From Caterpillar to Butterfly: Healing from “Dis-ease” with Passion and Purpose

By Karen Leonetti

Did you know that when a very plump caterpillar spins itself delicately into its cozy cocoon, it becomes total liquid before emerging into the most glorious butterfly? My brother told me so, and I raised butterflies for many years as a teacher, in my preschool classroom. It tickles me to think of this stage of cocooning as the “liquid assets” stage.

I imagine that in this miraculously liquid asset stage, a new cell regenerates color, forms new patterning, and instinctual transformation begins. For me personally, my liquid “asset” stage was post bone marrow transplant in 1993. It was then that I was to make my transformation at both a cellular and physical level. For six months I was “temporarily” restricted from the joys of my life. My immune system was so dangerously low that I could not be around my niece and nephews, my household pets, my healing garden, or my job as a preschool teacher. At this point my cocoon, or vessel cup, was dreadfully empty of liquid asset. The scars were not only physical from the numerous surgeries (the 6-inch Non Hodgkin’s tumor was on my heart and inoperable), but emotional too.

I heard this quote and it resonated with me:

“Scars remind us of where we have been, but they do NOT have to dictate where we are going.”

Loving, committed friends and family would pray for me and tell me so! It was so important for me to hear who was praying for me. I think I was put on prayer chains all over the world!

Friends, neighbors, and family also would appear at my home for inspirational visits. I would spend my alone time with the AMAZING inspirational works of Louise Hay and Dr. Wayne Dyer on cassette tapes (this was the early 90s when CDs were not yet available). I listened quietly in an effort to boost my psycho-neuro-immunology. Yes that’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? I would say through personal experience, that 90 percent of our healing abilities begin in the brain. I would sit quietly day after day, listening for hours, allowing their inspirational voices to seep into my subconscious and conscious mind. I could then feel the healing beginning and absorbing into my cellular DNA and bones. I knew this is what I needed for my transformation—the slow filling of my mighty vessel so my liquid assets could alter me into the new person I knew I would become. You see, at 30 years old, I was always worried about what others thought, or what others would say. This was my time to develop new cellular patterning, new habits, and to heal. I remember my mom, dad, and husband saying “Karen, your job is to get well now and heal.” And that I did!

But let’s not jump ahead. First, I would like to take you back to a pivotal point when my loving husband, Danny, did something incredible for me. While I was in Tampa, FL, for treatment, my white blood count was at a mere existence of only 10! My bone marrow was extracted and frozen in safe keeping for the six days of chemotherapy. After, I lovingly held each thawed bag of bone marrow, which was soon to be my new immune system, to my chest. I blessed the liquid as it slowly dripped and reentered my body via I.V. tubing. After several days, I shifted into despair as my “liquid rescue” bone marrow was not graphing quickly. I turned my head slowly to my caretaker and husband, who had been sitting next to me in the same isolation room for 43 days, and said “I am not getting out of here am I?” He very quickly and lovingly responded, “YES you are, and we are going to build you your own preschool to keep you healthy and help transform the world!” Can you imagine how desperately I needed to hear those words?

My bone marrow began instantly graphing into my bones, and my healing transformation began!

I am so very, very happy to tell you we opened my own GREEN preschool in 1996. We named it Earth Angel Preschool, and we taught children the curriculum of “love, cooperation, community, and eating healthy.” I got to spread my arms (or shall I say wings) widely every morning greeting my little preschoolers to begin a loving, fun, nutritious day. We had extended snack and lunch times, elaborating about the benefits of each fruit and veggie and the importance of fresh foods for our bodies to grow and soar! We also thrived in community outreach, holding biannual family organic gardening classes at our educational garden.

Our mission remains constant today: to get families across the nation to start growing a minimum of three vegetables for their family’s health in their own backyards. Organic nutrition, hydration, and good belly breathing oxygenation were what my body was lacking and so desperately needing during my illness—and they are imperative for us all to remain in good health

Through my transformation out of “dis-ease,” I have realized with great awe the strikingly parallel resemblance of the butterfly’s life cycle to our own: the caterpillar turns into liquid, then into a new series of patterns, and finally a glorious butterfly emerges! I also fluttered into a similar pattern of renewable glory and health!

In May 2013, we decided to move to Black Mountain, NC. With a transition, there is often pain. We sadly closed our precious school as it was located on our homestead and we were unable to subdivide and sell it. Earth Angel Preschool closed its chapter as we moved away. We relocated to a darling little mountain town, just East of Asheville, NC, called “Black Mountain” for its rich dark green trees. Oddly enough, the abbreviation for this sweet town is BMT (Black Mountain), and my medical procedure was a BMT (Bone Marrow Transplant). WOW! At first site of the small oval black and white BMT car stickers, our stomachs ached with reliving the pain of my past healings. Memories began to flow. We quickly decided to STOP and pivot from those pain-filled thoughts and rejoice! We began to say,

“IF I did not have my BMT in 1993, I would not be able to LIVE in BMT in 2014.”

Weird, isn’t it? Life is funny and “God-sequences” do exist. In our eyes, we are blessed.

Once we moved to the mountains, I continued my quest to educate and advocate for fresh foods for kids and gardening outside. My first book, Yummy Tummy Rainbow Garden was completed and published in July of 2013. A three-year project that began in Sarasota and was completed in the mountains. A perfect segway to our new life! It teaches children of all ages to eat well. I also continue to help children play and plant in the dirt and “dig in” to healthy foods for LIFE! And guess what my “Liquid Asset” is now? Water! Water for the plants, soil, and water for my body.

For if we are healthy…we are truly EVER so wealthy!

Karen Leonetti is a Child Development Specialist and a Fun Fresh Food Expert. Her mission is to get children excited about growing a backyard garden and eating freshly grown, unpackaged foods. She and her husband, Danny, operated an eco-green preschool called Earth Angels for 17 years. Karen is a cancer survivor-thriver since 1993. She wrote her first children’s nutritional storybook, The Yummy Tummy Rainbow Garden, to keep children healthy. Karen enjoys teaching fun fresh food workshops and coaching parents to live harmoniously with their children. She has been a guest on radio shows across the nation speaking on the topic “families that eat together, stay together.” Visit

This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at,, and all ebook formats.


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