Tag Archives: change

Another post on transformation

I’ve been out of sorts lately. Feeling overwhelmed, overtaxed, under appreciated.

I notice a heaviness in the middle of my chest.

Now, I can’t remember a time when the heaviness wasn’t there.

“There’s a lot of change going on,” W says.

Our last two have left the nest. One just got his driver’s license and started community college. The other is off to college in Georgia.

“How many caterpillars do you have?” W asks.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Ten?”

At first, I don’t know what my caterpillaring has to do with my heavy chest. But then it hits me.

“Ugh,” I say at the obviousness of it all.

Every year, I grow milkweed in our yard. Monarch butterfly caterpillars only eat one thing. Milkweed.

The butterflies lay their pinhead-sized eggs on the underside of the leaves. I take clippings with eggs or newly hatched caterpillars into the house and put them into an empty 20-gallon aquarium where they’re safe from predators.

Our cats take turns sitting on top of the cage like furry mother hens.

How many caterpillars do you see?

The caterpillars gorge on the milkweed leaves. If you put your ear close, you can actually hear them chomping away. Nom nom. True story.

IMG_2555When the caterpillars get big and fat, they climb to the top of the cage and hang down in a J. They shed their skin and wrap themselves in a chrysalis. Inside this light green sac, they consume their own bodies (gruesome) and then emerge 10 to 14 days later as black and orange winged beauties (beautiful). It’s a narrative I can relate to.

Usually, I find one or two eggs or caterpillars.

This year, I lost count at 10.

That’s a lot of change, transition, transformation.

There’s so much out of my control right now.

It makes me feel unsafe and vulnerable.

I need to have faith that everything will be okay.

That everyone will transition according to plan.

Me included.

That we will paint ourselves the colors we like best, grow wings and fly.

More transformation, ugh, ugh, ugh

I released a total of 12 (I think) monarch butterflies. The last one flew away today.


Meet Alvin

I have a new friend, though. This toad that my son named Alvin.

He lives somewhere in our front yard and hops about when I come home at night.

Toad means crossroads, camouflage and watching and waiting before you make a move.

Toads are small but have loud voices. Toad’s message is don’t underestimate the power of your words.

Toad means transformation.

And I have to wonder if this is a stage or if this is just life.


RaccoonWhen I was a kid, my favorite animal was the raccoon.

I loved these little guys.

I collected ceramic raccoon figures.

I drew raccoons.

I painted raccoons.

They were mischievous rascals.  Cute and cuddly critters.  (I didn’t know about rabies back then.)

They wore furry black masks like they had something to hide.  Or were ready to knock over a liquor store.

I never made the connection until recently.  That I was the raccoon hiding behind my mask.

Raccoons don’t hold the same appeal for me these days.

Raccoon plaqueI found this little guy in a box of stuff that my mom had given to me.  He had been affixed to my bedroom door in my parents’ house for many years, guarding against ghosts and kidnappers and a little brother.

I think about getting rid of him but can’t seem to do so.

I look up raccoon totem and this is what I find:

Masks are one of the tools of transformation.
It helps us to change what we are into what we want to be.

Raccoons also teach you how to put asleep the part of you that is not needed
and awaken the aspect of yourself that is.

I will place my raccoon friend on my closet door as a reminder.  A reminder of change and growth, of new beginnings and being who I was always meant to be.


Philosophizing about life, kittens and ice cream

I had been getting my writer’s mojo back.

And then my son broke his leg.

This is Bohdi and Sammy.

This is Bodhi and Sammy.

And we got a pair of kittens.

I learned a long time ago that things never go back to “normal.”  Normal is broken legs.  And kittens who are so gosh darn cute that you just want to stare at their tiny perfection and listen to their little furry motors all day long.  Deadlines be damned.

Normal is car accidents and insurance claims.  Jury duty.  Spilt milk.

I am 47 years old, and I’ve learned to roll with it as best I can.

We live in a tiny town that has an ice cream parlor.  The ice cream is handmade and is really, really good.

This year, they’ve started a new promotion.  They advertise a “flavor of the week” for $1 a scoop on a sandwich board in the parking lot.  A normal scoop costs about $3.50.  The “flavor of the week” lasts for as long as the ice cream does.  We have been stuck on S’mores for about two weeks now.  Which, surprisingly, is not that great.

Every day I go out, I drive by the ice cream shop to see if there is a new flavor listed on the sign.  This makes me happy.  I like small town life.  I like being in the know.  I like this tiny bit of excitement.

I like that the “flavor of the week” could last for a day or a week.

I text W the flavors while she is at work without any kind of explanation or background.

“Blueberry marshmallow.”

“Raspberry cheesecake.”

“Orange cream.”

She always texts the same thing back: “?”

Because she is in the middle of work, and I am randomly texting “Graham slam.”

I find her standard response comforting. Comfortable.

So, that’s me.  I like simple and same.  I like surprises, too.  But little ones.  Like a scoop of rainbow sherbet for a buck.

Not big ones like, hey, broken leg.

Although kittens are such a joy.


How could you not stare at this tiny face forever?

But whatever life scoops out, even a giant bowl of S’mores, I can handle it.

I hate change

So innocent sitting there in your clear plastic pouch like you have nothing to hide

A few days before ringing in the new year, we ordered Chinese takeout.

As I ate my shrimp with lobster sauce, I stared at the fortune cookies that sat on the coffee table in their cellophane wrappers.  This is it, I told myself. The defining fortune for 2014. The single thought that will guide me in the 365 days to come.

This is how I make all of my important decisions.

This is how I live my life. Giving things like cookies and totems and Magic 8 Balls way too much power.

Holding my breath, I opened the plastic wrapper, snapped the cookie in half and carefully slid out the white strip of paper.

“Welcome change,” it read.

Whaaat? Obviously, there had been a mix-up at the fortune cookie factory. This fortune was intended for someone less uptight and rigid. Miley Cyrus, perhaps.

I handed the fortune to W, and she just laughed. (A very robust, hearty laugh.)

Because here’s the thing: I hate change.

It’s probably because we moved around so much when I was a kid. We were supposed to pretend that we had outgrown our house and our friends like last year’s blue jeans, even though none of that was true.

While my fortune advised me to welcome change, I told W that wasn’t happening.

“This is the year that I teach the universe a lesson,” I announced.

I had this visual of me trying to stop the world from spinning, tendrils of smoke rising from the rubber soles of my Dr. Marten’s as I tried to hold on.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” she replied, returning her attention to her chicken mei fun.

She knows not to encourage me.

Of course, it would be crazy to think that there won’t be change in the new year. But change is scary, and I don’t do scary.

I like same and comfortable. My pillow that has been perfectly flattened from years of use, a well-worn T-shirt, my morning newspaper, my car radio tuned to the 24-hour sports channel.

Back to my fortune. Failing to heed such ancient fortune cookie wisdom would be bad.  But change is bad.

People, your favorite butch blogger was caught between a rock and a hard place.

Sometimes when I get stuck with my writing, I look up words in the dictionary.

a. To cause to be different.
b. To give a completely different form or appearance to; transform.

That’s when it hit me.  Transform. I might be resistant to change, but I can transform. I’ve done that. I’m still doing that.

I think transform seems less scary, because it implies keeping the old and just tweaking it.

When you change a tire, you substitute a new one for the old one.  When you change your mind, you turn a “yes” into a “no” or vice versa.

Monarch butterflyWhen you transform, you get to hold onto a part of the old.  A caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, but both have the same DNA.

So, if I were to welcome change or transformation in 2014 — not that I plan to or anything like that, Universe — here are some transformations that I might actually embrace:

  • Transforming into a writer who writes everyday (or almost everyday).
  • Transforming into a published author.
  • Transforming into a person who forgives more easily.
  • Transforming into a person who readily gives praise and compliments and thanks.
  • Transforming into someone who is constantly in awe of the greatness of God and gives daily thanks and praise.
  • Continuing to transform into my best butch.

* * *

What about you? What transformations do you hope to make in 2014?