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I Am... Mama and Writer

First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for happy things to look forward to and when good things happen for which I was hoping.

I'm thankful that the Lord provides me one of my Temple Angels almost every time I go to the temple... I feel SO very loved and cared for when these women greet me and hug me and say sweet things to me.  I've been chatting with some of them for right at six years now and I'm so grateful that they love so big and I am a benefactor!  :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tricky Tuesday #7

One of the ways just about everyone can use to make ends meet more easily without overtaxing the finances is to grow some food and then use it in pleasing ways.  My single most successful endeavor in gardening for 2012 would have to be sweet potatoes.  And we sure are enjoying the consuming of our efforts with them.  Actually... our efforts were minimal... especially considering how much we've reaped.  God is great!

This is the largest of all the potatoes we grew this year.

The five-gallon bucket full of sweet potatoes.

So far, we've enjoyed sweet potato bread the most.  We've also had some plain sweet potatoes and sweet potato pie with whipped cream.  All: YUM!  :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meditation Monday #18

Today is day 174 of my meditation journey.  I'm still focusing on Kirtan Kriya and completing a 31 minute meditation using it almost every day.  The only day I might not complete the full 31 is Friday, but this past Friday I did.  Yeay!  :)

I continue to feel the positive effects of meditation.  The biggest difference I feel is in my newfound ability to rescind others' ability to hurt me.  The story behind that is was a big seismic shift for me... paradigm shift big time, for sure!  I sure am grateful for it, too.

I'm also able to maintain a quiet mind and calm demeanor more often.  I still need much improvement in this area of my life, but the progress since I started meditating has been much more significant than any given period before I began meditating.

Praise God for awesome tools, which He provides that we (I) might progress!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #10

Japan Continues

(I'm sorry to have missed last week.  I've been having some personal life difficulties and haven't felt able to write about my life.  I'm one of those lame writers.)

Most gaijin (foreigners/cave people) stand out in some way or another.  Often, it is obvious by the foreigner’s appearance.  This was certainly the case for me.  At the time that I went to Japan, I was 5’3” tall, wearing about a size 18 pants, white blond hair, blue eyes, and slightly tan skin (which was super pale next to most Nihonjin: Japanese).  Given my appearance, I definitely wasn’t able to blend into any crowd.  I did stand out like a sore thumb.  Thankfully, Japanese are very polite and didn’t stare overtly.  I know that stalkers choose their focal obsession for many reasons.  I’m pretty sure my stalker in Japan chose me simply because I was so different looking.  My friends didn’t believe me when I first told them I had a stalker.  I felt a little bit like maybe I was imagining the whole situation.  But then he staled me when we (my friends and I) were together.  They were blown away and asked all kinds of questions about the situation and my seeming lack of concern over it.  It was very strange, I’ll freely admit, to see the same guy at numerous train stations who was obviously watching me in a very polite, Japanese, way.  But I was never actually afraid of him because I didn’t feel any alarms go off concerning him.  Now, one of my girlfriends was actually harassed by a Japanese man… he managed to mess with her skirt as she was riding home one day.  She was, rightfully, freaked out and I had the opportunity to feel extremely thankful that “my stalker” hadn’t come near me as far as I was able to tell.

Among my friends was a nice looking fella.  Danny is 6’ or so, thin, blue eyes, and at the time had waist length blond wavy hair.  Once, when he and I were out and about with our other friends during the afternoon or day time I observed that Japanese seemed really comfortable with him.  I even saw a number of different Japanese reach out and touch his hair.  I had never experienced anything like that – at least, nothing that was purposefully done in that sort of intentional way I observed them do with him.  This was puzzling to me at the time, but I’ve come to understand it as a clear demonstration of what protects me.  People just did not feel able to reach out to me.  This is generally true as well, I think.

I conducted at least one social experiment while I was in Japan, but I honestly do not remember any details!  I keep hoping to find/get my hands on a copy of the newsletter series I wrote while there, but haven’t just yet.  If I do, I’ll definitely share about that!
As a foreigner, there are certain things I was not expected to either know, know about, or like.  I’m grateful for this list, really, because it enabled me to coast a bit more given that I didn’t know a lot and I did NOT know ABOUT a lot!  Among the things I was expected not to know about or like were many food items.  Taco, nato, cow’s tongue were a few of the food items I was expected not to know about or like.  There were others, but I just don’t remember them.  As for taco… that’s octopus, I love/loved it!  My host family considered me baka da gaijin for this strangeness… that’s “silly foreigner” to be nice.  I did not previously know about nato and I did not like it.  I think, in a way, this was a relief to my host family.  Nato is fermented soy beans.  It has a horrid smell and amazingly snotty texture and… well, I just didn’t like it one bit.  As for cow’s tongue… that was a sneak attack!
My family took me to a Korean BBQ restaurant.  It was a really cool experience!  In the table of our booth there was an actual little BBQ.  My Host Father did the cooking honors (for as long as he wanted them, at least) and we enjoyed quite a bit of BBQ.  My family was always amazed at how much I ate and could eat.  They purchased numerous plates of meat and some veggies and we ate them all up.  There were numerous types of meat offered and served.  One of them they prepared and served me with, as I could see in hind-sight, special attention on me and my reactions.  I loved it!  It was “oishiidesu” and I told them so (delicious).  It took a little while for the question from them to me to come together in a way I could understand completely.  They were asking if I knew what it was.  Nope.  Then they told me, “It is cow’s tongue.”  They were, all four of them, paying close attention to my reaction.  I thought about it for a second and told them, “Okay, well, it’s still delicious!!”  They were shocked!  Then they asked if I wanted more and I told them that if there was more I would love it.  Again: shocked!  But it WAS delicious and learning which of the many muscles I’d eaten didn’t change that.  Anyway… it was pretty funny all around.  Much laughter about this at the table that evening… and I’m sure they told their friends what a strange foreigner I was and referenced my many odd behaviors with special emphasis on the foods I loved that were not meant to be well-favored by gaijin.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving... a special day to remember all kinds of reasons for thankfulness.

THIS Thanksgiving, I'm especially thankful for my brother Josh.  It's his birthday!!!  Happens every so often... and other years it's John's special day (born two years apart - on different dates, but the same holiday!).  ^_^  I'm thankful for the amazing man he has grown up to be.  We could all tell he would be such, but it's nice to see in action.  :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tricky Tuesday #6

It's tricky to gather storage for humans, much less livestock.  I still haven't gathered much, but periodically we gather acorns.  Apparently, my goats love acorns.  We're not feeding them very many currently... and they seem to adore them in the way humans adore candy... so it's not something I could store for a primary food source... but the little bit we have put aside is a tiny bit of comfort.  A bit like buying one extra can of something or another each time we go to the grocery store.  It adds up over time.

Pretty recently (and repeatedly) we have been in such a financial position as to make buying even 1 extra can impossible.  And we still are not able to save any money each week.  But I think I'm going to be able to start buy 1 or 2 extra cans each week.  The thing about this effort, small though it may be... and tricky as it is (even currently) to buy one can and NOT use it... is that I'm going to exercise my Faith that Father God will make it possible for us to have enough (and more) with only that which we can forecase we will need.  That way, the one or two cans I plan for storage will remain there for a while (at least beyond the week in which they were purchased).  Along this train (of thought), I'm going to get some quarters as cash from the next purchase and put them in one of our 72 hour kits.  1 or 2 dollars each week will eventually make a difference... and, no, I will not do quarters EVERY time... but it IS a good idea to have a good stash of them.  One day we might have to evacuate and have only those packs with quarters and dollar bills... anything higher and the machines that give change may not be able to help us (you know the ones at the rest stops).  And if it came down to it, I'd much rather honestly get the goods, than otherwise.  :)

It can be super tricky, but let's encourage each other to make baby steps in Faith to building our food storage, that we may fearlessly abide the day!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meditation Monday #17

Today is day 167 of meditating.  Meditation continues to be a part of my morning devotions with few exceptions.  Friday continues to be a difficult morning for me to meditate before I depart for my weekly appointment, but I did get it in this week!  :)

Some of the bigger changes I've notived include (and continue to be, in some instances): many fewer occurrances of emotional eating.  I find that I often feel quite hungry and realize it's been a while (3+ hours) since I last ate and that maybe I should do something about that.  If anyone would've told me that such a thing would happen as a result of anything I did, much less become increasingly consistent as I continued, I wouldn't have beleived them.

I've also noticed that remaining silent is becoming easier.  Now, I used to think that the only folks who read what I blabbed about here were those who knew me... but since I've seen people coming in to take a peek from all over the world, I think this must no longer be the case.  To that end, I must share that I'm a girl made of words.  My primary love language is Words Of Affirmation... I've always had a tendancy toward verbal vomit and then wondering later what it is I said that I should've have... I believe that I express myself better and more fully in writing than any other way....  Also, in case you haven't met me or interacted with me for longer than, say, the last 5 years, or so... I used to be the kind of person who ALWAYS had a retort for any and everything anyone else might say/do.  I still do... but, for the most part, I just don't speak them any more.  Sometimes, as has happened lately, I don't even bother to fully think them.  What's the point?  I've realized most folks don't care what I have to say anyway.

I guess that's one of the reasons I blog.  At least, if someone reads here, it's because they want to and care to some degree or another.  So, although I don't communicate openly or as frequently as I might prefer, for many reasons, at least I can share more here than anywhere else in my world - with FEW exceptions.  But I sure am thankful for those few women who have proven trustworthy... who I consider my dear friends.  They are treasures beyond measure!

By the way, I continue to focus on Kirtan Kriya.  I'm still doing the 31 minutes of that almost every day.  I also spend a few quiet minutes after I finish meditating and before I pray... so sort of let it sink in.  I would like to get the addiction meditation back in on a daily basis... so we'll see how that goes.  Just in case you'd like more specifics (because I would, if I were you): I wake up and read my Book of Mormon... usually just 1 chapter.  Then I read a few Chapters in The New Testament to total around 25 minutes or more of reading.  Then I meditate, which takes around 34 minutes, then I rest quietly for another 7-15 minutes, then I pray (which can be anywhere from 2-15 minutes).

I've been trying, since last week, to tithe on each day.  By that I mean, I'm trying to spend 2 hours and 40 minutes (or more) each day with God, focused on Him and doing what He has directed me to do alone and in worship.  I've only ever thought of this daily tithe in passing, but for some reason it seems very important for me to do NOW.  So, I try to get over an hour in each morning because in the evening I feel like i'm falling asleep reading and I don't want to do that.  Obviously, given this, I need to increase my morning time spent if the above outline is accurate.  It is, but only in minimums.  For the most part, I do spend more time reading than I've listed above.

If you'd like to share any of your own meditation experiences/insights, I sure would like to hear them.  Or any feedback about my own experiences, of course.  I just enjoy comment from those who read my Words (by this girl made of words).  ^_^

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for wonderfully thoughtful gifts.  The most thoughtful gifts, in my experience (my life) are those that observe a situation, see a need, and answer it without any request to that end.  I'm grateful for every one of them and every way in which they are offered/delivered!

(Thank you, Mom.  I haven't used the gift yet, but I sure am hoping to soon... and as you suggested because you saw a definite need I would like to fill.  ^_^)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tricky Tuesday #5

Finally... some pictures of the chicken coop portion of the goat shed/chicken coop structure in the part of our yard reserved for our pets (that are livestock)!

This is the front view of the goat shed, which is the back view of the chicken coop.
The chicken coop is, of course, on top.  Take note that there are protrusions
on either side of the chicken coop.  Those are nesting boxes.

Here we peek into the back of the chicken coop (the piece of plywood being lifted)
and see a waterer and a feeder in the middle and nesting boxes to either side.
Under the floor of the chicken coop, you can see a little bit into the goat shed.
We are looking in through the back door and UP.
Centered in the photo is the Wyendotte rooster
and a hen on each side of him.
You can kind of see into one level
of the nesting boxes off to the left.
Looking in through the back door again,
you see the nesting boxes on the right side
(looking at it from the back, of course).
And, of course, two hens on a roost.
This is the left side of the structure.
I hope you can see how the nesting boxes jut out just a little.
Oh, and do you see the home-made hinges on the nesting boxes?
Why yes, they are made of leather!
Nesting boxes on the left.
There are two levels and a divider in each,
for a total of 8 nesting boxes.
Wyendotte hens, one in each nesting box (lid lifted to look in).
This is looking directly at the right side of the structure.
Looking into the coop from a nesting box
on the right (when viewed from the back of the coop).
This is a view of the front of the chicken coop,
which is also the back of the goat shed.
The ladder for the chickens does NOT reach to the door.
Basically, it's just meant to help them
 get high enough to flap up to the door.
Almost the same perspective as the previous picture,
except that the opening into the coop is visible
because the board blocking it (in the first picture)
has been moved to the right (it juts above the height of the roof).
Although it's not perfectly discernable, the foundation of the structure was built by joining three pallets.  The pallets and other wood used in construction of this structure was either from pallets or used fencing material (all free).  And the hinges were made from old leather boots Jessie cut down and turned into hinges.  Although we did buy the boots, they were worn as footwear until the soles came off the leather uppers, so I call them free, too... since most folks would've put them in the landfill when they could no longer function as boots!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meditation Monday #16

Still going.  I missed Friday this last week because of the confluence of a regular Friday morning appointment and feeling unable to awaken early enough to meditate before it most Fridays!  Working on getting it straight every week.  So far I've only meditated once on a Friday I had this appointment.  ahwell... I still consider 6 days per week pretty darn good.

I'm amazed that today is day 161 of meditating.  I'm just very happy about it.  I definitely believe, like most good activities one can add to their daily routine, it has a cumulative effect as well as an immediate!  :)

Oh, by the way, for the last couple weeks I've focused on Kirtan Kriya.  Only a couple days have I also included the meditation for addiction.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #9

I also began running while in Japan.  Running helped me control those anxious feelings.  I was able to lock them into thoughtlessness while I focused on breathing… I did not have an easy time running… as I was and had ever been relatively unhealthy and overweight.  However, while in Japan I shed many pounds and sizes.  My jeans, which fit pretty tightly upon my arrival, were hanging off of me when I returned to the USA.  How?  Why?  Many factors played into the weightloss.  One of the most important factors that impacted my weight was that activity was built into my whole day almost every day in Japan.  I rode my bike to the train station (about 15-20 minutes).  Then I walked little bits here and there between trains.  Then I walked about 25-30 minutes to school.  During the day at school there was often much walking going on (like to a grocery nearby to buy nashi).  And if we did anything after classes, we walked to get there.  To get home, I walked, walked a little and then biked.  That was 5 days each week.  Saturdays usually involved quite a bit of walking to go sight seeing, too.

Also, my okaasan was very controlling of the food.  She was shocked, I think, at how much I ate and limited my food consumption at home.  I ate breakfast and dinner there during the school week and, often, three meals on Saturdays and Sundays.  I often awoke feeling hungry in the night, but didn’t feel comfortable to go to the refrigerator to get anything to eat.  I definitely would not recommend THAT part of the weight loss.  Feeling hungry almost all the time just is NOT a comfortable feeling!

I think another factor that played into all of it was that the food was made differently.  Even breads and chocolate was less calorie dense.  That may also be part of why I was always hungry.  Who knows.

All told, I went from a snug size 16 to around a tight size 10 while I lived in Japan.  I liked the size I attained, but I didn’t like feeling hungry.  I sure would like to have activity built into my life that way again, but think it unlikely that I’ll ever get back to Japan.  I sure loved it while I was there, though!

Why?  Well, come back next week to read more and maybe find out a few reasons I loved it so well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful that others have been posting much about thankfulness this month.  I have much to be thankful for, but haven't been up to keeping up with things lately.  So, I'm thankful that others are expressing thankfulness so widely.  It lifts my spirits.  I'm definitely thankful for that!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #8

Japan: Part 2

I attended Kansai Gai Dai Daigaku in Hirakata-shi.  I lived in Katano-shi.  It took me about an hour to get from my host family’s home to school.  I rode my bike to a bike parking lot near the eki (train station), locked it up with a neat tire lock that was the combination kind, rode the train with one changeover to Hirakata-shi and then walked about 30 minutes to my school.

The sheer horror I felt upon realizing that no one I knew was going to help me to know where to go from the changeover to my school was one of the most frightening things I’d experienced to that point in my life.  Thankfully, I’d taken it upon myself to get to know as many of the other foreign exchange students as I possibly could during our week before host family placement.

My host sister directed me to where I should go and I, a scared woosie, cowered inside myself and tried to follow her directions.  I kept wondering how I would ever know if I’d gone the right way!?  Surely I wasn’t going the right way and would end up somewhere far from where I should be!  You cannot imagine the degree and extent of my relief when I saw another foreign exchange student from Kansai on the platform I ended up at.  (I was elated to realize I had comprehended her directions AND executed them properly!)

The poor fella I recognized?  Well, I was so thrilled to realize I knew someone there that I ran up to him and embraced him with the exuberance that only someone who knew me back then would understand.  I’m not the person I used to be….

Anyway… the first couple weeks were full of anxiety and fears.  I had a difficult time acclimating to Japanese life.  Not that I disliked it.  I guess you have to understand who I was up to that point a little better.

Before I went to Japan, as I remember myself, I was a very shy person who was working on “fake it till you make it” outgoing-ness.  I was doing really darn well, apparently, because no one around me believed for a second that I was shy or introverted.  Yet, I definitely was.  When I was younger (before I absolutely HAD to start doing things for myself, working, and making purchases and whatnot), I was terrified of social interactions.  Even the simple kind of a barely communicating purchase at a fast food place seared me with dread.  I was shiver-me-timbers scared stiff.  Seriously.

I remember one time, when I was trying to do something or another online, I started to feel the room was shrinking around me.  It felt like I couldn’t breath.  Honestly, I thought I was going a bit nuts and burst away from what I was doing just as quickly as I could, jammed my outdoor shoes on and ran to the top of the hill to a small park of sorts.  It’s a quiet place I’d found.  I often escaped there during the school day when I felt the beginnings of that anxiety-attack feeling come upon me.

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