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Sometimes you have to be willing to spin a cocoon.

March 16, 2010

I’m writing this from my little cocoon on the couch. The big picture window lets me catch glimpses of the outside world, but until I am sufficiently healed from my breast reduction surgery, I remain mostly indoors, in this position, with a few good wisdom books, some green tea, my journal, my laptop, and a box of tissues within reach.

The last time I remember cocooning like this was in September 2000. I was in the hospital for a few weeks hoping the baby I carried would remain in his little cocoon long enough to emerge a beautiful strong butterfly. He didn’t, but that doesn’t mean a butterfly didn’t emerge. It was a transformative time for me, Marcel, and our family. Transformation that was brought on largely because of those three weeks I sat in the quiet little retreat space that my hospital room had become, holding space for the son who would never breathe but would change my world.

During that time, my friend Stephanie gifted me with a story about how a butterfly had become a beloved symbol for a woman who had gone through the loss of her dad. She also gave me a butterfly clip that I wore until I left the hospital. Amazingly, after that day, butterflies started showing up everywhere, including my 5th floor hospital window.

Even after I left the hospital without Matthew, butterflies served as a regular reminder of my son and the way that he had changed me. The following Mother’s Day, while we ate lunch outside with our family, an amazingly friendly butterfly, with one flawed wing, landed on the heads of almost everyone at the table. It was my son, coming to bless us on Mother’s Day.

This week, I’m cocooning again. I was resistant at first, wishing for the time to pass, wishing for friends to visit, wishing I could at least accomplish something. But then I listened to Jen Lee’s simple but wise podcast about how sometimes, when it looks like nothing’s happening, the truth is that everything’s happening. When Jen talked about the transformation that happens when she’s busy taking a nap, it triggered a deep, resounding “YES!” in me, and soon I was relishing my quiet little cocoon on the couch.

The thoughts that came after Jen’s podcast sent me to my bookshelf for an old friend. More than 20 years ago, a beloved teacher/mentor I had at the time, gifted me with “Hope for the Flowers“, a transformative little picture book about a young caterpillar who, after trying repeatedly to “reach the sky” by climbing to the top of a “pillar of caterpillars”, learns to give in to his true nature, climb up on a branch and spin a cocoon. Only once he is willing to take that risk and just be still is he ready to be transformed into the butterfly he is meant to become.

Re-reading that book for the umpteenth time reminded me of how valuable it had been, nearly 10 years ago, to pause from clamouring up my own “pillar of caterpillars”, and rest in my little cocoon with my unborn son as my spiritual guide.

With rather uncanny timing (isn’t that often how these things happen?) I stumbled on Lianne’s lovely (and free!) e-book that asks the provocative question “What is dying to be born?” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that question since I read through the book. (It’s beautiful and full of so much goodness!)

Wow! What is it that has to die in me in order to let something else be born? What do I have to be willing to abandon in this cocoon in order to emerge the butterfly I am meant to become?

Last year was a restless year. Despite a great job and lots of goodness in my life, I was full of some deep dissatisfaction. Try as I might, I couldn’t find the right way to FIX it. I tried some new things, took some new paths, restled with demons, but still the dissatisfaction  lingered.

Until… well, until I was willing to do two of the things I’d been avoiding. Rest. And wait.

I haven’t quite figured out what is dying to be born in my life, but I know that I won’t figure it out with restless clamouring, trying to reach the sky.

I’m giving in, and spinning my cocoon. Some day soon, the body that I chose to transform through surgery, will carry me through the deeper transformation into my butterfly life.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2010 10:02 am

    Thank you Heather for a lovely personal post. Yes, we too often clamor to move forward when we should stop to listen. I love the imagery of cocooning…

    Blessings and healing thoughts being sent your way!

    • heatherplett permalink*
      March 17, 2010 11:07 am

      Thank you Jane! Blessings to you too!

  2. March 16, 2010 11:52 am

    Lovely, kind, and so heart-felt. You are a joy to read. Thank you.

    • heatherplett permalink*
      March 17, 2010 11:08 am

      Thank you Judy, and welcome to “Fumbling”! Glad you visited!

  3. March 16, 2010 2:30 pm

    Heather, thank you for your inspirational post!

    I also learned to rest and be transformed during a personal tragedy. And I got the butterflies too! When I thought I absolutely could not make it through another day, a butterfly would show up in my car–more than once!

    Now I find that time of “cocooning” very precious. I am being reshaped into a new container that can hold the wonderful new that is being brought into my life. Yes, transformed!

    Enjoy your “cocooning” time. It will be exciting to see what emerges!

    • heatherplett permalink*
      March 17, 2010 11:09 am

      Chris – it’s very cool that you got the butterflies too! It’s such Spring-like weather around here these days, I keep expecting to see one show up, but so far none. They’ll show up when they’re meant to. 🙂

  4. March 16, 2010 3:26 pm

    I love this cocoon metaphor–lovely post.

    • heatherplett permalink*
      March 17, 2010 11:09 am

      Thank you Jen, and thank you for being one of the catalysts for this post!

  5. leoniewise permalink
    March 16, 2010 4:41 pm

    i found your post via jen lee and just wanted to say i really enjoyed reading it. feeling a bit this way myself, though for different reasons than yours, so this writing was perfect timing for me


    • heatherplett permalink*
      March 17, 2010 11:22 am

      Thanks Leonie. I hope your cocooning feels healing too, whatever it is for you.

  6. March 17, 2010 7:51 am

    thank you for sharing your process and also linking to other inspirational women. i, too, am in the midst of incorporating rest into what is being born after the loss of my beloved dog last month. his loss opened up so much sadness and also so much unknown possibility, new ways of being in the world. i’ll be posting his memorial collage on my blog soon with my thoughts about this process. reading your process is part of that process–thank you.

    • heatherplett permalink*
      March 17, 2010 11:24 am

      Thanks Katy. Sorry to hear about your dog. I hope that beauty and strength can emerge from your grief.

  7. March 17, 2010 8:16 am

    You have such a brave soul and we are privileged to witness it, Heather. You continually amaze me with how you process the most difficult things. Your son certainly chose the right mother. What gifts you are to one another.

    Much peace & healing.

    • heatherplett permalink*
      March 17, 2010 11:25 am

      Thanks Christine for your beautiful and encouraging words! Blessings to you.

  8. March 20, 2010 7:08 am

    hmmmm. Heather.
    Again, so timely. It’s so true- the resting and the waiting- absolutely vital to the re-birth, and so terribly difficult to do. We just want to GET ON WITH IT.

    (speedy recovery to you, and sincere well wishes)

    Thank you for your words.


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