They say it heals and persevere. Writing. They say to use it to keep what matters. Anything from golden brown meat pies to the perfect strawberry smoothies. They say to use it to amplify and acknowledge, express and experience, cope and chronicle, reflect and resist, solve and save, pray and persist. For we are empowered to express. Emotions, honest, and true. For creativity and support. For wellness and well-being. Anger or change. Radical or necessary. Anything we note, begin with words we first keep, like the opening of peonies.
Keep, keep your power!
Sometimes I struggle to find the words to keep. I’ll rather hide my thoughts from the world. Laying instead on the ground. Crushed and broken by the storms around. Sometimes, words won’t do. Wishing I could flee from the pain pursing me to my grave. Intimidated by the rage. I lay again on the ground. Crushed and broken by the storms around. Fear isn’t what I feel. Pain, maybe, sadness too. Wondering whether my human heart will be buried with all its ache. I lay instead on the ground. Remember there is power in the grave. Praying for a stronger soul to withstand the storms around.
Today nearly crushed me. Someone I truly loved too. For once I didn’t know what to say. Didn’t even know what to keep. Something about how anger can be too deep. That even when tears flow, hearts may remain unmoved. Being a parent, a wife, a sister, a friend is hard. Doing so with invisible scars from work and home, may force you to be silent. Until your remember what the late great Audre Lorde noted, even silence protects no one. So I’m keeping this here.
Even in pain, these words still matter. Language too for what to keep needs consistent nurturing and attention like a garden for days like today.
Life will try to crush you. Force you to the ground, even early to your grave if not careful. It almost did to me today. But I’m keeping this here to remind myself about the gift of today. There will be days like this. Storms will come and they will crush you to the ground. But the plans he has for you, those you know of and those you still don’t know about, are great. They are beyond words if only you remember there is power even in the grave. Keep, keep your power.
Keep the sweetness of life!
I am basking in the words of Audre Lorde these days. In her short essay oh how she intended to live the rest of her life while battling liver cancer, she shared the following I will keep forever:
‘I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do.
I am going to write fire until it comes out of my ears, my eyes, my nose holes, everywhere.
Until it’s ever breathe I breathe. I’m going to go out like a fucking meteor!’
May we all live our lives with this kind of sweetness. I truly will starting with this seafood okro I ate that defies words.
Keep the heavenly sight of belladonna lily!
Wild flowers are everywhere.
Like me, a woman, full, in bloom. Come soil or rock, I grow, oblivious to the softness or hardness of the other.
Life knows me well. I am persistent with all the soil and rock I meet like a Bella Donna Lilly.
I was greeted by these large lily like flowers today. They lined the back of our home.
They stood tall, with a stem, naked, leafless, proud, like a woman. Only flowers, in pale pink color lined their tips. Only flowers line their tip.
Rain or sun, they grow on their own. With seeds producing flowers in three years. Today, I was greeted by flowers that took three years to bloom. Three years to bloom.
There is heaven in these flowers. I saw it for myself today. I saw heaven today.
I took a break from everything. Packed the family and literally went to a place I can only describe as heaven on earth. It was the most relaxing vacation I have had in awhile and to think I planned it with five families, 22 people in total is no small feat. We ate, we danced, we smiled and laughed our hearts out that coming back to earth has truly been hard. I also saw my sister from another mother in heaven. Like we didn’t even tell each other that we were going on vacation. Only for me to bump into her in a place I can only describe as heaven. Just as I was slowly adjusting to being back, my eyes wandered to the back of our home. Long naked like stems lined the back of our home, near where we planted cucumbers last year. They seem to be coming on their own and growing out of soils and rocky pavements. When I learnt their name, I realized that God wanted me to hold heaven in my hands for infinity. Of course I won’t have five families with me. I have my own. And thanks to these flowers, I intend to hold on to heaven for eternity. I needed this reminder today.
There is a certain kind of peace I long for these days.
The kind that lets me be. Free, with no demands.
No strings attached, no noise, no worries too.
Just a life lived well, my way, because peace flowed like a river.
Keep joy, like garden eggs!
I remember. I have been saying this word lately. As if all memories are fading fast. They seem to be, considering how time seems to run along these days fast. So I remember, once when I took a class in college. It was a sociology class and the focus was on slow food movement or this idea of eating food slowly. Not the focus on processed food or fast food that many of us have unfortunately been accustomed too, but food from the earth, a movement focused on growing what you eat. So I remember when as a little girl, my grandmother would give us garden eggs from her garden to eat. My dad and my grandmother planted some along with Aloe Vera and Hibsucus flowers at the front of our house and yes, he would use them for juice and drinks and anything else that made his heart well. Dad was diabetic so he relied heavily on food from the earth. Our favorite being these garden eggs or Afufa or Anyara as we would call them in our Igbo language. I remember them big too, pearly white and with green stripes. There was a joy, not easily described whenever your eyes or your mouth sees and tastes these garden eggs.
That joy came to my doorstep today. My husband’s cousin mailed some garden eggs to our home all the way from North Carolina. She didn’t have to considering we just spent the weekend with her in Georgia but she did and the joy I feel for them and her and not easily described, but I’ll try. I’ll try to remember this joy, remember garden eggs, remember being a witness to moments with them, with my dad and grandma, long gone too. I remember this collective memory you revived for me and thank you to our dear cousin. Few things bring joy like garden eggs. I hope you find them for yourselves these days.
Keep knowing that life na je je!
Pour me juice mom, please pour some juice in my cup. This was the sentence that jolted me back to writing. I was in the middle of sorting groceries that I just bought. Exhausted and still trying to figure what to eat for dinner. My five year old son had other things on his mind. They included pouring a strawberry lemonade juice in his strawberry lined cup that he made for himself. I wondered out loud to myself that I didn’t even know when I asked him this question: why did you line the strawberry on your cup. To relax, said my son. That’s how I relax. Where did you learn that from, I asked again. From a cartoon, and this is how I want to relax, he said and walked away with his strawberry line cup with strawberry lemonade juice. We should all be relaxing like my five year old. Sure a strawberry lined cup will do. But beyond the cup, a little me time is critical. I looked at him in amazement. He is only five and prioritizes himself first. He is only five and understands what makes him relaxed. He is only five and seeks enjoyment things. That was my text to Daddy right after our exchange. A lesson I learned from my five year old. Life na je je, as we would say in Pidgin English. We should make time to relax and do all the things we love and want to do. It doesn’t have to be strawberry lined juice on a cup. But more so, that thing that keeps you going. I have been on a slump with writing. This is probably the longest I have not written in awhile. Of course death has a way of keep thoughts and word bay. Death stole my thunder and words would not do. I am grateful for my son and the lesson he taught me that I didn’t know I need. Life na je je. We should all make time to relax. I’m am off to relaxing.
Keep living life!
Throw away all you think about life. Throw it all. Then just live. Life is too short. I am realizing it more so these days. Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. Tell all those you love why you love them everyday and make them sick and sick of your love. I am in the mood of infecting my life with love and people that matter and these days, all I want you to know, is that I would do what makes me live out my best life. This is the moment I have been living for. The realization that I have been blessed for a very long time to live out my best life. The immense fragility of life, all its sweetness and sadness too, makes me what to turn up to a dark field to simply stare at the silver moon and everything bright the dark night has to offer. The raw cuts of life caught me off guards today and I have been numb and obedient to the moment.
I got news that knocked me off my feet today. I have been in a daze and just in awe of this thing called life. Poppa George has joined the ancestors club in a way that I never expected. I cried because I thought we had time. I remember when we spent time together. I’m still in a daze and it’s not even 24 hours later. I barely did anything today and if I did, lord knows my mind was everywhere and no where. George was more than a father to me. I considered him like a father. He took me under his wings when I was in college with his daugther. Took us always to the best diners and restaurant in Philly. Made me feel loved and respected and valued and showed me how a true gentleman should always treat a lady he loves and cherishes. I knew what love was in college because I saw it first from George. He was the perfect gentleman. A firefighter too who knew how to take care of all those he loved. I have been numb today because I never got to tell him just how much I loved and valued him. I never got to tell him that he was my idol too. I know he is smiling down from heaven but George just know I loved you and I know that God loved you more. We will always be there for the love of your life Ms Toni. This isn’t a goodbye. More like rest until we meet again. With all my love. Your Jules. I intend to live out life, with love, just as I know George would have wanted.
Keep life notes!
I am not quick to describe for myself whether life is this or that.
There are so many different ways to live life. Many different ways to make it your own out of something much deeper than anything that you can describe.
Sometimes you will fail. Sometimes you will succeed.
But life keeps going, almost like the dew on grass which no one knows where it comes from or what to do with it except to cut it off.
To deal with life, to stand one day naked, and look at yourself in the mirror is the real challenge in life.
I have looked at myself, looked at my face, full of dark freckles and dimples that always know when to reappear. I have paid homage to the gap between my teeth, and the moles at the back of my neck where my daddy too once had the same. Deep are the roots between us.
I have seen the flow from my hair follicles to the sole of my feet. Marveled too at the body that birthed three kings and a queen.
I remain in awe of the excess fold, all of it in the right place, all the curves too, in a way I choose to never change.
I have seen too the large mole on the top of my breast, felt a lump once that made me cry, until it wasn’t what I thought it was.
I have known deep love in this skin again, bathed it too with pink rose and vanilla again and again, that it could only be love.
I love this skin I’m in. Love too the curves of my back, the scars on my back, one the shape of a crescent moon, whose pain I’ll never forget.
I seem to forget other scars though, like the one from a broken glass on my right arm, or the one nestled on the side of my left index finger. They call it a birthmark. I call it a kiss from God.
To me, every inch of my being is a miracle. Every fold, every curve, every dark spot here and there, is truly a miracle. My legs are thick and strong, bones too, strong as a bronze. If this is what it means to be made in his image, then I am truly loved, beyond these words I use to speak of life as this or that.
Keep escaping with words!
I want to be that no ordinary kind of woman that meets herself every time through words. To remind her, that because of words, we can survive, live, love, pray, as we escape the unthinkable. These are cold days, but words can lead out to our breakout as we learn what life is. So if I am to live up to my middle name, if I am to bask in the glory of what it means to be named Isioma, then I am prepared to discover all that I am through words. I am prepared to meet myself over and over again, ringing like a bell, of how I survived and survived, because words came and I let them move me, seduce me, transform me, and illuminate all that I am becoming.
It’s our world anyways and we can write till we reach beyond ourselves. I want to write too, every time we meet ourselves. For this gift of writing, this gift of putting our thoughts into words, is a treasure. I am grateful that our cup continues to overflow. I am learning day by day that I live to write. A note, a phrase, a poem, or even a collection of things to keep if only for my sanity in a time of a pandemic. Today, I met myself. Today I went on a long conversation with the woman I am becoming. A storyteller that writes to live. We spoke of our love for words. Our love with putting down all our ideas into words that are pleasing to our soul. We encouraged ourselves too. Like two birds nestling by a stream, we told ourselves that we are doing fine with every single moment we note all the words that come to mind.
I am pledging allegiance to this freedom to write our lives through words we put together. How rare to live a life in words for ourselves first, for our dreams, our love, our heart desires, our morning sunshine, our children as dark as night or for the one called to save us. And words, have been our savior, our Chizoba in a world full of despair for a pandemic that refuses to dissipate.
More than escape, writing is life and a way of being still with ourselves. For we know, he knows the plans for us. The earth may shake. Cities may crumble. But happy are those who tend to life through words. This dancing of the mind, this communion with oneself, is like bread. It continues to give me new strength. And through his words, we are living in the pleasure of discovering and uncovering the plans for ourselves everyday. Writing is like the sun and it continues to set my life everyday. Writing also continues to move me to a place of divine connection to the power working within me. That’s what myself and I concluded and we will continue to choose the path we take, choose to put them in words, all because we know of his love. All we ask is that you continue to breathe on us daily so we make new words in us again and again as we escape from this world again and again.
Keep asking why?
Everything changes, the moment you hear the word. Life flashes through in a second. None of us can cheat life. None can escape the battle of death. I have tried to understand 2021. Fast runners never win their race. A fish still gets caught in a net. No matter how hard I tried, I still can’t understand. Why cancer? Why us? Our fists are clenched.
Keep thoughts on death and a life once lived!
I have been wondering out loud what people may say if they came to my funeral. No I’m not dying. But death is inevitable. My grandma died this past week 25 years ago. Her death is forever in my memories. My first death experience too. The first time I knew death existed was the day my grandmother died. The day death came knocking, knowing that I will never forget that one day it will greet us too. Even the richest person or the poorest person on earth today will eventually die. The great equalizer that no one can ever cheat, ever beat or even tweet. The day you die will arrive one day. On that day, what will people say about you. Will they cry? Or will they greet your death with lamentations laced with sorrow and joy. Lamentations for a life once lived. A life lived to the fullest. A life worth celebrating. A life forever creating. A life once pulsating. A life forever educating. A life often frustrating. A life forever motivating. A life once stimulating. A life always translating. A life fully captivating. A life forever listing. Hence why I have been wondering, when I die, what would people say. I wrote this all as a verse, for my thoughts kept wondering.
When I die, what will people say? Who will cry for my journey? Why will flowers line my tombstone? When will they come again with flowers for my cold stone? How will people describe my life, my journey? If these thoughts may seem unreal. They are. But I wonder for the people I greet today. Did I meet you well? Did I treat you well? Or did I beat you well? Life can be so fleeting. Our last words can be so depleting. Unless I keep this for the day death comes greeting. A day I truly won’t be tweeting. But on that day, when you come to my funeral, if you come to see my passing, don’t cry for a life once lived. Don’t let tears fall where our love once lived. Don’t let sorrow thrive where our perseverance continue to live. Don’t speak of our yesterdays where broken hearts once lived. Don’t wonder for our tomorrow, where endless possibilities continue to live.
Don’t let your heart be full of sadness for where our joy once lived. Don’t let this silence cause you to question where our devotion continue to live. Don’t let this passing cause you to hide, where our light once lived. Don’t let the end cause you to forget how our dreams continue to live. When you come to our funeral, don’t cry for a life once lived. Rather live, for we lived, this thing we called life. Looking up to the mountain, to the sun which never hurt, the moon which never failed, this life we once lived.