic surgeon, be sure to find reputable, board-certified surgeons,” says Dr. Spring. “Safety and experience are important when researching which medical professional you go with.” After the diagnosis of breast cancer, a treatment plan is developed. Dr. Spring is usually the next person that these women will come in contact with. Dr. Spring, in 86

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“If you have implants, make sure that you keep following up with your plastic surgeon,” says Dr. Spring. Most women assume that after implant surgery, follow-up visits are not necessarily needed, but that’s not the case. Dr. Spring states, “it’s important to have follow-ups in case of a rupture. These are foreign objects in your bodies, and we want to make sure that they are checked regularly.” The BRA day event at Glacier View Plastic Surgery is October 16, from 12-2 p.m. at 60 Four Mile Drive, Suite 10. It will be a great way to help celebrate the women in our community who have gone through breast reconstruction due to cancer. Even if you have not been directly impacted by breast cancer, you are encouraged to join and show your support for breast cancer survivors. Let’s help celebrate these brave women!





Mollie's ham & bean soup article by kelsey weyerbacher


he women in my family have a long history of hands that smell faintly of onion and garlic. I was raised in an apron, learning how to cook cherry pie filling thickly and to peel a potato skin paper-thin. I’m proud to come from a long line of strong women and incredible cooks— including my Great-Grandmother, Amalia (Mollie). Born in Eureka, South Dakota in 1902, Mollie was a single-mother of six children. To support her family, she worked as a cook for many years in Miles City, Montana’s Ten Spot Café, Log Cabin Café, and The Supper Club at the Rendezvous. Her recipe has been passed down through the generations, though we never hesitate to call our Grandma Twila (Mollie’s daughter) with questions.


This is a hearty soup built to withstand cold days and feed your family well—it can even be frozen to enjoy another day too! The original recipe was verbal, and the handwritten version I received included no quantities. In order to make the recipe accessible to Montana Woman readers, I’ve measured out the ingredients and clarified the instructions so that you, too, can enjoy this delicious Ham & Bean Soup. It is a profound pleasure to share this family recipe with you, as I share it with my son too. May it bring you a full belly, a happy family around the table, and the resiliency of Grandma Mollie.




24 oz. Great Northern Navy Beans

1 ½ gallons water

8 cups water

2 smoked ham hocks 1 medium onion, chopped


6 allspice balls

8 slices of bacon, chopped

4 bay leaves

¼ cup all-purpose flour

4 large carrots, chopped 2 Tbsp. ketchup

SERVES: 10-12 PREP TIME: 1 hour COOK TIME: 5 hours

1 ½ tsp. ham base Salt Pepper Thyme (optional) mon tan awoman .com | o c to b er 2 01 9




1. The night before you cook the soup, thoroughly rinse the beans in cold water. Bring the Great Northern Navy Beans just to a boil in 8 cups water. Remove from heat. Allow to cool before covering and placing in fridge overnight. 2. 4 hours before you intend to serve the soup, bring the 1 ½ gallons of water and smoked ham hocks to a boil. While the water boils, remove the beans from fridge. Drain, rinse again, and refill with 8 cups water. Bring to a soft boil alongside the soup. You may need to add water while beans cook to keep them covered in water. Note: Some people add salt to cooking beans, but Grandma Mollie said not to, claiming it took longer for the beans to cook. 3. Once ham hocks boil, add onion, allspice, and bay leaves. Simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. 4. After that time, drain beans and add to soup pot. Add carrots. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 5. Add ketchup and ham base, stirring well.


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6. Cook bacon on medium heat. Once cooked, remove bacon from grease and place on paper towels to drain. Add flour to bacon grease and brown on medium-low heat while stirring continuously with a whisk. It is easy to burn the roux, so be cautious of the browning process. If unsure, err on the side of less browned. Add ½ - 1 cup of roux to the soup, stirring in well. Add cooked bacon to soup if desired. Note: Butter can be used in place of bacon grease to make roux, but the flavor is not nearly as rich. Grandma Mollie always used bacon grease! I changed the recipe to include the cooked bacon, because let’s be real: everything is better with bacon. 7. Allow soup to simmer until serving time, adding salt and pepper to taste. Be wary of over-salting, as the smoked ham hocks and ham base are also salty. Thyme can also be added for an herbal flavor to the soup. 8. For best results, serve soup with warm bread and enjoy! Kelsey Weyerbacher is a writer, fabric artist, and mental health advocate living in Belgrade, Montana. After graduating from Montana State University with a Master’s in English focusing in Disability Studies, she stays at home with her son, Connor, while freelance editing and advocating for mental health services in Montana. Her work can be viewed at her website:


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gluten free & vegan

lemon poppyseed cake paige billings


hen I think back to all the delicious recipes that I would eat as a kid, my go-to was a lemon poppyseed muffin from our local cafe, Gepetto’s. This place was a short walk from our house, and it was always packed with bustling road bikers, kids in swim suits, and mothers rushing to grab their herd of children on the weekend. My family and I would always sit at a corner table near the window after we ordered our morning sweet treats. My go-to was this warm lemon poppyseed muffin. The memories of this muffin are fiercely clear. The muffin was the size of my head and took a solid 30 minutes of munching to get halfway through. As I held this monster in my hands almost every weekend from age 6 to 9, I was content as can be. Me, my muffin, and the world moving around me. Yet I never noticed the bustle since it was just me and my muffin. Before we continue on this beautifully scenic moment about a kid and her favorite pastry, let’s take a step back. Who doesn’t love a delicious baked good? There isn’t a single person who doesn’t have a fond memory of a specific pastry from their childhood. Mine is just a bit more vivid than others.

front paige bakes

It took me every weekend for 4 months to bake my way through this cookbook. Around that time, I started to feel more comfortable in the kitchen. I could grab the giant hurricane jar of flour down all by myself, so I decided it was time to bake one of my weekend favorites: the lemon poppyseed muffin. This muffin was harder than I expected. I had never cooked with lemon juice, and the reaction with the baking soda was a new one for me! What chemistry, what fun, what a science experiment it was! A delicious experiment! Fast forward to my college years: I was diagnosed with celiac disease and thought to myself “where the heck will I get delicious pastries in rural Montana— a state that harvests wheat— with this disease!” That was when I decided to start my website, which is dedicated to gluten-free eating. To me, I was solving the problem for myself. Why buy a baked good when I can make them all taste just as good and aid the allergy gals and guys of the world like me! I had a challenge set out in

I was drawn to baking my entire life. When I could barely stand, my YiaYia (Greek for grandma) would set me up next to her on the counter and allow me to hold a wooden spoon while she prepped pies, pastries, spanakopita, kaloudia, and other Greek desserts. I was in awe of the chemistry and the calmness it took to prepare these dishes with ease and grace like my YiaYia did. On my 8th birthday, my YiaYia and Papoo (Greek for grandpa) gifted me my very own cookbook from Williams-Sonoma. I immediately started bookmarking the recipes that I wanted to bake. The New York cheesecake, carrot cake muffins, banana bread, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, palmiers, and the apple turnovers. mon tan awoman .com | o c to b er 2 01 9


FOOD & SPIRITS | front of me that I tackled head on. About 4 years into my disease and baking career, my sister’s boyfriend came to me and asked if I could bake his favorite cake for his birthday. Yes, you guessed it. The lemon poppyseed cake!

mention that it’s a gluten-free and vegan cake. That reaction is the best of them all!

I dug through my old notebook that I had started as a kid. It had a collection of found recipes from Martha Stewart’s Magazine, hand written recipes from my great-grandmother, and a stack of recipes from my best friend Megan’s mom, Lynn. I found my original recipe for my lemon poppyseed muffin, omitted the butter in exchange for vegan butter, cut out the wheat flour for my 1:1 glutenfree flour, and started to the develop the recipe.

Not one day has gone by that Paige Billings has not believed that cake can solve most problems. After being told she was allergic to gluten, Paige realized she had to modify her cake recipes. Committed to making her cakes just as delicious as before, Paige has combined her passion for baking, design, and photography into her career as a freelance food photographer, freelance copy and photography editor, and recipe developer. Her delicious and beautiful recipes that can be found on her blog, instagram, and in the secret pages of her ongoing cookbook. Paige has lived in many places, from the Bay Area of California, where she grew up, to Montana, where she graduated from Montana State University. She now works out of her Montana home with the help of her eager taste testers, husband, Drew and dog, Moose. You can find more of her recipes on her website:

After 4 rounds of testing, I can honestly say this cake is the best rendition of the lemon poppyseed cake/muffin I have ever made or tasted! I love to serve this cake to a room full of people who think gluten-free baking tastes bad and watch their face turn from smiles to pure ecstasy as they bite into the cake. After about the fifth bite, I like to

Try it for yourself and let your inner kid out!

ingredients CAKE


1/2 cup softened earth balance butter

1/3 cup vegan butter

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 Tbsp coconut milk (canned thick coating on the top)

1/4 tsp lemon extract (if you don’t have extract, add more juice)

2-3 cups powdered sugar, depending on the moisture in the coconut milk

juice of 1 whole lemon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder 1 1/4 cup non-dairy milk 2 Tbsp poppy seeds 1 tsp salt 2 cups gluten free 1:1 flour


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TEMP: 350˚F

BAKE: 35-40 min

1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F and grease two 7" cake pans, or one 9" cake pan. Dust with flour and set aside. 2. In a bowl, cream the vegan butter with the sugar. 3. Next, add lemon extract, vanilla, salt, and baking powder and mix until combined. 4. Alternate 1/2 cup of flour to 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk, and mix into the butter and sugar mixture until smooth. 5. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. 6. Add in the poppy seeds and stir until fully folded through your batter. 7. Evenly fill your 7" baking rounds with batter and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 8. While your cakes bake, beat the vegan butter, coconut cream, vanilla extract, and salt for the frosting. 9. Add in the powdered sugar to create a vegan buttercream— the texture should be thick but spreadable. 10. Let the cakes cool completely. Cut them in half lengthwise to create 4 layers. 11. Alternate cake and frosting to create a layer cake with 3 of the layers. 12. Take the 4th layer (choose a top piece with the “crust”) and use your hands to create a cake crumble, set aside. 13. After your cake is frosted, add the cake crumble as decoration, top with fresh fruit, and enjoy! *best kept covered in the fridge to stay fresh longer.

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Profile for Montana Woman Magazine

Montana Woman Magazine, October 2019. Issue No. 299