HELP needed and offered #Flash4Storms

Every Little Bit Helps
Why do we discount our efforts when we can’t make a larger splash?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the What Kind of World do YOU Want Series

A human tendency?

I am often daunted as much as impressed by the generous offers of help that follow in the wake of a tragedy:

  • sending their personal planes to Puerto Rico to bring those who need chemotherapy to hospitals where they can be taken care of, like Rapper Pitbull;
  • delivering multiple cartons of food and flying down to prepare 8,000 meals a day to those in need, like Chef José Andrés;
  • over-the-top donations that amount to more than I make in a decade donated by more than a few celebrities.

What help could I possibly be?

It seems endemic

I have a similar reaction when a friend is ill and needs some cheering up.  If I can’t give them an entire afternoon, I am reluctant to make even a ten minute phone call.

Never mind why, I even feel guilty when I can’t take my puppy on the l-o-n-g walk I know he prefers on rain-threatening days when I waited too long to get him outside and have to rush him along to get us both safely inside while we’re still relatively dry!

And I KNOW I’m not the only one with that kind of limited-thinking reaction.  I even see it in the more than generous blogging community.

What about taking a few moments each to read the posts of our virtual friends, letting them know our reaction in a comment, when time itself is in short supply for all of us?

How many of us simply “like” them all from the Reader when we we lack the minutes that turn to hours to read and comment on more than one or two – instead of doing whatever little we can and giving ourselves a pat on the back for doing at least that much?

I almost did it again

Reading a post by D. Wallace Peach,  Help: Flash Fiction #Flash4Storms, I learned that another writer, Sarah Brentyn is donating $1 for every flash fiction story written around the theme of Help.

Diana [Myths of the Mirror] has pledged to match that amount.

Before I give you the details of the challenge, I have to ‘fess up to my first reaction:

  • I don’t write fiction.  And my second:
  • Even if I did, I’m sure I could never be brief enough to write flash fiction with a limited word count. (Regular readers will be happy to second that thought, I’m sure!)

I’m patting myself on the back that I decided that there was, after all, some little something I could do anyway.  I could help spread the word to all the writers who follow in a post explaining WHY we tend to do nothing when we can only do less than we’d like to be able to do.

But FIRST, the details of the challenge . . .

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

HOVER before clicking – often a box will appear to tell you what to expect

Flash Fiction Charity Challenge Rules:

  1. Write a piece of flash fiction in 50 words or less with the theme: Help.
  2. Add a new post on your blog with your flash fiction and the hashtag #Flash4Storms in the title.
  3. Include a link to the post on the Lemon Shark site and pop over to leave a link to your post in a comment, so you make sure you get counted.
  4. Help spread the word on social media with the hashtags #Flash4Storms and #LemonSharkCharity.
  5. Do it all by October 14.

ONE LAST COMMENT:  Yes you are too “good enough”
to write something quickly.  Go for it!

Click over to the post on Lemon Shark for a bit more — like what counts, for example (practically everything, by the way).

NOW – why do we tend to do nothing when we can’t do a lot?

Two words: Task Anxiety.

We generally hesitate for black and white reasons — when we’ve conceived of a project as too big – too complex – too all-encompassing – too rule-bound.

We almost always hesitate to take action when we feel like, at bottom, we have to be perfect to keep from being worthless — and we simply don’t have what we need at the time to make it perfect.

We allow a big black and white should to engulf our thinking and bury our follow-through and forward progress:

“I should do everything exactly the way I wish I could,
no matter what life throws my way.

Blame it on your Brain

Your brain likes things simple and straightforward.

It keeps Mr. Amygdala pacified.

You remember Mr. Amygdala, don’t you?  That little guy in the center of your brain who activates your fight/flight/freeze mechanism.

Regular readers know that as soon as the stress alarm is sounded, the amygdala has the power to shut down logical thinking so that we consolidate our resources to be able to run for our lives or fight for them — or freeze in place, hoping we won’t be noticed.

Way back in the cave days, when Mr. Amygdala was but a babe, many animals that hoped to make a nice little snack out of some of our cave-ancestors had eyes that weren’t able to detect movement. So a few of our forebearers who couldn’t out-run or out-fight the buggers made it out alive by freezing in place.  They passed those genes along to many of us.

Many of us prefer that freeze strategy today,
only we call it by another name:

  • According to scientific studies conducted in the past few years by Emotional Regulation Research founder, Stanford’s Dr. James J. Gross and Dr. David Rock and his team:

the degree to which your limbic system is aroused is
the degree to which your prefrontal cortex is deactivated.

The “limbic system” is an older term for Mr. Amygdala’s turf.

  • Task completion is decision-dependent — and deciding and doing depend on prefrontal cortex activation.
  • The prefrontal cortex [PFC] is that area of the brain right behind your forehead. It acts as the switching station for your Executive Functions: including focusing, sifting and sorting through alternatives, decision-making, sequencing and prioritizing for follow-through, and a whole lot of other cognitive skills that most people tend to believe are simply a product of maturity.
  • The PFC of the ADD brain-style is already under-performing, relative to the neurotypical population, by the way — and the research above was NOT carried out using the ADD population!  So the rest of you are just as susceptible.
Here’s the GOOD news:

Simply identifying what’s going on, whether you actually DO anything about it or not, helps to bring the PFC back online. And there is SO much more you can do!

Change the rules – rename the game.  Make the process “easy by default.”
The easier it is to do, the greater the likelihood that we will DO it!

In keeping with the challenge . . .

Below is my little attempt, only seven words longer than the limit.  The concept is certainly not original, but the words are my own, and it is also in keeping with the rest of this post.

After the storm the oceans retreated, leaving thousands of starfish to die of dehydration on the sand. Surveying the damage, a man came across a woman heaving starfish into the water.

“You know you’re not going to make much of a difference, don’t you?”

Throwing another into the sea, she responded:

Made a difference to THAT one!

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There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

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You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —

COACHING LINKS at end of all posts

Related articles on

Other supports for this article

A Few LinkLists by Category
(to articles by topic on

Related Articles ’round the net

I don’t have time to go hunting – leave me links to your flash fiction for this challenge in the comments below and I will MAKE time to move them into the article.

BY THE WAY: Since is an Evergreen site, I revisit all my content periodically to update links — when you link back, like, follow or comment, you STAY on the page. When you do not, you run a high risk of getting replaced by a site with a more generous come-from.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

57 Responses to HELP needed and offered #Flash4Storms

  1. dgkaye says:

    A beautiful share and contribution to Sarah’s challenge, M. The contest is finished and triple the original goal was raised. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wow,, another great read Madelyn.. and so relate to the time and giving and then the guilty feel.. Learning to try and shed this process as I learn that I am important too, to spend time with me..

    Sending thoughts your way. as we ships pass in the night.. 🙂 ❤
    Hugs Sue xx ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Write To Give Donation #Flash4Storms | Tammy Mezera

  4. tmezpoetry says:

    Cool short story! Isn’t flash fiction is fun to do?

    ADD is not. Just in the mechanics of ADD this article is spot on with the normal brain struggle of the condition.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I read with bated breath, wondering if you were actually going to tackle a fiction challenge… Will she do it? And you did. 🙂 I’ve always loved that story of the starfish though I can’t remember where I heard it first. And you tell it beautifully. It is a short and powerful flash, Madelyn. Thank you so much for joining in and helping. 💕 Every little bit helps, right?

    This is fascinating, really. I mean, the brain and its often-not-so-helpful default. I saw a couple donations of enormous amounts and it gave me pause but… Starfish. If I can help one family. One person. That is what I will do.

    I’ll be back to read more in-depth because the fight/flight/freeze mechanism especially caught my eye. I just wrote a post about feeling like that. (Though it’s being held in my drafts folder as I’m running around trying to keep up with everything right now and not much is getting done.)

    Thank you, again!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Before I sign off for three days, I want to tell you how impressed I am with this post! Certainly the end-result concept overwhelms most people who subconsciously feel that it’s useless to attempt a small effort when a huge one is required.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    In the aftermath of so many recent disasters, Madelyn Griffith-Haynie provides insight into the question, “why do we tend to do nothing when we can’t do a lot?” Please, read on…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely post, Madelyn. You are so right. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. -Eugenia says:

    Great post and I love the starfish story. Step by step and little by little – it all adds up to achieve our goals.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yay! Thanks for the wonderful flash fiction piece and for spreading the word to your readers. I love brain stuff, Madelyn. Sometimes I wish Mr. Amygdala would just get over it, huh? I think he causes more problems than he solves. 😀 But you’re right – when we get to know him we can usually handle his tantrums more effectively and shoo him off to his cave. Have a wonderful day ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post! The little things all add up.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lucy Brazier says:

    I LOVE your starfish story! I shall remember to think of the starfish when I feel I can’t make a difference. Sometimes it seems like climbing a mountain when I sit down to work on my book or even write a weekly Poirot post. I start by telling myself – “Even if you just write one sentence now, it’s better than nothing”. It’s enough to get me started. A little is always better than nothing. Thank you for this food for thought this morning, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Lucy.

      As I admitted – it is one I heard somewhere long ago. I simply put it into my own words, trying to respect the challenge as best as I was able (without totally destroying the story).

      We ALL feel like we’re climbing mountains at times – and you are wise to chunk it into baby steps. You are SO right, “A little is always better than nothing.”

      Liked by 1 person

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