Oh Deer! A Gentle Reminder From An Animal Totem

Untitled design (3)The first deer crossed the road well ahead of the car while my 16-year-old son was driving, It was a clear, sunny day, and we were on the back-roads of Wisconsin. I told my son that deer typically come out at dusk, so we were lucky to see one. Not long after, two more deer not only crossed ahead of us, but stopped in the cornfield and calmly watched us pass.

Ah, the country life!

Then the next day, back in Chicago, I overheard someone say that a deer ran through a busy intersection not far from our apartment.

This overabundance of deer made me curious, so I reached for my Animal Speak book to see what deer energy signifies and if there was a message for me. I learned that the deer represents a gentle luring to new adventure. Apparently there are many stories about hunters and even kings following deer deep into the woods until they are lost. Legend has it that Sir Gawain, one of King Arthur’s knights, followed a deer to many adventurous encounters.

Wait. Sir Gawain? This oddly-placed reference might be random, but I’m currently reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, The Buried Giant, and one of the characters is none other than Sir Gawain.

Intrigued, I read on. The deer totem is connected to a 5-year cycle, based on the time it takes for the antlers to grow to full size.

One week ago today marked the end of my 5-year post-divorce spousal support. I am officially independent, and I admit to feeling a bit lost. In many ways, I’m returning to the wilderness, beating a path back to my own buried interests and forgotten goals. I’m also in charge of leading teenagers through some thorny times, and at the same time, trying to tame my desire to be rescued by a Prince Charming or knight in shining armor. Even in my new favorite past time–taking dance lessons–the instructors talk about how to anticipate patterns we’ll be doing “in the wild,” or outside of class.

It can all feel a little scary. So I’m grateful for the deer that crossed my path and reminded me to look to it as an example. Deer are one of the most successful families of mammals, able to adapt to every habitat. Deer carry a spirit of gentleness and renewed innocence, and the promise of new adventure.

My son and I arrived safely at our destination, joining our church group at a family camp. As we gathered for our closing circle, the pastor offered this prayer, “I recognize the divine presence behind all things, the loving force that supports me fully and answers every desire of my heart by saying Yes, yes, my dear beloved. I thought you’d never ask.”


[bctt tweet=”I recognize the divine presence behind all things.” username=”TLetherer”]



Behind The (1)

So this story is about the gentleness of the deer, but my approach to writing it felt more like a deer caught in headlights. So much for being gentle with myself.

The story part was easy. With all those deer popping up, I knew I could begin by just recounting what happened, without preamble. This follows the rule “In Media Res,” which means to begin in the middle of the action. It also doubles as what I call a “setting the scene” lead.

I added, “Ah, the country life” to not only indicate a beat, or pause, and convey the feeling of a big satisfied sigh, but also to set up a contrast for my next paragraph, where I talk about Chicago.

Easy enough. Then it came time to deliver the “nugget” which is Step 2 in my 5-Step Blog Blueprint. I immediately felt squirmy about revealing that my 5-year maintenance (alimony) had  just ended. So I spent a whole afternoon staring at the first paragraph and feeling certain I’d have to scrap the whole idea.

Luckily, I’ve found that “squirminess” is sometimes the best indicator that the nugget is spot-on. So when I sat with my discomfort, what emerged was the part about feeling lost. I didn’t want to admit this to myself or in the blog, but as soon as I did, and made myself really think about why, the rest came.

So in this case, I reorder the 5-Steps just a bit by:

1) beginning with my personal story.

3) expanding the lens, or bringing in supporting or additional information, in this case, looking up the animal totem meaning of deer.

2) then giving the “nugget,” or the emotional truth. I am officially independent, and I admit to feeling a bit lost.

4) I return to my lead story to wrap it up.

Because I began with a “journey” in the lead, or heading toward a destination, I chose to wrap it up with our arrival. That seemed most natural and satisfying to me. And there’s a nice parallel between us arriving safely and me safely finding my way “out of the woods” by receiving spiritual guidance.