By Lisa Slagle
Let's talk about gratitude for a minute, mostly because I'm about to go back to Colorado for two weeks, and life feels good. Lately, work has been challenging, busy, and exactly what I have always wanted, and sometimes I can't believe how good I have it.
I'm lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented, motivated, hilarious people every day---people who say "thank you" and "yes" a lot. They're the best part of my job.
My students this semester at Flathead Valley Community College are energetic and engaging. I know we will have a lot of fun with Adobe Illustrator and InDesign over the next few months.
My new office is awesome. It's dog-friendly, and a tiny Golden Retriever named Daisy watches me eat breakfast every morning while I check my email. It's a relaxed, creative space, and I love going to work every day. I'm also even more productive in this office, and it's a fun spot to meet with clients, too.
My friends in Montana are starting to make the word "home" feel even more subjective than it already does, and most of them don't even know it. Thanks for coming into my office with skateboards, dogs, burritos, beer, and laughter. Thanks for putting up with me for a year and still calling me to hang out. I'll try to talk about Colorado less.
I've passed the one year mark for living in Montana, and I have the lifetime registration on my truck to prove it. It's been 376 days since I rolled into town in a dying Subaru bursting with all my possessions, a cramped and irritable Golden Retriever, and a Colorado drivers License.
This week alone, three separate clients have asked if I'm sticking around for a while. They don't want me to move away right when we dial in their company's brand identity. It's a very valid question--- my track record shows that, yep, I move a lot. I do. I can't even attempt to sugarcoat it. So...to my clients, first the bad news, then the good.
The bad news: Hi, Montana, you're stuck with me.
The good news: I love it here.
Montana and I may have had a slow start with a lot of back and forth, comparisons to past places, and probably unjustified skepticism. We worked through it though. It's a little more give and take than it used to be, and while my heart, family, and some of my favorite people will always be in Colorado, Montana is growing on me quickly. I'm going to take some advice I received once over a few beers and again over multiple skateboard crashes: "just commit already, Lisa." I'm going to throw down some roots and see what happens. I like it here. The living is good.
Because I'm a lister, here's a quick line-up of exactly why I'm sticking around this place for a while.
1. My business: I'm a graphic designer in Whitefish Montana. Jackpot.
2. Water: My dog loves to swim. It's good for his back. Colorado is always on fire, and I've never lived anywhere with a lake/beach vibe. I think I wore my swimsuit more days than I didn't most weeks of the summer. That was new and different and good.
3. Open space: This place is ginormous and spread out. Good thing I love driving with the windows down, music loud, and thoughts roaming wild.
4. Random breakfast restaurants along the side of the road. These are one of my favorite things-- these bizarre, little breakfast places are always hit or miss, and as someone who takes breakfast very seriously, finding out is so much fun. I guess adrenaline comes in many forms, some dorky, some cool.
5. Snowboarding. Life is fun here, slashing pow with your friends every day. It's not the steepest mountain, but hey, I'm still alive, and I didn't break a board this year, so I'm going to chalk that up as a win. Plus, Canada is right up the road, so I can pop up there for day trips to get my steeps fix when I'm really jonesing.
6. Mountain biking. From freeride trails in the woods to new downhill trails at the ski resort, this place is challenging, fun, and empty. I'll ride my bike all day and never run into a single person. That's rare, even in the most remote trails of Colorado.
7. My friends. I saved the best for last because I get to spend time with some incredible people up here in Northwest Montana. I'm grateful for the people I get to call my closest friends here. Brodie for always telling me how it is even when I don't want to hear it, for bouncing ideas off of, and for always saying yes to shredding of any form. Elise for her abundant energy, inside jokes, and for lending her banging sense of style to help me occasionally look like an adult. Andrew for always being there when it counts, for dragging me out of my office to skate or snowboard, for sharing creative energy, and for hooking my stupid printer up time and time again. Abby for showing me more than anyone ever has the meaning of the word "unconditional." She may be short, but she's a big hitter, and if Abby has your back, life can never really get that bad. Kellyn for making me laugh a lot and for making me think even more, for the endless hours of bullshitting over beers, and for patience and perspective. Kyle for a hundred gourmet meals, for teaching me how to stick with my convictions and what it means to be human. Noah and Erin for giving me a place to land when I rolled into town without ever having met me. That was huge. I couldn't have pulled this off without you. People don't get much better than you two.
I appreciate Montana for its authenticity. There's little room for bullshit, but lots of room to recreate, and I like that. I like how it stays light until almost midnight in the summer. I like how the snow never rots from the sun and I can literally always find powder somewhere. Life is calm and inspired and beautiful here. I'm extremely satisfied with the art I've been creating in this environment. For the first time, I am going to actually unpack all the boxes in my closet, hold still, exhale. I'm going to start planting some roots. I want to stick around and see what that's like. Experience is showing me that it gets better every day. I lived in a lot of places, always searching for something, and really what I found is that this whole time, I had it all wrong. Yes, life is about places to an extent. I put too much emphasis on the concept of "place" until it dawned on me while backpacking with my friends, just thinking and walking together, that life is about people. Experiences are meant to be shared.
I am happy here.
Wheelie Deep Thoughts
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