I Cannot be Available to Everyone, Every Minute of Every Day, and it’s OK 

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 Credit: Kalen Emsley
People expect our constant availability – phone, text, social media and email. Technology has birthed a culture grounded in a constant stream of endless obligatory chatter.

What happens when you seek quiet instead of IG, FB and Twitter feeds? Or if you decide you’re not interested in following the “behind- the-scenes look” at someone else’s life on Snapchat. You simply want to stand in your present moment, phone on the charger, or off all together for a while. Can we just be, y’all? Geez!

Apparently, this whole revolutionary non-available concept is irritating to some people. Last week I found myself in a back-and-forth exchange via Facebook which started because a new friend called me, and I didn’t answer the phone.

My momentary inaccessibility became interrupted as rude and callous, instead of an opportunity for them to pause and see it from another angle – maybe, just maybe, I was unavailable for numerous reasons. Nai and I were actually playing together in the backyard, bathing our cocoa brown skin in the emerging summer sunlight, lying in newly planted grass, our laughter overflowing, making a mundane weekday joyful.

I’m not a fan of distracted-parenting so I rarely engage in long convos with friends when homeschooling, reading or just hanging with our little Nai. Our moments together are precious.

The whole incident is causing me to reflect quite a bit on this rapid  “communication” evolution, and the impact it’s having on our personalities and ways of being with one another. Impatience is the new normal. And for far too many of us, instant gratification also means instant access to people. If we cannot have it,  we pout like toddlers insisting on their favorite snacks instead of dinner.

The concept of boundaries is somehow foreign to us, especially younger generations who have never known a world where you do not have multiple ways of reaching someone, any time of the day or night.

I am dating myself here, y’all, but I actually remember, as a kid, when very few people carried cell phones. If you weren’t home, you weren’t available. Folks connected with each other when it worked for both of them. You didn’t feel pressure to talk, and reply to incessant text messages and social media updates.

The act of cultivating genuine friendships is quickly being replaced with a vapid practice of familiarizing ourselves with people’s lives (an edited version of course) via social media, calling them friends, and then basing their value upon how often they comment, like or share our own thoughts. This isn’t friendship, it’s forced interaction and brazen selfishness.

I don’t know about you, but I am done with feeling bound by other people’s expectations of me, their pseudo ideas of friendship. If I don’t have another IG heart, or like on a post, I will survive. My soul is yearning for so much more these days, you know authentic and lasting connections based on understanding and love, not the thorny entanglement of ego. Our time is far too fleeting and miraculous to be squandered.

Talk to Me: 

Do you feel guilty if you’re not able to connect with someone right away? Why do you think so? How can you move beyond those feelings? 

Are We Too Busy For Friendship Now? 

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/
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Photo via Unsplash

Last week, one of my bestie’s, Shan and I, hit Red Emma’s. It’s the first time we have really hung out alone (she’s usually over to the house with me, Kes and Nai).

As I took in her delightful energy, my heart overflowing with joy, I noticed in this crowded coffee house, half the folks  were staring at laptops, many while with friends. And this blog post title popped into my head: Are we too busy for friendship now?

Let’s face it. Many of us are overcommitted and exhausted. Friendship takes work and it’s easier to scroll someone’s FB, Twitter or IG feed, send intermittant text messages, and pat ourselves on the back for staying in touch. But is this friendship, or social obligation?

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

– Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life

As we grow older – the life partner comes, our babies, career, etc. – and it becomes tougher to maintain friendships or cultivate new ones; yet I find authentic connection with another person to be utterly divine. It nourishes my soul, opens me up to novel ways of seeing the world.

The other day, I called a  good friend. We usually text or email, but I yearned to hear her voice, contagious laughter and imagine her smile as she spoke. So I picked up the phone and dialed. Funny how what is old becomes new again, huh?

I could hear the surprise in her voice as she gently joked about the rarity of my calls (being a Mama of little one can create some distance in your friendships). Still, after sitting with the depth of those words for a few days, I began wonder if collectively, we have allowed the noise of this world to overtake genuine friendship, and the beauty of human interaction. If we text or email frequently, can we also commit to a call or lunch? Are settling for becoming  acquaintances instead of cultivating authentic relationships?

Earlier this week I talked with an old college friend. She reminded me about us getting together; one of her friends had passed away of a heart attack before they were able to reconnect. None of us knows how long we have I thought as she lamented his passing, partially still in shock.

Making the effort to momentarily climb up from the dizzying lists of growing tasks in our own world is difficult, and at times, spending an afternoon with a friend feels luxurious, but the reality is it is not.

You and I need one another, beyond status updates and stunning Instagram feeds. We are created for fellowship and community. Do something for #tbt today – have a conversation with a friend, make plans to meet up in person, and then turn  off your laptops, iPads and phones. Rediscover each other in those quiet spaces.

Loving Our Kids Takes Courage and Vulnerability

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 Credit: Kaboom Pics

“We cannot opt out of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure that’s woven through our daily experiences. Life is vulnerable… These are the challenges of being alive, of being in a relationship, of being connected.” – Brene Brown

When our babies come to us after hours of excruciating pain, we immediately pronounce them as perfect – those symmetrical faces, joyous smiles and spontaneous squeals of delight bring boundless joy. Then, little by little, as the pint-sized stage, peppered with milestones, fades, we notice imperfections; once cute gestures are annoying, and we long for simpler days. I know I do, especially when Nai is consumed by a tantrum, and my patience is frayed.

All I want in that moment, Mamas, is perfection – instant calm and compliance. So unrealistic, and yet I crave the easier, predictable path. You know, like in a nanosecond, she will simply “get” how to control her emotions. Ludicrous, right?

But in this era of social media, where nearly everyone’s smiling at us through filtered photos, it’s hard to face anything remotely perceived as imperfection in ourselves, let alone our children. The reality, though, is our kids are mirrors, through their struggles and imperfections we see ourselves.

This is the vulnerability and courage of authentic love, it calls us to accept the range of humanity – the beauty of light and hope, and the struggle of impatience, anger, aggression, and selfishness. Each challenge we face, as parents, changes us and our children in profound ways. Gradually, I am learning to surrender to gentleness, and stop harsh self-criticism. Minute by minute. Hour by hour. Day by day.

The other morning, while reading through my daily devotional, How Deep A Mother’s Love…. A Mother’s Journey, I stumbled across a scripture passage (Isiah 43:18-19) which so deeply connects to this season of my life: “Do not remember past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the dessert.”

Love, I am learning, is not a place of rest and complacency, but of trust and conscious bravery.  And, you know what, it grows not during times of ease or comfort, but struggle – those moments when your child is melting down in the mall, and somehow, you find the empathy to talk through it, or with a little one who faces daily physical, emotional or learning challenges.

When loving in these ways, you come to understand the core of love – no illusions, expectations, or prerequisites (e.g. if you present this way, I will love you).

You simply see with your heart.