Intentionality As A Tool for Authentic Living

With a solid week of 2018 in the books, how are we doing? Are we still all guns blazing with intention? What about our creative and spiritual gifts? Are we adamantly designing the lives we claim to want, or is it a very real temptation Continue reading Intentionality As A Tool for Authentic Living

Won and Done?

Part of the¬†answer to the question,¬†How Free Exactly Do You Want to Be? lies¬†in how vulnerable and authentic we are willing to be when and if we¬†show up. We must know that¬†all¬†of our life experiences can¬†be¬†useful and instructive, much in the same way the words of our ancestors are for us now. What we write and share has the potential to be the very salt for someone else’s stew of life. Regardless of how hard we think we’ve fought, we can¬†hardly be done.

Just one day after the 2016 United States Presidential Election, I was more than Continue reading Won and Done?

How Free Exactly Do You Want to Be?

Throughout the month of November, I will share with you some close and undeniable truths that I believe will set us free for real. These posts will vary in length and¬†will end with a question for your personal contemplation. Ultimately, the sum of this time will help you better answer the question of “How Free Exactly Do You Want to Be?” for yourself, and find steps you¬†can take to help¬†you get there.

I am allowing myself to be led and used by the Spirit, so Continue reading How Free Exactly Do You Want to Be?

Creativity as Resistance: My Will to Live

We live in a torn world.

While there is obvious truth to¬†this lament, the ‚Äúworld‚ÄĚ itself is hardly this nebulous galaxy of unsuspecting or vague entities, but rather, of people with the ability to think and do different and better‚ÄĒpeople who set its orbit into motion through repeated¬†microaggressions, complicity, acts of outright violence, and wars that continue to assail the very human spirit.¬†The political and social unrest in this country alone has become¬†so unbelievably disconcerting and predictable that one can easily acquiesce to this as the new normal.

Though I have also made the observation that the world seems to have¬†gone mad, I refuse to readily embrace new Continue reading Creativity as Resistance: My Will to Live

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.

#SayHerName
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody
#BlackLivesMatter
#WhyWeCantWait
#ThoughtsAndPrayers
#WhyTheyShootMe
#PrayForParis
#BlackLivesMatter

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.)

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  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…
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  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 ‚Äď sometimes through courageous truth-telling that will hardly be popular ‚Ästchoose 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”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Ykv1D0qEE

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

References:

  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