Shannon Maher: Everyday learning to fly fish offers a lesson about failure and why we shouldn’t be afraid of it | Sports

As a parent, athlete, coach, and business owner, there is always one thing I can count on – failure.

Messing around, making mistakes and not achieving goals the first, second or even third time we set them is inevitable during all our travels. But when these failures are seen as lessons, and we take the time to learn from them, and grow from them, we become stronger because of them.

It’s easy to stop trying new things, and keep ourselves within our comfort zones, and it’s easier to avoid activities to limit the number of times we can fail. And as we get older, the fear of failing, falling, and trying new things becomes greater—and by setting these limits for ourselves we limit our potential.

A few weeks ago, the Red’s Fly Shop came to Naches to set up a beginner fly fishing clinic for women, and I took the opportunity to not only learn something new, but to put myself in a position where I felt completely uncomfortable.

Our day began in the park and after a brief introduction by the guides, we all stood in line with rod and reel in our hands, waiting for direction, a little anxious about what was to come. We’ve learned how to cast, how to hook flies, about where fish usually like to sit on the river, and many other useful bits in between.

As with most things I start out, my natural talent has been sub-par, but this made me want to learn more, do better, and get as many tips and tricks as I can improve. When we were good and ready to get into the water, the guides divided us into smaller groups and led the separate groups to different spots on the river to put our new skills to the test – and to find out more information from our “veteran coaches”. ”

With air temperatures hovering near 100 degrees, the river water on our legs was a welcome welcome as we waded through trying to remember all the skills we had learned on the grass earlier that morning. Our guide, Joe, helped us every step of the way – by giving us hands-on training and continuing to provide knowledge and skills as needed, plus being a quiet cheerleader because we did get a few bites – and even when we lost the fish by getting them all on the way.

When the otter was swimming, it appeared to say hello, then a bald eagle flew over my head, I looked down at the water slowly flowing through my body and just listened. I realized that for the first time in a very long time, my mind was calm—it wasn’t about writing articles, putting together a to-do list, or thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner.

I was fully present fishing with one of my close friends a few rocks away and not only was I having a good time but was giving myself a mental and physical break that I didn’t even know I needed for the wild trip that normally is my life.

At the end of the day, after a much-deserved happy hour, I left the clinic and went back to my kids feeling completely satisfied – with adventure, knowledge, new friendships, and new unexpected passion. The day was full of mistakes, countless failures of losing fish…but also full of learning and the triumphs of catching them.

On this day, like any other in my life, my goal wasn’t to be the best or the most skilled, or not to fail… My goal was to keep improving, laughing, messing around, learning – and having as much fun as I could along the way .

Now, if you saw me on one of our rivers in the valley, it might not just be on a paddleboard – but you can bet that if I had a rod or a paddle in my hand, I’d put a smile on my face, and make the baby steps I need to grow and learn…even if It meant falling more than flying along the way.

Shannon Maher contributes to Yakima Magazine and owns an outdoor company, Girls with Grit, which allows her to share her passion for skiing, running, mountain biking, skateboarding, and more. She lives in Nashis with her husband Andy and their two children.

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