Monday, April 7, 2014

Cherry blossoms





When you visit Japan during this season, you will see so many cherry trees in full bloom.  Whenever you go, you'll hear people talking about the cherry blossoms (and I hope you don't get tired of it), ad see people having parties under the cherry trees.  Well, I guess you could say we have special feelings towards cherry blossoms.

The cherry trees are in full bloom from around the end of March to the beginning of April--the season when we are waiting for the warmth of spring.  Our ancestors set the time of graduation and school enrollment during this time.  It's a time of new beginnings, so cherry blossoms are a symbol of life itself, so to speak.  I think I can say that Japanese people cherish the thysms of nature.  We are always attune with nature in a way.

We cherish the falling cherry blossoms as well.  Seeing those beautiful cherry petals fluttering in the warm sunlight is amazing, but also it is touching to see how they fall to the ground.  I feel a kind of "shining life" there, and many Japanese people probably feel the same.

I wonder if you feel something similar about cherry blossoms?

I believe we share the same feelings about spring.  I hope you enjoy your bright warm spring!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Art of Racing in the Rain



So guilty do I feel for not updating this blog more regularly!
Without further ado, here's a little post I wanted to write dearly:
This one deals with a most amazing book advised and sent by a dear friend,
And I must say, this story made me shed a few tears in the end.

I grew attached to the characters: the man, the woman, and most of all, the dog.
Each time I love a book, I fold a lot of page corners, and I keep it near me.
No need to say, this one is on my favourite shelf, and it won't leave.
The story is both simple, and hard to tell without losing too much of its content.

It is a story of love and hardship. There is a lot of love, and a lot of hardship.
Dreams we follow, the love of our life, illness, birth, death, parenthood, financial troubles...
The main character goes through joy and pain; he also has a passion (car racing), and the will to fight and survive.
And, he has a dog, Enzo, and this is where the book gets fascinating. The whole story is told by a dog, who is highly intelligent, and who loves his master more than the whole world. He gives all the support he can to his master, and later, to his master's wife. The world of humans seen through the eyes of a very smart dog is transcended by devotion and perception. It is beautifully written, with an abundance of all these mundane, little details that give so much meaning to our lives. The dog knows it, the humans around him not always...

Enzo also has a way of considering his animal instincts. Our animal instincts. Our self-destructive nature. Our will to survive and/or to give up. And the narration, together with Enzo, tends to assimilate car racing to life itself. It all depends on where you want to go, and how much you want to go there:

"In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go. The driver who cannot tear his eyes from the wall as he spins out of control will meet the wall; the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.
Your car goes where your eyes go. Simply another way of saying that which you manifest is before you".

This book is a wonderful philosophical tale and a beautiful love story between a man and his dog. It is full of simplicity and good common sense, full of wisdom and a kind of beautiful serenity, full of pure absolute love. 

In the last pages, Enzo speaks about racing again: "But racing in the rain is also about the mind!  [...] It is about believing that you are not you; you are everything. And everything is you." 

Garth Stein, the author, has wrapped an amazing narration with the themes of a love that goes beyond attachment and of a mind that shows incredible insight. The last pages show a master and a dog who reciprocally free each other through an unvoidable separation that holds in itself the promise of meeting again...

I am so thankful that Sachi brought this book to my knowledge.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day)


March 3rd (yesterday) was Hinamatsuri (Girl's day).
We display dolls for praying for young girls' growth and happiness; 
usually we display them about a month before the day
and remove them soon after the day.
It is said that if you don't remove them soon after the festival, 
your daughter's marriage would be delayed.
(well...I have to confess only on here that I often keep them  
about a week after the festival, that's a secret, though:))

My daughter is already grown up, 
but I displayed them as always, praying for her happiness and success.
Yesterday I looked at her photo album feeling nostalgic.
For some reason, I only have one child, but I thank God for having her in my life.
She has made my life an unbelievably rich and beautiful!



She was delighted with her princess dress (made by her mother :))
for a play at kindergarden, and I was delighted with her smile:)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Quick giftwrapping

A few weeks ago one of my daughters was invited to a birthday party.
I have conflictual feelings about birthday parties for kids, maybe the subject for another post...Anyhoo, giftwrapping is also something conflictual with me: I like doing it, yet I always wait for the last minute to proceed and then, since I'm in a hurry, I mess it up!
This time I made it on time, so I was able to fully enjoy it.
For me, the wrapping is very important, it is a jewel case, and when it is a little customized, it is also a sign of the care that comes with the gift.



One simple way I have found of making an upgraded giftwrapping (apart from making my own wrapping paper, with annotations, or dedication or drawings), is to wrap the gift with some thread and pompom.
I recently picked a link on Kristel's blog to a site explaining how to use a fork to make pompoms (can't find it now...). You simply wrap the yarn around the fork, then tie it with the yarn once the desirable size is achieved. So simple!
It is something my kids can assist me in doing, it is fun, it can be declined in infinite colours, sizes, and it looks cute, doesn't it?



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sharing

We came into this world to experience things, to grow! We can grow by interdependence in all things.
Here, I would like to share this video with you, with which I was very much impressed. In this video, she says, "Two of the most valuable things we have are time and the relationships with other people".  


Subconsciously, we want to get other people to listen to us; we want to know we are not alone; once we know that we are not alone, our heart will open wide and we will be able to send our love to others. This sharing board has proved that, I suppose. 

Following is an experience I had with my neighbors last Sunday. It snowed here (one of Tokyo metropolitan regions) on Saturday, all day long until mid-night; we had about 30cm of snow. When it snows this much (even if it is 10cm or less), we have problems in walking, transortation aspects, etc., as we are not familiar with snow.


So next morning(on Sunday), some neighbors gathered and started snow shoveling in front of the houses to avoid ice forming and to prevent slipping and falling. They were shoveling out NOT ONLY in front of THEIR OWN houses, BUT OTHERS. I also participated with them.
I heard one of them say that he wanted to do this shoveling, because he and his family owea lot to the neighbors everyday. His words made me feel warm.

Yes, we are not living alone. We owe a lot to other people in many ways.
Maybe this sense of gratitude creates a beautiful tie between people, and it brings happiness and peace to people and then to the community.

Looking at this from the global perspective(well...universal level), there is nothing we possess in this universe but we share the same boat called Spaceship Earth. So living with this sense of sharing with gratitude will bring our world peace, I think.  When I think of all this, I can't help wishing that people would stop fighting and start sharing this world peacefully.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Little Froggy

And let the crafting begin! :)
I was among other things dreaming/planning of sharing here my readings, and my crafting and cooking activities.
Here is finally one post about crafting...Better late than never.
Two weeks ago, I found some time again to complete a little crafting project.


The pattern is very simple. Two identical frog shapes, no technical difficulty. You just have to be careful when sewing both parts together, as there are round, curvy shapes.  I picked two different fabrics, one of them very soft for the belly of the frog.


The neat trick is to fill the little animal with lentils. Magical: little Froggy  can bend her legs, lie flat on her stomach...


She can take any position your little kiddo might want her to adopt.


It was a relatively quick crafting activity, and the result filled my little ones with joy.


Even though there are plenty, way too plenty dolls and toys out there, there is nothing like hand-made toys.
They carry so much time and efforts and care and fun and love...They are also unique, with their imperfections and sometimes quirky looks.

 

I still remember the moments spent watching my mom sewing and crafting, coming up with wonders that amazed me. At some point, when I was very young, I believed my mom's sewing machine had magical powers! Somehow I wasn't far from the truth ;)



 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A matter of choice

I recently read this post, this 'honk if you're happy' story.
Oh well, how I love it! How I share the foundations on which it is built.
In Ann's words:
“Honk if you are happy” is in reality: “To BE happy — honk.”
And “Give thanks if you are joyful” is in reality: 
“To BE joyful, give thanks.”
Of course you should read the whole story to understand this quotation fully. But that perspective we give to things, the way we envisage life: it is all based on how full our hearts can be, how focused our minds are, how wide our arms will open.
You can't be happy if you don't want to be, if you don't decide to welcome the flow of events and emotions life has in store for you. If you don't, you quite simply block the way to any goodness that may befall you.
I've read a lot of books and poems and texts on gratitude, and way more about 'positive way of thinking', and it keeps growing on me.
Feeling thankful is really acknowledging the good we have, it is understanding that whatever hardship we might go through, there is good too. It is accepting to let the light shine in, it is coming to a standstill to take time to let that beauty sink in. It means being aware of what surrounds us, accepting the possibility of improvement, happiness, bliss. Accepting to move forward.
These last months, I've noticed how sunsets were amazing on my way to work every morning. The nuances, the sun going up, the mist, the landscapes draped in robes of fire and ice, the solemn sleepliness of my small country town, the amazing order of things that allows thousands of lives to quietly run errands and hang out peacefully. It was as if Nature was calling out, reaching out to me, telling me how much there was not only to see but admire. A good way to start my work day, a hearty chunk of beauty and peace...to remind me that my life is here and now, that joy and serenity can prevail upon stress and aggressiveness, that slow is better than quick, that if you want to be joyful you need to take the time to see the joy. Maybe you can even spread it.
It is in our thoughts, our minds, our hearts: the possibility of being happy. It is in the process. It sometimes requires efforts, or at least a mindset. Sometimes it is focusing on the present, letting go of both past and future, to nestle in what our life can give us, second after second.
Of course if we could just live without ever thinking, or better, if we had children's magic ability to be in the instant and grasp happiness wherever it is/wherever we generate it, we might not need to make this conscious choice. But as we do think a little too much, we should wake up every morning thinking first about how we want this new day to unfold.  Wishing you to make the best of choices, every day :)