Today my daughter, “Teen Traveler”, and I set out to journey towards South Florida to release the malachite butterflies we have been raising from caterpillars for several weeks now. Since this species lives in South Florida, we knew we had to do the right thing when we purchased the caterpillars and get them into the South Florida vicinity to release them. Since the lifespan of the butterfly is usually only two to four weeks, we knew we shouldn’t keep them very long after their metamorphosis into a butterfly.

We drove two counties away and released them near an orange grove, as they feed on rotting fruit and flower nectar, and we wanted to ensure they had plenty to eat. We had a bit of a certain indescribable sense of sadness when we were driving to let them go into the wild.

My daughter said she was sorry to see them go. I explained to her that the butterflies are like many beautiful people we encounter during our lives. People come into our lives, and people go from our lives when we change schools, jobs, cities, etc…Life changes. Life changes a lot. The people that we are fond of don’t always stay around forever. Sometimes even death separates us, but we are somehow in some way, or in many ways, touched by their presence when we had them in our lives. I told my daughter that we can learn a lot about life from raising our butterflies.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Like the butterflies that change forms from egg to several different types of caterpillars (instars) before assuming their final form, we, too, go through many changes and stages in our own lives. Sometimes we are not our most beautiful until we’ve gone through different stages within ourselves.
  2. People come and go in our lives, like the butterflies we raise, and we enjoy them while they are here. We try think about their release date, as we can enjoy the moments with them while we have them. All the moments.
  3. Sometimes the caterpillar hatchlings don’t make it to adulthood, despite our best efforts. Life is sometimes hard at times, but beautiful nonetheless.
  4. You have to work hard to find a place to blend in and settle, finding what you need, before you can become a chrysalis. Working hard helps. These caterpillars certainly were VERY busy.
  5. Sometimes we need rest, like a butterfly chrysalis, before we emerge as our best.
  6. Sometimes we want to stay holding on the warm hand that protects us before we find the strength to move on to do what we know we ultimately have to do. Staying on that warm hand for a while is good for a while, but then we have to find our own way as we become adults and move on to college, etc..
  7. Although the butterfly’s life is short, it always leaves behind something beautiful after it dies. The butterfly lives on, like us, in the generations that follow.
  8. We need to be very patient. Good things often take time.

My daughter held the butterflies in her hand in the butterfly cage during the whole ride to our release site. She was so gentle with them that it was such a tender moment whenever I glanced her way. When the engine to the car stopped, she asked if she could release them in the car before we released them into the wild. She thought it would be fun if they flew around the inside of the car for a while. We let them out of the cage in the car, but they didn’t fly around for some reason. I’m thinking that the car air conditioner was a possible reason, as the butterflies really like the temperature to be above eighty degrees before they fly.

My daughter gently lifted the butterflies onto her hand again when it was time to release them outside. She waited until they both flew away, having the peace of mind that they were well, and she somehow added something back into the circle of life. She was relieved that she didn’t damage their wings or legs when she touched them, too. I knew she didn’t, but she was concerned.

On the way home, we found a beach with few people on it and enjoyed some time together in the warm blue waters, laughing together and finding some shells.

“You tucked me in, turned out the lights
Kept me safe and sound at night
Little girls depend on things like that

Brushed my teeth and combed my hair had to drive me everywhere
You were always there when
I looked back…

…And when I couldn’t sleep at night
Scared things wouldn’t turn out right
You would hold my hand and sing to me

Caterpillar in the tree
How you wonder who you’ll be
Can’t go far but you can always dream
Wish you may and wish you might
Don’t you worry hold in tight
I promise you there will come a day
Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
Flap your wings now you can’t stay
Take those dreams and make them all come true

Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
We’ve been waiting for this day
All along and knowing just what to do
Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly, butterfly fly away…”

-“Butterfly Fly Away” by Billy Ray Cyrus

Life is good. Carpe diem, friends…………….


“We all know that you can’t go wrong with the original Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe, right? I’m always tempted to switch out the semi sweet morsels for milk chocolate morsels but it never tastes the same. The reason semi sweet chocolate morsels are a better versatile chocolate to use are because they have a good balance of chocolate and sweetness while milk chocolate can be too sweet and dark chocolate can be overwhelming. Hence, the name semi sweet.”

-Whitney Saller-Prieto, Former Director of Operations, Burger 21, Orlando and Viera, FL

While eating oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that my husband and daughter made last evening, I couldn’t help but remember the quote above by the late, beautiful Whitney Saller-Prieto and how it applies to our life right now. We may have milk chocolate kind of days, sweet days with being home together with all those blessings, or we may have semi-sweet chocolate kind of days where we feel fortunate that we don’t have the virus but long to get society back rolling the way it was before the pandemic. We are tempted to metaphorically switch the semi-sweet chocolate of our lives for the milk chocolate time and time again in our day-to-day lives. However, enjoying the moments we have together, playing games as a family, spending time on a project or two, experimenting with a new home-made ice cream recipe (or THREE) are all moments I will treasure long after this pandemic lifts. THAT is the semi-sweet chocolate which is the balance of good, the times together with the memories we’ve created and bad, or the effects that the pandemic has created in our world right now. The beauty, then, is truly in the semi-sweet chocolate morsel after all. I have come to that realization time and time again. It’s not what happens in any given situation, it is truly our perspective. This last month has truly been a gift in very many ways, despite the bad situation we’re all in right now. Yet, the day before yesterday, I used the wrong type of chocolate in my chocolate chip ice cream, as it was the only chocolate chips I had in the house at the time. Such is life.

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

-Forrest Gump

I would suggest that maybe life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get, but you do get to choose which chocolate you want to try. You get to spit it out, half-eaten, and try another. You get to close the box when you don’t want to try a piece, or you get to eat the whole box of chocolates. You get to share the chocolates or eat them all by yourself. You get to take the pieces of chocolate out of the box to display them on a pretty dish before eating them, or you get to eat them straight out of the box. You can eat them all at once over a few days or you get to freeze them for later. You get to experience all the different fillings, from creams to caramels, from crunchy fillings to nutty fillings, if you want as well. Or, you can eat only the cream chocolates, the caramels, or the nut-filled chocolates, too.

Life is about choices and finding the right application for the the milk chocolate or the semi-sweet. Life is about knowing when to use the right chocolate. Some days will bring about the bitter chocolate, or unsweetened chocolate, but other days it all comes together with that perfect chocolate chip cookie, made with the perfect chocolate chosen for the recipe, baked with a little bit of love, and shared with laughter with those you love. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Life is good; carpe diem, friends……………..