These days I fully trust messages life sends me through little creatures. It took me about 30 years to get there but the stories of animal spirit guidance I have had in the last decade, since I opened my mind and heart to embrace them, have been incredible as well as immensely powerful and eye opening.

My spirit animal messengers aren’t usually cuddle-friendly or adorable. The vulture that kept following me on my morning hikes taught me that all hardship is temporary and can be a doorway to a brighter future, just like death is a prelude to new life. The cockroach reminded me that I can survive any circumstance, no matter how catastrophic it may seem, and that I can even thrive in what seems to be utter chaos and decay. The bat that flew into my house just a couple of months ago and kept flying over my head taught me to trust my own sense of inner sight as I fully embrace the darkness before the dawn.

And last week, there was the worm, not only in my yoga studio (gasp…) but as I was teaching a class. It was a caterpillar actually, but I didn’t know it at the time. I was shocked and a little freaked out to see the “worm” crawling on my notebook in which I write down my yoga sequences, as my yogis were peacefully resting in savasana. I kept an eye on the “worm,” seeing it crawl away from my notebook and inching its way up the wall behind me. My plan was to safely get it outside into the bushes after all my yogis had left. Except I couldn’t find it anymore… A few hours later, back at the studio to teach a class again, I was looking for the little guy as my friend Amanda walked in and asked me what in the world I was doing. (She actually said “Qu’est-ce Que C’est?!” as she so adorably does although I don’t speak French at all.) I told her that there was a worm and I needed to find it and get it out before class. I looked back at my notebook, which had been on the floor for hours, and saw that the “worm” got back to where I saw him first, hours ago! I screamed “Here it is!!!” and Amanda yelped “Oh wow, It’s a caterpillar, silly, not a worm!” No caterpillar was harmed, thanks to Amanda, who got it out of the studio and left it in the bushes outside.

A caterpillar. Wow. I didn’t have to google that one to figure out what the message might be. The craziest and best part, as always, was that the message was just what I needed: don’t fear letting go of the old self by going into the cocoon and becoming goo because only so will you turn into the butterfly that you were meant to be and, in reality, already are. Holy caterpillar! For months, I’ve been struggling to speak my truth and stand my ground because of family-related guilt and conditioning, although I knew that I was just tethering myself to fear-based ways of being that I had outgrown a long time ago.

The caterpillar made me contemplate the concept of becoming, which I know is not unique to me right now. The year 2017to me has definitely been a year of show and tell, of separating the wheat from the chaff, and of choosing which direction to take from now on: old or new, compromise or authenticity, fear or love.

We say that becoming hurts. But it only hurts if we resist the inevitable process of transformation. Part of this process is an honest and compassionate look at our past, and especially what we call our flaws and our mistakes. In other words, without embracing our darkness, which is completely self perceived and therefore subjective and merely a theory we hold about ourselves, the inevitable process of becoming will feel like punishment when in all reality, it is what our future self has planned for us with loving precision all along.

In the order in which we are used to perceiving reality, the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. But what if the butterfly chose to temporarily forget itself, entering darkness, uncertainty and seeming death, only to remember, to reassemble, itself with renewed joy? What if all of THIS — THIS being whatever hardship, chaos, or uncertainty exists in your life right now — is part of your own chosen path and the darkness you fear to acknowledge and dread entering is exactly what you need?

And all this wisdom from a little thing that looks like a worm. How can I not be in awe of this mystery we call life? As long as I trust that it’s a benevolent force pervading it all, and I do, my heart shall remain open to all of it.