"Lessons from the Butterflies"   by Stella Juarez

In the quest for better health and the improvement of our physical bodies, we often become sidetracked by our failures.  If you’ve ever struggled with weight loss, sticking to an exercise program, or with varying forms of food addiction, then I get the feeling you know this self-induced agony of defeat.  It is so subtle that you may take for granted what a powerful preventive force it can be in preventing you from reaching your goals. 

If you are fortunate enough that eating right and exercising have always been easy for you, consider yourself lucky and read on so that you may help your beautiful wife, your beloved daughter, or a precious friend when they face the very real struggle with self-acceptance that can prevent them from making permanent lifestyle

Can I get deep on you, today?  In attempting to teach my son a science lesson, I experienced an epiphany about life that seemed appropriate to share with Spring right around the corner. 

As far as I’ve come in my own physical journey, I’m ever cognizant of how often it is that I still find myself conquering these types of negative beliefs, and overcoming self-critical images of my “self” and my own quirky imperfections.  I suppose the good thing is that I’m a scrappy and tragically optimistic woman warrior skilled in the art of positive thinking.  I may slip and slide and have to backtrack but I’ll be darned if I ever really give up!  Still, I’ll be honest and say that it’s only recently that I’ve seen what a waste of my energy it is to direct so much energy towards this process. 

It is always astounding to me to see this same pattern reflected in others.  No matter how intelligent, financially successful, professionally competent, athletically gifted or golden-hearted a person can be, this quest towards physical perfection often becomes the doozy that derails their spirit.  If the scale doesn’t move (or god forbid, moved up), we panic. We’ve failed yet again, haven’t we?

Am I talking to you or someone you know?  Do you know the drill of self-deprecation?  We may stand in the mirror before a bath and see an image so naked, so flawed!  Instead of seeing the wonder within or the successes we’ve accomplished, we nit pick.  We are quick to notice the body fat, the jiggles, the gray hair, the extra slice of pizza we had last Friday that’s now become a new curve in the wrong place? 

If you’re asking yourself what butterflies have to do with this, allow me to explain. You see, one of the perks of being a writer is that I often work from a home office and spend the afternoons with my son and two nephews.  Part of our time is spent on various science experiments that have ranged from tending an indoor herb garden to raising Sea Monkeys and most recently, culturing Painted Lady Butterflies

Our butterfly experiment arrived in a plain cardboard box.  Inside was a small container of olive green matter (their food) and four ugly worms.  Over the next few days, we watched the larvae munch on the gel and grow bigger until finally, they were hairy, chubby caterpillars.  One by one, these caterpillars began to secrete webbing and snaked up towards the lid to hang upside down and hibernate.  One by one, the caterpillars shed their furry coats and a strange, iridescent gel formed around them. These chrysalids dried and darkened. Very carefully, we  transferred these very delicate pods into the three windowed box that would become home for their brief 2-4 week lifespan.

It some ways, watching this process was a little bit gross; not every stage of growth was attractive. In fact, we even got bored for several days while they were dormant because we couldn't see the metamorphosis that was occuring inside the pods.  However, knowing what would eventually emerge, we never panicked.  Even though each larvae developed at a different rate in each stage, we knew nothing was wrong with any of them.  Although at times these creatures were very ugly, we all understood they would all become a beautiful butterfly.  We simply enjoyed watching them grow and cheered the last one on as he pushed his four week lifespan.

As I witnessed the butterflies to emerge, I started to think about my own emergence and growth as a person. Why is it that we panic over our physical state and dietary failures with such angst?  We seem to think that with same care and patience, we too will someday  become what we were meant to be.  Ever a work-in-progress and under construction, we strive to exercise more, eat less, and get up earlier to do our makeup to impress people who we will not think about in our last moments on earth.

You know what I realized? We are too unforgiving when we look in the bathroom mirror. We too often neglect to celebrate the strength and perfections that are reflected before us and living quietly within until they are called upon by life.  No matter what physical “state” you are in currently, don’t ever feel that you worth less now than if you weighed a little less or had more muscle.  You are not a diamond in the rough. There is nothing wrong with you.  Forgive yourself.  You may not have cracked out of your cocoon and you may not be flapping your wings yet, but you’re still a butterfly. 

Be free.

~ Stella

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