Blogging Again – Staying Woke & In 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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Life comes at you fast.  Taking time for your art is tough, especially when you’re a creative mama juggling tons of ideas, building community (Pray with our Feet – the new website is coming soon + Women Creatives Chat, founded for women of all artistic disciplines, centering wellness and empowerment and authentic connections),  and still deeply disturbed about the state of the world. Being woke, y’all, can exhaust us; staying in faith when the logical part of your brain is screaming give up – even tougher.

And yet, here I am, back to blogging, asking God to give me grace and the words to continue lifting up the importance of faith and activism – one word, social media post, and blog at a time.  Because everyday, it seems, there is a new crisis – catastrophic storms (climate change), hatred propagated by the alt right movement, problematic rhetoric and actions from the Trump administration, the prison industrial complex’s growth and xenophobia disguised as immigration policies and on and on…

Feeling overwhelmed is totally natural, but we cannot stay mired in it. God is calling us to show up, serve and offer the light of faith (“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17).

And I believe, now, more than ever, we must cultivate community – it’s what’s driving me to create a new discussion series on Instagram @praywithourfeet – Woke Wednesdays (live on Instagram),  where we center conversations as a way to spark change within ourselves and the community. I’m super excited to vibe with our first guest, next Wed., Oct. 24, 7pm EST –  Alex Ambridge (@bridgerofgaps), a beautiful soul, yoga instructor, lover of life and self-described “open heart warrior”; he is on a continuous quest to raise his consciousness.

Alex served with the Peace Corps (2012 – 2014) and lived in Ghana which changed my life. He’s passionate about bringing people together from different backgrounds, holding space for personal healing and social change. He currently teaches in the studio YogaWorks in Fed Hill, and also volunteers teaching yoga and mindfulness to kids as part of the Food Project in West Baltimore.

Yoga ties everything together for me,” Alex says. “I am in therapy and regularly see an acupuncturist and also have a bachelors degree in philosophy. All of these things are reaffirmed through my yoga practice. I truly believe that everything within the universe is One vibrating on various frequencies of awareness.

Our minds are programmed to perceive the universe in terms of differences like me and you. Yoga helps me to get out of my head and into the body where the experience of oneness comes through.

Alex and I are delving into toxic masculinity (Why acknowledging this is critical for us all, and how men can learn to recognize the patterns within themselves and others), white privilege (mythology around whiteness, and the necessity for white folks to become honest about how they benefit from this daily), and finally, we’ll tackle breaking free from internalized oppressions (what does the daily work look like).

I hope you’ll join us and share with others – sparking change through conversation…

Why Activism & Creating Affirming Spaces for Women Moves Me

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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Black Womyn Rising (May 2016)

Ever since elementary school, I have stood up against any perceived injustice. Not on a picket line, more subtly I suppose, as my early protesting involved befriending kids others made fun of or ignored.

On the weekends, Dad told my brother and I stories about his life, the years he spent in Hounduras before coming to the U.S. We learned about his childhood, both the simple beauty and abject poverty. Those expressive eyes held a tinge of sadness as he told us about wearing shoes only on Sundays, as they walked to church; they traveled to school barefoot.

I sat there, all of 6 or 7, fully absorbed, unable to push the sentences about hardship back, tears and anger welled within me. Of course he said, “don’t cry,” “I’m fine now, Meldy” (his nickname for me), and yet, as he hugged me tenderly, smelling of cologne and peppermint, I couldn’t shake the heaviness of it all.

Why did I have shoes and clothes and other children didn’t? It felt absurd, cruel and unfair, and I wanted to change something, however small. I always felt a deep desire to transform the world in my own way, bringing light and beauty.

All these years later, I finally feel I am walking into my purpose as an activist, organizer, and cultivator of affirming spaces for women. Sometimes God must remove the noise, distractions and barriers which are hindering us from growth.

Rocking a shirt given to me by my good friend Kayla (includes names of Black womyn and girls murdered or assaulted by police)

And I suppose this is how I have come to work with Black Womyn Rising, an intergenerational organizing collective  I helped found with several other sistas based in Baltimore. Our work is intersectional (meaning we seek to understand how various forms of oppression operate and  impact black womyn and girls), and rooted in transformative love and global sistahood.

We are deeply concerned with resisting all forms of oppression and actively creating affirming spaces for womyn of color.  In the spirit of Nina Simone and so many other foremamas, we uplift the beauty, complexity and the rich layers of blackness.

While social justice and activism are a deep part of my soul, so, too, is creativity. Writing, photographing, sketching, these outlets are oxygen for me. Last year I founded Women Creatives Chat, a community that lives online for now (working on planning some events) whose mission is to inspire, empower (through tips, resources and regular Instachats), and connect my fellow creatives with one another.

Since launching on Instagram late last year, it’s growing daily. And I feel blessed to follow and connect with women from all around the world who are creating and trusting their unique visions. You and I truly can have the life we seek and dream about it. It begins with clarity, which I believe is rooted in prayer, a personal relationship with God and radical self love.

Graphic designed by Emelda De Coteau Founder, Women Creatives Chat

 

Anyway, enough about me! What sets your heart on fire? What do you feel called to give to the world?  I want to hear all about it in the comments below, sweet friends.

Why Putting Your Faith Into Action Matters 

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: Emelda De Coteau
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

As the busy Mama of a toddler, it’s tough to hit the bathroom solo, let alone go on an outing! Y’all, the struggle is real! So when Mom and Dad asked me to dinner, and said my brother would join us, I declared Daddy daughter time in our household and raced for my keys. Since there were only a few hours left before Nai’s bedtime, we headed over to Clark Burger. For months I drove past wistfully thinking of sitting under those expansive umbrellas, eating slowly, enveloped by city sounds, and now, we were here.

Our conversation, punctuated by bursts of laughter, bounced from the guilty pleasure of reality TV to news, and all the mundane stuff which somehow feels infinitely more interesting when you’re with family. I looked over between bites of the veggie burger and then I saw him, sitting, face sunken from fatigue, worn pale skin, brown eyes pleading for us to see him.

His whispers for spare change lost in the euphoria of a balmy Friday summer night. Dad, I said, “we have to help him.” “Of course,” he nodded in agreement. Before I knew it, I was digging in my purse for money. As we finished our meal, I kept my eyes not only on his lanky frame, but the people passing. No one stopped.

Too often, even Christians approach issues of poverty, systemic racism, exclusion of folks who are differently abeled, etc., by simply walking along, content to espouse flowery words of love once a week, while pushing them aside Monday – Saturday.

Photo Credit: Tamara Menzi
But friends, people are in pain, and more than ever they need the radical love of Christ and compassion. They may never open a bible, but they will meet you. Your life is a testament to the Father’s love. Let’s not turn away because it’s too tough. God is calling us to infinitely more.

Jesus loved, healed, and delivered people everyone else shunned – the tax collector, those with physical challenges and relationship issues (remember the woman at the well?). This is what we are called to do through our daily walk. “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).

As we handed him the money, he thanked us profusely, and then did something I will never forget. He looked toward heaven and praised God for this unexpected blessing, nearly in tears. For the past few weeks, as I reflect on our meeting, I am reminded of another scripture passage, Matthew 25: 35-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Let us cling to love instead of judgement, extending empathy before condemnation. God freely gives us His love not to confine it inside of four walls, but to share with everyone.

How do you give back in your community and put your faith into action? 

Stay Informed & Involved:  

I love Sojourner’s magazine, it’s a progressive Christian publication and website which looks at all that is unfolding through eyes of faith and social justice.  I recently discovered Christian Left, another online space for liberal Christians.

National Coalition For the Homeless (donate and get involved).

Back on my Feet, ” a national organization operating in 12 major cities coast to coast, combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.”