2017 Year in Review and My 3 Words for 2018

Today is the last day of 2017. Overall, I can say this was a great year. I made many new friends and reconnected with few old ones. Work was interesting as ever, I got to work with Olympians, learned a lot in Canadian court system, got involved in projects with great educators and started editing an interesting Japanese Light Novel. I won’t say it was without a hitch though. This year also had a few bizarre business mishaps as well, but in the end, I survived.

As I look back in 2017, here are the things I learned.

1) Explore your creativity

One of the biggest things I did this year was that I started watercolour painting. I don’t have any previous experience in painting. I just started playing with paints, and my curiosity to do and learn more grew. I found out on Instagram someone was starting #The100dayproject, so I dove in.

Now, I have been terrible at continuing something all my life, let alone 100 days! I have failed many “30 day XX challenge” or “Blogging every day” sort of things. It was never my forte. But I did it. I still can’t believe I painted every day for 100 days.

After that, I was afraid my “painting fever” might be gone, like puff!, but luckily I am still interested. This winter I painted all my holiday cards I sent out to friends and family. Next year, I want to invest in some learning material – might sign up for a class (online or in my city) to brush up on some techniques. I am grateful for all your encouragement and the “tribe” on Instagram where we can ask questions about materials and motivate each other. I am also grateful I found this fun and creative thing I can do. Having a creative outlet and keep making stuff is essential to my well-being.

2) Life is short

I know this is almost too common a lesson, but I keep reminded that getting old means you encounter more losses ever since I learned it when I was in my 20s. We lost several friends and family this year, and I also saw many friends losing their loved ones, especially this winter. I also have many people who are sick, and I could be next, any day.

I know I don’t need to remind you but this is why we don’t have time for unkind or negative people in your life. Instead, I am actively working on spending time with people I actually care. No more phony “We should get together soon”. When I say that phrase, I mean it.

3) Do the things only I can do

In mid-2017, I was a little overwhelmed and had too much on my plates. I was basically doing everything I was asked to do. I was talking to a dear friend and mentioned this, and she casually said, “Well, but those are work anyone can do.” and it resonated with me so much. After that, I used the question “Is this something anyone can do, or is this something only I can do?” as a guideline when I was feeling the pressure to take on something. It helped a lot.

Every year, I pick 3 words for the year. Words for 2017 was FAITH, CREATE and JOY. I am pleased to say that I did quite well this year. I had a faith in everything I did, and I stopped panicking on every little bad thing that happened this year. I knew it would work work out in the end, and it did. I am still here. I have a roof over my head, I have food on the table, I have amazing and healthy family, I have great friends, I have interesting work. And I am enough. I created a lot of things. I put joy on higher priority in my life. I know this sounds so cliche, but I am blessed.

Happiness Jar 2017

Today, I opened my Happiness Jar as well. I’ve been doing this for few years, but it all started from Elizabeth Gilbert’s post.
I have this big flower vase, and every day I will write down something happy or positive thing about the day and put it in the jar.Sometimes I forget to do it, but that’s OK. I also put cards and letters I receive, movie tickets, and other keepsakes as well.Then I open them all at the end of the year. It is so fun to re-read the happy and funny things. This has become my annual ritual, and I highly recommend it.
After I open all the notes, I staple them onto the corresponding date in my daytimer. (I have been using HOBONICHI Techo for close to 10 years). Left one is 2017’s it’s think as I put all the Happy notes and tickers etc, right one is 2018 book, still brand new.

Now, my 3 words for 2018 will be:


MOVE – I was very fortunate to be able to go to Ottawa this fall. I also got outside Victoria few times. Every time I go out, you expend. I want to do more of that in 2018. And my first trip of 2018 will be to Japan in January for a film shoot.

STORY – One other thing I got really keen on this year was radio/podcast. I also started volunteering at a local community radio station. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m drawn to this medium and I think the hint is the STORY. I love storytellings too. This is just a spark, and I don’t have a clear answer, but I hope to find something by following this keyword in 2018.

COMMUNICATE – I always find 3rd word is the hardest to decide. This one is a bit of combined keyword, as initially I wanted to say WRITE, or LISTEN or OUTPUT. I want to do more writing and expressing myself in 2018, but I also want to really pay attention to listening.

I anticipate a big change in 2018 and I have no idea how my life will be affected by it. But I feel ready.

I want to thank you for reading this, and please share your post if you have a similar “3 words” or “year in review” post.

Thank you and Happy 2018!

2016 Year in Review and My 3 Words for 2017

We didn't get Christmas tree this year. This is what I ended up doing.
We didn’t get Christmas tree this year. This is what I ended up doing.

Wow, 2016, what a year. I bet many people just cannot wait for this year to be over. This being the last week of 2016, I thought it’s time I wrote my annual year in review.

Just like for many people, my 2016 was a challenging year. I don’t mean this to be complaining. There were plenty of great things that happened this year as well, but this year was definitely the “work” part of Hero’s Journey. I know there is a reward at the end of these challenges, and I am willing to work for it, but man, it sucks to go through the actual “work” part. That’s ok. I am old enough and know better to quit.

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2014 Annual Review & The Word for 2015


2014 is just about to be over. In fact, the new year has already started in Japan.

I’ve been writing some sort of year-end review last few years, but this will be my first following the format of Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review. Basically, he spends a week at the end of the year thinking what went well, what did’t go well, and what the next steps are.

I hear many people around me saying they don’t like New Year’s resolutions. Other common opinion I hear is that you don’t have to start anything new at the beginning of the year. If you want to start working out regularly or quit smoking, you can start on June 23rd, if you like.

But as someone from Japan, where the New Year’s Day is the biggest holiday of the year, the beginning of the year is pretty significant. I like having a fresh start, not to imply I can throw everything away that I didn’t finish in the last year, but the new year has always been the time to straighten up my back and put the best foot forward.

I’ve been picking a word or two every year to focus. I don’t think I wrote about it anywhere online for my word for 2014, but it was STYLE. Not just in fashion, but I spent this year thinking what my style was.

Before I introduce my word for 2015, here is my annual review of 2014.

What went well this year:

-I got to travel and meet many people


In March I flew to Tokyo as a press for ANA’s launch of Vancouver=Haneda route, and although I was there for only three days, it was a blast. I had one free day in Tokyo and was humbled to have so many people come see me at the lunch.


In April we had a road trip to Washington. In July, I visited Portland again for World Domination Summit and meet all my WDS friends and “Team Japan” – Especially, seeing Etsuko and Masatake – my comrades – are highlight from the trip.

14703456252_0d87893040_kIn August, I flew to Dallas for the first time to see John and Cali to celebrate the opening of Geek House.


In September I attended a AGM for National Association of Japanese Canadians. Meeting many Japanese Canadians and learning the history made me realize that it didn’t matter that technically I am not Japanese Canadian. As people living in Canada with Japanese heritage—we should all work together to keep the story going.

—Many great friendships, new and old

I am very lucky when it comes to friends. I have many friends whom I look up to. This was another great year where I got to make many new friends and strengthen the ties with old ones. This year, I was particularly felt fortunate to bond with some incredible female business leaders, and for that, I am very grateful.

—I was rarely sick

I can’t remember hardly any day when I was sick in bed. Didn’t get a cold, didn’t get a flu (knock on wood), no major illness. I know I am very lucky. I did have some minor skin problems and some sort of allergy…so I will continue to keep watch though.

—Spiritual Growth

I am not religious, but I’ve first started praying every morning, probably in mid 2013. I’m happy to say I did continue this ritual and I did pray every single day in 2014. I also counted my blessings and practiced gratitude, and my stress level decreased significantly. I used to be unable to sleep when I was stressed out or worried about something – but these days, I feel at peace. This was the year I thought a lot about my own spirituality. (I wrote about it here.) It is a never ending journey and a practice, but I hope to continue with this in 2015.

On to the second question.

What did not go well in 2014?

-Overall work and financial management

I was all over the place in 2014. I had my business, then I had a part time job, and writing assignments, etc. I wasn’t focused on what I really wanted to do but rather I was doing what needed to be done. Because of this, I dropped the ball couple times. Also, one of the part time gigs I had didn’t work out – it just wasn’t worth my time and I had to change course, which was a good thing in the end. Some rough financial patches too. I feel good about the decisions I made in the end though, and hope to charge through the 2015.

—Few falling-outs from friends

Although I had many great friendships, I had a few falling-outs too. When I was going through it, I was sad and shocked, but now my wounds are healed and it’s funny now I feel like it was the best thing for me in the end.


I didn’t write the book. I didn’t even start. I had a big project but I still haven’t finished. This is related to my first regret above, but I need to really prioritize what I really want to get done in 2015.

Overall, good things outweighed the bad, and 2014 was a much better year than 2013. I know 2015 is going to be even better.

The word for 2015

My word for 2015 came down to me while I was in the shower. (This happens often)

My word for 2015 is CREATE.

I want to write a book, I want to write more blog posts. I have a show I want to start as well. I feel I’ve done enough “Thinking about starting“. Now, it’s time to actually do it.

I have two other words that I want to keep in mind other than CREATE – COMPASSION and COOKING. Parhaps these two are not as “life-changing’ as the first one, but I believe there is no such thing as too much compassion or too much cooking.

So there it is. How was your 2014? Do you have a word for 2015?

Thank you so much for reading my posts this year. I wish you a very happy 2015.


Let the light get in


(Photo credit:  Family O’Abé)

First month of 2013 is more than half way over.
2013 is going to be a great year for me. I just know it.

I didn’t do official “resolution post” here, but what I want to be mindful of this year is to practice Wholehearted Living. I read Daring Greatlyby Brené Brown last year and I can say it was one of the most important books I have ever read.

Living wholeheartedly means leaning into fear and discomfort, believing that you are worthy of love and belonging, and embracing vulnerability. Seriously, if you haven’t read the book, you should.

I had one of those “bad day” yesterday. I was tired, and despite my effort to live every day being kind to others and let go of controlling anything, some people got on my nerves. My resentment to others got the best of me and I slipped off from being Wholehearted.  I even bitched on social media—bitching on social media is equivalent of drunken phone calls in the 90’s—it seems like a good idea at the time, but the next day you just want to bury yourself. Then my great friend Raul messaged me. Basically he said “I saw what happened online. The person you dealt with is in a lot of pain. If you can find in your heart to forgive them…” His message brought me back to the wholehearted mindfullness again.

When people rash out or say mean things, it’s often because they are in pain. I’ve been there. And I forgot. And Raul reminded me. Thank you, Raul.

Then this morning, I just read Brené’s latest blog post “Light, Love and Martin Luther King, Jr.” I love this quote — “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, Only love can do that.”— that is also mentioned in the book.

And what she says here, is exactly what happened to me last night;

When there is darkness in the world, I can slip into the dark place. I can start rehearsing tragedy and let my fear take over. I can turn to blame even though I know that blaming is simply a way to discharge pain and discomfort and has nothing to do with holding people accountable.

One of the many important things I learned from Daring Greatly on living Wholehearted Life is, to be kind to yourself. It’s about letting go of perfectionism and telling myself that I am enough. I slipped, but I’m only human, and all I can do is to own it, and not to make the same mistake again.
My other favourite quote in the book is by Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” that goes like this;

There’s crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

We are enough. Let’s let the light get in.