Archives for posts with tag: community

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.

tkf-banner-blog

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

Visit us on Facebook   Our WordPress Blog

Follow us on Twitter    Join us on Instagram

Pin us on Pinterest

 

Monday dawned sunny and bright. I was fortunate to awake to the sound of waves lapping at the lakeshore and the sun peeking over the hill top.

18519662_1354113284672916_6700577096305493190_n.jpg

(sunset shot the night before)

There was already a lot of ugly and sadness I could have focussed on if I had let myself. And I admit the temptation to let it swallow me whole was palpable, but I put my big girl panties on, pulled up my positive pants, threw on a great pair of shoes, straightened my tiara and topped it off with bright lipstick and mascara! Well in truth, I took a deep breath, threw back the covers and made a CHOICE to CHOOSE beautiful; to see it, believe it and channel it. And I made that choice over and over when the temptation to doubt tapped me on the shoulder.

Later in the day the headline on my news feed about Manchester appeared.  Manchester – a place from far away that I’ve always associated with sports and music for some reason until that head line. The choice to see beautiful became even more difficult. My shoulders slumped, I just felt heavy.  I felt raw and numb all at once. I think a lot of us did.

Tuesday morning Huffington Post reported “explosion killed 22 people and injured 59, many of them teenagers.”  at an Ariana Grande concert. I witnessed the feelings come out through social media and in the news.

A friend posted, “Tears for those who just went to a concert. Tears for the world.”

18581819_458106077855143_4220860024130254165_n

A cousin asked,

18716686_1358367044247540_600264915_n

 

And then I read my friend Michelle’s eloquent and heart felt Facebook post and am honoured that she gave me permission to share her words with you. When things happen which are impossible to make sense of, in the end all we really want to do is keep our precious treasures, those we love, safe.

Bubble wrap.
I need so much Bubble Wrap.

You know… The stuff you use to keep the things that are most precious to you, safe from harm. We wrap them up so they don’t get broken.

Bubble Wrap… Safe, dependable Bubble Wrap.

It may give one peace of mind, but there isn’t enough bubble wrap in the world on a day like today. On any kind of day in a world like the one we live in this day.

“Prayers for…”
“Our hearts and thoughts…”
“We stand with…”

These phrases are like labels now. Words we use to tape together the Bubble Wrap that we place around our hearts and minds to help keep us sane enough from locking our children in their rooms and nailing shut our windows and doors to keep out all the Bogeymen outside that lurk within a world that keeps getting smaller, from stealing their innocence, our naivete, and our collective sense of normalcy.

There is nothing normal about any of this. Even though this insanity is quickly seeming to become the norm. Padded rooms were once for the insane and yet, here I am, wishing I could wrap every precious being in my world in Bubble Wrap. How insane is that? And yet, Bubble Wrap was my first wish… My first “logical to me” thought while my heart screamed “Why?” and it’s echoes throbbed through my head.

Just as “There are no words…” is heard echoing thoughout the world.

But there are words…
“Please.” and “Stop.”

And there are so many echoes.

Because there will never, ever be enough Bubble Wrap.

©Michelle Laing Hoffman 2017

 

But until that plea is answered, in amongst the tragic and terrible burns the eternal flame of human kindness and compassion.

Huffington Post reported, “Public transport shut down, and taxis offered to give stranded people free rides home, while residents opened their homes to provide lodging.”

As the BBC noted, Then there are people like this young man who says “We can react in a lot of ways. We can react in anger. Or we can react by doing. This city is a community.”   The news outlets are capturing more than the devastation and carnage, they are capturing the humanity, compassion and resilience as well.

I think Grande summed it up for many of us with her tweet, “broken. from the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry. I don’t have words.”

“When someone says, “There are no words,” it is there I will find them and we will meet in the silent language of grief.” Benjamin Allen

While I have no words left, I do have kindness and compassion, and with those I will continue to shine my light more brightly so the darkness has no place to grow.

Please.  Stop.

Shine Brightly.

 

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

Visit us on Facebook   Our WordPress Blog

Follow us on Twitter    Join us on Instagram

Pin us on Pinterest

 

 

 

Kitchener Community School Regina SK

Kitchener Community School Regina SK

At Rise Like Air we really like to highlight teachers and education programs that think outside the box, that get results and are fun! Recently we came across one such story.

Brian Lewis coordinates the G.Y.M. (Growing Young Movers) program for grade 2 to 5 students at Kitchener Community School in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He realizes the importance of keeping kids active and involved not only for their physical well being but to keep them occupied with positive outlets helping to decrease the likelihood of following a less productive path. Their website says “Through community partnerships the Growing Young Movers After School Club is a student-centered intergenerational urban aboriginal network focused on enhancing 21st century living skills through experiential wellness opportunities. ”

The program utilizes the skills and mentorship of high school students, like Cole Keepness, who have been involved in the program before. Lewis is well aware that while the gym can be a haven for many students, it can also be a place where other just don’t feel comfortable or like they fit in.

“A gymnasium or any movement centre can be a really positive place but it can also be a really negative place, it’s all in how it’s approached. We play a lot of things that are inclusive, everyone is involved.” – Brian Lewis

The goal of this program is to give all students an alternative, a safe place to play and to feel included regardless of their background, talent or skill level. There are even healthy snacks to keep their brains awake and energy levels high.  It’s working too. The program is popular and past participants often return as mentors just like Keepness.

“It keeps you busy, from getting involved in other things that wouldn’t benefit your life, drinking, doing drugs, hanging out with the wrong crowd.” Keepness grew up in the neighbourhood and now goes to high school at nearby Martin Collegiate. He said he likes working with the younger kids because they see him as a role model.

If the program continues to grow they may require a bigger space. Giving children options and alternatives. Developing compassionate, community focused teenagers.

Just another example of everyday people creating ripples that make waves of change.  Another Rise Like Air moment. Thank you to all the teachers, the volunteers and everyone else who chooses to use their valuable time and talents to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. It soon becomes apparent that the giver seems to get as much satisfaction as the receiver. Another life lesson to take to heart.

Source: Regina after-school program teaches more than movement – Saskatchewan – CBC News

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

Thanks for stopping by, we always appreciate it. Want to connect with Rise Like Air? Here’s how!

Visit us on Facebook   Our WordPress Blog

Follow us on Twitter    Join us on Instagram

Join us on Pinterest

Photo credit: Leah Fries Qu'Appelle Water Tower A beacon that points home

Photo credit: Leah Fries
Qu’Appelle Water Tower
A beacon that points home

Our guest contributor is Leah Fries, a recent high school graduate who is excited to embark on all the adventures that make up life. She is a writer, artist and dreamer who possesses a quick wit and a kind soul. Her essay The Spirit of Qu’Appelle was selected as a winner of the 2014-2015 Qu’Appelle Spirit Award. I’m glad I get to be her aunt.

Being a grown up isn’t as fun as it was growing up, and I’m glad I got to do that here. Leah Fries

Leah has managed to capture life growing up in a small town. The beauty, the angst, the humour and the special spirit you come to recognize living there. As a young adult what once may have seemed scary now provides the beacon pointing the way home.

The Spirit of Qu’Appelle

LEAH FRIES

There’s a reason small towns are small – because not a lot of people want to live in them. To many people, Qu’Appelle must seem like a place that isn’t important. People drive through every day on the 35 and they keep going. They don’t stop and they don’t come back. But for people like me, people that have lived here, we will never know that feeling of being able to leave this place. Maybe physically we’ll leave, but we can never really leave this town because this town will never leave us, no matter how far we go. This is a place that someone might not want to live in at first glance, and maybe not even after the second or third, but given a chance I wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else. I haven’t lived in Qu’Appelle as long as a lot of people. Even people my age have lived here longer than me. I moved here with my family in the fall of 1999. I was 2 and a half years old. Now I am 18, and almost a high school graduate. Being a grown up isn’t as fun as it was growing up, and I’m glad I got to do that here. I’ve made a lot of memories, and I’ve learned a lot.

One of the first things I think of when I think of Qu’Appelle is the water tower. I was always scared of it when I was little; scared it would fall over and crush my house and flood the town. Yet whenever my family would be driving toward home at night on the highway, seeing that tiny blinking red light was always a source of comfort. It was always there, steady and consistent and always pointing the way home.

Going to school at James Hamblin School. For me, it was the absolute best experience. Unlike many others in my grade, I stayed at JHS until I was finished grade 9. I’d be lying if I said I never considered leaving early, which is why I don’t blame my friends that pursued their education somewhere else in grade 9. I wish they hadn’t done that though. They could have benefitted from the lesson we learned by staying: take pride in your community because it’s part of who you are. I learned about empathy there, and about respect and voice and kindness and how important all these things are. I am lucky enough to have gotten that lesson, and can thank James Hamblin School for nurturing me and pushing me to be who I am today. I will carry what I learned there with me always.

The spirit of this town can’t be summarized with descriptions and anecdotes. There is an underlying spirit here, and it is in everything we do. I feel it when I walk into a public building and I’m greeted by name. The spirit of the town is in the wind that breezes through the banners and flower baskets that hang on Main Street in the warmer seasons, and the Christmas decorations that sparkle in the winter. I feel it when I volunteer at the tourist booth every summer and I read our town’s proud history book. I see it when I look at our huge old town hall, its majestic appearance earning it the nickname Prairie Castle by my friends and myself. So many Summer Reading Programs and various other activities were spent there and not just by my friends and me, but many generations before us.

The spirit of Qu’Appelle is in our amazing Chinese restaurant, because like all small towns, we have a Chinese restaurant, and like all small town people, we know ours is the best.

I hold the spirit of this town every time I tell someone from Indian Head that they can say whatever they want about Qu’Appelle, at least we have an underpass. Maybe most critical, I can feel the spirit of Qu’Appelle when I visit our small cemetery with trees so tall they’re practically scraping the floors of heaven where our loved ones look down from.

The spirit of this town is alive and vibrant and I see it every day, in the small but important things that make this town what it is.

In the fall, I will be making the move to Edmonton. As author Robert Penn Warren wrote, “For west is where we all plan to go someday.” I grew up here, love it here, and learned a lot, but my time here is done. With the knowledge I gained here, I can spread my wings, and still carry the spirit of Qu’Appelle with me. I don`t know what my future will hold, but I do know that no matter where I go in life, no matter where I go from here, if I hear something calling me, I’ll know what it is and I’ll know it’s time to follow that blinking red light home again.

©2014,2015 Leah Fries

11733400_10207285555482999_578603671_n

Leah Fries

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

Thanks for stopping by, we always appreciate it. Want to connect with Rise Like Air?  Here’s how!

Visit us on Facebook   Our WordPress Blog

Follow us on Twitter    Join us on Instagram

Join us on Pinterest

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

Thanks for stopping by, we always appreciate it. Want to connect with Rise Like Air?  Here’s how!

Visit us on Facebook   Our WordPress Blog

Follow us on Twitter    Join us on Instagram

Join us on Pinterest

Can art build safer, stronger neighbourhoods?  Could it be that simple?  Could it make a marked difference? Apparently the resounding answer is yes!  Read on to find out how Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope began a “little” project that’s making “big” impacts.  Check out the full article on The Daily Good to see just what those differences are.

Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope are Detroit artists who bought a home here in 2002 in what was once a corner store. Over the ensuing years, the foreclosure crisis hit hard and put the community in a precarious spot. “The neighborhood could go either way,” Reichert said.

via Public Art in Detroit Builds Safer, Stronger Neighborhoods, by Anna Clark.

Thanks for stopping by.  Remember to check us out on twitter, Facebook and instagram!

%d bloggers like this: