Inspiration For Your Ears & Soul: Alabama Shakes, James Baldwin, and Podcast, Black Girl In Om

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: Pieter M. van Hattem / GETTY IMAGES
Photo Credit: Pieter M. van Hattem / GETTY IMAGES

Lately, I am listening to lots of podcasts (informational, spiritual & inspirational), and of course, music! I also discovered some beautiful writing this week, too. Here’s what is resonating with my spirit lately:

How appropriate is a song about not wanting to fight anymore in today’s world of strife and pain? This video, all of the soul and beauty it captured, is stunning.  I enjoyed the short interview on NPR from last year about their current album, Sound & Color, and why Alabama Shakes does not play it safe.

Great podcast from Marc Steiner celebrating the prolific writer James Baldwin’s birthday, Aug. 3.

Speaking of amazing podcasts, have you listened to Black Girl In Om? I am not sure how I discovered this awesomeness, but I am all over every episode now. It is so affirming to find an online space that celebrates wellness, beauty and the intellect of women of color. Check out their website and digital magazine, too. Life, y’all!

I absolutely connected so much with Jennifer’s beautiful blog post about prayer life for busy parents.

My new friend Kami (a fellow writer at Our Words Collaborative) has a profound post on her blog, “Learning the Art of Letting Go.” These lines: “As real and necessary as it is to learn to hold on through the hard and often mundane moments in life, there are circumstances that instead call for us to let go. Over these years of illness, one of the hardest things for me to let go of is the idea of my former self.”

This arresting and prolific essay, “Confessions of a Little Black Girl” from the creator of the lovely online magazine, Inkfully, about the challenges of growing up as a brown girl in America.

Artwork by Bethany Joy

I ❤️ this artwork from  Bethany Joy, this month’s artist for Our Words Collaborative, a Christian online devotional where 30 of us share our faith journeys daily.

This Thursday’s devotional by Ari Heick about God refining our rough edges really spoke to my heart!

A Letter to my Young Daughter about Living as a Woman of Color & Radical Faith in America 

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: Devin Allen

Dear Nai,

One week ago, while you slept, Mommy stood in the kitchen, surrounded by plates and cups and cried. I nearly collapsed, knees aching, my stomach somersaulting with uneasiness and lingering pain.

I cried because when I looked at Philando Castile’s fiancée, her eyes, worn from grief and shock, mirrored my own in ways you will one day, sadly, know as a black woman, unless the conscious of America profoundly shifts. Your Mama is an optimist, and a Christian so I stand on the anchor of hope (Hebrews 6:19), praying we will begin seeing each other not as Americans but people, people whose individual truths are valid and real.

Frankly, I don’t know if this will happen in your lifetime, but I want you to extend the love your Daddy and I give you always. Allow it to take up residence in your heart, and fill it often as you come before God in thoughtful prayer and communion.

Kes, Nai and me Photo Credit: Wayne De Coteau

You will need this love to live in a country and world which insists on rendering you, your perspective and intellect, your unique truth, invisible. Mama wants so desperately to protect you from the pernicious sting of rejection, but I cannot. And when I am forced to acknowledge this grimness, the weight of it nearly crushes me.  But then I think of women of color like Dr. Maya Angelou whose sentence from the poem, “Our Grandmothers” rests within Mama’s spirit, eviscerating this looming mist of defeat which attempts to choke out hope: “I come as one, I stand as ten thousand.”

Say this to yourself, my love, often, especially when you think you cannot overcome an obstacle. “I come as one, I stand as ten thousand.”

You are the descendent of a people rooted in resistance and resilience, dear heart; they refused to allow the ideology of white supremacy to define their destiny. Madam C.J. Walker became the first woman millionaire in America because a divine vision, superseded manmade barriers of skin color and gender.

Your Great Grandmother started working at age 5, and did not stop until her 60s; her retirement from being a domestic worker came because her daughter, your Nana, held a fierce determination within her heart, shutting out the high school counselor’s prediction that she should sweep floors, instead, she graduated with honors from Morgan State University.

Nana became an educator, touching the lives of thousands of children in Baltimore city, opening their minds to a more expansive history of the U.S. And then she came home, every day, and poured these revelations of our past into her children so our futures would not become marred by defeat, but instead, armed with this biblical truth: “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14

Each time you hear the lies of “not enough” (smart, beautiful or talented) echoed from American culture refute  these destructive words and live. Live because your life is a testament to triumph over fear and hatred.

Lucille Clifton, renowned poet, proudly declares, “come celebrate with me that everyday something has tried to kill me and has failed.” These are your foremamas, Nai! Their struggle shall be your strength.

When you experience discrimination and meet others who do, waste no time bemoaning it, put your energy (all of the sadness, anger and frustration) into action. Allow these verses of scripture to dwell within your soul:

“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

You matter. Your ancestors built this country, not as slaves, but as survivors whose sheer will birthed an unrivaled ingenuity spanning every field and occupation. Listen. You will hear it couched in the melody of the blues, rising in the triumphant praise of gospel music, and through the eloquent work of writers such as James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis and many others.

You are always enough. God created you not to conform to this world, but to transform it.

And so, I leave you, my darling, with the words of Howard Thurman, a great African-American theologian, author and thinker (Jesus and the Disinherited) who inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other seekers of justice:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

My Love For You Is Eternal,

Your Mama

Making Time For You, Inspired Reading: The Fringe Hours

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: The Mom Creative Blog

 

“One always has time enough, if one  will apply it well.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Are you like me? Do your days move at warp speed, and by the time you catch your breath it’s midnight? Adulthood can feel like one long string of obligations, especially for women.Beginning in childhood, society says put yourself last. As kids, how many of us played with dolls that cried or needed their diapers changed? Before we knew ourselves, we learned to care for others – starting with the toys.

Even in the 21st century, with more women in leadership roles, our culture continues to revere a kind of femininity rooted in service and selflessness. Yet moments spent alone pursuing those passions that nourish our souls rejuvenates us. We become better mothers, wives, friends, siblings and professionals. Why? Because there is time to see us fully – not only the roles we fill. I know, you’re thinking, who has time to write poetry, paint, or hit the gym for yoga class? I’m running a household and managing business obligations.

Well, the truth is you and I have more time than we realize. While reading one of my favorite blogs, (in) courage me, I discovered a new book, The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, mom, blogger, crafter and marketing professional. I wanted to know more. Where are these hours? How can I discover and maximize them?

Fringe hours are small pockets in our days – early mornings before the house is chaotic, lunch breaks, nap times (for stay-at-home / work-from-home Moms), or evenings after the kids fall asleep. These are opportunities to transform mundane moments into periods of creation and growth.

How do we get there though? Well unlike other books tackling time management, Turner doesn’t start out by giving us a system to implement. She urges digging deeper with some critical questions: What stops us from putting personal time at the top of our lists? Do obligations to everyone else feel more important? It is vital to examine these self-imposed blocks.

The late writer James Baldwin wisely said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Balance, then, is at the core of fostering time for ourselves. I hear you mumbling. Who ever achieves this? Well, one of the lessons I am beginning to learn is balance changes all the time, its constant shifting and negotiating, but without it, life swallows us. Here balance is defined in a way rarely heard: “emotional stability (how does what we are doing make us feel) + a satisfying arrangement of elements.”

Essentially, is the calendar full of draining responsibilities, or have you found a way to make self care a priority in the midst of it all?  Oh, yes. Its one area of constant push and pull for me (and I am sure lots of you, too); giving ourselves permission to enjoy me time minus the guilt.

There are clear areas of focus on the road to a more fulfilling life, Turner insists: “Understanding self-care habits and identifying your passions and available time are just the first steps to living a life that prioritizes you and your needs. Once you commit to this lifestyle, embracing additional practices such as prioritization and accepting help can make a huge difference in your well being.”

“Busy people get things done.”
Trudy Leocadio (my very wise Mom)

This is a book full of actions, daily steps we can begin taking to discover fringe hours (track your days for one week) and maximize them (learning to say no, and being prepared to use unexpected time, i.e. long waits at the doctor’s office by keeping your journal, iPad, etc. on hand). Each chapter concludes with a few sentences of motivation to elevate our spirits and assure us others join us in the journey. There are gems of wisdom like this:

“You can organize your time in such a way that prioritizes yourself. Sometimes this means saying no or skipping dishes. Creating boundaries with our time and in our relationships is an important and healthy way to live a life that models self-care.”

I urge you not to stifle your gifts because you wear so many hats. We all deserve a full life, one where creativity, joy and freedom flourish. Getting to this place takes some work, and once we are there, it’s about maintaining boundaries, and consistently reminding ourselves that we matter immensely. But it’s worth all the struggle and organization. God did not create us to blend in to the world, but rather to ignite it with our light and purpose. Your legacy matters. Start building it, minute by minute, today.

Connect with the video series of The Fringe Hours on YouTube.

Originally published in Beautifully Said Magazine, the September issue.