Category Archives: Happiness

True Value

On the second day of our trip to Hawaii this February, I came across a pair of Tree of Life earrings in a little shop on Maui. It was love at first sight.

tree of life earringsThey have a simple design, silver backed with something opalescent. There is a subtle magic in the way their roots are fused with the earth, their branches fused with the sky. They are life, its strength, its ability to persevere, to withstand the wind and the rain and still stand strong. They are a perfect yogic Mountain Pose, spine long, shoulders back and down, toes spread, chest and collar bones open, receptive, resilient, strong.

All of that for thirty dollars plus tax.

Armed with the confidence that comes with magical possessions, we bought a house on the Big Island and turned our lives upside down.

Back in Tokyo, we started on that slow and painful process. We have counted down from more than six months to less than three weeks. Along the journey of sifting through the detritus of 32 years in Tokyo, I realized we only have two pieces of furniture that we care about; the beautiful cherry wood sideboard, a birthday gift to Rochi many years ago, and the glass doll case I found abandoned in the rain. The cost of shipping those things was astronomical but I looked inside my heart and knew that while they are only bits of glass and wood, they are irreplaceable and therefore beyond value. The decision made itself.

I also rediscovered the vintage Tiffany’s gold and sapphire jewelry I’d inherited from my grandmother. I am told it is quite valuable. To me, it only looks a little like the Cookie Monster.

grandma's jewels

I loved my grandma, miss her always. I love imagining her wearing these lovelies. When I look at them I can smell her special smell, feel her big, soft arms around me, see her red lipsticked smile as she cooed sweet noises at me, made me feel special, made me feel loved.

I wear the Tree of Life earrings nearly every day and still draw strength and confidence from them. At the same time, I cannot imagine myself ever wearing grandma’s jewels. I doubt I will ever have the type of style they demand. But I will never sell them either. In both the same and different ways, they are as irreplaceable as the sideboard and doll case.

And therein lies the fundamental contradiction of life. While everything is different, it is also the same. I’m starting to believe that knowing that, living that, is the key to happiness.



On the plus side, the sun is shining and  the sakura is popping.

On the minus side, I’m stuck in a third basement studio all day.

On the plus side, this morning’s yoga was particularly pleasant, accompanied as it was by two fuzz  monkeys rasseling in the corner, and neither of them peed in the bed today.

On the minus side, my knees hurt and my claustrophobia won’t let me ride in the coffin-sized elevator so walking down the stairs to the studio was hard.

On the plus side, I’m getting paid to sit on this comfortable couch and share these thoughts with you.

Also on the plus side, I discovered this morning that they’re finally changing the name of my bus stop. I doubt you can begin to grasp how humiliating it is to get off at Nichidaiseibutsushigenkagakubumae. As of April 1, it will be simply Nichidaimae.

For some reason, this makes me very happy.


I assume this is not an April Fool’s joke. I sincerely doubt the bus people have that  much of a sense of humor. Bus stop naming is serious business, after all.

So all in all, the plus side wins. Yay!

Om Feeling Better


This morning was day 45 of my meditation journey. I sit on a cushion in front of a window and look at Meditation Cat until my eyes close and I sink into myself seeking calm and space and rest.

I was lost at first, but now I want to do the practices, even need to. I’ve never been a morning person, but find myself waking up extra early on work days so I can practice before I leave. I’m becoming greedy for that feeling of peace. When I can’t find it, I feel sad, frustrated. For the rest of the day, it feels like my socks are inside out and my ponytail is too tight.

But then there are brief moments when nirvana opens its limpid eyes and glances at my soul. Those are moments of pure bliss, of lightness and freedom and I want to laugh out loud. On the flip side, those moments are sometimes followed by equally brief but equally powerful bursts of pure emotion, often grief, and I want to sob.

Grief, regret, sadness, pain: none of these feelings do my spirit or the world any good. While I cannot deny their substance and reality, I can refuse to let them control me. I’m learning to embrace those feelings, acknowledge their existence, give them a hug and a scratch behind the ears, and then let them go, pushing them gently out into the universe where they can burst apart like sparkling fireworks and return their energy to the universal all. Perhaps in time that energy can learn to look for more positive directions.

For the longest time, I thought only truly stupid people could be truly happy, but I think there’s more–and less–to it than that.

I am unlikely to ever go vegan or worship crystals or wear clothing made of hemp, but have decided to heed the wise words of Meditation Cat:

We are only as miserable as we allow ourselves to be.