It seems a bit surreal that we're in April now--how time is flying. I hope everyone is doing well! Happy birthday to my dad (his birthday is the 2nd)! For those who celebrate Easter, I hope you enjoy the holiday! We had a small family gathering this year, and it was so nice to see everyone again! It's been a while since people have had different opinions on the safety of gatherings of varying sizes. No qualms against safety, but sometimes there's too much precaution to the point where people don't truly live; they end up merely existing rather than making the most of the moment and the gift of life. It feels like in many ways we're experiencing a rebirth and resurrection. Is it just me or does the energy seem to be potent for this month? It feels like big things lie in store for us. It's rather exciting!
I know that things have been strange for the past year, and it can leave us feeling left in a funk. This is all so new; we can end up at a loss for what to do. We can stumble and fumble with even where to step next. I think that's part of the human experience, though; it's about the journey and the learning not just the goal or destination. We can get a bit caught up in the mental realm (I know I have before lol), and that usually ends up with us getting in our own way. The thing is: life is about the ebb and flow, the lows and highs. We wouldn't truly understand and appreciate the joy and love if we didn't experience the opposite, the lack of it. I believe the Tao grasped the concept perfectly with yin and yang, seeking balance. We're learning and growing so much right now. It's okay to receive support from others, though; we don't have to go at it all alone. Others have undergone similar experiences. It's okay to ask for help or consider insight from others. Amanda Ellis created a recent video that you might find helpful if you're going through a funk right now:
Fluffy cat adored the beautiful weather this week! She's had a ball with her outdoor adventures, and for whatever reason, she's been keen on chilling in the mulch of the front garden by the birdbath. Why? Beats me. She's such a goof! She's an adorable goof, though, and extremely lovable!
Here are the Perler bead projects for the week! I worked on some gifts for the many Aries in my life; I hope they enjoy them!
I had some more goodies arrive this week! My new Heavenly Bodies Astrology deck arrived, which I was super excited about! The new monthly box from Goddess Provisions also arrived with lots of neat goodies. My mom even gave me a new Fruits Basket sleep shirt (it's tie dye, yay~). The universe is abundant with incredible things~
I was minding my business when one of Corliss's friends' post popped up about the different signs as Pokemon. I first noticed that Corliss was Bulbasaur, which was quickly followed by noticing that I was Squirtle. I couldn't help but notice that they were 2 for 2 with our signs matching with which of the original starters we said we were years ago, which had me remarking to myself, "If they have April as Charmander...." Guess which Pokemon is April's sign? Freaking Charmander. Lol okay, universe; nice sense of humor! Corliss and I chuckled about it. It's not like all the signs were starters, either. They were Pokemon like Snorlax or Doduo. What are the odds?
I enjoyed watching anime this week as well as reading more fanfic. This week's fanfic includes: Truly, Madly, Deeply, Precious Moments, Shi no Kirei, and Angel of Mine. Episode 0 of Fruits Basket season 3 was phenomenal! I was already super hyped for season 3, but this episode only built upon it! I can't wait for the rest of the season! I also found the 2nd OVA for Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku! Hooray! It's so freaking adorable and cute beyond words! AHHHH!!! Nao-chan and Kou-kun are so flipping precious! I just can't! I want more, darn it! *continues to fangirl passionately* (lol)
I also watched Arte this week. Man, that anime hit home with so many messages from the universe. I'll be honest, a thumbnail had popped up for Arte before, but I didn't feel compelled to watch it. This week I felt such a strong nudge to watch it, it couldn't be ignored. I have absolutely no regrets for watching it. It's so powerful. It had me thinking about star seeds and lightworkers, how they incarnate into these difficult human life experiences in order to bring great change. It delves into themes of making huge waves, shaking up the status quo, questioning society's norms, refusing to let society dictate what is possible/impossible, perseverance in the face of adversity and repeated failures, the growth from overcome obstacles, and the synchronicity of meeting the right people at the right time. Arte serves as a reminder to live our best lives, living according to our hearts, rather than living the life laid out for you by others and living to regret it.
The anime starts off with Arte struggling after her father's death; Arte adores art, but few people support her passion (as she is a woman wanting to be an artist during the Renaissance). Her father had been one of the few people to support her, but with his passing Arte's mother decides to put Arte back on the "right path." Arte rebels against her mother burning all of her sketches. Arte's mother scolds, "Why are you talking nonsense? No woman wants to be a painter! You're going to fail and regret ever leaving!" Despite this, Arte stands firm in her beliefs, asserting, "You don't get it! I'd rather try and fail than live to regret not trying at all!" As she leaves her home, Arte thinks to herself, "If I'm going to regret it either way, I want it to be on my own terms." Often people don't understand when you try to live a life bigger than what they're used to. They will often try to get you to view things "realistically," and even if their intent is not meant to be harmful, that doesn't mean that we walk away from such "help" unscathed. It can lead to us second-guessing ourselves, doubting our values. Even so, I have to agree with Arte; if we could end up regretting our decisions either way, we might as well live according to our own terms. I think everyone would be a lot more satisfied with their lives if they called all the shots rather than being persuaded by the doubts of naysayers. If something doesn't turn out the way anticipated, at least you can stand firm by the fact that it was your decision and no one else's. It's the path you chose. Who has the right to impose their own limits upon you? No one has the right to determine that for you besides you. As Arte declares, "They keep saying how women are weaker, that it's impossible for a woman to be a painter, and that the only way to live a decent life is to surrender your freedom to a man. What do they know?! I'll choose how to live my own life! No one has the right to decide my limits except for me!" We get to decide how far we will go. It's our choice. No one knows what's impossible for you. Perhaps, they have experience that lends to that conclusion, but that's their past experience. It doesn't reign supreme as ultimate truth; you get to choose how you live your life. It's up to you. There will likely always be naysayers and those that doubt you. Arte experiences her fair share of them but persists in spite of others' attempts to belittle her. She asserts, "Besides, I'm used to it by now. I can't let naysayers get me down! I have to be [used to it]. I can't change other people so all I can do is my best just like always!" Arte truly illuminates the potential each individual has if they choose to own it. We can't change other people if they do not wish to change; all we can focus on is ourselves and our own improvement.
People don't always recognize how they belittle others or enable behaviors that stunt others' growth. Angelo is a prime example of this. He's a total sweetheart and just wants to help; he has four sisters, and his father instructed him to always take care of them. This pure soul wants to look after others, but Angelo ended up being programmed to believe there are things that females just can't do and that they need to be cared for. Angelo is baffled by Arte, and he remarks, "I understand that [you want to be independent], but what can be done? I mean, at the end of the day you can't change that you're a girl." This sets Arte off; she responds, "That shouldn't make a difference. Man or woman--it shouldn't matter! If I want to be an artist, I need to study and work hard on my craft, and I refuse to work in the shadows just because other people think that I can't!" Arte recognizes that her authentic self creates huge waves, but she doesn't want to restrict herself to a tiny box when she is meant for bigger and better things. She doesn't want to hide away because her light makes others uncomfortable and triggers them. It matters more to her to be her true self, living in a genuine fashion rather than pretend to be someone she's not. She continues to push herself despite the challenges and obstacles that arise. She's dedicated to her passion and craft despite others scoffing at the prospect and trying to get her to quit. For instance, a master of another studio refused to let her sketch a statue in his workshop because he didn't want her to distract the others--after she refused to give up, he decided to give her the "impossible" task of moving the 10 bags of clay that two men were struggling to move in collaborative efforts to the store room. Arte persists, noting, "It's heavy, but I won't give up! It's not impossible; I CAN do this!" Her perseverance blows the studio away; they were all certain she would give up and/or that she wouldn't be able to complete the task. The studio is left in awe.
Angelo: She did it--she managed to move them all by herself.
Arte: Okay, then! A deal's a deal! So then, Master Danilo, now that I've finished, I can sketch the sculpture, right?
Master Danilo: Uh.... fine...
Arte: I'm glad we could work something out! *Arte can't hold her pencil steady because of all the heavy lifting*
Master Danilo: *laughs* I don't know if you're amazing or just a fool. Don't make that face like the world is ending, Signorina. You may be a woman, but you've got guts. I'm impressed. I'll allow you to come back another day after you've rested.
Arte: Thank you, Master Danilo!
Arte shatters others' expectations and beliefs on what is possible. She doesn't remain complacent with the boundaries society places before her. It illuminates what others can achieve, as well. After witnessing Arte overcome adversity Angelo comes home to his sisters, who immediately begin requesting his assistance with all of these tasks that they "can't" do themselves. Arte's influence prompted him to reconsider what is possible, and he remarks, "Everyone, I think you're all more capable of this stuff than you think. You might be surprised how much you can do by your own hand." Sometimes it only takes one individual to create ripples that extend great distances. One person demonstrating that "impossible" feats are actually quite possible can have world-changing consequences.
While Arte is able to create huge waves by simply being herself, she isn't doing it on her own. It's thanks to the support of others that she can live authentically and be her best self. It starts off with the support of her father for her passion. Her mother didn't understand it, but her father assured, "As long as she stands strong and continues believing in herself, she'll find someone--a man who loves her for her passion and her charm." The right people will find and support you. If someone can't see and appreciate your true worth, they're not worth your attention. The people that truly matter are the people who care about the real you. Leo gives Arte a chance and considers her true worth; he recognizes her potential as an artist and continues to push her to grow. Arte acknowledges, "Leo may be strict, but it's so I can grow into a better apprentice, not because I'm a girl. I don't want to be treated differently. I want to be challenged because that's what makes a job worth doing. Every time I accomplish something, it feels like I've grown as a person. I need that, and I don't want to lose it!" Arte realizes that she can't continue her growth living in a coddled comfort zone--she needs to be pushed to reach newer heights. Leo acts as a great mentor for Arte, continuously pushing her to grow. He also accepts Arte for who she is rather than trying to push her to be someone she is not.
Arte: Then again, you're not wrong. I should learn to embrace those traits, even if you could have said it a much nicer way. My mother reprimanded me for being too fixated on drawing and often told me that I wasn't spending enough time polishing my feminine appeal.
Leo: Hmm? Is that so? Can't say that I agree with her. The way I see it, the version of you that society wants isn't as charming as the real thing. But that's just my opinion if you want to consider it.
While Arte acknowledges she has talent and skill, she doesn't always see her true worth. Others like Veronica push her to consider her value, prompting, "Arte, ask yourself: how much is the art you create worth to you, my love? Say that you earned very little, would you still be content with your vocation? You simply can't afford to think that way. It's as if you're saying you're not capable of producing work of any real value, which we know isn't true. Why would a customer pay top dollar if you don't think you deserve it? Be assured in your abilities and ask for pay reflective of your talent." I suspect that many people experience a similar conflict with understanding their worth. I know that I have struggled with it, and I know that such beliefs stem from what others have taught you/what they believe (especially when so many believe money to be the root of all evil, people not having ample financial resources, etc.). We're worth so much more than minimum wage or meager earnings. Each of us is irreplaceable. Each of us has feats that only we can accomplish with our own unique skills, talents, and backgrounds. Arte with her own upbringing, skills, experiences, and growth was able to help Angelo, Katarina, Sofia, and Leo grow as people as well as help heal the Falier family. It's the unique blend of a person that made up Arte that allowed her to accomplish these feats.
At the beginning of Katarina and Arte's relationship Katarina doesn't trust Arte, brushing her off to be like all of her former tutors. Katarina expects Arte to be like all the rest and anticipates her world to come crashing in all around her when Arte discovers Katarina's secret love of cooking. Anyone else would have divulged Katarina's secret to her parents; her father would not have been pleased to discover Katarina "lowering herself to such means." When Katarina learns that her parents still don't know about her secret passion, she is perplexed and confronts Arte.
Katarina: Why didn't you tell my parents about what you saw up in my room?
Arte: Well, it wasn't my business.
Katarina: Meaning what?
Arte: I was hired to paint portraits and be your tutor, not to upend your life. Believe me, I know how much it hurts to have what you love taken away. Before I left to become an apprentice my mother gathered my drawings and burned them. Though, I guess you could say she only managed to fuel my fire more!
Katarina: *shocked* What?
Arte: Yeah, come to think of it, a lot of the reason I went into art in the first place was probably because I can't take no for an answer. *laughs*
Katerina: ...So much was standing in your way, and you didn't give up?
Arte: Never. But proving I could wasn't the only reason I became a painter. Would you care to see my drawings?
Katarina: Oh, wow! When you walk around, do you sketch everything you see?
Arte: As much as I can. It helps to document people, places, and things I encounter, especially when it comes time to make a painting for work since everything can be used for reference later. To a painter this is gold.
Katarina: *awed* Did you really used to be a noble?
Arte: A poor one. I'm my family's only daughter. We could barely manage to save for one dowry.
Katarina: Wasn't it hard changing the way you lived?
Arte: Let me think... Hmm.... Nights were difficult.
Katarina: They were?
Arte: YES! I was so exhausted. It was hard to focus or keep my eyes from closing. Also, the job is surprisingly phsyical, and we have to work quickly to make sure we meet our deadlines, so I'm always covered in cuts and bruises--not to say there isn't plenty to love! I ended up becoming friends with a baker and got to hear stories from him. Not to mention all the food I bought from the marketplace to eat during breaks. And on my days off sometimes I'll play games with the other apprentices, which is lots of fun! There is hard work involved, but it's worth it!
Katarina: I'm sure. You said your name is Arte, right?
Arte: Yes, that's right! You remembered! I don't think I've heard you say it once since I got here, so I was convinced you had forgotten in completely, but I guess I was wrong! What a relief!
Katarina: Let me guess--people have called you strange before. Well, has anyone said that?
Arte: *frustrated* ...Lots. Too many to count.
Katarina: *laughs* It figures. As soon as I heard that Uncle Yuri was bringing you, I knew right away you couldn't be normal! *laughs* I didn't think so at first, but you're interesting! I'd like to see your other drawings if you don't mind showing me sometime... What is it?
Arte: I'm sorry for entering your room without permission and pushing you to open up to me. I wanted to know what was in your heart, who you were. I won't ask anymore. Whether or not you let me into your life should be your decision to make.
Katarina: Arte, do you want to have dinner with us tonight? I wouldn't mind telling you more there about myself. I can tell you everything.
Katarina recognizes herself in Arte and is impressed with how Arte has persevered despite everything that has stood in her way. Witnessing Arte's sincerity and genuineness softens Katarina's heart and allows her to lower the wall she has built around her heart. Arte respecting her and her secret prompts Katarina to view Arte as someone she can trust. After cooking with everyone at Yuri's place Katarina treats Arte to dinner and explains herself. Her love for cooking began with never wanting to forget the flavor of a dish her caretaker made for her. Her struggles with her parents stem from the separation of classes; Katarina views her caretaker, Buona, and Gimo (Buona's son) as her real family as she spent the formative years of her life with them and never saw her "true" family. How nobility often belittles the poorer classes irks Katarina to no end. Katarina criticizes, "We both know how nobles eat. Even their food is meant to separate them from lower classes, the poor! I don't understand it! Why do they want to be so different?! We're taught to have straight posture, step back with one foot, and gently lift up the hem. Even something so unassuming as a greeting is used to show off and set nobles a part. I could never imagine doing something so embarrassing in public." Katarina doesn't want to be separated from others by illusions of class; she recognizes that everyone is of worth, and the class system dividing people frustrates her. She realizes that people are people and struggles within the confines of her noble birth. To understand Katarina better Arte consults her uncle, Yuri.
Yuri: My niece is something else, isn't she? It's impressive that you've gotten this far, even being invited to her dinner. Of all her tutors, you're the first one she's been this fond of. I'm pleased to see my faith in you wasn't misplaced.
Arte: Right, glad to hear... Yuri, when Katarina returned from the villa where she was raised, was she already acting this way?
Yuri: Huh? In what way is that?
Arte: Stubborn is one word for it or like she has her heart closed off... It's possible that something happened to her before she came home.
Yuri: Hmm... If you promise to see the job through until your work is completed, then I'll tell you everything I know.
Arte: Until... my work's done... Hmm....
Yuri: What's the matter, Arte? Are you having some doubts? That's not like you.
Arte: I'm confident. It's just... I was hoping you could shed some light on something for me, Yuri... Tell me. When I was hired, who was it for? For what purpose?
Yuri: For the sake of Katarina's happiness.
Arte: Of course! I'll help her! You have my word. Whatever it takes--I'm going to make sure Katarina can find her happiness!
Yuri: As you know, it's normal for wet nurses to raise children from wealthy families. Katarina was no different. Buona, the wife of our villa's cook, met the necessary qualifications and thus was given the job. After my niece was born, she was taken far from Venice and raised in our aforementioned countryside villa. My older brother couldn't care less about her upbringing since she was a girl. In terms of money and servants, he sent the bare minimum to the villa. Fortunately, Buona was hardworking and made herself useful. Her son, Gimo, was two years older than Katarina, and they grew up together. Despite the difference in class, he loved her like she was his sister. However, when my niece was six, Buona died from a sudden illness, and Katarina was abruptly called back to Venice...
Arte: In the short time I've been here, one thing has become clear. Katarina has no interest acting like a noble. I wonder if that's because she sees Buona and Gimo as her real family?
Yuri: Yes, I think so. Regardless, there's no changing the fact that my brother and sister-in-law are her one true family. Venice is her home, where she belongs and where her happiness should lie, but until she accepts that and moves on, she'll continue to be miserable. That's what I believe.
(Side note on the subject of Yuri: is anyone else a bit curious about the actual relationships between the Faliers? I didn't question it at first because I just figured Katarina resembled Yuri/the father's side of the family since Sofia is a brunette. Katarina looks nothing like her *cough cough* supposed father, who has a dark complexion. Pair that with Yuri's remark about Sofia being the "most beautiful woman" he's ever seen with how invested and involved Yuri is with Katarina's well being... Is she really Yuri's daughter? Don't get me wrong--uncle's can be completely loving and devoted to their nieces/nephews, much like Madoka from Shonen Maid. I'm not saying that uncles are heartless or anything like that. Yuri nurtures Katarina's cooking passion, allowing her to cook at his home. Yuri goes out of his way to find a tutor that Katarina would actually like and would prioritize her happiness. He's willing to shell out lifetime patronage to keep Arte there for Katarina's happiness. He's constantly looking out for Katarina and thinking about her happiness when her official parents couldn't even seem to see her, let alone consider her happiness. Granted, the genetics could potentially still work out if both Sofia and Malta had the recessive blonde gene, but that seems a lot less likely, especially in light of everything else... Like how Malta isn't particularly interested in children... I'm just saying... Anyone else pick up on this and think that this theory has merit?)
Arte's role is not only integral to Katarina, though. She creates waves throughout the Falier household, prompting reflection on how others act. Katarina's father, Malta, is not respectful of Katarina and writes her off as a waste--he prefers sons and doesn't see the value in a daughter. Arte is furious with his behavior; while her parents disagreed with how Arte should live/be raised, they always tried to do what was best for her (even if their version of what was best is not the same as what Arte believed was best). Katarina's parents, especially her father, don't even seem to see or think about what is best for Katarina. Arte snaps.
Arte: I'm not here to listen to you.
Malta: Huh? What did you just say to me?
Arte: I said the reason I was hired was for Katarina's sake, not yours, and I wouldn't be doing my job if I listened to someone, who selfishly puts his finances and wants above the happiness of his own daughter!
Malta: How dare you!
Arte: And YOU [Sofia, Katarina's mother]. Why do you never speak up when Katarina is being talked about in this way? You don't actually agree with what he's saying about her, do you? Growing up, my parents often argued about what they thought was best for me, and there were plenty of times when what they wanted wasn't the life I envisioned for myself! Even so, their goal was always to ensure my happiness. Meanwhile, here you are, wondering why your daughter refuses to open up to you when you're never even asked her once what she wants in life! If you'll excuse me. *thinks to herself* It had to be said! The adults in this house shouldn't meddle with Katarina's happiness! After all, there isn't anyone here who's thinking about her or is even remotely concerned about what she wants!
It's obvious that no one really saw Katarina in her "home." Arte knows that she needs to act in order to help Katarina find happiness, so she finds Katarina in order to work towards it. She finds Katarina in her room.
Arte: Let's go see Gimo!
Katarina: What? I went over this with you. There's nothing I can do to change the situation. End of story.
Arte: No, it's not. If you always hate the life you're living and being yourself in front of your own parents, you'll never be able to start your future! You'll constantly question who you are and never be able to move forward! Time to decide what you want and what you're going to do because no one can for you. I had to do the same thing, and I'll never regret it! And I know that you won't, either! Because no matter what you're faced with you'll be able to carry on! But in order to do that first you need to meet Gimo face-to-face so you can hear each other out and settle things in person!
Katarina: Alright, then. Let's go find him.
Katarina had convinced herself that there was nothing that could be done about the situation; Gimo had refused to write any more letters. The class system stood in their way--it isn't "proper" for the nobility to associate with the "lesser" classes. Katarina had resigned herself to remain imprisoned in her so-called home away from the family that raised her, the family she wished to be with. Arte reveals that there's opportunity to do more and take matters into her own hands. Arte and Katarina find Gimo, but the encounter does not play out the way Katarina anticipates.
Gimo: I said I didn't want to see you.
Katarina: But... why not? I wanted to see you! You two were like family to me!
Gimo: My mother was intensely worried about you right up until the moment that she died. That's when I was told that you and I needed to never talk again.
Katarina: What? How come?
Gimo: Because no matter how hard you fight it, you're a noble, and your real family are the Faliers. You know what else she thought? 'No one can choose their birth. No matter how hard your upbringing was or how much you hated it, all you can do is accept how things are and move forward.' Every day there are moments I find difficult or flat-out hate, but my only option is to keep doing my best. Be honest. Are you looking ahead and trying your best, too? I hope you realize just how much you meant to my mother and me--how you're as dear to us as any real family. That's why it's so important you look to the future and don't turn back. Goodbye.
Katarina: If I face forward and keep moving on... If I become independent, then can I see you?
Gimo: I'll be counting the days.
Many times people end up struggling against what is. They fight against the now. Katarina wished to return to the past, where she was happy with Buona and Gimo; she viewed the Falier household more like a prison than a home filled with love. She wished to escape the now, but no one can do that. Rather than fighting what is, we should accept it, like Katarina accepting that she was born into a noble family, and strive to move forward. We can't turn back the clock, but we can create a future we desire by being present right now. No matter how much you may wish to escape this moment, you only have now. You will never live in the past or future--your life is a string of connected now moments. Katarina discovers this fact and resolves to bring her best foot forward.
Katarina: From now on I'm going to try my best in everything.
Arte: Lady Sofia, thank you for standing up for me! Truly!
Sofia: It was for my daughter's sake.
Arte: Your hands are trembling.
Sofia: O-oh, so it would seem. That was the first time I've ever voiced my opinion to my husband [to overlook the incident from the other day because Katarina wished for it]. I haven't been able to stop thinking about everything that you said the other day. Katarina, I realize... this entire time I thought I was looking at you, but I was blind to your needs. Please, forgive me for all my failures... I'm ashamed to admit it, but I have no idea what a mother is supposed to do at a time like this.
Katarina: I want... I want you to... hug me, tight.
Sofia: Yes, of course, I can do that. Oh, child, come here!
At the end of the day all anyone wants is to be loved sincerely and to be accepted for who they are. There will be plenty of things that we don't know, but the only way to find out is to try and learn. No one knows everything; anything that we know we once learned. It's important to strive to be the best version of ourselves we can at any given moment. The best you could be yesterday is not the same as today; each moment is an opportunity to learn and grow. Each experience provides new insight. If it bothers you that you don't know something, don't remain in the not-knowing. The realm of the unknown makes people uncomfortable, but the only way to bridge the gap between your knowledge/experience and the unknown is to step into it. Recognize what you don't know so you can go about making the self improvements and development you desire. You cannot build upon what you are unaware of. Much like Sofia, we need to admit where we are so we can continue to learn, grow, and improve.
The experiences we receive are vital to our development. Nothing happens "by chance." Experiences build upon one another to craft your story. The synchronicity of it all is astounding. Arte ends up helping the Falier family so much, but Katarina helps Arte just as much. They help each other learn and understand themselves all the more deeply. Arte and Katarina end up visiting a local workshop in Venice. Katarina is impressed by the workshop, full of curiosity. Arte converses with the apprentice that is acting as their guide.
Arte: I couldn't help but notice you weren't surprised that I'm a female painter.
Matei: Huh? I suppose at first I thought it was unusual but certainly not impossible that there were people like you. You and I are both studying to become painters. No reason to treat you as anything less than an equal. Honestly, what shocked me the most was that the daughter of the Falier family was accompanying you. I don't believe we've ever had this many young women in our workshop before.
Arte: Apologies, she wanted to come along, too, and as her tutor I couldn't say no.
Matei: You're a tutor for the Faliers? To achieve such a respectable position you must come from a noble background, as well.
Arte: Yes, I was born into nobility but nothing like their family. Though, I suppose it helped me get the job in the first place. I came here from Florence as a portrait painter.
Matei: Then you also have the benefit of being well-educated? That's amazing... Better than toiling away in a workshop for years like me and not being able to get anyone's attention. For most apprentices that's their lot in life. Whereas you're from a noble family, have an education, and also happen to be one of the only female painters in the world. It must be wonderful. I'm envious of you.
Matei's remarks throw Arte for a loop. Arte prides herself as earning her accomplishments through hard work. Matei's comments lead to Arte's self doubt; Arte is not one to enjoy handouts. She doesn't wish to receive positions due to being a noble or a female. To combat these feelings, Arte throws herself into her work, honing her skills and craft more than ever, which leads to her over-exerting herself and collapsing. Arte reflects, "I'm sure he didn't say that out of spite. He's probably just frustrated with being stuck, but when I heard his words, the only thing I could do was laugh like a fool. It's true. I've gotten work because of my background and gender, but it feels strange to hear that. This entire time, everyone told me how I'd never be an artist for those two reasons. Adversity became routine. I had to stay strong and keep looking forward. Until now. Suddenly, I'm told the complete opposite. It felt like a rejection of all the effort I put in. I couldn't sit by doing nothing. I thought if I worked harder, I'd feel better about myself." Katarina notices Matei's conversation with Arte and the impact it has on Arte's well being. Katarina becomes deeply concerned about Arte, and as soon as Arte finishes the portrait of Katarina, she races off to the workshop to show Matei, exclaiming, "Hey, you! Down here! ...Just look! It's amazing, right?! Arte painted this portrait without anyone's help! Don't ever imply that she's only a successful artist because she's a noblewoman!" Katarina recognizes that Matei's comments, even if unintentional, belittle Arte's worth, and she refuses to allow him to do so. Arte doesn't recognize the importance of standing up for herself and is confused by Katarina's actions.
Arte: Can you tell me why you did what you did? What were you trying to prove? Come on, please, stop ignoring me. The other day you must've overheard our conversation. It's not like what he said was untrue. There's no reason to be angry about it.
Katarina: You should be angry! And the worst part is I'm more upset with you than I am with that man. Back when we went to Murano, Gimo said something to me: 'No one can choose their birth.' We couldn't see each other because I'm a noble. No matter how much we want a say, we can't choose which family we're born into. I've accepted my fate. I'm the daughter of nobles, and that's that. But have you? You can't change your birth, either. Even if someone's jealous, you have to accept it, like I did!
Arte is shocked by Katarina's outburst. Katarina views the exchange with Matei in a contrasting perspective to Arte, and Arte needs to reflect upon Katarina's insight. Once reaching her conclusion, Arte confesses, "There are two things I wanted to discuss. First, about what happened the other day at the workshop when you got upset on my behalf when I wouldn't... Because of the lessons you taught me and how you've pushed me, I was able to decide what path I should take. I'm grateful. And secondly, if you'll allow me, I have a favor to ask: instead of teacher and student, I'd like us to be friends. Even though we'll be separated by distance, I'll stay in touch by sending you lots of letters, and I hope to receive several from you, letting me know how you're doing." Life offers lessons constantly, and they can come from the unlikeliest of places. Despite Katarina's young age, she has great insight that should not be ignored or written off. We need to learn to speak up for ourselves. There will be times where others will speak up on our behalf, like Katarina, but there won't always be someone else to do so. Everyone has value; don't let others diminish yours. Katarina is incredibly intelligent and provides insightful food for thought. Even Matei comes to realize this. Matei ends up stopping by the Falier household to see Arte after Katarina's outburst.
Arte: So, about the other day--
Matei: I came to apologize to you. If young Lady Katarina hadn't pointed it out, I never would've realized how thoughtless and rude my words were... Please, forgive me. It was as if I was saying that you had no actual talent. I'd never even seen your work.
Arte: It's alright! Honestly, no need to worry! You said I was a woman and a noble, and both of those things are true! There's no reason that would bother me at all!
Matei: You mean... what I said back at the workshop didn't offend you or make you doubt your abilities?
Arte: It didn't. Believe me.
Matei: Well, I appreciate you sparing my feelings. However, I realize what I meant. You were progressing so smoothly on your way to becoming a painter--I couldn't help but feel envy. Nothing but ugly jealousy on my part.
Arte: If you really want to know the truth, I often find myself jealous of men, wondering if things would be easier if I were a boy. Those thoughts... I've let them cloud my judgment more than once before. If your jealousy is ugly, then mine is ugly, too, because they mirror each other. So, please, don't be so hard on yourself, alright, Matei?
*Arte shows Matei the painting of Lady Sofia*
Matei: Such soft, expressive lines. A delicate touch with the brush. Never have I seen a woman of such beauty and grace--real or in a painting. I am jealous, but it's in the best possible way. If your style is the result of being a woman and from nobility, then... I could never imitate it, even if I tried. I see now. Everything, from your gender to where you were born, the environment you were brought up in, all those inform the way you paint. Please treasure the unique voice your background gives you, and don't let envious people like me get in the way.
If Arte hadn't been born into a noble family, hadn't persevered in her endeavors to be an artist, hadn't continued to search out for workshops to become an apprentice in spite of the consistent failures, hadn't been born a woman, hadn't become the person she is, she wouldn't have been able to have the impact that she did with the people she met. She wouldn't have been in the right place at the right time for Yuri to discover her. She wouldn't have been the person she needed to be to help Katarina and the others. She wouldn't have developed her own unique style or had the opportunity to study all of the delicate laces from her younger days as a noble's daughter. Everything builds upon the previous experiences to synchronistically craft her story. Everything aligns perfectly to move her in place for where she is needed next, including her father's death and her mother burning her drawings. Every time she needs a push, she receives it (but perhaps not in the fashion she would have preferred it--the death of a loved one or having what you love/worked hard on burned before your eyes are not pleasant experiences). Arte doesn't let herself grow complacent and always aims to improve herself in a manner that she feels is appropriate. She always strives to live a life where she is authentic to herself. Arte reaches a crossroads when Yuri offers to keep her in Venice indefinitely as Katarina's tutor and the family's portrait painter. Secure, steady, ample employment is not something many people would pass up, even if it means they have to give up their home.
Arte: While I'm grateful for your generous offer, I'm turning down the opportunity to stay here in Venice.
Yuri: Hmm. You're rejecting me for a second time. I'm not sure what else I can offer. After all, sworn patronage like this for an apprentice level painter is unheard of. Anybody else in your position would accept it in a heartbeat. I think I know what's troubling you; the idea of being chosen because you're a female noble still bothers you.
Arte: Quite the opposite. I realize now those qualities are what set me apart from other painters and are responsible for my specific style. By chance you were able to see that in me. I want to find work, not by chance, but rather as a result of my talents. I have worth, confidence. So, I'm going back home to Florence, and when I get there, I'll find a wealth of customers, who fulfill that want!
Yuri: *laughs* Oh, it appears I'm out of my depth. Looks like I have no choice but to withdraw my offer, then. Can't be helped. After all your strong will is what my niece and I liked about you in the first place, but since you see me as a small fry, I guess that's it. Go reel in a big fish for your next job.
Arte: No! That's not it at all! I would never imply that!
Yuri: Well, I know you'll do your best out there.
Arte recognizes what is most important to her; she wishes to continue learning and growing as an apprentice rather than settling into a job. She realizes that there's so much more she wants to learn from Leo back in Florence that she would be unable to do so in Venice. Arte also has come to learn her value; she understands that she has immense worth in her craft and skills, so even if she doesn't take this "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity, she is not condemning herself to failure. She recognizes that the world is full of abundance and that she can tap into that abundance with her artistry wherever she goes. This is something many people are learning now; they are learning to follow their heart while still making a successful livelihood. They don't have to be separate realms; you can be your authentic self and receive abundant income. It does not have to be one or the other.
Leo is surprised to see Arte return; he had encouraged her to consider her opportunities as she left for Venice since he didn't want Arte to return out of obligation and miss out on the opportunity of lifetime patronage that so many artists look for.
Leo: But still... I assumed you had lost interest in training underneath me.
Arte: Of course not! Going to Venice made me realize something: I want to create works of art like yours! Paintings that encourage and inspire people! I'm here because there's still more I have to learn from you! Different techniques nobody else can teach me! I'm still a part of your workshop, your apprentice, and there's nothing that can change my mind! So, please, let me stay!
Leo: I'm glad you're back.
Arte: Me, too!
By returning, Arte is able to finish the mural Leo started before he fell ill. She is once again in the right place at the right time. She ends up starting her bad habit pushing herself too hard in order to finish the mural in time for the deadline, though. She could have easily collapsed (and not met the deadline despite her sincere efforts) if it had not been for the assistance of all the friends she made in Florence--Angelo, Veronica, the other apprentices, they all pull together and pitch in to help Arte meet the deadline. If she had been anyone else, she likely wouldn't have connected all the different people. Arte and her open heart allow for the mural to become complete in time for the Easter deadline (ironic considering it's Easter weekend in the "real world," too lol). Her pure heart even invites her mother to the mural's unveiling; plenty of other people might hold resentment or bitterness in their heart for the mother's previous behavior. Others would not have bothered inviting her, convinced she wouldn't even show as she hadn't supported Arte before. Arte, however, invites her regardless. Arte's mother is shocked when she witnesses the mural.
Arte's mother: My daughter--she helped make this?
Arte: Mother... Thank you for coming out today. It means a great deal.
Arte's mother: I thought the only two choices in life for a woman were getting married or being a nun, and yet, here you are, forging your own path.
Arte: Did you notice? You're up there, too, mother. Right beside father. Look closely. I worked on the figures along the edges. Family and friends, acquaintances, I wanted to include all of you in the mural. Everyone who brought color into my life.
We have more choices than we might initially realize. Society might push one or two paths as our only options, but that doesn't make it the truth. We can carve our own path. We have much more power than we might believe. We're all born for a reason. We all possess purpose. If we were meant to be someone else, we would have been born that way. We are born to be our authentic self and nobody else. There are things only you can do. Don't sell yourself short. Every experience, every person you meet holds meaning; all of these threads come together to create your tale. They add color to your tapestry. Don't settle for less than you want. Don't belittle yourself and convince yourself that what your heart yearns for is impossible. Something only becomes impossible when you believe it to be the case. Take a step forward and try. You'll be surprised what you can accomplish when you do. Even if you stumble, fall, and fail, that doesn't mean that's the end of the story. Arte failed securing an apprenticeship almost twenty times before she finally found someone who would not only consider viewing her work but also allow her to be an apprentice. The right people will find you when you need them. They will support you, believe in you, and deliver the messages you need at the perfect time. What is it that you want? What kind of life do you wish to live? It can be yours. So many people hold themselves back in fear of making mistakes that they would live to regret, but "If I'm going to regret it either way, I want it to be on my own terms" (Arte). More often than not, people regret inaction than the actions they took. Shake off the fear. What's the worst that could happen? You regret listening to your heart? So many turn up to their deathbed, regretting never truly living their life. What's worse: living a "full," long life where you merely existed or living a life where you might regret some things but you lived it authentically? I'll take being authentically alive over merely existing. Whatever it is you wish to pursue, whatever your passion is, make it your life's mission; you'll be much happier that way rather than constantly denying yourself. Life can be complicated, but that doesn't mean you have to make yourself miserable. Do what makes you happy. The universe will take care of you and provide you with what you need. Have faith. Trust. Believe. You'll be fine. Stay well, and stay blessed with love and light~
Here's some food for thought from Ralph Smart on Infinite Waters:
Food for thought to consider: