Watch Your Words

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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“The tongue has the power of life and death…”
Proverbs 18:21

Words carry immense power. What you and I say to ourselves and others matters; it shapes our perceptions, and in turn realities.  Day by day, moment by moment, this principle becomes clearer in many ways.

Shannon (Live In Color blog co-editor) and I spoke recently about the weightiness of words. “You know Mel,” she said squarely, “we are word people. We really are.” When you are a lover of words, you are constantly wrestling with what you say, and taking in what others say.

Several years ago my husband and I sat in a crowded  auditorium, my niece’s excitement bubbled over; she pointed out her favorite Disney characters gliding across the ice. “Look Uncle Keston,” she exclaimed, grabbing hold of his hand. “Look!”

We smiled,  perhaps remembering how easily joy comes to us in childhood. And then, abruptly, another voice interrupted. “Shut up, you ugly little b*#%.” I turned around to see a young woman pulling at her toddler, hurling insults and laughing; Silently I wept for the little girl, her face, what I could make out of it in the dimness, filled with confusion and sadness. Her eyes seemed to whisper, “Why are you so angry?”

On days when I hear someone being particularly cruel, spewing vitriol and hatred, I am reminded of those incidents, and the lesson. Words impact us all. Forget that old-school rhyme:”Sticks and stones break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Grasping the enormity of what one says is deeply connected to awareness, stillness, sitting with your words after you say them. We can hinder or heal, empower or eviscerate the spirit of another living being.  Choose to use them in service of love and respect.

Two Ways to Watch Your Words:

1. Empathize – Yes, it sounds like a no brainier, but empathy helps us see the world compassionately. How do you like someone to speak to you? Do you enjoy being cut off, your words and thoughts discounted? None of us does, so consider that when communicating with others. We begin to see others perspectives, and our word choice reflects it.

2. Speak Solutions – Like most of us dealing with frustrations, I am guilty of saying, “I’m so sick of…” or “I’m tired of…” in an effort to relieve the tension. Lately, I am turning these words around and focusing on what I want to expand.  So, if you are tired of a particular situation,  focus instead on your solution.

Live In COLOR! – Emelda

How do you watch your words? Is it a struggle for you? Share with us!

 

Speak to your Mountains

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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Everyone of us is living with a mountain, a significant hurdle or obstacle. Where we differ is attitude. Does the mountain embolden you, fueling determination to rise above it, or stifle progress?

The bible says “As a man thinketh, so is he.” The genesis of progress evolves first within our minds, therefore the messages we tell ourselves internally have far reaching implications.

Begin speaking to your mountains – break down those pernicious obstacles one by one, instead of saying “I can’t” declare defiantly “I can.” As a child sometimes I would grow frustrated with small things, mumbling to myself, “I can’t do this,” and my father, in his encouraging way would say: “Take the word can’t out of your vocabulary.”

Affirmations might be dismissed by some as a “new-age hippie” panacea for lack of confidence, but immense power lies in the words we repeat to ourselves.
According to noomii, the professional coach directory using affirmations, defined as “words or phrases that evoke a positive state of mind,” is an age-old practice which is also rooted in science, also known as neuro-linguistic programming, essentially training your mind.

So, the next time negativity and self-depreciating thoughts spring forward push them back with affirmations and visualize yourself overcoming your dilemma with phrases such as:

Obstacles are opportunities in disguise.

There is nothing I cannot accomplish.

The word “can’t” does not belong in my vocabulary.

I am worth the life I seek.

My dreams can become a reality.

Let’s move mountains together. What affirmations will you begin saying daily?

Listen to the Poets

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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More than ever, particularly during this time of economic turmoil and militarism, our hearts must remain open to the poets. Some whisper, others yell and scream; many are challenging us to re-examine normality and look deeply at the world around us.

Public domain photograph of Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman, widely considered one of the great American poets, absorbed the complexity and beauty of New York City by simply walking. His groundbreaking slim volume of poetry, Leaves of Grass, is a testament to this boundless curiosity about those around him – celebrated and anonymous, wealthy and poor, artists and everyday working people. For an artist sees the world not merely as it appears, but as it does not.

Like Whitman, Gwendolyn Brooks drew inspiration from sidewalks and city streets. Brooks once said, “If you wanted a poem, you had only look out of a window. There was material always walking or running, fighting or screaming or singing.” Within “Kitchenette Building” from her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville, she wrote:

“We are the things of dry hours and the involuntary plan, Grayed in, and gray. ‘

During an address at Mt. Holyoke College in 1978, Audre Lorde, brilliant poet, essayist, activist said: “Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.” When I become despondent or reflective, poetry becomes my solace, and reminds me to awaken. Yet it exists not only in words, but through mundane motion, rhythmic speech, the innocuous laugh of a child, or the subtle patter of rain drops against a window. Poetry is powerful because it is tangible, palpable and relevant.

Photo by Heather Conley

The poet Ai introduced us to countless characters – wounded, conflicted and complex. Like all moving poetry, her work forces audiences to confront what is easier to ignore, such as “Riot Act, April 29, 1992” (partially included below):

I’m going out and get something.

I don’t know what.
I don’t care.
Whatever’s out there, I’m going to get it.
Look in those shop windows at boxes
and boxes of Reeboks and Nikes
to make me fly through the air
like Michael Jordan
like Magic.
While I’m up there, I see Spike Lee.
Looks like he’s flying too
straight through the glass
that separates me
from the virtual reality
I watch everyday on TV.

Lucille Clifton, another prolific voice, listened and watched intently, too. Her poem “The Killing of the Trees” questions why we do not value living beings – particularly those who do not look like us. Its message lingers long after the words end.

Poets also draw on the evolving nature of human perception. Rabindranath Tagore, playwright, poet, novelist, musician, and painter, left us with three sentences whose truth is arresting: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

Pushing us beyond the boundaries of formulaic thought and convention, the greatest poets provide subtle beauty, light and compassion. They have so much to tell us, if we will only listen.