A couple of years ago, I wrote a birthday post about the 33 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 33. This year for my birthday (a little belated, albeit), I’d like to do the opposite. Rather than talk about 35 things I hope to have happen (they weren’t really goals as much as wishes), I want to share 35 things that are real and exist right now that have made my life pretty incredible, despite the fact that it doesn’t look exactly like I thought it would at this stage in the game. Plus, with all the gratitude that’s been going around FB, I must have caught some of the bug.

So on this, the last day of my birthday month, I’d like to share my list. And by “my list”, I don’t mean to imply that I carry this list around or started it a while ago or think about it constantly (at least not on the aggregate)…this is going to be the list of things I can think of while I’m sitting at my desk in my apartment in Tokyo on a Friday night after sending my dear friend off to the airport and could maybe use a little cheering up. So, here goes…
I am thankful for:
  1. My faith in God and Jesus Christ. This one thing probably gets me through most of the hard stuff I’ve had to get through in my life (and will continue to have to get through…because that’s life). My life is better because I have faith. Period. 
  2. My family. I’d like to believe that most people are thankful for their families, but I’m finding, in my old age, that I am pretty dang lucky. I adore my family. Seriously. Sure, we have our issues. And not everyone gets along all of the time. But I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade my family for any other family out there. I have awesome siblings and they’ve married pretty amazing people and those marriages have produce some incredible children. I think I could probably end my list right here and I’d feel like one of the luckiest girls in the world. 
  3. My mom. I’m not going to write about every one of my family members individually (although I could), because that would make this way too easy, and I know I’ve written A LOT about my mom over the years I’ve been blogging, but the fact is that I am who I am because of her influence, which has lasted years beyond how long she was here on this earth with me. And yes, my mom had some pretty serious issues, but besides just being a super-involved and incredibly inspiring person, she taught me hope and love. And if those had been the only things I had ever learned from her, that would be enough. They aren’t, but they would be. 
  4. My friends. For those of you that know me well, you know I’m not really a big group socializer. I max out at about eight people, unless I know all of the people really well, then more is fine. And while sometimes it makes me sad that I’m not that super-socializer who’s invited to everything and knows everyone and so on and so forth, the truth is, my lack of “superficial socializing” has led to more incredible friendships than one person probably deserves. Especially a person who has a family full of best friends. That said, I’ll take them all and keep them all. Recent events (the new friends I’ve made in Tokyo, my trip home, Kelly’s visit here) have brought to my attention, yet again, just how lucky I am. I have really good friends all over the world. Friends who get me and love me exactly the way I am, good, bad, and otherwise. Friends who inspire me to be better. Friends who are doing amazing things with their lives. Friends who can pick up right where we left off whether it’s been a week or a year or five. 
  5. My church. Different than my faith, I think of my church as the community of people and seriously, while I recognize that there are some crazies and zealots out there, overall, my church is pretty great and has made all the difference in this move to Japan.
  6. My “jack-of-all-trades” nature. It’s taken me a bit to come to terms with this one, but something about hitting my mid-thirties has made me just a little more aware of the best parts of my traits. Maybe because I’m looking for them. Once upon a time (okay, many upon a times), I wished that I had been more dedicated to (pick anything) soccer, swimming, baking, singing, dancing, psychoanalyzing, picture taking, cheerleading, cooking, sewing, scuba diving, running, cake decorating, reading, piano playing, language studying, traveling, writing, ice skating, flower arranging, and so on and so forth. But what I’ve come to realize (and be okay with now that I get it) is that, while I’ve never gotten really good at any of those things, I’m pretty good at a lot of them and I wouldn’t have wanted to sacrifice the time I spent doing any of them just to get really good at one or two. And while this may not have made me a superstar in anything, it has made me a really interesting person who has a lot to share and can find something in common with just about anyone and all of my time spent enjoying all of these hobbies has brought me some incredible friendships.
  7. Books.
  8. Inexpensive and accessible communications technology. For so very many reasons, but probably most of all for keeping me in touch and up-to-date with the people I love, wherever they (or I) may be. When I was 14 and living overseas for the first time, sans family, I spent a lot of time on the phone and it cost a lot of money (as my dad will tell you any time one brings up my exchange student days. Such is not the case today. I am able to keep in touch with family and friends any time and any place for the price of my smart phone service, a few apps, and a monthly-unlimited-calls-to-the-U.S. Skype subscription. It’s pretty amazing. 
  9. My brain combined with the opportunity I was given to receive great education throughout my life. Once upon a time I think I would have traded my smarts for a skinny body and a great metabolism. (Sure, some people have both, but we’re not talking about them right now…) Not anymore. My brain has afforded me some pretty great experiences. I was able to get into a good college, finish my bachelor’s degree, excel in my esthetics career, return to grad school with a scholarship, and now have this amazing job that landed me first in NYC and now Tokyo. Pretty amazing. 
  10. My health. 
  11. Modern conveniences. Indoor plumbing, electricity, refrigeration, heating, planes, trains, automobiles, digital cameras, computers, external hard-drives, cell phones, wireless internet, MS Excel (yes, totally gets its own shout-out these days), washers and dryers, and so on and so forth. Life in the developed world is ridiculously easy these days. If only we could all be a little more thankful for that.
  12. Music. 
  13. My birth in the U.S. of A. Seriously, I know there are a lot of people who aren’t super happy with the outcome of the recent election (myself included), but I’m still grateful to have been born and raised in a country that operates as a republic and where we have a say in who is elected and where abiding by the law is not just for those who don’t have enough money to buy their way around the it (well, assuming I’m ignoring Chicago…I jest kind of).
  14. Deodorant. (And all of the other modern toiletries that keep people clean and fresh.)
  15. Bras. Yeah, I totally just said that.
  16. My five senses, including perfect eyesight. I know it will go eventually, but it’s still here today.
  17. Bleach. Specifically of the hair highlighting variety. I am better as a blonde. 
  18. Modern medicine including, but not limited to, ibuprofen, bupropion, Tums, levothyroxine, Retin-A, and Botox. 
  19. Sleep.
  20. A cheerful disposition, even when I don’t get enough of #19. 
  21. An adventurous palate. Living in Japan would be pretty rough without it. 
  22. Salt. Sure, it’s on my mind right now because I just had one of the most amazing meals and sea salt was the main seasoning, but really…can you imagine a world without salt? 
  23. The accessibility I have always had to fresh food and water and that I’ve never wondered how I was going to get either of them. 
  24. My ability to provide for myself in a way which affords me a pretty amazing lifestyle. 
  25. Clean sheets.
  26. Sunshine…especially when it’s accompanied by a nice stretch of sand and a large body of water.
  27. My birth into a country and generation where, as a woman, I am able to do just about everything a man can do. (I still haven’t mastered peeing while standing up, although I filled a few years of childhood with attempts, but there’s still time.)
  28. My overactive tear ducts. I know that some people would be irritated if they cried as easily as I do, but I like it. Whether I’m really happy, really sad, or just really touched…the tear ducts start working. Thankfully, at work, they manage to control themselves relatively well.
  29. Shoes.
  30. Mascara. Well, makeup in general, but if I could only choose one item, it would be mascara. As a fair haired, fair skinned, fair eyed girl, mascara is the most important cosmetic tool I have. And not just any mascara, but specifically the waterproof kind. (see #28)
  31. Ice cream.
  32. Kisses. Whether it be a kiss on the cheek from one of my nieces or nephews, or the kind that happens at the end of a really good date (or a mediocre one when you just need to get a piece), kisses are pretty awesome in all their varieties. 
  33. Entertainment. For me this includes plays, musicals, movies, T.V., concerts, and 49er football.
  34. Laughter.
  35. Diet Coke.
  36. And an extra one for good measure. Lastly, I am grateful for a life that I have never put on hold  despite the fact that I haven’t gotten everything I wanted exactly when I wanted it (or at all, in some cases).

back in the u.s. of a. (part 1 – birthday weekend)

This post is waaaay overdue (and mostly my own journal entry), but better late than never. On the second of November, I headed back to the United States for a long visit. As part of my current assignment I get one home-leave trip. And as November 1st marked my halfway point in my current assignment and my friend Susan was getting married on the 3rd and my birthday was on the 4th, it just seemed like the perfect time to visit. So, I got on a plane and went back in time (well, according to clocks and dates) which was pretty awesome. I arrive in Arizona two hours before I’d left Tokyo.

And my first stop after landing in Arizona (while still at the airport)? Paradise Bakery. Mostly for a Diet Coke, but since I was already there…I got a cookie, too. The Japanese do a lot of things really well in the food department, but cookies is not one of them. It turns out that this was a very good decision as I ended up having to wait a while in the rental car line.

While I was waiting in line, and watching a number of things transpire, I came to the conclusion that Americans (I’m generalizing here) are rude, demanding, and incredibly impatient. And I was kind of embarrassed for all of us. The good news was there were no Japanese around to witness it. So, I just sat there pleasantly waiting because clearly the two women waiting for help were having very bad days. Or at least I want to assume that wasn’t their regular behavior.

When I finally got up to the counter, I was as nice as I could be, feeling extremely sorry for the agent who had just been berated. And apparently he appreciated my patience and overall pleasant demeanor (yeah, me) because I was rewarded with an awesome upgrade at no additional charge. Thank you Hertz. I was already excited to drive, but this just made it that much more enjoyable.

And then I headed to my sister’s.

One of the hard things about this trip home versus other trips when I’ve been coming from New York is that I want to see people and play, but I also have to get things done. I’m used to coming into town and just being able to have fun and play with my nieces and nephews and chill. Not the same when you are coming from the other side of the world. I wanted to see as many friends as possible. (Something about being on the other side of the world makes you feel more motivated to see people because I’m not sure when I’ll be back again.) I had my friend’s wedding to go to. I had my birthday to celebrate. And then I had a gazillion errands to run and things to get done.

Friday started with getting my hair chopped and face injected with Botox. (Yes, you read that right. And I am not ashamed to admit it. And for those of you who think I look too young for Botox…that’s the point. I’ve been doing it off and on for a while and it’s working beautifully.)

Just after the cut and injections. Happy birthday to me!

Friday night the family headed to Kona Grill for dinner and we had so much fun! Seriously, I love my family. And my dad was even there as he’d been in town for a board meeting before I got there, so he just stayed. It was great!

And then, after we got home from dinner, came the obligatory muddy buddies. My sister keeps a pantry like my mom, so there are always muddy buddy ingredii (yeah, that’s not a word, but it’s what we say) on hand. These are probably my most favorite treat ever.

Saturday morning started with my niece’s soccer game. One of my favorite things about being an aunt is when I get to be around for my nieces and nephews “stuff”, be it soccer games or choir performances. I just love getting to see them develop and grow and accomplish. And Saturday morning was no different. And my niece was so excited to have me there. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my other niece and nephew play in their games as I had a wedding to attended.

After heading home and changing, I headed to the LDS temple in Mesa to see my darling friend marry the love of her life. I was so happy to have been able to be there for it. It was this great reminder that waiting for the right person is totally worth it. And, seeing as how I was about to turn “old” the next day and being single makes that a little more depressing every year, getting that reminder was just what I needed.

And then I rushed home for my birthday party with friends. Unfortunately, this is the only photo I got from the party. But it’s an important one. My sweet and thoughtful friend, Jenn, brought me four of my favorite cookies all the way from New York. If you’re ever in New York, you must try Levain.

So, I’m not really one to throw myself a birthday party, but it was such a great reason to get so many of my friends together from various parts of my life. Arizona has my friends from my past life there, my very best friend from my mission, and now a number of really good friends from grad school. It was so fun to see people I hadn’t seen for a while (some, not since I graduated from my MBA program almost two and half years ago).

And then Sunday, my actual birthday, was my big family party including almost everyone in my immediate family (it was a little far for my younger brother and his family to come), my aunt and a number of my cousins, and part of my sister-in-law’s family…who are basically family. It was so fun! My brother-in-law kindly spent his afternoon making my favorite wings in the smoker, my sister made my favorite cake (yellow box and chocolate Betty Crocker frosting…I know, high class) and fruit dip, and I made my famous guacamole (at least famous with my family…I rarely make it for anyone else) and we just had a great time eating and laughing and catching up. It was the best gift my sister (and dad, who funded it) could have given me!

And my sweet aunt and cousins gave me this gift card which was just the right amount to support my DC habit while in the States.

And thus ends my birthday weekend. Up next? My whirlwind trip to Utah.

prayer changes things

So, I’m a pretty religious person. I know it’s not a topic I broach frequently via the blog, not because I don’t like talking about it (it’s something I talk about regularly in my everyday life), but because it’s a very important and personal part of my life. However, this week I just need to do a little documenting of this part of my life.

I’ve gone to church regularly basically all of my life. My whole thought process is shaped by faith in God and Jesus Christ. Over the years, especially as I’ve gotten older, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on why this is. I mean, it’s not especially rational in the world as it is today and I’m a pretty rational person (if you leave boys out of the equation). And yet, it’s always there. Even in the moments when I thought I wanted to let go of my faith (there have been a few), I just couldn’t do it. There are probably several reasons for that, but the one that I can never argue with is that my life is better with faith. Period. And this week I was reminded of that over and over again. 
I know I blog about all of these adventures I’m having in Japan, but I am here because of my job and, despite how it may appear, I’ve only taken one vacation day since I got here. And this week, my job was pretty stressful. There is a lot going on in preparation for the end of the year and my hours are getting longer and what I’m doing requires quite a bit of attention to detail, some good judgment, and a whole lot of confidence. All things that are in short supply chez moi when I’m stressed out.  
When I moved to Japan, I knew it was going to be stressful (both the job and just living in a foreign country) and so I made a commitment to myself that I would do my best to keep a “big picture” perspective and take care of myself mentally, spiritually, and physically. There have been ebbs and flows in all three, but I knew this week was going to be rough, and so I made the commitment to myself that I would take the time to pray every single morning. And I can promise you it made a difference.
Now, the cynic would say there’s no proof that anything changed as a result of my prayers. And I would have to agree on most counts. It’s entirely possible that not a single physical thing about my week was affected in any way by my prayers. I don’t believe that, but I also can’t prove otherwise.  What did change, though, is how my week felt to me. I wasn’t bogged down by the things that normally stress me out. My perspective was where it needed to be for me to stay sane. And there were little things that happened throughout my week that made everything manageable. Not only was my week less stressful than I expected, it turned out to be one of the best weeks I’ve had here from a work perspective. It was a complete success. And it was enough to remind me that my life is better when I am praying. So, yes, prayer changes things. Even if the only thing it changed this week was me, that seems like more than enough from my perspective.


A lion fish – as dangerous as it is beautiful.

Once upon a time, I had just finished up my sophomore year in college. I was relatively depressed. My mom was dead. My sister was on her mission. We had to sell the house I grew up in. And I was forced to sleep on a love seat. In the family room. With zero privacy. Even though there was a perfectly good bedroom that was being used as an office. (Lots of fodder for therapy…)

I realize that this is a lot better than most of the world has it, but this was a rough adjustment for me. I was struggling with my never ending eating issues. I was slightly obsessed with exercising. I was trying to keep my mom’s swim lesson business going from my dad’s backyard both out of a feeling of duty and because I wanted to earn some spending money for clothes and such, but mostly duty. These were not happy times. Mind you, not the worst of times I’d had up to then, but still, they were pretty crappy.

In the midst of my personal hell, my younger brother, who did have his own bedroom because he was still in high school, which apparently means you need a bed or something, was working on his senior project; a particular form of torture meant to keep seniors at my high school engaged through the end of that fourth year. While I had decided to focus mine on sewing, my younger (and wiser) brother had chosen something much more fun. He decided to focus his on scuba diving which included writing a paper about something related (nitrogen levels in blood?) and then getting certified.

Suddenly, there was a little light glowing in the dark depths of my unhappy existence. Somehow I managed convince my dad to pay for me to get scuba certified. I mean, it’s a two person activity and what was Justin going to do without a dive buddy? (My mother taught us well…and my father has a hard time saying no if tears are involved…) So I signed up and suddenly there was some kind of fun happening in my life. For those of you who know me and/or my family, we are all water babies. I’m pretty sure my mom is teaching her grandkids how to swim before they come to this earth. I don’t remember learning to swim because it happened so early in my life. I was on a swim team at the age of four, helping my mother teach lessons at the age of 12, and spent my summers in a bathing suit (sometimes even falling asleep in one). I have loved the water as long as I have been alive, so diving seemed like a very logical thing to take up.

It was also something that I knew my mom would have loved knowing I was doing. Once upon a time, my mom taught a woman at my church how to swim so that she could get scuba certified. Talk about impressive. I mean, going from not even being able to swim to scuba diving as an adult is kind of amazing. Not that scuba diving requires you to be an incredibly strong swimmer, but it does require you to be extremely comfortable in the water.

Back to the point. One of the things I’ve always loved about being in the water is the quiet. Not that swimming itself is quiet–it’s actually quite loud–but underwater, hearing is not easy. Things get muffled. The world (at least for me) becomes very quiet. And quiet was something I needed.

And then there was the freedom I felt while under the water. No need to surface for breath. Flying through kelp forests. Swimming along with schools of fish. Hovering above the sand. No thoughts of how much weight I needed to lose. No concerns about how cute my bathing suit was (in Monterey, where I got certified, it was covered by 14 mm of neoprene). My only concern was making sure I stuck with my dive buddy. That was it. Not worrying about talking to my buddy. Just making sure I could see him and vice versa.

Maybe diving doesn’t appeal to you, but hopefully you can understand why I fell in love with it. It’s not just the experience and all of the amazing things I’ve been able to see. Diving saved me at a point in my life when I needed saving. So, perhaps you can understand why, after four years of not diving, I was so excited for my trip to Okinawa this past weekend. And it did not disappoint. I found this great dive operation with this super nice German dive master who took me out on six fantastic dives. He also found me this lovely little pension (think somewhere between B&B and hostel) to stay at and drove me to and from it each day.

While I was a little nervous about the whole thing, everything I needed to know came right back into my mind. It was just like riding a bike. And suddenly, I was right back in my happy place. So content to be floating over fields of soft corals, swimming through schools of fish, diving into the dark abyss of a hole formed by coral over thousands of years, peaking under over hangs and through tunnels to see what could be seen, and watching a few not-so-nice creatures float by…hoping they wouldn’t come to close.  (Or, in the case of the reef shark…stalking it. Sharks aren’t so scary, I promise. At least not little reef sharks.)

And then there was the whale shark…which took the whole diving thing to a totally new level. Awe inspiring doesn’t even begin to describe it. It took my breath away in the best way possible.

Note: all photos are from my dives, but were taking by the lovely Jan of Piranha Divers.

bloom where you’re planted

So, you know, the blog has become quite the travel log (and appropriately so). It’s not entirely devoid of emotion, but a lot happens when you move halfway around the world and I haven’t really captured that. I have more Korea to finish writing about that I want for my own posterity. I have more Tokyo to write about it. And next weekend I will be heading down to Okinawa to dive with whale sharks and through ship wrecks, so lots to come. My life is definitely full of adventure. But right now, I want to just take a moment to breathe, so to speak.

Today, at church, there was a great lesson about finding joy in the gospel of Jesus Christ in Japan. And the teacher started the lesson with the statement, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

Now, I’m typically not a fan of these little saying that people like to cross-stitch onto pillows or cut out of vinyl and put on their walls, but today this one just struck me in such a way that there was much self-reflection happening in that classroom.

Once upon a time, I was getting ready to move into my very own house in Queen Creek, AZ. I was excited for this prospect, but also nervous about being in a new place and going to a new church. While I’d been in Arizona for almost three years at that point, I didn’t really have a close group of friends. I had my family (whom you all know I adore) and a couple of friends outside of work, but that was really it. And I was kind of lonely.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I actually have a really, really hard time making new friends. There is a lot of noise that happens in my head that makes it really hard and/or scary for me. Growing up, I lived in the same town my entire life and so my friends were the kids I grew up with. Going to college, I started in the dorms with a bunch of other freshmen, so we were all in the same boat and it made it easy. Moving off campus, I had roommates, so instafriends (or enemies, in a few rare cases). And then I moved to Arizona and lived with my sister which made it super easy to convince myself I didn’t need to make other friends because I adore her and we are the best of friends. And I am painfully insecure when it comes to meeting new people.

Well, then my sister left Arizona (I actually left first, but that’s a very long story and the end of it is that I was back in Arizona and she had moved to Utah) and I was getting ready to move into this new area by myself with no roommates to be instafriends (the only thing I ever miss about roommates), and I had a little “come to Jesus” talk with myself. It was inspired by something someone had said one Sunday during church. I don’t remember the exact words, but the idea was basically that, when you first meet someone, it’s really easy to get caught up in worrying about what he or she thinks about you and whether he/she will want to be your friend, etc, but chances are that he/she is worrying about the same things, so stop worrying about yourself and start worrying about how you can make that person feel more comfortable and safe, so to speak, and like you want to be his or her friend.

I took this advice to heart. I can still remember walking into church that first Sunday and looking around at all these people whom I didn’t know and who didn’t know me and thinking, “Okay, Chloe, it’s time to suck it up and just pretend like it’s your job to make these people feel comfortable around you and feel good about themselves.” To say it wasn’t easy would be an understatement. But it totally worked. Or at least the change in mindset did. I made friends quickly and was soon the one helping new kids feel more comfortable and inviting people over for dinner. I quickly felt like I had this community that I’d been missing for a while.

When I moved to New York a little over two years ago, I had these grandiose ideas about how great my life was going to be. And while it was pretty amazing, I found myself wishing, after being there for two years, that I had done things differently. Moving to New York was easy. I had a number of friends already there both from my Utah years and that I’d met during my internship, and through those friends I made some new ones, as well. And it’s not like my life lacked busyness or adventure or friendship. But I just didn’t feel super connected. I didn’t feel like I had a community (specifically at church)…and apparently I need a community.

So, before I moved to Tokyo, I spent some time thinking about this. And the thought that popped into my head was the one from my days in Arizona. What had been missing in New York was my effort. I was so worried about what people were thinking about me that I wasn’t able to just be myself a lot of the time. Especially at church. And church time is a big deal for me. I need to feel connected. I need to have friends there. And for the two years I was in New York, church was a little rough. Don’t get me wrong, people were super nice and they tried, I was just too caught up in my own whatever to be very engaged. I can honestly say I have no one to blame but myself. I also decided that, even though this assignment for work is only six months I had to treat it like it was more. Not just because I want it to be more, but if I were to treat it like it was something to just get through (in terms of my social life), I can guarantee that a) I’d be lonely and b) I would be on a plane in six months back to the states.

Heading to church my first Sunday here was nerve-wracking because I wanted it to be great. And by “it” I mean me. I wanted to be that super friendly, fun girl who will just go up to new people and introduce herself and chitchat away. Well, that didn’t exactly happen (I don’t know if that will ever happen on the first try). But it wasn’t awful either. And I did meet a few people. But I was still focused on me. The following Sunday was a little better. I tried a little harder and, thankfully, there are some very friendly people in my congregation.

Last Saturday, though, I had a bit of a set-back (in my view). My church was having an opening social for the new year (we operate in terms of school years since so many people take off for the summer), and while I had planned to go, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I told myself it was because I had a headache (which I did have), but there are lots of other things that I would do even with a headache, so it was totally an excuse. (I love it when I realize I’m lying to myself. It’s awesome.)

On Sunday, I realized that I really wished that I had gone. While I do have a few great new friends, all of them have responsibilities during church that make it so I am alone during the second and third hours. I got home from church last Sunday and thought about how I could make those two hours a little less lonely (because they were, in fact, lonely). All of these women have their lives and their friends and it would be a lie to say that I think they have any reason/desire to become friends with the single girl who works full-time and has no kids. And so…I knew it was all on me. I decided I was going to have to kick my effort up a notch…or five.

I decided to show up at book club. And I decided that showing up wasn’t enough, but that it was time to stop worrying about what people were thinking about me, and start making sure they knew I cared about and wanted to get to know them. I figured it would be a small enough group that I’d be able to manage it and not be overly anxious. I also made one of my new friends come with me so I’d have a wingman. (I’m not an idiot.) And it was great. I mean, it was hard and stressful, but it was worth it. It helped to be at something where there was something other to discuss than the typical small talk (which I am awful at, btw). But it also helped that I had stopped worrying about whether or not these women wanted to be my friend and was much more focused on helping them realize why I wanted to be their friend.

And today church was a million times better. I had all of these people to talk to. I felt much more a part of things. And so, when the lesson started with the statement, “Bloom where you’re planted” I got a little emotional because I feel like I am figuring it out in this new place. Sure, I’m the one that planted myself here, but that doesn’t mean it’s super easy all the time. Or even most of the time.  (Side note: one of my least favorite responses to when someone complains about how hard something that they chose to do is? “Well, you chose this.” If my life was full of choosing the path of least resistance, it wouldn’t be much of a life. And choosing a path that has some resistance means that it is going to be hard at times.)

Moving on.

During the lesson, I reflected on the effort I’ve made to make this a great experience. I thought about how I’ve been able to laugh at so many things that might have made me cry if I’d let them. How I’ve been a lot more committed to the things that really matter to me. How I’ve forced myself out of my comfort zone more often than I thought I would or could. And I thought about just how happy I am. Not just happy, but content and comfortable; two thing which, I’ve learned through therapy, are super important to me. I feel like I’m not just blooming, but flourishing. And that is an amazing feeling.

Now, if I could just learn Japanese a little faster…