riselikeair:

Inspiration to put a smile on your face, a spring in your step and determination in your attitude.

Originally posted on Inspirational Blogs:

dgar A. Guest

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Now if that isn’t a reason to open your life to love and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciation we don’t know what is!

So, today, right now, right here.

You really have nothing to fear.

After all, spring has sprung.

Time to get some growing done.

Whether it’s outside or in.

You know it’s time to begin.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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Loss is a tragic thing, hard to understand, even more difficult to cope with.  The loss of a child is unimaginable.  My palms grow sweaty and my heart pounds at even the thought.  Maybe that’s what makes it hard to know what to say or what to do when someone loses someone they love.

I love words, writing them, reading them, thinking them. When it comes to grief and grieving my words almost always fail me.  “I’m sorry” is honest, but seems so empty and hollow.  I want my words to fix things or to make a positive difference, but instead they are left hanging.

I know people who have lost children and today, one of them passed this article along. She said that she could relate to every point in it. With that recommendation I thought it was a good place to start. I hoped that it would help me in future situations and I believe it will.

What I Wish More People Understood About Losing A Child is a short but excellent guide to supporting people who are going through one of, if not the worst experience in their life.  It’s not only the loss of a loved one, but the loss of their child. As parents, none of us start out by thinking one day our children will leave this earth before us.

Paula Stevens lists 5 things that we can do to help those who are suffering with inconsolable grief.

  1. Let them know that you remember their children, and celebrate them.
  2. Know you can’t fix the grief, but you can be a patient friend.
  3. Birthdays and the anniversary of the death will always be tough days that they will always mark and struggle with, even if they don’t talk about it.
  4. Happiness is a struggle every single day, even when wearing a smile.
  5. Accept that their grief probably makes you uncomfortable, and that’s ok. It’s not supposed to be comfortable.

We will never forget our child. And in fact, our loss is always right under the surface of other emotions, even happiness. We would rather lose it because you spoke his/her name and remembered our child, than try and shield ourselves from the pain and live in denial. Paula Stevens

Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness.  It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love.  The only cure for grief is to grieve. Earl Grollman

Maybe putting words together doesn’t have to be as hard as one might think.

“Your child was a sweetheart.  Everyone who met him just could not stop talking about him.  He is going to be relentlessly missed by everyone.”

And when words fail us, hugs and quiet company seldom do.

Edit 25Mar2015

The Kindness Blog shared a story today called When a parent loses their child, there’s really not much, if anything, that can bring them comfort.  It’s about what one family did as part of their grieving in order to honour their little boy who passed away.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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addiction

Addiction is all around us.  But why?  Why hasn’t the war on drugs been effective?  Maybe we’ve been accepting some things as fact that aren’t true. What if the cure for addiction is actually quite straight forward and relatively simple? That is the kind of what if’s that are worth exploring. Johann Hari, provides interesting insight into the history of our assumptions about addiction, specifically heroin and cocaine addiction and what we might have gotten wrong.

Initial experiments were conducted by putting a rat alone in a cage with plain water and drug laced water.  Findings were straight forward.  The rats went back more and more for the drugged water until they actually died from it. The deduction was the rats became addicted to the drugged water.

Professor Bruce Alexander  wondered if there was something else at play. What if it was’t just the accessibility to the drugs that caused the rats to become addicted?  What if the environment, the situation itself had something to do with it. He soon revisited the experiments, but with a twist.  He created a rat friendly environment.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.  J. Hari

Could it really be that addictions biggest secret is isolation, loneliness, hopelessness?

It’s one thing to design an experiment in the lab and another to extrapolate it to the real world.  However, that’s exactly what was done in Portugal. Hari proceeds to explain.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with one percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different.
They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them—to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs…
The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. J. Hari

via Can Connection Cure Addiction?, by Johann Hari.

I strongly encourage you to check out the entire article. While connection may only be a part of the solution, results seem to point to it being a big part. Hari provides some interesting statistics to back up his points. He’s right that this isn’t just about addiction and addicts. We’re forced to contemplate in a different way what we need and the importance of bonding and connecting to our species.

Just maybe, a big part of success really is simply to

Unknown

I’m willing to give it a shot.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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image from Shari Okeke/CBC

image from Shari Okeke/CBC article

“I learned that people are much more accepting even though there is hatred in the world, because I have experienced that. I learned that people are very OK with [who I am] and I should be OK with it, and that’s what the LGBT Club has helped me understand. It is OK to be ‘different,’ ” Bry said.

via Bry Bitar, Montreal LGBT teen, sparks school uniform revolution – Montreal – CBC News.

This really made my day on so many levels. First of all, they are only 13 years old.  Just goes to show how strong people can grow when they are supported. Sure I know some of us are stronger just by nature, but I think we’re all aware of how even a strong person can be hurt and feel diminished.

I also love that Bry doesn’t adhere to labels. Labels always seem like such a good idea, until they paint us as someone or something we aren’t. Suddenly everyone else falls for the label, and then sometimes we end up believing it too. I’m quite all right with the pronoun “they”. Let’s face it, using he or she in this case doesn’t actually tell the whole story does it? Maybe that’s exactly the point. We’re forced to look beyond a label. Using they makes us take a second look and reconsider our assumptions. For those who would suggest ‘it’, I agree with a commenter who explained that he, she, and they refer to people, but ‘it’ is used to refer to objects, things. Using ‘it’ in this case would also give a very poor message.  I think ‘they’ works just fine.

In my opinion I see a youngster who not only has an opinion, it’s a well thought out opinion and a well articulated one at that.

However, getting to this happy place, this place of support and love didn’t come easily.  It had many tough patches, a dark side that many people who are considered ‘different’ know all to personally.  At Bry’s other school they weren’t accepted and things became unbearable.

“I became depressed, like severely. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I thought everyone hated me…. I did become suicidal and I attempted, but thank God nothing happened because I’m better today,” Bry said.

Bry’s parents and Royal West Academy in Montreal are proving to schools, parents, students, community and the world at large that change is possible. It’s not only possible, it’s needed.

Bry’s father explained that when Bry finally discussed how bad things had gotten at the other school Bry it was like a weight lifted, “I could see it in his face what a big relief it was for him.”

The LGBT club at the school is a safe place where the students are accepted and build community.  It would appear that the school takes their students seriously and does more than tolerate differences, they advocate accepting differences.

Recently Bry approached the school about wearing the girls’ uniform and even Bry was a little surprised when the school agreed. They are willing to look at options and ideas openly.  Their goal appears to be inclusion wherever possible. Navigating this territory is new for most of us, this school is appears to be doing an admirable job, just like Bry’s parents.

It’s not all rosy, not everyone in the community is as accepting or tolerant.  The safety Bry feels in school isn’t always available outside the walls.  But Bry isn’t letting those potential dangers stop them from being who they are, a cool kid who wants to live life, have fun and do some good in the world.  Now what’s wrong with that?

By supporting our children in their differences, in becoming who they are meant to be, we are setting the world stage for every person to be all they can be, to help others, to make the world a better, kinder, happier, accepting place where we can achieve anything.  Why? Because instead of extinguishing their light we let it shine brilliantly.

I truly hope that more communities, schools and parents take the lead from Montreal’s Royal West Academy and Bry and his parents.  The alternative is losing these brilliant lights that could provide so much.  Not a viable option.

If you have a story you’d like to share about support you’ve received as a LGBT person we’d love to hear it. Shine on and Rise Like Air. You’ll find your way.

edit 21mar2015

Raising My Rainbow shares another story about a 17 year old named Morgan whose school has not proven as supportive in accepting differences. The story has sparked #ClothingHasNoGender.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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10874081

image from Telemiracle #39 2015 Saskatoon SK.

Well, I just realized I wrote this blog and somehow forgot to publish it.   Better late than never?  I hope so.

I remember watching the first Telemiracle 39 years ago.  I watched it on a little TV screen and was amazed when they raised an amazing $1,214,210.  In 2015, 39 years later they raised a whopping $4,312,457.  While we’re talking numbers, here’s a few more that you might find impressive.  Their highest one year total came in 2011 when they rang those phones to reach $5,906,229.  Their all time total stands at an impressive $111,668,893. (Wikipedia)

The Kinsmen Foundation are the founders of Telemiracle.  Every year the Kinsmen and Kinettes, through donations to Telemiracle, assist Saskatchewan people to acquire special needs equipment and access to medical treatment. Even with government funded health care, an amazing number of costs arise for which there is no coverage.

Telemiracle has helped a multitude of families in need in the last 39 years and they have done so with the help of a vast array of talent, including the wonderful hosting carried out year after year (except for one) by Mr. Bob McGrath.  His commitment and dedication has been inspiring and you might be amazed to discover his commitment comes from deep down in his neighbourly heart because this wonderful man isn’t from Saskatchewan. As a matter of fact, he isn’t even Canadian, but year after year he has given of himself for this wonderful cause.

They have done so much good by helping so many through the years and I am proud to say I know the person responsible for making sure everything happens as it should.  She says of herself, “As Telemiracle Administrator, I get to fill my days with everything Telemiracle!” With an incredible amount of help and passion they organize this incredible telethon to assist people in Saskatchewan. A huge shout out to Debra Haubrich, her staff and volunteers, the celebrities, the local performers and all the great Saskatchewan people who have made this such a success year after year. Of course I’d like to give a special shout out to Mr Bob McGrath who has become a hero and a neighbour to so many through Seasame Street and his long time commitment to Telemiracle. The city of Saskatoon even proclaimed March 8th as Bob McGrath Day!

He’s been giving time to Telemiracle for 38 of the 39 years the telethon has been aired. The one year he missed we’ll all forgive him since he had already committed for a play date with Big Bird. Such a gentleman and giver would never go back on a promise. Bob has finally decided it’s time to give back to his own family now. Telemiracle honoured him with a beautiful trip down memory lane that was captured in this 25 minute video The tribute and farewell to Mr. Bob McGrath. It shows just how much Bob McGrath has done for others and how much he is appreciated by each and everyone one of us. A man and event that truly makes us Rise Like Air. Thank you Mr. McGrath, for being a wonderful neighbour to all of us. You will be missed in our neighbourhood. We hope you come back for a visit in your travels.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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Bullying and the potentially horrific results from it, have played out across media graphically. It’s a subject most of us are aware of, but few of us truly feel comfortable or capable of adequately addressing the issue that has plagued us, probably in one form or another, since the beginning of time. The Huffington Post recently ran the piece I Was The Maid Of Honor For The Girl I Bullied Mercilessly For Years.  Author xoJane admits to being bullied and then becoming a bully herself, something that’s not that uncommon.

So it was pretty great for me when Flick showed up in school. Finally, I wasn’t the biggest weirdo in town. I was pretty relieved everyone seemed to be bored of picking on me, and had moved on to something else.

And, as is unfortunately the case in too many schools,

In my school, tormenting others was the top social currency. I soon realized that not only did I need Flick to distract people from my own inadequacies, but if I joined in with everyone else, maybe I’d finally be accepted.

And while wounds may heal, as my mother loved to remind me, the scars may not fade away.

Years later and eating dinner at Flick’s house, her kid sister burst out, “Didn’t you used to bully Flick?” As I sat, frozen in shame, Flick replied, “Yeah… how embarrassing for her!” She winked at me, a familiar expression. That night, I gave her a long-overdue apology. “When it happened to me, I wanted to die sometimes,” I said. “Yeah,” she replied. “I know what you mean.”

It reminded me how complicated reality can be, victim, perpetrator, the lines can easily become blurred. Stress, fear and trauma can do strange things to very ordinary people. At least for these two best friends, past transgressions didn’t stop a true friendship from blossoming.  It was refreshing to read such a candid and honest experience that resulted in a very happy ending.

Not long after reading that piece, some friends and I were discussing a video  shared with us on Facebook. While bullying is a tough subject to deal with death is one a great many of us try to avoid or dance around completely. Suicide is even harder to face. This senior project created by Kenzie Marcigan riveted us to the screen while shredding our hearts. We each related to this video for our own reasons.

I’ll warn you up front that it is rather raw and heart wrenching. It brought every parent’s fear to the surface; the possibility of losing a child because they’ve given up on themselves, believed the lies other people have tormented them with, or maybe that they’ve tormented themselves with.

One of my friends shared an insight and it kept running through my mind for the rest of the day so I thought it was worthy to share.  The emphasis in the following quote is mine.

So very sad. I was bullied in Middle and High school. I was just the new kid who moved there, but I never fit in with those who grew up together. I had abuse at home and at school. And I too tried to kill myself more than once.

I’m so very glad I was never successful because I would have missed so many wonderful things that came after those terrible school years.

But kids need to be held responsible for their actions and have severe punishment for what they say and do. I was mean to one girl in collegeeven knowing how awful I felt when others were mean to me – and 30 years later I still feel bad about it, but she is no longer here to apologize to. So I strive to do better every day. ~ name withheld by request

Bullied, just the new kid, never fit in, abused at home and at school all becoming too much and creating the sole desire to make it all go away for ever.  But when it gets overwhelming and you can’t find a way to cope, or to make it go away, you decide there is one thing that you can make go away.  Yourself.

Experience doesn’t necessarily develop empathy or compassion. We know that the abused can become abusers.  For many of us who have been bullied though, eventually, even if we’ve bullied someone else, the seeds of empathy and compassion often slowly sprout and we grow from our experience, but live with the regret of our actions.

As for our friend, I have to say I’m so very glad too. Words of truth, “so many wonderful things that came after those terrible school years.” There are a lot of us who value this person, I’d hate to think that those horrid times in middle and high school may have robbed us of an opportunity to call them friend.

And that’s the thing, I’m willing to bet that every single person who has given up on themselves would ultimately find a loving, welcoming place, if only they could find the will to wait, to realize there is more beyond where they find themselves right in that instant, even when the instant feels like eternity.

Why do so many of us feel compelled to refer to at least a portion of our school years as “terrible” or “horrible”. Why is it still so and for how much longer must it remain so?

Close the door to your past, open the door to your future. Take a deep breath and step through to a new life.  Unknown

Close the doors that cause you pain, anger and suffering so you can open the ones that bring you love, acceptance and inner peace.  Unknown

They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds. Uknown

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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Unknown

When I woke up my social media this morning a wonderfully powerful very short video titled “4 year old has a perfect response to a boy in her class” was in my feed from HuffPost.   The little adorable face staring back at me with that wide smile guaranteed I was going to click play.

In case you don’t have Facebook, I’ll include the transcription from The Huffington Post article.

“What happened in school today?” her mom, Sonya, asks in the video. “A little boy said I looked … ugly,” Cici responded.

“And what did you say?” Cici’s mom asked.

“I said, ‘I didn’t come here to make a fashion statement. I came here to learn — not look pretty,'” Cici replied, adding, “The little boy said I looked ‘bad,’ and I said, ‘Did you look in a mirror lately? Bye bye, see you later, you’re making me mad.'”

All Right! This girl has attitude. She has confidence. She is beautiful inside and out. She is my Shero!  We can all learn something from this 4 year old.  It’s a lesson in standing up for ourselves.  It’s about learning how to treat people.  And how not to treat people.  It’s about being empowered.  It’s about fairness, kindness, growing up and parenting. She has just the right amount of sass.

But.  In the middle of all that. And in the middle of the smiles and giggles, did you notice what happened to that smiling little girl when her mother asked that one simple question?  “What happened at school today?”   She got a little more serious as she answered, “A little boy said I looked …” and then it happened, the awkward pause, the fading smile, the dimming eyes, and then that word…  “…ugly”.  As she remembered it, then said it, it was like “it” was happening all over again.  The power, the life, was being sucked away.

And then, as her mother asked her what happened next, she embraced her power and her smile returned as she recounted her response to the little boy.

That word, that one hurtful word in a hurtful sentence.  You can hear the impact, feel it and see it like a fist to the stomach.  How much power it wielded, but like a true mighty girl, a real life super hero, Cici got right back up and won the round with oh so much class.

The empowering poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou came to mind.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

(excerpt from “Still I Rise”)

That word may have cut, it may have stung but Cici had nothing to apologize for, nothing to feel bad about and she let him know where she stood on the subject in no uncertain terms.

Her spirit and fire again brought to mind Maya Angelou’s strength and power that are so evident in another of her famous poems.  Gavin Aung Than, founder of Zen Pencils captured her essence beautifully in his adaptation of “Phenomenal Woman” in June 2014.

image from Zen Pencil's  #153 Maya Angelou Phenomenal Woman

image from Zen Pencil’s #153 Maya Angelou Phenomenal Woman

While Cici may not be a woman yet, she certainly is a phenomenal girl on her way to being a phenomenal woman.

I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

(excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman”)

In closing I want to reiterate that the impact of that one word can’t be denied.  How easy it is to hurt, to scar, in one moment of anger, of hurting, or of simply not thinking, the damage that can be wrought.  Never doubt the power of your words, or how long the effect can be felt. Language is gift that should always be used with care and wisdom.  For as easy as it is to cause hurt and to leave scars, it is really just as simple to encourage, empower, embolden and inspire.  The next time you put a string of words together, think about what they might do to the person hearing them. What choice are you going to make?

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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riselikeair:

Nailed it! Choose to notice.  Exactly.

I posted If Only the other day and now your great read seems the perfect reminder to be conscious and notice what’s around.  Choose what we give our attention too, and what better place to start than “LOVE”.   Thanks.

Originally posted on Mad Man Knitting:

IMG_1339If ever you should feel a horrid sense of destruction, if the world bothers you with its inability to feel compassion, if you leap towards moments of anger in confrontation, if you should ever desire the pain of your adversary, if you should ever condone the hardship of another because they deserve it, if you should ever cling to a cringe because it makes the day more interesting, then just take a peek at this picture. These are moments of love and compassion that we as humans fail to take notice of enough.

We love hearing the nightly news spew its bothersome stories of man killing man, we love hearing the….(God, don’t make me use this word!)….the “drama” that some people become involved in. Yet, rarely do we take notice of moments of love.

Never dismiss that. Never roll your eyes when you see public displays of affection, when you…

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Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

Awww…

Dog's Truly are a Man's Best Friend.

Source: Name withheld.


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