Sad should never be wrapped

Had I known how to save a life.

I use to sing that song at the top of my lungs. I thought-wow this song is real. I’m sitting here now recalling the lyrics…I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life…but does that save a life? How many nights have you stayed awake to watch a person you love, sleep… Or been a partner in crime because being the right-hand man was better than feeling like not being anything at all. (I say “you” because it’s less alienating for me.) I’ve been trying to be a life jacket for people sinking, since I can remember.

Do these people owe me anything? Absolutely NOT. Am I some super great person who saves lives? Nope. I am however, a human being who wants every person I encounter to know how abundantly loved they are.

That’s the other difficult part of life. You hear in movies and on TV, you read it in books in motivational quotes…we cannot love someone else until we love ourselves. We cannot see the ever-flowing love that others have for us, until you care about ourselves. (I say “we” because it’s less alienating for you). I always say, [to people, friends, family, students] “You are loved”. I don’t often say, “I am loved”. I’m going to start saying that more.

Before I moved to Japan my friend had a going away party for me, at her home. It felt like the first time in my life that people came together for me. Purely, for me. People came to love me. I still have a hard time with that. I think of it more as just people coming together, to share happiness. But that night as I looked around at the people who gathered, I felt and saw love.

How do you help people who seem incapable of being happy? Are some people incapable of being happy?

Anchors keep you in one place by weighing you down.

When I get too involved in helping others, the anchor gets too heavy and we both start to sink. I’m not a life jacket. I’m a human.

I’ve been pulled down, deep and one thing I’m not yet confident at is swimming back up alone.

Many people like the anchor symbol in relation to family/life. I think I prefer a tree. Strongly rooted, morals and values run deep. But the outside and the surface level “stuff” changes with each day.

People love trees. I love trees. I don’t love just one season of their beauty. I love their core. I think most people can agree on that.

Trees are not expected to stay in bloom or keep their leaves, year-round. They lose their leaves and they are still perfectly strong and beautiful. Then, green begins to return and they are still unique and perfect.

I taught a lesson about infinite worth to my students. I think I have written about this before, it’s a good enough experience to be shared again.

My students were having a hard time respecting one another and just getting along. They were unable to make the right choices if I was not there to see it.

I lined up with 5 adults from various life stages that worked at my school. Familiar faces to the children but they knew me best. 2 men and 3 women. Ages, 21-65. We each told my class about ourselves.

Our accomplishments and our downfalls. What we considered to be the most important factors in life, that made us who we were, at the time.

Then, I asked the students to line us up. Make a list beginning with who had the most worth. The person they thought was most important, to the least important.

I had one student (that that said, this is not possible, it cannot be done.

I forced her to do it.

  1. Mr _________
  2. Mr _________
  3. Mrs________
  4. ________
  5. Miss Binger

Thinking back, I cannot remember if I was 4th or 5th. As the results came in and we lined up in the positions decided by 9 year old’s, I nearly dropped to my knees.

I had spent 9 months with these children. These students I had been sharing my life with, my daily love and teachings, thought I was worth less than others.

It didn’t matter where I was on the list. It was that so many kids had an easy time making this list. Students knew me best another woman BEST, and they thought the least of us, they thought we were less important than others.

Through my tears I began to explain, every single person you meet in life has infinite worth. Every single person. That means that a college graduate is no better than a person who has/doesn’t have a GED. A person with children isn’t better than a person without. No body is better than another person.

Like a tree.

Trees are all different. Some I like more. Regardless, each tree has an unmeasurable amount of worth. A flower tree that is no longer blooming, a pine tree, a tree so small you could crush it on accident. There is an unimaginable amount of potential in every tree.

There is an unimaginable amount of potential in every single person.

Every single person has immeasurable worth.Infinite worth.

This isn’t a moral I grew up with. It is one I am still learning. Once I heard the quote “every single person you ever meet has infinite worth” [Kent Hoffman] there was a shift in my heart.

I would never judge a flower for any reason-I JUST LOVE FLOWERS.

Why would I judge a person?

I have never come to know a person that I didn’t like. The key words are come to know. Hearing the story of a person and their past is not a reason to judge them, it’s a gift of seeing how a person became who they are.


This morning I sat outside of my school on the stairs and cried. I sat here at my computer beforehand and I could feel it coming. There was no point in trying to delay the tears or fight them. It’s crazy. The people around me are busy and going on about there day I’m sitting here feeling half heart broken. [This too shall pass.] The last thing I want is someone to ask if I’m okay or what is wrong…but at the same time this is a new situation for me. Generally, I am a cry in private kind of person. Maybe even cry in the shower so I can’t differentiate between the water and tears. I am learning how to deal with feeling invisible. That is not something I would ever promote because my goal in life is to let all people know, “I see you”. However, it is important for me to realize that I will not always be seen and that is when I must rely on myself to be my greatest support. After all, I’m the only support that will always 100% of the time, be there. At this exact moment, I’m having a difficult time doing that.

Last year, if I made it through the week without crying, it was a WIN. Now, here I am crying for that year and those children. Goodness, we had a tough year but boy, did we love fiercely and make the perfect family.

I’ve been so happy to be here in Japan and learning how to be a better teacher and person that I haven’t felt what I’m feeling now.  I’ve been thinking about how 2 years in Japan isn’t long enough and how fast time goes.

But maybe 2 years here is perfect. One year down and I’m crying for the children I was lucky enough to teach. This time of year is when my third grade family would really come together. I could see and feel the growth of those little humans and I would be so proud of how far we came, together. Academic growth but most importantly the growth of our hearts. Nothing made me happier than seeing a child help a friend up, give them knuckles for trying, or rebound the ball for a friend and let them try again. Here, I switch schools every six months. I have made some great relationships and come to know many students and I am grateful each opportunity here.

To my past students: I miss you. You are a giant part of who I am and who I want to be. Thank you, for being you.

5/31/19 summer is sneaking up.

Students in Japan are out of school from July 20 until the End of August. Teachers have a FOUR DAY BREAK. FOUR DAYS. While students are on summer break I will have “office days”. These are days where I am in an office…by myself or potentially with another ALT.

I am hoping to do two things this summer. See my new nephew in Texas and see my mom before/after her hip surgery. Those are two things that I NEED to do.

Today is the last day of May. It is uncomfortable how fast time goes. June is a busy month. There are no days off school during June.

I started eating healthy. I’d been doing that for about a week. I was eating non-processed food. [Mostly fish and veggies.] One night I decided not took cook and I had an adult beverage. The next day, I was dying. I think my body HATES pizza and adult beverages. I’ve never taken such time away from ANY food. I’ve always ate what I wanted to eat, when I want. When I woke up the next morning, my throat hurt, my lips were oddly, red and my body felt weak.

Those things must be like poison to my body. I never knew though, because that is the way I have always eaten. Waking up with a headache, having a stomachache, feeling allergy like symptoms became my normal. Now, I must decide if food/adult beverages are worth an entire day of feeling physically, sick.

I always joke that I figured out how to beat lactose intolerance. You just have to give your body so much of it that it becomes immune to lactose. I was eating a quart of ice cream a day. Eventually my stomach no longer hurt. When you can’t beat um, join um! Just do enough of it to where your body gets use to it.
Just kidding. I did do that, but any health professional would say there is something the matter with me.

I’m trying to stop taking Tylenol. I try to be preemptive with headaches and bite them before they consume me. 95% of days, I have a headache so I’ve adapted to taking Tylenol 100% of the days.


6/3/19 Happy June.

6/18/19 Oh my gosh. June is half way over.

Where is time going? The past few weeks have been full of anxiety, tears and sleep-while trying to keep all the happies in clear sight.

Last Friday, I went home and went to bed around 4pm. Not a nap, bed. I woke up the next morning around 8AM. I decided to get myself out of bed, even though staying in bed was clearly the easier choice.

I rode by bicycle an hour to get to an Onsen. I was excited to relax and have some time to myself at a hotspring that was new to me. I walked in, proud of myself for biking there, locating it and doing it all by myself.

Walked in and said “Onsen!” and the staff handed me the rules of the Onsen, in English. Wahoo.

Half way through [skimming] I see no body paint…I was relieved…but then I read that statement closer. No body paint or tattoos allowed. I pointed to my “illie” tattoo and said, okay? The employee said no, sorry.

I walked out, crying. I stood there crying for about 5 minutes-until the rain began to POUR. Not some light, no umbrella needed kind of rain. A kind of rain so hard that even cars were pulling over. My tears turned to a brief madness and before I knew it I was reminding myself to “dance in the rain”.

My Brief madness was about being judged. Japan is very strict. Rules apply to every single person and nothing is ever situational. Sometime life requires you to hear a person’s story or situation in order to accommodate or help them to the best of your ability. Sometimes you must listen.

I know that the rules are in place for a reason.

I understand and respect that.

It was a reminder to me that I appreciate compassion and empathy and a place where people are willing to look at the person in front of them.

I had some dental work done about a week ago. It wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be, but it was still pretty stinking scary. I got the laughing gas for the first time in my life. I didn’t feel any more relaxed?

I got some fillings removed and covered back up…until my appointment next week when I will get my princess crowns. The only crowns I’ll ever wear.


It’s the end of June. WHAT.

Father’s day was last Sunday. Another day of the year that I adore. I try to celebrate my dad far more often than once a year-but I sent him some extra love VIA snail mail for father’s day. My dad has the hardest job of any person I have ever met. My parents’ job is never ending. There are no hours of rest or days without worries.

Do you know all your parents want? Their greatest wish…

It is to see their children happy.

I have a whole lot of love for you dad. I have to reserve it for myself right now because my happy tank light is flashing, empty. For the record, I am happy. You and mom are the greatest team and I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am, without you.

I’ve been missing home. I wanted to hug my mom and I have a friend who personally delivered her a hug within 24 hours of me asking. Terry, you have always been my Angel on Earth. I love you and appreciate all that you are. Thank you.

A new Binger entered the ring on June 18th weighing in at a whole 8 pounds 4 ounces. Baby Jax is here. My newest/second nephew. This is my first summer not spending a month in Texas or with my first born nephew. Usually we spend a month dinking around, playing at the park and laughing together (until mom and dad get home, then he pretends he doesn’t know me).

Last weekend I went to an Onsen with Sachiko and her family. Her daughter is heading to college in the states next week! We visited our last Onsen together…and they dressed me in Yukata!! It was a big happy for me. For all of us.

We got burgers at one of our favorite places after. They restocked their stickers. I love their stickers…so I bought 30 of them…? As my dad would day “you went a little cooky didn’t you?” I sure did…and now I wish I would have bought more.

I attended the Spokane/Nishinomiya sister city welcome party for students that are here from Spokane. I met Yuko there. We laughed, a ton.

Afterwards we listened to live music and enjoyed an evening together. This, was a good day. Sunday, I watched students play volleyball. I love when I get the chance to see students play sports. I don’t remember a teacher ever coming to watch me play sports…but my dad was always there.


Speaking of Angel’s on Earth…I lived next door to one most of my life. That woman, Liz, is so much more than a neighbor to me. My neighbor moved. Saying that sounds pitiful when I think of the situation. Liz wasn’t just my neighbor. She is a friend, grandmother, an open ear/shoulder, a support, a smile…and that’s just a few words to describe what she is to me. When I visit home I always make a visit to her. Now that she’s in a different state I’m going to have to find a little more time to squeeze in our porch visit…but I hope that I can. Love you Liz.

I went back to finish my dental work yesterday.

Guess who cracked the crowns during the fitting…

This girl….

I was just saying how I was starting to enjoy the dentist…I need to learn to just keep my mouth shut. Hah. Every man in my family has been trying to teach me that lesson for years.

I must have cried for 3 hours yesterday. I felt bad that I cracked the crowns. I felt bad because my appointment was so long and I didn’t want to be in pain but I was. I was crying for so many reasons and the only way I got the tears to stop…was to walk. My friend Sachiko has spent HOURS with me at the dentist. Translating. She should be paid from both ends. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish any of the work that needed to be done. I will go back and be put under to resume what was started. L

My eyelids were swollen this morning and my head is still pounding. Nothing like a cry hangover to begin the day.

Now that it is the end of June…I can tell you that nearly the entire month of June has kicked my butt. Looking back, it actually started in May.



Cried on the phone with my best friend yesterday.

Got a package from my mama including hot tamales from my dad. Got a card from my sweet Kristy.

I get sad that I can’t be at home to hug and cheer my parents up (be their sunshine). But my friend Sachiko said that the sun shines across the ocean and can still be felt even though I’m here. I loved that. But yesterday, I experienced that. My people in Spokane have been a big source of sunshine for me the past few days. Thank you for that. You have helped me and I feel your love. You have been a big part of getting out of bed in the morning.

Tomorrow I get to celebrate YUCHAN’s BIRTHDAY!!!! In Japan, birthdays aren’t a big deal. I guess at home they really aren’t a huge deal either…

But in Japan birthdays are almost nonexistent. I feel happysad to be celebrating people and making a big deal about their birthdays. Happy because I am glad I get to love/appreciate/celebrate them on their special day, but sad that I might be the first person to ever make a big deal about the day they were BORN.

I think it is kind of exciting for my friends here. Excitement might not be the right word. But I think it is a new love that some are feeling for the first time.

Birthdays of loved ones…the greatest holiday of the year.


Some happies:

Firefly hunting (looking)

Seeing students playing in the river, shoes off, laughing

Package from home

Letters from friends


Happy July. At the end of this month I will have been in Japan for an entire year. I’m still trying to figure out where my heart and mind are at. Life doesn’t usually kick my butt like it is right now.

I went to Awaji Island for the weekend and had an incredible time. I got to spend time with children which can heal anybody’s hurts.

I’m trying to say yes to as many opportunities as I can. I will go to a few upcoming festivals and spend time with friends.

The easy thing to do is go home and go to bed. Which I’ll admit…some days I do. But, I’m trying not to.

Got put out for my dental work a few days ago. I remember it still hurting a little. I have one more appointment left and the work in that area of my mouth is finished. I’m pretty friendly with the staff at my dentist now. They have seen me laugh, cry, sleep…they know me well.

I have yet to wrap this blog up because there is no good way to wrap up sad.

July I am looking forward to the star festival, a trip to Kyoto, my dad’s birthday, an adventure with new friends and hopefully some time to reflect, grow, let go of anger, and find myself again.

Also, I have shaved half of my head…. 😮

Glad to be living where the sun always rises.


Come on Rachel. Let’s do this.

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