An old man sat in a corner of Wild Joe’s coffee shop this morning. I could tell he didn’t want to be bothered. He just had that look on his face, legs firmly planted on the ground, with a stance taking up much more space than was actually necessary to be sitting in the cozy corner chair. Coffee on his table to the right and newspaper on the table to his left, his belongings sprawled about, as if to say “this is my spot…all of it.” And had there been other open seats, I would have taken one of those. But since the one next to him was the only one available I slowly walked over there. Careful not to call too much attention to myself, I kept my eyes down until I got to the chair, where I asked if could sit there. He shrugged as if to say, “I guess.”

So I sat down and got out my computer to start writing. After a few minutes, some guys plopped down on the couch across from us and very quickly a conversation began between the older man and the younger guys about how different Bozeman is than it used to be.

This conversation was very typical of most native Montanans I’ve met so far; they don’t like newcomers coming into their state (especially if said newcomers are from California), and they love to talk about how much has changed around here in the past however-many years. They talk of doubling populations, and corporate stores popping up, and how “The Last Best Place” is turning into “The Place That’s Just Like Everywhere Else.” And…no one wants to leave.

But yet, Montana is not for the faint of heart. It is a state of extremes. A place where one morning you wake up to the most beautiful, clearest blue, pink and purple sky, not a flake of snow anywhere to be found, where you go out running in a t-shirt, and then the very next day it is a 16 below blizzard with three feet of snow on the ground.

The View.

The View.

The View. One Day Later.

The View. One Day Later.

same road

The Same Road. One Day Later.


And the thing I’m struck by the most with this is how not a big deal it is. People still do exactly what they did the day before. They still go out running, they still ski. Their dogs still get walked. And in fact, they’re happy when this happens because it means the ski conditions will be good that week. When it clears up, it just means that the hikes are easier to hike. There is no judgment of the extremes. It’s part of life. Expected, accepted, embraced and appreciated.

It’s like the extremity makes the beauty more beautiful. The harshness makes the views more breathtaking. Nothing here just floats by, passes through, or washes over. Everything is bold, and a big deal. The mountains, jagged, massive, all over the place are unapologetic. They’re here to stay and they could care less what you think. They’re extreme, but that’s what makes them beautiful.

And this got me thinking about emotions. And how extreme they can feel. We have emotions that swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, in a matter of days. Or minutes. One day we might feel like the happiest person on earth, in love with everything, and feel like we’ve got it all figured out. And the very next day we feel like we are in the deepest darkest hole of the unknown and despair. If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned that this is a bad quality. That the mood swings are hard to deal with. They’re too intense to be around. And people would prefer if we were more even keeled (an ex told me all of these…verbatim). And this never sat well with me.

I view these extremes as natural and normal. As a part of life. As a situation to just roll with. When you’re happy, go with it. When you’re sad, let it be there. Not attaching to these extremes creates joy. It’s the fighting of these emotions that makes things hard. Just as if Montanans fought the snow, the blizzards, the drastic changing of the weather, instead of just deciding to put on a jacket and head to the mountain. It makes life harder.

And this is what I want for you. For you to be able to put on a jacket when the going gets tough. Roll with it. Head to the mountain. Allow the snow to come down hard, appreciate that it’s there, and then smile as it goes away. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Don’t forget. Your emotions make you beautiful. Vulnerable. Real. Hiding them hides you. It might not feel fun, in the moment, to allow your full spectrum of emotions be there, but denying them denies the beauty that life has to offer.

Montana has some of the harshest weather you’ll ever experience, but it also boasts some of the most breathtaking and beautiful natural beauty you’ve ever seen. The payoff for surviving the harshness of the winter is the reward of a flawless summer; a few months of sunshine and activities and flowers and bluer blue skies than you can imagine and the puffiest white clouds in the world. Sunsets that’ll make you cry. Rivers that’ll make you feel like you’ll live forever. More activities than you’ll possibly want.

It’s the same for you. There IS a payoff for the extremes. So when the going gets rough, don’t worry. Find something to love about the storm, and know that there’s a summer right around the corner.

I think Jo Dee Messina said it best when she said “that’s the way it is, you gotta roll with the punches. That’s the way it goes, you gotta bend when the wind blows.”

True Dat.

How have you felt like this? Do you have mood swings? What do you do when they show up? Leave a comment below and share this article with anyone you think needs to hear it. And if you’re not already on the mailing list…GIT IN THERE! Click HERE.