Tag: inspiration

The Butterfly Effect: A Story of Hope & Strength

I’m going through a time of transformation and growth in my life.

Over the past few years, I’ve been rebuilding and restoring my health, as I wrote about in this post, The Courage to Be Vulnerable: My Untold Story.

My husband and I are in the process of renovating our kitchen (yay!) and have set up shop in our basement for the duration of the construction process.

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I’ve been coming into my own in my job and am constantly learning and growing, honing my speaking, presenting and consulting skills and continuing to build an identity as Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen.

I’m preparing for my first national speaking gig at the¬†Wellness Council of America’s National Summit in Orlando in April. It will be the first time I have the opportunity to take my message and passion to a larger stage. I’ve been brainstorming¬†creative ideas¬†to present the content¬†and convey my message¬†in a way that will leave everyone feeling energized, inspired and hopeful.

Yet, in the midst of all of this¬†time of opportunity and growth,¬†I often feel like I’m struggling, pushing and pressing without a clear vision of¬†what the final outcome will look like.¬†What is the unique message and¬†contribution that will define my work?¬†What do I need to do to figure that out? How long will it take?

If you’re going through a time of growth or challenges in your life right now, my hope is that what I’m about to share will restore your hope and encourage you.

If you prefer to watch or listen to a quick video, click below. Otherwise, keep reading. Or, do both!

Does it ever seem like certain words, images, names, numbers or symbols keep making their way into your life? What is the connection? Why do they keep coming up? What are they trying to teach us?

For me, that image has been a butterfly.

I started to connect the dots about why this might be when I was having a conversation with my dad a couple of months ago. I was preparing for a presentation about goal setting. He explained to me what happens when a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly in a way that I had never heard before that has stuck with me ever since.

As the lowly caterpillar or larva goes through a process of metamorphosis to become what will one day be a beautiful butterfly, something remarkable happens.

The larval phase transitions to the pupa phase, also know as the resting phase. Despite what its name might suggest, a great deal of transformation is happening beneath the surface.

During this time, most of the tissues and cells that make up the larva are broken down inside the pupa, and¬†that material is rebuilt into the adult version –¬†the butterfly.


As the butterfly approaches its moment of release and freedom, when it will finally be able to fly, its wings are pushing, pushing, pushing against the inside of the pupa.

It’s that pushing motion that strengthens the butterfly’s wings, so that when it is ready to emerge, it is able¬†to fly.

If we were to take a pair of scissors or a knife and slit open that cocoon prematurely, before the butterfly was ready, it wouldn’t¬†be strong enough¬†to fly.

It is strengthened by its struggle.

Aren’t there so many time in our lives when we feel like shouting,¬†“Now is the time! or “I’m tired¬†of waiting!”?

We¬†wonder when we will be able to see the payoff of our¬†efforts. This “I want it now” mentality that pervades our society is something I wrestle with on a regular basis.

“I’m ready!” I declare.

But, maybe I’m not.

Maybe my time is yet to come.

Maybe I’m being prepared for something even greater than I can imagine.

In those moments, I’m reminded of the journey¬†of the butterfly and its¬†process of transformation and building strength.¬†It’s only when the butterfly is ready¬†and has built up its strength that¬†it can take flight.

As I was sharing this story with my friend, Jinji, the other day, she said something so simple that captured its essence and resonated with me in a profound way:

Caterpillars don’t know that they’re going to become a butterfly.

Sit with that for a moment.

The caterpillar didn‚Äôt know it would transform into¬†a beautiful, vibrant, fascinating creature, just as we don’t know what’s in store for our lives.

We might feel small and insignificant at times, but what if we’re simply being prepared for something greater, something we can’t even fathom?

Jinji’s¬†words tied in perfectly with¬†a lesson that resonated with me at a¬†women’s retreat I attended with my mom in Gettysburg in February.¬†We had the¬†opportunity to create a watercolor picture image to represent something that was meaningful¬†to us that weekend, and this is what I drew and painted.


We never know what these stepping stones¬†along our journey could be strengthening us to be able to do one day. Let’s not look down on them. They are a necessary part of our¬†preparation.

Think about what is being brought into your life to strengthen you,¬†to prepare you for what you’re meant to do and who you’re meant to be.

I want to leave you with one final thought, one more glimmer of hope.

Without knowing any of these butterfly moments I was experiencing, my friend, Gina, gave me a devotional last week, and on the inside cover, she put this sticker:


I was overcome with a sense of peace as I read it.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

That reminder was just what I needed.

We could be on the edge of our greatest moment, on the verge of “arriving,” and not even know it.

So, trust the process.

And hold on to hope.

Because when you are ready, and only when you are ready, you will be called to spread your wings and fly.

‘Tis the Season to Pay It Forward: The Gift of Giving Back

I saw this sign outside of a local salad placed called sweetgreen a few weeks ago.

But I didn’t really feel it until this morning.

Something special happened at work today. Something very special. Something all of us will remember for the rest of our lives.

The day started with a typical monthly All Hands meeting. As a company, we come together, celebrate successes, appreciate each other, and strategize for the future.

Today was different.

Each of us had just finished opening our very own Fitbit Flex with our new company branding on it. It was amazing to look at, I’ve got to be careful with it, I don’t want to break it or cause it to be damaged in any way, luckily I can go online to Mobile Mob and check out their Fitbit bands on there in case I need a replacement! Got to keep this beauty safe.

We’re going to be participating in a company-wide movement campaign called On the Move this spring. Integrating our Fitbits into the challenge will be one more way for us to come together for some healthy competition, something our close-knit group enjoys.

Moments later, Richard Silberstein, our CEO, pulled out a pack of handwritten thank you notes. He had personally written one to every employee at our organization. He requested we open them later.

As we approached the close of the meeting, Richard, a man I’ve known for half my life and worked for for over a decade, did something totally unexpected.

He pulled up a slide with a picture of an older bearded man wearing glasses and a hat, who was sitting in an armchair.

“Does anyone know who this is?” he asked.

“Santa Claus?!” was the response.

Laughter ensued. Then the room grew quiet, as Richard invited us in to what was the most emotional, authentic, and memorable moment of my career here.

He explained how he has befriended this man, Scotty, a Vietnam vet, who hangs out at the Starbucks in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware ‚Äď a place Richard vacations throughout the year and has a family home.

Richard is a social guy and one of the most well-connected, relational people I know, so it’s no surprise that he would buddy up with and get to know someone he sees regularly.

He told us how Scotty was one of those people who is often misunderstood and who might be passed over by the average person. But Scotty and Richard have formed a connection and a bond. I’ve heard Richard talk about him before, but the story he told moments later forever changed how we will see this man.

Richard started to get choked up as he reflected on his friendship and conversations with Scotty, a man who has regularly attends AA and is often in “a bad place.”

He reminded us of how fortunate we are, how we have so much.

Richard told us how he decided to Pay It Forward and give Scotty $100 as a gift. Scotty was speechless but grateful. He wasn’t going to use it for himself, even though he surely needed it. He was going to share it with his fellow army vets, so they could at least have something for Christmas, since none of them has any family or even homes in which to live.

At that moment, Richard pulled out an envelope.

“I’m going to give each of you $100 to pay it forward. Give it to someone else ‚Äď anyone you want.”





That’s what I was feeling.

All of us were.

The wheels in my mind started spinning, “Who would I gift my $100 to?”

The cleaning crew? The maintenance men? A mother at a toy store? The janitor at my husband’s school? The pastor on a teacher’s salary with three kids?

You could tell everyone was thinking the same thing, “How will I share this gift? With whom? When? How will they respond?”

By this point, there was barely a dry eye in the room.

But Richard wasn’t finished yet.

“I’m going to give each of you another $100 as a thank you. This has been a challenging year and you’ve worked hard. You can use it for yourself or give it to someone else.”

Each of us sat there stunned, overwhelmed with gratitude for what we had just experienced.

Anyone who knows Richard knows him to be a generous man.

Have a college kid looking for a job? Send Richard their resume.

Have a daughter applying to Richard’s alma mater, where he serves as a board member? Call Richard.

Have a family member who just received a devastating diagnosis and needs the best medical care possible? Give Richard a buzz.

Everyone in that room this morning was humbled by what happened. Very few people ever have the opportunity to experience feeling that way. But we did.

It’s something we’ll never forget.

What I experienced today reminded me why where I work truly is one of the best places to work and one of the healthiest companies, in every sense of the word “healthy.”

SIG Best Places to Work

SIG was recently honored as one of Baltimore’s Top Workplaces by The Baltimore Sun

As I returned to my desk to reflect on what had just happened, I remembered one of Richard’s mottos, something passed down to him from his grandfather about the importance of being generous and caring for other people:

“If you take care of Baltimore, Baltimore will take care of you.”

Thanks for taking care of us, Richard, and for helping us take care of others.

Thank you for making this the best place to work.

I extend this charge to YOU. Take a moment to reflect on how you can give back to better someone else’s life. Feel free to share your story below!

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