Thursday, August 18, 2011


We have all heard the analogy of the caterpillar turning into the butterfly as it fights its way out of the cocoon. It seems a bit clich├ęd, but I honestly can’t think of a better one to describe the past couple of years for me. I feel as if I’ve truly transformed from a crawling kind of creature, with some beauty to it for sure, into a flying, brilliant butterfly. At first, it seemed odd to me that my friends weren’t noticing. “Hey, I’m flying now, can’t you see?” They noticed how great I LOOKED because of my significant weight loss, but they weren’t seeing the transformation in my spirit, the lightness, the joy, the calm with which I was now approaching life.

Then suddenly it hit me! To them - my friends, family, colleagues, and even acquaintances - I had ALWAYS shown up this way. Wow! It was only to myself that I had ever been a plodding, ground level, unspectacular caterpillar. To the outside world, I had always been a beautiful and special butterfly. It is my inner life that has been transformed in such a profound way that no one but me really noticed. This reinforces the idea that life is lived between the ears. Our inner dialogue is constantly running, and most of the time it is spouting limiting or even damaging beliefs about ourselves – “I’m not good enough,” “I will never be. . .”, “I can’t do that,” “I don’t deserve. . .” These thoughts are so ingrained, so automatic, that we don’t even notice them, but they are doing a number on our psyches.

Mike Dooley tells us in no uncertain terms that “Thoughts become Things,” and encourages us to think the good ones. A friend recommended his site and daily messages from the Universe, and I have thoroughly enjoyed both. The premise is not much different from that of The Secret or any number of other Law of Attraction tomes that are so popular these days, and honestly, I’ve read most of them. They key is in doing something.

As was reinforced in a program put on by my non-profit this summer, we know that knowledge alone does not alter behavior (KADNAB if you are looking for a catchy acronym to help you remember). If it did, we’d all be perfectly proportioned, healthy, non-smokers with plenty of money and free time. (smile) We may KNOW what is good for us, or how to live sustainably, but that doesn’t mean we actually DO it. This was brought home to me painfully one fall when I participated in a Green Team group through my church. I have always prided myself on being quite the environmentalist, but when it came down to assessing my actual practice, all my knowledge meant very little as I wasn’t really doing as much as I thought to protect the Earth.

When I tried to look up transformation for a definition I could share, I found a number of scientific, mathematic and genetic descriptions. Even one about how cells become malignant (interesting), but nothing that came close to what I am talking about. I have been doing transformational work, and though it has made such an impact in my life, even I have a difficult time describing it sometimes. I have a profound appreciation for the gurus who teach these courses, and how tough it must be for them to describe what they do and the impact their education can make on individuals.

For me, transformation is about the following: (at the most basic level)

How I show up in life – appear to others and my own perspective

How I view situations – blame others or circumstances or take responsibility

How I relate to people – with distrust or benefit of the doubt

How I view the world – connected or separate

How I view myself – whole and complete or lacking significantly

It is also about recognizing that we are all human. We all formed our worldview from very specific painful things that happened to us in the past, usually at a time when we were too young to view them subjectively. At the point that X happened, we made up a story about what it meant, and by God we have stuck by that story ever since, finding more and more evidence to support its truth along the way. That perspective has brought us what we expected, and it is usually more of the same.

Changing perspective is not easy. It takes recognition of our stories, a willingness to explore them, and continual practice. It takes self-reflection, and a willingness to take responsibility for the ways in which we create our own lives. Our stories are so front-and-center, that it often takes peeling back many layers to really get to the truth (if there is such a thing) about what is really going on. Even after being immersed in this practice, and having taken many courses that help me do this, I still fall into old patterns make people wrong and settle into my story much more often that I like, but this work means I don’t beat myself up about that either – as if that helps! It is not something that is “fixed” and forgotten – it is a practice like yoga or meditation - one that you just show up for over and over and over again. But when you do, the results can be incredible!

What can you transform?

Your relationship with your parents?

Your relationship to money?

Your view of yourself?

Your view of Republicans or terrorists or gay people?

What can you take responsibility for?

The fact that you have been playing the victim?

The way you react when someone pushes your buttons?

The way you spend money or eat when you are feeling depressed?

The way your hurt others when you are feeling hurt?

What can you gain from seeing things differently?

Love instead of fear?

Tolerance instead of hate?

Joy instead of sadness?

Peace instead of conflict?

The butterfly in you is striving to come out. Let it fly!