Standing On Your Own Feet

Last Saturday, we went out to this fabulous outdoor dance event called “Lindy by the bay”. It was a warm sunny afternoon, and lots of people were out dancing. Ever since we 674_bac_fea_swingdance2_032707had two kids, we don’t go out dancing as much as we used to, but every time I have a chance, I ask myself why we don’t do this more often. That Saturday I danced with one of the best dancers in San Diego for the first time in a long time (who happens to be the organizer of this event).

I was a little bit nervous as I hadn’t danced for a very long time, but as soon as we got into it, I found myself totally in tune with his lead and it was so much fun. While dancing with him, I remembered this simple fact that in order for both a leader and a follower to have a great dance, both of them have to stand on their own feet. There is this lead/follow concept in a couples dance, and as a follower, I would follow my dance partner’s lead and go where he leads me to go – but I need to stand (dance) on my own feet. If I don’t have control over my own body or where I’m going, I might crush into my partner or someone else.

I thought that this is like a relationship. In order for a couple to truly enjoy each other and the relationship, or “the dance”, both parties need to be on their own feet. This doesn’t mean that they can’t support each other or lean one another at times. But when you are in a relationship, being your own person is very important. When you know and love yourself, and accept yourself for who you are, that’s when you don’t “need” the other person to make you happy. Dancing with a great leader reminded me of these things and that’s another reason why I love it – sometimes great ideas come to me while having an amazing dancing experience.

Just By Being There

A few days ago, my friends from Japan who live here in San Diego called me to smilelet me know that they were heading to the hospital to have a baby, and that they’d call when they need my help with translating (English – Japanese). Sure enough, about an hour later, the husband called back as they needed some help at the hospital triage. He handed his phone to the nurse and she started asking me some questions. Unfortunately the phone line was breaking up, and before I could translate anything, it got disconnected. They somehow managed to get their point across without my help and by the time he called again, they were already taken up to the room where she’d deliver the baby. I went to sleep at midnight. The baby was born early the next  morning. Today I visited them at the hospital and got a chance to meet with the brand new baby boy. He was sleeping so peacefully and I got a chance to hold him. When I apologized to my friend for not being able to be of much help when her husband called, she said “It was enough to know that you were there on the other side of the telephone”.

Later that day I looked back at that visit and thought, how nice it was for her to say that. Even when I couldn’t be of much of help on the phone, they appreciated me. The mere sense of my presence where they couldn’t even see or hear me gave them some comfort and confidence to get through one of  life’s major events.  I think that we sometimes don’t give enough credit to ourselves for how powerful we all are, and how much of a positive impact we are making to other people’s lives just by being there. If you happen to feel sad or discouraged, remind yourself that your showing up or even just a smile might have made someone’s day brighter today.  If someone made a difference in your life today, or you are the receiving end of someone’s kindness, why don’t you tell them know what it meant to you and how much you appreciated it? Trust me, it feels good to be appreciated!

Gift of Giving

Today I attended a San Diego Women’s Foundation membership committee meeting. I’ve been a giving_moneymember since 2008 and was selected to be a 2008 “class coordinator”, meaning that I am in charge of encouraging people who joined in 2008 to attend events and meetings. This is a unique organization in a sense that we give out a certain amount of money to different worthy organizations, but we do not do any fundraising event. The money comes from membership contribution ($2000 a year). The idea is that there is a limitation of what $2000 individually can do, but if we pull every member’s contribution together, we can collectively do a lot more things that are beneficial to the community. Continue reading

Vision Board

Last night I attended “4th Annual Making the Most of Your Personal Strategy New Year Kickoff” event where a group of women got together and each of us created a vision board for 2010. This event was hosted by Ms.Angie Swartz, a founder of Six Figure Moms Club. She is a radio show host, an author, and a social media specialist who owns her own company called “Square Martini Media”. Moreover, she is also a source of inspiration to many of us working women and mothers. At the vision-board-11beginning of the event, she asked who had attended this event last year, the year before….and I realized that this was my 4th time attending this event. She again hired Dining Details to cater the food for the evening – the owners and chef couple Julie and Robbie cooked scrumptious appetizers and desserts while we enjoyed sipping wine, chatted among ourselves, flipped through magazines and cut out images that spoke to us for our vision board. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to connect, and take time to think about what we wanted to focus on this year. Continue reading

“Life Changing Events”

We all have experienced events in our lives which have affected us profoundly. When we talk about those events, we often use this phrase ”It totally changed my life”. Events such as living 1830027840_8335581a99abroad, going to Zimbabwe to work on an HIV/AIDS project, the experience of giving birth to babies, attending a self-development courses….all of which are my own life changing events. Life changing events are not always pleasant – I am certain that some people would say that losing a family member or a close friend affected them significantly. I know many people who have said that the 9/11 event changed their lives. For me personally, losing Miroku would qualify as one of such events. The other day, I came across a phrase; One of the simplest forms of prayer is to say “Life is a gift from God”. When I saw it, I thought, “yeah, don’t I know it” with a mixture of gratitude and sadness. A part of me is very happy that I do (know that statement to be true), but a part of me feels that I wish I would not be aware of that so keenly. Continue reading

What’s Your 3 Words For 2010?

New year or not, I almost always have some kind of goals to work on, but as I wrote in my last blog post, I did not feel like making any big resolutions for this year. Instead, I adopted this simple 775368469_0ac9e39d12rule that I will do at least one thing that has a positive impact in my life, everyday,  and so far it has been working out great. It has been only a week into the New Year, and I am finding so many things I do daily which have a positive impact in my life. My personal favorite is “not having sweets at the office”. It is the time of the year when people come back from different places they visited over the holiday and we have endless supply of sweets that tempt me – chocolate, cheesecake, cupcake, you name it. It has only been three days since I got back to work, but so far I am keeping it. Continue reading

Happy New Year

As many of you know by now, I grew up in Japan. Here in the U.S., the New Year holiday is relatively quiet in comparison to the Xmas holiday. Where I come from, in contrast, the New Year holiday is a great deal, even bigger than Xmas. The first few days of January are called happy-new-yearO-sho-gatsu” and it is a time for the entire family to get together and eat well, kids receive “O-toshi-dama”(money in a small envelop) from family and relatives, people visit temples and shrines, and watch special new year sporting events such as a famous long-relay marathon takes place between Tokyo and Hakone on January 2nd and 3rd. Most businesses are closed at least for 3 days, if not longer. It is also a time to ponder upon the upcoming year, where people wish all the best and good luck to each other and to themselves. Even though I appreciate the weather here in San Diego, I always miss Japan very much at this time of the year. This year, my mother is visiting from Japan and she cooked all the great food I would have had in Japan, and while it is not exactly the same, I still enjoyed the first day of the year 2010. We spent the morning at the Balboa park, visiting science museum and did a mini-train ride with the kids, followed by a picnic lunch. After coming home, I worked out at a 24 hour fitness club which I had not been to since I became pregnant last October. I know, it’s such a cliché to want to start anew in terms of doing exercise and I was afraid that it might be very crowded, but the gym was almost completely empty and I was pleasantly surprised. Continue reading

The Life of Baby Miroku

It was raining really hard and even stormy on Monday this week, highly unusual for San Diego. I canceled my RCB course as I was feeling some pain in my abdomen. Being 16 rain202weeks pregnant, I felt that I needed to take it easy. I lied down in bed and waited for my doctor’s office to open at 9:10. But before that time came, my water broke and I went into a premature labor. My husband and I rushed to the Sharp Mary Birch hospital where we had delivered our two previous children over the past few years. Long story short, our baby was born at 10:31. It was a boy. His heart was no longer beating. According to the doctor who took care of me, it was a miscarriage because it was before 20 weeks – but to me, whatever the correct medical term might be, what happened was that we had our baby boy and he passed away.

As I wrote in my previous post, I had experienced a miscarriage before I had my first child. Ever since that experience, I was very private about my pregnancy – I waited as long as I could to start telling people each time I got pregnant. I’d tell people only I was into 5th months when my regular clothes no longer fit. So this time, only a few people knew that I was pregnant with our 3rd baby. I just had my OB check on Thursday last week, everything was going well, and I was finally into my 5th months, so I was going to tell people at work this week – then Monday came, and this happened. I had to tell them that I “was” pregnant, but I lost our baby, and that I needed a few days off from work. I stayed at the hospital on Monday night as I had to go through a D&C operation. I returned home on Tuesday. I went to work on Wednesday and Friday briefly to take care of some things, but other than that, I stayed home mostly, trying to recover physically and going through the grieving process. Today I had a meeting at the school where I work that I could not reschedule, so I went in for a few hours. Most people did not even know that I was pregnant, much less about what happened, and I could have just let it be. If I had kept quiet and carried normal conversations with people during the few hours I was there, they would not have known anything at all. But I felt this strange desire to start telling people. As painful and sad it is to think or talk about this experience and our dead baby, if I don’t talk about him, nobody would know about him. I wanted people and the world to know that our baby boy existed even for a short period of time. So I decided to write about him.

We named him Miroku. After he came out, I had to go to the operation room to have the D&C procedure performed, and while I was gone, my husband told Miroku some bedtime stories and about his two brothers. After I came back, I held him for a very long time. His eyes were shut and we never heard him cry, but we have this memory of him, with his tiny arms wrapped around himself. He was wrapped by a blue baby blanket and had a tiny yellow hat on. We finally said good-bye to Miroku later that evening.

We called my mentor Susie Walton while this was happening – I wanted to talk to her, as I knew she could help us get through this experience. She later called back and left a message on my cell phone. She said that Miroku came to us, so he could experience our love. Obviously, I would have liked it if he had stayed with us longer. If I had known that our time was so limited, would I still have wanted him to come to us? I also reached out to my other mentor Pamela Dunn after I came home on Tuesday. We talked on Wednesday, and she helped me work through some of the regrets I had about what happened. She suggested this beautiful “what if”. What if Miroku’s soul needed to be healed by love, before he had to move onto other place to do whatever he needed to do? He chose us to be his parents and stayed with us for 16 weeks. Now that his soul was healed by our love, he had to say good-bye. When I heard Pam say this, I felt something shift in my heart. Until that moment, I had been so focusing on things I wish I could have done better or differently before this whole thing happened. But if he came to us because he wanted to be loved so his soul could heal, I can say that we did the best we could – after he was born, he was never left alone in the room, he was held by either my husband or myself for the whole time – we told him about his brothers, how much we love him, and how much we’d have loved to take him home. We took some pictures, and I video taped my husband talking to our children while holding Miroku, so that they could someday learn about their younger brother. I hope that Miroku’s soul was filled with love by the time we had to say good bye.

There is no point or conclusion to this post as it’s a grieving process that I am going through – I am trying to take one day at a time. I’ve been crying my eyes out every day and I don’t think it will stop anytime soon. My role model Chris Guillebeau whom I had a pleasure to meet back in September has a favorite quote that he posts occasionally, and I dug through his tweets to find it. I think this somehow fits into this situation so I’ll end this post with that quote;

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Dr Seuss

Gift of Life

This is a post inspired by Joseph Jin who is a reader of my blog and occasionally leaves comments. The below is a part of his comment on my blog post “Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind”, which was written back in June this year.

“…..Also, your comment about Nausicaa giving her life without calculation made me think: Calculation is typical of a mind which is afraid to embrace death and sacrifice; a calculating mind is practically equal to the mortal state of being, since anyone conscious of mortality will fear death. Nausicaa did not calculate this way, and this is what I think brought her across into the state of immortality. Not Nausicaa’s life, but life itself is what Nausicaa embodies. Always dying, always immortal. Ikiru. So Miyazaki, so Japanese. There’s no mistaking this film’s continued influence and popularity”

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Happy Holidays

For most people in the United States, this week is commonly described as “Thanksgiving holiday”. I kid-birthday-cakegrew up in Japan and moved to the U.S. only 7 years ago, so this is one of the holidays that I don’t have lots of memories about. After having moved here, I have participated in some of the customs, such as eating turkey with cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie (I have never cooked one – my husband has once, when we first moved to San Diego. Continue reading