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What's Up With the Butterfly?

Point to Ponder:

What is the most challenging area in your life you need to grow in?

As we all learned in elementary school, before a caterpillar can become a butterfly it first starts as an egg, which grows into a robust worm, (a.k.a., caterpillar) eats everything in sight, spins itself into a cocoon and then emerges as a butterfly. But, what I bet you didn’t know is the unpleasant process that takes place inside the cocoon. The caterpillar first digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. According to Scientific America, “If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on. Once a caterpillar has disintegrated all of its tissues except for the imaginal discs, those discs use the protein-rich soup all around them to fuel the rapid cell division required to form the wings, antennae, legs, eyes, genitals and all the other features of an adult butterfly."

As if this growth process isn’t difficult enough, how about the life of a migrating Monarch butterfly and the daily challenges she endures in order to simply survive and get where she needs and wants to go? As a matter of fact, she’s traveling from Canada to Mexico right now, so be on the lookout! What you see as a whimsical beauty is ebbing and flowing throughout her daily journey. Minute-by-minute she endures threats such not enough food due to milkweed removal and insecticides and pollution. However, despite the obstacles she remains focused, grateful and faithful. She never gives up and never loses hope. She realizes that difficulty is part of her journey, she has everything she needs to get where she is going, and when the winds are right she trusts, lets go, stops flying and allows the wind to carry her the remaining distance and soars! In fact, migrating Monarchs (the one’s we’ll see now) can travel as far as 400 miles by soaring.

It is for this unbelievable display from ugly to beauty, struggle to soar, worker to whimsical and ceaseless determination, faith and grace that the butterfly, in particular the Monarch butterfly, is iGnite’s spirit animal--example setter, mascot and will always be seen alongside our name.

In fact, I believe the life of a woman and butterfly run perfectly parallel. A butterfly’s metamorphosis from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly isn’t easy and is nothing short of miraculous. I also think she really can’t love having to stuff her face and gain all of that weight before becoming a magical butterfly, but she knows its necessary IF she wants to fly, become powerful, and crush her journey. I’m sure she’d rather just emerge as a butterfly—fully formed, graceful, gorgeous with her brilliant internal navigation system, but she has to grow into her strength, knowledge, and intuition, which occurs through her painful and transformational metamorphosis. This is the life of a woman, and in order for us to continue to grow into everything we are designed for—to experience our vast capacity of greatness and contribution in the world, continual metamorphosis must occur, and there are no shortcuts. The journey is filled with hard work, struggle and even heartache, but the gifts along the way and the result of who we become are all worthwhile!

In fact, science tells us that disturbing a caterpillar inside its cocoon or chrysalis risks botching the transformation. Like in the first paragraph, what looks like amorphous mess, actually isn’t a mess at all. Something beautiful that we can’t see, like the perfect structure of the butterfly, is being formed. Note to those of us raising children—if we want our children to grow into courageous, strong, independent contributors in the world and develop their own navigation system that will take them into world where they will have success, we have to let go and let them figure things out, even if it means failing. To do otherwise would be disturbing the caterpillar, botching with the transformation and stunting the growth of their wings.

This may all sound like a silly fairytale, but I gotta tell you this has been my past seven years. Prior to having children, I was out of my cocoon and a full-on Monarch butterfly soaring through life. Then, I had two babies in three years and while there were spurts of Monarch, I felt my wings were clipped and I was living in caterpillar land. Then, I re-emerged as a butterfly again Three years ago I endured the heartbreak and stress of moving from Austin to San Diego—leaving family, friends, community, as well as not having iGnite in the same city. For the first year I was back in my cocoon and struggling with my purpose and identity. I was sure I was going through a metamorphosis process and God was doing something, but I couldn’t see it. Sure enough, thirteen months later a butterfly appeared. For two years I spread my wings, felt strong, in control, purpose-filled and soared on my journey. Then, another move, from San Diego to Tulsa. Distraught, deeply saddened and angry, my journey has started all over gain…back to a caterpillar chewing her way in a new place. However, based on experience here’s what I now know. I’m not a caterpillar eating her way through life for nothing. I can’t tell you specifically what this migration will result in, but I know Monarch butterfly wings will eventually emerge. My job is to trust the process, go towards growth and expect miracles.

The month of October is iGnite’s birthday month. Thanks to you, our fabulous community and our amazing team, we’re turning 12! Throughout our metamorphosis and journey we’ve grown—not just in numbers but in mindset. We continue trying and learning new things, challenging ourselves and embracing the ongoing need for physical, mental and spiritual growth. In fact, growth is one of our four core values, which will be our focus this week.

I encourage you to channel your inner-Monarch butterfly, accept a challenge and go towards growth in an area such as personal, professional, relational, physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. I’ll share a personal example. One time my husband jokingly pleaded with me to “treat him like a Monarch!”, meaning to treat him as I would treat you, a friend within our iGnite community. While we laughed about it, I knew there was a level of seriousness in his request. To this day one of my areas of growth is to treat him like I would an iGnite monarch—enthusiastic, grateful, compassionate, joyful, patient and loving. As you ebb and flow throughout your journey, I encourage you to go towards growth, trust the process and expect miracles!


Action Item:

Choose challenge over the path of least resistance and attack the area you have identified and go towards growth.


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