Me.....being grateful for every thing, every breath, every day of this life

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pray Hard Or Go Roam

Prayer. It is not a simple word. When defined by Webster it is suggested and summed up that the only meaning is "to plea to a deity, an entreaty, humble request"!? I have to disagree! In my personal opinion and practice, I do not think it is appropriate to pray in the sense of wanting, weather you are religious or not. To squeeze your eyes closed and give a silent beg, I think this is slightly ridiculous and only shows you the empty, desperate feeling of being sad about being without. Sure it is fine to want things and to aspire to have something or someone in your life which you currently do not acquire. Goals are what keep us going! But I suggest to Mr. Webster and to anyone who does not have a regular practice of prayer, to create one and to make it a much more peaceful part of your life.

I know my husband prays almost every single night. I think his prayers, from what he has told me, are more like a giving of thanks, a time for quiet gratitude. I think that is essential to any one's happiness. It is so important to have gratitude for what you have that makes you happy and it also helps us have a direction for what goodness we want to expand and build upon in our lives. Gratitude fills our hearts, minds and bodies with pure paradise.

When flipping through the dictionary to search for my word prayer, I passed a page which held the description explaining the meaning of the word; paradise. (The pages which directed me through the "p" words, had the alphabetical guides at the top of the "paradise" page, listing "panties" to the left and "paradise" to the right and I thought that was hilarious, wanted to share!) Webster defines the meaning of the word paradise as; "a garden, heaven and any place or state of great happiness."

I thought it fitting that the word paradise caught my attention when researching the prayer word. I find it important to define this word as what it means to me. I see prayer as a meditation, a moment of intention for deep peace and will to promote and create even more peace. When I pray I almost always figure out what I am thankful for in general and this is involving me as well as then including the rest of the world. I wrap humanity in love with almost every moment of prayer I practice. I find I feel lost if I have not prayed in a while. I feel like I am wandering and roaming through life with no purpose and this creates depression. When I pray, sometimes I close my eyes and sometimes I do not. Sometimes I am in my car driving. Sometimes I am watching a movie with my child. Sometimes it is in the shower as I wash my hair. Sometimes I set a time to be alone, like in a strictly scheduled meditation practice. Sometimes it is just as I am drifting off to sleep. In my prayers, I often send my love and peace through the atmosphere to who I think might be in need. Often I just send love through the valley of my mind intending this thought to abstractly reach a friend, group or family who might be struggling, often I think of the citizens of a country who are conflicted where there is war, hunger, disease and giant need. But instead of asking or requesting in a way of "please give relief!" Rather, I state or gently demand, "give peace where there is none." Or, "bring love and safety to those who are lonely or scared." And, "allow nourishment and wellness to find those who cannot seem to discover comfort and health." I am not asking God to do this. I am sending an intention that it will simply occur and be so. Strong and repetitive thoughts become reality, I believe, in one way or another.

If you feel at the end of your rope, feel like there is nothing to be grateful for, or feel hopeless in any way, then simply have gratitude for the breath in your body, the beat of your heart. Life is our privileged gift and we need to understand that we may not always GET why we are here and have been presented this offering. But our being here is no accident, in my opinion. We all have a place. We effect things that we do not even realize, sometimes. Just like in this recent season's classic movie 'Its a Wonderful Life,' the main character has no earthly idea of all the lives he has touched and how drastically different the world would be, had he never existed. This could possibly be one of the most important movies of all time, I say! It leads us to have faith and trust in the unknown. It is imperative to trust in the mystery, that there is a place and purpose for YOU.

Relaxation is key to everything. The older I get, the more I find the importance of relaxation. Living consciously and relaxing consciously is the only way to achieve success. Success in any activity you might do from school to work to parenting. Active, intentional relaxation (nice oxymoron there!) is the balance to any effort you put toward anything you DO or involve yourself in. We cannot even enjoy our "off" time if we are not feeling good. And there are so many stressors and distractions in our busy environment today. The best balance for this fast paced, hectic, bill boarded, money hungry, traffic jam society is meditation.

Quiet. Shut down. Stop moving. Feel your simple and involuntary rhythms with breath. Gratitude. Peace. Expanding your relaxation. Stillness in the mind, eyes, body and face. Sitting in the middle of a feeling of love for the world, self and others, for just whatever IS. Enriching tranquility. Promoting rejuvenation and regeneration. Letting awareness and softness come to each and every, single cell in your body. Letting go of the tight grip of wanting control. This is my way of praying. I feel with this very regular practice, I am led on a clear path through life and I can then go forth and contribute only good things to the world all while enjoying my existence. Otherwise we roam, go in sad circles, feel lost, get trapped in multiple dead ends like a dreary maze. So, pray hard, or go roam.

Love from the start and a wink from the heart,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Conclusion to earlier Medical Practices Blog

I have learned a great deal since posting my controversial blog on what I felt was (as titled) "The Corruption of Medical Practices in America." I got many responses from this entry, all welcomed with open arms. I heard anger from those who are in the medical fields. I heard confusion from those who have never had any problems with their own medical care. I heard celebration from several who feel exactly the way I do and know a change needs to be made.

With this new entry I am suggesting that the change need not be made within the medical field. The change needs to be made with all of the patients.

While writing my first entry on medicine, although passionate about the subject, I did feel like somewhat of a ranting protester. My personal belief has always been that protesting is a waste of energy in any arena and that it promotes more anger and corruption. My favorite quote of Mother Theresa:

"I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there."
-Mother Theresa (1910-1997)

And even while writing within my deep beliefs and agony over medicine in America, I did feel a bit of a struggle with writing it all out publicly. I do stay away from negativity as much as possible and complaining about anything makes me feel out of place. This has stuck with me and I have seemed to be given a resolution to close up this problem of ours and within me.

After sitting through a very long meeting just tonight covering the medical practices of the military I find myself in, it all came together for me. The Doctors trained in America, very much on the whole just do what they are told. They are sheep for several reasons. For insurance, for educational purposes, for safety. I cannot imagine how scary it must be to have the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people in your hands. So they must do what they must do. I will not propose to understand why.

As a human who cares about my body and my child's body, I have decided to become our own primary Doctors. Even this night, what I thought to be true was given straight to me as fact. When asked by the crowd how to deal with long wait times in medical clinics, being put on hold with serious questions on the phone, not getting appointments as soon as they wanted, etc., a very senior Doctor who is in management of our medical world here on Okinawa, went through a long list of reasons why these things occur. And after a rather long and dreary speech about how Docs offices operate and why, he asked for a show of hands if anyone had a self help medical book in their home. I of course raised my hand and saw hardly any others raise theirs. He said it was the first step anyone should take before running to a Doctor's office or the dreaded time vacuum I refer to as the ER. He said the right books should be taken camping and searched on YOUR OWN before consulting any MD. I wanted to stand up and clap for him. He was so right. I immediately knew I had become one of the patient sheep. I have been herded in and out of whatever string of offices of the Dr's of my past have sent me to and I have gone in to any medical place with no education and no questions prepared, on the whole. I had the typical "whatever you say Doc!" -attitude.

What I have been thinking lately is that we need to be more forceful. We need to have detailed lists of questions prepared and in writing, so when we go in to be seen and get rushed and pushed around, we do not get confused and leave feeling awkward and empty. We need to research ourselves more. We need to KNOW for sure what is right for us. And we need to push back. In a peaceful way, we need to demand our opinions and kindly tell each practitioner we see that we expect and deserve the care that we are comfortable with and nothing less. WHO CARES WHAT THE REACTION MIGHT BE? This is your one and only body people.

My Mother-in-law who is a nurse taught me to remember that Doctors are HIRED BY US and working FOR US and people so often forget that. We feel the Drs can just say and do whatever they think!? It may be annoying to shop around for a good Doc that fits. It might be tiring doing your own research. But we need to be our best guides. We need our gut instincts and personal opinions to be the first and final choice in our minds for our bodies. And if you are like me and do not get to pick your own Dr, then preparation and paperwork under your arm is the best way to go with each guessing game of a visit.

So the problem lies within the patient. I think we all need to voice our knowledge more. We all need to be better prepared. We all need to be honorable patients, in honor of ourselves. Then maybe, who knows, the DRs out there who are NOT honorable, will learn to follow suit.

"Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.'

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Recipe for Relaxing

Sometimes anxiety comes. It comes to all of us at different times, for different reasons and in different ways. Anxiety brings on complicated emotions. We feel trapped. We sometimes with this anxiety can feel unable to get out of a sticky web that covers and suffocates our mouth and clouds our eyes. It can feel as though we are drowning in a large body of endless water, not knowing where to come up for air.

In my life time I have worried much about what others are thinking when they think of me. I have cared far too much for people's approval, from second grade on. Did I say something that came off as rude or was perceived incorrectly? Did I unknowingly do something that could explode into a war between people when I had no intention of even being noticed? How did my expression lines in my face appear just then, confused or angry? Often while growing up and through school, I had people tell me, "I thought you were a snob" or "I thought you hated me!" When none of these many things and reactions I heard from others were ever how I really intended on acting, or feeling. Their impressions were wrong! I always felt slightly sad, pretty isolated and alone while growing up. My childhood at first glance, seems to me to be dark, quiet, with few friends, feeling awkward, sticking out oddly and never getting to feel like that last puzzle piece, making a complete picture, fitting in perfectly. I felt like the old, broken toy, unrepairable and dirt ground in not able to be cleaned.

I am not sure if it just was the particular kids I was surrounded by in my neighborhood or school system, I do not think so. I just never felt like fully relaxing into life, or excelling at anything. I think the problem was just with me. I didn't do horribly at anything and in many activities like some sports and art I was actually quite good. I felt coordinated and confident. But each time a bully pushed me down, insulted me or report card came back average, I continued to travel deeper and deeper into my own awkward darkness. I felt like the color grey up until about the age of 18. Then my palette began to emerge and I refused to be lonely. From college on, I have felt like a spectrum of gold and began to come into my own.

But childhood is always underneath though, for everyone. And from time to time these days, I feel those wounds, that self esteem, uphill battle creep into the back most layers of my psyche and come through, here and there, in my 30 year old adult experiences. From a survey I conducted, it showed that 100% of people felt they had one or more bullies within their childhood. 0% of those who voted chose the answer "I never had a bully." We all have sorrow and have all had school-aged struggles, each one of us! So I know we are all dealing with a patchwork past and have all had many opportunities to deal with sadness and anxiety.

As an Army wife, having to be alone often and meet new people almost all the time, there are plenty of opportunities to feel sad, scared, lonely, worried and filled with anxiety. Today I passed a woman in the store who I felt I had offended on accident the first time we had met. I was still adjusting from a serious jet lag, months after arriving at a new international home and was out of sorts when I met her at a Halloween party. She was kind to me and I was agitated with my toddler who kept running off out of my vision. I was hoping that my tired eyes and irritation with toddler-hood did not appear to be annoyance with her or our conversation. When I passed her today, she seemed like she did not want to talk to me, when we met eyes and recognized one another and I said a kind hello and she quickly said "hi" back and rushed past me. I felt anxiety for her thoughts. I felt anxiety thinking of that party and my daughter misbehaving. I felt anxiety for our time change. And I later found myself in my car hardly able to breathe over such a silly experience. She might have been having a bad day, or was in a hurry. She might think I am a bad mother. She might have just lost a loved one. She might have been totally fine and I was exploding my worries upon her image. It brought me home to thinking about letting go of silly things and reflecting upon my worrisome childhood spilling into my todays.

But in my sad adolescence came some bright rays of sun. Two separate times, I had two profound ideas each time strike into my mind as sure as a blinding, bright lightning crash into your front yard in the middle of the night. These ideals and epiphanies are what still guide me and my ease in life, to this day. And when repeated as a mantra, can release me from just about any anxiety.

The first bright light flew into and out of me when I was at a church self esteem-youth group meeting. The leaders were talking to us about love and relationships, and I think they even brought up sex. I was about 11 years old. They asked of us, "how do you think you know for sure if you are in a loving relationship?" The leader looked to me for a response and I immediately said (out of no where), "you cannot love anyone else until you know you love yourself." The youth leader was pretty much silenced and stopped dead in his tracks. He laughed and continued on, saying yes, I was right, but then had to dumb down the rest of the conversation for the other 11 and 12 year olds so they would understand. It was a profound thought for an 11 year old and the teacher told my mother how mature he thought I was. I had no idea why that flew out of my mouth, but it came from my subconscious.

The next crash of electricity came to me at the end of high school. I was feeling overwhelmed about arguing with my parents, preparing for college, feeling misplaced and lost, lonely and trapped in a maze of emotions I had no way of knowing how to get out of. And so I went to a journal that I had kept. It had artwork, magazine clippings and inspirational quotes in it. It was my place to go to make me feel better. And in it, this day, I wrote 5 clear, concise words to myself:
"When life gets complicated, SIMPLIFY."
And these would be the most profound words I repeated time and again to myself for the next 12 years. It is such a simple thing to do. Get rid of junk. Stop yourself from worrying about what other's think REMOVE those people from your life anyway. Let go of what you cannot control. Throw away the torture of things you wish you could change. Dump wasted heart ache into the trash. Clean your insides. Let go of, well, everything. And what you CAN control: SIMPLIFY. And feel the weight lift.

We have to love ourselves. We cannot do anything for anyone if we do not. If you feel busy, too busy for yourself or to be good to your kids or your family, stop all the running around. Hey, quit that job that keeps you busy! Whatever it might be that is preventing you from taking time to clean, relax, let go, enjoy, and, be simple. Do not think about the way it might be complicated to let go of stuff......just simplify. Usually the hardest decisions are the easiest answers. Straight and to the point, one solution. It is our emotions that complicate it all. Let go of your emotions. Simplify. Throw away clutter. Wipe the slate clean.

Clutter can even be things we cherish....we just have to get rid of some of our "stuff" in order to feel tidy, in order to release old feelings we might have attached with the things. This can be an example of cluttered emotions or an example of the material things in your home or space and often times these examples can go hand in hand.

And one thing that is hard to do is, if you have something in your life that bothers you, irritates you or brings you down, change it! And if for some reason you cannot change it, then change how you feel about it.

So to remind again, love yourself first. And when life gets complicated, simplify.

Relaxation is a way to love one's self. And from there comes the quiet to know how to simplify.

My favorite recommendation for relaxing is a simple meditation. When you have a chance to be alone, or are laying in bed trying to get to sleep at night:
1. close your eyes softly
2. relax the muscles of your face
3. relax your tongue
4. relax and loosen the place where your thumbs root into your hands
5. let your belly be at ease
6. and finally, relax your feet and toes
From there, give all your troubles to the atmosphere around you, outside of you, the sky or to a prayer, let them float away from you for just a moment in an exhalation and Then the clear choices will eventually and lightly materialize into your mind and ease and relaxation will be gifted to you, if not right away, surely it will come in swift time. I promise.

As those troubles come back down, returning into you, now that your mind is more at ease and clear, the solutions balance, order and regulate themselves quite simply. Today feeling all out of sorts about my new life, I remembered my simplicity. I let go of worry about what others think, it is none of my business anyway. And if I see that fellow military wife again, I will stop her, tell her I had a hard time getting used to this time zone and hope I never offended her. If she feels strange about me, we are not in line to be friends anyway. If she thinks I am nuts, then we will most likely have a good laugh! And that is that. Now, onto reading my anxiety-free book and feeling simple.

Love, Peace and Rock n' Roll y'all

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Heart Songs and Happy Bellies

We have been blessed to be so enjoying getting to know our new Japanese friends, while living in Okinawa. We met this wonderful family at a festival when our children were smiling at one another. The husband, Kunyo expressed wanting to learn English better and we expressed the same about our journey toward learning his language. So we exchanged telephone numbers and have been having regular dinner parties at each other's homes every other weekend or so and stumbling and laughing through translation, ever since. It has been a fantastic, joyous and loving learning experience.

We had Kunyo's family over to our home the last time. At this party his wife, Yayuee asked me what kind of food was my favorite. Not at all yet speaking one another's languages well, I took her to my pantry and showed her what I usually cook. Before ever moving to Japan, my favorite food has always been sushi since my freshman college dorm roommate introduced me to it. Sushi dinners became a regular thing with my sisters and I over the years, also. Both my my college roommate and sisters taught me the way and I have been hooked on this light, healthy and artistic food for over 12 years now. So I showed my new friend my sushi-seaweed-rolling sheets (Nori) in my pantry and signaled in silly sign language that sushi was my number one favorite dish. She then explained to me, through our mobile phone translator application, that she would have a sushi rolling party for me and my family soon. I was elated.

When it came time to go to their home for our next dinner party, I knew it was the "sushi rolling party" this time around. What did that mean? Was I supposed to bring my own supplies to have for us or them, or to contribute? She knew I had my own Nori, was I supposed to swap sushis with her? Our language barrier was not so much of a problem until this past Saturday when I had no idea what to do or bring?! So I figured, she knew we were Americans and clueless about this kind of event. So like true Americans, we baked an apple pie and came with some other small gifts of gratitude to present to them and that was that. I felt good about it.

It was a joy to see their family again and to be in their home for our second time. All the kids started to warm up to the other family's adults. We all seemed to be continuing the getting-to-know-each-other-journey through sincere smiles and warm laughs and the growing small bits of education we struggle to have for each other's foreign language worlds. They even presented us with a wide array of Christmas gifts, knowing this was a big American tradition coming in December, which they do not really celebrate. They gave us things like Sake wine, Japanese fall jackets for both Chad and me, flip flops custom made with our daughter Mirabelle's name carved into the shoes, one shoe with her name in English, the other with her name in Japanese, a fabulous princess dress up set they knew she would love and for her also a gorgeous traditional Japanese wooden doll. They also gave me a card with Japan's islands and cities listed in English so we could better understand where the adults were all born and what cities each of our gifts were from. These are truly heart felt and wonderful, gracious gifts. They spoiled us with their abundant kindness!

After the gift exchange, came my favorite part of the evening, the table filled with FOOD. This was not just food. It was a plethora of nourishing, fresh and flavorful local fare. I felt at ease when she began to explain (through a translating friend) how she wanted us to dig in. The hostess did not make us feel dumb, Yayuee simply knew we most likely had never been to a home dinner party of this kind and I knew she was bringing out the best for us. She told us to each take a piece of Nori (seaweed-sushi roller paper) place on it a pile of rice, a piece of beautiful fish, lettuce, tofu, hot wasabi or whatever we wanted from the spread and she showed us how she rolled it right up and dipped it in soy sauce and began to eat it, without cutting it, just like a burrito. It was just like the sushi maki rolls you would see at any sushi restaurant or grocer, without all the cutting and presentation. I loved every second of it and we could personalize all of the food we each enjoyed on our own.

There was a gigantic bowl of sticky rice for the whole table to share. We each had our own rice spoon to use for constructing our rolls.

Even their children (who are 1 and 3) ate the sushi. My daughter does not seem interested yet in the seaweed wraps but we are working on it through continually offering it to her. I love how healthy all of the Japanese children eat from day one and so then, inevitably throughout their lives.

We had fresh, raw Salmon, Shrimp, Tuna and Mackerel to choose from, as well as Squid tempura and Mackerel tempura (which is lightly fried fish). There was pickled radish salad, salmon, cucumber and octopus salad, egg salad sandwiches, tofu with a scallion sauce, local seaweed salad, miso soup, spicy fried chicken, fresh bread and macaroni salad. If you could not find something you liked to eat at this table, there is something wrong with ya. We learned that not all Japanese people eat raw fish, just like Americans. So, there was something for everyone in their group of family and friends. I dove right in. The first time we were at their home I ate like a bird, pick, pick, didn't want to seem like a big, fat, rude American coming over. This time, and after knowing them better, I went for it. I ate the fish alone (sashimi style), in rolls and wasabi-ed up my plate and learned to enjoy and have a great time eating with them. I learned many things. For one, you do not have to be super tidy when eating their food. Often in sushi restaurants in America and Japan, I sometimes feel awkward while eating a hand roll or a piece too large to fit in my mouth in one bite. So what, they say! Get messy with it. Eat with your hands, devour, enjoy, if it crumbles and piles up on your plate with the first bite, scoop it up with your next bite. They often take their plates or bowls right to their mouth and literally shovel the goods into their head. I love it. It is very relaxing and it makes it seem (to who prepared it) as though you love and adore each bite you consume. Also, I had been told (I think by an American some time in my past) that it was inappropriate to take the wasabi and mix it around in your soy sauce creating a "wasabi soup" for dipping. Well, the woman who prepared the food, the lady of the house, a born and bread Japanese and a food expert who used to own her own food store, ate her wasabi and soy sauce that very way, stirred in. So never again will I feel timid about eating in a Japanese or sushi restaurant. Now I know what to do. For dessert were lovely hot cakes (they tasted just like American breakfast pancakes) with a soy and peanut paste topping. It was simply scrumptious.

The interesting thing about our friend's home is that their kitchen table is topped off by a huge TV at the foot of the table and end of the eating room! Their traditional Japanese kitchen table is on the floor, like usual, but what shocked me was how they watch TV the whole meal. A typical Japanese person will never have anything, not one thing left to prepare after their guests arrive. It is considered rude to be doing anything away from the conversation dinner table once a guest is in their home. If they have anything left to prepare after you have gotten there, they prepare it right at the table so as to not miss any time with their guests. It is quite a nice way to be. But then they had on show a variety of Japanese cartoons, game shows and movies all throughout our meal. The night was topped off with a television presentation of the home video of the wife giving birth to their 3 year old son! My husband and I felt completely natural about watching it while at their home and then snickered to ourselves after we left in conversation; "did you think that was odd?" "That would never be done in an American home dinner party!" "Would anyone like more squid?" We got a hearty chuckle. But like I said, it did not seem odd at the time, it just provided us with some laughing later on. They keep their delivery rooms and laboring Mothers very discreet with sheets and covering in Japan, as we clearly learned! They are laid back and kind, relaxing people to be around. We adore our new friends.

We adore as well, this invaluable experience the military has provided us of learning all about the details of the differences between our American and Japanese worlds, histories and traditions. We looked through Kunyo's high school yearbooks after dessert. They did not seem too much different from our own year books. I am pretty sure every single Japanese, school age kid wears a pristine uniform no matter where they go to school. And we could not understand what the hand positions were that they all made in their school photos? We asked and they did not know how to explain it to us. It was so funny, we would never wear uniforms at the public school I attended, but we would also never make a funny hand gesture in our school pictures, either! Mother would kill me if I didn't have a perfectly proper way to document myself at this age or that school year. It is so funny how things are backwards, different and twisted between the two cultures. What is proper at home is no big deal over here and vice versa. This brings me to a point that I feel in my bones and believe to be factual: though we may seem very, very different in specific, certain ways from one culture to the next, really when it comes down to it, we are all the same and balanced. It makes the heart sing and the belly happy to be spending time in another hemisphere and with these lovely people.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sushi For Amateurs

Like picking a beautiful center piece, you cannot always select what you want just off an inspiration, an idea you want to create, or recipe you have in your mind. You must take yourself to your local store and find what looks good that day, what is in season and what looks fresh. Below, I have a simple tutorial on how to make a healthy sushi lunch (or dinner) for you and your family.

I started with the best looking veggies from the super market and all of these can be changed up to your taste. Just simply cut your veg in long thin strips...and no one is perfect, no need to fuss, just do the best you can with each vegetable. Here I have an example of Roma tomatoes (I take the seeds out to keep it all clean and mess-free), avocados and cucumber. I find these three especially, to be essential for my favorite sushis. Some hate tomato in their sushi...I love it (it goes great with salmon)!

My favorite flavor adders for sushi are green onion or chives and cilantro, these go well with fish but sushi can be vegetarian for sure. I have even learned recently from a Korean friend you can even add cooked chicken in your rolls. This is whatever goes sushi! Just pick your favorite stuff and chop it in thin strips and have fun...oh but no need to chop the cilantro, God made it just as it needs to be for sushi :)

While you are chopping your sushi ingredients, be sure to have your brown rice cooking on the stove. I make 6 servings of brown rice for my sushi projects and the left overs are ready to go and going in tonight's taco dinner (as does any left over onions or cilantro). Add a splash of rice vinegar to your need for any other sugar sticky-ness or specially bought rice. Keep it healthy and easy.

I am a fish lover so, today I asked what was super fresh this very morning and they gave me octopus and tuna. Though, this tuna looked a bit light in color, your good raw tunas should be dark red for sushi.

If you have never bought it before, this is what the sea weed wraps look like for sushi maki rolls or hand rolls, it is called Nori and these days almost every grocery store sells them in the ethnic/Asian foods isle...even in back woods, southern Georgia Publix grocers I found it once! But if you cannot locate it, find a health food store, they usually carry it because sea weed is so, so, SO darn good for us.

This is what the sushi roller-wrapper-thingy looks like. It is just a series of wooden rods tied together with string. They sell for about a buc fitty to $2. CHEAP! Also, these can be found everywhere like your grocery stores or health food/Asian market stores. If you cannot find a roller, use a wash cloth it helps guide your roll. So, once you have the roller placed down, then add the Nori paper on top, trickle on a little bit of cold water to the nori and layer a small amount of cooked rice.

Next you just have fun. The bigger your nori paper, the more stuff you can pile! This is a vegetarian example of how to start.

This is what it looks like with some fish.

And this is what we like to have a roll look like after the roller has guided us to seal up our yummy treats. You will coat your finger with cold water (helps to work by your kitchen sink) and put a line of cold water (which serves as glue to the nori) just before you finish the roll up and the paper should seal itself pretty well like a glued up burrito. Now, not every single go at this will be perfect. But enjoy the process, we aint no trained sushi chefs!!!

(you like my star window sun ornament? Thanks, I do too.)

Make sure when you go to slice the big roll into small pieces, you have a good, sharp knife, large in size. And with this knife you rinse it totally with cold water every second cut or so...this keeps things much more tidy, trust me. Otherwise, you end up smooshing your beautiful roll and rice and stuffing goes everywhere.

Like I said, the left overs go in the fridge for my next meal of yummy's a tip, put your left over cilantro in a small glass of water in your fridge, it makes it stay fresh for about an extra day or so. Add some soy sauce to a small dish on the side for dipping and ENJOY!!!! This is healthy and filling and this particular day took me just the length of an episode of Curious George to prepare, and my daughter and I had about 4-5 big rolls to feast on!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Song of Kirtan

I lean in
I lean over
Head hanging low with my
Furrowed brows in weeping grief
I feel the heart swell
open and gush, coated with a river of emotion.
From the river of devotion.
I resist
this resistance is sad
and makes me feel


feel every one's
in the whole entire world.
I am trying
to help
In my rounded back
as an old woman's
struggling to walk right,
and move forward
I search inward.
Find the Light
and make it through another
four minutes
staying healthy.
What is this pain I feel?
This war of a thousand years? within me
and in each tiny piece of air?
around me.
through me.
taking me.
I walk through this life feeling the line that curves
through the middle of the yin and yang.
It is never black or white for me.
I dance within the gray
flowing as that river,
I paint the muddy colors of existence.
Dark and light browns with
streaks of red.
Dirty orange.
In through my nose
an exhale is
the wind
around me.
It never gets in
all the way...
or out for that matter.
My struggle with
And what is the goal exactly?
Shape and tone?
Clean and vital?
The perfect Light?
How long does the journey inward exist?
How long does this screen play last?
Not long
once you close up,
turn the lights off
let go,
walk out
be the spectrum.
Feel the Light

that is


Friday, October 30, 2009

My Experience with the Corruption of Medical Practices in America

It is with this blog entry today that I find myself very uncomfortable, saddened and angered so I felt moved to express it. My problem is with Medicine in America and with the way medical practitioners are trained and handle their practices.

The most recent issue we have had is with my child. My daughter has had a rash that has been on her skin and changing for the past few months. The first Doctor we saw about it said it was a form of eczema. He prescribed us cortisone and told us to use it twice a day for one month. When this did not work and the rash got worse and spread to other areas of her body I felt moved to seek out medical advice again. Having since changed residences and being the military, I therefore have no choice as to what Doctor I see or where. But trusting in health care professionals, I went in with a positive attitude and felt this would be handled correctly in our new home. The doctor we saw today did not tell me her name. She did not ask me about my child's diet, stress levels, potty training or sleep habits. She did ask me about her medical history and then simply prescribed us an arsenal of drugs and creams, five to be exact, for a 2 year old with a few small dry patches of red on her scalp and back.

This was not my worst experience with an MD to date, I have had MUCH, much worse experiences in the recent past. From my pregnancy and OB disasters to hospital delivery. I will briefly share my experiences to hopefully explain and possibly help anyone who might read this to take back control of your own bodies and try to please join me on this path of not settling and not putting up with this crap any longer. The crap I speak of is lack of concern and care for the humans in America. I have a few links to support my opinions at the end of this message and feel each link is vital information, so check 'um all out if you care at all about enjoying a life feeling good and healthy both mentally and physically.

My first bad experience with a medical professional was with my first OB when I first got pregnant with my daughter. To sum it up, he rushed in and out of the examining room each time we had a scheduled visit. He told me he would expect me to be induced if I was not showing signs of labor BY MY DUE DATE and have a c-section for absolutely no reason, he simply did birthing that way, routinely. And “when” I had a c-section he would gladly give me a “free tummy tuck” by cutting away a large moon shape out of the skin of my healing pregnant belly with a cut almost stretching from one hip bone to another. At this point, with my growing discomfort with this Doctor's practice, I asked a group of women in a prenatal exercise class if they had ever heard of this Doctor, I did not feel comfortable with him and did they know of a better one in the area? The response was overwhelming. I was told by these women, some of whom were nurses, to change my OB immediately. He had a bad reputation. So right away, at 30 weeks, I joined a group with one Doctor and one mid wife. They too, confirmed his bad reputation and told me he was known as the “five o'clock c-section” Doctor in the city. This nickname meaning, he scheduled all his births with his patients so as to be home by 6pm for dinner. He induced and did c-sections about 85% of the time. I had no idea of this statistic when I had originally picked him, through a friend referring me to the practice. He needs to be sent to prison, in my opinion, for mutilating women's bodies. Why did I attract, in my life, my meeting with this Doctor to begin with?

My next bad encounter with an MD was when I was trying to get a referral to return to my regular OB (who I finally found and loved) once our medical benefits had changed. I had to jump through hoops to keep my OB who I liked, once my husband joined the military and we went with that coverage. Yes, it is free and completely gives you any care you need, at any have no choice on the Doctor, their opinions or how you choose to care for yourself or your child. I wont go into the experience I have had with this system in this entry, but you can probably tell how I feel about it! So I decided that having to go see an assigned family practice MD to get a referral back to my regular OB Doctor, could be a good thing. I would ask for a regular physical exam from this, my assigned general practitioner, while I was going anyway for a referral. I sat down at the “office that was closest to my house” (how nice of them for picking this one for me) the day of my appointment. I had felt a struggle with what I thought might be depression for the first time in my life, I had a mole I wanted to be removed, etc. I planed on asking the Doc about all of this and to go over my general well-being with me. Once I got in her office, they asked me my concerns and to fill out some forms and questionnaires. When the doctor finally came in she asked me if I had ever thought about killing myself. I replied, no. And she said, “you are a military wife, right?” Yes. “And your husband is gone right now?” Yes. She right then that moment wrote a prescription for me for some anti-depression medication, I believe it was Lexapro. She told me it was normal for women to feel depressed when they are Army wives and their husband's are gone and she lightly ripped the paper off the tablet pad and handed me my prescription with no questions asked, as she turned to walk out. No blood work, again no questions asked. Appalled, I handed it right back to her. I told her I was not interested in medication, she should save this for her next patient. Instead of arguing with an idiot, I got up and walked out. Her office forgot to enter in my referral. So weeks went by and I had not gotten to see, or talk to anyone about the concern I had about what was going on in my body. So, my anger was this: before writing out a crazy prescription, this MD did not ask me about my diet, exercise, stress levels or relaxation practices, my sleeping habits, my past health issues, if any (other than the form I filled out about heart disease and diabetes in my family) or anything! This woman had no clue if I drank alcohol, used illegal drugs, if I WAS BREAST FEEDING, or anything. I have never been so infuriated in all of my entire life. So I decided, screw regular Docs. They can have their pathetic practices to themselves and all the other sheep patients who are herded in and out and in their offices and blindly take and consume whatever they tell them to. So I started reading, I started doing my own research and I started with diet and hormones. And I discovered that my vegetarian diet I had been going with for a few months might have been dragging me down and not providing me with the proper nutrients I may not have been adding to my food. I also discovered the fact that weaning my baby from nursing at that very time was drastically changing my hormones, which I was not told by my OB to expect because I could never get in to see and talk with her with any insurance coverage. Yes, I probably should have told the general practice Doctor that I was nursing right at the moment she handed me the prescription but I was so astonished that she didn't even ask that I felt it was not worth it. She didn't care about me, OR my baby. She cared only about how much her malpractice insurance was costing her and how she'd better hurry off to the next patient only to shut them up and write a prescription for them so they could return in a month when they needed their fix of addictive chemicals again only to earn her and the pharmaceutical companies more money and more appointments and so on and so forth.

When we have a head ache, we go straight to the Advil not ever thinking, how much water have I had today? Did I eat at a restaurant that might have given me an ingredient I am not used to? How have my exercise and activity levels been lately, enough, too much? Do I relax often enough? Dr. Oz brought up a very good point on TV recently, we cannot deal with any pain in this society. We are prescribed away all the time, when pain is a gift, it is our body's way of telling us something is happening here in your system and something might be wrong. But also, pain is not always WRONG! Women go through labor pains and there is nothing wrong there! In fact it is so right! A baby is coming and your body is telling you that! I think the medical field in America has totally screwed us as humans completely. We have no idea how to read our bodies any more! We have no faith in our own bodies to work the right way, on their own. We have no instincts left to listen to. We have been drugged, pushed and rushed around for so long by the average Medical practitioner that we don't even know how to listen to our own bodies anymore at all. We have NO WELLNESS PROVIDERS, so where are they? I am not normally the type of person who gets on a soap box and preaches, but this is totally ridiculous. Where is our nutrition insurance? Insurance to see personal trainers and dietitians, massage therapists? We have to wake up people! With this subject I am up in arms, I am infuriated. And this intense anger has started because now in my life, it is not just MY body that is being abused, it is my daughter's too.

When we left my daughter's new, fabulous Doctor today, I did not know the practitioner's name. SHE did not know ANYTHING about my daughter before giving her all this chemical junk. She did not ask if we had just been through a stressful international move, if we were potty training, etc. I know what she needs. And it is not this. I could have offered my opinion but again, she was in too big of a hurry to listen to my thoughts on the subject or to ask me about MY questions. And so I am left feeling like most of the time, I have to diagnose my daughter on my own and this scares me, I am not a professional. But I do not trust any of the professionals we have ever been assigned, either. For now, my gut will guide me and this will have to do.

My daughter has been through tons of tests, ultrasounds, IVs, medications, and all of it has done nothing for her and all her tests come out negative when they think something is wrong with her. I know we need to rule things out and make sure it is not the worst in each situation, but come on people. From now on, I am going totally holistic, gluten free, milk free and I see an improvement in her body already from some past problems. I also used to give her a health drink, my pride and joy, Body Balance from my favorite health company Life Force International, which is a combo of aloe juice and a series of all existing sea vegetations packed with nutrients. I am quite sure once I get that product over here again, in Japan, her skin will heal and any other various problems will improve.

I think we attract everything in our lives for a reason. Sometimes, we attract “bad” things to teach us something we are not seeing about ourselves. Sometimes, we attract “bad” things in our lives to be teachers and lead others to see something they may not be seeing. I would hope this article helps someone out before something bad happens with excessive prescription drugs or a misdiagnosis. There are not enough Docs out there like Dr. Oz. The money involved with the health care and pharmaceutical industry are totally corrupt and not at all looking out for our BEST interests. I am not saying we do not need hospitals or medication for those with serious illnesses. I am speaking to the average, healthy human BEFORE things have gone drastically wrong. Lets spend more money and time on prevention and our well being than on our health insurance or nasty, heartless, surgically and medicinally trained Doctors. Lets turn our faith and attention to the wellness industry not the sickness industry and to the intuition of our own minds. This is my main reason for expressing my thoughts, this day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Got Nuthin'

I guess it is because we are still getting settled and unpacking.....So I have had no inspiration these here is a brain drain of me and my life in Okinawa lately...we are all a little...."whatever" right now. Still glowing with joy though.

Halloween in foreign country
2 year old blues
cold water even though the sun is out, but not too cold
rainy season
Skype around the world
foreigners have all the same problems as Americans just in different ways.....
so people are all the same around the world, the issues might vary, but we all have them
so we really are One
shiatsu and Thai massage by 5 foot Japanese girl with dreads
Reiki and Dr. Usui
friends, old and new: on the mind
her favorite princess is Sleeping Beauty...yet she never sleeps
on Marriage...lighten up and support each other's happiness and things that make one another happy, even if it is not what makes YOU personally happy
Japanese don't want us here in such numbers
believing in miracles
zip lining
Christmas cards
Christmas gifts
mail both Mom's birthday presents
sand in butt cracks
nice to meet people on the beach
Military planes fly by all day, but just noticed them after 2 months?
Weight loss, squats at gym...many, many squats
sick of cleaning up these blocks
wish I could have lunch with all my Facebook friends, not just comment on their pictures and statements
took 2 days or more to clean up after dinner party
-very worth it though.
Deep breathing
putting spine back into place through laughter and letting go
MORE festivals please
Bangkok, here we come?
planning trips
planning babies
feeling roots and cowboy boots
remembering that those you admire mirror the qualities in yourself.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Love Makes The World Go Round

I am honored to be amongst such a kind, happy, goofy, loving, funny, giving and peaceful culture. The Okinawans are polite. They are quiet, calm. They are extremely generous. But most of all they are peaceful.

Everywhere I go, I see them making a peace sign with their hands. For pictures, just saying hello to one another or to those who they know don't speak their language....a peace sign. It is universal and says so much.

I was unsure how they felt about our massive presence on this island and around the world, as a military wife. They seem to love us and just want to spread their love and peace.

I love Okinawa.

We met a Japanese/Okinawan family at a festival one lovely evening recently. Our children smiled at one another and the father of the family of 6 keeled down, let our children communicate in their toddler way and he proceeded to speak with us, as best he could in broken English for about 30 minutes. We were complete strangers! We were foreigners at one of their festivals. And they welcomed us into their conversation, lives and later, their homes. I have never met a nicer man and family.

The husband's exchanged phone numbers that night. He expressed to us he wanted to learn fluent English. We expressed the same about wanting to learn Japanese. About 3 or 4 days after the festival, we received a call from the Okinawan father/husband/super nice guy and he invited us to his house for a "house party." We knew that he probably did not mean house party as in, kegger-frat boys-hundreds of people packed into a house-party like we referred to it. And it was most certainly not that.

About 2 weeks after meeting our first Japanese friends, we found ourselves driving to their home, removing our shoes at their front door and walking in on the already fully prepared, most beautiful spread of foods in front of us.

Their dining table sat about two feet off of the floor. The plate wear was all in earthy tones. A set of chop sticks and a soy sauce dish were placed lovingly by each setting. We enjoyed eggplant seaweed rolls, raw soba noodle rolls, mashed pumpkin salad, white and black rice cakes with jasmine and seaweed, seafood salad with sea grapes on top and a soy-vinegar dressing, a seafood omelet with mayonnaise and tea, Okinawan beer and Okinawan Sake. It was quite the spread. I wish I could go back and eat it all over again and again.

The wife cooked the hot food on a hot grill right at the table. It is customary to do this with guests in Japan so as to not miss one moment of visiting with them, no trips to the kitchen for serving the food. They gave my daughter plastic silver wear and fully expected her to eat what their children ate, which was what the adults ate, at that very table. To my embarrassment, she opted not to eat any of it. So they lovingly gave her lolly pops and popsicles, lucky baby.

Our children played, we tried to speak to one another as best we could. They had a few other friends and family stop by and we continually got a thank you from the man of the house. He kept saying how happy he was that we came to join them and were learning to communicate together with him.

I have never felt such love from a stranger in a strange land. We plan to have them over to our home for dinner as well and I continue to admire and feel grateful to be around the way of the Okinawans.

Friday, September 25, 2009

my great gift, the friends in my life

I am only ever
Memories are thick
Who I have come across
and held
walked and danced with
are greatness
in motion
Ever changing
But still I hold
gently as an ancient, antique,
fragile tea cup
My love swarms and surrounds
as a storm
that rattles
those who were next to me
I find
through a squint
light within me
as I look down
as I look back
because of

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Daughter, The Artist

We had a wonderful experience today. I began to experiment with the mural of birds, branches, leaves and trees that I am going to paint on my daughter's new bedroom walls. I just wanted to do a test birdie. Mirabelle was crying and moaning at my feet to do one of her own. Being just two years and one month old, I had never thought to give her the chance to experiment with painting. Let alone permanent acrylics. But, I thought of something else. I let her begin to handle a small brush, with a pinch of paint and with the colors I chose for her mural. I asked her to keep it on a white board and she listened very well. I saw that she was beginning to create. It was beautiful.

Mirabelle decided to experiment with the way she held the brush and the amount of pressure while applying the paint. I continued filling her brush with paint, when needed, at her request. And then the magic began to develop. She started deciding when she wanted which colors. She would ask for brown, purple, green, all at different times. Instead of guiding her and showing her what to do, how to paint, I let her guide me. I filled her brush when she asked me to. And like she swirls around a room to music in her fairy princess tutu, she also let her paint brush dance across her canvas board.

We then decided the place to hang her work. I held the piece in different locations in her room. I would say, "here?" She would reply, "no." Then we finally got an "Okay!" She was proud of her work and I was also. She contributed to her room's atmosphere of beauty and decor. She will be sleeping right below her first masterpiece, every night.

The magic lay in the experience of seeing something happen for the very first time. Naturally. With ease and wonder. She gave no effort. The art and feeling of creating, choosing and manipulating color, just came to her. It reminded me of what Edouard Manet, Paul Cezanne or Jackson Pollock must have been thinking or feeling when they were moving toward creating something totally different and new with color, for the very first time, just from their subconscious mind's movement.

And the work presented in her room.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In Honor and Memory of Captain Matthew Freeman

I was reminded today that it has been just over a month since Captain Matthew Freeman was shot and killed in Afghanistan, a soldier who was dear to our heart. I barely got through his funeral. My husband and I were extremely taken aback by the outpouring of love by the local businesses when we drove into Richmond Hill, GA for his funeral.

I am still crying. I wanted to evaluate, why am I crying?

I am crying for his wife, Theresa.

I am crying because the war is far from over and it seems to be getting worse, with more fatalities daily.

I am crying because the Taliban must own such a horrific, long, history of pain that they feel they absolutely have to inflict this much pain on everyone else.

I am crying because I am a new Army officer's wife and I bravely admit for me, it is a scary thing to be.

I am crying because the guys my husband surrounds himself with and calls friends are the most beautiful people and I cannot imagine having as good and honorable of a collection of friends as he has collected in his life thus Matt, Bryan, Bree to name a few.

I am crying because I was supposed to see Matt Freeman and Theresa Hess Freeman, as a couple, someday at our new duty station and now, I will not.

I am crying because I cannot imagine what she is doing to get herself up each day and be strong and live life without her husband ever coming back.

I am crying because these military jobs are extremely honorable and necessary in this day and age and I wish they were not.

I am crying because I do not think I could do what Matt did, or be what he was.

I am crying out of joy because the light of God showed on his face and in all his pictures.

I am crying just thinking of how beautiful the funeral was, as was the rain that followed it.

I am crying for his Mother. Because I am a Mother now and feel the pain when my daughter stubs her toe. I cannot fathom crying for the pain of my deceased child.

I am crying for every single military family and friends of the families throughout all of history who have had to deal with this torturous pain.

I am crying for humanity. Crying out. Please let us find our way to exist amongst one anothers' differences.

I only met Matthew and Theresa one time and it was brief. They were coming from or going to a funeral. They both looked stunning. I was impressed by them. They looked ravishing physically and spiritually. I looked up to them because of what great things my husband had to say about each of them. Chad knew them both since high school and spoke very highly of both Matt and Theresa. But more, Theresa was instrumental in helping a needy Army wife feel more comfortable while moving to a foreign country. I e-mailed her, probably too often, with my list of questions regarding Okinawa and Japan and the military life there, our shared home. She spent a good bit of her time typing me long messages, answering all my questions, making me feel MUCH, much more prepared than the military had made me feel. This gift she gave me was invaluable. She helped me deal with a very stressful move with much more ease. I can only think that both her and her husband were just the most giving, wonderful people and the world is not quite as well off without one of them in it. I hope to meet Theresa again someday in Japan and thank her for her help and thank her for her husband and all he did.

I plan to continue to mourn Matt's memory in a way I think he would appreciate. He was such a good man and he supported wonderful charities and good causes that I keep reading about. A facebook group for Matt that I joined, started by a woman named Dana Bowers, regularly reminds me of all the things that Matt stood for. So in celebrating his legacy I decided to continue to put my energy in advertising his foundations and good causes; I plan to post this blog! I plan to post notices around our military home complex for his foundation. I plan to celebrate his life. AS the Washington post put it, the deaths of Micheal Jackson, an entertainer and Ted Kennedy, a politician were overshadowing the deaths of our brave leaders and soldiers over seas that same week.

He was a soldier. He was a high school friend of my husband. He is missed all around the world.
This is a direct quote from her facebook group, please see the foundation details. Also the pictures I used for this blog are from the group, In Memory of Matt Freeman:

“Dana Bowers
Finally, if you are able to financially (in any amount) please consider the Matt Freeman Scholarship fund.

You may send a check payable to:
'Captain Matthew Freeman Memorial Scholarship' c/o Bryan Bank PO Box 1299Richmond Hill, GA 31324Thank you again for joining this group! Please continue to keep the Freeman and Hess families in your prayers along with SPC Lowe and all the men and women who continue to serve our country.”

........Hello All,I hope this finds you well. Yesterday marked one month since our friend, Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman was killed in action in Afghanistan. Unfortunately he was just one of the 52 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan in August 2009, which was the deadliest month to date. September 2009 is looking to surpass that number with 13 casualties as of September 8. Matt's friends and family made a great showing of support for him at his services, and I hope you will continue to give that support for our remaining service members still overseas. (If you are interested in getting news from the front lines, please check Rex Temple's site at: I also wanted to take this time to send out a new site I was alerted to, as well as remind you of some of our adopted causes. A new site for adopting a service member is called Herobox at:
This site is similar to the one Matt was involved in at:
If you have the means to send a care package, or even a card or letter, through either site, please do! It will be greatly appreciated (and more rewarding than sending out your monthly bills!) Also, our group "mascot" if you will, SPC Christoper 'Kit' Lowe is still recovering at Walter Reed, so please send him a funny card to speed his recovery and get him back to Savannah sooner! (Laughter is the best medicine).

Spc Christopher Lowe
Abrams Hall, Box #10196900
Georgia Ave NW”

"Let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."
~Dwight D Eisenhower

I believe we all die at the exact, appropriate time, when our duties here are done. May God watch over his soul.
Rest in peace, Matt,
With love,
Rebecca Sweeney Krokoski

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Expect The Unexpected

The Life of a Military Wife, New to Okinawa, Japan

When our airplane first touched earth in mainland Japan, we had been traveling and flying for over 30 hours. That is, flying on a military flight with a 2 year old and many stops containing unexpected delays. We first landed on a military base south of Tokyo to refuel, drop off and pick up more military families. I said FAMILIES. Not soldiers or people in uniform just flying for work. No. FAMILIES, most likely relocating with screaming infants and toddlers, pissed off military wives and even more pissed off single soldiers from all ranks. The wives' stern, empty and slightly pale faces seemed to say, “I didn't ask for this assignment so I do not care that my child has been screaming for 13 hours of your time.” And the childless military people's faces read, “WHY on earth can't they create flights for families-with-children SEPARATE from the flights for us.” And shockingly, I sat there, almost the entire duration in peace, with a totally peaceful child and an almost peaceful husband.

Mirabelle was an angel. I think she was so quiet because it was a completely new experience to be without the comforts and familiarity of her own home for an extended period of time. She was just...being, observing. That and pure exhaustion from this LONG, bender of a travel “day.” She slept quite a bit on the flight because her poor little 24 month old body simply just had to shut down wherever she found herself, in any position. I loved every minute of it.

My husband on the other end of the spectrum, is completely mortified to fly. Major phobia here. He never reads my blog so he will never get mad at me for sharing this. And the reality was, the military placed him on an assignment that made us to fly the entire way across the US and the entire way across the two consecutive flights. HAHAHAHA. He was a dream though, no complaining because his fear made him silent. Any turbulence made him shutter like a scared, little, 7 year old, girl who was flying for the first time. Knuckles white on the arm rests. But other than that, he did great. Hey, we all have our fears, mine is needles, dentists, doctors and shots....seriously to a sweaty and irrational level. But I still love to laugh at him. Ha ha, big tough Army guy. He pulled through just fine. I love him for his strengths and more for his weaknesses and that was an epiphany for me, so every experience has it's good and proper place.

So me enjoying my husband's silent nervousness, my daughter's exhaustion and the pain of the other military wives made me feel blissful and peaceful in the most fulfilling way! I was sitting there, being quiet (after too much talking through too many family visits before leaving the country), being peaceful and reflecting on what my new life was about to mean. I loved that long flight, to my surprise.

At that first touch down once in Japan, we (all 300 of us) were herded off the plane into a waiting or large lobby area of the first military airport. What were we waiting for? No one told us. How long would we be here? What are we doing? What is the meaning of life? I am delirious here people, I need some explanations! But it is the military, “hurry up and wait, while clueless” is the motto I have learned from day 1. Even though the lack of good sleep weakened our bodies and minds, my family came off the plane with huge smiles, so excited to be in Japan for the first time. Our new country. I then went from frozen, dead feeling legs while walking into the waiting facility to cracking up laughing. As we entered the waiting area Judge Judy was on a wide screen TV surrounded by soda and snack machines filled with Gatorade and Doritos. It just surprised me. But then I realized ok, we ARE on an American air base after all. I just can't believe how much US, junk, stuff we Americans fly in to far away countries to comfort ourselves with normalcy, no matter how unhealthy. It made me tumble over with laughter thinking how far we had journeyed and got off that plane and nothing really had changed......yet.

Once we finally got to our destination ….8 years later..... we slept. We ate. We slept at the very comfortable Air Force Inn accommodating 2 bedroom hotel room. We ate.......Philly cheese steak sandwiches and Taco Bell. Ugh. That was all that was offered in walking distance from our lodging. My one and only major complaint about the military is the lack of attention paid to healthy foods and drink. But anyhoo. We were (somewhat) nourished, rested and being taken very good care of by Chad's sponsor. His sponsor picked us up from the airport, helped us find cell phones and cars and took us to our two housing possibilities. Nice guy with a very nice wife.

This is, however, where my nightmare and struggles began in Okinawa. I got a sinus infections right out of the gate when we arrived, lots of pain. But that was nothing to my struggle with trying to keep calm during the housing situation. My house and home is my haven. My house is my sanctuary. My house is my party place. My house is my daughter's comfort zone and stability. My house is my open door to visitors, where I love to cook. My house is my Yoga place, Reiki place and resting place. So obviously it is my everything. I had liked the choice the military made for me on location. Awesome tropical island, sweet. Thank you Uncle Sam. Housing choice......I was not so sure. I had seen housing buildings around the bases we had been near the first week and I was, in a word, underwhelmed. The housing had been built in the 1950's and was built to be secure for class 90 Typhoons coming and ripping through the area. They were once story, off white cement and looked like Trenchtown, Jamaican ghettos. I was scared of what we would be presented with.

The day to look at housing arrived. I was sad to leave my cushy, regular room/maid service hotel. So in my way, I breathed....deeply. I was sweating as we got in our sponsor's car. I felt my face looking pissed, tense. My intuition was trying to squash my mind saying, “I know I am going to hate these houses, lets just get this over with.” We did not have the regular option to live off base in a home of our choosing, for temporary budget reasons. And I despise moving, so I knew wherever we live we would be stuck with for the next three, long, years. So we pulled up to our first choice's parking lot. I was shaking, angry, cold sweat and trying to just let go and believe that I could make my new home amazing even if it felt like I was living in a dirt hut. I desperately tried, in my jet lagged mind to let go and be thankful for whatever it was we would have to put up with. I have an awesome child and husband and my health. Life will not be so bad. We walked into a large, tower apartment/condo style building. I hate towers, I thought. Hmpf. But as we entered the first thought was oh! This is very clean! This is big! This place has tons of storage! This place has great windows! This place has big bedrooms! Wow, two balconies!? The kitchen is nice! The bathrooms are big, with lovely tile! Oooh, is that a bar area??! SO. Either my breathing and conscious reminder to stay positive and thankful, worked ...OR we just really lucked out with this place. Our next option........yea, looked like a Trenchtown, Jamaican ghetto and Chad and I both hated it. But we had that first choice and we jumped on it! And I love it here. I cannot bring my doggy into the country or to this building, sadly. But the residence is VERY nice, has a huge playground for Mirabelle, has an extensive recycling center on the ground level and every tenant I have met so far has been incredibly kind to me. We live on a Marine base about 5 minutes from Chad's work and I foresee us loving it here.

I have embraced this experience with wide open arms. I am loving my new home. I am comfortable now trying to make a perfectly decorated and tidy home while also being patient about this materializing in due time. I am being patient in situations like, if my kitchen is spotless but with a messy pantry. The same is true for my life. I am formulating a balance between total comfort and relaxation while also finding something to do here that really challenges me regularly.

I plan to take Japanese language lessons, which will be a long class! I plan to find a personal trainer, which will no doubt create a ton of good pain and effort. I plan to rest when my child naps. I plan to write and paint as much as possible. I plan to beach often. I appreciate the solitude of living in a new country, it gives me time to focus more on ME. Though I have surprisingly spoken to my friends and family more now than I did when I lived in the same region as everyone!!! It is all balanced and nice.

The island of Okinawa as I have witnessed so far, is not the calm, quiet, healthy place I expected. It is loud, fast, has a lot of bars, busy traffic and is very crowded. Things are never what you expect. So I totally embrace it all. I will seek out my quiet towns as I explore more of this large island. I will find my cherry blossom Buddhist meditation gardens. I do not doubt that. I will embrace what America has brought here and celebrate my patriotism while trying to unite humanity from regions of opposite ends of the earth. But as I learn about this new culture and location I will continue being flexible and peaceful and I fully intend to grow, still deep breathing and become something....unexpected.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

We Made It!

No Internet Service Yet,
But We Made It!!!
Stay Tuned......many pictures and posts to come!!!
I love Okinawa!!!!!!