Tag: Eco-Spirituality

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.

Flowers & Ice

Flowers & Ice

After a very warm, ‘early Spring’, we slid back into Winter. But somebody forgot to tell the trilliums and violets and other tender flowers that continue to unfold their magic in the mountains. 

It warmed up to the low 50’s, after several 20 degree nights. Sunny skies, on the first day of Spring, lured me out with my Nikon and macro lens. How could I not?

The trail gained elevation along the creek and as I walked, I breathed in cool air and listened to the water in which I’m usually wading. Sunlight dappled the ground and melted icy places left after the cold night.

I thought it was rather optimistic to haul the heavy camera and lens in a quest for wildflowers; but, their tender petals were fresh and vibrant. What resilience. What a surprise to find them peeking out, unfurling their wild beauty.

Warm days in late winter always bring anxiety to me for the blueberries, trilliums, and so many tender flowers because cold always returns, and sometimes with fierceness. Last year my blueberry bushes were in full bloom and we had a low of 9 degrees in late March. I grieved for the berries I wouldn’t get to graze on during warm mornings in the garden. But many berries emerged out of that freeze and they were sweet and juicy, made more so by the miracle of their survival.

It was with a joyful heart that I walked along the trail finding flowers braving the cold to blossom and thrive. They made me ponder: Perhaps things happening in our lives have little to do with what we plan and more to do with surrendering to the flow and unfurling our wild beauty when it feels right, not when conditions are perfect (whatever perfect is).

The Big Picture & The Details

The Big Picture & The Details

With all the rain yesterday and the rivers acting a bit wild, I grabbed my gear and headed for the water. But this time, it was my Nikon and tripod and a few lenses. The fly fishing gear stayed home.  Before I pulled out of the driveway, I put the 70-200mm lens on the D800 and prepared to be amazed.

I wasn’t quite prepared to be as amazed as I was. Elk walked up to my car as it sat parked on the side of the road with me safely inside. They were too close to even use the big lens at some points, but I still got some nice shots without getting out of the car.

On to the water I drove and found some beautiful waterfalls and rapids and rocks that were shining with Smoky Mountain moisture. It was good to visit the water, that I love wading in, with my big camera, so I could attempt to capture it a little better. I used a wide angle zoom lens to capture flowing water. iPhones are great, but there’s still nothing like a full frame camera to give such amazing depth and color…like the place comes alive through images I shoot with it. It’s just too heavy to carry while fishing.

The light got a little too bright, even with clouds, so I put the wide-angle lens and tripod away and attached the macro lens. It was fun to shift my attention from big water and rocks to tiny mosses and insects. What a fun exercise in awareness.

It’s a good reminder to look at the macrocosm of life–the big picture–but also to notice the details–the microcosm. There is beauty and power in both and we have to navigate both in life.

My macrocosm includes the overall life journey, fulfilling my purpose, connecting with others along the path. The microcosm in my life includes details like the work I do on a daily basis, taking care of my dog and cat kids, eating, staying active. Sometimes we can get stuck in one or the other of these realms…and that can lead to angst. If we keep both the big picture and the details in balance, we stay in balance and suffer less. Or at least that’s my experience.

Today I was reminded to look for beauty in the big picture of my life…the elk, river, rocks, mountains showed me that view. And those delicate moss blooms, tiny lichens and insects reminded me to pay attention to the small stuff, too. If I work on the small stuff, it helps the big picture develop into something quite amazing.

Elk for Dessert

Elk for Dessert

I awoke feeling out-of-sorts, a little off. I had a nice yoga practice but that didn’t remedy the feeling. I worked a couple hours and then felt Nature calling. Strongly. The sort of call I dare not ignore the magnetic force pulling me.

Heavy clouds threatened rain, but radar showed a decent window of dry air so I loaded up the fly fishing gear and headed to one of my favorite creeks in the Smokies. It was another relatively warm day for late February and I expected mayflies and caddis to be hatching after a week of higher temperatures.

As is often the case, I ‘listen’ to a place on the creek that’s calling me: an idea pops into my mind, someone tells me where the hoards of fly fishers are and I avoid that area like the plague,  or I simply feel how my body gets excited when I think of different places. That’s what happened today.

A couple weeks ago, I discovered an area new to me. When I thought of that place today, my body felt like it lit up with electricity. A long hike? Okay. Let’s go!

During the nearly two miles to the entry point, I worked to keep my mind quiet. I simply asked to be shown what I needed to see and invited animals, ancestors, angels…all the fun friends…along for the hike. 

Evidently the trout felt the same electrical current that I did because they were on fire! Mayflies were hatching in the first large pool I visited and the splashes and leaps had me jumping as I sat eating a snack. I caught and released two rainbows there and then put away the rod and sat on the green, mossy bank and ate an orange. If I catch one or two fish in a pool, I move on so everyone can get back to doing what they do best—gorging on insects.

Every trout I caught today was fat and strong-looking. I think they must be chunky from a week of sucking in massive quantities of hatching insects. I felt honored to be in their presence and sent them all on their way with massive amounts of love and appreciation.

After nearly three hours, I noticed the sky was especially dark and rain was probably coming soon. I found an exit from the creek through the woods and connected with the trail in my downward hike out. It started raining, but only lightly like gentle kisses on my cheeks.

Follow the energy is a bit of guidance I keep receiving over the past couple of months. When I feel tired or ‘off’ I just follow the energy of my body and mind and notice what’s happening. On the way down the trail, I had over two miles to track the energy in my body. It had completely changed from when I started, when I questioned if I should even be doing anything. I felt amazing! Light, energized, clear. Just three hours earlier I thought I was possibly coming ‘down with something.’ Yeah…down is right. Too much computer. Too many spreadsheets. Too much in my head. All downers to my energy.

One of the things I’ve been exploring, with a mentor from the UK, is that powerful place where my skills, talents, and passion intersect with the needs of the world. I’m wanting to feel passion about the work I’m doing, feel I’m making a difference, connecting with what I love and sharing it in a way that is helpful to others. 

Today, as I was walking out, I heard: Follow the energy, how have you changed? When I listened again to my body and felt the huge shift within myself, I felt that part of the answer came clear. Be outside more. Interact with Nature more. This is where I feel completely whole, completely at one with myself and all life. Do this! 

That sounds great, right? The part I am missing is where me feeling this amazing, after 3 hours of Nature exposure, helps others. Maybe just shifting my energy, shifts the energy around me and thus helps others. Or maybe the Earth feels my love and that’s where my skills and talents touch the needs of the world. Maybe taking people outside and helping them deepen with Nature is the way forward. I honestly don’t know. But I do know that when I follow the energy, every time I take myself outside, into Nature, I am healed in ways I don’t fully understand.

Anything that helps me feel so in tune with myself and Nature, that helps me experience Oneness, and clears my mind and body so completely, is my way forward. I don’t have to know how all of that helps the world. For now, I’m just going to keep doing it. Keep hiking into creeks and rivers and dancing with trout and water and moss….and receiving the bounty of beauty that surrounds and infuses me. And saying thank you, thank you, thank you.

As I drove through the park in a post-wading blissful state, I stopped for an elk jam. I pulled over and from inside my car observed the herd. I heard myself say, This is like dessert after a perfect meal. Elk for dessert. 

I was fully fed and nurtured as I hiked and waded over five miles. I feel alive, hours later, as I sit watching the mountains and feeling gratitude for such powerful Medicine.

Letting Go

Letting Go

There is a nice bit of split creek I’ve never been able to reach. Honestly, I’ve never tried. One side has a steep bank with slower water, the other a channel of fast water. A gravel bed is in the middle. It always seemed out of reach. 

A couple days ago it really called me, so I walked down the bank past the area and checked it out. There was a large, downed tree that could act as a hand hold to cross a shallower part of the creek where it splits and a large rock I could climb and slide down the other side to reach a dry gravel bed. The only problem was I wouldn’t be able to climb back up the rock and wasn’t sure I could cross the slower part of the creek to exit the steep bank because I couldn’t see the depth of the creek. 

Even with the uncertainty, I felt compelled to take the risk and let go of my fear. 

The log provided perfect support as I used it to help me across the creek. I easily climbed the rock with my fly rod and wading staff in one hand. It wasn’t that far to the gravel bed but the only way down was to slide on my rear and just go. So that’s what I did.

I let go.

I reached the dry gravel with ease with a smile on my face. In surveying the creek depth, from the level of the surface, I saw that I could easily wade across and climb up the bank when I was ready to leave. Funny how I couldn’t see that until I took the risk to let so and slide to the other side.

How many times do we hold on to fear and refuse to take chances because we don’t know what’s on the other side. The thing is, we don’t know until we take the risk. When we let go of fear we open ourselves to all possibilities.