Saturday, May 30, 2015

Wait, where did May go?

I'm staying up late (past 9:00 pm) on a Friday night to write JUST FOR YOU, my dear readers. All five of you. Just kidding, I keep learning about more and more people who read this, so that's cool. Thanks guys, glad to know I'm not just writing for myself!

Sadly, I've left you without a post since... wow, 25 days ago. I thought moving was what would keep me away from writing, but it turns out that it's my new job. Which is ok, because it's great.

So, I thought I'd check in and give a quick recap of how genki I've been this month. If you're not sure what I mean by genki, I discussed it a little in my introduction blog. Just to recap, in Japanese, genki can have many meanings. As defined by my phone dictionary (which I relied on almost every single day to get through life in Japan) genki means: health(y), robust, vigor, energy, vitality, vim, stamina, spirit, courage, pep. For me, it's an all encompassing word which means healthy in many aspects including physically, mentally, and emotionally, as well as having energy and basically just feeling good.

So, how has my physical health been doing?
  • Stomach and digestion
    • I am still on an elimination diet. Since my last post, I have (sadly) added sweet potatoes to what I'm eliminating, because I had a few poor digestion days last week which correlated to the few days I ate lots of sweet potato.
    • I will continue my elimination diet until my gut is healed, which I will determine by having a week or two straight with no symptoms.
    • In general I'm doing pretty good, just mild symptoms here and there. I want to be totally and completely good, though, before I start testing foods to add back in to my diet.
    • Oh, just remembered, the whole family, including myself, got food poisoning from pico de gallo I bought at a local Mexican market. That sucked and messed up my digestion for a while.
  • Headaches
    • During the first week or two of my new job, I had a mild headache basically everyday. Possibly stress related, or because I'm not used to sitting all day and looking at screens a lot.
    • I had one migraine, but I was at home and was able to medicate and go to bed before it got very bad. It continued for about 24 hours, but was under control.
  • Exercise
    • My legs are healing from shin splints. Again. I got excited to run with my mom when I first moved here, but pushed myself too hard before actually buying some new good running shoes. And as I learned last year, this takes forever to heal.
    • I stretch every morning during the time that I would normally be jogging if my legs didn't hurt.
    • I would like to work out (low or no impact for now) every evening, but have found that with working full time I am only finding time to do so a couple times a week. Hopefully once I get settled into my schedule I can start doing this more.
Next, my mental health:
  • The past three months have been incredibly stressful. During the few weeks before and after my move, I often found myself having absolutely no patience at all, and constantly hitting my breaking point of I JUST CAN'T DEAL every day, sometimes multiple times a day. During the past month, however, I can only think of two instances where I felt like that. So, getting better.
  • My new job has been challenging parts of my brain that have been chilling out since I graduated college back in 2009, so it's kind of fun to get that mental stimulation. I've been in training for these first few weeks, and it feels a lot like being a student again. But with 7-8 hours of classes a day, 5 days a week, it's a bit tiring. Today I coined a new term, "Brain Fart Friday."
Closely tied in with that is emotional health:
  • So, I put stress under mental health, but it has such a strong influence on emotions that I almost put it here. However, what stress isn't actually and emotion, but what it does to my emotions is make them stronger. So anger is angrier, happiness is happier, and so on. More mood swings than I'm used to. Exhibited a lot in my blog about my last day in Japan.
  • I feel like recently I've been really excited and happy about my new job, and this has been giving me a lot of energy. I hope this feeling continues, and isn't just a honeymoon phase.
One more thing that I've never really talked about before is spirituality. Maybe that ties in with mental or emotional health, but I feel like it deserves it's own category here. What many of you may or may not know is that I'm a Quaker. There are a lot of inaccurate preconceptions about what exactly that is, so please do your research before making any assumptions about me. For example, it has nothing to do with oatmeal. And clearly I don't wear a gray bonnet. So, my spiritual health:
  • I became a member of the Olympia Monthly Meeting in April, 2009. While in Japan I did not join any Meetings because I could only find info on one, which was in Tokyo (very very far from me). Since moving, I've been an active member of the Livermore Worship Group. <--- Check it out, I made a Facebook Page for our group. Give it a 'like'!
  • I've been very happy to have this small community of like-minded folks. It's really a very small group here in Livermore, but we're under the care of the Berkeley Monthly Meeting, so I hope to get to know them better as well (and actually meet some people my age). I've also reconnected with some of the Olympia Monthly Meeting members, so I'm definitely feeling the love and connection that I didn't realize how much I've been missing.
  • Getting re-involved with the Quakers has led to a lot of introspection and meditation on my values and how my actions reflect those values.
  • I feel like some of what is important to me may have gotten muffled in the chaos of life, so I'm reconnecting to the Inner Light and trying to let that guide me. It's not easy to listen.
So there you go, a somewhat brief update on my current state. Let me leave you with a picture:

Laura and Daphne: These two cousins were both born not breathing.
So glad we made it through and are alive and kicking today!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Things that have made me happy since moving back to the U.S.

First weekend back, Oakland says, "Welcome to AMERICA."

First of all, I have to say, I STILL LOVE JAPAN. After all, I lived there for over five years for a reason. But instead of feeling homesick, I'm focusing on the things that I am enjoying here in the U.S. that I couldn't in Japan.

To begin with, food - so many options! Such variety! I have been making killer salads, trying all kinds of vegetables, and have had lots of food substitutes available that fit with my special diet.

Black olives can be bought at ANY supermarket!
Also, cheaper avocados!!

I can still have the same awesome breakfast I've always had,
but now with coconut milk based yogurt instead of soy.

I thought I would miss some things from Japan, like little fish,
but there's an Asian market where I can get almost everything.

What's this crazy vegetable? Watermelon radish!
From the farmers market, yay.

Watermelon radish in my salad! Plus, baby spinach & kale, hard to find in Japan.
And various colors of cherry tomatoes and roasted cauliflower.

Artichoke, lamb, and roasted cauliflower

A pork tamale and braised kale

Fuji apples are good, but nothing compares to a tart Granny Smith!

It's not just food that I've been enjoying either. I get to spend more time with my family & their pets, and visit friends I haven't seen in ages. So far I've gotten to see my college roommate and her new baby, and a close friend I worked with in Japan who now lives in San Diego. I also have plans to go visit my BFF in Washington (State, not DC) and hopefully meet up with a bunch of my closest friends from high school too whom I haven't seen in ten years.
I'm spending lots of time with my mom and step-dad, have visited my uncle, his wife & three kids, and will get to see lots more family when they come visit for Memorial Day weekend. Looking forward to seeing you, Grandma!

I have joined a pack. We go running together.

Three little fluffy bundles of love.

In addition to all that, I'm loving all the things I can do here. Like driving a car, going to see my favorite musicians in concert, and living it up in the California sunshine.

Totally bought my dream car.
Yep, been wanting an Eclipse since I was 11 years old.

I know these tickets say Morrissey, but what I'm really going for is
the opening act - AMANDA PALMER!!!!! 
(Also in the background is a job offer - I start in May!)

Panorama of my mom's amazing backyard.

This is actually a screen shot my BFF took of me lying in the hammock
while we were video chatting.

I got to go in a hot air balloon at
the San Diego Wildlife Park! 

To wrap it all up, what does this have to do with being "genki"? A happy mind can help with a healthy body, and vice versa.

"Fitter, happier, more productive" -Radiohead