Tag: fly fishing

What Lights Up Your Life?

What Lights Up Your Life?

One of my friends commented the other day that our lives are about service. I’ve always thought that about my life; however, I’m certain not everyone feels that way. We each have our own thoughts and beliefs about what this time–we call a lifetime–means. Some might feel there is no meaning, we’re just here to exist in a body and then…poof! Others might feel the need to persuade others to their own belief about what life is about. We’re each entitled to our own belief about it but what gives us joy is an indicator that we’re doing something right.

I’ve recently become a volunteer with Casting Carolinas, a non-profit that provides comprehensive support and fly fishing retreats for women surviving cancer. A couple weeks ago I volunteered as a river helper at their autumn retreat and this past weekend I volunteered at their big fund-raiser, Tie One On Fly Fishing Tournament, in Cherokee. I was a river helper and judge in the tournament. I’m not sure I’ve felt that much joy in a long time. Here’s why.

First, I was paired with a team called The Tangled Tippets. It was 42 degrees with frosty air and a water temp of 55 degrees. That didn’t stop us from having beautiful laughter that echoed up the river. At one point, an elk mom and baby passed by us and in the distance we heard a male bugling, calling to his gals perhaps or warning the other males to stay away…not sure…but the magic was incredible as were the fish caught and released. The woman I was assisting said seeing the elk mom and baby was even better than catching a fish.

Then, in the second round, another woman and I were judges for two 13 year old guys…their team name was The Dogs. Susie and I watched and hoped they would catch fish. Who wouldn’t? But the 2 ½ hours ticked by and no luck. I was time-keeper and gave them the 5 minute warning….Come on!!! Catch a fish!! I was watching the timer and it got down to 28 seconds and one of the young men hooked a big trout! DUDE!!!! He landed it and we measured it…20 inches!!! A pig!! We went crazy! I know hikers walking by thought we had lost our minds. We didn’t care.

Here’s the deal…that joy came from helping others. To encourage people to have fun, to learn new skills…in a beautiful outdoor setting. That’s it. That’s pure joy for me. Call it service, purpose, whatever you want. If what I’m doing brings me joy, then something is going right in my life. That’s my life’s ‘work.’

What brings you joy? What lights up your life?

A Surprise on the Creek

A Surprise on the Creek

A few feet from me, the trout rose to the surface and sighted the fly as it slowly drifted down the run. It was like an athlete carefully watching as a ball was hurled toward it and then…BAM! It caught the fly with a quick slurp. 

I’m always learning from the trout magi. Something new is revealed each time I wade and wander in the creeks and rivers of the Smoky Mountains. But besides having really good interactions with trout today, I recovered something I lost a week ago, when the water was running higher and I couldn’t reach it. And I couldn’t have been happier.

Last week, I was casting to a beautiful, deep hole, over a seam of really fast water. The elk hair caddis—with an orange hot spot for sighting—was popular with the trout that day. And then, a cast drifted a little too close to a submerged log and got stuck. I had no choice but to break off and leave the fly. It was too dangerous to wade across and rescue it. 

Today, the fly was waiting for me and the water was down a lot. I cast to the pool first but was so excited to see my fly, I stowed the fly line and waded across to retrieve the fly.

The hair and feather creation was really soggy but as soon as I waded back across the creek, I changed tippet and tied this lucky fly on. I squeezed it mostly-dry and added some gel flotant and off we went, casting and dancing with trout. 

There’s something so fun about finding something I thought I had lost. Even though it was a little fly and I hadn’t thought about it since losing it last week, it gave me great pleasure to rescue it and use it to interact with trout again.

As I waded and cast, I pondered the metaphor of re-discovering something in life that we thought was gone. Maybe an idea or dream, a skill, a friend, a job. Sometimes it’s about physically ‘finding’ a lost object, but other times it might involve re-claiming a talent or simply remembering to pause and let our heart feel love, gratitude.

The idea of letting go has been in my mind and heart lately. Letting go of how I expect or want plans to work out and being present enough to navigate daily from an informed present moment instead of trying to guess what the future holds and make decisions from that weird place. 

I was bummed about losing the fly last week, but didn’t waste energy fretting or worrying about it. I simply let it go. And then, I was thrilled it was there waiting on my return today. It’s a little ‘thing’ but holds space for much bigger ideas about letting go, waiting on the right timing, waiting on better conditions before proceeding. 

What have you rediscovered lately that has been a good surprise? How has it affected you?



I pause a moment. Just a moment though, because I am so anxious for your embrace. I breathe in and out, in and out. Sweet agony.

With tender care, I step from the soft, green moss into you. Sensations of bliss start at my feet and make their way up my body. Rapture to be held by you once again. Time away has only fueled the passion.

Your cool waters are moving rapidly, but I feel safe as your pressure pushes against my legs. I wait to unhook the fly from the rod, too caught up in the feelings of my body and arising from my heart. I am so smitten by your beauty, so in love with you and the rocks and trees and flowers that live, move and have their being in your presence.

Finally, I began to cast the fly line and watch as the fly gracefully lands and floats downstream. Again and again I cast, to a smooth run, a riffle, above the rock. Wade and cast…drift….breathe. Wade and cast….drift…breathe. Upstream I move, everything else no longer exists. It’s just you and me and the trees and rocks and moss and flowers and blue sky peeking through overhanging leafy branches.

Finally, a slight tug, a gentle snap of my wrist and we’re dancing with a rainbow. Then watching her swim away, quickly released with deep gratitude for the connection.

On it continues, the wading, the casting, the dancing. The bliss. And then, I’ve danced enough and leave the trout to their day as I walk back down the trail.

You call to me as I near the trail’s end, ‘just one more embrace, just one more moment.’ So I wade into you again and duck under rhododendron branches to the place…you remember the one…where the master lives.

You are deep here, very deep, and you are moving fast so I stay in the shallows and cast to the realm of her: the majestic rainbow that teases me and teaches me humility.

On the third cast, my fly lands softly, perfectly, then disappears. ‘Where is it I wonder’ and strip line instead of setting the hook. She rolls up, her massive silver side giving evidence to her guru status. She releases the fly and giggles. I swear she giggles. And the laughter is contagious so I laugh as well. And then you laugh and it’s a love fest, here in the mountains where you and I first met.

I turn to leave, but you ask, ‘why have you stayed away so long, lover?’ ‘The heat, the basement room flooding, you were raging a couple weeks…remember?’ I say. You respond, ‘oh, yes, I do have my moods,’ you respond. We smile as I promise, ‘I won’t stay away so long again.’ As I step from you, I turn and smile. ‘We truly are perfect lovers, you and I. We give each other space to have our feelings, our lives, and then when we come together, it’s pure magic.Thank you.’

I walk away, back to the other world but you cling to my legs and feet. We are never really apart, you and I. We remain in each other’s heart. Forever lovers.

If you want to experience the magic of fly fishing, contact me. I am a holistic fly fishing guide in the Smoky Mountains specializing in working with new fly anglers. www.wadingwomen.com. More info? Click here.