The plans for this year was light. I planned to walk through flames, to risk the fires that burn, even in the cold, just so I get to the forest of light within. That was the new year plan. In one week, I have been informed by the year that this one will be a rollercoaster. Sit tight and hang on. If last year tried to consume you, this year is coming, bright and burning. And it’s only the 8th day. I opened my door this morning. Let the cold air seep in. I was reminded in that instant to breathe in. Cool air. Breathe in. Even as things burn. Breathe out. As smoke rises. Keep breathing. The year will come for you. Try to burn you too. Cold air will seep in. You will feel like you are sinking. Floors will give away. Yet, breathe in. Push them all back. Close the door. Breathe out. You have noticed the air. Noticed the smoke, and the sinking floors. But still, turn around and smile. They will not understand this air you breathe in.

The most sublime lessons are those learned and relearned. The post above was first written on the 8th of January, 2022. Now, a year later, the message feels like it was written today. I am keeping this year as a reminder to myself to keep breathing again and again. 2022 was indeed a rollercoaster. I still don’t expect folks to understand the air I breathe in 2023. Still, I intend to keep breathing.

Happy New Year.

Something about this moment,

This New Year again,

Feels like a renewal

A rebirth

A time for reimagination

Restoration

Release

Rest

Remeberance

Revival

Resolve

Revelations

And Revaluations.

Only, this time, I’m in a village,

And the pleasing sounds of rare birds and cocks crowing, goats bleating alongside more bird sounds chorusing through tall palm trees, keeps me ready for the boundless possibilities of this New Year.

I am at the gate of new realities for another new year, inhaling too, the fragrance of a well-deserved rest, and a lingering happy silence, but this time, I am still.

Will this gentle breeze I feel this moment, will these sounds endlessly start my day, will the earth remain as red as it is or the palm trees rustle with the breeze? Soon, I will leave these place but may all the things I feel for it, all the rest and release I received from this place, be with me as a New Year begins again.

I have been away. I desperately need it. I had to cut everything off. I also had no choice. I was in a remote village and no amount of wifi would work. We had three from 3 different companies and my most spoken word this past week was no reception. I let time and the moment go on as expected. It was the restoration my soul needed that I really didn’t fully know I needed. It gave me more clarity, gave me peace, gave me perspective and now bring on 2023.

If I make changes or move in another direction, know that’s it’s this thing called grace. It’s my revelation for 2023. How I also choose to reevaluate my life too. I have nothing but grace, and with it, I have everything I need. This grace is my word and mood for the year. I pray it leads me and you all the way in 2023.

I saw a soft radiant sunset last evening. We were driving through an estate whose name when translated from Igbo to English means ‘blessings are great.’ Everything about out evening, from the setting sun, to our time at the estate, was full of grace, full of blessings. No wonder an Igbo man retires home the last few days of a year. The sun, the estate and all its hidden meanings are all I need as we begin to close out 2022.

Deep in me, there still persists, stories untold, histories unknown, depths unimaginable, towers unbuilt, words unuttered, and legions unheard of. All of them are coming with me to the new year and Nimo. Recognize or ignore us at your peril. For within us, there still remains, a journey untouchable. Watch us soar, unreachable.

It’s truly beginning to look like Christmas. Everywhere you go.

The heart of soccer never changes. There will always be winner and losers. Just as the sun rises and sets. Some will rise and shine. While others will fall deep into abyss of regret only time can heal. I watched todays World Cup finale with glee. For once, the heart seemed to change. No clear winner or looser until the end. We all watched with glee and awe wondering how it will end. And finally it did. Argentina and Messi go home with a cup but France and Mbappe were equally deserving, if not winners themselves. They gave their everything just as Argentina did and in the end, the heart of soccer never changed. There were indeed winners and losers. Only though, in the end, even the losers were winners in the eyes of so many. They truly were.

I fell deep into the unknown this past week. Everything was out of place. Even my face broke out in ways unknown.

It was as if life was full of chaos and change, all spiraling out of control.

I tried to relax, take things in stride but a life relaxed seemed like a luxury my strides couldn’t afford.

Not that I didn’t want it, but apprehension and anxiety seemed to keep me in a flight mode. So I figured I’ll learn something new about all I was experiencing, including those I wished I could fly away from.

Death has a funny was of reminding you about the gift of each day. The gift and voice of people too. Those you take for granted and those you ought to cherish much more.

So we moved in stride. Still anxious and apprehensive about our days, but appreciating all they bring.

The chaos, the change, life and death, all still completely out of our control but consoled that one day, we will meet again. Even boldly smite death’s threatening wave.

Till then, “Rest In Peace Uncle Raymond.”

My uncle Ray!

The idea of remaining in one piece, birthed this space where all my experiences, parenting, productivity, life continues to roam free.

I cannot begin to count all the ways it has helped me heal from fires and storms. My heart knows too, all the ways rivers flow in peace, all because we lived, our way.

And so to sum this year in few verses would also diminish all that the year gave. And it gave everything, death, chaos, hurdles, trust, betrayals, triumphs, stories, and speech made less.

Yesterday, between hearts full of joy, and souls at peace, I learnt the true meaning and power of grace. The thing 2022 gave the most.

It’s in the people you see, those surrounding your table, those walking along your sides, those passing through storms with you, and those keeping your minds and imagination roaming wild and free.

They made 2022 sterling, silent, but statuesque all because I pondered themes that allowed me to reach beyond my dreams and the skies above.

Grace was sufficient for me yesterday. Grace got me through today. Grace will lead me all the way tomorrow and beyond.

Seeing as though we remain pregnant and full of ambitions for this thing we call joy (not to be confused with what others call work), grace has helped me give my all. Emptied everything too as I proceed to the next fold.

Knowing that my best is still yet too come, grace is how I choose to walk, knowing that there are legions by my side, prepared for the battles ahead.

I may not be able to sum the year in few verses, but grace is all that remains. That and the multitude of happy faces gathered around tables in a lounge in Lagos, for this thing we all birthed together.

We never forget moments that are rare. Those that are dear. Those that remind us of how far we have come. Those that show grace still for the journey ahead. All of them collided today when we came across an original signature log from the West Africa Council of Medical Research.

The year was 1962 and the log was full of signatures from notable leaders visiting the council. Today, our program officer, all the way from NIH, added his signature to this precious book of treasures and history. To witness this made me proud and thankful for this rare moment where we all lend our voice and expertise to address health in Africa’s most populous country.

Thank you Bill for all you do to help us advocate for the health of young people in Nigeria. Witnessing this truly made my day!

This place has haunted my dreams. In it, I imagined I would be surrounded by all sorts of art. Some would be hard to describe. Some would also leave me speechless. Well, speech and description were hard today. Meeting the legend every one calls Mama Nike too. But I’m grateful. All I can say is that if you are ever in Lagos, visit Nike Art Gallery. It would be so much better than your dreams.

In the middle of Nike’s Art Gallery.

I like this idea that glory will be revealed one day. Many may see or not see it too. But it’s been promised so all you can do is wait. 2022 was the year I reached my limit. It was also the year I knew my soul in the words of Claude McKay. The urge, the insistence, the trouble to do things as ordained was necessary even when exhausted and honestly, we have reached our limit. I didn’t think I would know or understand what limit looks and feels like because I am forever on the go but I do and 2022 taught it so well. Yet, contemplating who I am, Claude McKay still comes to mind because I know my soul. Everything is like grass and will wither eventually. Wild flowers too, fade when wind blows their way. I am learning though to lean in deeply to the one who measures the ocean by handfuls or the sky with his hands. To know that even exhaustion is allowed so long as I remember where to place my trust. I am. Strength is being renewed. I feel weak yet still feel like rising, still feel like running, still feel like walking, all because of whom I will always place my stride and trust in. He is the reason for 2022.

From my daughter. She recently completed this by the way and it too cute.

Imagination is crucial for life. I’m learning that every day. Imagination, that space between dreaming and thinking, between believing and daring, is a vital source of life. The prolific author, Achebe said if we starve it or pollute it, the quality of our life is depressed or soiled. The sterling writer, hooks noted that it is one of the most powerful modes of resistance that oppressed and exploited folks can use to provide a survival life like. She went on to note that when we are free to let our minds roam…imaginations will provide the creative energy that will lead us to new thought and more engaging ways of knowing. For all these reasons, I say keep your imaginations.

The imagination needed for this balloons on a bike as gleaned from a friends page is an inspiration for me.