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What helps keep your inspiration tank filled as a creative? Join us on the Wellness Crossing Podcast as Emelda and I talk about what it looks like to foster wellness of the creative soul. Click to listen!

Fostering Wellness for the Creative Soul

Have you ever sat down to work on something creative and found yourself lacking a single ounce of inspiration?

*raising my hand*

Just me? I doubt it. ūüėČ

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down at the computer, ready to write for an hour, only to stare at a blank screen with that dang blinking cursor. “Why don’t I feel creative?”

Sometimes the reason is that I feel stressed. And then other times I feel depleted. Like I just can’t find the right words to breathe onto the screen.

So how then do we refill our creativity tank? And how can we create from a space of calm rather than a place of “I just need to get this done?”

Enter: wellness for creative people.

Well today, Emelda De Coteau, is talking allllll about the importance of wellness for creative people on The Wellness Crossing. She’s a beautiful and passionate creative woman who’s navigated more than her fair share of pain and heartache. Yet, through it all, this beauty continues to infuse light and encouragement in her communities.

Today she’s bringing her best tips and encouragement for all of us creatives. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to share this episode with you all! One of my favorite parts of our chat is what E has to say about finding ways to fill our soul so we can create from a place of purpose.

In the beautiful community she’s founded, Women Creatives Chat, women of all creative endeavors are encouraged to gather and connect. And I have loved meeting other women who are fulfilling their own calling creatively! I’ve learned SO much from those who show up for each chat.

So be sure to get plugged into this amazing group on Insta! I think you’ll find it to be an amazing creative outlet for being refreshed and finding like-hearted women.

Listen to today’s episode…

Want to hear my chat with Emelda? Simply click (or tap) PLAY below and just like magic the show will begin. Okay, okay…not quite like magic, but it’s easy peasy so you get the picture!

Also, if you want to listen to the show on your favorite podcast app, just find me on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play!

 

Connect with E…

Emelda is a loving wife, mama, creative, and believer seeking God anew in each moment.  She serves as the founder of Women Creatives Chat, a community dedicated to empowering all creative women through events (launching in the fall of 2017), workshops and daily inspiration on Instagram and Facebook.

She’s also a founding member of Black Womyn Rising, a radical intergenerational organizing collective for Black womyn and girls rooted in global sistahood. She blogs at Live In Color, ¬†about faith, activism and inspiration, is a columnist for Beautifully Said magazine, and contributing writer for the Pretty Entrepreneur blog (a community which empowers women of color in business).

Emelda De Coteau of Women Creatives Chat is one of the most inspiring women I know. Her passion for creating and inspiring others to tap into their own creative talent is absolutely beautiful. Tune in to hear how Emelda prioritizes self care to keep her creative tank full. Just click here to listen! http://www.livinggraceblog.com/podcast

Photo by Keston De Coteau
(Her shirt shown is designed by the brand / community for women of color who are in biz, Pretty Entrepreneur)

What helps you keep your inspiration/creative tank filled? Let us know in the comments!

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Friendship and Chronic Illness: 5 Ways to Support a Friend Who’s Sick

Being friends with someone who is chronically ill has it’s challenges. I’ll be the first to admit this as the one living with illness!

Many of us spend the majority of our days at home treating and healing, we cancel/don’t make plans, we aren’t always up for a visit, our symptoms can make staying in touch difficult, and we rarely answer the question “how are you doing” with a great report…because we’re always sick.

But you know the thing about us that remains normal? We need our friends.

I understand it can feel overwhelming. You’re not sure what to do, say or even how to be a friend to someone who’s either chronically or critically ill. But believe me when I tell you that you CAN play a part and, from personal experience, they most likely WANT you to. They just may not know how to ask (or if it’s welcomed).

Here are 5 ways you can support your friend as they live with illness. Each inspired by some of my dearest, most thoughtful friends.

1. A message for their thoughts.

Friendship in Chronic Illness: Ways to Support a Friend

This doesn’t have to cost you a dime (or five of them), and it won’t unless you snail mail it! If you don’t live nearby, and even if you do, this is a great outlet for you to still support your friend/family member.

Some of my favorite texts/messages/cards from friends and family have been along the lines of “I’ve been thinking about you. How are you doing?” and even “Wanted you to know I think you’re awesome. And here’s a funny picture of my dog.”

You’re simply letting them know you are in this with them and wanted them to know they matter to you.

2. A meal for their belly.

Some of the sweetest moments in this difficult journey have been when people have offered to bring food (especially when it happened to be one of my worst days). I would breathe a sigh of relief because I knew we’d be getting takeout again otherwise.

Word of wisdom: ask before just dropping by with a meal (or for any reason, for that matter). It’s always better if they’re prepared for your arrival. They may have a full fridge or the meal taken care of already and could suggest a different day.

Make sure you are aware if they have a special diet. You can also consider including a few paper plates to save on dishes – that alone can be such a gift!

3. Food for their fridge/pantry.

Caring for a Friend in Chronic Illness: 5 Simple Ideas

Not able to cook? That’s okay, you’re covered here! Send them a text before you go on your usual grocery run. Something simple like: “I’m heading to the grocery store and would like to bring you a bag of groceries. What do you need?” If you have a budget in mind, share that to give them an idea of what they can ask for.

I haven’t always taken people up on their offer if I had a full fridge, but other times it’s blessed us to have someone bring the few items we were out of. Or that set of paper plates I mentioned above! When you’re down a driver because someone is ill, every little thing adds up.

4. Care in a package.

Send them a surprise package in the mail. This doesn’t need to be huge, just be creative and thoughtful. Remember: thoughtfulness always wins!

Some ideas for what you could include could be: an herbal tea, a note, a cozy pair of socks, a snack (if you know what they can eat), a movie, a journal, a magazine they would enjoy, a candle or maybe something ridiculous to make them laugh.

The package really could be as simple as a single item with a hand written card letting them know you’re thinking of them. I guarantee it will brighten their day.

5. A touch of cheer for their home.

Friendship in Chronic Illness: Ways to Support a Friend

Whether it’s a bouquet of flowers or plant, a favorite coffee or tea drink, a movie/tv series to borrow, lunch from their favorite place or even a funny text – cheer brings sunshine to the soul.

One friend bought me a beautiful watercolor print to hang on my wall and I cherish that. I see it hanging in my living room and it reminds me of her kindness. Think of what they might enjoy and offer to bring it by sometime.


You don’t need to be a licensed counselor, practicing doctor, be filled with profound words of wisdom or even live in the same town to be a friend to the chronically ill in your life. It really can be as as simple as taking the initiative and offering something specific from this list (or something you think of on your own!)

You may feel like stepping back because you don’t understand, are uncomfortable with the situation, or are overwhelmed by the uncertainty of what to do. But it is brave of you to find ways to be a friend, to enter into their story and remind them they aren’t alone in their pain and struggle.

And it is brave of those who are sick to accept and invite others in. We need and can learn from each other.

What would you add to the list??

‘For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.‚Äô Matthew 25:35-36

Are you fighting illness and feeling overwhelmed by the pain, loss, and un-materialized dreams? I’d love to offer you the book I’ve written from my own place of rawness. Click here to download your free copy!

This post was originally published in May of 2014, but has been updated.

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Authentic Love: An Open Letter to My Husband

To my heartthrob, love, partner, caretaker: Trevs. This open letter is for you and that enormous love of yours. XX

If I were asked to describe you to someone who had never met you, I could easily rattle off a list of my favorite qualities of yours. You’re witty, a great listener, vibrant and have that unmistakable BIG laugh – the kind that makes me feel like I could star in a hilarious comedy hit.¬†(Of which I couldn’t, but thanks for the ego boost anyway). ūüėČ

Or I could share one of the many stories of the authentic love you live out day to day. The kind of love that does something. That puts heartfelt sentiment into action.

Like the time my legs became too weak to walk and you carried me back to the car. Or the countless times you loaded up the wheelchair and took me with you on an outing or to an event. Where you likely could only half-enjoy the moment because you had my health and stamina on your mind.

My perspective of love has largely been shaped by the relationships I’ve known¬†during my 29 years on this earth.

I saw love in my mother, who gave up her career to stay home and raise us kids.  In my father who worked long, hard hours to build a business and provide for his family.

Two brothers and a sister who still love me despite all the years of having an extra ‚Äúmommy‚ÄĚ bossing them around throughout childhood. (And all the firstborn children face-palmed at the memories of Oldest Sibling Syndrome. Younger siblings, we repent).

Family and friends who’ve rally around us to help raise funds for my Lyme treatment, as well as¬†our recent move. At times they’ve¬†brought meals, made grocery runs, or sat¬†quietly¬†with me on the couch when there haven‚Äôt been words to speak.

And then there’s you, my Trevs.

 

loving your chronically ill spouse
photo by Christina Patmore

Through the thickest of disease and the thinnest of resources and normality, you have faithfully cared for, protected, supported and LOVED me well.

Long before anything romantic happened between us, your friendship was steadfast and strong. God taught me much about true character through that friendship that grew between us.

Honesty, faith, and loyalty were qualities I saw clearly in your life.

You offered sound advice, a listening ear, a challenging voice when I needed one. Throughout our conversations you were genuine and real.

Two years into friendship and a whole bigger story later, I fell in love. Neither one of us could have known how deeply you would be tested through the coming years of loving me back.

You were there after I received my first diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. You saw the relief for an answer mixed with uncertainty as we sat with fear over the unknown. I’ll never forget you sharing the prayer you offered up that God would give us 50 years together.¬†

Less than a month later you proposed, your commitment unshaken by our new reality of illness. Five months later, we were married.

Then when my health suddenly fell apart a year into marriage, you were there for me.

When I’ve felt like I couldn’t take another minute of this illness, you have held me. You‚Äôve reminded me I‚Äôm not fighting alone.

You felt the weight of the news that I had been misdiagnosed. It was heart-wrenching that we had lost so much time and that any hope of seeing improvement or healing felt impossibly distant. You sat with me when others rejoiced over our qualified glimmer of hope and all I could feel was the heaviness of the journey ahead.

You’ve been with me through so many moments of writhing pain, going in and out of consciousness, and far too many death scares. You were in the room when I flat-lined after a severe heart episode and were there to kiss me once they had my heart beating again.

Together, we have grieved the loss of normalcy and friendships, lost our unborn first child, and have fought so hard for our marriage.

Where many others would have walked away, you’re still here. Consistently offering compassion, support and care. I know it hasn’t been easy.

You deserve to know that second to God keeping my heart beating, you are the biggest reason I’m still here fighting. Your wisdom, level-headed nature, empathy, provision and unconditional love have been the best treatment I’ve received in these years of sickness.

You’ve reminded me I CAN do this because WE can do this.

love in chronic illness

I want to proclaim loud and strong how hard you’ve been fighting this battle, too.

I¬†wish more people would see it that way…that they would see you for the warrior that you are. That more people on the outside¬†would be sure to ask about your well-being when they ask you (or myself) about mine.

Because it’s you who’s here on the battleground with me. Every. Single. HARD. Day.

You help keep tabs on my symptoms, monitor my flares, and help me wade through pain attacks.

You pick up or prepare dinner when I don’t have the strength to stand, and will even tackle the dishes after.

You graciously help me in and out of the tub when I’m too weak to manage.

You grocery shop, pay the bills, help with laundry.

Beyond the emotional weight, your job description as caretaker seems never-ending, yet you never ever complain.

Your perspective on illness has been forcefully transformed through these years of seeing your wife’s declining health, I have no doubt.

You’ve known the feeling of helplessness as you try anything and everything to help me find relief, healing, or any amount of improvement in these moments of unrelenting pain.

When neurological symptoms began taking a more drastic toll on our conversations and our marriage, you worked through each moment with me and I know it took great effort (and still does). From drastic mood swings and memory loss, to severe sensitivities to sound, light, movement and touch that can suddenly send me into a tailspin without warning: you truly experience me at my worst.

I know this life with illness has weighed heavy on you. And while I‚Äôm so thankful that you’re here, my heart breaks that you’ve had to endure so much of this¬†head-on.

You’ve advocated for me at every doctor’s visit, championed sleepless middle of the night ER trips, and challenged doctors to consider the effects of a disease they know little truth about.¬†You have guarded your bride, and I’m forever grateful.

This is most definitely not the life we envisioned. Many dreams have been put on hold, new layers to my illness and healing continue to surface, we’ve moved, left a community and we are TIRED. We are worn.

But at the center of all the very real bitter parts of this, I’m thankful God has managed to keep some sweetness intact.

So much of that sweetness is found in your partnership. Your laughter. Humor. Kindness and warmth.

Your beacon of love and unfailing commitment.

You and all the other faithful partners out there, fighting alongside their sick loved ones, are some of the bravest people I know.

You’ve¬†shown¬†me, and others, what an authentic, unwavering love can look like. That love that can be lived out in every season and stage of life.

You’ve¬†demonstrated¬†a love that’s¬†not merely based on the feel-goods or ideal circumstances that our culture tends to idolize.

In sickness and in health

Thank you for reminding us all that the fight for love, relationship and wellness is worth it.

Simply because we made a vow and I’m forever your¬†lobster.

I’ll be ever thankful for YOU and your generous, authentic love.

YOU ARE MY FAVORITE.

XO,

Your Babah

 

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For All You Moms. And Those of Us Sitting Over “Here.”

mums

While in honor of Mother’s Day, this post is truly for all women. The mothers, the aching child-less hearts, the grieving one who lost their precious babe(s) and to the woman who never plans to have children. We all have a role to play and a reason to be loved this Mother’s day and everyday.

My Mom lives a solid 9 hour drive from me currently, so I’m wishing her a happy day from afar today.

She is one of the most giving people I know. She’s given away more free furniture, gifts and time than I could ever think possible for one human to give. She even gave away her wedding dress one year to a bride who wasn’t going to be able to have one for her wedding. I’m pretty sure giving is her superpower.

She strives to always be a phone call away for her kids –  excuse me, her babies, as she reminds us (thanks, mom) – and I would say she excels in that area. She tried working outside the house for a couple of years during our childhood and simply felt her calling was to be at home with us kids – all four of us. So she left her job and came back home and I’m thankful for all that she sacrificed to do that.

I have fond memories of how fun she would make summer vacation and all the ways she tries to make our birthdays special. Her mashed potatoes will forever be untouched.

I’m also blessed to have my mother-in-law, Joyce, in my life. She instantly welcomed me into the family fold, offering me their spare room to live in during our engagement months.

She is kind and generous and has helped us so much in these last two years of fighting this disease. From weekly doctor’s visits to helping out in the home, she hasn’t thought twice about helping us in any way she could.

We share a love for country music, and even though neither of our guys are a fan, we still have managed to sneak it into the car mix on a couple of road trips. Because girls must stick together. I’m thankful to call her mom, too. <3

Mother’s Day can bring such a wide range of emotions to each of us women. For some it is a time of gratitude for the children they’ve been blessed with. For others, they are celebrating the mothers in their life today and the beauty of their relationship as mother-child.

Yet, it’s a hard holiday for those who have a strained relationship with their mom, or maybe don’t know who or where their mom even is. And for even others, there is grief on this day. Grief over the child(ren) who’ve been lost or the desire of motherhood yet to be fulfilled.

It’s a day where motherhood is needed most. Sensitivity and compassion can often be replaced with questions of “when are you going to start having littles of your own?” or “are you going to be a mother this year?!”

The simple phrase of “happy mother’s day” can be every bit as happy as the words suggest, or it could be the very thing that sets off a flood of tears and pain. But, the act of mothering, of caring for another – that is what is most needed today.

Let’s muscle up those mothering hearts we’ve been entrusted with as women and remember to be sensitive to the fact that not every woman can easily have children. There are also women who may not want to have children of their own.

Let’s resist our knee-jerk questions and phrases and replace them with compassion and awareness, love and listening. Let’s embrace the mothers in our life while also being soft to those who are hurting.

If you are a mother reading this today, I wish blessing and love all over you. Hold those precious littles (and bigs) tight today. You all are amazing and fulfilling such a beautiful calling, even on the days of overwhelm when you feel like you’re just not quite giving enough. I declare you are rocking the mom gig!

To the single or married woman who doesn’t plan on having children, you, too have such an important role. I’m sure you’re tired of the disbelief and questions of why you don’t want to have children of your own. But I’ve seen you. I’ve seen the way you inspire and give so much of yourself, the ways you invest in the children of friends and family and give their parents a beautiful breath of fresh air through adult conversation and encouragement. Keep being you!

And for you, sitting here with me in the land of dreams or aches or grief. I see you and I hear you. This holiday can be so hard. The questions, the waiting, the wondering “will I have my moment? Will I have this gift?” For some this day brings back memories of what we’ve lost and it cuts to the core. I’m sending big hugs and so much empathy and compassion your way.

Wherever you’re sitting as this Mother’s Day approaches, I pray you feel loved and reminded of your value. Your heart has much to offer this aching world.

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medical fundraiser

the fundraiser for my Lyme treatment launched yesterday
and we’ve been so overwhelmed by the generosity of others.

most, if not not all, of my treatment will have to be paid out of pocket…due to the vast misunderstanding of Lyme disease,¬†insurances do not cover more than a small fraction (often 30 days) of treatment. sometimes nothing.¬†my treatment will last about two years and the costs are much more than we can cover alone.

we humbly invite you to join us in whatever way you can:

though prayer
both that we raise the funds we need and that I can sustain the long and painful treatment process. prayer also that the CDC will update their protocol for Lyme (they haven’t updated it in over 30 years) and that insurances change their policies to include proper treatment costs for patients with chronic Lyme disease.

through sharing our fundraiser + story
our reach can only go so far. if you are willing, please share the link to our fundraiser below or share this blog post. I also can send you an email version of our story with a link to the fundraiser Рjust send me a message with your email address.

through giving
no amount is too small. if you are able to give, it will bless us oh so much.

to visit our fundraiser click on the link below:
Help Kami Fight Lyme

thank you, thank you for your support!
it means so much to us.

<3 Kam

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the first year

a year ago I married my favorite person in the world.
and in preparation for that moment
my sweet friend, Christina, captured this in our engagement photo shoot. love!

IMG_1383

it truly feels like it was ages ago we were taking this engagement shot…what seemed like a whirlwind of events began after this. we celebrated Christmas in nor-cal with my fam, moved me down to his parents’ place in southern California, kicked into full-gear planning the wedding, went through our pre-marital class, started new jobs,¬†searched for a place to live (and found a place only two weeks before the wedding – reminder to self: breathe. you’re not reliving it right now)…and then before we knew it, we were heading north for the big day.

oh, wedding day. you were so lovely.
what I sense in this picture is what I remember breathing in on that sweet day of marrying my Trevs…
joy, laughter, sunlight, glassy water, fresh air and love. lots of it.
I was in the land of bliss. sweet bliss.

IMG_8001 - Version 2

¬†it felt so good to be enjoying my day and letting go of the ball of stress I had become in the months leading up to it…I felt so free. so happy. so content. and in the year that has passed since that moment I have thought of the beauty of that day often. of the depth it held, the future it promised, and how this act of the two of us becoming one parallels with Christ’s redemption story. so beautiful and humbling.

as I look back on all that’s happened since that day, I’ve come to this conclusion:
our first year has been a journey. a beautiful, challenging, inspiring, day-to-day walk with my favorite person who I can both enjoy¬†immensely¬†and be driven crazy by all in the same day (I’m sure everyone understands this). together¬†we’ve traveled through both joyful and difficult seasons. seasons where we were stretched to trust God and rest in his promises. seasons of more questions than answers. seasons of beautifully being uplifted by the prayer and support of family and friends.
seasons of great joy in experiencing the providence of our Father.
and, through each season, we press on, grow closer, and love more deeply together.

but not without a fight of the purest kind. a fight to be each other’s advocate and not their accuser. a fight to be humble and willing to be called out when we’re wrong. a fight for romance. closeness. friendship. time together. a fight to stand united as a team. and when we fight for these things, God’s grace enables us to succeed. when I fail and put myself first? I must try, try again. and again. because Trevin’s worth it. our marriage is worth it. and in doing so, I recognize that I’m not only honoring him and our marriage, but I’m honoring my heavenly Father as well.

so there, in a not-so-small nutshell, you have my thoughts on our first year.
thanks for stopping in for a read. : )

 DSC03791

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