Archives for posts with tag: Christmas

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.


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….


and there is


I promise

Don’t ever forget….


©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Depression sucks…

Depression Sucks…

Depression SUCKS!!!!!

It sucks away relationships

It sucks away perspective

It sucks away happiness

It sucks away hope

It sucks away trust

It sucks away energy

It sucks away self esteem

It sucks the life out of you

It sucks the life out of me….

















It leaves you drained, a shrivelled empty shell of your former self. Enough souls have been consumed.

The holidays are the worst for many people.  We’re supposed to be happy, thankful, joyful possessing hearts bursting with goodwill and love. Well, many of us have hearts that are bursting anyway. Along with minds and bodies that feel like they are about to vibrate apart at the molecular level. Valiantly holding it all together behind a mask with a painted smile.

Depression blinds us to reality, colours our perception, skews our perspective.  It sits on our shoulder and whispers we are unworthy, less than, without value, alone, vulnerable and insignificant. Depression lies, but like the most sinister mind control invention in a great scifi thriller, the victim believes the purported falsehood completely and without question.

There is nothing more heart breaking than to see someone giving up, losing hope, convinced of the doom and gloom depression has painted before them, enveloped by sadness and despair. Surrounded by toxicity masquerading as normality, they believe in their powerlessness, ingrained over time, through countless assaults they believe were justly deserved. Knowing their perception is so totally skewed, that they are like priceless unique one of a kind treasures, worthy, cherished, valued, yet they not only can’t see it, but won’t see it so completely bewitched they are by that silent wraith, Depression.

Broken. So many people who believe they are broken beyond repair. Broken so profoundly that they should hide away in the shadows. Not realizing that everyone is broken. Hiding behind facades, masks with painted smiles, hollow hellos and I’m fine thank you’s. Blinded to the fact that each of us in all our imperfections is perfectly perfect, a work of art in progress, never truly finished until the very end. Always filled with potential and possibilities.

Protection from the misperceptions that depression wields is derived by surrounding ourselves with everyone and everything possible that reminds us of the unclouded truth when depression sneaks up behind us again, taps us on the shoulder and says, “Hello, my old friend.”  Choose the people who can weave a net beneath you, give you a life vest and keep you afloat when you don’t have the will and clarity to do so yourself.


Sometimes it’s not about one day at a time. It’s about one second at a time, one hundredth of a second, one thousandth of a second.  You hold on.  You make one promise, that for the next one thousandth of a second you will hold on, keep trying and maybe during one of those one thousandths of a second, just maybe even start believing in positive possibilities.




CHOICE. Every one of us has a choice, even when we’re sure we don’t. The choice to give up or to keep going.  The choice to believe or to disbelieve. The choice to see beautiful or not. The choice to hold on or to let go.

I’ve discovered it’s true that for every bad day I’ve ever had, and some were doozies, I’ve survived every one of them. Every single one. At some point the light at the end of the tunnel appeared. All I had to do was hold on. One thousandth of a second at a time. And yes I know the light will probably disappear again, but like the eternal sunrise I know it will eventually appear again. Even if it begins as only the faintest flicker. It will return.

And while there have been times where I’ve felt bleak two things have always held me firmly here. I could never take the chance that a choice I make in despair might empower someone else to follow my choice. I know I would never give anyone else the advice to give up, to let go, so how can I allow myself to?

The second thing that has always held me here is the very fact that just maybe, just maybe great things are somewhere in the future, or present, that I might just miss something wondrous, magical, something I wouldn’t want to miss. There’s already been so much I would never have wanted to miss, even when it’s bitter sweet.

Keeping the faith, wrapped in a life vest, turning mistakes into stepping stones, holding on and seeing beautiful. That’s all any of us have to do, choose HOPE even if it comes one thousandth of a second at a time.



It’s time to remove the stigma of mental illness, including depression. It is insidious and hiding from it will never make it go away. If you or someone you know suffers from depression we urge you to seek help and support.

We have found the following resources helpful and hope you do as well.

Life Vest Inside Our mission is to empower and unite the world in kindness.

Project Hope Exchange Give Hope Get Hope, all in 30 seconds

See Beautiful  We empower people to see beautiful in themselves and others and we give and give to causes creating more beautiful in the world.


©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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My Very Tiny Little Story

This is my story

My very tiny little story

I don’t often share it

But sometimes it just

Feels right to tell it

It begins long ago

On a starry night

Filled with promise

The air was crisp

And oh so very clear

Upon a blanket of black

Bright sparkles beckon us

Tantalizing teasing

Drawing us nigh

Patiently waiting

For the magic of Christmas

To reveal itself

Gently quietly

Before the end

© 2014 JFries / Rise Like Air

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I am one of those people who hate waking up in the dark.  I am a sunny morning  kind of person.  If dawn hasn’t cracked and the sun hasn’t risen, then neither should I, especially if it’s cold outside.  And let’s face it; where I live, it’s dark and cold for a good number of months.

©2014 JFries

©2014 JFries

The exception to my usual disposition is the month of December.  December is special in this regard and I actually look forward to waking up in the dark.  Yes, I said it, “I look forward to it.”  I pull on warm fuzzy clothes to ward off the early morning chill, tip toe down the darkened hallway and stairs, flip a couple of switches and am greeted with the soft coloured lights welcoming me on the staircase where the stockings are all hung with care waiting for the Christmas Eve magic that never grows old.   I step into the parlour which is bathed in warm colours from the glowing Christmas tree, it’s branches spreading protectively over the gaily coloured packages carefully wrapped and placed there over the last few days.


The stillness of the house is still intact as I make my way to the living room where the villagers are just starting to wake up.   The early risers are already at the bakery choosing their delicacies for their own celebrations.


On a regular day I would throw on all the lights I could to drive the darkness away, but instead, in December I shuffle my way to the kitchen and make a cup of tea.  Deeply I inhale the rich aroma of bergamot and settle myself in a cozy chair with a view to the East.  This morning I’m in no rush for the sun to chase away the darkness.  Instead I am ready to welcome it with patience and wonder, amongst the softly glowing lights that twinkle here and there, much like the last stars slowly blinking their good night as they take their turn to rest.  I marvel at the beauty as the sun paints the sky with brilliant pinks, reds, and purples, welcoming the new day with all the beauty and all the magic it holds, just waiting for me to discover all it has to offer.


And now, the adventure begins.

©2014 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

Photos are ©2014 J.Fries

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Image from article Santa, Don’t Pigeonhole My Kid

Things worth seriously considering when deciding what to give impressionable young ones.  What message does our selection send?  Are there options available that convey our sentiment and still get the reaction we all want to see on Christmas morning – or for that matter, birthday or any other occasion where you sweat over choosing that perfect “something” and then stand in line waiting to pay while you second guess yourself?

As a mother, I’ve been surprised as my children have grown that gender specific toys seem to have become more prevalent rather than less so.  For all the discussion about gender equality and gender neutrality I had assumed hoped that the toy manufactures, like Lego, would have been more in tune with the times.

This article on by Katia Hetter explores her own experience during a gift shopping excursion for her children.

“I don’t think any parent wants to limit their children now, and I think all of us know that our kids — boys and girls — need skills in both construction and care-taking to be successful adults,” said Orenstein.¹ “So during the holidays, I’d try to think creatively on a number of fronts: where gender is concerned broadening (your child’s) concept of what it might mean to be female or male where and when you can.” Katia Hetter

via Santa, don’t pigeonhole my kid –

¹ Peggy Orenstein, author of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter”

Here are some other gift giving related blogs I’ve recently posted.

Zen Pencils A Zen Approach To Gift Giving

Yellowberry Yellowberry – They Have You Covered

©2014 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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from ZenPencils webpage

from ZenPencils webpage

Having a tough time thinking of a perfect gift?  Aren’t we all.  Well, here’s something that is on my list.

I wrote about Gavin Aung Than, a free-lance cartoonist and creator of Zen Pencils, about a year and half ago.  I was fascinated with Gavin’s ability to capture the essence of classic quotes within the cartoon or graphic genre.  I wasn’t used to seeing such inspiration and empowerment expressed graphically before; at least not like this.  I immediately understood how his unique pictorial representation of inspiring and powerful quotes appealed to such a diverse audience.

In case you missed it, or don’t want to read the entire article Gavin left his secure job in 2011 and began Zen Pencils in the beginning of 2012.  Within short order his talents were noticed by the online community and suffice it to say the rest is kind of history.  He recently released his first book, Zen Pencils: Cartoon Quotes From Inspirational Folks, in paperback so yes, it’s an extremely affordable gift too!  Is it good?  Well, it’s number 7 on the New York Times Best Seller List for Paperback Graphic for starters and if that’s not enough, a quick perusal of his website will quickly allow you to form your own opinion.

NYTimes Best Seller List Paperback Graphic

NYTimes Best Seller List
Paperback Graphic

If books aren’t your style you could consider one of his prints, suitable for framing, which are available on his website.  He has recently added canvas prints to the selection . Oh, and if you subscribe to his email updates you also get 3 free posters in pdf format, with resolution making them suitable for framing.

No one in need of such a gift?  Don’t collect books yourself?  That’s ok, you can enjoy his talents by following his blog and checking out his regularly posted inspirational creations.  Be inspired.  It really is that easy.

Here are some other gift giving related blogs I’ve recently posted.

Toy Buying What Do Toys Tell Us?

Yellowberry Yellowberry – They Have You Covered

©2014 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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I read about Eli Reynolds in The Regina Leader Post.  He is only 7 years old but he thinks big and hasn’t let his age stop him from making a big difference.  This fall Eli started a campaign that he called Warm Hearts.     He made posters, spread the word far and wide, set up collection boxes and requested only one thing: donations of warm socks for those who might not have any.  In our Saskatchewan winters, feet really need to be kept warm!

A personable, well-spoken Grade 2 student at Balgonie Elementary School, Eli decided he wanted to do something after seeing a documentary about a young Winnipeg woman who founded the Ladybug Foundation at age 8 to combat homelessness.

“It made me think about how I’m pretty lucky,” Eli explained. So he wanted to find a way to help those who haven’t been as fortunate. After speaking with his mom and grandma, Eli hatched a plan.”   From the Regina Leader Post

To date he’s collected over 600 pairs of socks!  That’s a lot of feet being kept warm.  He has donated them to various organizations throughout Regina and he hasn’t stopped collecting yet.

His mother says he comes from a family of caring volunteers and it’s obvious that Eli has already joined the beautiful tradition with his own brand of kindness.  Way to go Eli!

©2013 J Fries/Rise Like Air

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Regardless of what our personal traditions of celebration are during this time of year, one of the common themes seems to be that of peace, love, forgiveness and giving.  It’s a time of celebration.  But it’s also a time of extreme stress for many.  People who can’t be with loved ones, or worse, don’t have loved ones.  People who have financial worries and feel that they can’t have the celebration they’d like.  People who are having a hard time at work or in a relationship.  There’s all kinds of stresses that can make us lose sight of what it’s really all about.

We get grumpy about how commercialized it’s become, how crowded stores are, how pushy and rude people can get, how expensive everything is, how tired we are, how much work we have to do, the fact that carols and advertising start too early, that Christ isn’t in Christmas anymore, that Christ is in Christmas, wording, greetings.

Then someone, a company no less, big business no less, manages to not just remind us about the magic of the season, but actually makes the magic happen!  Harry Potter or Professor Dumbledore could not have done it better.

WestJet, a Canadian airline, did just that in November 2013.  They gave 200 passengers the most fantastic magical adventure.  Read the short article and watch the video.  If it doesn’t make you teary… well then all I can say is watch it again!

The idea itself was magnificent in my opinion.  I can only imagine how much work, and money and planning it took to pull this off.  Even the Grinch and Scrooge could not have resisted being part of this surprise plan if they’d been around.   What I loved though is how much everyone seems to be having fun by being involved in making this surprise happen.  Sure, I know it’s a company wanting to do something to get more customers, make them stand out against other companies and let’s face it, a viral video is always good for business, especially around Christmas.    But, there’s a part of me that just wants to believe that it was more than that.  I really feel that someone(s) somewhere really wanted to make a difference.  You know what?  They did!  Everyone’s heart grew at least 3 sizes that day!

The airline promised when the video views hit 200,000, it would donate flights to reunite a family over Christmas through Ronald McDonald House. The family has not yet been chosen.   (from the Calgary Sun)

The video received over 300,000 views in the first 24 hours.  Needless to say, you can’t keep this kind of magic a secret for long.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Mead

Kindness, giving, love, peace, joy:  the spirit of the season regardless of what we call it.

©2013 J Fries/Rise Like Air

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