Monday, February 28, 2011

What I've Learned from Posting Daily for a Month (NaBloPoMo #27)

The time to post daily (National Blog Posting [for a] Month - NaBloPoMo) is coming to an end. I'm glad I did it, even though I chose the shortest month out of the year to give it a go. I didn't manage to actually get it done during the 24 hour period some of these should've been posted, but I managed to not get so behind. I posted twice in a day if I had to, just to catch up.

When I blogged while in Okinawa, my average post was probably several hundred words long. It would take a few hours to write, edit and arrange (music or photo links, etc.), but I would post maybe three times at the most in a week. To write daily, even when I didn't know what to write about what a good exercise in just flexing the writing muscle. The posts were much, much shorter due to time constraints. Some entries I really enjoyed writing, or felt really good about and the response to the posts seem to reflect that. Other entries were painful to hit the "publish" button because they were far, far, far from perfect. However, letting go was easier simply because the commitment to post daily was there. If I ran out of time, I just knew I had to let it go.

Letting go gets easier, just as starting a new action/habit does as well. I learned to "just do it" and that it works well for combating inertia, just as it is about loosening the grip and letting go.

I wish I could write everyday, but I think I will need to slow down after tomorrow. Especially as we are now a mere three weeks out from the show that I haven't yet even blogged about! These days are rapidly filling up and I know it's just going to keep speeding up.

I did get back in touch with feeling comfortable about sharing my life again. Previously, I was living in another country and I was not in a relationship per se at the time, so I could freely write about all of my thoughts and experiences without worrying too much about offending anyone. Now, I feel more private and that is actually a little difficult for me. I generally enjoy being open and sharing, so these protective feelings of privacy are very new... and, of course, I don't think that others in my life (with whom I now live in the same country with) or my significant other would necessarily appreciate writing about everything happening in my life where they are concerned..

I did remember how good it feels to write, to find the words to capture my thoughts and feelings. This was less about producing good writing as it was about "just doing it"... I am looking forward to continuing to do so after nearly five years of absence.

I am grateful for the feedback that some of you have been giving me and I appreciate those that have encouraged the writing and sharing. One final post and then we shall see....!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My prayers tonight (NaBloPoMo #26)

A hard journey with lots of growth and the glimpse of a new unimagined, but wonderful outcome...
Another long day... another full day. A day full of some emotional moments, with much communication, more understanding... I wish I could go into details, but cannot...

It is hard to watch my love struggle with not being able to play a bigger part in his son's life. It is a transition, I feel, but knowing that does not make things easier.

I am just watching as a bystander, waiting for a chance to play a supporting role for all players. Will I be the "wicked" or more like the dismissed "third wheel?"

I can only work on being as loving, as open, as patient, and as understanding as I can.... I know I will fall short at times, but I do want to be a catalyst of some sort to help heal the pain and to strengthen and forge their relationship so that it is satisfying for my love as well as meaningful and treasured by his son.

So that his son might know that his father loves him so very much, although not in his daily life. That he can call on his father at any time and his father would come running or do what is in his power to help him.  That he would come to understand his father's gifts and talents and therefore his life, and come to look up to and respect the man that his father is.

Much easier said than done, but praying for it to be so.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Taco Rice! (NaBloPoMo #25)

Taco Rice!
We had taco rice tonight. No, it's not as bizarre as it seems. This is a dish that was created in Okinawa (as the story goes) by a restaurant owner whose small eatery was located near one of the US military bases (I've read it was in Kin near Camp Hansen). He decided to try mixing the mexican taco ingredients over rice and voila! Taco Rice was born.

Basically, it's ground beef taco filling (just add seasoning), lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and salsa over a bed of rice. In Okinawa, there was one shop called Tacos-Ya that I would go to frequently to order the taco rice. They had the perfect containers that lined the ground beef completely over the rice with the bed of cheese nicely melting atop. The salsa was pretty good, too.

So, I've been trying to get Sterling to try it, but he wasn't convinced that it could be tasty. In fact, most people don't. When my friend Koki from Peru took me to the Tacos-Ya on Kokusai Street in Naha in Okinawa, I was skeptical. But one bite and I was hooked. I remember I would go through the same thing each time I introduced it to someone else. In fact, one visit, I tried to get my sister to go, but she kept putting it off. I finally bought one for her to take on the plane when she was leaving Okinawa. She called me as soon as she landed in Tokyo to rave about the taco rice. I told her so!

So, Sterling being Sterling, he did finally give in, but with his more experienced skills, he added garlic, habaneros and onions to the ground beef (two pounds). We added two packets of taco seasoning, and besides the cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, we also chopped up some avocado and added crushed corn chips (mostly for texture context - thanks to the Kurashige's who showed me that one - not originally in Okinawa).

I am happy to report, Sterling thought it was very  tasty and is trying to convince me that he knew all along it would be good. We got some nice hot salsa to top it all off. I figure in the future, we'll experiment with making our own salsa, too.

Anyway, score one for me!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nighttime Fried Rice (NaBloPoMo #24)

Nephews slumbering.... notice they kinda hold hands, too? Cute!
Lately, I have been having some very vivid dreams.

Sterling and I have begun to call it "fried rice" - like how fried rice is often made with leftover ingredients, all thrown together, all mixed up. In that way, dreams are often the brain's way of taking the residual "unresolveds" of the day and trying to make sense or possibly trying to solve or understand a situation or event. All the loose ends, the lingering thoughts, the delightful and not-so's all make up some wonderful movie reel that has us hooked.

In the morning, we do the post-mortem:  "Did you have fried rice last night?" and if so, we do a re-cap. As we share our dreams out loud, we see the things that get incorporated in the dream from the previous day's events, some very innocent, or a conversation or a visual that neatly and seamlessly fit. Or so it seems during the dream. Often when trying to explain the dream, it's easy to see somethings are not so logical in the waking world.

Reliving dreams regularly is a way of also getting to know what the brain is processing - some long-term or possibly deep-seated issues - or to understand what various symbols are recurring nocturnally. What might seem innocuous actually stands out in the grey matter.

These days, I wake up remembering at least two dreams and they can be quite bizarre. It can be quite amusing, of course, and really, if I were an artist, maybe I could sketch something that could be a backdrop to a painting or something that could be captured on film. For now, I am enjoying the fried rice and enjoying seeing how my brain puts it all together.

Sometimes I look forward to what my dreams will have in store. I haven't exercised it as much, but I want to work on actually "programming" my brain to work on certain solutions... Directing it, or becoming a master chef, I guess!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Sanshin (NaBloPoMo #23)

Circa 2000 as I was finishing my studies with Masaya Yamauchi-sensei at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts. Same last name, no relation!

I've been playing sanshin for about 12 years now. The sanshin is a three-stringed instrument of Okinawa, the island of my birthplace. I started to learn under George Asato-sensei in Montebello in 1999 before I went to Okinawa on an arts scholarship to study Ryukyu classical dance. At that time, I continued my sanshin studies as well and took classes at the arts university as well as privately with Choichi Terukina-sensei.

With three other Kempi arts scholarship recipients - my sempai (mentors) who also studied with Terukina-sensei. This is at the 2008 New Year's Party for the Okinawa Association of America
I was in Okinawa for six years. During that time, I took better part of a year off, but I managed to return for one last run before I came back to Los Angeles. During that time, I was lucky to continue to play with other students who had learned under Terukina-sensei in Okinawa, too.

To play the sanshin is something that I could write and write and write about.... (But I will have to leave that for another time.... sigh.) The short gist of its that the music is a part of my soul. I play with my grandfather's sanshin. He had already passed away by the time I went to study in Okinawa in 1999. My uncle refurbished one of grandpa's sanshin and gave it to me to practice with. This is the same sanshin that I am playing to this day and the one I am holding in the photo above. To play with my grandfather's sanshin from Okinawa fills me with love, pride and a deep feeling of connection to my roots and enriching my self-identity.

I came back in 2006 and continued to play. There were twists and turns along the way, but fast forward to today, 2011, and our small group of sanshin players are on the verge of putting on our first recital and Terukina-sensei will be with us, too. I will write about the recital in a future blog, but our little group is working hard to get the logistics down as well as mad practicing.

It is a labor of love. Although we may not have felt ready to put on a show, our sensei asked us to consider it and we decided to honor his wish as best we could. We are getting ready, but are hoping our friends and family will be able to join us on March 19 for the show. 

2008 in Los Angeles with Terukina-sensei in the middle and LA and Hawaii folks for a performance at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

Tickets are available, stay tuned.....!

Name that Flora! (NaBloPoMo #22)

One would think I should know better than to be surprised at the kinds of plants and creatures that exist in nature. I am a city girl, comfortable in non-city habitats, but very, very ignorant. Obviously.

The photo above is from the garden of one Gardena resident. She kept bringing in these stalks of these alien-like flora.

So, never mind what the green spherical things with fine spiky things resemble, but when it matures and explodes...?  WTF????? It's like feather-like, strands with seeds nestled inside.

Does anyone know what this plant/flower is called? They look like balloons (or something else, as just a handful of people have commented) that explode into white beards.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Compatibility = ? (NaBloPoMo #21)

Inquiring minds want to know...
There are times when I wonder about what deems people as compatible. Is it similar interests, similar temperaments, similar values and philosophies? Is it similar backgrounds, life experiences? Is it similar personality types, or complementary ones?

I keep thinking that I know, but I find that I'm still re-defining this.

At the core, there are many similarities between Sterling and I. The young child looking to be understood, wanting a best friend, someone to believe in them, and someone to love. We also highly value communicating and striving to improve and develop the self. We are warriors at heart, fighting for different causes and passions, but believing in the fight. We believe in substance and heart over status and appearances. We value the arts and respect the those that strive to gain knowledge. We quickly assess people and situations, though we often act differently on the same information.

We can both be stubborn and headstrong. But when hurt, he usually closes up while I tend to get very emotional. He sees the concept of time differently and often spends and values it differently than I do. I'm much more of a morning person, though I also can be a late owl. I am used to being busy, though I can slow down. He loathes busy-ness. He sees time fluidly and does not like rigid schedules. One activity flows into another and when I get lost in it, I can appreciate it, too, but I tend to like structure of time.

We both value social relationships differently and invest in them differently. He has mastered physical, mental and spiritual balance. I desire to, but struggle. However, I tell him that the social is part of the triangle, too, and I have a better handle on that. I often give up "my" time for another person, while he has learned to guard his time as his own.

We communicate brilliantly at times, but we fight masterfully, too. I can annoy him sometimes as quickly as I can amuse or delight him.

But I suspect that defining compatibility is elusive, particularly in the context of trying to determine which relationships will succeed. Opposites attract, strength in thinking alike? Which is it? Both, neither, one of them?

I think it's knowing what is each other's "line" - the deal-breaker. And, oath of commitment to each other to dig in and work hard to make it work. Of course, when the work to make it work seems to supercede any benefits or pleasure, perhaps it's time to reassess...  But until then, if you really care for one another and are committed, then it's understanding the other's emotional thought process and promising to not cross "that line."

The unlikeliest of people may stay together while others that you swore were perfect for each other do not last... no one really knows except the ones in the relationship, of course.

There are times when I wonder at our compatibility. Sometimes I get irritated at his not always saying, "please" or when he doesn't hold back when he sees what he wants even if there were others present who also want the same thing. He gets annoyed at my heavy purse (and will carry it for me because he thinks it's bad for my physical balance), and how I can sit in front of a computer for long periods. I roll my eyes at the mess he leaves in the kitchen (but he brings me lunch everyday) and he sighs when I nag at him about keeping the downstairs bathroom cleaner.

But I am reminded time and time again when going through a difficult moment that I don't want to be with any other. I often forget the original reason why we might be disagreeing and just know it's time to make amends. Sometimes he tells me he is sorry and that I was right, while other times I must swallow my own pride to ask for his forgiveness. It's understanding that sometimes the "little" things are just that - not to be ignored, but not blowing it out of proportion.

Working at a relationship is negotiating with the partner and one's self over the priorities and needs of one another. It's an active reassessment of the present.

I'm certain that are some people who never argue or get along so well with their partner or spouse that they may not even understand what I am blathering about. However, for the rest of us, I think it's a lifelong commitment to honor the person that we love as well as honor ourselves in that relationship. Mutual and inclusive.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Entry of nothing (NaBloPoMo #20)

Sterling is looking at me wondering how things are going as I sit in front of the computer wondering what to write about. It's 11pm and I want to be in bed by 11:30.... so what shall I write about.

He's laughing at me because as I ponder, I serve my dishes to the customers of My Cafe in Cafe World and then I start folding a golden origami crane for my friend, Lynde.... There's a time limit, so nothing too heavy, but am I just going to just write about not knowing what to write about?

Still don't know what to write about.. blah.

I am looking forward to tomorrow's day off. I hope a quiet day, spent idly, without time constraints, but satisfying! Been waiting for ideal time for a deep massage - hope to get it tomorrow.... maybe a stroll through Wilson Park, just enjoying the company. A day of re-energizing, full of more bonding, sharing and laughter.

The Lord of the Rings (NaBloPoMo #19)

Last night I finished watching the final movie in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Wow... I have not read the novel by Tolkien, so I've no idea how closely the movie stayed true to the book, I'm understanding as the "making of" is playing in the background now, that they did have to leave certain characters untold and had to transfer some lines between the characters. I wonder how novel fans feel about the movie...?

While watching, I was affected and constantly challenged by the themes that ran through the movie. For that, I appreciated the story. Multilayered and complex, intoxicatingly unique yet universal, it was great story-telling.

Certain scenes really did get to me... at the very end, I could not help it, I tried to control the sobs, but some broke through. Sterling held me from behind to comfort. It was amusing, naturally, but there was an aching sense of feeling all too real. A true sign of having fallen in love with the characters and somehow coming to have a stake in the outcome of the story. Certainly became emotionally invested... Definitely a phenomenal narrative.

I am looking forward to reading the book soon.

When I was at UC Irvine, I was a Resident Advisor for a year and a quarter. The first year, I was at Mesa Court, but the second year, I was assigned to the Middle Earth complex. There, all of the buildings and actual residential halls are named for places and objects (buildings, etc.) in the book. I had been assigned to Isengard. If I was familiar with the book, I'm not sure how I would have felt about that! (For those not familiar, Isengard if one of two evil towers in Middle Earth. It did not start out evil, but turns so.) What is strange enough is that through circumstance, I ended up leaving Middle Earth after just one quarter. (Long story!) Leaving Isengard may make sense now...!

What spurred the watching of the three films was that Sterling thought I should see it. The reasons for that were for the themes, of course, which are powerful, but also unexpectedly, he told me that some of the visual scenes and characterizations of less-than-savory entities were actually quite "accurate." He told me that the images from the film are quite close to the spiritual world that most of us cannot see nor ever experience.

Sterling is a spiritual warrior, something I will understand better as our union continues and strengthens.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday night chillin' (NaBloPoMo #18)

It's Friday night, raining and the weekend has finally come...

I am tired, and sleepy, we've got The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King on.... We started to fall asleep the last time we tried to finish the trilogy, so we're replaying it to get to where we stopped last time.... I don't know why I hadn't seen it before...!

Cozy, warm, and relaxed... (except the movie's getting really exciting now and I'm talking at the screen!)

Cheating a bit on the post-everyday-for-February - just wanna get something out to fulfill it!

More tomorrow! Good night!

Souful communication (NaBloPoMo #17)

Tonight I'm a little tired.

Sterling and I had a significant talk tonight. There were some things that happened in the day, people with whom he had spent time with that left residual thoughts and feelings. We touched upon our future. Another heart-to-heart about the things that challenge us, things we fear and things we dare hope for.

Soulful communication... we both are communicators--we like words, we like expression, we like being heard and understood and we like to know and accept the others' words. When we debate or argue, it can be mesmerizing because we can follow the intricate patterns woven with logic and agility. Sometimes, it's the mad sprint and the sudden stop, reverse, forward.

There are amusing moments that the speed in which our banter and fencing of words dizzy even me, but he's right there, not missing a beat and in fact, reinforces my own footing. What delight!There's no other person I'd rather be parrying with!

November 2010 @Enisha's wedding
It's been a long week. One day more yet and the three day weekend arrives. Need to refresh....

I want some good sleep..... Zzzzzz..... good night.... it's just past midnight on the 18th.....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interns and Pow-wows (NaBloPoMo #16)

The interns had a "filling" first day, I'm sure!

With the chimugukuru still flowing (does it ever stop?), they were whisked away to an all-you-can-eat buffet for lunch by one of the volunteers - for two hours! I believe they were encouraged to eat more than they are used to. In fact, they may go home a little "heavier" than when they arrived. Now two hour lunch - their work day is 6 hours, mind you!

So after orientation in the morning, they went straight to lunch - like at 11:20am!. Then I gave them a tour of our center before my lunch break (mine is much, much later...). They got a private, quickie koto lesson from Katsuko Teruya (imagine: they never touched the Ryukyu koto in Okinawa, but here in Los Angeles, they get their first lesson!). They met a plethora o' other folks, and I didn't push the "work" aspect. I can do that tomorrow, when I suspect there will be a lot less people. Today was about the personalities and volunteers that make our organization tick.

Katsuko Teruya-sensei pictured above is the one that gave them impromptu lesson!.
I did find out that they are not staying as long as we initially thought, though. Strange - I was not looking forward to the interns, but they are here and as I suspected, it's not so bad. The other two interns - wonder what their first day was like!

The rest of my day was rounded out by spending time with a friend that I haven't had much chance to touch base with lately. I knew we would have a good pow-wow session, but it really drove home how much I miss certain connections in my life.

I felt immensely better after our time together - much later than we expected and probably hoped. But I felt a certain clearing and understanding that brings me more peace in my heart.

Pow-wows are good, eh? Talking-story, yuntaku, heart-to-heart talks, sharing, just sharing...

All for tonight!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Uchinanchu Chimugukuru (NaBloPoMo #15)

Tonight was the Welcome-cum-Exchange Party with the college interns who will be in Los Angeles for the next three weeks. There will only be two at my workplace of the OAA, but the other two interns who flew into Los Angeles with them will be at the Little Tokyo Service Center in Little Tokyo.

It was a nice gathering of about 25 people, most people over the age of 60 present, with the youngest in their early 20s...

The thing that struck me was the family feeling of our organization. Older sisters (ne-chans) wanting to make sure they can get to where they need to - worrying about rain or the safety awareness of staying in the Boyle Heights area... Aunties and offering to take them to big fancy lunches during these three weeks.

Coordinating and offering of rides, offering suggestions of events to go to in their free time. And in general, wanting to find time to hook up to just yuntaku (aka talk-story)...

It made me feel good to see our members reaching out to them. I know that this isn't unique to the Okinawan community, but the Okinawan term chimugukuru certainly fits. The Okinawan heart and spirit. Ichariba choodee (Once we meet, we are brothers and sisters.)

Yes, it'll be added "stress" to have them in the office as I try to get the usual things done. But there will be volunteers who will help out and will also be accessible to them so that they really get a sense of the Okinawan community here. That may actually be primary than getting to know the inner workings of OAA, which was what I had initially focused on. In fact, it wasn't until seeing the interactions tonight that I realized, I had really been short-sighted and I was glad to be reminded.

Seeing some of the younger set of our organization was good, too. I feel like the stay-at-home mom who forgets how to interact with adults after being cooped up with children all day long. In my case, I get to spend time with mostly the elders, that hearing the feedback, comments of those that are my peers is refreshing.

So much to do through OAA! So much that can be done....!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's (NaBloPoMo #14)

(So, I managed to actually miss a day of posting, but I'm going to honor the number of posts for this month... I'll see if I have the energy to double-post later tonight!)

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and it was the first for me and S. And it was memorable. But not because of some romantic affair. Nope. Because there were just things that were on my mind, bothering me, and I ended up snapping at him. I felt so terrible afterwards. I started to cry. I was thinking, gee, I wonder what we look like sitting here on Valentine's Day and the guy looks upset and the girl is sniffling...

I knew we were okay when he finally smiled at me before we left the restaurant....  Those are the moments when I feel most loved. Despite my sometimes emotional baggage that'll just creep in.... he can still forgive even if I've hurt him. He tells me that I may not say a whole lot when I'm upset, but that a perfectly aimed comment will just hit bullseye...

I told him that when I'm hurt, I explode. And when he gets hurt, he retreats, closes up like one of those flowers. I told him I didn't know what to say even after I said sorry and he said he forgave me... that's when he smiled wryly and said, yeah, explode like a hot air expanding too fast.

I'm not proud of myself in those moments. But I'm lucky to have someone who does accept me, warts and all...

After dinner, we went home to my mom's to see my nephews whose folks are out of town for work. The two boys were in their PJs and were watching TV when we dropped off our small Valentine's goodie bag. It was nice visiting with them. I found out one of them has an "older girlfriend" and the other doesn't have a girlfriend "because his butt smells like poo." Yeah, don't ask. I enjoyed talking story with them, though.

Then it was off to dance practice in Whittier and I was quite beat. I nearly fell asleep on the way there and back. All the while, I just wanted to come home and cuddle especially because of the earlier episode. I got home about midnight, completely beat and I barely remember changing before crawling into bed. It was not a typical Valentine's Day, but definitely a memorable one.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Ventures a la Sanshin (NaBloPoMo #13)

This embedded video above is of Yuki and Akira. Yuki on the right is one of Terukina-sensei's sons. Terukina Choichi-sensei is my sanshin teacher in Okinawa. Terukina-sensei is coming to Los Angeles in March which was the impetus for us to put together a small recital for our group known best as Choichi Kai. The recital which I will write more about soon, is taking place on March 19. We are calling it 3 Strings: Songs of Okinawa..

Akira on the left, now a young man is the quite little squirt that used to come to the dojo when I was living in Okinawa. He was about middle school age when I first met him in 2000 or 2001. Now he's one of the bright young stars of the Terukina dojo.

Apparently you can find this Ventures song, Pipeline, being covered as a 'hayabiki' (quick play) song in my live houses in Okinawa. Here is their rendition of The Ventures.

Late night restlessness (NaBloPoMo #12)

Restless, restless, restless.

A little frustrated. Can't exactly pinpoint the cause, but I'm taking it out a bit on my honey. We spent an idyllic day together.... perhaps it's just all the things that still remain in the brain of things that need to be done... A little resentful that I couldn't completely let go to enjoy the day.

We did run around to post some of the posters at local markets/restaurants for our upcoming sanshin recital.

Also, not looking forward to the interns which begin on Monday. (Maybe it won't be that bad...?)

Tomorrow, there is a luncheon to attend in Montebello and then sanshin practice. I chose to go to the luncheon to support someone, but I kind of wish I could have that time for myself. Really need to work on clearing the calendar on the weekends. Sacred.

Time and how we spend it - an area of much discussion. My honey has been great about my overly busy schedule. In fact, these days, I think I'm more dissatisfied and annoyed at my schedule. I guess I'm just finding that my priorities are still shifting. I worry at some point, I may not want to be involved in much of my extracurricular activities. It's a very strange thought...

Valentine's is coming up, of course.... Nothing special planned. It will be our first spent together, but my honey's not much of a holiday-celebrating person - including birthdays. Because he's so expressive and caring practically every day, I am not complaining that we probably won't do something extra special (besides I have dance practice on Monday nights!) - I know that I am very lucky!

I'm finally feeling a little calmer. I can handle tomorrow and the coming weeks. (fingers crossed)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Other people cleaning = losing my things (NaBloPoMo #11)


Today was a little difficult. Feeling a little overwhelmed, a little uncomfortable. Feeling hypersensitive to various people's subtle energies.

Did not get much accomplished by way of my own list of things to do... but again, that is the nature of the job.

It can be extrememely frustrating at times, of course. What is humorous (and slightly aggravating!) is that while I was out of the office yesterday, the volunteer ladies "tidied up." You know, like how your mother would go into your room and "clean"? (Oh, wait, your mother never had to tidy your room for you...? oops).

Well, yesterday's cleaning spree meant that another regular volunteer and I could not find some things for awhile today.

I have to hang my head, for I know that the stacks and piles were becoming unsightly. I know I can do better on that end. But my stuff!

A number of phone calls - important enough to take, but time-consuming - visitors throughout the day. I can feel the stressful feelings of "overwhelm" hovering over my shoulders and around my chest area. I must come in on the weekend to get stuff done. Beginning Monday we have two interns in the office...!

These are the types of feelings that I need to learn to dissipate. I want to learn how to nip these moods and rises in blood pressure so that it does not affect me physically!

Must breathe. I'm not good at meditating. Stretch. Oh, I know. Just head home and cuddle with my honey. Yeah! That calms me pretty good.

Still have dance practice tonight.... today's entry, not cutting into sleep time, nope!

Sunshine while playing Hooky (NaBloPoMo #10)

Today was a long day. We got up at 5am and were out the door by 6:30... We got back into town just after 7pm and then I had sanshin practice.... I got in just before 10pm.

Exhausted, but wanted to get in a post for today. So what do I want to say....

Given I'm not ready to share about today, a little difficult to write. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed being out of the office for a day. Just dealing with my own personal stuff and spending leisurely time... I guess because we spent much of the day apart doing different things, too, it was different. I practiced sanshin (before actual practice tonight, yay!), I shot off some email that I was much behind on, folded some cranes (for friend's wedding)... just a day of reminiscing about some things and thinking about the future. Hard being in an office where I'm the only staff person... Need to open and close the office, so different than previous jobs where if I needed to come in later or leave early for personal or medical reasons, I could do so. In this job, I've got to find volunteers to cover me. I feel much guilt asking these nice folks to come in...

The next three weeks will be a little mentally exhausting because of two interns who will be in town from Okinawa. A little different than our very independent volunteers! I am envisioning it to be a good experience all around. (Otherwise I might feel like weeping for wanting a bit of a mental break!)

I long for the days when I was working as an independent contractor in Okinawa as translator, narrator and English teacher. I could set my hours accordingly. As long as I was disciplined about getting the projects done, it sure beat "clocking in and out".

I used to try and fill my calendar to feel productive. These days, I really just want to clear it! However, it's still a battle; old habits die hard.

Did some more thinking today about stress management, too. I think I'll be writing/exploring more on that in the future.

Not from today, but outdoors and sitting on outdoor fixture - kinda similar!

Two other things I enjoyed doing today - I was outdoors in the fresh air. I practiced sanshin outdoors, I ate outdoors, and I stretched. It was the stretching that is the second thing I enjoyed. That is, as I waited for Sterling at one point, I spent about half an hour stretching slowly in the sun. I kind of felt like a cat in the sun. Very deliberate, feeling my body, breathing. I am very tight and I have a very stocky build which really calls for much stretching since my muscles are so compact! The more I stretch, the more I love it and just like other physical activity, I just felt more in touch with body, especially as I've not being practicing yoga on my own too much since my instructor went on maternity leave...

I wish my office had windows that opened! Then I could have fresh air during work time, too!

Just a bunch of rambling I know, the highlight about being outdoors. In any case, here is my 10th blog entry of the month!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tomorrow (NaBloPoMo #9)

Tomorrow's a pretty significant day. I'm taking the day off - a personal day off.

Tonight, Sterling and I took a moment to look back on the past year and to remember the challenges to date. There have been some humorous and painful moments... lots of loving and laughing, but certainly lots of frustration and impatience, too.

I don't mean to sound vague or mysterious, but just not ready to fully share yet.

Tonight, I prayed aloud, something I'm not used to doing at all. Tomorrow, I'll be focusing my energy in a mindful way, towards my love, towards our future.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Health, Sleep and Love (NaBloPoMo #8)

(Love is connected to everything in my life these days.....)

I was contemplating stress this morning as I lay in bed. I had hoped for 8 hours of sleep, but at about 7 hours, I woke up and was having a hard time going back to sleep. Usually, if I lay still long enough, I will eventually fall asleep.

There were so many things going through my head... Things I need to do, things I need to remember.. As the lists kept playing out in my mind, I finally consciously stopped. I didn't want to feel stressed.

You see, I've been making a conscious decision on being aware of what causes stress and how to combat it.

The wonderful thing about being with Sterling is that he is very clear on what health is. There is no compromising on living healthily for him. We often have heated arguments discussions about our differing views on our lifestyles.

Case in point: If I have a lot of things left to do at the end of the night, whether it be for work or other extracurricular activity I'm involved in - it could be dance, sanshin, yoga, koto, family-related stuff - I can easily sacrifice sleep for it.

For Sterling, sleep is a guarded commodity. Sleep is what replenishes the body, all of our internal systems able to reset and re-energize. Without sleep, our body is robbed and deprived of precious rest that is both mental and physical. In the end, without sleep, our stress level will most likely remain high (thanks to cortisol, a stress hormone that rises with lack of sleep). Even if the "task" at hand that remained undone was finished, the pay-off may be immediate, but the long-term trade-off would actually be more harmful.

I've argued (or he'd say it was make excuses) that this is how people live their lives today. We have things that need to be done and there is simply not enough time in the day and so we push ourselves to get things done, both professionally and personally because the consequences of not "pushing" is less desirable.

The problem is, he argues back, the deterioration of a person's health is not always immediately seen. So while we are making withdrawals on our body's energy and resources, we think we're okay because we don't see the overdraft that's taking place. We also delude ourselves into thinking that these choices on how we live our lives are "what everybody does"; therefore, it's justified and okay to live this way.

However, as we get older, the constant dwindling of our bodies ability to replenish and remain strong will take a heavy toll. On some level, everybody realizes this as diseases that are linked to our lifestyle (diabetes, heart disease to name a few) are on the rise. Our bodies are not meant to be lived this way.

And so, slowly I've been making the changes. First, there were really small steps. I stopped drinking coffee and switched to teas. I stopped wearing heels and now wear mostly flats. I stretch more often and I consciously try to get more sleep, though this is the challenging one at times.

This morning, as I began to feel annoyed that I could not quiet my mind, Sterling woke up and we talked about stress management and health. And we realized that it's been quite awhile since I've ground my teeth while sleeping.

I've been grinding my teeth in my sleep (bruxism) for as long as I can remember. I know I was doing it in college, and until a few months ago, I was still doing it. I'm convinced that this is stress-related. And when we figured that, at the moment, I've stopped doing so that must mean that I've begun to really de-stress. That is, I'm not storing and suppressing my feelings of stress AND I've begun to release what was buried. This brought me much happiness and a sense of feeling that I'm really on the right track.

Another thing I've noticed is that I've avoided major colds/flus this past year (knock on wood). Lately, I'll feel like I'm kind of battling something, but not really succumb to it. In the past, I have felt like I will catch anything anybody has and then I would stay sick for an extended period. I feel I've strengthened my immune system over the past few months.

What I want to work on next is that even in high stress moments (major event planning or project deadline looming--including any recitals scheduled for March 19, ha!) -- I can handle the stress and even combat its effects by calming and meditating and just consciously making space to relax. This morning was one of those moments of realizing that I was letting the list of "must-dos" just run amok, and I had to reign in the feeling of overwhelm and busy-ness.

Hence my comment a few posts back about sacrificing sleep to get these blog posts done. I don't like that it may delay my bedtime, but I'm hoping that the drive to not cut into sleeptime will find ways to follow-through on disciplining myself, especially to create good habits and to be productive.

There is much more to say on the topic of how to handle stress and about how to truly live a life of all-around HEALTH. I look forward to exploring that more as I make strides in my own life.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Laughter and Love (NaBloPoMo #7)

I love laughing with Sterling.

Laughing feels good in general - with friends, with strangers, with people who annoy you even. Norman Cousins believed that laughter helped to release endorphins that assisted in managing his pain.

We all know what belly-shaking laughter does - it makes one's body pulsate with good feeling and oftentimes, that incredible feeling of well-being continues and can even be recalled.

I knew in junior high that I hoped the man I fell in love with would be funny and could make me laugh. I defiitely lucked out on that one. We can be quite intense - that's for sure! But our moments of levity bring me so much happiness and sustain me...

We have silly, quite adolescent jokes that keep being recycled. I feel like that young school kid giggling out of control over something really stupid and noone else really gets it, but it doesn't matter because of the delicious knowledge of an inside joke...

Sometimes he'll tell me I can be witty. Perhaps. But we make pun jokes, and clever twists on a point of view, and alas, we can waddle through the best of bathroom humor, too. Sterling has a wonderful way of laughing as his shoulders silently shake while he laughs at me.

In fact, that is one of the things that endeared me to him. I loved being able to elicit a laugh from him even if it was at my expense.

I wish I could share one of these side-splitting topics.... but at the moment, they are all inappropriate or quite embarrassing (to me, that is!)

I look forward to sharing a lifetime of a plethora o' laughter--giggles, chortles, guffaws, cackles... hooting, howling, crowing, snickering, snortling, twittering and tittering! I've laughed so hard that odd noises come out of me and of course, that alone with incite another round of helpless laughter. I love that we are often laughing as we hug - or is it we end of hugging because we're laughing. Either way, I intend to keep these sounds fresh and ongoing.

Maybe I'll write about what makes me laugh.... What makes you laugh???

The Discipline of Writing (NaBloPoMo #6)

I've not quite done it for a full week yet, but writing daily really is a challenge. It's let me also see just how busy I've been this past week, when it's been one of my "lighter" weeks.

To take a moment to sit and contemplate a topic and to actually put something on paper, even though not always inspired, has been a challenge. Even if I felt it needed much editing or that it really needed to be redone, because I chose to commit to posting a blog entry every single day this month, it meant I still had to post even if I didn't like the final outcome.

Letting go of imperfection - hard.

Letting go of the need to apologize for those entries I'm not too happy about - hard.

Carving out time even if at the end of the day to honor the commitment - really hard.

This really is a lesson in following through and I'm hoping to come out the other end of it a little wiser.

A surprising lesson is really understanding just how busy I am. To parcel out this time is often late at night and it seems silly to be spending time right before bed, obviously sacrificing sleep time to do this. But I figure that I will learn how to adjust my time more and to actually find ways to free up my time.

I think there's more that I will be learning from this, but it's only been a week.... We shall see...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday in Anaheim (NaBloPoMo #5)

Such a surreal day. I was without my phone - that in itself is a little unsettling, but could not be helped. I was in Orange County, at a Volleyball tournament all day and I was meeting some significant people in my love's life.

Awkwardness that was smoothed over by sweetness, genuine niceness and politeness. Nothing dramatic nor exciting, but so many questions came up in my head.

I got to observe people in an environment that is not their usual and I was processing information about their personalities, their characters, including my darling.

I began to wonder if I was the odd one out. It was like observing pieces of puzzle. It was nice to finally meet them in person, but I did want to interact so much more.

To the special young man who did an exceptional job as setter, I appreciated the wave and smile even though all of this must impact you the most. A gentleman at such a young age, you touched me most. I look forward to chatting with you about your game--I enjoyed watching you very much! Your father is so proud and it's so easy to see why. I look forward to spending time and getting to know you. I know it'll take time, but I do hope it is sooner than later.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Denise's Healing Journey (NaBloPoMo #4)

Received a card from my dear friend, Denise. It was a thank you card for a gift I sent on Christmas. I wasn't sure if she'd get it, but she did and I am touched that she took time out to send a card.

As she herself has put it, she is on a cancer journey, on her way to heal. She has been wonderfully open and brave and sharing her triumphs and difficult moments via her blog with the help of her family members, namely her mother. She began blogging on November 30 where she told her readers and supporters:
I wish for you to not to think of this as something ugly or bad but simply something that is here as part of my journey in this life.  I ask that you continue to keep your thoughts of me in the light, positive and of a healing nature.  I don't feel negative/sad thoughts of or for me or the cancer will help any.  Whatever your belief in a higher power I would appreciate your thoughts/prayers/meditations/good wishes...whatever your modality. 
Denise has the right outlook and amazing perspective and I believe that she will overcome this challenge. She is inspiring her friends and family and her spirit and strength is touching others.

I've known Denise for over just over 20 years since college days when we both worked in the residential life area. (I'll try to dig up a photo to share in the near future.) We were programmers and then Resident Advisors together. She has the bestest smile with a no-nonsense approach and a strong chuckle that can coax a smile even if you're not sure why she's laughing. Intelligent, beautiful, social and confident, she was always lots of fun to be around.

Since college, we haven't lived close to one another, although she has made many trips and attempts to keep in touch with all of the RA folks that are still in the southern CA area. She is the one that you can count on and expect will have solutions to everything.

Which is why, even more so, as she is going through a difficult period, she still has the solution and you feel she's got it covered. All I want to do is cheer her on and send whatever I can to add to her already powerful spirit.

It need not be said that there are many different types of people in our lives - ones that are constantly with us, those only for a short while, and then those that though not constant, leave an indelible impression. Denise and I were never as close as she or I were with other RAs that we worked with, but she will always have a special place in my heart and I look forward to having an RA get together when she is well again.

If you are so inclined, please send healing and positive vibes to my friend in Manteca!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Annoying people (NaBloPoMo #3)

Think about someone who annoys you. Write a list of everything you don't like about them, and then write a list of all the things that you're grateful that they've shown you about yourself.
This one is kind of funny. If you know me well, there are very few people that annoy me. Mostly, I think I have enough patience and empathy to deal with most people. Yet there are definitely those that really Get. My. Goat.

And just as the writing prompt suggests - list things that they've shown you... well, that is the rub, yes? What I think is most telling if a person will be honest enough to examine themselves is just that. Whatever it is that annoys us of another is usually something within us that needs much resolving.

Of course if you are the kind of person that is constantly annoyed with other people? Either you're perfect, or have a lot of self-development to do, methinks.

There are some people that I have to "work" with that truly annoy me. If I could relegate the context of how I relate to these people, like just socially for example, I think we could get along fine. However, work? That means I gotta rely on you, and you've got to see me as a team member and we gots to communicate and understand what outcome each of us envisions.

What don't I like about these people in particular?
  1. Only aware of their own agenda
  2. Won't really listen to feedback and input to larger cause/mission/picture
  3. Doesn't know how to be a team player
  4. Manipulates people/decisions behind the scene
  5. Doesn't know what they don't know - Ugh!
  6. Think they know everything
  7. Because they are motivated to help, they assume any action they take is acceptable and benign
  8. Can't read the social environment or temperature
  9. Says things to look good
  10. Thinks they're being helpful, but actually creating more chaos
  11. They are not detail-oriented
  12. They create more work for me
Things that I'm grateful that they've shown me about myself (grrrrr):
  1. They've shown me that I need to have more compassion and ponder what motivates other people. In that, I can find patience. (I have to find it multiple times in some cases...)
  2. They've shown me that although not in title or position, I do have the power to influence
  3. They've shown me that I will strive to be fair, even if it means I will not get what I want
  4. They've shown me that I must work to climb out of the occasional self-pity and need to step up, though I don't want to take responsibility in areas that I know I'm best served to speak up
  5. They've shown me that I can gauge the temperature of a group and move accordingly
  6. They've shown me that despite my growing confidence in my intuition, I still "overreact" -
  7. Therefore, they've shown me that I need to take a breath before speaking...
  8. They've shown me that I have aspirations and ambition, too, in areas that I didn't know I did
  9. They've shown me that I am a novice when it comes to understanding what things I cannot control and simply need to "LET GO"
  10. They've shown me that "letting go" does not mean not caring, it's understanding what things are worth fighting for
  11. They've shown me that it's not the end of the world when things aren't 100% optimal or what I would've wanted because I "let go...
The thing that sticks out most is that I'd say that I've learned that success is defined in many ways. Success has different looks. I try hard to be in control of things - possibly because I am capable of doing so... but the reality is that one cannot really control things... but these people that annoy me and I must "work" with them in some capacity--well, they really show me that I'm really not in control and I don't like that.

And the truth is, there will inevitably be moments when these "annoying" people actually are my strongest allies. This is very ANNOYING in itself. It means, I really need to get over myself.


I wonder how I annoy people.... (Feedback welcome!)

    In Love - (NaBloPoMo #2)

    This is going to post post-Feb 2, but nonetheless is the second installment of my desire to be disciplined in blogging (i.e. some writing). It's seriously time to sleep! I started this entry in the morning but so much has transpired in the day and now, it's all deleted and I try again...

    * * *

    What amazes me most about the relationship I'm in is the hard work and the hard questions that we keep asking each other. We cry a lot, we hug, we console, we commit, we hurt, we heal, we laugh, we delight, we share....

    There are intense moments that I'm not sure that the work we put in will yield a storybook happy ending. There are moments when I feel a bit like a martyr. The circumstances are not ideal, but really, how many relationships are, I guess...

    What I am aware of is that he is alongside me as we hurt and argue and upset each other--he trying not to leave mentally and I also trying to be constantly present. I can feel when he or I are pulling away - it's a humbling knowledge - and it's just as profound when we are aware that the other is fighting the instinct with all our might and not barricade and shut out the other.

    I do know he makes me feel alive. I've not felt this acute sense of joy and hurt since perhaps living in Okinawa. I am fully living and for that I am incredibly thankful, for it is the journey in this life that I believe will measure the quality of our lives.

    He listens, he remembers, he contemplates and he communicates. I am a very lucky woman. There are a few more bumps and hurdles that we are cognizant of that we must weather in the near future, and although we are a little worried, I do have faith that we are committed to doing our best to make this work - honestly and in real time. No harboring of feelings unexpressed - open, raw, honest and real. I am amazed that I have found a partner that is willing to do this.

    I am so in love.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Libraries - National Blog Posting Month NaBloPoMo #1

    Good writing – or is it good reading? – inspires me to write. It may come out of the blue – reading the perfect prose, a poignant poem, a witty quote. Last week, a friend composed the press release for our sanshin group’s upcoming recital – and I was struck. I sat back and as I kept reading, I was mentally nodding, yes, yes, YES!

    I wrote to him to share my appreciation of his words and he shared back that he has been working steadily on his craft, producing.... leaving me with a longing to devote time to my buried words, too. In a PS, he suggested possible projects together – methinks I'm nowhere ready for that... yet! This writing muscle o' mine is quite tight and hard, kind of like my hamstrings… I want to manipulate, massage and mold this muscle until it is pliable, flowing and tender.

    I thought I would begin in the same way one goes about creating habits – by doing something consistently and frequently. Another blogging friend does a blog post daily for the month of November when it is considered the actual National Blog Posting Month – or NaBloPoMo. The website dedicated to NaBloPoMo has since expanded recognizing that people want to participate year round. It's February, and I begin.
    So here I am, Blog Post #1.

    Discipline is just the same concept of a muscle needing to be trained and worked on, to become stronger and more effective…. Getting started (inertia) is probably the hardest. Once momentum is built, like physics, much easier to stay in motion, n'est-ce pas? So, getting the ball rolling…

    * * *

    NaBloPoMo actually assigns themes every month for those that wish to adhere to that. I think I’ll probably just free-flow – just to get going. Unless the suggested “prompt” inspires… which today it does!

    Today's prompt: Who's your favorite character from a book, play, film, or other work of art?

    As my mind starts to flip through a catalogue of things I have seen, read, heard, felt…. I do have my favorites. From childhood, I can feel Meg of A Wrinkle in Time poking her head up. Judy Blume’s memorable characters are embedded in my memory, too – Davey of Tiger Eyes and Winnie of Iggie’s House among others. Ponyboy from The Outsiders and Lieutenant Colonel Slade of Scent of a Woman. There’s Eponine from Les Miserables and Jean Valjean, too. I liked Holden Caulfield of Catcher in the Rye…. And yes, I was infatuated with Scully of The X-Files. Not obscure characters, most folks will know of them. There’s even a whole host of women in love who are all blurred from silly Harlequin Romance novels, too, I’m a little embarrassed, but honest enough to admit.

    And yet, more than exploring each of these characters and what they meant/represented to me, I connect the privilege of consuming these characters through: 1) the writers that give birth to them; as well as, 2) the places one can go to do this consuming. Bravo to the men and women who put pen to paper (archaic, I know) and nurture unforgettable characters that touch us in so many ways. And to places like the local bookstore and particularly the library for being a haven and home to these wonderful creations.

    On my birthday (not related in any way), Mr. Phillip Pullman, best-selling author in his own right, delivered an impassioned speech protesting the closure of 20 libraries in his local area. He’s talking about the wonderful world of reading (consuming) and the library and how it nurtures this. I’ve felt that delicious love affair:

    And the secrecy of it! The blessed privacy! No-one else can get in the way, no-one else can invade it, no-one else even knows what’s going on in that wonderful space that opens up between the reader and the book. That open democratic space full of thrills, full of excitement and fear, full of astonishment, where your own emotions and ideas are given back to you clarified, magnified, purified, valued. You’re a citizen of that great democratic space that opens up between you and the book. And the body that gave it to you is the public library. Can I possibly convey the magnitude of that gift?”
    He goes on to rail against the "greedy ghost of market madness" - condemning the the publishers who choose which writers and works they will publish based on "best-selling" lists, as well as the supposed stewards who want to cut funding from these societal treasures. It defends the library and the librarians for the service they provide, for the nurturing of citizens, both intellectually, pratically and emotionally.

    When the idea of volunteers running libraries was offered as a solution to these cuts, he makes a sharp point that perhaps "they" do not really know or appreciate what a librarian's work entails... I have often thought about studying the library sciences. Though the budgets for these magnificent institutions are constantly in danger of being cut (or actually are being cut), I still harbor a secret desire to become a librarian. They are so cool!

    I imagine having all of the books and resources at one's fingertips. If not to devour the material myself, to catalogue and to assist others in their quest for Data and Knowledge. Of course, chances are I might be like the person who is trying to organize and reads every single scrap piece of paper and not actually getting anywhere with the task at hand. But still!

    I recall my favorite librarian at the Gardena public library (that has been renamed the Mayme Dear Library since) who also was my mentor. Rows of books still thrill me – just as the local bookstore does, too. I love books!

    I love libraries. I spent everyday after attending Denker Avenue Elementary at the Mayme Dear Library where I hung out with friends and read and studied until my mother could pick me up after her work at 5pm. I was not a latchkey kid. I was a latch-library kid. And that is where I met many of my unforgettable characters. Ones who not only taught me compassion and helped me understand what a viewpoint was and the validity of each. Characters that made me realize that every person dwells within me.

    Long live the Library!

    To read the speech in its entirety, click here.