Preparing Yourself for TransformationJun 23, 2021
What IS ‘Transformation’
“Butterflies are beautiful, but the process of emerging from the chrysalis and spreading your wings can hurt like fucking hell. But still, you will survive the transformation (over and over again) and you will fly. Remember this when it hurts the most. This is the metamorphosis, the going down to a liquid, and the rising again. It’s no joke – but damn, it’s one hell of a journey.”
― Jeanette LeBlanc
‘Transformation’ is one of those words getting tons of attention nowadays, right alongside ‘diversity’ and ‘change’. The frequency of its use causes many people to roll their eyes - I mean, isn’t it just another one of those ‘feminist’ or ‘social justice’ or ‘New Age’ things that’ll go away if we ignore it long enough?
Leaving aside - for the moment - the problematic nature of that whole notion that difference or change is to be pooh-poohed, think about why transformation might be getting the airplay.
My personal theory is that the world has reached a sort of tipping point - we thought it might be 2000, but we were 20 years off the mark (perhaps). At the risk of sounding “New Age”-y, I can feel it in my bones, in my cells - something big is happening and it’s happening with or without our permission. But what’s most important is this feeling that we can affect really transformative change, the kind that changes the world for the better in massive, previously unheard-of ways.
I guess that’s what I mean when I say “transformation”: the change from a previous form to a new one that bears no resemblance to its progenitor. Of course, transformation goes in all kinds of directions - decomposition is a transformation, as is a bowel movement. Both useful, but neither arguably pleasant.
My transformation is towards an arguably more positive, pleasant, authentic, fulfilling, remarkable existence. I’m talking small ‘t’ transformation - although sometimes clients go through big ‘T’ Transformations. You just never know.
Caterpillars and Butterflies
I don’t know about you, but the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly has always blown my mind. I mean...how….HOW???? The caterpillar seemingly turns to mush and then rebuilds into something shockingly beautiful, with an entirely other mode of existence. Sure, tadpoles become frogs, but come on.
That is probably why I’m so drawn to butterflies as a metaphor for myself and the work that I do - I’ve pushed myself through my own transformation alone, and it was excruciating. I figure that no woman should have to do this by herself (unless, of course, that’s her choice - and I’m all about choice). I would have loved to have some support, a tour guide, someone to share strategies and assure me I wasn’t losing my ever-loving mind.
Every woman starts as a girl: every girl is born to be a butterfly (not in a girly way, mind you). But it does not automatically follow that girls become women who become butterflies. Many MANY go from girl to woman, and from woman to death, as a caterpillar….and many don’t even dream of being anything other than a caterpillar.
Or, if they do, they think becoming a butterfly is for other caterpillars.
Maybe YOU think this about yourself.
But hear me now: YOU WERE BORN TO BE A BUTTERFLY.
I’m a 50 Year Old Caterpillar...My Butterfly Potential is Gone
Oh, hon, do you know how many times I’ve heard that? It’s the saddest thing I hear in my work...this entrenched belief so many women have that they’ve somehow been left behind, and they’ve lost hope for a different life - as a butterfly. It’s brought me to tears more than once.
You might be wondering what these women think has been lost. Here’s a short list:
- Haven’t travelled
- Haven’t ever lived alone
- Haven’t ever dared to not go to a faith celebration
- Haven’t defended themselves
- Haven’t spoken up about something they believe in and/or care about
- Haven’t left a soul-sucking job to follow a big dream
- Haven’t dared try something they’ve always dreamed of doing - for fear of failure or rejection (learning ballroom dancing, writing a book, starting a charity, going back to school)
- Haven’t asked others in her life to take care of themselves
- Stuck in a career that isn’t what she had imagined or planned
- Have never been able to just “be”
- Feeling like a failure for not being married and/or having a child
- Feeling like a frumpy, boring, useless human because her only worth is in as a mother and homemaker - and the kids are leaving
- Always subsuming her goals and aspirations to her mate’s
- Never getting to be the leader, because of any number of factors
- Never dresses like she wants to
- Never believing in herself enough to do something hard
- Lost her sense of humour
- Living with no purpose
- Health and wellness is starting to falter
- Living a life they never really chose
You and I could go on and on, couldn’t we? This list is nothing new, and it’s certainly not limited to 50-year-old women, not by a long shot.
Over and over, I talk to women who are so afraid of the power of their own thoughts and feelings that they can’t get past these to see the true gold - their potential. And the woman who thinks her butterfly opportunity is gone has attached her worth to her youth.
That’s the biggest problem, really.
Here’s the thing: for as much as the world has changed, it has largely stayed the same. Shocker, I know. But more precisely, I mean that we still hold this 1960s version of reality that a person’s pathway is determined in their 20s, and then they play it out from there. It’s a bit pick-and-play, but it’s generally some variation of get an education, get a job, get a house, get a mate, get a family………...die.
In between, there might be living, grandparenting or retirement, but it’s pretty straightforward. Maybe a business, maybe travel, maybe illness. A lot of Netflix and nachos.
Underneath all of that is this notion that women have three phases - the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. And we’ve been told, in myriad ways, that the only use we might have - after ‘Mother’ - is ‘Grandmother’. There aren’t any other choices. And while we know that’s not strictly true, we still embrace and embody the idea. And THAT’S what the 50-year-old who thinks her butterfly days have passed is buying into - a worth that is defined by contributions to an immediate and extended family.
In our collective past, the opportunities to live long lives weren’t guaranteed by any margin. If we did survive motherhood, once we couldn’t have children we were still expected to care for children - as the crone. I mean, what else were we good for?
And if we missed the ‘motherhood’ train, then we just skipped from maiden to crone (passing briefly through ‘wrinkled up raisin’ and ‘frigid bitch’ on our way to old maid). We’ve got stories of women being witches, shamans, priestesses, wise women, oracles and the like, but those are not the rule - they are the exception. And we all know the stories of how those powerful women were frequently punished - often by death.
So, historically, it hasn’t always paid to step outside the maiden-mother-crone (MMC) model.
Here we are, in the year 2021, and those 50-year-old non-butterfly women? Well, they’re still operating from the MMC frame of mind. They’ve somehow come to believe that there’s a “best before” stamp on their lives and that it’s now just one long, caterpillar-y slog to the finish line.
Manage Your Mindset
What you need to do is MANAGE YOUR MINDSET. Chances are really quite good that you’re going to live longer than your parents, and longer than your male partner (if you go in for that sort of thing). You’ve got a LOT of life left. While you might want to golf and play bridge, maybe you’re more like my grandmother-in-law - when she lost her husband, then her youngest son, in her early 50s, she bought a round-the-world ticket, and then came home and volunteered her face off, winning the Governor General’s Office’s Sovereign Medal for Volunteers. She was born and raised in a small prairie town - and finished her days in that very same town - but she butterflied the shit out of that life (golf and bridge and whiskey included).
While she was exceptional, she doesn’t have to be exceptional. By that, I mean that - nowadays, more than ever - we can ALL be butterflies after 50 (or 35 or 45 or 65 or 75 - you get the point). Women who’ve moved past the ‘motherhood’ years (regardless of whether they took on mothering) are primed to become the key players in this new and transforming world. We are the hidden power the world needs to reinvent itself.
By the time we reach these ages we’re RIPE for transformation (which kinda sounds gross, tbh). We have learned, struggled, tried, failed, seen dreams come true and others change or fall by the wayside, we’ve loved, we’ve lost, we’ve done some living - which is why 20-year-olds CAN’T be butterflies yet (no matter how many selfies they take).
But being a caterpillar who’s ready doesn’t mean that you are going to transform. You need a plan.
That plan will require some tough steps - just like the caterpillar and its chrysalis. You will need to explore, ask, challenge, question, debate, choose, demand, release, leap, fall, rise, and crumble, and much more. It will be hard. It will be worthwhile.
Just imagine flying.
Do you have a plan? Can you make a plan? And if you make the plan, can you enact it? Can you be accountable to it? Are you strong enough on your own? Maybe you are. Or maybe - like me - you really wish you had some support, guidance, tools, strategies, and community.
So I challenge you: Are you a caterpillar? Are you willing to become a butterfly? What needs to change for YOU to transform?
p.s. Yo! Ladies!! Have you checked out the buffet of TEEwithD™ offerings?? Courses (self-study and sessional), coaching, downloadable content, private Facebook Group, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube Tips with TEE, podcasts, and tons of blog content?? NO???!!! Well, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Check it out - and join us - NOW!! xod