Archives for posts with tag: appreciation

lara-blog

Lara Heller is a multi talented screen actress for films including The Cut, Ben Hur and The Odyssey. All these films are natured based-shooting in beautiful majestic locations like the hills of the Badlands in Canada, Snowdonia in the mountains and the jungles of Thailand. Nature is a sanctuary for this family throughout all aspects of their life.

And here’s the really exciting part… (sssshhhhhh….) In May I was honoured to be able to tell Lara’s story of her father’s perseverance and kindness towards their community in Life Vest Inside’s The Kindness Flash.  I discovered what started out as a simple act of planting a few flowers turned into a statement of kindness that would last season after season.

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I hope you enjoy Lara’s Everyday Kindness Story, Sowing The Seeds Of Happiness

Lara remembers how how her father always loved nature. Lara and her siblings grew up in the tiny mountain village in Germany that had a grand total of 100 people. Upon moving to Brighton her father missed the wild flowers he’d enjoyed so much in his homeland. He was sad that little children passed on the street every day and the trees were bare. He decided to take it upon himself to make a change and proceeded to plant daffodils under one tree.

The children all looked at the pretty little bed of bright yellow. The tree stood out. Elderly people smiled walking past. Children stopped and showed their parents. It was amazing and beautiful how a single tree decorated with flowers could attract so much attention!

Sadly, one morning the Town Council put out wood shavings on all the trees including the one with daffodils crushing all the little flowers. Devastated, the family ran out and asked why. The reply was also devastating,  ‘Council orders-it looks different to the others. They need to be the same.’

Lara’s father chose not to become angry. Instead he proceeded to plant daffodils under all the trees! The next spring the whole street looked the same, each tree an explosion of yellow flowers. Children laughed again and neighbours sent Lara’s family letters as a thank you.

Lara reminds us beautifully that,

quote-openDaffodils like kind deeds multiple. Every year there are more little yellow trumpets waving in the wind. And our neighbours have planted more flowers under their trees. Kindness isn’t always encouraged but that doesn’t mean we give up. As my father taught me-plant enough seeds and suddenly they’ll all blossom.quote-close

reprinted from The Kindness Flash #14 May edition ©2017 Life Vest Inside

Where there is a will, there is likely a way. If there is not a way there is a lesson.

What a beautiful reward, the ongoing multiplication of kindness and blossoms. Bloom and grow. Remember you can check out Lara’s work here.

 

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Some days are better. Some days are worse. Some days just are.

But somehow, I knew this day had some good in it when I sat in a hammock overlooking a lake, gazing into a blue sky with a white fluffy heart shaped cloud right above me. Somehow, you just know it when stuff like that happens. Even if recognizing that experience is all the good you can muster. It’s pretty good.

 

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Interesting thing, I’ve learned that every single day has something good in it, just sometimes I don’t seem able to expend the necessary effort looking for it.  Now that I’ve recognized it and stopped arguing it I’m expending the effort and energy.

I’ve discovered it is very easy to see that not so good, the negative, the problems… and then to “happily” cling to them. The day can be beautifully bright, our kids remembered to pick up their toys, our spouses remembered to appreciate us and then that idiot cuts us off in traffic. Well there goes the hole dang day! We focus on that one thing that went wrong, a cloud appears over our head, our shoulders sag, our jaw sets and we do the exact opposite of what Alice Herz-Sommer advises. Instead of “seeing the bad but looking where it is good.”  we decide, usually quite unconsciously, to forget about the good and cling desperately to that one little annoyance. And like a cancer…. it grows until the blackness surrounds us.

And the weirdest part…. really, it’s up to us to choose. We choose everyday all day and way too often our choices don’t serve us or others.

So I’m taking this sign as a reminder to see the love and wonder in the world, even in the clouds.

Have a great day, find your own sign and remember – the choice is yours. Choose to look to the good, even when there’s bad knocking on your front door. May there always be a heart cloud above you showering you with mother nature’s love and a blue sky filling your own heart with hope.

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Just finished my morning pick me up with The Daily Kind , #74 to be exact, from Life Vest Inside. If you want a little more kindness in your life and a great start to your day….. sign up!  Ok, sales pitch over.

The first thing I read was

“As long as we are persistence in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.”
– Denis Waitley

Yep, totally resonated with me.  We never know for sure when we will fully bloom. And that’s why it’s so important to keep going, to push through, to take time to rest, to live, to love, to think, to plan, to be patient, to hope and to dream. Because that’s the one thing… we never truly know. We can guess, we can speculate and sometimes we are right on, but other times… it’s simply a waiting game. But there’s also a little catch – you have to stay present, because you might just miss the fact that you bloomed!
I went on to read the Act of Kindness and the Positive Affirmation which was another positive addition to my day. I like positive, because like so many others, I can forget myself and tend to focus on the negatives. It’s a choice, but I have to be conscious about it otherwise I slip into old habits. I’m human, go figure. Who knew?  Ok, I guess it’s rather obvious.
And then I got to the Kindness Media section. I admit that sometimes I don’t take the opportunity to watch the videos every day. Sometimes I just feel “too busy” even though I know that LVI always makes good choices that are actually worth taking the time for. So today, even though I’m busy busy busy, I took the few minutes (and then as you can see took a few more to write this blog)
I’ve always liked the Dude Be Nice crew, and today, LVI featured one of their videos. For me, the best one to date. I love teachers that help their students grow, the teachers who don’t just “teach” but guide and inspire. Actually I like those special kind of people period, because really, we are all teachers in life.
The DUDE. be nice project is a platform to inspire people to build a positive community by recognizing a person or group in a fun, creative and meaningful way. We’re all for making people feel appreciated.
This project is fantastic at showing support and appreciation. They have been part of surprising a lot of worthy people. The kind of people who never seem to expect it, they just are who they are, worthy ,wonderful, kind and caring people. In this case a teacher brought the project to her school and her students decided that SHE was the deserving recipient. Of course, they weren’t about to let her know that. A great way to perk up your day whether it needs perking up or not.
Today, go out there and be kind to someone, anyone, and let those around you who are generous and kind, make sure you let them know how much they mean to you. They might not do it for recognition, but we all know they deserve it, and appreciate it too.

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Sometimes things just come to you, and they make sense.  And then you have to stop what you’re doing and write it down.  That’s what happened to me yesterday when I was feeding the chickens.  Yes, feeding the chickens, all 25 of them. And the duck.

My brain tends to work in metaphor and analogy a lot. Apparently yesterday was no different.  When the boat is rocking you have to find your sea legs and sometimes what we need to do seems to be counter intuitive to everything we think we know.  But sometimes…. that’s exactly what we have to do.

 

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Depression and anxiety are like being on a ship in rough seas.  All of a sudden your whole world, literally the deck beneath your feet is lurching to and fro, throwing you around mercilessly.  Unable to keep your footing, you’re getting drenched by the crashing waves. Your stomach matches the lurch of the deck as you slip and slide, feeling like you have lost complete control over everything including yourself. All you want to do is make it to the head and die but here’s the thing…

While every fibre of your being is screaming get below deck to the head… any sailor will tell you the solution is actually to

  • Stay above deck
  • Stay in the fresh air
  • Take deep breaths
  • Keep your eye on the horizon where you want to go
  • Don’t fight the lurch Rock and Roll with it
  • Vomit over the rail but not into the wind

It probably won’t be fun or easy, but when the sun comes out, which it will, and the waves recede, which they will, you’ll walk the deck sure-footed again in warm gentle breezes with  a grin upon your face.

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I want to share a most amazing tribute I received a few days ago from my wonderful fellow blogger and wordsmith Soumya Rose John

Ten months ago I had the honour of speaking to a kindred soul from all the way across the globe. Her name was Jewel Fries. 
When I was first asked to become a blogger for Life Vest Inside alongside Jewel, I was a little nervous. Would we have the same vision, the same kind of drive, would we want the same things? After all, I thought, we were quite literally the definition of worlds apart.
However after my very first Skype call with her, I found my fears quickly taking a backseat to awe and admiration. 
Quite frankly, I have never come across another woman as talented, genuine, wise and humble as Jewel. I realised that not only was Jewel’s writing so incredibly eloquent, powerful and close to my heart, but she never made me feel like a silly child floundering about life (that let’s be honest, we all know is pretty much my definition!) trying to get things right. 
It isn’t every day that you come across a writer whose heart is as beautiful as the words they so skilfully string together, but then there are those few like Jewel who really restore your faith in believing that a writer can be as amazing as everything you read of theirs that you think reverberates your very soul. 
Jewel runs a crazy inspiring blog called Rise Like Air which is filled with uplifting, moving, motivating content and there is no time like now to check it out, I promise it will be worth your minutes! 


https://riselikeair.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RiseLikeAir/?fref=ts


To a woman who has endlessly supported me over the past year and helped me immensely along my personal journey as a writer, kindness ambassador and a human being, this one’s a MASSIVE shoutout to you for being the light that you are in this world, even when you sometimes don’t realise how strong that beam is! 
P.S. You need to tell me how to pronounce Saskatchewan someday 

Soumya’s smile, attitude, writing and love for life and people inspires me every day. I love working with her and we manage to keep each other afloat on a regular basis in the crazy busy world that we share from literally thousands of miles apart (One day we should figure out how far it really is!)

I’ve said many times that words are one of the most powerful items at our disposal. They can inspire, motivate and build a person up but they can just as easily destroy self esteem, hope and joy. They can kill the will to even try.

Soumya knows exactly how to use her words to spread love and kindness, tackle tough subjects while always leaving me with a smile on my face and hope in my heart.

She writes a great blog at Quirrk – Isn’t Life Just A Candid Lil’ Quirk?
I hope you’ll take the time to check out her writing. I think you will be happy you did.

Soumya, thank you for making me cry, laugh and believe. I really do appreciate you lending me your eyes to see myself, because the truth is, mine often don’t see the same thing. It’s nice to know when I don’t believe in myself I have others around to help me get back to that place again. I am honoured and humbled to not only have the pleasure of working with you but of calling you friend. You help me strive to become a better person every day. For all of that and more, Thank you.

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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fear

Be all you can be.  Be who you are.  Use your Fears, don’t let them use you.

 

 

Our Greatest Fear

it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

 

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It is so easy to think I know. I know what’s best. I know what they should do. I know. I know. I know. Often this comes with a side order of If only. If only they would, if only this could. If only they would try harder. If only. If only. If only.
 
What’s hard is admitting that just maybe I don’t know. I don’t really know how someone feels, or how to fix it, or even help them. All I can be is a friend. A supporter. All I can do is try harder every day to actually understand. Not understand from where I stand, but from where THEY stand. Time to walk in their shoes. And try as we might, we can’t do that well unless we actually are walking in their shoes.
 
Sometimes we can’t . We can’t suddenly experience cancer, or depression but we can work to understand more deeply. We can work to hold true empathy and compassion, even if we don’t get it.
 
UnderstandUs is a volunteer group in Regina, Saskatchewan Canada founded by Jeremy Demeray and Thomas Le.  They are ending the stigma of mental illness in a process to move us to mental health and support those in need. They are telling people’s stories so we can get as close to walking in their shoes as we possibly can. They are naming the elephant in the room.  
Victoria Sutherland’s piece Naming The Elephant In The Room is beautifully written and hits at the heart of what it feels like to be in a depressive episode that becomes so hopeless you will do anything to end the pain. She writes in a way that allowed me to feel like I am walking in her shoes.  I got it a little bit more. An excerpt from her article,
However, after 20 odd years of repressing a mental illness, it doesn’t take a lot before something seemingly small or insignificant can trigger an all time low. (I wish it was as simple as boy breaking my heart – that can be dealt with by listening to Tegan and Sara while eating a tub of cookie dough ice cream and screaming “liar” at everyone in Love Actually). Looking back, I’m not even certain I wanted to kill myself, I just knew that I never wanted to feel the way I did at that moment ever again. I was tired of feeling the kind of debilitating sadness that consumed my life and took joy out of everything I loved. I was tired of feeling alone even when surrounded by a room full of people who love me. I was tired of letting someone else’s actions and words have complete power over my emotions. Most of all, I was tired of extreme highs followed by periods of excessive lows. I felt like a grenade with the pin pulled out just waiting to go off. I could be having the best day of my life but if someone said or did something that upset me, I down-spiralled. Fast.
A couple of days after everything hit its dramatic climax, I started feeling guilty. Seeing the effect all of this had on my family and friends and even my dogs made me feel terrible. I felt selfish and needy and like I was a huge inconvenience to everyone in my life. My mom took time off work and moved in with me, my sister became my 24 hour sounding board and all of my other loved ones were taking time out of every day to check in, see how I was doing and just trying to be there. It was overwhelming and while I felt appreciative, I also questioned why I was worth consuming everyone’s thoughts and lives. And if that guilt wasn’t enough, I started to feel guilty when I wasn’t miserable.
When we start to “get it” we can become part of the solution, part of the support network.  We can make a difference, a positive difference.  We can save lives, we can give hope, we can make a difference. We can help people become whole again. Because they are. They are whole.
While difficult to read on one hand, Victoria’s words gave me hope.  Hope because I understand better.  Hope because Victoria is proof that change can happen, that you can find ways, constructive, healthy ways to deal with depression, to learn to live again. To actually want to live again. That is an incredibly beautiful thing.  It’s a true rise like air moment.
To everyone out there who has, is or will face a time in their life where it is so painful and hopeless they see no way out, I want to thank you for still being here.  For that, I am eternally grateful. Because I’m beginning to realize just how big a commitment that is to make.

Life Vest Inside is a wonderful organization that empowers people and changes the world through kindness.  Being an ambassador with LVI has truly had one of the biggest most positive impacts on my life. If you need some support, a little kindness and want to be inspired every single day, surrounded by people who care and exude kindness, check them out.

Also check out Project Hope Exchange where you can give and get hope in 30 seconds. Now you know you’re curious.

©2016 J.Fries/Rise Like Air

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This is a really to the point blog. Too many people are surrounded with toxic people in their lives but don’t recognize it and instead believe the story and actually make excuses for them instead of distancing or removing themselves from the toxicity. Ah we humans are truly an interesting bunch, far too willing to allow ourselves to be slowly poisoned it would seem. Spoiler alert: Never too late to change, never too late to heal, never too late to choose.
“When the music changes, so does the dance.” – African Proverb

Source: Beware the Signs of Toxic People in Your Life

 

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Absolutely beautiful blog written from one of our favourite bloggers Soumyaj at Quirrk

It’s an odd thing, being prepared for a certain kind of pain.

 

Resilience

Endurance

Life lessons

Wise words

 

Source: The two kinds of pain

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A few weeks ago my family spent a lovely weekend at the lake. Summer weekends were soon coming to an end but this one was perfect. Sunny skies, gentle warm breezes, calm waters and a boat waiting to take us wherever we pleased. Our only decision was would we eat at home or take a picnic. Our daughter ended any debate with a vocal PICNIC!

The crew (aka my husband and two lovely children) readied the boat and I readied the picnic. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a plain old last minute throw together picnic lunch – which really are my favourite kind anyway.

We launched the boat and as we pulled away, there was our dog on the dock, tail a wagging. He didn’t seem interested in swimming to join us so of course, it meant docking the boat again. We enjoyed the beauty of the day with hardly another soul about. After a while we cruised up to our favourite spot – no one in sight, the ruins of an old stone barn just off shore, fine sand beaches beckoning us. As we prepared to put onto shore I turned and reached for the picnic basket.

It wasn’t there. As we all proceeded to blame each other I held up my hands. “Look on the bright side, we can go get the basket.”  Off we went back across the lake to the boat launch where we were parked. No picnic basket.  It was back at our place, where everyone had walked right past it!

Hop back on boat and push off.  But “WAIT!” I yell.  “We have the dog,” they say. “I know.’ I call, “But the keys, the keys for the house are in the truck!”  Well, the bright side, we’re getting really good at docking our boat at a rather tricky dock! Not sure my husband was as thrilled with this though.  My son graciously got out, again, and retrieved the keys.

A short jaunt later and we docked at our own dock, son sprinted up the hill and yippee! The picnic basket was retrieved, dog was on board, keys were safely stowed. We enjoyed the second boat ride over to the other side just as much as the first. We had a lovely picnic lunch. We explored, we lost track of time.

Some days are just like that.

We could have seen the mishaps of the day as inconveniences, hiccups or problems, but that would have been a waste of time. We instead chose to enjoy the opportunity to view it as a good story, something to share a laugh about instead. I’m glad we were able to see that as a forethought instead of an after thought.

As with the waning of summer comes the return of academia.  Recently that meant an exciting field trip. The day started off well enough, other than it was very early! The kids had to be at school by 6:00 a.m. It went smoothly but I must admit I wasn’t quite awake yet while I waved merrily as they drove away. I was feeling pretty good though.  I had to be in the city and being up this early would make being on time a breeze!

As I was getting ready I heard the sound of a vehicle coming up the driveway. It hit me, I forgot to cancel the school bus! I wasn’t dressed yet so I threw on my coat and ran out to wave our driver on. Oh well, I’m sure she was after a scenic tour anyway.

Back to getting ready and then I hear a thud at our window and upon running out on the frosty grass I see a little junco. Very dazed, a little blood…. so as I always do, I brought the little bird in. Twenty minutes later he’s perking up so I get ready to take him out to release when…… I tilt the lid too far and it escapes – inside, not outside. Sigh…. did I mention I had to get to the city early?

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Ok…. first order of business, find the cats – cause there were 2 snoozing in here. Out with one and I think the other one is out too. Sooooo off to catch the little flyer. Almost, not quite – twice it was almost but not quite. And then I see cat number 2 just as it catapults itself into the air and grabs the bird, who just manages to flutter out of it’s clutches. How many lives do birds have anyway?!

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Out with cat number 2 (she’s miffed at me). I finally open the window and within a few tries out goes the bird… and it wasn’t even 8:30 a.m. yet.

Some days are just like that…

By now I was sweaty, but certainly wide awake. I left for the city, better late than never.  I was feeling a bit frustrated as I left until it struck me how funny it would have all looked to a spectator. I saved a bird, had a good laugh, certainly had quite a workout and in the end, while I wasn’t early, I wasn’t late either.

So I made it to the city. I realized I had forgotten about breakfast so decided to stop at McDonald’s for a breakfast sandwich. Because after all I’d been through I figured I deserved it, and heck, I was still running on time!

As a matter of fact I was feeling so good I decided to check an item off my bucket list – “Pay forward at a drive thru”.  I ordered and pulled forward, but there was no one behind me. And then I proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait. So much for staying on time.  So much for fast food.  Exasperated I looked in my rear view mirror.  There was a woman in a car behind me. For a split second I thought, “So what, this is just taking forever!” But in that same moment my exasperation started to turn to anticipation. The thought of being able to pay for the car behind me started to make me feel better. I wanted the line to move, but now it was motivated because I wanted to pay for the other car, not so much because I was bored or running late.

I started to wonder about the woman behind me.  Was she having a good day or a bad day? Was she early or running late? Was she happy or sad or mad? I wondered what she ordered and if anyone had ever paid for her meal like this. Then I wondered if she had paid for someone else’s and if today, she would keep the pay it forward chain going.

By the time I finally made it to the window I was smiling. I explained to the cashier what I wanted to do and she was dumbfounded. She said no one had ever done this at that restaurant before.  She called her boss over right away to tell him and find out exactly how to go about making it happen. I thanked her and she looked at me and said, “No, thank you! You just made my whole day. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.” As I picked up my order I asked the server to make sure she wished the car behind me a great day and I wished her the same. She was smiling too.  Best $5.64 I have ever spent.

I looked at my watch. I was late, but not late enough to cause any damage. As I navigated through traffic to my destination I reflected on the experience.

Some days are just like that, and that’s perfectly ok.

Everyday presents you with experiences and opportunities. How you choose to perceive them and what you choose to do with them is always up to you.

It’s all good so remember to see beautiful and you’ll rise like air.

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©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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