Signs After Suicide: The Red Butterfly

Shortly after noon, I went into Arlyn’s bedroom to get a few things to take with me. I was preparing to drive about three miles out into the country, to Woodhaven Road.

I stood and gazed around her room for a few minutes; it was full of Arlyn, but it seemed so empty.

I picked up a folder with some of the poems she had written. Her words. Her thoughts. Her feelings.

I held it under my arm securely while I searched for something else. A Cabbage Patch doll, the dress she was christened in, a blue ribbon she had won for baking a sponge cake when she was ten years old. They were all things that meant something to Arlyn, but I left them alone.

In moving my hands across the top of her dresser, I knocked over a small picture frame. I stood it upright; it held a photo of Arlyn with bright red hair and a happy grin. She was three years old when I had made the Raggedy Ann costume using a mop for a wig. She had flopped around the house for days practicing a Raggedy Ann walk. I smiled at the memory and picked it up to take with me. This was all I needed.

I got into the car, checking to make sure I had not forgotten to put the lawn chair in the trunk. Then slowly, I drove three miles out to the country to a place that drew me to it with an awful, yet irresistible force. To a place on Woodhaven Road.

A few minutes later, I parked the car beside a small stream. I checked my watch; I was early. The rickety wooden bridge which crossed the stream seemed to blend in with the trees and undergrowth surrounding it. There were no other man-made structures in sight.

My eyes tried to follow several small yellow butterflies as they bobbed up and down in this otherwise still picture. I placed the lawn chair on the side of the narrow dirt road. a few feet from the two wooden crosses that announced to the world that this was a place where a death had occurred.

I held on to the folder of writings and the small framed photo as I sat heavily down in the chair. I suddenly realized that I had placed the chair on the exact spot where my daughter’s body had fallen when her life stopped. I briefly stiffened and thought about moving, but then, I didn’t. A morbid need to connect with her held me there.

I opened the folder and picked up a sheet of paper with Arlyn’s handwriting on it. I read:

“The scent of death

Surrounds me

And I am overwhelmed

By it’s beauty.”

I shook my head; I could not understand.

It was terribly hot, much like it was the day Arlyn died. I sat quiety wondering what she had thought during those final moments, wondering if she has been afraid, wondering.

I looked down and continued to read. I felt a dull pain in my chest. Her hands had written the words I was staring at, but her heart had felt them.

After a while, I looked up and stared at the yellow butterflies blankly. Then, I glanced at my watch and saw that it was almost – that time. If Arlyn’s spirit was to come, it would be now.

So I began to talk. At first, I spoke casually. “How are you doing, Arlyn? What’s it like up there? Are you with Mammaw and Grandpap and Lori? Have you played your guitar for them?”

I waited, but Arlyn did not reply.

I felt myself growing more anxious, so I began to ask harder questions, pausing after each to listen for a reply.

“Arlyn, do you miss us? When you pulled the trigger, did you have any idea of how badly your death would hurt your dad and me? Did you know how much I loved you?”

Then, as a post-script, I asked her if she’d seen her young cousin, Adam, who was killed the day before, and I asked her to take Adam under her wings.

Again, I closed my eyes and waited. And waited.

Nothing happened. I felt so sad.
Finally, I decided I had to try one more time to persuade Arlyn to reply. I would ask for a sign that she was here. She’d been gone four years; I had waited long enough.

I opened my eyes and looked around. As I searched for a sign, I realized I would not know a sign if I saw one. What does a sign look like? Is it a blinking light? A crash of thunder? The image of a face in the clouds? What would I look for?

Then, I spotted two yellow butterflies in the woods behind the crosses. This type of butterfly is common in south Georgia at this time of year. It seems that they only come in yellow. I glanced down at the Raggedy Ann photo that was smiling up with me. The red mop wig almost looked like wings surrounding her face.

I smiled to myself then, and I spoke loudly into the trees. I said, “Arlyn, if you hear me, I need a sign! Will you send me a sign to let me know you’re okay? Will you send me a red butterfly if you know how much I love you and how badly I miss you? A red butterfly, Arlyn. Please.”

By then, the tears spilling down my cheeks were making their own small stream. I closed my eyes. I felt the stillness, until a cool breeze brushed past. I shivered.

When I opened my eyes again, I saw the two crosses still standing in front of me. The only thing different was that the yellow butterflies in the woods behind them had left.

I signed. I was so disappointed that I had just passed another milestone date without a sign from Arlyn. I felt myself sinking.

I was a reluctant traveler on this road. Sometimes, it seemed too hard to go on. Sometimes, I wanted to give up and join her. I missed her so much.

A moment or so later, I caught a red flicker in the corner of my eye to the right, over the stream. I turned and saw a large red butterfly come up from under the bridge. Slowly, it flew towards me, bobbing up and down as if it were on a sea of gently rippling water.

As the butterfly flew closer, I held my breath. The trees behind it faded out, creating a hazy background, accenting the brightness of its red wings.

To my amazement, it fluttered close to me. Then, it flew all the way around the two crosses that bore Arlyn’s name. Not once but twice. Twice, the red butterfly encircled those crosses while I sat there spellbound, so close I could have touched it.

It hovered a moment, and then it swooped through the air, heading off into the woods behind the crosses and out of sight.

Was it a coincidence that the red butterfly just happened to fly by as I was hoping for a sign from Arlyn? Was it really a sign from her? If it was a sign, what did it mean?

I do not know if it was a coincidence or not; I have visited the place on Woodhaven Road many times in the past four years. The only butterflies I remember seeing there before were yellow.

A sign is something that may suggest the presence of someone who is missing. To me, that butterfly was a sign from Arlyn, because there is no logical explanation for its appearance otherwise. So, what does it mean?

I believe it was a sign that the spirit lives on after death, and that the soul of my precious Arlyn is at peace. I believe the red butterfly was Arlyn’s way of letting me know that she knows the depth of my love for her, and the pain of my sadness. I also believe that she sent me this sign so I would know that she is with me always.

This knowledge does not erase the fact I miss her, but it does help me move into the future. I feel an inner calmness that was missing before. I believe I have a mission to accomplish while I am here, so I now understand that the spirit of my child will provide the wings to lift me up.

Most important, though, the red butterfly proved to me that love is eternal. It does not die when the body dies. Hearts and souls that are joined on earth are united forever.

How To Become A Social Media Butterfly

Many are those who associate branding with large corporations like McDonalds and Nike and many other giants. Actually this is how it was before the digital age. Social media reshaped the branding landscape within online marketing. Social Media is now reaching a vast number of consumers that is giving them the opportunity to interact with the brand. Technology has given the means to small businesses and entrepreneurs to brand themselves in the vast ocean of social media without spending an extravagant amount of money.

Social networks are more about what consumers say about you or your brand other than what you say about your company. Through social media you establish authority, create trust through interactions, content and visibility. Most online marketers unfortunately close themselves into their cocoon and stay away from becoming the butterfly in social media. If you want to be known then brand yourself and social media is the right platform to do so.

Many use their legal name to brand. Others go beyond and choose any other word or company name. Choose whatever works for you best. What is most important is that you always use the same name on every social media page. This way you build an identity that is consistent and one that consumers will recognize.

Create accounts on sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, StumbleUpon, YouTube and other industry specific sites. You must always communicate your message through all your selected social media. However they must direct all your followers or fans to one central online presence like your blog or website. Your blog is yours and here is where you are in total control. All social network sites can change their rules of engagement as they please while you are the only one in control of your site. This is where the consumers get to know you better. This is where you nourish the trust within your followers.

Your site must provide interesting and fresh content to your followers. You must keep them coming back for more. Transform yourself into an information hub providing your followers valuable information. The more stuff you share, the more likely it is you will be passed around in their network using social media functions like Retweet on Twitter or Share on Facebook. Content will always be king in any type of media. Spice up your content by adding photos, pod-casts and videos. Choose what is best for your community.

Another good source to use social media for your personal brand is by joining online groups and communities and participate in online discussions or start a discussion yourself. In whatever you do always mention your brand at least in your signature. Do not be intrusive with your brand though. Keep your message subtle and soft. Be active in online communities in your industry related blogs and networks.

I always recommend organizing yourself systematically. Plan your week so you do not feel lost of what you have to do next. Dedicate a time or a day for content creation, for social media, for blog communities, for writing the script for your next video or podcast, to learn something new and also time to relax. After all, every butterfly stops to rest to observe the surroundings and regain the energy to fly again over more colorful flowers. There is nothing to be shy of in branding yourself. You have your qualities your knowledge and above all you have yourself that makes you unique. Take off to your flight in social media as you are a unique butterfly.

I wish you a great day – you deserve it.

Joseph Cale
Cale Mindset

Get A Wire Photo Holder For Yourself And Enhance The Beauty Of Your Room

A wire photo holder is much more preferred as a decorative item to the traditional photo frames. This popularity is due to various reasons such as, they come in various shapes and when hung, it accentuates the beauty of the room. Depending on the type of your room and the other furniture that you have you can choose the right photo holder for you from the varieties that are available in the market. Some of them are:

Multiple wire picture holders: Here the wire is shaped in an interesting fashion such as a tree with branches where you can put your photos. These are ideal for the photographs that depict your family tree.

Single wire picture holders: You would often find these picture holders in beautiful shapes such as butterflies or stars or triangles and so on. In these picture holders you can insert your photograph within the coiled wires which keep the photo secure in place and keep the snap holder in your bedroom.

Stump holders: These are frequently used for holding cards but can also be used as photograph holder. They also come in interesting shapes and the best thing about these holders is that both sides of these holders can be used for holding photographs.

Flex picture holders: These wire photo holders can be used for holding both cards as well as photos. These photograph holders which are made of flexible coiled wires can be easily shaped to place in your photograph.

Hanging wire frames: These wire photo holders typically look like coat hangers and here you can easily hang your photographs.

Thus you need to choose the right kind of place in your room for placing the snap holder and then decide about the right type of wire photo holder to be placed in that area. Once you have the snap holder in place it is just minutes to put your photos in them and live the happy moments again.

Animal Photography Basics – How to Get Great Photos in Your Backyard

Often when we think of wildlife we think of animals far away from home, but many people take amazing wildlife photos in their own backyards.

Photographing Furry and Feathery Wildlife

Depending on where you live, there are many ways to turn your yard into a wildlife haven for squirrels, raccoons, birds, deer, frogs and other critters.

While it’s true that we rarely do wildlife a service by feeding them from our cupboards, if you follow the wildlife attraction and sustainability tips from the National Wildlife Federation (they’re online) you can feel good knowing that you are giving back to wildlife.

You will also be creating an environmentally friendly landscape as well because what is good for the animals is also good for the environment.

Take a bit of time to read about the habits of the species you want to photograph and you’ll find it much easier to capture them with your camera. And you will be better able to avoid attracting potentially dangerous predators into your yard. You might also want to check out the code of ethic posted for professional nature photographers by the North American Nature Photography Association.

Just as with photographing pets, when you take a picture of a furry or feathery wild critter, follow these guidelines:

  • Use natural lighting to your advantage
  • Fill the frame with the subject
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Shoot from various angles
  • Capture personality

Photographing Insects

Wildlife photography also includes the miniature world of animals. Butterflies, dragonflies, snails, ladybugs, honeybees, bumblebees, spiders…these are all popular subjects.

Photographing insects can be tricky. Here are some tips from the pros to help:

  • Like with larger wildlife, it will help to know your subject’s patterns of behavior. Do the butterflies frequent one flowery shrub more than others? Then stake it out and wait for the subject to come to you. And be ready!
  • To get the best shots of small creatures at rest, use macro mode and fill the frame. Your camera’s manual will tell you how close your macro mode works. If you stay within the proper range and hold your camera steady, you will get some nice, crisp shots.
  • Unless the insect is very still, use sports mode or flash to freeze action.
  • Most insects are very sensitive to carbon dioxide and will run or fly away if you breathe directly on them. So when you lean in close for your close up, hold your breath! There are a few exceptions – some beetles will freeze (they won’t say “cheese” though.)
  • Keep in mind some insects and spiders pack powerful, even deadly venom, so know your bug before approaching.
  • Because insects slow down with cooler temperatures, early morning and twilight are easier times for capturing them with your camera. Insects can see shadows very well; so don’t approach from the same direction as the light casts.

Photographs of wildlife can make for beautiful fine art, the type that you’ll want to frame and display proudly and give as gifts. Another way to use your animal photography is in photo crafts – greeting cards, calendars, iron on transfers for t-shirts and much more.