Archives for posts with tag: self care

As 2016 winds down I thought I’d share a story that warmed my heart as a mother and as a human being. Sometimes our kids just do that.

My son works at a hardware store and one of the things he does is cut keys and rekey locks.  The old keys get thrown in a discard bin. So one day when a woman came in requesting to buy new keys for a craft project my son offered to give her an ample supply of discarded keys free of charge.

…And being the typical 19 year old he thought absolutely no more of it.

The next day the same woman arrived back at the store seeking him out. She had a thank you gift for him, a necklace. The key was now stamped with the word HOPE  and an accompanying tag stamped YOU MATTER.

She was on a mission to spread an important message – there is hope and we all matter – every one of us. No matter our past, our present or our future – we all matter. And there is always hope.

My son was fairly blasé about the whole affair.  He came home and shared the story with a somewhat puzzled look on his face. He said he really didn’t understand why she felt the need to thank him (sigh) and while the idea was sorta neat, he didn’t really  think he’d ever wear it. And then this look dawned upon his face and he turned to me. “Mom, this is more like something you’d like…” I graciously accepted the pay it forward gift with a very big smile.

I’m far from perfect, I have to embrace my “flawsome” every single day. Somedays there seems to be more flaw than awesome, but I embrace my humanness as best I can always. Because, after all, that is what I am, human – designed, created or a fluke of nature – unique and human is all I can guarantee. And I always keep a smidgeon of hope tucked away for those days where I’ve misplaced all the rest.

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Today, I pulled the necklace out again, knowing that I would finally take a few minutes to sit down to tell the story.  My daughter noted it with an air of admiration and interest.  She knows sometimes we need to be reminded we matter and there is hope. Some of the best reminders are a little rough around the edges.

With the Pentatonix “Hallelujah” playing in the background my eyes are searching for a place where this necklace can be constant reminder of this oh so important message that strangely, so many forget at this time of year of celebration. I realized today that this necklace isn’t really mine, it’s meant for anyone who needs a little extra reminder that YOU MATTER and that there is most certainly HOPE. So like the other sets of keys in this house, it will hang accessible to anyone who may need use of it at any given moment.

Don’t ever forget….

YOU MATTER

and there is

HOPE

I promise

Don’t ever forget….

 

©2016 JFries/Rise Like Air

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It’s Monday incase anyone needed reminding. However,

mondays

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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An excellent take on relationships, people pleasers and how to set healthy boundaries.

GentleKindness

love me

There are many of us who asked to be loved by a parent who either refused to love us, or was incapable of loving us. This can carry over into adulthood as a disorder called codependence. People who have codependent tendencies also have People Pleaser Syndrome.

The traits of People Pleaser Syndrome include difficulty saying no, a phobia of upsetting people and being around negative emotions, and a tendency to do what others want even if it causes you discomfort or even harm.

This need for approval and love was not gratified as a child, and there is still a longing for approval from others. There can be a confusion between people loving you and people approving of you.

People can approve of your actions because your actions meet their own agenda. This does not necessarily mean that they love you, or even like you. There can be a tendency…

View original post 857 more words

Photo credit: ©2015 J Fries

Photo credit: ©2015 J Fries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Literature Review ends with a sobering thought,

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

While leaving the door open for real change.

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

They also have their final evaluation reports available online here.

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

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

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

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

©2015 JFries/Rise Like Air

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Well, sometimes hiding away and caring for oneself is the answer. Truthfully it usually is the answer.

One step at a time, one foot in front of the other is usually the answer, but it’s how you take those steps. We can put one foot in front of the other while our heads are in the clouds or we’re looking somewhere else – and then, even though it’s one step at a time, we can wander right over the edge of the cliff.

Or, we can put one foot in front of the other with care, watching where we plant our foot to ensure it’s on solid ground. That doesn’t mean we can only look at our feet and the path directly ahead, but taking care where we place our foot as we take that one step at a time can make all the difference in the world in how and when we reach our destination.

The older I get the more I realize that life is about balance and nuances. I’ve also learned that when things get “too good” they change. I used to think it was “bad luck” or the imbalance of life. I’ve finally realized that isn’t the case. It is about the balance of life. I truly believe that regardless of how we got here, “who” put us here, or what will eventually happen; we are here to learn and grow and make a difference. In a nutshell, that’s it. And we’re in total control of how we do that. When things get going really good, that’s when the universe says, “excellent! A+… now for the next class.”

We as humans far too often take the turmoil, the change, the discomfort as being negative, something painful, something to be avoided at almost all cost. Of course there are those who thrive on discomfort and turmoil and wear it like a badge of honour: poor, poor pitiful me.

The important thing to always remember in all ways is that turmoil is almost if not always part of growth, of change – even positive change. Birthing, metamorphosis, sprouting, budding, growing, loving and the list goes on. Everything is about experience and how we choose to embrace or run from the experience. Babies learning to crawl and walk… they embrace the challenge and discomfort! They get frustrated and get over it and try again… even though time and time and time again they fall down and don’t get any where near where they are trying to go – at least not at first. But with the love, support and EXCITEMENT of those around them they just keep trying and they succeed – and then they run and are off to the next challenge without giving the details, or the discomfort one more thought. They revel in the “I did it” mentality… “now what?”

Sometimes we’re like little kids who can’t wait to go to see Santa and get presents but then we have to go sit on his knee and it’s “What the heck! I want my mommmmmmmy NOOOWWW!! Keep the present just get me away from this big red, furry, smelly looking thing.”

We want to grow, we want to do things we want we want we want – and then we run in abject terror because there are all these little unknowns, these little fears and all of a sudden, even though we can see the prize…. we duck our heads down, close our eyes, cover our ears and say “no no no no no, not right now. I’m actually good just the way I am thank you.”

But when we do that, we miss out on that gift. The very thing we actually asked for, the thing we were so excited about, the thing that we might even need, just because, we’re a little afraid to step out and take a bit of a risk, ever so slight. We’re willing to give up the prize just so we can stay comfortable.

But eventually, even if we don’t admit it…. we become uncomfortable with our comfort and we regret not taking any of those risks. We feel trapped. The good news? These opportunities to grow don’t go away; there’s always one waiting in the wings. They wait patiently for us until we’re ready. When we finally take the opportunity, the universe is quite happy to give us that A+ and say “great, you’re ready for the next class!”.

Sometimes the path is a little rockier in a section and sometimes shadows make it difficult to navigate. You still try to enjoy the scenery, but are careful where you plant your feet. Falling off the edge – not an option.

You know what though?  Even when it’s so dark you just want to sit down and just stay where you are because you’re too scared that you’ll misstep and fall, you make it one tiny step at a time. It can take awhile to realize that if you don’t move you’ll never get anywhere, you would sit there and ultimately rot. Not an option. So you wait patiently, let your eyes adjust to the dimness and then slowly and carefully begin to walk again, one foot carefully placed in front of the other. For awhile all you can focus on is your foot and inches of the path in front of it. But the farther along you go the dimness becomes brighter. While you’re still navigating a path strewn with rocks and even some boulders, you can see your way now.  You keep putting one foot carefully in front of the other until you are where you need to be and then you will be ready to start again, on whatever path is before you.

What helps the dimness become even brighter? Friends can be a big part of that, those who offer support in different ways and stick by you, even when its in a very quiet way.

To everyone who is a friend to someone in need, I hope you enjoy the song, “Thank You For Being A Friend”.

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