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.

Many and wide scale efforts have been made to address some of the most intractable health disparities of our time. Still and even in the presence of evidence, many people do not have access to these evidence-based practices. How far research evidence can make an impact is an open question, one that I am prepared to answer, not necessarily with new ideas, but with disseminating existing evidence-based ones that work. Granted, they say it can take 17 years to get evidence-based practice to people who them. 17 years, while my people die and perish for tools that actually exist. We don’t have 17 years to wait. Rather, turning what works for those in need of healing is a very serious matter. Take racism for example, we don’t have 17 years to address the continuous exposure to racial trauma caused by this ism that continues to torment and destroy our spirit every day. We don’t have 17 years to wait for yet another bright idea that may never get to people in need of healing. We don’t have 17 years for even research, only solutions that usher in healing today, tomorrow in a manner grounded in sustainability. We simple don’t have 17 years to heal our differences.

Communities of color will adopt these ideas if you show them the evidence. Many of them already use these ideas but are in need of evidence-based strategies to understand for example, how they work, whether they are using them correctly or how to increase engagement or how to make them last. That’s where researchers like me come in. I am passionate about making what already works, work. I am passionate about creating platforms so people in need of healing with evidence-based strategies can use them now. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. For all we know, the future will include more racism and exposures to racial violence that literally kill our children. Our best hope, our best guide through this continuous oppression that seems to have no end in sight is to reach for light, insist on its presence with tools that are destined to usher healing from day 1.

To be forming such a group with like-minded scholars passionate about doing this work is my greatest joy. I really don’t know where this will take me but for my community, for my children, for black and minority youth in the US, my spirit is restless. I also refuse to sleep until something gives. It’s now my greatest calling, to use the gifts I never knew I had to make sense of ways to usher healing until. The more I dig with my professional life, the more I do the thing which keeps me alive, and hopeful. That thing called storytelling and grantwriting. The more I hone in on this skill, irrespective of whether i succeed or fail, the more I realize we already have tools that work, evidence-based ones too. I am on a mission to bring it to the people that need it the most, to make space so it lasts. Until then, keep penning a way through healing our differences.

I couldn’t sleep. Reimagining innovative spaces for engagement for minority youth kept me up. The past week, we hit a different space with my daughter. It’s that space every parent dreads but know it’s inevitable. The friendship zone. I remember being in this space when I first moved to the US and kids can be tough to themselves and each other for no reason other than coming from a place of hurt. And when hurt meets light, I tell her all the time, it cannot be hidden. They will try, but you are light. And for her and other black children, my thoughts kept me up. Future orientation matters according to research, alongside religiosity and of course parental support. But if we are to truly bring change, then children like my daughter need to live out this quote often attributed to Chinua Achebe: ‘Until the lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will only glorify the hunter.’ For my daughter, and other black children, I am prepared to carve out spaces for lions.

The thought of doing something provocative, innovative, for black youth, minority youth, kept me up. And reading too. What if all children, black ones in particular knew they were light, not some days but all the time? What if I created something that could mirror my love for this light, maybe as storytelling or even poetry into positive health outcomes for young people’s lives. I want to keep this here so my brain can start imagining. We don’t do enough dreaming, enough understanding of ways kids themselves can be light? So what if we don’t speak about the problems, but about solutions. What if we give lions the opportunity to begin to claim their rightful place in history and tell their stories their way? What if we let black youth rise up and live up to their highest potentials? Rise up and be the light they were destined to be. The odds against black lives are enormous. The research on the negative effects too are overwhelming. Reading through existing literature yesterday kept me up. And enough is enough. I’m hungry and ready for a new generation of research that speaks to children’s light, speaks to their voice, speaks to their bravery and resilience despite all the hurdles they face. If we are going to intervene, so that my children and your children live in Martin Luther King’s dream, not a perfect utopia, but one full of light, then I’m all in. So I ask what will it take for us to create a platform for brave voices. One laced in the past, but for the future. One standing on the shoulders of the greatest giants, Morrison, Achebe, Lorde, and Angelou or my dear friend Ritamae. One that builds on Amanda Gorman’s light, if only we are brave enough to see it. I am. And for black youth, I am prepared to climb these hills so you know that you are light, you are loved, you are blessed and we are rooting for you. Keep being light. Be brave too and don’t stay hidden.

I was looking through my photos and these images came up. They inspired today’s post.

She loved to bake. I imagine her cake would have been moist and fluffy or her cookies, golden brown and warm, all of them as delicious as her smile. Her baking business would be crowded too, maybe decorated with hints of purple, with lavender flowers all over like her eyeglasses. None of this would ever happen. Though she helped others as an employee for the American Red Cross, Jazmond Dixon, a St. Louis city woman who loved to bake, became the first known deaths due to COVID-19. She was only 31 years old.

Rest In Peace Jazmond Dixon.

No prexisting condition was known by her family who suggested that she may have contracted the virus between work and family functions. Though her family was dealing with her loss, they too, like many other families grappling with death and loss from the virus, felt the need to share her story so others would take the virus seriously. One family member stated the following, “our family is advocating for people to humble themselves and make decisions for the greater good. We don’t live on a large planet… this is on our doorstep. This is serious.”

As we approach the one year anniversary of Ms. Dixon’s death, I can’t help but wonder what if any lessons those of us still living may have learnt. For starters, is the virus gone? No. Far from it. Yet, driving around town yesterday, restaurants with out door spaces were crowded and almost everyone was maskless. It’s as if the death of Ms. Dixon remains in vain and we wonder why the virus remains. Perhaps maybe too that public health officials fail and continue to fail with telling the stories of the dead. Our reliance on statistics, as accurate or sophisticated they maybe, probably helps to also make people feel far removed from the pandemic. So I’ll try storytelling. Do I expect everyone to change? No. But maybe I can convince you, whoever reads this, to take the virus seriously. Lives are being lost everyday. Survivors still have a long way to go. Do not let Jazmond Dixon’s death be in vain and wear a mask, or practice social distancing or avoid large crowds. Do your part too. It matters to end the pandemic. Keep all this in mind. That and the memories of Jazmond and all the dead of COVID-19.

I have been reading lately about stories. About the story of stories. About the importance of telling stories. Those you pass on and those you don’t. Those told about you, and those you tell. Those that provide opportunities to be and become the Other. Those that are our guide, those that direct us, for without them, we are blind. Storytelling is a ‘serious matter…far more important that anything else…as it conveys all our gains, all our failures, all we hold dear, and all we condemn,’ the Late Chinua Achebe once shared. Stories indeed are us.

Over the past couple of days, I have experienced a great deal of turmoil. I have watched as cold and snow from a frigid weather bust open my pipes. I have watched water gush down my ceiling. All while participating in an annual meeting at work and homeschooling my son. The full story of what we have been through these past few days have not been an easy one to tell. But I took a small stab at it, putting it on record, to illustrate the plight of motherhood and work, in instructive reality-based terms. The unchanging plight of women, those who work and those who tend, during this pandemic, remains my preoccupation. I contemplated writing an email to describe in detail my experience at home, but I where would I begin. What would I even say. To whom it may concern, there is water all over my house and I cannot attend your annual meeting going on right now. Ooh by the way, the meeting is also happening while my son is homeschooling too. Of course I didn’t send any email or even tell this story to anyone except on this blog. I suspect this is what many women experience on a daily basis. The conflicting roles of work and life. Often with no guide, we stumble through both, hoping for the best in the end.

My intent here, with this keeplist that has become a thing of joy for me, is to brilliantly capture these crucial moments. To speak with as much power as I can, about the many invisible lives of motherhood along the margins. The graphic depictions of my turmoil, the reconstruction of every event, even those as dire as broken pipes or water leaks, are my attempts at storytelling, with stories that I hope will guide us to better understand how women do this thing called motherhood and work. Every keep is a commitment to focusing on what matters. Each one is my attempt at expressing my reality with language that is as simple as it is as gentle for the conditions of women today. Each keep is my approach with sharing what lies beneath the surface. If stories are meant to be our guide, if they are supposed to speak directly to the underlying issues women face and continue to face on a daily basis, then I will continue to work to remind you to keep telling your stories. Keep finding your voice and speak from your reality, as eloquently as you can, about why your stories matter.