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Nneka M. Okona :
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Nneka M. Okona is a writer based in Atlanta and a current member of the Collaborative Leaders in Action inaugural cohort in Atlanta. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter @nisfornneka.
August 2nd, 2013

My old faithful hunter green suitcase trailed behind me as I emerged from the terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York City in April.
Although I had been planning my first trip to the Big Apple for months, my excitement completely disappeared when I ascended from the terminal to be greeted by scowling, impatient faces and noise that buzzed in my eardrums.
My sister met me as I exited the baggage claim area and escorted me to the bus that would take me to the chic Harlem apartment I’d be staying in with a friend.
Instead of being thrilled and excited, waiting for the skyline to appear as I rode the bus for nearly two hours, I concentrated on the frigid air that tickled my feet, whizzed up my legs, and enveloped my upper…

May 28th, 2013

In the book of Genesis, Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob, was a dreamer. Not a lofty-ideas-about-his-future and mighty-ambitions dreamer, but a fall-asleep-and-have-vivid-dreams-that-relentlessly-came-from-God dreamer.
He had a series of dreams, as detailed in Genesis 37, which suggested he would one day wield a great deal of power as a ruler. But Joseph didn’t want these dreams. They actually plagued his nights. To seek some sort of relief, he told his brothers about them — brothers who already had a great distaste for and jealousy of Joseph churning inside them.
So, the story goes like this: Joseph was sold into slavery by his envious brothers and ultimately rose to become the second-in-command…

February 12th, 2013

Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, has long been one of my favorite days of the year. Mostly because, for all of my childhood, the day before Ash Wednesday (when I went to church and had some weird, dark substance smudged on my forehead) was dedicated to eating delicious, fattening food.
On Fat Tuesday the pink- and white-speckled countertops in the kitchen I grew up in were loaded with my (unhealthy) favorites: Spinach dip loaded with fresh artichokes and spinach, teeming with globs of sour cream, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Rotel dip with ground beef swimming in canned Campbell’s cheese soup and Rotel diced tomatoes. Red velvet cookies topped with syrupy, sweet cream cheese frosting. Hot wings…

January 9th, 2013

New Year’s resolutions make my liver quiver. Yet each year, I’ve begun with hope and the resolve to point my life in a new direction, armed with ways to do better and be better.
Those intentions usually fall by the wayside by the end of January.
Plans to lose those 10 pounds, save more money, watch less television, and guzzle only a small amount of Sprite each week quickly wane, and I settle comfortably into my old habits from the previous year.
But this year has been different. I completed my master’s of arts degree in a writing program in December. I’ve entered a new phase of life — one that requires I live on a different wavelength than I ever have before.
This rings especially true in regard to my spiritual…

November 20th, 2012

In kindergarten, I vividly remember my teacher dividing our class into two groups at Thanksgiving: the pilgrims and the Native Americans. I was a Native American, and in the days leading up to our Thanksgiving feast, I meticulously colored my headband (which had feathers attached) and a paper grocery bag that would be the papoose I carried on my back.
Our school Thanksgiving feast was served on mint green Styrofoam trays that squeaked when they moved. We dined on sodium-saturated green beans, dry macaroni and cheese, rubbery sliced turkey, a buttery yeast roll dripping with honey, and stuffing topped with cranberry sauce and breadcrumbs.
My classmates and I sat at a long table facing one another and ate together.…

October 1st, 2012
Clearly hearing and figuring out God's call in your life

From as early as I can remember, I wanted to be a pediatrician. I had a righteous inclination that God wanted me to be the person to heal others through medicine. This vision persisted until my sophomore year of college, at which point I had to admit to myself I really was not destined to be a pediatrician after a year of struggling through chemistry courses.
During that first year of college, I kept thinking to myself that it didn’t make sense. I was putting so much effort into chemistry — studying for all my quizzes and tests, doing countless practice exercises, attending office hours when I didn’t understand a concept, never missing a lab. My grades weren’t a reflection of the hard work.…

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