Ooh, Shiny!

Diversions, distractions, and delightful detours.

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It doesn’t matter what I’m doing: if I see a butterfly, I am instantly distracted. I like to think of myself as a focused, disciplined person. I make lists, I schedule my day, I plan my work and work my plan. When I’m inside my house, nothing can pull me out of the zone when I’m writing or in deep thought about solving a problem at work.

Outside is a different story. Yesterday, I brought my laptop out to my garden to work. I was in a text meeting with a colleague when an enormous butterfly fluttered in front of me and then settled on the zinnia patch next to my elbow. I had just asked a serious question of my colleague, and in the middle of our conversation, before he even had time to respond, I typed “OMG GIANT SWALLOWTAIL!!!”

Professional? Not so much. But, butterflies!

Black swallowtail in our Virginia garden. My favorite distraction.

Like a dog that sees a squirrel and jerks the leash out of its owner’s hand to chase it, I just can’t help but get excited, and 100% sidetracked, by monarchs, swallowtails, frittilaries, hairstreaks. They’re like jewels of the air. They are vibrant, graceful, full of light. And they are goofy as well, wobbling and weaving in their flight in a way that makes me laugh. I photograph them at every opportunity.

What about you: what is guaranteed to distract you? What is your “Ooh, shiny!”?

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  1. I love butterflies! They have such a significant meaning to my life story so naturally, if I see one, I’m super distracted! But, it doesn’t take much to distract me either, although. I remember one day while driving to work, I was passing some corn fields and I saw a crop dusting plane dusting the corn crops. I was so fascinated that it tickled me pink to see that sight! Definitely distracted me from driving and needless to say, my husband hates when I drive!


  2. My daughter is an “ooh, shiny!” She once followed a plastic bag into traffic. I have found that people like this are usually dynamic, creative and unconstrained by social norms. They are my favorite people and make for the best conversationalists.


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