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 Valerie June to Writer Roxane Gay & Women Creating Change  

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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In honor of Women’s History month, I would like to highlight even more amazing women artists and change makers as part of this regular series, starting with singer Valerie June.

I discovered her work a few years ago – what a sound! Her latest album, The Order of Time, is beautiful. Workin’ Women Blues and Somebody to Love are always on repeat.

From Standing Rock to Oakland, CA women organizers are standing up and creating change.

Loving this article about great books for creatives to read.

Roxane Gay is such a phenomenal writer. I started Difficult Women yesterday, and the richness of these short stories…


Have you seen her TED talk on feminism and embracing all of the diverse ideas about what this means for all kinds of women with varied experiences?

The podcast Don’t Keep Your Day Job is always full of wisdom. Check out some of the latest episodes here – including a recent conversation with fashion designer Susan Lazar on unlocking our potential.

Nina Simone lived from her truth, and she had a deep desire to create change. I am always empowered listening to her speak. This clip, about the beauty of celebrating blackness, is timeless!

These young women are organizing to impact their communities, one day at a time.

Viola Davis reminds us all that every voice and experience matters.  And of course, we must never underestimate the power of imagination.

Monday Motivation Moment: Nothing Moves Until You Do 

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 key to transforming all those what ifs floating around in your mind is both simple, and for many of us, difficult – taking action. Technology makes it easy to collect all this knowledge and sit on it. How many e-books, webinars, videos and online seminars have you attended? If you’re like me, a ton!

But at some point, y’all, if we want change, as desperately as we say, movement is essential. Without it, absolutely nothing gets done. Even faith is interconnected  with steps we take toward transforming our circumstances. 

Almost four years ago, I sat across from a woman I admire greatly, as I lamented  my current situation, sighs and all, she locked eyes with me and asked a question which transformed it all – “Do you have a plan? Because ‘being sick of it’ won’t change a thing.” I heard her, definitively, in that moment. As I walked back to the office in silence, I held on to an unshakable joy.

Over dinner my husband and I mapped out a clear plan. Within hours I transcended this block of seeming impossibility by taking action.

And you can, too. I believe in your potential. Refuse to leave this world adrift in a sea of what ifs, content to wonder, satisfied with being just close enough to your dreams, but not quite living them. You’re too brilliant to bury yourself at 25, 30 or 40 in mediocrity.

Four Steps to Help You Transform Frustration Into Movement:

Clarity: Develop a clear understanding exactly what you want to change. Is it a job, improved relationships, more skills in one area? Great! Understanding this fully is essential to your plan.

Focus: Now that you are clear, develo a laser focus on what you want to change. Eliminate distractions as much as possible. Give up that hour of TV to spend time in deep thought. This is where I pray and meditate, and ask God for direction.

Map It Out: Sit down with your journal, iPad or Kindle and break it down –
Goal (s) (changes you want to see)

Strategies (action steps needed to make the change possible) – Give yourself a time table to work with – 30 days, 60 days or 90 days.

Do Your Thang!: Every step is getting you closer to your goal so take consistent action towards your larger goal or goals daily.

P.S.

I just downloaded this amazing book by Mark Batterson, If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities, thanks to a recommendation from my Instagram friend, writer / clarity coach Tiffany Huff!

And it’s full of gems. One of my favorite quotes so far:

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness—you are more blessed than the millions who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation—you are better off than five hundred million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting, or not attend one, without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death—you are more blessed than three billion people in the world. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep—you are richer thhan 75 percent of this world.

If you have money in the bank or in your wallet, or spare change in a dish someplace—you rank among the top 8 percent of the world’s wealthy. If you can read this book—you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all. So count your blessings and remind everyone else how blessed we all are!