My precious friend, Bethany Burt, wrote the following words about one of our beautiful experiences together in North Carolina a few months back:
“my girl kas took these of me while in north carolina. and oh my goodness, how cute is asheville!? SO CUTE is the answer.
i knew what i was going for but i didn’t know how to get there. making vision reality is one of my very favorite things and i was so excited to work with another artist who could just get that.
i was all nervous and annoyed with myself that i couldn’t just let go, let loose. my chiropractor gets so mad at me for holding so much tension in my shoulders. JUST LET GO. BLAH. i want to run wild. why did i feel so tightened up? why can’t i just be free? wild? at a moments notice.
so kas had an idea. she ran to her jeep and came back with a phone playing fun music in her back pocket. camera ready, she told me to dance. feel the music. and be free. i immediately was like oh no no no. that’s even worse.
i can’t dance. i don’t dance.
more rigid. more fear.
but then i remember that i just love joy. and being joyful.
and when i am joyful my whole face freaks out with a smile. it takes up over half my face. so i started all awkward and slow. just bounced around a little bit and started to let go. as soon as i let go of how i felt i probably looked and just enjoyed the beat and just let my joy fly. these are my two favorite photos.
(i will show you what all it takes to get here because there are some hilarious in between moments that people outta see. it’s good for staying humble)
i love that she knew how to help. i love being next to strong women but it can be intimidating. until i remember that her being strong doesn’t mean i can’t also be. she has a gorgeous wild mane and i took her photos right before she took mine. so although my hair is a different kind of beautiful, i felt lesser. but she encouraged me. not even in just the oh you’re super pretty, stop, annoying girl kind of way. but in the come on. feel it from within kind of way. find your strength. your own inside beauty. and let it out.
i will not forget this experience. i will hold it deep within me. so i can remember for myself when i need it. and so i can continue to help the women i photograph. not being afraid to join in communion with other women.
yes, i want more of that, please.”
-bethany burt / photog babe / fellow blogger babe
See her original post here.
I found it important to share these words of B. Burt as they ring true to so many women, across many demographics. Neither the young or the old, the black/brown/white, not the wealthy or poor can deny feeling lessened by the betterment, success, or appearance of another.
No one can deny having ever felt envious. It may affect some more than others, but self-pity and discontentment hold a dark and suffocating grip on too many.
As B. Burt mentions above, “her being strong doesn’t mean i can’t also be.”
I am not a competitor in any sense of the word. I want what’s best for myself; I want what is best for others. I do not want to diminish what is best for others in order to achieve what is best for myself. I do not believe that I can’t create the best life for myself if someone else is experiencing their best life, too.
This isn’t a front. I genuinely want others to see the best in themselves so they may continue forward in their lives and encourage more people to see the best in themselves, too.
That goal starts with me, and I’ll spread it like wildfire.
I will laugh with my friends.
I will turn music on when they start to get camera shy so they can hop around and let the joy seep in.
I will smile at the teenage girl behind the counter at the grocery store and ask her how her day is going because I really want to know, and if she isn’t having a good day, that means she needs some good.
I will tell another girl when she’s intelligent, talented, and/or beautiful because maybe she doesn’t hear it enough.
I will compliment other women without speaking negatively of myself because as badly as I want them to know and feel that they are so genuinely loved, I also want them to know it’s okay and even necessary to love themselves—unapologetically.
You can’t teach or demand self-love. You can only exemplify it.
In an attempt to spread a little light and love in this world and the black hole (read heart) that is the Internet, I will encourage women of all ages, colors, backgrounds, and beliefs to embrace their ever-expanding communities. Encourage one another. Scroll the Internet, don’t troll it.
If you’re standing in a room with your real-life version of Gal Gadot (aka Wonder Woman), don’t shrivel into a dark corner, go tell her how much you love X, Y, and Z about her and then watch a beautiful moment (and possible friendship) unfold.
Be the support system, the cheerleader, the coach, the teacher, the friend, the love. Be a woman that is for women.
The Humble Lion
P.S. B. Burt intimidated me at first, too. She’s incredibly talented and loving, and her light shines SO BRIGHTLY, even on her darkest, most painful days. She’s living my dream of supporting herself with her camera and her words. And you know what? Instead of trying to one-up me with her talents and awesomeness, she encourages me to run toward my dreams and gives me advice every single time I ask for it. She is a mentor and leader. She and E. Burt (her awesome husband) are some of the most genuine people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. They are the kind of people you just want to know more of. Read her stuff.
That’s all for now. Ciao!
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Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.