To know love, bell hooks, once suggested that we must first surrender to it. Discover it. Choose it. Practice it. Respect it. Voice it. Listen to it. Nurture it. Admit to ourselves that we want to know love, be love, and dwell in it. I have spent the past week doing as bell hooks noted and loving every single moment I discovered love in the city of love. I have walked steps I once walked in love over 10 years ago. Touched faces and places long forgotten, all to rediscover for myself and my love, why our love matters. It’s the eve of our birth. I am still full and choosing and nurturing and listening to love with my Belle.
I went to Bamileke Kingdom today. It was of course at Musee Quai Branly. But honestly, I went on a journey to ancestors and beyond. So much to tell but for now, I learnt about beads and cowries today. Their connections to queens, and all things powerful and of value. I learnt about how their techniques are always the same, always the threading of beads or cowries, few at a time, then stitched together in time. I saw how inspirational the colors and patterns of beads can become. Always together, always in awe. Truly I saw you.
I find myself spurred to relieve moments long forgotten with you. Day and night in June in Paris seems like eternity with you. Like resting underneath canopy trees at Bercy gardens with you. Or running our hands through silver-colored birch trees with you. Reuilly Diderot, Avenue Daumesnil may sound strange to you. But they hold memories of times with you, the beginning of you too, I will never forget. Thanks to dear friends like Richard who love you just as you are, our dear Belle.
These tiny hands and feet defy odds every time they move. You with your tiny hands and feet, you my Belle, defy odds every time.
Nearly 10 years ago this week, I embarked on a journey that changed my life. It was grounded in love. The kind that liberated your heart to do anything. My life has become radiant, joyful, light, all because I found love. It’s this love that I seek to speak about this week, to awaken my heart once more to never forget the first memories of becoming a mother. Come with me all week as I take a trip down memory lane with becoming a mother for the first time.
I have been struggling with writing lately. Sure, the goal was to keep one thing a day. But 24 hours is long with my family, that writing suffers. I have also asked myself, why write? Who cares? Or what will you gain or lose whether you write or no longer choose to write. The only answer and the one that keeps me going, is because I have to. It doesn’t matter if no one reads it. I do. It doesn’t matter if the words too are jumbled some days or poetry another day. It certainly doesn’t matter if I go through some days without words. All that matters and when the words come is to put them down.
So I write because I have to. I write because it’s my season to do so. I write because I have waited so long to understand what words do when they flow from my heart and my soul to this space that I choose to keep. I write because it gives me life, joy too. I write because it allows me to write in other ways that I never thought I could. I write because I am lit for it. I write because I am not consumed by it. I write because something about writing, like God, keeps me in awe. I write because I see words like a tree, an evergreen tree planted near streams of flowing water. I write because the words will find me, whether I choose to find them or not, they call and I obey. I write because I have a feeling for it. I write because writing promises nothing, not fame, nor fortune, nothing but torture, yet I choose the wounds and spaces it opens up for me. I write because it is healing for me, healing for my mind, healing for my head, healing for all that makes me whole. I write because I can’t seem to conceal my thoughts these days, so I put them in words. I write because if something should happen, there will always be words to help me make sense of it. I write because it pushes me beyond my limits, pushes me to meet myself beyond myself everytime. I write because it reminds me of the time I went sky diving, the fear, the thrill, the sheer happiness too of seeing a world from above the skies, reminds me that writing can once again become like that moment. I write too for the time when I smiled next to a lion, the greatest animal that ever lived. I write for that girl turned woman, who stayed fearless, knowing that she had conquered all that held her back. I write then for resistance, for the fight that I have to keep digging and fighting so many more women like me conquer their fears.
I write because people ask how do I do it all the time, how do I go from hollering at four children all day and then still producing work all day. I write because I come from a long line of women, whose stories are never told, who too hollered at children and made the most out of life as they saw it. I write for the one woman we all called Mama Ocha, the woman who raised me, taught me too the meaning of persistence, preserving, and everything in between possibilities and dreams that I know is within me. I write for Belle, my better me, shining from glory to glory and beyond, with all that is within her. I write for my boys, my gift from God, my God, the one I gift back to God, for because of them, I can be my best self. I write for the one who saved me, my crocodile of the north, the one who hailed from Nimo and Kaduna, to give me a life that is beyond my wildest dreams. I write for Onyelo, without her there is no me. I write for Okolie, the one who called me the apple of his eye, the one who gave me money to buy words early, the one on whose shoulders I continue to stand. I write for the future, for whatever the journey ahead may hold, I long to know you, to love you, to bask in you, knowing that words will be my guide through you. I write for my past, all the pain and hurdles that led to the outpouring of blessings that continue to surround me and all that I love. I write for goodness and mercy are with me, and I will continue to dwell in them and words for as long as I live. These are the reasons I write. The words come and I obey even if it means, I am I the only one that reads them. I will still write.
I had a conversation with my mother in-law yesterday. We were talking about work and why I keep getting carried away with one grant after the other. Most of them are also not successful. In other words, you may be carried away with work and still have nothing to show for it. I heard myself say during the course of the conversation that I could go days without eating, if I have to when it comes to writing my grants. It also doesn’t matter if they are all unsuccessful. I also noted that I really don’t know why especially because I don’t need anyone of them. Of course becoming a successful grant writer is wonderful but the stress of it all makes you wonder why even bother. In the course of our dialogue I also framed my reasoning in this way: I don’t need wealth, just sustainable health and healing to all who deserve this right. It has always been for people and how they can have sustainable healing. Writing in this manner is full of sleepless nights and extremely stressful. I still do it because I believe in the cause. If one person can be saved through something I worked to get a grant for, then I will be content. The one I am writing these days is beyond me. I told my partner in writing that I thought we had written difficult grants but this one is something else. I may not get it. But I learnt something new about myself during this process. That I am willing and able to talk to anyone to bring my crazy dreamed up ideas to life, anyone one. That to me is the gift that grant writing keeps giving and for that I am content, win or lose. So to close: I don’t need wealth. Just sustainable health. To all those who deserve this right.
We are kicking off this summer with 100 days of books, books, and more books with my kids. I believe in leading by example and so to kick off, I just finished reading Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes. It was a beautiful, easy, effortless story of how a girl who loved to day dream turned her day dreams into words. She was of course aided by a teacher who saw the magic inherent with day dreaming and flipped his classroom to accommodate the girl and her day dreaming behavior. I loved this because I saw myself in Gabby. I am a day dreaming girl to the core and these days I turn them into grants. The one I am currently working on began as a day dream and it took 4 days, yes 4 days to put a draft together before we travelled out of town. I was able to travel and rest simply because my day dreams turned into words which then turned into a very rough first draft of the grant. Of course editing is the toughest part of any grant, but I am happy this one began as a dream. Only time will tell if this dream turns into reality.
In the meantime, my kids read if I had a tail and according to my 8 year old if he had one, he would use it to write. My 9 year old will fly with her tail while my five year old will wag his tail around just because. Happy summer days of reading.
They say there will be mornings like this. Meltdowns too like this. Toothache pain from nowhere. Tears flowing non-stop. Listening to Favor. All of us wondering. Whether we will prosper. In this space where horses roam free. We will. Not when blue skies greet us good morning. Grass the perfect shade of green too. And air as gentle as can be, reminds us that everything will be alright. Everything will. Now that we choose, choose and choose rest!
Boys smiling together. In search of twigs, chasing birds, basking underneath tall trees, with their cool breeze. You can’t stay here forever. I wish. Forever here, stay, can you?