“A year ago, today I witnessed a murder. The victim’s name was George Floyd. Although this wasn’t the first time, I’ve seen a black man get killed at the hands of the police, this is the first time I witnessed it happen in front of me. Right in front of my eyes, a few feet away. I didn’t know this man from a can of paint, but I knew his life mattered. I knew that he was in pain. I knew that he was another black man in danger with no power. I was only 17 at the time, just a normal day for me walking my 9-year-old cousin to the corner store, not even prepared for what I was about to see, not even knowing my life was going to change on this exact day in those exact moments… it did. It changed me. It changed how I viewed life. It made me realize how dangerous it is to be Black in America. We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around police officers, the same people that are supposed to protect and serve. We are looked at as thugs, animals, and criminals, all because of the color of our skin. Why are Black people the only ones viewed this way when every race has some type of wrongdoing? None of us are to judge. We are all human. I am 18 now and I still hold the weight and trauma of what I witnessed a year ago. It’s a little easier now, but I’m not who I used to be. A part of my childhood was taken from me. My 9-year-old cousin who witnessed the same thing I did got a part of her childhood taken from her. Having to up and leave because my home was no longer safe, waking up to reporters at my door, closing my eyes at night only to see a man who is brown like me, lifeless on the ground. I couldn’t sleep properly for weeks. I used to shake so bad at night my mom had to rock me to sleep. Hopping from hotel to hotel because we didn’t have a home and looking over our back every day in the process. Having panic and anxiety attacks every time I seen a police car, not knowing who to trust because a lot of people are evil with bad intentions. I hold that weight. A lot of people call me a hero even though I don’t see myself as one. I was just in the right place at the right time. Behind this smile, behind these awards, behind the publicity, I’m a girl trying to heal from something I am reminded of every day. Everyone talks about the girl who recorded George Floyd’s death, but to actually be her is a different story. Not only did this affect me, my family too. We all experienced change. My mom the most. I strive every day to be strong for her because she was strong for me when I couldn’t be strong for myself. Even though this was a traumatic life-changing experience for me, I’m proud of myself. If it weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth. I own that. My video didn’t save George Floyd, but it put his murderer away and off the streets. You can view George Floyd anyway you choose to view him, despite his past, because don’t we all have one? He was a loved one, someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s brother, and someone’s friend. We the people won’t take the blame, you won’t keep pointing fingers at us as if it’s our fault, as if we are criminals. I don’t think people understand how serious death is…that person is never coming back. These officers shouldn’t get to decide if someone gets to live or not. It’s time these officers start getting held accountable. Murdering people and abusing your power while doing it is not doing your job. It shouldn’t have to take people to actually go through something to understand it’s not ok. It’s called having a heart and understanding right from wrong. George Floyd, I can’t express enough how I wish things could have went different, but I want you to know you will always be in my heart. I’ll always remember this day because of you. May your soul rest in peace. May you rest in the most beautiful roses.”

What a week. And we missed posting yesterday. All I can say is there will be days like this when nothing will be done. On those days rest. What you maybe carrying maybe to heavy for you hence the need to rest. Put it down and take a break. It’s okay to do nothing. I did. Slept my afternoon and night away and woke up refreshed and ready to take on the world. Keep resting.

How seeds survive in the midst of prevailing obstacles is my keep for today. My son’s class read Eric Carle’s wonderful The Tiny Seed book. This simple story of a seeds journey towards becoming a flower is the life lesson I needed to hear as this school year comes to an end. It’s an emotional one for me as I will not wish the experience of schooling especially for children during a pandemic to any other generation. That means we the grownups have got to act so we don’t go through this again. But in the meantime, we are all seeds. That’s the moral of the story. And as seeds, our journey through life, our journey to becoming flowers, becoming beings full of possibilities, full of light will always be filled with obstacles. But when we get through these obstacles, when we blossom and become the flowers we were always destined to be, then life would be sterling. That’s what Eric Carle’s book that my junior kindergarten son read today did for me. Keep being tiny seeds. Your journey towards becoming a flower is destined to be divine even if you face great obstacles. Ooh he made this beautiful flower to showcase what he learnt today.

The school year is coming to an end. My son is thriving. Something that seemed so difficult to do back in the fall, seems so easy to him these days. Homeschooling a child on the spectrum was by far one of the difficult things I have ever done. Not because my son isn’t bright, but more so because home is home and not school. Merging the two, home and school was too much for his brain to handle. And so we had our share of meltdowns, so many that recollection won’t even do them justice. So why even keep this? Because I see the possibilities and potential everyday. I see his light even as the school year slowly comes to an end.

It’s like a switch is flickering, deciding still if to stay full lit, but definitely hovering towards light. That’s what schooling my son feels like these days. Pure night and day. Pure joy and bliss. To watch him do work all on his own, without prompting, without cajoling, without pleading, without even bribing him, none of which worked on our tough days, is bliss. That this day has finally arrived even as the school year comes to an end is like the quote I shared previously about things being impossible. With kids on the spectrum, it will always feel and seem impossible, until they in their own unique way, defy expectations. I was simply fine with whatever we got out of him. But to see him pushing himself, without my help is the light I needed to see at the end of this pandemic school year tunnel. For kids like my son, ‘there is always light,’ like Amanda Gorman would say, ‘if only we are brave enough to see it.’ I see it everyday, and it truly fills my heart with joy. Keep this light for boys, and children like my son. They will defy expectations if only we are brave enough to see it, brave enough to them light up this world. And to see them in their light, to see and feel their potential is the very thing I needed as we begin to wrap this very strange school year up. It’s amazing how he continues to light my world.

My office desk has an image of a step. It was used to illustrate how I would build creative confidence in young people. It was also for research with words and illustration used to highlight an ongoing intensive grant I am presently working on. I also forgot to put the paper away after making my drafts. This evening when I returned to my desk, I saw this image next to it by my daughter. In it she noted steps to being her best. First, she was voiceless and shy and stood at the sidelines rather than participating with the crowd. Next, she started to speak up a little. And though better, it wasn’t her best. But when she started to speak, when she became happy and stood tall to speak, her best became amazing. These steps to being the best by my 8 year old is worth keeping if not for anything but to remind you to stand tall, be happy and speak. And when you do, well, you will be amazing.

We had a major appointment scheduled for 1pm yesterday. We have been waiting for this day for awhile. Yesterday morning, after he had gone to work, I texted my hubby to remind him of the appointment. He texted back that 1pm would be impossible as he had a surgery then. But then if we moved it to 3pm, for sure he would make it. I remembered that school ends at 3pm so I sent an email to move the meeting to 3:30pm. All parties agreed. And so we waited for 3pm. Prior to the start of his surgery, my hubby texted that I should wish him luck as this was a tough case. I texted quickly that luck is always on his side given his name which when translated to English means Gods saves. In fact, he was living out his name, a pure manifestation of why the names we give our children matter for their journey through life. With a name like Chizoba, he literally is being God’s servant on earth. Nonetheless by 3pm I didn’t hear from him. I started to go to our appointment and texted that I hoped he was on his way. No response. I called and his nurse picked up the call. My heart sank. When they do, it often means everything is canceled. She said he was in the middle of the surgery still and this case was proving more difficult than it seems. I immediately thanked her and proceeded to let the folks we were meeting know that an alternative arrangement would be needed. Right as I was finalizing the call, my hubby called and said today was impossible. He would have to cancel the meeting as he is still in surgery. I said no problem that I was taking care of it. I did as best as I could and finally moved the meeting to next week. I let him know that it was moved and went on with the evening.

Like most families with doctors, I forgot to ask how they surgery went. Until this morning. I remembered as he was getting ready to go to work and he showed me this card he received from work. “It always seem impossible” the card read ‘until it’s done.’ Despite how difficult the case was, how deep the clot was in the brain of his patient, with a surgery lasting over 4 hours, today, this morning, she is talking and doing fine. I stood in awe. God truly saves when you are his. The card went on to state that ‘it was the one to make you shine. Never give up.’ That’s the keep for me today. Things will always seem impossible until it’s done. And when they are done, that thing which seemed so impossible may just be the one to make you soar. If you know the week I had this week putting a proposal of a lifetime, something that seemed so impossible, you will understand why my hubby story, this story resonates deeply with me. Keep knowing that it may always seem impossible until it’s done. And when it’s done, you will shine.

We may know what we do. Talking about it may also be easy. We definitely know how to do the things we do. Describing it would also be easy. But why? Understanding why we do the things we do is probably the most difficult thing to explain. Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start with Why’ is a treasure. It allowed me to uncover my Why just as the pandemic was ravaging the country. It’s the thing that keeps me going, my Why. It’s also the most important part of my journey through life. We are all called to be the light on this earth. To be the salt to where we can. If in doing so we help others uncover their worth then more light can seep into this world full of darkness. Being the light is a key part of my why. To know that everything I do, let’s God light shine a bit brighter is truly inspiring. The moment you wake up and realize this for yourself, is the day your story begins. Being light helps to fulfill my why. I hope it helps you to keep knowing your why.

I didn’t think I would cry. But seeing this day come to pass brought tears to my eyes. Finally, we honored the legacy of Dr. Jacob Plange-Rhule with the first ever prize for his contribution to the Global Research in Implementation and Translation Science Consortium. Jacob had this vision to train the next generation of scholars interested in health services research, hypertension research, especially at the community level. He was one of the pioneers of the community based salt reduction interventions for blood pressure control in Africa. He led the first studies in this field. He also led the task-shifting strategies for hypertension control in Ghana. To know him was to know a very gentle man, a very kind man, with a great personality, and a great love for all things Ghana. To think that we will never see his smile, never hear his voice, remains painful to him. But know that he will live on with this prize, fills my heart with great joy. Until we meet again, continue to Rest in the Bosom of the Lord.

I am a Rainbow mom. My daughter gave me a priceless card in the form of a bouquet that explained why. All of the colors are needed to make me she noted and they personify my talents. For example, as the color Red, I am a great thinker with a big heart. For Orange, I am fun, cheerful and an awesome cook. For Yellow, I am happy and I cheer up my daughter whenever she is sad. For Green, I am kind, hate messes, but love gardening and nature. For Blue, I am cool, confident and an amazing mum. For Purple, I am creative, religious, thoughtful and I love to write. Finally she shared how alone each color is striking, but together, a beautiful rainbow is created within me.

My Rainbow Mom card.

This poster card made my heart leap with joy. I remember when she started making it. She said it’s a surprise and that I should wait for it. Only hint was that it would be full of colors. I didn’t know what to expect. But receiving this yesterday made me so thankful to be her mom. It also reminded me of the passage from the gospel John read during mass yesterday. Something that I believe personifies the love that my kids showered for me yesterday during Mother’s Day. They say you never forget the first moment you become a mother, the first baby you called your own, the person who called you mother, the first moment unconditional love becomes love unconditionally. My Lotanna Belle and her brothers are everything and more, who reminds me always of this moment. Thank you for choosing me, and helping me bear fruit that will remain. And yet again to all mothers, happy Mothers Day. May you know love this unconditional.

We didn’t go to church last year. We didn’t celebrate with other mothers or listen to the special Mother’s Day prayers from our Jesuit Priest. We didn’t even get the flowers we normally receive at the end of mass, a symbol of our Church’s reverence for today. The pandemic with all its adversities was to blame. Today we are prepared to radiate in full bloom, in brilliant colors that highlights the beauty of the day. And there is something about Azaleas in full bloom at the entrance of my home, that gives me radical hope, one year later, as a mother, today.

Azaleas at the front of our home!

For starters, azaleas are a a symbol of womanhood, of softness with their deep luscious purplish pink colors that are dependable as blue skies on a very sunny day. Azaleas beauty transforms any space becoming a dramatic focal point of any landscape, in the same way mothers transform life. Then there is the supercooling tendencies of Azaleas which makes these flower a symbol of hardiness. During the winter months, Azaleas hardy stems super cool to low temperature to avoid any freezing injury, enabling them to tolerate the presence of ice and survive. So too is motherhood. How we bear the pains of childbirth, particularly the illustrious ring of fire, the moment a baby makes its appearance, personifies the hardiness of Azaleas.

That one plant can personify both soft and hard, with grace and beauty, even in times of stress is the reason why azaleas give radical hope to motherhood, radical hope for my journey as a mother. By being both soft and hard, at its core Azaleas provide a sense of agency for change, a sense of agency for fight. Adversities will come, as with freezing cold temperatures of winter nights, and finding ways, supercooling ones, to fight through the ice, is crucial for survival. But in the Spring, there will be beauty, brilliant colors in full bloom, that radiates the moment you see Azaleas, the moment your eyes meet to greet these plants, such that the fight through the ice, is never futile, the fight through adversities is never futile. Azaleas commitment and courage to survive winter and achieve this flourishing vision for Spring, is the radical hope I keep for mothers today. The pandemic has been one great adversity. Testing our endurance and abilities to both juggle home and work at the same time. For some of us that meant, there were no separation. Work came home and home became work, not just for ourselves but with the children we homeschooled and the family members we nursed. The pandemic was like Azaleas during winter months. Yet we fought, through the ice, supercooled where we could, to survive this adversity of a life time.

But on this day, a year later, we celebrate you. On this Mother’s Day, may your beauty dazzle. Be as vibrant as you can be and wear those vivid colors that make you radiate like Azaleas. Become a dramatic focal point today and let every eye direct attention to you. This significant Mother’s Day, this one past the adversities of a pandemic, highlights the need to never forget our collective past (though still ongoing) of survival as we envision a collective future full of possibilities, where flourishing will always be at our core like Azaleas in Spring, as we embrace the meaning and purpose of motherhood. My prayer for you also is that you explode with colors so breathtaking that the memories of you beauty lingers on past the ongoing pandemic, throughout today and into forever. It’s what Azaleas do for themselves, a radical hope through life, a collective commitment to heal and transform the adversities of winter, to achieve new forms of flourishing in the Spring. I keep Azaleas here for you today and always.

Happy Mother’s Day!