Opinion

Eating For Two…

So I have a confession to make… I think it’s important you know…

Hehe did it work? Did you click the link thinking I was pregnant? Ha, well it’s pretty hard here without any human interaction. As much as I love Asian babies that isn’t my confession. Yet. I want to talk to you about food bloggers. I want to tell you that contrary to our beliefs, they don’t always eat everything they make. Like, all of the foodporn on their Instagram is often just that. After they’ve put a filter on it and shared it on the World Wide Web, they, like me, probably share it with their friends or only eat a quarter and pack the rest for later. Don’t be fooled y’all. Remember the old adage: “never trust a skinny chef.”
In other words, no one stays fit off sweet potato, medijool, cashew cream cake for dessert.
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Keep Stillness Inside Of You

If you keep up with my Facebook and Instagram then you might know that I went to USJ (Universal Studios Japan) yesterday. AND, it was awesome but I felt bittersweet to be there. Sweet because it was indescribably fun. Bitter because I felt for the multitudes who would never be able to enjoy such an experience because of poverty, equality, injustice or some other unfortunate circumstance. We, the wealthy generation are incredibly lucky and often we forget that. Not that going to a theme park is luck or happiness but just having the freedom, the funds and the option to do so is fortunate. Anyways, I am going to work on a Savvy Tokyo article on USJ, so to hear more and see the HD photos, y’all just have to wait. Anywho, I came across a beautiful quote today:

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. -Deepak

PS please excuse my unfortunate tan-lines in the last photo >.<
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So I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you. -Paulo Coelho
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If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all. -John Green.
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Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit.” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha

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I think you are very beautiful. And I’m not even talking about your face or legs or butt or eyes or those elbows. (Though they are all very lovely) I’m talking about you. -Bianca Cash
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The weather isn’t perfect and my socks have gotten wet but my heart is full of promise so I’ll take what I can get. – Dallas Clayton

DONT READ THE COMMENTS

From author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert to a fan (Julia):

“It’s always devastating to witness ignorance and heartlessness, Julia. But you are clearly a sensitive and kind-hearted person, and, as such, I beg you to stop reading the comments section of contemporary newspapers, and I beg you (and everyone) to disengage from participatting in, or even reading, Internet arguments. There, you will encountear some of the darkest and most wasteful behavoir in the world. (I mean, wasteful of our stupendous human energy and potential.) Don’t linger where the bottom-feeders lurk, Julia: You can’t change them, and hanging out around them will only put your own compassionate spirit in jeopardy. (As we say in my family: STEP AWAY FROM THE BURNING VEHICLE.) It takes discipline not to tumble into black holes of online aggression and savagery — but such tumbles are voluntary, and thus staying away from the darkness is a discipline you can cultivate. In my own life, I consider it a public service for me for to avoid such shadowy places, because it only darkens my own spirit and then I can’t serve anyone. I would no more hang out around those “chats” than I would attend a public execution. Turn your face stubbornly to the light, and keep it there. Look for love, act from a place of love, work for love, consider yourself a servant to love and a student of love, and you will soon see love everywhere. This is how we begin to serve. Bless you for your kind heart, darling, and please keep your energies safe and bright and strong. We need more people like you, so stay with us.”

“My guru used to teach us that our senses — our sight, our hearing, our touch, our taste — are our loyal servants. Our senses have no will of their own, but can absorb what we point them toward — can only obey our commands. Wherever you direct your senses, therefore, they will have to go. Whatever you turn your eyes toward, your eyes will have no choice but to see. Whatever you tune your ears into, your ears will have no choice but to hear. And a lot of what’s out there in the media and on the internet is absolutely abusive to your poor senses. But your senses cannot be protected from this abuse unless you have the discipline and the good sense to TURN AWAY.

Believe me, I know this intimately. I’m somebody who only has to Google her own name to find an endless supply of people who are shredding to me pieces all over the Internet — saying absolutely awful things about me, and attacking all that I do, say, or make. So guess who NEVER Googles her name, and never reads the Amazon reviews, and never looks at the comments after articles about EAT PRAY LOVE, for instance, have been posted anywhere online? Yup.

Don’t torture your poor, loyal senses, my friends. Instead, become a good and loving master of them. Use your senses for higher pursuits. Give your eyes beautiful things to see and read. Give your ears uplifting things to hear. Give your taste marvelous adventures to explore. Use your voice for more interesting activities than arguing over the internet with strangers who have simply not been able to find a more creative use of their sacred life energies than venting their own bottled-up anger into the dark and bottomless megaphone that is the eternal Comments Section.

Likewise: Excuse yourself from Twitter wars.

Likewise: Excuse yourself from jumping onto dog piles of group shaming over the Internet, just because it makes you feel good that 100,000 other people are also outraged and shocked at that dumb or insensitive thing somebody said. The dog pile can live without you — and believe me, it will.

Likewise: Excuse yourself from political arguments with people who will never, never, never, NEVER vote the way you do, no matter how many memes and charts and links and facts you may send to them.

We are here in this incredible world for only an instant. Life is precious and it passes in a flash. Surely, we have other things to do, right?

By the way, this doesn’t mean tuning out of the world’s problems, or shutting off your heart toward those who suffer. But it DOES mean turning your senses away from people who are rageful, combative, and gratuitously vicious — both online and offline. This takes discipline, but we can cultivate discipline. In fact we must. Discipline is the heart of every spiritual practice, and your spiritual practice can extend onto the Internet.”

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There Is Joy In All

Turns out life as a “writer” ain’t so glamorous, after-all. The eager seven year-old in me is crushed. I opened up my heart and wrote of things vulnerable only to be bullied by someone that I don’t even know. Today, I will practice finding joy in all.

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“There is joy in all” – Anne Sexton
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“I’m learning to be more careful with my words. Words that seem meaningless at the time can end up having a lot of power. Seeds that you didn’t even intend to plant can fall off you and start growing in people” -Humans Of New York
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“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad. Whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art” – Andy Warhol
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Announcements

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So my fourth article for Savvy Tokyo is up, you can check it out HERE and all I can say is, I guess I need to develop thicker skin if I want to continue as a “writer.” Gosh, people can be so mean these days. Has anyone else noticed that we’re living in an age where someone is always trying to either disagree or prove that they know better? Maybe I just wasn’t as active on social media when I was younger…but I swear this is  new-age shizz. Whatever happened to not saying anything at all if you didn’t have anything NICE to say? Of course, we should all fight (with heart and soul) for what we believe in, but if you simply dislike a certain author  I’ve quoted or notice one or three grammar mistakes please don’t attack the writer! You can still voice your opinion but please in a nice way! You know, cos we’re all human and we’re all trying our best. And it’s not easy being so honest and open. So like, “hey girl, nice article” or not even; “thanks for writing that but this is what I think, it doesn’t mean what you’re saying is necessarily wrong, it just means we have differing opinions but kudos to you for putting time and energy into pursuing your passion, anyway.”

Anyhow, so the announcements…One is minor and the other not.

First the little news: now that my homemade granola has run out and I cannot afford to make more (cos nuts and seeds in Japan are EXPENSIVE), I’ve decided to try and quit sugar. Like all kinds of sugar. I’ve had a BIG sweet tooth for as long as I can remember. Like, if my family and I dined out for breakfast, I’d always be the one ordering fruit salad or pancakes, whilst everyone else had eggs. And, I can’t understand people who don’t crave a sweet somethin’ somethin’ first thing in the mornin’. I just don’t get it. But I’m gonna try I’mma try to. So, as of today, I have embarked on a moreish journey of savory delicious.  I won’t go cold turkey (excuse the pun) but rather slow slow day by day.

The big announcement is this, recently I received some unbelievable confirmation through 2 dreams and an important email. After my European holiday, I will be serving at Blossoms Bahai school in Bhunameshwar, India for a year!

🙏

Prepare for some epic European/Indian foodie adventures Or prepare to bash my opinions, whichever (tehe).

LOL! This Is Gold.

My feelings (by that I mean pure jealousy) towards hot-shot bloggers who “travel”. Yeah yeah, they worked hard for it, too. Whatever.

WHY I QUIT MY JOB TO TRAVEL THE WORLD

On paper, my life seemed great. I had a dream job, a swanky apartment, and a loving girlfriend. But something was off. I couldn’t bear being chained to my desk in a stuffy office any longer. So I decided to quit and travel the world, bringing only my passport, a small backpack, and my enormous trust fund.

My co-workers were shocked. How could I so casually throw away everything I fought so hard to achieve? But I don’t expect everyone to “get” me. I’m a free spirit, whose father owns a South American rubber empire.

I set to work packing my bag and throwing out most of my possessions. Whatever didn’t bring me joy went straight in the trash. You don’t need to own a lot of “stuff” to be happy, especially when you can buy whatever you later realize that you need with your massive inheritance.

Then I reserved a business-class seat, sent a quick text message to my girlfriend telling her that I was leaving the country forever, and was off.

My first few months roaming the world were life-changing. Every day, I updated my Instagram with photos of my favorite sights: cones filled with scoops of glistening gelato; my hand lightly resting on a café table, near an early edition of “On the Road”; selfies of me hugging depressed tigers too stoned on sedatives to drown themselves. Still, I needed to see more. My wanderlust had turned me into a wanderslut.

As a citizen of the world, I rarely get lonely. Everywhere I go, I meet such diverse groups of people. In hostels, I’ve shared beers with friendly British and Australian twenty-somethings. In hotels, I’ve sipped wine with friendly British and Australian forty-somethings. We all became lifelong friends, despite the language barriers.

Once, outside the train station of a small fishing village, I met a humble man named Greebo who sold flowers and various cheap trinkets for a living. Unburdened by the trappings of modern life, his hospitality was unlike anything I’ve ever encountered in the States. Greebo was happy to open up to me about his life, as long as I kept buying roses. Intrigued by our easy chatter, some of his friends wandered over to join the conversation. All of our superficial differences soon melted away. Inside, we are just human beings, after all, exchanging a powerful global currency.

As I left town, I cast one final glance back at Greebo. One of his friends playfully tossed him to the ground and thumbed his eyes as the others snatched all the money I had given him. I couldn’t help but smile. It felt good to make a difference in the lives of these simple people.

Of course, this “no reservations” life style isn’t for everyone. In many ways, it’s harder than the old corporate grind. Many stores don’t accept my Centurion card. Sometimes it’s difficult to get even one bar of cell service, which makes Instagramming more gelato a real struggle.

But don’t worry about me! Whenever I start to get homesick, I remember the old rat race and shudder. All those bleary-eyed suckers packed into the subway, going to their lousy jobs, wasting their whole lives to afford useless things like “rent” and “health insurance” and “student-loan payments.”

That life style isn’t for me. Maybe I’m just a crazy dreamer who also gets a monthly no-strings-attached sixty thousand dollars deposited into my checking account, but I won’t be tied down so easily.

Currently Out Of Order

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I learned some great lessons today. Mainly the importance of touch but also, gratitude, for the little things, which turn out to be the big things – something much has been said about and will undoubtedly continue to be talked and discussed, and love and how love is everything.

Long story short, I became very ill.Very quickly. I felt nauseous then vomited a lot (sorry), felt extremely weak and cold. My head hurt, my stomach hurt, I was dizzy and to top it all off, I started to panic. Panic and stress about what was happening to me but also where it was happening to me: rural japan, where I can’t speak the language, where the doctors terrify me and where I live alone, just me.

Next, I did two things. One, sent a simple message to my friend Yuko about having to cancel coffee and second, sleep. Or at least, made an attempt to sleep.

One hour later, the amount of time it takes me to drive to Yuko’s or from Yuko’s to me, I hear the doorbell ring. Ding dong! Here is Yuko, all flustered and worried (but still stunning, always stunning) with an armful of things. Water, fruit, cooked mixed rice and tofu amongst other things. We (her and her husband) are driving you to the hospital, come she says. Side note: Japan doesn’t have GPs, so everyone goes to “the hospital” for everything which on another note, has freaked me out plenty. Your daughter is in hospital?! WHY! You were in hospital this morning?! AH! Though in this case, I would have probably gone to a hospital anyhow seeing as it was Sunday and an emergency.

I was checked by the doctor, given a blood test (after four unsuccessful jabs to the hand and wrist) and hooked up to an IV for an hour. Now, I feel better. I have been given three days of rest but I cannot eat or even think about eating let alone cook/prepare it and blog about it. So my point in writing this post is this: that the entire time I lay on the hospital bed, staring at the ceiling with pain radiating through my entire existence, Yuko held my hand in hers. And rubbed my head and told me that everything was going to be okay. WOW how great it felt to be touched. In the midst of all the pain, the miscommunication and the homesickness, what I thought about was how lovely it was to have my hand in hers. Which brings me to the importance of touch. The great Leo Buscaglia once said, “too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around”. My life was turned around. Her touch gave me hope and serenity. Two powerful forces which allowed me to see, even amongst the difficulty, my life in all its love and blessings.

Next, I want to share a quote by Christopher Aiff, a quote I believe will be a good concluder for this speech:

“The decision to be positive is not one that disregards or belittles the sadness that exists. It is rather a conscious choice to focus on the good and to cultivate happiness–genuine happiness. Happiness is not a limited resource. And when we devote our energy and time to trivial matters, and choose to stress over things that ultimately are insignificant. From that point, we perpetuate our own sadness, and we lose sight of the things that really make us happy and rationalize our way out of doing amazing things.”

Which is how I can be happy. Happy alone – well, not really. Happy to be alive. Happy thinking of becoming healthy and happy for the adventure that awaits me post (and heck, during) sick leave. So dear reader, stay positive and TOUCH (me) hehe.

My Japanniversary!

Today is my one year japanniversary. Looking through my blog and pictures, I can see I have achieved a lot of things. Some of which include Asian babies, giant fruit, new friends, of course teaching, cycling through the countryside, playing dress-ups, a couple typhoons, a few failed tinder dates, learning to kill a cockroach, open a jar, and to fetch the remote all by myself, and all of which include food: sourcing it (still haven’t found beetroot) cooking it and eating it. Sometimes with friends, most times alone. The latter not a good feeling. Basically, it hasn’t been easy since I live really rural and I can’t speak the language. But, (prepare for the cheese) it has been real. I have achieved what I set out to do – which was to gain more life-experience, in order to grow both as a person and as a writer. And, I have enjoyed. Now, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my year in Japan, it’s this: we must never settle. Though not in the physical sense of the word. What I mean is, to have an open mind about the world, our world, its people and our experiences with it/them. And to be accepting of change, of transformation. For not only is change good, it is growth. And the only way we can change is if we become exposed. And how do we become exposed? We throw ourselves into the open, into the unknown. Though by this, I don’t necessarily mean a geographical point. For even opening our minds to viewing a single minuscule thing in a different way is throwing ourselves. In the words of C. JoyBell: “we can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.” Ari-ga-to!
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Osaka Bound: Day Two

My dad is the very opposite of a Japanese person. He is loud, blithe, bouncy and obnoxious. On top of all that, he won’t stop making what he believes is a funny joke but what actually is, a highly inappropriate comment. God save me. And my mom, my mom keeps telling me mom-stuff like “slow down around the bends” and “always carry a cardigan.” They’re both annoying as hell but I couldn’t be happier.

Pics from top to bottom: a giraffe made entirely of lego at Lego Land, Osaka aquarium (on the schedule solely for my father because he loves fish), okonomiyaki for lunch which my parents told me they didn’t really like or didn’t like as much as ramen (no shit!) only after, and my favourite part of the day, shopping at Lucua. It was so nice to shop with my parents! For one year I’ve had no one to ask if jeans make my butt look big and guess what? Turns out they do tehehe.

Lastly dear follower, I want to share with you something unreal: I bumped into my Kiwi ex. In Osaka Station, in a city with a population of more than 3 million. And, during Sakura (cherry blossom) season when the peoples quadruply. What are the chances? It was fate. It must of been fate. For you know what I felt? I felt absolute and utter confirmation. That it ended for all the right reasons. That I am exactly where I need to be, that I did exactly what I needed. In the words of Rudy Francisco:

“Instead of asking
why they left,

now I ask,
what beauty will i create
in the space they no longer
occupy?”

The accuracy! I am so proud of myself and the beautiful life I live. John Green is right, “grief does not change you… It reveals you.” And in the words of Mary Maxwell:

“…under duress great things are born. Diamonds form in molten stone. The sweetest flowers of man’s spirit have most often been watered by tears. To struggle gives strength, to endure breeds a greater capacity for endurance. We must not run away from our heartbreaks in life; we must go through them, however fiery they may be, and bring with us out of the fire a stronger character, a deeper reliance on ourselves”.

I hope you too, can find the strength and courage to create beauty in place of life’s inevitable heartaches.image[3]image[4]imageimage[1]image[6]image[9]image[8]image[5]image[10]
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Hello Kitty Slippers And More

Yesterday I experienced my first Japanese JHS graduation ceremony and it was really interesting. Here are my thoughts:

What they wore:
So the students just wore their school uniforms with an identical pink corsage on the left chest. As for the teachers and parents, this is where things got interesting! So as per custom, everyone was dressed in formal black suits with white shirts and an elegant tie or corsage but the thing is, in Japan, people don’t wear shoes inside, they wear slippers. So here were 100+ adults in formal formal suits and Hello Kitty slippers. Or panda slippers. So so cute and strange and random. I wished so bad for another nonJapanese to have seen it with me! In addition to the black suits and corsages, all the women wore pearls. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo.

How it panned out:
I was there for the practise and planning of the whole thing so I know just HOW much effort went into it. So everything from the distance between the chairs to the carefully ironed table cloths to the immaculate bouquet displays were carefully organised prior to the event to be flawless. And I mean that in the strongest sense of the word. Just perfect.

This was also the case with everything else. So like, there was a lot of rehearsed marching. Both from the students and the staff. Everyone bowed, walked and conducted themselves in an identical manner. It was all just so so organised. Speaking of bowing, there was much of that. Almost too much. My back hurt. Without sounding rude or offensive, I think we must have looked like a room-full  of canaries. Again, super cute or kawaii. So it was really well done but in my opinion, a little too ordered. I wish there had been a little less stern faces, a little less seriousness and a little more smiling and jokes!
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