Closing time

Doo do-doo do-doo-doo…

Well, this is the final week of my current assignment. My home and my life these past few months has been this school and its students and mission. I am not so sure I am keep it together the rest of the week. Just practicing the song I will sing for them in each of their last classes with me, I was struggling not to bawl this evening… In one class in particular, I don’t know if I will be able to keep it together enough even to sing the song, let alone sing it well. (And I do believe that I usually sing it well.) In that class, I feel so full, my life feels meant for these kids – they make me want to buckle down and prepare the greatest and most wonderful curriculum possible for them for the rest of the year, that particular class. If I allow myself to be fully present to my emotions when we are saying goodbye Friday, I certainly will cry.

What’s more, it is likely I will be in tears for all the classes, anyway, saying goodbye to them – I love these kids so dearly. And I have never experienced wanting to stay with my students like this before now. Every time I left a school, while I was bummed, I was quite looking forward to an easier schedule and less intense work for myself. This time, however, is very, very different. I want to be a part of this school. I want to be with these kids and support them directly going forward.

I’m just not sure yet how that will look. 😉

Thank you, God and Universe for this blessing.

Amen

Post-a-day 2021

Value in being valued

On a walk the other day with my mom, we met these nice old people who live on her street, just after we picked up some ujukitsu off the ground in their backyard/the abandoned small golf course. Turns out that they met one another while teaching for a year in Japan on a military base (that is no longer in existence) near Tokyo. I am familiar with the train line that led to it, according to them. Before Japan, they each had taught a year or two in Hawai (he) and the Philippines (she), and then they met and married and moved to teach on a base in Germany together. They were part of the foreign service teaching for 14 years altogether, I believe they had said. Then they moved to Houston and taught in elementary schools here until they retired. It was adorable to hear.

Considering my frustrations in this part-time job I am now working, I have wondered if something in school teaching is still calling to me. I miss having classes of kids, and teaching something – and something valuable – each and every day I go to work, and being loved and trusted and valued by those around me, in immediate interaction with me every day. Though, perhaps it is less about the classroom and more about the respect and valuing and love that comes to me in a classroom, but that has seemed nearly nonexistent in this position. I have even felt disrespected and incredibly undervalued and unappreciated here.

I wonder what there is for me to do about that.

I know one thing for sure: I’m tired of relying on the way I am told things work. Word-of-mouth information is faulty, and it has proven itself to be so over and over again in this job. I am tired of it. I will do my research for all of my questions, and clock the hours and expect no pay for them, and I will be prepared for all the stuff at this job that will pop up at some time or other – the crazy situations all seem to be inevitable, and I prefer to be prepared and to know what on Earth is going on. So, I will prepare myself, and I will not rely any longer on anyone else to teach me what I need to know or what they all think I need to know – that has been terrible so far, and I am done with it.

In doing that, I will be prepared as I want to be prepared, and as I always prepare myself when I care about something. The system is faulty, and I do not have to follow it – I can do better than it, and I shall, especially in this part of it.

Separately, I am doing more photos tomorrow morning, and I am nervous. I have been doubting and stressed since that bad photo shoot where I didn’t trust myself the other week. I know I need to take photos to move past this, but that doesn’t make it less scary for me. Someone will be relying on me, and I will be relying on a camera… and myself. Now, I just need to trust myself, and do what is needed to be done. Even if that seems like a ridiculous something. You can do this, Banana. Trust yourself and have faith in yourself – Jishin to Kokoro.

Post-a-day 2020

Perspective

Today, one of my best friends from college told me that, though it is a vague idea, she knows what kind of book she would want to read if I had written it. She told me that I am the only person she knows who lives for the journey, and not the destination. Most people plan out their lives based on where they want to be down the road…, But then, as she mentioned, I take a two-hour detour on a 14-hour drive, simply because I saw something that interested me…, And it doesn’t bother me one bit that it added so much time to the already long drive. She gave other examples, too, that illustrated her point quite well.

What stuck out the most for me, though, is that I have never considered my life with these words…, Yet they seemed absolutely true. In the past six months, I have been struggling with a regular question of whether I am living my life all wrongly, if I’m messing everything up by doing things the way I am doing them. And I see now: the whole reason I’ve been feeling that way lately, is because I have been comparing my life to everyone else’s lives… But that is like comparing bananas to chairs – they are not comparable, not in the least.

I am not playing the same game as everyone else, and when I compare where I am to where they are, I am certainly failing their game…, But, as I said, I am not playing their game.

Some might say that I take the road less traveled, but I really think that I often don’t take the road at all… I explore the detours, and end up somewhere completely unexpected.

(This point can be quite literally illustrated by a recent hike I took with a friend of mine… She wanted to stay on the main path, and I was curious as to what this possible detour path would show us… Where we ended up was spectacular, and completely unexpected… And then I found another semi-path back to the main road, way up ahead, while my friend went all the way back the way we had come…)

I’m beginning to think that this is a huge part of why, whenever I have been asked the question of where I see myself in five or ten or 15 or 50 years, I could never quite provide an answer… It’s not that my imagination isn’t great enough, but that I genuinely have no clue as to where I will end up and what I will be doing. I know the person I will be, I know that I will love and I will be loved. Beyond that, though, there’s a world of possibilities, and each one has an innumerable set of detours I might explore. It is likely that, in this moment, my wildest dreams couldn’t tell me where I will be in five or ten years… Or even in one…

When I considered jobs growing up and throughout college, and even now, I’ve always kind of had the feeling of, ‘Why pick one? Let’s give them all a try,’ though, without actually putting it into those words.

It’s funny to me how much sense this all makes, simply because of two sentences that a friend of mine said to me today… Let us remember that I words carry so much power – whether we realize it or not, whether we feel it or not, someone feels it more than we likely ever will know.

You know, for the first time in several months, I think I can breathe fully easily now… I was right that I am failing at this life…, But I had forgotten that that life was not the one I ever wanted to live…

Now, I am free to live my life…

And that is just about the most exciting thing I have ever considered or said… 😀

P.S. Early, early this morning, the world lost the physical presence of one of the greatest people I have ever known, and possibly ever will know… I haven’t talked about it with anyone, and I don’t want to yet – I’m not ready for that. However, I feel like she was with me today in this whole realization… She has been a huge part of almost every major moment in my life since I began college, and I swear she was here this evening. 🙂 I have a feeling she will continue to be here in my life.

Post-a-day 2020

Snuggle bug

The final night has arrived: I return to Texas tomorrow.

It is weird; I don’t feel like saying, “I’m going home…” it just doesn’t feel quite right.

For at least part of me, this is home – I am at home in Japan… in a way.

No, I do not want to stay permanently.

In dinner conversation, the idea came up of my working at an international school or special private school in Japan… and I almost felt a need to quell a rising panic…

But I reminded myself that I am safe and okay, and that I am perfect as I am, and I was able to remain calm easily and communicate nicely – aka I didn’t shout like a five-year-old, “Dame!” (No way!), but instead moved the conversation forward with a different route, so as not to offend.

(Because who wants to be told, “I kind of hate living full-time in your culture, thanks,”?)

Japan is a place for me to visit, that is for sure.

I even could see myself coming for slightly-extended-stays in the future, maybe for photography or something of the sort.

But not living here again.

I am sad to leave, but I am relieved to be going home to Houston, a place that always will hold a spirit of home for me.

I am nervous to go back to my low-budget life as a graduate student slash tutor slash up-and-coming photographer.

However, I actually am quite excited at the terror of what is to come next with all of it – classes and thesis, lots of graduation announcement photos, developing my editing skills, creating my kimono art show, teaching art & yoga (bilingually at that!), tutoring and teaching French and Spanish And Japanese, studying Japanese… maybe even watching some Olympic Games (I did buy some temporary tattoos and nail art to be a Japan fan during them…)…

Yes, I am looking forward to the next steps.

Especially getting even more fit… the gym has been something crazy for me this past month.

I have been totally fine without it, and even eating anything and everything delicious-tasting… and I have grown accustomed to being comfortable with myself more fully…

I am excited to return to the gym as my more-developed self that I now am… more true to myself than before (which was already purty darn good and true).

I am excited to see and to interact with my semi-crush-ish guy, and to be totally comfortable and okay with our being friends forever…

And to have that place be cleared up for something new and a bagillion times better to come into my life… I am ready to take on this life…

Thank you, Japan.

Thank you, Sara, my once-again snuggle buddy (now aged nine years).

Thank you, God.

Thank you, Texas – here I come. 😉

Post-a-day 2020

A good night

I met up with some old students of mine tonight, and it was delightful.

They were delighted at my use of Japanese, I was delighted at their delight, and we all were delighted with the company and the activity.

Kaitenzushi started us off, then purikura, followed by more purikura, and then we did our new year’s omikuji and prayers at the temple, talked about boys and the lack of boyfriends in, coincidentally, all of our lives, and then we ended on taiyaki and a walk back to train station.

Our group chat is filled with about 60+ photos from the three of them, of us throughout the night together.

So Japanese.

But also super fun.

(I meant the photos, but pretty much everything about our time together was fun, so it applies, even with ambiguity!)

Now, I am back at the hostel for the night, hunched in my book/bed/capsule, wondering how I will make it up at a good time in the morning in order to gather my things properly and check out before 10am…

And also wondering how to manage all my stuff over the next few days, and whether I’ll get to see this guy I had really liked …. well, Period.

I had really liked meeting him, and also talking with him and messaging with him, and, even, looking at him… which is kind of all of it….

So, yeah… the tea I had this afternoon – black Royal Milk Tea – was delicious and warm and exactly what I had wanted, but it would have worked out much better if I had stuck to my plan and had it in the morning, and not in the afternoon-evening…

Oh, well… here’s to hoping I can rest well for the next few hours!

Prost!

P.S. I had wanted to go see a film in the theatres, but the times weren’t great for the films I was interested in seeing, and so, in a move to save money and still see something that interested me, I watched a subtitle-free – that part was unintentional – Japanese film on Netflix that is only available while here, in Japan…. woohoo!

Post-a-day 2019

Repairing and Improving, with Joy

I will have some classes to teach for the next week and a half… French classes.

I wasn’t sure how exactly I would approach it all, until this morning, that is.

In the first class of the day, it happened that two of the students had a sibling who had been taught by me during the first quarter of this school year, also for French.

After answering some of their questions regarding things like, ‘Do you really only talk to them in French?’, we entered into a natural and almost immediate discussion on whether I could do that with them, these students I have now.

We talked through the method I follow, as well as some whys for it, and every single one of them was enrolled in the idea: Yes, we want to do it, please.

It was almost shocking, but also not, when I considered how I have always loved such opportunities as a student.

Nonetheless, I was delighted.

And so we began setting up their tools, discussing barriers they are likely to meet, and preparing overall for what was going to start next class meeting.

I even gave them homework, and they were okay with it (and surprised themselves that they were okay with the specific assignments).

They left with excited nervousness in their space, and I was delighted with the whole ordeal.

Another two younger siblings were in my next class, and discussion arose – though differently than before – regarding my teaching methods, eventually reaching the point of my asking them whether they would be interested in using the method for our time together.

They, too, were unanimous in the affirmative.

The final two classes of the day were even more willing to be enrolled into the idea than the morning kids, and some even went so far as to smile really largely and to bounce and say how excited they were.

It was adorable.

… and refreshing.

I can hardly wait for next class. 🙂

Note: It had seemed that having everyone on board and truly understanding the expectations and the hows were my biggest struggle in the past…, hopefully, this one day in mostly English will be the needed improvement for me… fingers crossed!! ❤

Post-a-day 2019

Friday Night Lights…?

Q: What are you doing on this fine, crisp, beautiful Friday night?

A: Sitting on the floor at home, filing my next set of aligners (for teeth, like Invisalign), contemplating life…

Truly, I am…

I had two big things today… one was a total win, and the other is something I would like to call a win, but which doesn’t quite feel like one yet…

The first, it was great(!).

It happened this morning (well, noon-ish, really) at the gym.

For the first time e-v-e-r, I took off my shirt in public.

Okay, except for the time at the topless beach in Barcelona, but that is a totally different situation…. and all the times at the onsen in Japan… again, totally different situation.

This today was during the workout at the gym, when I experienced my long-sleeve shirt to be too much in the middle of the workout… I had contemplated losing it at the same time as the gorgeous latinos were ditching their shirts early on – aka my favorite time of the workout – but was not ready for it, nor desperate enough for it.

However, on the last two of seven rounds of fast squats and burpees (as fast as was sustainable), I had hit the limit of caring about how I might come across to others and how much I wanted not to be wearing my long-sleeve shirt anymore.

I mean, I had even considered how I wanted to lose my pants/leggings, but I didn’t have shorts with me, so the shirt was kind of the only thing I was willing and able to lose without being too ridiculous, even for my own standards… I mean, this was public, not home (and we all know I go without pants at home quite often… like right now, even), so pants needed to stay on.

Anyway, I ditched the shirt, stayed present with myself and my intention of improving my efforts and performance in the workout by having removed my shirt, and I did just that: improved my performance in the workout.

And I wasn’t embarrassed when the guys encouraged me in my workout, but actually encouraged.

And it was kind of totally no big deal that I had no shirt on.

And that was wonderful and absolutely beautiful.

And, though the whole experience was new and slightly uneasy for me, I was comfortable… and that was great.

What’s more, after I had grown comfortable with this all, and the workout was finished, I did a brief evaluation in front of the bathroom mirror…, and I discovered that I not only wouldn’t have been bothered by seeing another female in my physical condition shirtless, but I would have even approved it as quality enough to show off comfortably in other settings – aka though it isn’t required for being shirtless, I look fit enough to show it off, which is a whole ‘nother win for myself today.

I was comfortable and confident enough to ditch the shirt, and I am at a fitness level that I’m even a bit proud of how I look…. I already have been proud of how hard I have been working in these past several months, but today I got to be proud specifically of how I look from all of that work… which is a wonderful little bonus to all the rest. 🙂

So, that was awesome.

Now, the second thing was kind of total suck…

I was told, after practice today, that blah-blah-blah I am not allowed to coach the boys anymore… and not by any fault of my own, mind you… administrative blah-blah-blah was the declaration.

Based on many other events that have happened since… well, over the past while…, it definitely didn’t feel like that was the reason, and I definitely, for the first time in my life, could relate to the desire of throwing a flaming bag of s*** on someone’s front porch – dog, not human, because human would be just too much… eew… anyway…

Naturally, I dismissed the idea easily, for I didn’t actually want to do it, but part of me wanted to release the extreme upset caused by certain others.

You know what I mean?

Anyway, so I don’t get to coach the boys anymore – I love them dearly and I miss them already, and this was a conversation I was expecting to be having one day soon… and I am glad that it is over and done with now…

Yes, total heartbreak for me.

No, not the end of the world.

Just the end of this part of it…

And, the reason I want to call this one a win, even though it definitely doesn’t feel like it at present, is because I accept that this is a clear sign from God and the Universe that something else is coming for me… I had to be removed by shock from the place and state and situation of dis-ease – because there was just too much unease for me in that place, despite the fact that I felt so much love from the lacrosse folks – so that I would make a change in my life to develop something infinitely better in my life and with my life.

As I said to myself earlier today, I have so much to offer, and that just wasn’t the best situation for me to offer myself and my life fully – something better will arise, now that it has the space to do so.

Now that I did not have that time commitment, I have loads of time open for something else, something better… something more specifically tailored to using my skills and God-given talents to serve the world, to be God in the world around me, to let my light of God within shine and have it inspire those around me… this little light of mine has been growing, and it is starting to burn like a fiery blaze… not everyone is ready for that yet, so I must find whoever is ready for it.

And that’s what I’m contemplating tonight, as I file my teeth aligners and prepare for bed on this beautiful Friday night that everyone else seems to be out celebrating (but I have to be up really early tomorrow morning, so I can go earn some money for this insane life I seem to be leading). 😛

Anyway…

Let’s roast some marshmallows, y’all… this fire is ready.

🙂

Post-a-day 2019

Third Grade

And, some nights, you begin telling your mom about various memories from third grade – a class you’ve always remembered as one of your favorites – and she ends up telling you that it is time for you to go to bed, because you have become a bit of a blubbering mess of surprise emotions…

I mean, I do, anyway… 😛

I had no idea how much negative emotion I had stemming out of that class…., a lot of which came from that teacher.

I’ve always loved that teacher.

Tonight, in recalling these incidents and the way they made me feel at the time, and how they somehow exploded me with tears tonight, I said to my mom that, as a teacher, I never want to make my students feel that way – embarrassed, incompetent, incapable, unworthy…, unloved.

I hadn’t ever had these particular incidents in mind, but perhaps these third grade memories have played a somewhat significant role in my open expression of love to my students.

I’m not sure a single student of mine could say honestly that he/she thinks I don’t love them – they all know that I do.

As if my actions weren’t clear enough, my constant verbal expression kind of makes it too hard to miss – but my actions, most likely would say, are already sufficient for them to experience and to know that I love them.

My mom said that it is merely part of life, and that I, therefore, necessarily will end up making a student feel that way at some point… I need merely make sure I clean up the situation immediately, whenever it does happen, whenever the student is distraught by my words or actions…

Part of me is terrified at the idea, but part of me feels like I already do a version of this.

I tell kids constantly that they are wrong or have done the wrong thing.

At the beginning of the school year, their faces look momentarily panicked, until they realize that I have clearly put no grade of them as people into my comment – I mean exactly what I have said, and only that which I have said.

In a rather short time, students don’t even flinch at my words that, traditionally, when coming from a teacher, end up embarrassing the student and making him/her feel stupid or inadequate or [insert upsetting self-identity adjective here], because they realize that I love them and that my words have nothing to do with that love dissipating – I tell the kids they have something wrong, because I love them and I want them to learn the right ways, which happens to require them to learn, too, what is wrong and how to fix it.

And they always learn how to fix it, and are praised for their success – their joy always being evident.

In short, I might make a student feel inadequate, but the feeling lasts no longer than a few seconds, before being replaced by something amazing instead.

What was missing for me in all of these memories, was the follow-up, the release of my feelings of inadequacy… the teacher left me to be embarrassed, and so I stayed that way onward and upward in school.

It kind of sucked.

However, if it, in fact, plays a reasonably large role in my expression of love toward my own students, then, perhaps, I needed the negative experiences for myself, in order to be able to love my students so well…

And, therefore, if it does end up being inevitable that I will leave students feeling the ways I felt in third grade at these incidents, perhaps it is merely so that they, in turn, can go forward in life to love even more powerfully than they can love at present.

You know what I mean?

Post-a-day 2019

Le jour last, part II

Today was my last day of classes in this role… it went beautifully and wonderfully.

I sang my students a very important-to-me song and blessing (ukulele accompaniment and lead vocals by yours truly), and they really got it, and it was clear they felt the love.

I felt the love from them, too.

And I felt how powerful it can be when I approach something with my heart, who I am and doing more and more every day to be who I want to be…

When almost every single freshman left class, and just had to hug me – and I don’t mean lame half-hugs, but genuine love hugs – before leaving, I really began to become present to the positive impact I have had on the lives of all of these boys.

And I am extremely grateful to God for, firstly, the capability within myself, and secondly, for be opportunity with these boys.

Thank you.

Sat baam.

Now, to sleep, because I have events and grading to do this weekend, and I just really want to sleep a while…

Post-a-day 2019

C’est le jour last

C’est le jour 1, celui qu’on retient

Celui qui s’efface quand tu me remplaces

Quand tu me retiens, c’est celui qui reviens(!!!)

These are the lyrics to the chorus of this song a lot of my students love. It’s called “Jour 1”, and it is sung by a French artist who uses the name Louane. She sings beautifully, and this song it fun, but I prefer her songs from the film “La Famille Bélier” – Michel Sardou really does have some great songs.

Anyway, we are doing a version of escape rooms as my departing gift to my students (the quarter ends tomorrow). I spent a lot of time putting them together these past couple weeks, and I had the upper level classes today – they went beautifully. Especially the French III was particularly awesome. ::big heart

Tomorrow is the French II and I turns at the escape rooms… I am nervous.

I so far have one helper from French III for each of the classes, and then three students in French II who will be moderators for the three sections/rooms.

For a class of 25, that still makes me a bit nervous…

However, I know that four boys will be home for French II (supposedly, anyway), which drops it to 22 total, and only 19 doing the puzzles… aka about six members per section – that sounds so much better.

I have a plan for how to make it all work – fingers crossed that it goes beautifully and flawlessly, that we all have a wonderful time, and that I give the boys an appropriately love-filled goodbye (I’m singing and playing ukulele for them for a specific blessing/prayer sort of song I love.

De la force!! ❤

Post-a-day 2019