Choosing to do something new can be intimidating…sometimes scary….and almost always uncomfortable.
However. If you can grow a pair of cojones and do it anyway, you might just find you are stronger than you thought. Spoiler alert! You will still feel intimidated, scared, and uncomfortable. But through the process, I’m willing to bet you will uncover an inner strength you will be able to call on time and time again.
When I started this challenge a year ago…it didn’t just involve the monthly fishing goals, it also involved the podcast. It was a two-fer when it came to doing something new. It was a tremendous challenge. I was learning new things every month about fishing, I was having to re-prioritize my life to make room for all the time I needed to spend on the water, I was facing down self imposed doubts, I was overcoming my introverted nature to reach out to people for help and podcast interviews. I was asking for help. Probably one of my biggest challenges across the board in life – asking for help. And I was asking over and over again each month.
I was being challenged physically – tagging along with friends on long hikes, refusing to accept that last cast and fishing until my arm was about to fall off, pushing ice huts over the ice and through the snow. In the pitch black of night.
My mental and emotional limits were challenged as I faced my fear of walking on the ice – spending the day ice fishing in the warm sun only to find the ice slushy and puddling water as we walked back to shore that night. Hiking into unknown territory. Setting a hook in my face thanks to the ever present Wyoming wind. Facing the possibility of failing at my own challenge and not being able to catch a fish until sundown on the last day of the month. Breaking all my rods and ending the year with one last lightweight basic rod.
All of these challenges could have been the one thing that made me throw in the towel. The one thing that was just too much. But when I think back about all the ups and downs….well, I don’t feel like I am carrying the downs with me. My highlight reel seems to only include the ups. And the strength I have discovered. My willingness to open up to new things, new challenges. Experiencing growth.
And there it is….
The most important thing I am taking with me.
I had to GIVE myself room to grow. I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish this by maintaining the status quo. I had to let go of this preconceived version of myself. I had to let go of who I thought I was. If I hadn’t let go of that version, I wouldn’t have been able to grow into who I am today at the end of 2022. We can’t exist in two realities. And as long as you are holding on to who you were…you will never become who you are meant to be.
And in doing so, I gave myself the greatest gift. I was able to find meaning through the #wyonthefly challenge and podcast. In a time in my life in which I felt like I had nothing of value to offer this world. Where I felt like I was simply existing as a middle-aged, frumpy mom, wife, and teacher…
I was able to add depth to my human experience.
I was able to learn how to flow with life. Much like the water that I spent so much time standing in and next to this past year.
I was able to show myself grace and show up for the experience and wonder of the last 12 months.
And it has enriched my life. What an incredible year.
Welcome to Part I of the December to Remember Podcast…
First podcast in four months. Have I been fishing? Absolutely. I have caught a fish every month so far! I’m hanging in there! With school starting back up, I was treading water. And, the challenge I set upon myself is to catch a fish every month in 2022. The podcast for me was just a bonus to document the year and all the people I meet.
So while I was disappointed to miss a few months of podcasting…it was sure good to get back into it. This little setback is just one small chapter in the podcast…it isn’t the whole story.
There is a greater story here. And I attach myself to the positivity and growth this journey has given me. I could focus on the setback, disappointment, perceived failure. But those kinds of thoughts don’t serve my life.
I’ve committed to asking myself – does this serve my life? And I learned from the great Trent Shelton, if the answer no? Hell no, let it flow!
This year of fishing and podcasting has catapulted me into the greatest chapter of self awareness and growth – and that is what I focus on, as I let everything else just flow. I watch the negativity just float on by. As I sit in contentedness and fulfillment.
I hope this podcast or one of our previous podcasts have contributed something positive to your life. If it has, I invite you to participate in the spirit of contribution and share the message that has impacted you. Welcome back to our podcast this November, where we share the story of Brad Eakins a retired pastor who now enjoys guiding anglers in Wyoming.
And with three days left in November, I’m still trying to catch this month’s fish! Stay tuned to see if I can make it happen… I’m so close!
The annual Sisterhood of the Outdoors fly fishing trip with Cowboy Drifters is a weekend I look forward to all year! Seriously…the day after I get home I’m already thinking, “362 more days…” It is such a fulfilling and enriching weekend on so many different levels.
For those who have never been around women on a weekend when they have been set free of responsibilities and kids and spouses…well, you might be surprised. We aren’t the stereotypical damsel in distress, waiting for someone to tie the “bait” on our “pole”. We let go and refresh our souls…complete with dares, dancing, laughing, jokes and songs, brews, tips to rehydrate, and good food. In my experience, we are invested in being around an expert for the day and we are soaking up as much as we can in the short amount of time we have.
During our weekend I saw women taking pictures of the setup their guides talked to them about, asking questions about the flies they tied on, taking notes on their phones about the weight and depth, and discussing different rods. Thankfully Cowboy Drifters has a shop full of flies that we used on the water and the ladies left with fly boxes full of flies they successfully caught fish with. Many of the flies are unique to Cowboy Drifters and developed by the owner, Jason Hamrick, based on the research he does on the river each day.
I also saw women make valuable connections and friendships over the few short days we were together. Every year the vibe is a little different depending on the personalities of the group. Some years they come to party and some years there is a more serious tone to the group. Every year, we get to know each other on a deeper level. We talk about family, health, life experiences. Some of the conversations bring us to tears and some of them have us laughing uncontrollably.
Our weekend starts off by meeting at a local restaurant for supper. Friday night was spent getting to know each other and sharing the connections that some of us had already made. This year we were joined by Misty, my friend since 7th Grade! Another local friend, Tanya, who I met through hunting and Tammi from Michigan, whom I had met hunting a few years ago as well. The other two women were from Montana, Kara and Rachel, and not only had they grown up together…they are now living in the same town and raising their own two kids as best friends! The conversation bounced around from childhood memories to Kara and Rachel’s adventurous drive to the wild state of Wyoming! After exhausting happy hour and enjoying salmon salads, burgers, and the famous Montana Ale Works Pizza (haha) we headed out to the lodge to settle in for the night.
Saturday morning came early, as we were fishing the Miracle Mile and had a bit of a drive ahead of us. We met our guides at the shop, grabbed our sack lunches, and hit the road. After dropping the boats, getting the rods set up and a few practice casts….we were on the water. I have been waiting years to fish the Miracle Mile, so I was beside myself with excitement.
And the day didn’t fail to deliver. In true Miracle Mile fashion…it wasn’t about getting the fish to hit your fly – it was about getting them to the boat. Time and time again I had a beautiful trout on the end of my line, just to have them throw the hook a few feet from the net. They gave glimpses of their color as they rolled just under the surface and my goal for the day was to land a Miracle Mile Brown.
The first trout I brought to net was a gorgeous, fat, healthy Rainbow. I released it back to the water, more determined than ever to find my Brown Trout. We hooked into a few more, but couldn’t land them, as Miracle Mile trout play a different game than your typical North Platte catch. It was a fantastically hot day and we spent our time cooling off with beverages and wading and floating into the river during our lunch break. So, near the end of the day, when I finally scooped up my last catch and it was a gorgeous 21 inch Brown, you better believe I joined that beaut in the water. I held her up as I knelt in the water and smiled so big. I did it! As I climbed back in the boat I said, “There’s just something about a person’s smile when they are holding a fish…you can just FEEL it.” Lenny, my guide, commented,”Yeah I never thought about it…but you’re right!”
My boat mate was anxious to land one last catch and threw her line in the water. All of a sudden we hear, “My phone!” Her line wound around her phone and launched it to the water and we watched it sink to the bottom of the Miracle Mile. We jumped in and tried to find it, got pretty close to snagging it up, but the current was just too strong to hold steady and keep ahold of it. Fortunately she had everything saved to the cloud and it was just a matter of buying a replacement phone. Unfortunately, all the pictures and videos of my catch hadn’t yet made it to the cloud, so they are still sitting at the bottom of the Platte. And somehow, it kind of makes the experience of catching my Brown even more valuable because it will always only be shared between myself, my friend, and our guide Lenny. We wrapped up our amazing day of fishing with steaks on the grill, cooling off at the cabin, and exchanging stories from the day.
Sunday brought another sunny day and we hit the shop to stock up on flies to fish Grey Reef. We enjoyed a day of wading into the North Platte and fishing different spots along Grey Reef, sometimes relaxing in the grass on the side of the river while we worked on a tan and napped. We hit up a local dive bar at lunch to escape the heat and cool off. Nothing but fun was on the menu as we enjoyed Rocky Mountain oysters and the best burgers in the area. We fired up the juke box and danced to our favorite tunes and sang at the top of our lungs while the locals joined in and escalated our good time.
Our group hugged through goodbye’s and see you soon’s. Some of us needed to be heading home and some of us went back to the river. We waded deep to avoid the heat and ended up back floating in the cool water. Every once in awhile a boat would float by and ask how our fishing went yesterday…recognizing us from the Mile the day before. We ran into another friend of mine who is a guide and he brought his boat to shore while we chatted with his anglers. Before they loaded up he shared several flies with us that they were having success with that day. Never have I met friendlier folks than the ones I have met on the North Platte. As the afternoon continued on, we decided it was time to pack it up. We were all reluctant to leave, because it meant our weekend was over.
Keeping in touch on social media is one of my most favorite parts and after effects of a Sisterhood fly fishing weekend. I see posts of their kids and family or life accomplishments and I am filled with excitement or pride right along with them! I love seeing other women who were with us for the weekend commenting on their pictures and supporting them online.
One of the most important things you can do for your mental health is have a network or connection of people in your life. That feeling of community and family helps you feel celebrated during the good times and supported during the tough times. And I see that over and over again through my Sisterhood fly fishing trips. These are the connections and friendships that will last the rest of my life.
If you haven’t signed up for a Sisterhood fly fishing trip, now is the time to invest in yourself and get signed up at https://www.sisterhoodoutdoors.com! Also, one of our guest anglers this summer is a guide and owns her own fly fishing apparel business, Yellow Sally…she has generously shared a discount code with us! My favorite prints are She’s So Fly, Lady Trout Wrangler, and Trout Party!! Don’t sit on this deal! Use the code FISHING15 at https://www.yellowsallyfishing.com to snag your discount, or click on the link below!
The summer continues on as we reach the midway point of our challenge to catch a fish every month for 12 months in 2022! In this combined episode, we talk about the Cutt Slam and how last month went down.
Did I catch my June fish? Uh. YEAH.
My first carp on the fly! Listen in as Peter and I cover some new ground – Carp and Grizzlies.
There are a lot of changes going on this summer. Adjusting to a new house, adjusting to the step mom life, adjusting to having 7 kids under one roof, 7 different personalities and needs (more if you count the multiple personalities that tend to pop up from time to time lol).
I’m also adjusting to meeting my own needs. It’s an easy talk but a harder walk. As I type, I am sitting here looking at the MESS and boxes that still need to be unpacked and cleaned up. I’m overwhelmed with where to put everything – nothing seems to have a place. I despise the unpacking.
So when a friend calls and says – hey lets go fishing. There is a certain level of guilt associated with walking away from all of the going-ons of this house. I found myself reluctantly saying – okayyy, but only if we make it quick because I have GOT to get these boxes unpacked.
Do I WANT to go fishing? YES! Do I WANT to unpack more boxes? NO! Do I NEED to be alone and feel the sun and hear the water. God YES.
So, I reluctantly leave my house because of the guilt I have imposed on myself over the state of this place?!?! What is wrong with me??
Nothing. Absolutely Nothing. This self imposed guilt is a reaction to the failure of my self imposed expectation of having a fully unpacked and functional and decorated house by this time.
I am my own worst enemy. And I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of you do the same thing.
I breathe deep and I release these expectations…and I ask myself, as I sit here staring back at the boxes and clutter that are calling out to me, is this a moment of stillness or action?
We all feel the pressure to get all the things done, to do everything right, not fail our children, be everything to everyone, meet our own goals, follow through with commitments. But there are endings and beginnings and there are middles. I’m somewhere in the middleness of this mess, and that’s okay. I’m going to enjoy this stillness and peace.
This is hard. Adjustments and decisions are hard. Showing yourself grace is….hard.
Things will find their place in time. Maybe not before my daughter and stepson head off to college…definitely not before my husband gets home from work tonight – but it will get there. Eventually. And this is what will make the difference – a relaxed mom and wife who enjoyed the time spent with her family and friends. I’m only one person and I can only do so much, and I’m doing what I can.
And next time someone asks me to go fishing – I won’t just talk the talk – I’ll drop whatever I’m doing, throw a few beers in the cooler, grab my fly rod and say…
After surviving April, I knew May would be just as chaotic. Turns out it was more chaotic than I could even imagine.
We had end of year school sports and activities wrapping up with regional and state track, soccer, musicals, GRADUATION!, and awards banquets. Throw in Mother’s Day weekend, end of the school year, and my family’s fundraiser…and we were left with our head’s spinning!
I knew I had to land a fish before May 26th this month. On May 27th we embarked on our annual fundraising bike ride. This year we headed to Utah to ride the Utah’s Mighty 5! My two daughters and my ex husband rode through Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef while his wife and I drove the support van. Hundreds of miles were logged to raise funding for scholarships for women veterans. However, we didn’t return until June, which meant the fish had to be caught prior to our trip.
Oh yes, and I forgot to mention…we moved. With spring storms hitting – my husband was called out of state to fix power lines in Colorado. That was the day before we were to move into our new home. The next several days were filled with kids, friends, and lots of boxes.
So, I breathed, I showed myself some grace, and I headed to the Ash Hole. I fished around a bit before I landed this beautiful rainbow.
I loved getting up there in the peace and quiet. I loved getting to see my parent’s new home that was just built. I loved the stillness and silence that I needed so very badly. It is like hitting the reset button.
I realized that these moments are necessary to live your best life. I needed to step away from it all. This month was a great example of being aware of what your needs are. Understanding your limits and saying, enough. This is enough, and I need a minute. And not feeling selfish for taking it. However much and whatever it is you need. Letting your kids see you take care of yourself is such a good thing – you are teaching them to take care of themselves too. We always push ourselves to our breaking points, and when you think about it, we are teaching our kids to behave the same way.
I want better for my kids and better for myself.
Practice naming your needs. Be aware of what you need emotionally, physically, mentally….tell yourself, your partner, your kids, your friends what you need. Find people that support you. We are out there! You just have to name it!
In this episode we confront our limitations – both our physical ability as well as the ability to access public lands. Dustin encourages us to be active in the outdoors and gives some great advice as we begin to explore more land this summer! Time to push past our limits!
I knew there would be months like this. As soon as I started this project I knew this was going to happen. In fact, as soon as I committed to doing it I was already thinking, “…there are parts of this that are gonna suck.”
I knew there would be months like this. As soon as I started this project I knew this was going to happen. In fact, as soon as I committed to doing it I was already thinking, “…there are parts of this that are gonna suck.”
But I committed anyway. I figured it would force me to let go. Let go of the stress and the commitments and all of the excuses that keep me from getting out on the water. And I knew there would be times when I had to force myself to go, at the expense of other things in my life.
And my goodness did the stress and commitments pile up in April.
It got to the point of going back to the beginning and asking myself, “What is the point of this?” I can’t get so wrapped up in the fear of failure that I miss out on the journey and the intention. The intention of this whole project is to ensure that I get back in the habit of doing the things I love and taking care of myself. Habits are not always easy. They take work!
So I’ll keep showing up. For myself.
Yes, I am striving to catch a fish every month for 12 months in a row. But the benefits of being on the water, enjoying nature, exploring new places, learning…that is what I love about this whole thing. And I can’t do that if I’m not present.
Thinking about my to-do list, taking care of other people’s problems, bringing work home with me, staying up too late, not eating healthy, allowing myself to become emotionally drained…all these things make it really hard to be present. All these things make it really hard to clear my mind and recognize the beauty around me. And it can waste a perfectly good fishing day!
Walking to the river with a clear mind, uncluttered and empty, makes it so much easier to be present and enjoy my time. I am able to focus on the sound of the water, the feel of the air, watching the fish, sitting in the quiet and waiting, the sound of my line zipping off the water as I set the hook….yep. That is being present.
That is what sustains me. That is what nourishes my soul.
I recently read a quote…
That is what I’m practicing, here in this moment. All the messiness and unexpected and chaos…the masterpiece wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the paint on the floor.
So while April reminded me a bit of splatter paint – it was a beautiful month. And I did things that I never expected I’d be able to do. And I survived to see the next month. And, yes, May is expected to be crazier than April.
I fished in new places, found a beautiful spot I’d like to revisit. I was hoping to catch a fish there, but the weather didn’t cooperate long enough to really invest the time needed. Then, I broke my favorite custom built rod trying to get loaded up in the rain and hail and lightening. I was disheartened.
On the last week of the month I went for familiar. I went to my family’s place in the mountains. I sat with my parents and visited with them while we watched the fish jump out the window. It took a dozen or so casts before I was able to hook into one of the younger fish in the pond. Prince nymph never fails.
The exhilaration was palpable. Although he didn’t make a good run, the feisty rainbow jumped from the water a few times. The last explosion was at least five feet out of the water as he tried to rid the fly from his lip. I landed my April fish shortly and snapped my pic. Before I released him back to the water, I heard my mom yell from the balcony, “Let me see!” She wanted to share in my excitement. As I lifted the little guy out of the water and turned to hold him up, she snapped my pic and cheered.
She knew this one was earned, even if it was pulled from our pond. Because I put in the time. And I showed up for everything else in my life. This is just the splatter paint that is part of the masterpiece.
And, man, it doesn’t matter where you are…pulling a trout out of the water is one of the most beautiful things in this world. That day was no exception. I sat for a few minutes more on the bank, watching the fish break the surface. Feeling the spongy earth slowly soak through my clothes. Smelling the air heavy with rain. Hearing the birds’ wings push through the air above me.
I smiled. Took a deep breath and exhaled. I had caught more than my April fish.