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Summer Has Slipped Away

Dear Ones,
So much has changed since my last optimistic email in early July. My glee at emerging from the pandemic has  been replaced with anxiety and grief as the delta variant ravages the unvaccinated, and breakthrough cases came close to our family and employees. Wildfires are once again razing the beautiful forests of California, and violent weather is upending lives and ecosystems everywhere. My husband's sister died on August 1st, less than a year after losing her home to last summer's CZU Lightning Complex Fire, and yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, the ripples of which reach all of us. 

To counteract the stress of ongoing uncertainty, tedium, and trauma, I stay close to my camera on the look out for beauty and oddities that I can observe and attempt to recreate as I snap the shutter and later process in Lightroom. Images that I can offer to you, my community, as a gift, a sign of my care and gratitude. These days, I'm finding it hard to write, to gather words and order them in rich and life-giving ways (these few paragraphs have taken more than an hour). And so I'm listening with my ears, to audiobooks and the writing of others, with my eyes to daily life unfolding before me, and with my heart to the gracious and gifted people in my life. Thank you for being among them.
Below you'll find some of what has captured my attention lately.

May peace permeate your lives as we move through September and into the season of -ember months that end our year.

Church of the Golden Arches
I participated in a spiritual autobiography class at Grace Episcopal church when I lived on Bainbridge Island a decade ago. New to the community, and the church, I was feeling both a bit put out (after all, had I still lived in California I'd be the one leading the class) and uncertain about sharing (it was a big church and I slipped out after the service each week without speaking to anyone, introvert that I am). After our writing prompt, I bolstered up the nerve to read aloud my experience working at McDonald's in high school, and how looking back, it felt like my first church. Afterward, a participant approached me and said, "that was one hell of a free write." I thanked her, and found out later from another participant that the complementer was Rebecca Wells, author of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood novels. [I met her for dinner a few weeks later, which is a story for another time.] We've both since moved away from the island and lost touch. But I'll never forget her words, which have nudged me periodically to finish the piece and find a home for it, which I finally did. Thank you Rebecca and Agape Journal.
Read "The Church of the Golden Arches"
Well, would you look at that...
You're invited to join me for a weekly photo prompt through December 15th. Each Wednesday I'll be providing a photo selected to spark  imagination and creativity. I welcome you to use the photo in any way that's right for you—a poem, or story, thoughtful meditation, or inspiration for your own photography. I'll be sending the photos via email if you'd like to be included) as well as posting them to a Facebook group. If you'd like to share your response to the photos with a word, poem, story, or image, you're welcome to do so via email or the Facebook group. 
Sign up for Weekly Photo Prompt
Recommended Memoirs
On the Spectrum: Autism, Faith, and the Gifts of Neurodiversity. 

Daniel Bowman, author of these thoughtful and beautifully written essays is a fellow alum from Seattle Pacific University's Creative Writing program, where he studied poetry and our time overlapped. I'm so happy that his book is out in the world, providing insight into his life and adding to the literature and understanding of the myriad ways in which our brains process the unending stimuli of being human. Dan came to his diagnosis as an adult, after earning his MFA. Identifying as autistic explained so much about his past and gave him new understanding about how he interacted with the world. It helped him see how he might respond differently in situations, and how situations and expectations might be shifted to accommodate and embrace him, and others who don't fully thrive in the current social and cultural norms established for those with neurotypical brains.

I struggle with anxiety and Dan's anxiety detailed in On the Spectrum resonated with me—we both Google directions and drill down on where to make turns, park, and enter buildings when going new places. His book resonated deeply as the mother of a daughter who was overwhelmed by the world until she was finally diagnosed at age 10 with an auditory processing disorder (I would like to say "difference" now instead of disorder) and dyslexia, which would now be included under the neurodiversity umbrella. And it resonated with me as a wife who saw her husband's undiagnosed dyslexia come into clear view when our daughter was diagnosed. Like Dan, my husband made his way through high school and college unaware of the why behind his struggles. Once we knew about my daughter's and husband's brain differences, we did what we could to set them up for success. My only wish is that we all, Dan included, could've known about these differences earlier in life. But it's never too late for insight, and Dan's highly engaging book just might shine a light for others to see themselves and their loved ones more clearly. 

Other Mothers Aren't Like This
Under the Sun published "Other Mothers Aren't Like This" and nominated it for the Best American Essays in 2015. I struggled mightily as a new mother of a child with needs I wasn't aware of. My daughter and I both were often frayed to our last nerve, but we made our way through it. Here's the link if you'd like to read it.
September sunsets
shift south, cast solstice shadows  
we shrug on sweaters 
Feel like you're stuck in the mud and life is at a standstill? You're not alone.
Copyright © 2021 Cathy Warner, All rights reserved.

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