Sunday, November 29, 2009

Re-Energizing My Life Begins

Visit ReEnergize Your Life

I have completed my one-day fast with a large bowl of blueberries followed by a couple of small persimmon.  Although I felt hungry early in the day, it didn't bother me.  Late afternoon, however, I began to count the hours until the time to break the fast (7:15 p.m. since that's when I completed my meal yesterday).  Blueberries never tasted so good!  I need to take it easy the rest of the evening.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More Detoxing

A.M.: Sleep was restless, and I sweated a lot during the night.  I had always thought my sweating was due to over-consumption of sugar.  I *did* have fruit for supper, but was fasting the rest of the day.  I suppose that it’s part of the detox.  I wonder if I’ll continue to sweat.

P.M.: I discovered that, after a day of fasting and then having only light meals, my senses were heightened, especially that of smell.  This is not necessarily positive in that, while riding on the subway, she could tell what everyone had had for breakfast (which was booze for the young woman sitting next to me), and it was difficult to tolerate anyone who smoked or wore too much perfume.

I didn't stay completely raw today because I simply wasn't able to have my vegetable salad (which was my dinner) without dressing.  I need to get some lemon juice when I'm at the supermarket tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Breaking the Fast

I started a fast, with only water, after dinner yesterday evening.  Today I was able to manage fasting until about 4 p.m., and then the hunger just got too strong.  I had blueberries and persimmons (separately) to break the fast over the next few hours.  I found that I enjoyed the fruit in a way that I wouldn’t normally, if it was part of a meal.  I also noticed myself holding the fruit in my mouth longer than usual, which gave me great pleasure.

Physically I’m not doing all that well.  I feel drained, and I have a headache, which I know is a normal part of detoxing and also may be due to not having any chocolate or coffee (even though I drink decaf).

Also, the place where I had a tooth pulled 3 days ago is throbbing more than it had been.  It’s not all that painful, but it’s certainly calling my attention to it.

I have a sense that I’ll sleep very well tonight.  I also need to think about what I’ll be eating in the morning since I’ll have no time to prepare anything and very little time to eat (leave at 6:50 a.m. to get the subway).  I’m thinking pineapple.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Re-Energizing My Life

For the upcoming Re-Energize Your Life program, I have been preparing for the detox, which starts with a fast from Sunday evening to Monday evening, by clearing my fridge of all the cooked, processed food that doesn’t keep.  That doesn’t mean I am throwing away food!  I simply have minimized my purchases to the point where there’s only the amount necessary for the next week’s meals.

For the last two mornings, I’ve also been doing some reading about fasting and conscious eating, the latter in an article by Yogi Amrit Desai for the Kripalu Self-Help Guide.  A couple of quotations that I like or that resonate with me include, “The ultimate answer [to finding which foods are just right for us] is to learn to rely on our inner body wisdom or prana for guidance,” and “Eating vegetables is eating sunshine.”

During the next few weeks, I want to rediscover a natural hunger that’s not based on habits and to stop using eating as way to cope with fatigue and stress.  I also believe that, as I cleanse myself inwardly, clearing my external environment of excess clutter is an important part of the process.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

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The photos are from Halloween Hat Contests in my classes over the past three years.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2nd Place Melon

As soon as they gently pushed me into the middle of the street where we had been dancing, I knew it was going to happen again. I was dismayed but pleased at the same time.

Four years ago, when I had joined in the neighborhood bon odori [dancing] for a short time, I had been urged by some members of the neighborhood group to dance during the last 5 minutes or so. Then I learned that there were prizes, and I was surprised to be awarded with the 3rd prize, which included a carton of shoyu [soy sauce] and a pineapple. I was never quite sure what the criteria were for winning, although a lot of people dressed in costume, generally as simple as a wig or a mask, although the girl who won first place was simply wearing a pretty dress but a noticeably good dancer.

Anyway, I accepted the prizes, and a neighbor's husband graciously carried the carton of 6 large bottles of shoyu for 4 blocks to my apartment. Since one of those bottles would last me almost a year, I gave the others to friends. I later learned that the president of the company that made the shoyu is also a neighbor!

This year I was able to join in the dancing again and, in fact, since the weather was cooler than usual, danced continuously for some 45 minutes. The dance is fairly simple with movements so repetitious that I was soon doing them automatically. After dancing like that for quite some time, one can go into a kind of trance-like state, although meditative might be a better word. What I enjoyed about it the most was young and old all engaged in an activity together. I felt so connected with all the people dancing. For some reason, little kids kept joining the line in front of me (for only a short time), and that was especially delightful.

In the end, I won again! This time it was 2nd prize, a Hokkaido muskmelon. I still have no idea why I won - except that I was one of the few NJs (non-Japanese) participating.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

You Gotta Music

My head is still reeling two days after one of the most delightful performances I’ve had during the three years I’ve been singing with Sapporo Symphony Chorus. Akira-san is an absolute delight with his enthusiastic conducting - so dynamic compared with most of the staid conductors we work with - and his love of music, especially when performing for children.

His songs, too, convey so many messages for children, including that “sayonara” is not an end but a beginning. One, entitled “Yugata [Evening] Quintet,” is used for his theme song on public TV. “You gotta music” is not actually poor English but a pun on “yugata,” so it means “evening music.”

Since it took me nearly 25 hours to learn the meaning of and memorize the 5 songs we performed, while listening to them every day on my iPod while I was walking and riding the subway or bus, the tunes are firmly imbedded in my brain. Because of that, and the help of numbers of friends who helped me understand not just the words but the underlying meaning of what we were singing, I thoroughly enjoyed the two performances.

We were encouraged to move naturally with the music, and I’ve never seen the chorus loosen up so much. Of course, standing just a few feet away from the audience (although we’re usually behind the orchestra on risers or even up in the balcony near the organ, this time we were right at the front of the stage) and having the accompaniment of children running around and crying or shouting made the atmosphere extraordinarily different from what we’re used to when we perform classical music.

The program was oriented towards children as well, opening up to an cartoon illustration of

an orchestra with all the instruments labeled. I heard that, after the concert, members of the Sapporo Symphony were in the lobby with their instruments, allowing children to touch and explore them - sticking their heads inside the tuba or watching in awe at how far a trombone could slide.

However, it was Akira-san himself who made it so much fun for everyone. His love of music was so apparent and so contagious that everyone felt like singing and playing! (I’m sure this is true even of the members of the orchestra, although their faces were so solemn compared with those of the young people in the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra with whom we performed last month.)

During rehearsal, Akira-san really helped us to get a feel of the music with his gestures and expressions as well as his words. In one song, for example, he wanted the suspense sustained throughout the piece until it reached the conclusion, and he illustrated with Tony’s song from West Side Story: “Could be . . . who knows? . . .”

On the day of the concert, we had about 2 hours between the 1:30 and 4:30 performances, and I was feeling so tired around 3:30 that I thought I’d never make it through the second time without forgetting the words. However, once on stage, I was totally energized by the music, the enthusiastic audience, and, of course, Akira-san himself.

By the time we performed the encore, Matsuken Samba II, a unique piece with Japanese words by Ken Mastudaira, all the singers were totally into it, as can be seen in the photo. OLÉ!

During his speech, Akira-san told us that he feels a true affinity with us and, for me, the feeling is mutual. I truly hope to have the opportunity to perform with him again. The world needs more musicians like him who have such a positive effect on all those around him.

Postlude: One of my private students took her nephew to the concert and, of course, enjoyed it. Since I had told her that I wasn't able to memorize the first encore and was only going to mouth the words, she told me that her nephew was checking my mouth closely with opera glasses during the encore and couldn't tell that I wasn't actually singing the words. Guess I'm pretty good at faking it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rise Again!

More to come soon on my extraordinary experience in singing in Mahler's Symphony #2 with the Pacific Music Festival orchestra conducted by the superb Maestro Christoph Eschenbach, the festival's former artistic director (1991, 1993-98).

We performed at both Kitara Concert Hall and Sapporo Art Park.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Adam's Positive Attitude

Not only does he have the charisma, the voice, the stage presence, and the whole “package” that makes for a superstar. He's also humble, gracious, courteous, respectful, genuine - rare qualities that I hope he keeps as he continues on his journey to megastardom!

Want more American Idol videos? Click here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Adam Talks about What's Next

This guy not only has everything it takes to be a superstar - the voice, the looks, the stage presence, the creativity.  He also has enormous poise, respect for others, and, above all, real class.  I can't wait to buy his recordings, albums, and - some day - a ticket to his concert.

Preview of Retirement Days

The way I spent my afternoon and evening is how I'd like to live when I'm retired (if ever).  I went with friends from my international women's group to the Sapporo Modern Art Museum to see a Yuzo Saeki Retrospective (oil paintings from 1923-1928 by a Japanese artist who lived in Paris).  Then we had a delicious Italian dinner at Tanto Travoletta.  Finally, I got home in time to watch the “rat pack” performances on American Idol.  This kind of leisure time is rare, but I'm hoping it's a preview of days to come.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gratitude During Ups and Downs

UP - My weight was down another pound this morning.

DOWN - ADAM LAMBERT LOST (although he's still going to be the biggest superstar ever to come out of American Idol)!

UP - Today was an incredibly warm, gorgeous day - like July in mid-May.

DOWN - I'm supposed to send out a bulk mailing about our language teachers' conference this Sunday, and my Mail hasn't been working right since Monday.  I made an appointment at the Apple store with the Mac Genius at lunchtime, thinking I could get it fixed, but they couldn't so I left my computer at the store while I went to teach my afternoon class.

UP - I got a ticket to the Simon and Garfunkel (who are actually coming to Sapporo) concert in July.

DOWN - I got on the subway going the wrong way and had to backtrack.

UP - I got to my afternoon class (Enjoy English! which I inherited from a colleague) just in time and it was delightful, as always.

DOWN - The Mac Geniuses still hadn't figured out the problem with my Mail and, in fact, now it's worse because I've lost all the rules I had for sorting messages into folders.

DOWN - I didn't get my afternoon nap and have my usual no-nap migraine-like headache.

UP - I don't have the flu, which has resulted in schools getting closed in other parts of Japan.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Simon on Susan

I appreciate Simon's candor and also the fact that he really is impressed by Susan Boyle.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Piers Morgan on “Unconventional” Contestants

I love the part where Piers says he got through customs by saying he was a friend of Susan Boyle's!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Occupations of Parents of Japanese University Students

It's really interesting to me the different kind of work that my students' parents do. In some cases, I'm fairly certain that the student may be the first in the family to attend university.

I've made a list, exactly as they were written on the students' information forms. Since the students are from various universities and I've included no names, I haven't compromised anyone's privacy.

My father is a office worker. My mother is a homemaker.

My father is engineer. My father is working on telephone company.

My father is office worker. My mother is Yakult lady.

My house is cleaning shop.

My mother is a nerse.

My father is the Ground Self-Defense Forse.

My father is a professor of biology.

My father is teacher. My mother's job is part time.

My mother work in hospital as nursing assistant.

My father is a taxi driver. My mother is a hotel worker.

My father is carpenter.

My parents work each other. NTT. Seikyo.

My father is Tochikaokutsyosashi.

My father is a hight school teacher. My mother is midwife.

My mother:s workshop is Kanpo drugstore.

My father works in Sapporo city ward office. My mother is a housewife.

My father is driver.

My father is a official civil.My father and my mother work Hotel in Furano.

My father work factory.

My father works at city hall. My mother is homeworker.

My father is a car engineer.

My father is a bussinessman.

My father is a public employee. My mother is a librarian.

My father's work is covering buildings and stations with tiles. My mother is home keeper.

My father is a doctor. My mother was a nurse.

My parents's job is agriculture.

My father is an architect. My mother was kindergarten teacher.

Parents manage to jazz bar.

My father is a junior high school teacher. My mother was a elementary school teacher.

My father is a veterinarian. My mother was a nusery school teacher.

My father manage gardening shop. My mother teach mathematics for school child.

My father is cook.

My father works in factory. My mother works a part time job.

My mother is office worker.

My father works in bank.

My father is a lab technician.

My father sells car. My mother is housewife.

My father is plumber.

My father makes cakes. My mother and sister work for hospital.

My father has his own soba restaurant. My mother is good at cooking, too.

My father is a carpenter. My mother works in a factory which makes clothes.

My parents own outdoor school. This shool is teaching outdoor sports and outdoor life, for example, canoeing, rafting, etc.

My father is a taxi driver. My sister is a nurse.

My father is an architect. My mother is full-time housewife.

My father job is peace keep of Japan. My mother is homekeeping.

My father sales office computer.

My father is a official. My mother is sado teacher.

My parents are drunker, always drinking. My eldely brother is gambler.

My father was a headmaster of a junior high school. He is sick and receiving treatment and resting at home. My mother is a housewife.

My father is a fireman. My mother works part-time.

My mother is long-distance bus tiket publisher, and my older sister is insurance saleswoman.

My father is a bus driver. My mother works in an office.

My father is a public official. He works for a hospital. My mother is a dancing instructor.

My father is a teacher of elementary school. My mother works part-time at a supermarket.

My father manages a shoes store with my mother.

My father is a head of kindergarten. My other is a housewife.

My father is a vice-principal.

My father is postman. My mother work at kingdum teacher.

My parents are both junior high school teachers.

My mother is a kindergarten teacher and works almost every day.

My father is an instructor at a driving school. My mother is a cosmetician in a cosmetic company.

My father works at the bank. My mother is a housewife.

My father is electrical engineer. My mother is homemaker.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Uncle Jay Sings about 2008

A hilarious rendition of news events of 2008 set to Christmas carols and popular songs:

For more episodes “helping small minds understand big news,” check out Uncle Jay Explains the News.

New Year's Resolutions (The Onion)

Think you can keep any of these resolutions?

Check out other humorous “news” stories at The Onion.