This blog space is a dynamic tool. As content builds, you can use the buttons below to search for blog topics you are interested in. Each Focus Area has a tag. The "Counterfear Tools (in blog)" can be found via that link or through the tags here. Shift the Country tools have moved to the 5 Ways To Make Shift Happen page on that new website.
All blog post entries are original unless noted. All blog post comments are moderated and delayed until approved.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 critical... Read more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Thursday, January 23, 2020
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
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
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
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
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Late night commiserating, here.
I am super frustrated lately with a) judgment and b) unnecessary meanness. Oh, and c) dismissiveness.
These... Read more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Sunday, October 23, 2016
George Addair said, "Everythig you want is on the other side of fear." I love that, because it is a tool.
If we face our fear; if we counter it - we start a shift. The action might just be finding the fear, and... Read more
Saturday, October 22, 2016
"There's no doubt the ground will shift. The question is: when it does, will you be ready?" - Seth Godin
Nobody wants to talk about sidewalks. Sidewalks are boring. The opposite of sexy. A... Read more
Thursday, October 20, 2016
"You can't transform something you won't look at." - Dixie St. John
It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and a bit paralyzed. We tend to resist change, even when risk is... Read more
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
I learned a beautiful metaphor about transformation when I was in life coach training with Martha Beck. It’s a bit about how a caterpillar doesn’t go into a cocoon and slowly transform... Read more
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Click on the graphic below to hear KHOI's "Heart of Iowa" 9/15/16 Community Radio Show
I’ve spent kind of a ridiculous amount of time this year thinking about 9/11. The fact that I think that that is... Read more
Sunday, September 18, 2016
"Anchor and Flank" is at the core of the counterfear process (check out the Focus Area page "Anchor and Flank" for more). It comes from fire. In fact, it's a core principle of wildland firefighting,... Read more
Monday, September 12, 2016
"I remember exactly that moment when the whole world stopped & we saw each other standing there. Wondering how we ever forgot that we are all light wanting to shine for each other." - Brian Andreas, StoryPeople
Yesterday I tried to write a blog post about 9/11. Well, if I’m honest, I started trying to write it on Friday. Didn’t work. Didn’t... Read more
Friday, September 9, 2016
Years ago when I worked as a Fire Intelligence Coordinator at “South Ops," I set about finding some tools to help me organize and prioritize. South Ops is the country’s busiest interagency operations coordination center, and is reputed to be the busiest such center center in the world. It covers response coordination... Read more
Monday, June 20, 2016
Fire folks are known to be a little eccentric. Well, wildland fire folks, anyway. Come to think of it, just today I had a new friend say to me, “who voluntarily goes into a burning forest, anyway?” To me, that sounds like a... Read more
Sunday, June 19, 2016
"First things first."
Creating the space is one of my own personal go-to favourite coaching tools.
It’s pretty simple. You have to create the space for what you want. You may want peace. Vision. Rest. Progress. You can reach these - even for a moment - by creating some space for them. If... Read more
Friday, June 17, 2016
"You don't surrender your dreams. You surrender the one thing you never had and you never will: control." - Socrates, Peaceful Warrior
Thursday, June 16, 2016
This here is a tool you can use daily. It's fast. And it's effective.
Every day, take five minutes and write a list of:
5 things you are grateful for
5 things that you... Read more
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Take a look at your language.
You are not what you were. From this moment on, you can be something different.
Language is powerful. How we use it reflects how we think. When you pay attention to your language, you can see what it reflects about how you think. When you put the work in to change your language and your thinking - you can shift both.
Talking about You
To start with,... Read more
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
This is a tool from Steve Maraboli, a favourite life coach of mine. I met Steve in 2009, well before I considered becoming a life coach myself. Steve planted a seed, though.
I listened to hours of Steve’s online radio... Read more
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
With all this talk about countering fear, it is important to recognize fear itself.
We have fear for a reason. Sometimes it’s a life-saver. When I see a crazy driver veering around on the road or cutting in and out of traffic -... Read more
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
“The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination.” - Socrates, in the movie Peaceful Warrior
Going for a walk is absolutely one of my favourite life tools.
Walking is good for the soul. Humans have been... Read more
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
"Take out the trash. The trash is anything that's keeping you from the only thing that matters, this moment. Here. Now. And when you truly are in the here and now, you'll be amazed at what you can do, and how well you can do it." - Socrates, in the movie... Read more
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
“This is your world. Shape it, or someone else will.” - Gary Lew
Randomly sit one day and write a life vision. Don’t stew over it, or make it in to something bigger than it is…... Read more
Sunday, May 1, 2016
It’s May Day here in the US. For me, it’s a day loaded with meaning. All kinds of meaning.
When I was a kid, May Day was the symbolic “real” beginning of spring. The grass was green. The winter was almost certainly over. And every year, we went to some effort to make May baskets. My mother led the operation, which involved assembling collections of popcorn... Read more
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
One benefit to growing the Counterfear idea is that I’ve got notes on about a hundred counterfear tools in my arsenal - and that is a real number. I’m in the process of getting as many of those as possible on the website in the near future. In the meantime, this post is a bit of a Toolbox sampling... as I tried to process some unexplained fear one night.
It would be nice to think that if... Read more
Friday, April 22, 2016
“What do stars do?” - Yvaine, in the movie Stardust
I’ve been in hermit-mode lately. I suspect that the people who dream big and make stuff happen all maybe do the hermit thing every once in a while. For me, it’s the best way to get a lot done. If... Read more
Thursday, April 21, 2016
The title here sounds dramatic and perhaps a bit grandiose. I reckon that's because this here is one hell of a personal disaster tale. And, I’m still trying to walk correctly.
Here’s the super-short story, from last February. On a Thursday, my brother and my dad flew in to help me gut and start the remodel of the only bathroom in my... Read more
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
“Sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did… there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.” – Morpheus, The Matrix
Hello! I am Vanessa Burnett, the founder of Counterfear.com.
Here are some basics - my experience / bios, a public LinkedIn Profile, a bit... Read more
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Lately I’ve been busy writing an abbreviated history of my life and times for The Blog and the website. One of the dangers and benefits of all the writing is that it inspires other... Read more
Monday, April 11, 2016
Hello! This blog is just a few random pieces and parts about my life. Much of my writing leads to Read more
Monday, March 28, 2016
This post is part of the "Counterfear Tools" blog series.
Does Fear Tie to a Lack of Resilience?
I’ve thought for years about resilience, and how to explain it. Explaining resilience can feel overwhelming, because it can be so complex. But, that is because life is complex. When you boil it down a bit, resilience gets simpler. We may well have more fear in areas where we suspect... Read more
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
"Light up the darkness." - Bob Marley
[NOTE: This piece has become one of the anchor pieces in the story of getting ready for the great disruption that began in 2020 with the pandemic. More pieces to the back stories are here, including a sort of update to this post here on Why called The Great Transformation.]
Most Counterfear.com blog posts are conversational and fun and not so technical. This one is technical, serious, and sobering.
It is a memorial. It is a foundation. It is also an explanation. A clearing. And a space to dream.
This blog... Read more
Saturday, February 27, 2016
I moved back to Iowa recently, for a different life. I had spent four years in the LA Basin (with 18.5 million people), and another eleven-plus in the Washington, DC area (9.5 million)… so that’s over 15 years in the country’s 2nd and 4th largest metropolitan areas. OOF. I add an extra “uff-da!” to that when I think about how I set out to be a park ranger, to live in the trees. Who would have thought the world of wildland firefighting would lead to the damn... Read more
Monday, February 8, 2016
“Sooner or later you’re going to realize just as I did… there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.” - Morpheus, in The Matrix movie
One of the things about a website is... Read more
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red... Read more
Friday, January 22, 2016
Welcome to Counterfear! This right here represents my first blog post, and something I didn't expect. That is because the word "blog" annoys the daylights out of me. It is an ugly word, although the idea behind it is good. I purposefully avoided using the word for several years, hoping maybe it wouldn't stick around. Hoping... Read more