The Blog

“You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free. Your. Mind.” – Morpheus, in The Matrix movie

The Blog is an exploration of the counterfear work.  More here:  "About the Blog."

This blog is a dynamic tool.  As stories unfold and content builds, you can use the buttons below to search for blog topics you are interested in.  Each Focus Area has a tag.  All blog post entries are original unless noted.  Contact us to ask about posting as a guest.  All blog post comments are moderated and may be delayed until approved.

Counterfear tools are tagged.  Each can be found below via the tags noted here, or on its own page, "Counterfear Tools (in blog)".  The 15 Tools to Make Shift Happen are addressed separately.

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There's Something Happening Here

Friday, June 12, 2020
Way back at the beginning of all of this before this Administration even came into office, I hoped that the US intelligence and national security... Read more

We Have To Take Care Of Each Other

Thursday, June 11, 2020
There is a lot of tragedy around. That is an understatement It's going to hit all of us at different times and in different ways. From all the things.... Read more

Trump's Daily Decision

Thursday, June 4, 2020
In all of the outrageous things happening in the US, Donald Trump continues to choose every single day not to use the full power, strength, capabilities,... Read more

Things To Hold On To

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Some Big Picture Parts Hey! It's another super long post! This one puts some of the pieces together in one place that we're not all talking about as a big... Read more

Time To Think Deeper Resilience

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Folks it's time to think deeper resilience. Put your contingency plans in place. Write down the phone numbers you need. Have backup plans for meeting... Read more

Fighting For Each Other

Monday, June 1, 2020
We're in a hell of a moment. If you are hoping that it is going to calm down, I'm here to tell you that it won't. We just had a series of super spreader... Read more

Yet Another Trump - Putin Call In A Sea Of Outrageousness

Monday, June 1, 2020
Here's a random data point for all the trippy stuff happening today out of the White House and in DC: Trump and Putin talked today. Heaven knows what... Read more

More Death & Destruction Is Coming Whether You See It Or Not

Monday, May 25, 2020
Lots of helplessness, worry, frustration, anger, and rage on my feed today. I've got it too. I'm going to say some uncomfortable stuff here as a disaster... Read more

Creating the Space - Coronavirus Version

Saturday, May 23, 2020
There's this scene in the movie The Matrix where the survivors have hit a rough spot.  Most of the team has been killed by the bad guys, who have taken one of the good guys hostage to break into their most sacred space; the space where the rest of humanity survives.  The team is deciding to remotely kill the one who has been... Read more

The Great Transformation

Sunday, May 3, 2020
In a 2012 keynote speech at the Smithsonian, I heard a renowned system scientist say: "The challenge of our lifetimes will be to manage the decline of civilization."  It felt like every single person in that auditorium stopped breathing. Like time paused; if only for a moment. I've never been in... Read more

Stay Grounded / Prioritize Everything

Monday, April 6, 2020
Today I offer two pieces of advice in this time of increasing intensity. The first is to try and stay grounded. To not panic. The second is to... Read more

There Is No National Coordination System - There Are 12

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
There Is No Single National Coordination System For Disaster Response NO, there is no single US system to help everyone in every state and in every hospital get the... Read more

He's Got Space Dementia!

Thursday, March 26, 2020
"He's got space dementia!" It's a silly quote from the absurd not-quite-an-apocalypse movie, Armageddon. Here we are in our own not-quite-an-apocalypse (I... Read more

3 Things To Demand From Legislators

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Wondering what to demand from your legislators? Please share widely. These 3 federal authorities & capabilities are not being fully used. People will... Read more

3 Huge Federal Things Not Fully Activating

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Three Huge Things The US Government Is Deliberately Not Fully Activating That Could Help Keep You Alive: 1 -- The Defense Production Act. 2 -- The... Read more

We're Going To Need Dreams As We Go Through This

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Disasters can be dream-killers. We don't really talk about them that way. Yet they wipe out people and neighborhoods and livelihoods. There's another... Read more

Pandemics Are Not Survived On Hope

Monday, March 23, 2020
"Rebellions are built on hope." - Star Wars' Rogue One. Pandemics are not survived on it. There's a persistent hope that this is going to be over soon.... Read more

We Are WAY Behind (Plus The 4 Things)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020
The federal coronavirus response, being touted by the media as something that will be lovely and helpful, is ramping up way later than it should have. One... Read more

4 Things To Help Navigate The Biggest US Disruption In A Century

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
I feel like the US is slowly catching up to what I've known for years. I knew we were not ready for a catastrophe - especially more than one at a time. I... Read more

Navigating Information Overwhelm

Friday, March 13, 2020
One of the things that happens in disasters is information overwhelm. Especially in the information age. It's a big issue inside the response, but it's a... Read more

Machinery Behind The Scenes Of Big COVID-19 Announcements

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Big Infrastructure Action NCAA cancelled in-person attendance at the March Madness tournament today. This post is a super quick look at how some post-9/11... Read more

On Devolution

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Today's word is "devolution." Yesterday I talked about two fairly dark subjects... pandemic planning, and continuity of government / continuity of operations... Read more

Parts Of Why This Could Be Bad - Continuity, Complexity, Cascading Effects

Monday, March 9, 2020
The darkest areas I've ever worked in in disaster management are continuity planning, and pandemic planning. The worst-case scenarios are usually too much... Read more

The Power of Federalism, Plus 2 Tools

Saturday, February 29, 2020
This official US Government tweet shows the level of professionalism and calm we are going to get from the federal government in this crisis: obviously very... Read more

Hopefully Not Going Full Apocalypse

Saturday, February 29, 2020
I don't think we're going to go full apocalypse. There may be people who see posts like mine and the widespread increasing panic out there and think we are... Read more

Play Time Is Over

Friday, February 28, 2020
Play time is over. If you don't think the pandemic threat of coronavirus is worth taking seriously, then you're not paying attention to the ENTIRE FREAKING... Read more

Ramp-Up, Declarations, Institutions, Federalism

Friday, February 28, 2020
Today's Take Why all of this action internationally? It's a risk calculation. There's risk here, and it's real. There's death here, too. Pretty big economic... Read more

Haunting National Security Post

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Hello! It's the middle of the night, and apparently this is the time in which I decide to write haunting posts about homeland security. Tonight's post is... Read more

The Moment Has Arrived

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
I pull a lot of my wisdom from movies. The great mythology of our time. This one from the Matrix hits me at some of the most powerful, toughest... Read more

It Almost Certainly Is Going To Be A Pandemic

Monday, February 3, 2020
Two enormous factors converging. You never know what will cause the perfect storm. We can see the risk landscape intensifying though: *** The constitutional... Read more

Stopping The Sellout

Thursday, January 23, 2020
(UNCENSORED) I'm feeling some overwhelm and I imagine I'm not the only one. So what do we do in this moment? Some have given up. Looks like many in the... Read more

Shift In The World Order

Sunday, January 12, 2020
In June of 2001 I went on a date. We ended up in a very detailed discussion -- or rather, an argument -- about how the US could experience a very serious... Read more

Unexpected Lessons From The Life Coach Who Ran For President

Friday, January 10, 2020
So this happened today. It is part of my mission this year to support the Democratic nominee for president. As such, I've been keeping my opinions on each... Read more

It's Not Doom & Gloom - It's To Get Ready

Thursday, January 9, 2020
I've been told that I put up a lot of gloom and doom stuff. Thing is -- I don't see it that way. We're better prepared for the unimaginable when we can... Read more

3 Clear Ways To Counter Fear

Friday, January 3, 2020
We're at nothing short of an enormous moment. Tonight, the United States of America took out the second most senior official of Iran. A lot of fear... Read more

Forms, Fractures, & The Transformation Of Tyranny

Friday, August 23, 2019
It's easy to get overwhelmed and overtaken by the slow tsunami. The forms we are used to are hypnotic and reassuring, but that doesn't change the... Read more

The Dimished Fight Against Domestic Terrorists

Saturday, August 3, 2019
As a reminder, one of the first things the Trump Administration did in the early months was to attempt to or to successfully shut down the office for... Read more

Active Shooter in El Paso - Quick Tools

Saturday, August 3, 2019
Police in #ElPaso, TX responding to an active shooter at/near one of the largest US malls. What can you do? Learn how to Stop the Bleed, & help your... Read more

Clarion Call: Time To Do Different Things

Friday, August 2, 2019
Hi all! I started this as a little life update, but it turns out it's more of a clarion call.I feel like I'm on the eve of something big. We're in a time of... Read more

Found My Resonance: It's Shifting The Country

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
The Spectre When it comes to dealing with the current state of the country, I feel like I had a bit of a head start.  I moved to Iowa from Washington, DC in the fall of 2015… just as the races were really heating up for the Iowa Caucus set for February of 2016.  So much for leaving the politics of Washington. As I started to settle into my new life in the midwest, the spectre of Donald Trump was becoming more ominous.  He seemed to be everywhere.  His intention to be a disruptor was crystal clear. I had a talk about Mr. Trump on a phone call with a friend of mine around that time.  It was November of 2015, and I can tell you right... Read more

Our Weakening Homeland Security

Saturday, June 22, 2019
This piece was inspired by this New York Times story, "ICE Is Expected to Begin Operation on Sunday Targeting 2,000 Immigrant Family Members".  Related story... Read more

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

Saturday, June 22, 2019
Late night commiserating, here. And fight. I am super frustrated lately with a) judgment and b) unnecessary meanness. Oh, and c) dismissiveness. These... Read more

Attempted Bombings

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
I wish I could say I was surprised about the attempted bombings and/or suspicious packages today that were sent to political figures in the US. It sounds brazen to say I was not surprised.  It might sound callous.  It’s... Read more

Knowledge IS Power: Why We Need the Scientific Method

Monday, October 22, 2018
I just went on a five minute rant to a local Facebook friend about the scientific method. Y'all, I've taken three classes in philosophy of science and... Read more

A More Open World: Navigating Social Media Overwhelm

Saturday, October 20, 2018
Overwhelmed by social media? The thing is, people were ugly before. What's changed is that now we are seeing it. We are in a more open world. We can see... Read more

Embracing the Space Social Media Brings

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
I like the space on social media because we can see how much other people really very deeply care about this country. What I see here is some very thoughtful... Read more

Fight Conspiracy Theories: The Presidential Alert

Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Hey!  Are you concerned by the “presidential alert” today?  Here’s your opportunity to fight rumor-mongering and conspiracy theories… The president does not have your phone number!  The... Read more

Stop Waiting For Something Bad To Happen: It Has (And There Are Things You Can Do About It)

Saturday, August 4, 2018
If you are under the impression that the United States government can do nothing to fight Russian cyber actions and attacks, to help states with election security, to help with detection of cyber threats to states or companies or federal systems, or to take offensive cyber... Read more

Holding the Line: DNI Coats On The Record In Aspen

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Here’s my quick high-level reaction to DNI Coats’ lengthy live interview on NBC today.  Fascinating that the Aspen Security Forum is the same week that the US president kowtows to an enemy of the US known to have attacked us, and speaks AGAIN against the US... Read more

Alloys Forged in the Fires of Fracture

Thursday, July 19, 2018
The fractures on the “social pages” these days are, perhaps unusually, reflective of the fractures spreading elsewhere – between friends and families, and within communities. As an... Read more

Why I Stopped Salsa Dancing (or, Russia Doesn't Play)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
I’d bet that lots who have worked in national security keep quiet about certain things – even in light of any given news, reveals, or leaks.  Many have also been speaking out through various media.  Twitter is a hotbed of national security discussion.  Among other things. Here’s my national security... Read more

When "Burning It All Down" Has Begun

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
The thing is, when people take action meant to burn it all down, there's a chance it will actually all burn down. Once a disastrous fire is burning, you don't know where it will... Read more

Deep Resilience: The Hidden Work of Government Continuity

Saturday, June 30, 2018
There are a few things I don’t talk about very much, and one of them is Continuity of Government (COG).  It’s about actions and protocols that maintain the continuity of Constitutional US government.  It’s not a light subject.  It doesn’t come into the light in the public sphere very often. Yet. I very recently watched an episode of the CBS TV show Madam Secretary called “Night Watch” (summary here) that aired May... Read more

America The More Vulnerable (Why I March)

Saturday, June 30, 2018
Big day for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Nationwide protests of its activities. Federal Protective Service, or FPS, which is in NPPD... Read more

DHS ICE HSI Agents Send Protest Letter To Secretary

Friday, June 29, 2018
I get very serious when it comes to what homeland security is supposed to be about.  We can push exactly that as a critical message at this time. It's directly related... Read more

Despondency Doesn't Save Democracy

Wednesday, June 27, 2018
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair.  Be hopeful, be optimistic.  Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.  Never ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” – Representative John Lewis Things are getting more intense, here in the U.S. of A.  We’re in a near-constant ramping up of, well, a whole heck of a lot. This weekend, a protest... Read more

Homeland Security: Action Calls & Election Issues

Tuesday, June 26, 2018
× × × PLEASE SHARE WIDELY × × × When you're making action calls, and/or preparing for the 2018 mid-term elections: Ask which homeland security priorities... Read more

Actions For You & Yours In An Active Shooter Incident

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Active shooter again today.  This time it's at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School (#StonemanShooting) in #ParklandFlorida. Every time there is an active shooter incident, it is a chance to think and talk about how you would react.  It is a chance for... Read more

Doing The Same Thing Over & Over Doesn't Cause Change

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Y'all, @600 people were shot at one single incident in the past year in Las Vegas. There are active shooter incidents every few days in the US. Orlando in... Read more

So You Want To Help Counter Election Interference

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The Risk & The Election This week, the US Intelligence Community (IC) said in public that the country’s next election is threatened by Russia. They said this already about the last election. The... Read more

Holding The Line: Law & Order

Thursday, January 25, 2018
The Institution Is Essential Institutions matter. They are the anchors to society, the social contract, and government itself. When it is your... Read more

The Mueller-Oprah Phenomenon, & Another Way

Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Holding Out for a Hero No one person is going to save the day – or the country.  It's not Special Counsel Mueller.  Despite all of the twitterpation since Sunday’s Golden Globes that Oprah... Read more

Allowing Hope In

Saturday, December 30, 2017
I keep leaving fire.  It’s a funny thing to leave, because the ways in which I leave are not really visible to the fire world.  They’re quiet – as so many leavings are.  They vary, too.  I left the field for fire management.  I left fire management to work on post-9/11 stuff in Washington, DC.  I left that because it didn’t... Read more

Tool: Hold The Line

Thursday, November 16, 2017
UPDATE:  This post is duplicated as a Services page, "Holding the Line," and is a Counterfear Tool.  Since it was originally posted, the US has been experiencing increasing chaos; especially in mid-2020.  This area of work - holding the line - can help with the part of the mission of the... Read more

It's Time To Talk About National Security

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
My advice today:  it is time to talk about National Security. This is the dialogue.  This isn't about politics.  This isn't about anything else now but a threat to the security of... Read more

Not Panicking... When You're the Fire Department

Thursday, October 12, 2017
There is a scene in the movie Roxanne, where the fire chief walks into his small-town Colorado fire department on a summer evening, and a 50-gallon drum is on fire in the station.  He hollers up to the volunteers, who... Read more

Decision Support Information (Incident Intelligence)

Thursday, October 12, 2017
The Basics of Fire Intelligence I had a super sexy sounding job once as a Fire Intelligence Coordinator at “South Ops,” the busiest interagency emergency coordination center in the world.  Our job as one of eleven geographic area coordination centers in the US was to coordinate regional... Read more

My List: As Long As Any Woman's List

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
"Pissed off women move mountains." - Me (Vanessa Burnett) I see that a whole lot of my women Facebook friends are sharing their stories of icky man interactions.  Assault.  Rape. ... Read more

We Need to be Careful on Wildfire & Climate Ties

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
We need to be careful about citing every intense wildfire as tied to climate change. California has a natural fire ecology, frequently severe fires, high fire... Read more

Holding Space for Las Vegas With Our Actions

Monday, October 2, 2017
Holding space today for everyone in Las Vegas and those connected to the incident. Unfortunately, active shooters are part of our way of life now. We can hold space for those affected, but we... Read more

Humanity in Vegas

Monday, October 2, 2017
This quote is from a witness in the Las Vegas mass shooting.  His name is Anthony, filmed with his girlfriend Dillon. He was interviewed by Jo Ling Kent, NBC News Correspondent at 8:05 p.m.... Read more

Inclusive Pricing Launches October 2017

Sunday, October 1, 2017
Join the Accessible Rates Revolution One of the things about running a business is that you do need to actually bring in money.  It’s a key feature. The intention of this business is to help people counter fear, and to be able to... Read more

On True Believers

Sunday, September 10, 2017
“Why does everyone assume when I’m talking about belief, I’m talking about God?  I don’t care what you believe – just… believe it!” – Reverend Book, Serenity  The idea of the true believer has come up again in my life, so I thought it would be useful to put a piece together... Read more

Disaster Emotion: On Heartbreak & Resilience

Thursday, September 7, 2017
This piece is long, and I’m okay with that.  Sadness and hard truths aren’t always short stories. We are at a unique time in America, when hundreds of thousands are being affected by disaster of some type.  There are incredible wildfires across the western US, Texas and Louisiana are in response and recovery from Hurricane Harvey and its incredible related flooding, and Hurricane Irma is... Read more

Ill Will & Name-Calling

Thursday, September 7, 2017
Today I’m fired up.  I get in a state when there are impending catastrophes, especially given the fact that we’ve already got one or two well underway. Years ago, I committed to living my life well within my own integrity.  For me, this means loving people, giving folks a chance, and embracing... Read more

Keeping My Damn Voice

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
There are moments... and I find myself tempted to temper my voice to meet some perceived Important Mission. Here's the thing, though. I tempered my voice... Read more

Yellow Clouds Today (a.k.a Wildfire System Info)

Monday, September 4, 2017
We have yellow clouds and light in Iowa today, and I have been avoiding verifying the reason all day. I try to stay out of wildland fire news because it is... Read more

Texas Flooding: Infrastructure Interdependencies

Thursday, August 31, 2017
Two examples of cascading infrastructure impacts and infrastructure interdependencies from the Texas Flooding: Baptist Beaumont Hospital is evacuating... Read more

Natural Disasters & Terrorism & Critical Infrastructure, Oh My

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Quick post in reference to this story:  "Chemical plant struck by Harvey now likely to explode." I'll be damned if I didn't spend my first week in the US... Read more

Disaster Resilience, on the Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Today in 2005, Hurricane Katrine hit. I was in a Department of the Interior (DOI) headquarters emergency management office, with new internal mapping... Read more

Public Private Partnerships in Hurricane Harvey

Tuesday, August 29, 2017
This is a nice piece on what the private sector is doing to support Hurricane Harvery:  "What Corporate America is doing to help Hurricane Harvey... Read more

10 Ways to Help in Hurricane Harvey Disaster

Monday, August 28, 2017
Hurricane Harvey aka Tropical Storm Harvey is unfolding as the largest US catastrophe since Hurricane Katrina. Rain and flooding are expected to continue this week. What can you do to help?... Read more

On Presidents Visiting Disasters

Monday, August 28, 2017
Just as an FYI, any time a US president visits a disaster - any president, and any disaster - it is usually not helpful to the disaster itself. The media... Read more

Catastrophe in a Catastrophe: Hurricane Harvey

Saturday, August 26, 2017
There is no doubt that Hurricane Harvey is a natural disaster already underway. We don’t know yet if it will become a catastrophe – time will tell, as flooding persists over days. First, this post will note how to help in a... Read more

Be the Storm: Channeling Intensity

Thursday, August 24, 2017
"Fate whispers to the warrior, 'you cannot withstand the storm,’ and the warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’” – Unknown Sometimes I forget that I am an intense person.  This is probably due in part to years of work in federal bureaucracy attempting to squish it out of me.  Today I remembered because I was playing the Beastie... Read more

Flash Flood Eclipses Eclipse

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
The Eclipse I live in central Iowa.  Naturally, like much of America, I felt inclined to take a dive into total solar eclipse madness… after all, I was only 3.5 hrs’ drive to the north.  Probably like more of America than Americans would admit, I made my travel plans at very nearly the last minute.  That part worked out pretty well, because I ended up having what was really a pretty divine... Read more

Embracing Chaos... Road Trip to the Eclipse

Monday, August 21, 2017
Woohoo! Up early for eclipse viewing! Drove south yesterday from Iowa to Kansas City, KS. Three states in one day is more challenging in the Midwest than in... Read more

Quick Guide: Get Media Coverage Of Your Protest

Sunday, August 13, 2017
NOTE:  This post was originally published on the Counterfear Facebook page here, where there is some discussion. --- Folks, if you are doing... Read more

Charlottesville: What Would Your City Do?

Saturday, August 12, 2017
A white supremacist rally was declared unlawful after turning violent today in Charlottesville, VA, and an emergency declaration was issued by the... Read more

Washington Only Works When You Have Friends

Friday, August 11, 2017
Here's something I learned about getting things done in Washington, DC, from my 11 years there. You have to have allies. Everyone has allies. You'll never... Read more

Guam, North Korea, & a Nuclear Threat

Friday, August 11, 2017
I have never been to Guam, but I have twice been on teams whose job it is to look after it in some way. At South Ops in Riverside, CA, the South Pacific... Read more

Hope Doesn't Mitigate Disaster

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
How do we explain the moment that we're in?  We've got a US president and some in his administration under investigation for collaborating with a hostile foreign state.  A foreign state that 17 US intelligence agencies agree... Read more

Close to Home: Lawmakers Targeted in Alexandria Shooting

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
"Our strength is our resilience, and it's usually times like these that bring us together and we're always better afterwards. So pray for the continued... Read more

This IS the Disaster

Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Some on social media today seem surprised or extra disheartened by the behavior of Senators in the Attorney General Sessions hearing regarding the Russia... Read more

Floored by the Shock About Paris Climate Accord

Friday, June 2, 2017
Well I'm going to have to swear. I have to admit to being flat-out stunned that so many people are stunned about the POTUS pulling the US out of the... Read more

It's Kind of a Long Story (Book vs. Blog)

Friday, May 12, 2017
Way back when I was in college, my mom suggested I write a book. Wait, do I sound younger if I just say "Back when I was in college?" I digress. At the... Read more

Just Write

Thursday, May 11, 2017
From what I have seen, when aspiring writers ask widely known writers how to do it, the second group always tell the first group to start by JUST WRITING.... Read more

What "I'm Done" Means

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Yesterday I heard myself say the words "I'm done," in reference to something I have loved for years. A part of my work. I spent the rest of the evening... Read more

Sea Change: Let's Call the Budget Proposal What It Is

Friday, March 17, 2017
"Brace for impact." - 'Sully' Sullenberger Perusing the news or your Facebook feed can be perilous these days - especially if you are a news addict with a... Read more

Have a Resilient Inauguration Week Trip to DC

Monday, January 16, 2017
So you’re going to Washington! Whether you are traveling to the nation’s capital for a party, a protest, or just to be present, one thing is for sure: you will need to be resilient. Anything can happen in a city on a normal day, but let’s admit it: this week, Washington, DC will be a special case. Really and truly — anything is possible. Things may go just swimmingly. Hopefully that’s the case.... Read more