Buzzed and Happy

It has been quite some time since my last post!
Summer break has come to an end. In Japan, teachers have 5 days off for summer break. I was able to make it home and refill my heart tank…like gas tank. Looking back through my calendar where I try to take quick notes of what I do each day…I’m smiling as I go through my past two months. Recap:

June: Dentist, dentist dentist.

June 18th: My baby nephew, Jax, made his debut into the world. Awaiting the day we finally meet.

June 22nd: Onsen with Sachiko and Moko, before Moko HEADED OFF TO COLLEGE IN CALIFORNIA!!!! They dressed me in Yukata and we walked the streets. It was a beautiful experience.

June 30th, I went to Awaji island with a coworker. We stayed with her family, boy was it a treat. the food was great, the company was even better and the time I spent there was refreshing.  It was my first time FISHING! It was EXCELLENT! I caught more fish within a few hours than I have caught in my entire life!! You don’t have to have a finishing license here, so I’ll be going more often.

While we were fishing, we saw a beautiful string ray gliding through the water. One of my biggest joys in life is to see creatures in their natural habitat.

I made two quilts, to celebrate the birthday of some of my most valued friends here.

I just started working on my next one.

July: Fishing, Himeji, haircut, hospital, blood clot.

I got a blood clot in my hand from having to be put under for some dental work. My mom has issues with blood clots and I was worried it was more of an issue than it was. Before telling me it was a blood clot, I had X-rays, ultra sound and an MRI all for about 100$. WOWZA.

July 7th Tanabata-Star Festival. Had a FUN celebration with Spokane and Japan high school students.

July 10: AM: On my way to school my friend was not outside. Most people would not refer to this man as a friend. You see every morning on my way to work I see an ojichan (grandpa) standing outside by the biggest, most beautiful morning glories I have ever seen. He is what I imagine is like your morning cup of coffee. You look forward to it and it makes a difference in the start of your day. I look forward to seeing him. This morning he was tucked back a little further than usual and my heart began to pound. I thought he wasnt there. We always smile and wave. Sometimes I say good morning in English and he returns it in Japanese and sometimes we switch. He brings me joy. He is special to me.

Most would see a stranger, where I see a friend.

I like that about me.

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PM: Went up Miya MT. [I think it was called] with my friend Yota. We saw flowers, frogs, TADPOLES, bugs, cats and a snake. We also spent some time earlier this month looking for fireflies. Never did see one.

July 14th: Festival with a coworker, in Kyoto. This festival was called Gion Matsuri. This is said to date back to the 9th century and was organized to drive out the plague. The floats parade around the city!

July 15th: Fishing, ocean front BBQ, water balloon fight and kite flying. One of the best days of my life. I saw an octopus IN THE SEA!

July 16th I was talking on the phone with my mom. I was telling her that I wanted to shave my head. We debated back and forth about it. She asked why I wanted to shave my head (which many people have asked). My response was that I wanted to learn to love myself as I am. Most people don’t understand why I did it and that’s okay, it’s my head not yours 🙂 Anyways, my mom, said, you can love yourself with hair. She’s right. But this was something I needed to do.

I sent my mom a picture the next day, of my shaved head. She said, “I knew after we talked that you were going to do it, I’d just told my friends at work”. HAH. She knows me well 🙂

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I had plans with friends the day after I shaved my head. I for some reason thought people would not want to introduce me to their families, once I shaved my head. I asked my friend if she wanted me to wait until after I met her family, to shave my head…

She asked if I wanted her to shave my head for me 🙂

July 17th, I SHAVED MY HEAD!!!!

The deed-I went in and asked a barber to buzz me up. He was weary of doing so but eventually did. I laughed the entire time and could not stop smiling.

I thought after it was done, I was going to feel different.

I thought it was going to be some huge life changing release…but I didn’t feel different. This made me realize that I do love myself…maybe shaving my head was more to see who in my life, loves the person I am inside.

When I facetimed with my nephew he said, “you look like a boy”. Gotta love the honesty of a child.

On my way home I made my daily stop at 7-11. As I parked my bike, I saw two students, whom I know well. One student smiled as big as I did (because it always makes us happy to see each other) and embraced me. Living in a place that lacks physical contact or any display of love, the fact that we hug shows the greatness of the relationship we have built. The other student stood her distance and just watched us talk. I could see the embarrassment across her face, I could feel it. A student that I knew, that I happily talked to each time we saw each other, couldn’t look at me…but I was still me…I’d be lying if I said that didn’t hurt my heart.

However…

I couldn’t believe at the age of 15, a student saw me, for me. It was inspiring and uplifting and heart changing. That is the kind of person I want to be. A person who sees every single person for who they are. I wrote this girl a letter and delivered it to her the next day in class. I expressed my gratitude and how I appreciated her, for seeing me, for me. I told her that the people need more of her, that she has the best heart of anyone I’ve met. I told her I hope to be a light for the world, like her. [Not only did she not waver when she saw me, even when her friend felt embarrassed of me, it made no difference. There is bravery and pureness in that.]  She wrote back the next day, “I’m glad to have a letter from you. I understand your letter. You are you, hair or no hair. You are my very good teacher. I am happy to meet you. You are special, I love you. You are a gift to the world.”

This girl. My heart. It’s impossible for me to put into words the magic that she made so apparent, that is out there in children around the world.

In Japan the reactions for shaving my head have been better than I thought. People are very accepting. In the USA however…I felt much different. I thought it was going to be the other way around.

July 22, I went to a sunflower garden with my friend Ayano!!

First of all, I adore this girl.

2nd, OH MY GOODNESS. I’ve never seen something so beautiful. Afterwards we had dinner with her mom and dad. This family is one that I love dearly. I was yet again, nervous for these people to see me with no hair. Not only did they accept me, they treated me no differently.

Shaving my head was to learn about myself, to love my self fully and completely…but I’m learning more about other people and the amount of love that is out there.

July 25, I went to one of the most famous festivals in Osaka. Tenji Matsuri. The fireworks were amazing. They blow our fireworks out of the water.

7/27 DADS BIRTHDAY!

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I went to Himeji with a coworker and her family. I adore her and I feel so honored when I get to go do new things, with families. We went to a fish factory and made food, stopped at a cat and dog picture museum and a dinosaur museum! By the end of the day the three children that were with us were showing their English skills. I love when anybody gets comfortable enough to start speaking a second language with me.

July 29th a new ALT arrived who lives above me. What a treat it is to have a friend right above me. We have had great adventures already and I’m excited to see what the next year holds! I hope to get a lot of traveling in-majority of it in Japan.

August: Suma beach, Spokane, BBQ time with my people and back to work. I spent two weeks at home in August. My mama got a hip replacement and is now doing much better!

The day after I left, my brother/his family from Texas made it up to visit. My brothers are all home right now…I don’t think the who family has ever been together without me there. I hate missing out on Aunty time.

August 14th: I got a tattoo during the day and in the evening was my Fill the happy bank BBQ get together. This is a tattoo I’ve known I wanted for a while. I have been carrying around 2 cards with me for years. One from my mom and one from my dad. In my school lunches and cards since I can remember my mom always wrote notes and drew pictures for me on my napkins. It was my favorite part of lunch. When I grew up, it was transferred to cards. The most frequent thing my mom tells me is, “You are my sunshine. I love you”. I got this in her handwriting, followed by mom and dad in their own handwriting. This is the stem of a sunflower. The sunflower tops it. We have always had sunflowers in our yard. They remind me of joy, happiness, hope and my parents.

Afterwards I went to a BBQ at my friend Lauralee’s. She hosted a BBQ before I moved to Japan. I got to see many people that I’ve been missing and enjoy the company of so many people that I love. Thank you for that.

August 15th: I got another tattoo. I have stick figures on my back. A girl and a boy. It was the first tattoo I got at the age of 18. I LOVE this tattoo. A few years later I knew I wanted a tattoo that said, “family is forever, Binger”. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the stick figures but I felt pressured and ended up getting it tattooed around my stick figures. You see, to me, kids are the simplest form of love. Pure, honest, happy, love. The real stuff. This is what my stick figures are to me. The writing around it was nice but it kind of changed the stick figures into something to do with family and that was not what it is to me.

I went in to see if I could get the script fixed up. I thought, I have this for life I might as well get it fixed up. The writing was difficult to read…and unfixable…

So, I asked the tattoo artist if he could cover it. I told him that I always wanted a swing set, rainbow, grass, flowers in the background of my stick figures. He told me what he had in mind and we went for it.

 August 26th, I said goodbye to my family and headed back to Japan.

9/2 Back to school as of today!

I am still exhausted. I’ve been back almost a week and I cannot seem to get my schedule back. I had no problem adjusting when I went to Spokane. I slept most the way. On the way back I slept all the way. I thought that would save me from jetlag…but turns out there is no saving from jetlag.

On my flight home I spend a few short minutes awake. In that time I looked out the window and saw the most beautiful sea of white. The way the clouds were moving it reminded me of the ocean which in turn means it reminded me of love. The man behind me said to his wife, “You can’t see anything, it’s just white”. But I was just thinking…”I can see everything”.

Where a man saw nothing, I could see everything. 

Perspective-I’ll keep mine.

A few things I want to share that I’ve realized the past few weeks. I’m reading the book How to Love-Thich Nhat Hanh. There was a page about being you. Going to give you my cliff notes from it. Be beautiful and be yourself. Accepting your body gives you the power to see your body as your HOME. You must accept yourself as you are. This is an important practice. As you practice this, building a home within yourself, your mind and body, you become more and more beautiful. This is part of the reason I shaved my head.

The other part is so that others can see me.

I’ve been able to see more clearly the past year since I moved to Japan. I’ve been setting boundaries and making good choices for myself. I have the clarity to see situations and people as they are and I want others to see me as I am.

Last year when the school year started in Spokane, I remember crying. Last year at this time it made me more sad than happy when talking to my people at home. Sitting at the mall people watching, was when I felt the loneliest.

Now, I call home when I have time. It’s not as frequently. It makes me happy to talk with my friends and family. I can sit at the mall and enjoy people watching. These are wins for me.

This is proof of the growth that is occurring.

Japan was a mandatory move for me. If I hadn’t had this opportunity, I don’t think I would have ever become the person I want to me [which of course I’ll work on forever, but this is a huge part of my story].

Cheers to year two.

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illie

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