Tag Archives: Life

Hajime’s Story

Last weekend I assisted the Remembrance course. It had special meaning to me because of the participants I personally enrolled. One such participant, Hajime, is 18 years old and has ALS disease. We raised enough money for him and his mother, and I was pleased to see them both on Friday evening at the Indigo Village which was where the course took place.  Even though I trusted that this course will “help” Hajime, I did not know what kind of expectations he or his family had coming in, nor how exactly it could help him. I maintained a poker face while they were settling in their seats before the course begun, but to be honest, I was terrified.

The Remembrance Course takes place a few times a year in San Diego. What happens during this course is that participants take turns to get up to stand in front of the class and introduce themselves by sharing – they talk about what they want to get out from this course, what challenges they are facing, and how they would like their lives to be different. Instructors guide the person in the spotlight, and everyone in the room, both participants and assistants help to take part in this process. Everyone’s turn looks different as there is no cookie-cutter format for each person to get what he or she is there to get.

Hajime was the last one to go on Saturday. Most participants had not been informed about his illness until that point. When it was finally his turn and the instructor told the group about it, I felt like I could hear what is going on in their heads.  We talked about ALS and his fear and sorrow. We discussed how trying not to feel pain or sadness also limits the extent you feel joy and happiness, because you can’t take just “good” parts in life – it’s a package. If you try to numb yourself so you won’t feel seemingly negative feelings, you also won’t get those feelings at the other end of the spectrum. Also, we helped him see that it is his responsibility to keep the friends whom he can express his honest emotions with.

After that, we were instructed to tell Hajime what we had learned from him – not from a place of feeling sorry for him, because that would not help him in moving forward, but from a place of love and gratitude. We each took turns to tell him how courageous he was for being there, how caring he was towards his mother and how bright his smile was and how much his presence in the course encouraged them. His mother was the last one to share, and she told him what a tremendous gift he has been to her and the entire family, and how much she love him. As a mother, I couldn’t help but feel for her. The thought of losing a child is one of the fears all parents may have to deal and live with, even if there was no obvious reason to fear.  This possibility becoming a reality because of a specific reason likes this – it is something a mother should not have to go through. During this course, Hajime and his mother learned that it is okay and safe to express those feelings of fear and sadness, even to each other. They learned how not to take the responsibility of making the other person happy, and that way, they can feel safe to be upset or sad in front of the other person and be comfortable with all of those emotions. I believe that lesson was the real gift. I would love to build such relationship with my two sons when they are older.

After the course, I had a chance to talk more with Hajime. He had a very different facial expression than when I first saw him on Friday. His eyes were twinkling with excitement. He was so happy to feel everyone’s love, and he shared with us what his plans are for his future; returning to assist the course in April, graduating high school, going on to his dream school in San Francisco, assisting this course for teens…. He couldn’t stop talking about the course and said that more people should know about this course. I was relieved that the course had such a positive impact on him – and more than that, I learned to take a chance in inviting someone if I think that this is beneficial for him or her, despite the fear of rejection, or the possibility of this experience turning out not so great. As Susan Jeffer said, feel the fear and do it anyway, because the possible outcome is just too great not to give it a chance. The next Remembrance course is from April 29th through May 1st and you can enroll here.

Birthday Resolutions

This past Wednesday was my birthday. Since I put a list of birthday resolutions I made last year here, I decided to follow up on how it turned out as well as writing new ones.

birthday-cupcake<Last year’s Birthday Resolutions>
1.    Fully graduate from my current day job
2.    Complete Evolution Series Instructor Training
3.    Live my ideal day at least 3 days a week
4.    Meet with Chris Guillebeau in person
5.    Create more music, including learning to play guitar
6.    Learn to cook better & more often
7.    Learn to meditate

I accomplished #1, #2 and #4. Chris and I have since become friends. Through him,  I  have expanded my circle of good friends. I met Leslie in person when we went to Japan this past March, and I’ve been working with Masa on a project together after meeting with him on twitter. I am grateful about these “en”, or 縁 (a Japanese word meaning “chance meeting”).

As for other items, it’s a work in progress – I didn’t make the time to play guitar – I became pregnant in October of 2009, and I made getting enough sleep a priority. I remember telling my friend Henry that I am too tired to stay up and learn the chords, and he jokingly told me that he understands – “having a bun in the oven does that to you”. My youngest son, Miroku was here on Monday, December 7th, leaving delicate foot prints in our hearts. He left us that day.  Come to think of it, I haven’t touched my guitar or piano since then. His story can be found here and here. Maybe it’s time to start playing piano again.

Learn to meditate and learn to cook – I’m working on it too. I have to admit that after leaving my full time job, making the time to cook became more challenging, which was surprising to me. Working from home has its own challenges. Being able to set your own schedule is definitely one of the advantages but it could also be a disadvantage if you are not highly disciplined. Charlie Gilkey dispelled the myth about having more time when you work for yourself when he said that “Don’t think that work/life balance issue will disappear when you become independent and start working for yourself.” I have now experienced it first hand. In a way, the line between work and play blurred. On one hand I “get to” do this for living now, and it doesn’t feel like work when I write a blog post or chatting on twitter or being on a Skype call, and because of that, I tend to do that any time of the day. However, I have realized that I need to balance that with the family time, couple time and time for myself. I suppose that it’s a challenge that self employed people all face and I will be better at creating more balance as I continue this path.

So what are the new birthday resolutions?

1. Publish books
2. Create more balance in daily life
3. Practice yoga and meditation on most days
4. Be fully location independent in my business
5. Express myself more fully and freely to the world

I know some of it might sound vague…#2 and #5 are more like the state of mind I want to keep working on. #1 & #4 are related to my business, #1 is also a way of doing #5. This past year I learned how much I put myself in a box with self-imposed rules, and how much I filter my thoughts and not say things that come to my mind. As an adult, having a filter is a necessary social skill, but in my case it could be limiting myself and get in my way of how I relate to other people. It seems to be limiting my intuition also. I’m hoping doing #3 will help me with that.

OK, your turn! What are your resolutions?

Letting Go

Last week when I was in St.Louis, my mentor Pam took me to this place called “Black Madonna Shrine”. It img_0658was a sacred place to honor all mothers. We walked around a bit and found a place to perform a little ceremony for Miroku (you can read more about Miroku here). Pam blessed Miroku’s picture – she took it in her palms and said that he will never be forgotten, but at the same time, we are letting him go. I placed the picture on a stone surface behind this statue called “life memorial” and put some leaves to cover it.

Today I received a package containing a beautiful silver pendant. On one side it has tiny hands and feet prints, and on the back, it said “Miroku 12/07/2009”. It took me a few seconds to remember who sent this gift, but then I came back to me; this company Juilian & Co, based in Coronado, CA has this service for those who had lost their babies, and I vaguely remembered filling out the form which was in a folder I received at the hospital on the day he died.

It is truly a special gift. I was also happy that looking at those tiny hands & feet and his name on the back did not make me feel sad. It was a celebration of life and a beautiful reminder that he was there. As I write this, I hear my husband’s and our two sons’ voices in the other room, happily singing ABCs. I tell myself, I am blessed, and I can feel that even more deeply now because of Miroku. He will be with us always and in all ways.

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!

My Sister’s Keeper

I recently watched the movie “My Sister’s Keeper”. It is based on a novel with the same title, however the movie differs from the novel slightly. It is about a girl, Anna, whose DNA was my_sisters_keeper_postergenetically designed so she could be a perfect donor to her older sister, Kate, who has leukemia.  In the movie, Anna, age 11, decides to sue her parents seeking to win control of her own body on the grounds of medical emancipation  as she no longer wanted to give her body parts to help her sister due to the potential impact it would have for her own life. Despite this serious theme, I found the movie enjoyable and somewhat uplifting. It was also thought provoking; would  parents really go as far as having another, genetically designed baby so they’d have a perfect donor to their dying child? Where is the line between wanting to do everything within their power to help, and going too far? 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

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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A few months ago, my family and I attended a party at a friend’s house. They have a nice house pool-viewwith a big swimming pool, and it was a hot, sunny day. My younger son has always been curious and adventurous, so we were watching him closely so he wouldn’t jump into the water. Our older one is a little bit more cautious, and I knew that he wouldn’t venture into the water on his own. He was just staying at the pool side,  enjoying picking up toys from the water and throwing them back into the water again.

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