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Animals and nature bestow many beautiful lessons about our own life and transformation process.
Whether it’s a caterpillar turning into a butterfly or the steadiness of a turtle’s pace, nature provides messengers to us that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s our job to tune into what these messengers are here to teach us, at their own pace, and in their own ways. At the same time, the lessons in presence that are available to us, are ones our human society often pushes us to disconnect from. Relating to something like a caterpillar or a tadpole often requires us to step outside of our human ego and see how we are really not much different from these little creatures. We all have a limited time on Earth and are doing our best to thrive.
As I have been in my own transformation process since the beginning of this year, having resigned from corporate life and roles I had been in for several years, I have been grieving alongside learning to honor myself. A vital component in learning how to honor myself has come from, unexpectedly, my pet frog, Taddius Frogley, or Taddy for short.
A few days after my resignation, I decided to fulfill a childhood dream of mine: raising tadpoles into frogs. In come Taddy and Tina, two little tadpoles who were shipped straight to my door. They looked bewildered in their bag of water surrounded by foam peanuts. You truly can order anything off the internet these days. Sadly, Tina did not live very long due to prior health conditions, but Taddy grew big and strong quickly.
Witnessing his growth and transformation gifted me with many new perspectives on life and how to show myself grace, as I too am in a metamorphosis of sorts. Observing his very gradual and intensive growth, changes he couldn't control or even agree to, gave me countless insights into my own parallel transformation process.
Healing, grieving, accepting, and becoming, were just a few of the things I was experiencing while Taddy is growing lungs, limbs, a new mouth construct, and more. My connection to him was one that felt divine, as if God had sent me this little tadpole to teach me about patience and how complex transformation can be.
As Taddy sadly passed away yesterday afternoon, I am distraught with grief for my little froggy friend, as well as grateful for all the wisdom he brought my way while he was in my life. He gave me immense joy as I would watch him be cute and live his well-earned life of leisure. He was a physical representation that the hard work is worth it; that there is life after these challenges.
Grief is complicated and attached to so much. I feel the grief I am experiencing is very much associated with the huge amount of love I have for this little frog. He was not just my pet, but my baby, a teacher, an inspiration, and a companion through one of the hardest chapters of my life.
This little creature made a big splash in my life and others’. His ripple effect is sure to continue for as long as I live.
Below are some lessons Taddy taught me.
Don't Just Focus on the Outcome of Being a Frog; Being a Tadpole is Amazing Too
As Taddy was developing, I found myself giddy with excitement to witness his transformation. I also realized I was a bit impatient and just wanted to see him be a frog when the whole point of me ordering him offline was to witness a tadpole's transformation for once. I was, what I now call, "focusing on the frog", i.e. focusing on the outcome too much and not allowing myself to be present with the miracle taking place right in front of me. Once I realized this, I slowed down and let Taddy transform at his own pace. The parallel in my life at the time that I was projecting onto Taddy was being frustrated with the grief I was struggling with. I just wanted to be done with it and move onto a new chapter in my life. However, I was not fully allowing myself to grieve and feel all of my emotions, as hard as they were, in order to truly release all of the stress I had been carrying for so long. As Taddy was growing, I was healing.
Even Little Changes Deserve Celebration
When I realized I was rushing through the process, to slow down, I started to focus on the details available to be in each moment. I found myself experiencing presence for the first time in a long time. I learned how to become fully aware of what I was experiencing in myself and in my environment. With Taddy's development, I also started to notice subtle, yet significant changes in his growth. I became more excited with each new change I noticed and found myself slowing down and participating in life again.
Growth is Sometimes Painful and Gross
As Taddy began growing limbs, I noticed how borderline eerie it was witnessing such an intimate development process out in the open. Where human development takes place in the privacy of the womb, and birds develop in the seclusion of an egg, here was Taddy, starkly visible, going through changes that were not for the faint of heart. His arms developed under his flesh, visible through his opaque skin, and burst out one day when the sheer skin was no longer able to contain their mass. It looked, admittedly, a little gross, but in my mind, I couldn't help but empathize with Taddy and how painful that must've been. I'm glad I do not have to sprout body parts via having them rupture through my skin; however, I could see the vulnerability and tenderness that was a relatable part of the transformation process. Transformation isn't always pretty or heroic or painless. What made the transformation so remarkable was how he just kept going and growing.
Transformation Teaches Patience and Surrender to the Process
Taddy didn't sign up to go through this transformation. He had no idea what he was getting himself into or what he was working towards. His body was merely doing what it was programmed to do. Yet, he handled it at his own pace and the best he could. Even when I was eager to see him as a frog, I also was humbled at the fact I had no idea what was going on internally in his body and the amount of energy required to create all his body parts. Nature's timeline is always on time; our human tendency to want to rush and "focus on the frog" has us becoming increasingly unfamiliar to the necessary act of surrender. There was nothing I could do to control Taddy's development beyond feed him and change his water. The rest was going to take time. As for my own life, I always prided myself on my tenacity; however, I could also see how the need to control was taking away from my ability to heal. Surrendering and allowing things to happen on their own time actually brought them my way when it was the best time. Additionally, more often than not, many benefits revealed themselves to me while in the process of surrendering that I may not have noticed before.
Some Parts of Ourselves Must Be Lost to Create New Parts
As Taddy's tail grew, his teeny legs simultaneously began to sprout. As his legs and feet grew larger, his tail began to shrink, as if he were converting the cells in his large tail into cells for his legs. His mouth as a tadpole was small and round, like a little circular opening with its sole purpose as eating algae. As he transformed into a frog, his mouth began to widen, gain structure with jaws, and once he was a frog, he switched to an insect diet. When we transform, we often need to change what sustains us, how we proceed through life, and even let go of parts of ourselves in order to make room for the new. As I've been on my healing journey, I've been learning to shed self-criticism, comparison, jealousy, self-doubt, feeling like I need to make myself small, and more. I may have needed these parts at some point in my life but I'm shedding them and transforming them into creativity, self-belief, trust, gratitude, and self-love.
Once You Achieve Your Goal, Take Time to Float
When Taddy fully grew into a frog, I celebrated like crazy. I posted on social media, created a video montage of all my photos, texted my family and friends, and shared his story with many other people I met. I was so proud of my little guy. It was no small feat to redo his whole body. I was happy to see him enjoy burrowing in his moss and floating in his pool once he was fully grown. He was living a life of leisure. And when it comes to taking a 180 on our lives for ourselves, that is no small feat either. I have been essentially redoing my whole life: my day-to-day, I'm now engaged to my partner, my career is elevating, I've become my own boss, I'm learning new things, and revamping my fitness and nutrition. I do not know when I will have achieved "completion", as there are many aspects that are in motion right now. However, I think success is more than just a monetary measurement; I see it as living a lifestyle where I have freedom. Gratefully, I do feel I have achieved that and it is truly incredible. Now, it's about leveling up where I see fit, continuing to nurture my progress, and also taking time to soak it all in.
You Bring Joy to Others Just By Being Yourself
Taddy was such a cutie, whether he was burrowed in his moss, sitting alongside his pool, or floating the day away. He didn't have to "do" anything but merely "being" himself was always enough to make me smile and chuckle. I just loved that he existed and was continuously amazed at the fact I had raised up this little frog from a baby tadpole. He was, and will always be, such a huge gift to my life, even though he was just a few inches big. Personally, I've often felt pressure to "do" the most in order to be loved or appreciated when really just "being" myself brings more than enough to the table. Sharing myself, what makes me vulnerable and human, is all that is needed to form real, genuine connections with other people. And perhaps, also with frogs.
Thank you, Taddy, for being such a gift to my life. You will be sorely missed.
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