6 Things You Can Do Now to Reclaim Your Joy 

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Graphic via Mallory Cruz’s blog

Years ago I heard a minister say don’t wish for happiness because it’s based on happenings, instead seek joy.

One of my good friends and I talked this week about some of our frustrations, and she mentioned how exhausting social media  becomes – managing your profile, keeping up with comments, but mostly she despises how miserable she feels after looking at everyone’s seemingly ideal lives. But are they perfect? Not really.

No one, no matter how intelligent, beautiful, or wealthy escapes issues or struggles. Some folks are just better at camouflaging.

Our conversation and my own week (an emotionally rocky one) prompted me to consider reclaiming joy, and what simple things (starting with 6) we can all do throughout our day-to-day lives.

Here are my thoughts: 

1. Practice Gratitude – Staying grateful (especially during difficulties) is transformational. It’s an instant mood elevator. My bestie Shan and I discussed this last night.

I believe what we focus on expands, so looking towards our blessings and thanking God for them ushers in more abundance (whether it’s through finances, relationships, etc.)

And when we put it into practice daily we permanently shift our mentality to a higher vibration.

2. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else – Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the theif of joy.” Ever since I heard those words years ago, I held on to their power. Each one of us is at different places, and stopping to compare ourselves to others only breeds misery. Focus on your unique gifts, your voice, and you will illuminate the world.

Photo Credit: Roksolana Zasiadko

3. Take Regular Social Media Breaks & Filter  –  Our brains are miraculous, but there are limitations. They can only hold so much. Sometimes, actually quite often, we need a break from the incessant rate of images and text bombarding us on social media platforms.

No one says you have to scope, tweet, etc. everyday. And if you’re one of those folks who compares your life to others (or the version they show us), all the more reason to step away for a minute (particularly if you are in a tough season).

Filter what you ingest, too. Skip  dismal news stories some days, or debating with someone of an opposing political or religious view. I am not advocating living in a bubble, but we have to know what we can tolerate on an energetic level. It’s really that simple.

4. Rest –  I know this is a tough one, but your body and mind will thank you. I usually have to force myself to sleep, but when I do, the next morning I am much more capable of taking on the world.

As a Mom, I know there are times when it’s particularly challenging. Work towards devoting small chunks of time throughout the day   (5, 10 or 15 minutes, etc.) for rest, and do absolutely nothing.

My good friend Michelle over at Surviving a Creative Life is excellent at reminding me to take breaks and rest. I think accountability partners are key in this whole commitment to rest. Have someone in your life challenge you when you’re not resting enough, and then listen. Rest.

5. Take in Natural Beauty – Sounds easy but in the age of iPhones, Androids and other electronic devices this is difficult for many of us. Go for a walk, take a long drive, mediate in the park; allow the beauty surrounding you to nourish your spirit.

Photo Credit: Shannon Braxton

6. Read or Listen to an Inspiring Story Misty Copeland, Bessie Coleman, Lisa Nichols, Angela Davis and countless other women inspire me with their determination and strength. In pieces of their story, I see my own.

Bessie Coleman, pioneer aviator. In 1922, she became the first African-American woman to stage a public flight in America.

I am reminded that no struggle is eternal and I am equipped to walk and live in joy!

🔽

How do you reclaim your joy? Don’t be shy. 🙂 Share in the comments.

Inspiration For Your Ears & Soul: From Maya Angelou Docu. to Loving Your Natural Hair, and Walking by Faith

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Photo via Pinterest

Challenges followed me this week, one after the other, but I remained determined to seek out inspiration.

Here’s the weekly list:

Cannot wait to see this documentary on the colorful & prolific writer Dr. Maya Angelou. Democracy Now’s background coverage of it is excellent.

My blogging friend Afrotastic Lady has a lovely online space. She regularly features posts from other writers and creatives. Check out this beautifully-layered piece by talented singer Jessi Hughes about loving your hair, and how this connects to faith and personal growth for her.

Jessi I. Hughes, Photo via Afrotastic Lady Blog

Every moment of every day, God’s grace wins! You tell em’ Matthew West! 

No matter what your situation looks like in the physical, It Ain’t Over, because God is in control! Close your eyes and take in this powerful message from Isreal Houghton featuring James Fortune and Jason Nelson.

These kids are my heroes! They stood up for a child with special needs being bullied. I could not stop crying; their courage is so utterly moving!

Angela Davis and her sister, Fania  talk about self-care and how it’s tied to our larger struggles for social justice.

Inspired Music: Mandisa’s Overcomer

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Cover art, Mandisa single, "Overcomer"
Cover art, Mandisa single, “Overcomer”
… got so much on your mind, nothing’s really going right, looking for a ray hope. Whatever it is you may be going through, I know he’s not going to let it get the best of you. You’re an overcomer. Stay in the fight til’ the final round…”

As I look in the rear view mirror our daughter Naima’s little head bobs back and forth as Christian artist Mandisa‘s voice reassures us God is in control, not our circumstances. Her innocent joy is contagious, I smile, but not long after my tears begin to flow. Raising my arms, in this moment, it’s as if the weight of these last few years – the disappointments and heartaches – are gradually lifting.

“Overcomer” is the kind of song which illuminates those dark places we all confront. Little by little, I am beginning to understand God’s love for us is rooted in pragmatic everyday lessons – the set backs, some monumental others seemingly small and innocuous – each designed to shape us into overcomers.

We often learn through discomfort, vulnerability, and dare I say those periods of loneliness and stark quiet when it’s just us and God. These last few months have taught me that, perhaps more than any other season in my life. Sometimes we must rest in solitude.

None of this happens quickly, you and I take daily steps towards healing as the video illustrates quite beautifully. We watch each person’s path and gradual healing, including the celebrated Robin of the Today Show’s bout with cancer and former congresswoman Gifford’s return after being nearly killed by a lone shooter.

The longer I live, the more I understand overcoming is both process and journey, a continuum.  Those of us who are “prisoners of hope,” as the book of Zachari says, are stubbornly courageous; we are ever rising above the obstacles in the natural world and connecting to spirit. Every day, our tiny steps, often the ones no one witnesses, lead us along a path which refutes despair or practicality and instead offers the uncertainty of a less stable, but far more fulfilling blind faith. I’ll embrace that road any day, friends.