Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Intense and beautiful transformations

The moment I arrived at the top of Giardino Bardini, I was greeted by a butterfly. She encircled me twice before joining a few other butterflies and bees buzzing around a lavender bush. As I watched the butterfly drink nectar from the center of the lavender blossoms, I thought about her life. It's such an incredible transformation for one being to go through: from being born a caterpillar and to being reborn a butterfly.

Me, My Heart, and I :: Intense and beautiful transformations

We have all gone through transformations in our lives. Some we have chosen to embark upon and others we were nudged (if not forced) into. The journey of transformation is not only challenging and intense, but can also be quite scary and mysterious. Most of the time, we only see the benefit of a transformation after we have come out the other side and can look back without consequences.

Over these past three and a half years, I have gone through a rather major transformation. I thought my transformation would be simple because I thought it consisted of ending my career as a freelance technical writer to become a fiction and non-fiction writer. I quickly learned that the shift was much greater than I had imagined.

Not only did I go from being outwardly focused where I was concerned about other peopleís opinions to being inwardly focused where I was concerned about my own opinion. I was no longer writing what was expected of me, but rather writing what was important and meaningful to me. During my transformation, I secluded myself quite a bit, focused more on following my heart, and only did what felt beneficial to me and my heart. Spending time in solitude gave me the opportunity to not only heal my heart a little bit more, but also to learn what loving myself entails.

As humans, we believe that we have the choice to transform ourselves or not. In certain circumstances, maybe we do; however, I donít believe we have a choice if the transformation is essential to our becoming who we truly are and discovering what our purpose is. I think, like the caterpillar, some transformations are not only necessary, but vital.

We are both frightened and excited when we embark upon a transformation. Like the caterpillar who wraps up her body into a cocoon. Once she is completely enclosed, there is no turning back. It must be scary not knowing how long she will be in there for, what will become of her, or if she will even come out alive. The same is true for us as well.

During this cocoon period when we are separated from the world we know, we donít know if the people and things in our lives today will still be there when we return or if we will even want them to be. Fortunately for the caterpillar, the idea probably never crosses her mind. She prepares herself for this transformation because it is natural and inevitable.

Finally, a crack in the cocoonís shell appears and she wakes up from her slumber. That one spark of hope is enough for her to try to wiggle around and find a way to free herself. Even after she has pushed herself out of the cocoon, she canít fly away until her wings dry.

The major transformational shift that the butterfly makes isnít that she becomes this beautiful creature that can now fly or that she is drawn to drinking nectar from flowers instead of nibbling on leaves. The butterfly's greatest transformation is that she has a new purpose in life, which is pollinating flowers. She might not be able to pollinate as much as bees do, but her gift is that she can pollinate flowers over large distances.

At this point in my life, I feel like the butterfly who has finally freed herself from the cocoon and is waiting for her wings to be ready so she can fly. I am both intimidated and excited by this new life that awaits me. Writing is not just a way for me to share ideas with people, but also a way to share what is in my heart, which I believe is what connects us to one another.

When I left the Giardino Bardini, I was grateful to the butterfly for reminding me that the transformation I experienced was necessary for my becoming the person and the writer I am today. In my heart, I know that being of service in any wayólarge or smallóis not only a gift to the world, but also a gift to myself. Love is not given; love is always shared.

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