Sliding the leader through the guides of the fly rod I felt hurried. The window to fish was small, any clumsiness or wasted movements would limit my time on the water even more. A car pulling into the parking lot distracted me for a second and the rod turned in my hand. I shook my head and told myself to stay on point. The leader was through the eye at the top of the rod, and I pulled firmly to generate some slack. I decided to use a nymphing rig with a mop fly on the point and an olive France fly on the tag. Good to go. I was a knot tying machine. 

I quickly made my way down the trail and found the entrance to the stream reach I wanted to fish. The water was slightly up, and off color and I waded into position to work upstream through a nice run. I allowed myself to take a deep breath and to take in the beauty of the setting trying to push the tension out of my toes. Pulling on the fly line I generated about 15 feet of slack line and back casted to feed the line through the guides. The slack line stayed at my feet and the current began to pull it downstream. I back casted again. The line remained at my feet. I could feel my temperature rise as I looked at the top of my fly rod. Line had twisted around the rod between two guides in the tip section of my rod. 

Blue Heron Stalking It’s Prey – Photo Courtesy Brian Bernstein

I took another deep breath in and out and closed my eyes. When I took my eyes off the leader as the car passed me, the rod turned in my hand. I then fed the line through the guides after twisting it around the rod. Pulling enough slack to tie on flies, tightened the line against the rod pinning it to the rod. Ugh! Now I needed to back the line through the guides to undo the tangle and free the line to cast smoothly. So much for an efficient time on the water!

My building frustration was diminished by looking out at the stream and appreciating my ability to be outside, in nature, on a beautiful day. I realized that my approach to my time on the water didn’t help me be efficient, it continued my stress level that I brought with me. I didn’t transition from being stressed to calming myself during my personal time. Staying stressed was how I began my time on the water. My stress was sticking to me. 

Enjoying as many moments as possible in life is important to me. I can be pessimistic, and I carry stress frequently. Fly fishing helps me let that go.  But on this day, I didn’t begin with an appreciative mindset. I needed to shake off the frustration. My mind jumped to my mom’s voice and how she always greets her grandchildren, children, family and friends with an excited greeting and often a hug. “You are so handsome!” “How do you get more beautiful each time I see you!” “You are so bright and cheerful!” “There she (he) is!” She begins each interaction with enthusiasm and appreciation.  

Even when I am being a grump, her greetings have made me smile and feel loved. Her lesson to me has been that it is important how we begin a new activity, interaction, or moment. Clearing out the baggage of frustrations or stress that have built up opens me up to enjoying the new experience. Starting with a clear mindset creates an opportunity for the widest range of possibilities. 

This week I’m going to follow my mom’s example and greet everyone with kindness and enthusiasm. Each new interaction or event I will approach with openness and leave my previous frustrations at the door. Often coaches will say to always end strong or to keep up the intensity the entire time, but without a positive beginning it’s difficult to build confidence and momentum. When I go fishing, I’m going to greet the river like it’s an old friend. It’s important how we begin. 

Keep Mending…

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