From Inside the Soup


Today’s piece is dedicated to a wonderful, generous woman who shared her story with me and said, “Your ability to see 'the possible' is inspiring. I'm impishly imagining a blog from you titled, "From Inside the Soup". We were talking about our lives and she shared a story which I will somewhat alter for the sake of confidentiality.

My friend was telling me the story of how her grown child had chosen to step back from a promising career in which they exuded natural talent. This young person had been given many opportunities to develop and share their talent far beyond someone of their age. I could hear an undercurrent of fear about the potential consequences of her child’s choice to step away from burgeoning possiblities. In the stepping away the child had also decided to move to place that, in this loving Mom’s opinion, wasn’t able to feed or nurture the child’s talent and passion. This Mom was sad and confused - truly grieving what she perceived to be a great loss.

This all weighed so heavily on my friend’s mind and heart that even speaking of it all turned her glowing face to pain and her sparkling eyes dimmed.

Frequently when people are sharing their story I will be looking up and toward the left or right. It is not because I’m disinterested, but rather because sometimes images appear in my mind’s eye. As I’ve coached more and more people, I’ve learned to trust the images to inform and guide me instead of working with my brain to figure it out.

In my mind’s eye I saw a very hungry caterpillar eating and eating and eating. Then I understood what was happening for the grown child my friend loves so dearly. This child was undergoing a powerful metamorphosis and just surrendered to the first step.

And so I shared with my friend the story of metamorphosis.



Going to soup

The caterpillar goes along eating, eating, eating – because that is what caterpillars do. Just like her child was working, working, working – learning and applying his craft with many accolades and much attention. And then one day, much like the caterpillar, he stops. When the caterpillar stops, he finds the most sheltered place he can and his body begins forming a rigid outer crust of protection. I’m guessing the caterpillar does this without thinking, questioning or even understanding that he is about to let go of all that no longer serves him. I sometimes wonder if he is surprised, curious or afraid and I’m certain scientists would tell me he doesn’t have the capacity for questioning. The caterpillar simply has an urge so strong he must follow it. What a gift!

While in this crust or cocoon, every part of the caterpillar dissolves into a soup. This is a time of deep rest. Now if you say those two words together quickly, “deep rest”, it sounds very similar to “depressed”. Depressed is the diagnosis we sometimes assign to others or ourselves when in a stage of deep rest - when we simply need to go to soup.

I know this because several years ago I went into a deep rest following the loss of a relationship that I had planned on being in the trajectory of the rest of my life. I was fortunate enough to hear Martha Beck talk about the journey of the caterpillar and the caterpillar’s going to soup. Martha’s words gave me permission to allow myself to go to soup without judgment or shame. And actually with a bit of excitement for what was next. Here’s why…..

The caterpillar is the only creature we know of currently who totally transforms himself by dissolving into soup. As he is in the soup, his DNA contains all these little cells called imaginal cells. The imaginal cells begin resonating and clumping together to form something entirely new – something that the caterpillar could not have even imagined. The imaginal cells hold the information to create vibrant, colorful wings and the knowledge of how to fly. These cells hold the blueprint for creating an entirely different, yet magnificent, creature with the ability to soar to new heights and see the world from a new and vast perspective.

But to transform, the caterpillar must surrender to the soup.


Here’s the view from inside the soup as it was for me. It meant resting when I was tired, and saying no to friends when I felt like saying no. It meant following what I felt compelled to do completely without judgment, and trusting that I would know when I was ready to immerge from the soup and that although I would be different, it would be all be perfect. And this is true.

People who cared about me did continue to urge me to get out and I’m sure they were concerned. People are eager to see you move on from the soup because it seems contrary to the messages we get through life. Take a pill and it will get better! Change your attitude! Look for the positive! Be grateful! Keep pushing!

I say, “no”. If you truly feel the need to go to soup – go! Of course, I had to go to work and feed my dog, pay my bills and brush my teeth. But in the time I didn’t need to do those things I followed what my body and heart wanted, not what my head tried to convince me I “should do”. I suspect that is what my friend’s child is experiencing as well.

When I asked my friend, “What if your child is just in the soup and to be so, they need to be away from here?”  I could tell she had not considered this possibility. Metamorphosis is powerful and relevant to us all, yet a bit scary to apply in our own lives or accept in the lives of others.

Trust the urge to go to soup – in yourself and in those you love!

Happy transforming!  Look for my newest book due out in April, written with Dr. Mary Kay Stenger, entitled “An Every Day Guide to Joy and Abundance – a new approach to living with ease”. It is my story of honoring the soup and emerging, much like a new butterfly, in awe and a little unsure, but following the authentic path of my soul.