I have not been writing.
That's not technically true. I write in my journal almost every day, but that's more of a goal setting and recording place. Not writing writing.
School is out and I have no schedule to keep aside from my daily attempts to stop myself from melting into the front porch couch during endless hours of reading. I've read four books in the past week but I haven't written anything.
I am consuming words but not producing them. It is consuming me.
I walk by my lonely laptop, sitting on the dining room table and burn with shame and guilt. I have only opened it to do random Google searches (best Des Moines tattoo artists, driving directions from Cancun to Tulum, underrated European cities) and to comment on students sending me summer writings. My students are writing and I am not.
I went to a family party for a dear friend of mine who will be moving to China soon. As the night wore on, she asked if I wanted her to do a totem animal reading for me. I said yes. In this driftless, purposeless transition into summer, maybe the cards would speak to me. I'm a sucker for symbolism and spirituality; sampling the buffet of life's mysteries without ever committing to any of it unless it bends to my will.
I won't pretend to remember all of the positions for the nine totems and what they mean. I know that at the center (within) I am the Blue Heron, the symbol of self-reflection. That fits, right? To write is to reflect, to teach well is to be in a state of constant reflection. I make the mistake of looking back as much as a look forward. It fits.
Four other important totems were Turkey, Skunk, Porcupine, and Raven. Turkey is giving and self-sacrifice. Skunk is reputation and confidence to stand your ground. Porcupine is the balance of trust. Raven is magic.
The Turkey, Skunk, and Raven cards for me were in contrary.
I am giving, but something is blocking that right now.
I am confident, but not enough right now.
I have lost my magic.
Porcupine and Blue Heron are intact.
I am still (always) self-reflective.
My quills are not trying to keep others out (for now).
The beauty of alternative medicine and spirituality is that I can allow myself to see what I want to see. The cards reaffirmed my current listlessness.
I feel like I cannot give because I have given too much to my students all year and now there is nothing left to give. I will refill my reserves. I will give to myself, too. Turkey will right itself.
My lack of purpose leads to self-doubt. I will establish goals. I will reassert my confidence by tackling new challenges. Skunk will stand its ground.
And how will I find my magic again?
I will write. And Raven will fly.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.