Archives for posts with tag: gratitude

A few days ago I got a message from fellow blogger Vaibhav Gupta saying a mutual friend had passed on my name and he was wondering if I’d be interested in being interviewed for his blog  TalkBack Tuesday.   (Stay tuned… for news when it will be available)

I was in complete shock, but after reviewing what was required I jumped at the opportunity. A little outside my comfort zone, how perfect is that?

But seriously, how could I not.

Talkback Tuesday is a feature for and about everyday people. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another person, and realize it is just as complex and large and confusing as your own.

Everyday people…. life as complex… large… confusing…  Ok, that’s sounding about right.

So early in the morning I was at my key board on FB messenger answering unprepared, refreshing and thought provoking questions. It was  really a unique and enlightening experience I will treasure for a long time to come. Afterwards, I messaged my friend Soumya who had recommend me and I said, “Thank you so much for giving Vaibhav my name.” She responded with a brief but breathtaking message,

Your are one of the most amazing people I know.

I got teary, because I’ll be honest, I seldom, feel like I’m an amazing person. As another friend of mine would say, “I’m just me, just a guy.” Well in my case, “just a girl”. And that really is how I see myself.  Just me, full of flaws and idiosyncrasies.  Lots and lots of cracks – that let the light in, maybe get filled with gold now and then. Truly a work in progress, hopefully a masterpiece at the same time? Pretty much like I see everyone else to be honest. I mean, I have some really lousy days and on those days I don’t always do amazing things. I started to think about all the everyday people I know who really are amazing, at least to me. Like people I know recovering from brain surgery, quickly growing families, couples picking up shards of marriages or just trying to make relationships better, parents with a hole in their hearts that can’t be filled, people letting go of their past, embracing their futures, tenants uncertain about security and shelter, people just trying to honestly figure out life, I mean REALLY figure it out.. AMAZING people.

Then it hit me.

Amazing, everyday people struggle too

I realized that struggling, and bad days, even feeling overwhelmed doesn’t ever stop us from being amazing; just maybe from recognizing it ourselves.

We struggle. We struggle to find our smile, to find our confidence, to find time, to be real, to get it right, and to just be ourselves. We struggle, to find words, to connect the dots, to achieve what we think we want. We can make it easier or harder on ourselves or we can cross our fingers and hope for the best. But through all of that, we can be and are amazing, in so many incredibly magical jaw dropping ways.

So we struggle. There is purpose.

And we succeed. 

So go out there and be AMAZING; just be YOU!

Soumya, just so you know, you are with out a doubt one of the most amazing people I know. Thank you for being you.

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Dedicated to all the amazing people I know and there are so very many of you. Thank you

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Some days are just like that. You seem doomed from the start. My mother had a day like that a little while ago and she was kind enough to call and share it with me.

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It started out simply enough. A trip across the street to the mall for a few groceries.No big deal, except when you’re getting close to 90 years old, things take a little longer than they used to. They take a little more effort than they used to. But independent and undaunted as always my parents went on their shopping excursion.

Upon returning home and unpacking the groceries, she realized she had forgotten to purchase whipping cream for the pie that was waiting for dessert. Of course you can’t serve pumpkin pie without whipped cream. So, taking it all in stride as you tend to do when you’re in your 80’s my mother grabbed a five dollar bill, her keys and off they went again. Back to the mall, to the far end where the grocery store is, picked up the cream and got in line. When the cashier rang the purchase through it came to a grand total of….. drum roll please….. $5.20. Yes. She was short $.20. Two dimes.  Four nickels.  Forget the pennies because we don’t have them anymore.

So, as she tells the story, there she stands, mouth hanging open thinking.  Here we go again! When, a kind gentleman who had heard the exchange reached over and handed her a dollar coin wrapped up with a kind smile.

Now my mom has heard me tell many stories of paying it forward because it’s a favourite thing for me to do. And I tend to hang around with people who like to do it too. So here’s my mother, experiencing a stranger’s gesture of kindness.

I loved hearing my mom’s excitement as she described her relief at not having to go home and return for a third time. She was so appreciative that when she got the change she found the gentleman and gave it to him, much to his surprise. She even confided that she is quite looking forward to being able to return the favour in kind to someone else in need. Watch out! Mom is on kindness patrol!

My mom has always been a kind person, but I do believe she’s been bitten by the pay it forward bug. The only kind of bug I like getting bitten by. All part of living a the kindness lifestyle.

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I love Marcel Proust quotes and this morning seemed a good day to remind myself of a few of my favourites.  While curled up waiting for my tea to steep I thought that just maybe someone else would enjoy his wisdom on this Tuesday as well.

 

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.

My personal favourite. I have never ceased to be amazed at how  a different perspective can literally change my world.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

Is there a better feeling than experiencing a soul blossoming?

If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.

So many argue this point, but those I know who have given up on dreaming seem to have given up on the joy of life too.

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.

Probably the hardest lesson I am still learning. And what a journey it is.  I am honoured to a part of so many wonderful people’s journey.

We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full.

Being a procrastinator and avoider I argued this one for a very long time and still like to put my fingers in my ears and go “lalalalala” but, yes, “what you resist persists” And boy oh boy, does it ever……

Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.

Sigh, need we really say more….

Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces.

Ok, maybe not EVERYTHING but…… you have to admit there does seem to be a possible connection…. maybe…

Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.

Still mulling this one, but I have to admit there is something about those aha moments….

Illness is the doctor to whom we pay most heed; to kindness, to knowledge, we make promise only; pain we obey.

I really really want to argue this one but there is at least some truth in it for far too many of us.

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.

Oh to have the days of childhood and endless reading.

 

So there you have it, some of my favourite Marcel Proust quotes to ponder this terrific Tuesday.  And if it’s not so terrific?  I have a suggestion….. go back to quote #1 and give it a shot.  Change up your eyes and shift that perspective.  You might just be amazed.

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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I went to the lake for three days. On my own. Because I said I wanted to. Apparently, this raised some eyebrows, caused some speculation.

Though I owe no one an explanation I’ll tell you. I only hope you can handle the truth and it is all you thought it would be.

I had a most delicious rendezvous with an old love. And oh my, shhhhh, but it really was delicious. Time stood still and disappeared all at once.

Now I admit that at first I felt more than a little trepidation, but it disappeared when I caught my first glimpse of them. It was like no time had passed at all.

It was cold so we curled up in blankets, sipped whiskey and water while we read books together, taking turns flipping the pages. We laughed and reminisced, finishing each other’s sentences. We went for walks hand in hand, telling each other stories. And when we got back we shared our thoughts and feelings, our dreams and relationships and our regrets because we genuinely wanted to. We played our favourite music and danced with abandon, laughing until our sides ached and tears ran down our cheeks. And when we couldn’t laugh anymore, we drank in each other’s spirit, curling up to sleep peacefully each night. We cherished each other unabashedly and it was divine and peacefully beautiful.

As the end drew near we looked into each other’s sparkling eyes and promised we would never let time or distraction separate us again. We hugged until we melted into each other and then it was time to leave. We never said good bye, because it wasn’t. It was hello.

When I arrived home I felt no guilt or shame as I walked by the mirror. Pausing, I recognized the smile. I winked, and my re-found love winked back at me. “Hello,” I grinned. Delicious.

©2016 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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I have a friend who is completely selfless. I mean completely. This person doesn’t always do it with the right attitude I admit, because this person can never say no.
Yet this person seems to receive so little good in return and is slowly losing sight of any goodness around them, yet they just keep doing all that is asked of them, and even more.
While everyone around this person senses a subtle quiet, no one seems to see what is happening, they just accept all this person has to offer with seldom a thank you or by your leave, they just keep asking for more and this person just keeps giving more and more as they slowly wither away.
To help this person I just keep trying to plant seeds. Overtime I just about give up I remember you never know which seed will sprout or when. So I just keep sowing, watering and hoping. I am a gardener of minds, hearts and souls.
If you have space today to send the people pleasers of this world energy and love for the strength to set healthy boundaries and learn to serve without losing themselves, I would appreciate it. My friend is one of many who suffer this same problem.
To all those out there struggling, feeling like you are always the one to compromise, always the one to go the extra mile, the one who never gets noticed or helped but is the one who always seems to be giving to others, who feels it will never change or get better. You are not alone. You are enough. And you are appreciated. And it will get better. Be open to it, let it.
To all those out there who are blind to the struggles of others. Take a moment or many. Be still. Take time to notice and not only show appreciation but give back in return.
You can argue we should give yet expect nothing in return, but we should also accept with appreciation – if we do both, we will all receive more than we need.
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©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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You may have heard this or seen this on social media but when I came across it this week it really has been sitting with me.

 

I am enough.

I keep telling myself that. It does’t mean I can’t do more, or be better, or be different or that this is the end or the time to stop, or that I’m perfect or finished. But it does mean, for the most part, we can all stop sweating life. We are enough. We really are. I know it’s easy to argue that, I can come up with lots of evidence that may “prove” I’m really not enough, but either or, those are just opinions, perspective.

 

Now here’s the wow moment I got last night. When I believe I’m enough, I actually become enough, find my flow state and shine.  When I believe I’m not enough, I struggle, I shrink, I slow down and I stagnate. Wow!

 

Here’s the other thing I realized. While I try my best to get my validation from within – because I know in my head that’s the only true validation there is, some external validation is still nice and something I think most of us require at least a little of. When I surround myself with people who believe I’m enough and tell me and show me sincerely that I’m enough, I shine. I glow. I am motivated, I have power and focus and direction and and and and life is good!  However, when I’m with people who do not help me feel like I’m enough…. well you get the picture.

 

I think most of us are very much like this. As well, most of us also have both kinds of people in our lives. I love the posters that say surround yourself with the people who help and let go of those who don’t. I believe that so much, but also know that in the real world, while it might be just that simple… it isn’t that easy.  Wow, so not easy. Because sometimes those people are pretty close to you. I’ve also learned though that you can not change anyone. They can only change themselves. You can be a catalyst, you can help but you are powerless to really do any more than that. So…. you can set boundaries, make requests, but you can’t actually make them change or treat you the way you want. What you do about that becomes your choice.

 

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I realized something else. Some people just seem to be jerks, they want to bring themselves up by bringing you down. But there is another, more subtle way most often used by those who actually care a lot about us, that constructive criticism. Now personally, and many will argue with me I’m sure but I don’t believe there is such a thing. You’re either critical or you’re constructive. I get what the goal is, but it seldom works. At least, in my humble opinion, it doesn’t work as well as pretty much anything else you could choose! Now sometimes, used sporadically and at the right times with the right person sure, it’s all good. But too often the message received isn’t wow I can do better! It’s, wow, I didn’t do well enough. Therefore, I’m not enough. I believe it takes a pretty strong person and a very determined person to weather regular “constructive criticism” well.

 

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My editor  was a perfect example motivating me and setting me up for success. She did not give me false praise, she did not tell me my manuscript was perfect, because we both knew it wasn’t. She did however tell me all the good things and work in the things I could improve. But she always made me feel like I’d done well. She made me realize I am enough and that made me want to make every change she suggested.  Here’s an example from her notes.

 

You and I must be kindred spirits because you seem to love using the semi colon as much as I used to. My professors had to break me of the habit. They aren’t really very necessary – especially in fiction for young adults. They are used to tie together two complete sentences (not fragments), which, together, form a whole idea. But usually it’s better to just end one sentence with a period and start a new sentence. I’ve removed most of your semi colons, as my profs always removed mine. Welcome to the club! 🙂 – Natasha Morrow

 

I admit I am sensitive to criticism even when I ask people to review things or give me honest feedback. May I say, my editor could have shredded me and made me feel like an idiot but she didn’t, she ensured that she made me feel like I’m not only enough, but part of a club, I’m freaking normal for pete sake! And by starting out her feedback so positively she as able to be a bit more forthright later on without me feeling bad at all, I was actually craving more info so I could make my story the best it could be – without feeling like it was “not enough” as it was either. Thank you Natasha Morrow, you are wonderful.

 

I am definitely enough. So are you. So is the person that is driving you nuts today. And the person who cut you off in traffic, cut in front of you in line, took your parking spot, and left the toilet seat up or the milk on the cupboard.

 

We are all enough, masterpieces, works in progress. That doesn’t mean we are done, or that we’ll always agree or get along. But I have started to say under my breath when someone makes me want to snap.  You are enough, just the way you are and I am enough too.

 

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 Marisa Peers video about how so many of us have this overwhelming feeling of not being enough and just how important reminding ourselves and each other that we actually are enough really is was very interesting. (50 minutes)

 

 I fell out of gratitude for a while and it resulted in me seeing less good so I started with small again. Things like I’m grateful for the sun. I’m grateful for 5 minutes alone. I’m grateful no one knocked on the bathroom door (ummm no, I don’t have small children).
My gratitudes have evolved in the few weeks I’ve been dedicated to doing them. I’ve also found that for me at least for now, mornings are my best time to reflect on my gratitudes so that’s when I write them down. I review them in the evening and sometimes add a few more. Here are todays. 🙂

 

  • I am grateful for all the good in my life, even when I don’t recognize it
  • I am grateful for all the challenges in my life because they enable me to grow
  • I am grateful for all the opportunities in my life because they give me hope
  • I am grateful for all the people in my life because they are my teachers
  • I am grateful for my life because within it I find my purpose
 
 

 

Even on the bad days, it’s important to remind yourself, there’s plenty to be grateful for if you are willing to practise being present and look for it with an open mind and an open heart.

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Thank you. Thank you for showing me that I could be seen, that I was something more than a walking ghost filled with other people’s stories but my own dreams. Thank you for telling me you loved me when neither of us knew what that even meant. If it weren’t for you, I’d never know […]

via To The Men Who’ve Left — quirrk

I don’t think this blogger has ever written anything I didn’t like but somehow I fell in absolute love with this piece, poignantly straight from the heart.  One of the kindest souls I know eloquently reflects that everyone is in our life for a reason, even those who are here to teach us lessons are very much a blessing. Relationships are always an opportunity to learn and grow. It’s especially grand when we recognize the lessons and are able to reinvent pain into grace and gratitude.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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

The first thing I read was

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

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

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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