Archives for posts with tag: fear

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I’m reading Brené Brown. I recently finished The Gift Of Imperfection and immediately ordered all the rest.  So now I’m on I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) .  Guess what?

She’s right!!!! It isn’t just me!!! Spoiler alert – the glow of that realization only lasts so long.  I’m glad I’m not alone. I’m glad I’m so abnormal and dysfunctional I’m completely normal.  Doesn’t change a dang thing about the process though… Still gotta walk the walk, talk the talk and get moving. Sigh. Note: Always read the fine print which says something like “I never said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.”  Oh Fine!

Shame. It’s something we’ve all experienced numerous times in our lives. And it’s something most of us would really rather not talk about it seems. So I’m grateful that Brené Brown has removed the stigma from the topic.  She defines shame as,

the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I don’t believe shame is helpful or productive.

While discussing Shame Screens, those screens we put up to protect ourselves when we feel that burn of shame creeping into us, – which another spoiler alert –  don’t work by the way (to be honest, I’d already figured that one out… ) Brené references the work of Dr. Shelley Uram, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist.

“But Dr. Uram points out that we tend not to recognize the small, quiet traumas that often trigger the same brain-survival reaction. After studying Dr. Uram’s work I believe it’s possible that many of our early shame experiences, especially with parents and caregivers, were stored in our brains as traumas.  This is why we often have such painful bodily reactions when we feel criticized, ridiculed, rejected and shamed. Dr. Uram explains that the brain does not differentiate between overt or big trauma and cover or small, quiet trauma – it just registers the event as “a threat that we can’t control.”

In her work on “remembering the wound” versus “becoming the wound,” Dr. Uram explains that most of the time when we recall a memory, we are conscious that we are in the present, recalling something from the past.  However, when we experience something in the present that triggers and old trauma memory, we reexperience the sense of the original trauma. So, rather than remembering the wound, we become the wound.  This makes sense when we think of how we are often returned to a place of smallness and helplessness when we feel shame.” page 89  I Thought It Was Just Me – Brené Brown

That was a little mind blowing for me. And it made perfect sense.

My first thoughts were about empathy and compassion. Maybe there  really is no scale for trauma at all. Trauma just is – regardless of what caused it, or how “big” or “small” we may think our own or someone else’s trials and tribulations are, the size of the emotion we feel, the reaction we have – are the same.  That’s it. It’s the great equalizer for me.

It…

wait for it….

Changed my perspective and perception.

Yup it did. Here’s the thing, it made life a whole lot simpler. No analyzing or measuring required.  We’re equal.  We are in it together. It hurts. It’s painful. Its frustrating.

And that’s the catalyst for me to build my resilience. There are tools to do it. As Harriet Lerner, author of The Dance of Anger reminds us, “Shame is a profoundly debilitating emotion. It drives our fears of not being good enough.” And here’s the kicker, we are good enough. So let’s start moving toward believing it and living it. I’m worth it. So are you.

Rise on.

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I was at the Dollar Store yesterday. It was the usual fascinating experience of eclectic people and merchandise.  I happened to be with my mother so we were taking our time wandering down the aisles.

A young man turned into our aisle and I noticed him right away. There was just something about his presence that made me turn my head. He was average build, blond and had on a rather large white T-Shirt with scrawled signatures. In his hand I noticed 2 markers.

He looked at me and in a firm but quiet voice made a single request, “Would you mind signing my shirt? I need to get 85 signatures.” It seemed a rather odd request, and he looked like he had a long way to go.  For some reason, I really wanted to sign his shirt. So I did. And so did my mother (on a side note, pretty huge step outside my mom’s comfort zone. Rock on mom!) As I was signing I asked him what it was all about.

As he began to explain I could see the flush of red creep up his neck but he kept right on explaining.  It was part of a self help class  he was taking. He had to write his biggest fear on his shirt, and then face it.

He said, “My biggest fear is striking up a conversation.” I spread out the back of his shirt and sure enough, in crooked black marker was “I’m afraid to strike up a conversation.”

“Wow, 85 new conversations!” That is really something to be proud of I told him. We spent a few minutes chatting and wished him well.  I could hear him in the next aisle, “Hi, would you mind signing my shirt.”

Now the evening  before I had faced one of my own fears. I had to give a presentation to maybe 30 people.  Something I’ve done before, and I faced it well, didn’t even break a sweat though I was happy when it was over. But I well remember the days when sweat would have literally been running down my back at the thought of doing that.

I really empathized with that young man. As my mom and I reflected on his bravery, I remarked, “You know just talking about what he’s doing is making my heart race and increasing my anxiety and I’m not even the one having to do it!”

Another woman who had been in our aisle and witnessed what happened turned to us and said, “I feel exactly the same. I’m almost in a panic thinking about it! I feel like asking him what class he’s taking because I want to make sure I don’t!”

Facing our fears, publicly.  Never an easy thing to do. But like so many things, so very worth it. I sort of wish I would have stopped him and asked what class he was taking. So I could be sure to sign up. Facing fears never ends.

What are you writing on your shirt? What are you going to finally face today?

©2016 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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It’s Monday incase anyone needed reminding. However,

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So I did!  Started my day with Yoga for the first time in a long time and I feel so much better for it, going to make it routine again.  Because here’s a little secret, I like feeling better. It’s a good thing.

It’s also summer solstice – and full moon!!! Love this time of year and having both come together is like an extra special gift. Monday just keeps getting better if you let it. Now there’s a lesson we should all take to heart, Monday and every other day too.

I m working at holding onto hope and passing out as much of it as I can to others who may be a bit short. Rips me up to see how much hopelessness there is swirling around me. It truly truly is about perspective, but perspective is sometimes this elusive, slippery concept that seems just out of our grasp. My life mission truly is to be a catalyst for hope, for change and I keep feeling like messages are coming to me to get on with it. So ok already! … I am!

Your deepest heart knows what your soul purpose is. It is connected with the you that you wish to be.  It is embedded in the place of joy within you.  Its expression creates a sense of fulfillment and meaning.  It is the reason for you being on the Earth at this time. Julie Redstone

And the biggest thing I’m learning as I move through all of this messy thing called “Life” is that mindfulness is key (ya really working on that) and that to truly be what I want to be and where I want to be I have to accept change, I have to accept the messiness of life and what changing life means. I am truly a butterfly – delicate but capable of flying through a hurricane, and sometimes in the end you just can’t go around the storm, you have to go through it, even if it means battered wings.

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment.  Jon Kabat-Zinn

I have been releasing so much crap lately, internally and externally and the process continues. Somedays I see it all so clearly and other days the fog is impenetrable. Today is just hazy, forecast is for clearing skies – shining my light – and sparkling, as brightly as I possibly can because the world needs shiny people who sparkle. (Seriously, it does…. did you miss the memo?)

What is ringing clear as a bell is that I can do what I want, I can be who I want to be – if I’m willing to

BE

BELIEVE

DO

… I’m the only thing truly standing in my way. All other things will move or dissolve if I MOVE. Even if I move just al little. I’m moving, I’m moving, I’m moving!! No regrets right? Keep on keeping on.  That is what I am doing. I am recreating myself yet again because if I’m honest, that’s what we do every day. Its what we should be doing everyday.

Be careful how you talk to yourself, because you are listening….  – Lisa M Hayes

I am not giving up on me. I am not giving upon those around me and I most certainly am not giving up on this glorious potential and opportunity filled thing we call LIFE! I am embracing uncertainty, fear and discomfort. I am using these as my catalyst to be all I can be, to be all I want to be. And I am using it to fuel not only myself but others. I am healthy whole and complete. I am the manifestation of clarity of purpose, purity of intent and courage in action as I willingly and gratefully step out of my comfort zone (Yikes! repeat that one again). Sure, there is a huge knot in the pit of my stomach, but it will not stop me, it will propel me forward. I will be gentle with myself and others, but I will always be true to myself because only through that process will I really be true to others.

Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others. Bryant McGill

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So Rock your Monday, and Roll over anything that gets in your way. But remember to be gentle, even speed bumps have a purpose.

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©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Today the world reels from yet another terrorist attack on everyday people doing everyday things.

The fact that the attacks on innocent everyday people in France occurred on World Kindness day somehow made it even more surreal.  I can’t help wondering if that was actually part of the plan.  But it doesn’t matter.

What matters is how we face this.  Not just the victims, not just the French, but the entire world, as individuals and as a whole.

For many of us our gut reaction is a desire for retaliation, revenge, an end to the needless slaughter any way possible.  An end to the fear that courses through our veins every time we hear the words ISIS or terrorist.

But I truly believe the words Martin Luther King Jr. said.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;

Only Light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate;

Only Love can do that.

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On days like this, many of us want to forget those words in the raw and viseral emotions we are experiencing. Hating becomes so much easier than loving. It feels justified, powerful. But Martin Luther King, Jr. was and still is right. More hatred, more fighting will not solve this. It might temporarily stop it, it might drive it further underground, but it will not stop it from simmering and boiling over again at some other time.

Only Light and Love can truly tame the demon, the unruly beast.

And now, when it is truly the hardest to share our light and love, when we most want to hide it away and change our mask to something fierce and dark, it is the exact time we need to stand tall, and let our light and our love shine through the most strongly.

I encourage everyone to stand together and let our light and our love shine brilliantly so that there is no longer room for darkness, no shadows left to hide in.  Let there be only light and love and may we all be part of saving the world from the darkness that still has shadows to hide in.

I leave you with a quote from FB that Shane Koyzcan wrote this morning.

The wake of a tragedy often becomes an incubator for outrage. Many, with their prejudices already intact, will allow hate to reach further inward and surround their hearts with its grasp. We mustn’t let the those who carry out such atrocities become a symbol that represents the whole. There is no greater ignorance than to stand in judgement of an entire people based on the actions of a few.

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Sending much light, love, kindness and peace around the world today.  Standing in solidarity, shining brightly.  No shadows remain.

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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Stand Out

Photo ©JFries

Photo ©JFries

Really, why not?  You’re unique, you’re sitting right there…

I mean, why wouldn’t you want to?

Let your amazing stand out.

After all, sometimes,

You just gotta.

Yes,

You do.

© 2014 JFries / Rise Like Air

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image from The Peace Whisperer

image from The Peace Whisperer

We Are Tenders Of The Garden of Life

Today seeds of hatred, intolerance and fear were sown.

As tenders in the garden of life we cannot encourage those seeds to sprout and take root.

Instead we must gently pull them from the fertile soil and lay them in the sun where they may wither.

At the same time we must sow even more seeds, but seeds of love, acceptance and kindness.

We must nurture them so they may thrive.

A garden is beautiful and lush even when a weed is found.

But as gardeners we must nurture the nature we wish to grow and flourish to maintain the balance.

This blog was originally posted January 7th, 2015.  It was edited and reposted January 8th, 2015.

Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of the press.  Freedom.

Courage is more exhilarating that fear, and in the long run, it is easier.  We do not have to become heroes overnight.  Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up.  Seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared.  Discovering we have the strength to stare it down. – Eleanor Roosevelt

I took this quote from one of the Zen Pencil comic quotes.

© 2014 JFries / Rise Like Air Thanks for stopping by, we always appreciate it.

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sunny

Kat Kinsman is the managing Editor of CNN’s Eatocracy. She has been open about suffering from depression and anxiety.  In January I read a piece by Kat that delivered readers straight into the hell that anxiety is.  She did such an outstanding job of allowing others the experience of walking in her shoes I shared it in the  blog Anxiety – Joy – A Journey.

Obviously Kat struck a chord with many people and has continued the work of de-stygmatizing mental illness.  After the tragic suicide of Robin Williams in August, Kat wrote an op-ed piece called Going Public With Depression for CNNLiving.  Her descriptive style enables the reader to understand the insidiousness of depression.  This is crucial because it is something that is very difficult for sufferers to articulate, especially when they are thrown into the depths of of depression.

“I am 14 years old, it’s the middle of the afternoon, and I’m curled into a ball at the bottom of the stairs. I’ve intended to drag my uncooperative limbs upstairs to my dark disaster of a bedroom and sleep until everything hurts a little less, but my body and brain have simply drained down.” Kat Kinsman

She describes the physical pain, the utter exhaustion, the feeling of being in a well.  Along with the desperation and hopelessness that descend upon a depressed person, Kat still gives hope.

The pain and ferocity of the bouts have never eased, but I’ve lived in my body long enough to know that while I’ll never “snap out of it,” at some point the glass will crack and I’ll be free to walk about in the world again. It happens every time, and I have developed a few tricks to remind myself of that as best I can when I’m buried deepest.”  Kat Kinsman

The truth is, most people don’t recognize when someone is depressed.  Often the first words someone offers when depression ends in tragedy is “I never would have guessed.”  As Kat says,

Most people don’t see depression in others, and that’s by design. We depressives simply spirit ourselves away when we’ve dimmed so as not to stain those who live in the sun.” Kat Kinsman

Kat emphasizes the importance of sharing, of asking for help.  While some of us might be concerned that the internet, with online bullying and all the other potentially negative influences may contribute to more depression, Kat points to the benefit that depression sufferers experience from sharing and being with people who have similar stories, who share the same pain. She offers some of her favourite ways to make it to the other side of depression.

Her advice to others who know sufferers.

  • take care of yourself,
  • allow them to go through what they need to go through – you can’t fix them,
  • let them know you are there for them no matter what, you aren’t going anywhere

She doesn’t pull any punches.  Those of us who have experienced one bout of depression are likely to experience another.  There is no magic pill.  What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another and it takes time.  And it’s painful.

In her open and honest way Kat also shares some methods to remind herself that there will be an end to the hopeless feelings, the long range forecast really is for brilliant sunshine.    Author Stephen Fry’s much shared letter of advice is one of them.

“Here are some obvious things about the weather:
It’s real.
You can’t change it by wishing it away.
If it’s dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can’t alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.
BUT
It will be sunny one day.
It isn’t under one’s control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
One day.”

In the video also included in the article she is asked what one piece of advice, if she could choose one, would she give to someone suffering from depression.

“You’re not alone. Tell somebody.  Chances are they or someone they know are going through it too.”

And if they don’t listen tell someone else. Remember, the long range forecast is sunny, brilliantly sunny.

©2014 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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Opportunity:  Noun – a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.  – Google

This morning I posted a status to Facebook about a 17 year old Regina SK screaming talented drummer, Chris Dimas, who is having his dreams come true and going to school in Hollywood CA.  I prefaced the link with

The secret to making dreams come true – work, believe and open the door and say yes when opportunity knocks.”

And off I went about the business of my day.  Little did I know I would discover just how much I was really writing that to myself.  Funny how the universe works that way.

Rewind to a couple of summers ago out on a nature hike with family.  I was enthralled with all the beautiful mushrooms and other fungi along the path.  My imagination flitted between the mushrooms and the fairies that must obviously be quietly hiding there.  Immediately themes and children’s stories and poems floated aimlessly through my mind; a possible book in the making.  I remember sighing heavily because I had left my camera in the car.

Fast forward to later this summer.  Life has been very busy.  Did I mention like really very busy?  We’ve had strange weather this year, like most of the world it seems.  One of the anomalies was the immense number of beautiful fungi growing literally everywhere.  I enjoyed taking many pictures.  Early on I remembered my past missed opportunity and thought about pulling out my daughters fairy collection and using them to stage numerous shots that could be used to illustrate the stories and poems that still floated in my head but hadn’t made it to paper yet.  Opportunity was now knocking once more. I opened the door and welcomed Opportunity in.  “Hey, great to see you! Come in!  I’ll be right with you, introduce you around…. just hang on one minute.  Make yourself at home, I’ll be right back.”   That’s what I said.

Every walk I thought about it and reminded myself that yes, I must go do that, soon.   Pause: this morning.  I went for an early walk.

Part of my daily routine has been trying to ensure I work in some fitness activities.  So, this morning after a quick tea I went for my walk.  All my major responsibilities were done, I could afford to do “my” things today, at least for awhile.  I knew where the fairies were.  I was going to scope out where I’d take my shots, lock up my all too friendly and “helpful” canine companions and do it!  Finally, I mean it’s even still sunny and warm!

image from wallpaperbrands.net

So out I go.  “Hey, Opportunity!  Sorry I just had to… um… Opportunity?”

But Opportunity became tired of waiting, felt like a third wheel, unappreciated and unimportant; so Opportunity smiled a kind of sad smile, silently turned and left, softly closing the door.

I had a lovely walk, the leaves of beautiful yellows, golds, browns and reds interspersed with the last of green.  The light dappling beautifully on the path, and not one fungi left in its glory.  Hardly any are left at all.

I believed.  I had opened the door.

Then like a selfish hostess, I left Opportunity waiting in the porch with no consideration because the visit didn’t occur at a perfectly convenient time.

I didn’t do the work.  I didn’t say, “Yes.”

I can say how busy I was and am, but the truth is, Opportunity knocked and even with all the experience I have, I still didn’t say, “Yes.”  I said, “Wait a minute.”  And you know Opportunity did.  Opportunity patiently waited a few weeks in fact.  Opportunity does not have unlimited patience.

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like Work.” – Thomas A. Edison

I’ll never know quite how neglecting Opportunity will change what might have been.  I believe it’s all good, things all happen for a reason.  I’m okay with it.  But I do wonder, if I’d taken the time to take those shots, what and where might they have lead to?

I’m grateful that Opportunity is forgiving and generous though.  While this door closed, I know Opportunity will visit again, maybe knocking at a different door, or arriving through a window.   Next time, I’ll remember how to treat a guest.

Our lives are defined by opportunities.  Even the ones we miss.  F. Scott Fitzgerald

©2014 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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