Who takes my ideas, takes not a leaf that falls with every wind that blows. Rather they take the beat of a barren woman’s heart. A heart seeking the gift of a beat. Persistent, resilient, pleading, waiting, knowing, one day, Onyelo.

Who takes my ideas, takes not some random thoughts strung together. Rather they take the thoughts from the sweat of the one who walked through rivers for Onyelo. Into deep, forests, thick and green. Restless, praying, questioning, watching, hoping for the mere knowledge of Onyelo.

Who takes my ideas. Takes ideas birthed in perseverance. The unquenching fire that burn through delicate and thin air. Determined, persistent, relentless, Onyelo.

From our garden. A source of ideas.

I spoke to my husband the other night about ideas and what to do when they are taken from you in ways you have no control. He reminded me that I birthed the ideas and when I doubt I should never forget Onyelo’s story. It’s my own too. The name alone makes complete sense once you know my history. Onyelo is all I ever need to remember for moments when even my own ideas are released to the world, out of my hand. I birthed them no matter what. So Onyelo.

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.

Sometimes I don’t understand it. How did I make it through the storm and rain? But I see life is working for my good. Grace and the number 5, on this fifth day of May is an overflow moment for me, one that hope to never forget. To see what I have seen today, not once but five times is the stuff dreams are made up. I am determined to make new dreamers in this thing called academia and they will dream wild dreams their way. We will fail. It’s a guarantee. I promise more failures because when your dreams come true then you will be just as speechless as I have been today.

To crown it all up, wild pansies greeted my front lawn today. I am not a gardener. Every plant I keep ends up dying. Yet today, from no where, these wild pansies were in our front lawn. We have lived here for three years and to think that I have never seen them until today is again the stuff dreams are made off. To see who is behind all this, to see him high upon the throne exalted is beyond words. I will forever be thankful to all those who made the journey to get here rough. You came so close to take me in. The reason I’m here is grace. You all have a special place in my heart because this season was tough. I had to let things go, people too, just so I can openly accept all that is coming my way with no strings attached except for family. This is a quest that is only just beginning and wild pansies, with their mission of happiness, memories and spirituality are leading us all the way. Keep them.

Grateful to these beauty!

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!

I took a long overdue trip outside the country to Lusaka. Where we are staying is breathtaking. So is my current state of life. Change is coming, like peace.

So I’m cleansing myself.

Someone told me to remember always the small things. I did and saw a small African butterfly, black and white, fluttering my way this afternoon. Such transformation from struggle to greatness is the reassurance unleashed along the way.

Instantly, I was reminded that I am living my best life, the journey is still long, few are invited, and in these rare moments, may bliss be our portion always, amen.

May peace too be our portion, for those never created to worry. Those never created to fear anything. Definitely not people, and definitely not change. Rather, we will do what makes our heart at ease.

Keep seeing some world…

Lean into all your complexity. Lean into all that make you chaotic. Lean into your strengths. Lean into your joy. Lean into your pain. Lean into your hurdles. Lean into kindness, for ourselves, the world. Lean into all that make you tender, whether you succeed or fail. Lean into all that make you free, like words strung together, your way. Lean into your specialness, all things that make you glow. Lean into all your feelings, all of them matter. Lean into all the ways you lived and survived. Lean into your bravery. Lean into the source of your rain. Lean into moments of light. Lean into periods of darkness. Lean into definitions of yourself for yourself. Lean into your own worth and possibilities. Lean into things that make you attentive, like leaves, flowers, and poetry. Lean into things that keep you fulfilled, like family and love. Lean into rigorous loving. Lean into the truth about you. But most of all, lean into your power.

The power of a woman who knows the power of a woman draped in leaves. Image Nike Art Gallery

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.

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.

When we retrace our steps, and we end up on Zik road, in the land where the earth is red, and the walls and the streets are red, and the roads are full of people trading wares, there shall still linger, the steps that forged our years, eyes shall still remember a voice they once heard, a name now distant, but near. Some will linger and stare, for it cannot be the same eyes they saw those years, the same hands that carried lives upstairs, the air still lingers with memories of blazing sun, memories of a distant time that shaped and formed you, like the slow walk of trees. Even though death’s chorus lingers in the air, even though we gather with eyes veiled to retrace our steps, it’s the lessons of how paw paws cling to trees, that unifies our gaze. Keep remembering the paths that formed you.

We retraced steps today, with the one called to save. To see eyes swell with pride, memories too full of joy, is to know the grace of God. Thank you for giving me the gift of seeing how a journey destined for greatness begins!
This paw paw tree unified my day. Keep its lessons.

I used to wonder about seasons and change. About spring and change. About sudden nearness of days, that seem only to lead to weariness and pain. Today I stood in front of strangers, stood in front of friends and colleagues too. Spoke of pain, spoke of the day, I knew when the rain began to beat me. We still carry a heavy burden. Of guilt, of silence, of what it’s like to wish, for time, to wish for life. This week has been full of lessons. A friend lost his wife, just as their new triplets arrived in the world. I launched a cervical cancer program that started only because my sister in-law died. The end is hard. Beginnings too. I felt both this week. If I was silent, I was processing change. If I was absent, I was liberating change. Both are happening simultaneously that all I can say is grace. So many tried to bring me down this month of March. So many thought I would fall, but they forgot my name is Isioma, my mother is Onyelo, and I am the granddaughter of a woman who persevered. Legions are always behind me. They birthed me and made me their wildest dreams. Our resilience is weird. Our future bristles with possibilities. What they tried to destroy, is only stronger. When it’s time, I will amaze.

Welcome to our 4 girls and women designathon. In memory of Angie.

Listen, this is your time, you a seed, you the earth, of a woman, you got the moon of your own, listen, somebody need a binoculars, to see you, somebody need to straighten their lens, to see all of you. Listen you are not Mars, Venus or any other bright evening star, not when he got his hands on somebody as divine as you, as sterling as you, a woman of the moon.

This is what the mirror said to me today. Keeping it here in praise of Lucille Clifton, my forever muse.