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Lessons from a Butterfly

For Eric Carle’s birthday, author of  A Very Hungry Caterpillar, we enjoyed learning more about butterflies,  making butterfly crafts and snacks, and even learning more about the author himself.  

The parallels between the way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly and the way we overcome challenges are remarkable.

Change is messy but enables us to soar

  1. Change is painful, even for the caterpillar. Through those changes, though, the caterpillar grows the wings to fly. Our challenges allow us to gain previously unknown strength and endurance.
  2. Everything we do, say, hear, experience, or otherwise take in becomes food – fuel for our future. From the time a caterpillar hatches until it creates a cocoon, it eats (starting with the very egg it hatched from). Make those things positive. Even difficult times can produce beautiful results.
  3. A caterpillar sheds its skin 4-5 times as it grows, even before dissolving into goo in the cocoon. Dissolving our old negative thought and behavior patterns is often a necessary part of growth.
  4. Time to yourself, introspection, and reflection allow transformation. It’s okay, even necessary, to have solitude during big transitions.
  5. Grief is a process and catharsis is healing. Allow yourself to grieve the losses as change happens, without staying stuck.
  6. The struggle is real. The struggle will seem unbearable like it takes too long. In the end, though, this struggle creates strength. When you think you are too exhausted to keep fighting, keep going. You’re nearly ready to spread your wings.

Rising on new wings

  1. Make the most of every moment. Butterflies, depending on the species, live anywhere from a week to a year. In that time they lay hundreds of eggs over thousands of miles!
  2. It’s more than okay to stand out! Every butterfly has a unique wing pattern. It doesn’t try to conform. Its beauty is in its vibrance!
  3. However, did you know that a butterfly’s wings are actually transparent??? What we see is light reflecting on tiny scales, all in a unique pattern. Our own transparency allows the Light to show our true colors as well. As you share your story, you may help someone else to fly. 
  4. Finally, just like with people, some butterflies are more solitary creatures while others enjoy a group. Realizing where we are most comfortable and what helps us recharge keeps our wings strong. In your journey, you may have times when you need camouflage to hide from predators. You may have times when you have to get dirty to take care of your own needs (butterflies drink from mud puddles!). When you know what you need and you do it anyway, nothing can stand in the way of you reaching your destination. 
Photos by my friend, Jamie, who has been harvesting butterflies this summer with her dill!

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