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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 ...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Meditation Monday #23

Today is day 209 of my meditation journey.  I'm visiting family right now.  Though the circumstances are different and somewhat more difficult, I've been blessed to be able to continue my daily meditating.  If there was actually anything for me to be proud of, I might be... but I know that it's only continued as steadily onward because of the Grace of God.  He is mighty to save... love... provide... Our God is an awesome God!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful that blessings and trials are equal.  The trial may seem unendurable, yet if I can look with the right eyes, I always see some blessing in/of/from it... and always there follow blessings sent, as it were, to wipe the tears away.  Of course, they often cause their own tears... but tears of joy instead of sorrow.

I'm thankful for a Loving Heavenly Father who has blessed me so abundantly with the earthly family I have.  Growing up with them was a lil' tough for me, but being an adult with them is almost completely a joy and pleasure.  I sure am glad to know such a fine group of human beings!

I'm thankful for trials.  I'm thankful for blessings.  I'm thankful for the gift of eyes to see and ears to hear that I may understand.  God is GREAT!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Meditation Monday #22

Today is day 202 of my meditation journey.  Due to certain circumstances, this past week it was significantly more difficult to meditate each day.  I did it, though.  Many days it was a short meditation (around 10 minutes, total), but I'm still plugging along.  I'm very pleased about that!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for trials that force me to question my reality and learn from what I've been through.

I'm thankful for my family.  I'm so thankful  for hugs from them and their love no matter how much I may not deserve it.

I'm thankful for meditation and the peace that comes with reading the scriptures.  I sure do love the book of Revelations!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meditation Monday #21

Today is day 195 of my meditation journey.  The very fact that I'm still counting is pretty phenomenal to me right now.  I've experienced some pretty major seismic shifting over the last 8-10 days.  A younger self would've given up this journey as a fruitless effort with the things that have been going on.  Perhaps I am becoming wise yet.  I sure do hope so....

I have not been able to continue with the guided imagery meditation over the last week or so.  I hope to pick it back up sooner than later, though.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #13

Some of my favorite things about Japan include many daily practices.  I loved the entry way in my Host Family’s home.  It was quite large.  Basically it was a transitional sort of area of the home… even those you may not invite into the inner parts of your home could enter and converse with you in the entry room.  There were many things in this room of my Host Family’s home, but I don’t remember all the details.  The main things I remember are that #1 the entry level of the floor change right before you went into the house… it raised up about 8-12 inches from the level of the first front door to the level of the door into the home.  Before anyone entering could step up to the inner home level, it was expected that one should remove the shoes worn outside and put on some house slippers.  My Host Family had house slippers for each person, but also had lots of extra visitor slippers.  I loved that.

I also really loved that my host family had a whole smallish room for the toilet.  This room was a bit sunk down and the practice was to remove house slippers, put on the toilet room slippers (that everyone shared), use the toilet, and then exit, leaving the toilet room slippers ready for the next person to enter (not exactly convenient for the person exiting), and putting house slippers back on.  The toilet room was entirely separate from the room that had the sinks and there was no door between the two.  I didn’t realize, until the end of my time in Japan, that my Host Family’s toilet had a hand-washing sink on the back of it… every time one flushed, clean water ran so you could wash your hands.  Very cool.  Unfortunately, I went from the toilet room to the sink room every time after I used the toilet.  The room in which we took showers and baths was through a door in the sink room.  The bathing room was very cool.  It was one level onto which you stepped upon entering the room and then you stepped up to step down into the tub.  The shower spigot was a few feet away from the awesome tub so you could wash and rinse without getting any rinse water into the hot deep tub.  The tub was amazing.  It was re-circulated water kept hot by a heater that was part of the whole set-up.  I could sit in it and the water was up to my chest.  I could also stretch my legs out straight in front of me.  I could not lie down unless I bent my legs… but I was happy to just sit and soak.  I loved the baths!

I got a cold while in Japan and my Host Mother immediately put me on a schedule of dinner, bath, hot tea and off to bed.  It seemed a little silly to me, but that was one time I whipped through a cold much faster than was typically normal for me.  I’m sure the tea she gave was helpful, too… though I’m not sure what it was.  It also felt quite nice to be so carefully taken care of.  It seems that I’m generally perceived as a pretty tough chick… so it’s rare enough that anyone attempts to take care of me or be protective of me.  But I am a woman… and we all want to feel cherished and lovingly cared for… at least sometimes.  Anyway… it was nice to be cared for by my Host Mom.  And it definitely helped!

I also liked that the part of the school I attended expected us to remove our shoes to enter the main part of the building.  The rest of the campus wasn’t like that, but I’m glad my little building was!

The bike parking area near the train station I rode to from my Host Family’s home was quite cool.  There were bike racks, but no one used chains or anything else like that to lock up their bikes.  There were neat little keyed or coded locks that stuck the tire in place somehow.  I think it was more because the people were full of integrity, but being careful didn’t hurt either, I’m sure.  The little parking lot I used was attended by a security guard, too.  Very neat.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for opportunities to make new friendly aquaintances... especially when those opportunities are provided my children AND me concurrently!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tricky Tuesday #8

A suggestion for you today.

If you desire to learn something for which you would love to take a class, but cannot afford to do so... seek out a local club that deals with your subject.  You can probably attend as a guest for at least a few meetings to see if you want to commit... and then, it's likely the membership dues are far more manageable than tuition, fees, and books for almost any given class you could attend.

I've been able to attend two out of the last three Garden Club meetings and they are wonderful.  They are a group of older ladies who are each a wealth of knowledge about plants and gardening.  I've learned so much each time and come away with cuttings and/or actual potted plants.  Most recently I was given two potted plants: a night flowering cereus and a pot with some vick's plants (plectranthus tomentosa) and easter lilies in it!  ^_^

Some reading on the Vick's plant (and toothache plant, which i hope to grow from seed soon).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meditation Monday #20

Today is day 188 of my meditation journey.  Six and a half months in... definitely seems like that long as I reflect on the days, but overall... not at all!  Just like being a Mama... my sister once shared a quote that went something like: "The days are long, but the years are short."  A quick google search reveals that it's a quote by Gretchen Rubin in the Happiness Project.  Definitely about right for this process/endeavor of meditating daily.

This week has been good.  Still focusing on Kirtan Kriya and trying for 31 minutes each day.  I'm adding in some guided imagery meditation here and there.  I'll share on that method sometime in January after I have a bit more experience with the particular recordings I'm using and can share some details.  It's been 13 years since I actively used guided imagery meditation, so I'm excited to see how it goes this time.  I expect it should be interested, at the very least, because I am all too frequently a suggestible person as far as subconscious access goes.  It's a blessing and a curse, I tell ya!  ;)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #12

Another experience you simply cannot understand unless you’ve experienced it in Japan is Karaoke.  In the U.S.A. Karaoke, as I’ve seen it, is a caricature of that which exists in its country of origin!  In Japan there are Karaoke businesses.  These are buildings dedicated to Karaoke.  When you go, you usually go with a group.  You and your group are brought to a room fitted with seats, a table, a big screen and a method of choosing your songs to which you’ll sing.  You are assigned a waitress and can order appetizers and alcohol.  There may be places that have meals as well as appetizers, but I didn’t experience any.

Along with Karaoke, it’s interesting to note that drinking alcohol is a completely different thing in Japan compared to the US as well.  I mean, for instance, you can purchase humungous cans of beer from automated machines (like soda machines).  That is a whole thing in itself, too, the whole automated dispenser-thing!

Regarding alcohol, it seemed very much that there was not any stigma attached to the consumption of it.  The only problem that arose (socially speaking) as far as I could tell and was told, was if someone who drank was a mean drunk in public.  Otherwise it seemed like alcohol was viewed simply as a means to an end.  For instance, I learned it was pretty common practice for a boss to go out drinking with his employees for the express purpose that his employees might see him as a regular person and not the mean “bottom line” guy he has to be at work.  It was definitely seen as a social lubricant in Japan far more than I’ve ever known it to be accepted in the US.

As for the automated dispensers… well, if you can imagine that it might work in such a machine, I’m absolutely certain the Japanese could tell you if it works out as practically as it does in theory!  Seriously.  In addition to beer (and other alcohol to a lesser extent), you could find pantyhose, magazines, food, porn, movies, and more in such machines.  I’m absolutely certain I did not see as wide a variety of them as there are, in fact, available to be seen and purchased from.

Another automated sort of thing that was very different in Japan is that there were numerous video game/gaming spots.  Within each such place, you’re sure to find a mini-photo booth.  When I went to Japan, these photo booth pictures were popular enough that most of the tiny planners have a few pages specially dedicated to and made for them.  I heard, also, that there was a bit of trading of them that was popular.  They sure were fun!  The photo booths were one of my favorite activities, actually.  They could be found almost everywhere, not just in gaming places.

Although I didn’t experience it at all, there were also specific places for various forms of gambling.  Pachinko is one I can think of right off the top of my head.  I can’t tell you any more than the name because I never went in or played.  But I can tell you those shops/buildings/places were VERY well lit and noisy.  Regular shops were also lit well, but these gambling houses were almost TOO well lit.  This seems almost a direct opposite of the same sorts of places in the US… though I’ve never personally been to one in the US… I’m just basing that on what I’ve heard about them and seen in movies.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful for opportunities to spend time as an adult among other adults without concern over my littles.  It really can be a good thing to get away... though not too often!  ;)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Meditation Monday #19

Today is day 181 of my meditation journey.  So, as of now... I've been meditating almost every day for just around six months.  Can you believe it?  What started as a 40 day effort is more than six months along now.  YEAY!

I guess, maybe, I'm getting better at doing things for longish periods of time as I get older.  Who woulda thunk it.

It's too bad that some who should really know me better continue to think that this effort of mine is doing no good at all.  I guess those who should know us best often know us least of all.  This is definitely an expreience I've had all too often of late!

Thankfully, I experience the changes wrought by this tool.  I would not be able to continue against the attacks against my effort if I didn't KNOW it was making a difference.  Praise God for changing me bit by bit, but enough that I can know it!  :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #11

When I went to Japan, I had very little understanding of the culture into which I was stepping.  I didn’t know what to expect in most instances.  One thing I thought I would understand without too much problem was the food.  I knew I loved sushi.  What more could I need to know?  Well, as it happens… a lot!

For instance… in Japan there are often displays of the kind of food prepared in a given restaurant.  You look at them and choose and then place your order.  Well, my first experience of this was rather embarrassing.  I thought the display was the food from which I should select… yes, some of the fake food looks THAT real.  So, I picked up the display and brought it along to where I thought I should pay for it.  There was much confusion – especially complicated by the fact that I spoke very little and understood probably less Japanese at the time of this incident.  Thankfully, when I went to Japan the Japanese were (still are from all I understand) so super polite that they would not make fun of me or laugh in my face as an American employee in the same situation would more than likely do.  I rarely blush.  But I think I must’ve been quite pink in the cheeks over that one!  I sure felt flushed!

Another difference that was quite fun is the sushi bars.  You think you know sushi bars, huh?  Have you BEEN to Japan?  Okay, I hear a no.  Well, then, my friend, you have NO clue.  Not all, I’m sure, but perhaps most of the sushi bars in Japan are far cooler than anything your experience can convey.  Convey.  Conveyor.  Conveyor belt.  Can you imagine little plates of sushi moving along a little conveyor belt either #1 from the kitchen, through a little plastic flap door, around your table, and back through another door into the kitchen or #2 on a conveyor belt circling endlessly around the sushi chef(s)?  Can you imagine it?  Well, if you can not, let me know and I’ll try to more adequately describe it for you!  It was awesome!  One thing about these sushi bars is that the sushi itself is priced based on what kind of plate it is sitting on.  If you’re not familiar with the pricing… well, it can get pretty steep pretty fast.  And they do have drinks on some of these conveyor belts… and those are stupid expensive.  And yes, it is upsetting and embarrassing to find out how much more expensive after you’ve selected one only to find out you really didn’t have permission to do that… but wasn’t told so from the outset.  *sigh* One of the problems of passive aggressive communication practices… and that’s basically almost all Japanese.

I’ve already mentioned the Korean BBQ restaurant.  That was super cool.  I sure would love to find something like that around these parts.  Highly unlikely, though, I’m sure… given that the nearest town to me is only of medium size… definitely not a megopolis or anything like that.

The other coolness that I especially loved was the Chinese restaurant my Host Family took me out to with some friends.  I definitely had the STRONG feeling of being their pet on display on that outing.  None-the-less, it was a great restaurant experience.  So, it was a Chinese place.  Our party had a room to itself.  Cool, I’m thinking.  There were two main tables.  I was put at the children’s table, which I’m sure was intended as a mean thing, but though I could feel that, I preferred to be among the younger folks.  In the middle of each table was a ginormous lazy susan.  Food was places on the lazy susans and we all selected food from the lazy susans to put on our own little plates and then eat.  It was very cool.  And though I do not remember any of the food items specifically, I did enjoy it quite a lot.  And the effort of the youth to include me in conversation and try to get to know me was quite nice, too… definitely experience far more of that among them than the adults among whom I “should’ve” been seated.  Boy, I’m glad I was insulted by being seated among the youth!  J

The final note about food is one that I’m pretty sure translates across all cultures.  I’m not absolutely certain on this, but I’m pretty sure given the natures of those involved are pretty static across cultures.  I reference the way that my Okaasan (Host Mother) spent hours preparing various foods so that my Otousan (Host Father) could enjoy the glory of preparing them at the table.  This was not a daily practice, but, rather, what happened for those meals that, apparently, my Otousan enjoyed fixing for the family.  All praise was directed toward the father even though all he did was nicely put the work together and then serve it.  Hmmmm…  Sound familiar?  This is not the primary mode of food preparation in my home, as my husband is a Chef… but there are times and it does annoy.  A common experience of this I can immediately think of is the “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner in many American homes.  My Host Mother seemed fine with it, though I think she did appreciate that I thanked her for preparing all the items used in dinner.

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