My garden’s Milkweed flourished this summer. For the first time, I discovered monarch caterpillars munching away at the leaves. Their appearance lifted my heart. The monarch butterfly is in peril, partly because the caterpillar’s only food source—Milkweed—is rapidly disappearing. I decide to intervene.
I construct a little cardboard home, complete with a saran wrap window for optimum viewing, and relocate the caterpillars. Each day I provide fresh milkweed, clean their cage, and watch. Their lime-green, white and black stripes remind me of 60’s pop art. They put away milkweed like contestants in the Coney Island Fourth of July hotdog-eating contest. It’s astonishing to see how much they eat and, subsequently, poop. My daughters giggle at my new obsession. I fuss over those caterpillars like they are newborns. I’m giddy when one goes into chrysalis and marvel at the gorgeous jade-like jewel it becomes during transformation. All of the caterpillar-to-butterfly magic happens within the green chrysalis. When it becomes transparent, revealing the folded butterfly within, it is ready to emerge.
A week before discovering the caterpillars, I decided to formally launch a writing business. For years I’ve entertained the idea, but it seemed impossible…out of reach. Who was I to do this? I’ve always worked for someone else. I never imagined creating something new from the ground up. Doubts crept in. Insecurities. Can I really do this? Yet I find myself voraciously consuming ideas, creating business plans, and attending networking groups. The timing feels right. My own business? Really? Despite uncertainty, my heart encourages me onward.
Caterpillar to Butterfly. I see the metaphor. I shouldn’t be surprised these creatures are getting a lot of my attention right now. The natural world often mimics us, or more accurately, we mimic it. For me, all of these changes feel exciting and overwhelming. It’s my own little chrysalis cracking open. Like that very hungry caterpillar, every prior step leads me here. My publishing experiences, teaching years, and time with my children all bring me closer to my childhood dream: share my stories.
“Leap and the net will appear,” the adage says. I’ve looked over the edge a few times. I’ve always backed away in fear. This time, I leap.
I take my favorite blue coffee mug out to the patio. Its warmth and weight feels comforting on this cool morning. I glance at the caterpillar cage and admire the perfect outline of a monarch inside the clear chrysalis. It should hatch today, I think to myself. A moment later, I find she has emerged. For weeks I’ve watched and suddenly, without fanfare, she’s here. We stare at each other for a long time. I name her Luna after the prior night’s super moon. She hangs perfectly still while her wings unfurl. Everything she needs is there, waiting to be operational. It is a slow process, this unfurling. A lot of time passes. Yet once everything synchronizes, she fully opens her wings and releases. I witness her first flight. It isn’t far, only to the neighboring tree. She seems a bit wobbly and rests while I snap a photo. Her next flight takes her further, and soon she is out of my view and on her way. I feel excited for her long trip ahead. It’s late September and her destination is 1,000s of miles away.
So it is for me. Everything I need is here, waiting to be operational. I’m unfurling and testing my wings. Taking my time. Feeling a bit wobbly on occasion. Yet each flight takes me further. And I am excited for the long journey ahead.