Be Gentle & Loving With Yourself Everyday

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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/
Emelda De Coteau
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Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Becoming an adult often means we swallow pieces of ourselves, hide vulnerabilities under the guise of responsibilities. Frequent crying  is labeled juvenile, a personal weakness… Yet if ever there were a period to be gentle with ourselves, it is now, when the energy in the world tugs at us daily, assaulting our psyches.

As women and Moms we are relentless with self criticism. I wake up with a mile long to-do-list and silently berate myself when things fall by the way side. Often I struggle to even feel worthy of rest.

There is so much to do, I tell myself – homeschooling, blogging, planning meals and errands for the week. How can I possibly lay down, or go sit in a cafe  and read (one of my favorite past times)? And yet, each time I surrender to rest or doing something only for me, I feel renewed.

Why is it so tough for us to show compassion towards ourselves?  It’s a habit, y’all, and like everything which becomes part of our daily lives, we have to do it over and over again.

When you and I feel overwhelmed the next time, the weight of responsibilities suffocating us, we have to first begin to breathe. It instantly centers you, becoming your sole focus during that moment.

The hubby, Kes, says that to me whenever I become frantic. Take a deep breath, baby.  And then, because he’s perfect for me, he follows up with something hilarious: “I’m gonna start calling you ‘Mel & The Frantics’ cause you always in a panic.” Now I am laughing so hard I almost snort. If y’all could see his face, eyes wide with amusement, you would bowl over with laughter, too.

Audrey Hepburn, whom I admire for her kindness, humanitarian work, and gracious beauty said: “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

All of us need those moments when joy erridicates worry. Sometimes, we have to look in the mirror and crack up at our own mess!

Releasing judgement, anxiety, and silencing all those “should voices” in our minds is another essential part of embracing gentleness. American culture is very much rooted in a kind of personal gratification based on what you do (work hard and then play). Yet there are days when we must relax without having done everything.

This is a tough on for me, y’all. I am goal / project / achievement-oriented-person. But the longer I foster self care and love in my spirit, the more I come to increased clarity, understanding gentleness means releasing fear, the fear of not measuring up.

You and I are enough. Our strength and beauty is not inextricably tied to productivity. We are more than our accomplishments. Gentleness, compassion, honesty and humor are the way forward, illuminating our day-to-day paths. Each one of us deserves a life overflowing with lasting gentleness and joy.

 

Are you gentle with yourself? If so, in what ways? If not, how can you start? 

Inspired Reading – Simplicity: Essays by The Minimalists

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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/
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

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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/
Emelda De Coteau
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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.