Tag: conscious change

Letting Our Light Shine

Letting Our Light Shine

Earlier today, I was listening to Amy Ray as she was interviewed by Maggie Rose on her Salute the Song Bird podcast. Amy is known for her activism in environmental and social justice causes but perhaps more known as a singer/songwriter with her own band…oh, yes…and she’s one of the Indigo Girls. Aside from all of that, she said something in the interview that really caused me to pause and reflect.

Amy said she was exploring her own internalized misogyny. It was like a bell went off in my mind as I pondered the idea that women internalize this pervasive, ingrained, and institutionalized prejudice against themselves. Hatred, dislike, mistrust manifested in various forms of abuse, social shunning, ostracism. Oh…that?!!!

As I explored this in my own life, I realized that I’ve always had that negative seed within. It’s what culture taught us. What religion taught us…at least the religion I was exposed to as a child and teen. What schools taught all girls on the tennis team or any girls’ sports team where we’d lose our transportation to a match or game if the football coaches decided they needed the transport we were going to use. That really happened. A lot. Maybe it’s changed now…for the sake of our daughters and granddaughters, I certainly hope so. 

How have I distrusted myself and my strength? How have I viewed myself physically, emotionally? How deep is this darkness planted within me?

In a very sad coincidence, Sinead O’Connor passed yesterday. Her life was far more than a songwriter and powerful vocalist. She stood up against child sexual abuse by the Catholic Church and was labeled…well, what any powerful woman that stands against such an institution is labeled as…historically and even today. I watched an interview done in the 1990s from her SNL appearance where she tore up a photograph of the pope on live TV to protest the cover-up of the child sexual abuse by clergy. She said nobody was paying attention and that the Catholic church in Ireland purchased insurance to protect them from lawsuits 10 years before it became known worldwide of the rape, abuse and horrors children faced from those who were supposedly trustworthy. She refused to be quiet. She claimed her voice for children. She became a warrior…and still is labeled as a troubled soul as people remember her. We should all be so troubled. 

So, this idea that women who stand up and speak out are somehow crazy or to be feared…why, yes! Fear us, because we are weary of misogyny, that we have learned so expertly to turn against ourselves. Until we recognize our own self-hatred, distrust of our personal power and brilliance, and deal with this warped view of what it means to be a woman, we’ll continue to perpetuate those ideas in our lives and in the energy we put out into the world. It’s not something to judge ourselves over, as we are literally unwinding ourselves from the trauma and teachings that keep us small and kept our female ancestors from standing in their brilliant power. But it is something to work on healing by daring to speak our truth and digging deep to learn how light yearns to break free and shine through our beautiful hearts.

One of the reasons I wanted to provide opportunities for women to learn to fly fish is a direct answer to the misogyny which many of us carry within ourselves. We’ve been taught that there’s something inherently flawed within us…after all, it’s our fault that humans were cast forth from paradise….how can we ever get over that one? And that’s just one example, although huge, of how we are taught to judge ourselves so harshly and distrust ourselves. I wanted to provide women a safe place to learn and explore their strengths, fears, and dreams. That’s why I created Wading Women.

As I was walking along the creek today, I had a strong intention arise—I am going to be my shiny self, no matter what. I refuse to shield my light from anyone. And, I want to help other women grow into their own brilliance. For those drawn to wade and cast a line in these Smoky Mountain streams, let’s go play! Let’s be strong together! Let’s heal together!


Join Simone on a holistic fly fishing excursion in the Smoky Mountains It’s about empowerment, fly fishing and nature. Its based on a balance of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the experience and is founded in awareness of the environment and interconnectedness of all life. Visit the Wading Women page to learn more.

“Damn! The monkeys.”

“Damn! The monkeys.”

A couple decades ago, I was in St. Kitts visiting a beach. Every time someone would get up from their chairs and go to the water, monkeys would rush to the abandoned chairs…and drinks….and proceed to fight for the fruity, alcoholic drinks.

At the edge of the jungle, sitting high in a tree, a lone monkey screamed at the others and I heard, very clearly, his words, “Damn! The monkeys.” I imagined he was their treatment director screaming at them to abstain from the mind-altering substance that was crippling their lives.

I wonder….do our angels or guides or ancestors hang around us saying similar phrases to us? Hoping we’ll make better choices?

It’s easy to repeat the same old patterns, much easier than changing. Every time I see this photo and remember that experience I remind myself to dig deep, reach for the stars and know that I have everything I need to make this the best life I possibly can…without competing for things I don’t even need.

I Let Go of Cave Diving

I Let Go of Cave Diving

It took a while. In fact, it took several years. But this week, I finally let go of cave diving. 

I hadn’t been cave diving in a while, after enjoying it for nearly 100 cave dives. But diving in an overhead environment requires honed skills, not occasional dips into underwater caves. Unless you do it often, it’s really not safe. So, I finally listed a set of double steel tanks on a social media scuba page and sold them within an hour or so which led to selling my regulators, deco regulator and my reels. They went quickly after so many years of pondering the question: Should I let go?

Today, after dropping off the set of tanks to a buyer in Hickory, I drove on to Winston-Salem to see my friends Van and Patti. Van was my Intro, Apprentice, and Full Cave instructor as well as a dear friend through the years…but I hadn’t seen either of them in a while. He had contacted me about someone giving him fly rods that he was bringing to me to donate to Wading Women, a fly fishing program I’m planning for women that want to be empowered through wading and fly fishing. It’s rather odd that my friend, my instructor, was there in person after I released my last piece of cave diving gear, waiting with fly fishing gear for the program. 

And on the way home, I stopped in Asheville to visit my friends Laleah and Bill. Bill had already gifted me with some really nice fly fishing gear he was no longer using. Today, he passed along salt water fly fishing gear, as I’m starting to plan some trips to salt flats, back bays, and other coastal places. The gear is amazing. And I am so grateful.

Today felt like such a powerful day of letting go and opening to whatever is coming next. And it must involve fly fishing. I was gifted with 9 older model fiberglass fly rods and reels that are epically retro as well as 7 very nice salt water rods and more reels that I can sort in my travel-fatigued brain tonight. So I’m in a place of ‘what just happened?’  I’m almost in shock that the act of letting go of something I loved so much opens the door to new adventures in teaching fly fishing and deepening my experience by playing in salt water with fly rods. 

Here’s the other thing….every single time my mind starts coming up with doubts or negative self-talk about the idea of Wading Women, I get signs that I’m on the right path. Today, it feels as if Wading Women reached out and grabbed my shirt collar and said, “Hey, do you still doubt that this is the right direction? Do you? Are you paying attention?” 

Yes!! I’m paying attention. I won’t fear letting go and letting doors close. New doors are opening and they are opening in a BIG way! 

Van was there at the beginning of my cave diving journey and today, he was there at the end of it. But, he came confirming the next step. How cool is that? It’s probably been 15 years since I’ve seen Van and Patti, but it was so sweet to connect with them again. And to visit with Bill and Laleah on my way home to my mountain paradise. 

What an amazing day of friends, closing doors, opening doors, and the way forward being shown to me so very clearly. I am deeply grateful.

Sometimes it takes letting go to clear the way for something new and wonderful to be birthed.

Got To Be Real

Got To Be Real

It had been a lovely day of wading. Several brookies and a rainbow danced with me. I helped a bat get back to his tree, found three spools of expensive tippet in the water, and enjoyed the green bursting out everywhere in the mountain forest. 

As I was finishing my hike, I glanced across the field, behind the old church, and saw a wedding happening. The white dress, bride’s maids…the whole thing. My car was parked along the dirt road, past the dressed up folks at the wedding. I was wet wading so was soggy up to my knees, had on a muted green jacket and a baseball cap. Scrambling up and down banks, slipping on wet rocks…doesn’t lend itself to fancy dress.

(Photo by David Knapp)

Normally, I’m happy as can be in my fishing clothes. But today, I noticed something happening within me as I contemplated walking out in the open, past the wedding party. I noticed I started walking with my head down and feeling self-conscious. What am I feeling, I asked myself. The answer came immediately…shame.

My brother and me enjoying dirty feet and freshly caught fish.

It was like my entire life flashed in my mind and I saw how hard it was for me to be myself growing up, which was a jeans and tee shirt girl with skinned knees nearly all the time. It wasn’t any better moving into my teen years when expectations to conform to social pressure were high. I never fit into the girlie mode yet feared if I was myself, I wouldn’t be accepted. But I still wore jeans, avoided the ‘in-crowd’ and always felt like I didn’t fit in. 

I’ve always been fierce in standing up for myself…what to wear, how to be in the world…30-something Simone

Feeling that way helped me grow to love solitude. I could be myself when it was just me and my horse or my dog. I could dress however I wanted to, ride on the dirt road and open my heart to the sky and fields, free from the pressure but grievously aware I didn’t fit in, hardly anywhere. Anywhere except with Nature.

I hadn’t thought about any of this in decades until I noticed shame arise when I was faced with dressed-up people in the field I was about to walk through. Of course, now I realize I was dressed appropriately to be in a national park, out in the woods…hindsight, you know. 

I reflected on my life as a kid and teen a bit after that moment of shame arose. The definition of shame is the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous done by oneself.* As if the way I dressed or the fact that I loved horses and dogs and being outside was somehow ridiculous because most kids didn’t do that…no, most girls didn’t do that. 

Yes, I wore a cowgirl outfit as a kid and loved my grandmother Wenzel who grew flowers and had puppies.

How much pain we go through being real. By the time many of us are adults, so many protective layers have been applied that we hardly know ourselves. If we are courageous enough to strip away those layers and be real, I suspect we’ll discover light that would illuminate the world.

I still love dogs…

The solitude I cultivated as a teenager has blossomed into a deeply spiritual practice. As I wade and hike and cast, I open myself to Life…and it is so good. And to the girl with skinned knees, the teen riding her horse in jeans and a tee shirt, and the 60-something year old woman wearing fishing clothes, I say this: your beauty shines bright, keep your heart open, and never, ever be anything other than yourself. When who we really are is embraced and encouraged, magic happens. 

(One of the reasons I am creating Wading Women is to empower women to claim the wildness within, to enjoy Nature without feeling a need to fit in or conform to anyone else’s expectations. And to fill their lives with their wonderful, shiny hearts.)


Stink Bugs for Breakfast

Stink Bugs for Breakfast

Dreaming of wading…and casting….I couldn’t wait to do a late
afternoon/early evening visit to the creek.

There’s something about the warm, espresso-flavored froth as it is slurped…the first taste of the morning. But this morning, as I poured the froth over the espresso, I thought I saw something floating. I ignored it but just as I was about to experience that first frothy goodness, I saw it again. 

I got a spoon and stirred and not one, but two, stink bugs swirled in my over-sized mug. 

The night before, I always prepare the cup under the spout and make sure water is in the tank. Evidently, two stink bugs overnighted in the cup and nearly created a cappuccino catastrophe. It wasn’t the best start to the day. And it mirrored my week.

Determined to turn it around, I headed up to the loft for yoga practice before I began work…work I do for money, not something I’m especially connected to at the moment. Yoga helps.

After attending to work, I took my dog Buddy for his annual exam and was excited to have a beautiful late afternoon to fly fish after I dropped him off at home. But there was an emergency at the vet clinic and we had to wait to check out. And wait. And wait. 

Almost an hour later than I planned, I settled Buddy in with Vern and grabbed my fly fishing gear. I drove to one of my favorite places to wade. After parking, the first thing I always do is pull out my boots, socks, and waders. But today, there were no waders. I left them hanging on my bathroom door from yesterday’s early evening fishing. In my hurry to have fun, I left an important piece of gear.


I was wearing capri tights and a short sleeve shirt because it was so warm. I guessed the water was warmer than the 55 of yesterday. The boots would be rather big without the neoprene feet of my wading pants. But what the heck? I could handle a little cold water…I’ve been excited that wet wading season is coming soon. But usually, I wear neoprene socks with my boots when not wearing waders. It was either forget it and go home, or deal with a little discomfort.

I stared at my rod tube, the waist pack full of yummy flies, the wading staff. I couldn’t leave. Not with clear skies, warm air, and water levels that were back to my comfort level. It wasn’t even a choice…I had to do it.

The boots were a little too big, even with the BOA cinched down as tight as I could screw it. And that first step into 60 degree water was a bit teeth clenching, but what an amazing two hours. 

The fish were moody and teased me, but never committed. The wind was gusty and slightly annoying. But I made a decision to have fun and I did. Actually, I made that decision when I pulled on my thick, wool socks and boots. And when I dumped the cappuccino and started over. And when I practiced yoga before work.

I got some awesome casting practice in the wind and visited places that aren’t that fishy but have large, open casting spaces free from tree limbs…not easy to find on the streams where I fish. 

As fun as it was, my feet needed to get warm. After nearly two hours, I headed for the car. When I pulled off the boots and soggy socks, I noticed my feet were, in fact, quite numb. Good call to head to the house. But good call to fish, too.

Hours later I noticed how amazing I felt. The stinky attitude I’d had lately had been washed away with the cold water. I think the stink bugs in my cup were a reflection of my funk this week. I could have remained in that grumpy place when I realized my waders were at home; but, I decided to just give it a try. And that decision shifted everything.

We have choice….every moment. What will you choose?

Today was a huge reminder of how fly fishing has changed my life for the better and why I’m working and playing hard to be a guide for women that want to Explore….and Emerge. My next step? A day with my mentor on the water…and then a weekend of Wilderness First Aid with NOLS.