Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happiness is like a butterfly

A guest post on Owning Pink

Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder... - Henry David Thoreau

The Chase
For many months I had been working every spare (and some not so spare) moments to launch a life coaching business. I had neglected spending precious time with my kids, I had completely ignored my husband and I felt obsessed. My hunger and vision for this company was dictating my life, my time and my happiness. Despite all of this time and energy, I was not getting the results I desired. I absolutely LOVED the coaching part, but I absolutely DID NOT LOVE the business part. I was stressed, unhappy and unfulfilled. I knew something had to give, but I wasn't sure how to start my new way of thinking or how to implement my new call to action...until I saw my daughter dance with a butterfly.

The Story
The story starts several months ago when I ordered my daughter a butterfly kit. In the kit came with five caterpillars in a transparent jar and a much larger enclosed net for when the caterpillars turned into butterflies. My daughter loved these little caterpillars. She took them everywhere. She talked about them to anyone who would listen and showed anyone who cared to look. The caterpillars grew three times their size, and with in ten days or so, they and turned into chrysalis. During this delicate time, my daughter was their protector, making sure nobody moved or bumped them. She was extra careful to put them in their new netting when they were ready for their new home. She watched these chrysalis all day and still talked about them incessantly. She loved these living things and took great pride in caring for them. One day we woke up and one of the butterflies had come out! For the next several days we watched the remaining butterflies fly in the netting. My daughter really launched in to care-taking mode now. She fed them oranges, watermelon and sugar water every morning. She sang to them, told them stories and would still talk to anyone who would listen about her "pets".
Then the day came to let them go. I was proud of her for understanding that the butterflies would live a happier life being free despite wanting to keep them confined for her enjoyment. With tears in her eyes, she said goodbye and let them go. For weeks afterward, she still talked about these butterflies nonstop. She wondered what they were doing. She looked for them anytime we were outside. She dreamed of seeing them again and she was quite sad before bedtime, when she thought about them the most.

Then one day she just stopped asking. I don't know why, she just turned her attention to other things.

It was weeks later and we were swimming in a pool, in a different state. This painted lady (the kind of butterfly she raised) came to play with her. The butterfly would dive into her, land on her, and fly away-as if asking to play. It did this several time in a row. It was quite a spectacle, as even strangers were getting their cameras out to capture this dance of a little girl and a butterfly. My daughter was finally at peace in her decision to let the butterflies go.
The Interpretation
I had always loved the butterfly quote by Thoreau. I even used to have it framed on my wall. It wasn't until in my own struggle at "chasing life" that I began to interpret this quote in a practical way. My happiness -- or at least my self worth -- had been wrapped up in the success of business. I had a plan for how many clients I would have by a certain timeframe, and my "happiness" was eluding me. I was so caught up in what wasn't happening that I started to doubt my ability as a coach, and even the indescribable pull that lead me to wanting to help mothers. I thought I had made a mistake. 
The release
I took what I had just witnessed with my daughter and the butterfly, the Thoreau quote which I had read at least 300 times over my lifetime, and the numerous Owning Pink posts on asking the Universe for something and then just...letting go. Letting go was a foreign concept to me. I am a doer, always in action. How was I to grow a business doing nothing? Do nothing...in theory this is easy -- in reality, not so much. I even have trouble relaxing in a bathtub, let alone throwing my hands up and asking the Universe to take care of my business. In all honesty, I realized that I couldn't "DO" any more. As unnatural as it was to me, I had to practice letting go. I stopped talking about coaching to everyone I knew. I stopped obsessing about all the stuff I thought I had to do to launch a successful business. I stopped spending hours everyday on the computer networking. I reconnected with why I wanted to help mothers and why I was called to coaching. I spent time replenishing myself and my relationships. I thought about other times in my life that I felt like I was banging my head against the wall, then I looked back and I was exactly where I needed to be every step of the way. I surrendered and decided to let the Universe take over. I just let go and hoped it would happen when it was supposed to.

And then it happened, The clients came. Not only did the clients come, but the "perfect clients" came. These were the clients I visualized when I was going through my strange, surreal experience of being called to help other women in their quest to find happiness. When it finally happened, it was not forced or strained. It was not because of my networking, or marketing or obsessing. It  really required no effort whatsoever. It was completely natural, because I let go, I stopped chasing, and the Universe said it was time.

What is eluding you no matter how hard you chase it? Have you ever had an experience of letting go and allowing the Universe to deliver when the time was right?
Heather Sobieralski
Life Coach for Moms

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