I write at a crossroads of a life that has known pain, felt anger, cherished joy, and carried the idea of sustaining anything as urgent. I write too from a place of commitment, a mind that has known what it means to transform and be transformed, all while identifying and defining what life means to me. I have never taken the path others take. I have never done things only to regret them later. I have lived as though life could end tomorrow. I have dreamed as if dreaming was air, living, lying awake, on a bed of green grass as soft blue skies and clouds glide by. I have done these things and still I choose to write. These days, writing is all I know. So I write for connections between and among women, the most feared, the least understood, those tender, sharp and unafraid with eyes startling and ready to transform. Truly I write for the most transformative being that ever existed. I write so she lives, whether as a woman by herself, a sister, a friend or a mother. Today I write to myself and all the women we celebrate.

Happy Mother’s Day

Four times, have I known pain. Child birth would bring pain so unbearable that you scream from the deepest depths of your soul. Four times have I screamed. To hold lives so complex, with smiles all for me. The piercing cries of restless children that test all you know. Especially at night, in middle of a deep sleep that forces you to stroll aimlessly for their needs. I always smile when today comes along. Not for the love I see in my girl and my boys, my better me, but for the journey we get to take. Nothing sets me so high than a reminder of all we have been through. The journey we still take through tears and dreary darkness. Those to Andy’s frozen custard for pleasure in a cup and spoon. These things, this rush of beauty and pain are the heart of motherhood for me. We knew there would be pain. The beginning was full of it. We knew pain will continue. Today still has some, lurking to uncover unknown and hidden spaces. We have tried to be strong. Tried to be our best selves so they too stand and be strong on their own. We have laughed and we have cried. We have laid down in mourning for an angel, and a bird we named Sky. They know good things never last. Like blue birds named Sky. They know too that we are in this moment together. A unique group we are. With birds and lilly magnolias. Grass so green, skies so blue that all we can do is lie down and let life be. We are living together for this moment. The skies paint an everlasting blue color. We look at each other, hoping this moment lasts forever.

Rain falls from the skies to the earth. Falls down to rivers and lakes, to flowers and trees all from skies open and free. Today I am free. I stand, not afraid to be me. To see the rain that have fallen for the past 8 years, where nothing seemed to stop all in my soul. To feel like flowers do. Tulips and daffodils, Japanese Cherry and lily magnolias. Rain with soul fall over all these like water over rivers not troubled, not alone. The directions I have taken to get here. Nights full of sleeping less, and yet still full of rest. The children I had birthed through this. The love and support of a fearless crocodile of the jungle will never do, when all you know is rain. My mind wants to speak. Joy wants to flow. A little girl dreamed and lived out her wildest dreams just as she dreamed it would be. I am close to becoming my dream. Close to swinging through to the other side where dreams become reality, yet mindful that we never stop dreaming. The falling rain, gentle streams, crocodiles and flowers are all the strength, I need to begin again like when colors of a rainbow meet. To see I own even my silence, with all the blessings, with eyes still on the prize, is the rain I need to keep falling endlessly.

Art from my daughter.

Being rooted in all I do is free. I know my roots. I know my struggles too. I have lived through their lessons. Freedom takes a long time. With despair and fear, and a sprinkling of failure buried deep within. I have seen darkness of what it means to work. Roots buried deep only know dark. They know too that light takes time. I am beginning to know light. Both have taken a long time that I know first hand when the rain began to fall on me. I know too that you do not talk to a horse and wait for it’s reply. Whether it’s falling rain or neighing horses, I can testify that words are not enough to describe work. Neither are sentiments on papers. Only stories will do. Only the stories, with inward testimonies, of all the ways you reconciled shattered dreams with hopeful visions will do. Now that my roots pierce deeply into the soil, I look forward to shaming the devil as I speak my truth.

Image from Lucille Clifton’s Everett Anderson’s Goodbye personifies how I feel these day. I know my roots.

I am overwhelmed and tired. Trying to stay focused but exhausted. I feel like I am running a race that never ends. I want it to end, but I keep running. There will be days like this I am told. Today is one of those days, I see. Nothing brilliant to say expect that all I need right now is rest. This maybe the most brilliant thought I have held all day.

Love is always present, always with us. I see it clearly in Spring. Whenever Spring comes around, my mind and heart open up. Everything about this season pushes me to live my life to the fullest. To live in the moment too. And trees call me. With every way they sway, they move me. Naked or flourishing, they seduce me. With each falling leaves, they challenge me. Each falling branch, they guide me. And each root, uprooted, connect me back to the heart of the matter, my roots. We are still here, standing because love calls, we answer.

Like a vineyard that produces much fruit. Or like an olive branch that produce many olives. Like a bird escapes from a trap. Or like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Like a mountain which sits unmoved forever. Or like mighty streams in dry desert. So shall it be for a woman whose crown shines forever. A woman strong and brave. Find her, stay next to her and see greatness forever.

It’s a new month. The Asante people of Ghana have a saying: Its a woman who gave birth to a man, it’s a woman who gave birth to king. I’m in the mood for all things great, all women give birth to. Whether kings or queens. Mothers or warriors. So here is to a month dedicated to all the history of all great women I come across this month.

So this must be why they call it paradise, spirit and soul connecting, listening, being together, under blue skies and palm trees, purple cactus and lemon trees, eating herb roasted whole chicken, fennel crusted sea bass, with baby kale risotto, while drinking blood orange lemon punch, and the sun set is as dazzling as can be, everything all in glory that it must truly be paradise. I see now, heaven is when spirit and soul connects. I know my soul. We deserve to be here. So let’s do this again.

I went on a retreat with some amazing women. Winds are changing and when they blow, new things move. So to with women who connect together, build and transform together. The air is shivery with possibilities and it’s because we all came together not only to know our stories but also to make time, to remember, to know we are enough and to prepare for our possibilities. We are also intentionally making plans to know what to keep. If only you could see us, if only you could see our knowing so deep. Total strangers connecting one to one, tiptoes replaced by strides as radiant as gazelles, champions on my left and my right, some with power, so powerful like rivers, that this must truly be paradise.

Our meeting is illuminating our past, while at the same time brightening our future. We are at the summit of our lives. The ties that bind all of us, this community of women together is so divine, so magical, that it must be paradise. All we carry, all we carry like water, every single thing whether in silence through words unspoken or in pain, through tears flowing freely, so many weights that many still don’t know, that we carry on our own, everything I am discovering and learning about us is divine like a knowing so deep. We are learning, seeing and listening to all the ways we shape an untenable reality, sculpt it, sing and cry through it, reduce it to also to bits and pieces so effortless, so sterling, with no excuses too. In our ways, in our actions, in our tears, in our silence, change itself changes as we move together to the essence of our being. Keep a community of women for you. We are rare and a touchstone like a purple cactus in a desert.

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.

My mood this morning!

We remind ourselves, each day, all children are precious. Black, Brown, White, no matter the color, or creed, all children, whether strange or foreign, are precious. Recently, I have been struggling with the reality that some children have nothing precious or valuable within them. I often wonder too what happened to them that at their tender age, they only know hate. To see them seduced by it, to hear glimpses of their hate expressed through actions, such as stepping on another child’s foot for no reason and intentionally, or telling them they don’t belong in certain places or spaces, makes me cringe.

Yesterday, I found myself screaming and giving way to much attention to the spiteful ways of hateful children. Then almost immediately, I felt so sorry for them. I felt so sorry that they don’t know love. I felt sorry that they weigh themselves down with hate. I felt so sorry that they have no place to shed a tear or even be heard. For if they knew love, if they felt it deeply within their heart like all children who are precious and valuable do, then maybe they won’t be as hateful as they are. Or they maybe worse. These are the realities I am slowly learning. That when children bully, that when they go out of their way to be mean to other children, that there are deeper issues at hand, one that begins from a place where no love exists. And I feel so sorry for them.

I pray they find love. I pray they bask in the warm gaze of acceptance for their ways. I pray they learn of it ways, it’s joyfulness and kindness. I pray they see it too in other children. But most of all, I pray they learn one day that they are indeed precious or valuable, even though no one at home tells them so.

And for those who endure their ways, I leave these words for you. I praise you for your valiant struggle. I praise you for asking them why they hate, even though your questions keep leading to more hate. I say always, always ask why. I praise you for your voice. I praise you for speaking up, fighting back, even though they remain least willing to be civil. I praise you for demanding to be heard. I praise you for using your strength to weigh them down with love. I praise you too for feeling sorry for them. No matter how many times they hate, I praise you for looking at them despite their hate. By looking, you teach love. No child that knows love, can look away when others know hate. So I praise you for looking. I praise you for teaching them civility, for reminding them about humanity, for doing the work necessary to love your enemies as your self. You are indeed precious and valuable. Truly remarkable in every single way. And your love, like Dr. Martin Luther King once noted, is the only force that can turn their hate into love. We never get rid of hate by meeting it with hate. Even if they choose to destroy or tear down, that’s what most haters do, I still praise you for transforming their hate into love. For letting your words and your actions speak love. This is a reminder that you are indeed precious and valuable always.

When my children say your name, Lucille Clifton, I smile.

How to carry water comes to mind. How to sail through this to that too.

I often wonder how you lived. Lived even beyond your own understanding. A good woman, an ordinary woman, a woman whose voice is light too.

I’ll never forget your Black BC’s, some of the days of Everett Anderson, moments where good-byes are not enough.

I too miss my dad, through and through and the hurt is still too deep.

But then your book of light, the notion that silence of God, is God, is the grace I need to reach beyond stars.

You for whom your blackness is like a star.

If I should ever find myself lost, if I should ever find myself in a garden of regret, I will settle against the bark of trees, hide within the fierce protection of falling leaves, and begin always with you.

I listened to Lucille Clifton’s children, Sidney, Alexia and Gillian today as they reflected on their mothers legacy with the Enoch Pratt Library. It’s was on the occasion of their mom’s death as she passed away today, 12 years ago. From them, I heard these words which I have kept here for myself and you all.

With Lucille’s daughter celebrating her legacy with Enoch Pratt Library.

Freedom, creativity, courage. The world needs the spirit, the light that moved in her. The world needs Lucille. She was a wellspring of strength, a mother, an extraordinary woman with a brilliant message. That creativity and art are necessary. Normal too and an outpouring of ourselves, our humanity, our strong foundation, for the ways of the world. The flow of life, like flow of a home should begin with creativity, begin with normalizing that which we all are, creative. Let your words speak your power, whether in joy or pain, sorrow or laughter. It’s okay to be sorrowful and joyful, all of that is part of life, being resilient, honoring and accepting all these things. That and reclaiming all that was once lost so generations never forget the stories and doing everything in life with a purpose.

Lucille lives on.

I love reflecting on the lives of Black authors and poets. My favorite being Lucille Clifton always. Her ways are God’s ways to me for he used her to minister to me. I am fascinated by the way she extended and enhanced her life as a writer, a mother, and a poet. Her love for all things Black and motherhood had sheer clarity. She knew how to use words to help you live beyond yourself. She used words to reflect on the past, the present and what generations after generations in the future needed to value and treasure, beginning with themselves, their legacy too.

There is a smooth evenness and passion in the ways she used words to reclaim her sense of light, reclaim history and make all we do, domestic, motherhood, even writing, seem extraordinary. She was extraordinary. Her words help make my world today coherent. She helped me remember and recover all sorts of stories from my life through words. She helped me assert agency as a storyteller, my way, however I choose to define it even with no model. She helps me accept my life as a mother and a scholar honestly. She helps me remain mindful of my purpose, my shared struggle with others, along this journey through life. She helps me experience community, yearn for it too. A community of like-minded people on a quest to find their light through the darkness of life. Those committed to becoming extraordinary in their own way. That’s what Lucille does to me. That she died today in 2010 is another reminder that so many of our great ones are gone and we are left to pick up where they left off. Lucille would want that. I intend to celebrate her always. Something tried to kill this, and has failed terribly.