RULE #7: Never give up; you will find beauty in the end of your struggles!

butterflyAs I was reading a fellow blogger InkBlots and IceBergs’ Story of Struggle, it reminded me of another story.


My daughter, Megan, loved butterflies. Our neighbor, Alice, would plant flowers because Megan, at a young age, would stand out in the flower garden for hours catching butterflies and then letting them go. It was super sweet to watch a curly-headed, blonde girl with rosy cheeks delight in catching these brightly, colored winged butterflies as they flitted around pink and yellow marigolds. Megan would hold them for a while, studying the unique life, talk to them sweetly, and then let them fly off only to catch another one as it flits by.

Then one day, Megan was out with my husband, Sam, at Cottonmill (a nearby park and nature reserve) where the park attendant gave her a caterpillar. The park ranger put it lovingly in a jar with holes poked at the top and plenty of leaves and twigs. She told Megan that the caterpillar would shortly build a cocoon and then turn into a beautiful butterfly.

Megan-and-her-butterflyThey excitedly brought the jar home and sat it on a credenza in the living room anticipating the day the ugly caterpillar would turn into a beautiful butterfly. Well sure enough, just like the lady said, the caterpillar built a cocoon within a day. At first, it looked awesome and we anxiously anticipated the butterfly any moment.

We waited and waited and waited and waited. The leaves died and dried up into an ugly brown, the cocoon morphed from brilliant green into an ugly brown. Everything within the jar turns dark and bleak and it seemed like the butterfly was never going to emerge. I walked by that jar daily in the middle of the living room wondering if it ever would turn in to a butterfly.

After a month and a half, I was frustrated at looking at the ugly jar of what I thought was dead  ̶ and did I say right in the middle of my living room! I got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. So, I said to Sam, “You know maybe that jar should ‘disappear’ tonight. We can throw it out and no one will be the wiser.” Of course, I wanted him to do the dirty deed. Of course, he didn’t.

So, I was seriously thinking about it, when low and behold the cocoon hatched and out came the most beautiful black, yellow and blue butterfly. We were all super excited to see it. I couldn’t believe my eyes and luck. Thank goodness I didn’t throw it out. My family got to witness the most amazing miracle of life of a beautiful butterfly emerging from what truly looked dead. It was an excellent lesson for us all – especially me.


So, I’m here to say things may seem ugly brown, dried up and even dead. At times, it is so hard not to give up on people, life and even yourself when times feel like they are at their bleakest and there is no hope of resolution, morning to come or a way to break out of the unhealthy lifestyle, bad relationship, or ugliness in your life. Take heart, hang in there, and keep faith in your friend, but most importantly in yourself. These things may take time. But one day, you will be that beautiful butterfly that breaks free from that ugly, dead-looking cocoon. Trust me, it may take time and a big heaping spoonful of patience, but it will happen. One day you’re going to fly, and you will be so glad you had the patience to hang in there and wait.

I am so glad I waited and didn’t do something drastic like throw away a beautiful butterfly. My family sure appreciated that, too.

P.S. After giving it some sugar water, we decided it was best to let it go free. Sometimes that can be the answer as well and it’s best to just let it go.


Rule #6: Take that step, even if it’s a tiptoe.


I love working at a college. I love the excitement of young and old minds learning, achieving and expanding. And, if it ever gets boring, just wait, in 4-5-6-okay maybe even 7 or 3.5 (I don’t understand those overachieving students) new blood will come along to pump excitement and new ideas back into these brick and cinder walls. There is such a diversity of thought running amuck at the university it is scary and refreshing at the same time. I LOVE IT! Sometimes though, what I don’t understand is university-speak.

Take pedagogy. Try saying that fast – 5 times. I can’t even say it slow, once. What does it mean? I can tell you want it doesn’t, and that’s “pet the doggy.” Just say “education, teaching or even learning.” How about Creative Non-Fiction in a Digital Environment? Yes, I should have known  ̶  it means blogging. I didn’t think that class through when I signed up for it. I thought to myself, “YES, I would love to read creative non-fiction and discuss it. After all, I’m all about reading, okay, probably more collecting books.” Not the same. So, I find myself in blogging class trying to patch it all together and sound halfway sane.

Here’s one, “peer reviewed.” It doesn’t mean to have your friends look at it to make sure you’re not crazy. It means you get published and other people with degrees comment or use it in their research. Pretty exciting stuff. Who is the head of the department? Is it the dean, the chair or the director? I still can’t tell you which is higher magna cum laude or summa cum laude – but I know it’s not a type of wrestling. It means you are pretty darn smart. There is another laude in there, but oh laude, if I can remember what it is. That’s college humor. Finally, have you heard of a “rhetorical tetrahedron”? You may think it’s like the Bermuda triangle where words go to die. But it’s not. It’s where words go to live.

It is a perfect example of that thing where each workplace has its own language. Trust me. I’ve worked in several different workplaces, so I know. Where when you are a newbie; you don’t quite understand what everyone is saying? But you play along anyway to make it look like you know. Again, fake it until you make it. Each workplace has its own lingo. It’s part of what they call “workplace culture.” Words like “synergy,” “SWOT goals” (Google it) or “nonverbal” are all perfect examples. “Nonverbals” was a fun one that I used to torment Sam. “You’re verbals are saying yes, but you’re nonverbals are saying no don’t buy that purse. I’ll stick with your verbals on this one.”

The list of workplace words could go on and on. I’m sure if I asked you, you could come up with some unique words that when you started work, you had no idea what everyone was talking about but after a year or so, you got the hang of it and were even speaking it yourself. No matter what the work speak, each workplace has its own. The trick is to figure it out without looking silly or dumb in the process.


tryTrying something new can be frightening and comes with scary things. Like words that I’m not sure what the heck they mean. Sometimes that frightening stuff can even keep us from trying something new. Like, would I have taken creative non-fiction in a digital environment if I knew it stood for blogging? Maybe or maybe not. But, I’m glad I didn’t know and yet, I’m glad I took the class and even passed.  Don’t let scary stuff keep you from trying new things. Embrace them and your ability to learn. Face your fears head on and take that class, start a second degree, paint that picture, remodel that kitchen, climb that mountain, and accomplish your goals. In the end, you’ll be glad that you did.


This summer, I signed up for Digital Rhetoric. The study of memes – am I right? I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out. Wish me luck!


Now it’s your turn. What are some words or catchphrases often spoken at your workplace that originally you had no idea what they meant, but now you find yourself saying them like a pro? Don’t be shy. Share them in a comment!