Tag Archives: Japan

I’ve always loved to be in gardens, but I’ve never really been a fan of actual gardening. This is because my mom used to make us pull weeds in the Texas heat with all those sticker-burrs and fire ants.

Over time I’ve come to appreciate gardening a little bit more. It’s fun to plant seeds and see things grow. It’s nice to feel like you’re doing your part for the world of the globally mobile by putting down some roots, even if they become the victim of forgetful watering.

A few weeks ago, I found myself the reluctant recipient of a community garden plot. I say reluctant because, to be honest, I wanted the plot when I applied for it a year ago, but then realized it was a good thing I didn’t win that lottery because there’s no way I had time to tend a garden. As the year passed, so did my gardening ambitions.

But there it was in my inbox - Congratulations! Welcome to the Community Garden!

Great.

Surprisingly, my reluctance turned, quicker than I had expected, into enthusiasm. Maybe I could turn this little plot into something. Maybe. After a few days of indecision, I went and bought some dirt and some seeds. Then I dragged myself over to the weedy patch of neglected earth and started working….and learning.

And who would have guessed - when you dig in the dirt and think about, "How'd we get here?" you end up with an all new opportunity to reflect on life overseas. Here are few of the lessons that have come to me between rocks and ants and mystery sprouts.

Don’t overthink past decisions.

You’ll do all sorts of weird things in the midst of transition (like apply for a garden plot) that will later seem ill advised. That’s okay. Maybe they will indeed turn out to be questionable or maybe they’ll turn out just right. Either way – it’s how you choose to handle them in the moment and going forward that really matters.

Remember you have choices.

Nobody says you have to do anything forever. What freed me up to finally say yes to the garden plot was the realization that I could say yes now and if it didn’t suit me – turn it over to someone else later. This is a good reminder for this lifestyle. While it’s not always easy (or even possible) to bailout entirely, remembering that we have choices is a nice reminder that we keep moving because we choose to, not because someone’s making us.

Nobody knows what you like except you.

Plant whatever you want to. I knew we would be traveling a lot this summer and I dreaded the idea of a bunch of herbs and vegetables growing wild and crazy so I just bought some flower seeds. This is an important point to remember when we’re setting up home somewhere else. There’s value in listening to the advice of those who’ve gone before us, but ultimately our responsibility is to creating a home that feels right for us, not for the Jane-expat next door.

Mistakes are part of the process.

Accept a certain degree of “failure.” Something’s eating the leaves of my sunflowers. Part of being a gardening novice is not-knowing. I really have no idea what I’m going to end up with or, frankly, what I’m doing at all! As expats, we benefit from accepting that we’ll make mistakes along the way, learn from them and grow to do better next time.

Surprises can be the biggest delight!

Getting this garden plot was not on my list of things I wanted to do this year. Last year it sounded great, but now I am in a completely different frame of mind and I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to care for it. But in saying yes, I found the little moments that make the garden worth it a million times over – watching over the growing flowers with my daughter, picking weeds and getting dirt under my nails, watering in the quiet space of the late afternoon as people wander home from work or school. The surprise is that it’s become my thing. Totally my thing that I care for and nurture – an unexpected gift hidden in plain sight.

And that’s how it goes, doesn’t it? We think we’ve got this thing all figured out, but then right in front of us are more lessons hiding in the weeds of the everyday experience of living around and around the world.

How are you weathering this latest transition or planning for the emotional ups and downs of the one just around the corner? Check out my coaching programs here and latest seasonal offers here.

 

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Yesterday I hosted a Global Entrepreneurship Week Women’s Networking Coffee. These Pop-Up  GEW Events are supported by the Mumpreneur’s Networking Club of the UK.

It was an incredible honor and a true pleasure to host 10 fabulous women in my home. Over coffee and cookies we supported each other, strategized and came together in the spirit of community.

The experience was remarkable for the wide range of offerings brought by the participants. While each individual represented different stages in the entrepreneurial process, the unique contributions of each participant created a deep sense of intellectual and creative movement. You could feel it in the room. It was inspiring! I was reminded, as I often am when sharing in conversation with smart, talented, thoughtful women, how affirming it is to connect in this way with others.

I feel confident that connections were made, projects inspired, meetings planned and inspirations sparked! I cannot wait to hear more about where these women go from here.

And, I am excited to share a little about each of them with you. All of the women are currently living in Tokyo, but many are open to working with people outside Tokyo and Japan.

Be sure to check out all they’re up to! Get in touch if you see someone you know would be a good collaborator, teacher, mentor or friend! And of course - don't forget to check out their services and products!

Nathalie Lim – A photographer. Website and Facebook.

Jennifer Shinkai –A facilitator and coach who helps people to create and communicate change in their professional lives. Jennifer also runs the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and much of her work focuses on developing female leaders in Japan. Website, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Amanda Chehrezad – The creator of Finding Fair – a website bringing together thinkers looking at the question, “What is fair?”

Bridgette Clark - A business development professional and consultant. Find her on LinkedIn here.

Stephanie Corrigan – A Beauty Counter independent distributor. Website and Facebook.

Raquel Maia – A health coach and trainer. Website.

Eva Sol – painter and artist. Website.

Melanie Uematsu – Founder of Sewing Circle in Tokyo and fashion designer. Website.

Ann-Katrin Van schie – Yoga instructor and blogger at At Ease and More. She focuses on helping expats overcome the challenges of a nomadic lifestyle so that they may feel "at ease" again. Website and Facebook.

Angela Stewart – artist, designer and seamstress. More contact info coming soon.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I am super excited to finally be getting moved in and into a permanent home after what feels like three long, international years of transition. It doesn't even seem possible that we've lived in 5 places (overlapping 3 countries, 2 Japanese cities and 2 US states) since we first found out we were moving to Japan 3 years ago. NOT. NORMAL.

This makes it all the more exciting to announce my workshop line-up for October!

I will be offering the following two workshops/programs:

UNDERSTANDING THE HABITS OF HEART AND MIND - A WORKSHOP ON EVERYDAY MINDFULNESS TECHNIQUES 
TUES, OCT. 4, 10-11:30
Learn basic mindfulness skills to reduce stress and improve decision-making in a supportive, interactive and fun workshop. LIMIT 15 PARTICIPANTS. Read more and register here.

3-SESSION MANTRA BUILDER GROUP
NOTE DATE/TIME CHANGE FOR FIRST MEETING!

#1 - FRI. OCT. 7 11:00- 12:30; #2 - THURS. OCT. 13 10:00-11:30; #3 - THURS. OCT. 20; 10-11:30
Learn more about what makes you tick, focus in on your priorities, develop strategies to maintain stability even in the face of change and create a personal mantra to take with you wherever you go. LIMIT 5 PARTICIPANTS. Read more and register here.

Thank you for your interest! I look forward to seeing you there!

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Today, with the clouds overhead and the slow drizzle that is another typhoon-season rainy day in Tokyo – I begin to crawl out from under the pile of boxes that has been my life since mid-June. I’m thanking my lucky stars!

Whew! This transition summer has been the most challenging I think I’ve ever faced. This was the first summer I found myself with no childcare, no long vacation away (although we did enjoy 4 nice days at the beach), and no real down time. We went from our home, to 6 weeks in a temporary apartment to now our final destination. I’m worn out….but I am so excited to be here!

And – I am ecstatic to get back into the swing of work. I cut back on just about every aspect of work-life over the summer and I miss it! I miss sitting down to write, I miss my workshops and I miss my group and individual clients terribly!

I’ve also learned so much.

For one – the idea that I could do all of this without childcare was…wrong! That’s a big lesson. Even as my kids get older I find that with lunches and snacks (which is a whole, crazy experience for us beyond the norm – read about that here), and negotiating screen time, and all of their little projects, and all the lovin’ it takes to support these sweethearts who have moved more times than your average adult – WOW! – it’s a lot.

I’ve also learned (again) that work is not optional for me. When I’m not engaging my creative side, when I’m not changing my pace and creating space for people to find their voices through the coaching process and when I’m not writing – I just don’t feel like me. My professional life is not a side-gig. When I set it to the side, I feel the profound and nagging sense of having misplaced my keys or forgotten to turn off the stove.

And, on top of it all, I’ve been reminded of how much learning just goes on and on and on. Sometimes we have an opportunity to gain new knowledge about the way we work, live and love. And at other times, we’re simply being reminded of lessons we’ve learned in the past. That, in my mind, is the most rewarding way to live – never thinking it’s all wrapped up, but rather a series of tiny wrappings and unwrappings every day. And let me tell you – wrapped or unwrapped – I am happy to be out from under all these boxes!

So – let’s get this back-to-work party started! Join me for one of my upcoming workshops, groups or individual coaching opportunities! Click HERE for details.

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Today I saw mindfulness in action in a way I never could have imagined!

I met a girlfriend (pictured above) in Tokyo for brunch. We hadn’t seen each other in several weeks and we were so happy to catch up. We grabbed a cup of coffee and then ate…and had another cup of coffee. We were talking a mile a minute – around and about and over each other. It was a delightful early morning buzz of caffeine and friendship.

After our brunch we decided to walk over to the Mori Art Museum and look out over the city from the 6o-something floor. We were surprised to find a technology exhibit going on. It wasn’t really what we’d come for, so we sat and talked on the benches for a bit, looking out with a birds-eye view of the urban blanket below and marveling at what it’s like to be living in the biggest city in the world.

Eventually, my friend suggested we check out the exhibit. The first one we came upon was a giant box with a seat in the middle facing the windows that look out below to the city. Surrounding the window on all four sides were triangle-shaped mirrors that could close in, thus blocking the view out the window.

The docent explained that we could sit in the chair and wear a headset that reads brain waves (this probably has some technical name, but I don’t know what it is). When we were “relaxed” and not focusing on our thoughts, the mirrors would remain open and our view would be of the city below. However, if we focused on something – a particular thought or image – the mirrors would close.

The most interesting thing to me initially was my own thought process in approaching this experiment. I felt genuinely “relaxed” and happy to be with my friend, but I knew I had a lot on my mind. I found myself really “wanting” the window to stay open. I wanted to be calm and at peace and meditative. I recognized myself setting this up as some sort of mindfulness challenge. Would I be able to be present? Could I allow my thoughts to pass without grasping on to them, over analyzing them or making them into a friend or enemy?

You can guess where this is going.

Once my headset was on and I was into position, the mirrors immediately started closing. My mind was racing around saying, “Be calm! Just breathe! Meditate!”

It makes me laugh now because it was so hilariously NOT what was going to make the mirrors remain open.

I was annoyed at myself a bit, but also completely fascinated to see this whole thing working in this way. And it was so consistent with what I’ve come to know about my mind already – it’s almost always whirring away. Usually the first ten minutes of my meditation practice are a blur thinking and bouncing all over the place. I come to a quieter mind after much, much mental movement.

So after a minute or so, I closed my eyes and focused on my breath. Within seconds I could tell that the mirror was opening. I cracked my eyes, stayed focused on the breath coming in and out and I could see the mirror stop, open, close a bit. It was as if this experiment was the visual of my meditation practice. I even at one point found that I was really still mentally, but as soon as I began to strive to stay there – the mirror began to close.

Honestly, I could have stayed in this experiment for so much longer – observing the ins and outs of my thought patterns and my awareness of the world around me.

I found the visual imagery of the closed mirror (of the racing mind) versus the world below through the window (of the soft, open mind) incredibly beautiful.

And even home now, hours later, I feel so many emotions about this - excited, thoughtful, reflective, giddy at the cool science-ness of it and also so at peace with the ins and outs of cultivating a more mindful existence. Doing this experiment was an incredible reminder that the journey’s always going on inside whether we see it or not. We’re a little bit mindful here, a little less there, a little more there – but we’re mindful when we can be and how we can be. The key, as always, remains simply remembering to pay attention.