Too Many Are Hurting

It’s hard to know what to write when the world around you is in so much pain. Today’s post about my progress or lack thereof, or a book review seemed frivolous. Too many are hurting in the world—in my country.

Image of flames leaping high into the night--a symbol of too many are hurting

Cellphone Cameras

The ubiquitous nature of cellphones and their cameras shines a light on a lot of things. Much of it is good. Too much is not.

For crying out loud—if you are watching an abuse, you had better be calling the authorities first—police? If you’re watching police brutality? Calling more police might not be the best idea. But have a plan! You can call news reporters, the local ACLU, the mayor, an attorney, a local prominent activist, your white allies! If you’re not white and don’t have white allies? Make some. If you’re white, become an ally!

The Abuse of Minorities

It doesn’t matter if you’re black, brown, yellow, or red. We all bleed the same. We all feel fear, hurt, and anger.

White folk—we’ve shunned our responsibility for far too long. Too many are hurting. It’s time that we step up and support our brothers and sisters. Not with violence or even with anger, though it’s not inappropriate to be angry at the abuse they’ve suffered. Solidarity. Support. Be Allies.

Demonstrations, Protests, and Riots

Don’t understand the violent response to violence? Perhaps you can understand anger and frustration and the buildup of those feelings until you explode. That’s not excusing violence in any situation. It’s understanding.

Folks who gather to protest are angry and hurt and scared.  They’ve lived with this fear, hurt, and anger for years and years. Add on the fear of Covid-19… the strain of lockdowns, unemployment, and loss. One outburst from police or protesters can be all it takes to throw gasoline on the fire. Literally. 

Some folk think violence that garners national, perhaps worldwide, attention is the only way to force the change that is so desperately needed. 

Unfortunately, violent outbursts, looting and damage and fires only hurt more people. Generate more anger. How can we stop this?

Allies

White people, we need to step up. Too many are hurting. No thoughts and prayers. No watching from the windows of your home.

If you think you’re already an ally—ask a non-white friend (you have one, right?)—how you can be a better ally. Are you a non-white? Ask a white friend to be an ally—then tell them how you’d like that to play out.

If you see an abuse—let the abuser know you are watching. Be polite, especially if it’s a police officer. Obey any directions from an authority (police, fire, etc). Ask the abused if he/she needs help. Ask if they’d like you to call an attorney. Tell them you will not leave. And then DON’T. Stay there. Be with them.

Does that scare you? Think about the person being abused. The person who could end up dead.

Work to Do

a collage of photos of people of all skin colors, races, ethnicities, religions--people of the world in a world where too many are hurting

There is so much anger and pain in the United States right now. We don’t need more name calling or rhetoric or shaming. Not about masks – no masks or gender or pronouns or religion or ethnicity. And most especially not about skin color.

We’ve got a lot of work to do. All of us. Every skin color. Every gender (yes, there are more than two). But especially us white folk. We are the ones with privilege simply by being born white.

“With great power comes great responsibility”

Voltaire and Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in Spiderman

It’s time we started taking some responsibility for ourselves and each other. When one of us bleeds—we all suffer. It’s time we SHOWED love for one another. It’s okay to be afraid. Do it anyway. Too many are hurting. Please. Do it anyway. 

14 Quotes that Will Feed You Courage

Fear triggers our survival response, fight or flight. That makes it one powerful emotion. So powerful it can overwhelm—it can freeze us. Fight, flight, or freeze. But sometimes fear isn’t real. Today, we don’t have a saber tooth tiger on on tail but fear still dogs us. Are you Frozen with Fear? Here are 14 quotes that will feed you courage.

One of 14 Quotes to feed you courage over the image of a footbridge fading into the fog.

Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear Is a Liar

Fear can be essential to our survival but fear is a sneaky devil. It can pick on something small, inconsequential. But it builds slowly. It raises our pulse, makes our palms clammy, our breathing ragged, our bowels feel loose, we CAN. NOT. MOVE. At least that’s what fear tells us. 

Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.

~Unknown

Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.

~Rudyard Kipling

Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.

~Brene Brown

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

~Helen Keller

Fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.

~Steve Maraboli

Discover Your Courage

Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.

~Karl Augustus Menninger

Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.

~ Japanese Proverb

Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.

~ Unknown

You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so. For remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind.

~Dale Carnegie
One of 14 Quotations that will feed you courage over a pink and lavender sky with wispy clouds.

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.

~Mark Twain

One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.

~Henry Ford

The key to growth is acknowledging your fear of the unknown and jumping in anyway.

~Jen Sincero

I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.

~Oprah Winfrey

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

~Jack Canfield

Take Action

Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it… that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear.

~Dale Carnegie

Laughter is poison to fear.

~ George R.R. Martin

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow.

But any action is better than no action at all.

~Norman Vincent Peale

“Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.”

 ~Virgil Thomson

Sometimes, even though you know it’s unfounded, the fear gets too big to handle alone.

Be Free

One of 14 quotes that will feed you courage over an image of the silhouette of a Greek olympian holding a wreath up in the air against gray clouds with sunlight bursting through.

He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.

~Aristotle

If you need more information about fear, read Psychology Today’s article, Fear. Those of you in the UK may want to read Mental Health’s article, How to Overcome Fear and Anxiety. Or you can read some of my posts:

Are you Frozen with Fear? The 14 Quotes that will feed you courage above may not be all you need to overcome your fears. But it’s a start. Recognize your fears. You are courageous. Get help if you need it. Face your fears and they’ll start to shrink. 

Writer’s Block Is Not The End

Writer’s block. Feared and mocked and denied and suffered, it happens. It can be debilitating. But writer’s block is not the end.

Some writers say they don’t believe in writer’s block. Carpenters don’t get carpenters’ block. And surgeons don’t get surgeons’ block (thank goodness!) So writer’s blocked is “made up” or “an excuse.”

I thought that, too. Yet, I’ve experienced writer’s block. And I’m not alone. Many, many writers have experienced writer’s block.

What Is Writer’s Block?

Image of a brick wall. Often that's how it feels but writer's block is not the end.
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

It’s nothing–and everything. It’s one writer’s block. Particular to each individual writer and their lives, writer’s block reflects their life challenges, their fears, and the lies they tell themselves.

There’s a wall, a giant brick, unscalable wall between the creator and the words. You face the blank page or the blank screen and the words won’t come day after day after day–that’s writer’s block.

For some, it is momentary–minutes or hours in length. For others, it’s temporary–days or weeks. There are some who find writer’s block to be chronic and debilitating for months or years. The words. WON’T. Come.

What Causes Writer’s Block?

All kinds of things–most involve fear. Fear that the writing isn’t good enough. The writer may be afraid that the project is too big. There are fears about money, or food, or medicine. Fear that the words will never come. The fear of success before you’ve had any success can stop you cold. Sometimes the writer fears never being able to repeat a success.

Sometimes the block is time, as in you don’t have enough. You work a job or two, have family obligations, the maintenance of a home or vehicle to do. There will be folk who scold you and say get up earlier and write. Sometimes that’s an option. Sometimes it isn’t.

One of the most common causes after fear is the lack of understanding of story structure and how it helps you.

Then there are the physical causes. Sometimes your body has a breakdown. A physical problem can occur that will not allow your brain to operate at the creative level.

Tragically there are also family dramas and losses that can trigger writer’s block. Death and dying and divorce aren’t the only family dramas, though they are big ones. Sometimes it can be an illness and the adjustments that come with those kinds of changes. Some family dramas are about dysfunction or economic issues. Make no mistake, these can trigger days, months, or years of writer’s block, too.

Sometimes writer’s block is procrastination disguised.

Image of crumpled papers and a pen representing the frustration of writer's block. But writer's block is not the end.

What to Do

Be Kind to Yourself.

Change your routine.

Create a routine.

Write the same sentence over and over for ten minutes.

Journal.

Brainstorm 10 of the most unlikely things that would happen in the next scene.

Free Write.

Outline.

Do Character Studies.

Read Poetry.

Write scenes out of order.

Read a good book in your genre.

Change to a different point of view character.

Read a badly written book in your genre.

Read something outside your genre.

Write in a different location.

Read and analyze Fairy Tales.

Write with different tools. (Computer, ink pen, crayons, etc.)

Talk it out with a writer friend.

Listen to music.

Watch a movie for fun.

Analyze a movie’s plot.

Eat chocolate.

Drink coffee.

Take a nap.

Take a walk outside.

Do a headstand.

Put the project aside for a time and write something else.

Copy paragraphs from books you love.

Do writing exercises from a How-to book.

Challenge yourself to write badly, the worst you can imagine.

Write a letter to yourself.

Write a resignation letter to your writer’s block. Here’s what I once wrote to mine.

Dear Writer’s Block,

It’s not you, it’s me. I’m done. Over it. You’ve been a blockhead on my shoulders for far too long. Yes, I know that over the years you’ve provided me with numerous excuses for not getting the job done, but I’m on to you now. Your first name is Fear. When I am not looking, you come sneaking around. With you on my shoulder, each word becomes a labor almost too intense to bear.

Sometimes you are in the guise of Envy. Yeah, I know that “everyone” is going to that expensive writing conference in a city of delights. They will all get agents and book contracts and contacts. And I gotta stay home which means I’ll never get contacts. I’ll never get an agent or a book contract. And the fear grows.


Doubt is your real name. You’ve got a thousand voices that say this word is not good enough, that sentence is too much, too plain, uninspired. I’m untraveled, uneducated, a plain jane. Well, you know what?

I flirted with you for a while, but that wasn’t an invitation to move in and mooch. You’ve eaten up days, months, years, decades, centuries of time. But no more. I have chosen to listen to the lone voice inside, the one that says I am unique, that I have a story to tell, and that my stories will soar. I will sit at the keyboard, and I will write stories that my readers will love.

So, Writer’s Block, be gone. I’ve got work to do.

Whatever you choose to do, make it fun.

What Not to Do

Don’t panic.

Do not treat it like it’s a disease. (It’s not.)

Don’t hide until it goes away. (It won’t.)

Don’t eat or drink yourself silly. (It’s another way to hide.)

Don’t shame yourself.

Don’t give up. Writer’s block is not the end.

Prevention

Some say that if you outline you’ll never get blocked. Others swear that if you never outline and write without editing or looking back, you’ll sail through and finish your manuscript. I’ve never found either of those methods effective one hundred percent of the time.

I’m uncertain that you can completely prevent writer’s block. What I’ve learned to do is to recognize it and change tactics. (See the list above.)

Work on more than one project at a time. If you get stuck on one, move to another project. This can be very helpful if you have projects at different levels of completion.

Eat well. Exercise. Get plenty of rest. Take breaks from writing.

Find the right kind of support. People who will build you up and cheer you onward.

***

I said that I don’t believe in writer’s block. What I meant is that I don’t believe it’s a malady in and of itself. I believe it’s a symptom. There’s an emotion, a physical malady, or a knowledge deficit that stops the flow of words. Figure out what caused it and you will find away around the writer’s block.

Have you had writer’s block? Do you know what caused it? How did you overcome it?

If you have writer’s block, however you decide to treat it, be kind to yourself. Don’t make a hasty decision to throw in the towel. Writer’s block does not have to be The End.

Beware of Wet Footprints

It’s Halloween, a time for remembering and repeating stories to scare ourselves or others. It’s a time to laugh at being frightened. But I no longer like to be frightened. Because it wasn’t a story. I was well and truly terrified. Beware of Wet Footprints in the night. They’ll terrify you, too. And you’ll never know if they’re from an uninvited guest, a dream, or a household spirit.

Beware of wet footprints in the night. You'll never know if they're from an uninvited visitor, a dream, or a household spirit. (read more)

On My Own

When I graduated from nursing school, I shared an apartment with a classmate. It was a standard two bedroom place with a private outdoor entrance.

Our first jobs, if I recall correctly, required that we each rotate night and evening shifts. (I know I did.) Day shift jobs were awarded to those with seniority at the facility. Our rotations were opposite so it was as if we each lived on our own. I frequently spent evenings alone in our apartment. Having had three siblings and after an all-women dorm for three years, it was my piece of heaven.

A Mystery

One night while my roommate was at work, something startled me awake. It was raining and blowing outside. Thunder or lightning had probably awakened me. I got up to use the bathroom and noticed a light coming from the living room. Figuring I must have forgotten to turn off the lamp, I trundled into the living room. Halfway across the living room, I realized it wasn’t the lamp that was on. The front door stood open. The outdoor light above the door cast a yellow glow, illuminating rain whipped by the wind. Who had opened the door? I whirled around but there was no one else I could see. Laughing nervously at myself, I told myself that I must not have closed and latched the door. Though I typically double- and triple-checked that door before I went to bed.

The Mystery Deepens

So there I was, in my pajamas and bare feet. I hurried forward to close the door, careful to lock it this time. The floor at the entrance was quite damp so I knelt and ran my hand over the carpet. Fortunately, it was only damp and only the first foot or so of the carpet. I stood. That’s when I saw it. On the carpet, a too-long-for-my-legs stride from the doorway was a perfectly-shaped, wet footprint. Adrenaline whooshed through my veins, kicked my pulse up over two hundred at least. Another long stride forward there was a second wet footprint. I couldn’t move.

It took two attempts before I could call my roommate’s name out loud. No answer.

I walked toward the footprint, making certain not to disturb it. The shoe that made that footprint was larger than mine—larger than my roommate’s. The second footprint, the left foot, was also the last wet footprint.

I crept back down the hall. No one was in the kitchen, the bathroom, or my roommate’s bedroom. My bedroom was vacant as well.

A Dark & Frightening Night

I spent the rest of the night on the sofa in the living room, holding the phone on my lap, and trying to convince myself that my roommate had come home briefly. But why only two footprints? And how could she, who was as short as I, take such a long stride?

Very soon the storm blew out and the night grew quiet. Nothing stirred in the apartment—except my still racing heartbeat. It was a long, dark, fright-filled night.

The next day, there was no trace of the footprints. No mud, no impression, no dampness. I asked my roommate if she’d come back to our place after dark. She said no. I didn’t tell her about the footprints. She wouldn’t have believed me anyway.

Kikimora

I’ve carried that incident in my memory trying to convince myself that I must have had a vivid dream or that I had imagined the footprints. But while looking for photographs to illustrate this post, I came across the story of Kikimora.

Kikimora is a female household spirit whose presence is always made known with wet footprints. She came from Slavic mythology. She can be a beneficial spirit if you keep your house well. If you don’t she’ll whistle and break things.

Read more about the Kikimora and her spouse here or here.

Uninvited Visitor, Dream, or Spirit?

What do you think? Was I visited by a household spirit, a human being, or was it all a dream? I’ll enjoy reading your answers, but I’ll still warn you, Beware of Wet Footprints in the night.

Make Room for Fear And Your Dreams

Is there something you’ve put off doing until you have the time? Perhaps you’ve put it off until you have the money. Or, maybe, you’ve put it off until you have both the time and the money. You may think you’re waiting for the time, the money, or both. Sometimes those reasons are valid. I will not advocate for anyone to put themselves into a position to lose their livelihood or go bankrupt. However, if you have been putting off a dream for a long while, take a minute. It’s time to reassess why you’ve put it off. Fill in the blanks: you want to wait until you have time because if you don’t…. You want to wait until you have the money because if you don’t… Did your answers surprise you? The way to success is to make room for fear and your dreams.

The crisis my family faced this week has me reassessing my goals. At first, in the throes of a life-threatening crisis brings, I thought I would have to give up on my dreams. That was fear. I acknowledge my fear. It’s my brain and my psyche trying to protect me. I have reasons to be afraid. But I will not let fear set aside my dreams nor set my priorities. And neither should you.

Make room for your fears and your dreams...lynettemburrows.com

It doesn’t have to be a big fear that stops us. It can be the little fears. I’ll miss something. If I spend money on this impossible dream, I won’t have it if something bad happens. Sometimes the little fears have reset your priorities without your being aware of it.

Make room for your fears and your dreams...lynettemburrows.com

Sometimes the fears are the big ones—I might disappoint someone, I won’t be good enough, I might fail. This is your brain trying to trick you into not trying. My brain, trying to cope with the fear of a life-threatening crisis, went into fear mode and tried to tell me I must stop creating. Fortunately, I’ve trained myself to reassess those change-my-goals thoughts. In truth, it doesn’t matter if you aren’t good enough. So what if you fail? Whose disappointment is the greater—the person you fear to let down or your disappointment that you didn’t try? The steps to my goals have to be adjusted a bit, but I am not giving up. I deserve my dreams, just as you deserve yours.

The thing about dreams is that most of the time the work you do toward the dream, the struggle, the trying and failing, are what makes the dream worth it. Embrace the fear but don’t let it stop you.

So take a page from the Bible:

Make room for your fears and your dreams...lynettemburrows.com

Start with small steps. You get to decide where to step, how many steps, and how often you take those steps.

Make room for your fears and your dreams...lynettemburrows.com

This blog, posted much later than I normally would, is one of the baby steps I’m taking. How are you reassessing your priorities? What step are you taking today to make room for fear and your dreams?