Originally posted on Seth Adam Smith:

J.K. Rowling, author of the phenomenal Harry Potter series, may have just prevented a suicide. Remarkably, she didn’t do it through the use of magic, but through the use of words. This shouldn’t surprise us because words are, as Dumbledore stated, “our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

In May of 2015, a fan by the name of @BrocaesarTV sent J.K. Rowling the following Tweet:

Then J.K. Rowling gave FOUR epic replies:

JK Rowling Tweet 01JK Rowling Tweet 02JK Rowling Tweet 03

Finally, she added this beautiful piece of advice:

JK Rowling Reply

It’s interesting to note that J.K. Rowling—before she published Harry Potterstruggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. But she kept moving forward. And because she moved forward, she’s illuminated the world with her light and magic.

If you (or someone you know) is struggling with suicidal thoughts or feelings, please don’t give up! As J.K. Rowling wrote, “the world is full of wonderful…

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They chose to hear one another, to consider each other’s perspective and not simply made demands. They worked within one another’s Yes Zone.

The McKay Tract will not be cut.

via One Poem That Saved a Forest by Jacqueline Suskin — YES! Magazine.

Big business, the little guy. Big Oil and Gas, the little guy. We often feel pitted against each other, at war where the only result can hold defined winners and losers. There can be no common ground. Until someone changes the script.

Sometimes those experiences happen unexpectedly like in the case of an innocent meeting between poet Jacqueline Suskin and Neal Ewald, Senior Vice President of Green Diamond Resource Company.

The innocent meeting was a Poem Store, “a public project that consist of exchanging on demand poetry about any subject composed on a manual typewrite, in trade for any donation.”

The first poem was on the subject of being underwater.  Later, he contacted the poet again. This time with a much more personal request  – special personal poem the family could read when they spread his late wife’s ashes.

A bond and a friendship were formed. Out of that friendship came action. Neal didn’t want to be the bad big business guy. He really did prefer to work with his protagonists to find ways to do things better.

Above all we focused on one word: yes

Neal is dedicated to the discovery of how to say

yes. He wants to disrupt the concept that there

needs to be opposition. Throughout his career

in forestry he has strived to find a way to

dismantle dichotomy and meet his adversaries

in the middle.

Her poetry, the connections they made together resulted in ripples that did create a wave. Land that was scheduled to be destroyed wasn’t, and the solution ended up letting everyone win.

These two rivals figured out how to meet and discuss the forest while avoiding dehumanization. It didn’t matter that they disagree about so many things. They chose to hear one another, to consider each other’s perspective and not simply made demands. They worked within one another’s Yes Zone.The McKay Tract will not be cut.

It’s always possible if you believe it is and then do the work to make it so.

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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And what a difference a little kindness can make. Even when it’s difficult.

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

crying child in restarauntMy dad took my brother, sister and I out for lunch at a local diner/ice cream shop.

About three tables away was a very bedraggled mother with twin infants in carriers and two other small children, and it looked like today was the day for all of them to act up.

After I was done eating I went to look at the pinball machine ( a lifelong obsession) and on his way over to collect me, my dad stopped at the counter, paid our bill, and the lady’s as well.

He never mentioned it later, and did it in a way that no one other than the cashier would have even known, but I managed to catch it.

I know its a very simple act, and it probably wasn’t very expensive, but the fact that he did it without much thought, and not even to use as a kindness lesson…

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photo credit from neonatology.org

photo credit from neonatology.org

 

The medical establishment had rejected his incubators, but Couney didn’t give up on his aims. Each summer for 40 years, he funded his work by displaying the babies and charging admission — 25 cents to see the show.

via Babies On Display: When A Hospital Couldn’t Save Them, A Sideshow Did : NPR.

Before incubators were accepted as viable technology countless babies died simply because they weren’t quite ready to survive. Thankfully, one man never gave up. He kept saving the unstable until the medical community chose to catch up. Now, incubators are basically taken for granted in most parts of the world.

Aren’t the twists and turns of this world interesting? I for one am very thankful for Dr. Couney’s persistence. Only a few short years after his death my parents would be thankful there was an incubator available to keep me alive too. Until today, I took this miraculous technology completely for granted.

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I woke up this morning feeling that everything was just perfectly right with the world.  I really don’t know how else to describe it. If I was a religious person I suppose I would use the word blessed.

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On the surface there was no special reason to.  It was grey and cool, not a real Lake feeling Saturday. I thought I was going to have to rush to be ready. But still, I woke up with this incredibly peaceful, safe, comfortable feeling, even though I wasn’t snuggled into my sheets. I actually was reaching for a blanket because I was rather cold. I couldn’t shake the feeling, the desire to smile. The desire to sigh in delight, almost ecstasy.  That is not often me in the morning.

But why fight it? We needed the rain desperately. The cool morning means I don’t have to rush, just have to keep moving. It’s a good Saturday. I’m alive, I’m breathing, I’m smiling, I’m moving, I have all the necessities in life and if I’m honest, way more of the other stuff than I could ever really need. I’ve got great family, I’ve got enough money to pay my bills and feed myself. I’ve got one of the best places on the earth to live. I’ve got fresh air to breath, the wind has taken the forest fire smoke elsewhere and thankfully some of those fires are finally under control. I’ve got berries growing right outside my door that are plump and juicy and sweet. I’ve got a garden that is lush and green and just beginning to bear it’s fruits.

Hmmm… I guess even on the surface, it IS a pretty good morning to feel that all is right with the world. Because right now, in my little corner, it’s all really good.

This weekend, kick back, relax and take a moment or many moments to actually see what’s right with the world or count your blessings. You just might be surprised at how many you find, from simple to amazing.

Happy weekend everyone.

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I refuse to be treated as less capable, weaker, dirty or impure for being a woman. Anisha Bhavnani

via My country’s problem with menstruation – CNN.com.

Anisha Bhavnani is a woman in India who has experienced first hand the stigma against women especially during their menses. In fifth grade, her first period arrived the day of a field trip. What should have been a beautifully memorable experience wasn’t.

“How did you go inside the temple then? Don’t you know you’re not supposed to? Hasn’t your mother told you that you can’t step inside a temple when you have your period? Call your mother tomorrow; I want to meet her!”

…The next day, I didn’t meet the teacher and she forgot all about it. But she had shamed me for entering the scary world of puberty, just because I’d visited a temple. What kind of human being does that to a harmless child?

My mother showed me that getting my period doesn’t make me a bad or abnormal person. But others don’t seem to agree. I see variations of this incident happening around me every day.

Thankfully it’s not just young women who are realizing things need to change. At least one man is realizing it and doing something about it.  Enter The Inventor Who Disrupted The Period Industry – Arunachalam Muruganantham (Menstral Man)

I am always thrilled by stories where the hero steps outside of a traditional and expected role. Here’s a man working against odds, with little support and ample ridicule to improve a situation that doesn’t even directly affect him. Menstruation, a topic that in many places is still completely taboo, where women are not considered worth the trouble of helping.

None of that seemed to phase Muruganantham, as school drop out who realized many women in his own country, India, couldn’t afford sanitary products and understood the dramatic impact on their lives. The documentary MENSTRUAL MAN, by Amit Virmani

tells the inspiring story of an unlikely hero who stood up for India’s ignored. A critical and audience favourite, the film underscores the importance of empowering women to combat poverty, and the power in every individual to make a difference. – See more at: MENSTRUAL MAN

The trailer:

The TEDxGateway Talk:

Sometimes it’s little things that make a difference. Sometimes it’s the big things. Muruganantham has taught us that you don’t have to share the same problem to be able to understand, empathize, show compassion and actually create a solution. We have the power, all we have to do is use it. Thanks to people like Anisha Bhavnani, Arunachalam Muruganantham and Amit Virmani things will change.

Wizard of Oz - Glinda

Wizard of Oz – Glinda

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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My friend Rosie works at a great little coffee shop and bakery called Grounds. Recently she experienced one of those “Wow, I would never have guessed!” moments.

It really shows how you never know what kind of impression you’ll make and the impact you can have on a person, just be being a little kind, a little helpful.

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Something amazing happened at work today. A man and a woman walked in, he smiled really big as they walked to my register and he said, “You’re still here!”

I was surprised because this wasn’t a regular customer. In fact, I didn’t even recognize them. Not to mention he had a French accent.

He went on to explain that he had come in last year while he was on vacation. I had been very nice to him and helped him choose some places to visit that weren’t the normal attractions. 

His wife said he had been talking about the girl at the bakery for weeks and this was literally the first stop they made after checking into their hotel. 

Then he asked how my brother was and proceeded to tell her about how my brother was flying home from France on 9/11 and became stuck in Paris for a week. 

I remembered who he was then. When I told him the story, he had asked if they were nice to him. I had told him that my brother hadn’t cared for France much. But during the week he was stuck there, they were extremely kind to him and made sure he was well taken care of.

I just couldn’t stop smiling and was so shocked over the whole experience. He really touched me that he remembered all that. I’m still in shock just thinking about it. ~ Rosie Hendrix

Rosie just did what she does, she was friendly and helpful and thought nothing more of it. But for an entire year, the impression she had made stayed with him. It stayed with him enough that he not only wanted to come back, but wanted to share it with someone very special to him, his wife.

Wouldn’t we all love to have a day like this at work? I guess the point is we probably can, if we take a lesson from Rosie and just be kind and helpful everyday in every way we can, especially the little ones.

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Photo credit: Leah Fries Qu'Appelle Water Tower A beacon that points home

Photo credit: Leah Fries
Qu’Appelle Water Tower
A beacon that points home

Our guest contributor is Leah Fries, a recent high school graduate who is excited to embark on all the adventures that make up life. She is a writer, artist and dreamer who possesses a quick wit and a kind soul. Her essay The Spirit of Qu’Appelle was selected as a winner of the 2014-2015 Qu’Appelle Spirit Award. I’m glad I get to be her aunt.

Being a grown up isn’t as fun as it was growing up, and I’m glad I got to do that here. Leah Fries

Leah has managed to capture life growing up in a small town. The beauty, the angst, the humour and the special spirit you come to recognize living there. As a young adult what once may have seemed scary now provides the beacon pointing the way home.

The Spirit of Qu’Appelle

LEAH FRIES

There’s a reason small towns are small – because not a lot of people want to live in them. To many people, Qu’Appelle must seem like a place that isn’t important. People drive through every day on the 35 and they keep going. They don’t stop and they don’t come back. But for people like me, people that have lived here, we will never know that feeling of being able to leave this place. Maybe physically we’ll leave, but we can never really leave this town because this town will never leave us, no matter how far we go. This is a place that someone might not want to live in at first glance, and maybe not even after the second or third, but given a chance I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else. I haven’t lived in Qu’Appelle as long as a lot of people. Even people my age have lived here longer than me. I moved here with my family in the fall of 1999. I was 2 and a half years old. Now I am 18, and almost a high school graduate. Being a grown up isn’t as fun as it was growing up, and I’m glad I got to do that here. I’ve made a lot of memories, and I’ve learned a lot.

One of the first things I think of when I think of Qu’Appelle is the water tower. I was always scared of it when I was little; scared it would fall over and crush my house and flood the town. Yet whenever my family would be driving toward home at night on the highway, seeing that tiny blinking red light was always a source of comfort. It was always there, steady and consistent and always pointing the way home.

Going to school at James Hamblin School. For me, it was the absolute best experience. Unlike many others in my grade, I stayed at JHS until I was finished grade 9. I’d be lying if I said I never considered leaving early, which is why I don’t blame my friends that pursued their education somewhere else in grade 9. I wish they hadn’t done that though. They could have benefitted from the lesson we learned by staying: take pride in your community because it’s part of who you are. I learned about empathy there, and about respect and voice and kindness and how important all these things are. I am lucky enough to have gotten that lesson, and can thank James Hamblin School for nurturing me and pushing me to be who I am today. I will carry what I learned there with me always.

The spirit of this town can’t be summarized with descriptions and anecdotes. There is an underlying spirit here, and it is in everything we do. I feel it when I walk into a public building and I’m greeted by name. The spirit of the town is in the wind that breezes through the banners and flower baskets that hang on Main Street in the warmer seasons, and the Christmas decorations that sparkle in the winter. I feel it when I volunteer at the tourist booth every summer and I read our town’s proud history book. I see it when I look at our huge old town hall, its majestic appearance earning it the nickname Prairie Castle by my friends and myself. So many Summer Reading Programs and various other activities were spent there and not just by my friends and me, but many generations before us.

The spirit of Qu’Appelle is in our amazing Chinese restaurant, because like all small towns, we have a Chinese restaurant, and like all small town people, we know ours is the best.

I hold the spirit of this town every time I tell someone from Indian Head that they can say whatever they want about Qu’Appelle, at least we have an underpass. Maybe most critical, I can feel the spirit of Qu’Appelle when I visit our small cemetery with trees so tall they’re practically scraping the floors of heaven where our loved ones look down from.

The spirit of this town is alive and vibrant and I see it every day, in the small but important things that make this town what it is.

In the fall, I will be making the move to Edmonton. As author Robert Penn Warren wrote, “For west is where we all plan to go someday.” I grew up here, love it here, and learned a lot, but my time here is done. With the knowledge I gained here, I can spread my wings, and still carry the spirit of Qu’Appelle with me. I don`t know what my future will hold, but I do know that no matter where I go in life, no matter where I go from here, if I hear something calling me, I’ll know what it is and I’ll know it’s time to follow that blinking red light home again.

©2014,2015 Leah Fries

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Leah Fries

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I have a friend, nice guy, an example of kindness all around. He has one of those challenging jobs where you get to help people who don’t always want to be helped. One of my favourite qualities about him is that if you piss him off, in the end he’ll likely offer to buy you a beer. Kindness always seems to prevail.

He happened to mention that he’d run into a couple of homeless guys, down on their luck he could tell. He passed by them on his way to pick up some things. He didn’t buy them a beer. He bought them lunch and delivered it to them, taking the time to talk for a few minutes before carrying on with his original errand. When he came back he gave them some cash and wished them well. I told you he was kind.

It was the next part of the story that was the surprise. He confided he could relate to them because only a few years ago he was homeless, down on his luck and a couple of kind and helpful people helped him back up. He’s been quietly paying forward ever since.

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It made me think about what got him back on his feet. It wasn’t policies stopping people from feeding the homeless. It wasn’t making life harder for the homeless or shaming them or blaming them. It was a couple of kind people that helped him out when he needed it and was ready for it. It was kindness and a little compassion and probably even a little love. Somebody believed in him. It made a difference, it created a ripple and look how far that ripple is going.

That got me to thinking about an article on UpWorthy. I read about a little research study that Columbia professor Carl Hart did in his lab. There is a huge belief drugs themselves cause addiction that can be almost impossible for a user to break. There was a famous experiment done where rats would give themselves drugs until they killed themselves thus “proving” this point. However Professor Hart discovered that if you gave the rats a satisfying alternative, like sweets, they’d usually go for the alternative over the drug. Hmmmm.  Fast forward to human testing.

Then Hart did something unusual. He invited human drug users into his lab. He set up an experiment where he offered regular meth users a choice between drugs or money.

When presented with an attractive alternative ($20), even people who regularly use a drug like meth still chose the alternative.

Drugs are a symptom of a society where people don’t feel they have good options, Hart theorizes. They aren’t the cause.

Ok, so maybe they took the money and then went and bought better drugs.  But.  Just maybe, at least in part, drug addiction and homelessness have this in common. People have to actually see that they have good options that are attainable. If they no longer believe enough in themselves or don’t have the ability to be taken as something or someone other than a homeless person, or an addict, that’s exactly how they see themselves and where they remain.

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Maybe it’s time to spend a little less time judging and a lot more time being kind and helping out. Just maybe you’ll start the most amazing ripple that will just keep growing and growing.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. ~ Dali Lama

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How to grieve. There’s been numerous books written on the subject. There’s been thousands, no millions of people who have experienced it and even helped others through it. But as grieving mother Jennifer Ruef poignantly puts it,

In the years since Edison died, I have asked myself “What if?” and “Why?” If only we hadn’t gone out that day. If I had not tried to progress him from his feeding tube to regular foods. I have sought book after book trying to find an instruction manual on how to grieve. It doesn’t feel like I am doing it right. It doesn’t get better. It gets worse.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross famously wrote about the stages of dying and grieving. I studied them often as a social work student. I worked with grieving families. I thought I understood grief.

Now I realize that was like thinking you understand water because you’ve been to a lake. And then you go to the ocean. I have Denied, been Angry, Bargained and have been Depressed. There is also an A, Acceptance. At least, she said there is.

From the article on CNN.com A Mother’s Grief

The family unexpectedly lost their 6 year old son Edison in 2011 not long before he would have started school. Now their younger son Donovan has reached that same milestone and she is finding it even harder than she could ever have imagined. Baby brother is now forever surpassing older brother. It’s the little things that you don’t think about that suddenly make you catch your breath. It doesn’t matter how much training, how much reading, how much experiencing through others pain you go through. It doesn’t seem to change how impossibly hard, how tortuously painful the experience is.

While I might not be able to imagine accurately what a person going through this truly feels, and let’s face it, I really don’t want to, it doesn’t stop us from being kind. It doesn’t stop us from choosing to be patient and understanding, even if we don’t quite understand.

So, two boys age 6 have taught their mommy many lessons. Most of all they have taught me that your heart can smile and break all at one time and will do so daily.

My heart is just beginning to heal. But while still broken, I will smile for Donovan. I will smile for Edison. I will smile that my grief journey has been mine, and not like those written in books. I may not be doing it correctly, I may be doing it for too long, but like my children, I am doing it with everything I have.

And somewhere in the middle of it all, the healing begins. Tiny and almost insignificant, but it starts. And with a little nurturing it grows. Although your life can never be the same again, you slowly begin to live again.

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