I made an investment today, for a future that once seemed impossible. My state of being and all that I hoped to become fundamentally changed with this investment. Possibilities of life, all of which that enable me to voice and imagine more than I can be, allowed me to make this investment fully. There will be moments like this. Those those that defy words. Yet, this investment allowed me to see the beyond my being. Visualize your dreams, I say these days. Do all you can to even dream and the execute them fully. If you do, you too will be making an investment with a life that only practices freedom. I am free because I choose LIGHT.

It’s here. This investment is everything!

I made an investment for a future that once seemed impossible. My state of being and all that I hoped to become fundamentally changed with this investment. Possibilities of life, all of which that enable me to voice and imagine more than I can be, allowed me to make this investment fully. There will be moments like this. Those that defy words. All because this investment allowed me to see beyond my being. Visualize your dreams, I say these days. Do all you can to even dream and then execute them fully. If you do, you too will be making an investment with a life that only practices freedom. I am free because I choose LIGHT.

It’s here. This investment is everything!

Thoughts of things simply the best come to mind on a day like today. I gave the lecture of my life, lead a program I truly love, sold our dreams to a funder, then played drums on old paint tubs with my kids. Life was indeed the best, better than I could ever imagine. Though you are gone, you will always remain the best Ms. Tina Turner. Totally stuck on your legacy for you are the best. We will keep rolling on the river for you.

About 18 years ago, I started my first research experience as a Ronald McNair Scholar. I owe a lot to the McNair program, alongside the MHIRT program for instilling joy and love for research and the importance of diversifying research excellence among minoritized scholars.

McNair program

Today we started our @star4ph summer HIV research program. This one was a labor of love, amidst plenty struggles. Our hope is simple: find joy as you embrace your STAR. Thank you @MatiH_ID and @_karmacap for a session full of love. You both are the original MVP’s, the true STARS.

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!

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!

We are meant to live our lives full. Demand excellence first for ourselves, then gift it to the world. I’m in a space where only things that make my life richer and full are allowed. I enter this space with grace and empowered to lead others to their fullness too. I do so loving what I do, even in moments when work doesn’t love me back. Yet, I move knowing the value of love, its appeal and how it has helped me live life to the fullest. I call this the uses of power. Modeled this after Audre Lorde’s uses of the erotic.

See, I started writing grants because I was told, it’s the only way to survive academia. You all know the horror stories. You know too, it’s worse from those you least expect it from. Those that dismiss or reject you. Those that would rather suffer than discuss all the ways the system makes us suffer. I choose to discuss and I offer myself always as an example of what can be if we are radically open. The process is hard. I said that yesterday. You don’t ask for millions and expect a bed full of roses. I know what it’s like to not sleep in 24 hours. When the pressure is on, it is in full rage mode. But I also know what it’s like to unwind. Sign me up for blue crystal waters or village living among tall palm trees any day.

What many never see is the balance. I live my life in balance. I also write here almost everyday to release. I may write about the same thing over and over again. It’s called expressive writing and it healing properties are immense. So I enter this space, knowing life can be different. I walk deeply through this space, assessing and reassessing the quality of my life, my work, and how I can let light move in and through it. This personification of love, one born out of the will to create, to live in harmony with the need to tell a different story, is a lifeforce, one that every single grant I have written, those that succeeded and those those that failed, empowered.

There are no two me. Try as you may, but I know my worth. It’s in my middle name, something my ancestors saw long before I was born. You don’t name someone Isioma and expect her to not live out the full potential of that name. This knowledge alone, empowers me and is a lens through which I scrutinize my time on earth. So I step into this space, this time of my life, reclaiming my worth, restoring my power, and knowing deeply, that I can do anything, through him who is the source of this power.

It’s this knowledge, that is deep within, open and fearless, strong and rich within, that I know seek to present to the world. I no longer fear the yes within myself. I no longer suppress any truth about my existence. That I have endured pain is well know these days. That it has come from people I least expected, some I admired and some I called my own, should be plain and direct. But I can’t be docile or loyal to what can or should be. Not when I graciously choose me. Boldly live within the power that is deep within me, and use it to inform and illuminate spaces that have been in darkness for so long.

These days, I am motivated and empowered from within. I share all of this here to use for my own good. Your own too. Never forget humble beginnings, they say. I don’t intend to. But I will move past them. I will not look away, even if you do the same. I will write and heal and write and heal until there is only writing, only healing too, my way. It’s this healing, this writing too, that allows me to purse change within my world, rather than settle for lip service. I step into this next phase of my life, in the fullness of the power, that I know is deep within.

Keep Ms. Audre Lorde!

The best practices for engaging the public in public health are grounded in entrepreneurship. There is a reason the public clings to products outside of health than those health-related. I came across firefly innovations the other day out of curiosity from what I saw a colleague doing. Honestly, their work is great and I applaud all they are doing to identify, cultivate and accelerate impact-drive public health ventures, particularly from those with lived experiences and working with them to solve the issues. Reading their paper and subsequently visiting their website was a stark reminder that I am surrounded by people who don’t see my vision. Honestly, if I could make some changes today, I would. What I won’t do is waste time. So if you seeing me cutting off or canceling anything, it’s because my time is precious to me these days. Feel free to do the same and keep change. For these days, all I can promise to be is water, plain and direct, unsparing to myself, and unsparing to those moving on to the next phase of my life. To others, please seek your innovations elsewhere and fast. I also agree, firefly is exceptional for public health. Keep them in mind always.

I heard these words today. From the poetry of Robert Lowell. Keep saying what happened. Even when tired, say it. Even with backs turned against you, say it. Whether happy, say. Or sleepy, still say it too.

Some of us may fall into rivers, splashing waters all around us. But when we rise, not matter how wet we may seem, we will still say and share all the ways life and you pushed us into the deep end.

We paused today, with ourselves and looked at the day, with a single purpose, to wait for time. In silence and in thankful contemplation, strangely at peace, we said thank you when the moment arrived. There still is no clear time in sight. We don’t know how deep the valley is. Either way, the urgent future awaits us. Every single moment points to our freedom.

Keep moments like today staring at the glorious fruit.