on checked lists

gpa, check. internship, check. attend event, check. apply for job, check. networking, check. respond to emails, check. self care, check?
the college culture of productivity often has me feeling inadequate. am i doing enough? am i involved in enough? social media has become a platform people use to boast their productivity, which indirectly breeds an atmosphere of competition. i get that this productivity culture could be motivational and push us to do our best and aim higher, but it sometimes feels like a toxic space that makes it hard to celebrate the achievements of others because of envy, and even harder to celebrate our own because nothing ever feels like enough.
i’m not sure if i wrote this for you or more of a reminder to my self, that you are not your productivity. you are enough. you are doing enough, and in fact you don’t have to be doing anything at all. waking up is productive. breathing eating sleeping is productive. spending hours in the dining hall chatting about the meanderings of life with those you love is productive. taking care of your self is productive. perhaps the most productive thing you can do.
we have to get out of this existence of always being in a state of “getting my life together”. we have to be mindful of how this lifestyle chips away at our mental health and snatches contentment from arm’s reach. we have to. dare to create your own measurement of what it means to be productive and live by that rather than ascribing to the world’s. dare to readefine what success means to you. because the prize for this world’s productivity is a checked list and a tired heart. the prize for living life on your terms is priceless.

e.

interlude

they call it writers block,
i call it my mind as hostage to my pen wishing it’ll release me through words that will pull apart these iron bars caging my creativity. i looked up the cure — the blueprint to show me the way to myself. As Solange would say, I tried to sleep it away. i tried to scrub it away with long showers. i tried to pray it away. and when i thought i’d broken free, there i was at the intersection of the truth and the thing i’d been avoiding looking at.
depression has a way of stealing away your motivation for the thing you love, the thing that fuels you, in my case my writing. as a generally optimistic person, these episodes feel like a war between my true self and this other self that doesn’t understand joy even when it’s plain as day in my face. it even numbs the urge to succumb to the itch of my fingers to write it away.
one thing that has been helping me return to myself has been the epiphany that even though i’m an introvert who recharges her energy through isolation, i have access to tons of good energy that surrounds me that i only need to accept and tap into rather than reject. the universe naturally likes to restore order after chaos — let it. let it even if it means sitting with the discomfort of vulnerability because the restoration comes in the form of your best friends with the big ears to listen to you. it comes in the form of warm hugs and silence because they understand the art of listening. let others be there for you. let the universe do it’s thing of healing. cooperate with nature. it is kind.

e.

when home means more than one place

transnational chronicles: a series of “poems” on the negotiation of identity when home means more than one place.

and while you break your teeth
to keep your tongue

and you seek healing
by stitching the gaps

they will spit you out
from the mouth
because you taste
foreign.

-language


don’t be nervous
you won’t even notice

you won’t notice the transition
from being ghanaian
to being african
to being black
to being person of color

don’t be nervous
you won’t even have to decide which you want to be
the choice isn’t yours

perhaps in this there is a freedom

-identity


and when you call your grandmother on the phone
and she asks when you’ll be coming to see her
you must lie and say sometime this year
even though you know
that has been your response
for the past
8 years

do it for her heart

-gofundme back home


i’ve always hated math

but somehow
i’ve become a mathematician

calculating the number of hours between us
plotting how many oceanic galaxies it will take to get to
you
dividing the ventricles of my heart
and dedicating each one to a different
home

-metrics

e.

on flowers

we’re here. we made it. we are still breathing and it’s lit.
i think rupi kaur put it best when she wrote what she learned from 2016. “i learned everything is temporary. moments. feelings. people. flowers. i learned love is about giving. everything. and letting it hurt. i learned vulnerability is always the right choise because it is easy to be cold in a world that makes it so very difficult to remain soft.”

absorbing these lessons, it’s clear to me what my mantra for 2017 was destined to be: sow.

sow. | verb

  1. to plant seed for growth by scattering
  2. to set something in motion
  3. to introduce into a selected environment

the many definitions of this word is why i think it’s perfect for this new season in my life because it’ll allow for reoccurance in every situation and moment this year has in store.

to me, sowing mean to plant what i want to reap because nothing ever grew where it wasn’t sown. to invest in something with a heart of patience, knowing that something has been set in motion from what i have sown. whether i can see results or not, trusting that sowing is the catalyst for blooming.

in 2017 i will sow softness, patience, and forgiveness into my relationships with people. often times i’m too quick to respond and tend to hold onto negative feelings longer than is healthy. i know that sowing softness into my daily interactions will build stronger relationships where vulnerability thrives.

i will sow my time into an organization (i’m picking only one to be realistic with myself and to make sure that i am giving the best of myself and not a half hearted piece) in hopes of impacting my community.

i will sow into adulting by setting money aside to pay off my student loans, as well as seeking opportunities that will contribute more funds to that cause. it’s my dream to graduate debt free.

i will sow into my mental health by taking time to journal often, by taking time to self care through talking walks, taking myself on adventure dates, and reading the books i’ve been wanting to read. by being honest with myself and my friends when asked if i’m okay, and to talk out my feelings.

most importantly, i will sow into my spiritual health by intentionally making time to spend fellowshiping, and by listening to Hillsong’s Let There be Light album *heart eyes* — it’s gold. go check it out. you’re welcome in advance.

happy new year to you, and cheers to many blooms in all aspects of your life in this new year!

what word are you living by in 2017?

e.

on the healing properties of music: my seat at the table

let it be known that on september thirtieth of the year twenty sixteen, Solange Knowles dropped an album that resurrected my faith in the healing powers of music. in the last couple of weeks i almost reached my breaking point of balancing being a student and being in pain about what’s going on not only around the world but in my own backyard in Charlotte with police brutality and the ignorance of those who refuse to wake up and acknowledge a broken system that perpetuates the cycle of white supremacy and hate. let it be known that my weary heart was hugged by the soft tunes of her voice which sung lullabies of peace and self love and revolution. each song sounded like the manuscript of my thoughts and feelings. she evoked how we try to absolve our pain in Cranes in the Sky and affirmed my crown in Don’t Touch My Hair. she talked about gentrification in black neighborhoods in Where Do We Go and reclaimed ownership of our narratives and creative voice with For Us By Us. each interlude featured voices of people spreading black positivity and truth and straight up bars on the current issues of today through their lens. the overall album theme of reclaiming our selves and protecting our spaces and spirits in a world which tries to leech our joy is one that i don’t feel is present enough in art and i am grateful. thank you Solange for welcoming me so gracefully to have a seat at the table and for serving me pure conscious lyricism on a platter of beautiful instrumentals and breathtaking vocals.

sincerely,

your biggest fan and spirit animal,
e.

on where i’m from

i am from
where the sun loves the earth so deeply
our skin glistens a hue of its rays mixed with melanin

i am from
where the glass is half full
yet if your glass was empty
i’d give you my last half.

i am from
read your bible
it will cure your depression
i am from
yea though i walk through the valley of the shadow of death
he restoreth my sole.

i am from
a womb that housed
3 bodies,
i am from
the folds of stretched skin etched with love
i am from
a mom that prays for me
more than she prays for herself.

e.

on being back: notes on communication

note 1. Ghanaians have a unique culture when it comes to communicating with each other. it is not uncommon for your uncle or your grandma or your friend you just met yesterday to call you every day just to check on you and say hi. so it took me by surprise when i would receive calls hourly that weren’t exactly for any reason other than to hear my voice. i quickly learned that my asking why the person called was kind of rude and embraced the love.

note 2. they say majority of human communication is nonverbal. i’d say Ghanaians are experts on that. during conversation, you’ll most likely hear a series of dramatic oh’s and ah’s and eh heh’s and other sound effects that make up the soundtrack of our expressive dialogue. these sounds may sound random and meaningless to the outside ear but a Ghanaian knows the difference between a long drawn out oh and a short staccato oh. The sing song of our voices are reminiscent of musical chords. like music, we communicate moods with tones.

note 3. “broken english” aka pidgin is the preferred language with millennials. i consider it a legitimate language because of its complexity and nuances that encompasses words from different languages mixed with english. it’s poetic to me how there is no regard to different tenses. past is present. future is present. it reflects the general relaxed carefree nature of the people. the way we don’t take things personally. the way we talk carefully like we’re tasting every word. the way we walk slowly like our destination is just around the corner.

note 4. language is linked to societal perception, class, and status. some international schools continue to ban the use of local languages and promote the use of english primarily within the classroom. students can even be punished for speaking local Ghanaian dialects. although it isn’t as common today, this rule isn’t surprising for a country previously colonized by the British. the mentality that “proper” english is the most respectable form of speaking still persists because liberation is still relatively new. a people can be decolonized but the decolonization of the mind and societal systems is its own tedious process.

e.

on purpose: hatching

we all have it.
that thing.
sitting in your stomach
turning
poking
growing.
that thing that if you sit quietly enough
you’d hear it whisper your name.
on certain days it almost feels like it’s going to explode
or crawl out of your throat
head first
scratching.
on others you find yourself frightened.
where did it go?
why can’t i feel it anymore?
did i dream it?

we all have it.
that thing.
that thing that you feel like you should give a name
like we do all things we become accustomed to.
people always tell you how beautiful your thing is
how you should show it more often
all the while you thank them
all the while you are confused
you don’t see it
that thing that is all over you
spilling
out of your pores
hatching.
and you look down
and you see your self
staring back at you
and it feels like
everything you’ve ever wanted to be

e.

on summer: mirrors

i write this from the comfort of my yellow walled room, on my bed at the window, with a bowl of fresh strawberries between my legs as the sounds of sweet sax and soft piano solos are filling my space with vibes. i feel my presence. is this what it means to be relaxed? the feeling of calm feels almost unnatural. a little unsettling after a year of nonstop thinking. after my brain has been marinated in words and formulas and code.
summer.
the season of unpacking. unpacking my thoughts. unpacking my experiences and the lessons they taught me. unpacking the weight of my self and sorting out the peaces to keep and the pieces to throw away.
summer.
a time of reflection and honesty. a time of unlearning stress and being comfortable in simply being.
perhaps that is why i postponed this long overdue post. to declutter and come to you from a clear mind. a position of reflection because mirrors don’t only show you what’s before you but also what’s behind.
i write this from between mirror and background, as i am right smack in the middle of my college career. two years behind me, two years ahead. i stand in a position of gratitude. grateful for the struggle. grateful for the hands that held mine as i weathered the storms and the hands i let go because our seasons did not align. grateful for my lowest points because in those moments God came through in the most unexpected ways and poured a peace that surpasses all understanding all over my life. God came through and talked to me through people. talked to me through repetition of words from people who are unaffiliated. talked to me through music and poetry and wind, carrying the same message: “trust in me”.
a friend asked me what i want from this summer. i didn’t know how to answer because i never expected a season to owe me anything. she rephrased and asked me what do i need from this summer. and i said peace and clarity. i’m starting to realize those come with the package of trusting God, trusting my self, and the journey.

in a couple of weeks, i will be returning home to Ghana for the rest of the summer. words cannot describe the feeling in my stomach. nine years later, i am going to reconnect with old friends and family who have experienced life while i’ve been gone without me knowing all the little details i love to know. that’s another thing to add to my requests from this summer: re-connection. with heaps of laughter and embraces and adventure.

e.