Monthly Archives: January 2010

Ode to Reno

Many people think Reno is in the middle of a desert and that it looks like a mini Las Vegas. The truth is that we are very different from our party brothers and sisters down south and the Reno/Tahoe area has much more to give aesthetically than Las Vegas will ever have.

If you travel 45 minutes from Reno in any direction you will be taken to a variety of land settings. Up in the south-west nestled at the top of the Sierra Mountains is Lake Tahoe. It is the most beautiful lake I have ever seen in my life, encompassed by pine trees, rocky shores, and snowcapped mountains, there is truly something magical about this lake.

West of Reno is Truckee/Donner (pictured above). Donner is similar to Tahoe with its surroundings and clear blue waters but it differs greatly in its size and is about a thumbnail compared to Tahoe. There are many ski resorts, golf courses, and hiking trails surrounding the area that attract  by-passers on Interstate 80 or those who travel from far away lands to enjoy the landscape and recreation.

North from Reno is Pyramid Lake (pictured below). Pyramid Lake is unique and beautiful in the fact that it is a salt-water lake set smack in the middle of the desert. Pyramid Lake is on an Indian Reservation and it is very solitude and quiet. My Dad, brother, and I took my step-mum (who is from Australia) out to see it and her jaw dropped when we turned the corner and a lake appeared out of nowhere.It is my favorite lake to wakeboard on in the summer because there are not a TON of people out there and the lake gets fairly warm throughout the summer. People have a bad stigma attached to the lake because there are many stories about bad things that have happened there, but I respect the lake and I hope the great spirits will take that into consideration when I am visiting.

East of Reno is Sand Mountain and the Black Rock Desert.  Sand Mountain looks like it should be found in the Middle East; it is a HUGE mountain made [obviously] of sand and nothing else. It was formed on the bed of ancient Lake Lahontan which surrounded the area thousands of years ago.Sand Mountain is home to many dirt bike and ATV enthusiasts who travel there all year long .

Not far from Sand Mountain is the Black Rock Desert, which is home to one of the biggest world events known as Burning Man (pictured below to right). If you don’t know what Burning Man is, you definitely should check it out sometime.  People from all over the world travel to Nevada’s stretch of desert to party, exchange goods, and cut themselves off from civilization for about a week. It is a cultural mecca for arts, communication between individuals, and self-expression.  The thought behind Burning Man is to leave no trace behind on the desert floor (also known as the Playa). It is amazing how many different cultures and ethnicities meet for this annual event.

Another site to see hours away from Reno is an awe-inspiring mountain range known as the Ruby Mountains.  The Ruby’s are high in elevation and often are covered by snow, but heli-skiing and cross-country ski trips make it a popular destination even in the winter months.  There are many different hiking trails and backpacking adventures to be found at the Ruby Mountains perfect for any hiking ability.

There are MANY, MANY sites surrounding Reno that are worth talking about and as I come across them,  I may just get the urge to blog about them! 

I think Reno is the perfect place for outdoor activities and every time I leave the area, I find myself anxious to get back.  We get four beautiful seasons, gorgeous hiking conditions, lots of snow for skiing and boarding, lakes to enjoy in the summer, and plenty of desert to ride dirt bikes and ATV’s. It gets hot in the summer (but not overwhelmingly so) and cold enough in the winter to snow.  We also get some of the most delightful sunrises and sunsets in the area.  Reno, I would tip my hat to you (if I was was wearing one) for all of the beauty that surrounds you!


[Photos of Donner and Pyramid taken by myself, Jenna Lundemo. Picture of Burning Man taken by Erica Reid and used with permission]

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Nobody “Nose” Like Pinocchio

“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” -Spencer Johnson

I cannot stress enough the importance of building character, owning up to that character, having integrity, and being honest. These four things will take you so far in life and you will pick up many followers, friends, and opportunities with them along the way.

I was reading Jace O’mallan’s blog on honesty and integrity and it gave me some ideas on why I think honesty is so important to me. I have always been extremely honest, and when I say extremely I mean extremely. Let me paint you a picture:

It is my 8th grade year at Middle School.  I have a book report for English and I haven’t finished reading the end of my book. In fact, I only made it a little over half-way, we’ll say 65%.  My teacher instructed us not to tell the end of our book in hopes that we could interest more students to read it.  So I am up in front of the class discussing my book. I am almost finished with my report when I look at my teacher, take a deep breath, then blurt out “I’m sorry, I didn’t finish my book.”  All of my friends are now staring at me with open jaws wondering WHAT possessed me to say that! Even my teacher is looking at me in astonishment.  Needless to say I did not receive an “A” on my book report; however, I did manage to get a “C” and a comment saying “I appreciate your honesty and for that reason I have not failed you for the assignment.”

If you are honest and you have integrity, others will recognize that as your character.  Your character and what you represent is all you really have in life to distinguish yourself.  It is how people talk about you and how they remember you.  I try to keep this in mind at all times: say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Telling a lie just creates the need to tell even more lies, either to cover up details from the one you first told or because maybe you got away with it and want to tell more. Not being truthful will result in much more stress and work for you in the end, not to mention that it is detrimental to building your character. Stay honest with yourself and remember that every action has a reaction and consequences.

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Harnessing Hope

It is silly not to hope.

Do you have something that you are waiting for? Do you dream about something over and over? Is there a situation in which you wish you were not in? If you had an answer for at least one of these questions, chances are you have hope.  You hope that you will be able to get what you want, you hope for the object in your dream, you hope that you can overcome the situation you are in.  Without hope, we have nothing pulling us through life making it exciting.

Hope is what leads us to success, along with happiness which I have discussed in my earlier post Life Has Already Begun, Now Embrace it. It is important to never underestimate the power of hope and what you as a human being can think possible.  If you have not done so already, it is a good idea to start a list of your desires and values.  Brainstorm and write down everything that comes to mind.

In Pamela Slim’s book titled Escape From Cubicle Nation, there is an exercise built to align goals and values throughout life in which you write down such things as where you see yourself living, whom you living with, what kind of job you have, how many kids you have? Keep writing things down as they come to you to describe your perfect life.  You may not see it, but you have just given yourself many things to hope for.  Now is the part where you dig deep within yourself to find what the best way of achieving this perfect life will be.

I am trying to become a better leader, a stronger and more independent individual, and get involved in my community and helping others.  I am hoping that I can change personal behaviors of mine, and hoping to change the behaviors of others to positively influence one another.  I have hope that if I lead by example to have kindness in your heart and treat others as humans, that it will spread and people will WANT to help others.  I guess it is my “hippie” way of seeing things, but I really want to see this idea come to life.

Having hope and being able to harness it into real outcomes will result in a very happy life. You must have the will-power and motivation to keep going and make things happen, and that may be the hardest part.

Sure, we can all write a list of what we want our life to look like, but how many of us will actually go out there and make it happen? YOU will and I will try to portray as much advice as I can to encourage you.  As you go through life, refer back to the list of your “ideal” life and make sure you make choices to make that dream list a reality. Surround yourself with encouraging, good people who support your dreams and values. You may have pitfalls or low points in your life, but they will be overcome and remember that you can be destroyed, but never be defeated.

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The Real Problems Money Can’t fix

In my last blog, I ended with the thought that if money can be thrown at a problem, then it really isn’t a problem. I pondered this a lot more and decided it would be valuable to ellaborate more on the idea.

As humans, especially Americans, we are consumed with wanting more and getting more. We want the high paying job, mansion in the hills, BMW in our garage, and millions in our bank accounts. Can’t get a guys attention – that’s okay, spend thousands to get a boob job. We throw money at all of our problems that money can actually fix, but most of these problems are only fixed in the short-run.

The deeper problems are the ones that money cannot buy; most of these are the mental problems that we face. You can have the mansion and all the fake friends, but underneath you may be severly depressed and in turn make plans to take your own life; that is a deeper rooted problem that will take more than a few therapy sessions to get over.

At the heart of our mental problems are environmental factors and how we react to them. One of the main things that I have been trying to get through to my readers is that we must be happy with ourselves, for ourselves. No amount of money, no amount of plastic surgery, and no amount of material things can ever truly fix deep mental problems.

When I wrecked my first car at the age of 16, my mother told me that as long as I was physically not harmed that everything would be alright. I kept this outlook with me, and am living by it in the harships of my life. Physical illness or handicap is something that cannot be undone with any amount of money. You may be able to ensure the best medical care, but if the condition cannot be fixed then Mr. Franklin’s will do you no good.

Money cannot bring back a loved one from the grave, it cannot cure someone of a deadly disease, it cannot mend a true friendship or make heartache or lonliness go away for good. Money cannot solve real problems, only you have the mind power to make the situation better.

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Mature Spontaneity

“Spontaneity has its time and its place.” -Arthur Frank Burns

I have dug myself a tunnel that seems like it is almost to China. I was so optimistic when I turned 18 and got my first credit card.  I began charging away, responsibly of course; paying well above my monthly minimums.  I had great credit and I felt good about myself.  Then I had a brilliant idea (or so I thought) to buy myself a home at the age of 20.  I did so, but I jumped into it quickly…a little TOO quickly. Before I knew it I was working 2 full time jobs,dropping out of school, and charging more on my credit cards than I knew I could really afford.

I was so responsible before so how could I have let that happen?! Well the answer may be more simple than I realized at the time. For one, I was 20 years old.  Secondly, I came to realize that sometimes it is my personality to jump into things quickly before I explore all options.  I found a house and wouldn’t settle until I had “that one.”

Through my mistakes I have learned to change that impulsive behavior when it involves such a long term decision. I still like to be spontaneous when it comes to small life choices, but I have matured enough to realize when it is appropriate and when things need more thought.  We all have the ability to adapt, enhance, and grow and to make valuable choices while learning from our mistakes.

My advice to you is this:

  1. Take caution when making large decisions. Sleep on them and search opportunities.
  2. Put some thought into your strengths and weaknesses and acknowledge when you need to change behaviors.
  3. Learn from mistakes and never let them get the best of you.

I like to tell people that I went through my mid-life crisis at an early age and I’m glad it happened to me while I still have the chance to correct things.  I have had many more financial hardships that have since followed my house and I am still on the road to recovery, as many Americans are right now. I am more aware of the long-term affects of my decisions and I try to incorporate a balance between what I want and what I can afford.

Even though my financial decisions have led me to the most depressing time in my life, I need to remember is that if I can throw money at the problem, then it truly isn’t a problem.  The real problems are the  ones that I CAN’T fix with money. With that in consideration, I am able to approach every day with a smile on my face and laughter in my heart.

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A Stranger Asked for Help

“I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”  ~William Penn

Little did I know that when I locked my car and headed for the front doors to a local store that my life perscpective would change so drastically. 

I hadn’t even got a chance to enter the store before an African American woman in her mid-forties approached me and asked if I would help her return an item.  The item she had purchased was intended for her daughter as a baby shower gift, which her daughter had already received from another relative.  The lady who asked for my help simply wanted to exchange the item for something else in the store and was given a hard time by each sales associate, telling her that she needed an ID or the transaction could not take place.

I went to the counter with the woman so we could use my ID and the sales associate immediately started accusing her of grabbing the first random person she saw to help her.  Although that was true, she had indeed grabbed me – a random person, I didn’t understand why it mattered. Not everyone is given the opportunity to obtain an ID, and this particular woman rode the bus everywhere she went and had other pictures ID’s and government identification cards.  So after speaking with multiple less-than-helpful sales associates, we asked to speak with a manager.  The store manager greeted us and explained that there was no way to return the item without a receipt and then went on to say that there was no way that she could prove she purchased the item and that he “had to protect his overhead and his assets.”

Now I am a management major so I know what he was trying to accomplish here by saying that. The problem that I saw with his statement is that the woman was trying to exchange the item, not return it for cash.  The store would still receive the full amount for the item being returned when it was sold again, PLUS the amount over the exchange for the item she wanted. Something was not adding up here. That was the moment he threw a subtle racial comment into the mix and I lost it.  I must admit that his comment was perfectly executed, but smarmy and degrading.  I took the initiative to explain that if I, a young white female, were to enter his store and request to make an exchange without a receipt that I would not be denied the privilege -as I have proof from the past. He must have realized at that moment what he had done, because he agreed to exchange the item.

This story is not meant to cry out and be angry; it has many valuable lessons in it. The first is to help a stranger in need. I definitely hesitated when the woman approached me and asked for my help, but quickly in my head I asked myself “why not, what valid reasons do I actually have?” I had none, so I helped the woman.  

The second lesson we can take from this story is not to judge a book by its cover.  The woman was a little rough around the edges and looked like she had definitely gone through some bad times, but she deserved the same equal treatment that anyone else does, and I genuinely wanted to help her.  She expressed her ultimate gratitude after we left the store and I felt that she really meant it and that she was really a good person.  I could have been taken as a fool, I guess I will never know.  The important thing is that I did something for another human being when they were in need, and the rest is on them.  

The Manager should have followed in my lead instead of judging by race and appearance.  Managers need to be very careful of the situations they put themselves in, be aware of the phrases they use, and should try to look past appearances before making judgments.  Proper customer service is important to retain customers and lessen liabilities.

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A Simple Smile :)

Last semester at the University of Nevada Reno, I took a capstone course with Donald Winne.  This course forced me to consistently write about myself and my values.  I enjoyed the freedom given by a professor to write freely and through these exercises I was able to see more clearly who I am. 

The first thing that we did in class was write how we could become the best person that we could be.  I suggest you try it, it is extremely effective for aligning your goals.  Take out a piece of paper and draft ALL and I mean ALL the ways that you can change yourself and affect others in a positive way.  Think about how you can gain a competitive advantage over others and what you need to get this advantage; think about how you can treat others to bring out the best in both of you. 

I suggest you encourage others more, help them when they falter, set high expectations for yourself and others, and understand when others are not “perfect” in order for you and those whom you surround yourself with to become successful in life.

I can tell you that after I did this exercise myself, I immediately became more aware of how I treated others. I am a very kind-hearted person with very few enemies, if any.  I am a loyal friend and I am willing to listen and help in any way that I can as often as I can.  This comes partly to me by nature, but also by practice.  I think about my actions and how they affect others more than I ever have in the past.  I am more eager to help strangers without hesitation in order to spread that sense of kindness throughout the world.  I truly believe if you are kind to someone, it will spread like wildfire. 

I was at a local fast food restaurant the other day ( I know, shame on me!) and as I was sitting by myself nibbling at my meal, an older gentleman walked in.  I looked up and smiled at him, politely acknowledging his presence.  A few minutes later he walked over to my table and said, “excuse me Miss, but I just wanted to thank you for smiling at me. Not that many people give a friendly smile to a stranger and I wanted to thank you for your kind gesture.”  He explained that he was a married man, not looking for anything but just appreciated my friendliness.  My response to the situation should not have been shocking, but it was and I was filled with warmth.  It is true that smiles are far and few from strangers these days and I was happy to have influenced another to care and feel a connection as a human being.

Even a small gesture like a smile will bring out the best in others, while bringing out something good in yourself as well.  Refer back to your list as often as you can to change behaviors that will ultimately be the best for you, and those you surround yourself with. 

Don’t be afraid to set high goals for yourself  and work towards obtaining them, but understand your own strengths and weaknesses.  I am the kind of person who must set small goals which lead to larger ones. Once I complete my small goals, I am ready to take the next step closer to my large goal. Taking these small steps builds more confidence and assures me that I can take on bigger challenges.  Others work best when they set a really LARGE goal and power through to reach it.

Knowing yourself and how you deal with certain situations is half the battle, so don’t get discouraged.  Make sure you are reflecting on your past behaviors to figure out who you are and what you should do differently.  Always leave room for self-improvement and generosity, and many good things will follow your behavior.

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