Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Rebels

I am at the kitchen table at my new home reflecting what we have done so far in 2018. My dearest daughter is in her bedroom sleeping after her long long night shift at a Korean barbecue restaurant in central Tokyo. She has been exploited by this company she started working two months ago in May. She was supposed to work at one of the cram schools she used to go near our new home. It would work brilliantly if she did not join the musical group organized by university students. I decided this new apartment for our home because of the convenient location for her school, her part-time job, and my work. But since she joined this musical group, her home is far from every place she goes to, the part-time job, school, and the musical group. For weekends, she gets night shift, but the company that runs the restaurant does not pay her transportation fully, she takes the cheapest and furthest way to come home. Those mega companies exploit the inexperienced youth and make profits. But they should know what comes around, goes around. Treating a good employer bad is the worst policy in a long run. Smart and capable youth will not work for them. This month is going to be Momo's last month. She won't let her treat unfairly and definitely will not tolerate such business. Bummer for the restaurant because this girl has very high standard working ethics: She is reliable, punctual, a hard worker, doing some works other part-timers do not wish to do such as cleaning the bathroom and has amiable personalities. It seems like she is in control of this issue, Mama tiger will see what happens and keeps her mouth shut at the moment as she sharpens her fangs. Who said this, "You mess with my daughter, you mess with me."? 

As far as her uni life is concerned, she is quite lucky to find a few extremely enjoyable and inspirational lecturers at her university. She also made a few good friends who could be her life-long mates within a few months. What really amazes me is that she somehow knows that best buddy sometimes disagrees on some things. Just because it took me so many years to figure out this truth and I have wasted some potentially life-long friendships due to minor differences. I was looking for someone who has exactly the same value for everything. In terms of a partnership, my expectations have been way too high in spite of all of my faults and errors. I had numbers of arrogant and unfair expectations towards others who are usually lovable human with unique personalities like myself. If I am not a spotlessly perfect being, how can I expect someone to be? Perhaps I realize this last year, yet my daughter at such an early stage of her life, she knows this and very humble and forgiving with her friends and family members. But she inherited the spirit of rebels from her mum and grandma. This fate can't be changed. This means that she has a tendency to question and against the authorities. So, by nature, Momo argues with me and questions my decisions. When I feel exhausted, I get irritated and very defensive, but she won't allow me to be too contradictory because I won't allow her. Good for both of us; we push each other to be fairer and more courageous. My mum was brutal with fairness and she was not afraid to apologize when she realizes her mistakes. Well, she was nearly a perfect mum and she rarely needed to apologize to me. But she taught me this awesome idea, "We are all created equal. So, it is wrong to have an authoritarian attitude towards anyone no matter how young or humble the person is." This idealistic policy sounds amazing, but we get so many problems because of it throughout our lives. My daughter and I almost dropped out of the high schools and I refused to go to a university my authoritarian school kindly "offered" to me. Fortunately, my daughter was smart enough to think of the consequences of her actions and decided to pursue her dreams by taking higher education. I was a student, showing her ups and downs of a student life throughout her high school days. I am so pleased that she did not find it ridiculous and choose other paths because I knew she would find satisfying to explore her intellectual curiosities.  

So far, we got our very relaxing sweet home, things to learn and some awesome mates. We have super hectic lifestyles and almost no time to have a chat. Yet we always find time to discuss and grow together in our own ways. There is no other way for us to feel right. 

Monday, 1 January 2018

2018: I have nothing and know nothing.

On Boxing day, I usually stay in the cosy and comfortable white couch at his apartment. His couch had been my favourite spot to be in the last 6 years. It did not complain how heavy, sad, tired, angry, upset or irritated I was and it was sitting there waiting for me to go back. It welcomed and offered the sense of security I used to feel in my mum's arms as a child. So, I could sleep like a baby. I could never finish watching any movies or shows because I fell asleep on the couch at his apartment. Even he was on a business trip and away for the weekend, I got in his place and had heavenly naps so many times. It has become an essential item of my busy and crazy daily life. And it was the only spot where I could be who I really was, the oxymoronic being; extremely happy and sad nutter. Totally egoistic hippie or yoga practitioner. My own chaos could find order on the couch. No matter how dark the dark matter got, I had no doubt that the couch would rescue me. It was like a friendship built on mutual trust and respect and not supposed to be destroyed or taken away. I was in denial of the fact that nothing stays the same.

As a wise person say we move forward by constantly changing. When things got stuck, a radical change is needed to flow time again. It happened to me on an annoyingly hot summer day. My comfortably tedious life with him suddenly destroyed by the sentence "We need to talk."

"Oh-oh," said I in my head.

I had the sentence before. With the cold and sharp tone. It sounds always the same; no life in it. It is recognizable as soon as you hear it. It is the last sentence to end something seems eternal. The whole me got sucked into the dark matter and my heart was broken into pieces. There was no instant cure for it and all I could say was, "Oh, shit..." and the next second, I lost "us" and the couch.

As a usual healing procedure of a broken heart, I went through the dark matter of my own nightmare for a couple of months. No appetite, no hope and no life. Only self-pity, despair and the silliest emotion we all deal with; Jealousy. In order to avoid and hide my dark matter, I constantly TALK nonsense with others who were patient and compassionate. Then eventually, those compassionate friends got bored or irritated by my cries. Then, I heard this wisdom of the universe, "Shit happens." with certain apathy. By the time of arrival of the winter, I got really sick and tired of my self-pity and bloody drama queen attitude. Yet, the yo-yo emotion of mine still got me up and down again and again. One day, I got furious, screaming in my head, "I am a bloody human. I can't cut off my emotions. How can I forget about everything and feel ok? I am not a bloody robot!" But on a good day, I feel calm and more forgiving of myself and the person who caused this emotional disaster due to so much love I received on the healing journey. Yet, I was still in search of a place I should be since I lost the spot for me to exist in the whole universe; The alternative one for the healing couch.

The liberation comes when you are at least expected. For me, I had the eureka moment when I realize I have nothing from the first place. We often think we have so much in our hands, yet nothing stays the same. By nature, we have nothing. Then, how can we lose? Do I sound enlightened? No. I am not. I do not have enlightenment, either. I am a human and I love being one. As long as I am a human, I will get lost and go into the darkness again. Yet, I will come to this acceptance again and again that I have nothing.

With this realization, I will live and learn in 2018. Happy New Year to you all and me, the silliest and adorable entity with only potentials.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Thanksgiving in 2017

"When the old wound started to ache and you fell into the dark hole, get your guitar out and sing away." (Momo, 2016)

This girl, who was born 18 years ago, blows my mind from time to time by saying things like the above. I wonder how she gets such a wisdom and still act like a kid from time to time. She has been loved and taken care of, yet there were times that she had to deal with deep sorrow and grieves at a much younger age than most of us. At least, compared to my childhood experience where I had no major setbacks nor challenges, she had a major issue she had to deal with. Wherever she went and whatever she did, she always had a moment of wonder, "Where is he? Why did he leave us?" She never said that, but her behavior, the sudden drop of her smiles and watery eyes, told me that her inner dialogue must have been sorrowful if not painful. I remember my brother took her to Tokyo Disney Land with his girlfriend back then and they spent such a wonderful day. Yet, he told me with tearful tears how she could not take her eyes of families having fun together. How she looked at a father and a daughter hugging or holding hands. My heart got broken into pieces when I heard stories, thinking how cruel of us, my ex-husband and myself, to put a little girl in such a tough circumstance. 

After 15 or 16 years later, I did not imagine she would find him on Facebook and asked me to contact with him. Indeed, life is full of surprises. It happened last year around the time she said the words of wisdom to me when I was feeling down. I do not recall why I felt down, but perhaps I sensed something radical change was happening in my life and felt absolutely insecure and frightened. In spite of my fear, I contacted him and it turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done. Momo and her dad are building connection for the first time in their lives! I am nothing but thankful for this opportunity to connect with him and realize how far he traveled and how mature and awesome person he has become! The best of all, now he would be here for our beautiful girl I believe. The deep sorrow from her eyes will vanish eventually and she would find the beauty of life and love she can rely on to navigate her life. 

While she is building a new relationship, she witnessed a radical change in my life. I became a single again after 6 years of partnership with someone. Perhaps it was the most challenging and fruitful 6 years as well. My status changed from a single mum with no qualifications to a single mum with some qualifications. It does not sound much different, yet the connections that I made while I was getting the qualifications are beyond my imagination. It is not about better or worse, it is the diversity that I feel amazed in my current connections. Momo's school, my little English school, and English teachers I have met through some study groups were the only connections I had before. It was very comfortable and peaceful little world where nobody challenges me. The small world, I enjoyed seeing my girl growing up. The small world, I did yoga every morning for 90 minutes and felt enlightened and enjoyed writing and reading poems. Safe and sound, yet I knew it would end as Momo grows older and her needs change. As she graduated her primary school, I was ready to move onto the next stage. Unexpectedly, I met someone who would share the ups and down of our lives. There were surely heaps of ups and downs for 6 years from the beginning to the end. Very dramatic. It was full of excitements and disappointments. But we lived fully. That's what matters, isn't it? 

I find it quite interesting that as Momo is graduating her high school and entering her adulthood, our new journey has started unexpectedly again. Our bond is much stronger, yet our physical distance is growing. Thanks to all the support and considerations we received, Momo has become a thoughtful, wise and beautiful young woman. She had not realized her real potential yet. But who can see that at the age of 18? I certainly did not see my potential till much later like in my 40's. She has developed her self-esteem I believe, yet she does not have enough self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is a capacity to believe in your ability to achieve your goals. Without self-efficacy, you will simply give up on your goals when obstacles occur. I would love to study how I can facilitate to develop this essential behavior or belief in order to lead a content life. 

Some may come and go from our lives, yet each person influences our perspectives towards our life. At some point, I will need to see my girl go as well and I am sure it will be a complex experience with full of joy and sorrow because "Parting is such sweet sorrow." Good news is our connection is much stronger than any physical distance. I will be her mum, no matter what and love her with all my heart and soul. And I know how blessed I am to have a person to love like this. Because I know only love define me and my life. So, I am thankful for the love I received and the love I can offer. 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Just a story for a rainy day in Autumn.

Reading a picture book for the first graders
Halloween event for 3rd graders
 Autumn is a good season to go out and enjoy beautiful coloured leaves while hiking. My favourite place is Okutama which is only a few hours away by my little car. But on a rainy day like today, it is not the best place to go. So, here I am writing this for reminding myself my mission and reasons to live. I'm in a philosophical mood today because of my daughter, Momo. She's been asking philosophical questions, having a struggling time of her life as a JUKENSEI. At her high school, 90 % of students go to 4-year universities and study hard in order to pass entrance exams for the universities they would like to go. The last year of the students in high schools who wish to pass the entrance exams called JUKENSEI and the year is considered as one of the most struggling and nerve-wracking one of one's life. I do not really think it was the most challenging year of all, yet for 18-year-old of myself thought it was brutal and merciless due to the pressure I felt. Now I know what real hardship means, but at least for Momo, this year must be one of the most stressful and struggling one of her life. So, we often discuss the meaning of life lately. She says, "We are nothing special and nobody will care even if we burnish tomorrow. Life will go on without us. Nobody will cry more than a day." at which I felt irresistible anger and had to leave the room and take a breath. I was not sure where the anger was from. Was it from disappointment or sadness her comment brought inside of myself? Or was it from the stress that I did not have a convincing answer for her question? Or was it from the immense guilt I felt because I failed to bring her up as a person with high self-efficacy? I had to ask myself in order to discuss this matter, "Why do I live?". Isn't it such a luxurious question to ask? If you are under a constant life-threatening circumstance, this question will never be asked. Your whole energy will be used to survive. That is a human instinct. Yet, we are in this quite peaceful society with abundant materials and quite spoiled in terms of material richness. Both of us are aware of our fortunes. Yet it is also a human nature to seek a more satisfying living, isn't it? 

After sleeping on the question for a couple of days, here is my answer. We live in order to find something we can contribute to support the development or the sustainment of the unique and oxymoronic creatures, human. In order to sustain our lives, each one of us needs to contribute something we can do. In another word, Momo and I need to find our missions. We can, of course, live without any purpose, yet that will lead apathy towards your own life and other human activities. Who would wish to be a living dead at the age of 18? if so, there is a serious issue, one must have and needs a professional help. So, the key is to find a mission to achieve whether it is small or big. The size or importance of your mission is very subjective. One may find getting up in the morning is a mission for life. One may find a cure for a uncurable disease is one's mission. At a much later stage of my life, my mission is not so grand anymore yet reachable if I work hard. Having that got me move forward every day. Bringing up Momo as a single mum was my mission for a while when she was a tiny creature, but now she is on her own, seeking her own mission. So, my mission has changed to sharing awesome stories with children and the teens as much as possible. It can be done through various types of means: picture books, blogs, discussions in class, presentations or even a chat at a corner of a cafe.  I was lost for really a long time with no interests in life. I did not do anything for a couple of years after I had a second major operation at the age of 21. I thought it was not worth trying to make things better if I get sick and die. I was obviously wrong. When I started going out again, I found reasons to live for or die for. Every single day I gained my strength and became more and more hopeful. About four years ago, I was working at primary schools reading books for children hoping to share and spread the joy of stories. Because I know that stories I heard from people around me and read from books consoled my soul and gave me strength and hopes to live. I am not a superstar in most of the people's eyes. But I am one of you, a precious and valuable being for a few people. That's what really matters to me. I am blessed with some best mates, my family and Momo, my daughter I love dearly and will definitely die for if needed. She taught me a lot and I hope I can show her how to live fully not by my words but by my actions.

On a rainy day, I am thankful to have time pondering life like this. Happy rainy day to you all.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

At the beginning of a new journey

I am an emotional person. period. My emotions deeply rooted in the softest part of my heart and soul. This can cause me a lot of pain while living on this planet with biting realities. Do I fear the pain and crawl back into my soft nest avoiding all the dramas and an emotional roller coaster? Hell no. And I do not take any of friendship and love for granted. If some of my friends feel that way, I am sorry for the misinterpretation of my behaviour. In fact, I've been going through severe menopause and might have been appeared as a mentally unstable irritated bitch from time to time. I know it is so hard to know what it is unless you experience it. It is sort of like a radical hormonal change in your body and your body is out of control. Typical symptoms are irrational irritation, constant dizziness and a serious lack of all sorts of appetite.  Nothing personal. In my case(or most of the women's case) I had this with teenager's emotional swings, my mum's dementia and my radical career changes at the same time. I had no energy or concerns left for a while. I constantly wanted a big hug from someone and told me everything is gonna be ok. Indeed, I have been useless crying baby whenever I got a chance to be with whom I trust 100%. But it does not mean I took the person for granted. I had to rely on the generosity and love the person got for me to defend my out-of-control emotional roller coaster ride to manage all the responsibilities I had on my plate. Doing that with this wild house like emotional swing with heaps of panic attacks and professional responsibilities and some health threats, I needed a shoulder to cry on from time to time. I am sorry if I made you feel unwanted. It was opposite. I wanted you to be my side all the time, knowing it is too much to ask. I knew it was too much.

So, I knew what would come at the end. I tried to prepare, but unfortunately, my emotional nature did not allow me to calm down and be cool with at the ending. It must have been a hell for the person I heavily rely on his generosity and patience. I wish I was in a mental state to congratulate his new journey full-heartedly. I really do wish since I believe that's what love does. But my tiny incapable and emotional heart aches and I cried out to defend my last piece of my soft part of my heart. Which cause the one I loved dearly intense emotional agony. I am sorry that I was not strong enough to be there for you as much as you needed me to be.

Now I must declare publicly because I need you, my friends, to understand what happened. This is my confession, I publicly put the sweet smile on my face acting a carefree liberated woman while acting like a mental and cold-hearted bitch behind the scene. I should not blame my faults on the menopause because I am sure some women are much wiser and she won't be as hysterical as I have been even in the midst of total chaos. I am flicking weak in the area and I demanded a full support from the person who tried to do his best to make my daughter and me smile and support in every single way he could think of. He has changed our lives and made us extremely happy for a long long time.

I feel quite awful and ashamed that I could not let his hand go wholeheartedly. I hope this selfishness of me will be understood and forgiven by him and our mutual friends. I was so upset and could not bless his new journey. Instead, I cried out like a hysterical bitch with some of you, my friends. I am sorry the pains I caused you. I truly hope that you will forgive me and allow me to moan a little while. I shall stand up on my feet and will be a little wiser after this. And I promise I won't say a word about my misery after this. Please do not give up on me just yet.

I've had such an amazing 6 years with him and I can not thank him enough to give a single mum a chance to spend intense life with him. He helped me stand on my feet and regain a faith in myself. I discovered a new side of myself because of his mental support. He has met a new person to live with now. I shall bless two of them for a happy life together. It is a lie if I said, "I am ok. I am over that." I am still in process of getting over. No matter how uplifting words I said to myself, my heart weeps in fact. That's how soft and weak my heart is, despite all positive exterior I might have shown in public.

Ok. Nobody will be interested in my life so much and will go on their own as he suggested. Yet for me it is very important to let you all know, my friends, in the stage I am in because I do care about your life as well. I wish I could give a shoulder on your sleepless night. I wish we would be open and accept who we are. Life will be lonely without such a special friendship.

I truly hope I lost my partner yet made a flicking good friend and our friendship will continue till one of us go away from this ridiculously complex and beautiful world. And I truly hope I will meet someone special I can share with all my excitements and disappointments of this life. You know I can feel my heart gets a bit tougher and stronger, hopefully, wiser now.

Thank you for reading this far. It meant a lot to me, my dear friends. Thank you for the courage and support you constanly and generously offer to me. I love you all. I really do.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Power harassment has been a big issue at schools. I have been one of the protesters against this social issue ever since I was 13. (That is when I realised some grown-ups especially teachers could be very unfair and authoritarian. ) I protested every unfair and unreasonable behaviour of teachers at school. This anti-authority attitude comes from my mum who told me to stand up for my rights. I am not sure if it was a good idea or not because in Japan it would have been much much easier if I learn to shut my mouth and obey what teachers say. I might have had much peaceful school life. But my anti-authoritarian spirit did not allow me to remain silent. Oh, boy! My teenage straight forward spirit got me so many troubles in school days. This troublesome spirit has passed onto the next generation, my daughter. She is as anti-authoritarian as we are if not more so. She does not hesitate to protest (despite all her faults. lol) when she experiences teachers' unreasonable and unfair behaviours.

As I started teaching at universities in much larger classrooms, I have realised that classroom management is challenging and overwhelming. Providing a satisfying class for every student seems such a talk order. While I deal with nearly 300 students, I am sure I say something insensitive or behave inappropriately from time to time, depending on how a student perceive my words and actions. I am not perfect at all. But if someone complains, I would apologise no matter what my intention was because of the fact that the person was offended or felt unfair. I've learned that it is very important to admit my faults and have the courage to apologise, which was also one of the lessons that my mum taught me. I did not understand why she bothered to tell me this repeatedly when I was a kid. But as I became a mum, I understood how important this lesson was; When we make a mistake, admit it and apologise sincerely! Whether you will be forgiven or not is another issue. I thought this simple yet essential moral code was shared with many educators and grown-ups. To my surprise, some teachers at my daughter's high school obviously do not share this moral code and no idea what power harassment is.

It was a few weeks ago, my daughter came home with tears and rage in her eyes. She burst into tears as soon as she saw my face, telling me what happened at school on the day. One of the teachers at school yelled at her as he demanded her to pay for her textbook. She did not register in his class, so she immediately realised that it was a false accusation. So, she protested it, yet nobody listened to her and she got more unfair accusations from other teachers on the spot. Nobody listened to her until she protested and screamed in tears. Then her classroom teacher investigated the case and admitted it was a mistake on their side. Now an important question should be asked. What would you do when you make mistakes? An apology is the first word pops up in my dictionary. Yet, the homeroom teacher did not apologise to her. Instead, he told her to mind her own business and go home because the case was solved and she did not have to pay for the textbook. "Excuse me?" I said because I did not comprehend the fact that my daughter claimed. After confirming the fact, I gave a call to the homeroom teacher and asked what happened. Then he apologised to me. So, I expected him and the teacher who yelled at her would apologise to her as well for their misunderstanding next day. However, nothing happened.

Nowadays, every school has a survey to investigate how students feel about the classes and teachers they have. I have some questions about the reliability and validity of such surveys, but it can get attentions from teachers at schools for sure. After my daughter complained about the teacher's behaviour, she was called by the homeroom teacher after school. So, she told her feelings towards the incident and asked for an apology from the teacher. Otherwise, she would go to the "authority". To be honest, when she told me about what she said to her homeroom teacher, I was a bit flinched considering the consequence. But then I felt ashamed of my sentiment and felt proud of what she did. No matter how controversial, it is good to have the sincere spirit, especially when you are a teenager!!!

So, the "authority" will get a phone call from a mum and a daughter protesting power harassing incident at a high school today. It may not change a thing.  However, as Socrates says, "The I unexamined life is not worth living.” 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

A Sunday morning 2017

This year has been very exciting with a few more extra classes at universities and lots of presentation opportunities. At the same time, more than a few unexpected incidents occurred and I definitely need a long vacation in order to reflect and digest what really happened. When I feel like I am in a twilight zone, I know what to do; I remind myself this, "carpe diem!" Dance with the tune that life calls :-)