Motherhood is not only a noun, but a sound, a state of being, history, culture, memories, mine, theirs, evenings with a sigh, mornings with a smile, all of me, some of them. Something full of complexity, enormity, anything that personifies thing. It’s that thing that is terrible, yet we do in stride, with strength to speak for those yet to speak, stories yet told of loves black line mind who mother in stride.

Like those of my grandmother, a woman, history will never know. Not as a book or a star etched to the ground. Yet memories of her being, bloom in my being. For when I think of motherhood, I see her. My first example of being. Like raindrops falling on my head. The truth nestled within each drop, every single one on my head, is a way of being, she personified so well. Juliana was her first name. Iwegbu her last. Yet, when I speak, you hear her words oozing from my lips, as if she was me in flesh, wearing bones again, and her words break out through me to remind me of all the ways she didn’t falter.

Everything she did was with intention. Even now that she insists we say her name. Juliana Iwegbu. This day was bound to come. She welcomes you in these bones with words that insist on living, a picture of blackness blessed. A picture of the one she birthed. Standing in front of anything. Standing, smiling, saying nothing, doing nothing. But standing. Unapologetic for the thorns that witness how life insists on being born. That to me is motherhood, the idea of doing, being, seeing, not for yourself but for those that would speak of your ways, long after your way of seeing the world, your way of understanding it too, ends, or begins through those who now stand even in the rain.

Happy Mothers Day to all.

I stand because of so many mothers!

So I wrote a grant in one day. I know. I surprised myself too. I started yesterday morning after dropping the kids off at school. The topic was clear in my mind but I needed literature to guide the grant writing process. So I spent endless hours looking through papers, for anything relevant. I book-marked papers, got key statistics here and there and tried but failed unsuccessfully with putting even half a page together by the time I needed to go get my kids from school. This was a five hour day wasted at least from the grant writing perspective. In between I had meetings, about 2 of them, one of which was a training program and all of them interrupted my flow with grant writing.

By 2:45 pm when I was getting no where, I stopped, showered and went to pick my kids from school. We got popsicles with his kindergarten class, then went grocery shopping at the African market. By the time we got home it was around 5pm and my day seemed to just go on with still nothing to show for it. We made dinner. I watched as the kids played outside and tried to write but still nothing. Then after dinner, I went to my room and hid myself. Grand-ma was with the kids so told myself to commit for at least 2-hours to get an aims page done.

We did. I was satisfied and went to get the kids ready for bed. I bathed my baby and tucked him nicely in his bed. Then I went back to my laptop to try to write again. It was around 9 and I wrote till around 10:30 pm or so. I took my night shower, put everything aside and committed to at least drafting some of the approach section. By this time I had some aims page and some rough significance.

I also wrote on my blog about something that tickled me earlier during the day. I belong to many academic circles, but one of them has been quite different of late. Imagine all of us writing a paper, but you really dislike me so much that you forget to tag me in your tweet about the paper. I really have no words except to say as I noted in my blog, ignore me at your peril. While they were being petty, I was committing to writing yet another grant that illustrates all the ways I survived and yes I did more than survive that group. Nonetheless, I can be petty too and so I blogged about them, got that out of my chest and went to bed.

I woke up around 5:34 determined to finish some aspects of the grant before my kids got up. At first I was slow. The words were slow and I struggled a bit and kept writing as much as I could. The words started to fall in place. The grant too started to make sense. My kids got up around 7 and I was half way through the approach of aim 2. By 10am this morning, I finished the grant in its entirety, added even the references, took a shower and went to buy groceries.

I am keeping this here because I literally wrote a grant in a day, never mind being a mother to four children and a wife to a very busy guy who literally saves lives. This year has been trying. To think that as the year comes to and end, I am still defying odds keeps me speechless. I still managed to take my kids to piano lessons today and yes, Saturday laundry is ongoing alongside making dinner for tonight. Black women like me are truly primary. We know who we are and we are prepared to show up and show out always. Ignore us at your peril. We are focused on all the things that make us full.

Art by Mikenzi Jones.

When flowers tell more truth, beating rain too, wild grass crumple underneath your feet, all so you never forget their itch to destroy all that makes you indestructible. See as they honor you too with subtle tones and commas, tweets, and phrases because they simply can’t fathom all they ways you survive. And yet, you always do more than survive. You do and the only thing left, are things their hunger for your ways betray. Try as they may, there will only be one you. Your dreams will come true and your bruised hands will write of all the ways you came, you did, what you came to do. Flowers and rain.

While they ignore me at their peril, I sit by my peonies known for good fortune…

I may not have planted you. I did not water you. But I love you every Spring, with the joy of a thousand seeds. I did not plant you, but in you, I uncover things long buried within, happiness, devotion, eternal Spring for a seed planted and watered with care. I did not plant you, but I soaked up your beauty, during days of pleasant dreaming. I did not plant you, but under your reign, I uncover a new being, under your shadow a new me, one open to destiny. These days, everything you see may not be my destiny, but they are the foundation, the land of my womb.

More plants are blooming!

If writing is thinking, discovering, selection, meaning, awe, and reverence. Then, how might we create a future where writing is excellence? For me, these days, writing is dreaming, like flowers, blooming.

Peonies are on their way, like writing steeped in dreams!

I see flowers taking shape all around my home. They are connecting me to a life where I stand tall and light. They are also serving as a reminder to look always at all the places and spaces where I begin again, like flowers, to bloom again. Flowers are giving me the space and opportunity to tell stories deep within me waiting to bloom. They are helping me to uncover a voice, time and space plus people almost tried to hide. Flowers see me. They see me just as I am. Naked, open, waiting for moments where I become my own. They are in the purest form, all the ways I hope my writing can be. An act of dreaming, becoming, awakening, opening, of something, sleeping, waiting, still for the moment, when we bloom. Keep flowers in spring. When they bloom, they are like writing steeped in dreams.

We are waiting eagerly!

What enriches you? Empowers you too? What questions are you also asking yourself, for yourself first and no one else? Some issues are etched in my mind as priorities these days. The numbness with senseless murders for one, from people who resort to guns rather than love or even words. Even the thought of Enough isn’t helpful when another violence is around the corner and we keep doing nothing or staying numb to death. The state of health of all people, young, old, and how to ensure they live well sustainably, another urgent priority. Yet for these priority issues, I am beginning to see that there is yet another epidemic on the horizon. The idea of being alone and having no one to run to.

The US surgeon general recently shared a report on this, including the scary fact that loneliness and social isolation increase the risk for premature death by 26% and 29% respectively. This is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, something that many of us will never do, knowing its consequences. Yet why is our world a lonely place for so many and how can we ensure that we build social connections that have structure (i.e number of relationships), function ( i.e reliance on others for needs) and quality (i.e positive, helpful or satisfying relationships)? It for these reasons and many more that I loved attending the opening of Korede House yesterday.

Known as a third place, Korede House is a home away from home and a space where communities can be formed for example, to provide vital insight and energies necessary in our common battles against loneliness. It doesn’t force itself into any mold that exists. Rather on its own, Korede House celebrates the possibilities of becoming when minds are rested, reopened and renewed to consider all the connections that make us whole. You will connect deeply in this house. The walls alone, require and insist on your attention. You will listen deeply too. Not just for the purposes of hearing someone speak, but for the clarity such speaking can usher as a mirror into your own. Of course you will rest deeply too. The house is designed first for rest. Not on a superficial level, but the kind that makes you whole, re-centers you to your essence, while ushering joy as you recover yourself for yourself. When you walk through the house, moments of sweetness will engulf you, for the thought and care each space provides. Korede House is on the cutting edge of real social change, solving the core problem of loneliness and social isolation, one room at a time.

Thus, a third place such as Korede House, is one way of participating in the future we want where the burden of loneliness is eliminated. It’s provides a cohesive vision of what we hope such a future can look like, one where our abilities to imagine such a future will be stretched beyond what we think is possible. Yet, in understanding, in seeing common elements, in trusting our perceptions too, Korede House functions as an exemplary antidote of what the US surgeon general is advocating that our society wants and deserves today, tomorrow. Keep Korede House and their bring goodness vision in mind, with any attempts at achieving a future where loneliness is no more. See more here: Korede House

Congratulations Ronke on the opening of Korede House!

She fried yams this morning.

Thick golden, brown yams.

Cooking teaches love, a kind of power, full for those who know themselves, those who lead.

This morning we saw a tree bend all the way down to its purpose.

Our daughter is becoming a tree full of purpose, full of power.

She fried yams this morning.

Everyone else, including her brothers are following.

Like perfectly cut yams, we see the power of becoming trees.

My daughter’s fried yams!

In a world where the life experiences of black girls are invisible, many are changing the narrative. Some honor and center their lives with stories that are empowering and transformative. Some name and define all they ways they are let down instead of uplifted, ignored rather than elevated. Still others write so that they can be seen. From they way they speak, to the words they use and in different contexts, black girls are rendered visible, with voice, with vision. Their lives are not neglected or omitted. Not ignored or dismissed. Not when they live free. Thrive free too. In spaces that elevate all that make them beautiful, loved, and blessed. A generation of people are committed to understanding what makes them happy. What brings them joy too. All the way they cry. All they ways they thrive too. Even what they do to remain in the picture, to matter, to be superior, where they belong, or anywhere else.

It’s for this reason, I want to celebrate a new feat in my daughter’s life. Her attempts at cooking for others. It may seem trivial, the act of frying yams and eggs for a morning breakfast. She didn’t have to do it either, yet she did, in the same way her mother and grandmother, plus her daddy too, have done to make breakfast on any given Saturday morning. I celebrate my daughter for for preserving and enriching our lives with her fried yams this morning. Each piece we ate is etched in my memory now of the permanence and beauty of girlhood lived in one’s own terms. Cooking to me is life, and it’s the medium through which I offer love to my family and those around me. It’s also how we preserve our culture in ways that makes sense to us. I hope this experience of frying yams on a Saturday morning remains with my daughter. I hope the lessons of this act may help her to use cooking or any other life experiences she desires, in prudent ways, to incite change with the future she desires.

Sometimes I don’t understand it. How did I make it through the storm and rain? But I see life is working for my good. Grace and the number 5, on this fifth day of May is an overflow moment for me, one that hope to never forget. To see what I have seen today, not once but five times is the stuff dreams are made up. I am determined to make new dreamers in this thing called academia and they will dream wild dreams their way. We will fail. It’s a guarantee. I promise more failures because when your dreams come true then you will be just as speechless as I have been today.

To crown it all up, wild pansies greeted my front lawn today. I am not a gardener. Every plant I keep ends up dying. Yet today, from no where, these wild pansies were in our front lawn. We have lived here for three years and to think that I have never seen them until today is again the stuff dreams are made off. To see who is behind all this, to see him high upon the throne exalted is beyond words. I will forever be thankful to all those who made the journey to get here rough. You came so close to take me in. The reason I’m here is grace. You all have a special place in my heart because this season was tough. I had to let things go, people too, just so I can openly accept all that is coming my way with no strings attached except for family. This is a quest that is only just beginning and wild pansies, with their mission of happiness, memories and spirituality are leading us all the way. Keep them.

Grateful to these beauty!

I am seeing and feeling what it means to be nestled knee deep in a winning season. This is my winning season. The enemies came from left to right, up and down to throw we off his plan. They succeeded at first with causing me to waste time. Then I remembered who ordered these steps and got right back to work. The journey for me has always been long, always been full of joy, always included hurdles, yet at the same time, even as the scales fall and dust settles, it has always been full of grace. It brought us this far, kicking and screaming as we choose life as it is lived. This is the meaning of life. The idea of remembering your origin, being aware of your limitations, yet still rising above them all. May these words, all of them I write, steal into your most innermost corners of your heart. May they also remind you of how no thoughts or theory of life can take the place life well lived. I am on the verge of letting faith, and assets within guide me as I tilt my bloom.

Image by Radiant health magazine.

I have been encouraged to dream, to do so with no filter, to stand outside in a vast field, listen as trees whispers, leaves and branches too. Just as clear-minded, just as strong. Though leaves waver with passing winds. Though branches fall off on their own, to the ground, now on their own. Yet, seeing the journey, seeing it through, whether through trees, or leaves, or branches, is the anything life lived as dreams, offer.

Keep dreams!

My baby boy hugged strangers today. I tried to stop him, but he hugged their back a little tighter. I proceeded to apologize for his touchy feely ways but the strangers, two African women turned around and hugged him back. I smiled. Then he he told them his name. Shared the name of his brother, his mother, his sister, his other brother and his grandma. The women smiled and shared the same. We were at a festival focused on tasting the best of food from a people far from home. But truly, through the eyes of my son, the eyes of two African women we met, strangers at first, we tasted the best of humanity.