May 30, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: Friends, Roses, Strawberries, Cherries, and so on

Ten Things of Thankful

   I went to the English Garden in another city with Mrs. O*, her two-year-old daughter, and Mrs. S* on Wednesday. 

In the garden there were various kinds of beautiful and fragrant roses.

We also saw exotic flowers like these:

We had lunch in the garden. 

* * * * *

On our way back, we visited Mrs. S**, who had invited us to her house. Mrs. S** grows fruits, vegetables, and flowers in her gardens. After we had tea, she took us to her strawberry garden, and let us pick the strawberries she had grown there.

Then she gave us some of the peonies in her garden.

She also showed us around her beautiful rose garden.

She is growing some kiwi fruit in her garden, and I saw kiwi fruit flowers for the first time in my life.

* * * * *

     On Friday, I attended the Bible Study Meeting held at Mr. and Mrs. Y*'s house. I went to their house for the first time. I went there in Mrs. O*'s car. In the morning, we studies John 6:1-14, and prayed for each other. After that, Mr. Y* let us pick some of the cherries in his garden.

  Then we had lunch together. Mrs. Y* cooked spaghetti with fuki shoots (giant butterburs) that Mr. Y* had picked in the mountain.

May 28, 2015

In the Rose Garden

In an English Garden in Japan

Six Sentence Stories -- #1

Amb18a RegiusAce

   Ms. M*, a friend of mine, lives alone in a small house in the suburbs. One evening, while she was making supper, she suddenly had a terrible headache. She managed to take her cellphone out of her pocket, called an ambulance herself, and collapsed.The ambulance came, and she was rushed to hospital.

   Ms. M* was in a coma for more than one hundred days, and then she woke up. After months of rehabilitation, she now lives in her house by herself without any aftereffects of the stroke, enjoying cooking, sewing, crocheting, and talking with her friends.

cue: rush

May 26, 2015


walking in drizzle
under the pink umbrella
my mom left behind

I'm joining Josie @ Two Shoes in Texas
for Two Shoes Tuesday.

writing prompts: 
umbrella / under

May 23, 2015

I'm Encouraged by...

   I'm encouraged by the words of God. This week, I'm especially encouraged by His promise "to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."(Isaiah 61:3)

   I'm encouraged by music by J.S. Bach. I love listening to his works and practicing playing some of them on the electronic keyboard. I'm really thankful that I was born after Bach had composed all his beautiful works.

   I'm encouraged by flowers. It seems to me that they are symbols of beauty and joy. Though they are ephemeral, they somehow remind me of eternal beauty and joy.

   I'm encouraged by kind words from friends. 

   I'm encouraged by smiles.

   I'm encouraged by old letters and postcards from friends.

May 22, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: May 22

Ten Things of Thankful

I'm thankful I took part in #1000 Speak for Compassion this week. I wrote about reconciling myself to a trauma. It was not easy for me to write about it. I deleted my first draft. I rewrote it, and deleted it, too. After two weeks, I started to write anew for the third time, still wondering if I should publish it or not... After all, I don't regret having posted it.

The other day, Mr. H* gave us these flowers.

The rye bread I baked tasted good.

I've finished making a pen case.

The plants we call yukinoshita (strawberry geraniums?) in front of our house are in bloom now. I don't remember seeing the flowers for the last two years, and I'm glad to see the unique, tiny flowers this year.

I worked on a new sashiko embroidery project, and finished making a dish towel. This is a variation of asanoha (hemp leaf) pattern.

The pea sprouts are growing in my kitchen. I'm going to boil them and put them in a salad.

I'm reading THE HAIKU HANDBOOK by W. J. Higginson, which I've borrowed from the city library. I find this book interesting and inspirational. I hope to write haiku in English. 

I went to the International Affairs Center today. I worked with Mrs. O*, who is from China. She speaks Japanese very well, and she is now preparing for the national examinations to be a barber. I helped her read and understand a few chapters in the textbook for the exams. The book reminded me of Social Studies and Biology that I studied in high school.

The weather has been comfortable most of the week. It is neither hot nor cold.

May 20, 2015

Reconciling myself to a Trauma

   About two years ago, in March 2013, what I had feared most became a reality. Because of a prolonged bout of depression, I chose to give up my dream job.

   I had been a proud teacher. I used to be confident, enthusiastic, hard-working and efficient. My job had been the most important thing in my life. I had planned to keep teaching at high schools until the age of retirement. I was willing to make sacrifices to be a good teacher.  A high school teacher -- that was who I was, and that was what made me feel good about myself. I had never dreamed of giving up that rewarding job prematurely...

   A few years after I started working, I had my first episode of depression. Suddenly, everything seemed meaningless. I felt I was good for nothing. It was difficult to keep playing the role of a teacher while I was depressed, but I managed to keep working. I began to feel better after several months. I hoped I would never go through that nightmare again.

  The next year, however, I had another bout of depression. In the following year, another. A few years later, another.... During these episodes, I felt like quitting my job many times, and I regarded it as a symptom of the illness. It is often said that one should not make any life-changing decisions while one is going through clinical depression. So, I took advantage of the piece of advice and held on to my job. Once I got well, I never dreamed of giving it up.

   In March 2013, I was recovering from my eighth or ninth episode of depression. I had been on sick leave for months, and I had planned to resume my work in the following month, when the new school year started in Japan. In fact, I had started making preparations for going back to work. Gradually, however, I began to wonder if it was really the right thing to do. I had a feeling that I was no longer up to the job. I felt overwhelmed with all the responsibilities I would be expected to take. On the other hand, the thought of losing a job scared me. -- It is next to impossible for a woman of my age to find any fulfilling, full-time job in my country.

   I was in a dilemma. My 'head' told me to cling to the rewarding job, but my 'heart' whispered that I wouldn't have to torment myself like that any more. I prayed and prayed. I thought and thought. Though I didn't want to admit this, it was obvious that the demanding job itself was one of the causes of my recurring depression.

  Finally, I made up my mind to listen to my 'heart', instead of my 'head.' I handed in my resignation.

  When I gave up my job, I felt as if I had lost everything important in my life. There seemed to be nothing left for me to live for. I had been proud to be a teacher, but now, I was unemployed. I was a nobody. I thought of myself as a loser. It was so painful that I couldn't tell anyone about my feelings. It seemed to me that talking about my struggles would make me feel more isolated.

  I used to live by myself in an apartment near the school where I worked. Having quit the job, I had no reason to keep living there. Besides, I couldn't afford to pay the rent. So, I moved to my father's house. I said good-bye to my church family, and started going to another church near my father's house. During the first six months or so, I tried to avoid talking with the people in the new church because I didn't want to tell them anything about myself. I never told anyone about my former job. I didn't want anyone to ask me why I had quit it.

  I've alluded to my story somewhere in my blog before, but I have never written about this painful and 'humiliating' experience in the first person clearly. I was afraid to be 'judged'. I was afraid to feel more isolated. It has occurred to me, however, that it is I that has been judgmental. I thought of myself as a loser, because I was judgmental. Regrettably, I believed that healthy and successful people were 'winners', and that those who were not were 'losers.' It is I that has isolated myself from other people.

  Recently, I've read a booklet, When God Says No --Broken Dreams to New Beginnings , written by Sheridan Voysey, which has inspired me to share my story here. Writing this post was not easy, but it seems to be helping to reconcile myself to my traumatic experiences.. Like the author of this booklet, I've also realized that I am a child of God through 'the wilderness of shattered dreams.' I've gone through bouts of clinical depression a number of times. I've lost what used to be my dream job. I'm still unemployed. However, nothing can separate me from the love of God.  -- 'A child of God' -- this is my primary identity. This is who I am.

* * * * *

I'm taking part in


writing prompts: 

  • Reconciliation of who you thought you would be and who you are.
  • How to move from judgement to empathy.

Read more posts about compassion and connection here.

May 15, 2015

Ten Things of Thankful: The Hiking

   I went hiking in Mt. Nokogiri with K* last Monday. It was an ideal day for hiking. We had been there twice before, but we didn't reach the top. Last May, we took the route less traveled, and we lost our way. Last October, we were too tired to walk any more. This year, we started in the hope of conquering the highest mountain in our city.

   We started walking at around 8:40.

   The trees were beautiful.

   We found a flower called mamushigusa. I had seen the photo in an encyclopedia, but I'd never seen it with my own eyes. The name comes from mamushi,  a poisonous snake. I looked up in a dictionary, and found that it is called Jack in the pulpit in English.


   When we were taking a rest, another hiker caught up with us, asking if anyone missed a cell phone. He was looking for the owner of the phone he had picked up on his way. Then, K* realized his phone missing. The phone that the man had found belonged to K*. Thanks to the kind hiker, K* didn't lose his cell phone in the mountain.

  As we went up higher, we saw a few patches of snow. I was delighted to find a large number of katakuri (dogtooth violet) still in bloom. I like these lovely flowers, and I saw them for the first time this year. 

    We walked and walked. We arrived at the mountain top at around 11:30. K* had got to the summit many times before, but I got there for the first time in my life. I rang the bell at the top of the mountain.

  The sign says, "The top of Mt. Nokogiri, 764.9 meters above sea level."

   The mountain is not very high. Mt. Nokogiri  can be translated as 'Mt. Saw.' It is so called because the ridge near the top is serrated, with a lot of ups and downs.

  This is the view from the summit.

  We had onigiri (rice balls wrapped in nori) at the top.

  On the way back, K* had a cramp in the leg, and I had to carry his backpack part of the way. I'm thankful that we've managed to come back safely. 

Ten Things of Thankful

    Ten Things of Thankful is celebrating its 100th week now.

I started taking part in Ten Things of Thankful last May, and to me, this is Week 56.

May 14, 2015

"Kodemari" and 'Oodemari"

   I took these pictures at the gate of the building where my preschool used to be. The preschool I went to was closed years ago because of the decrease in birthrate in our country. The small school building was demolished and there stands a new, larger building in the place now. They grow beautiful flowers in what used to be the school yard.

   The lovely white flowers in the photos above are called 小手毬 (kodemari) in Japanese. According to Wikipedia, the scientific name is Spiraea cantoniensis. The Japanese name can be translated as 'small temari balls.' (The temari  is a traditional embroidered ball.)


  There is another species of flowers named after temari, which are also in bloom now. They are called 大手毬 (oodemari), or 'large temari balls.' Its scientific name is Viburnum plicatum var. plicatum f. plicatum. Though the Japanese name oodemari rhymes with kodemari , these two kinds of plants belong to different families.  (source)


The photo above has been taken in my neighborhood.