women who drift with deer

I have been thinking lately about the women I know, the ones of a certain age; thinking about their strength and luscious depth. Most have a powerful mother energy, as if they are broad trees in very old earth, or warmly lit houses, or paintings layered with colour and texture and symbol. And they would run with wolves, if there were wolves around for running with. They would dance under the wild sister moon.




I love these women, admire them, and see them as rich models of what a middle-aged woman can be. But I also feel as if I am still a young girl looking up to them, to what I ought to be one of these days. Because we women are encouraged to become strong and deep and rich with wisdom grown from experience, aren't we?

But what about those of our kin who carry maiden energy with them as they age? The dreaming poets, the English breakfast tea drinkers, the heart-scarred women whose experiences have left them more soulful than strong, the ones wearing lace petticoats and long white socks and something chiffon? Of course, they exist. But have you noticed how they're barely mentioned in magazines, novels, cinema? (Unless it is to sneer slightly at the way they cry at sentimental tv adverts and read children's books even though they have adult children of their own.)




When I speak up for the fine-souled, gentle, dreamy woman, someone usually comes along to say that gentleness can be strong also. But the kind of woman who drifts with deer rather than runs with wolves may not be strong. Instead she may be fragile, tender-hearted, easily frightened, easily love-falling, and braver than you will ever know. Insisting that she must be strong somewhere inside seems to devalue tenderness, fragility, fear, courage.




There is a woman who would never dance beneath the moon; rather, she would sit a little uncomfortably beneath it, wrapped in a cardigan, composing lunar poetry, wondering if that light hides something, wondering if the moon will fall. There is a woman who thinks wolves are beautiful of course - but too dark and toothed and with too much bold energy for her subtle heart. She may be any age ...

Unless the world has shoved her, bossed her, bruised her, into strength and bold colour.



[art by wellington artist sarah mcneil]

I write stories of fragile women. Their power is generally in their kindness, or their loving nature; often, they don't have what we call power, but find their happiness instead within an old woundedness, holding their memories rather than wanting to transform them. I don't know if these stories speak to other women, but we have so many strong heroines in literature, I want to place my own words on the other side of the balance. 



45 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. A beautiful, beautiful post, Sarah. And the last line really speaks to me, as a deer woman who has learned, the hard way, how to run with the wolves.

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    1. Oh, that last line. The stories it shelters, for me and for many women.

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  3. thank you so much for this wonderful post.you are writing it for me and some of my best friends

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  4. This comes at a perfect moment for me... as a woman who runs with wolves to understand a bit more of the nature of the deer women in my life. Thank you.

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  5. there are those of us who are both. not between the two, but of the two. our chiffon tears on the limbs of trees as we dance under the moon.

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  6. Beautiful. Thank you for writing this.

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  7. so many different facets of being
    interesting to consider through what you have shared
    this art is so lovely

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  8. beautiful thoughts and yet even the most fragile thing is brave fierce when defending for love

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    1. I was certain someone would make such a comment, and I thank you very much for it but must (hopefully politely) disagree. I believe brave is definitely an appropriate word, but I argue that fierce is not. The kind of woman of whom I speak here is not fierce, not strong - maybe she will seem it on the surface, maybe she will even raise her voice, bring out her claws, but beneath that she is terrified, and shaking, and she will go away and hurt. Confrontation is very hard for her. Even ordinary conversation may make her feel the same.

      I don't think I'm alone in this belief. I talk to other women who feel it. Who would rather slip quietly from a restaurant than demand a refund for burned food. Who fret and cry and angst over how to deal with a bullying co-worker rather than just fronting up and demanding justice. Who comforts the person who accidentally tipped hot water on their child's arm, even while other family members are railing and fuming. And so on. A deer woman is definitely not fierce, or at least not without internal consequences. (Although I know deer can be!) I should also add that men can be this type also. My father was. Not a fierce bone in his body.

      I hope very much you aren't offended by what I write here, I do hate openly disagreeing with people. Hugs and thank you for sharing your opinion.

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    2. I agree with you, Sarah. I've learned to be fierce, when I need to be, and that's a useful thing considering the world we live in -- but those are lessons I wish I'd never needed. I would so much have preferred to have been allowed to live my life as the deer woman I am at my core. And some deer women are never able to make this protective adaptation and are deeply harmed by modern life. My mother was one of them.

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    3. no offense Sarah, just speaking from experience

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  9. Thank you for this. Such a sweet pleasure to find myself here.
    Mary Rickert

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  10. Just a big thank you...so sweetly put...I am one of those quiet ones--unless I see someone hurting... Seems our culture appears or even demands people to be bossy, pushy, extroverted, overt in their behavior...but the truth is there are all types of people who exist as you have so elequently expressed, not just those who run, or would run with the wolves...anyway, if I could, I would rather fly with the birds!

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    1. Thank you. And I love the idea of women who fly with birds.

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  11. Beautifully written, as always, Sarah. The wisdom that comes with being a "woman of a certain age" and then some as is the case with me, is that you can dare to be your authentic self whether that be bold or fragile. It's all perfectly fine. xo

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    1. Yes, I do believe we women become wiser (or perhaps just more fed up) at a certain age and become more our authentic selves ... and maybe then have to work through some regret that we didn't do it sooner.

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  12. Hi, sweet Sarah. How I love visiting your lovely blog as I find it's a place of peace and gentlenss.

    I hope your New Year is off to a delightful start. Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Thank you so much, hugs and love in return.

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  13. I am a woman of a certain age but wouldn't know how to begin to describe myself - sometimes I feel strong other times vulnerable. Today, something rather hurtful happened - a so-called friend was arranging a theatre trip and admitted she had forgotten about me when asking who wanted to go. I laughed it off - but now feel a little wounded and wonder if she regards me as a friend at all. So yes, I am a sensitive too. So I am probably a deer rather than a wolf.

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    1. I am so sorry that happened to you. I wish I knew what to say to fix it, but of course it doesn't need fixing by me, it just needs ((hugs)).

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  14. Wow. Incredible writing. The first section virtually flowed off the tongue.
    I felt that deep inside.

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    1. How lovely of you to say so. Thank you :-)

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  15. I love your fragile women. I love that they can be saved by the man, and it's ok, that there is something beautiful in that, but in return they also save him in their own gentle way.

    I feel very much like a deer, fragile, in love with gentle things. I want to be strong too, but I guess there are many forms of strength. I'm not fierce, and don't know how to stand up for myself. I'd rather retreat than face conflict. But I think there is strength too in surviving, in living through a long winter.

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    1. I can't thank you enough for that first paragraph. I believe very strongly in people saving each other, although I know that is not popular in modern literature.

      I am very glad you survived through the long winter.

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  16. Elizabeth WaggonerJanuary 8, 2016 at 3:41 AM

    Thank you.

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  17. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you. I didn't know how I needed this.

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  18. There is a man, for whom, such a woman is something of a dream - the shadow kind that shimmers just out of sight. He would sit under that same moon, shivering for the lack of a cardigan that has gone missing. He would write a story of her, getting so very much of it wrong, and thankful for that.

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  19. Terri said it perfectly "a deer woman, who has learnt the hard way, how to run with the wolves" Unfortunately, so very true over here but you words show us the strength and power we hide inside ourselves and our experiences.. Thank you xxx

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