I AM STRONGER THAN I KNEW

I just posted a beautiful poem: The Mighty Oak (last line: I am stronger than I knew)

Yesterday i experienced such joy I was amazed at myself!

You see, i’m a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps with service connected PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Because of that certain events/opportunities come my way.  This past summer I enjoyed the adaptive summer sports clinic for the first time.  I kayaked for the first time.  I went sailing for the first time. I hit real golf balls for the first time.  I went cycling and even did a trip of water skiing around the lake, sitting which I didn’t even know was an option!  The last day of the clinic we went deep sea fishing and  oh what fun that was.

So when I found out that there was an annual fall fishing trip, my first thought was, “I want to go”.  Our VA Adaptive Sports Clinic coordinator who would have been the only female going said I could come.  All expenses paid, except for $10 to go into the biggest fish contest, and any other tips.

Wow, it was so fun. Not because there was beer and other veterans there, but because just living in the moment in the midst of nature, with the wind blowing and the waves rocking the boat.

But let me say first that thankfully I really am a morning person.  I arrived at the Va at 4am to get on the bus headed for New York, but no one was a round!  I panicked!  Did they leave without me?  Did I not read the fine print and I was supposed to meet up with my fellow veterans at a different site?  I was calling and texting the only person I knew that had the answers.  Finally I tired voice said, “Good morning Joyce”.  Oh, wow, she sounded like she just woke up!  Well, she did!!!  Yeah, I guess I forgot the fine print, lol, we were leaving at 5:30am, not 4:15am!  Huh!!!  What happened? So i didn’t have to get up at 2:30 in the morning?  I could have slept to 4am!!!  Doesn’t that just sound nicer?  Well, thankfully I am a morning person so that slight error did not bother me:).

So we did leave about 5:30, caught a Ferry a few hours later, which was about a 2 hour ride, and then caught 2 more ferries to get to our destination in New York.  For the most part on the bus I listened to an audio book, a popular title, “WILD”.  On the Ferry I enjoyed being outside in the crisp morning air.  But none of that compares to the joy I felt when we got to the hotel!

We’d arrived, met the other Veterans coming from New York themselves and leaving for the boat.  That’s when the real fun started.  i don’t drink alcohol, and I rarely drink soda, so my choice was Ginger Ale, ha ha ha.  Most the guys were drinking beer.  There was a wide range of ages.  Being the only other female attending I was asked several times if I was a counselor?  I answered, “I’m a Veteran, Marine Corps” , I was very well received and am so grateful for that.  After such pain and disrespect in my life, even in my military life, this was very refreshing!

So when it was time to throw the line in, I was right there.  About a minute later I heard someone shout that they “got one”.  I turned to try to see if I could see but couldn’t because they were on the side, I was at the rear.  Then my line tightened and the rod bent forward.  “I got one!”  I was 2nd to reel in a fish!  I had a sea bass, but had to toss him back because he was not keeper size.  That was about 1pm, and we fished for the next 4 hours.  Even though I only caught one more fish and shortly after the first one, I had a blast.  I think I am not a “real” fisherman since I don’t bait my own hook, but I do know how to feel for a nibble, get the fish hooked, and reel the fish in!

At times I mulled over how i was not depressed.  I was not wondering about this or that. I was in the moment, watching for a strike.  My hands were frozen … so what!  The wind was howling … so what!  The waves were getting bigger and bigger through out the afternoon.  Some came over the side of the boat.  I stayed dry, and I did not get sea sick (I’m sure the meds for that helped).

If only i could be this happy every day!  I think reality is that staying focused on the fishing and cheering on the others was an incredible feeling, and I am so grateful to the VA, the other sponsors, and other Veterans who took care of the finances for this trip!  A dear Veteran who has to be in a wheel chair won the biggest fish award/trophy!  i was so happy for him, especially since he couldn’t back away from the waves that came over board.  He got wet, but guess what, he didn’t care!

So to wrap this up, I just can’t be that focused everyday, but I did learn and experience an afternoon i did not think I could handle!  The only thing I chose not to participate in was the bbq dinner (steak, hot dogs, fresh fish).
I was just too tired … stay tuned.

I would enjoy a reply:)

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