True Love and Fishing

I’ve been MIA from blogging for a few days. A lot happens in a very short time in my life. I like that. My youngest daughter is now engaged. Take a look at this lovely custom designed ring! Is that not exquisite?!

She found a great guy (or let’s say they found each other) about three years ago. They are incredibly compatible and well-suited. It sounds like a wedding next summer and I couldn’t be more excited.

The rest of my update is anti-climactic after that, but still good stuff! For instance, I haven’t been fishing since I was a teen. We lived on the Mississippi River and I could never catch fish. Fishing was a family outing and my little sister would pull them in one after another as I sat, my bobber dead in the water, and watched.

So when my brother (who has a home on the Mississippi) said he wanted to take me fishing I may have appeared less than enthusiastic. After reminding him of my unsuccessful childhood experiences he assured me that he knew where the fish were and if we went early in the morning I would absolutely catch some. How early is early I wanted to know? Well, lets just say we compromised  and were on the river by 6 a.m. It was a beautiful morning and cold. Once the boat started moving cold became VERY cold. I pulled my fleece and long windbreaker coat up to my neck and added a life jacket. We cruised upstream while he told me about the great lures we were using and how these poles were the heavy-duty ones he had when he lived in Alaska.

I didn’t attempt to cast the line with the wicked looking lure and the strange reel apparatus on a super long rod. That was a recipe for disaster. He expertly sent the hook flying and handed the gear to me telling me if it lost its back-and-forth action that meant I had snagged a weed and I should reel in immediately. Let me explain here that when you’re trolling behind a boat and the line catches a weed, it feels oh so much like a huge fish has just hit that hook with a vengeance! There is an instant adrenalin rush. But weeds don’t tend to fight back much so it’s soon evident that all that excitement is for naught.

We’d been trolling about 30 minutes and he hooked a small one that he threw back. All of a sudden there was a jerk on my line that felt important. I started reeling and wham! There was a fighter on the end of the line! What a thrill! I reeled him up to the boat as my brother issued continuous instructions and readied the landing net. “Keep reeling, don’t give him any slack, keep it steady, you’re doing great, okay there he is! Nice one! Good job!”

That happened twice more and I’d filled out…caught my limit. We brought home 4 fish. I out-fished my brother…bless him! What a great day!

I have a new appreciation for northerns, especially after they are cleaned, fried by my sister-in-law who is an expert, and turned into a fabulous dining experience. My previous relationships with fish happened when they arrived on a plate in a nice restaurant. The current, more intimate involvement took the meal to a whole new level. There is no comparison to the freshly delicate flavors and flaky textures of a fish caught mere minutes before it becomes food. I would do it again even if he insisted on 5 a.m!

The trip northward also included a delightful visit with my parents.

Dad’s 90th birthday is coming up and Mom is 84. They are the truest love story ever told, married for 64 years and still cuddling and murmuring “I love you’s.”  Their secret? Never go to bed mad. As mom tells it, sometimes they stayed up all night, but they have never once gone to bed angry with each other. Is that possible in 64 years? Probably not for most. But these are special people. Very special.

Now I’m spending my last few days in northern Minnesota on the beautiful banks of Lake Imagination. There isn’t much water in the lake, but if you squint your eyes and believe what you don’t see (it helps to have a glass of wine) the acres of green prairie grass look more and more like a lake! And at Lake Imagination it’s always 5:00 somewhere so a glass of wine is never a problem.

Yoga Makes Love Space

In my yoga practice I enjoy the heart opening poses. There are many benefits to drawing the shoulders toward the spine and down. Anyone who uses a computer for any length of time each day can see the value in reversing the hunched back and concave chest. This opposite action gives the lungs more room. The body can breathe deeply adding a higher measure of oxygen to the blood which in turn increases brain function.

There’s another benefit. One of the things I found delightful about yoga in Bali was the opportunity to experience teachers from all over the world. Sitara, my petite yogini from India whose manipulation of English was always entertaining, insisted that the heart opening poses create more ‘love space.’ Sometimes it’s a stretch for my Midwestern mind to embrace the less tangible aspects of the discipline. To imagine that by thrusting my sternum forward and breathing deeply I will invite more love and compassion into my heart is an idea I would like to simply accept without the skeptic in me saying, “Seriously?!”

The thing is, the longer I devote myself to a regular practice of yoga the more I notice subtle changes that have nothing at all to do with the physical and everything to do with attitudes and perceptions. While my body becomes strong and flexible, my mind and heart are getting an unexpected overhaul. I find myself thinking more clearly. I am seldom worried. Instead I feel intense joy just being alive. Emotions touch me more deeply and I have a new tenderness toward myself and others.

Shortly after Sitara made her comment about the results of heart opening poses, I was wandering Ubud streets that I hadn’t previously explored. I came upon this two-story hut and the unique sign advertising its function. The whole concept was so incongruous I stopped dead in my tracks and stared. I’m sure I had the open-mouthed, glazed eyeball look going on as I tried to assign some appropriate meaning to the sight before me.  Failing that, laughter came bubbling to the surface and I laughed and laughed and laughed until my face was wetter from tears than the usual rivers of sweat.

I eventually pulled myself together and continued on my way contemplating the strangeness of life. What are the chances I would stumble upon this landmark and have Sitara’s lesson so humorously  reinforced. For me it was an affirmation, a synchronistic sign that creating more love space is a vital piece in my continuing evolution.

Hafiz had it right

I was searching for words this morning. I am a writer, I told myself. There are words for this. Then I asked myself, What is the ‘this’ I am trying to describe? From somewhere subconscious I recalled a poem. I did not remember the author or even the words, but I thought perhaps Rumi, or Hafiz. It took only a few moments of communing with Google to find it. Ahhh. Hafiz. Here is the poem:

I Have Learned So Much




So much from God

That I can no longer



A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,

a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself

With me

That I can no longer call myself

A man, a woman, an angel,

Or even a pure


Love has

Befriended Hafiz so completely

It has turned to ash

And freed


Of every concept and image

my mind has ever known.

From: ‘The Gift’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Isn’t it beautiful that love is the friend that freed Hafiz from every concept and image his mind had ever known? As I sat with that thought it became clear that love is the only thing that will ever free us. To love others is to accept them in all the ways they are different freeing ourselves from judgement. To love the earth is to protect and care for her freeing ourselves from the consequences of her demise. To love oneself is the ultimate freedom for out of that love comes the capacity for all other love.

The past few days my journey has been inward. The name of this village is Ubud. It means medicine. The essence of Ubud is fundamentally healing to the body, the mind, and the spirit. I have asked myself, why is this so? Is it about the thousands of offerings made daily? The scent of incense ever-present in the air? The constant rituals and ceremonies performed specifically to maintain balance in the spiritual realm? Every day hundreds of tourists parade the streets of Ubud. Every day another rice paddy is drained to make way for a new resort or villa funded by money from the West. But inside the walled compounds of Balinese family homes, life goes on as it has for two thousand years. These people have a way of accepting the new, adjusting to accommodate change, but remaining virtually unchanged themselves. They do this with a self-possessed dignity that defies explanation.

I don’t know the answer to my question. All my life I have believed that everywhere was basically the same as everywhere else. I have traveled and visited amazing countries. I have seen works of art and architecture that left me breathless. I have met wonderful people who genuinely cared for me.  Yet nowhere else has a place whispered to my heart entreating me to stay, to learn, to just be.

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