The plans for this year was light. I planned to walk through flames, to risk the fires that burn, even in the cold, just so I get to the forest of light within. That was the new year plan. In one week, I have been informed by the year that this one will be a rollercoaster. Sit tight and hang on. If last year tried to consume you, this year is coming, bright and burning. And it’s only the 8th day. I opened my door this morning. Let the cold air seep in. I was reminded in that instant to breathe in. Cool air. Breathe in. Even as things burn. Breathe out. As smoke rises. Keep breathing. The year will come for you. Try to burn you too. Cold air will seep in. You will feel like you are sinking. Floors will give away. Yet, breathe in. Push them all back. Close the door. Breathe out. You have noticed the air. Noticed the smoke, and the sinking floors. But still, turn around and smile. They will not understand this air you breathe in.

The most sublime lessons are those learned and relearned. The post above was first written on the 8th of January, 2022. Now, a year later, the message feels like it was written today. I am keeping this year as a reminder to myself to keep breathing again and again. 2022 was indeed a rollercoaster. I still don’t expect folks to understand the air I breathe in 2023. Still, I intend to keep breathing.

Happy New Year.

Something about this moment,

This New Year again,

Feels like a renewal

A rebirth

A time for reimagination

Restoration

Release

Rest

Remeberance

Revival

Resolve

Revelations

And Revaluations.

Only, this time, I’m in a village,

And the pleasing sounds of rare birds and cocks crowing, goats bleating alongside more bird sounds chorusing through tall palm trees, keeps me ready for the boundless possibilities of this New Year.

I am at the gate of new realities for another new year, inhaling too, the fragrance of a well-deserved rest, and a lingering happy silence, but this time, I am still.

Will this gentle breeze I feel this moment, will these sounds endlessly start my day, will the earth remain as red as it is or the palm trees rustle with the breeze? Soon, I will leave these place but may all the things I feel for it, all the rest and release I received from this place, be with me as a New Year begins again.

I have been away. I desperately need it. I had to cut everything off. I also had no choice. I was in a remote village and no amount of wifi would work. We had three from 3 different companies and my most spoken word this past week was no reception. I let time and the moment go on as expected. It was the restoration my soul needed that I really didn’t fully know I needed. It gave me more clarity, gave me peace, gave me perspective and now bring on 2023.

If I make changes or move in another direction, know that’s it’s this thing called grace. It’s my revelation for 2023. How I also choose to reevaluate my life too. I have nothing but grace, and with it, I have everything I need. This grace is my word and mood for the year. I pray it leads me and you all the way in 2023.

Palm trees line greyed walls. Some still baring their fronds. Some bare. There were gates with barbed wires. Black, grey and brown gates with a dash of green and white. Most of the walls too were grey. The skies too grey. It was as if walls and skies gathered together for a grey purpose. We used to dream of this estate. Dream of life among dolphins. Only though our dreams were better.

I drove into Dolphin Estate yesterday. I was running errands and one of my stops was the estate. At first I was excited about visiting it. It was built or fully formalized during my childhood years in Nigeria and I distinctively remembered wishing my parents had a home in the estate. When we drove in, both shock and awe greeted me. Shock, because my dreams of this place were so much better than reality. Awe because I was living my dreams of walking or driving through this estate. I also immediately felt troubled for the Nigerian condition. Nothing ever seems to last. That and repairs or maintenance seem to be like distant cousins. I walked through the estate of my dreams yesterday. Only that my dreams were much better. Now I’m left wondering what can dreams do, when reality seems grey.

I fell deep into the unknown this past week. Everything was out of place. Even my face broke out in ways unknown.

It was as if life was full of chaos and change, all spiraling out of control.

I tried to relax, take things in stride but a life relaxed seemed like a luxury my strides couldn’t afford.

Not that I didn’t want it, but apprehension and anxiety seemed to keep me in a flight mode. So I figured I’ll learn something new about all I was experiencing, including those I wished I could fly away from.

Death has a funny was of reminding you about the gift of each day. The gift and voice of people too. Those you take for granted and those you ought to cherish much more.

So we moved in stride. Still anxious and apprehensive about our days, but appreciating all they bring.

The chaos, the change, life and death, all still completely out of our control but consoled that one day, we will meet again. Even boldly smite death’s threatening wave.

Till then, “Rest In Peace Uncle Raymond.”

My uncle Ray!

The idea of remaining in one piece, birthed this space where all my experiences, parenting, productivity, life continues to roam free.

I cannot begin to count all the ways it has helped me heal from fires and storms. My heart knows too, all the ways rivers flow in peace, all because we lived, our way.

And so to sum this year in few verses would also diminish all that the year gave. And it gave everything, death, chaos, hurdles, trust, betrayals, triumphs, stories, and speech made less.

Yesterday, between hearts full of joy, and souls at peace, I learnt the true meaning and power of grace. The thing 2022 gave the most.

It’s in the people you see, those surrounding your table, those walking along your sides, those passing through storms with you, and those keeping your minds and imagination roaming wild and free.

They made 2022 sterling, silent, but statuesque all because I pondered themes that allowed me to reach beyond my dreams and the skies above.

Grace was sufficient for me yesterday. Grace got me through today. Grace will lead me all the way tomorrow and beyond.

Seeing as though we remain pregnant and full of ambitions for this thing we call joy (not to be confused with what others call work), grace has helped me give my all. Emptied everything too as I proceed to the next fold.

Knowing that my best is still yet too come, grace is how I choose to walk, knowing that there are legions by my side, prepared for the battles ahead.

I may not be able to sum the year in few verses, but grace is all that remains. That and the multitude of happy faces gathered around tables in a lounge in Lagos, for this thing we all birthed together.

This place has haunted my dreams. In it, I imagined I would be surrounded by all sorts of art. Some would be hard to describe. Some would also leave me speechless. Well, speech and description were hard today. Meeting the legend every one calls Mama Nike too. But I’m grateful. All I can say is that if you are ever in Lagos, visit Nike Art Gallery. It would be so much better than your dreams.

In the middle of Nike’s Art Gallery.

Every now and then, I come across poetry that is arch and precise.

Some focused on the sublime that is our sublime, like the earth that is our earth.

And when I seat and mediate on the words, reflect too on the light they carry, I am pushed to carry this light too.

Knowing there is light in the light that is out there.

Certain words I read, stay with me, like notes to black women, moving and free.

Toni Morrison’s letter ‘A knowing so deep’ is one. Gwendolyn Brooks musings to Black women, is another.

I especially love these lines: ‘where there is cold silence.’ Think about it for a moment.

If you are Black and woman, moving and free, whether in academic settings or medical settings, in politics or any other setting, silence will be your companion.

Yet, despite it, prevail. My second favorite word in Gwendolyn Brooks’s musing.

Prevail. Black woman. Prevail.

I hear these words in Brook’s voice, and the voice of my mother, my grandmother and a generation of other women, a long line of them, I met and never met. They keep reminding me each day to prevail.

I was born around the same time a dearly beloved older woman in my family passed. Reincarnated to fulfill her previous life desires. Her full story remains unknown but when days get dark or dreary and work seems insurmountable, I hear her voice, which sound like mine, reminding me always to prevail. So I do.

I prevail. Through days full of polished tears. I prevail. Through hollow days with no rest. I prevail. Across a room full of questioning stares. I prevail. And even when they pry without care. I prevail.

Where there is cold silence. I’ll prevail. Through brilliant clouds. I’ll prevail. Through vigorous moon. I’ll prevail. And when nothing else matters. I’ll still prevail. Knowing that their silence will still be cold. Yet, I’ll prevail. When confrontations are startling and many. I’ll prevail. Even where there are no hurrays or handshakes or smiling faces. I’ll still prevail. All because large countries remain in eyes that still long to create and train flowers. For this reason, we shall continue to prevail in a light that is our light. See the sun, see it there shining in all it’s glory. There, exactly there, lies a Black woman who has learnt how to prevail. When they come for her and they will come in a silence that is cold. Prevail, you shrewd sun. Prevail and still prevail.

That’s the message Gwendolyn Brooks wants all Black women to know written years ago but still so poignant and relevant. It was a joy to rewrite this for today’s Black women. Keep prevailing wherever you are. And see the original piece below.

Original piece by Gwendolyn Brooks

In today’s America, Black girls are an endangered species. Often times their humanity whether on display or not, for themselves or things as insignificant as flies, are ignored, denied, our outright destroyed. Many also fail to see the light they carry, chose to resist their light, or work to diminish their light. Such was the case of Bobbi, a little girl in NJ whose neighbor choose to report her to authorities rather than see the goodness of her humanity. Rather than giving him the the last word, I wrote the following to celebrate her worth and all those that celebrated her essence like what Dr. Ijeoma Opara did to make her dazzle over at Yale yesterday. Keep these musings for Black girls like Bobbi.

Dear Bobbi,

I imagine the world would be kind to girls like you. I Imagine they would treat you better than flies. Be it house or lantern flies. I imagine they would see you too. Know you and learn about what makes you smile in the morning or laugh in the middle of a movie night. I imagine they would care for you the same way they care for trees, or trash or neighbors or anything else with humanity they see. I imagine all this for you in a world large enough for you and them. But then, I remember that betrayal is their arch nemesis, while you are still the rim of the world, light’s very own genesis.

Everything about you is so clear, that you shine like stars with an aura so rare. No wonder they choose to dim your divinity. Yet, still you shine and through your diligence, you showcase the best of our humanity. You are truly the apex of our times for eyes still blind to the sincerity of our lives even for flies that tried to diminish the peculiarity of your light. So we keep imagining this for them and ourselves. That one day, somewhere, girls and women, dark like you, even those unlike you, will come together in a common desire for the best of our humanity for the sake of our collective prosperity. They will see and no longer be blind to your rarity. They will learn and no longer be in dark to your luminosity. That all things bright and beautiful, those dark like night and diligent in all things whether for lives or flies, whatever we choose to do, will be met with the same love you displayed for the best of our humanity.

This is my hope for all girls and women dark like you, myself included. Otherwise, keep displaying your light with severity. Let their eyes endure your shine till infinity or their obscurity. Either way, show them what it means to be the dawn, so profound, that they shiver at the sight of your light so full. With all my love.

Keep these musings in celebration for all Black girls like Bobbi.

My daughter made art the other day. Her rendition of the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. In it there was a woman playing tennis dressed in a orange and yellow top and red and pink shorts. Her name was Jennifer Walker and according to my daugther, she had helped the US to victory with her 26th win. There were people at the stands cheering her one, but most importantly Jennifer looked like my daughter or any other brown or black girl with a keen interest in tennis.

I begin here simply to say representation matters, especially for little black and brown girls. Of course my daughter’s muse was Serena Williams and to see her depicted from my daughters lens is the reason for today’s keep. Eternal will Serena’s impact remain for many girls even now that she has retired.

Who says representation doesn’t matter, has never truly seen black and brown girls for all they are. For to see them, not just glance at them or walk past them. To see them is to see love. The uncharted kind, pure and free. The kind the overflows too for free. Love lives in there hearts for free. It begins there too for free. You see it from their hair follicles for free. Down to big brown and black eyes that tell tales for free. It’s in the way they smile for free. The kind that melts your heart because it’s free. They are also a door to souls truly free. Their laughter, or joy, a witness to these times for free. Spare and precious for free. Their love can walk through valleys for free. Press through mountains and wilderness for free. Seats of wisdom resides in their minds for free. Art, the kind that warms minds is yours through them for free. I have been moved by the voice they share for free. Moved too by the valley of tears that flow for free. My heart knows how they love for free. They dance and beat their own drums for free. Send me to paths uncharted for free. In them I find light that shines for free. One that I hope stay lit for the world to see for free. Even the thinnest ways you see them, today or tomorrow, is the engine that sustains many souls for free. Representation truly matters and I’m glad Serena gave these pearls for free.

My daughter’s art

Be open to the story changing. Anyone passing through life and never expecting things to change is simply passing. I am prepared to embrace life and all it brings including times and moments where things take a turn. That’s all. Keeping this here as a reminder to myself that it’s okay when things change. It’s okay when chapters close. Change is inevitable. Hard too. But it’s okay. I’m embracing this now for myself. Also open to how the story continues to unfold. Keep being open.

Image courtesy of SSM Health at STL. Beautiful art work along the corridor of the hospital.

I picked pieces of my broken self yesterday, ran through forest park windy paths, listened as scars fell off, watched too as a brown and black furry creature crawled off, the earth as I ran thinking, knowing that all things work together, even things I cannot see together, all blasting in ears and head weary like a feather, drowning in a terrible fear, but basking in all the throbbing pain and reminder of how his ways are so beyond me, even now when my head hangs so low, trying hard to run through forests, which once fed my soul, everything still the same, the windy paths, the bridge at the end of the first mile, all these things remind me of all the ways he continues to conspire to do things for my own good. I picked pieces of myself yesterday. The park’s windy paths were a witness to the day. The sky’s gentle ray falling on my head, reminding me still that I belong here, moving through paths that know too, we belong here.

The furry creature along my run through forest park.

After the first night, the beat in your heart, slowly finds its rhythm, slowly returns to its tempo, it was painful and sorrowful, nothing else to do, except to wait, not in limbo, not in doubt, but to pray and hope that the next day, would start like the one before, that the disappointments today, will fall off, from your head, and your heart, and you will move on, not before you notice, the start of something essential, the start of something still happening, even now, when you look up to the skies, look up to see the sun set again, look up to search the stars again for just one twinkle, for just one light, hoping still, that nothing will ever dim what he chooses to light again in you.

I woke up reading Psalm 19 and was struck by the opening sentence. The skies reveal every single thing we need to know about life. Nothing is ever hidden under the skies. Not our joys or our sorrows. Every single thing is plainly shown. I have also been here before, been in a rut where you begin to wonder how did this happen. I experienced a couple of firsts this week. One counter to my superstitions with the thing I love to do and another clearly my fault for relying on people. I am learning that somethings will have to be done his way, like the skies. I don’t expect everyone to understand why I do what I do. I am learning that more these days. But his ways are not my own. Some may dream and think they know how the end unfolds, but then comes the surprise and we are back remembering who started the journey in the first place. Everything is always for his glory. The skies reveal it. Question is whether we are looking up. If you do, then you will remember where help comes from. I am relying on your help for this one God.