Nov 2022


Me: 60-Year-old Woman. Lover of human connection, fashion designer, pilates aficionado, TV Bake-Off viewer, and advocate for all things feminist.

Him: 20-Something Man. Lover of monster trucks, comfortable in the great outdoors, hunting in the backwoods, and follower of all things Trump.

You wouldn’t expect the two of us to speak the same language or find much common ground. But we do. Our common ground is water.

You see, I’m a fisherwoman, and he’s a fisherman, and when I’m in Hawaii, we fish together.

When we talk, we don’t hone in on our differences. Instead, we speak fish.

“Speaking fish” opens up the space for us to begin a conversation. We usually start our chats by talking about fishing and quickly move to Ahi and Mahi and Ono. We talk about whether the fish are biting, how much they might weigh, and what it feels like to have a shark get to your catch before you do. We talk about the roughness of the water, the pull of the tides, the depth of the reef, and the direction of the wind.

And then we talk about whales. Whether they are here or in cooler waters. Whether the momma has her baby with her.

We call out to the dolphins, follow the diving birds and marvel at the influx of jellyfish.

Once we’ve both gotten our dose of common water, we move beyond our shared love of fishing.

We both smile wryly about the fact that some of the boat’s other customers see how young my fisherman friend is and don’t think he knows what he’s doing – until the big fish is on the line and they need his help.

Some of the grizzly fishermen on the dock make the same misassumption about me as I walk the dock before the crack of dawn. They see me as an old lady who couldn’t possibly reel in “the big one” and may even come back early with sea sickness… until they see me catch five 100lb tunas in a single day.

We smile at that, too.

* * *

Our fishing banter opens up space for us to engage more deeply. We talk about who we really are.

His family, his girlfriend, his dogs, and his future.

My family, my husband, my dog, and my dreams.

Our mutual love of Captain Don the fisherman, the Island of Kauai, and where to get a mean poke bowl.

Before you know it, we’ve cast a net broad enough to capture a relationship that’s not just a fish story. We get real by starting with fish and moving to dogs, then families, and find ourselves talking about feelings, experiences, and beliefs.

And when we’re not using a net to lift our haul into the boat, we use a proverbial net to keep the conversation connected.

Our proverbial net lets the points of difference flow through, keeping the good stuff for us to share.

Parlay House has become my global fishing net, “capturing” women who also share my interests in authenticity, connection, and conversation despite the fact that none of us agree about everything. Research shows that feeling well-connected to others contributes to mental health, helps provide meaning in life, and even promotes physical well-being.

Maybe that’s why I catch so many fish when the fisherman and I are together. Together, we’re happier and maybe stronger than we would have been separate.

Nets are pretty cool devices. Strong enough to hold what you want to keep, yet permeable enough to let the rough water pass.

* * *

Which leads me to ask, what do you want to catch in your net?

Share it Small: Can you find points of connection with someone who is very different from you? If you are with them during the holidays, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the things you share.

Share it Big: Practice speaking “fish,” “dog,” “parent,” “chef,” or any other language that helps you find common ground. If you do it publicly, those around you will notice that you found a way to connect and may try to find their own common language as well.

Share it with Me: We all learn from each other. If you have had a revelation, a breakthrough, an insight, or a triumph, we can learn from you so please tell me about it here! I’m collecting stories of these cascades of good for ongoing community building and to track The Parlay Effect in action. I would love nothing better than to hear how you lifted, were lifted, or observed something in others that made you feel good and recognize your power.