Dear oh deer, thank you for the teachings

IMG_6263Over the last few weeks, many of you have asked about the deer image I created for my blog. So, I’ll try to explain why and how I chose the deer, or perhaps more accurately, how the deer chose me. In doing so, I must admit that sharing this feels more vulnerable and personal than other posts, yet it also feels important to share.

Why the deer?

For the last year I have been courted by this majestic and graceful animal. In times of sorrow, challenge, and difficulty the deer (and the buck in particular) has been my guide. The deer has helped show me the way and has given me strength and fortitude to carry forward. In particular, there are three encounters that have been personally meaningful and transformative.

Deer out of water – About a year ago, just shortly after my former partner left, I went for my daily walk to the ocean. That morning I was struggling emotionally and I decided to change course and walk a different way. Yet, as I approached the ocean something told me to go the way I knew. I listened to my gut, and as I turned to walk the way I had been many times before, I witnessed a buck swimming out of the ocean towards me. Our eyes locked and we stared at each other for several moments. He then looked back towards the ocean, as if to see if someone or something was coming. There was nothing. He looked back at me and intently stared and bowed his head. It was if he was saying “it will all be ok. You will be ok on your own.” He then ran off into the forest. It was an extremely powerful experience.

Soul bound – Nearly a week after being diagnosed with lymphoma, I had another encounter with the deer, yet this time I was visited by the deer in a dream. In my dream, I was walking through the forest with some friends and we spotted two deer. Seeing these deer, I decided to blow a whistle (interestingly I was wearing one around my neck), and in response the two deer ran backwards. When the deer reached the end of the path, the buck proceeded to run towards me. Instead of stepping out the way, I stood firmly in my spot, and the deer ran into my body. In that moment I woke up and every cell of my being was alive. It was if the deer had become part of my soul and wanted me to know that he was with me on this journey. It was simply unexplainable!

Drawing by my dear friend Sarah Michaud

Drawing by my dear friend Sarah Michaud

My spirit guide – A month ago I attended a wilderness retreat based on Bill Plotkin’s book: “Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche,” and again the deer showed up. We had been asked to find a spirit spot in the wilderness and on my walk to find “my spot,” I struggled to simply wander. In an attempt to get out of my head, I put my head down and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. After getting completely and utterly lost, I looked north (the direction of our generative, nurturing adult), and a doe stood staring at me. I tried to follow her through the forest, yet lost sight of her. She then re-emerged as if to say “follow me.” I did and she led me to a clearing where two of her friends were grazing. The three deer then dispersed into the forest. At that moment, I “knew” that I had found my spirit spot! The deer had been my guide!

Through each experience I have had with the deer (of which there are many more), I am reminded that I have many valuable lessons to learn. And so, as I embark on this next step in my life, I chose to continue to pay attention to him/her, and embody his/her qualities. I seek to be gentle and graceful; sensitive and intuitive; innocent, yet wise; mindful and vigilant; and in touch with the great mysteries and awe of life.

Thank you dear one for your teachings. I am watching and listening!



  1. Tanya

    Are you kidding me!! Goosebumps is all I can say.. Wow!! You really should become an author, once you get through all of this…seriously you should write a book.. You are so inspirational..

  2. Dickon

    I got a “timed out” error, so I hope this doesn’t double post!

    Clearly, Severus Snape is on your side! What an ally! :)

  3. steven

    just beautiful, stirring, raw and profound.
    i’m honoured to be in your circle, to witness your journey
    thank you from the deepest place for your honest sharing

  4. Momma Sandy

    Dear Deer girl, seeing the signs and reading them has always been one of your best attributes. Keep going.

  5. Jen

    I too got goosebumps. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. You are an inspiration. We’re sending lots of love and healing thoughts your way.

  6. Bruce Lund

    I am so touched that you are so fortunate to have found your guide. What a wonderful way to describe this revelation!

  7. Nicole Fiset Resch

    Cheryl, how appalling that it has taken cancer for me to re-connect with you. (Although let us not forget the Northwest African Queen pageant weekend!) Amy sent around an email yesterday from Perth letting many of your former RTPers know about your latest chapter.

    I agree with Tanya. This blog does seem like the seed of a book (and its cover art) in which you share this entire journey. I’m reading a book now called “Women in the Wild” or something like that. It’s a series of travel pieces by women and I enjoyed your piece more than many in the book. Extraordinary.

    While it may seem trite, I must share that the only people I know who have had lymphoma continue to gallop on through life many years after treatment. I applaud you for pausing to let whatever good can come of this experience into your life. And also for sharing it with your community.

    One more person is thinking about you.

    1. Cheryl (Post author)

      Thank you Nicole! Lovely to hear from you and let’s catch up soon! Mwaaa!

  8. Tina

    Cheryl dear,
    I don’t know what to say, that is a powerful story. It is amazing how the higher power meets us at the point of need when we least expect. I pray that the deer will fill you with peace, guide and comfort you in this time.
    Big love,

    1. Cheryl (Post author)

      Thank you Tina! Sending lots of love!


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