Some of the Last Days in Missoula.

Yesterday was one of the richest days I’ve had in a long time, for several reasons. 

I woke up early (pre-6a.m.) and read a book so I could give a presentation on it at 10. I was exhausted, mostly because I spent a large part of the night in the emergency room, only to figure out that the buckling pain in my abdomen was most likely a muscle tear from overexertion. Luckily, I have two amazing friends that spent the night in there with me. It’s been a lesson in how to manage time, stress, overexertion, and my physical and emotional needs as a human being. I’ve always been really bad at taking care of myself. But I’m young, and I am learning. 

But things started looking up at the sunshine when I had the opportunity to fly a tiny Cessna from Hamilton, MT to Arlee, MT with two amazing people, Brandon and Namchak Khenpo. There are some pictures below. I had an amazing time…and it was an unreal way to spend an afternoon. Flying an airplane through some of the most stunning country I’ve ever seen was such a blessing. I think that the opportunity to see the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas from the air will allow me to see patterns in religious architecture more easily, and I am excited to post that paper on here when it is complete. It’s a labor of love and I hope that some good will come someday from all the nights I’ve stayed up and all the days I’ve felt tired and spent. I loved every paper, article, and book I’ve read and I’m grateful for the opportunity to study things I love with people I love. I’m going to miss the people here while I am gone.  

And with that, I want to say that living in Missoula has truly been an experience that changed my life. I’m leaving May 5th, and I don’t know when I will be back or if I will decide to come back. I am pretty sure that I will be back in October and use Missoula or someplace near it to root myself; I’m in love with the landscape and the people. I am in love with the creativity of the community. I’m in love with the plains, the mountains, rivers, and cultural diversity. Everything that has happened here–every encounter, experience, and waking moment–is serendipitous and karmic in some way. 

Last night, my friend Annie (pictured below) was in town. We are soul sisters. If we could run rampant and live in the same place, we would. Beautiful smile, free soul, spunky as sin. We’re both little and strong. I miss her. We ended up spending the evening together and watching one of my favorite musicians, Martha Scanlan, with my new friend Laura Bender. Listen to Martha Scanlan’s NPR story here:

Martha Scanlan is a woman I look up to. She’s a hermit. She lives in the land–the way I want to live. She works hard. She is beautiful and she’s an artist. She’s wholesome and grounded in the things she loves, lives, and believes. This is her: 





She is rugged, delicate, and a woman I aspire to be like. Simple. Strong. In love with what she does and the land she lives and works on. Riding horses and wandering. That’s where my heart is, and I can’t ignore that anymore. You have to do what makes you happy…the things that make you want to get up in the morning. Coffee. Wandering. Sunshine. Just being out there. Being in love. Being pure and simple. Having a soul. 

Not many people know how to do that…how to forget their jobs and their stress and their problems and just let things…be. Let birds fly. Work hard. Create things that are beautiful with your hands and your heart and your imagination. 

I think it is hard to do that when you live in a city. You forget what it feels like to have dirt on your hands and wind burning your face. You fall in love for wrong reasons. You forget yourself and what you’re made of. You forget the sharp gusts of cold air and the heat that erodes you and then carves your character into something unbreakable. 

Tonight I will be writing and having yummy salad with my friend Bailey. This weekend, I’ll be at some hot springs with Heather and then out away from the world and working on another huge painting and running (hopefully the tummy feels okay) and wandering on trails outside somewhere–probably in Salmon country or somewhere in the Tongue River Valley–inspired by Martha–or in the Bighorns somewhere. I can’t decide!    

Here are the pictures from yesterday: 





J. Bird 


P.S. Listen to this, it’s incredible. Martha Scanlan, “When the West was Burning”:





2 thoughts on “Some of the Last Days in Missoula.

  1. Yeah gurl yeah!! Had an unforgettable evening no doubt. Love the pics you posted as well 🙂 we shall meet again wonderful Jenna!!!!

  2. I’ve been enjoying browsing your blog! And I SO related to the city paragraph, in this. And the other words, too, but that one stuck out especially. I am in a city, and have been the last two years. Sometimes I love it, and I’m increasingly feeling as though I’m falling in love with it, as I learn to connect with it in ways that nourish me, and find the various ways it can and does, but there’s something missing. I’ve felt this in desperate pangs the last two years – like a claustrophobia leaving me desperate to get out, NOW. But lately, this has softened somewhat because I’ve found a place I love to live (I have to move at the end of the month though, agh!) and this urgency has been replaced with a deep grief, instead. Like, I notice how things are so different – the way I respond to nature is more intimate and graceful, delicate and tender. A little city park haven, tucked away from the world, gives me the same feelings as when I lived in the countryside and I would stumble upon a beach that was all my own for that morning, or a hillside that had noone on it but me and a bunch of sheep, or a river that I could swim in with noone else around.
    Living in a city, I feel as though I treasure things so much more, but I miss that life – the muddy and wild, rugged and now-foreign, life so so much. One that I hope won’t remain foreign for too much longer. 🙂

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