Archives for posts with tag: life

Sometimes I trip up. Let’s be real, we all do.

On occasion I trip over my feet.

Other times I trip over my tongue.

But more often, I recently realized, I trip over my brain.

It quite literally gets in the way.

I overthink.

I miss “the obvious”…

the simple…

the quick and easy…

I trip over my brain when I give in to my fears…

doubts…

anxieties…

I trip over my brain when I accept, without question…

opinions…

criticisms…

When I trip over my brain, I flounder. Nothing makes sense. Life feels harder and much less fun.  And since I seem to have had a substantial amount of experience tripping in my lifetime I’ve learned a few things.

It’s ok if I trip over my feet, it’s part of my dance.

It’s ok if I trip over my tongue, it’s part of my story.

It’s ok if I trip over my brain, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.

I was struggling to answer a question when it finally dawned on me that I already had the solution! The solution was to locate the person who actually had the answer and document it for the next time I needed it. It was so easy to trip, to take responsibility for the answer when I needed to take responsibility for the solution. All I had to do was ask.

I learned, I grew.

It really is all about how we choose to look at things.

 

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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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It’s Sunday!!  We have made it through another week and another one is beckoning us. Take a moment for a deep breath and a personal high five!

For some of us it was an amazingly fantastic week. For some of us it was hell on wheels. Some were able to Rise Like Air and others teetered on the precipice edge.

There were tears of joy, success and happiness. Tears of frustration, pain and fear.

That’s what life is. Amazing ups and downs and lessons and perspective. It’s about choices and learning and trying.  It encompasses falling down, crawling and getting back up. But today I think it’s most about simply living and loving and liberating.

Today I’m making one choice. To smile. Maybe it will make a little difference. Maybe a big difference. Maybe someone else will notice, maybe they won’t. But I will notice.

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Have a fantastic Sunday. Make it yours. Do it your way.  No regrets, no apologies. No shame, no blame, no guilt. Just love, light and living.  And of course….

Rise

Like 

Air…

See 

Beautiful…

It’s

All 

Good…

 

©2017 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Awhile back I received a crowdfunding campaign message about a 2 cd album being created in support of Postcards For Peace. They are a group I’ve heard about before, I think they do really wonderful work so I checked it out and decided to contribute a little bit. That little bit got me the gift of  the cd and a postcard.

They arrived yesterday by post as promised, with a simple Thank You hand written on the flap of the envelope.

It came, as with most things really,  perfect timing. What better way to wind down the last few days of 2016, certainly in truth not my favourite year overall, and begin what I believe will be a phenomenally amazing 2017. How am I going to do that? By I’m holding onto a world of hope every minute of every day.

As I write I’m sitting here listening to We’ve Got It All by Peter James Millson and now Fiddle or a Gun by Oysterband just came on. The album is a beautiful complication of a somewhat eclectic group of artists coming together for peace. I like that idea. Breeze Redwine brought me to tears with her beautiful piece Courage. I can tell that as I listen to these beautiful heartfelt pieces, each will find a way to uniquely entwine themselves into my heart. There’s something about the cover art that just makes me want to smile and find a park to sit in for awhile. Maybe even write a post card or two… with a message for peace.

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Check it out at Postcards For Peace shopping page:

“In support of international charity Postcards For Peace, whose goal is to end discrimination and violence through education, twenty six incredible musicians have contributed songs to create a truly beautiful album.

The title, A World of Hope, comes from the lyrics to Jo Hamilton’s ‘There It Is’ (one of the first tracks contributed to the project) and it is a fitting name for an album that features 26 songs of war and peace, of hope and of love, of living life to the full, of not giving up and of having the courage to face adversity.

It includes acts that have truly earned the right to be called legends, Grammy award nominees, multiple BBC Folk Award winners, acts that have enjoyed chart success and artists that spend their lives travelling the world to get their music heard. From octogenarian Peggy Seeger to teenager Breeze Redwine, every single one of the artists has donated a track to this album because they want to help build a world in which people care for other human beings without discrimination, prejudice, violence and hate.”

Happy New Year everyone. We wish each and every one of you a most amazing 2017. No matter what it holds, or even what it doesn’t hold make it great because you can. See the beauty, live the kindness, be the change and most importantly – simply be you. Because you are truly amazing. Even if sometimes you don’t see it in yourself. Unique and human, each and every one of us and there is nothing more amazing, magical and miraculous than that. Be Flawsome embrace your flaw – know you are awesome no in spite of them, but because off them – today and everyday.

You Matter – Hope – Today and Everyday

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Lissa Rankin had a fantastic Facebook post this morning. It smacked me upside the head. The kind of smack that makes you sit up and take notice.

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I often get asked how you know when it’s time to take a leap of faith, and I say, “When the pain of staying put exceeds your fear of the unknown, you leap.” But you don’t have to wait that long. It’s not necessary to wait until the pain is extreme. You have the option to cave early- but most people won’t leap when the pain is just a twinge. We wait until we’re in agony, and then it doesn’t feel like a choice- it feels like survival. Ultimately, we get to the point where we know we’re being guided to do something scary, and we have faith that when we follow these kinds of Divine instructions, things go well, whereas when we ignore the signs, it hurts. That’s why they call it a leap of faith. Faith is not just finding comfort in the unknown but actually taking refuge there. That’s when it gets easier to leap- and leap- and keep leaping into love and trust. – Lisa Rankin

I know this is very true for me. Without a doubt I usually wait until I’m in agony before I leap. I know this about myself. I recognized this trait many years ago when I began scuba diving and I was literally standing on the edge of the swimming pool in the 4 foot end. I was totally geared up and all I had to do was step of the edge into the water. My dive master was right in front of me. So was my husband. My husband kept saying, “Just jump already, it’s only 4 feet deep and you can swim! You’ve got a BC vest on, just jump already!”  My dive master, on the other hand, kept smiling at me and saying, “It’s ok, take your time. You’ll jump when you’re ready. And you will be ready. And then you’ll just step off like it’s nothing at all.”

And he was right. However, in the probably ten minute, yes, ten minutes, that I stood there, sweating, feeling silly, feeling ridiculous actually, heart racing, mouth dry, trying to feel “comfortable” in all this strange feeling gear I FINALLY took a deep breath and I stepped out. I felt completely awkward and my stomach lurched and somewhere I was sure I was going to die.

And then as it almost always does, it all went away, disappeared. I hyperventilated for a second, the water closed over my head and I was in heaven! Not because I’d died either. But because it was as good if not better than I’d dreamed it would be. I’d wanted to scuba dive all my life but waited until I was in my 30’s to try. Go figure. That was a leap in itself, just to sign up for classes. And then the real leap happened, right into the pool. I didn’t want to ever get out.

To be honest, stepping off the edge of the pool, or doing a back roll off the side of a rocking boat has never, and will likely never be, my favourite part. But I can do it without too much effort because I KNOW that what happens right after I take that leap is more than worth the twinge, even the agony. It is beyond heavenly.

So I’ve spent a lot of years using that metaphor with myself to make leaping easier. Still working on that. It works really well in my head. But my sympathetic nervous system isn’t having any of it. That system is flawless, sort of, in what it does. It is very good at “keeping me safe” but it’s also incredibly good at making me miss out on life, things I shouldn’t miss out on, don’t want to miss out on.

Working on getting my parasympathetic nervous system working a little better. The one that helps you relax, rest, rejuvenate, have a little fun. The one that tells you hey, all is well, relax a little.

We are all going to experience many things in life that require us to take a leap if we really want to live the life we are meant to live, deserve to live. What’s that saying?

I never said it would be easy. I just said it would be worth it.

I think that pretty much sums it up. So go on, take a deep breath

And LEAP!

In that moment where you are sure you’re about to die, you will find what being alive really feels like.

©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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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How to grieve. There’s been numerous books written on the subject. There’s been thousands, no millions of people who have experienced it and even helped others through it. But as grieving mother Jennifer Ruef poignantly puts it,

In the years since Edison died, I have asked myself “What if?” and “Why?” If only we hadn’t gone out that day. If I had not tried to progress him from his feeding tube to regular foods. I have sought book after book trying to find an instruction manual on how to grieve. It doesn’t feel like I am doing it right. It doesn’t get better. It gets worse.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross famously wrote about the stages of dying and grieving. I studied them often as a social work student. I worked with grieving families. I thought I understood grief.

Now I realize that was like thinking you understand water because you’ve been to a lake. And then you go to the ocean. I have Denied, been Angry, Bargained and have been Depressed. There is also an A, Acceptance. At least, she said there is.

From the article on CNN.com A Mother’s Grief

The family unexpectedly lost their 6 year old son Edison in 2011 not long before he would have started school. Now their younger son Donovan has reached that same milestone and she is finding it even harder than she could ever have imagined. Baby brother is now forever surpassing older brother. It’s the little things that you don’t think about that suddenly make you catch your breath. It doesn’t matter how much training, how much reading, how much experiencing through others pain you go through. It doesn’t seem to change how impossibly hard, how tortuously painful the experience is.

While I might not be able to imagine accurately what a person going through this truly feels, and let’s face it, I really don’t want to, it doesn’t stop us from being kind. It doesn’t stop us from choosing to be patient and understanding, even if we don’t quite understand.

So, two boys age 6 have taught their mommy many lessons. Most of all they have taught me that your heart can smile and break all at one time and will do so daily.

My heart is just beginning to heal. But while still broken, I will smile for Donovan. I will smile for Edison. I will smile that my grief journey has been mine, and not like those written in books. I may not be doing it correctly, I may be doing it for too long, but like my children, I am doing it with everything I have.

And somewhere in the middle of it all, the healing begins. Tiny and almost insignificant, but it starts. And with a little nurturing it grows. Although your life can never be the same again, you slowly begin to live again.

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©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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What are you doing today?

Is it worth remembering?

It’s up to you and only you. Enjoy the power.

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©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Now if that isn’t a reason to open your life to love and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciation we don’t know what is!

So, today, right now, right here.

You really have nothing to fear.

After all, spring has sprung.

Time to get some growing done.

Whether it’s outside or in.

You know it’s time to begin.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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