Archives for posts with tag: Kindness Boomerang

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I am honoured to be a blogger as part of the Life Vest Inside organization founded by Orly Wahba. In short, we’re all about changing the world through living the kindness life style. This month I was fortunate enough to get a little more hands on experience putting together the monthly newsletter, The Kindness Flash with Orly and my fellow blog guru Soumya.

Unforeseen circumstances had each of us stepping a little further outside our comfort zone than usual, but minutes into our brainstorming session our confidence in our ability to pull it all together grew. During those first moments of our discussion it seemed obvious our theme for December 2016 would be Humility.

I’ve always liked the way CS Lewis defined humility as “not thinking less of oneself, but of thinking of oneself less.”

We found people had their own wonderful ways of describing the quality of humility, like Rodrigo Barbosa.

For me, humility is understanding that other people are just as much “people” as you are. That the fact that you are better than them at something only makes you better than them at something, not a better person. ~Rodrigo Barbosa

We didn’t have to look far to find stories about humility either. In November LVI held the 5th annual World Wide Dance For Kindness. One of my fellow LVI ambassadors and good friend, Jeff Kuske helped organize and danced with a group this year. I think every group has their own special story and Jeff shared theirs with Orly recently.

Jeff works with men suffering from various forms of addiction, but his ability to see beyond the addiction, to see the person, paved the way for a little love, a little kindness, a little laughter, and a whole lotta dancing.

Jeff says, “DFK2016 allowed these men to participate in an event that was bigger than themselves. It gave them the opportunity to do something for others, all of them strangers.” 

A couple of months ago I never would have cared about something like this. Thank you for showing me that I can make a positive difference in the world.  – New Beginning participant DFK2016

Read the entire letter here.

I would describe humility as helping wherever, however and whenever I can, knowing that helping others is really helping myself. We all grow and bloom

What does humility mean to you?

Check out the full 9th edition of The Kindness Flash here for all the great sections including The Kind Connection, Everyday Kindness, and more.

 

Interested in learning more about Dance For Kindness check out the promotional video for 2016

 

or the 2015 Dance For Kindness Montage

 

and the video that started it all way back in 2011 that now has over 25 million views

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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I was listening to fellow Kindness Ambassadors Jeff Kuske and Erin Buchalter,  being interviewed on the Lillian McDermott Show the other day.  They were discussing kindness and Life Vest Inside, specifically the Kindness Boomerang video that has had over 80 million views world wide so far. That’s really the video that started it all.  Before that Orly had a dream and was taking steps to make that dream come true, but the release of The Kindness Boomerang served as the catalyst to make others really begin to take notice.  I was one of those “others”.

Like Jeff, Erin and Lillian, I watched the video when I first saw it, and then I watched it again. And then again. And of course, I shared it.

Since The Kindness Boomerang hit the internet, numerous big companies have run campaigns and put out poignant videos to celebrate and support their customers and sometimes even random people on the street.

WestJet gave Christmas a special touch for flyers:

Dove tackles the problem of poor self image

TDBank gives back to their customers

I love people helping people no matter who they are but I could never quite put my finger on why the big corporate deeds never gave me quite the same feeling that Life Vest Inside has. Listening to the interview today, it finally made sense to me.

When Orly Wahba left her job teaching in a school to found Life Vest Inside and began teaching the entire world about kindness she didn’t do it for any personal gain. She did it because she was profoundly moved to make a difference. What she offers to others isn’t about the “outside”, it’s about the “inside”. What she takes away isn’t “outside” glory and riches, it’s all about what she gets “inside”.

Orly had and still has a pure vision and a pure desire to show kindness, to give kindness, to be kindness and yes, to change the “inside” of each of us who makes this world. It wasn’t about what she could get out of it, it was about how she could help others. It wasn’t about getting more it was about giving more.

And that’s the difference to me.  The big corporations are trying to do good too, but they’ve already got the resources and they know that most of what they are doing, while helping others, also builds their business, their product and their client base. It feels a lot more like looking at the “outside”.

The company initiatives can provide really valuable and necessary help. I’m not against a “win win” situation. But I realize now that is what was different for me when I was introduced to Life Vest Inside. I never once felt anything was expected of me other than to be me, there were no hidden agendas, fees or surprises. There was a life vest of kindness, the belief that kindness can change the world and an open invitation to join the ride. The best part is those things are there every day 24/7, no matter the time zone.

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Orly says of her childhood dream,

 I dreamt of creating a world the runs on the basis of kindness, love and respect; a world in which people will finally have the chance to see and catch a glimpse of their beauty, of their uniqueness; a world in which our differences were reasons to celebrate instead of war against one another. I must say that what I’ve had the chance to see through our Kindness Ambassadors and through LVI is a world just like that!

September 25th 2015 was World Dream Day. Orly Wahba and Life Vest Inside show just how big a little dream can get.

Watch the video that started it all, The Kindness Boomerang.

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Sunglasses in Sand from Image4world.com

Sunglasses in Sand from Image4world.com

We’re always looking for positive stories to showcase kindness, and all the good stuff that fills our world but sometimes we miss in the onslaught of busy-ness and bad news.

Sometimes, I forget that those stories don’t have to come from far off places or people I don’t know.

The other day my niece Mariah shared on Facebook an experience she had. It reminded me that not only do wonderful things happen right here every day, but that “kids now a days” and young adults are pretty awesome. As in most circumstances, you see what you look for. It’s a good reminder to look for what’s good, because you’ll find it.

Her story was brief, just one of those simple status updates people on FB tend to make. She was on her shift at a large grocery store. I’m pretty sure it was a fairly normal, uneventful shift. The normal greetings, scanning items, smiles and thank yous.  Maybe a grumpy customer here or there but nothing really out of the oridinary.

So tonight a family came through my till that was obviously on a very tight budget for their groceries. They were carefully watching their total as I rang everything through. When they hit their limit, the first thing to go were the little sunglasses their 2 sons wanted. When they started tearing up and the parents said they couldn’t afford them, I felt so terrible. I asked the parents permission, and then I bought them their sunglasses. The looks on those boys faces tonight were priceless.  – Mariah

It brought joy to my heart and a tear to my eye. It’s not that unusual, unfortunately, for people to have to make tough choices when they are shopping. One of the hardest things a parent ever has to do is say “no” to something like this because they simply can’t afford it. It happens every day.

It makes me feel so good when I hear about someone taking the time to help someone out, whether monetarily or otherwise. I know Mariah has her own financial obligations and it’s the selflessness of the story that made me smile.

I hope the boys remember the kind cashier who made it possible for them to go home with the sunglasses they had chosen. I also hope that when they have the opportunity they will create their own ripple of kindness.

Thanks Mariah for making a positive difference, and setting a great example for all of us to follow.

If you ever doubt what a bit of kindness can do…

If you feel inspired, don’t waste it… do something kind… right now… the opportunity is right in front of you.

© 2015  JFries / Rise Like Air

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At the end of January I shared on Facebook, and in a blog about a $10,000. grant that Life Vest Inside, a group I’m involved with, was trying to win through a voting campaign on KIND Causes. Well, I am very happy to report that LVI was successful!  We did it!  We were fortunate enough to secure 6,294 votes, winning by a mere 12 votes! It was down to the wire, last minute kind of stuff, breath holding, nail biting action adventure when the site crashed just before closing. But it’s official! So thank you to everyone who voted. Am still amazed that it was 12 votes. But I’ll get back that in a moment.

When I was writing the blog on January 27th, letting my readers know about the voting process, I decided I should actually go check out the other groups trying to secure the grant just as much as we were. In January alone, there are about 108 worthy causes. The ideas and goals were all over the board, but everyone of them was trying to do something good.

There was Tracey Pearson’s “Prissy Tomboy Athletics”, empowering teen girls through sports and adventure. (69 votes)

How about David Rosenker’s “Herd By A Horse – Equine Therapy”, helping families who can’t otherwise afford it (111 votes)

Or Allison Yacht’s “Bravehoods to Brave Kids” giving soft personalized, inspirational hoodies to kids living with cancer. (434 votes)

There was even an organization we have mentioned on Rise Like Air a couple of times, Erika Georges, “Empowerment Plan” which started with a university class assignment for the founder, Veronika Scott. She began creating coats for the homeless that could be turned into a sleeping bag. Then came the next step, hiring the homeless. (60 votes)

As I paged through and read more, I was stunned by the ideas, desire and commitment.  The common thread,  the need for that little extra help to get to the next level to make that dream to help others, make the world a better place, come true.

And I have a confession to make. I thought, “We just want to dance. Some of these people are trying to do really big things like eliminate hunger, provide comfort to the ill, help the homeless, engage children in learning and reading!”

“And we, well, we want to dance.”

And our vote count is like way up there, from the start. We’re one of the leaders.

And we are going to dance!

I really wondered, “How can I, in good conscience, actually ask people to vote for us when we’re just going to… dance?”

And then a voice somewhere in my head said in a rather impatient and annoyed tone, “What do you mean JUST dance?”  And then just a little more gently, “Have you forgotten WHY we dance?”

Then the dots connected and I saw the picture, of course. We dance to promote kindness, to show kindness, to remind people about kindness, to help them put a face to kindness, to inspire kindness, to emulate kindness, to make it visible. To make it real.  To make kindness a fun, normal, everyday kind of thing. That’s why we dance.

I only have to glance at the headlines to be reminded  that we are in desperate need of kindness, toward each other and toward ourselves.  Every one of us can find our own small yet significant way to start to be kind, conscious, mindful more often than we are not.  We need to inspire, motivate and empower people, including ourselves, to embrace this change of attitude.

Why is it such a big deal?  Because kindness is incredibly powerful, kindness can work miracles.  Just think, little you and little me, we have the power to work miracles, simply by being kind.  The kindness doesn’t even have to be big!  It can be a simple as helping someone learn how to tie their necktie for a job interview.

Think about it for a minute.  If we could empower everyone to be kind without judgement first, in everything they did every single day, there would really be no other causes.  As people became aware of needs, they would take it upon themselves to help fulfil the need, or solve the problem, or assist with the challenge.  We would recognize that we are “the someone who needs to do something”.  Instead of rationalizing, judging, blaming or waiting, we would simply be kind first, just kind.

That’s why we dance.

We don’t “just” dance. We dance “to empower and unite the world with kindness…by spreading kindness, empowering people and building self worth.” LVI FB page

That’s why we dance.

As Kindness Ambassadors with LVI we all believe that “by creating an exciting and accessible kindness experience, we will become more aware of the opportunities that surround us and recognize our potential to change the world, simply by changing ourselves.” LVI FB page

And that, is why we dance.

After it was confirmed that LVI would receive the grant, the founder Orly Wahba posted a video message titled “You Matter, Yes You!”

Orly mentioned that her friend Ellen had contacted her with congratulations. She reminded Orly that LVI won by 12 votes and that had special meaning. If anything should show people how much each person matters, and how significant everyone is, that they can make a difference… that’s it.  I think she’s exactly right.

Orly said she realized that it had to be that crazy close at the end when we were 300 votes behind and then squeaked through by 12 votes.  It was because it made each of us dig deep inside ourselves, when we could have easily given up. It was to remind everyone that our vote, our voice matters. We could make the difference, we did make the difference. The voting process allowed each person to turn their vote into 4 if they shared it on social media so in the end it may have been as few as 3 people that made the difference.

What if those 3 people had given up? Orly ends by honestly saying that we all question our own worth or value sometimes, no matter who we are, even Orly. The next time that happens we can all remember the life lesson we’ve just shared. We’re each a piece of the puzzle. We are valuable. Each and every one of us is significant. We are unique. One is as important as the other.

The next time you question your value or your own self worth remember this message.

“You matter. You make a difference. You are important.”

In closing, I kindly invite you to do something kind, no matter how small, at least once every single day.  I also invite you to join us for the 2015 4th annual Dance For Kindness.  Be an event co-ordinator, helper or dancer.  No major skill sets required.  You just have to want to spread a little kindness and have a lot of fun doing a little dancing.

Just can’t see yourself dancing?  That’s ok, trust me.  There are plenty of other ways you can spread the kindness and be a part of Life Vest Inside.

Incase you haven’t seen The Kindness Boomerang, here you go.

“Let’s unite and change this world with the power of kindness.” – Orly Wahba

©2015 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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Life Vest Inside and it’s founder Orly Wahba have been so motivating for me over the last couple of years.  I remember the first time I saw the video she produced called The Kindness Boomerang, I was overwhelmed with emotion, inspiration and hope.  I immediately checked our Orly and LVI and was instantly captivated and committed.

LVI is funded completely by donations, grants, volunteers – all who believe in kindness and are committed to helping kindness grow where it’s needed most.  Truthfully, these days, there isn’t a person or a place that doesn’t need a little extra kindness. I am a proud LVI Ambassador (who needs to do more and think less) and I realized today that I have been remiss!

LVI is busy trying to garner votes so they can win a $10,000 grant which will enable them continue to fund the annual world wide Dance For Kindness flashmob.  The dance has occurred for 3 years now and has grown bigger and better each year spreading kindness, impacting people’s attitudes and actions in more places each time.  It’s a fun and engaging event which gets real results.

If LVI receives this grant, it will remove a large amount of funding pressure and instead help the organization forces their energy and time to actually create a kinder world that we can all live in. After all, we don’t have to look far to realize a little kindness goes a long way.  If you’d like to vote, please click here.

Please Vote

Please Vote

If you are interested in helping out a cause that I think is very worthwhile you can do so with the greatest of ease.  You don’t even have to give any money, in this case what we really want is your vote.  There are only a few days left so please do it now if you are at all motivated.  Just follow the instructions once you click here.  If you are willing to share it on your social media, you will be given an opportunity to turn your 1 vote into 4 votes.  There are a lot of deserving causes out and we hope that you choose LVI.  Share a little kindness and be a part of making a resounding difference for a group that has already shared so much kindness in so many places. If you’d like to vote and you haven’t already clicked, click here.

As always, thank you. ©2015 Rise Like Air  J. Fries

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