Pausing

September 16, 2017


Swollen joints, achy muscles, a bad reaction to meds, and cabin fever have had me feeling grumpy, frustrated, and anxious. I don't like this disconnect from my body and not knowing if I will be able to do something that was easy for me to do just a few days earlier. I don't like the uncertainty of what is happening and when it will stop. I don't like feeling ill. I don't like a lot of things about this current situation, but I have a good acupuncturist, an interesting assortment of Japanese probiotics, and a daily gentle yoga routine.

The silver lining surrounding this dramatic slow-down is that I have had to be very thoughtful about my daily activities. I haven't been able to do what I normally do when we arrive at a new duty station which is to sign up for an overload of volunteer duties, go on tons of cultural outings, and actively attend every possible social function in an attempt to find new friends. And I think I might actually be letting go of some of the guilt or self-judgement that was an active motivator in the past for pushing myself beyond healthy limits. That's a big shift for me. Is it an age thing? or just being too tired to care? or a sign of some seismic self-care growth spurt? I don't know and I don't really have the energy right now to analyze it too much, but I do know that I adore the reliability of Japanese vending machines and the joy of finding quirky little spots to rest while enjoying a can of Royal Milk Tea. 

Izumo-Taisha And A New Collection

September 6, 2017


 On our way home from a fabulous weekend in Matsue, we stopped at Izumo-Taisha Shrine, the oldest Shinto shrine in Japan. In addition to its age, the shrine is famous for being a spot where all of the gods gather each October and it is home to Okuninushi no Okami, the central deity in Japan's creation myth. He's also known as the god of relationships and when believers approach Izumo-Taisha they clap four times instead of the usual two time. Twice for themselves and twice for their partner (or desired partner). 



Couples come to Izumo-Taisha seeking special blessings for their relationships. Some place special requests onto little wooden placards or little slips of paper which are hung/tied near the shrine. Another way to get a blessing is by having a priest sign and place a special seal inside your temple/shrine book (shuin-cho or goshuin-cho). It felt right to get a shuin-cho from this important shrine which also happened to be the first one we have visited since our return to Japan. We searched for the small building (they are usually on the side of the main shrine or temple) and near the stand that sells the wooden placards and religious charms.



After waiting in a short line, it was our turn and as we watched the young priest use a steady hand to mark the date and location in our book, Camille said it reminded her of our letterboxing book. I hadn't made that connection at all, but I do love it. This idea of having a physical reminder, especially one as beautiful as Japanese calligraphy paired with an official temple seal, to remember our visits really struck a chord with me. Now we will just have to be sure to keep it in a safe place AND remember to bring it with us on our travels. 



Roller Slides, Garbage Sorting, and Unexpected Bliss

September 1, 2017



Roller slides, natural beauty in unexpected spots, adorable cars, endless vending machines, local summer festivals, and friendly greetings: we are thrilled to be back in Japan. The past few weeks have been a crazy blur of getting settled, battling jet lag, dredging up my very rusty Japanese skills, late night bike rides, and savoring the tastes and smells of a place that feels both familiar and foreign. 

During one of our first weekends here we were on the hunt for garbage cans. I know that probably doesn't sound like a very appealing cultural experience, but it turned out to be quite an interesting one. Garbage sorting is an exact science here and requires a very precise system which also means we needed to find trash cans (and bags) that would work for our new house (which has very limited storage). After a long morning of discussing/measuring various options, we decided to hit one of the local beaches. 

We found a lovely little cove with stunning mountain views. It was hot, but the water was clear and refreshing and we were also lucky to snag a spot in the shade. I am usually the one who hunkers down with my book on the beach just happy to take in the view, but on this day I couldn't stay out of the water and I found myself wishing I had a raft or a float. As if reading my mind, an older Japanese man climbed out of the water to hand me an innertube. I was initially kind of stunned by the timing of it and then felt a bit uncomfortable taking his tube from him, but he insisted and he headed  off to walk his dog along the beach. Without another second of hesitation, I plopped myself in that tube and allowed the tiny waves to wash over me. After all of the stress of moving and the exhaustion of adjusting to a new place, those moments in a borrowed plastic tube on the Inland Sea of Japan were bliss, pure bliss.

A few days later I dragged the kids out of the house and introduced them to the joys of Japanese rollerslides. This was a fancier one with it's own tram to get you to the top of the small mountain and even had little pads you could sit on to protect you from the hot metal and bumpy ride down. I didn't make as many trips down as the kids did, but I did enjoy the views and the fun of it all, especially seeing the kids' reactions. Simple, bumpy, sweaty, summer joy. 

Having done a number of overseas moves, I know that the next few months will continue to have their bumpy moments, but I also know that seeking out and relishing the good moments will be important for all of us. We are happy to be here. Happy to be feeling a bit more settled each day. And happy to embrace all of the adventures that are waiting for us. 



Summering

July 14, 2017


We did it. We successfully survived three different pack-outs. We moved out of our house. We found a buyer for Adam's car. We have our flights booked for Japan. We got Noah packed and off to big adventures in Arkansas and Mississippi. And we are now in the pleasant bubble of exhaling and savoring our final weeks in the States. 

Visiting with friends/family, eating icy treats, and doing all the things in the DC area that have been on our to-see list for the past five years. Savoring easy access to large public libraries, inhaling watermelon, going to as many yoga classes as possible. Letting Hugo frolic in Rock Creek, trying to brush up on my very rusty Japanese, and sending letters to Noah at camp. It's nice to have this little slice of summer before we get thrown back onto the roller coaster of an international move. 

Eye of the Storm

June 17, 2017






As a kid growing up in South Louisiana, I have vivid memories of hurricanes with fierce winds, driving rain, piles of library books, flash lights, and ice chests of melting food. But the eye of each storm was always the most intriguing to me with its noticeable shift, the change in pressure, the eery silence, and a magical pause in the drama. It's a surreal thing to experience and it always had me wanting to exhale while also attempting to hold my breath. 

Junk Drawers

June 8, 2017



I had a yoga teacher several years ago who described the hips as the "junk drawer" of the body. That phrase has been circling in my mind and my body for the past month as I sift through the junk drawers in prep for our move and deal with the stress that seems to be accumulating in my hips. Emotions are high around here right now. The first of three pack-out dates happens tomorrow and I am not sure we are ready.

Azerbaijan

May 20, 2017




In the weeks leading up to our trip to Azerbaijan, I have to admit that there were moments of doubt. I wondered if we were nuts to make a big international trip right before moving to Japan. I worried that we were going to be too jet lagged to do anything. I panicked because I hadn't done any of my usual research or preparation, but as soon as we got on the plane there was a collective exhale. It turns out that a trip to Azerbaijan was exactly what we all needed.

Saturday Morning View

April 8, 2017



Packing lists for Azerbaijan. Perfect elephant eyes/one-eyed Petes/wrangler eggs (what do you call these in your house?) made by Camille. Carla Bruni station on Pandora. We leave tomorrow and haven't had a chance to really even wrap our minds around that. It's going to be a busy Saturday filled with packing and trip prep, but feeling giddy about finally getting there and being with some of our favorite people in this crazy world of ours. 

Exploring: The Mansion on O Street

April 7, 2017


This morning I sat on Rosa Parks' bed, searched for hidden doors, read a note from June Carter, and got lost too many times to count. With the clock ticking on our time here in the DC area and a quick visit from our niece, I decided we all needed to head over to the O Street Mansion for a truly unique DC experience. I was the only one who had been to the Mansion before and had been looking for the right opportunity to bring my kids. And today turned out to be the perfect morning for it.


Seventeen Years

April 6, 2017



Seventeen years ago. New Orleans, Louisiana. Grape hyacinths, lavender, rosemary, pale pink roses. Family, friends, and a rabbi who lost his voice. Adam wore his dress uniform. I wore the dress my mom sewed for me. We got married under a homemade chuppah and ate chocolate hazelnut cake.  

Through A Different Lens

April 5, 2017


Five years ago, I bought a 50 mm prime lens. I had good intentions of playing around with it and getting better at portraits, but it didn't really happen. The first few times I tried, it just felt awkward and frustrating. I had become so accustomed to having a zoom lens that

Seasonal Shift

April 3, 2017



Winter was quite a roller coaster for us. The highs included trips to Louisiana, Arizona, and our Harry Potter weekend in Orlando. The lows included emergency appendectomy for Adam, flu for all of us, and a frustrating state of limbo in regards to where and when we will be moving. Limbo is never a fun place to hang out for an extended period of time and in all of our years as a military family, this upcoming move has certainly been one of the most testing. But in the past two weeks plans are starting to taking shape and we are thrilled to be moving back to Japan.

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