happiness

Best Friends Forever

“Memories and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age, and certain memories can never fade.” ― Haruki Murakami

I had the most wonderful time last night. I only met Haruka and her family 2 months ago but even so, I feel I’ve known them a lifetime. To say that Haruka’s family treated me like a princess last night is an understatement. They really did so much.

They had prepared a delicious make-your-own sushi dinner featuring avocado (my favorite) and mixed rice (black and white) with ample vegetables. Everything was so healthy and presented so beautifully just for me. We drank homemade plum juice – made sugar-free after I introduced “natural” eating to Emika, H’s sister. For dessert, we had the most divine matcha (green tea) and soy-milk pudding made with kanten (a natural vegan gelatin substitute and a super  ingredient I’ll be hoping to do a Savvy article on). Again, Haruka had made the dessert this way (sugar-free and vegan) just for me.

Last but definitely not least, I was gifted two gorgeous earrings (one with my birthstone) and two bracelets all handmade by Haruka! And, Mommy Mo-chan (H’s mother) gifted me a cute red Japanese cloth for wrapping my lunch. Wow I felt like royalty. What a night. I left their home with a full stomach, a full heart and a full bag of left-overs for today’s lunch. Haruka, Emika, little Ichikia (E’s daughter and my 1st grade student), Mommy Mo-chan and Satozi (H’s father), I want you to know that I will always remember this night and that it will never fade from my heart.

PS the fourth picture is made with kanten too. It is an eggplant jelly flavorured with soy-sauce. Though I admitted to my friends it looked chotto kowai (a little scary) it was soooo yum!
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I’m Back!

Perhaps Alice
also felt
this freely trapped
and crowdedly alone
in wonderland.

The reason I write is to share my truth. It’s sort of like the philosophy for my blogging, if you will. So I will be honest with you. As I have been and I hope you know I have been through and through. Okay, here goes: leaving NZ a second time was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Period. I didn’t want to leave. NZ is so beautiful and my city, Christchurch is so nice. I wanted to stay in a place with family and friends, where I can drink the tap water and read the restaurant menus. Alas, I am back. Here by my own will (no one forced me). My main intention being that of growth. Growth as a person and as a writer. The former, I am certain has happened, for I am now Wonder Woman. I do everything here when I don’t speak the language. And I see snakes, many snakes everyday. As for the latter.. well, only time will tell. I watched a movie on the plane called 5 to 7 about a French woman having an affair and well, disregarding that, one of the character’s was an ambitious writer who SPOILER ALERT after countless unsuccessful attempts finally had something published for The New Yorker and then something else and something else and again and again…and yeah, I really hope that happens for me too, one day.

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Best Of Christchurch

This will be an ongoing series. I have another 8 days.

Top to bottom:
Homemade granola with Clearwaters organic fat-free yoghurt, ViBERi freeze-dried blackcurrants and fresh fruit from the Christchurch Farmers Market. Mouthwatering felafel souvlaki from Dimitris, walk up Rapaki track with my great friend and ex personal trainer, Wally, and last but never least, wholesome bread from Vic’s Cafe  served with my infamous guacamoleimage[10]image[11]imageimage[1]
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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.

Move Move Move

With all the dreadful earthquakes hitting Japan, I’ve been thinking about how important it is to MOVE NOW. I’ve come to realize that if we wait for the “right” time we will be waiting forever. There is no right time. There will always be a better time; when you’re in a better place, more financially stable, healthier, fitter, stronger, with a clearer state of mind etc etc and that is an endless chase. So wear your nice suit and your best skirt, tell your crush/partner/spouse and loved-ones just how much they mean to you or your colleagues, local baker and next-door neighbor, how much you appreciate them. Use your expensive crockery yourself, don’t save them for a special occasion. Today is the special occasion. And if there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, do it. Life is short. So cliche or not, make the most of your life and move NOW. Though your move(s) doesn’t have to be huge nor melodramatic, it doesn’t have to be migrating to a new country or changing your career (though it can be). Movement can also happen in small steps. For each of us these are different. They can be baking a pie, a quiet walk in nature or building a chair. In the words of Miranda July, “don’t wait to be sure. Move, move, move.” To which I want to add: love love love and create create create.

Pictures from top to bottom: morning walks before work in my very rural and very pretty village, Mexican night at Kaori’s with brown rice and slow-cooked boar meat, Persian bento game on point with mayo-free Persian salad olivieh (recipe HERE) and last, a Kiwiana delivery by Anisa sensei for the other senseis.
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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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