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/
Emelda De Coteau
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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.

Inspiration For Your Ears & Soul: From Women Standing Up to Street Harrassment to Breaking Barriers 

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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Venessa Marco performs her poem, “Patriarchy” Video by Button Poetry, Austin Texas, Image via YouTube Screenshot

The days are busy, but taking in inspiration nourishes my soul. This week you’ll find a mix of articles, music and sermons which are stirring my heart. I am filled with a desire to heal – spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

I hope these links resonate with you as well. Here is the latest list of uplifting online content: 

Street harassment is widespread and dangerous, but women artists are standing up to it through powerful work (see poetry videos at end of the piece).

Kayla of I Feel Pretty, Inc. a digital marketing / branding building co., has an amazing blog series about women walking in their dopeness and power. I was honored to be part of it, alongside Sakena Sampson (founder of Girls Empowerment Circle).

Please also check out these other ladies amazing interviews (EL’lise of High Healed Hearts; Karley, lifestyle blogger and founder of Karley.com  and Elsina Mensah of Crazy Haute and Sasha of Eden Publications.

Bishop T.D. Jakes tells us God can turn our mess into our message!

Francesca Battistelli’s liberating song, “If We’re Honest,” has me in near tears. She sings: “Truth is harder than a lie… I’m a mess and so are you… Bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine.”

Joel Osteen on shattering barriers and walking into grace.

Celebrate spring with this lovely photo essay by writer / photographer Tammy Strobel, Shades of Pink.

Photo Credit: Tammy Strobel
Photo Credit: Tammy Strobel

 

Cultivating Creativity When You’re a Mom

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

Anyone with small kiddos knows you can barely pee in peace most days, let alone create! Ha! It’s tough. This business of being someone’s Mom and wanting a piece of freedom for yourself. How dare you?

When I think back to my pre-kid life and time management, I just laugh. Some days moments seemed to slip away.  In actuality, I amassed an abundance of hours and minutes.  The key to unlocking them? Recognizing those windows to create.

Now I am a productivity ninja! Pockets of free time become blog posts or photographs (sandwiched in between chores & homeschooling Nai of course). Last Sunday, I won the Mama lottery –  a few hours to myself.  I pushed beyond a desire to curl up in the bed with Netflix, and instead chose a long nature walk and photography.

Breathing in natural beauty transforms us and it’s absolutely essential to self care. When I produce  something – poetry, photography, an essay, blog post or article – there is an overwhelming sense of liberation afterwards.

It’s so easy to lose our identities as Mamas. But rebelling against convention, and making it a priority to create moves us into a broader purpose – beyond ourselves, our kids, and instead, extends these gifts to the world. As much as I love our daughter, I cannot allow parenting to swallow my identity – and neither can you. Seize those sporadic minutes here and there, and make something lovely.

What do you create? How do you make time in your busy life to keep going?

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau

 

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau

 

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau