Lesson from the butterfly

I remember so well how I wanted to speed up things when I was a child. I wanted to be a teenager and swap that Schwinn blue bicycle and bobby socks and Buster Brown shoes for Pink Parfait lipstick and nylon hosiery and French heels. If I’d only known what angst the teenage years would bring, I am certain I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry.

But even a teenager will eventually enter young adulthood…  Oh, to be twenty again—delirious with the new freedom from parental control but in the safety of a college environment. Good times.

The truth is, life is a forward motion of continual change.

butterfly cacoonMany times we are in a rush to start that new stage. Other times grief grips us in our loss, and we fight going into the unknown without the person we loved or the job we loved. To escape our anguish, we rush to rebound and find the familiar. However, instead of rushing from one ending to another beginning, we should look to the butterfly for a valuable lesson.

It takes four hours for the wings of a butterfly to dry after it emerges from its cocoon. The butterfly can’t go back and it can’t go forward. Instead, it has to hang there and wait for its wings to grow strong.

We, too, need that space in time where we have no outward movement. In that sacred space of transformation, we can discover what no longer serves us and gather the strength to reinvent ourselves. Each time we do this, we emerge ready to meet the possibilities of a wondrous future.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly,” opines American writer Richard Bach. And in its miraculous rebirth, the butterfly has a wise lesson for all of us.


Dairy Queen: Texas small town landmark

DQMy sweetie and I visit the Dairy Queen in Navasota, TX, weekly—sometimes more—to get chocolate dipped ice cream cones. Getting a soft serve ice cream cone with its signature curl is a ritual from my childhood when I walked a block from home to the Dairy Queen in Huntsville, TX. A Dairy Queen can be spotted in nearly every small town in Texas. Our Lone Star State has, after all, the largest number of DQ stores in the entire United States.

Many times Ronnie and I will stop on our way home from a restaurant, like the Wrangler Steakhouse out on Hwy 6, and get a couple of small cones for dessert instead of spending another ten bucks on peach cobbler and key lime pie. And, I must admit, we’ve had our sweet tooths get us out of bed to get dressed and drive over for a treat before the late evening news.

On occasion we’ll decide to “eat in” and enjoy a complete meal. Ronnie likes double meat cheeseburgers with onion rings rather than fries, while I’m partial to the crispy tacos or the chicken strips. If we eat inside, I’ll have a Dilly bar for dessert and Ronnie will get a mini blizzard or small sundae. What can I say? We like to mix it up.

However, the purchase of the dipped cones is a ritual we reserve for the drive-through. After we get them, we drive downtown and window shop from the car. We have the cutest boutiques, antique stores, dry goods and feed stores and the Miller movie theater located downtown. Unfortunately, I counted six empty stores last evening.

Downtown Navasota is going through a hard recession, and we can’t blame it on the downturn of the oil & gas industry. Its stores flooded during the rain storms in June, and a number of entrepreneurs couldn’t recover the loss of water-soaked inventory. Finding new entrepreneurs to has been difficult, especially when the city council still hasn’t come up with a reasonable plan to assure potential businesses that the waters won’t rise again.

Thank goodness the DQ is several blocks from downtown and built on higher ground.

A remedy for the ‘shoulds’

Research tells me that we think about 60,000 thoughts a day. (Wow, right?)

Confession: Some days I let my life become “shouldy.”

  • I should get to the bank before it closes.
  • I should get gas in the car before the warning light comes on.
  • I should never have lost my temper with him.
  • I should get a bicycle or roller blades or hiking boots or a swim suit so I’ll exercise more.
  • I should spend time meditating to calm my chattering, shrieking monkey mind.

My usual optimistic mood deteriorates and spins toward the dark abyss. My heart races and I feel anxiety clouding my judgment. The committee is my head is shouting to be heard and triggering a headache. The committee is my head is shouting to be heard triggering a headache.

If I don’t do something to change my attitude, I know how this story will end: Depression.

Rather than focus on “shouldy” thoughts, I can choose to push out that limited, negative thinking with positive thoughts of gratitude. That is one of the marvelous advantages of keeping a gratitude journal: to re-read entries before I cover myself with “shouldy” thinking and ruin my day.

heartMy gratitude journal is filled with blessings and unexpected mercies. Reading it fills me with joy.

As my cousin Barbara constantly reminds me: “You are God’s precious child.” (Say those words aloud three times. My experience is, they have an extraordinary power of changing negative attitudes into positives.)

When my day begins to fill with “shoulds,” I remember a quote by Maria Robinson: “Anyone can start today and make a new ending,” so I pause, become grateful for God’s blessings and mercies, and begin again with an attitude of gratitude.