Tune out the noise. There is a lot of misinformation going around. There is a lot of information going around. Get the info you need for your own safety and survival, vet your sources, and tune out the rest. One of the best ways to support others is by helping them sort through the noise. No amount of essential oils or vitamins or wishes will fix this. But the truth will.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenny Block.
Jenny Block, author of, “Be that Unicorn: Find your Magic, Live your Truth, and Share your Shine,” began her career in words teaching college English in Virginia. Before too long, she found herself writing articles and books about everything from art and theater to rock climbing and adventuring to finding love and happiness. After that came a plethora of radio and television appearances; a variety of speaking engagements; and a wealth of worldwide travel to find the stories that demand to be told.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Iwas a college writing professor for many years until one day someone asked, “Why don’t you write?” And I thought, “Why not indeed?” So I reached out to an editor at a very small publication — Virginia Horse Quarterly and made inquiries until I placed a piece with them. After that, I parlayed that assignment into another into another. The next thing I knew, I was full-time freelancing. It hasn’t been easy. But it has always been worth it. And it’s lead to adventures which I never would have had otherwise from interviewing musicians to climbing a volcano to catching and eating piranha.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Five Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a tiny book with four concise mantras that have the power to change the world.
Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Don’t Make Assumptions.
Always Do Your Best.
I was struck by how simple and yet how profound Ruiz’s words are. If we all did these four things every day, in every situation, with every person, under each and every circumstance, we would live in such peace and such joy and with so much empathy and patience that it would literally change the world. It’s my dream that one day we can all operate under these four agreements from a place of love and acceptance and abundance.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
So many people are showing their true colors — and they are beautiful.
Individuals and groups and companies are making masks and providing meals and offering home schooling help. Neighbors are checking in on neighbors. One group is organizing pen pals for the elderly. Musicians are holding free virtual concerts. People are good. We can be hopeful because the good is showing up in the most glorious ways.
Every day something worth smiling about happens.
My friend’s twins had a race through the park in their unicorn onesies. My wife and I adopted a puppy who was abandoned under a house after her mother was shot. They weren’t sure she’d make it through the night. Three weeks later, the teeny thing is eating us out of house and home. People are creating art and music and theater. There is hope because there is light. Even in all of this darkness, there is light.
We are all learning just how resilient we truly are.
Medical personnel are working ungodly hours. Businesses are finding new ways to do business in order to stay afloat. People are growing food and baking bread and getting up every day to make life happen. We can be hopeful because we are showing just how strong we are, stronger than we ever imagined ourselves to be.
All kinds of relationships are blooming and strengthening.
Families and friends and work colleagues and even strangers are calling and texting and meeting in virtual happy hours. Couples are discovering themselves all over again. Families are eating together. Kids are playing together across the street from one another. Teachers are tutoring students from outside the students’ windows. There is hope because at a time when relationships could be failing all around us, many more are becoming so much deeper and richer than ever before.
Nature is coming alive all around us.
The herons have been fishing from our dock every day. The smog is lifting over LA. The grass is green. The water is clear. This is a terrible time for all of us. And yet nature is reminding us that this too will pass and, when it does, nature will be ready for us, and that is a reason to be hopeful.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
- Reach out and ask. This may seem really obvious. But different people need different things. We all have our own ways of coping. Don’t make assumptions about what someone might want or need. Ask the question and respect the answer.
- Be honest. It’s easy to think that we have to act like we’re fine in order to help others to believe that things will be fine. But we are actually far more trustworthy if we admit that it’s hard for us too and that being strong together is what will ultimately save us all.
- Take care of yourself. Put your oxygen mask on first. You can’t pour from an empty cup. There are plenty of sayings and they are all correct. Self-care is more vital now than ever. Get some rest. Eat whole foods (along with those snacks.) And do the things that fill you up like going for a walk or snuggling in for a rom com or dancing in your favorite pajamas. You can’t support anyone else if you don’t have a strong foundation yourself.
- Tune out the noise. There is a lot of misinformation going around. There is a lot of information going around. Get the info you need for your own safety and survival, vet your sources, and tune out the rest. One of the best ways to support others is by helping them sort through the noise. No amount of essential oils or vitamins or wishes will fix this. But the truth will.
- Support other people’s ways of healing. If yelling is what they need, suggest they scream into their pillow until the feeling subsides. If they like to learn line dances, offer to join them virtually. If they like puzzles, send them one. Be present. What everyone needs right now is to be heard and to be a part of the herd.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
The best resources for you depend on what works for you. Seek out the groups online and in social media that make you feel safe and supported. Avoid those that have the opposite effect. Learn a craft or a language or a skill and find resources where others are doing the same. The best way to quell being anxious is to divert our brains to something that makes us feel safe rather than threatened.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Be where you are.
Be present. Be in the moment, in your body, in the space you are occupying. Our brains are extremely powerful things. If we allow them to carry us away, it can be very hard to recover. Once, when I was climbing in Joshua Tree, I got stuck. I started to panic and imagined a thousand different terrifying scenarios including, the worst of all, leaving my daughter motherless. So I took a deep breath and got back in my body, reminding myself that I had a great instructor and great equipment and that I knew what to do despite my brain trying to tell me otherwise. I reminded myself — Be where you are. You are conquering a pile of rocks. So get to it.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Be That Unicorn. It’s the title of my new book because it is precisely the movement I want to start. To Be That Unicorn is to be your best self. It is to stand up for yourself and others. It is to be kind without being trampled. It is to take the risk, to be true to you, to make your own path and forgot about the naysayers. To Be That Unicorn is to believe you are That Unicorn. Unicorns may be mythical but finding peace and happiness in a world whose messages are menacingly mixed is very much a reality. The key is to always walk through life Horn Up…
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!