bwg journey: On Guarding Your Chi

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Greetings friends,

I hope this message reaches you in a moment of peace and positivity. Between writing journals this week, visiting a friend who lives in the Hudson River Valley, and attending a transformative service at First Corinthians Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem, NY my writing pot had begun to fill and I knew that if I didn’t want that gumbo to boil over I’d have to ladle out some bowls of gumbo suitable for everyone–vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, grass-eaters and of course those of us surviving on air alone.

So, all you have to do is stand back and listen or read. Embrace what tastes of home, be you in NOLA, Harlem, BK, the Bx, Northfield, Amherst, Pondi, Havana, Beijing, Dakar, Accra, every and elsewhere. If you’re reminded of something or you make a homestyle gumbo as well–Eastern, Southern, Szechuan–reach back out to me!

Guarding Your Chi*


  • Be on the edge of transformation
  • Be caught between two worlds, where embrace of one leads to the loss of another
  • Visualize faces of NYC subway train riders such as one rider who everyday on her ride to and from work carefully selects a seat away from people listening to blaring music on their headphones, shuts her eyes and seals them shut with weariness for the fifteen minute trip.
  • You should have seen sorrow and, possibly, as the pastor mentioned at the service, inadequacy, sense of failure and helplessness.Feel your energy being pulled way downRecall admonishment not to sleep on subway for fear that one of these sorrowful souls will enter your dreams
  • Visualize standing at the door in FCBC greeting the seniors who are coming to service and lunch for Elders’ Day
  • Smack a smile on your face, or feel the smile stretching on your faceYou are not unhappyYou have just grown so used to not smiling, even when it had literally been second nature to you(Imagine that you received the Best Smile Superlative in your senior high school yearbook)
  • Consider riding a bike or walking to work, school, beach etc more frequently.

You can see by now how that which was done so well and easily, pushing positivity, being like babies and young children, who are pushers of smiles, giggles, laughter (and mischief!), becomes foreign over time.

You may be far removed from that date upon which you came to this world, but you still started as an embryo, and got blessed with the breath of life. Embrace the taste of breath on your tongue, sifting through your nostrils, coming down your lungs, filling your belly.

Voila! And that’s this week’s gumbo. Share with friends!

*From Faith Adiele’s essay “Twinning” in Dismantle: A VONA/VOICES Anthology – “Every Igbo has chi, a spirit double, who acts as her personal god and determines her fate.”


To wrap, while staying in the Hudson River Valley with a good friend who lives with her husband there, I noticed how much she noticed everything. While walking on a four mile loop circling a lake, she bent to examine the itty-bitty orange flowers sprouting alongside the trail we walked. Earlier as I called to confirm my arrival time, she paused to mention a frog pressing itself against her screen door. Then there were the sprigs of white wild flowers growing in her yard that she cradled in her hand and the wild turkeys she spotted on the highway on our way back to the city. I would have missed most of this had it not been for her senses alert to everything.

In an effort to take after her sense to breathe, receive and take it all in I sat on the backyard deck which overlooked a clearing and gathering of tall trees. I breathed in the air, which seemed spiced in a way, a mixture of the pine needles from the evergreens and the damp soil. After a few breaths I immediately thought of my first ride up to Northfield Mt Hermon, or NMH, the school I attended with my twin sister Nefertiti. We rode up–my family and I–in my mom’s burgundy Nissan.

Later, I asked my sister who rode up with us.

“Weren’t Chike and Sakile there?” mentioning my niece and nephew who passed in 2002. She said she thought they came to visit at another time but that our brother Patrice was there. In my second year at NMH this smell of the earth would be one of the things that made me love running X-Country.

So it was good to sit back this past weekend, breathing in air, gulps and gulps of life and the fond memories therein.

Wishing you well,

Blessings UP!

You can find more from BWG at

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