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Three years ago to this date, I embarked on a dream simply to change the world within my sphere of influence by blogging. This celebratory blog is dedicated to B.W. This person is a reminder that even on your darkest days God will send you a butterfly, for no reason at all, just to show he cares. Thank you for being my butterfly....

So, I'm my biggest bully. What I mean is that I'm very hard on myself to show some evidence of growth over time and to not be stuck in the same place as last year. It's good and bad. To some extent, you really can't place timelines on growth. You can't rush through life or you'll miss something, but you can't be so sluggish that it all passes you by. To be on either end of the spectrum is not good.

I present to you where I landed: the high achiever.

Unless you struggle with this dynamic, it's hard to understand from the outside looking in. To the average Joe, a high-achieving person appears to have it all. According to Psychology Today, "Imposter syndrome can be closely related to perfectionism, in which people feel pressure to perform at their absolute best 100 percent of the time, and when they don’t, they feel incompetent and anxious."

People see the lengthy resumes and CVs, but they don't see the mental toll that drives it all. It's an experience that is hard to explain and very hard to reverse without the right resources and support. Perfectionism often drives us to keep going, and imposter syndrome often says it's still not enough. So tragic.

In year one I felt I was getting my feet wet to the realm of blogging.

In year two so many new facets were being added to my platform.

In year three I went into overdrive trying to be what I thought a content creator was and get my name out there.

I don't regret anything, but I will say there is more than one way to skin a cat, y'know?

I partially feel called to help those like me, the high achievers who feel like they're shouting to the world to just be understood. I want to remind us that just existing is good enough at times and that as my pastor says, rest, in itself is an act of faith. That when it is all said and done, you have to trust God.

God will show you what your purpose is but not outright show you how to get there. How you choose to follow makes all the difference in whether you'll get there or not. Many results can happen. You never get there – because faith without works is dead. You MUST move your feet in SOME direction. You get there haphazardly, prematurely, or unhealthily of your own accord. Or, you remain anchored and allow God to lead you. Your gifts will never leave you, but the nature of your success is dependent on where you pull your strength from.

This year I just pray I stay grounded; that’s it, that’s all.

It's much easier said than done, and I can speak from gardening experience: it takes time to make deep roots deep enough to withstand the winds. In the case of the butterfly, simply put, change just takes time. It can take 80+ days to make a Luna Moth that only lives one week long. If God would be that intentional with a creation so fragile, he's intentional with you.

I know I may seem like I'm "all Butterfly everything" until the point where it's an aesthetic but believe me this thing had chased ME for years. Not the other way around. It reminds me of Miley Cyrus finally winning her Grammy for her song, "Flowers" following a heartbreaking divorce.

So here's my butterfly story and I'll make it short.

As a little girl, I always thought butterflies were good luck. If I was having a bad day, I felt like I always saw one. Fast forward to 2018, I decided I wanted to blog, but I don't have the means to pay for a website and I'm still preoccupied with school. I graduate college in 2020 and finally embark on this journey on February 9th, 2021. A year later in the summer of 2022, my brother Darian from Taynylei Plant-ery is tasked with helping manage a community garden space and he offers me a chance to do butterfly gardening there. I know nothing aside from what's in a little booklet that I purchased on my honeymoon and what I searched on the Internet.

From July to September 2022, I see no butterflies near my garden, but alas, I get a Common Buckeye. This is not THE picture but a picture; they are very feisty and patrol open fields so they are hard to get clear pictures of. In my first season of just me and my iPhone, I filmed or pictured 20ish butterflies! Wow.

Pictured: Common Buckeye Butterfly

I didn't raise my first brood of Painted Lady Butterflies and take my first Entomology class until Spring 2023. Basically speaking…

Change 🌱 takes 🐛 time. 🦋

The rest was history and has progressed to adding the Virtual Garden that you experience today.

You may ask, "why a nature blog?" I believe God created everything, and if you can see the "evidence" in nature, you can apply it in your own life.

I won't say everything day was perfect, or that I got everything right, said all the right things, and crossed all my T's. What I will say is God has covered me thus far, redirected me when needed, as painful as it may feel, kept me grounded. All I had to do was stay the course.

The thing about butterflies that inspires me most is how ugly their beginnings are. It's so easy to discount and discredit someone at their worst. It's easy to write someone off when they have a season of transition. The mountains are great, but the valleys are where we are refined and sharpened. Having support in the valley and at the mountain is equally important.

You know that moment when you're using your GPS and you make a wrong turn and the computer begins to reroute? In those few seconds of "wrongness," you're still making things "right" by choosing to turn around. Though you may not be 100% there yet, the entire journey is worth valuing – the good, the bad, the in-between. You have to learn to find rest in letting some things be unfolding, undone, transforming, and rerouting. To put your entire life's worth in ONE moment – good or bad – is a disservice to the beauty of the journey.

Though I'm just a beginner, I recently met someone who has a degree in entomology, and he told me that caterpillars are for the most part blind. That's right. They have simple "ocelli" that can differentiate light and dark, but aside from feeling their way around, they really cannot see. Furthermore, caterpillars don't just know they will be butterflies. They have nominal cells that will create the butterfly once they go into their chrysalis, but other than that, they trust the process and trust their internal clock when it tells them it's tell to change. They may not fully know what they're changing into, but they are open to the process.

That's the first step: be open to change.

In gardening, you have to let go of having the flower in order to embrace having fruit. No flowers last forever. They serve a purpose – attract pollinators – and then shrivel. With butterflies, they shed their skin several times before reaching the designed size needed to transition.

It's very ugly at times and even imperfect when caterpillars get stuck in their old skin. Things happen, and even to the most trained scientists, nature and real life rarely behave as the textbooks say. You learn to roll with the punches, and you learn that every phase of you is needed to get to the YOU that you are today – the majestic butterfly.

Someone asked me if I were a butterfly, which would I be? I say this one, and I'll explain why.

Having influence, to any degree, is not easy. If you're mostly positive, the moment you are down, people immediately judge you. I mentioned in my blog, "Letter from 9,000ft" which is linked below, that I let go of my illustrious thoughts to be a "top dawg" content creator. I know what that takes and that's not my angle. I just want to inspire people within my lane and level of influence and do so as best as I know how.

Oh yeah, the butterfly. Above is Danuas gilippus or the Queen Butterfly. It is a close cousin to the Monarch, with them both having their caterpillars only being able to feed on Milkweeds. The Queen is a deeper orange on its underside and is slightly smaller in size. Other butterflies mimic it and the Monarch's patterns for protection because predators hate to eat insects that retain the Milkweed toxin. The thing with mimicry is that though each orange butterfly has its species, behavior, host plant, etc., mimicry allows them to pull inspiration, if you will, from each other to keep predators at bay. In the human world, if you think of it, we all have something we can pull from each other and none of us are perfect.

I'm grateful to have had this platform for three years to share pieces of me and the butterflies. I hope you've been able to pull inspiration from here and will continue to going forward. Thank you for supporting.

Happy Three Years to The Butterfly Blogs! 🦋🧡

Photography: Jazmin Brewster | Dezigner Image Photography

Hair: Brianna Currie

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