Gulf Coast fishermen are in survival mode by now. It's the same survival mode that victims of violence use to get through and explosive situation. It's all about survival. April 22nd, forty-one days and nights have passed by since oil seeped from the deep unsettled waters to kill, steal and destroy the riches of fishing. Having been dealt a hard blow to their way of life and their livelihood, my heart goes out to my fishing brothers. I know you are grieving. I am sad with you. I share your love for the water and know what it is like to have your life torn apart because of someone else's abuse, be it from negligence, lack of protection, or disregard of the laws. Just getting over the initial shock takes time. My oil spill was domestic violence. I can't pinpoint the day I let someone abuse me but I remember the day I left. His words were calculated and well rehearsed. My bags and tackle were still in the car. I had driven home from a fishing event in Dallas, Tx. I went to the kitchen to get a bite to eat and he said, "If you are going to continue to fish, we need to make other arrangements." Tears filled my eyes as I thought of a life without fishing. My first thought was, "please don't make me quit." and then it came to me. "just leave". The words I used were much more colorful but not meant for print. I left and I never turned back. I spent years trying to clean up the mess in silence. Today marks 365 days past my Declaration of Independence from the silent shame of abuse. It's my day. A year ago, I questioned my sanity as I wrote my first blog. I thought telling the world about abuse would be the death of me but it was the birth of a new me. It is with confidence that I say to my brothers and sisters, turn your tragedy into triumph. Be the driver of your boat in rough seas and low tides Hold on to the hope that tomorrow will be a better day. Never, ever forget your love for fishing. Never lose the life lessons taught on the water. Remember the days of plenty. Be thankful for each new dawn. Throw an anchor out every once and awhile to rest. Fish steady in all you do until you navigate a way back to calm waters. The abuses you are suffering right now are temporary. It may seem like the challenges are never ending. Cast off your fears. You're got to fight for yourself, because in the end, no one can fight your fight. Look to God, not man, to give you grace, strength, and wisdom. In the middle of the turmoil you will form lifelong bonds that will never be broken. In these demanding times, you will find out who your friends are.Friends are discovered treasures along the way back to the water. They will open their mind, extend their heart, and offer their hand to lift you up when you are laying there on the ground deciding whether or not to get up. Because it is my day, and I am Captain of my ship, I'm celebrating my independence, not with fireworks but with a fire for fishing. Today is my gift to me. The forecast calls for afternoon storms, but weathermen lie. The alarm will wake me around 3 am and by 3:30 I'll be on the road to Karen's Lake. I'm meeting Jeff for a scouting expedition. I bought myself a gift for my independence day. It's no surprise that the gift to and from me is fishing related. I'll have the secret tackle tied to my new Greg's Custom Rods topwater/jerkbait rod. Greg made the rod to my specifications. He is without a doubt one of the best rodsmith's in the US You're gonna love the inscription, Fish Steady. I'm proud to carry the rod. The color scheme is purple, the color symbolizing Domestic Violence, and white, the color of peace. At 4 pm eastern time, log on to the Susan Murphy-Milano Show. I'll be her guest! I'm certain this is a God Appointment, because neither one of us planned to talk on my Independence Day. It just happened. Cell service on any lake can be a testament to, "Can you hear me now"? The timing is a perfect break. I'll come off the water. Susan and I will talk. God will be there with us, guiding the conversation. Jeff will leave my boat for Lee's boat and Shelia will be joining me in my boat. We're entering a "private, by invitation only" tournament. Jamie and Kevin will be there, so will Joseph and Cecile. Shelia and I are the only female/female team in this band of fishermen. I'm sure the guys didn't expect me to bring a woman to the tournament when they invited me to join. This is our third event together. I had the camera. I should have taken pictures of their faces when Shelia and I paid our entry fee for the first event. The tournament is a 3 fish limit in three hours event. It ends at 9pm. Regardless of our finish, the day will end well. I'll load the boat and get it ready for Thursday. I'll be fishing when the sun comes up until the moon hangs high in the sky. It's my day, again. Life is what you make it.... make it good, even when it's not. Fish Steady my friends, until next time. karen
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