…well, ideas for my husband’s newest tattoo specifically. He was thinking about what he would like to have done next and knew that he would like an animal. I asked him if there were any animals he was particularly drawn towards and somehow we came across an online quiz to determine one’s spirit animal. Issues of clear cultural appropriation aside, of course, we thought it might be fun to both take the test. I was all set to find out I was a bird or horse or another of the animals that I have felt like my soul has been connected to throughout my life. But what popped up for me was a butterfly. And it scared me. I didn’t like the idea of being a butterfly, because to me that signals transition and change. It signals moving away from what is known to what is unknown. And I didn’t like that idea at all. I said to my husband, “A butterfly? What a silly quiz. Obviously I’m not a butterfly.” My husband laughed and said, “Honey, you literally just raised four butterflies!” And this was true. A month earlier I had seen these six tiny black “worms” on my dill plant outside, and instantly ran to my computer to find out what they were. Black swallowtail caterpillars! I watched them daily, as they grew larger and greener. They honestly must have been the inspiration behind Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. They ate through all my dill and moved on to my parsley, but I didn’t mind because I was fascinated by them. And as they grew, my mamabear nurturing side grew more and more concerned about them, afraid that they would be eaten by a bird before they ever got a chance to fly. So I fashioned a terrarium for them to grow inside the house (I’ll write a how-to blog post on this soon), and took four of them in. It was pretty marvellous to watch metamorphosis in action, and I got to release each one individually. The first two actually sat for about 10-15 minutes on my finger before flying away. When my husband laughed at my comment that I couldn’t be a butterfly, there was technically still one butterfly in its chrysalis waiting to come out, so I had to admit that he had a point. For the next few weeks, I saw butterflies everywhere, and I started to wonder whether it did mean something. I had been thinking about writing a blog for years but didn’t know how or when I would find the time to do so. I have a busy psychology practice and when I wasn’t there, I was taking care of my busy family. But there was something nagging me and each time I saw a butterfly, it reminded me of it. And then the birds came.
Well, it’s not like they suddenly came, they were obviously there are along. And it wasn’t some creepy Hitchcockian bird ambush. I just started noticing birds. And there were so many: blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, a hawk suddenly flying right over me, woodpeckers, vultures, a cormorant, seagulls, juncos, flocks of sparrows living in my garden hedge. They just seemed to be so noticeable suddenly. So I got curious about them, and would look up what each bird I saw symbolized. And, you know what? The pervading theme has been to trust my instincts and move towards things that are new and uncertain.
So I’m going to try to do so, even though I can feel the uncertainty of it and a part of me wants to just stay put. But I’ve always been a dialectic that way. Loving stability and groundedness but also wanting to challenge myself with newness and growth. I can’t be alone in that, and I thought it would be nice to share my feelings about these things and see whether others resonate with what I write. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me privately. And maybe have a look around at the animals that may be trying to communicate with you. You never know, they might just be sending you helpful messages!