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Butterflies

Let’s talk about butterflies. Not the butterflies you get in your mid-section when you’re with someone you like and attracted to. And I guess you can say I’m not talking about the actual insect either. I’m referring to the metaphorical meaning of a butterfly. Butterflies are a symbol of transformation or change. As a butterfly goes through stages of development, we too go through individual growth patterns throughout life.

Some people thrive when faced with changing conditions within their lives. I guess I’m one of those people who like change. By the time I was in my early 40’s I had moved households 22 times. That sounds like a lot for most people. I had no choice in the matter when I was a child. My father was a map designer, architect, builder, and re modeler of older homes. Actually, my first home was a 3-story all brick brownstone on the boardwalk in Long Beach on Long Island, NY. He built the brownstone brick by brick by himself. There was a great bar on the second floor that exited out onto the boardwalk. We lived on the 3rd floor while the bottom floor housed his conglomeration of tools, map, and building plans. I remember my dad bringing two of my sisters and me into the bar with him. We got to sit on these tall, spinning bar stools while the bartender gave us tiny glasses filled with Coke with maraschino cherries at the bottom. Then we got to play shuffleboard where you throw pucks at bowling pins. All these years later and I can still remember it like it was yesterday. It lasted a little while, until he bought another home to remodel. This one was much bigger than the Long Beach home and it had a huge backyard. In fact, it was this home that gave me the idea for the title of this blog.  My parents invited friends, family or neighbors over for a barbecue most summer nights. We ate the usual hamburgers, hot dogs, beans, and potato salad. For dessert we chose one or all of the sticky treats offered; roasting marshmallows on sticks we found in the yard, icy cold Popsicles on a steamy summer night or my favorite, watermelon. We’d have contests to see who could spit the seeds the farthest.  On occasion, as nightfall drew closer, my mother provided us with our own mason jars for catching lightning bugs, or otherwise known as fireflies. We would put a small amount of freshly cut grass in the jar, a small twig, and most importantly, lots of air holes in the lid. After preparation we would set out as soon as dark settled into our backyard. During the middle of summer, even at night, it was hot and humid. But we didn’t care; we wanted to collect as many fireflies as we could. Since I was one of the older children and very good at catching fireflies, I helped the smaller children find and capture their own. They were delighted with having one or two and ran off to show the adults and then got bored and didn’t return. I loved being out there not only catching fireflies, but watching their slow graceful flight. They are such gentle creatures which made even me, who had trouble sitting still, slow down and admire their natural beauty.  We moved 3 more times on Long Island until my dad bought his most ambitious project yet. A large 1840’s Victorian in upstate New York on the Vermont border.

I guess you can say I grew up changing residences so much I learned how to adapt. Change can be more difficult for others. My dad didn’t get married until he was 40 years old and was kind of set in his ways. But with a wife and 5 daughters under the age of 7 years old, he needed to adapt quickly. He is now resting peacefully in heaven alongside my mother.  After 90 years of constant change he can sit back and relax now.

So as someone who likes change, what advice would I give those who panic when they fear their world will turn upside down? First breathe!!  Believe it or not, life is not meant to be difficult and uncomfortable for you. The butterfly starts out as a resourceful caterpillar which encases itself in a cocoon. Sure it’s safe, warm and protected but without it breaking free of its safe and sound home, the beautiful butterfly won’t emerge. Life is about growing: finding the butterfly within and then sharing your beauty with the world. The risk may seem unsurmountable, but the reward is worth it.

So, the next time you see a butterfly flitting by you, take notice. Change is about to enter your life. Sometimes the change is wonderful, while other times you may need to batten down the hatches. Realistically though, change is the universe’s way of making you grow.  We aren’t meant to stagnate in life. If that were true, we’d all still be in diapers, living with our parents.

When it comes to change, it’s not the end of the world even though your mind may tell you so. That’s really the whole point behind the egotistical mind and your subconscious. The ego’s function is to keep you alive. Don’t touch that piece of broken glass you’ll cut yourself. Your parents are there to help you develop your ego so you don’t go through life constantly picking up broken glass or doing other harmful things. Generally, the lesson is learned on the first attempt. And for some of us, me, for example, needed to learn it 2-3 times for it to sink in. (My mother’s nickname for me was “one-more-time-Heidi.”)  Your subconscious mind keeps all these experiences close so you don’t have to keep cutting yourself or whatever lesson needs to be learned. Survival and experience team up to throw a healthy dose of fear your way when you’re faced with change.

My whole point to this post is to take a risk; throw caution and fear out the window, as long as you don’t follow them, and especially not if you live on the 10th floor of a building. Not everything is going to injure you.  So, ask yourself the uncomfortable questions; do some research before you reject an idea. I love the song by country singer Tim McGraw, titled “Live Like You Are Dying.” If you have all your information and the answer is still “No!!! I am NOT jumping out of that airplane!!! EVER!!!” (OK, yup, that’s my big No Way Jose thingy), then fine. Hold your head up high and don’t back down. But something smaller like joining a gym or taking a class or even asking a workmate to join you for lunch is worth the risk. You just might learn something new about yourself or someone else. And that my friends is growth. Spread your wings butterfly, life is good and the universe is there to support your success.  Now excuse me while I go pick up some broken glass!!

I can’t believe its April 1st. The year is flying by. This past winter reminded me of the cold winters of my childhood. Snow was a given on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and sometimes Halloween. In the years snow was on the ground and temperatures dipped into the 30’s or 20’s and my mom wouldn’t make a huge effort on making 5 little girl costumes of some sort that would be covered up by winter’s woolen garb. Regardless of the weather, we hit every house we could because pulling in a hefty bag of candy, (not a standard food group in our family), was sometimes a 6 month supply, if you judiciously spread out the load over a few months’ time. That is why I hated going to the dentist and I still do. My mom would pack us into our station wagon and lead us into Dr. Castle’s office for our bi-annual cleaning. Four out of five of us got a clean bill of health; one of us got to come back to get a filling or two for cavities. Guess who? That’s right, me. Dr. Castle was a nice dentist. But he had this philosophy that based on his experience, Novocain was unnecessary; a patient would build up a high level of pain tolerance and therefore it was a good thing. He was correct, I do have a high pain tolerance today, but at 7 years old I wanted God to zap him with lightning. I had a diabolical mind back then.

Anyway, Spring has finally arrived here in the south. We had a few starts with some nice weather for a day or two, then the cold, wind, ice and snow would reboot the never ending winter of 2014.  And yes, it’s a time for flowers to bloom, trees to take on new buds and then leaves, and pretty much the dull grays and browns of winter turn to bright greens, yellows, pinks and so on.

Yet, the real meaning of Spring is rebirth; it’s time to shuck off the old you and start fresh. Leave the old you behind and look to a new day to recreate yourself from your heart and not your mind. Your past does not define who you are today. Learn from your past, but do not muddy yourself drudging up old wounds. Each day ask the question, who am I today? Or what can I change in my life today that will bring me happiness regardless of what others may think or say? You are in charge of your own happiness and destiny. Relying on someone else to make you happy is giving control over to another who may or may not have your best interest at heart.

I have heard countless stories about women who are unhappy in their marriages or relationships because their husbands don’t give them this, or take them there, or don’t do this and that. Marriage isn’t about getting what you want all the time or changing your partner to fit your needs. It’s about giving; giving all of you and who you are to the person you love. It’s about giving yourself every day from the heart; being kind and supportive, listening rather than talking all the time, sharing each other’s stories while creating a new one as a couple. It has to flow both ways or it won’t work. I admit my own marriage ended and I’m partially to blame; hindsight is 20/20 right? Someday, when I love again, I hope we both incorporate that one simple philosophy. Giving is so much better than taking. It’s funny how giving inspires more giving. And as my first post stated, have no expectations; it’s a recipe for a broken heart.

So, this spring, give to those you love. Give to organizations you love. Give prayers and blessings to those who need them. Most importantly, give to yourself. Give yourself a break and stop criticizing and judging yourself for not having the best body, prettiest hair, or the nicest home. You are and have always been enough. Love yourself first and then loving others will feel like second nature. Life will become much less stressful and peaceful. Take this wonderful Spring day and rediscover the you you may have forgotten. Remember what makes you happy and fulfilled and pour yourself into it again. Spring is here and it’s a great time to get started.

I love writing and art journaling (as you can see here). Find what makes you happy and renew that part of you. Go ahead and take a chance; you’re worth it!!

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