And when I speak of love, I speak of you. I speak of how you emptied yourself in me, one fine Friday evening and nine months later, we birthed a queen so powerful like the amazons of Dahomey, Queens of Nimo.

I speak of our boys, all three of them with beauty so numberless, wisdom so endless, that it can only be God.

When I speak of love, I hear stories of life along a place where crocodiles roams free, you a little boy, roaming free, yet trapped in a world that would rather silence you with brute force. I speak too of the ways you sailed through that life to this. Sailed through joy, sailed through sorrow, and still survived, connected to a higher glory.

See your love, is like an amazing grace, one that found my soul when I was so lost. Your love, is central to my flow, central to all I breakthrough to find my soul, like moments where I fall to the ground with my face to the ground. And when I stand, even though I tremble, your love is there, holding me steady, like a rock.

Your love is kindness, tenderness, everything in Corinthians, and eternal. Your love is like a tree by streams, with roots near water. Even on days without rain, your love keeps bearing fruits, keeps staying green, never running out, never running dry.

Your love, this love, will never be moved, not when it’s the very air I breathe. Your love, helped me birth Belles that are dreamers, boys that are artists, and theorists, and mind healers in a world where minds remain in disarray. Ours is a mesmerizing array of perfect love that drives out fear knowing that there is no fear in love. Your love, this love that birthed these words that I speak of, powerful, numberless, endless, glory, rock, eternal, this perfect love is you, God.

Happy Valentine’s Day to my forever rock, forever love, Zobam. This day means a lot as one of our earliest dates when we first met was on Valentine’s Day. He knows what to do when I weak and I the same for him that it truly can only be God. He is the foundation of that which defines us and I am forever in awe of all he is doing through you. You complete, give me something to think about always like Jill once noted. Plus you school me, move me, help me to be more than I could ever dream of. I am all that I am because you love me and I know that the plans he has for us are beyond words. Eyes have truly not seen them. Love you, my forever Chi, the one who literally was born to save me.

Some moments linger on, like a song, playing on. Like the moment he arrived. We call him Olisa, but truly he is our beloved. Our guide through life. Remember, the $10k lottery, from over 1100 entries. Olisa won that last year at his school. His ways are not ours. The words out of his mouth these days are like deep waters. Caring is sharing. Rushing like flowing stream. Be kind, keeps me smiling. He is turning into his 5th season. My child, born two, seventeen, seventeen. I can’t help but wonder all he will become. This week we celebrate him. This child, we call God.

So this is what it means,

to be a woman full of lists,

of things to keep,

in a time of a pandemic,

every single thought,

sound and insane.

Mother to a girl named Belle and boys who never met the one for whom anger never met his soul.

Daughter to the one for whom destiny was almost denied.

Spinning deeply in love with a Chi born in a land where crocodiles roam free

All day long, I to sit in the land of the free,

listening to the blissful sounds of cardinals, red and blue jaybirds,

unable to tell them why I begin,

I begin.

It has been a week and let’s just say, this one is short and a reminder to never forget to keep something, a thought, sound or insane, it’s my lost after all, and every single word or thought that comes to mind will always be worthy of praises this season I keep turning into my own.

There are pathways often invisible.

Spaces often hidden, where Black youth thrive.

These spaces allow them to confront their fears.

Heal their wounds.

Witness things they have never witnessed.

Or simply learn to talk about love.

I long to bask in these spaces.

I long to see Black youth remove their masks and tough exteriors and simply smile and dance at the sound of the music that makes their heart swell with joy.

I long to hear their dreams.

What they hope to become or how they plan to live.

I long to hear too their strategies for surviving.

They live in a world where being young and Black comes with a death sentence, comes with becoming Freddie, or Trayvon or Martin or Ahmaud or Brenona.

When all they simply seek to become is a light for the world to see.

I long to see this light in them shine forth.

I long to hear how they plan to survive. Encourage each other too as they navigate this world with all their hopes and dreams and fears.

Understanding how Black youth care. Knowing how they love or dream, imagine or hope is my life quest.

They have been asked and continue to be asked how does it feel to be a problem.

But now, I looking to Black youth and their rising to teach me how to lead the way.

Imagine restoring hope and possibilities to the lives of urban youth in the US today. Imagine detailing what it would take to rebuild their lives through a process of radical healing. I came across a book by Dr. Shawn Ginwright leading the way. We need clear and detailed strategies, radical healing ones too to help a generation live out their wildest dreams. I am raising three black boys in America and a little black girl and I know I have one weapon and one only where they are concerned and that is my ability to teach them how to live in the world they find themselves. Ours isn’t a perfect union. By no means. But I am prepared to ensure they rise up and shine their light brightly for the world to see. I am prepared to do my part, to pursue it vigorously from what they see to words they hear with a firm and relentless commitment to justice and love so that no matter what, they too can rise as they attain their God given right to live, dream, hope, imagine, love.

I have been writing and thinking about why we write. This time, my daughter and my son are my muse. I listened intently as she told me during dinner about her desire to start her own company, one where she would simply write and illustrate all the books she wanted to write. Currently she is working on a fourth grade diary series. She has 11 chapters of a short book she called The Golden Sapphire. There is also Kayla and the Little Foot and a host of others in the works too. I marveled at her thinking today and wondered out loud to myself, when does it stop. In other words, I was once like her and I dreamt too of a world where I would simply just tell stories, write them too and some how call it life.

I have always loved books. My father instilled that in me early. I have always loved stories too. I thank the Nigerian Television Authority for their ground breaking show in the 80’s-90’s called Tales by Moonlight. Together, books and that show, taught me the significance of storytelling. Along the way though, life got in the way. Reality check too in college when I was asked to declare a major. I wanted to go for the arts but some how I had great grades and it landed me in the world of pre-medicine and eventually research. I have no regrets there either. Doing the kinds of research I do keeps me full. I am eternally grateful and thankful that I get to study anything simply because I am a researcher. Even better, a grant writer. Writing grants as I do changed my life. But yet still, I look at my daughter and wonder out loud to myself, where did it go. Where did my love for stories go and is it too late to resurrect it. Plus if I would truly develop the style of stories I want to tell, who is my audience and why. For starters, my children. All four of them are as different as night and day with one on the spectrum.

Following dinner, I had a parent teacher conference with my son’s teachers and all of them mentioned how he was at grade level academically. Here is my son for whom everything else is a chore, eye contact, conversations, behaviors, crying, meltdowns, but even with that, the sweet brain of his can be kind, and friendly to strangers, and create an entire puppet show all on his own with two pencils during class. That gift, of being creative is what keeps his brain on overdrive. It’s what even makes me wonder when I’m on the spectrum too. We are so similar it crazy. I can jump from one paper to a full NIH R01 grant and then a picture book all in a week. This is why my posting has been erratic all week. Not only did I complete a full academic paper with references, I worked on a grant going out next week, then completed a potential story for a picture. Like my son, my imaginations are on overdrive these days and all I can say is writing as I do here, on anything that comes to mind, continues to open doors to other things I never knew I had space for in my head. I keep thinking about writing, but truly I want to keep imaginations like this for life.

I am all about light. All about celebrating those who build and sustain it. Those unafraid to give a little light, to make their light shine too. Those prepared to do their part to dispel darkness, to become a voice for the voiceless, to love as love does, choosing love or fighting for justice like hell. I am all about those working to touch everyone with light. Those working to be like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We spend a lot of time praising people that are dead that we forget to celebrate all of us still alive. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally for celebrating Dr. Martin King Jr, for honoring his life’s work and legacy. I would also love to celebrate those alive working in his footsteps. We can do both.

To me, celebrating those doing his work today, neutralizes all those who would rather quote his words and not take a mile in his footsteps. I’ll rather we uplift those that are doing what is powerful, creative, within themselves and their communities to ensure justice for all in a non-threatening way. Our times on earth are limited. A friend reminded me of this recently in her musings for her blog. Why not then spend time honoring those reaching for the power within themselves and the work they choose to do, to be like Dr. King. It’s from this reservoir of goodwill for today’s heros that my daughter thought to write about a local hero in Saint Louis. Someone with a strong love ethic for everyone that calls this place home. She told me she wanted to focus on public health and she was inspired by a woman that looked like her, styled her hair like her, wore clothes like her and seemed to be speaking up all the time about ways to end the pandemic. She was inspired by the light in Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis.

The first draft of the book my daughter made.

My daughter wanted to write about her and why she thought she was walking in the footsteps of Dr. King. So we did. She did her own research. Wrote about why Mati was a public health warrior and what it takes to become a warrior. She wrote, illustrated and published her book for the project. I was floored. Not only is Mati doing the impossible however it may seem to end the pandemic in Saint Louis, that people as young as my daughter are watching and noting too how she embraces the spirit of Dr. King made me proud. We should all be like children. Sometimes it would seem as if they are truly the eyes of God for all of us here on earth. By Mati’s own actions and words and as seen from the lens of a child, she is a hero worth celebrating today. Something I imagine Dr. King Jr. would be elated that somewhere, somehow, there are people like Mati doing their part to follow a dream, however impossible it may seem. This is the legacy of Dr. King worth spreading. I am inspired.

Final draft.

How do we approach the complexities of ourselves fearlessly? How do we do it whether as a mother, a writer, a wife, a sister or a friend, fearlessly? How do we uncover our untapped power fearlessly? How do we accept all our tensions or even our chaos fearlessly? Yet still somehow, unleash our ambitions fearlessly?

To become fearless, to become an ambitious her, I marvel at the thought of somewhere, somehow, a woman like me, bathes her four kids for the night, gives them their vitamins, reads books that tickles their noses, and kisses their heads goodnight, not before they tell stories by moonlight or pray for guardian angels through the night. Then she darts around the house, checking for locked doors, and alarm locks, washes the night dishes and sweeps the floor one more time. Then she makes a cup of tea, lemon ginger with a twist of lemon for her insides. She turns of the lights and snuggles, beneath a grey fuzzy blanket, not before she picks up her phone to write this note, of how somewhere, somehow, a woman like me, lived wild dreams of herself, gliding through paths untrodden fearlessly. This dream, she always knew, would come through one day. And today is that day. Welcome to my most ambitious year.

My husband painted this painting yesterday, he called it gods must be crazy, called it our craziness for an ambitious year. I agree.

Yesterday we began an adventure into 8 days of Christmas fun.

In fact, we are living our lives through a book written and illustrated by my daughter.

All I can say is that because of her, my world is Belle.

Like Lotanna Belle, there are no limits.

She is one who opens our hearts to truly remember the love of our fathers, every time, beautifully.

Belle, writes, and illustrates, and shows us love that reminds me of my father’s sweet embrace.

She lives out her live in words more elegant than sweet. An elegant love. Her love burrows deeply into my heart. Deeply like a stone, crushing it, until it’s all love. That’s what reading my daughter’s words does to me these days.

A world fully Belle is genuinely Belle.

There is a Belle in all things, all around my world and this Christmas is Belle all because of her. I am loved. She makes me remember the elegant love my father showered on us this time of the year too. He is so missed.

Born in the year of a pandemic, I remember when he started to crawl. He crawled as if he was ready to walk. He walked when he turned 9 months. He has been walking ever since. Late last month, we started to remove all the protective features around our stairs. By this month, we removed all of them. We had quite a few and the thought of a fall was forever on our minds. I knew we would get here one day. Just didn’t want the day to come so soon. Watching him grow has been everything. Now my baby walks up and down the stairs all on his own. He has mastered the stairs too all on his own. And that’s a feat worth celebrating. This is also what it means to be a toddler. Every aspect of his being, full and free. Wisdom he never knew now blossoms through his life with delight. Watching as he follows directly in its path even with walking up and down the stairs is a prayer answered fully. There is no end to your treasures and like an olive tree you are loaded with fruits that will continue to tower to the clouds with every step you take, even up and down these stairs. Keep moments like this.