I love when I am reading a book and I recognize the emotion and meaning behind the title of the book or even the chapter. My title for my blog is Rubee Miles. Rubee Miles because if I ever have a daughter, that is what I want to name her. The meaning this name has come to be deep in my heart and explainable beyond my heart. Some people think I don’t want to be a Mom but it is a hope and dream of mine. People say you have to meet the child before you choose a name. But Rubee Miles would be perfect for any child of mine…even if it does end up having 4 legs. Finding the relation between a title and a person’s writing is one of my favorite things.

Happy birthday to some very special women in my life. Happy birthday Mama, Kristy and Lois!! Happy Birthday to my favorite, wonderful, wacky, women. You inspire and motivate me to be a better person. You encourage me to keep moving forward and to choose happy as a way of life. Thank you for improving the quality of my life. Spread your glitter- you make the world sparkle!

This was my first Christmas waking up, alone, without family. It was not magical or heartwarming. It was sad. It was harder than I imagined. Now, all the Christmas decorations have been replaced with New Years decorations.

In Japan, lonely has a different meaning. I had someone say to me, you must be lonely. I kind of giggled because generally you don’t say that to someone. Lonely in Japan just means, by yourself. In that case yes, I am alone/lonely. But I can be in a room full of people and feel alone. On Christmas, I was in a room full of people and felt lonely. Lonely to me is a sadness caused by the absence of love. Lonely is a feeling of being alone, not just a physical description. For the most part I do not feel lonely, even though I spend a lot of time alone. Differences in the way two people use the same word interests me.

Christmas in Japan is celebrated for fun. Some families get small trees (a foot tall or so) and eat chicken/KFC for a Christmas dinner. You can probably guess where my dinner was from…YEP, 7-11. I’ve been waiting to receive a package from Chichi. I swear he timed it exactly so, that it would arrive on Christmas. Once again, a great letter, photos of loved ones and MASKS! Another joy filled package.

New Years celebrations here closely resemble traditions for Christmas in America. Families travel to be together for the New Year. Many places are closed December 30-January 3rd and nearly all places are closed on New Years day. Families celebrate by having a special dinner together, staying up (all night) playing games, maybe visiting a shrine or temple and sharing their hopes, dreams and prayers for the upcoming year. At midnight on New Years the Temples ring their bell 108 times. This is believed to release 108 sins from all humans. The 108 sins that these bells rid us include mental states that cloud the mind and force people to manifest/think of impure actions. This can be anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression and more. I think this is a great tradition to bring in a new year. To me, a clean slate is much better done by cleaning it rather than filling it with resolutions. I’d rather have a fresh start than a list of goals that makes me feel like I’m already behind what is supposed to be a “New Year”.


Families spend this holiday together and manifest a future that they hope for while riding themselves of accidental and purposeful sins. We all find ourselves in boats we do not want to be in. New Years is a time to grow stronger… Families will gather for the New Year and that doesn’t leave much room for a foreigner. Who knows-maybe I’ll get to spend the new year with my family too.


I’ve always felt a feeling of defeat on New Years. People are always talking about a renewed sense of hope. Every morning I have a renewed sense of hope. People wait all week for Friday, all year for their favorite season and their entire life for happiness. I cannot bare to do that. I choose happy each day because I believe happy is a way of life.

I’m not counting down until Friday, summer, or the new year.

I have never understood why people wait to make a goal or resolution. If I waited for a New Year to make/start a goal, I would never achieve anything. I am reflecting, planning and growing daily. I’d rather use the new year as a stamp in time to resemble who I am in that moment. I prefer to look back at how I have grown rather than plan ahead for what could end up being failure. I’m not scared of failure. I have some size failure every day from as little as forgetting to take my vitamin to not setting alarm and possibly having forgot to switch my laundry. Today, my failure (so far) was starting the day with 2 fresh squeezed lemons instead of one. Continuing after failure is where growth happens. My goals have a large range from what some people would laugh at because it’s a “dream” to what others would laugh at because a child might have bigger goals.

I’ve always wanted to own a zoo. That’s my dream. Is it crazy…maybe. Would it be impossible to own a zebra…NO. But that’s a big dream, I know. But someone once told me I’d never own an animal that could live at a zoo. That person is no longer in my life. These are my dreams-you get your own. A little dream of mine…to stop biting my nails, learn judo and sleep through the night without waking up. I’m making, rearranging, prioritizing, failing and succeeding each day at different goals I have.  [I tried Judo at school with students today, for the first time. I had no prior knowledge on Judo, I just had a feeling it was going to be badass. I couldn’t think of a better word to describe my feelings towards something I had only heard of-sorry for that word choice. However, I was right. It was the coolest. I participated in about half of the warm up. I was too weak to do the whole thing. My hope is that if I keep going to Judo, I’ll gain enough strength to do the entire warm up. Maybe I’ll even be able to participate in part of the actual practice. The amount of charlie horses I got and the intense soreness of my abdominals right now is a clear indicator that I am using muscles I didn’t even know I had. Learned a few of the basics. I had no idea Judo had so much gripping, grappling, striking and body locks involved. I’ve never seen such graceful, aggressiveness.

In early December I attended Kobe Luminaire. This is a light show that began after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Thousands of people lost their lives, tens of thousands of people were injured and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. This light show symbolized bringing light back into the lives of people in Japan. It is an annual representation of the lives lost and the regained hope and renewal that was necessary to rebuild the city. Seeing this light show, I felt that renewal in my heart, something I have never felt on New Years.

I’ve been living what my best friends refer to as “my best life“. I’ve been exploring all hours of the day, meeting new friends and going out with old friends. I think the grandma life is more my style. Japan, the best life has been real…but I’m more fit for the old soul (early to bed and early to rise) young heart (zoo visits and ocean trips) life.

I had my first experience at the doctor. I say experience because I gained new knowledge through this exposure. In Japan each symptom requires a different doctor. A doctor specialized in that area. I understand why and I appreciate a specialist who is an expert in their area. In the USA, my primary care facility was Minor Emergency until I was about 24. I went there for everything (stitches, shots, broken bones, fever, illness-you name it I’ve been there for it). Now, I tell my doctor everything. I guess I’m use to more of a “one size fits all” patient. I hate one size fits all because it never fits right but this is the one time I would have preferred it (only because it is what I am used to).

I attended my first Bonenkai (Forget the year party). This is a party where people get together to forget the troubles and stresses of the past year and start the new year to come, fresh. Most of this event was in Japanese and I still had the most wonderful time. The company, games and food was perfect. What a cool party to have. I love that every single person can communicate with a smile or a laugh. The happy that was spread across the faces of people at this party was a sight to see. A language barrier cannot block the communication that happens through emotions. We play the same, laugh the same and can communicate through so much more than words. Forget the year and bless the next. I love the traditions I have experienced so far.

I’ve been meeting with a student after school to help her prepare for her high school entrance exam. It seems to be comparable to applying for community college. We have run into road blocks due to the language barrier and the best way I have found around these is to act the words out, or draw a picture. Common sense maybe…but I always thought rephrasing and repeating was a great strategy. Turns out it is useless. Rephrase: Explain an unknown word using more unknown words. Repeat: Still don’t understand. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but I prefer to exhaust all options before turning to a dictionary or translation device. We both must try tremendously hard to accomplish this and it is a great challenge for both of us. The students here study an intense amount, more than I would have ever dreamed of. The athletes practice more in one day than some students in America do in a whole week.

Right now, it is winter break both in America and Japan. Students last day of school was Christmas. However, teachers work until December 29th and then return January 4th. Teachers have a six-day break and two of those days are thanks to a weekend. Students may not have class but they are all here practicing their club activity. Winter break and the school is functioning close to normal. Teachers are working, students are practicing, and everybody is busy. At home, students and teachers are completely off from school for a week or two. Huge difference in the education systems.

I went to a Spokane/Nishinomiya sister city dinner. I met many new faces and had the company of a dear friend that I met when I arrived in Japan. Students who just got back from Spokane were at the party and shared some of their favorite activities! Several of the people attending the party had also been to Spokane. It kind of brings us together like a family when we have the connection of being in the same places. They love my home and I love theirs. Kind of like how I have an automatic connection with Corn Huskers. When you love and support the same ______ It makes for an instant connection. At this dinner I was gifted a poinsettia. These remind me of my mama and my grandma. It was a beautiful gift to receive and it brought joy to my heart. My friend and I are now going to see who can keep their plant living happily, longer. We both love plants…but our living plant success is non-existent.

Happy Merry Everything


6 thoughts on “Countdown

  1. Hi Rachel, Happy New Year; I hope your 2019 brings you new challenges, adventures, and friends and keeps your old friends, family and experiences close to your heart. I’m enjoying reading about your personal experiences in your new homeland. Continue to enjoy your stay in Japan. Love, Barbara


  2. So beautiful. I appreciate your thinking so much….especially about goal setting once a year. I love you Rachel! You make my life more glittery!


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