Making The Most of The Time We Have

Join author, educator, and learner, Annmarie Kelly as she laughs, cries, and kvetches with the writers, musicians, entrepreneurs, and wanderers who inspire all of us to reach beyond our divisions and discover what it means to be wild, precious, and brave.

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Dream with Your Eyes Open with Naki Akrobettoe

Dream with Your Eyes Open with Naki Akrobettoe

Naki Akrobettoe is a poet, a Ghanaian princess, and most importantly a mother. In this episode, Naki and Annmarie talk about the tricky balance of creativity and parenthood, the need for safe mental health practices, and the power of finding a home within yourself.


Episode Sponsors:

Lit Youngstown – a literary community proud to support beginning and experienced writers who seek to hone their craft, foster understanding, and share and publish their creative work. Read, write, and tell your story at lityoungstown.org

Ashland University Low-Res MFA – where our accomplished faculty help you find your voice and complete your degree at your own pace. Learn more and enroll today at ashland.edu



Books and music by Naki Akrobettoe:

Crown Morning Gold: A Poetic Memoir

Fly High

Green Roses




A selection of books, film, and music we discuss in this episode:

No Disrespect, by Sister Souljah

“I Gotta Find Peace of Mind,” by Lauryn Hill

The Last of the Mohicans



Follow Naki:

Instagram @speaknaki

Annmarie Kelly:
Wild Precious Life is brought to you in part by Lit Youngstown, a literary community proud to support beginning and experienced writers, who seek to hone their craft, foster understanding and share and publish their creative work. Read, write and tell your story at lityoungstown.org. We're brought to you in part by the Ashland university low-res MFA, where our accomplished faculty help you find your voice and complete your degree at your own pace. Learn more and enroll today at ashland.edu. When my daughter was four, she asked where babies come from. "Mommies carry babies in their tummies," I said. "Yeah, but how do the babies get inside those mommies?" Oh boy I thought, here we go. My husband tried to be helpful. "Daddies put them there."

Annmarie Kelly:
Again, I understand now that he meant to be helpful, but at the time I had to spit my coffee back into my cup because I knew what question was coming next. "But how do daddies put babies inside mommies?" And there it was the million dollar question. Now it was my husband's turn to look panicked. He gestured to me as though I had ever made a situation less complicated in my life. I thought for a moment and answered really simply, "With love," I told her, "They put babies inside mommies with love." As my kiddo thought about this, I considered the gross simply city of my explanation. Surely she would ask us next about the apparatus used for such an undertaking. Maybe I should clarify that not all babies are created with the same maneuver or even the same participants, but for once my child did not go there. "Oh," she said, "Can we have pancakes?" Then the moment was over and mercifully we moved on to carbohydrates.

Annmarie Kelly:
I was reminded of the story when I was talking with today's guest, Naki Akrobettoe. Because here's the thing about being a parent, most of the time you have almost no idea what you're doing. All of us are just doing the best that we can. I've been thinking about this lately, especially with the holidays coming up. I think even if you're not a parent, everyone is out there doing the best that we can. We're carrying invisible burdens, many of us are missing people around our tables. We might feel like we're coming up short for our families. We are out there doing the best that we can. I think all of us would actually be a little better served if we showed up for one another, like I told my daughter that day, just show up and do things with love.

Annmarie Kelly:
Let me tell you about today's guest. Proud of her African ancestral ties, Naki desires to bring the light and tell her personal account of being an African in America to the world. She is a cultural ambassador who is passionate about using words as a means to heal and entertain. Naki Akrobettoe was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She is the granddaughter of an American coalminer, and through her father's lineage, heir of a Ghanaian royal chief. She attended the University of Toledo where she developed as a spoken word artist. Naki Akrobettoe welcome to Wild Precious Life.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Thank you for having me. I really am excited about this, and I just really appreciate you reaching out to me, and it's an honor just to even be considered so thank you.

Annmarie Kelly:
Well, so we first crossed paths during 2020, and that year is such a strange period of time for everyone. There are I think days that were very stretched and months that were very stretched, and then also these times that were compressed. But I did spend a little bit of time going to online readings, and those some of them blended together and people were lovely and I mean this in a nice way, forgettable in that I just kind of forgot them, because life was hard. But I came across one of your readings and conversations and never forgot you. You were this person whose light and life and energy and truthfully brilliance just filled me and I think everyone at that reading with what we were all afraid was not coming back, 2020 was this time. I had been curious about you out there in the world and I'm just grateful you're here to spend time.

Naki Akrobettoe:
It means a lot. I started to tear up a little bit just because in a way I did feel like my life was forgettable, I mean it changed so drastically. Friendships were lost, people lost contact for whatever... I feel like everybody was going through their own thing. To know that I am still impacting somebody's life, I feel like God used you in a way to remind me that I still have purpose.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh my goodness, now I'm tearing up. All right crying is welcome, everyone's allowed to cry it's wonderful. All right, we should mention to folks that we're not alone in this interview we've got an entourage, we're rolling kind of deep. There are children wandering in and out. In one of our earliest episodes we had the writer Catherine Standiford on, and she was once asked by a doctor to tell her heart story. In her case, it was the literal story of her heart, she was talking to a cardiologist who wanted to know about what her heart had been through. But I think we all carry around heart stories, and so I often start the podcast by simply asking folks about theirs. You can take it quite literally, you can just tell us the story of you where you're from. Or there might be other heart stories within that story, but I'm interested in your journey. Tell us your heart story?

Naki Akrobettoe:
I would have to say my heart story really has to be this journey of identity. I really feel like my husband has prompted me to really think about that. He as a documentary filmmaker interviewed me back in I think it was maybe 2014 or 2015. He was doing this compilation of stories about to know thyself. I felt like growing up here in Columbus, Ohio in Gahanna in a suburb, my parents divorced at four. My dad is from Ghana West Africa and my mother is from the Appalachian West Virginia, so nice combination there.

Annmarie Kelly:
You don't meet that combination too often.

Naki Akrobettoe:
No. Just from childhood I always felt there was this longing and this desire of like, so I felt like something was missing. At the age of 18 for my graduation, my dad got me a ticket to Ghana, got me my passport and took me back home from where he was from. I remember it being a culture shock for me. It just was not something that I had ever experienced, seeing that many people who looked like me everywhere I turn, whether it was a billboard, whether it was on the TV, whether it was in radio, just everywhere it was just a sea of people who looked like me. I was immersed in so much from even going to the slave castle, to meeting my dad's mother, my grandmother for the first time, going to the club with my uncle. Just experiencing so many different things all at once in just a short span of 10 days. But also missing home here a little bit, because it was just like it was so in essence foreign to me, but it still felt like this is where I belong. I felt conflicted, I didn't know what to do.

Naki Akrobettoe:
I remember coming back and immediately having this passion and this desire to just learn more about my culture. A little seed was just dropped into my mind like I want to move back to Ghana. I want to have what I felt like I didn't have or what my cousins grew up with, having been raised by my grandmother, or just having access to her. There was just so much that I felt like I missed out on. In 2015, I had an opportunity to do a, I would say like a artist residency at a inclusive school in Accra, Ghana. I was there for eight weeks and I was just positioning myself to find some type of work that could land me the opportunity to move there. I was looking into more of the teaching field, having the background in English and creative writing, what would that afford me the opportunity to teach over there? But through that pursuit and that journey, a lot of highs and lows.

Naki Akrobettoe:
It really came to a point where I was challenged and really discouraged by I would say both sides, my mom and my dad's side, because they didn't really see what was the purpose of why I wanted to go back, different reasonings. My dad feeling like he's lived here longer than he lived there now that he's been here for the longest. The fact that I had children, the challenge of what would it be like trying to transition them over there? It was all of these different things that came up as to why I shouldn't do it. I reached a point where I remember one night last summer during the pandemic, me and my husband were having a conversation on the patio, and he's from Nigeria. He was saying, "Babe, no matter what, no matter where we go, the reality is you may never fit in."

Naki Akrobettoe:
I remember just weeping after he said that, like just break... It hit me because it was like, you know what, you're right. Whether I'm here in Columbus, Ohio, or if I'm in Dubai or Australia, the UK, or back home in Accra, Ghana, I may never fit in or I may never find a community to fit in. I feel like I say all of that to say where I find myself now is in a beautiful relationship. I say beautiful because it has challenged me to rethink how I relate to people, and how I seek acceptance or desire to belong and to fit into something, and I'm creating this new reality in search of not a particular place to call home, but just finding home within myself.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh my gosh there's so much in there that I'm just curious about, but oh my gosh there's so much in that answer. I'm thinking about the idea that we have for home as being a place. But when you described the feeling of going to Ghana for the first time, a place where you had never been felt like home. Home was belonging, home was seeing yourself reflected in other people. At the same time, your father came to America. Why did he come here? What was his journey?

Naki Akrobettoe:
His reasoning for coming here, my dad was 27 at the time and my grandfather was educated in the UK. Based on from what I was told, my dad was the eldest sibling. My grandfather worked something out connected somehow and got him accepted into the, at that time it was Wilberforce University, so it was the first private HBCU in Wilberforce, Ohio. He got accepted into the university I think after my grandfather wrote a letter or something my grandfather did. My grandfather was a chief, a royal chief.

Annmarie Kelly:
Yes, I've sometimes heard you described as a Ghanaian princess. Will you tell us about that?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Yes. My grandfather was a royal chief. Where we come from in Somanya, an hour outside of Accra, Ghana which is the capital, there is the lineage of three different particular family names that keep the royal family going. It rotates amongst those three families and the Akrobettoes are amongst that lineage. My grandfather was caught, as they said, from Jamestown where he was the warden of the prison and... Come here, it's okay. Come here it's okay.

Speaker 3:
I almost caught him.

Annmarie Kelly:
It's okay.

Naki Akrobettoe:
It's okay. He wants to be a part of it so let's-

Annmarie Kelly:
Of course. Remind us who's here?

Naki Akrobettoe:
This is [Buenmana 00:13:31]. You want to say hi?

Annmarie Kelly:
Hi sweet angel hello? Hello, how old is he?

Naki Akrobettoe:
He is 19 months.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh boy that's a big age. He has a little brother now, how old is the youngest one?

Naki Akrobettoe:
He just turned six months yesterday.

Annmarie Kelly:
When my middle daughter was born, at about the four to five month point, my oldest daughter said, "Mom, when are we going to give her back?" It had been fun and she was over it. She told me a story about Moses and how Moses had been put in the basket and floated out to sea.

Naki Akrobettoe:
That is hilarious.

Annmarie Kelly:
She had all kinds of feelings about this new baby. They're fine now. I had expected some of that in the very beginning, but it turns out the very beginning is exciting, there's this new baby. But after a few months that's so this baby's going to stay here for good? Those big feelings.

Naki Akrobettoe:
It's interesting. Motherhood is a whole nother topic. It's a whole nother topic.

Annmarie Kelly:
I'm thinking again about you going back to Ghana and finding this feeling of belonging and this feeling of home, but your dad coming here and also feeling like this is home where he's here. I don't know, do you think it's possible to belong in more than one place?

Naki Akrobettoe:
I definitely think it's possible. I feel like me and my dad have differing views on here in America as home, and just our upbringings are different. He grew up back in Ghana, and I feel like, not to say that my dad has never experienced racism because he has. He always says the first time that he even realized that he was black was when he came here to America. It's not a thing over there for him to identify as being black, or being identified or labeled other or anything like that. For him, the reason I feel like he would call this home is because he married my mother here, he had me here. There's a lot of firsts. He was able to build his career and retire. I think he just felt like he had more access here, and I feel like a lot of immigrants feel that way. But I definitely feel like you can call more than one place home, and I really feel like a lot of it is how you root and ground yourself.

Annmarie Kelly:
That also makes me think that home we always think of as a place, but I think home is also a feeling. You know how you meet people and you're just you're home and... What you're describing is really a feeling, that you can feel home. I moved to Seattle once in the 90s, and I got out of the car and I breathe that air and I felt like I was home, even though I had never been there. There are people who've become home and maybe we need to expand what home even is. You also mentioned that your husband's from Nigeria you said, so that he said no matter where you guys are, there's always going to be this feeling of we could belong somewhere else.

Annmarie Kelly:
I was thinking about that also might be part of your identity as someone maybe you're feeling like oh, I wish I fit in. But what I'm seeing is someone who stands out. Someone who stood out at a reading where I heard you over a year ago and never forgot your wisdom. That maybe part of never having one home means that you'll be at home a lot of places, or maybe not belonging any one place means that you'll seek out belonging in your creative work or in the relationships you forge wherever the wind blows you. Or that dream of Ghana might be something that you hold onto, and that didn't make sense when you tried it before but will later.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Absolutely. I feel like as you were talking just now, it even made me think about this essence of home being in my writing. Living beyond my physical being in essence, and also finding in a sense a space of escape in writing.

Annmarie Kelly:
Absolutely. I think when we first started talking about having this conversation you were candid about experiences with postpartum depression after the birth of your son. Is that something you would be willing to talk about?

Naki Akrobettoe:
I want to say the past two experiences, because I had them back to back so closely and I wasn't even aware of what that would be like. I just struggled through the pregnancy and it was reflecting in my eating habits, I wasn't eating a lot. I feel like I barely survived the pregnancy. The interesting thing it was probably my most healthiest pregnancy, which it was interesting because I didn't have any issues with the gestational diabetes, or I didn't have any weight gain. I actually lost a lot of weight, but I wasn't sick. But the depression, just the helplessness, the feeling hopeless, the deep sadness. When it came time to have the baby, I was just ready, like just ready to get it over with. I had known and heard about the hormonal drop, but I didn't think that it was going to be as bad as it was. It was sudden, you know what I mean? I remember starting to feel a certain way even when in the hospital, I had a C-section so had the baby on Monday, I would say by Wednesday I started feeling a certain kind of way.

Naki Akrobettoe:
It was just this odd feeling of like I'm ready to get out of the hospital, but then I don't really know what to do next. The truth was I had a lot of fear about having the children so close back to back together. I just felt like okay, we already have a... Well, he just turned one, Buenmana had just turned one in April. I was like what am I going to do with a one year old and a newborn? How are we going to juggle that? All of that mixed together, I just remember just getting out of the hospital excited to see the other children, because they were so excited that the new baby was here. But that first night it was no sleep, it was anxiety just to make sure that the baby was still breathing. The one year old was just excited and just his sleep was off and his energy was a lot. It was chaotic and it was just intense, and I didn't trust myself. Something that I did not know and I was not aware of, was what we hear well now the term postpartum depression thrown around, but postpartum psychosis.

Naki Akrobettoe:
I have been diagnosed with bipolar II back in 2012, and I definitely experienced some heightened manic after having my son last year. Me personally, I feel like I know that I experienced postpartum psychosis and I started to have thoughts of hurting the babies. I was just like this is not me, I know that I've put in too much work and I care too much about my mental health and my mental wellness to get to this point and ignore it and dismiss it. I admitted myself, which I did not want to do, but I knew that it was the best thing to do for our family. I was gone for about a week, and I felt like I had enough tools in my tool belt to navigate it and to use that time to rest and sleep and eat and really get back to a space of balance. It is not something that is talked about. I think doctors' offices skirt around it, just ask you the typical questions. But I wish there was more care around it and people took it serious.

Annmarie Kelly:
First off I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. I think what you're asking and what you're identifying seems so reasonable to me that... I am not a drug doctor, I have no training whatsoever, but it seems to me that if you came to me for care before having a baby and you told me that I have been diagnosed with bipolar II, one of the things that would come up in our conversation would be like hey, what are some things that have triggered you in the past? Do you know yourself? Because I want to let you know that having a baby is a big physical moment, but it's also a big mental and psychological and hormonal moment. I want you to know that afterwards those meds that have been keeping you steady, they're going to be all confused and you're going to be confused. I want you to know that, that's going to be the meds trying to recalibrate in your body and not probably doing it. So I want you to call me and we're just going to be in touch because it's going to be a thing.

Annmarie Kelly:
Sometimes it's something that you're going to ride out and sometimes we're going to need to recalibrate a couple of times. Physically your body has done a big thing, it's brought life into this world. But also emotionally and psychologically and mentally, your body has also given birth, and it's going to need some time, and to feel no shame around that. You have done nothing wrong. In fact, you have done all this right, you have brought this life into the world through caring for your body the best you could during a difficult time. I want to let you know that hey afterwards, we're going to need to do some work together, and you might need some time and that is not just okay but to be expected. Wouldn't that be a conversation you would have with anybody? It makes so much sense to me. But I've again, never heard it. Through that you've managed to figure out a way to still create. You're not just creating these babies, but you're also creating the word babies. You found time a little bit anyway to carve out for your writing.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Now that's a book title, the word babies. I'm going to write that down, and I'm going to give you all the credit. That is dope. The word babies, I love it.

Annmarie Kelly:
What helped to you pull you out of that place where you didn't trust yourself?

Naki Akrobettoe:
The things that I could think of, so the first thing was that I have genuine people who love me. What I mean by that, my friend [Mark Pierce 00:24:37] he's my editor, dear friend. The constant checking in, the constant just fueling me and remind me of the writer that I am, and that it's okay to take the time that I need, and still celebrating me as a human and as a person. For me truthfully prayer. There was a particular point that I hit, particularly this summer where I gave myself permission to be completely fully honest with God and was just like I don't like you right now. I'm angry with you, this is not okay, where are you? You know what I mean? I don't feel your presence in my life right now, I don't feel you... To be at that point where you're getting ready to walk away from your faith and just completely not believing anymore. That was scary to me, because I'm just like if I stop believing in God, then I really know the end is coming.

Naki Akrobettoe:
I remember doing a roll back in time of my life since I was a child, and the things that I've encountered and things that have happened to me that I cannot explain, that nobody else can explain, and it's left to me to say that was nothing but the grace of God. That was real, and I still hold those memories as milestones that God is real and God is present. My partner. Nothing is perfect, at the end of the day I am so grateful for his friendship and his understanding and his patience. I feel like it was those things in particular and just really being gentle with myself, like not pushing myself to do more than what I had the capacity to. If I didn't have it in me to shower that day, it was okay. It was the perseverance, it was I'm not giving up and just celebrating the small steps and just not taking those things for granted.

Annmarie Kelly:
I know what you mean. We talked to the writer Bunmi Laditan earlier this year who wrote a book called Dear God. She had poems about both belief and disbelief. Things like dear God what if I made you up? Dear God I am angry with you right now, I am so mad at you right now. But she was working through some of what you're describing. It was so good to just hear that out loud. That I think to be a person of faith, to be a believer, what do you do when you feel less faith or where you feel disbelief? For me it comes I do I look at my children. It can be totally easy and normal to lose yourself and lose your way, and feel like you will never write another word again.

Annmarie Kelly:
But you've been able to do some writing lately, and I'm wondering if there's anything you would be willing to share or tell us about. Because I feel like every time I have a baby my brain turns to marshmallow, I don't know left and right anymore. I've had three of them and every time it comes back. That itch I need to scratch comes back. That light I swear is gone comes back, and whether I believe they will or not the words they do, they creep back up and they tap me on the shoulder. You have to believe that it's in you somewhere, even when you can't see it or feel it.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Absolutely. I felt so far removed from poetry or just writing in general, and this was it. I just couldn't see myself going back into that space or having the desire to write the sadness that came with it. Because you just look at your journey and everything that you've poured yourself into to get to that point, and saying that this is it. I think for me I think it started with little journalings. For me I'm very good at I like to say just being in tune to the Holy Spirit, and just that spark. If there's a line that stands out to me, or if there's an image that I see trying to capture that. I've recently it's a nudge, I know it's a calling and I'm like I'm going to have to acknowledge it. But the thing that is the hardest for me to write about is my mother and being a mother.

Naki Akrobettoe:
I just feel like that's a whole narrative art that I have to pursue, and so I just feel like that's my next. What really sparked it was I was on a walk with my husband and our sons in a park, and it was just this refrain that kept coming to me that God will not let me die. Particularly when I was just thinking about the gift of writing that all the things that I've written, the plethora of journals that I have all throughout my house with my handwriting. My daughter asking to have one of the journals so she could read and have access to a side of me that she's never really had, or get to know me in a perspective that she doesn't really know. I'm glad to share with her. That right there has really helped me, and to know that it's still there, it's still there.

Annmarie Kelly:
I'm so glad. Have you written anything lately that you want to or would be willing to share with us? Even if it's not lately, would you be willing to share a poem?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Absolutely.

Annmarie Kelly:
I've had the great fortune to hear you read, but I don't know that our entire audience has, and I would love for them to be blessed in that way.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Yeah. This is the poem that I wrote that God won't let me die. God won't let me die. 3:00 AM rising, racing thoughts of creative [inaudible 00:30:47] like firecrackers. No special occasion just ready for justice. The only way to grab hold of dream is to chokehold each nightmare. Romance devastation into principle. Make nice with the enemy and love the adversary away, awaiting a matrimoniuos affair. Last night I did something different, I dreamt with my eyes open, seeing the frustration of the day as canvas. I paused, took deep breaths then prayed with conviction finally releasing the truth. My anger aimed at God, arrows of questions and accusations. Holy Spirit listened, allowing my rants to rattle and reverb into echoes of eternity. I realized God kept true to the word. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God is the word. I am that word, spoken and written, time capsuled into forever. Buried deep, forever reigning true. A promise kept, living and legend.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh my God. Thank you so much for being willing to share these words that aren't even out there yet written... Thank you.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Thank you.

Annmarie Kelly:
Oh my gosh, this image of you dreaming with your eyes open, I can exactly, exactly picture that. Permission to be angry at God. I didn't know that we were allowed to do that some of us, but it is actually okay, God has given us permission. It's okay to be angry with God. It's reminding me of the, I think it's Joan Didion's book, we tell ourselves stories in order to live. Nayomi Munaweera was on recently, and she said that the work of the storyteller is one of the oldest jobs.

Annmarie Kelly:
I think one of the only ones that's older is maybe the job of mother, and you're both. So you're a mother and a storyteller that this is one of the oldest jobs. It would've found you around a fire, it would've come for you. It was your job to be the word. You said I am the word, you are the word. You are the vessel and the vehicle for these children and for these words, and you are tasked with the oldest jobs, to put them out there and breathe breath into them and to dream with your eyes open. Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing that.

Naki Akrobettoe:
That was [inaudible 00:33:26]. Thank you for sharing what you just shared. Sometimes you need that different view and different perspective and it hits you differently. I think for me, I can take away from this conversation the reminder of how sacred that is to have that... To me it's me asking God what is my purpose, and God saying your purpose is to tell the story, to be the storyteller. Thank you for that.

Annmarie Kelly:
Absolutely. Well, I always want to talk to people all year, but I always get warnings like you're supposed to wrap it up, these people have to go. I have to do a wrap up. I always do a closing introduction, so I'm going to ask you some quick questions and you can just pick one okay? All right dogs or cats?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Oh, neither. If I'm being honest neither. I'm not a pet person.

Annmarie Kelly:
I want honesty.

Naki Akrobettoe:
I got kids.

Annmarie Kelly:
Right, who needs that? Coffee or tea?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Recently coffee. Mocha particularly.

Annmarie Kelly:
Nice. Mountains or beach?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Beach. Beach, water all day.

Annmarie Kelly:
Early bird or night owl?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Night owl.

Annmarie Kelly:
I haunt the house too. I'll be texting you. The Last of the Mohicans or Hidden Figures?

Naki Akrobettoe:
The Last of the Mohicans. That's my favorite. That's one of my favorite movies, absolutely. That's a good question.

Annmarie Kelly:
My sister loves that movie, and I'm not going to lie, I fell asleep watching it. Give me a 30 second advertisement for why I should watch that movie again?

Naki Akrobettoe:
The soundtrack. The soundtrack makes the movie and the story just all come together. To me I just feel like it's the ultimate love story too.

Annmarie Kelly:
Are you a risk taker or the person who knows where the band-aids are?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Risk taker.

Annmarie Kelly:
What's one of your go-to songs.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Lauren Hill, Peace of Mind. I Gotta Find a Peace of Mind.

Annmarie Kelly:
So good, so good. I might have to listen to that right after this. If we had the rights we'd be playing it right now, but you really can't, you're not allowed to do that. What's a book that you love?

Naki Akrobettoe:
That's a good question. No Disrespect by Sister Souljah. Love the way that book was written.

Annmarie Kelly:
I have not thought of that book in years.

Naki Akrobettoe:
It's a very profound book. I had my 14 year old read it and she loved it.

Annmarie Kelly:
Did she?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Oh yeah.

Annmarie Kelly:
I have a 16 year old I'm wondering sometimes things I loved they don't. You'll be like this was really important to me, and your children are like mm-mm. What's your favorite ice cream?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Neapolitan.

Annmarie Kelly:
It's technically three flavors but...

Naki Akrobettoe:
Well then chocolate, chocolate is my favorite. I love chocolate ice cream.

Annmarie Kelly:
No, I think it counts because you're right they all come in the same one, and you can do a scoop that's like all three of them.

Naki Akrobettoe:
All three yap, that's why I love it. So you getting the blend.

Annmarie Kelly:
I feel like when we would get it as we were kids, there'd always be one flavor everybody wanted and dug out. So we would just dig down, everybody would want the strawberry and leave the chocolate or vanilla alone. But if you can roll across that's all three it's nice. Last one, if we were to take a picture of you joyful and doing something you love, what would we see?

Naki Akrobettoe:
Me dancing with my partner and kids. That's us, we love to dance to music in the house.

Annmarie Kelly:
I love that. Well, Naki Akrobettoe thank you so much for making time for us today. You once shared a mantra poem on Facebook and you talked about how to make a better day. You talked about hold memories of the morning bird song, catch a ladybug, caterpillar my way to new normal, owl my way to wisdom in the night, parrot my way into color and rainbow, be feather light. I think those are some of my wishes for you. I'm just turning you right back onto you and saying hold the memories of those bird songs, find that wisdom, be rainbows and light. Thank you for your work please keep doing it. Keep sending it out here because you strike my heartstrings, and you find a place into my heart that hasn't gone away, and I know that, that will be true for others who are fortunate to learn and love the words you create.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Listen, you are a Godsend, and I thank God for you. I appreciate you. I feel like God sends me particular women who mentor and motivate me in a way that other people don't. I definitely can say that you're one of those women. You have been and I needed this. Thank you.

Annmarie Kelly:
Thank you so much, you're making me cry here. Well, we are neighbors right down the 271 and 71, Cleveland and Columbus, I can come down and you can teach me how to dance.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Yes.

Annmarie Kelly:
I think that you're right, that this last year what it has taught me and again, two thumbs down on the pandemic, I'm not a fan. But what it has taught me is not to waste time when I see love and beauty and wonder in someone to say I see your love and your beauty and your wonder, thank you for your youness. We were so alone and so without companionship, and in many ways still are. I still haven't gotten my girlfriends in a room. We're still alone. So not wasting time, just telling people when we see their light and thanking them for it. I see your light and I thank you for it. This is just the first of many conversations, I look forward to our next one.

Naki Akrobettoe:
Absolutely.

Annmarie Kelly:
Thank you though. So to everyone out there, please be good to yourselves, be good to one another, and we're going to see you again just like we're going to see Naki again on this wild and precious journey. Wild Precious Life is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. Special thanks to executive producers, Gerardo Orlando and Michael DeAloia, producer Sarah Willgrube and audio engineer, Ian Douglas. Be sure to subscribe and follow us on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

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