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  • Tara Pohlkotte

Afterglow: Into the Light

a great capture from our partners NAMI Fox Valley of the packed venue

I'd be lying if I said I've been fully able to wrap my head around Saturday night. Thirteen members of our community taking to the stage sharing vulnerable and so, so valuable parts of themselves with us, their community - many, for the first time. I had the distinct pleasure of holding these stories before they were shared, so I went into the night prepared for the way these stories would break us all open in necessary ways.

Crowd gathered for Storycatchers at The History Museum Appleton

What I had hoped for of course, but wasn't fully prepared for was the way our community came out in record numbers: A line wrapping to the sidewalk when I showed up at 5:45 for the doors opening at 6:00, hitting the capacity of the 165 room and regrettably 50 more who were turned away. To the 1.4k that have now watched the live streaming videos on the Storycatchers Facebook page.

Stories like those that were shared need to be simmered. Thought upon and digested. So while the feeling in the room Saturday night was palpable, it was amazing to read the comments and reactions shared from those in attendance, and those that got to experience the event even after via videos. That's why we've started the Storycatchers Live Afterglow series - to capture the beauty and significance that telling our stories brings to both the tellers and the audience that hears them. Here are some of the comments, and even poetry that were made in response to the wonderful stories that were shared.

"The event tonight was absolutely incredible! Every storyteller was just phenomenal, and I thought the variety in the stories told was perfect. I like to think that I've heard it all and nothing really gets to me anymore, but throughout this event I laughed, sobbed, and was so inspired. Thank you for putting this on!"

"...I was able to break my silence and speak out about something that I have kept hidden for so long. I shared something with hundreds of people that I have been ashamed about for far too long. I am finally able to say: I have a mental illness."

"I have not been able to get Kathryn's story out of my mind. It was so beautifully written and truly heartbreaking. Her feelings and thoughts about her daughter were so relatable to all mothers, and she really gave me a completely different perspective on this topic. Honestly, I took so many things away from her story, on many levels. It's one I won't forget. Thank you, Kathryn."

"I never really understood, but you really gave me more of an understanding."

"Relevant, powerful & raw. Such a great event for our community, thank you for expanding its compassion."

and these beautiful pieces of poetry:

MAKING GREAT The polar caps are melting and forces fight to polarize us but when people tell their stories, there are no polar opposites.... There are only people on this beautiful earth, tilted on our axis, rotating and revolving sun, moon, stars, you-- come in, come in and I will listen.

- - Kathryn Gahl

They said:

This illness made

me feel shame;

it put me

at war with my

extraordinary body

and brain

It forced me into one

continuous daydream;

to ask, Who am I?

Who am I sick? Who

am I well?





She said,

not a goddamn thing.

What toxifies

our lives is not

our faulty brains,

but our broken world:

trauma-filled, rigged

not for wholeness

but disruption and


And how

can we possibly

break through --

crawl to the window

to somehow

see out?

They said,

I knew I could

fight, or die--

and for awhile

wished to die.

But then...

She said

I can do this

if I just

keep moving

She said

I can do anything

for one breath

He said

Just keep breathing

Emerson said--

(and so she said)-- know one life has breathed

easier because you lived here,

that is to have succeeded.

The young one said

this illness doesn't mean

I can't be successful

To say these things

take one breath

after another breath

after another

and we hope

we can still hope

1/10 of a mile

at a time

one memory

at a time

one breath

at a time.

- - Katie Chicquette Adams

Thank you, thank you to our tellers for allowing us into your lives and for forever changing ours.

Storycatchers Afterglow

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