How to Stay Sane Amid The Chaos

How to Stay Sane Amid The Chaos

While scrolling through my Facebook news feed one day, a friend expressed feeling “some kind of way” after this most recent act of terror in San Bernardino. All I could do was send her wishes of love and light, pray for her, and vow to cover her with what I call a virtual woman canvas. I know that there are countless others who feel very much like her. Could this really be the new normal when tragic events unfold with such regularity, that they dare us to forget what we once thought was so urgent?

From domestic and international acts of violence and terrorism, to the more local yet nationwide systemic injustices that send children to prisons, to the inadequate systems of education that continue to fail children already within the margins, to the innumerable trending hashtags that publicly decry injustices and a Massive Cover-Up at every turn, it’s a wonder folks haven’t lost their natural minds. My very own wellness can be broken by the weight of the world.


As a woman of faith, I know that every battle isn’t mine to fight, but as a writer who has accepted her creative calling, I know that I bear a responsibility to not create for mere entertainment value; but rather, I am to probe deeper, ask the bigger questions, make the connections, and create in a way that isn’t self-serving. I am convinced, however, that my usefulness as an artist will be compromised without regular boundary-setting and adherence to some disciplined practices for my soul’s preservation.

How does one create or serve when s/he feels like they’re on the brink of insanity, or get to feeling some kind of way? What does it mean to feel this way? Is it hopelessness or resignation? Is it fear or inadequacy? Is it bottled rage?

“… he [the artist] must always know that visible reality hides a deeper one, and that all our action and achievement rest on things unseen … a higher level of consciousness among the people is the only hope we have, now or in the future, of minimizing human damage.” (James Baldwin, The Price Of The Ticket, Collected Nonfiction, 1948 – 1985)

This intense questioning and reflection uncovered some plainspoken but oft-forgotten inspiration that I believe can help us stay sane amid the chaos of today’s world:

  1. Surrender to Something Greater: your God, Spirit, a consistent framework of faith or belief in which you cast your cares, and steep your burdens, for you cannot possibly carry them all.
  2. Acceptance. There are many causes, but there is only one of you. Your small way must be sufficient for it is part of a bigger collective of “small” ways that will undoubtedly make a difference.
  3. Be Intentional: Make the moments be about the moments. More than your physical presence alone, intentionality requires a broader consciousness and awareness. Put the phone down. Restrain your need to share, tweet, or snap it. Ask yourself, “what am I aiming toward?,” then direct your every thought and action toward that purpose. (I am constantly working on this one.)

  4. Play…. for Real: Play like Serena Williams, like the best of them. Go all in. Whether for that power negotiation, an interview, or a game of Scrabble with your family, go all in and keep your eyes on the prize. You didn’t just come to play; you came to carry out a specific goal.
  5. Engage: Make eye contact. Read body language. Touch. Hold and feel the hands that are in yours. Make a point to hear and recall the names and stories of folk you meet. Show them that you’ve listened.
  6. Embrace The Rain: Rain is perhaps one of the most physical metaphors for life; it speaks to the inconvenient times in our lives though it is purposeful and instructive. Rain washes away what is no longer useful, renews and replenishes, and most importantly, it gets us off the road and back inside. Speaking of which…
  7. Get Back Inside: It’s okay to be alone. In that space and time, we can hear ourselves and better understand our identity in, and relationship with, the world. Go within.
  8. Love: Choose love. Even while sharing your rightful outrage – sometimes through courageous truth-telling that will hardly be popular – choose love, because love is what has kept you this long.
  9. Be Well: Too much bad news is bad for your health, and can deal a quick death to creativity. Find a balance that keeps you whole. Get your exercise. Slow down to savor a seat along with your meal.

There is remarkable potentiality in community, but in order to harness that potentiality, we must first be well and rooted in more than our privilege, opinions, legalities, or “rights” alone. Let us do a better job of being attentive to our mental health and wellbeing so we can, in turn, better listen to and serve one other because we do need each other. I am most certain that by the time this post gets to you, there will be yet another event to give you pause, in which case, you should return to number one and begin all over again!

It is my belief that we all want to be well, so do share. How do you keep your sanity amid the chaos?


About More Than The “Inner City Blues”

The poem Massive Coverup (click for audio), appears in A Journey Of Life On Purpose, written by Avril Somerville and is available on Amazon (Score composed by FunkyLB Brown)

Image Credit: Johannes Plenio


  1. James Baldwin on the Creative Process and the Artist’s Responsibility to Society Maria Popova
  2. The Weight in Being Well: The Salt Eaters and the Genius of Toni Cade Bambara Joel Diaz, Steven G. Fullwood
  3. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind Joceyln K. Glei, 99U
  4. Kalief Browder, 1993 – 2015 Jennifer Gonnerman






Just Can’t Keep it to Myself! (Pt. 2)

Say it Loud!

As promised in Just Can’t Keep it to Myself! (Pt.1), today’s post  captures the additional lessons and insight I gleaned from the second episode of Oprah Presents Master Class series, featuring the great master herself. Again, I came away with some remarkable lessons, many of which we know on some level, but rarely receive in one sitting, or heard with such honest delivery. The weaving of the lessons, interspersed with the chronology of events – her prior career as a news anchor, her time on “People are Talking”, getting and commanding the role of Sophia in The Color Purple, and ultimately owning and hosting the most successful and influential talk show ever, and now OWN – was well worth the listen. Oprah’s words (more or less) appear in italics below. All synopses and spin are composed and penned by yours truly! Enjoy! 🙂

  • “Set the Intention.” When Oprah’s talk show first came on the scene, Oprah had already set the intention that the show would be about people having the power to change their own lives. As such, it would be used as a vehicle for making a difference…about the “interconnected(ness) in the human experience.” To be most effective, she realized that you had to “step up your game”, and “…run that race as hard as you can”.  Articulate your intentions and stay the course! Don’t chisel away at your core, trying to beat someone else at their game. Stay focused on bringing those intentions to life.
  • “All of life is about growing into your own personal best, to your own greatness.” All of your experiences create the stage and provide the training ground for your best experiences yet. Their sum uniquely prepares you for your own defining moment, that space which I call “greater”. Rather than viewing the not-so-pleasant moments as inconvenient or unfortunate, ask yourself what the experience is trying to teach you, and aim to come away from it more enriched and empowered, so that you are better equipped for that moment.
  • “Life is about growth and change. When you’re no longer growing or changing, that is your ‘whisper'”. Yesterday, I commented via Facebook that, “If where you stand can no longer contain your gifts, hold your beauty, or sustain you, uproot! Get out of that lil’ bitty pot! You were designed to bloom, beautify, grow! Get to new ground – that fertile place where you can re-plant and reposition if necessary – that place that can sustain your need for growth, for transformation. Think. Grow. Evolve. Yes!” The knowledge that it’s time to move on may not be heard as a thunderous roar, but as a gentler inner-voice. So, get into a place that will help you to grow into your own greatness!
  • “Anybody pretending to be anything other than what they truly are will never, ever reach their personal potential.”  Be yourself! You were uniquely made to walk in, and give off your own light. Strut in it! Give it…of your own self! Those who need to be blessed by what can only be delivered by, and through you, will most certainly be blessed.
  • “There is no doubt that when the energy…is correct…in sync with what is to come your way…there is a space that you create that allows that to happen.” I’m not big on metaphysics, but I get it. Create the spaces that will allow your greatness to explode! Surround yourself with good, like-minded synergistic energy. Eliminate bearers of toxic energy, put-downs, or ambivalence. They have no place in your space.
  • You have to take responsibility for the space you hold here, and understand that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (3rd law of motion)…everything that I put out will come back.” Act responsibly. Your life is not an accident, and neither are your actions. As such, your actions are purposeful and deliberate, like the brush strokes of an artist. Choose the right colors, technique, canvas, or temperament, and something beautiful will undoubtedly result!
  • “How far (away) you are from the center (of)…your divine connection, is how out of sync you are with your life.”  I believe that this alignment is the only one that truly matters, as it allows you to do everything else. Get grounded. Engage in those regular practices that keep you in the flow.

Get in the flow and stay in the flow!

If you still want more, tune in for both episodes, which air in their entirety on Friday, April 8 at 9/8 C on OWN.

Some musical inspiration for your mind and body:
“Nobody Can Be You”,  by Steve Arrington