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Butterfly Whispers: Past the Screened Porch

Happiness is like a butterfly - the more you chase it, the more it eludes - but if you turn your attention to other things, it comes and sits softly on your shoulder. ~Kathy~

A few years ago, I noticed that caterpillars were attracted to the parsley in my garden. Having young children at the time, I decided it would be exciting to see what would happen if we put one of the hungry caterpillars in a jar. We went into the back yard and carefully selected small branches, grass, and pine straw to put in our large “sun tea” container, and proceeded to feed our caterpillar enough parsley to keep him content. We placed a wax paper topping on the jar, carefully poked holes in the top and fastened it with a rubber band.

As I watched the green caterpillar magically transform itself into a chrysalis and then a monarch butterfly, I fell in love. We “raised butterflies” for several years, and continued to watch for signs of transformation when we had the honor of witnessing the first flight of the butterfly.

One year, I thought that it would be extra magical to keep the butterflies in my screened back porch – how wonderful is that? There was plenty of space and sunlight – ideal for a butterfly! I carefully prepared a “butterfly heaven” where my pet butterfly could safely live its butterfly life in peace and tranquility – there was sugar water, greenery and flowers! What more could a butterfly want?

After several weeks, the butterfly showed signs of shedding its transformational haven and I couldn’t have been more excited as I anticipated sitting on my porch with my pet butterfly. I watched as it got stronger – small flutters of movement evolved into a confident and colorful wing stretch as it seemed to test its capabilities. It was time!

I carefully reached into the container and marveled as the butterfly trustingly stepped onto my finger. Slowly, I raised my hand from the jar and invited the butterfly’s first flight into our little heaven.

It flew onto a red hibiscus but I quickly realized that it wanted to fly further than my screened porch. I watched in alarm as it darted from screen to screen and flitted alarmingly close to a few cobwebs. Immediately, I understood that butterflies are meant to fly without restriction – that they like us, transform, grow stronger and have a very specific path to travel in life. The flight of the butterfly is a joyful scampering flight if we allow it to be. With more than a little effort, I eventually captured my butterfly and released it into the “real” world where it, no doubt, encountered obstacles and determinedly continued its flight.

There are so many lessons that we can learn from a butterfly – seemingly fragile but strong enough to migrate thousands of miles in a given lifetime. I learned that there is a little butterfly in each of us and, although I sensed it, I learned that we should never restrict the flight of the butterfly – especially if the butterfly is inside of us.

The butterfly is the symbol of transformation. We are all in transformation. Transformations are slow processes. They take time. Transformations are meant to be marked with a joyful flight.

Is there a butterfly inside of you? What is in transformation? Are you in need of some cocoon time? If your wings are open, are you restricting your flight to a screened porch?

If you are in the midst of a transformation, the butterfly offers some wisdom:

  • Big things happen in cocoons – others may or may not notice the magic while it is in process.

  • Allow time for rest – perhaps some cocoon time is needed - growth requires quiet time.

  • Allow time for your wings to stretch and grow stronger.

  • Find the flowers along the way.

  • Allow yourself to travel beyond the screened porch.

  • Avoid cobwebs.

  • Mark the moment of emergence with a joyful flight.

Embrace your inner butterfly! Take comfort in the fact that you are growing. Choose to intentionally transform. And always - reach for the light.

© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information on 1:1 Coaching Sessions or Motivational Programs.

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