Gratitude For 2015

Latest posts by Shannon Braxton (see all)

Photo Credit: Mike Petrucci

How was your 2015? Was it the year of magnificent manifestation as so many leaders prophesized? With little effort, did all of your dreams come true? If so, please invite me to your house for an one-on-one mentoring program because my 2015 was not what I expected at all. Never in my life have I fought such a battle against my own mind.

While I wanted to be painting my new hometown red, I felt more like I was sentenced to a self-inflicted house arrest. The year started with me totaling my brand new dream car and in turn loosing my exciting brand new job. What I was left with was a crappy lawyer, a little government assistance, an emotionally taxing relationship and an opportunity to get clear about God’s purpose for me and my life.

2015, I officially label you “The Year Of Clarity.” Much of this year I spent talking to my “faithful five.” And each of my closest friends were struggling at my side. From the labor of planning and executing a national music tour, to being a black man trying to find employment in a white man’s arena; from managing a 3-year-old who has trouble staying asleep, to breaking up with a lover and long term career; we have gone to the war room y’all and prayed each other through the thick of the thick.

So what are we left we besides our ever growing strength? CLARITY! I am so excited to launch into 2016 with a brand new vision for my life that will serve you and God instead of serving my own ego. My friends are entering this new year with assurance that they are on the right path, a focus on entrepreneurship, holistic healing plans and registrations in programs to start fulfilling new careers.

So, how was your 2015? Was it “The Year of Clarity” for you?

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My name is Shannon Elizabeth Murphy Braxton. If I had to choose a title, I would say I am a PICKY MUSE. A poet, a singer, a storyteller and a person who gets VERY pissed off at ignorance and injustice. I hate the word career. “She is at the peak of her career.””How is this job going to help your career?” “Shannon, you need to choose a career.”

TO HELL WITH CAREERS!

I am a freedom fighter, a person who lightens the mood, and someone who refuses to stay silent about things that matter. I spent a year interviewing children about the struggles they face and being the assistant producer of Childhood Matters Radio Show.

I spent several more years as the personal trainer to some of the most fabulous people in the world. And most importantly, I’ve spent my life trying to make sense out of nonsense and heal myself and the people around me with the transformative energy of love.

If you ask me, to live a life in COLOR should be the one and only career. I am excited to share some of my inspiration, and a little bit of my humor with others who are on this journey of creating a fabulous, colorful life.

I am thrilled to welcome Shan back to the blog to contribute whenever her schedule permits! She wrote and collaborated with me for a little over a year. It’s awesome to work with your bestie / sis.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy her honest and heartfelt writing as much as I do.

Must-Read: Smart Women, Smart Choices by Hattie Hill

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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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I am convinced, great books find us. Oh the euphoria of connecting to words which resonate so deeply with your own experience. A few weeks ago one of my best friends, Shannon (former Live In Color co-editor) blessed me with two books. One of them, Smart Women, Smart Choices: Set Limits and Gain Control of Your Personal and Professional Life by Hattie Hill, is transforming the way I think about lots of stuff.

Hill, an entrepreneur, international speaker and consultant, lived the lessons of this book, and after the dissolving of her first marriage, she reflected inward: “When did I cross the line from smart, independent woman to one whose cape was so weighted down with others’ concerns that I could no longer fly? In fact, I could barely walk.”

It’s taken me years to admit this to myself, but I am a pleaser, easily placing other people’s needs before my own. Yes, I know it’s detrimental, but until now, I had no concrete language for understanding these choices. With each section of Smart Women, Smart Choices, Hill helps me confront pieces of myself.

We meet women who do it all, and fit into various roles: “the juggler, ” “the achiever,” “the doer,” etc. Yet each shares a common trait, in addition to caring deeply for others, they carry them, shouldering more than their load with co-workers, friends, children and spouses. Oh, how well I relate!

Hill, though, is not satisfied for us to simply observe similarities, she demands change. At the end of each chapter there are questions and exercises. Clearly, we must do our work.

I am ready. For me, 2014 is about clarity, and doggedly removing obstacles which impede growth. Currently, because of my own busy life, I read a little at a time. Here are some of the passages that stand out:

Superwoman is a myth. No longer is stronger, faster, better, the formula for success in living a meaningful life. Women must discover a new way of meeting the overwhelming demands of modern times and that requires new choices.

We need to differentiate between carrying and caring.

Caring is an act of love. Carrying is a misuse of love.

Control is the illusion that we can make everything happen to perfection if we keep a firm grip on the reins. We really don’t trust anyone to get the job done but ourselves. As we take over the controls, either subtly or overtly, we begin to carry.

Loving starts with ourselves. If we don’t love ourselves, we cannot love one another.

Live In Color! – Emelda

Why Our Friendships Matter

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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Actresses Kerry Washington and Cicely Tyson over brunch
Photo Credit: The New York Times

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:13

The other day I rushed to a local cafe to talk with a good girlfriend. For weeks, we tried to catch up; between the both of us we are juggling careers, families, and oh yes,  finding time for ourselves. So, when she texted me, I set aside the time.

As we neared the end of our chat, she said something seemingly innocuous but quite profound. “Let’s set another time to talk, and then get together.” With a sense of urgency, she nudged, “Let’s really do it.” “Yes.” I said, immediately connecting with her point. “Sunday works for me,” I said, and we hung up.

Somewhere amid the weightiness of obligations that become our lives, friendships begin to feel like a luxury. Some nights after putting Naima to sleep, I have chosen the comfort of my bed over returning a friend’s phone call.

My girlfriend’s comments the other day reminded me friendship takes work and commitment – especially at this moment in our lives when loosing ourselves in doing for others is easier.

The deep sense of connection we form with other kindred spirits is vital to our own health. According to a New York Times article, friends can extend our lives. The piece cited this interesting finding. “A 10-year Australian study found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.”

Cicely Tyson and Kerry Washington made headlines recently when they talked over brunch for hours; these two friends, with decades between them, share numerous similarities such as initially pushing against the disapproval of parents to follow their desires to act. As the time together ended, Cicely gently urged Kerry to take care of herself. Her words demonstrating the depth of the two women’s bond.

Yes, friendships matter immensely, and despite obstacles we encounter with maintaining them, holding on is crucial. So, call your friends, cherish them, these relationships nurture us at our core, teaching love, growth and empathy.

Live In Color! – Emelda

Tell us about your friendships! Is it a struggle to hold on to some? How do you stay connected?