Kal Barteski is one of those people who make me eternally grateful that someone invented blogging. I likely would never have known about Kal without her blog, and yet now she is a constant source of inspiration to me. Artist, author, entrepreneur, mother, wife - she's brave, creative and refreshingly frank about life's ups and downs. In a word: Rockstar.
Back in March, she posted a painting of a woman struggling to feel beautiful and she wrote this message:
This piece was inspired by my real life body and the real life weight that bothers me... A lot. I know taking the weight off is a slow process - and I think that it's just another part of the missing ease and patience I need to find for this old soul. I drew an accurate version of my body - and I disliked it - I fought with some creative block and pushed through it. When it was done - I really, really loved it. It was beautiful. Maybe so am I...
The painting struck a nerve with so many of us who deal with body image issues, and Kal announced that she would take commissions for "Tiny Custom Ladies" for one season only, during the month of May. I couldn't type fast enough to put my order in.
Take a peek at some of the beautiful ladies in Kal's Gallery. They're tiny pieces of magic.
At the start of the year, I told my sisters that this was going to be the "year of art" and that any and all presents they got from me would be some kind of art. Since then, art in one form or another has indeed been flying out my door, but when I saw this, I decided that it would be my belated birthday present to me.
Only I asked Kal a favor - I asked her if the words she painted on mine could be from one of my blog posts
that expressed some ideas I had been grappling with. I deal with body
image issues every day - and worry over parts that pucker + sag +
wrinkle and a host of other frightening verbs - but what claws at my
brain at 3:00 am is something of a different stripe: worries about the direction of my life; the question of whether there is something fundamentally wrong with my essential self; how to handle loss; how to manage sorrow.
Kal graciously agreed to use the words I sent her, and when the package arrived last week, I was deeply moved.
She is one gifted lady.
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I want to try and express another dimension to this concept of having "everything I need." It isn't a clever notion that popped into my head during a yoga class one morning. It isn't culled from a self-help book. It isn't a sparkly idea that distracts me from sorrow or sadness.
It has grown in me slowly, an awareness of abundance that I've become more and more certain of over the past few months. I instinctively know it to be true, though I also hold other truths that might seem contradictory.
The painful dissolution of my relationship last year with the man I loved was devastating. The work + hope + intention that I invested in our imagined future seemed like a tragic waste, and I walked away feeling stripped to the bone.
Saying that I have "everything I need" isn't a
way of airbrushing over the pain, or pretending like my heart doesn't hurt.
It isn't denying the fearsomeness of walking through the long dark lonesome valley.
I wish I could explain it better, but it isn't entirely logical: it involves holding the concepts of lack and abundance simultaneously, and sitting with that contradiction, not minding the prickly tension between these two seemingly opposite ideas. It is the gentle awareness that what I "had" was never mine, and that "having" and "losing" are fluid states, constantly in flux, and yet it doesn't deny the utter devastation I felt or belittle the grieving process.
I don't listen when people say things like: It's all for the better. Or: It just wasn't meant to be. Or: You'll find someone nicer/younger/smarter.
I have no use for those kinds of statements.
Pain + loss + death are woven into the very fabric of life, and I don't want to distance myself from my own life with glittery clichés. I don't want to get "over" it so much as I want to step through each of these emotions to plumb the depths and touch the core of what it is to be human.
Yes: there is a hole in my heart. And: I have everything I need.
Both are 100% true.
I lack nothing.
Thank you, Kal, for capturing this concept so tenderly. I will treasure this piece always.