My new companions...and teachers

I have two new companions, though I technically live alone. I talk to them, attempt to feed them and mostly watch them, or watch out for them…they are independent travelers.

Let me back up. I’m staying in northern Michigan. It’s January, the temperature outside today is 12. We’ve moved up to the double digits. That’s good. I came here from southern California where I’ve lived for the last eleven years. It would be stating the obvious to mention that I’m not quite used to these temperatures and have been inside this week more than I am familiar with.

Right after I settled in here I met my first housemate, a ladybug, at one end of the house…the bathroom window ledge. I met ladybug number two at the other end, in the kitchen. I thought they might not be aware of each others existence so I moved one down to the bathroom to say “hi” to the other.

There did not appear to be an exchange of salutations, or interest. Not certain what that was about, though it felt like I had done what my left brain dutifully wanted to do. Make certain, which they probably already knew, that there was other life inside this heated box.

Knowing that ladybugs eat aphids, and there are no houseplants or aphids here, I set out to see what else I could find for them. More left brain activities. I’d read that some ladybugs do become herbivores…like me. I picked up a few of the dead flies that scatter the cabin and placed them near my new housemates. For good measure and cuisine options, I added some leafy greens. They didn’t appear to be interested in any option. Strike two and three.

Quite frankly, I’m uncertain what they are existing on. I’ve been here over a week. The flies that had been hanging on to life when I arrived have since passed or are in a really deep meditation. Yesterday, the ladybugs went MIA for over a day. I thought they might’ve joined the troops speckling the cabin. Mostly, I was worried I might’ve stepped on one of these mighty little beings.

I realized I missed watching out for them. It’s amazing really. They are so small and vulnerable and they choose to hang out where I walk or where I’m doing yoga and I’m always concerned I’ll step on them or smash them. It keeps me alert to my surroundings in a very mindful way. I appreciate that. Sometimes one of them will pause and sit in the middle of the kitchen floor. Really? Needless to say, I’ve created a relocation service. They don’t have much input. I’ve tried explaining my challenges with their choices…. forgetting the order here. They are here to teach me.

I looked at a few sites to explore the Native American ideas about the totem, or medicine teachings of ladybugs. Native Americans saw every living being as a teacher. I found varying interpretations.
“The appearance of a Ladybug heralds a time of luck in which our wishes begin to be fulfilled. Higher goals and new heights are now possible. Worries begin to dissipate. New happiness comes about. This insect also cautions not to try to hard or go to fast to fulfill our dreams. Let things flow at their natural pace. In the due course of time, our wishes will all come true. Alternatively, she could be signaling that you can leave your worries behind and that new happiness is on its way. This species of beetle signals you to to not be scared to live your own truth. Protect your truth and know that it is yours to honor.”

“Ladybug continued to say that we do ourselves a great disservice by not honoring the changes in our lives. Ladybug urges us to be in the flow of our changes and transformations and to continually strive to improve upon ourselves. To let go of old thought patterns that may be holding us back from change and from rich experiences. To honor the seasons of our lives with grace. Change is the only constant and ladybug reminds us of this. Ladybug spoke to me of expansion. Expansion of our consciousness, of our horizons, of the things that we can imagine for ourselves and create for ourselves in this lifetime. We always have a choice to be beautiful versions of ourselves.”

And then there was…

“When ladybugs appear they are a sign from the universe that you are being protected and that you are safe as you work hard to promote yourself and your ideas. Ladybug tells you to be cheerful in your work and to share the joy of your creativity with others.”

One site said that a single ladybug can eat 5,000 aphids during it’s 6 week cycle of life. Wow…that’s almost a 1,000 a week and my companions seem to be existing on air. I wonder how that’s going. They still have the energy to move around and join me in new places in the house. Kind of like what dogs and cats do. And just as the four leggeds I’ve known have enjoyed being in the energy of a yoga practice…. one of these ladybugs also seems to enjoy sharing time on the mat.

She shows up at the darnedest times and I’m so grateful I haven’t hurt her. Between the two of them, cooking and preparing food is pretty much an exercise in ever deepening mindfulness. They sit near the sink sponge, or on the vegetables I’m about to pick up and chop. Thank goodness they haven’t been hanging out on the cutting board.

One day I watched one of my teachers, as I’ll call her, walk along the edge of the windowsill. Not on it or below it. She walked the edge, exerting what I imagined to be so much energy to hug that edge. I pondered as I watched her, why? Why not move over a fraction of an inch to either side and have a leisurely stroll on a solid surface and enjoy the view?

Obviously, I’ll never know the answer. I do see animals as teachers and as I sat, slowing down to witness, and marvel in her journey I was reunited with my awe of all of life. Mind you this little being can also fly…. and she chose not to. I’ve often wished I had the wing option.

So why not embody that option? Was this walk along an edge her exercise class for the morning? Or, her adrenaline rush like when we rock climb? A tumble for a ladybug that results in a flip can be fatal. There are a number of other ladybugs whose lives ended in here before I arrived.

This ladybug chose a path on the edge for a reason, and I witnessed it as being hard. She may have loved it though and it might have brought her great joy to accomplish it. None the less, I found myself questioning what am I making harder in my life? Are there steps I could take with greater ease and not expend so much energy, or resources?

The other day when my tiny mindfulness teachers were MIA I realized even more how much I appreciate sharing life with these cabin dwellers. In here, protected from the frozen landscape, I am slowing down even more thanks to them. Choosing to make introspection and mindfulness more of a priority is bringing deeper joy, peace and satisfaction to every day.

Insects have so much to teach us and will always be some of my favorite beings.

January 2017
Glen Arbor Michigan