My Disparate Sense of Right and Wrong

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So my mind is baffled for which I’ll only be able to ask questions and not even begin to have the confidence to attempt any answers in the following.

Have we tried to make our character as a species an intellectual conversation?  And is it even possible that we have been going about the conversation in a very disconnected way? Like, we have maybe been trying to water the plant with milk and are perplexed as to why it dies.

We all walk around with an innate sense of what we feel to be right and wrong and are governed by what we feel to be our one true moral compass.  We have a true north that we know is the one right way in which our world spins on its axle.  We even can have a fellow tribe that feels the same gravitational pull as we do.  You can have a group of five people stand in a circle in a valley and agree that the sun rises behind that mountain and sets behind that other one every single day and therefor you all universalize that that’s the truth of where your little world begins and ends.  The only problem is that there can be another little clan of people living in a neighboring valley on the other side of that mountain where the sun rises who would argue with you that it’s the mountain the sun sets behind.  Well you’re both right, right?  You both can find a thousand ways to argue about your little worlds which are really tiny little spreads on the grander scheme of whats out there and that you both belong to whether you like it or not.  And the problem is that you both would be right in your fighting.

So do you see what I mean?  Like that weird little example, have we failed to see that in our arguments of what is right and wrong that we are failing by the degree to which we are keeping the content at an intellectual level versus what the spiritual reality might be?  Is it really small minded to hope for and feel that there is indeed one gravitational pull that pulls all of our souls to one source?  That there is something deeper to all of us which has a sense of what our character should be?

This would be the worse essay to submit to a professor back when I was attempting college because I literally have no conclusion aside from asking questions.  Have you ever considered how you have defended and argued the issue of character in your idea of humanity?  Are you trying to resolve what is right and wrong by your intellectual capacity to do so?  Do you feel that we all can accept our little worlds of understanding and be okay with accepting the notion of, “Well if it feels right to you than it must be right”?  Would you be confident in that reasoning if you were having a conversation with the man just a few minutes before he walked into a club in Orlando and killed all those people just a few months ago?

I know those are too many questions without any conclusions which might seem cowardly on my part.  But there you have it!

With so much love,

Sara

How Do You Process Confrontation?

Brent Sara Fleming April 9th 2016-Reception-0026.jpgWhat reaction occurs in your gut when someone throws out one of the following statements?

I’m voting for Clinton.

I’m voting for Trump.

I’m not voting at all.

I believe in God.

I’m an atheist.

I’m not sure about vaccinating my kid in the future.

I don’t want a pit bull near me.

One of those statements undoubtedly ticked some response in which you agreed and decided to like that person more and the others might had spurned your internal character assassination of them for thinking that way.  I’m not going to elaborate on who I’m voting for this November. This isn’t a political conversation.  It’s not a call to pacifism either.

I’m just wanting to delve into what has been on my heart lately about what it means to understand the natural and inevitable occurrence of confrontation in all our walks of life.  So I am what you could consider a confrontational person; it has been an asset as well as a detriment.  If I’m not  careful of my heart, I can view confrontation as purely an ugly event that becomes the breeding ground of resentment.   I can choose to make moments of confrontation as opportunities to harm and demoralize whatever force is bumping up against me.  And that’s not good.

I feel like we naturally have an aversion to confrontation.  But what if we adjust our lenses a bit and see it for the normal part of life that it is?  Sadly, 99% of us have had a poor example of how to examine it’s role in our lives whether it was in our childhood, relationships, past careers or unhealthy friendships.  We might have become avoidance strategists as a result.  Or perhaps we are on the other end of spectrum as volatile Titans. Regardless, each end of the confrontational spectrum isn’t healthy if it’s your home base.

I don’t know where to begin in delving into how you can become a person to perfectly handle the gauntlet of emotions that disagreement stirs within you.  Probably by saying that there isn’t going to be a level of perfection achieved in this life.  I’m just trying to encourage you and in the end process in my heart what it means to accept this part of what makes us human.  What if we leaned into our fights with the desire to seek understanding versus the natural desires to “make them feel sorry” or to just prove you’re right?  Is it possible that a fight can result in finding a deeper love for the person you’re at war with?

Maybe this week we could examine our hearts in the moments where there is something confrontational in our lives?   Are you seeking pacifism, the Clash of the Titans or understanding?  When someone says they’re voting for a candidate who you would rather die than vote for, maybe take three seconds to see if your response will bring life or anger to your relationship with them?  If you disagree with them maybe choose to not become angry or fearful and maybe instead capitalize on the chance to learn something new.  I feel that if we can become people who can have the character to self examine how our perspective towards confrontation can be adjusted that we can have the character it takes to be strong, honorable and kind in all our conversations.

With so much love,

Sara

Fly Fishing: What Most Days Are Like . . .

DSC_3434.jpgSo this week hasn’t been the hottest for landing fish for me.  I got out on the river four nights and didn’t land a single one.  It’s one thing to have a fish on, battle with him a bit and lose him despite your best effort so at least you can come up with an excuse for why he got away, and entirely another when you seriously suck. A couple nights ago I missed about a dozen hits for no good reason at all. Last week I had fabulous luck with a big ugly hopper that was attracting fish with every other cast and now this week the fish have changed their minds yet again.  Picky little turds!  And everyone can stop telling me to use a size 20 snarky pale little dry fly.  What is the point of tying that one on when I can’t see the darn thing out there?  In my opinion the best fly to tie on is the one you can actually see!

Of course I’m not gonna walk around saying “Hey, today was the best day of fishing ever. Nope, I didn’t catch anything but I learned so much. They all got away and it was awesome!”.  Nah, I’m gonna post pictures of when I land pigs so that you can always think that I spend all of my time being the best fly fisher ever.

My point is that even fly fishing can breed contempt the more familiar I become to it.  Most of the time literally is spent switching out flies, casting, snagging a tree on my back cast, climbing trees, casting, casting, casting, watching my husband catch lots of fish, and myself not seeing much action while saying under my breathe “It’s not fair”.  But then there are those few moments of fighting fat fish, landing them and remembering that jolt of excitement you get that erases the hours of all the mundane stuff.  I feel like fly fishing is such an example of the rest of my life; which is that there are those moments in between the work and learning that are amazing, but if I’m not careful those glorious moments will eliminate and misplace the value of where most of my time is spent in the daily.

You don’t see any of us taking selfies whilst opening bills, getting the oil changed (I’m overdue on that), snagging flies on our waders, walking from the car to the office, telling your kid that they don’t need another cup of water tonight and to get back to bed (for love of God!!!) and all the other things that are required of us to make our worlds go round. We all define ourselves by our triumphs, the moments when we reached the summit, got that degree, walked down the aisle, see our kids take their first steps and all of those sorts of milestones.

But what about what makes the most of who you are and where the majority of your time is spent?  Why is there no praise for that?  Did you feel a dose of profound humility in the moment when you won the challenge? Or can you place the humbling times better in the hours of work, monotony, and having to ask for help over and over again from others who are better than you?

As a newlywed I can see how I need to choose to take in those moments with my husband that aren’t just when we’re looking like a couple of cool kids loving life out on the river or traveling to incredible places but rather when we are talking candidly about finances, how much money to put into my car, and the phone calls we get at the end of the day when he’s away for work (if we’re lucky enough that he’s got service wherever he’s at).  We have mountains and valleys in our lives but do you see us staying on top of our peaks continually?  No, you don’t.  I absolutely feel that we need our times on the mountain top but to not misplace all our value by thinking it’s all in those sole moments of standing there.  We are designed for spending the majority of life in the valleys, climbs, and the way back down.  It’s where we forgive, grow, love and live.

Life requires each of us to put in passionless hours, hard work, failures, resets and the choice to never let go of hope that we are becoming who we are called to be in the end.  Our character is never made when the moment doesn’t require it of us.  Marriage doesn’t last because you feel exactly how you felt on the day of your wedding but rather by the continual choice to honor and to love even when love is costing you a lot.  Careers don’t happen because you absolutely love what you do all the time all day long and if that were the case we would all quit our jobs by next Thursday and not even try to make it to the weekend.

So when you are looking at pictures of other people living grand adventures, making friends with cool people, relationships that are thriving, and families that are getting along perfectly don’t loath yourself by comparing while you’re sitting at the kitchen table avoiding the dinner dishes at 10:45 pm on a Saturday night.  Please don’t do that to your soul.  Just realize that for every one of us humans, most of the time surrounding our defining moments is mundane but it’s time that’s valuable because it’s making us us.  See your own value in those times when you are doing the best for your kids, when you have to admit you need advice in relationship, and when you decide that you need to see your counselor again.

Honor where your time is most spent by asking yourself what part of you needs to grow in this experience.  What can you learn?  Who do you need to encourage and affirm?  What can you do to help your spouse through this again?  What tools can you find to become well after being unhealthy for so long?

Don’t get me wrong.  I want every single time of fly fishing to be fabulous, and a lot of the time it’s not.  But I know that when the fish are being picky turds is when I’m learning the most.

With so much love,

Sara

Become Generous in Affirmation

DSC_3283Do you ever reach the end your day and think “Wow, I wish I didn’t get complimented today. It really brought me down when that woman told me I looked nice.”?  If you’re like me, probably not.

Lately I have been thinking along the vein of how my speech has an influence on my heart and my ability to value others.  I’ve begun to realize as I attempt to better understand how to love the people in my life that the degree of which I love them, respect them, and admire them are lost if I fail to communicate it generously to them.

What I’m about the elaborate on makes me feel like I’m walking that line a cop tells you to walk when they pull you over to test your sobriety; whatever you do don’t freaking step too far to the left or right (the one time I had a cop make me do this was when I was very tired, not paying the best attention to my driving and had zero drinks. I’m just a dingbat driver. For the record).

We live in a time of such self awareness of the manner in which we dish out praise to one another.  This is a culture in which we don’t want to raise shame in one by only praising physical attractiveness, athletic prowess and other traits that are shallow features in comparison to the character that needs to be given equal or greater credit.  We have even gone as far to think that you should completely avoid acknowledging those parts of people in fear of enabling them to only rely on the exterior version of who they are.  I love that we recognize the value in praising personality, character, beliefs and accomplishments and to consider those features the ones of greatest weight when we look upon the composition of a person.

Forgive me for asking, but is it possible that the pendulum can swing too far with that thought life?  Have we tried too hard to be objective in fear of being subjective to attractiveness and talent? Are we missing out on that opportunity to possibly be the only person to compliment someones lovely eyes this year because we don’t want to be the stumbling block for their misplaced sense of self worth?  Is it truly wrong to have an eye for beauty and affirm it when we see it in someone else?  When did it become wrong to want to tell that friend “You look amazing.  What have you been doing to get in such great shape”?  The exterior of a person is dangerous if it’s the only part you appreciate but it also is a part of them that matters.

I’m not saying to have physical attractiveness in a person be the only thing that catches your eye and to only compliment that.  See a persons heart, their strength despite their broken parts, their gumption to triumph and let those be the features which deserve the highest affirmation but don’t miss out on the opportunity to make someones day by saying their haircut looks great either.  See what happens when you allow yourself a green light on all opportunities to genuinely compliment those you get interact with.  Maybe sometime this week, find a random way to compliment someone and you might see a spark in their eyes for being recognized by you.  To refuse to acknowledge beauty in ourselves and others is to snuff something human about us.

What if we stopped withholding the love we can speak to each other?  Can you imagine being that person who gave out life to another who desperately needed to be seen today and you were the one to give that to them?

I am the one who is most keenly aware of my brokeness.  I need to lose a few pounds, eat more vegetables, get in better shape and the list goes on and on and on.  I need to stop thinking about myself first in my relationships, intentionally connect more with who I feel created me, to continue the work on my humility and to stop being subjective of those I respect in this world based on their political views, beliefs, and lifestyles.  I have A LOT to work on along with perpetually finding the discipline of grace for the learning curve that the gauntlet of human experience is.  Also, I guarantee you that for as much as I’m aware of my imperfections that you are not going to railroad my process to improvement or cause me to misplace my value by complimenting my dress I wore today and I’m sure the same can be said for you (that is if you wear a dress. You get the point I hope).  We are all full vessels of insecurity and each a work in progress with the power to encourage one another despite of what haunts us about ourselves.  So choose to be the person to shine light in those dark valleys of insecurity in another’s life by praising the beauty and the good.  Have grace for yourself in your acknowledgement of what you see needs some repair in you.

Seek the praise to give to a stranger, your spouse, your children and your friends.  Be authentic in what you see in them whether it’s their sweet smile, hairstyle, talents and admirable character.  Don’t withhold what you can give and be generous always.

With so much love,

Sara

Fly Fishing: The Couples Who Play Together. . .

IMG_0755.jpgSo my husband and I are taking a month long fishing trip to New Zealand this winter.  Being very excited for planning the adventure and in order to best attempt to find those fishing spots that make New Zealand so legendary, I went on Amazon and bought a few books as resources for where to start.

Today I opened up those books to dig into plotting the trip.  I wanted to share this quote that was on one of the opening pages:

‘Once upon a time a prince met a beautiful princess.

“Will you marry me?” the prince asked.

The princess said, “No.” 

And the prince lived happily ever after.  And he fished, and skied, and hunted, and went on long safaris, and he drank expensive whiskies by the campfire, and there was no one there to tell him he played too much, and that it was costing a fortune. . .‘ ~ Anonymous

What the heck is that about? That’s the stupidest story I’ve heard.

I started blogging with the intent to share my experiences as a woman, newlywed, newbie fly fisher and all the other random streams of consciousness my brain comes up with that’s associated with relationship.  As this has opened up conversations with many women I have realized that for some odd reason, fly fishing is very intimidating for girls in comparison to boys. Why?

I totally am NOT a feminist for what we consider as feminist issues in western culture. I have no qualms with trusting my husband as the leader in our relationship because he respects my role that’s not in front of him, or behind him but rather beside him. He is a man to trust as the leader and I gladly respect our roles in our relationship.  So trust me, this is not at all an argument against men.  It is to give praise to what is such an awesome blessing to so many peoples lives; marriage.

But dangit!  Quotes like that loop all women into an unfair stigma that we’re all a bunch of snotty brats who don’t believe in fun.  It just makes me sad that that quote is an example of the vast perception that “the fun ends here” when you choose to consider commitment to a relationship.  Terms like “Ball and Chain” or “The One Who Wears the Pants” are often associated with a spouse in a marriage.  This is a gross context to place relationship in. I believe that marriage and commitment are decisions to praise and should be a fun prospect (That is if you want marriage.  For the record, you don’t have to want marriage.  Singleness is also a cool choice).

I come from a breed of women who are their mans best friend.  We mountain bike, fly fish, hunt, snowboard, dirt-bike, can say we lived in wall tents with our men and all of which are totally thrilling to us.  The best part is that our men LOVE to do all of this alongside us!  This is not brought up to brag but it’s to prove that you can indeed be your spouses best friend and that there are adventures you can pursue alongside each other and that it’s just flat wrong to think that marriage is anything less than freedom.  Sadly, marriage is viewed as imprisonment for some people but it doesn’t have to be that way and isn’t for so many couples I admire.

I can see that a common perception women have towards men is that they aren’t romantic enough and I see men say that their wives (or girlfriends, whatever) are too much of a “princess” to go out and do anything with them.  I have a theory that men have hearts for romance in their own ways and that women often fail to see the unique ways that their men are romantic. Women sadly miss the opportunities to praise their men for it.  I considered it romantic when my husband and I were mountain biking and after I took a nasty spill and broke my chain, he traded bikes and “Flintstoned” my chain-less bike all the way back home.  We all have unique husbands with unique ways to say “I love you” without having to say it at all.

I’m not saying that you have to be Annie Oakley to be a woman your man appreciates or that you have to keep up with every manly activity he enjoys.  You don’t have to go on every single excursion and I think it’s great when your man goes to hangout with the guys. It’s great to want romantic dinners, love notes, intimacy and to desire for your man to want that too. I also think that we women need to meet in the middle ground to recognize when our men are cherishing us and being romantic when it’s not involving candlelight and expensive dates.  These opportunities might be when he makes dinner, works longer hours to save up for that vacation, checks the fluids in the car or teaches you how to cast a fly.  I feel like men crave romance too but not always in the same ways we do.  They want to share adventure with us and to have us get out there with them in whatever shenanigans they’re stirring up from time to time.  Or to at least be cheering them on in the ways that make them feel alive.

I think that we can be the kind of women that are the opposite of that princess in that stupid quote. Seriously, I have a strong dislike for that quote. You can have a relationship that shows your significant other that they can pursue their crazy dreams and that you are a woman to take along or in the least be that awesome chick who advocates adventure.  Of course, there needs to be balance between work, responsibility and play (just to throw in that disclaimer!). But as a woman you also have adventure in your DNA and you have what it takes to be that girl who your husband brags about.

Guys, you might need to invite your women on your adventures every once in awhile.  Instead of going golfing with the guys for the third time this week, maybe take her instead.  Let her know that she is exciting, engaging, worth bringing along and that you genuinely enjoy her company.  Tell her she’s sexy in those moments when she’s trying or succeeding in adventure and not only when she’s in heels and perfectly done up.  Maybe learn something with her.  Just find a way that you can share excitement in life together.

Oh, and it still doesn’t hurt to rub her shoulders every once in awhile, it might result in a happy ending.  Wink, wink!

For all of us men and women, we need to stop accepting that quotes like the one I mentioned as an accurate perception of commitment.  We need to knock it off with laughing at the common notion that marriage means the end of things.  Stop seeing partners and wives as adventure’s buzz kill.  Marriage and relationship are gifts and can be the start of so many stories worth sharing together.  You can choose to enjoy it with your spouse if you want to.

This weekend, I’m nothing but excited to get out with my husband to throw some flies.  I can’t wait for another memory, another fish and another opportunity to enjoy the heck out of life with him!

With so much love,

Sara

Fly Fishing: Whitefish, Clinton and Trump

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I’m a poor sport with fly fishing when the following occasions occur:

Getting Snagged.

Losing a fish.

Catching no fish.

Catching a whitefish.

I could elaborate on all of those situations but I’m gonna just delve into the last one on the list.  If you have ever caught a whitefish, you’ll know what I mean when I say that they’re not much of a looker in comparison to most trout.  I think they’re annoying to fight cause they’re lazy fighters.  I hate getting flies out of their mouths cause they have these little sucker mouths that make it tough to maneuver around.  Their scales are course.  Worst of all, when I just wanna catch some trout it seems that the whitefish are perpetually blocking all my efforts by being more eager than their neighbors to take my fly.

But that’s just my opinion.

Whitefish are actually a unique fish in that they’re one of the few native species in Montana river systems.  There are other anglers out there who would argue with me in saying that they’re a prize and that my negative opinion is wrong.  My beloved favorites such as the brown and rainbow trout actually originated from other parts of the globe and it could be argued that they don’t belong here, even though I sure as hell like them here.  There are even talks of efforts to try to eradicate them from the lakes and rivers of Yellowstone Park since they’re nonnative species which would mean having only the smaller and more boring options of arctic grayling and whitefish.  Don’t quote me on that; it’s just a rumor.  So here’s my question for you:  I’m right for having the opinion I do, right?

I have no desire to raise hair on the back of any of your necks but I thought I would share with you how I feel my dislike for whitefish correlates with what I see and hear from friends and media about the election season we’re currently observing.  I see people say that they’ll refuse to be friends with anyone who would dare vote for Hillary or that everyone heartless is supporting Trump.  I see friends doing a decent job of voicing their opinion for why they see the next Hitler on the horizon of American politics and it’s certainly not the candidate they’re voting for.  There are insults, indecent language, and so many other things that we wouldn’t had thought at one time to be respectable behavior with which to treat fellow human beings that we are now okay with, and this applies especially to social media.

I could go on about all that I’ve noticed so I’ll settle on a single point. Amidst demonizing the opposing argument, have you ever paused to step off of the political rant train you’re riding on to take eight seconds to understand that whoever disagrees with you genuinely doesn’t feel like a bad person for voting who they voting for.  If people were inherently stupid, mean, and evil for supporting the wrong candidate that would mean that half of the country is wicked.  It means some of your family is evil, that some of your friends are bigots, and that you probably ought to buy an island and live away from all the other humans out there who see things differently.  It means you might need to consider your emotional and mental capacity to process confrontation, understand varying beliefs, and different values.

Do whitefish suck? Yes. Do I have conviction?  Yes.  Do I think one candidate is better than the other? Yes (not by much).  Are there good people and evil people?  Yes.  But most people are striving to be and truly are good people.  I believe you should stand for what you feel is right.  You absolutely should be able to articulate why you think and feel the way you do and to do it with passion and dignity.  I think that passivity is as equally harmful as outright degradation.  BUT, I feel that we can accomplish standing for belief without tearing down our fellow human being across the table.  If you really feel a candidate is completely wrong for the presidential bid, stop with ripping them apart and change your argument to why you think who you see is right is actually right for the job.  We already have so much to work on in our daily within our own relationships, finances and decisions that to find ways to make ourselves feel significant by being derisive is a sad waste of emotion and energy.  To make what is wrong with the world the focus of your heart is to give praise to evil.

Instead of perpetually saying that x, y, and z is what’s wrong with you and society, my hope is that I could find what is good to ponder upon and to choose what I can do to actually make a change where I want to see change.  I think this starts with my conversations with my spouse, my friends and all the other people within my daily with whom I have interaction.  It can begin with starting a conversation without the intent to belittle, convince, or bash while being confident in what I value.  What if you just choose for a day to acknowledge what is good, noble and true?  What if you didn’t jump to insulting your friend who is supporting Trump or Hillary and instead think about why you value that person in the first place?

Seek the good in the world.  Find reasons to give praise to those who have insulted you.  Affirm what you can agree upon and tip your hat when you have been outdone by the argument.  And every once in awhile when you pull a whitefish out of the water, be grateful that there’s a healthy and thriving native species in the river.

But don’t tell me that trout don’t belong here.  I don’t want to talk to you and I don’t want to be friends.  Just kidding, I still do.

With so much love,

Sara

Fly Fishing: A Joyful Kind of Lonely

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When was the last time you found yourself immersed in something that brought you joy?  I’m not talking about the “happiness” that comes with making an Amazon purchase, or getting a few laughs out of your favorite Netflix series.  I’m talking about the deep satisfaction of when you got out there and did something that didn’t require a screen, a click, or a swipe to the right.

We each find that high through our own unique avenues maybe by hitting the gym (I wish that was mine all the time),  creating art, playing music, cooking a meal, loving family, finding an adrenaline rush and countless other ways.  For me, a prevalent avenue of joy is seeing that fish hit the fly in those last few minutes of daylight when the air has cooled down.  It seems odd to say but it’s a lonely joy. It’s a joy that comes from being so connected to the moment, and it doesn’t require the presence of others.

I have started to understand that loneliness isn’t a feeling to suppress but maybe a cue that you need to lean into gaining a deeper understanding of who you are and what you hope to be. We are caught in a time that makes it impossible to be alone.  When we are alone we unthinkingly scroll through our news feed, pin things, watch another episode and all of which are often far removed from our lives. We are becoming more lonely by finding things to not be alone.

We can avoid loneliness so easily, but what are we losing because of that?  What discoveries about us are we missing out on because we focus on the external and shallow happy feelings we get from being entertained?  Is it possible that being lonely is an  opportunity to capitalize on finding what you can cultivate in your character, talents, and dreams for life?  Think of those conversations we could be having with our spouses, the words we could be writing, and the people we could be loving if we could just capture those moments that we just hand away to entertainment.

So here’s what I hope I can encourage you in.  If you are lonely, it doesn’t mean you should go find more friends (but maybe it does every once in awhile).  It doesn’t mean you are a loser for being lonely or that you’re undesirable company. I have found that when I acknowledge my loneliness that I’m able to think clearly about the things that make me anxious or to tackle what I have been avoiding. It might be that you need to put the phone down and understand what it is your soul is lonely for.  It could be prompting you to go on a walk, to pick up a book you love, tell your kiddo you’re proud of them, or to finally stop adding another pin to that damned board and go make something yourself.  Do something that doesn’t take your time and gives nothing back.

For me, it has often meant that I need to drive down the road and see what fish are stacked up in that pool on the river I drive by everyday.  Fly fishing helps me become close to who I feel created me and never leaves me feeling like I wasted my time.  Never have I been on a river and not felt a deep sense of gratitude for this life and for who I go home to get to share it with.

May this leave you encouraged and remind you that your loneliness is the call of your soul asking for you to cultivate what it is you do to bring light to the world.  Go kiss your wife, call your parents, tie a fly, pray, or whatever your soul is needing instead of looking at your phone tonight.

With so much love,

Sara