Tag Archives: Marriage

My Peaceful Family Podcast: English episodes in 2013

New Year. New Beginnings.

I started My Peaceful Family Podcast on 2/2/2013, on my son’s 1st birthday.

This show features a guest who meets one of the following criteria.

– Living outside of Japan and/or can talk extensively about life abroad

– Being in a cross-cultural marriage

– Creating a life according to his/her own rules

While most of them are done in Japanese, 11 episodes were done in English in 2013. It comes with a short Japanese intro & epilogue.

Click title to listen.

Vol 2: “Unconventional Lifestyle” with Nathan Agin

Vol 3:”Travel as a Way of Life” with Nathan Agin

Vol 4:”Let’s Talk about Food!”with Nathan Agin

Vol 13: “Love at First Sight” with Yukari & Mark Davidson

Vol 21: “Voices from World Domination Summit

Vol 27: “Japanese Mom, American Dad” with Mari Beal

Vol 28: “Bilingual Education” with Mari Beal

Vol 32: “Just Married!” with Nanae & Mike

Vol 36: “Turning Japanese!?” with Brett English

Vol 44: “Reflecting on the year 2013” with Nathan Agin

Vol 45: “Welcoming New Year” with Nathan Agin

You can find this show on iTunes as well.

“You never know”

この夏、ポートランドとシアトルに家族旅行をしました。シアトル郊外には、私がカリフォルニア州モントレーで通った大学院時代の友達が住んでいます。彼女がカリフォルニア州からワシントン州に引っ越したあと、2001年の冬に初めて彼女を訪ね、そのあとも機会があるごとに会ったり、連絡を絶やさず取りつづけている友人のひとりです。

今年の夏に会ったときは、二人だけでじっくりと話す時間がありました。長い間交際しているパートナーとのことになったとき、彼女は「今までで一番ベストなパートナーシップを築いている相手。結婚して何かが変わってしまってだめになるカップルもたくさんいるから、そうなるくらいなら今のままでいい」と言っていました。パートナーはアメリカの軍勤務で、あと1年半ほどで20年を勤め上げ軍人としてのキャリアは終了するというところ。ちょうど私たちが訪ねていったときは航海の途中で、数週間後に帰るというときでした。数年前に2人でサンディエゴに遊びに来たときに会ったこともある人で、今年の6月ごろ「初めて日本に行くけど、どこかお薦めの場所はあるか」と聞かれ、メッセージを交わしたりしたのです。

その彼が、8月中旬に大好きなバイクのツーリングをしている最中、事故にあって帰らぬ人となったことをFacebookで知りました。あまり突然のことで、少し時間がたった今でも信じられない思いです。Facebookの本人のページには多くの人からメッセージが寄せられ、彼との思い出を語るストーリーや写真が投稿されています。前妻との間に10歳くらいになる男の子がいた彼。友人に子どもが欲しいのかどうか聞いてみたとき、タイムリミットが近いのでもし本気で子どもを持ちたいかもと思ったとき、彼は一緒に考えようと言ってくれていると話していました。

彼女からのFacebookの投稿は、家族や友人に、お葬式の日時や軍隊が彼の写真を集めたいと言っていることなどを淡々と知らせる内容のものが多く、彼女が経験しているであろう悲しみやつらさは測り知れないものがあります。彼の死を知らせる彼女のメッセージには”He died when he was doing what he loved” と書かれていました。2ヶ月ほど離れ離れになっていて、やっと彼女と住む家に帰ってきたその翌日のことだったそうです。本当にいつ、この人生という「旅」が終わりになるのかは誰にもわからないこと。「毎日を悔いのないように生きよう」と言うのは簡単でも、実際にはそれほどたやすいことではありません。それでも、知らせを受けてから日に一度は彼女と、そして彼のFacebookを訪れて、ふたりのストーリーが語られるのをそっと読ませてもらっているのでした。最愛の人に先立たれてしまった友人のこれからに幸あれと強く祈りながら。

Expecting…..

We are expecting to have a baby, due early March in 2012. As usual I had not shared this news with a bigger circle of friends until way later than the first trimester; this time, I had been holding my breath (figuratively) to go beyond 16 weeks because that was when Miroku left us. Now I’m in my 29th week and I feel the baby kicking and moving. That does not guarantee anything, but what’s guarantied in life anyway, right? I am just taking it one day at a time, enjoying this time – most likely the last time that I’ll experience this magical time of having a baby growing inside of me.
***
This summer, I didn’t do much work. Being a freelance has its share of upsides and downsides, because if you lie in bed, not working, then obviously not much work gets done. In my previous pregnancies I worked in an office, so they paid me whether or not I was being productive. But this time I was determined to put this pregnancy to the top of my list of priorities. I knew in my head and heart that it (lying in bed when I needed it) was the best thing and that is what I should be doing. Even then, sometimes I heard voices in my head saying that I should be doing more – getting work done, write one more blog post, responding to emails, and whatever else I had on my “to-do” list that day, week or month.
***
So a few weeks ago, I raised this question during the course I had attended. My teacher and mentor Pam had a brilliant insight as usual – she asked me what I was accountable for when I was resting in bed. Was I being accountable for nurturing my baby, or getting the work done? I said “the former”. But then, she pointed out, I didn’t do a good job of silencing the voice, nudging me to get up and get some work done.  It turned out, I was not consciously choosing to rest. It is a subtle distinction but it makes all the difference. If I chose to do something, I am not doing something else at any given time. Sometimes there is an opportunity cost. But choosing to do something over other things means that I am responsible for the consequences of my choice, and dreading over what I am NOT doing because of the choice I have made was not serving me.
***
The other thing I realized was is that I sometimes expect too much – too much from myself, my abilities, or from life. Maybe sometimes even from other people, like my husband or kids. I sometimes look at my husband and feel like he is a very happy person precisely because he does not expect much from other people. Most of all, he does not expect others to make him happy. For example, when we come home from a trip and when I ask him what the best part of the trip was, his first answer is always “that we came home safe and sound, no one got seriously sick or hurt”. That’s the bottom line and anything beyond that is an icing on a cake.
***
I remember that after we lost Miroku, all I wanted for and from my other kids was that I’ll see them again the next morning. I secretly prayed (and am still praying) that they’d still be alive when I wake up. And yet, it’s amazing to realize how quickly I forget. I don’t think it’s necessarily negative to have expectations; it can be a driving force and source of motivation. But at the end of the day, I want to be grateful for what I have done rather than regretting about things that I have not done. Being conscious about what I am accountable for will help me with that.

“If this is my last night on earth…..”

Enough people (including myself) wrote about Steve Jobs and his passing, but this is my favorite episode of his life;

From “9 things you didn’t know about the life of Steve Jobs”, this one is with the title of “The wife he leaves behind”. It says:

For all of his single-minded dedication to the company he built from the ground up, Jobs actually skipped a meeting to take Laurene on their first date: “I was in the parking lot with the key in the car, and I thought to myself, ‘If this is my last night on earth, would I rather spend it at a business meeting or with this woman?’ I ran across the parking lot, asked her if she’d have dinner with me. She said yes, we walked into town and we’ve been together ever since.”

They met in 1990 and got married in1991 at Yosemite National Park by a Zen Buddhist monk. I can’t imagine what Laurene must be going through in these past few weeks – losing a life partner for over 20 years. As much as she was proud and supportive of the work Steve Jobs have done, I wonder there were days or nights where she wished he would have been with her and their children.  In the end, what matters is whether you found joy in your life, and whether you shared that with someone you love. His story about this love can be an inspiration for people who say they want to find someone to love, but make other things more important than taking the time, and chance, in finding out if the person next to is the one to love.

About My Upcoming Book

As I wrote in this post in January this year, one of my goals was to publish a book. I got a book deal a few month later. I have sent out the final round of revision last week and now I am just waiting for them to send me a finished copy. In the meantime, a few non-Japanese friend asked me what my book will be about, so I decided to write a post.

My book “Cross-Cultural Marriage 101” (Japanese Title: “Kokusai Kekkon Ichinensei”). I wrote this book in Japanese for Japanese people who are seriously considering marrying a non-Japanese person. They can be engaged to get married, or dating a foreign partner for a while, or simply entertaining the idea about it because they think that it might be a better option for them based on their belief formed by their life experiences.

It is a lighthearted, yet serious and insightful book about what Japanese people should be aware of before  entering a marriage with a non-Japanese person, to increase their chances at  successfully creating a happy, long lasting and peaceful family.

I’m working on getting this book to major Japanese bookstores in other countries as well. If you have Japanese-reading friends who could use this book, please let them know about it. They can either get this book on Amazon.com or ask the Japanese bookstores in their town to order from Japan. I’m also in touch with Japanese U.S. Military bases in Japan as it has a special chapter about marrying a U.S. military personnel.

Hopefully I will get English version of this book published next!

Book Contents:

<Chapter 1> Is marrying a non-Japanese person intrinsically more difficult compared to marrying a Japanese person?

1.What’s your “Deal-Breaker”?
2.The reason why “Cross-Cultural Marriage” is said to be more risky
3.Benefit of “Cross-Cultural Marriage”
4.Does love conquer all?
5.Check sheet for your “Cross-Cultural Marriage preparedness”

<Chapter 2>  Why do you want to marry a non-Japanese person?

1.The real reason of why you want to marry that person
2.Be aware of your stereotype “If you are from XXX country, you must be YYY”
3.Is your “Dream life in XYZ country” real or an illusion?
4.The reason why you want to get your family onboard before the wedding day
5.A few words for the parents

<Chapter 3> Did you talk about this yet?

1.Things you need to know before moving to your spouse’s country
2.Things you need to know if you continue to live in Japan with your spouse
3.Your aptitude for a “nomadic” life
4.Could both of you live in each other’s country?
5.Critical factor – Eating habits
6.How good is your foreign language skill?
7.What are your expectations for your spouse’s Japanese language skill?
8.Don’t give up on communication
9.True nature of your relationship
10.Let’s talk about money
11.Do you know “pre-nuptial agreement”?
12.Insurance for rainy days
13.Where would you like to live when you retire?
14.Planning ahead – what happens when your spouse suddenly dies
15.How well do you know your partner’s family?
16.How many kids would you like to have – if any?
17.Raising your cross-cultural children
18.Know the Child Protection Law
19.It isn’t  easy to raise a bilingual child
20.Double income or single income?
21.Pursue independence so you can both be happy
22.How well do you know your partner’s friends and hobbies?
23.What’s your religion?
24.What’s your political view?
25.Your partner’s anger management skills
26.Asking for professional help
27.“Marriage” means to be on the same team
28.If you are marrying a millitary personnel

<Chapter 4> In case of Divorce

1.Increase of divorce rate
2.When divorce doesn’t fix things

<Chapter 5> Happy Cross-Cultural Marriage

1.It’s up to you
2.Get to know your partner’s many faces
3.Success stories

<Epilogue>

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.

The Opposite of Love

Ever since we have taken a weekend course called “Loving Yourself and Others”, my husband and I are both “evolved” in theory, meaning that we accept that we choose how we feel. Nobody can hurt us without our permission, and no one is making us feel a certain way. It’s all in our control. We choose to not say things like “you hurt my feelings” anymore. We both decided to adopt the philosophy that one does not have that much power over the other. If I say “I am hurt by what you said”, what I really mean is “I am choosing to feel hurt by what you said”. Continue reading

Departures

I heard that the Japanese movie “Departures” has finally opened in the U.S. in the past few days. The Japanese title is “Okuribito“, meaning a person who sends out (something or someone).  This movie won an Academy Award for best foreign Departures (Page 1)language film, though I don’t believe many Americans know of this film (and it will most likely not become a blockbuster movie). I watched it about a week ago after borrowing the DVD from my colleague. I cried on several occasions. I was watching it alone, and there were some scenes that made me think of my grandparents, both of which passed away in their own home, at different times. It made me wonder if they were taken care of as well as the ones that were shown in the movie when they were “encoffined” i.e.: being placed in the coffin.

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国際結婚・異国での子育て


子育てという人生で初めての体験を、自分の国を離れて異国でしている日本人の数は年々増えています。私もその一人で、いわゆる「国際結婚」で渡米、現在に至っています。二人目の子どもが生まれる前に、アメリカ人の夫とともに受講した子育てについてのクラスに大変感銘を受けて、この手法をマスターすべく、インストラクターの資格を取った後、これを仕事にしたいと思うようになりました。縁があって受講していただいた日本人のお母さん達と話していて感じるのは、子育てとは本当に手探りで行うものだということです。また、育児書を読んだり色々な話を聞いて情報を得ることはできるものの、もちろん万人に通じる方法なんていうものはなくて、基本的には自分の経験を思い出しながら、これは嫌だったから自分の子どもにはこうしてあげたい、または、こうされて嬉しかったから自分の子どもにもこうしよう・・という試行錯誤の連続ではないでしょうか。 Continue reading