It’s Sunday!!  We have made it through another week and another one is beckoning us. Take a moment for a deep breath and a personal high five!

For some of us it was an amazingly fantastic week. For some of us it was hell on wheels. Some were able to Rise Like Air and others teetered on the precipice edge.

There were tears of joy, success and happiness. Tears of frustration, pain and fear.

That’s what life is. Amazing ups and downs and lessons and perspective. It’s about choices and learning and trying.  It encompasses falling down, crawling and getting back up. But today I think it’s most about simply living and loving and liberating.

Today I’m making one choice. To smile. Maybe it will make a little difference. Maybe a big difference. Maybe someone else will notice, maybe they won’t. But I will notice.

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Have a fantastic Sunday. Make it yours. Do it your way.  No regrets, no apologies. No shame, no blame, no guilt. Just love, light and living.  And of course….

Rise

Like 

Air…

See 

Beautiful…

It’s

All 

Good…

 

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I wrote this blog a year ago. It’s time to rise.

Source: Out of the Ashes We Rise

“I have learned kindness, patience and unconditional love can make all the difference in helping people. ”

Seven years ago today the world lost a brilliant smile, a quick wit, a loving parent, a humble brother, caring son, hard working, got your back kind of guy.

Mental Illness has stolen too many people from us. It’s time to change that. And the best part is, we can. Together.

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I’m reading Brené Brown. I recently finished The Gift Of Imperfection and immediately ordered all the rest.  So now I’m on I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) .  Guess what?

She’s right!!!! It isn’t just me!!! Spoiler alert – the glow of that realization only lasts so long.  I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m glad I’m so abnormal and dysfunctional I’m completely normal.  Doesn’t change a dang thing about the process though… Still gotta walk the walk, talk the talk and get moving. Sigh. Note: Always read the fine print which says something like “I never said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.”  Oh Fine!

Shame. It’s something we’ve all experienced numerous times in our lives. And it’s something most of us would really rather not talk about it seems. So I’m grateful that Brené Brown has removed the stigma from the topic.  She defines shame as,

the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive.

While discussing Shame Screens, those screens we put up to protect ourselves when we feel that burn of shame creeping into us, – which another spoiler alert –  don’t work by the way (to be honest, I’d already figured that one out… ) Brené references the work of Dr. Shelley Uram, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist.

“But Dr. Uram points out that we tend not to recognize the small, quiet traumas that often trigger the same brain-survival reaction. After studying Dr. Uram’s work I believe it’s possible that many of our early shame experiences, especially with parents and caregivers, were stored in our brains as traumas.  This is why we often have such painful bodily reactions when we feel criticized, ridiculed, rejected and shamed. Dr. Uram explains that the brain does not differentiate between overt or big trauma and cover or small, quiet trauma – it just registers the event as “a threat that we can’t control.”

In her work on “remembering the wound” versus “becoming the wound,” Dr. Uram explains that most of the time when we recall a memory, we are conscious that we are in the present, recalling something from the past.  However, when we experience something in the present that triggers and old trauma memory, we reexperience the sense of the original trauma. So, rather than remembering the wound, we become the wound.  This makes sense when we think of how we are often returned to a place of smallness and helplessness when we feel shame.” page 89  I Thought It Was Just Me – Brené Brown

That was a little mind blowing for me. And it made perfect sense.

My first thoughts were about empathy and compassion. Maybe there  really is no scale for trauma at all. Trauma just is – regardless of what caused it, or how “big” or “small” we may think our own or someone else’s trials and tribulations are, the size of the emotion we feel, the reaction we have – are the same.  That’s it. It’s the great equalizer for me.

It…

wait for it….

Changed my perspective and perception.

Yup it did. Here’s the thing, it made life a whole lot simpler. No analyzing or measuring required.  We’re equal.  We are in it together. It hurts. It’s painful. Its frustrating.

And that’s the catalyst for me to build my resilience. There are tools to do it. As Harriet Lerner, author of The Dance of Anger reminds us, “Shame is a profoundly debilitating emotion. It drives our fears of not being good enough.” And here’s the kicker, we are good enough. So let’s start moving toward believing it and living it. I’m worth it. So are you.

Rise on.

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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“Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Scott Adams

When Orly Wahba was four years old she told her parents she dreamed of changing the world with kindness. Years later as a middle school teacher, after receiving devastating news about the death of a student, she became motivated to make that dream a reality. Inspired by the life vest inside sign she saw while waiting on the plane for take off, the plan that  would see her four year old self’s dream materialize began to take shape.  Orly’s amazing vision would  eventually lead to the making of The Kindness Boomerang video, forming the non profit Life Vest Inside, including the Dance For Kindness movement and now, most recently, the release, January 3rd 2017 of Orly Wahba’s book, The Kindness Boomerang – How To Save The World (and Yourself) Through 365 Daily Acts.

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Orly has always believed, without a doubt, that small acts of kindness perpetrated by everyday people change the world. She often quotes Margaret Mead,

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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Orly Wahba, Author and founder of LVI

Six years ago when she started Life Vest Inside I was fortunate enough to come across the video The Kindness Boomerang. That eventually lead me to getting to know Orly and volunteering at Life Vest Inside. I was also fortunate enough to enjoy being part of the experience seeing this book become a reality. I recently picked up a couple of copies and on January 19th I opened the book. I couldn’t help but smile at the entry, my favourite topic,

PERSPECTIVE!

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After giving one of my former students an Act of Kindness card that read, “hold the door open for someone,” I received phone call the very next day with loads and loads of excitement coming through the other end. “You won’t believe what happened after you gave me the cards yesterday!… Everywhere I turned there was a door that someone needed to be opened! It was crazy!” I smiled, chuckled, and said, “Those doors were there yesterday and the day before – but it’s only now that your awareness is heightened that you’re really seeing them!” You’d be surprise by the endless kindness possibilities out there. It’s all about increased awareness. Let’s start seeing the world through the lens of kindness. – Orly Wahba – The Kindness Boomerang

And that, my friends, is the crazy thing about perspective! Once you shift it even slightly and you relax with it all of a sudden you see the world completely differently!

I hear it all the time.  I see it for myself. The world changes, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically but it almost always always always changes.

As Orly’s surprised student discovered, what we see was always there, just waiting. Waiting oh so patiently for us to see it, to become aware. To bring it beyond reality, but instead to embrace it as our own very personal reality. Our own world.  And then, oh my, our lives change. And the lives around us change. And the world changes. And life is very very good.

Here’s the thing. One of my biggest frustrations in life right now is realizing how many people just do not get this concept. My second biggest frustration is trying to help others recognize it.

Like most things, I’ve come to understand all I can do is plant the seed and patiently water, nurture and yes, wait. There is nothing like the feeling of seeing someone else’s eyes get wide and watching them connect the dots that bring them from coincidence to how many doors needed opening to “Those doors were there yesterday and the day before – but it’s only now that your awareness is heightened that you’re really seeing them!”

I get the biggest emotional high when I’m fortunate enough to witness those magical, dare I say almost spiritual moments. They do more than touch the mind, they touch the heart and most importantly, they reach deep and touch the soul.

Here’s the thing.  The Kindness Boomerang holds 365 opportunities to make that connection, to touch minds, hearts, souls and lives. And when you finish the first 365 days, you can start all over again.

So are you ready?  Are you ready to throw the boomerang and have it come back to you? Heads up, because I guarantee you it will. You just never know when it will happen – so be ready.

Interested in being part of the movement to change the world simply by living the Kindness Lifestyle? Then consider picking up a copy The Kindness Boomerang today. It makes the perfect gift for anyone and the best place to start sharing a little kindness is with yourself.

Consider becoming a Life Vest Inside Kindness Ambassador and meeting, inspiring and being inspired by like minded people from around the world.

If you’re interested in watching the short film that started it all please enjoy “The Kindness Boomerang”

 

Orly and Life Vest Inside sharing the Kindness Boomerang in NYC

 

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Today I’m home from work sick and I really don’t feel good. But sometimes opportunity comes in the form of what we initially think isn’t so great.

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day too.

And I so want to talk. Anyone who knows me even a little isn’t surprised by that I’m sure. I want to talk about Mental Health. I want to talk about the fact that people you know well, people you walk by the street every day, total strangers that smile broadly at you SUFFER from mental illness, things like depression, OCD, anxiety and a plethora of other ones and YOU probably know nothing about it.

I want to talk about the myths, assumptions, stigma. I want to talk about the far too many lives lost every day to mental illness. I want to talk about the families and friends, lovers and children left wondering, trying to make sense, trying to carry one. I want to talk about the hopelessness and the hope. The fear and the courage. The present and the future.

But most importantly, today…

I WANT TO LISTEN…

I WANT TO UNDERSTAND…

I WANT TO SIT WITH YOU…

I WANT TO LEARN…

I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND…

I WANT TO BE QUIET…

I WANT TO BE LOUD…

I WANT TO BE THERE…

AND I AM.

I ask each of you to take time not only today, but everyday to really look, seek out and listen. For those needing help, don’t give up… find it. Talk to someone. And keep talking and keep trying. Please.

I don’t want add any more names to the list. It’s too long. It’s already too personal.

A young man took his life in our area just this week. A friend of his had posted on FB earlier in the summer “My biggest fear is losing people.” A cyber friend had a “lovely smiling” previous coworker taker her own life this past week.

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Bell Let’s Talk

So take the time. Don’t assume. Ask a friend. Be a friend.

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I am here. Reach out. I mean it. Whether you know me or not. I’m here. Please let’s talk. I will listen. You are not alone. Honest, even if it feels that way. Let’s work to change it together.

In memory of all those we’ve lost and in eternal hope that we lose no more.

Related blog: Out Of The Ashes We Rise (in memory of Todd Pidhorodetsky April 21, 1970-March 6, 2010)

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Awhile back I received a crowdfunding campaign message about a 2 cd album being created in support of Postcards For Peace. They are a group I’ve heard about before, I think they do really wonderful work so I checked it out and decided to contribute a little bit. That little bit got me the gift of  the cd and a postcard.

They arrived yesterday by post as promised, with a simple Thank You hand written on the flap of the envelope.

It came, as with most things really,  perfect timing. What better way to wind down the last few days of 2016, certainly in truth not my favourite year overall, and begin what I believe will be a phenomenally amazing 2017. How am I going to do that? By I’m holding onto a world of hope every minute of every day.

As I write I’m sitting here listening to We’ve Got It All by Peter James Millson and now Fiddle or a Gun by Oysterband just came on. The album is a beautiful complication of a somewhat eclectic group of artists coming together for peace. I like that idea. Breeze Redwine brought me to tears with her beautiful piece Courage. I can tell that as I listen to these beautiful heartfelt pieces, each will find a way to uniquely entwine themselves into my heart. There’s something about the cover art that just makes me want to smile and find a park to sit in for awhile. Maybe even write a post card or two… with a message for peace.

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Check it out at Postcards For Peace shopping page:

“In support of international charity Postcards For Peace, whose goal is to end discrimination and violence through education, twenty six incredible musicians have contributed songs to create a truly beautiful album.

The title, A World of Hope, comes from the lyrics to Jo Hamilton’s ‘There It Is’ (one of the first tracks contributed to the project) and it is a fitting name for an album that features 26 songs of war and peace, of hope and of love, of living life to the full, of not giving up and of having the courage to face adversity.

It includes acts that have truly earned the right to be called legends, Grammy award nominees, multiple BBC Folk Award winners, acts that have enjoyed chart success and artists that spend their lives travelling the world to get their music heard. From octogenarian Peggy Seeger to teenager Breeze Redwine, every single one of the artists has donated a track to this album because they want to help build a world in which people care for other human beings without discrimination, prejudice, violence and hate.”

Happy New Year everyone. We wish each and every one of you a most amazing 2017. No matter what it holds, or even what it doesn’t hold make it great because you can. See the beauty, live the kindness, be the change and most importantly – simply be you. Because you are truly amazing. Even if sometimes you don’t see it in yourself. Unique and human, each and every one of us and there is nothing more amazing, magical and miraculous than that. Be Flawsome embrace your flaw – know you are awesome no in spite of them, but because off them – today and everyday.

You Matter – Hope – Today and Everyday

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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As 2016 winds down I thought I’d share a story that warmed my heart as a mother and as a human being. Sometimes our kids just do that.

My son works at a hardware store and one of the things he does is cut keys and rekey locks.  The old keys get thrown in a discard bin. So one day when a woman came in requesting to buy new keys for a craft project my son offered to give her an ample supply of discarded keys free of charge.

…And being the typical 19 year old he thought absolutely no more of it.

The next day the same woman arrived back at the store seeking him out. She had a thank you gift for him, a necklace. The key was now stamped with the word HOPE  and an accompanying tag stamped YOU MATTER.

She was on a mission to spread an important message – there is hope and we all matter – every one of us. No matter our past, our present or our future – we all matter. And there is always hope.

My son was fairly blasé about the whole affair.  He came home and shared the story with a somewhat puzzled look on his face. He said he really didn’t understand why she felt the need to thank him (sigh) and while the idea was sorta neat, he didn’t really  think he’d ever wear it. And then this look dawned upon his face and he turned to me. “Mom, this is more like something you’d like…” I graciously accepted the pay it forward gift with a very big smile.

I’m far from perfect, I have to embrace my “flawsome” every single day. Somedays there seems to be more flaw than awesome, but I embrace my humanness as best I can always. Because, after all, that is what I am, human – designed, created or a fluke of nature – unique and human is all I can guarantee. And I always keep a smidgeon of hope tucked away for those days where I’ve misplaced all the rest.

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Today, I pulled the necklace out again, knowing that I would finally take a few minutes to sit down to tell the story.  My daughter noted it with an air of admiration and interest.  She knows sometimes we need to be reminded we matter and there is hope. Some of the best reminders are a little rough around the edges.

With the Pentatonix “Hallelujah” playing in the background my eyes are searching for a place where this necklace can be constant reminder of this oh so important message that strangely, so many forget at this time of year of celebration. I realized today that this necklace isn’t really mine, it’s meant for anyone who needs a little extra reminder that YOU MATTER and that there is most certainly HOPE. So like the other sets of keys in this house, it will hang accessible to anyone who may need use of it at any given moment.

Don’t ever forget….

YOU MATTER

and there is

HOPE

I promise

Don’t ever forget….

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I am honoured to be a blogger as part of the Life Vest Inside organization founded by Orly Wahba. In short, we’re all about changing the world through living the kindness life style. This month I was fortunate enough to get a little more hands on experience putting together the monthly newsletter, The Kindness Flash with Orly and my fellow blog guru Soumya.

Unforeseen circumstances had each of us stepping a little further outside our comfort zone than usual, but minutes into our brainstorming session our confidence in our ability to pull it all together grew. During those first moments of our discussion it seemed obvious our theme for December 2016 would be Humility.

I’ve always liked the way CS Lewis defined humility as “not thinking less of oneself, but of thinking of oneself less.”

We found people had their own wonderful ways of describing the quality of humility, like Rodrigo Barbosa.

For me, humility is understanding that other people are just as much “people” as you are. That the fact that you are better than them at something only makes you better than them at something, not a better person. ~Rodrigo Barbosa

We didn’t have to look far to find stories about humility either. In November LVI held the 5th annual World Wide Dance For Kindness. One of my fellow LVI ambassadors and good friend, Jeff Kuske helped organize and danced with a group this year. I think every group has their own special story and Jeff shared theirs with Orly recently.

Jeff works with men suffering from various forms of addiction, but his ability to see beyond the addiction, to see the person, paved the way for a little love, a little kindness, a little laughter, and a whole lotta dancing.

Jeff says, “DFK2016 allowed these men to participate in an event that was bigger than themselves. It gave them the opportunity to do something for others, all of them strangers.” 

A couple of months ago I never would have cared about something like this. Thank you for showing me that I can make a positive difference in the world.  – New Beginning participant DFK2016

Read the entire letter here.

I would describe humility as helping wherever, however and whenever I can, knowing that helping others is really helping myself. We all grow and bloom

What does humility mean to you?

Check out the full 9th edition of The Kindness Flash here for all the great sections including The Kind Connection, Everyday Kindness, and more.

 

Interested in learning more about Dance For Kindness check out the promotional video for 2016

 

or the 2015 Dance For Kindness Montage

 

and the video that started it all way back in 2011 that now has over 25 million views

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I’m one of “those” people who tries to live by the philosophy that if you find your passion and live it you will always be engaged. If you haven’t found your passion, then ensure you live your current life with passion because I think it’s a sure way to run head long into your ultimate passion (or hey, why stop there, let’s go all the way and say passions!)

I seem to run into a lot of people (happens when I’m seeking my passion and/or living passionately) who have defined passion in big grandiose terms. They think their passion has to make big money, have loud impacts, be colourful.

screen capture from KSL High 5 segment


The good thing about being  on this earth plane as long as I have,  I’ve learned a lot and am capable of learning a whole lot more. One of those cool things I’ve learned is that passion is nothing more than that… passion.  It’s the passion itself that is larger than life. What we’re passionate about can be very small, very quiet, subtle hardly noticeable. But when we do anything with a true passion, the differences that are made are really, really big.

How many people would consider being a McDonald’s employee at a drive thru window something to be passionate about, let alone a position that makes much difference in others lives. Let’s face it, how many times have you gone through a drive thru and thought any more about it other than did they get the order right, did they remember straws and most importantly is the right toy in the bag to prevent a meltdown in the back seat?

This week, I was fortunate enough have this wonderful story cross my path that, in my opinion, shows what a little passion can do, even in at a McDonald’s Drive Thru.

“Rick is just a ray of sunshine in our lives.”

Shara Park from KSL News did a High 5 segment on Rick, a McDonald’s employee experiencing some health challenges.  When the community discovered his plight they were more than willing to show him what a difference he makes to them each time they go through his lane.

photo screen capture from KLS High 5 segment

But what makes Rick special? In my opinion, it’s all about the love and passion he brings to his job. His daily interactions with people, giving them their fast food grub – just doing his thing his way, with quiet passion. The results of bringing his passion to his job, brought him more joy than any “big” thing probably ever could.

It’s not about being passionate about something great.  It’s about making things great by being passionate.

Think about it: Passion, Perspective, Possibilities. What are you going to CHOOSE to bring your PASSION to today?

 

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Life is filled with things that seem to make no sense yet somehow the dance is beautiful anyway and in the end, maybe there is simply one truth. A fantastic read by such an eloquent writer.

 

Everything and Life

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I think that most of my life has been a war, a really strange war.
A war between wanting to love beyond reason (and realizing that I actually can’t love people who don’t give me some form of love in return) and wanting to give up on people who don’t treat me right (but in turn realizing that I can’t ever stop loving people I once loved).
This, to me, makes no sense!
I mean, it looks like I actually somehow do both these contradictory things. If only I could mix and match my internal responses to them, maybe I could lead a slightly less confused life.
So if you’ve been reading me for a while now and seem confused, don’t worry. We are completely 100% on the same page.
I once told a boy that I would love him forever, but then years later he told me in response…

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