'Admire the butterfly - and the caterpillar, too' was an article that I read many years ago in the Virginian Pilot, our local newspaper.  Just like many, I love butterflies. They give great aesthetic pleasure. But this article forced me to appreciate their deeper symbolic meaning - one of change, transformation, metamorphosis. It further reinforced that change is circular, not necessarily linear, and sometimes what seems like regression...really isn't.

In crafting my life coaching vision, I was reminded of this article again.  The light blue portion of my intentional activities butterfly represents the 10% of life 'stuff' that happens to us, good or bad. The indigo part represents the 50% of ourselves that we can't do anything about, our genetics.  But the light purple area represents the fact that we have 40% of an ability to shape, change, control (dare I use that word), and grow from - through our intentional activities.  We are always growing, evolving, learning, becoming, beginning.  Let's remember that although these percentages, according to positive psychology research, are static and relatively stable, we certainly are not! 

I will leave you with one of my favorite articles:

'Admire the butterfly - an the caterpillar, too' (Life By The Slice - by Rose Delumpa)

"Your daughter, she's a reflection of you,"they often say.  I wonder what that means, being a reflection of someone else.

Reflection.  An image in a mirror.  I have thought about my image in the mirror recently.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don't recognize the women staring back at me.  Forty years old.  Divorced.  Mother.  Sister.  Daughter.  Friend.

I have gone through a metamorphosis over these past few years.  My "Sista Friend," L, once sent me a card that said, "Just when the caterpillar was tired of being a caterpillar, it turned into a butterfly."

I loved that.  It seemed so perfect.  Perhaps that's what has happened to me.  I had been in a cocoon for such a long time.  And although my cocoon was this dysfunctional place, it was also warm and safe because it was all I knew.

Warm, safe, and mine.  All mine.

Emerging from that cocoon, becoming a butterfly, has been a tumultuous experience.  One day in a tight, familiar, safe cocoon, the next day exposed, vulnerable, open.  Imagine the butterfly slowly opening her wings, wondering what the heck happened to all of her legs.  Having the freedom to fly, but still contemplating the meaning of that old cocoon.  Some days longing for the old cocoon, silently wishing the wings would disappear.  Of course, the butterfly knows these newfound wings are all a part of the progression in her life.  But at times, these wings terrify her.  In part, paralyze her.  All that freedom of what to do next, all those decisions of where to go now and all of the responsibility of learning how to fly alone.

Yet everyone marvels at the butterfly.  Such a transformation.  Look at the strength of the wings.  So lucky to no longer have to be the lowly caterpillar or live in a suffocating cocoon.  That period of time was needed.  It needs to be recognized.  The caterpillar and the cocoon were necessary.  All part of life.

So, here I am living outside the cocoon in my town I lovingly call, "Mayberry," slowly trying out my new wings.  Learning how to manage my own money after 18 years, figuring out how to parent alone, releasing my tightly held beliefs that all meals must be healthy and home-cooked, trying to deal with the unimaginable sense of loneliness and struggling each day to remember the importance of emerging from the cocoon.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror this morning, and I did see the butterfly.  But I also saw and recognized the caterpillar.  The butterfly and the caterpillar.  They both will live within me.  It's all a part of who I am.  A reflection of myself.


Barbara Shabazzz