I woke up today full. Find you a sisterhood and you will find life. We have been in STL for 4 years now and life still feels very transient until last night. We have always moved around the 2-4 year mark so for the first time it feels strange to have no plans to leave the state of Missouri. I said that out loud to myself yesterday. Midwest is now home. As I let that realization settle in, I looked at my surroundings. I looked at the people gathered at the table I joined last night. I was in the midst of some powerful women and we were all black, all mothers, all ambitious, and all sterling. I watched us all in awe. A passerby said the same thing as if reading my mind. His words ‘this is beautiful.’ I agree. They say food eaten in secret tastes better. I also agree. But better isn’t up to us alone. Better can’t happen in a vacuum. We are stronger together. Much better when we come together. And black women together makes the world better. If you heard all we shared together last night, heard our plans to make things we value better, you will understand. This is my keep for today.

Our community.

When black women come together, we come as a better version of ourselves. We come to carry water. We come to forget the edge of the sea as we dive deeply into each other. We come to whisper through water too, fierce words that heal, that nurture, that uplift or part dead seas. We come knowing we do not know. We come looking for ourselves and seeing ourselves, even when soaked in water. We come afraid to look too, but looking together in fear. We come to have sisters on our side and our cup overflows. We come to listen and listen and listen. We of course come to talk and talk and talk and share tea. We come out of the fullness of grace as grace alone makes us full. We come knowing we are blessed and prepared to bless each other even more with our blessings like rivers and springs that gush out into valleys and hills. We come fighting for our children, pushing for their voice, their visibility in a land that would rather they remain invisible. Not with us. We are like fishes and we know how to use water. Even better, we come knowing now more that ever that we are water. We have no enemies where are life, our families, our work, our children are concerned. We come with the blessings of walking on water when storms rage. We come with the stillness too of knowing whose we are, even while on stormy seas. We come knowing that even though the darkness all around is so deep, we are willing to push through light, ready to walk on water too. We come because our brilliance are like the silver of moonlight, the brilliance of starry skies even on nights where strong winds blow. We come filling our lives with light, leaving too in a dazzling light that wind and waves obey. We come because coming together as a community, as one, is a basic necessity of life, our life. In the end, our eyes are deep in water and together we sail through because doing together with each other is a beautiful thing. Keep a sisterhood of black women wherever you find them. We really make the world better.

Writing grants has taught me how to fail 30 times. I look forward to the 31st time. Counting failures is something I do now. Something I embrace too. The hurdles or the joy. The writing. The waiting. The bearing witness to, how things we believe in crumble, for lack of funding. And I have believed in so many things that failed. Poured my blood into missions that ended before they even started. I am learning to love all the pain they entail, all the sadness too, or the weight of each failure. Not because success isn’t better. But more so for the lessons every failure teaches. The doors and unexpected journeys along the way they open too.

I wrote a grant on ways to arise, on ways to let minds often ignored thrive. Failing with that grant broke me down that I became the opposite of what we sought to do. My mind failed me too for awhile. Until I started to see the beauty in failing. See that grant would have changed my life but failing it too has opened new and unexpected doors for me. I expected to scream that we got funding to do great research but now I scream we have no funding, but impactful work continues. In fact the most important work you will do, is the work you do for free. The work you wake up everyday to simply do because you have too. The work you use to connect with each other as humans. The work you do to provide light to dark spaces. My grants are often for the eyes of few people to see. But the most impactful work I have done are free, open and accessible for all to see. It cost me nothing to use words, my words to change people’s life. I may have failed to secure funding for my grants, but every day and through my words, I secure hope that connects us to each other. This is the beauty of failure worth spreading. (ps another grant is being reviewed today as I type this, I may get my wish before next week with my 31st failure. Accepting each one gets better with time).

Danielle Doby has a beautiful book worth keeping. It’s simple invitation, ‘come as you are’ is quite simply sterling. I am coming. I am coming into a space that allows me to choose in the name of my heart. I am all for a space in praise of my younger self’s quest for life’s light. I long for the tender infinite living within me and I thank Danielle for using words to help me greet my younger self with power. I embrace spaces that remind me not to skip the struggle. I am also in love with knowing that the light in me cannot always see and honor the light in you. Still we can find steady breath in our unknown light. We find lessons worth learning and relearning simply because nothing is meant to be done alone. Not even our light. And even when this season of discovery becomes closed off to others, I welcome the gift of light that continues to pour itself in dark places that surround me.

This is the gift of Danielle. The gift of being consumed by love. The gift of love in its fullest circle is worth finding, worth knowing, worth loving. It’s for this reason that I remain thankful for her reminder to keep being drawn to the light in others. It is how we know that we are not alone. Her book is a perfect guide on how to become seekers of light, how to let our stories exist so others can see for themselves the power of pain, the power of struggle, the power of stunning resilience and belonging that is also theirs to make as they choose. The sun was with Danielle as she wrote her book. I am thankful that my eyes opened and my mind choose to rest in the warmth of her embrace. I am still learning what it means to belong to myself in light for here and now and with other seekers of light. I love my sisters keeper and it’s sweet appeal to surround yourself with other women who show up and own their independence unapologetically but still believe in the collective’s success. I also forgot to remind you all to do as she noted and do what ignites worlds within you. She shared how we should all let our work and everything we create be a direct extension of our hearts space. Now more than ever, the world needs more of your light. All I can say is thank you for using your words to gift me light.

There is so much to love about this little book that ask you to keep I am her tribe. It will inspire you to reach deeply for the light within you, for your sun.

Grief is love unexpressed. I learnt that today watching an Instagram video of Andrew Garfield as he talked about the passing of his mom. To him, grief is a beautiful thing. Grief is also unexpressed love. He hoped his grief will remain with him as he never got time to express all the love even though he expressed it all the time. So he hoped that this grief stays with him for as long as he lives. Listening to him got me thinking about my summer of grief with Angie’s passing. All that I wrote, both those shared and unshared are all the unexpressed love I had for her. I can still hear her voice. I still hear her calling my name and I miss talking to her terribly. His message also came at the right time.

We cut down a tree in front of our home early this month. It was an Oak tree and it’s roots were buried deeply into the ground. We cut it down because there was a hole the size of a soccer ball at the bottom of the tree. On the outside the tree still seemed to have life and some leaves, but internally it was rotten to its core. Rather than waiting for the day it decided to fall, we felt it was time to let it rest, hence the decision to cut it down. About five men came together to do the job. This was a huge tree and they spent hours cutting down one branch after another, until they got to the bottom and brought the entire tree down. We watched from afar, mesmerized as something so large came down back to the earth.

The day before Thanksgiving, we planted a new tree near the spot where the old tree came down. It was a gift to my husband from his coworkers for the death of his sister, our dearest Angie. I called back in October to let the company know the type of trees we would love. They recommended a tree whose name I cannot remember but promised its leaves would be red in the fall. I accepted and agreed to their selection. He noted they would come in November to plant the tree as this Fall is typically the best time to plant trees. He noted they would go to sleep anyways and wake up in time during spring. On Wednesday, our sleepy tree arrived. As we watched them dig deep into the earth, I realize just what I am truly thankful for this year. Life and Grief. We are all sleepy beings passing through the earth, one life at a time. One tree at a time. Every tree we plant, every root we bury deep into the earth, is life worth roaring for. Life worth grieving for too. Every root is set firmly in place and cannot be moved. Every grief too is love unexpressed and cannot be disapproved. I approve this grief, just as I approve your ability to live your life in your own way. Everything glorious and majestic surrounds us when we are rooted deep into the earth. Everyone of us is protected, not oppressed when we are rooted in life, in grief, in God. This is grief at its finest, rooted deeply in us when we rethink its core. It is truly love unexpressed, a beautiful thing that I hope will remain with us just like this tree we planted in Angie’s memory. Keep the power of unexpressed love with grief.

Nikki Giovanni has a poem called quilts. I read it in her poems and prose book ‘Make me Rain.’ The title first of all is a blessing in disguise, for those hungry to let words flow like raindrops on a cloudy day. Quilts as described by Ms Giovanni to me is like a fast-flowing river. Nothing seems to get in its way. Not the source which begins a river or the path through which it flows. All of it are connected to make a river flow. So too are quilts. Every single piece used to make a quilt is sewn together by design, is put together with love, lots of love too.

I have been thinking lately about the quilts that make me whole, every single piece that comes together to create all that I become. My life quilt is also like a river, with every single piece, a source of energy that shapes and form, all that I become. These pieces connect at a point, connect through hard hurdles and constant strife to tell our story. In the middle where we connect, in the middle where we intersect over tiny threads that meander back and forth, back and forth, through more hard hurdles, and painful strifes, in that middle, our greatest strides are taken, our greatest acts, created, as we become all that makes quilts precious. These unseen component of our connections, the untold stories of our flow, may very well be the reason we are built like rivers. And like rivers, may we continue to flow in love, grow in love, one piece at a time, one quilt at a time. Keep flowing like rivers, loving like quilts.

We become light by choosing it. Whether or not we are surrounded by darkness or not, whether or not others share or are indifferent to our light, whether we are open or closed to the idea of becoming light, all the possibilities and hurdles light entails becomes ours when we choose this path. It can be a gloomy path too. One where your light is bound to fall, on spaces that leave behind scars, no matter how hard you try to place it above stars.

I have been reading the memoir of Lucille Clifton, with an introduction by Tracy Smith where she described Lucille’s namesake Lucifer. Did you know he was once described as God’s bringer of light. Even the devil brought light, and fell along the way. Even this once bright morning star, he who was determined to climb up to heaven, determined to place his throne above the highest stars, determined to climb to the top of the clouds, determined to even be like the Almighty, was also brought down to the world of the dead, brought down and became known as the devil himself.

Which made me realize that there is light. There is light for the living, for the dead, and even the devil. There is light for anyone who chooses it if only our hearts are open, our minds receptive, as our light shake and tremble the earth. With rays that burrow deeply into our souls, twitching our body as it quivers in space, light can become yours. Generations by Lucille Clifton is teaching me this. I now know in my soul, see in my goals. how light is creeping in, invading all my spaces, evading all my phases, many once laced in a futile dread, many now faced the sweetest grace. I was once lost, but now I know my light. I arch my back as I contemplate it’s infinity. I also watch as it conspires to keep me from falling, keep me from reaching heaven. And though the devil succeeds, with every fall I take, I still know my light, and my light knows me.

The path to light neither begins or ends with me. It’s a path afterall and it’s true destination will remain unknown. Light emits ray and it often falls on people open to its ways. I am open to the journey and all the curves along the way. Those that deflate or drive, alter or align certain values one achieves when you bare your bosom to the sun. I am open to the bewildering aspects of the journey too, like why do I have to keep falling each time I get up. Or why am I vested in the good of others, their derision too, and not what matters to me.

Becoming light is tedious, full of strife, plenty doubt, with a heavy dose of failure. Becoming light is be like a tree, a naked tree in the middle of Fall, with no green leaves for cover. All have fallen, and lay by it’s side. And the tree, this glorious tree which once stood as bright as the distant moon, has nothing more to say. So to is the journey to becoming light. My daughter and I read Langston Hughes ‘Song’ yesterday. We both agreed that this writing, so effortless, so evergreen, illustrates what it means to become light, showcases how it’s a journey that never end, one full of pain and strife we gladly accept. We wished Song would go on, like a distant tune echoing through a windy, lonely night. We are children of the night after all and we refuse to be afraid of light, refuse to be afraid of the dark, refuse to be afraid to bare our souls to the sun, refuse to be afraid to open our life to strife. Our fists maybe sore from knocking on closed gates. The gates keep closing too no matter how hard we knock and we are knocking furiously. But we will wait. We will wait until the moment when we truly become light.

Langston Hughes, ‘Song.’

I woke up this morning refusing to answer the door. Refusing to let the rays of the day seep in and envelope my being. Then I remembered Lucille. I remembered her praise for impossible things. Blessed things too. You might as well answer the door, she would also say. For truth is furiously knocking. The truth, I am tired of things that make we dwell in nothingness, even if they knock furiously. Things that lack fire. Things that lack air. Things with no fight. Things with no might. I refuse to answer the door. For days with no light might as well be days full of night, days out of sight, days full of flights. Nothing seems right. All the birds are in flight. This plight is downright agonizing when disruptions are all in sight. I’ll rather be a bird in flight. And fly to new heights. Or stay buried like fig trees through cold nights and moonlight skies. I’ll rather let doors close so long as I ignite my light, and ignore their plight. So here is to days when truth knocks. Let it knock and keep doors closed. Lucille may not like this, but you will thank me later. Thank me for making your light, finite, through doors you choose to close. Close them.

Light and grace are my inspiration as we round up this year. Light because 2021 has been a year of darkness. A year of death. A year of sorrow. A year of pain. I experienced this kind of pain in 2020. But it burrowed more deeply into my marrow in 2021. I am choosing to break free. Grace because, every experience so far has been an enigma on its own, a hidden path on a road full of curves. And grace always leads back home, back to my purpose, back to myself, back to my light. This light within, seeks to begin, a path, a journey, that refuses to be hidden, hence why I keep this today.

This note to myself, is an attempt to awaken up the light within, reclaim it’s power with grace, reclaim its ability to help me heal, to help me listen as its essence tills my being. In doing so, my heart is open and my mind is receptive to people and places that bring light, people and places full of grace. Today, I am receptive wholeheartedly to the work of Renike (you can find her on instragram at iamrenike). She is light personified. An amazing grace, which breaks through like light everything time I see her work. Today, I am choosing light, choosing grace through the gifts of Renike. I call this “She is light.” I also called it “She is grace.” Honestly. She is both. And as you start your week, may you choose to keep this light, this grace, always.

She is light. A graceful light forever radiating. Forever rising. Forever inviting. Forever flowing. Forever glowing. Forever twinkling. Forever blinking. Forever gleaming. Forever beaming. Forever brighting. Forever igniting. Forever flaring. Forever glaring. Forever blazing. Forever dazzling. Forever revealing. Forever sparkling. Forever flaming. Forever shimmering. Forever kindling. Forever illuminating. Forever glistening. Forever lighting. Forever shining. This light, she chooses by design.

Star as light by Renike

She will not be silenced. Not be muted. Not be hushed. Not be restrained. Not be reserved. Not be speechless. Not be voiceless. Not be noiseless. Not be motionless. Not be wordless. Not be soundless. She will not be unspoken. Not be unseen. Not be unknown. Not be unvoiced. Not be quiet. Not be calm. When her grace abounds in stride.

Silenced by Renike.

She is enough. Her beauty, enough. Her curves, enough. Her arch, enough. Her depths, enough. Her roots, enough. Her stride, enough. Her gaze, enough. Her twirl, enough. Her strength, enough. Her, dreams, enough. Her hope, enough. Her joy, enough. Her light, enough. Her grace, enough.

Enough by Renike

She carries energy. Carries fire. Carries trials. Carries desires. Carries histories. Carries victories. Carries struggles. Carries hurdles. Carries nations. Carries notations. Carries elevations. Carries narrations. Carries earth. Carries sun. Carries moon. Carries stars. Carries mountains. Carries hills. Carries valleys. Carries depths. Carries darkness. Carries wilderness. Carries night. Carries light. Carries power. Carries flowers. Carries water. Carries streams. Carries rivers. Carries floods. Carries buds. Carries blood. Carries tears. Carries air. Carries heir. Carries sons. Carries daughters. Carries rain. Carries pain. Carries life. Carries grace, so amazing and by design.

Energy by Renike.

She is wild and free. In peace or chaos. In fear or bravery. In struggles or survival. In darkness or light. She is grace.

Wild and free by Renike.

She dwells in her being. Dwells in her essence. Dwells in her presence. Dwells in her existence. She dwells in her soul. Dwells in her whole. Dwells in her sole. Dwells in her stroll. She dwells in her reality. Dwells in her mentality. Dwells in her mortality. Dwells in her morality. She dwells in her fire. Dwells in her sapphires. Dwells in her desires. Dwells in her wildfire. She dwells in her zen. Dwells in her pen. Dwells in her men. Dwells in their amen. She dwells in her substance. Dwells in her abundance. Dwells in her resistance. Dwells in her persistence. She dwells in her true life. Dwells in her high life. Dwells in her light life. Dwells in her grace life.

Being by Renike.

She can and will get through anything. Get through fire things. Get through burning things. Get through flying things. Get through stolen things. Get through controlling things. Get through aggressive things. Get through violent things. Get through dark things. Get through flaming things. Get through golden things. Get through rising things. Get through powerful things. Get through breakable things. Get through strong things. Get through rough things. Get through everything. Get through nothing. Get through somethings. Get through hateful things. Get through pleasurable things. Get through earthly things. Get through healthy things. Get through birthings. Get through life things. Get through light things. Get through grace things.

Anything by Renike.

She is taking back her power. Taking back it’s freedom. Taking back her story. Taking back her glory. She is taking back her girl. Taking back her swirls. Taking back her twirls. Taking back her pearls. She is taking back her body. Taking back all she embodies. Taking it back for somebody. Taking back for everybody. She is taking back her presence. Taking back her essence. Taking back her all her luminescence. Taking back her omnipresence. She is taking back her sins. Taking back her skin. Taking back her kin. Taking back their wins. She is taking back her enigma. Taking back her mystery. Taking back her ambiguity. Taking back her paradox. She is taking back their disruptions. Taking back any repetitions. Taking back any omissions. Taking back their violent reactions. She is taking back her life. Taking back her light. Taking back it’s depth. Taking back it’s aura. Taking back it’s power. Now, she is power. Her blackness, divine. Her arch, sublime. Her strength, sunshine. Her grace by design.

Power by Renike

If you can do support this amazing artist here https://www.inprnt.com/canvas/iamrenike/