As I sit here writing in this cold, empty bathtub, listening to my thoughts echo off the smooth white porcelain cocoon I have built, I am reminded of warm memories from my childhood home. It was a place where my only responsibilities were to create mud holes, burn anything I could find with a magnifying glass, and take care of my butterfly who couldn’t fly.
You see, I was the one who robbed my beautiful friend of the gift of flight and was now his sworn protector. A few weeks earlier, I was outside patrolling our vegetable garden for unwanted pests when I happened across a fuzzy caterpillar.
He was chewing away on a particularly juicy tomato leaf and I was thrilled to have caught the perpetrator in action. I quickly swooped him out of our vegetable garden, imprisoned him in a large jar, and furnished his glass cell with sticks for bedding and leaves for food
Every day I checked on him to make sure he wasn’t causing any trouble and every day he kept comping away at the food I would give him. One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig I had provided and spins himself in to a shiny chrysalis. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly.
But what does that radical transformation involve? How does a caterpillar rearrange itself into a butterfly and how long do I have to wait?
I waited for a full week, which felt like a lifetime, until I could see the tiniest of movements and it looked as if he was struggling to break free. Ignorant and impatient, I cut a small hole in his temporary tomb and he promptly emerged.
No longer a threat to our family vegetable garden, I hurried him outside so he could fly off into the sunset. I placed him on a flower so he could use it as a launching pad, and nothing happened. What was going on? What was stopping my former inmate from taking off?
I rushed back into the house so my boss could help me solve this problem. I explained what had happened to my mom and she gave me a soft smile as if to say, “It’s going to be ok.”
She explained that the hole I had cut, which was intended to help the butterfly, was the reason the butterfly was grounded. Your struggle develops your strengths and the butterfly hadn’t been allowed to fight and develop the strength in his wings.
Self-isolation may be the model for fuzzy caterpillars but we are much more accustomed to social interaction.
Things that we have taken for granted and have considered as constants in our lives like dining at restaurants, going to the gym, and sporting events have become uncertain and the indefinite amount of time we are to stay at home looms larger each day as we become more anxious to shake the ambiguity of our situations.
One of the hardest things for us to do is to change our patterns because we thrive on structure and consistency. It doesn’t even matter how crazy that semblance of structure and consistency might actually be.
Nature is reminding us that nothing is permanent, and everything must change, and denial of this truth causes us to become victims of our own device.
Breaking our patterns can become the necessary driver that we need for our lives to evolve and realize a fuller evolution of ourselves. Remember, as the caterpillar sleeps inside the cocoon, eventually he must be set free.
Find Your Temporary Normal
Consistently performing our normal daily routine may have been difficult at times but implementing a brand-new forced routine is another. In order for a caterpillar to morph into a beautiful butterfly, the first thing he does after building his cocoon is digest himself and almost literally become a caterpillar soup.
This process isn’t highly recommended by most doctors so it may be better to listen to Aristotle when he said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”
Performed effectively, a routine can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources such as time, willpower, self-discipline, and optimism. A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and regulates our ever-changing moods.
Staying at home is the temporary normal due to the current pandemic, therefore developing a healthy schedule and assessing your energy levels is critical. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies.
Diet, exercise, and mitigating stress are three of the most effective ways to accomplish this task and will enable you to wake up passionately and with excitement about the opportunities that the day offers.
Since our immune systems are a complete system and not just a single entity, harmony and balance of that system is important. With so many moving parts to our immune system, regular nourishment provides our bodies with a fighting chance to fend off outside invaders.
Scientists have long recognized that people who are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases due to various micronutrient deficiencies. For example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E have been shown to negatively alter immune system response.
Since we are limited on how we can gather our food, we need to make sure we are eating some of the most nutrient dense foods available. These include salmon, kale, garlic, potatoes, blueberries, egg yolks, and dark chocolate.
If you aren’t used to consuming some of these items, Project 13 Gyms based out of San Francisco, hosts digital supper clubs where you can join a large group of people learning how to cook healthy and delicious meals from a professional chef.
Not only does Project 13 provide nutritional courses, co-owners/coaches Nate Chambers and Thomas Conway provide virtual classes that focus on building better humans through fitness, mindset, and community.
Make Exercise A Constant
There are few things more transformative than exercise. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases.
If you choose to exercise in the morning, it prepares you for the coming day, increases your overall energy levels, and helps you remain in optimal health. Numerous studies have shown that exercise is key in fighting depression and anxiety. A Finnish study suggested that exercise is even correlated with increased wealth.
Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. Implementing a daily exercise routine will prepare you for maximum success throughout the day and right now, there are plenty of great options to choose from.
A Krav Maga and Muy Thai gym based out of San Luis Obispo California, Budo Ryu, is offering a fun way to learn how to protect yourself and get in shape through their virtual class room. Budo Ryu Owner & Founder, Eric Sandahl, is one of the best Muy Thai and Krav coaches in the country and his programs are finely tuned to produce the best results for you.
Another great option is G-Fit, a kettlebell studio founded by coach Gianna Bandoni who has a well-founded understanding of the anatomical, physiological, biomechanical, biochemical, and psychological aspects of the human experience. Her workouts will educate, encourage, and empower you to discover a well-balanced and healthy body.
Find A Balanced Schedule
Although you may feel like your home is your own personal cocoon and your routine and expectations might not fit in nearly as perfect as you expected, it is okay.
Remember, like the caterpillar inside his cocoon, you too will eventually be set free. Be able to recognize when you are the most and least productive and then schedule your days around your most productive times.
Your daily schedule may be fairly fluid due to your current commitments but that will allow more for more variety in your routine. Make use of the productive times and support small businesses like Project 13, Budo Ryu, and G-Fit, that had to close their doors to keep the community safe.
Not only will you learn a new skill, you will be of service to your community by allowing those businesses to reopen their doors when this pandemic subsides. We are stronger together than we are alone so back a community where you can share, help, and support the people you care about.