Sometimes we don’t need experts. Not when we know the truth of our lives for ourselves. Sometimes all we need are spaces and places that allow us to name and describe our truths for ourselves, as we know it too. Sometimes, all we want is to listen more closely to ourselves, freely tell and share all our fears, compare all our wounds, not for your pity, but to see if through my words as shared to you, I can find healing for myself through you. It’s only in sharing, that we see ourselves more clearly. Sometimes all we want are eyes that see us clearly and ears that hear us fairly and minds that open up to us more dearly. Sometimes, I want to be next to those who allow me to see beyond all my eyes can see of that which is within me. I am afraid of what words will do if only I have the time to share it but sometimes all we want are the times, all of it for revealing our deepest fears, crying as we release all that we bury deeply, knowing that this poem we weave together with the words sometimes can only begin to manifest as the sum of our lives because we used the power of some times to change what is, know what has been, and imagine together the possibilities of what might be. Keep some times.

All of this was inspired by the great Adrienne Rich. Discovering her is doing something else to my mind and words. It is so scary but I am in awe and grateful.

The images you have of me. Mother, researcher, doing work in far away places. All of them are true. But those that are invisible. Everything hidden, under, and in between the lines like Toni Morrison’s invisible ink, are the bones that keep me tall and erect. One day, I will leave you hoping to see just how the story unfolds. What scenery passes through my window daily or whether i truly kiss the night air. Only that it would just be the beginning of the day in which all that I am to become, everything buried deeply within me, oozes forth like an ache.

I am possible, today, tomorrow, and forever, because I know my dreams, and my dreams go on dreaming, unbroken, unfettered, unafraid. They look to rivers and mountains, parks and creeks for inspiration that some call ambitious. Then they see struggles, all sorts of strife and pain lurking by the doorway, asking if we would like to come in. We do. Falling deeply into depths we pray will not leave us powerless. Not when we know what lies within us, all that cries out to arise from these depths we find ourselves in. We do, reaching for the skies above, hoping this wasn’t a dream. Dreams are always wasted if you don’t dream again. So we do, dreaming still that what lies hidden, everything under and in between the lines, remain unbroken, unfettered, unafraid, now that we touch all that aches within us.

My presentation today went well. We need more dreamers in global health.

The night air this Monday night stirs up new feelings within me. Call it nervousness, uncertain feelings, wishing to hide underneath a blanket and wait for Wednesday night to come, when this restless hunger will fade into the night like a rapture. In search of synergy, I move with my baby, who darts in and out my room. Jump around as he jumps too. Perhaps this movement with him is what I needed most. Perhaps being together is all I need. May this movement that shows up everyday. Whether from a baby or the night air, carry you through like a talking drum, from this to that, along the road only love knows.

Lorraine Hansberry once wrote about how the Negro writer stands surrounded by whirling elements of the world. She noted that the writer stands neither on the fringe nor utterly involved: just a prime observer waiting poised for inclusion…yet, the world awaits our work. It is from this perspective that I intend write about the world as I see it. I also seek to write about us. To tell stories of myself, my people, everything that I see. My ask, come as you and see me learn to bear witness to all I know. I am learning these days that I do have something glorious to draw on begging for attention.

I am overwhelmed and tired. Trying to stay focused but exhausted. I feel like I am running a race that never ends. I want it to end, but I keep running. There will be days like this I am told. Today is one of those days, I see. Nothing brilliant to say expect that all I need right now is rest. This maybe the most brilliant thought I have held all day.

I came across a remembrance of the phenomenal Toni Cade Bambara written by the unconquerable bell hooks. There was so much to unpack that I felt the need to rephrase all that stood out for me to keep. Few have ever written as brilliant as Toni Bambara. Even Toni Morrison once described her as brilliant. She really ways. The below words, are written in her honor and inspired by the piece by bell hooks. May you find her work and keep it for yourself.

Groundbreaking. Black woman. See her gaze. Watch her struggle. Feel the pain. As she kicks the door open. Black woman. See her life. A beacon light. Warm and welcoming. As she loves blackness. Black woman. See her near. Laughing to dissent. Oppositional to resist. Black woman. See her love. Nurtured and sustained. Insights so important. Beginning in self and with self. Black woman. See her transformed. Unconditional acceptance offered. Despite fierce debates. Generous with time and thoughts. Black woman. See her solidarity. Always with people. Justice for everyone. Always willing to sacrifice. Black woman. See her edge. Inventing her life. All on her own terms. Black woman. See her survival. Her capacity to live. Choosing her communities. Living perfectly with imperfections. Black woman.

Remembering Toni Cade Bambara.

See her see. Solitude and order. Everything in place. Appreciating herself for being herself. Black woman. See her thinking. Clarity of speech. Gifts flowing openly. Black woman. See her power. Pleasure of struggles. Encouragement of others. Never let them get you down. Black woman. See her dedication. Journey towards self. Stiring from slumbers. Rising and rescuing ourselves and one another. Black woman. See her brilliance. Optimism and vigilance. Heart of obligation. Black woman. See her imagination. Capacity to reach. Use and power. Giving freely and expecting the same. Black woman. See her vibrant. Full forceful life. Dying and living. Renewing the spirit for the journey ahead. Black woman. See her ready. Peace with life. Faith despite struggle. Peace be still. Living and teaching but reaching other. Black woman. And everything about you will always be ground breaking for looking and seeing Black women as they are.

I know that girl. I see the light in her eyes every time she remembers she can do anything. She may not know how to be brave in the moment. May not know what to say or how to fight back in the moment. But when she remembers her mother’s voice, she knows she can do anything. She may not know what to do at times. May not know where to even begin. But when she remembers her daddy’s voice, she knows she can do anything. She may never know why things come her way. She may never see them coming her way. But when she remembers her grandmother voice, she knows she can do anything. She may feel frightened at times. May feel helpless at times. But when she remembers her grandpas voice, she knows she can do anything. And so she does. What may seem impossible for others, is possible for her. Especially now that she knows she can do anything.

I hear you are very persistent. Prone to reinvade even when removed. I hear you are highly resilient. Thick dense branches push out others who compete with you for water, soil, space, sun. I hear some call you invasive. Birds love your fruit, spread your seeds and you rise up unbidden again. But I see you bloom in spring. Early spring in clusters of white rounded flowers that stay close together. Like us. We may be persistent, resilient, invasive even, but still, like callery trees, we stay close together, blooming together.

They past week has been rough. Tough too for multiple reasons. I persisted though. Became resilient for what I knew was coming. In the end, many will not understand. Some may question commitment. All I can say is that Spring is my season. And the plans he has in store for me requires that I persist, remain resilient and become invasive. We are literally on the cusp of changing the world. And all of that like being a callery pear tree is required.

Our Callery Pear Tree is starting to bloom.

Like a vineyard that produces much fruit. Or like an olive branch that produce many olives. Like a bird escapes from a trap. Or like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Like a mountain which sits unmoved forever. Or like mighty streams in dry desert. So shall it be for a woman whose crown shines forever. A woman strong and brave. Find her, stay next to her and see greatness forever.

It’s a new month. The Asante people of Ghana have a saying: Its a woman who gave birth to a man, it’s a woman who gave birth to king. I’m in the mood for all things great, all women give birth to. Whether kings or queens. Mothers or warriors. So here is to a month dedicated to all the history of all great women I come across this month.

So this must be why they call it paradise, spirit and soul connecting, listening, being together, under blue skies and palm trees, purple cactus and lemon trees, eating herb roasted whole chicken, fennel crusted sea bass, with baby kale risotto, while drinking blood orange lemon punch, and the sun set is as dazzling as can be, everything all in glory that it must truly be paradise. I see now, heaven is when spirit and soul connects. I know my soul. We deserve to be here. So let’s do this again.

I went on a retreat with some amazing women. Winds are changing and when they blow, new things move. So to with women who connect together, build and transform together. The air is shivery with possibilities and it’s because we all came together not only to know our stories but also to make time, to remember, to know we are enough and to prepare for our possibilities. We are also intentionally making plans to know what to keep. If only you could see us, if only you could see our knowing so deep. Total strangers connecting one to one, tiptoes replaced by strides as radiant as gazelles, champions on my left and my right, some with power, so powerful like rivers, that this must truly be paradise.

Our meeting is illuminating our past, while at the same time brightening our future. We are at the summit of our lives. The ties that bind all of us, this community of women together is so divine, so magical, that it must be paradise. All we carry, all we carry like water, every single thing whether in silence through words unspoken or in pain, through tears flowing freely, so many weights that many still don’t know, that we carry on our own, everything I am discovering and learning about us is divine like a knowing so deep. We are learning, seeing and listening to all the ways we shape an untenable reality, sculpt it, sing and cry through it, reduce it to also to bits and pieces so effortless, so sterling, with no excuses too. In our ways, in our actions, in our tears, in our silence, change itself changes as we move together to the essence of our being. Keep a community of women for you. We are rare and a touchstone like a purple cactus in a desert.