They Are a Great Start for Problem Solving: Flowers

They Are a Great Start for Problem Solving: Flowers

It is true, flowers actually do not solve any one problem you may have.  However, flowers remind you that you are being thought of by someone, the beauty of life, that you are loved and to smile.  Someone special in your life, whoever that may be, is thinking of you, which lifts you up, not the flowers themselves.  It has been hard to accept that I am special to someone because I grew up convincing myself that I was an ugly duckling and no one cared about me.

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My friend Ayako Gordon, (also an artisan jam maker) made this gorgeous bouquet.   Archie goes to see Ayako every other Sunday at Marigold and Mint where she works as a florist.  She knows exactly what I like so he doesn’t have to tell Ayako what kind of bouquet he wants to get for me.  Every time Archie brings me those flowers, my heart gets filled so much and it almost explodes.

The bonus to that is that when you give flowers to someone special, your best friend, your spouse, your boss, your direct report, your mother, your brother’s wife…whoever that is, you will experience the same effect as much as when you receive them.  You will get to feel the beauty of life, how much you love that person, how much you think of him/her.

Flowers=the first step to world peace (at least your inner peace)

Not-so-lovely Saturday: Self Acceptance

Not-so-lovely Saturday: Self Acceptance

Today’s (or my lifetime) goal is “not to compare myself to others.” Sounds strenuous.  I think that is the root of all of my issues and baggage that I carry, which is constantly comparing myself to others and not accepting myself.  Other people have better personality, family, more money, popularity, leadership skills, more talented, are kinder, more beautiful, thinner calves, prettier smile, better cook, better dancer…etc.  No wonder my life has been so harsh.  That is no one’s fault, but mine because I have been letting myself accept that.

This last Saturday, Archie and I wasted almost all Saturday because of lack of self-assurance and affirmation.  I was not liking parts of my bodies.  I thought too much about it and that drove me to the point where I get upset with someone else.  I was angry at myself too much already and I was not sure what to do.  My emotion burst out against Archie.  We could have spent a lovely Saturday together (it was gorgeous spring weather day!) if I was not that way.  Me being bitter affected us so much and we ended up having a long-ass argument that was not necessary.

It is all about my ego that is playing me.  I read below a while ago but I can’t recall where but I kept it in my notebook.  This is such a nice reminder to take a step forward to accept who I am.

Trying to be anyone else is a waste of the person you are.  Be yourself.  Embrace that individual inside you that has ideas, strengths and beauty like no one else.  Be the person you know yourself to be-the best version of you-on your terms.  Above all, be true to YOU, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it” 

本日の(というか、きっと人生の)目標は、「人と比べない」。私自身、たくさんの問題を抱えているけど、根源となっているのは、自分はこれでいいんだっていう、そういう思いが欠けているから。自信というより、自己肯定。生まれてきてから、今のいままで、何かが欠けている、自分は人より劣っている、他の人はできるのに、なんで私はできないのか。そんなことばかり思って生きてきたので、今になってその代償を払っている。アーチーに教えてもらうまで、人より劣ってると思うことが普通だったから、ようやく、どうしてこんなに辛かったのか良くわかった。

以下、「私より他人の方が。症候群」の症例。他人の方が、正しい、良い仕事持ってる、友達がたくさんいる、頭が良い、優しい家族がいる、お金持ち、笑顔がきれい、足が細い、料理が上手、怠惰じゃない、ダンスがうまい、収入が多い、性格が良い、みんなに優しくできる、人気がある、リーダーシップがある、才能がある...等々。これにプラスして、「自分もそんな風になりたい。を通り越して、他人より秀でたい。症候群」っていうのになりかかっている感じもする。周囲の評判や、他人が自分のことをどう思っているのか、気にしすぎてしまう。もう少し言えば、気に病んでしまう。そうすると、自分にも他人(自分にとってとても大切な人々)にもぎすぎすした態度を取って、優しくできなくなってしまう。魔のパラドックスにどっぷりはまって、抜け出すのに物凄い量の、労力と時間がかかる。先だっての土曜日だってそうだ。自分の体型が気に入らないとか、そんな理由でアーチーに、つっかかったし、それが理由でその日は、ほぼ一日無駄にした。しかも別れる、別れないとかそんなことまで、話す羽目になって。暖かくて、春みたいに良い天気で、もっと楽しい一日が二人で過ごせたはずなのだ。

慎み深さを持ってまた、自己肯定のできる様、ゆっくり、ゆっくり、牛歩にて。

Lesson Learned: from Ferris Bueller and Ginger the Chihuahua

Lesson Learned: from Ferris Bueller and Ginger the Chihuahua

Ferris Bueller is excellent.  Not only is he charming, he is quite insightful.

He said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  That is something.

It was about 50 degrees and sunny in Seattle yesterday.  I was sitting on the bench right next the “black hole sun” (remember the song of Sound Garden?) in Volunteer Park, facing west to the ocean.  One guy with guitar and a woman with cello played a series of music, basically they were having a free concert for people sitting in the park.  Archie and Ginger, my overweight Chihuahua took a walk somewhere in the park while I sat and wrote.  I am sure they enjoyed the moment as much as I enjoyed my alone time.

I think a lot.  Sometimes I overthink.  Actually all the time.  I over-analyze things.  It kills me.  I think about what’s going on in the world, my parents’ health or worst of all, what other people think about me.  I worry so much about it.  I compare myself to others A LOT, then I make myself inferior to others.  I allow myself to do that.  I create thing in my head even though those thoughts are not often true.  Lots of assumptions.  Not trusting others.  Most of all, I am not trusting myself.

I read this one article yesterday morning.  It was about human thoughts and was suggesting that you “check-in” when you are creating problems in your own head, being negative or are in a dark place.  Meaning, you should ask yourself if you actually have solutions for problems/issues that are percolating in your head.  The article assures that you don’t have any resolutions most of the time.

While I was taking a mental break and soaking up the sun, I was thinking, “the article was right.  I do not have any solutions for these problems that I am creating.”  I was worrying about my work stuff that hadn’t even started yet.  I dislike not being prepared, but what I was worrying about is NOT preparing.  I was just creating bad scenarios that might not even happen.

What I need to do is be more like Ferris Bueller or my dog.  Both Ferris and Ginger know how not to worry about the future you don’t have any control of.  They just enjoy theirs “asses off”.

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Powerful Message without Being Loud: All the Way from Tokyo

Powerful Message without Being Loud:  All the Way from Tokyo

Since the middle of January, our company has been in an odd place and I have been feeling unsettled.  It’s quite tiring, both physically and mentally (maybe more so mentally). By the time I come home every night, all I can think about is my bed.  Warm blanket and comfortable pillow, my dog and a book.  Recently, I notice I barely can read more than 5 pages because I fall asleep so fast.  Archie has to take my glasses and turn the light off for me almost every night.

Last night I came home dog-tired after learning my dear friend and co-worker was going to be released from his team soon.  Like any other corporation, layoffs are happening.  I work for a large corporation and all they do is cut people off every now and then so they can increase their stock price, which makes investors happy. I get how it works.  At the human level however, I can’t agree with how they handled it.  It is just inhumane.  Yes, I understand this needs to happen but he is beyond my co-worker, he is my friend.

I was emotionally drained but I made it home.  Then I saw this box sitting on my dining table.  It was a package from my friend who lives in Japan.  She and I have known each other for about 30 years.  We haven’t been able to see each other at all for this last 15 years or so but we connected through Instagram (or Facebook, can’t remember…either way it was one of these social media stuff).  She is positive, kind, supportive and beautiful.  My favorite characteristic of her is her thoughtfulness.  This package is full of her thoughtfulness.  She remembered what I mentioned long time ago and she took time to go get them and send them to me.  She is a mother of two and I know she does not have lots of time on her hand but she did it for me anyways.

As soon as I open the box, I was able to feel that.  I felt like the package arrived just in time to tell me not to get discouraged by the distracting things happening around me.  It felt like as if she was telling me “Cheer up.  It’s going to be OK” with a lovely smile on her face.  I choked up.  I wanted to share this with my friend who would have to leave the team soon so he could hear her simple yet strong message.

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So, today I shared this wonderfully and lusciously prepared short bread (no dairy and with simple ingredients) which my friend in Tokyo sent to me with my dear co-worker.  I do hope he got her message.  I hope at least he got to enjoy the moment he bit into the shortbread and brought a smile to him.  Even one second.

She probably does not have any idea what’s going on in Seattle but I can tell you, my friend, you brought us something very special and hopeful.  I will never forget that.

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Spring Came Early This Year: Daffodils and Kathy

Spring Came Early This Year: Daffodils and Kathy

Spring has come this morning.

Working in a corporate environment is challenging.  You enjoy working with intelligent, knowledgeable, dedicated, passionate and friendly co-workers and you become friends with some of them.  It is a challenging time for all of us at work.  I am about to lose someone who is very close to me and who is nothing but helpful,  always willing to assist me and always there as a good friend.  I won’t be able to work with him any more in the same group.  We get a cup of coffee together every morning, joke around a lot like brother and sisters.  I have been quite confused, sad and emotional since I found out about the news.

Kathy came by this morning with a hint of spring.  She was holding a bouquet of daffodils (so delightful and charming!) and said to me that I looked quite down for a last few days so she bought something to cheer me up.  What a thoughtful person she is.  If the world was full of these people, I guarantee it would be a better place.

Like Dalai Lama said, “The planet does not need more successful people.  The planet desperately need s more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds”  Kathy, you are truly one of them.

I decided today is the 1st day of spring this year because of the daffodils I received this morning.  It has been raining 3 days straight in Seattle now but who cares.  Let’s celebrate the arrival of spring together.

Happy Spring!

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Right vs. Wrong: Who Decides What Freedom is for people?

Right vs. Wrong:  Who Decides What Freedom is for people?

My heart has been aching for months with regards to what’s happening in Syria.  3 days ago, I could barely stand what just happened.  I nearly lost all hope for humankind.  I felt hopeless, fearful, sad and heartbroken.

Then, I am conflicted.  I am confident they are doing wrong things but what if they believe they are doing a right thing for freedom?

Freedom does not mean that you are “FREE” from responsibilities.  To me, freedom is to let go of things not meant for me (I am still working toward my own freedom) and be kind to others.  But who gets to decide THEIR freedom?  What if they really believe that they are working toward to their own freedom?  Do I get to decide they are completely wrong?

When I saw this photo this morning I thought that freedom also meant not giving up and speaking up.  Freedom requires responsibilities.  Freedom requires focus and believing in humankind.  I have to decide now and today I will not give up until the day freedom for everyone comes.  Humankind.  We call us humankind because we are able to be kind to each other, right?

I will never give up my right to be kind to others.

Here is what Rosa Parks said.

I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.

We all struggle and this is remarkably hard to do but it is also nice to know there are people out there who don’t give up on humankind’s love and freedom.

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Dark Place to Happy Place: Just Like That – Outerlands, SF

Dark Place to Happy Place:  Just Like That – Outerlands, SF

I was crying for help inside for weeks. I had been experiencing some hardships that I was not really able to figure out and had been frustrated about not knowing what was going on. As a result, I was being so short with a couple of people, especially my poor best friend, he had to be my punching bag for a while. Even though he bought tickets to San Francisco Ballet (3rd row from the front) and traveled with me. What did I do for return? I snapped at him a couple of times during the trip, which he does not reserve whatsoever.

8 am Sunday morning, we got on to MUNI to headed over to Ocean Beach area to get a nice breakfast. On MUNI, it felt like my chest was being filled with dark emotion and I didn’t want to talk to him at all. We got out and walked toward to this restaurant called, Outerlands near the beach http://outerlandssf.com/ . I was already frustrated because there was a long line even if we got there 20 min before their opening time, 9am. When we sat down on the wooden bench outside while waiting, I started telling him about I need some time for me to be alone for a while. He was very supportive of that. As he asked me a couple of questions about work, all of a sudden, my thoughts are getting clearer, as if clouds are moving and I started to see sunlight. I found the core problem of what’s been eating me this last 2 to 3 weeks.

Of course Outerlands’ food did help me out. Beautiful looking corn bread with crumble of goat cheese, cheerful looking chicory open sandwich with eggs and salad, and fun looking rice porridge with pork belly, pickled veggies. They were all luscious and I could taste their dedication and passion.

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After this inspiring (for food and for my soul) breakfast, I felt revitalized and uplifting. I was getting out from that dark spot to a sunny and hopeful place.

Thank you, Outerlands and Archie for pulling me out of my cave. You guys are both beyond wonderful.

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Dog and Seahorse

Dog and Seahorse

San Francisco was amazing. The city has such an interesting character. Also people in SF seems chill. I had delicious food and bought a Japanese hand forged kitchen knife. Overall I had a wonderful over-night holiday.

I landed Seattle just 10 min ago. As soon as I got out from our plain, I heard people yelling. I wondered why and random someone told me Seahawks just got tied. OK.

I am born and bread Japanese. In my country, football means soccer. I barely know about “American” football as much as my dear co-worker, Nico. He accidentally said the other day, “Go Seahorse!”

My friend Hana who took care of my dog while I was away is a HUGE Seahawks fan. So she put her hat on my dog Ginger (and she looks unhappy).

Anyway, go Seahorse!

$12,690 vs. $0

$12,690 vs. $0

Luxury.  What does that mean to me, I wondered when I saw this quote Sunday morning.

“Luxury to me is not about buying expensive things; It’s about living in a way where you appreciate things”

We have been lucky to have a warm winter in Seattle this year.  It was sunny and spring like yesterday.

When I took my slightly overweight Chihuahua, Ginger to do her business early in the morning, I noticed it was such a gratifying morning.  Air was clean and slightly wet from last night’s rain and ocean nearby.  I inhaled big this air as if I was filling my whole body with freshness of winter morning.  Then all of a sudden, I heard something humming.  I thought it was a bee at first but it sounded a little louder than a bee.

I realized that was a humming bird hovering and humming away right in front of me for good 5 seconds.  I was not moving and probably I was not breathing because I didn’t want this pretty bird to go away.  She (the bird looked like she) was holding one bright pink petal of winter camellia, which is one of my favorite flower.  It felt like she was trying to tell me to take a moment once in a while and just BE.

This is exactly what luxury is all about to me.  The beautiful humming bird brought such a quiet yet strong message yesterday.  By the way, above quote is by Oscar De La Renta, high-end couture fashion designer.  The most expensive dress of his you can buy online is $12,690.  However, like he said, you can find your own luxury, whatever that may be, when you choose, you don’t even have to pay a penny.

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