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Friday, September 17, 2010

fearLESS Friday with Lori Portka

Week 12

I don't remember how it happened exactly, but one day, this past March, my world collided with something/someone very very special.  I remember stopping and staring and taking a deep breath and giggling a little inside, knowing immediately that I had found a treasure. 

Her name is Lori Portka and she brings magic to life through her playful, beautiful, filled with color and life paintings.  And here's the thing, she is just the most lovely person.  You can tell by looking at her photo (bottom of page) that she is pure goodness.  Though we have yet to meet in person (that just has to happen someday), Lori & i have had some beautiful exchanges (through email & via our blogs). 

What a pleasure it is to have found you & your artwork, Lori.  And such an honor to have you here today.  You truly make this world a happier, more beautiful place.

Beauty And Peace      Artwork by Lori Portka

By Lori Portka

I was in my early 30's and I just lost my husband and my job.
And I was moving.
And, I was literally out of money.

I remember thinking that every day I needed to get up, get myself outside and walk the dog, take a shower, put on a little make-up and wear only clothes that I loved. My husband left me, making it nearly impossible to believe that I was anything other than entirely un-lovable. But I knew, deep down somewhere, that wasn’t true.

Every Thursday I went to a local Al-Anon meeting. I showed up scared, confused, and unable to contribute anything other than tears. I sat in the circle and cried, and people sat with me and held the space while I cried, without offering advice. And they told me they were glad I was there. And they told me to keep coming back. And I felt loved and cared for and heart-broken and lost, all at the same time.

We had beautiful gardens around our house. When my husband moved out, and I knew I was moving too, I let the gardens go and never brought cut flowers into the house. One day I had revelation that I could have the flowers, just for me. I cried at the thought of being so nice to myself. When I pulled into the driveway later that day I was unbelievably shocked - stunned. There were thousands of gorgeous little wild poppies growing all over the backyard, with their thin, delicate stems and bright orange petals. Never before were there poppies in my yard. They were fragile and sweet and wild and beautiful. I call it, My Poppy Miracle. That night I brought mason jars filled with poppies to the Al-Anon group. And I cried.

My ex husband and I were teachers in the same school district. When we split up, I wanted to move near friends and get out of the town that brought me so much pain. I used the last of my money to secure an apartment and then I was panicked. How would I have enough money for gas or food before my new job started and I got my next pay check? Then I remembered that we saved change in a big jar over the years. I lugged it to the bank and found out that I had $250.00. This turned out to be exactly the amount I needed for my life until the pay checks started coming in again.

I learned that even when I am at my most fearful and uncertain, I always have everything I need. In this case- a little make-up, nice clothes, circles of friends who understand, enough money, and poppies.

There were poppies just for me.

I am an artist, doing what I love, in hope of spreading a little happiness around.
I believe in loving kindness.
I am trying to be as authentically me as possible.
I am mostly sweet and compassionate and learning to say "no" when
"yes" does not feel right and accept (and even embrace)
the non-optimistic, angry, spitfire part of myself.
I travel as much as possible.
I love animals with all my heart.


  1. what a beautiful and sweet story!

  2. i love you even more now lori after reading this heartfelt, raw, genuine, authentic post.

    you are a gem and a treasure to all of us who know you.

    thank you for this interview Julia...i am happy to have now found you!!

    sweet love to you both as you continue on your journeys.

    poppy filled love to you

  3. Lori, I continue to be inspired by your story! (and your beautiful work!!) xo

  4. Oh, Lor. This made me cry. I remember you then and I remember strength and poise and beauty. And more strength.

    And P.S. You're a WRITER, Portka. Don't let you tell you anything different.

  5. A wonderful interview and a great interview to remind us all that even at our lowest to trust ourselves and look for the miracles that surround us daily.

  6. Julia, thank you for starting Fearless Friday and for having someone like Lori contribute. She is all heart, and it shows in her paintings and her writing. Like meets like. Thank you Lori, for sharing your journey with us, and showing us how you moved into the sunshiney life portrayed in your paintings!

  7. oh lori, i love the paradox of how strong you sound in telling your story of pain.
    the classic picture is the lotus out of the muk.
    YOU had/have poppies. & you have your
    authentic life, that you clearly live with
    all your heart.
    flowers DO spring out of our lives lived honestly!
    big big love & i'll be giving you a big hug soon! xoxox

  8. Lori, you are such a bright shinning spirit! This story is amazing, raw, and so honest....and yes I totally love you more now after reading it! I see on a deeper level how you embrace life now. "Happiness through Art" means so much more! xo

  9. Beautiful post Lori, thanks so much for sharing your story! You are an inspiration :) I agree with "Leaves and Feathers", there's so much more meaning now to "Happiness Through Art", I love it!


  10. I love Lori and her sweet honesty. Beautify and inspiring!

  11. Thanks for sharing-what a beautiful soul.

  12. nice to meet you, lori. 6 years ago, i was in a similar place & found myself doing some of the same things ~ crying at al anon, finding just enough change to make it through, and poppies (but i did plant them!) thanks for sharing this ~ lori & julia. you are both inspiring painters and writers~

  13. lori, every tidbit i learn about you makes me like you even more! your paintings are gorgeous enough on their own, but they take on a whole new dimension of depth and authenticity knowing the struggle you've had to go through to achieve happiness. thank you for opening up and sharing with us!

  14. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I especially loved the part about Al-Anon. I discovered CoDA at 21 years old, and it literally saved my life. And the poppies !!!!! Love that :) And love that you made it through and were given all you needed to start a new life. You're amazing!!!!

  15. Julia, I've had the same experience with Lori and am so so glad we crossed paths in the blogosphere, she's a lovely lovely person and her artwork is fantastic...thanks for this interview with her:D

  16. The same thing happened in our garden with the poppies. Poppies are so magical...they can stay dormant for years then pop up in droves when you least expect it! I just found Lori, and think she's great too. x

  17. This is so truly inspiring. I can relate. I am learning now to be a light upon myself. I am learning now to love myself. It is so funny how difficult it is and that we only learn it in times when we are left my someone we love.

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  20. Lori, I am so deeply touched by your story and work! :)


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♥ Julia