My dreams keep dreaming. As if no ending is allowed. As if only poetry will do. As if all the alternating stress, those that pass unknown, those things light and heavy I embrace, everything they bring, like air, are worthy, profound, like breathing, this air of new dreams again.

And so we hurry, back to our sweet spot again. Only this time without force again. Back to our sleek covers again. Those soft and flurry. Those blue like skies and light like stars. All of them keen on letting us go. Keen on starting this journey again. Keen on making our dreams take meaning, again and again, like the sound of the winds blowing, like the murmurs of leaves blowing. Our hearts are full and glowing. Our dreams keep birthing new dreams again. I keep marching steadily to this beat again.

It’s only the second week of the second month of this new school year and already, I feel blessed. To think that my bold ideas are going to come to light soon, with funding too, keeps me on my toes and dreaming. The same day I got news for another one, well, we submitted another one. We can’t stop now, not when he calls us, not when he leads and we follow. My story is one David and Goliath in the making. I came across failed applications to university positions I applied to years ago. Back when I thought all I had to do was apply, all I had to do was try, and somehow, life would make sense. There were some places I dared not look into, an application for a position at Dartmouth comes to mind. There were some I thought I would get. Teacher’s College, was one I thought would make the Big Apple my oasis. Of course, there were many I didn’t get. I read all of them with vigor again, just in awe of what I envisioned for my career and hoped that some one, would take a chance on me. Many didn’t. But we kept dreaming.

Then I remembered all the grants I once wrote dreaming for a career in research, dreaming to one day do it my way. Many also failed. But what brings these 2 memories for me today is this ideas of dreams. My imaginations for health are wild and often not mainstream. I was never supposed to be in academia. It wasn’t the plan. I was supposed to be a medical doctor and lawyer and somehow cook food and well write fiction books. I gave up on medicine early, didn’t get into the law school I wanted (I really took the LSAT and applied), tried to cook my way through my dissertation and failed and still waiting for the day I call myself a fiction writer. None of the initial dreams I had for myself panned out, and so I did what was next best, dreaming with no end in sight.

I know it’s grace and I do not take this gift of writing grants lightly. I still don’t know how I will present it to the world, how I will reach folks too with simple strategies that allow me to keep writing and writing especially when the call speaks to my heart. I don’t write all the time and I do pass many that though tempting are not for me. But the ones I write, like the one I submitted today, keeps me speechless. There is a pattern to grant writing. I am learning that every day. There is an intake period, with key words from the call, that allow you to get into a zone. Once there, once you have a vision, once all the intersections and roadblocks are somewhat clear, once you know your collaborators and for me, your plans to execute something unbreakable and reliably yours, then you are on your way. All of this should also include plans to endure your dreams no matter the highs and lows, the periods of giving up and the periods of trying again. I call this finding your vice. I am open to whatever direction this takes me. Like the moon we saw tonight while driving home. My son asked if the moon would follow us home. I said yes. Like dreams they follow us everywhere. Like the moon, I am following my dreams. I know my vice. These days, I am full.

I needed to go through hell once to understand my worth. Hell helped me find my vision for the next years and decades of my life. From time to time, attacks will come your way, and they are like an obligation, a desire for you to know struggle. In my hell, I kept coming back to Psalm 23, kept reading and re-reading the words ‘deepest darkness.’ Looked it up in dictionary and all of this was my hell:

Extending inward, outer limits, considerable distance, difficult to comprehend, mysterious, grave, lamentable, intensely immersed, below level of consciousness, the most intense part.

Hell will make you go deep and there will be darkness all around. But then I remember the words, ‘even if and through.’ Darkness will come. Hell too. But even if they come, go through. When you find yourself extending inward, go through. At your outer limits, sail through. At a considerable distance, move through. Even if difficult to comprehend, or mysterious, grave or lamentable, still pull through. If intensely immersed, push through. Whether below the level of consciousness or at the most intense part, dig through this with the knowledge that he is with you. His rod and staff protect you.

My reasons always for going through. They me always not to be afraid.

All of them, all those that prefer you dwell in hell will see you. They will see how you remain an honored guest. See your cup overflowing. See the goodness and mercy all around you too. That’s what awaits you when you push through the darkness. I did recently and my cup continues to overflows.

Toni Morrison and her son Slade Morrison have a book about mean people I love to read to my kids. It’s my keep for today. To them, people are mean. They frown, they shout, even whisper behind peoples back. Family members are also mean. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, siblings, all of us have mean tendencies that can be confusing to children. I love this because it’s a delightful read and my kids get a kick out of it. But for all the meanness, the advice in the end is truly one to take on any life journey: smile through mean people and things. Smile through it all no matter how challenging everyday life may seem. I have been experiencing meanness lately and quite frankly, I will do as they suggested and smile anyway. Keep smiling. They dedicated this book to brave kids anywhere. Love it.

My son attends a school that was severely damaged by the floods that came through Saint Louis in July. Their entire basement was gutted and all the rooms they use for their sensory activities were destroyed. We started school a week later than most and had to readjust everything with classrooms now in a different location. Change is scary for us. Transitions too and the beginning of the school year is always fraught with anxiety for adjustment and routine and everything else that comes with living life on the spectrum.

Yesterday I picked my son up from school later than usual and I was struck by how calm he was. The old him would have been crying and freaking out wondering if I was coming to pick him up even if I was 5 minutes late. He hates not going home when everyone else is going home. Seeing him, calm made me feel reassured that we are going to have a great school year after all, floods, transitions and all. It’s these little things that matter for me these days. That and seeing the love the students gave back to their teachers for everything thing they have been doing for them especially now with all the change.

I am a proud mother of a child on the spectrum and seeing their humanity on display even as chalk drawing for their teachers car parking lot as a way to thank them for all they do, is my keep for today. Floods may come. Change, transitions, tossing out the old, adjusting to the new may coming along. But in all things, keep the love for the little things in mind, like chalk drawings to say thank you to others.

Failure is always an option. That’s my mantra these days. I have failed in so many aspects of my life. The one that I keep doing these past days is motherhood. No, mothering is not easy. It has never been. It takes effort and patience and moving in some direction even if it seems like you are making no movements at all.

A great friend of our family visited over the weekend and together we made a local native soup made out of water leaves and kale called Edikaikong. While trying to figure out how to make the soup, I shared with her that back in my dissertation days I kept a blog focused on mastering the art of African cuisine. Not just Nigerian cuisine, but all things African. It taught me a lot about spices for example and I will always be grateful for the addition of cumin in my life thanks to that blog. But it failed. Or rather I failed. I never really mastered the art like I intended and well before you know it, the love for cooking fizzled away.

From there on, life got in the way. I finished my dissertation, met my husband, graduated and moved our family to Paris. I spent 2.5 years working in Paris and just as I was leaving, I started a fashion blog to curate all things I loved about African fashion. It was the bane of my existence then. It taught me so much about African fashion. I even dreamt it would become like an African Vogue one day. I also discovered Ify and her Ladymaker brand. That blog, like the one on cooking, changed my life and I still see African fashion from this lens, though the dreams of fashion have long since fizzled out.

As we discussed, I realize that starting and stopping, or even failing with my initial ideas were commonplace. There was once a love for beading jewelry. I still love to make jewelry though for myself but there is a story on failure there as well. There are the never ending desire to become a childrens story book author. I have enough manuscripts to last me a lifetime, some published but for my family’s eyes only and some dating back to when my daughter was still in my womb and yes 10 years later, I am still far from achieving that dream in all the ways I had once hoped.

So why reflect on failure now and why does it matter. As I prep for my grant writing course, I am truly humbled by the mantra that keeps coming in my mind and it is simply that ‘failure is an option.’ Nothing personifies my life more these days than all the numerous grants that taught me how to fail successfully. I know it seems hard to imagine and yes, with motherhood, you will fail. I keep failing and I am learning from my mistakes every day. The latest is with my five year old and lord knows it seems like no matter how hard I try, I keep failing with him. Take for example an incidence the other day at school where his teacher queried the motives of his classroom drawing. Yes my son had depicted himself laying in a pool of blood and I stood by him crying. On probing further with him one on one, it turns out that the blood was actually strawberry juice and that I was not crying because of him, just upset with some blue marks on my shirt.

My son’s love mom drawing depicted with crosses.

In the course of reprimanding him about his drawing, I found myself telling him to curtail his public drawing as people may take it out of context. He listened and now my five year is very sensitive about what he draws for fear that people do not take it out of context. As a mother, I really failed here as the last thing I want is for my son is to never feel like he can draw anything he wants. I am slowly working with him to regain his love for drawing and even if it entails gory scene, these days I am like fine. At least, I know what’s in your head and we can talk it out. Will I fail again with him or any of my children. Yes. Failure is always an option. But after failure, comes lessons, experiences, and anything else that personifies learning. These days, I submit to whatever failure sends my ways. It is always an option.

Ooh and the soup turned out right.

Thank you Chidinma for reminding me once more that failure is an option. By the way, watching the sunset over a lake with our families is a thing and I think I will be adding more of this our lives.

Like mother, like son, the one we named after God, lives like his mother.

Always talking, always questioning, if it doesn’t feel right, he will be the first to ask. If it comes to his minds, words will be out and free.

Like mother, like son, the one we named after God, sees the world in big ways. Trees are big. Sky, too big. So are the oceans and everything that makes him relax. He maybe small today, but his tomorrow is big.

Like mother like son, the one we named after God, won’t stop talking. He keeps asking questions too. Why do you work so much? Why can’t we go to Drace Park?

His ways maybe tiring. His talking and questioning too. But, I’ll gladly suffer the tenderness of his kinda of love.

My middle son is forever in his pajamas. Not just to sleep, but to wear as day wear. We have tried though in vain to switch his style of dressing, but he keeps returning back to what he loves. Recently, I asked why and he noted that they make him feel comfortable and relaxed. He simply loves them because of their comfort. I looked at him and wondered out loud to myself, where does he get all his ideas from. He is only 5 years old. His ways are irresistibly charming and full of ease. His ability to live as he sees in world, in union with all that makes him relaxed is my keep for today. There is tenderness in his ways. I am learning that everyday. But most importantly, the fact that his ways are mine, keeps me hungry with every fiber of my being, for life.

Pour me juice mom, please pour some juice in my cup. This was the sentence that jolted me back to writing. I was in the middle of sorting groceries that I just bought. Exhausted and still trying to figure what to eat for dinner. My five year old son had other things on his mind. They included pouring a strawberry lemonade juice in his strawberry lined cup that he made for himself. I wondered out loud to myself that I didn’t even know when I asked him this question: why did you line the strawberry on your cup. To relax, said my son. That’s how I relax. Where did you learn that from, I asked again. From a cartoon, and this is how I want to relax, he said and walked away with his strawberry line cup with strawberry lemonade juice. We should all be relaxing like my five year old. Sure a strawberry lined cup will do. But beyond the cup, a little me time is critical. I looked at him in amazement. He is only five and prioritizes himself first. He is only five and understands what makes him relaxed. He is only five and seeks enjoyment things. That was my text to Daddy right after our exchange. A lesson I learned from my five year old. Life na je je, as we would say in Pidgin English. We should make time to relax and do all the things we love and want to do. It doesn’t have to be strawberry lined juice on a cup. But more so, that thing that keeps you going. I have been on a slump with writing. This is probably the longest I have not written in awhile. Of course death has a way of keep thoughts and word bay. Death stole my thunder and words would not do. I am grateful for my son and the lesson he taught me that I didn’t know I need. Life na je je. We should all make time to relax. I’m am off to relaxing.

Who are the people you fight for? I am learning about them everyday. Not the typical, my family, those I love and care about, but the people you are willing to go the distance for. Slay dragons or catch a grenade for. The people for whom, risking your life is expected. You will do that everyday, every time if time is all you have. The people you fight for are like the air you breath. Life means nothing without them. Water too and you know just how precious water is. The people you fight for are more precious that silver and gold combined. More significant for you than anything insignificant that comes by you. I am in the season of letting some people go, to do what is necessary to guard my heart. But for those that remain, let me tell you that I will fight for you. All I need is a day or time. I will go to the highest mountains for you. Pass through the deepest valleys of hell for you. I will willingly let fire burn me just so we come out finer than the most finest gold. I will fight and fight 700 and 70 times, no matter how long and no matter who. You are my destiny and together, we will write the chapter of why this fight we did together was necessary.

Of course I will fight for my boys, my everything me!

Once we suffered their desires,

camps where children play,

not childish games

but adult ways.

Now we grump, groan, growl.

Not as they want,

but

to let our wild moods out,

Let these feelings be.

We read bell hooks today. Stood by the mirror and let her words slide through us. There will be days where bad moods will force you to grump, groan, or growl. Whether as a child or an adult. In the end, just let it pass, no need to hide it, let the feelings be.

Some places are inaccessible. For those with heads like velvet blackness, skins smooth like the color night.

Some places are inaccessible. For those with eyes darkly clear, those who look the sun in the face, unblinded.

Some places are inaccessible. For names wrapped with African-ness like a shawl, names like Olisadubem, or the ones for whom God calls.

Some places are inaccessible. For those unafraid and lusty, those with feet destined for infinite processions through paths dusky.

Some places are inaccessible . For those who scream, through every limb, those who let tears fall, unashamedly.

Some places are inaccessible. For those prepared to be truly free, those prepared to unlearn centuries or days of lies.

Some places are inaccessible. For those full of life, black boys, young with sterling and vigorous life.

So make places accessible. For those with laughter, the sweet staccato of black boys.

Make places accessible, for those with electric currents of life, black boys with thoughts like tiny sparks.

Make places accessible. For long days argued away, black boys articulate with provocative assertion.

Make places accessible. For dreaming, debating, aspiring, black boys whose feet echo through windy paths.

Make places accessible. For black boy joy, perpetually overflowing, astounding, indestructible.

Just make places accessible, for boys, black, young, our own.

I was inspired to write this piece following a experience I had today. My 5 year old was kicked out his camp after only 4.5 days in attendance. I initially blamed myself. Blamed my son for his ways that were deemed as problematic after only 4.5 days. Then I remembered I have been here before. It was probably the jolt I needed. Nothing motivates a mother more than using inappropriate labels or descriptors. I have also be lagging behind with boy number 2. I know he needs help. Not enough to kick him out of camp, but more so to make him want to be around you. He plays piano every weekend with teachers who look like him. He can hold a tune and he is 5. He plays tennis with young men that do not look like him. He can swing his racket really far and he is 5. The fact that they felt he was emotionally dis-regulated, after 4.5 days of being in his presence, the one we literally named after God, is the motivation I never knew I needed with him.

I have always reminded him that his name is all he needed. Little do I know that I need it more. And Olisa, will be our guide. Just keeping this here for when the narrative with son number 2 begins to change. I have no idea what the future holds. I am not as energetic as I once was with the regimen I used to help my son number 1 thrive in ways that keep us speechless. He started his own camp today and let’s just say I give God glory. So here we go. Back to the basics with son number 2. The first thing I highly recommend is to get an evaluation so you know where your child stands. Yes these evaluations were not made with black boys in mind and I have my reservations with them. But they help you attain additional resources you may not be able to assess, many that will go a long way towards changing the narrative as you intervene early. Stay tuned as I go back to exploring how to do this again. Only this time, children’s books like these by bell hooks will be my guide. I intend to work to ensure that black boys thrive in spaces that would love to see them cry unashamedly or laugh with the fullness of life.

My eyes judge your fullness in delight. Ten years of coming into your light. On the day we dedicated you to the universe, the day we raised you up to the one who first loved you, surrounded by all those who loved you, I imagined this for you. I still do for today and tomorrow.

How it began!

That you will remain as beautiful as the day of your birth. That your days will be as as lovely as the sun. And your nights as majestic as the moon. That you would shine as bright as the stars and remain as breathtaking as the clouds in the skies. That you would remain as gentle as the morning breeze or as heavenly as summers rain. That you would soar beyond your wildest dreams and tower above the tallest trees. That they will speak of you in distant places and marvel at your kindness and gentle spirit. That your smile may melt the hearts of people and your presence enrich their lives. That you would dance like angels dance and let the most high guide you every step of the way. That you will succeed in everything you do and never give up when things become hard. That you will never forget who you are and cherish every beautiful moment on earth. But above all, may your rhythms continue to capture our spirits. May you continue to bloom within, like peonies in Spring. May grace, joy, peace, love and happiness be with you always and may good things and beautiful things follow you all the days of your life.

10 years later!

Seeing you today, seeing all of you, was a joy to behold. Belle, on this 10th year of your life, I pray you never forget the joy you felt today in this city of love. Seeing all of your melody and light, your laugh and stride, every single thing about you was the peace our soul needed. You are peace, and love and you make life easy to love. You make life love, with a breeziness that makes all around you feel good to be with you. You made us all feel good today. You made our hearts swell with joy, our lips quiver with laughter. You were more than a day. More than a groove that made us all move down Faiderbe to Trocadero, Palais Congress and back to Bercy village dancing to a tune you play so well. Only you are like jazz. You never worry about how your melody flows or your love shows. You gift it to everyone around you. I pray you keep playing this tune of life, your way. Keep playing it past this 10th year of life and beyond. I’ll remember love in June, remember the joy of so many we met in the city of love, because all of you, is unique and love. So do not be afraid. Your name and love is all you need. When you pass through deep waters, remember your name and love. Even if fires burn, remember who you are. We will give up everything for you. Belle you are precious to us. We will give up all we own for you. Belle you are loved and honored, from every single place on earth, including the tallest towers that greeted you warmly this morning. You put a lot of beauty into life. For that we are thankful and pray you never forget just how beautiful, how blessed, and how loved you truly are.

How it started 10years ago!
Happy 10th birthday!