Pandora’s Box

09-18-2018 (I started writing…..9/21 I’m going to stop-it’s getting too long).

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I am looking back at my memos from the past weeks. Every experience is still new and exciting. I’m still noticing similarities and differences in the people/culture/norms. I bet I will do that for my entire adventure. The hardest thing for me to grasp is the amount of time people spend away from home.

We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.

When I see a Morning Glory I think of my mom. They resemble love to me. When a child here see’s a Morning Glory they might think of a summer break assignment. We view things because of experiences we have. We do not all see things the same. I bet very rarely do we actually see things the same.

Pandora’s Box

In myths the story goes that man lived without worry/hurt until a box was opened, which contained ills for mankind. Pandora opened this box because her of her curiosity. She was unable to stop herself from opening this box even though she was told not to. Once opened-evil was unleashed. She tired to slam the box closed but once opened the unimaginable evil (death, disease, poverty, depression, anxiety…) had already escaped.

My brother taught me about Pandora’s box. He helped me create one. When he explained this idea to me…he told me that some things you have to learn to put into Pandora’s box. A box that is so STRONG nothing can get in-or out of it. This box (more like a safe) is to hold things that you never want to think about again and nobody else can be trusted with. He told me once you put the hurts inside the box, you wrap the biggest chain imaginable and put the strongest lock in the world on-and throw this box into the ocean where it can never be found again. Wow. What an idea that was for my 21 year old self. I didn’t like the idea. When I was younger I probably could have used Pandora’s box, but of course this life lesson came AFTER I needed it (I guess that’s how all life lessons are learned).

[Side note: if I could be a teacher of life lessons-I would live to work. I thrive on life lessons especially when I can help a human learn one by sharing my own before they experience it. The hit isn’t as hard when you know somebody else has been there.

Now that I’m “older” (I say older because I wouldn’t quite consider myself an adult YET) I don’t use Pandora’s box as a hurt trapper. Hurt in inevitable, unpreventable. I use it more as a processing tool…I store things in that security safe until I’m ready to take a good look at myself and the troubles. When I keep things in this box for too long-they come out unexpectedly and without warning and it hits me harder than a stack of bricks. I think maybe that’s when I sink into a funk and my anxiety grows as my mental health declines. A funk is an ugly place to be-and it can only be survived. Everybody has these stages. It can come with the change of a season, the loss of a friend, the opening of the box, or in the stages of processing. It can come out of NOWHERE.

Of course as I have said before-I know I will always be okay. I have the gift of knowing deep down in my heart that I will always be okay. I am a Binger.

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Binger’s are warriors and we don’t just survive, we fight. When I think of surviving-it makes me think that you are suffering in the process. Surviving is a beautiful thing when it is short lived.

Life is not meant to be “survived” life is meant to be lived.

Depression and anxiety, you SURVIVE. You suffer through it. It hurts. It can make you physically and emotionally sick-but you survive. If you are reading this-you have probably survived some serious hurt/pain in your lifetime. You have likely endured things that some people can’t even imagine. But you are here and you matter. You make a difference.

I think about work. I think about working to live and living to work. I believe there is a balance. How easy would it be to lose yourself in the process of living to work? Maybe you have lost yourself. You might not even know it. People lose themselves every day and some are able to recover from this and others never realize the tragedy. Similar to an addiction, you can “admit” that you have a problem and begin the process of recovery…or you can put that feeling/reality in Pandora’s box, lock it up and throw it as far as you can. That box will open, you can believe that. You can choose when to open it or you can let it surprise you. You might not even know you have your own lock box-you do.

I have not lost myself to work-but I have lost myself to a number of other things. Losing yourself in a book, a movie, a dream…I think that’s mandatory but losing yourself permanently is a living fatality.

I like to keep Pandora’s Box empty. Proceed with caution-there is a time and a place that we use this coping strategy-I don’t think it’s the strongest strategy to use but sometimes necessary. Opening the box lets out your guilts, hurts, hauntings and mistakes/regrets. The only way to let go of these and move on-is to open the box and take them out one by one, before the lid BURSTS and you have no choice. My box is close to empty, if not empty. I prefer to have a joy box (I physically have a Joy Jar-I doodle down what makes me happy and drop it in the jar so I can read it in the years to come). I would rather have a box full of memories (the pure happiness ones and the events where a life lesson was learned). A box full of love, joy, the sound of giggles and the stories that make me laugh until I cry-every time I hear them.

Japan

Life post chichi is beginning to get back to normal. I’ve met some new friends, found a bar/café that I like and I’ve been staying after school to join sport clubs.

School

The students are talented beyond belief, neat and humorous. There are no scribbles on papers-or ripped papers, students fix mistakes instead of leaving them. These students are artists, athletes, musicians, readers, writers, geographers. That is a light list of what I see in children every day. The students smile. Genuine smiles. Students are excited to teach me words as I teach them words and this is the greatest part of the day.

After school clubs are phenomenal. At home when I coach basketball or take part in any activity-I must be there the entire time and help students stay on task, make good choices, and encourage them to try their best. Teachers/coaches always had to do that when I was an athlete too. Here-the teachers are beyond busy. If they are unable to make it to the club-students practice as if their coach is there. The clubs run like a well-oiled machine. I’ve never seen anything like it. Students get to their club and begin practice. They keep the time and do drills as if the coach is there for every minute. I stop in and see the basketball players and shoot around for a few minutes. I smile as I stand there and watch these CHILDREN manage themselves as individuals and as a team. I never would have dreamed that to be possible. It is on the verge of magic.

I’ve been joining the Softball Club. It has been 10+ years since I have played but it seems even more exciting and fun to play, now. Once again-we have a language barrier. I see what the girls do and I join in or I ask if I can play too. There are some leaders on the team who have great English skills. Thanks to them, I can participate more but I try to just join in and practice with them. When I can give advice/pointers I do-but these girls are as powerful as girls I played against in high school. I will be changing schools in a month. I am sad that I will be moving because I am starting to make relationships with children/staff and I would enjoy fostering these relationships (Of course, I’m excited to meet more students…but leaving has always been a difficult part of life for me).

Humans

Kindness makes you the most beautiful person in the world, no matter what you look like…Noriko and I had a conversation about this recently and how you can’t change your outside, but you can change your inside.

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I had a new and exciting first experience this past weekend. My friend (Noriko)  is a Diver. It is her passion and she shared it with me. We went to Wakayama Prefecture and with Sun Marine Diving shop-I got to experience my first DIVE! It was frightfully, wonderful. The hardest part of it all which seems minuscule looking back…was breathing ONLY through my mouth. My first dive-I was so worried about breathing under water that I must have thought about that the entire time. My guide and my friend came by my side, held my hand, and opened a new world for me-under the sea. I was able to see coral, fishies, big ones and little ones and crabs J It was incredible. I am looking forward to my next chance to do this. My friend, Noriko, says that diving is about more than the underwater life. It is about meeting people and making new friends. That above all, was the best part of the weekend, the people. Let me remind of you of a small difficulty I run into daily-speaking a different language. With this challenge we were still able to communicate, talk, laugh, and exchange languages! Language is more than words.

Diving is something I hope to do again. Another new world for me to explore. The world keeps getting bigger, which means I continue to get smaller!

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In the USA it is all about being an “individual” and being different. In Japan it is about functioning as a whole. A system. I’m not sure which of these I prefer because I do love being my own special self-but making sure a system is working as an overall whole is a different way to look at things. Japan seems more team oriented-allowing members to learn the same skills in case they need to fill in the position for somebody who is gone. If somebody is gone-it may go unnoticed. In the United States-if one person is gone it could spiral out of control. It could be a teacher that is gone-In Japan, no big deal. At home-probably won’t be able to get a substitute so your absence puts responsibility on others. On a sports team if the point guard is gone-the game is nearly unplayable. In Japan it seems like just about any player could step up and play the position. I like the idea of functioning as a whole…but I hate the thought of each individual not being able to show their sparkle. It stirs up some feelings of being replaceable or dispensable (I’m an emotional overthinker) and it goes against everything I know to be true in that it shows how unimportant one person can be. Today I was asked what the best thing about the United States is. I think the best part is that I get to be myself-I can wear what I want and not worry about my tattoos/piercings. I am soaking up the differences between Washington and Nishinomiya.

You are the company you keep. I thought this was absurd when I was younger. Now I fully believe this.

A friend  hugged me this week. I can count the number of hugs I have gotten in the past 2 months on one hand-in fact I think I have had 2 solid hugs since July 28th. Holy goodness. Yuko and Sachiko continue to be a consistence source of happiness for me.  I know that if/when a “funk” hits-I’ll have the support of wonderful women. I am finding myself missing my Haha (mama) lately. She is going to be having a surgery next month and I hate to not be there for it. Prayers for my Mama, the more the better. I’ve met a friend with the same birthday as me. I love birthday’s more than anything so that was a special treat. People here refer to it as “destiny” or “fate”. Today I searched for a student to tell her happy birthday. When I found her, I could not contain my enthusiasm as I shouted “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” It felt like I was telling my best friend happy birthday-I was that excited about it. This is a student I have been able to build a relationship with. I knew I had to find her-because there is nothing more special than being loved-especially on your birthday.

I had the pleasure of experiencing Karaoke. If you know me…you know I don’t sing…or dance. J If I am singing karaoke it means I need to get home ASAP. There are places here devoted to karaoke. Buildings with floors full of rooms-that you rent that have an IPAD where you select the song you want to sing. People here are so BRAVE and they really have no idea. The way the sing, dance, talk in front of people-I see people being brave all the time and I don’t think they have any idea how courageous they are.

Missing my people greatly, with much love.

illie

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