I thought I knew everything about butterflies, that is, until I spent a few days with my painted ladies. The day before their release I was able to observe and learn a lot from their behavior.
Did you know: once in the chrysalis the caterpillar will shake to ward off predators. (Similar to a human in a time of crisis or despair)
Did you know: a butterfly can carry 40 times its weight. (The weight of a difficult situation can equally be as heavy)
Did you know: a butterfly sleeps with its eyes open. (Someone going through a difficult time may have difficulty sleeping)
Did you know: a butterfly will not be active when its body temperature is too cold. (In times of emotional distress, a person may become less active or withdrawn)
Did you know: a butterfly will tremble in order to warm itself for becoming active. (Trying to get yourself motivated when you are feeling down may require a gentle push)
Releasing my new friends depended on the outside temperature, and because of a few colder days I was able to spend more time with them than I had originally planned. Having that time to watch them closely and study what was happening was a treat for me! I will admit though, panic did set in a couple of times when activity level had decreased. I had no idea they literally could not move if their body temperature went below a certain point.
When in a grumpy mood or feeling down, our happy endorphin’s are reduced, thus altering our activity. I remember many days and nights being confined to my bed feeling like I could not move.
Before I knew it the day had come and it was time to release and let them go. I placed them in a sunny spot in the house for a few hours so they would have ample time to warm up and get enough food to make the journey.
The park was beautiful and full of people enjoying the lovely day. I walked to a quiet space and sat with them on a park bench for a few minutes. I needed to get up the courage to unzip and let them free. So many thoughts were going through my mind. How would I know if they would survive the night? Would they separate or find each other once out in the world? Would they be able to find food? Were they strong enough to fly?
Ironically, 7 years ago those same questions were going through my mind on a different level. Would I have the courage to unzip and change my environment? There were times I wondered if I would survive the moments. Would I have new relationships? Would I be able to sustain myself? Was I strong enough to fly?
I didn’t focus on these thoughts for too long, I took in a deep breath and opened the top of the habitat. The larger butterfly was the first one out and flew off before I could even get a photo. The second one though had a little struggle. It was the smaller of the two and the one which hatched at the bottom of the aviary. I helped her out on my finger where she sat for several minutes. I looked around to make sure we were alone, no one needed to see me have a heart to heart with a butterfly!
I let her know that she was beautiful and strong, and her life was just beginning. I thanked her for the time she spent with me, though brief, it meant the world to me. After our chat I walked her over to a plant leaf and set her upon it. Within seconds she had flown off. I like to think our chat gave her the courage to open her wings and fly. Just as many in my life have given me the words I needed to muster up the courage for some of life’s struggles.
It seems little miss butterfly sure had a lot more to teach me. It is even more clear to me now how much in common we have during times of transformation. Change doesn’t have to be negative even if the situation it came from was difficult. Try to embrace it and enjoy the flight of the butterfly.
Courageous Butterfly 4/19/17