Let them say, you did it your way. You failed and failed. You stood too and stood. You withstood all that fear had in store, down to the last syllable.

Still, you weathered the storm. Danced through fire. Circled back to beginnings full of failures and pain.

Still you worked. You rose up early and worked. Accepted it all, like cloudy skies sailing through, Ijeles too at New Yam festivals.

Still you looked up. Face full of tears and wondering when to give up or persist through the hell called failure.

For what good is life without a lesson or two. What good is failure, without learning it’s bitter acid.

Let them say what they say. But where you have been, circles and all, is still just the beginning.

To know that I am surrounded, safe and supported with all my failures keeps my grateful.

I’m learning the importance of belonging. The importance of surrounding myself with those willing to support all that I care about it. Even if it fails 1000 times. The 1001th time is my keep for today. Even ideas that first fail, still fail until time. It’s this time, I long to master.

I remember these days, like a woman in labor, pain at the thought of pushing, but joy rattling all my being. Sounds pierce through.

Ah, the sound of life, unforgettable. Like you, Papa, my forever love. Rereading your letters. A blessing. Every single word in place. Near my heart. You will always remain.

You are my highest mountains, and tallest towers. All I am is within reach. Like God shining from Zion. A city perfect in beauty. You greatness will remain. Beautiful. Those not yet born, will praise you.

My Papa would have been 82 today. Because of him, it will be said that we lived. Strong and mighty, the source of our blessings. To know my father was to know love and joy and anything else that personifies grace. He gave us the best of himself. Made us all stand tall and supreme like Mount Zion. I will always love you Papa. Sleep on.

Wild flowers are everywhere.

Like me, a woman, full, in bloom. Come soil or rock, I grow, oblivious to the softness or hardness of the other.

Life knows me well. I am persistent with all the soil and rock I meet like a Bella Donna Lilly.

I was greeted by these large lily like flowers today. They lined the back of our home.

They stood tall, with a stem, naked, leafless, proud, like a woman. Only flowers, in pale pink color lined their tips. Only flowers line their tip.

Rain or sun, they grow on their own. With seeds producing flowers in three years. Today, I was greeted by flowers that took three years to bloom. Three years to bloom.

There is heaven in these flowers. I saw it for myself today. I saw heaven today.

Bella Donna Lilly

I took a break from everything. Packed the family and literally went to a place I can only describe as heaven on earth. It was the most relaxing vacation I have had in awhile and to think I planned it with five families, 22 people in total is no small feat. We ate, we danced, we smiled and laughed our hearts out that coming back to earth has truly been hard. I also saw my sister from another mother in heaven. Like we didn’t even tell each other that we were going on vacation. Only for me to bump into her in a place I can only describe as heaven. Just as I was slowly adjusting to being back, my eyes wandered to the back of our home. Long naked like stems lined the back of our home, near where we planted cucumbers last year. They seem to be coming on their own and growing out of soils and rocky pavements. When I learnt their name, I realized that God wanted me to hold heaven in my hands for infinity. Of course I won’t have five families with me. I have my own. And thanks to these flowers, I intend to hold on to heaven for eternity. I needed this reminder today.

All my life, I have lived with a scar. Not a big one. Just one I rarely forget.

We have lived together, all my life. Learning, though silent, the meaning of things, people, voices, ideas, I dare not forget. Those imprinted forever, still hopeful for too much hope.

I have also been told different stories about the scar. Some say ignore the stories, it’s just a tiny birth mark, that somehow grew over time. Others say, I placed my finger on fire and learnt that day, why fire is fire.

Regardless of the story, a birthmark or fire, we still live together, this scar and I, like hunger, like desire, like things I cannot forget.

After all these years, even scars have hope. They rise so I remember, always, that fire is fire.

My little scar’

There is a kind of peace that flows when you grow fully and beautifully. I am finding that peace for myself with each passing day.

It’s in the morning sun, the one that peaks through my window right before 6 am to let me know a new day has begun.

It’s in the steps I take to my quiet space for me, where I nestle in between sheets and warm fuzzy blankets to do all that matters for me.

It with morning runs, with the love of my life, my Zobam, on days when our legs feel ready to run miles we wish to never end.

It’s in the children that come into my room everyone, with words like Good morning that allow me to know that everything good will come our way.

It’s in the chaos and hustle of a busy day, one filled with toothbrushes that curve like the letter U for my boys, decisions around showers or bath and which bathroom, my own or theirs.

Its in the light breakfast we all eat every morning. Nothing heavy just eggs with all sorts of fruits, black berries, blue berries, raspberries, strawberries and anything berries will do.

It’s in the drive somewhere, every morning, with my kids somewhere. School, summer camp, Drace Park and the endless walks and runs around green beds of grass with kids 10 and below.

It’s in the quiet time I steal for myself, every morning, right before work, just for me, to do and be me.

It’s for the times at the store during the way, endless strolls along aisles, full of things we don’t need.

It’s in the afternoon runs with my kids, pick up and drops offs somewhere all in the name of raising children that are critical about life.

It’s in the times we spend together, most evenings making dinner, that fills our heart and home with joy.

It’s in the times I get to spend with them again, movie nights, reading books, anything that little kids love these days.

Beautiful art by Iamrenike on instagram.

My peace may flow around them, as it should, when they bring so much joy and heaven in a world full of chaos.

I am loving all the ways I am growing these days. Images like this from Renike remind me of why it’s important to spend time listing all that makes your grow fully and beautifully.

I wrote this in three minutes because above all, words make me full and beautiful.

I looked into the mirror today. Not the passive glance I often do, when rushing through morning routines, but a deep soulful stare that made me be still for a moment. Here we are, the start of the next phase of my career and all I want is everything. I have no idea why I love ideas. I heard in a conversation today, how people are drawn to ideas and all I could do was nod my head. I love ideas. I live for them. Every single one is critical to me. Critique them and I’ll come back with a better version of whatever initial idea I proposed. I am also learning that I gravitate towards people prepared to tell my that my ideas are trash. I live for bad ideas turned good, as in really good, all because someone took the time to point out the initial flaws in the idea.

I have been nursing an idea about music that first started as an itch, which intensified after binging Afrobeats on Netflix all last week. I rarely watch anything on t.v or streaming these days. There are 4 kids and summer camps to figure out. So the idea of binging seemed so foreign to me, but still I did so for this show. Maybe is was the nostalgia of music, this idea too that a people, long shunned in a industry dominated by others, took the time to craft an idea, Afrobeats for themselves. They built it as best as they could. Nurtured its flaws and weaknesses. Worked through all the hurdles along the way and made a sound, music that transcends time.

It’s this idea of music, birthing a movement, that is my inspiration for today. I have no idea where this will go and no I don’t intend to be a musician one day. But maybe, just maybe we may get closer to the public health the public truly demands and deserve if only we use tools that make sense to them. Music is one powerful tool and idea whose time has come to stay in my soul. That’s what the mirror said to me today. I am understanding all that I am and all that I am meant to be.

I remember. I have been saying this word lately. As if all memories are fading fast. They seem to be, considering how time seems to run along these days fast. So I remember, once when I took a class in college. It was a sociology class and the focus was on slow food movement or this idea of eating food slowly. Not the focus on processed food or fast food that many of us have unfortunately been accustomed too, but food from the earth, a movement focused on growing what you eat. So I remember when as a little girl, my grandmother would give us garden eggs from her garden to eat. My dad and my grandmother planted some along with Aloe Vera and Hibsucus flowers at the front of our house and yes, he would use them for juice and drinks and anything else that made his heart well. Dad was diabetic so he relied heavily on food from the earth. Our favorite being these garden eggs or Afufa or Anyara as we would call them in our Igbo language. I remember them big too, pearly white and with green stripes. There was a joy, not easily described whenever your eyes or your mouth sees and tastes these garden eggs.

Garden eggs

That joy came to my doorstep today. My husband’s cousin mailed some garden eggs to our home all the way from North Carolina. She didn’t have to considering we just spent the weekend with her in Georgia but she did and the joy I feel for them and her and not easily described, but I’ll try. I’ll try to remember this joy, remember garden eggs, remember being a witness to moments with them, with my dad and grandma, long gone too. I remember this collective memory you revived for me and thank you to our dear cousin. Few things bring joy like garden eggs. I hope you find them for yourselves these days.

Throw away all you think about life. Throw it all. Then just live. Life is too short. I am realizing it more so these days. Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. Tell all those you love why you love them everyday and make them sick and sick of your love. I am in the mood of infecting my life with love and people that matter and these days, all I want you to know, is that I would do what makes me live out my best life. This is the moment I have been living for. The realization that I have been blessed for a very long time to live out my best life. The immense fragility of life, all its sweetness and sadness too, makes me what to turn up to a dark field to simply stare at the silver moon and everything bright the dark night has to offer. The raw cuts of life caught me off guards today and I have been numb and obedient to the moment.

I got news that knocked me off my feet today. I have been in a daze and just in awe of this thing called life. Poppa George has joined the ancestors club in a way that I never expected. I cried because I thought we had time. I remember when we spent time together. I’m still in a daze and it’s not even 24 hours later. I barely did anything today and if I did, lord knows my mind was everywhere and no where. George was more than a father to me. I considered him like a father. He took me under his wings when I was in college with his daugther. Took us always to the best diners and restaurant in Philly. Made me feel loved and respected and valued and showed me how a true gentleman should always treat a lady he loves and cherishes. I knew what love was in college because I saw it first from George. He was the perfect gentleman. A firefighter too who knew how to take care of all those he loved. I have been numb today because I never got to tell him just how much I loved and valued him. I never got to tell him that he was my idol too. I know he is smiling down from heaven but George just know I loved you and I know that God loved you more. We will always be there for the love of your life Ms Toni. This isn’t a goodbye. More like rest until we meet again. With all my love. Your Jules. I intend to live out life, with love, just as I know George would have wanted.

Rest In Peace George. Until we meet again.

I have been waiting to tell the stories for beads for too long. Something about their origin, their glimmer, their silence. Earlier in the summer, I started to write something and of course I got carried away. Not before I saw a paper that made me pause. It noted how beads were silent witnesses to histories long forgotten, histories many will never know because the history writers omitted that aspects of beads that made our ancestors feel whole and secure in themselves. So now I’m back to the story I started to write. I lack words these days due to finally being exposed to what we have all feared for the past 2 years. The illness and fatigue is debilitating but we are finally coming around and words are slowly returning. In the meantime, see the tiny piece my brain managed to put together about beads and hopefully stay tuned for more.

We were once silent, like beads, distant, but present, next to skins, golden and warm. We were once, precious, like jewels, dwelling, within hands refusing to part ways for good. Now we lay, discarded, no longer silent nor precious. Just waiting for shadows, rising anytime now, without fear or shame.

And I made this for an event I attended beginning of the month.