The words rise up. I note them. They come on their own, with their own nodes, own goals, that unfold one note at a time. They come with their own meaning everytime. I am obedient to the sounds that flow, the insights that grow, within minds long in need to ignite, in need of light. I am light. Like a tree that grows higher, and higher, branching out in different directions, like thick branches with lush green leaves full of water. I am green. I sit, listen, and let the words sway like trees on a windy day after hurricanes that stroke with water-like canes. Still these tree rise up and grow. For where trees grow, water flows. I am water. So to are my words. I have been discovering for the past year that where words flow, stories flow. I am stories. For one year, the stories in my mind, in spaces and boxes I once carved as private, have been flowing like a river. I am a river. A naturally flowing river, in search of an ocean, or a sea, a lake or another river. I have arrived at my destination. Words are my water, collected now in a river that flowed through a complex meandering path I called keep lists. There were no short paths. Every thing that mattered were loosened and dislodged like the rocks along the sides of river beds. I became loose with words that deepened my riverbed, eroded my hard phases, and elevated my soft places, all with grace. I am grace. An amazing grace, once blind but now open to all the spaces that make me whole. I poured myself into this space, poured my soul to the possibilities of this phase, of writing something to keep, words to keep, in a list to mold and shape as my own, in a list to own. And through this list, my words became fast-flowing. A source of energy, of life. I became soaked in the opportunities and form of each word, each list of things to keep. I am a list.

I have been reading a lot lately about lists, about why people use them in the first place. Most people write lists, to-do lists for example, to stay organized. Some write lists to stay in control, ticking things off when completed or moving things around to track completion. The first time I saved a list was in the middle of the pandemic. There were nothing to do with my lists. Nothing to track or even complete. My lists were focused on what to keep. A keep lists of experiences. The only objective: to write one list a day. The list was expected to make sense of life as a mother, a black working mother in academia with four children, one born in the fifth month of the pandemic. There were no organization necessary. No length was too long. Or to short. Everything was allowed in the lists. My thoughts, the news, my work, my family. Writing long lists was gratifying. So too were short ones that cut right to core. But lists about meaningfully people in my life, like my children, my students, my mentors, even the experiences of my husband on the frontlines or the last days with my sister in-law and her battle with cervical cancer were extra fulfilling. The pandemic and it’s impact were intense for all families. It was also equally frustrating, equally challenging, yet equally mesmerizing, and equally joyful. Not for the illness it brought or the deaths or sorrow it left behind, but for the discoveries, unexpected ones, like making a list, a virtual keeplists of time in a pandemic. There were no end in sight too. The pandemic held us all in a tight grip. And so the list grew and moved beyond the pandemic itself to capture life as we lived it one day at a time, all to preserve and protect all that mattered in a time where living was truly fragile.

Today marks the one year anniversary of this list. Words still do not fail me. They have become my everything, my hope, my joy, my hurdles, but yet my triumphs. I thank all of you that have read anything I wrote here. I thank you for coming on this journey with me. There is still no end in sight. Only that where my words still flow, my stories will surely flow.

They call it an eloquent flower. A flower full of eloquence. Poems have been written about it. One by Cummings who described it as love, and how it’s love moves with brightness to all places. We noticed it on a walk this week with by baby. I rarely go for walks these days, but something about the group of people I have been interacting with all week, made me seek air and the sun and light. I see a lot better when I walk. I also reflect better and say prayers of thanksgiving during long walks. I owed my maker one, hence the walk to just reflect on the journey so far, the insights so far and all the people I have met along the way so far. It shouldn’t be this easy, I kept saying. It shouldn’t be that we tell the stories of our why over and over again, almost to infinity and everyone we speak to gets it over and over again. So a walk was due. I need to check my blind spots, to stay humble, to listen and see the world once more for there are truly so many wonders to see, on long walks. Infinity stories being on my mind.

For this walk, our eyes were greeted by Crepe Myrtles. Their bright pink colors were hard to miss. They stood out amidst a row of green short and tall shrubs. I initially ignored them at first and kept walking. It has been a while since I walked and so I was focused. But the colors kept greeting my eyes, as if to say hello. Finally, I gave in and greeted the flower back. I smelt it as always and opened my app to learn a bit more. I have shared in prior posts how I have lived blindly through life not knowing one flower from the next. But since I started to walk in light, all sorts of flowers have become my friends. Crepe Myrtle is about to be my best friend.

Not only are it’s beautiful lush flowers appealing, but per my app, this flower is a symbol of eloquence, good luck too. I was in awe and grew closer to see why. In full bloom, it’s flower petals appear wrinkled but full of rich texture that produce brilliant crumbling spiral patterns. These spirals gather together like a crepe, hence the name Crepe Myrtle. But eloquence don’t stop with the flowers alone. Soon, the flowers will fall and it’s leaves will turn glorious gold, orange, red and purple in fall before falling off. Then, it’s bark completes this flower’s trifecta. The bark on many Crepe Myrtle peels in puzzle patterns to reveal smooth cinnamon or tan colors that glow during winter. All of this combined, helps to symbolize Crepe Myrtle’s eloquence. They also help to tell my never ending keeplist of stories of becoming a mom in light. An infinity story in the making.

Crepe Myrtles.

On the surface, everything seems fine. A family that I am blessed to call my own for all the love, support and gifts of belonging they provide to me. A job that I am grateful to carve as I want, grateful for when things stay and last or fall off as with passing of time or even failed grant attempts. But when you peel my surface, when you come with me and feel my journey, even peel all my outer layers, then you will understand what rounds my trifecta. I am just coming to terms with it. I am a storyteller in all sense of the word. It’s where I get my eloquence, my reason for being, my persistence, my tenacity, my love, even my drive with life. Every single thing I do has a story connected to it.

Being a mother for example, one of my greatest stories ever told, one some of you may read here on a daily basis. The stories around how me and my greatest joy, my Zobam met and continue to journey through this life keeps me on my knees with gratitude to my maker. He truly saved me. Then there are the stories for how I have navigated pursuing a career in research. To think you can go to school to become a researcher seems unheard of but that’s how I earned my degree at the end for the day. I was literally trained to become a researcher from undergrad even, not in grad school. I owe it to Dr. Cassandra Veney, my very first mentor in undergrad who inspired me to probe deeply too during my days as a McNair scholar. Then of course there their stories from grad schools. Trip to Senegal all paid for by my department, just to get to Senegal and I don’t have a hotel room and I barely spoke French or Wolof. Yet, this trip would forever change me life and inspire me to be a a global health researcher passionate about seeing the world and working with people whether I spoke their language or not.

Then there are the malaria dissertation stories. Even the process of writing my first NIH grant to do this work under the guidance of my doctoral advisor Dr Collins Airhihenbuwa has a story worthy of praises for how he pushed me to become enamored by grantwriting. How I got my first job in Paris at UNESCO following graduation has a story. UNESCO itself has a story I have yet to tell but it shaped my resolve for sustainability. How I worked or lived in Paris for 2+ years has a story. Do you know what it’s like to navigate owning an apartment in a place where you barely speak the language or raising a new baby, my Belle with my mother in-law whom I met for the first time at CDG airport in Paris? The stories are out of this world.

Of course there was a growing young family at that time navigating long distance. We have stories to tell. The ones with my first job upon my return to the US are cringe worthy whenever I think about them. They tried, boy they tried to destroy me but little did they know that greater is he. Then there are the stories of how I mastered grant writing from the king himself, Dr Gbenga Ogedegbe. I owe him a lot for showing me things I never even knew existed within me. Or how I met my partner extraordinaire Dr. Joe Tucker. He is truly on another level when it comes to collaboration. Find your partner with research and you literally find heaven. This blog has been privy to stories of navigating a child on the spectrum and raising black children in America. Even cancer’s sting is now a story I intend to tell fully with all my might.

The eloquence of crepe myrtle personifies my life fully. I choose to live it out now, more brilliantly like never before, more brightly too like an infinity story. These stories are my light. Through light, I will move eloquently, one story at a time, to all places. I am a storyteller and I am inspired by the endless eloquence of Crepe Myrtles.

I had a meeting today with a very dear friend and he introduced himself to the group as a storyteller. I was taken aback. This was the first time I have ever heard anyone introduce themselves so confidently as one. Not because it’s what I really love to do, but to describe yourself as one, to showcase how one can use it as a medium to impact people’s life is an amazing feat to me. I told him I will be borrowing that line from here on out because it is who I am. I am a storyteller. I use stories to guide the work I do for a living. I connect better with stories. They help make what I do in health easy to understand.

If you call me to speak to your class about my work or global health in general, I can connect it back to a story or two. My dissertation experience for example with using malaria rapid kits at a time when the kits were $25. I use stories to illustrate the economic side of malaria and how I called the company that made the kits. I really called Binax Now and told them it was insane that a malaria test kit cost $25 when the people that need it the most barely live on $1 a day. I remember distinctively being told but it was for the people like me who travel to those places. That when we return and we become sick and present at a hospital, the hospital would have a rapid kit to see if we tested positive for malaria. The distributor went on to even say they can send me kits set to expire as many hospitals weren’t seeing many patients with malaria. They did and so the story for my dissertation research began.

Telling that story never gets old. It’s the foundation for my passion on innovations and why I think we need to partner more with companies to promote innovative tools and kits in places that need them the most. That same company today now makes COVID-19 test kits. Of course I feel tempted to call them again as this time, their kits cost $20 and most people in places I work have no access to testing of any kind. It’s stories that help me make sense of why I need to really continue what I do in public health, especially in moments where nothing makes sense and there are many moments like this.

It’s stories that keep me grounded. Stories of the youths for example with my HIV self-testing project in Nigeria, passionate about making sure that all young people they know, get to know their status. I may not be a famous or well known public health researcher. It doesn’t matter to me to become one. But a storyteller in public health, especially one dedicated to centering people in their health, takes it all to another level. I am a storyteller and I use stories to put people first. I also use stories to make health programs last. Keep being storyteller in your field. The world needs more of us.

What’s your story? I have been struggling with this lately. A friend called me out too. Said I call myself a storyteller but struggle with each story I tell. There was some truth to it. I write and stop writing. I tell stories and stop telling them. Not because I don’t want to write or tell my story but because of distractions. There have been a lot this year. Broken pipes, cancer, death. It’s only August. What my story? It’s still unfolding, not sure if the world deserves it yet too. But I’ll keep trying to tell whatever story I can. It’s a beautiful struggle too.

Dahlias are intense flowers like mother.

A league on their own, each petal is a colorful ray, of doubled flowers, in yellow or purple-ray florets, whites, ivories, and scarlet rays too. All in multiple whorls of ray flowers, all forming circles, forming clusters, forming bunches so compact, that it can only be described as motherhood. Dahlias are like mothers to me, so intense is the experience to me.

Their golden round and its countless petals, are like countless stars, that circle my being, with a stillness, so formless, so nameless, and so restless. The sighting of Dahlias are like mothers on days things are barely fathomless, days things are formless, even days we feel so flawless.

Dahlias indeed are stars. The blind see nothing. Both those who see, open their hearts. Their minds too open. To a stillness that is forever dazzling, forever haunting, each glimpse, forever brilliant, forever etched in memories as with days forever mesmerizing or days forever feeling helpless, or forever full of deep thoughts, that maybe forever inspiring while at the same time, make your feel forever dreamless, until moments become once more forever captivating, forever full of passion, in the midst of wild terrains that are forever demanding, even as you stay forever looking, yet feel like everything is forever in vain. Dahlias and their intricate whorls are forever full of surprises with every whorl which summarizes all that motherhood forever epitomizes.

The mere sightings of Dahlias galvanizes you to become one with all you desire, all you despise, all you disguise, even all you downsize as your journey from your base to your inner interior, the space where you hide your deepest desires, first for you, the place where all your dreams resides, all for you.

I have been there before. Of feeling lost, yet finding myself, of knowing how to proceed, yet loosing my way, but everything slowly making sense once my eyes greeted Dahlias.

Time stood still for Dahlias. They invite you in, invade your being, demand that you literally stop to recognize them, greet them, with all you possess, all within your power to soar as you devise ways to harmonize being one with your inner strength, one with this intricate flower. This is what Dahlias are known for. An inner strength so haunting, that you may fail to recognize the moment you give your self away to all the flower symbolizes. You may have been here before. Every time your eyes meet Dahlias. The sighting burrows deep in your soul. Like the soft kiss of a breeze. Dahlia’s kiss are forever captivating, forever etched in memories, that are forever lasting.

Yellow Dahlias gently kissed me while taking my baby to his daycare this week. Red ones too, ushered a tenderness so divine, gently caressing my restless heart, like fine wine. Slowly, I pressed forward, running out of excuses to delay this moment. He was supposed to start last week. It was his first time, and my heart and speech where rambling in chaos. Even though this was the day we have been waiting for.

I have been here before, with three other children. But something about baby number 4 made me nervous, made our day restless. Nothing was packed properly. Not his snack, not his water bottle, not his bag. Nothing was labeled properly either, not his diapers, not his wipes, not his bag. I should be happy. I should be pleased. No troubled mind, no demanding time. No breastfeeding, not restless feeding. Finally, all my children will be out of the house. Finally, all time, would be mine to claim. Sleep too. Yet, I was restless, nervous too. I fought through pain, until Dahlias met my eyes. With their sweet embrace, they encircled my being, forcing me to rise, to open to the sweet tenderness of this moment. Like the warmth of deep blue skies, I opened to their sweet embrace.

These are some of the secrets that I tend to keep hidden until now. Tend to ignore, dismiss too, until now. Stopping to recognize the power of opening up, was the gift I got from Dahlias. That and letting go. Of all the pains and joys of motherhood. The hopes and dreams we have that slowly dissipate, when we put others first. Slowly die, when we fail to put ourselves first. Even when we give our children the will to fly. We forget to fly too, afraid we will fall. I should be happy. I told myself 100 times, it will be okay. I knew this. We have been here before. Letting go, was painful. Unleashing a power, that made me rethink this moment, this freedom, this time that I knew would come one day. All children have to grow up. My baby, my last born, the one I bore during the pandemic was slowly walking to embrace all that life has to offer. I should be happy. Yet I felt lost.

I was lost, until Dahlia found me.

I was lost in its petals. This ethereal beauty, filled my restless soul with ease. Our greeting was gentle, a soulful ease. Like lovers we caressed each other, gently took hold of each other. With stillness so profound, so earth shaking. Time stood still, and Dahlias held me captive. We held on to each other. Afraid to blink, our eyes remain captivated by each other. Letting him go became easy. Watching him go with such reverence, became easy. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and caught him as he looked back. I saw something. Movements he initiated. Eyes locked with mine. As if to say are you coming. I am, always and forever, behind you, looking at you, loving you, captivated by you, inspired too by you, my baby, even as your journey through this world, through life. Keep Dahlia’s in mind for your journey through motherhood.

An entourage went with him to daycare on day 1 by the way. Here he walks forward to life.
Here he looks back! I’m behind you always!

I said what the f…k today. I rarely curse and not in writing. I get it. Space matters. So does money. Being rich is a privilege. And yes you have the right to spend your hard earned money however you like.

So I woke up cheering for you, cheering for your blue origins, cheering for your space exploration, cheering for this defining moment. My son loves space. I showed him New Shepard as it made it way up to space and back down to earth. I clapped for humanity. I clapped for you. This is no small feat.

Our ways are truly inspiring. The fact that we can reach for space is astounding. So too is the audacity. I mean who can say they have ever been out of space. They have ever even been outside earth. So I applauded the feat. The next generation is off to a great start. A pandemic, check. Space tourism, check. Billionaires and their friend paving the way, check.

But then it dawned on me. It’s only for people that do not look like me. As in, for now space is out of limits for black and brown folks, and especially black women like me. We have also been here before. We have been out of spaces and places that would rather we put our faces to the ground rather than set it up boldly to uncover all that makes us graceful.

And we are graceful. It’s in our stride. Black women in stride are as graceful as wombs that gave birth to you. We are life givers, culture bearers, truth tellers, storytellers, eloquent ragers, with divine crowns that are stunning for every wearer. We are also blessed beyond these words we use to speak to you. That’s the power of a black woman’s stride. The power of one who knows the significance of her stride.

We are born to thrive even when places reject our audacity to step ahead of any race. Our audacity to be graceful. But we are audacious. It’s in our stride. Have you ever since the way we embrace storms that showcase our ability to harness that which was meant to displace us, even embarrass us?

We literally embrace storms with grace.

We are also always ready to tie up our shoe lace and run whatever race we find ourselves in at the sound of any chase. His grace is always sufficient for any race.

And our race, the way our feet embraces the earth, with every pace in place is so full of grace. We run our race in a stride that would make others retrace their own pace. To see a black woman run, so swiftly like a gazelle is too bless God for being our hiding place. He knew what he was doing when he created us to literally bare his face.

Hence why I was so confused watching a man give $100 million to another for simply being courageous and civil. To whom I ask? For what? You have $100 million to spare and you give it to men?

If invisibility was a cloak, it was used on black women today. The very same day humanity took a space tourism flight. The very same day humanity walked on moon years ago. This was also the day humanity choose to keep the faces of black women invisible. Our graceful faces.

I am reclaiming this narrative for own good and for all the other brown and black little girls that need to tie up their shoe laces and run their own race in stride. We can use stories to rightfully ask for our place in space. Like why are there no black women on this space race or giving race? Why do we still lack representation in moments where time seems to stop for outer spaces and other races? Does my sass really, really offend you? Or is it truly the curve of my back? Why do you choose to render us invisible?

A black woman in stride. Reclaiming the narrative is even for their outer spaces.

Our invisibility in spaces we did not create is appalling and I don’t blame anyone. Not even us. We are in the trenches afterall, doing all the work we need to do for our people with grace. The fact that we are never seen, never praised, never taken to outer space and never embraced in minds and souls makes me feel like like illuminating this our graceful invisibility for good, with precision and clarity.

I know whose I am and I will tell my story, our story with grace. I shutter at this thought not because I want your money or even to sit on your spaces. I know that I am not invited to places that would rather I hide my face rather that arch my back with grace. I am graceful after all and it’s your space. So I don’t want your embrace. I would rather build my own space. My own brown girl dreaming is to turn places and spaces into things that nourish our being, our shared humanity.

I shudder because you continue to deny yourselves the ability to live in our stride, live in our grace, live in spaces and places that desperately need our sense of clarity, our precise understanding of what needs to happen now for the whole humanity. I shudder because your world isn’t illuminated by our grace.

Which is why I ask what if black women ruled the world? Just what if we were at your tables, your homes, your schools, your offices, your agencies, your institutions, your structures, however oppressive and suffocating you have made them all to be for me.

What if black women were better represented and at the table to speak from our heart and soul of places in need of light, our light, our heart, our soul, whether outer space or in places where our grace remains hidden.

We are graceful after all like gazelle. What if I told the story of our graceful stride? Ohh what a sassy stride we will take if only we ruled the world, if only we illuminated your outer spaces with grace.

Fiction has the power to help us discover new things. Like the unexpected turns life can take if we follow a path not often taken. Or the extent to which stories can take us to new places and new spaces all with the power of words combined in a graceful manner. What if non-fiction did the same? What if non-fiction took us down a path not often taken. An unexpected path full of discovery and instructive of new routes to take. A good non-fiction, similar to a good fiction can tell the story it wants to tell all on its own. I’m guessing that’s the power of storytelling in the end, whether we use our imaginations or not, to tell stories with facts or fictions. All of it in the end must be accountable to you the reader with lessons or instructions that compel you to do something, remember something. All of this is important when you take the story into account.

We had a major appointment scheduled for 1pm yesterday. We have been waiting for this day for awhile. Yesterday morning, after he had gone to work, I texted my hubby to remind him of the appointment. He texted back that 1pm would be impossible as he had a surgery then. But then if we moved it to 3pm, for sure he would make it. I remembered that school ends at 3pm so I sent an email to move the meeting to 3:30pm. All parties agreed. And so we waited for 3pm. Prior to the start of his surgery, my hubby texted that I should wish him luck as this was a tough case. I texted quickly that luck is always on his side given his name which when translated to English means Gods saves. In fact, he was living out his name, a pure manifestation of why the names we give our children matter for their journey through life. With a name like Chizoba, he literally is being God’s servant on earth. Nonetheless by 3pm I didn’t hear from him. I started to go to our appointment and texted that I hoped he was on his way. No response. I called and his nurse picked up the call. My heart sank. When they do, it often means everything is canceled. She said he was in the middle of the surgery still and this case was proving more difficult than it seems. I immediately thanked her and proceeded to let the folks we were meeting know that an alternative arrangement would be needed. Right as I was finalizing the call, my hubby called and said today was impossible. He would have to cancel the meeting as he is still in surgery. I said no problem that I was taking care of it. I did as best as I could and finally moved the meeting to next week. I let him know that it was moved and went on with the evening.

Like most families with doctors, I forgot to ask how they surgery went. Until this morning. I remembered as he was getting ready to go to work and he showed me this card he received from work. “It always seem impossible” the card read ‘until it’s done.’ Despite how difficult the case was, how deep the clot was in the brain of his patient, with a surgery lasting over 4 hours, today, this morning, she is talking and doing fine. I stood in awe. God truly saves when you are his. The card went on to state that ‘it was the one to make you shine. Never give up.’ That’s the keep for me today. Things will always seem impossible until it’s done. And when they are done, that thing which seemed so impossible may just be the one to make you soar. If you know the week I had this week putting a proposal of a lifetime, something that seemed so impossible, you will understand why my hubby story, this story resonates deeply with me. Keep knowing that it may always seem impossible until it’s done. And when it’s done, you will shine.

Before there was Humans of New York, there was Radio Diaries. For 25 years, Radio Diaries was the go to space for extraordinary stories of life, one person at a time, one history at a time. It’s a rare kind of journalism, Ira Glass, a famous NPR host proclaimed, one that makes us see what it would be like to live someone else’s life. From their website ‘if Radio Diaries has a mission, it’s to break down stereotypes and stigma, to understand issues in the news differently by telling the complicated, complex stories of everyday people going about their lives.’ One diary entry that best exemplifies this is the story of Thembi here (https://www.radiodiaries.org/thembis-aids-diary/).

Thembie.

“Thembi was a teenager living in one of the largest townships in South Africa. She was HIV positive. For two years, Thembi carried a tape recorder to document her struggle with AIDS. She collected about 50 hours of tape: interviews with her family and friends; late-night dancing with her boyfriend, Melikhaya; the sounds of her baby, Onwabo; and the moment when she told her father she had AIDS. One of the first things Thembi recorded for her radio diary was something she called her “HIV Prayer.”

“Hello, HIV, you trespasser. You are in my body,” she said. “You have to obey the rules. You have to respect me. And if you don’t hurt me, I won’t hurt you. You mind your business. I’ll mind mine. And I will give you a ticket when the time comes.”

Thembi spoke of her concerns with living with AIDS at that time, her love for her boyfriend, and her aspirations with life. She also told her story eloquently at a time when stigma for people living with HIV was rife throughout the country. Radio Diaries gave us all an insight into her world, an insight into her journey to tell other to accept living with HIV. We also saw a glimpse of her journey into becoming a mother with the birth of her daughter Onwabo, borns AIDS-free. Although Thembie died in 2009, her boyfriend and her teenage daughter live on. Radio Diaries was there once more to meet her daughter, so she too can tell her story. This is what Ira Glass meant about the enduring power of Radio Diaries. It’s ability to see, even feel, what it means to live in some else’s life, is like no other. Storytelling at it’s fine, one person at a time, one history at a time, is what I ask that you keep today. Keep Radio Diaries for the extraordinary work they do to help people document their lives. Also keep the for these reasons below:

Thembie.

“ I think Radio Diaries live in a unique space between biography and autobiography. When we tell our own stories, we often go for the big moments, our conclusions and realizations. We might not see our blind spots or our blemishes. Most of us can’t fathom that the detritus of our lives — the everyday sounds of hanging out with friends, a conversation at the kitchen table — is the raw material of our story. It requires a witness, a curator, an editor — someone to see the bigger picture and put a frame around it.’ This is truly Radio Diaries at its finest.

My daughter once told me a story. Of her and her friends and their plans to save the world from goblins, or little monsters with green skins and two horns on their head. One friend was a wizard ninja, the other a pixie fairy and my daughter a purple fizzle, also known as bubble girl with a magic bubble wand and a skateboard. Together, they were unstoppable and will do whatever they could to protect the universe. She shared the picture below to illustrate this vividly.

My daughter’s story

In listening to my daughter recount this story, I became transfixed and transported into the realm of possibilities with stories. For my daughter and her imagination, there are no limits. Even a ninja with a staff can be a wizard. A pixie can be a fairy and fly around with her human friends. A bubble girl can not only possess a magic bubble wand that erupts magical bubbles, but she can also use her skateboard and run around a rainbow colored universe with her friends. Together they work to protect the universe from goblins and their their evil plans. Her story was not only engaging, but illuminating. My daughter took me on a journey to stories endless possibilities, one where openness is the destination for abilities that are limitless. Not only did she construct a narrative to describe how anyone can become anything, her narrative is also an illustration of an important lesson that she learned about own herself, something in fact expressed in the story itself. That she too can be anything she wanted to be. An endless possibility.

Describing her story.

Stories like what my daughter shared, illustrate how they powerfully give meaning to one’s life. But authoring your own story for yourself, recounting ever act and action, every event and expression, is the greatest gift. One that takes you on a journey towards knowing and telling, reflecting and learning. Listening and learning about each character in my daughter’s story, how they feel and what they do, opened her eyes to their see their abilities, all full of endless possibilities. The reflection, inherent in the stories we tell, is the learning about ourselves that I gleaned from my daughter and her story. As her eyes opened to their possibilities, so to did her mind open to become aware of the power of her thoughts, her feelings, her actions, all infused in her story.

That to me is the power of stories, the power of authoring your thoughts and feeling as only you know how to do best. The power to resist and overcome all forms of oppression, the power of your voice with its gifts for suppression, repression, everything wanting to cause depression. With stories, the possibilities are endless. Stories are a function of our society, an opportunity to make and remake, to form and reform, to define and redefine, how we all become one. Powerful and liberating, stories help you author aspects of you that only you know best. Stories even those as unthinkable as a wizard ninja helps you claim authority over you. The world will try to define you. The world will speak ill of you to and use words meant to destroy rather than build you. But it’s in your story that you lay claim over how the world should see you. Not from the mouth of others, but from you, your acts, your actions, one after another. Such an authority over yourself is inspiring, divine, a sterling gift to oneself.

All of us, whether as young as my 8 year old daughter or as old her grandmother, have stories to tell, have point of views and values to share that many would be willing to hear. How we author our lives through stories is the thing I never knew I had in me, the thing I never knew I would also see in others until this keeplist began a little over 9 months ago. Finding stories, keeping and nurturing them, has opened my eyes to their power and freedom. They also helped me see the endless possibilities in all my life’s abilities. So for today and always, keep stories, even from a child’s lens. Find your story too. Author it. It will help you think, act, feel, the best in you that you may not even know exists. It has helped me find my way, through a life where nothing weighs me down. I am a master of my journey because stories showed all I needed. My daughter’s story by the way is called ‘The Rainbow Universe Society.’ Like I said with stories, the possibilities are endless.