Inspired Reading – Simplicity: Essays by The Minimalists

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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Between home schooling our 3-year-old daughter, plus the gazillion other things I do all day, reading books, at times, seems like a distant fantasy. You know, one of those glorious activities in my pre-kid life.

Well I am stubborn. I couldn’t abandon my life-long love of words for Elmo and Abby, so I became more realistic. Instead of lengthy novels, I absorb blogs, articles and essays.

During an online reading binge last year I discovered The Minimalists blog. It’s written by  two young guys who walked away from six figure jobs, because they knew life consisted of more than climbing a corporate ladder.

Their blog posts are beautifully  layered essays, odes to a simple life built on the appreciation of people and experiences, not vapid status symbols.

Minimalism has many definitions and looks different for various people, but I think of it as not only ridding yourself of excess stuff, but those stifling emotional weights. It’s understanding what matters and why.

I’ve just started diving into their book, Simplicity: Essays. Many of these pieces were published on the blog; some appear in this collection with revisions.

It’s not a lengthy read; you can skip around, choosing what resonates most with you. There are varied lessons here, overall though, minimalism helps us understand the fullness of living in the moment, and honoring our voices over the chaotic noise.

Choose to do less and be more, the minimalists seem to say in their own way. And we all have that choice, the question is how do we manage this power?

Here are a few of my favorite passages:

“The white picket fence. The large suburban home. The big screen TVs glowing in multiple rooms…. The corner office.

In exchange for…

The daily grind. The nose to the grindstone…. The cubical farms… The arbitrary goals… The unyielding tiredness.

You can keep your American Dream. Give us back our time, our freedom, our lives.”

– UnAmerican Dream

“Questioning the meaning we give to our stuff is the basis of minimalism. By paring down and getting rid of life’s excesses, we can focus on what’s important.”

  • Questioning Stuff

“This life is short, but it contains everything. There is inherent beauty in simplicity. Choose your path wisely; often the simple route is the most beautiful path to follow.”

  • Simplicity, An Unpublished Essay

“Without growth, and without a deliberate effort to help others, we are simply slaves to cultural expectations, ensnared by the trappings of money and power and status and perceived success.

Minimalism is a tool that allowed us to simplify our lives so we could focus on what’s important. We were able to strip away the excess stuff and focus on living meaningful lives… You deserve to live a meaningful life, too.”

  • Grow Yourself, Not Your Stuff

Finding Faith In Chaos

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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I wrote this a few years ago, but I am still grappling with these lessons, and the concept of “faith in chaos.” I wanted to share my thoughts again. We are all learning many of the same lessons in different ways.

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Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau Live In Color Blog

Let go of your old narratives when they no longer serve you. Life changes constantly, and your story will, too.”– Tammy Strobel (Author/Blogger/Photographer)

Over a year ago, within two months, both of our cars were totaled.

Before my husband and I could sigh, we learned about our baby. My emotions vacillated from surprise and joy to the kind of wrenching terror novel responsibility bears. How would I bring forth a life as I still searched for myself?

Months passed; halfway through the pregnancy, one of our doctors solemnly cautioned something may be wrong with our daughter’s heart. Racing anxiety quickly yielded to determination and prayer. We stood in the hospital parking lot on a tepid spring day, my husband, mother and I, heads bowed. We remained calm. A few days later the test results were negative.

After a nearly three-day delivery in August, Naima entered the world at 11:11 a.m., healthy and whole. Only seconds earlier, she maneuvered to break free of the umbilical cord which locked itself around her neck twice; the first cries were an audible reminder that life, in all of its complexities, is a continuous marvel.

As I look into those eyes, pressing against the softness of her skin, my heart is imbued with unending joy. She is here, because we refused to give up on her, on the power of faith. For me faith is not the absence of doubt—it’s having the courage to wrestle with it, facing our vulnerabilities, one day, one moment at a time. As Iyanla Vanzant, teacher and author often remarks, “we must do our work.”

This inner work is constant and consistent. I believe God pushes us with each new challenge to trust more fully. Certainly, there are days when it all feels impractical to me, as if I am swimming against a current.

This autumn, while leaves fell, so too did my tears as I came to grips with a stark realization—a close family member now deals with a lifelong illness. There would be no retreat, only our resolve to cope.

It is during quiet times of reflection, as the bustle of life subsides momentarily, that I am reminded faith, ironically, is perhaps with us most strongly in chaos, when it’s easier to lose ourselves in despair and panic. We only have to remain willing to see promise and possibilities, not obstacles.

Two Life Lessons from my Toddler

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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Naima De Coteau Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Naima De Coteau
Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Naima is an avid explorer. Even in the womb, this girl moved with agile determination. She enjoys a good swing or sliding board as much as the next toddler, but also likes walking through the park, picking up flowers, digging for rocks and climbing into trees.

A few weeks ago she layed down in the grass, gazed toward the placid indigo sky and smiled. Not a tepid smile either; one filled with the kind of innocence we see in children, before the world has convinced them to hold fast to reality and stop dreaming  Her quiet exuberance is contagious.

Oh, what lessons she taught me in 2 minutes:

1. Stop expecting and start experiencing.

Hitting the park together does not mean staying on the swings, or sliding board, Mom. There is a world beyond what I “should do,” and I intend to embrace it.

What kind of lives would you and I lead if we turned away from the “should” syndrome? This tendency towards compartmentalizing expectations for our kids goes beyond them and impacts other areas of life, too.

How often are we frustrated because partners, friends, or family members defy our expectations, choosing a path we do not approve? It’s difficult, this pulling back, but there is freedom in releasing the need to control. Every day, I am learning this lesson.

2. Slow down, and enjoy.

We live in the era of multitasking on speed. Everyone, everywhere is busy, all the time. Between floods of emails and navigating social media, our minds move incessantly. Being still is a lost art. It’s not lazy, this desire for tranquility, I promise you all, those times heal us in numerous ways.

In those few moments, lying next to Naima, I absorbed the natural beauty of birds, their rhythmic songs. Oh what lovely sounds.

While my pre-kid life included random meditation (when I could sit still! Ha! ) and walks around the track, headphones were never far away. Reflecting back on those days,  I missed so much.

When you and I are open, the lessons come to us in many forms. These days, mine are often taught by our spirited three-year-old who is determined to help Mommy see life with different eyes.

What lessons do your kids teach you?