Archives for category: Finding Beauty

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 woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed considering I’d only had about 5 hours sleep at best. Awake, but at the same time not really ready to face the day. Although I looked forward to some time to myself to get things done and be with my own thoughts.

A friend messaged me, “I hope you have a great day.”   I responded with, “That would be nice for a change. I see the ‘good’ in my life but I’m just not quite ‘there’ yet either.” Don’t get me wrong, I really do see the good in my life. My life is definitely good, especially if I compare it to many others less fortunate in so many possible ways. And I am grateful for it, very grateful. However, I’m just not quite ‘there’ yet.”

I’m not done yet.  I still have growing and giving and living to do to name just a few. And, I sincerely hope you do too.

Now there was nothing really unusual about the exchange I had with my friend. I tend to hang with a group of people that regularly wish each other well and make candid comments along the way. But this time there was a shift, a click between my head and heart, whatever you want to call it.

I embraced that wish, that hope. I allowed myself to simply be grateful for it, the wish, the hope my friend had for me. In truth I hadn’t really been looking forward to my day, it didn’t really involve any of my “favourite things”. In fact, from my perspective, it looked like a bit of a downer, except for the company I’d be keeping.

But off I went and little tiny bright spots started showing up. And just as importantly (because really I believe bright spots are always there) I was open to recognizing them.

As I was getting ready to head to the city, I realized that I was going to mark another item off my ever growing bucket list! Play D&D, something I’ve wanted to do for over 30 years!  Traffic moved steadily for a change, the light turned green when I got there. I had to wait at a red light, but just as an important call came in that I could take. I took a family member for lab work and we parked right in front of the door and were literally in and out within 5 minutes.

I had started my day with a blank countenance. After receiving “the” message the corners of my mouth begged to twitch upwards just a bit. The bucket list realization kept it twitching. After the lab I had a recognizable smile on my face. And this was all before 9:30.

Off to deliver our farm fresh eggs. Yippee Parking spot right in front. Except…. I was going to have to parallel park. Growing up I was told girls didn’t really need to be good at parking because well, I guess exercise was good for us and we could park and walk. Anyway, it’s bothered me for my entire driving life and I’ve decided to overcome it. So today, I parked (ok, the spot was amply big, but I backed in first try. YES!) I’m pretty sure I was walking a little taller with a bit of a swagger in my step.

Then I had to get fuel, I went in to get a few things and pay. On my way out a young man filling up a car turned and smiled saying, “Have a great day!” Getting back into my car, my smile was replace by a full grin.

Next stop, grocery shopping, a test of any sane person in my opinion, let alone me. As we entered the store, the young man who had just brought in all the carts offered us each one and gave us the warmest smile. Found what I was looking for, prices didn’t hurt and as I got in line I realized my companion for the day just happened to be right in front of me getting ready to pay. Ok, so now I had to chuckle. The clerk was the kindest soul, loading the heavy bag into my passenger’s cart and she generously shared her brilliant, shiny smile with both of us.

Upon reaching the car, I discovered the shopping bags I always keep there had been removed by someone else and not returned. Normally this would have caused me a little consternation I will admit. While I did note the fact, it just didn’t matter. The groceries fit. I had a cooler so that was what really mattered. No problem, grin intact. Groceries packed snuggly into the car, we were headed home.

I enjoyed a lovely homemade meal with my parents and before I left saw a post from a friend about Remembrance Day that just touched me to the core and I knew I wanted to honour it. I didn’t wait, took the initiative and contacted them right away. I have been given permission regarding my request, catch the foreshadowing there? My cheeks were starting to get a bit sore from smiling so much, muscles haven’t been getting enough exercise maybe.

Then it was home, unload groceries, hand off the car for the next set of errands… and get another surprise. There is my son working on his university physics assignment. I actually was able to help on a problem he was working through. Now anyone who really knows me at all is rereading that sentence in utter disbelief. Ok, I didn’t do the actual math, but still. I was enough!

And then it hit me. My friend’s hope, their wish for me was coming true. I was having a great day. There were no “big memorable” things. It was just a whole lot of little everyday things. Things that happen every single day.

Today, I made the connection and I recognized those little everyday things.

To be honest, not everything went swimmingly well. I feel like I might be catching the cold I’ve been avoiding. I had to divert in traffic twice, but I still got to where I was going on time. I had to follow a wide load that I couldn’t get around, but again, in the end it had no negative impact and I guess I was friendlier to the environment by driving a little slower. I had to wait again for large farm machinery on the grid road, but the appreciate smile and wave of the operator made my 90 second delay more than worth it. There were probably others less than perfect moments, but I don’t remember them!

What I realize is that as I connected more and more with the good around me and was grateful, I really did begin to experience more things to be grateful for, more. Or at the very least, I was able to recognize the opportunity to experience more and smart enough to accept the gift.  I didn’t notice the frustrations and annoyances as much or to the painful depth I know I am capable of. My cup is now full again. I am grateful.

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Never underestimate the power of a good morning text and a heart felt wish with a dash of hope either. Thank you from the bottom of my heart my friend. Today is a great day. I’m very glad you’re in it.

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Yes, that’s my question. What do you plan on doing when you reach 104? How do you think you’ll feel? Where will you live? How will you spend your time? Today, reaching 104 isn’t out of the question. The question, is how are you going to approach that possibility?

Before I get into why 104 is the “magic” number today, I want to tell you what got me pondering and contemplating this in the first place. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I may live to regret it. But, here it is. I’m getting older. Yup. There you have it. Here’s something I’ve noticed. A lot of people around me are getting older too. Actually I’ve noticed absolutely EVERYONE around me is getting older. Go figure! It’s happening!

I’ve noticed something else too. There appear to be three general reactions to this realization for most people.

  • Denial and rejection
  • Resignation and defeat
  • Embracement and acceptance

All three reactions are very legitimate and completely true in the minds of those holding them. What I’m beginning to notice, is that the attitude held seems to not so much support the reality they are experiencing, but at the very least, to some degree appears to create it.

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Lately I have encountered a large number of people looking at the ageing process with resignation and defeat. I hear things like:

  • this growing old sucks
  • growing old isn’t for the faint of heart
  • growing old and I’m falling apart
  • everything hurts when you start to get old

I’ve begun to get extremely frustrated with this prevailing attitude because you know what? I’m not having any of it.

I mentioned the other day that I’d thrown my back out and was having to see my chiropractor. The response was “Yeah, growing old sucks.” I sat with that for a bit before responding. “Nope, growing old doesn’t suck, I’m rather embracing that part at the moment. But being in pain right now definitely does suck.” Because that is my truth, at least right now. I’ve thrown my back out in my “youth” too. Hurt the same then as now. Sucked then as much as now for the most part.

For quite awhile I held that very same attitude. Growing older sucked, there was no good coming from it. But then a number of things occurred (everything happens for a reason) and I began to think that just maybe this wasn’t the beginning of the end as much as just another beginning. The result of that subtle shift, and tiny steps I took, turned my ageing self around. A change in what I believed and how I perceived ageing and myself began the process of not only feeling better physically, mentally and spiritually, but embracing this next phase of my life. And that phase holds such limitless possibility and potential.

 

Today a friend shared this gem of a story from the UK, “104 Year Old Woman Keeps Fit With Yoga”. The woman is Eileen Ash, who at 105 (her birthday was yesterday) is not only apparently the oldest living Test cricketer, but does yoga, drives her car and wonders when she will really be old. She asks, ‘Will it be when I’m 105?” Something tells me, probably not. (The article is only 2 paragraphs with a 1:18 video so it’s short and sweet)

I know the ease and grace of ageing is impacted by our genetics and environment, but I believe it is often most strongly impacted by what we choose to believe and thereby what we choose to perceive.

So given that, I’ll pose my question once again.

What do you plan on doing when you reach 104?

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Thank you. Thank you for showing me that I could be seen, that I was something more than a walking ghost filled with other people’s stories but my own dreams. Thank you for telling me you loved me when neither of us knew what that even meant. If it weren’t for you, I’d never know […]

via To The Men Who’ve Left — quirrk

I don’t think this blogger has ever written anything I didn’t like but somehow I fell in absolute love with this piece, poignantly straight from the heart.  One of the kindest souls I know eloquently reflects that everyone is in our life for a reason, even those who are here to teach us lessons are very much a blessing. Relationships are always an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s especially grand when we recognize the lessons and are able to reinvent pain into grace and gratitude.

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Sometimes inconvenient interruptions are exactly what you need to make your day a little more perfect.

I live on a farm.  Every once in a while someone breaks down on the road by our place and they trundle in looking for help or a phone or directions.

The other day a woman ran out of gas and came a knocking (my door bell apparently is’t working).

I walked to the door trying to quiet my barking dog, wiping my hands and sighing because yet another interruption.  I’d had enough of those already to last an entire lifetime let alone a day.

I opened the door.  She had this big smile and a big hello.  She’d run out of gas and left her phone at home.  The smile, the situation, suddenly for some reason I just connected with her.  Maybe it’s because I could have seen the exact same thing happening to me.  And if it did, I’d want a safe, warm place to ask for help.  Maybe I just needed the smile and the hello.  I don’t know for sure, but whatever it was, I happily invited her in and offered her a coffee while she sorted things out. She introduced herself, April. I’ve always liked that name. Thoughts of spring flowers and gentle warm rain showers, rebirth and renewal.

It’s one of those things that I will forever be happy I did.  We spent over an hour together, getting to know each other, finding all sorts of things in common and laughing.  Oh how we laughed.  Almost like old friends.  Within an hour we even had inside jokes. I felt so relaxed, at ease. Finally her rescuer arrived with gas and her phone and off she went. We laughed some more as we said good-bye and I waved as they drove away.

I closed the door and realized I felt so relaxed and at ease. I felt completely in the zone. As I leaned against the door smiling I realized that it was a truly beautiful moment. And as with many beautiful moments, it contained a lesson.

When April ran out of gas and had no phone, she wasn’t thinking abundantly good thoughts.  When the knock came at my door, I was dreading yet another interruption.  But when I opened that door, I allowed a wonderful experience into my day. Our perceptions hadn’t been true and thankfully we were both willing to allow something better to unfold for us.  Running out of gas and having an interruption actually turned into something incredibly beautiful.  It created a situation for two souls to be touched, for two people to meet and for the day to be even more brilliantly bright than it already was.

Seeing beautiful and rising like air really is all about perspective and how you choose to look at things.  There’s that word again…. CHOOSE.  That’s really what life is all about, the choices we make. And it’s not about choices even being good or bad or right or wrong.  It’s about what you do with them.  And that my friends, is always up to you and you alone. It’s always your choice.

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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So I got this really cool Christmas gift from my daughter.  A hand made, hand bound journal.  It was a school project.  I heard about the idea.  I heard about the process.  And then I didn’t hear anything. I asked how it was coming and if I’d get to see it. She mumbled something vague and while I was curious, I have to admit, I sort of forgot about it.

And then I opened the gift.  She’s always worried about whether the recipient of her kindness will be happy. You can see the apprehension in her face. She had nothing to worry about.

She couldn’t have picked or made anything more perfect, right down to the colour, one of my favourites, an earthy green.  Like most creative types, after ensuring that I actually liked it, and then double checking to make sure I really, really liked it, she was quick to point out what hadn’t quite gone right. All I could see was beauty and perfection in all its imperfect glory.

How To Be Happy

 

How

To

Be

Happy

 

I opened it.

Blank pages.

Perfect.

Really, I mean it.

Why?

Because for each of us happiness is a little different, a little unique, a little personal.

There is no self help book, advice column or guru that will grant us happiness. All they can do is provide ideas, guidance, mind opening dialogue. We write our own happiness.  We choose it.  We define it.  We create it.

Spoiler Alert:

It comes from within.  It always comes from within first.  We write our own happiness. If we rely on it coming from outside we will always be disappointed because while what is outside of us can enhance our joy and happiness, it is transitory, temporary and fickle.  Only what is inside us, that little spark we fan into a flame, that’s what is with us always.  That is what can always at some point and in some way be fanned back to life.  Learning to love ourselves within suddenly begins to make changes in what we see outside ourselves.  Our perceptions change. Happiness isn’t a 24/7 euphoric high. Happiness is a state of mind, a chosen state of mind. One that takes a little time and effort to achieve, a little time to allow our perspective and our perceptions to align. To see beautiful in everything. To realize that happiness isn’t dependent on “good things”, it’s dependent simply on attitude. The attitude that no matter what, I will CHOOSE to find the good, the beauty and the happy. Even when it’s hard, elusive and frustrating. Because I know it’s there, whether I choose to see it or embrace it or not.  It’s there. My choice.  Always my choice.

The blank pages, unwritten, waiting for me to write my own happiness.

When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen. Harley Davidson

It reminded me of one of my favourite songs, another power anthem by Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined. I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned… I break tradition, sometimes my tries are outside the lines. We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way. Staring at the blank page before you, open up the dirty window, let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find.

So this little journal is my adventure in how to be happy.  It’s unwritten.  It’s ending completely unplanned. Only one thing that’s guaranteed, it will be happy.

And guaranteed, many of my tries will definitely be outside the lines.

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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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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Mother's First Bouquet Photo Credit: J Fries

Mother’s First Bouquet
Photo Credit: J Fries

To all a happy Mother’s Day
And this a mother’s first bouquet
Clutched in a small and grubby  fist
Accompanied by a sloppy kiss
Nothing brings a quicker smile
Than a child awed by nature for a while
Sharing their love in this simple way
To wish you a Happy Mother’s Day
And if this time for you is past
Wishing you memories that forever last.

 – J Fries

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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source unknown

source unknown

Much has been written about happiness, how to be happy, how to stay happy.

I believe happiness is different for each of us.  Even if we are happy for the same list of reasons, those same reasons touch each of us uniquely individual way.

We strive to find the balance, walk the tight rope that ensures we stay on the fine line that is happiness. I’ve done that for a very long time.  Trying to grasp happiness so tightly that I can’t lose it, living in fear that I will wobble  causing my toe to touch the opposite of happiness.

Slowly I’m coming to realize that clinging to happiness really living in happiness, it’s living in fear of loss. I’m learning that happiness is a lot like beauty. It can be obvious, bright shades of yellow, loud and big! It can be unexpected, slightly more subtle, shades of pink, maybe a bit reserved. Or it can even be elusive, where you have to look for the silver lining or experience a mix of emotions that change the hue of happiness. In this world, if one listens to the news, there is plenty of “evidence” to validate unhappiness.

I’m beginning to really understand the wisdom in being happy for no reason, for being happy simply because I can choose to be happy.  I can choose it.  I realized that it is true – whether I make a conscious choice and take steps to fulfill it, or allow my choices to be random unconscious manifestations, it’s a choice non the less.

We are creatures obsessed with reasons. Why does this happen? Why did you make that decision? Why is the sky blue? Why is snow cold? Why is a rock rough? We judge, we label, we file away. Our judgements become key in determining our happiness.

I used to live my life thinking in the future, “I’ll be happy when I get through this project.”  Then I finally asked myself, “Why make your happiness dependent on a timeframe and not feel happy now? So right there I chose to change my thought. I felt a bit silly and like I might not be telling the whole truth, but I said, “I’m happy because I’m gaining lots of experience as I work through this project.” I allowed myself to enjoy that accomplishment. Because it was ongoing, I was able to remind myself I could be happy at any time.

I realize that’s still a reason.  It can be difficult to think of life without attaching judgements, labels and reasons to everything. After all we’re pretty good at it, although often not very accurate in the outcome. So what about being happy for no reason – or at least simply because you can.

“I’m happy,” period. No conscious reason, just a set intention everyday, with a good dose of an attitude of gratitude.  And maybe that’s part of it, we don’t need to focus on why we’re happy as much as focussing on gratitude for what we do have. It’s the old chicken and the egg question. In this case, maybe it’s not that we need a reason to be happy, but that if we choose happiness we will end up with plenty of reasons to be grateful and, well, even happier.

So I’m working at being happy for no reason, just being happy for the sake of happiness. That way when life throws me that curve ball it inevitably will, I’ll be ready.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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I emerged from the hospital weakened, with thin limbs and thinned hair. Now unable to work, I was left at home to convalesce. Getting up from a chair or lifting a glass of water took concentration and effort. If time dilates when one moves at high speeds, does it contract when one moves barely at all? It must: The day shortened considerably. A full day’s activity might be a medical appointment, or a visit from a friend. The rest of the time was rest.

via Before I Go, by By Paul Kalanithi – Photography by Gregg Segal.

We all know our time on this earth is limited.  Most of us are able to ignore it at least for a time and we live like we have forever.  But we don’t.

When you realize that your time is close to being over, time takes on a new meaning.   The above essay is one of the most articulate, profound and poignant pieces I’ve ever read.

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who recently passed away from metastic lung cancer.  In this, one of his last pieces of writing shortly before his death, he shared how the concept of time changed for him during his illness, recovery and then recurrence of cancer.

We each deal with tragedy, pain and challenges differently.  But during those trials and tribulations, the pain and the fear, it is the smallest and simplest things that bring us joy.

Never discount the small joys we are each capable of sharing with others, no matter the day or the need.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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