Flowers planted by my daddy.
Beautiful 7.15am sky on my way to work (PS I’m a sensei again except this time, to littlies)
A big box of organic backyard stone-fruit to be shared between mama, daddy, Deli, Andy, Ella, Lucky, and me.Mandy’s amazing creation: vegan coconut ice-cream with rosewater and raspberry.
World’s largest cucumber photographed by my momma #sizedoesmatter.
I have been doubting my worth a lot lately. It could be a prolem with my own self-esteem. Or, as I’ve began to think, a nasty bi-product of my surroundings. There is this ancient Japanese expression which goes: “an apprentice near a temple will recite the scriptures without tuition.” Which, as I’m sure you gathered, basically means, we are greatly affected by our environments.
America is so darn materialistic to me.
This attitude, this strong emphasis on “success”, achieved solely through 1. an esteemed tertiary education, 2. the “right” career, and 3. moneymoneymoney is so upsetting. It makes me miss Japan greatly. For even though the Japanese are perhaps the number one work-oriented society, when it comes to “success” there is room for everybody.
I once watched this great documentary called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” on one of the world’s greatest sushi chefs. This is what Jiro says in the movie:
“Once you decide on your occupation, you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”
As far as I’m aware, Jiro didn’t study at Harvard. Nor was he a lawyer or an accountant – not that there’s anything wrong with studying at Harvard, or being a lawyer or an accountant. Just that Jiro reached his success through different routes than the restricted three mentioned.
Because of this idea, ALL jobs in Japan, from government officials to persons whose only role is to shred unwanted paper are respected. All work is given great value and all work is praised. Where you studied in order to land your current position, what connotations your job title possesses in this day and age, and how much moolah you make, are not the only measurements of your success.
Which is why I’m suggesting we re-think these conservative pathways I keep encountering in the West. Instead of a renowned University name or a “prestigious” (according to whom?) job title and the amount of cash in ones bank, what about pondering how our careers and/or actions affect others, in what spirit do we conduct ourselves and for what purpose? What are our true intentions?
Which is better? A Harvard graduate with the sole motive of shallow wealth and hungry power? Or a “poor” painter, potter, cleaner, or waitress (the list goes on…) working in the spirit of service? In the spirit of love. In the spirit of creativity. In the spirit of justice.
‘Abdu’l-Baha, beautifully describes this concept when he says: “[A]ll effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity.”
So. I am successful because I love my work. Because it often positively affects others. And because I put my entire heart and soul in it. And that’s it. That’s all it should ever be. Because that’s all that has ever mattered.
“Pan, who and what art thou?” he cried huskily.
“I’m youth, I’m joy,” Peter answered at a venture, “I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg.” ~J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Not your typical he surprised me by making me a romantic breakfast picture. He made me breakfast because it’s been one hell of a challenging time figuring out our lives together and how we’re going to make this work with all the crazy distance – which made it that much more delicious. There’s always two sides to everything, and to a picture. I hope we can all rise above the tests and difficulties we encounter and to keep strong our faith. On a lighter note, he is the sweetest.
Outfit of the day: green-stone necklace form NZ, top, skirt and bag from Osaka, Japan. $8 shoes from H&M in Nashville, USA because my regular sandals had given me super painful blisters. Ring from a chain clothing store in France and watch from my sister and brother-in-law (NZ) as a thank-you gift for having hosted them in Japan last year.
Such a delicious burger! I love vegetarian.
It’s a small world. This is the epic Persian (and vegetarian) food spread lovingly prepared by my father’s first cousin who happened to read here that I am in Nashville and invited me and my host-family over for dinner. I am so happy I was able to meet her, her husband and her beautiful daughter.
Pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate sea-salt. Worth every single calorie. From Five Daughters Bakery.
…that every day is the best day in the year.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” (John Wesley)
“May I share with you a formula that in my judgment will help you and help me to journey well through mortality… First, fill your mind with truth; second, fill your life with service; and third, fill your heart with love.” (Thomas S. Monson)
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” (John Wooden)
…look different, be uncertain and still succeed.” -Misty Copeland
This city makes me feel I can do anything!
Notice: spicy vegetarian curry at CAMP and the unfortunate sign in the local train of how *some* Japanese view non-Japanese.
Have started writing goodbye letters to my friends and students. For my students, I am begging them to continue with their English, to travel, to explore, to create and to live with their arms wide open.
Just because I photograph beautiful things and post inspirational quotes doesn’t mean I have it together. I’m struggling. Big time. I can’t wait to leave. Everything is so unnecessarily difficult here. None of these pictures show that though. Just like none of your Facebook friends’ photos show their reality. Life is not black and white. Sometimes it’s gloomy grey and sometimes it’s sparkling silver.
During my year and a bit here, it has been extremely difficult to pursue my passion for healthy eating when the notion of healthy food is so scarce in the Japanese countryside. However, I have preserved. Through “bird” and “rabbit” nicknames from my colleagues for eating nuts, seeds and raw vegetables. Through lack of brown bread. And through unbelievably dare fruit prices. Often, I have made my friends and colleagues healthy cakes explaining that they’re free of gluten, dairy and sugar only to be looked at with wide eyes and responded to by: “but why?! are you on a diet?” Don’t worry I’m not blaming them, I mean, it’s not like I myself came out of my mother’s womb screaming: “quinoa”!
So, as hard as it has been, I have stuck to doing what I love. It has’t been easy and I haven’t had access to the majority of things (both ingredients and cooking materials) that I had back at home but, I have not given up.
Kate Borstein says, “Your life’s work beings when your great joy meets the world’s great hunger.” Taking that literally, my great passion does exactly that. Am I right? (Haha) but really, I know healthy food/mindfulness isn’t the answer to Trump, poverty, terrorism and homophobia but it is still something. My little something to the world.
I would like to think I have had many successes here, in changing attitudes to food (and other) but here are three recent examples of them. First, a picture sent by my neighbour who made the same vegan eggplant and tomato spaghetti that I made her, for her daughter. Next, my friend’s smoothie-bowl attempt after eating two or three in my kitchen. Last but not least, do you remember the burger place in Tottori I posted? Well, I added the chef on Facebook (because I’m creepy like that) and begged the poor dude to make me a vegan burger. Being Japan where customer service is beyond immaculate, he dutifully delivered. The patty was delicious, a little too wide and a little too flat but it was his first try and he promises to work on it.
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.