Snakes and Butterflies

ImageI confess. I have a nervous stomach. It is an involuntary thing that has plagued me since I was young. I think it started when I went to the doctor for some reason or another. It felt like a cobra coiled into a knot in my gut. The closer I got to the exam room the tighter the knot. Heaven forbid I if I needed a shot, or blood work. Even a finger prick had me running for the door screaming. I am not even exaggerating either…just ask my mom. It got to the point she never told me when I had an appointment. We would be in the car and turn a different way, my stomach would seize, and I would ask, “Where are we going?” She would tell me then and it was like my gut was falling off a cliff. I know she hated doing it that way, but it was the only way to keep the snakes from coiling for days ahead of time.

ImageIn case you are wondering, cancer didn’t help me in this area in the least. I feel sure my doctors and nurses put themselves on prayer lists when they had me on the schedule for a procedure of any kind. My family listened to my tears and Bill found that Lamaze breathing techniques helped me more while they tried to find an IV than they did when I was in labor. I may have learned not to run screaming from the building on the outside, but on the inside, the snakes in my belly still writhe for days before every test, procedure, or appointment.

ImageOn the flip side of the snakes tied in knots, there are also butterflies in there. They appear whenever there is excitement in the air. When I was a kid the week before Christmas morning they danced around causing little chills in my tummy. The closer the big event, the more tingling and trembling my stomach endured. As an adult I have found that I can measure how important something is to me by the number of butterflies I feel. If they start weeks ahead of time, I know that whatever is on the docket has a large amount of significance. The anticipation of such an event causes tremors which interrupt my appetite, my sleep, and my routines. I can think of nothing else and I am pretty much worthless as far as getting anything done. Those butterflies are directly responsible for this lack of productivity.

But the thing I have learned is that they are also directly connected to my heart, and when they are active, it means my heart is joyful to overflowing. It means I can barely hold back breaking into song. (Trust me this would not be a good thing.) It means I have pep in my step. It means that I cannot contain my smile. It means something wonderful is about to happen. Over the years I have learned to trust the butterflies. They know, sometimes before I do, when something great is on the horizon…and they are rarely wrong.

I have had butterflies now for about a week. They hardly settle, and have taken to flying 24 hours now. Today when Hannah lands in Seattle they will fly at a feverish pace until Tuesday when she arrives in Atlanta. Then the relief, and the emotions I have held back for 11 months will spill out. The butterflies will rejoice and I will as well. Once again they will be right…something wonderful, joyful, and exciting will break forth in my life. I just love those butterflies. 🙂


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