Butterflies, Duck Parades, and the Calm After the Storm

For the past two weeks, I have written about my experience before and during Hurricane Ian. This week, I want to share the experience of the calm after the storm. This hurricane taught me so many lessons I have needed three weeks to process and share all of them. I promise this will be the conclusion of the “storm trilogy.” I hope that sharing these experiences will be helpful to you the next time you encounter one of life’s storms. 

As I mentioned last week, I kept my blinds closed the whole day on Wednesday as Hurricane Ian passed over my home on the west coast of Florida. I knew seeing severe winds battering trees and perhaps seeing objects flying by my window would not contribute to a peaceful state of mind. Thankfully, the last storm bands moved across my neighborhood at about 2 AM on Thursday morning, just an hour after I had fallen asleep.  

Later on Thursday morning, I awoke to the welcome sound of silence outside my window. When I lifted the blinds to let the light in, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Two yellow butterflies were flitting and dancing right in front of my window! How in the world did these delicate creatures survive hurricane-force winds? Where did they ride out the storm?

When my gaze shifted past the butterflies to the pond in the center of my apartment complex, I noticed two mallard ducks swimming along as if nothing had happened the previous day. A few minutes later, a family of ducks entered the pond creating a colorful parade of green and brown (with a dash of blue) feathers swimming by the fountain. On the far side of the pond, I spotted a bright white egret wading slowly into the water, intent on finding a fish. This beautiful scene outside my window gave me such hope! Somehow during the most adverse conditions, the butterflies and birds found a way to keep going. That continues to be my prayer for those who lost so much in the storm.

In addition to the return of nature, this new day brought blue skies, sunshine, and much cooler temperatures. After a hot summer and after being cooped up in my dark apartment for 24 hours, it was glorious to open all the windows and feel cool fresh air circulating through my home. It was like hitting a reset button, clearing out old energy, and welcoming the new. What a striking and welcome contrast from the day before.

It was such a gorgeous day that I decided to walk through my neighborhood to get some exercise and investigate what the storm had done. Without electricity or internet, I hadn’t seen any of the images or videos that my friends and family had described. On my walk, I expected to see  numerous trees and branches down, but I was shocked when I saw that winds had literally ripped the bark off tree trunks and peeled paint off street signs. I have experienced other hurricanes but never witnessed that before.

As I walked toward a major intersection, I passed more broken signs, fallen branches, and a traffic light that had been ripped from its wire and sent to the ground. That was sobering. When I arrived at the intersection, the traffic lights were still hanging, but apparently, no electricity was flowing to them. Four police officers were stationed there, directing traffic. It occurred to me how dangerous this job was with so many distracted drivers on the road these days. I felt a wave of gratitude for each officer as I watched from the corner. I wanted them to know how much I appreciated what they were doing, but obviously didn’t want to distract them. 

The female police officer must have felt my gaze and my intention because suddenly, she looked right at me. Without hesitating, I waved and yelled, “Thank you!” She gave me a smile and a nod before returning to her duties. It may sound silly, but my eyes filled with tears for the opportunity to express my gratitude. That’s what A Course in Miracles calls a “holy instant.” It’s the moment we deeply understand that separation is an illusion.

I know my tears weren’t specifically about the police officers directing traffic. It was their job, after all. It was more about recognizing how we humans come together in challenging times to do what’s needed to help each other. You can see evidence of this after every natural disaster. This holy instant inspired me. For the rest of my walk, I dragged large fallen branches out of the street so cars could pass freely. Yes, I waited until there were no cars approaching when it was safe to do so. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor action. But it made me feel good to know that I had at least contributed something to make the situation better.

These are my last few takeaways from my experience with Hurricane Ian. First, no matter what storm is happening in life, remember this too shall pass. There willbe calm after the storm. Second, just like the yellow butterflies, the mallard ducks, and the egret, life will find a way to continue. And third, after any storm or tragedy people will come together to help each other. That’s what we do when we remember, in Truth, we are one human family.

If you are experiencing the aftermath of one of life’s storms, it would be my great honor to help you clear the path and find ways to move forward. I offer Spiritual Coaching Packages and Family Constellations Sessions to uncover what is preventing you from living the happy, healthy, prosperous life you were meant to live. Please look around my website for more information about these offerings and to schedule a session.  

Also, I am facilitating another 2-hour online Family Constellations Group Session this coming Friday, October 21 from 1-3 PM Eastern, 10 AM-12 PM Pacific. Click here for more details and to purchase a ticket.

In the holy instant there is no conflict of needs, for there is only one.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-15.V11:4

Mother’s Day Memories

This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I would share a story I wrote a few years ago that contains some of my favorite moments with my mom both before and after she made her transition. Enjoy!

Last Sunday, I visited Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, FL with some friends from church. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. It’s like being in another realm. Gentle notes of classical music waft through the air and dance with butterflies of every size and color. These graceful creatures flutter freely in a giant screened-in enclosure among trickling waterfalls, lush vegetation, and beautiful orchids. This place inspires a deep sense of peace and wonder.

I had been there only once before with my mom on Mother’s Day a few years before she died. It was a peaceful, joyful day, and one of my favorite memories of the last years of her life. Of course, this visit I was thinking and talking a lot about her with my friends. As we walked around the sanctuary, I commented that the large white butterflies floating around reminded me of angels. After we left, one of my friends sent me a photo she had taken earlier. In the photo one of those white butterflies was directly over my head. She said, “Look! It’s your mom watching over you!” I was already feeling nostalgic, and that got me right in the heart.
After Butterfly World, I started to feel a headache coming on. It got progressively worse, forcing me to lie down with a heated bean bag on my tense neck muscles and a cold compress with lavender oil on my forehead. It helped a little bit, but not enough to attend a small gathering at a friend’s apartment as I had planned. I finally acquiesced and took some ibuprofen. When that didn’t work, I asked Spirit for guidance on what would help me feel better. The answer I received surprised me. “Go walk on the beach and breathe some salt air.” It was after 10 o’clock, but I felt like that would help, so I jumped in my car and off to the beach I went.

Just fifteen minutes later I was by the healing waters of Mother Ocean. It was a beautiful, breezy, moonlit night. As I walked along the shoreline, the soft wind and rolling waves seemed to wash away my headache. As I continued, I noticed a plethora of staked off areas on the beach where sea turtles had laid their eggs. That’s when I remembered that one of my mom’s final wishes was to see sea turtles hatch at night. To honor this request, on her last Mother’s Day on Earth, my brother and I took her to see the Disney Nature film Oceans. I had seen it before and knew it contained a scene with sea turtles hatching and scampering to the sea. She loved it!  Another beautiful Mother’s Day memory.
It was at this point on my walk that I started wondering if my mother was up to something. I’m not usually at the beach at that time of night. Was that horrible headache her way of getting me to the beach to see real hatchlings? I ended up walking for over an hour, all the while looking for signs of tiny turtles emerging from their nests. I sent my friend who took the photo a text message telling her about the synchronicity of my two Mother’s Day memories. Were they connected? How cool would it be if that’s why I was at the beach that night?

My friend told me about a time years ago when she saw a mother turtle laying eggs in the sand late at night. That sounded pretty cool too! I kept walking and looking, but the only thing spectacular I saw was lightning in the distance. My mother loved thunderstorms. When I was a kid, we watched them together from our garage as they swept through our neighborhood. The approaching storm felt like another message from her, or at least a message that it was time to go home. Even if I didn’t see any turtles, my heart was full of memories of her, and I definitely felt her presence. That was enough.

I had just started walking back when I noticed strange looking tire tracks heading into the ocean. That seemed odd. The waves should have washed away any marks from lifeguard vehicles or kids playing in the sand by now. Then it dawned on me. Those tracks weren’t heading into the ocean, they were heading out! I followed the trail up the beach and there she was. A mama turtle was just finishing up her work for the night. I stood there in awe and gratitude as I watched her cover up her nest before dragging her body back into the sea. I tried to snap a picture before she vanished into the waves, but it was too dark and I didn’t want to scare her with my flash. That’s okay. I will never forget her. I see now it had to be a mama turtle so I could feel that nurturing energy. She did her job and then it was time for her to move on, just like my mom. It sure felt like a message from my mother letting me know she is still watching over me, guiding me, and reminding me that the love we shared will never die.

If you enjoy these stories, please feel free to share them with friends via email or social media. It brings me great joy to share them with you, just like it brings me joy to share what I’ve learned from life, A Course in Miracles, and Family Constellations in private sessions and workshops. If you’re ready for some miracles of your own, please look around my website for more information about upcoming events, Life Coaching, and one-on-one Family Constellations sessions. It would be my great honor to support you on your journey of healing and wholeness.

To all of you moms and those who play the role of mother in a wide variety of ways…
Happy Mother’s Day!

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