Tag Archives: Travel

Revive Your Dream (World Domination Summit 2014)

The 4th annual World Domination Summit (#WDS2014) concluded last Sunday. I have been attending this summit since the year 1 – but this time I participated as an ambassador (=volunteer to help out running the show).  I have always been curious about the ambassador team with different color shirt from the rest of us, and after attending as a participant for 3 years, I wanted to see how it’s like to be on the other side. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. Throughout the few days of being an ambassador, I found myself wanting to sing the Lego Movie theme song “Everything is Awesome” as the lyrics goes “everything is awesome when you are a part of a team”.  I did watch the movie with my boys so I know this is not necessarily a song about being unconventional or remarkable, but all jokes aside, being an ambassador was unique and wonderful way to experience WDS.

Since I was a part of the team that focused on making the attendee experience as great as possible and helping out with whatever and where-ever was needed, I really can’t write much about main stage speakers – this is not to say that I didn’t catch any of it. I was able to see about 50% of the speeches. But I was always “on duty” and constantly looking at the clock on my phone so I was not late for the next task, so I was not fully present while sitting in the audience.  I also sat different parts of the theater as opposed to the front rows where I always sat over the past three WDS (which explains a fair amount of my pictures on flicker stream from past WDS!) As a result, my level of engagement or excitement for the content of speech was very different from the past years. I look forward to catching those speeches once they become available in a few months – from talking to my friends or reading others’ blog post, I know they got a lot of inspiration out of them.

Being an ambassador was a fun experience. I loved being able to say hi to anybody, smile or attemptto give high-five without being self-conscious about it because of the orange shirt I was wearing. I do not consider myself introvert – I am right in the middle based on the test Daniel Pink recommended in his book – but being an ambassador pushed me to be extra friendly or open to talk to anyone, asking where they are from or if this was their first time attending WDS. I know I could have done all those things as a regular attendee too, but the orange ambassador shirt empowered me to do more, and also pushed me to stretch myself even when I felt tired and didn’t feel like it. Because of that, this WDS became the year I talked to the most people in all of the years I have attended. I also got to know more about other ambassadors and core team members. They are truly devoted, committed group of people. Jollie Guillebeau (Chris’s wife) reminded us right before the closing that WDS could not happen without this team and that is true. I was happy and proud to be a part of the team who believe in the vision of WDS.

At the closing, Chris did something to make me all teary. The team and he selected 4 attendees to be on stage, and after showing their vision for their future captured in the video they shot during the registration, he announced how they’d help them realizing their visions. He said “We can’t help everyone. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help someone”. One of the four people who received this incredible gift was clearly overcome by sense of shock and joy, and crying. Seeing her face got me crying too. Later when I congratulated her in person, she said it was a miracle. Of course Chris didn’t forget to remind everyone that they still have to do the work, it wasn’t like he or WDS made their dream come true. But he also said that all of us have a responsibility to help others with their dreams as well.

This last segment made me think of my past 4 years of attending WDS and what it all meant to me. Here is a short recap of what has transpired since the first WDS.

WDS 2011 – I didn’t know what to expect but I signed up right after it was announced just because Chris invited us to do so (I was and still am a true fan). It was much smaller event with just 500 attendees. Iremember the ice sculpture of the globe at the opening party and thinking “they do things differently here” as I had never seen one at a conference…. I enjoyed every minute of it including a Bollywood dance lesson during the official programming on the main stage by DJ Prachant. Yup, it really is a tradition to have him at WDS! Credit to Chris for finding such talent and bringing him in. You can read about my experience of the inaugural WDS here.

WDS 2012 opened with a keynote speech by Dr.Brene Brown who blew away everyone with her own act of vulnerability. Then at one of the attendee-lead sessions, I was so inspired to learn that someone from my own town took immediate action after the first WDS…that person was Gregory Berg, he started Radio Enso after the first WDS and he was presenting how to start a podcast show in a workshop! I was almost shocked and felt like “what did I accomplish this past year?” Looking back, I did have a baby between the first and second WDS, so I should probably cut myself some slack, but in any case, I remember thinking that I need to do something before coming back again. At the end of the last main stage speech, Chris shocked everyone with the gift of $100. WDS 2012 was truly magical from the beginning till the end. 7 months later, I used that $100 to purchase some microphones and a mixer, and I started my own podcast show. I continue to produce one show a week ever since its launch and as of this writing, 74 episodes have been released.

At WDS 2013, Darren Rowse talked about dream. Then he had Clare Bowditch perform a beautiful song and he re-appeared wearing a superman costume. His speech and Clare’s song planted seed in my mind and on my flight home, I decided to revive my dream of moving to Japan with my husband and kids for a few years – a dream I had shared with my friend Eddie Hori (@mehori) at the first WDS, but had given up after we had our third baby.  After returning home from this experience at WDS 2013, there was a big meetup in September with San Diego WDS group, and I told my friends there that I am committed to do everything in my power to make it happen.

Then, one month before this year’s WDS, it became clear that we are moving to Japan in one of the best ways we imagined possible. I saw Darren Rowse at the opening party, so I had to share this story with him – that it was him who inspired me to reconnect with my dream, and that 12 months later it is about to become a reality. He said he came back to WDS this year partly because he wanted to hear what people did with their dreams. From that perspective, this year’s WDS really felt like a celebration. Speaking of celebration, WDS has always closed with an epic party, but this year was extra special – I somehow ended up dancing on stage in the end (I believe it was the power of orange shirt), and WDS designated “party closer” DJ Prachant gave me a gift of having everyone sing Happy Birthday for me after the party ended at midnight as my birthday officially began.

I am about to embark on a new journey at the end of summer with my husband and three kids, and I have many more dreams I will pursue. At the same time, I am also curious how I could be of help to other people’s exploration of their vision. I’d like to encourage you to share your own dreams publicly, if only initially just with close friends. I, for one, would love to help in any way I can if you dare to share your dream with me.

*Photos by Armosa  Studios & Gregory Berg

World Domination Summit 2013 (#WDS2013)

This year’s World Domination Summit (WDS) was different in a few ways. The biggest difference was the size; there were more people this year than previous years with over 2800 participants from 33 countries. I also traveled a lot more distance to get there unlike last two years (See my previous post for details). Here is the brief summary of my experience.

・Speakers & Workshops

My #1 favorite speaker was Jia Jiang who spoke about how he overcame the fear of rejection. His experiment of “rejection therapy” where he deliberately seeked rejections by asking outrageous things such as driving a police car or flying airplane was very inspiring. You can watch one of such experiment on his YouTube video. I heard from many attendees that they would like to do the same thing in order to overcome their own fear of rejection. Often we talk ourselves out of pursuing what we really want because we are afraid. Jia Jiang beautifully articulated how he built an intimate relationship with fear of rejection so he could go for what he wanted without being afraid.

I also enjoyed two musical performances; Clare Bowditch sang this song called “Amazing Life” at the end of Darren Rowse‘s presentation.  On the 2nd day, Steve Schalchlin who is living with HIV/AIDS performed his own songs while playing the piano, singing about the days of his struggle, later accompanied by Portland Gay Men Chorus. These musical performances were  played with such heart and soul  that they brought tears in my eyes.  Judging from the looks on the other attendees, I believe I was far from alone. I was reminded how powerful the human voice can be.

One of the workshops I attended was with Danielle LaPorte from Canada. She had many “quotable” suggestions. I have always enjoyed her talks very much as her words always come from her heart. She spoke about desire mapping and how to find one’s core desires. A few of the memorable phrases are:

“Your journey of exploration could be moneytizable”

“Love at first sight can happen when you trust it can happen”

“What if joy is your birthright?”

“Beauty is a powerful door-opener”

“Imprint yourselves with victories”

“Obsess yourself about being useful”

“Real men love curves” – this one came in response from a question about women and body image issue. She also said “either deal with it or learn to accept it”. I believe this is true for other aspects of life.

・Friends & Attendees

WDS is not just about speakers on main stage or breakout sessions. Meeting with other attendees is a core aspect of WDS. On Friday night at the Oregon Zoo, I saw lots of familiar faces from the past 2 years. Also, I became a part of a San Diego WDS group last November and we had several meetups this past 6 months, so seeing many of them again in Portland was really nice. Knowing so many people made me feel more comfortable than the past two years in social settings. I was particularly happy and proud when one of our San Diego friends won the Unconventional Race. Well done Oliver!!

・Parties!

When I told someone that this was my 3rd WDS, he said that “you must really like the parties”. I never thought of WDS as a party, but it is true. They know how to throw good parties! The opening ceremony was at Oregon Zoo with a marching band playing music while doing all kinds of crazy tricks. For the closing ceremony, they blocked off “Pioneer Square” which is at the center of downtown, and following the WDS tradition, Bollywood dance kicked off the party. In both places I had lots of fun, partly because of the music and dance, but also it was a great opportunity to connect with the old friends as well as make new ones. Of all 3 years of WDS, I had the best time at the parties this year as I knew a lot more people this time around, and it also made it easier to meet new people during this time.

Also I did a river cruise on Saturday evening where 400 WDS attendees got on a cruise ship called “spirit”. I had a good time on the cruise – I enjoyed meeting with other attendees, looking at the scenery along the coast, a view of the Portland bridges which are very unique, and beautiful sunset.  To top off an already fine voyage,  the  excursion included  swing dancing with a fellow attendee named Trevor whom I also danced with at the last year’s closing party.

・The Toast

At the closing, close to 3000 peop      le in the theater toasted with apple cider (Chris was cracking jokes on how they came to chose this beverage while close to 3000 glasses of apple cider were being distributed throughout the theater) . It was quite a view. Every year, the ending closes with bittersweet feelings as I always feel that I don’t want it to end. I must admit that I didn’t particularly love having to wait a long time to get in the main building or workshop venues, but it is true that all of the attendees are what make this event so special and that is what makes me want to come back.

・The Team

Don’t forget the amazing team of “Ambassadors”!  I felt so much love coming from them each time we walked into the theater, and a few different ambassadors helped me throughout the weekend, all of them equally helpful and very friendly. WDS came out of Chris Guillebeau’s mind but the team truly embraced his vision and created something really magical. If I lived in Portland, it would be a team I’d love to be a part of.

・Next  step

I wrote most of this blog on a flight going back to Japan. I also wrote my new goals on another list, with specific “next step” for each one. I am excited to get it started, and I will share them here in coming days.

Journey to Portland, OR (#WDS2013)

I attended the World Domination Summit(WDS) in 2011 and 2012 and had a wonderful experience in both years. This year, however, I almost did not go back.

I’m from Japan and I’ve been living in San Diego since 2002. My husband and I now have 3 sons, ages 6, 5 and 16 months old. This year, we decided to go back to Japan as a familyfor 6 weeks, starting early June, so our oldest son could have the experience of attending a school in Japan for one month. It was what I’ve always wanted to do, so I did not purchase the ticket for WDS2013. I told myself that I could not go to WDS this year.

January came around, and a good friend of mine said, it would be nice if I came. Yes, it would. Then I asked myself – why wouldn’t I?

I then realized that I was putting myself in a box – a box that is made up in my mind, putting myself in the roles such as being a mother or a wife. The self-talk sounded like “I should not go because I’m a mom of 3 kids including a baby”, “Japan is so far away from Portland, OR”, “I should not leave my husband at my parents house, that’s just not what a good wife & daughter would do”.

But then I remembered how capable my husband is in taking care of our sons, or how my parents and my husband get along well enough that they would be fine without me for a few days.

When I pitched this idea of me leaving for a few days for something I really cared about, they were very supportive. They didn’t reject me. They had already embraced who I am a long time ago and they continue to be the most supportive people in my life.

This experience reminded me that you have to be vigilant, constantly keep watch on your self-talk, and keep these “shoulds” or “shouldn’ts” in check. A quick recap of WDS2013 will follow in the next post, but I wanted to write about the journey to get to Portland, OR this summer and how grateful I am for my family. Making the round trip Tokyo – Portland just for the weekend was a crazy thing to do, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it was well worth it.

Meet Nathan Agin

Nathan Agin came into our lives about 2 weeks ago. Here is what I knew before I decided to open up our place for him to stay: He is a traveler, a foodie, a fellow World Domination Summit (WDS) attendee, and he comes with great cooking skills. He was all of that and then some.
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During the past two weeks, we had a pleasure of having him around. He cooked for us, showed us what more we could do with our Vitamix (ultra-blender), how he decides what to eat, not to eat and why. He greatly influenced my thoughts about healthier food choices – now my breakfast is green smoothie instead of bread or cereal.  He did this not by telling me what to do but by showing that you can actually make healthy stuff that are delicious.
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He was also very kind and always willing to help out. Not only did he give me some tips on how to create a podcast, he was happy to be interviewed by me for my podcast program. We had lots of fun discussing WDS, travel and food. It will be available for the world to listen once the show launches in coming months.
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There was also an unexpected event during his stay. One day when he was in our place by himself, he noticed that his stuff on the kitchen counter top is wet with water. He realized that water was leaking from the ceiling, and he went upstairs to see what was going on and talked to the upstairs neighbors. That’s something I would not have done if I was staying at someone’s house by myself, but he did, because he is just that kind of a guy, always looking for a solution, taking action, and goes above and beyond when called for.
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For a young, single guy, he is also very good with kids. Our middle son loved to climb on him or sit on his lap and watched him do stuff on his computer. He has been travelling past 2.5 years, and mostly couch-surfed, so he lived at a variety of settings and with different people. When I asked kids what they remember most about Nathan, our oldest said “he didn’t act like a guest. He was like a family or someone in charge, like cooking stuff”. Our middle son said “He loves to hike. And travel”. In short period of time, Nathan had huge impact on our family.
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On our last day together, we went to a meditation garden in Encinitas – one of my favorite places. It was a gorgeous day and we were standing at the top of a hill looking over the ocean. We talked about some deep topics such as who we really are if we are not defined by what we do. As we said good-bye in front of Starbucks in Encinitas (omnipresent temporary office for nomadic people), I wondered if he will continue travelling or possibly change course, as he shared (both online and in person) some of his thoughts that came up in considering his next move.  I sensed that he is partly afraid of stopping now because of this question: who will he be if he is not travelling?
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As I started writing this post, I continued to ponder this question. Who are you if you are not doing all the stuff that are (in your mind) making you an interesting person? And it occurred to me. We tend to think that we are what we do, and people like us because of our ability to do something. But is that really true? Yes, he might not be the “food and travel guy” if he doesn’t travel anymore. But that does not mean he will stop being all the things he already is; kind, intelligent, helpful, upbeat, motivating, fun-loving and adventure-seeking. We are not defined by what we do , but who we are will guide us to choose what we do – or rather, who we are will show up in EVERYTHING we do, even during the process of “trying to figure it out”. I will continue following his path on his blog, and will see him in Portland, OR at the third annual WDS in July. Whether he will continue travelling or not, I will cheer him on his journey as a friend. Thank you, Nathan, for enriching our lives. Until we meet again!

World Domination Summit 2012

World Domination Summit 2012 ended last Sunday. It was my 2nd time to attend this conference (I wrote about the first one here). This year, it was twice the size from last year, and it was amazing to see this beautiful theater filled with 1000 attendees. What’s more, apparently some 5000 more people wanted to come.

The most memorable speaker for me was Brené Brown. I wasn’t familiar with her work before I heard her speak, but I am now a fan. She talked about vulnerability.  The topic happened to coincide with an area I’ve been  working on these past few years. Most of us are so afraid of being or feeling vulnerable. She then talked about the value of keeping our heart open even when we want to shut down, withdraw or hide, because that is what keeps us connected with people, and with the world. It’s what makes us feel. She said that “the capacity to be wholehearted can’t be greater than your willingness to be heartbroken”.

After seeing her speak, and sharing the experience of singing the song “Don’t stop believing”, a popular song by Journey, with everyone in the theater full of people, I remember thinking “this alone was worth coming here”. You can read a back story of this occurring in a blog post by Brandon Sutton, who took over the microphone from Chris (in picture) after a while. Reading Brandon’s post reminded me that nothing is quite how it seems on surface, as he looked calm and confident as if he was practicing for this performance…

Then there was Cal Newport, author of “How to be a high school superstar”. He talked about how thefamiliar advice of “Follow your passion” is a bad career advice, based on his research and discovery. He said that nothing is quite as simple as the phrase suggests. He talked about the value of craftsmanship, spending 10,000 hours or more to be truly great at something, how we all should want to strive for mastery – and how the most satisfied and happy people at their jobs share common “patterns” in their career paths. When you come to this kind of conference and hear the speakers talk, you might think that the people up on the stage make everything so easy, and “anyone can do what they can do”. Or just the opposite, they might make you think that they possess something special  that you don’t, and you can’t do what they do. The truth, of course, may lie somewhere in between. Anything worth doing, and more importantly, anything that creates a lasting impact will take time to master, and one needs to put in some serious effort. Those who are the happiest at their job have spent time doing the work and got really good at a rare and valuable skill, to the point that they can leverage those “career capital” to gain general traits(characteristics of the life you want), so their life can be filled with the value of their choice. Cal concluded his speech with this remark “Do what Steve Jobs did, NOT what he said”, meaning that when you closely look at his career, creating a computer was not his #1 passion to begin with. According to Cal, if Steve Jobs had followed his passion back then, he probably would have become Zen instructor. Overall, I enjoyed Cal’s speech a lot. It reminded me that in the world of instant gratification, sticking to one thing and pursue until it becomes your passion, has lots of value. It can also be a good relationship/marriage advice. Rather than try to find what you love, learn to love what you already have….

Then there was Chris Guillebeau. At the end of these mind-turning, heart-opening, inspiration-loaded 2 days, he managed to shock us once again. He shared that unlike last year where they lost about $30,000, this year they came out ahead and made a small profit.  Then he talked about an anonymous donation that came after the last year’s summit. He announced that he would invest that money in us, the 1000 attendees of this conference. He told us that we were all going to receive a $100 each when we walk out of the venue, so we could do something good and meaningful with it. When he said that, I felt like I could hear what people are saying in their heads while quietly gasping in shock and disbelief. The picture above was taken when he just announced. In the end, we walked away with an envelop which contained $100 bill and a small card that said “Thanks for making #WDS2012 a fantastic experience. We’d love to see how you can put these funds to good use. Start a project, surprise someone, or do something entirely different – it’s up to you”.

How will my life be different because of this experience? How can I make someone’s life different, or make a positive change in this world? These are the big questions I still need to answer. But first thing first, my birthday is coming up in exactly 3 days! Since I pledged to give up my next birthday at the end of the presentation by Scott Harrison for his charity: water,  I created this page and started a campaign to raise money so we can give more people access to clean water all over the world. Please join me to make it happen!

Thank you Chris, the action team and the ambassadors, all of the speakers, and all those who attended and became part of this experience!

*Photos by Armosa  Studios

World Domination Summit in Portland, OR

It’s been a few days since the inaugural World Domination Summit has ended. Those who’ve attended are still talking about it on twitter by using the hashtag #WDS. Numerous blog posts have been written, including this one by the visionary and creator of this event Chris Guillebeau. I’m about to add one more to the list.

First, I have a confession to make. At some point I had seriously thought about not going. I purchased the ticket as soon as the registration opened up last year in fall, partly because it was offered with a “pioneer price” to the first 50 or 100 people (Also, being a “true fan” that I am, I usually respond to Chris’s invitation to his readers). Portland is one of my favorite cities because my friend since elementary school lives there with her family and I had fun memories visiting them a few times in the past. But as the departure date drew near, other things started to come in to my life. I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Japan at the end of May, which would leave only one day between Japan trip and the trip to Portland. I was also feeling a bit selfish for leaving our two young sons with my husband’s care in 2 weeks in a row.

The other hesitation was that I felt like as though I already knew what I’d “get” by going to this event. I’ve been following Chris’s work for 2 years – I’ve been reading his blog regularly, I have translated his manifesto to Japanese, read his book and even worked really hard to get a Japanese publisher to buy the foreign book rights in Japanese… I knew what his message was all about. Also, I knew some of the speakers at the event, including big-name bloggers such as Pamela Slim, Danielle LaPorte, Jonathan Fields… I have heard all of them speak before and/or have been reading their blogs occasionally, and felt like I sort of knew what they are about too. Additionally, I had already taken a leap of faith and have been living my dream! Shouldn’t I stay with my family instead of going on “vacation” to Portland, after being absent for a week?  If I want to know more about what they have to say about anything, I could read their blogs…

In the end, I am glad I didn’t cancel my trip. Looking back, there were many memorable moments throughout the weekend, but here are some key things that I took away.

1.    Awareness and gratitude:

On Saturday morning, in his opening remarks, Chris mentioned; “This is not a motivational conference”. Listening to him, I realized that I went there partly because my life is already awesome. That awareness filled me with gratitude for my life and my family who supports me in my journey.

2. Connections with new and not-so-new friends:

I have made several meaningful connections throughout the weekend. One of them was with @Mehori, or Mr.Hori from Japan. On several occasions we had a series of conversations about life, work and the current status of things in Japan. It was refreshing to hear his point of view from many reasons. Another re-connection I made was with @mma323, or Mr.Matsumoto – for those who were there, he’s famously known as the guy who Pam Slim took down on stage. Actually, Mr.Hori, Mr.Matsumoto and I had met in Tokyo last December, but reuniting again at this side of the ocean meant a lot to me.  Mr.Matsumoto and I had dinner together on the second day of the conference, and we joined fellow WDS attendees afterwards for a drink. It was interesting to hear him talk about his pursuit of romantic relationships. We’d have to continue the discussion when he comes down to San Diego this weekend…

3.    What makes me feel most alive:

On the 2nd day of the event, Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen took the stage and presented their Mondo Beyondo talk. These two giggly ladies asked us to think of a time where we felt most alive. This question threw me off a little bit, because the first thing that came to my mind was not at all what I had expected. It wasn’t about accomplishing amazing goals such as getting a job at the United Nations or publishing a book –  it was when my kids and I were pumping the pomp of this fire truck to make it move forward at the Legoland, or when I was out swing dancing by the beautiful San Diego bay. Then we were supposed to talk to a partner and solidify why these moments came up, and pick a word to describe it – which ultimately pinpointed the value we hold dear. The word I picked was “let go” because when I get out of my head and am taking action I feel most alive. Also, they told us that their message to each of us will be found underneath of the chair we were sitting. This earned them a standing ovation from a hall full of 500 attendees – the card I found on my chair said “You are becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be”. This experience brought me tears. The rest of the speakers were all uniquely great and inspiring but this was one of the most memorable moments. I carry this word with me and try to look at it written at least once a day. Oh, we were supposed to write that one word we found somewhere on our body to honor and reconnect with that value…it looked something like this in this picture of @mma323. As you can see, his one word was “love”!

Last word about this event; there is something about being there in person. Yes, you can accomplish lots of things on-line these days and the distinction between “virtual” and “real” are getting blur especially if you are connecting with “like-minded” people. But being in that space and creating a face-to-face connections is still very powerful. An inspiring event where you get to connect with inspiring group of people, where you feel like you belong, an event which bring you tears and laughter….If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of, you can put your information here so you can be one of the first to know when the registration opens this fall. I look forward to The Sequel in 2012.

*Photos by Armosa  Studios

PS….Short video of WDS2011 can be found here.

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.

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

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

Visiting Catalina Island

Last week we visited Catalina Island. This was a trip that I’ve been wanting to take for a long california-catalina-islandtime – we were supposed to travel about 3 week before our first son was due but we canceled at the last minute as I was told that he might be born early – and he did, exactly 2 weeks earlier than the due date.

Continue reading