Lessons from my Obsession with Beyoncé by Shannon-Eli Braxton

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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Beyonce and Jay-Z in Cuba
Beyoncé and Jay-Z in Cuba

For several months this year, I’ve been obsessed with Beyoncé.  If there was a new picture of her, I had to see it. A new YouTube video, I had to watch it. But as spring started to bloom and the winter chill lifted, I noticed my obsession was making me depressed.

Though I would never admit this to anyone, I didn’t just want to see Beyoncé,  I wanted to be Beyoncé.  I kept trying to talk some sense into myself, reminding myself that no one has a perfect life no matter how perfect it may look online, on TV and in magazines. Then she went to Cuba and wore the cutest outfit EVER!

My next strategy was to harshly judge her lack of modesty. “I would never wear such revealing clothes.” And, “How could she promote the objectification of women after all we have to fight for?!” But that didn’t work either. Just when I thought I was over her, she became the spokes model for H&M, released a song called “Bow Down” and dyed her hair jet black.

So, a few weeks ago, as I sat staring at her latest citing, I whispered a confession to my co-worker; “Dan,” I said, “I’m really jealous of Beyoncé; she has the perfect life and no matter how hard I look for some proof of human flaws, I find none.”

In comes divine intervention…

Photo Credit:: Shannon Braxton
Photo Credit: Shannon Eli Braxton

Last Sunday afternoon my mother sent me a text that said, “The intersection of Park Avenue and Lexington Street is being named after your great grandmother today at 3pm.” Why she waited to tell me this and only gave me 2 hours notice, I wasn’t sure. Still, I headed to the street naming ceremony.

My great grandmother, Vashti Turley Murphy, was an activist for women’s rights and the co-founder of a large sorority with a mission to create equality, Delta Sigma Theta Soroity, Inc.

I grew up celebrated for being the descendant of civil rights leaders. Quite frankly, I never really thought it was that big of a deal. I mean, her accomplishments happened so long ago; I could never understand why people wanted to take so many pictures of me, her great granddaughter who was obsessed with Beyoncé.

Then, as if great grandma herself descended from heaven and disconnected my Internet, I got it. I totally got it. While members of Delta Sigma Theta encircled my family and guests, holding up pictures of young black women behind bars and groups of women standing in the cold with protest signs, a message became clear.

And as if those images weren’t touching enough, one of the oldest members of the sorority  stood behind the mic and asked, “What will YOU do to continue the legacy, and keep the civil right movement alive?”

After the ceremony, our family marched to see the unveiling of the sign and my life completely changed. What really matters is not Beyoncé, being pretty, funny or popular.  What matters is becoming a part of the solution for our world’s problems. It matters so much that only people who make huge contributions to creating a better society become immortal celebrities.

Not to diss Beyoncé, she is one of the greatest performers of all time, but all the booty shaking in the world ain’t gonna get a street named after you.  My new obsession is my
nonprofit to end the harassment of women. Please follow the movement: Help Stop Street Harassment.

Own Your Mess

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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If you want to transform the mess in your life, you have to own it. We have to admit to all of our impatience, defensive tendencies, depression, hopelessness, anger, and self deprecating speech. It is your mess to clean up.

Examine your suppressed emotions and habits which may be easier to define as character traits. Take a step back. There is difficult internal work ahead. Denial of your mess prolongs its stay, maliciously eating away at your progress, freedom and joy. Ownership is arduous, its a brutal business this honesty.

From birth, Western culture encourages perfection: disguise the flaws, whether physical or emotional, at any cost. Some people spend their lives hiding from truth, with full growth arrested by an inability or unwillingness to face themselves.

Freedom is possible, but it takes effort, a kind of relentless truth telling. Day by day, moment by moment. The journey is never ending, but our determination and commitment will lead us to another reality imbued with fulfillment and promise.

What habits are holding you back? Have you taken ownership? If not, consider how it would transform your life.

 

Leaping with your Fear!

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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Change exhilarates and awakens, takes us to dizzying heights, yet like most of you, it terrifies me. The natural essayist and thinker John Burroughs is widely credited with the quote: “Leap and the net will appear.” For years now, as I grapple with my own trepidation in various situations these words linger.

Sure. I imagine myself courageous, defiantly embarking on novel journeys and excursions, only to hear the mutterings of fear and self doubt. How can you leap? Where will you go?

As I confront these concepts, a central truth emerges. Wait. Leaping is not the absence of fear, but the will to live within it, unchained. One is always fearful, hesitant, cautious, but the authentically courageous embrace fear. It propels them forward.

Go ahead. Leap with fear. What you discover on the other side could transform your perspective, your world.