One Love – Japan and America

Today the girls went ice skating with their friends after school. I don’t think Akie had ever been ice skating before and was a good sport. Juliana sticks by her side and helps her and includes her in everything she does. I am proud of all the work she puts into making Akie feel at home here.

For dinner, I served roasted chicken from Costco, rice, fresh corn, and sliced pineapple. I think she liked all of it, which makes me happy. I love that she is willing to try everything.

After dinner, we took Akie to Target to do some inexpensive American shopping and browsing. We were looking at the dollar section right as you walk in the store, and as we’re browsing, we hear “AKIE!!!”

Two of her Japanese friends walked in with their host family and we were all happy to see them. It was really cute to watch them greet each other. They walked up to her and decided to reach out with their arms wide open for a slow, animated, hug. I was shocked! So was Akie.  They hugged, which is not normal for Japanese people. They were practicing being like their American friends and it was so cool!

When we left the store, I asked Akie about the hug and she said this was the first time she ever hugged her friends. I told her that I hope she takes the hugs home with her back to Japan and starts a new tradition there.  She laughed and smiled.  This really made me happy.

She loved looking around Target and admired the accessories, especially the colorful sling handbags and floral jewelry. She spent a lot of time in the candy aisle, and chose two different types of Ghiradellii chocolate bars to bring home. She also enjoyed looking around the kitchen aisles. I loved watching what she liked and what she admired.

We came home and unpacked and sat at the table, sharing a drink and a snack. Akie left the table and came back with a surprise for Juliana, wrapped up in her red scarf. She called Juliana’s name and when Juliana looked up, she presented her with a hand made gift that is priceless.  I wish you could have seen Juliana’s face.

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I took a picture of Juliana admiring her treasure and then asked Akie to give her a hug!!  She laughed and joined in on the fun.

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I can’t even tell you how much I love this girl and how much I am going to miss her when she goes back home in a few days.

Having her here with us is a great gift that we will treasure for a very long time.

Life is good.

Painting with Friends

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Before I hurry off to sleep, I wanted to share the highlights from the painting nite party I attended with my friends.

Jessica is my BFF from my hometown and we were celebrating her birthday tonight. The best gifts are shared experiences and creating memories together. Thanks for choosing a great way to celebrate wonderful you, Jess and including us!

If you’ve never done this before, there are organizations that bring friends together and provide all the supplies and a coach to help you be a master painter for the evening. Tonight we met up in Mountain View at a restaurant and painted a nature scene. There was music playing, food and drinks and a very funny instructor who helped us all leave our fears behind. It was fun to start with a blank canvas and to build on the different layers. I also enjoyed watching the other artists’ interpretations of the same idea and how different all of our pieces turned out. Everyone was so creative.

Life is Good!! Happy birthday, Jessica!! And many more. xoxo

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Friends

“If you have one close, trusted friend, you are truly fortunate.” – Rabbi Earl Grollman

At Chase’s funeral, there were probably over 500+ people there to bear witness and say goodbye. I wonder if he knew how many people truly loved him and were touched by his passing.  Seeing everyone there and watching their faces and expressions of love and grief, made me wish that there could have been an angel like Clarence from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to save Chase.  I wonder if he knew how fortunate he was and how many people truly loved him.

There were girlfriends, and wrestling friends, marine friends, and football friends, neighbor friends and family friends, teacher friends and coaching friends.  He and his family were surrounded by love and caring hearts that wanted to comfort his family and comfort one another.  I have faith in our youth. They/we expressed love and pain and shed tears and hugs and it was powerful to be part of the journey together.

Friends and family united to celebrate a dear, beloved, young one. People have been so kind and loving and generous and giving through so many different ways. We are connected through love and pain, joy and sorrow.  And people want to take care of each other to ease the pain and to help walk through the grief together.  Friends are an amazing gift.

“Grief knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger links than common joys”– Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869)

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I am thankful and fortunate for my family and friends, that comfort me and make this life journey a better experience every day.

I wish you peace and love and the gift of friendship that helps to carry the burdens of life.

Namaste.

“Those who bring sunshine to others, cannot keep it from themselves.” – Sir James Barrie

Picking Up Where You Left Off

Do you have friends that you don’t get to see or talk to as often as you’d like, but as soon as you pick up the phone or see each other, it feels like no time at all has passed?

Apryl called the other day and we had ten minutes to chat before kid pick up. We hadn’t spoken for months but both of us are aware and thankful for the few moments and just pick up where we left off, as if no time has passed. I love this about us. We’ve been friends for 15 years but don’t live near each other anymore, which is sad and typical of our transient lifestyle. But we have a shared history and comfort from being true friends, that it doesn’t really matter how often we chat, text, email, or see each other. I miss her though.

Today Jen showed up for a visit and I have been excited all week, just anticipating her arrival. We haven’t seen each other in over a year and now she’s staying with us for the next couple of days. I am so happy that she’s here and when I saw her again, we gave each other the biggest hug and never stopped chatting until she almost fell asleep from the time difference. I guess we’ll have more time again first thing in the morning! I just want to soak up all the stories and hear all about her new life back in Minneapolis. We were BFFs in Amsterdam and loved hanging out there together. I’m so glad she chose to spend a few days in Cali with me before her conference.

Next month I get to see my BFF Megan! She’s a busy working mom with four kids and we hardly ever get to chat and barely even text, but when we do, watch out world!! We are unstoppable. I cannot wait!

These are just a couple of stories and there are so many more, right girls?

I think the secret to having these kinda moments is having had and shared some deep and meaningful experiences that build these great foundations and friendships that withstand time passing and our busy chaotic lives that get in the way of connecting more regularly. None of us have expectations of each other and we know and appreciate that we are all busy, and when we do make the time for each other, even if it’s only five minute or five hours, it’s as if no time has passed at all.

Love you sisters!

xo

Neighbors

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Look at this little rose tree. I’d like to call it a bush, but it isn’t bushy. It looks like a long green stick with a few green leaves on it, barely surviving.

This little tree is so loved and tended to daily by hand. It is on the side yard of my neighbor’s house.

Everyday she comes out with her bucket of water and pours it on her tree. I imagine her collecting water throughout the day from half filled left over cups and cooking water. Sometimes she walks around with the hose, watering spots on the grass. And sometimes she brings a bucket and collects fallen leaves, keeping her yard tidy.

She used to come outside with her husband and they would take walks together, with her in front and her husband shuffling behind her with his cane. He doesn’t come out anymore and I have a feeling he passed away.

I look forward to seeing her outside from my kitchen window, with her long white hair pulled back in a ponytail and with her glasses on.

She usually waves back when I see her but never utters a word. I don’t think she speaks English, but her eyes and smile say it all. I enjoy her daily routine. One time when she saw me on the bakfiets, her smile was larger than usual and she gazed at me a bit longer, and gave me a thumbs up.

She likes me and I like her.

We are friends. We are neighbors. And I look forward to seeing her everyday.

Simplicity and joy.

Namaste.

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Joy

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What brings you joy? You know that feeling where you can’t stop smiling just because you are?

Here I Am.

It’s what this blog is all about. Finding joy in the moments of living and enjoying all that is. I choose to share my (positive) moments to remember and to hopefully inspire you to live in your moment too and to focus on all that is good.

I so appreciate the beauty and love and friendship that is shared with me and surrounds me – the best that life has to offer. I wish the same for you.

Namaste.

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Photos are from Carmel Beach tonight, just before sunset.

Life is good.

Old Friends

What is it about old friends that makes you smile and happy?

My old friend, Jeni, was In town tonight on a business trip and we had several hours to catch up. I haven’t seen her in several years, yet seeing her again made me so happy. She provides a link between the new me and the old me and she made it feel like no time had passed at all. She reminds me of a time when I had no responsibilities and ate lots of junk food and laughed all the time and had silly nicknames and when we danced to Madonna over and over again on my boom box. We were young and we really knew how to play and live in the moment.

We looked at old yearbooks and letters and cards and shared stories of a time long ago. This was comforting to me. We shared stories of our present married lives and being mothers and her working life. There were connections between our past and our present, and I enjoyed the comfort and familiarity that you get from a shared history and remembrance. I’m glad I held on to all the mementos and got to share memories and stories with my old friend.

I wish the same for you and if you are lucky enough to have an old friend or two, take the time to reconnect. I’m sure it’ll be good for your souls and make you feel young again.

Namaste.