Memories in the making


These are some quotes I have come across, that made me feel something.

Hugging is the most beautiful form of communication that allows the other person to know beyond a doubt that they matter.

It is hard for me to understand why people don’t hug here. To hug once a day would improve the mind, body, and soul.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.

The only person you should be better than, is the person you were yesterday.

When you are counting the blessings and beautiful things in your life, don’t forget to count yourself.

It’s ok. You just forgot who you are. Welcome back.



I feel everything. I always have. I’ve encountered situations in my life where I thought it would be easier to feel nothing instead of uncomfortable pain.  It would be easier. 

Something I begin teaching children at the young age of 8 is:

Don’t take the easy way out.

When you begin taking the easy way out, it becomes a habit. The easy way out has a wide range of meanings. It could mean: Sleeping in for 30 extra minutes [instead of going for that run you SWORE you would go on]. Drinking coffee [instead of the water bottle on your desk you’ve been staring at all day]. Not drinking liquid/water [because you hate having to go to the bathroom frequently]. Saying no to new things. Not trying. Putting the pencil down when learning is difficult. Walking up the hill because the burn from riding is just too much.

At some points in my life, I enjoyed the easy route. It was never the path designed or designated for me…but I chose it. Last week I’ve taken the easy way out in each example I gave…However, today, I have only had water. I did sleep in an extra 15 minutes [instead of 30] this morning but I WILL make up for that this evening. [For the record…I didn’t make up for it. I took a nap and then when to bed].  The easy way out for me, is keeping to myself, eating cheeseburgers and ingesting caffeine. Unfortunately, the easy way out often brings instant gratification as well as short-term happiness. The easy way out is a form of distraction, keeping us from successfully DOING what we want to DO.

I feel, deeply.

I love largely.


After work I laid down for a quick recharge. What was supposed to be a thirty-minute nap turned into a 2 hour sleep. When I woke up, I was frazzled. My wall clock said 7:45. That meant I had 15 minutes to get dressed and out the door for work. [I don’t know why I was worried…Most days I’m out the door within 20 minutes of waking up.] I had to double-check the time by looking at my watch. I then had a 3rd and 4th confirmation by looking at my phone twice. I couldn’t figure out how long I slept for, I think that is why I panicked. Was I sleeping for 12 hours, a whole day, a week?! Once logic kicked in I wondered why it was dark out and why I was still wearing my clothes that I wore to work…

It was 7:45 pm,  SUCH a special treat. I like to think this only happens when you are having the greatest nap of your life which explains why this hasn’t happened to me in YEARS. Got up, ate [duh] and went back to bed. Today is Wednesday and I am finally feeling well rested from the weekend. My friend has a house in Sasayama. We went out there in search of wild animals. I saw 0 but the company was great so no disappointment.

We went to an onsen which has got to be one of my favorite Japan activities. Onsens are Japanese hot springs. The experience is similar to a public bath but the onsens have indoor bathing and outdoor. Onsens use natural hot water from geothermally heated springs and this is what makes them different from public baths which are heated tap water.

About 50 % of onsens have banned bathers with tattoos. This was done to keep gang members out. Some people are granted entrance with tattoos, if tattoos are covered. I have not been to an Onsen yet that is tattoo-friendly but I hope to visit one sometime. My goal is to visit as many onsens as I can while I am in Japan.

The experience of an onsen is an interesting one. This wouldn’t be my usual goal, comfort zone, or enjoyment. When you go to an onsen you get a locker. Here, you undress [completely]. You then wash your body/hair before getting into a small pool sized hot spring. During this time there are a number of people doing the exact same thing you are. When I walk in, the nakedness startles me but before I know it I’m walking around in my birthday suit too.

I don’t know that I would do this in the USA. People would be staring, comparing and judging. I don’t know that I would want to go do this activity with my friends at home either.

Here, it is a normal and enjoyable activity. It’s not strange to be walking around naked or sharing a space with naked strangers. I’ve been to hot springs in Idaho…but everyone wore their swimsuits in it. I appreciate the tradition behind onsens and the rich experiences I have at them.

I’ve decided that I will go to Kyoto for the weekend. I’m ecstatic. I am going to stay in a hostel. I’m going to be staying in a place other than my own, by myself, for the first time. I’m trying to fulfill my needs of adventure, exploration and personal growth.


I left Friday after school for Kyoto. What should have been an hour and a half commute ended up being about a three-and-a-half-hour commute. I got on 2 wrong trains. Learning experience. I checked in at the hostel Friday night and walked around town. Saturday, I went to my first world heritage site, Nijo Castle. I made a round at Nishiki Market, went in a hedgehog café and ended up walking in total about 15 miles.

Sunday was similar walking wise. I spent hours at the Kyoto City Zoo. It was raining so their were few people wandering around and I was happy to be seeing the animals so the rain didn’t bother me.

This was my first time staying in a hostel. Imaya hostel in Kyoto was superb. The most important feature of any place for me is that I feel safe. I felt safe the entire time and I was comfortable. This was probably some of the best sleep I’ve gotten while in Japan and I was in a cubicle like space in the bottom “shelf”. I LOVED it. Now that I have made it out for a weekend adventure by myself, I am excited for my next. This might be an every weekend type of activity…once I return from seeing my mama. Shortly after my mama got out of the hospital for blood clots, she was in a car accident. WHAT IN THE WORLD. After hearing that I decided it was necessary to go home and hug my mama. Cherry blossom season is coming in beautifully. I hope to not miss the peak of the season when I am visiting home.

I have 2 days left at the junior high I am at. Two days with some of the most wonderful humans I have come to know in Japan. The students (are too old to call kids but too young to call friends) are so special to me. I want to be a high school teacher eventually, but junior high is a special time. I wonder how it compares with USA middle school. I said goodbye to staff and students today in an assembly. Students gave me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers that I have ever received!

Students who I have seen out and about or even at school that I have taken photos with are printing them and putting them on cards. They are the most thoughtful and lovely gifts that I will cherish forever. I love my job. I was crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t cry when I finish up here. Now, I’m wondering why I thought of it as a negative thing. I may or may not cry. If I do though, it is because the people I have met and the place I have been have a place in my heart. Crying is not a weakness.


I have been back in Japan for less that 24 hours. I spent a loving 9 days in Spokane with my family and friends. I slept with the dogs, stayed up all hours of the night with my mom and putted around town to see as many friends as I could. Now I understand why my brother never wanted to tell people when he would be in town…there isn’t enough time to see everyone that you want to. My last day at school before I headed to the USA, I attempted to sneak out without having to say goodbye. A few friends caught me, forcing me to say, see you soon.

The reason I was able to go home is because my brother works for United Airlines. Due to the cost and time off that I have to take, I wouldn’t be able to afford it if I was paying full price. On my way home, I was planning to take a detour to Texas, for a day. I should have known that the flights would be full the day of my arrival. Flying standby has been a Rosethorn. I’ve spent an unimaginable time in the San Francisco Airport. I’ve even spent nights there. I got home just in time to snuggle the dogs while the three of us fell asleep.

My first stop after seeing my family, was to the school that I teach at. I spent 2 days of my 9 there. I could have spent more.

That place is where a job became my life, a staff became my family, and students became my children.

I got to see some of my children and remind them of how loved they are.

I was able to be home for the last day of TAG. Four years ago, I got lucky enough to join 4 friends who play grown up tag every March. This game of tag keeps the five of us connected even though we are all now at different schools and different stages in life. Each year the game gets more intense. Throughout the month of March, the person who is it is recognized by the lanyard they have, with a duck on it. When tagging a person, you must pass the lanyard off to the next person. Whoever is it on the last day, is “IT” for the rest of the year.


If you know me, you know I LOVE BIRTHDAYS. Birthdays are the best holidays. I especially love my birthday. I don’t often hear people say they enjoy their own birthdays. It seems like it is kind of selfish to say, but why wouldn’t you love your own special day?! I spent my birthday with my family and concluding this years game of tag. I usually send my mama flowers on my birthday. I think my birthday is a special day for my mama. I mean it is the day she gave birth…the day she brought me into this world. Shortly after my birthday I departed for Japan. This was the first time that I cried when leaving home.

I’ve been back in Japan a week and haven’t slowed down a bit (minus the night I laid down for a nap at 5pm and woke up the next day at 5am). I’ve been moving furniture and cleaning up the last remains of winter and the mold brought by the humidity.

I put my winter clothes away and got out my summer clothes. People here are still wearing jackets and I’m down to short sleeves and jeans! This is the most wonderful time of the year.

It is Sakura season right now. Sakura=Cherry blossoms.

I adventured to Nara and stayed in a hostel for a night.

I went to a restaurant where I was having dinner (alone). When I attempted to pay the man told me that the men who walked out before me, paid my tab. This random act of kindness made me HAPPY. I tried to catch the men to thank them, but when I got outside they were gone. I do things like this at home. I guess I haven’t done it here because of the language barrier. When going out with friends or eating dinner people generally pay separately and only pay for their meal. That is what made this so surprising.  Happy Happy. The next day I stopped at a ramen shop for lunch. As I sat at the counter, in between two strangers, I couldn’t help but smile.

I am happy to just be me.

I am happy to go out to a ramen shop alone and eat a delicious meal next to strangers. I enjoy walking around new cities by myself maybe even more so than with the company of others. I’m loving the time I spend with myself. A year ago, I would have told you that I hate to be alone and I hate spending time with myself. Heck, 6 months ago I probably would have told you that. Up until this point in my life, I avoided spending time with myself. I didn’t like myself enough to be my only company for hours YET days on end. I am proud of myself. I don’t think that thought has ever crossed my mind before now.

When I got back to Nishinomiya, my bike had a flat tire. I needed to get a valve cap for my tire. I went to a bike shop and the man fixed it and said no charge! It has been a feel good week.


Yesterday, I went with my friend Yuko to admire the cherry blossoms around Shukugawa. It was AMAZING. The river banks and walkways were covered with picnickers. It was heartwarming to see how the cherry blossoms in bloom bring people together.


Today is my first day at my new school. The first day back to school for students and the start of a new school year. The new teachers were introduced at the opening ceremony and we each had a short speech. Guess what? I have a pant suit on. I don’t despise it like I thought I would.

The things I once thought were outrageous and surprising about Japan I no longer notice. (No trash cans and yards. All the bicycles and bike parking.) I’m starting to feel less like a foreigner and more like a person who lives in Japan 🙂

[I put XO on the chalk board here. A students said, X, zero? I love sharing things like this…language that I never would have thought was unknown. ]

Until next time,


One thought on “Memories in the making

  1. Oh, seeing the sakura on the Sukugawa made me so homesick for Nishinomiya.
    You have done a marvelous job of sharing such an amazing experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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