I almost didn’t write today’s post. Honestly, today’s workload was intense. Not only did I teach my grantwriting course to doctoral students, I had to sit with my six year old son for his reading, physical education, religion and developmental skills. By the end of the day, we were both tired. But still, I write. I write because I am on a journey to becoming the writer I know that I am born to become. This journey has been filed with obstacles, professional and personal ones, but still I write. I write to showcase my interior life. Work is hard. Being a working mother is very hard. But motherhood, with all is ups and downs is a gift that I am totally grateful to have, despite all the ups and downs. So I write, even though I am tired. I write even though I just finished homeschooling and some work-related meeting.

Homeschooling was tough today as my six year old cried and cried because he was tired. I write because we somehow continued work after he told his teacher the reason for his tears. He was crying because he missed his dad who was at work. I write because he did his coloring, 2 pictures on religion focused on the fifth commandment. I thought he didn’t stay within the lines. I reminded him to stay within the lines. He tried his best. His teacher mentioned his coloring has improved. So I write because small victories with homeschooling, like improved coloring of a six year old brightened my day. I also write because he also finished his reading assignments on his journey practice workbox, despite so many prompts to complete it.

Today’s religion assignment.

I write to share also that I made dinner in between the breaks we had during homeschooling, in between breastfeeding and two crying boys who wanted all my attention. I made jollof rice with baked salmon and chicken for dinner tonite. I write because although it’s only 3:50 pm, I really taught a 2 hour class this morning to doctoral students and somehow managed to cook dinner, calm a crying baby, console 2 crying boys all while completing homeschooling materials for today. I write, because even now, even though I am tired and sitting on my bed, with my 2 month old nestled on my lap and breastfeeding, my laptop is still open. I write some thoughts, my thoughts, written down as I wait for the next appointment with my student. I write because I enjoy speaking with students, especially those new to the field of public health like today’s student, who wants to end up in the field of public health disaster preparedness. What better field to end up in given the ongoing pandemic and the failure to prepare or contain it despite being one of the richest country on earth. I write because she made me smile, public health students and their genuine love for the public’s health are remarkable. Today was tough. But I write because my story, every thorn, every rosy smiles deserves to be told. Life as a working mother is hard. But I write so you get a glimpse of my life. For all working mothers, in the middle of this pandemic, keep writing your stories.

The reason I write.

Do schools kill creativity? This question was the topic of a presentation by Sir Ken Robinson, an international advisor in education at a Ted Event in 2006. It has gotten over 19million views and counting. Homeschooling has showed me first hand how school killed my creativity. I used to love drawing and writing stories and being creative like my children. I even had a collection of short stories that I used to read to my daughter when she was a little. They were all written by me, with some illustrated even. Like my short story on how Tortise really won the race. But since I choose the academic route, since I worked hard to achieve all I could academically, my creative confidence died.

How Tortoise won the race?

I am the product of an academic system that did not necessarily foster any inquiry-based type of learning or learning that fosters divergent thinking. So do schools kill creativity? Yes. It is time though for creativity to be treated just as fundamentally as Math or Science or Literature. Without creativity Tom and David Kelley in the book ‘Creative Confidence,’ suggested we lose our ability to come up new ideas and the courage to try them on. Without creativity, we may never nurture or strengthen the innate gifts that lies within all of us. Without creativity, we may never develop breakthrough ideas that inspires and improves people’s lives. Without creativity, the fear of failure may linger limiting opportunities for growth, learning, discovery, innovation. Without creativity, we may never change the world.

Creativity matters. One of the side effects of this pandemic and homeschooling is that I am finally working on unleashing my creativity. I courageously started this blog to write everyday, anything I want, my way, no filters, no review. Just writing. For the first time, I can call myself a writer. That’s it. Not a global health researcher or even a grant writer, just a writer. This is what the pandemic and being home has done for me. Discovering your creative potential is the best gift any human can give to themselves. It is how we make a dent in the universe, how we think differently to create things that have benefits or values. I see my place in the world now more clearly. I am a writer with audacious goals. Writing everyday is allowing me to embrace new skills, allowing to reflect, observe and parent my kids in ways that also nurture and unleash their creative potential. I hope you continue to join me as I work to embrace my creative confidence.

There is a song I often play while running. As if on cue, it played today during my 4mile run. The lyrics to this song speaks volumes to me. It’s Beyoncé’s ‘Bigger’ from the Lion King Soundtrack. She starts by singing these words ‘if you feel insignificant, you better think again, better wake up, because you are part of something bigger.’ Let these words sink in for a moment.

Another successful 4+mile run today.

This is the gift of Beyoncé. I know many celebrate her for artistry, but her ability to bring writers together to pen lyrics like ‘Bigger’ is divine. Read it for yourself again; ‘if you feel insignificant, you better think again, better wake up, because you are part of something bigger.’ She goes on to describe how you are the living word, not a speck in the universe. She reminds you of how you are part of something way bigger and why you need to step in your essence because you are excellent. Rise up because you are part of something way bigger.

How often are you reminded of your essence or that you are excellent? How often are you told that the truth in your soul, which may scare you, is just a reminder that you are part of something way bigger? Let that sink in again because you are. If you don’t believe these words, that’s fine. Even Beyoncé acknowledges that she is writing the lyrics as a reminder to herself, that she too is part of something way bigger. Imagine that.

Whenever I listen to the lyrics, I am reminded that she is absolutely right and not because she is Beyoncé but because God in a way is using these words to remind me that I too am part of something way bigger. His words are enough. If he is for you, then he is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all you could ever think or ask of. No matter how hard it gets, he is able to help you bloom into your powers so that truth in your soul is realized. I needed to write this to myself today as a reminder because there are days when I too feel insignificant, when I too feel asleep, and frustrated, wondering whether I am fulfilling all my essence with the right support system around me. No need minimizing my essence. No need waiting or seeking permission to step into my excellence. But yet I do.

Even though I feel and believe these words, situations have a way of belittling you, making you feel insignificant. We are all humans after all. Yet all I have to do is rise up and let God do exceedingly and abundantly above all I could ever ask of think. This is how being part of something way bigger is realized. Look up, don’t look down. Look up to the one that would make it all happen. He knows the truth in your soul. Keep rising, you are part of something way bigger.

My look after another successful 4+mile run.

On Saturday, we took our kids for a walk along Forest Park. We walked along the path leading to the planetarium until we got to a very tall stainless steel sculpture looking up to the sky. I stood for a moment, wondering what it would feel like to always look up to sky, the way the sculpture did. What lessons would I learn and how would I pass it on to my children? In the course of trying to take a picture of the sculpture, I tilted my head and looked up to the sky. The sculpture itself has a way of making you gaze up to the heavens. So when I did, all I saw was blue, the perfect shade of blue sky. Saturday was a clear day and all that was visible on this perfect day, were brilliant skies full of grace, every angle full of hope, every angle, still the perfect blue, and so full of love.

“Looking Up” Sculpture by Tom Friedman

Skies have a way of making you fall in love with life. Skies have a way of making you see a life truly worth living.

The ‘Looking Up” Sculpture at Forest Park

Maybe it’s the embrace. When you gaze up to the sky, it’s like the sky gazes back down and gives you a great big hug. You then begin to converse with clarity in a language understood only by the sky. Gazing up to the sky was peace, the perfect peace that only the heavens can offer. Gazing up to the sky was like music to the soul, the perfect song that only the skies could sing. Gazing up to the skies was freedom, the perfect freedom, strong enough to set every captive free. Gazing up to the skies is perfect, eyes meet eyes, gently inviting you to come in, and rest, the perfect rest. Gazing up, swallows you, the perfect food, shared in communion, in union with a sky slowly swallowing an imperfect you.

The “Looking Up’ Sculpture at Forest Park by Tom Friedman.

Once you tilt your head and stay there for a moment, that moment becomes eternity. Like the sculpture, we are destined to look up to the sky, if only for a moment. You will feel loved, protected, profoundly seen by a sky, the perfect shade of blue. The perfect embrace, the perfect rest, the perfect song, all in perfect union with a sky gazing so lovingly at an imperfect you. Once you look up, you will become dangerously free to roam this earth with your truth in perfect harmony with a sky so profoundly perfect. So keep looking up.

My daughter by the Looking Up Sculpture.

There is something sacred about dying on Fridays. The most holiest of all, Jesus Christ died on a Friday afternoon. My father died on a Friday evening in 2009. My little 10 year old nephew, just died on a Friday morning this past July. Everyone’s hero and Black Panther legend, Chadwick Boseman, died on a Friday evening. And now, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is resting in a well-deserved peace following her death on a Friday evening. Deaths on Fridays are sacred. Deaths on Fridays are profound. Deaths on Fridays are hard. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is especially hard.

Maybe it’s because Fridays are the end of the week. The end of weeks full of joy or weeks full of agony. Weeks full of amusement or weeks full of dread. This past week has been full of hope, and most certainly confusion on the impediments of the state of our great nation. To end the week with her death adds to grief many of us already feel for this country at this very moment where death is in the air. The death of 200, 000 and counting Americans. Death of one towering figure and icon to many women in America. There is something so hallowed about death of Fridays.

Maybe it because Fridays are right before Saturday’s, when everyone looks towards their rest. Friday’s are full of feelings, very strong, pulsating feelings that evoke rest or never ending restlessness. Friday’s are sometimes the beginning of rest, but also the start of restless trouble. Friday’s are the only day of the week that starts with F, and Friday’s F could mean Freedom, like the saying, Thank God it’s Friday. Friday’s F could also mean F**cked, like what a F**cked up night, as with Justice Ginsburg’s death last night or Boseman’s death just the other day or with Friday night firings or massacres of late. Friday’s F could also mean faith as in, on this faithful Friday we can not mourn as if we have no hope. Friday’s F could mean fight, as in we should all get ready to fight from this Friday until November and beyond, as if your lives depended on the outcome of this year monumental election.

There is something indeed sacred about deaths on Friday, they keep us vigilant and alert, hopeful but ready for a fight, especially a fight till the end just like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg did this past Friday. Here death is the fight we all need. Here is a woman who fought bouts of cancers while still serving at the highest court. Here is a woman who fought for women’s liberties as if her life and the lives of many other women depended on it. Here is a woman who stayed alert until the end, urging us all to fight as if our lives depended on it. Her death means she is finally free to rest. Yes this is now a f**cked up situation, but we should never forget the faith we all have and believe in this country and fight like she did as if our lives are ending too. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is now resting in a well-deserved peace. But she was a fighter until the end. We should all keep fighting like her.

There is a childlike innocence I wish as an adult I still possess. It’s in the way they see the world. It’s how the feel the world with clarity and ease. It’s in the simple ideas they have, not abstract, just simple, like abc. It is freedom, this childlike lens, just as free as flying birds in the sky. It is a freedom that I wish I still had.

Yesterday my daughter gave me a copy of the storybook she wrote. She started writing it on Friday and showed me a copy of it then, although not completed. I asked why was she writing a book, she said, because I write all the time. She felt if her mother was writing, so could she. I smiled and walked away. Her freedom with writing was divine.

What she didn’t know was that lately her mother has been struggling to write freely. I have always said to myself that if I didn’t go the route of academia, I would write as freely as I could, with words beautifully put together in a deeply satisfying and profound way. Granted, I have written plenty abstract like publications necessary for my academic journey, but I miss the other style of writing not confined to the pressures of academia. The style free from abstract thoughts, abstract objectives, abstract methods, with abstract results and conclusion. The style, clean and clear with concrete ideas and images that evoke emotions. The style, simple and profound, like proverbs that nourish the soul. The style full of vivid stories like in Antoine de Exupery’s Little Prince or Chinua Achebe’s Chike and the River. The style my daughter had freely.

This style of writing is something I have longed to do for awhile now. It’s the fundamental reason for this blog. I have started the journey to that style of writing in the past but stopped numerous times. So when my daughter shared her completed story yesterday, I was in awe and amazed of what she was able to do in 24 hours. My daughter produced a short and completed story in the style of writing free from abstract thoughts. There was indeed freedom to her writing. A freedom she knew she had. A freedom that allowed her to start and complete her story the way she wanted to. A freedom that she claimed, she owned, all to tell a story with clarity and ease. I have lost that freedom. But we should all keep writing like a child.

The reason why I started and stopped that style of writing is because the freedom to do seems so distant. It’s the reason why I still can’t call myself an author despite all the ideas in my head. My impediment, abstract thinking, abstract writing, with all its demands gets in the way all the time. My hope, the freedom I saw with my daughter’s writing was satisfying and sterling. She was not afraid of being judged or perfect. She was not focused on society’s standard of what writing should entail. She wrote freely. She knew her story. She claimed and owned her story and wrote it as clear as she could. Even naming me her publisher. I am inspired by my daughter’s writing. It’s the freedom that I need these days. It’s the freedom that will set me free on this journey to become an author.