Archives for posts with tag: family

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

 

Advertisements

bell1

Today I’m home from work sick and I really don’t feel good. But sometimes opportunity comes in the form of what we initially think isn’t so great.

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day too.

And I so want to talk. Anyone who knows me even a little isn’t surprised by that I’m sure. I want to talk about Mental Health. I want to talk about the fact that people you know well, people you walk by the street every day, total strangers that smile broadly at you SUFFER from mental illness, things like depression, OCD, anxiety and a plethora of other ones and YOU probably know nothing about it.

I want to talk about the myths, assumptions, stigma. I want to talk about the far too many lives lost every day to mental illness. I want to talk about the families and friends, lovers and children left wondering, trying to make sense, trying to carry one. I want to talk about the hopelessness and the hope. The fear and the courage. The present and the future.

But most importantly, today…

I WANT TO LISTEN…

I WANT TO UNDERSTAND…

I WANT TO SIT WITH YOU…

I WANT TO LEARN…

I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND…

I WANT TO BE QUIET…

I WANT TO BE LOUD…

I WANT TO BE THERE…

AND I AM.

I ask each of you to take time not only today, but everyday to really look, seek out and listen. For those needing help, don’t give up… find it. Talk to someone. And keep talking and keep trying. Please.

I don’t want add any more names to the list. It’s too long. It’s already too personal.

A young man took his life in our area just this week. A friend of his had posted on FB earlier in the summer “My biggest fear is losing people.” A cyber friend had a “lovely smiling” previous coworker taker her own life this past week.

images

Bell Let’s Talk

So take the time. Don’t assume. Ask a friend. Be a friend.

unknown

I am here. Reach out. I mean it. Whether you know me or not. I’m here. Please let’s talk. I will listen. You are not alone. Honest, even if it feels that way. Let’s work to change it together.

In memory of all those we’ve lost and in eternal hope that we lose no more.

Related blog: Out Of The Ashes We Rise (in memory of Todd Pidhorodetsky April 21, 1970-March 6, 2010)

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

Visit us on Facebook   Our WordPress Blog

Follow us on Twitter    Join us on Instagram

Pin us on Pinterest

IMG_3181

I was working on my How To Be Happy journal that my lovely daughter gave me for Christmas.  Like me, it is a work in progress. It has made me question “what is happiness?” and more importantly, “what is happiness to me?”  I realize it is not the same for everyone. It can actually be quite different. I also understand happiness, at least for me, isn’t really about things, not even people, places or events.  Happiness is about feelings.

I began thinking about why and how some people lose happiness completely. How do they lose sight of everything hopeful and only see hopelessness, only feel fear and pain? How can we share the same basic reality but view it so differently? A friend recently pondered this.

“Lots of times I wonder what makes people end up the way they do? Why do we have the feelings, desires and emotions we do? How do you become truly happy? Which leads me to wonder, what makes up happiness?”

Depression surrounds us, an invisible presence most of us are blissfully unaware of.  We walk by people, sit with them, talk to them and we don’t see a mental illness, their pain, their need. I know this to be true. But what makes up happiness?  How do we find happiness when we’ve lost it?

I started Rise Like Air because I wanted to be part of a change, part of making something better.  I wanted to help people, even if it was just one person, realize that there is hope and that they don’t have to give up.  I wanted to share success stories and struggles to inspire people to keep trying, to embrace their own beauty and abilities, to empower them to love and live fully, to extend a hand to let them know that when they are hurting they aren’t alone, even if we can’t understand it all, there’s a place they can go to be unconditionally accepted.

Like many ideas that simmer slowly, a catalyst occurred to move it forward.  Six years ago this weekend we received word that Todd, a family friend we knew who had been experiencing severe depression took his life. It was the classic stereotypical situation with all the whys and how could have he’s. He had so much to live for, family that loved him completely, children to watch grow up, a good job he liked.  Sure there were setbacks, but how did he lose such complete perspective, lose all hope, lose all desire to live? And how did it seem to happen so quickly?

I remember what I was doing when we got the call.  I remember how everything suddenly became surreal, time slowed down, my heart started to race and I started to feel detached. And I remember the distinct feeling of I should have been able to do something. No, really I couldn’t have, I knew it then, I know it now. But it was what eventually moved me to start Rise Like Air. His mother,  Joyce, has been one of our greatest supporters. When I was almost ready to quit because I questioned the value, it was her wisdom and kind words that made me realize no matter what, if I’m only inspiring one person, that is more than enough.

She has taught me so much on this journey, including how important it is to talk about your loss and pain as you heal. Speaking of the people we love, sharing memories is a way of not only grieving, but keeping that person with us. So when you are tempted to say something, but don’t know what or how, take the leap. Your support will mean the world.

12805711_10153975191654246_8111374022931387371_n

I was out with a severely depressed friend a while ago.  I watched the interactions they had with others while we were together. They smiled and laughed, they chattered, they went about their business.  There was no sign that said, I feel like I’ve died inside, my body just hasn’t caught up yet. There was no indication that they needed a friend, needed help, or that they were anything but a “normal everyday happy” person.  I knew the truth and was shocked at how invisible it was on the surface, except when I looked into their eyes.  Eyes that no longer held any joy, hope or life. They were already dull, empty, pained. You can train your body to lie, but the eyes are much more difficult to hide.

12805722_1120124768044667_5123199130663639063_n

Depression is an invisible demon that revels in slowly sucking the joy, hope and life out of people so quietly that often, no one else even knows the deadly stranglehold is in play.

WHO, the World Health Organization, says in October 2015 that

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.

Even when we do realize that someone needs help, often what we try to do to help is completely counterproductive.  Depression is not simple sadness. Often the very things we say or do trying to help actually make it worse, make them feel like they’ve failed, are a burden, are hopeless and helpless. However! This is not a reason to stay quiet or give up.  It’s a reason to learn what to do, how to be a positive support. How to save lives!

If someone had a broken leg we wouldn’t say, “well it can’t be that bad, just get up and walk on it!” We’d do all the things that have to happen to fix the leg and support the person while they are healing.  Why? Because we can see the injury, we can see and hear the pain they are experiencing. Visible or not it does not change the severity of the dis-ease.

But there are things we can say and do that are helpful.  There are resources that can make us part of the solution instead of part of the problem. We can be supporters who help others heal.  We can help save lives.

You never know what word, smile, conversation, text or email will be the thing that makes a small or big difference in someone’s life, that might save their life. When you listen to people who have been saved in their moment of despair, it often was something very small that saved them that day, gave them the strength to carry on.   It can be as simple as asking “Are you ok?” as in the case of Jamie Harrington, from Ballymena, Dublin,  who explained about meeting a man in his 30s sitting on the edge of a bridge and about to jump off it.

If we can help a person see through the clarity of our eyes instead of the clouded vision of their own, we can be the beacon of light they need until their own eyes clear.

12806013_10153546299584150_7346940327495660231_n.png

Project Hope Exchange is an organization committed to bringing hope to people everywhere.

Give hope. Get hope. All in 30 seconds! What if we could do just that and start spreading hope around the world? We at The Adversity 2 Advocacy Allianceand Life Vest Inside believe we CAN, and we’re thrilled to be partnering to offer you this unique and powerful opportunity. Through Project Hope Exchange, we are collecting, aggregating and sharing 30-second audio messages fromindividuals who have survived some kind of adversity to others who are currently facing that same adversity. And at the heart of our exchange are real human voices. We hope you’ll add yours!

0517092cb06039454265a2e2eb901b5c6dcfbd-wm

I have learned kindness, patience and unconditional love can make all the difference in helping people.  Life Vest Inside is an organization that  helps me and many others find their way through tough times by simply providing a safe, positive place to just be. Their video The Kindness Boomerang went viral a number of years ago and has been a catalyst for many to change their lives in positive ways.  So that is what I leave you with today, something positive, uplifting and hopeful.  We all have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives every moment of every day.  Do not waste your opportunity to help make a life better.  It just might be yours.

If you are experiencing depression or any mental health issue, please do not give up. No matter how long it’s been, how desperate or numb you feel, there are people who care and want to help. Please reach out.  There is a life vest.  All you have to do is hold on tight.  This is a dis-ease I truly believe we can beat together.

In memory of

Todd Pidhorodetsky April 21st, 1970 – March 6, 2010

You are loved, you are missed, you are treasured

421756_10150833961183906_1089036874_n

Thank you 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

We’ve all had bad things happen to us. We’ve faced challenges, been dealt hands we’d rather not play. But it’s play what you’ve got or play nothing at all. There’s really no sitting out.  It’s game on. What’s your next move? That depends on the player.

Some people choose to sit back and complain, maybe loudly, maybe quietly but the first card of the game is played, the Victim card.  “Woe is me. What did I do to deserve this?  I’m a good person!”

This determines the second card often chosen, the Blame card. “It’s not my fault!  If that hadn’t happened…  If she would have… But no one told me…”

The final card is thrown down with vigour. The Despair card. “There’s nothing I can do!  I’m too insignificant, I’m the victim after all!  Won’t someone else fix this?”

It’s understandable. Tough challenges, disappointments, well, they just aren’t fair, or fun.

photo-5

So while the reaction is understandable it doesn’t affect much benefit. Instead there’s more wallowing in self pity and sorrow. Still not experiencing much fun. Nothing gets better.

But then there is another kind of player. These players get knocked down, but they get up again.  Even if that means getting back up many times.

I Get Knocked Down Again by Chumbawumba

Their approach to the game is different. The first card they prefer to play is the Patience card. They get their bearings, see what they’re really up against, size up the situation.

The second card they select is Determination.  Strategies are considered and they proceed to carry out the plan adjusting as required along the way.

Weeble’s commercial circa 1970s

Their third and final card, played without fanfare, is Resilience. They turn into Weebles® if you remember the toy from the 1970’s. Their slogan was  “Weebles wobble but they don’t  fall down.”  Resilience means they keep at it and are set up to handle whatever their opponent has planned. They do what they need to to meet the challenge, to succeed.  They may wobble a bit but they won’t fall down, not now. They play the hand they’re dealt and more often than not they come out ahead. If they don’t, they adjust again.

I recently came across a young father who is busy playing the hand he and his family have been dealt with a smile. It’s a hand many of us may think about folding on but not Darren. Our first encounter was nothing really special. We are both members of Life Vest Inside and I saw a request come through from Darren that said his son was turning 10. If anyone was interested he’d appreciate some happy birthday wishes.  It seemed an easy way to spread a little kindness and cheer so I popped off a message.  His subsequent post of appreciation put his original request into context.

As it turns out Jayden has been faced with challenges since he was born with the heart condition Truncus Arteriosus, the same condition that killed his Aunt Karena, Darren’s younger sister, when she was only 17 weeks. Almost 20 years later medical advances in surgery allowed her nephew to survive, but it’s not an easy journey.

Jayden remained in hospital ICU for three and a half years, his mother seldom leaving his side for more than a few moments in all that time. He lives with global development delay and a high level of autism. Jayden has already endured 2 heart surgeries and will soon be undergoing his third. He has a tracheostomy to aid in breathing properly and since Jayden doesn’t have a very strong immune system once a month he spends a day in hospital for an immune booster.

Jayden’s conditions create a risk of choking meaning he must have an attendant 24/7.  Darren and Rhonda share the exhausting job of watching him around the clock. But all you have to do is listen to Darren talk about their son to know what a positive influence he has on his parents and others. Darren calls him a hero, super man, a survivor. With love and compassion and lots of time and dedication he proved sceptics wrong by learning to walk, he goes to school and he’s gaining skills. He is overcoming anxiety about eating from a spoon and he’s mastering his colours.  He has lots of challenges but he has a loving family to help him meet them.  That doesn’t make him less, maybe it actually makes him even more.

Jayden and Darren used with permission

Jayden and Darren
used with permission

“When my son wakes up in the morning and he smiles at me, that’s my payment.” Darren Kontista

Jayden eating

Darren knows first hand the struggles that Jayden faces. He himself was born with a heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot and nearly died as a child.  Like his sister and his son, Darren required the assistance of a heart and lung bypass machine and has also endured two heart surgeries. He is expecting to undergo a third operation within six short years.

As I read Darren’s post about his sister and his son Jayden’s story I was left speechless. When I wrote my birthday greeting never in my wildest imaginings did I think that this family was going through so much every single day.

Darren and Rhonda could certainly choose to focus only on themselves, their challenges and no one would blame them. They could play the blame card, the victim card and the despair card without question. But that’s not what they’ve chosen to do. Instead Darren has undertaken a serious fund raising  campaign to procure a heart and lung machine for The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. The cost of the machine is $500,000. Darren and Jayden have set their sights on contributing $5,000. towards that. Checkout their fundraising page through Hearts for Life HERE.

They didn’t stop at a simple page though. Darren has a love of music and a talent to create it. He came upon the idea to have a fundraising event! November 1st a musical charity fundraiser Jayden’s Hearts for Life will take place. This family knows first hand just how important this life saving machine is.

12027807_1615281145391524_9210556963343573617_n

Recently Darren and his family moved to a new home. They were so happy to be settling in but for reasons out of their control they may be forced to pull up stakes once more before they’ve even had time to settle in and catch their breath. Something most of us would be angered by and this family is no different, especially given the extra challenges they face. Jayden doesn’t find change all that easy, being 24/7 caregivers takes planning, preparation and is exhausting without throwing in a full blown relocation again. But Darren puts it in perspective. At least some things are already packed! Or well, still packed.  And though they are tired Darren joked it was good his last surgery went so well and he feels strong like an ox. Looking on the bright side, even if the light is rather dim. That’s how these players play the game.

When I heard the news I felt tired and frustrated for them but my advice reflected Darren’s already positive attitude. Sometimes when you think you’ve arrived you discover it’s only a pit stop on the way to your true and even better destination. Deep breath, do a little dance, sing a little song and get ready to move on – to something fantastic, even if the road is a bit bumpy. Glad you’re looking on the bright side. “

When I thought about it I realized that it’s all the trials and tribulations, the challenges and pain that they’ve already experienced that are probably making them strong enough to face yet again, another unexpected and daunting challenge.

And that’s what this family is doing. Instead of wallowing in frustration and disappointment they’re playing their best cards. They are patient, determined and resilient.

And they’re already showing how that pays off.  Ticket sales for the upcoming fundraiser are selling well even before the the official advertising campaign kicked off.  If you want to show your support in some way click HERE! There are a lot of people who would really appreciate it.

Even though life can deal you a tough hand, Darren knows how to be grateful and see beautiful no matter how elusive it might seem.  He recently showed how well Jayden is doing at school and as a parent I know exactly how that thrill of success and pride feels.

Jayden learning at school

Kindness and gratitude help make the world a better place in my opinion, and Darren agrees.  Although generous himself in many ways he has been “blown away” by the support he’s received from their friends, whether it be financially, a helping hand or a listening ear.

Darren, Rhonda and Jayden exemplify  how to play the game of life everyday, with patience, determination, and resilience. Be kind, be grateful and you really can’t lose. With their dedication and determination we are certain they will have great success in helping so many people whose health and life will be greatly improved with the new heart and lung bypass machine.  Please show your support if you can.   A kind message, sharing their story, or if you are so inclined a financial contribution. All forms of support are appreciated.

11940220_1607534722832833_259314009_n

In memory of Karena

To hear more about Darren’s life and background in 8 minutes watch this video:

To see Life Vest Inside’s inspirational kindness video that started it all watch The Kindness Boomerang:

©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

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.

images-3

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

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: ©2015 J Fries

Photo credit: ©2015 J Fries

If you’ve been following us on twitter and Instagram during the month of May you’ll have noticed pictures of nature and the hashtags #NatureIsCalling and #30x30challenge. The David Suzuki Foundation challenges us to be active and get out and enjoy nature for 30 minutes each day during the month of May.

Over the past three years, the 30×30 Challenge has inspired tens of thousands of individuals and hundreds of workplaces and schools to cultivate the nature habit. They took to the great outdoors, doubling their time spent outside. Our research showed that participants were sleeping better, felt calmer and less stressed. Impressive results for a half hour a day! ~ 30×30 Challenge

Participants are encouraged to post their pictures, video and stories each day using the hashtags #30x30challenge and #NatureIsCalling and to tag @DavidSuzukiFDN. Each week a draw is made for a sponsored themed prize.

We already know fresh air and exercise are good for our physical health but many of us forget that it’s equally important for our mental health as well. Studies have shown that people suffering with depression and anxiety can find significant relief by engaging in nature and exercise.

The Minding Our Bodies project was started by the Canadian Mental Health Association in Ontario Canada and ran from 2008-2013.  They were partnered with Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, Nutrition Resource Centre, YMCA Ontario and York University.

The goal of the project was to change how we treat Mental Health problems by also promoting physical activity and healthy eating for people with serious mental illness to support recovery. Why? Because that’s the direction the evidence points.

In March 2013 Elizabeth Lines, a health promotion consultant provided the following facts:

  • Total annual health care spending in Canada is now over $200 billion (CIHI, 2012); in Ontario, health care spending consumes over 40 percent of the provincial budget. Finding ways to contain health care spending is a priority.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide (WHO, 2012) and a leading contributor to the economic burden of disease.
  • Chronic stress is pervasive, and related to depression and the development of chronic disease.

She goes on to talk about studies showing the positive effects of nature simply from viewing it.

For example, Ulrich (1984) found that hospital patients who could view the outdoors through a window recover from surgery faster than those with restricted views; that students who watched a stressful film recovered faster in a natural setting (Ulrich, 1991); and that prisoners with a view of nature show stress symptoms less frequently (Moore, 1981)

In another study from Sweden being in nature also showed marked health benefits.

A Swedish study of the rehabilitative impact of nature on crisis response found that the simple experience of being in nature was most rehabilitative for those experiencing the highest levels of stress. Walking in nature also had a positive effect, though the difference was not as great. For those experiencing low-to-moderate stress levels, social interactions in the natural setting contributed more to stress reduction (Ottoson and Grahn, 2008).

Studies have even shown interactions with nature can improve attention and we seem to be in short supply of attention spans.

Some findings suggest that the benefits to attention of walking in parks are greatest for those with the greatest deficits. Along with attention improvements, walking in nature as opposed to an urban setting reduced anger, improved positive affect, and reduced blood pressure (Hartig, Evans, Jamner, et al., 2003).

All this amazing evidence lead to the question what about putting nature and exercise together?

In a systematic review of 11 studies comparing the effects of activity (walking or running) in an outdoor natural versus indoor environment, Thompson Coon, Boddy, Stein, et al. (2011) found that many of the self-report findings suggested greater improvements to mental well-being (moods, feelings) from outdoor than indoor activity. Benefits included “greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy.… Participants reported greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and declared a greater intent to repeat the activity at a later date” (p. 1761). However, the authors caution that these measures were taken following single episodes of exercise, with unknown effects on adherence; moreover, methodologies tended to be weak and varied, making it difficult to compare results and interpret findings. Participants again were usually young adults, with an average age of 25 years.

While not all the findings so far are definitive, it’s fairly certain that at least some level of benefit is derived. The website and Literature review are worth reading in their entirety. The Literature Review also lists all the sources of studies and various useful links.

It’s beneficial all around. It’s inexpensive. In most cases it’s easy to do. Where I live it’s really easy. I live with over 160 acres of nature surrounding me yet there are days where I still have to force myself. Maybe the weather isn’t inviting or I’m feeling guilty about a too long to do list. Whatever the reason often I’m pushing myself out the door.

This challenge and some nice spring weather have made the commitment easy. Walking the trails around me every day made me intently aware of the subtle changes that happen around me that I don’t notice. How one day there were patches of tiny violets where the day before there was barely a patch of green showing amongst the leaf debris from last fall.

One morning I commented that the tiny buds on the native aspen trees would soon burst into green. When I walked along that afternoon the buds had burst open during those few short hours creating a green shadowing  in all the treetops. Noticing subtle changes, seeing the process rather than just the result has been an unexpected reward of this challenge.

I’ve also realized that by the time I’m done I’ll have a nature streak of 30 days! Somehow that feels validating. And once I have a streak going I’d really hate to break it. So just maybe I’ll have formed a healthy habit and I won’t feel guilty even on the busiest of days. Summer certainly makes it easier. Gardening, outside chores, lazy days at the lake. Hoping the momentum will also carry me through the long cold months we experience.

The Literature Review ends with a sobering thought,

According to 2011 census data, more than 86 percent of Ontarians live in urban areas. Meanwhile, the natural environment continues to be degraded or eliminated by advancing urban and suburban sprawl, commercial/industrial land use and climate change; natural settings are disappearing.

While leaving the door open for real change.

The challenges are great. But, perhaps the mounting evidence that a “dose” of nature is good for health will contribute to the preservation and maintenance of the natural environment, as well as directly improve quality of life and reduce the health care burden.

They also have their final evaluation reports available online here.

I’m learning to love nature in all it’s forms, in all it’s seasons. It’s fun, it’s good for my mind and it’s good for my body. Are you ready to play?

Sound like a great idea but think you don’t have time or aren’t close enough to nature? Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • Map out where the green spaces in your area are and plan a visit to each one
  • Plant a flower box garden on your balcony
  • Find a community garden group and become a member
  • Local greenhouses or public atriums are a great place to visit and relax
  • Start a community group to create or refurbish a green space

With a little creativity you’d be amazed how much time and nature you can enjoy starting right now.

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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

Visit us on Facebook   Our WordPress Blog

Follow us on Twitter    Join us on Instagram

Join us on Pinterest

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

Thanks for stopping by, we always appreciate it.

Want to connect with Rise Like Aire?  Here’s how!

Visit us on Facebook   Our WordPress Blog

Follow us on Twitter    Join us on Instagram

Join us on Pinterest

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

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

Please note that this blog discusses life and death and living each moment to it’s fullest.

How much time in a given day do you spend thinking in the future or in the past or about something you see as an intrinsic, undeniable flaw in yourself?

“What if I failed the test?”

“I’ll never be fast enough to make the track team.”

“I’m too fat.” or  “If only I was skinnier.” or “I’ll be happy when I drop those 5 lbs.”

We all know the list is endless, you can change the words around a little and we can fill in the blank with almost anything, skinny, stupid, short, tall, smart.  The translation boils down to I’m not enough, I’m less than, I’m broken, I’m flawed.

When we buy into that idea we try to fix ourselves.  How much time and money do you spend in a day trying to be someone or something else?   When you are all done, do you still think, If only….?  I thought so.

A long time ago I realized that I was living my life in the  world of “If Only” and “I’ll Be Happy When”.  It struck me that with that perception, I’d likely never attain happiness.  It was my epiphany. I only have this moment in which to act, think, feel, in essence to choose to be happy. I finally understood what that really meant.

While I may have had an epiphany, and I’ve learned to gentle with myself, to even love myself, I still find myself unexpectedly visiting If Only now and again. Maybe I arrive in the morning when I’m looking into the mirror, transported by thoughts like “If only my skin were a little smoother”. Or maybe they take me there when I’m at the pool.  “If my stomach were  flatter, I wouldn’t complain,” and “If only I were a little younger I could easily find a job!”

Sometimes I think that I’m simply “doing” in my life instead of actually living my life.  I get these nagging feelings that I’m still too caught up in the “day to day” while missing the moments that become the lifetime. Bogged down with insecurities, what if’s and if only’s.

Sarah Amento, a wife and a mother of five, managed to put it into perspective for me today.  I’ve been following her journey with Stage IV Triple Negative Breast Cancer for a while now.  She’s strong, resilient, determined, loved, cherished and doing everything in her power and beyond to continue to live beautifully.

thegraceproject.org photo used with permission of S. Amento

http://the-grace-project.org
photo used with permission by S. Amento

This beautiful picture is from The Grace Project .  “Grace” is a series of portraits of women who have undergone mastectomy surgery in order to survive breast cancer.

In 2013 Sarah shaved her head in preparation for chemotherapy to arrest the Triple Negative Breast Cancer.  She considered it a “celebration of empowerment”.  Today Sarah told me, “The only thing is it was about 7 months later I turned stage 4 while still in treatments, after being declared cancer free.”  In a blog she wrote for The Huffington Post, Sarah says,

This time a year later, after being re-diagnosed to a Stage IV Triple Negative Breast Cancer, we were faced once again with having to shave my hair. This time was entirely different. My biggest fear was no longer how will I look bald?, but will I die bald?  Sarah Amento

This was the moment.  How will I look took on a completely different meaning and importance.  Now the important thing was survival. While the process of shaving Sarah’s head may have been the same this time, emotionally it was far more difficult.

We were grieving so much more than hair. We were grieving the peace that this disease was robbing us all of. We were grieving what this horrible disease has done and continues doing to our children.  Sarah Amento

via This Time I Wonder, Will I Die Bald? | Sarah Amento.

Sarah refuses to simply try to survive this disease.  Sarah is ensuring she lives, taking every opportunity to live and experience life.   From the beginning Sarah has said she is

Fighting Breast Cancer, with strength, laughter, grace and a few tears! ‘Cancer does not define me, I am redefining cancer!’ StageIV Surviving!~Sarah

I think one of the ways she is redefining it is how she is living, beautifully and fully conscious, aware in the present.  That is the one thing she absolutely knows she has.  She is filling each moment possible with smiles, love, kindness and attention.  Sarah is making memories with and for others, there is no greater gift. She is experiencing people, places and things at every opportunity. She has grown a support network that is world wide, with over 7,000 followers.

Sarah radiates beauty, serenity, peace and exuberant joy.  The disease may be trying to rip everything away from her, but it will never take the qualities that make Sarah who she is.

photo used with permission of S. Amento 'Cancer doesn't define me.  I'm redefining cancer.'

photo by Pinky Blue Photography and used with permission by S. Amento
‘Cancer doesn’t define me. I’m redefining cancer.’

Each person has their own way of dealing with life altering situations, some cuddle, some stay close, some hold hands and some take pictures.  Sarah’s oldest son, uses a camera to capture moments in their journey. His poignant photos capture the pain, the joy and the beauty. Yes, joy and beauty, because even on this most painful of journeys, joy and beauty are still there, all around us every day.

The following video uses Andrew’s photos to capture the family together the day Sarah had her hair shaved for the second time.

After reading and watching I came to a very important conclusion. I am grateful.  Grateful for all I have, for my health, my family, my abilities, even my challenges. I want to live my life, not just do life. I want to make all of my moments count. I realized that thinking about smoother skin, a flatter stomach, the guy who passed me on the double solid line last night, all the what if’s, if only’s, I’ll be happy when’s, those things are only robbing me of making each of my moments count. It’s stealing time that I don’t get back. Thanks to Sarah, I’m not letting that happen anymore.

photo used with permission of S. Amento The beautiful Amento family

photo by Love Song Photography used with permission by S. Amento
The beautiful Amento family

So how are you going to spend your moments?  How will you make them count?

Forget about the if only’s.  Make your moments beautiful.  Don’t just survive, live.

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift.  That’s why it’s called the present.  Bil Keane

 

If you would like to help Sarah and her family they have a GoFundMe campaign

To find out more about Sarah and her journey you can visit their Facebook page.

Updated Jun 2017:  Sarah lived her life with love and grace. The world lost a beautiful person on July 28th 2015. Sarah is still loved and missed by so many but her story and her spirit continues to touch people around the world everyday. Rest easy Sarah. We miss you.

© 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

 

%d bloggers like this: