Warm drinks and cozy sweaters aside, fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  It’s as if the whole world begins to prepare for something – not the same thing, but some thing.

Growing up in my family, the thing was hunting. Each year, just as Mother Earth began to display her majestic colors in the mountains, my dad would begin preparing to be lethal in the woods.  Archery shoots, scouting for the first signs of deer in the woods, spot lighting and gearing up – it was all leading up to the opening day of archery season.

I watched this process with great wonder throughout my youth, but quickly fell in love with the excitement it brought to the men in my world.  I would wait by the window in the morning to see if there was a trophy to be brought home – meat to fill the freezer and a story to tell that would get better with each rendition.

These memories are ingrained in my head; a part of my heritage that I would never have dreamed would continue on with me.  That one day I would get that same fever to take to the woods, or that I would actually find some of my greatest satisfaction there – overcoming a multitude of fears and creating memories.

In fact, my teenage self – my dad’s girly girl – would likely be shocked to discover that one of my favorite places to be as an adult is in a tree stand, seemingly invisible to the woods and even the world around me.  The need for stillness is often lost on us in our youth {and even in our adulthood}, but I fully realize now that it teaches my soul to quiet down; to assess what’s coming and how to respond.

I’d be fooling myself to think that anything other than archery taught me that lesson.  There are so many things you need to be aware of to be a successful archer – angles, distances, open spaces, pin to use to make a good shot – and stillness is required to assess it all.  Sometimes it blows my mind that I have been successful in this arena, especially since my first year in the woods was less than.

A basket-case of nerves, I’d had a beautiful 8-point within 20 yards of me.  He was too smart to be there, knowing full well that I was also there, but I had put out doe estrous scent and he came looking for a mate.  He gave me three shots at him – even looked at me while I drew back – but he was so in the zone of why he was there that he didn’t care about the danger I presented to him.  Lucky for him, I was so wound up that I was shaking like a leaf. I lost my chance at that beautiful buck, and after recovering all three arrows and wiping away some tears, I knew I had learned a valuable lesson.

While I could hit a bullseye repeatedly on a target, I was not experienced enough with the real thing.  And isn’t this life?

We practice something over and over again, and then when the time comes to use the skills we’ve worked so hard to master, it doesn’t go like we practiced.  We allow ourselves to think that it wasn’t for us in the first place, and we give up.

Unfortunately, when we do that we miss out on some of the greatest joys of the journey.

Looking back on my own journey in hunting, there were many times I could have given up.  In fact, if you visit my very first tree stand and look up to see more than a few pink fletched arrows {told you I love all things glam!} sticking out of trees high in the air, you’d probably agree that maybe I should have!  BUT – if I had thrown in the towel, I wouldn’t have the experiences I love to remember, or the gorgeous buck I finally got.

Maybe you have that secret nudging to pick up archery,  or maybe it’s something completely different that beckons to you.  Whatever it is, there’s a reason you’re called to it – don’t ignore the nudge and don’t ever give up on your dream.  Stay true to yourself and you will be a winner.