Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Healthy!

I remember writing so many posts about being sick and I wanted to balance that out a little by saying, "I'm well!"

And I have been for quite some time.  

I think stress had a great deal to do with the all the sickness and pain I experienced in 2010 and 2011.  The stressors lightened and I stopped getting sick so much.  Changing schools last year helped A LOT.  I can't publicly explain what was going on there that was so stressful, but I am very glad to see it behind me.  I spent most of 2012 much happier and healthier, and so far in 2013 I am healthy!  

You know... this is a really good time to bring up the Facebook depression syndrome.  I heard this somewhere and I think it's painfully true:  We look at Facebook and we compare our lives to the "highlight reels" of other people's lives.  Honestly, if I looked at my own FB wall from someone else's perspective, I'd probs be jealous of me.  So I'm gonna put it out there for ya; you know those times when your heart is broken and you're curled up on the ground sobbing, thinking you really might not have the strength to get through it this time?  I had one of those in December and another one in February, both fallout from my divorce.  We all go through these times and I'm not ashamed to admit that my life is not my Facebook highlight reel.   

I had a friend that I called on for help tell me, "You're strong."  I told her that I'm not.  The well of my strength has a bottom.  I thought of that quote, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," and I thought yeah, if it doesn't kill you.  I also said to her, "Some people don't get through stuff like this because they don't have friends like you."  And it's true.  In this atmosphere of 60 hour work weeks, online social networking, communicating through text, feeling like we keep in touch because we see each others Facebook pictures... it's all a sham.  We need eye contact, and touch, and people to lean on.  We need to talk face to face.  People put their happiest moments out there because we all want to look and feel successful and happy.  We get this stunted feeling of accomplishment and pride by posting super cool pictures of ourselves looking cute or standing in front of some desirable location.  But that shit barely scrapes the surface of what each of our lives is actually like... 

Example:  I test drove a Jaguar XK in LA.  My mom loves Jaguars and she passed that love onto me (although I'm upset that Jag is owned by Ford and I pretend that Ford Taurus masquerading as a Jaguar doesn't exist).  I got in that beautiful automobile and indeed it was like sitting in a work of art.  It's a beautiful thing, and I appreciate beauty and quality.  I drove it down the road and on the highway, and luckily my salesman was new to the area and got us lost, so I got to drive it around for about an hour in Pasadena, CA.  When I started that day, I was desirous of the car and everything it stood for:  Wealth, prestige, beauty.  Once I had driven it I realized that it was just a car.  Yeah, it was a really nice car, but just a car just the same.  

What I'm saying is that people's lives, from the outside, look shiny and sparkly.  Other people's lives look like something maybe better than what we have, something to feel a little friendly jealousy over.  But really, mostly people are all having good days and bad days, just like you.

Anyway, I started by saying that I'm healthy.  People around me in my office are hacking up lungs left and right.  The floor is a mess I tell you!  And lungs are not pretty!  But I'm chillin' with two spacious and unimpeded nostrils to breath through.  

Knox is wonderful and perfect and amazing.  Every day he gets ready for school and says, "Mommy are these new socks?"  And I say, "Yes!"  And he says, "Yaaaaay!"  I bought him new socks in December and even though they aren't really new anymore I say yes anyway cause he gets so happy and says he's going to show all of his friends his new socks.  And then last Friday I really did get him 3 pairs of new socks and today he about had a meltdown because I suggested he wear socks from the drawer instead of the new ones on the living room floor.  Kids.

Speaking of kids, I'm baby crazy and I want like 5 babies RIGHT NOW.  That actually is a source of minor despair from day to day 'cause it takes a lot to create the right situation for that, and I'm nowhere close.  I pray, hope, dream, visualize, and try to get on with my days. 

I can't believe I'm moving back to the USA!!  I have almost exactly 5 months until departure.  It's about time to start checking on flights!!  I can't believe it.  And my visa expires on August 1st, so I'll be leaving on a jet plane on July 31st!  Get ready Momma!  Here we come!

From Japan,
Tiffany

      

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On Love

What is love?  

Someone says, "I love you."  

What does that mean?  I think it can mean a lot of things, but I think there are two major motivations for the people who say it and think they mean it.

One motivation for saying "I love you" is the feeling.

When people say they are "in love" I think that's the feeling that makes your heart feel like it's expanding 10 sizes in happy times, and the feeling in difficult times that makes your gut feel like it's tied in acrid knots.  Being "in love" is the attraction that makes you want to touch someone and be as close to them as possible.  It's solely romantic love and it comes and goes against our will.  Being "in love" has nothing to do with thinking, which is why it makes us fools.

Another motivation for saying it is the choice.  

Whether explicitly or not, sometimes we make a choice to love.  We use our brains and we decide to love.  We make that choice and we stick by it as closely as humanly possible for better or for worse, so to speak.  Choosing love is snuggling with your gross sweaty man and getting close to your sick girlfriend surrounded by slimy tissues.  It is planning a birthday surprise.  Ultimately, choosing love is showing up and staying present again and again over time through all the excitement, boredom, predictability, joy, hardships and surprises relationships bring.  This kind of love can be for anyone in our lives, and at any moment we can choose to love.  Love is an option we can choose, or not choose, mindfully and with purpose.


I think true and lasting love is the combination of the feeling and choice, and how we manage the balance of those over time. 


The feeling is the part that changes for or against our will, depending on life.  And hormones, probably.  We can't bank on that part, which really sucks because it's still important.  The feeling of love is like luck, it seems:  Either it comes or it doesn't.

Because the feeling of love is chemical and ever flowing and changing, the choice we make to love is crucial to endurance.  

Endurant love between two people changes over time just as our bodies do, just as all relationships develop and progress.  Each choice made each day defines the relationship as a relationship of love, or one of something else.   

Both sides of that choice can break your heart.  These days a lot of people get divorced.  They make the choice, for whatever reason, to stop loving this person in an intimate way.  I'm a romantic and an idealist.  It has taken me a very long time to even recognize that my views often take shape in either black or white.  I always thought with a warrior's battlefield-like intensity that my marriage would be FOREVER!!  Over time, my stubborn will broke down and I began to see the many shades of gray I previously had refused to allow even exist.  I saw that we were married friends with almost zero non-verbal communication.  I thought any obstacle could be overcome.  Finally, after many years of managing our lives around severe incompatibilities, my strength ran out and the fiber of my will to surge ahead snapped.  I had to make a new choice.  I had to.   

Choosing to stay is not the same as choosing to love.  I think it's the opposite, and that choosing to stay is more harmful than choosing NOT to love.  Lots of people just torture each other being sarcastic and nasty over time, cheating and belying their actions with words they don't mean and belying kind words with actions that hurt.  That is choosing to stay.  That is not choosing to love.



I don't think love has to be as intangible or elusive as we seem to think it is sometimes.  I think if someone drops something in the street and you pick it up for them, that is an act of love.  If you tell someone how beautiful they look tonight, that is an act of love.  My Yogi tea tabs... do you know I collect these?  The Yogi brand of tea puts existential quotes on their tea tabs.  I really enjoy them.  I collected a bunch and made a frame of them when I lived in Florida.  I have my favorites clipped up in my kitchen here in Japan...  anyway, my Yogi tea tabs say "When you grab opportunities, they multiply," and "Gratitude is the doorway to abundance."  I think if we accept lots of opportunities to give love and feel appreciative of the small acts of love we receive, more love will flow into our lives.

But that's a different kind of love.  What I really want is someone to share my life with.  I want to look at my love and feel like a child, like looking up at a sea of stars or out at the vast ocean.  I want to know I'm safe and adored.  I want the healing and intimacy of touch.  I'm a hopeless romantic and I want a magical love that will last for the rest of my life not because of my stubborn will to hold it together, but because our attraction (yes, feelings) and choices hold us together.  

Anyway...

From Japan,
Tiffany

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What I Want

My nails are painted.  My legs are shaved.  I cut bangs the other day.  I'm wearing my green cashmere sweater.  

And I'm thinking about what I want.

I have these books that inspire me and help me focus my efforts... one is Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain.  I have had success with this book, and I firmly believe and could pinpoint the times when I was concentrating on visualization and got what I was thinking about.  Thoughts are powerful.  Writing goals is powerful.  

What do I want to write down?  What do I want to concentrate on?

I have different thoughts on different days.  When I was younger I had a clear vision of what I wanted and only that would do.  My knowledge of what fulfills me has grown volumes and in turn my desires and goals have changed.

The things I used to want I have either had or they have moved into the periphery, and the peripherals are hazy now.  I would feel perfectly comfortable driving a Bentley Continental GT down the driveway of my summer home in the Hamptons.  I could also see myself milking cows and tending to my horses.  I've been able to picture myself in all sorts of situations over the years, and I'm much more likely to be happy in a variety of situations since I've gotten older and some grade of wiser.  

Once I decided to have a child, everything transformed... I didn't know at all how it would feel to have a baby inside me, moving, responding to me!  I didn't know how uniquely fulfilling that would be for me or how right it would feel.  I didn't know that I could find refuge from my search for purpose in a child.  

That's how I know now that no matter if I end up driving a Bentley or a beater, I want a few car seats strapped into the back.  I want children.  I want a big 'ole family and to be enveloped in the chaos and joy of kids and friends and my man and visitors and my brothers and mom and other family all in and out and running around.  I want my kids blowing me kisses in the window when I go off somewhere.  

And when one of us is in trouble, because trouble always comes, not one of us will wonder where to find support or help.  We will fill the house and whatever trouble comes at us will strengthen our bonds and serve to show us how important we are to each others' welfare, and therefore how cherished we are.  I want a big family full of delight in each other, surrounded by love, each member of the family a gift to the others.

I also think having a big family teaches children many things.  They have to wait.  They have to decide what is really a need and what is just a want.  They have to figure out more on their own and become more self sufficient, and thanks to all of that, more confident in their own abilities.  If I have boys and girls they can appreciate and learn about gender differences.  The older children love and impart knowledge and experiences to the younger ones.  

Being part of people's lives makes humans happier.  It's a studied fact that companionship, friendship, love, and sharing make humans happier and healthier.  I feel it.  I want it.  

When a woman is a mother, most other things are secondary, except her spouse whenever possible.  When a person is a student, life mostly revolves around that.  That's why although I want to go to law school, I am pursuing it partly because I have to do something, and that's the something that I think would be beneficial and rewarding under the circumstances. 

When I think about what I want, a family is at the top of my list.  And hey, I'm not getting any younger, so it's something I think about a lot.  How much money I have and the other things I'm doing are secondary to me.

I think many times in life I have gotten discouraged or disregarded a goal because I couldn't see HOW something was going to happen.  But since then I have learned more about faith and I have more history so that I can look back and connect the dots to see how things happened.  I believe that the "how" works itself out along the way if I am putting my head and my heart toward today.  

Well, I'm off to study until I find my baby making machine.  I'm looking for a good sturdy model that comes with a warranty.  Let me know if you see any good deals.  Scratches and dents are ok.  In fact, they're kinda sexy.

From Japan,
Tiffany

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I Like Japan... Guns

It's amazing to me how much cooperation there is between people in Japan.  Things that we would sue someone over in America are common policy here.  I could give many examples, but right now I'm talking about the "training period" of school children.

Imagine if, in America, the school system told your 12-year-old that they were not allowed to carry spending money.  That's one thing that happens here in public junior high schools and it's part of the process of teaching children how to have a healthy lifestyle, especially in regard to healthy eating.  They are not allowed to buy food out at a convenience store without a parent there, so nothing before or after school.  They can buy drinks from the school vending machines only at lunch time.  Kids and everyone do eat a lot of junk food anyway, but they must be doing something right cause the majority of people are pretty thin.  Japanese people definitely eat smaller portions in meals and snacks.  I get frustrated that cookies are all individually wrapped, cause you have to do a lot more work to eat a package of cookies.  

I learned about this because I was giving out candy canes in class.  I am allowed to give out whatever in high school, but now I teach junior high as well.  I had heard of the rule about no candy or cookies in class, but I asked the teachers I was working with and they said it was ok.  The chief teacher of the junior high 3rd graders (equivalent to 9th grade in America), told me I couldn't give out candy canes.  I wasn't in trouble or anything, I just had to cease my contribution to cavities and obesity.  

In Japan, I regularly experience common things that might get someone fired in America:  Teachers have made boys shave their head as punishment, students are sometimes whacked, and students are admonished if they do anything to their appearance that isn't "natural," such as plucking their eyebrows too thin.    

Honestly, I like the way Japan does it.  Should I get in trouble for giving a pesky student a wet willy?  I say, "Nay."  Should a playground be taken out because a kid broke his head while using the equipment improperly or without a parent?  Of course not!  In Japan, it's your own dang fault.  Be more careful next time.  Take responsibility for yourself and your children, and stop placing blame where it doesn't belong.

A looooot of people complain about Japanese society and customs and I know that plenty of people would disagree with my sunshiny descriptions of how things are.  I think we've all got good points.  The truth for me is that when I take the good and the bad, I think Japan has a really good thing going where tiny kids can walk to school on their own, people can afford to go to the doctor, and when I drop a glove, I can go back and find it waiting for me on the nearest ledge, where someone has kindly placed it.

I think this is a society of little crime because people are genuinely considerate and respectful.  Of course it doesn't go for everyone in the whole country, but generally people are very polite and have positive thoughts and feelings about other people.  People act with what I describe as a combination of minding their own business and giving others the benefit of the doubt.  On the road one time I was driving with a teacher and another driver whizzed by and came too close and she said, "He must really need to be somewhere."  She wasn't being sarcastic.  I think the prevalent attitude in America is thinking the worst of people and the prevalent attitude in Japan is thinking better of people. 

People think it's wrong to regulate the sizes of sweetened drinks in NY.  People are free to endanger their own health, right?  You might say, "One big drink won't ENDANGER my health!"  People should be free to drink as many ounces of sugar as they want, right?  What I'm saying is that in America we have a nice lifestyle, but we are by no means "free."  I mean c'mon, you can't even run down the street in your birthday suit, the way the gods put you into this world, without getting fined or imprisoned. And a woman can't walk through a parking lot at night without fear and perhaps her keys and a can of mace in hand.  That's not freedom.  That's a prison of fear.  We have to wear seat belts by law.  We're not allowed to carry knives over 6 inches long.  Our behavior is governed for us in all walks of life in the name of crime prevention and public safety.  Now it has come to food.  In the name of a public health crisis in America, I don't think it's a bad idea.  It's definitely not outside of the range of laws and confinements we have already accepted as a nation. 

I just came across this extremely interesting info about the brain and more specifically, behavioral evolution. 

About humans

In the link's article, the author talks about how the brain changes with behavior, and how those changes in turn affect behavior.  I think it makes sense at least that our perception of things change with experience.  

I'd like to apply that way of thought to the gun issue at hand right now in the US.  If we the people have become desensitized to gun violence enough that there is a shooting in the national news every day, if our perception of what a gun is has changed, if our thoughts about what we can or might do with a gun and how many shootings and in what circumstances are acceptable have changed, then something about the guns or their availability has to change too.  People say that a pen doesn't cause a novel.  It doesn't, but it makes a novel much more likely to be written.  People say that McDonald's doesn't make people fat.  It doesn't, but the people who choose it are more likely to be fat.  It's a fact that a few ruin things for the whole, and plenty of laws were written from that place.  We have come to that place with guns.  Some people just don't lock up their guns and babies die.  Some people are crazy and kill.  They have ruined the "right" to have guns.  In my admittedly not so humble opinion, guns need to go the way of trans fats.  Just because more people scream louder about keeping guns around, doesn't mean they should be kept.

I would like to see a movie about a world where only women with children under 18 are allowed to have guns, and the guns have an automatic key code built in, like an iPhone.  Someone should get on that, cause the one thing that moves me is the argument for women's self defense. 

What I do know is that a huge gun movement in Australia was successful in decreasing gun violence.  People offered up their guns, traded them in, and many guns were destroyed.  It worked for them.  What I also know is that guns themselves were different and America was different when the Bill of Rights was written.  I don't know what that says about the situation, but I think it's something to be considered.  And finally, since the Bill of Rights is the hinge here I think Americans should only be allowed to own the kind of guns that were made at the time it was written.  Enjoy shooting 4 rounds per minute as opposed to today's guns that can shoot 45 rounds per minute.  Here, sir, is your musket.

From Japan,
Tiffany