Ep. 8 – Presently Present

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.”

Fall in love with masterpieces and also the paint on the floor.

Morgan Harper Nichols

Presently Present

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…

Fall in love with masterpieces and also the paint on the floor.

Morgan Harper Nichols

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.

Here’s the plan…

Anyone who has ever had any interaction with a teacher, knows that there are three times of the year that you engage in survival behavior. Beginning of the school year…brain is transitioning out of summer, meeting dozens of new kids and parents, a to-do list a mile long, little sleep, much caffeine. Christmas…uh, no explanation needed. End of the school year…brain is fried from testing, students are checked out, running on empty, the to-do list mentioned earlier is even longer now.

Teacher interaction during these times require only one response. Smile and nod. And maybe a cup of hot coffee. Or a bottle of wine. Follow those simple survival techniques and you will come out of these seasons unscathed, and your teacher friend will keep her sanity.

So it comes as no surprise, that one evening as my head was spinning and I was overwhelmed with the beginning of the school year and trying to put on a very fake front for my kids, my son said….So, Momma, what’s your plan??

What’s my plan? Wha? Like dinner? First day of school clothes? Laundry? Dishes? First day of school lunches? Cleaning up the puddle of pee from the puppy? Chiseling off the dried milk and cereal from two days ago on the dining room table? There is a plan?! He obviously hasn’t learned the above mentioned norms, as he dares to ask a question that involves actual brain power. Poor little guy. He doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.

As I descend upon my unsuspecting victim, eyes ablaze, fire exploding out of my mouth, smoke streaming from my ears…Plan? PLAN?! What are you TALKING about?! I don’t have time for a PLAN! The PLAN is to SURVIVE! Plan for WHAT??

He looks up and me and says, “Your fishing plan, Momma. What’s your plan for fishing?”

Oh. My heart.

Everything slipped away. My heart softened. My eyes teared.

This little seven year old boy. He knows how I best deal with stress. He recognized that I needed time. Time away. Time alone. Time outside. And he loves me enough to think of how to fix everything. Fishing.

Oh, my love, keep this tender heart of yours, it will come in handy when you grow up.

However, in the meantime, I made a plan.

Photos by @burtoncustomrods


  1. Leave the laundry on the couch.
  2. Leave the dishes in the sink.
  3. Leave the grading basket at school.
  4. Let’s go find some water….cause this kick ass fly rod just showed up on my doorstep.

Gotta take care of yourself before you can take care of others. And, one more thing, my kids are kinda awesome.