Journey to the wholehearted life


I realized I haven’t written anything here since the new year, so here’s my update on what I have been up to.

Although I haven’t published a single blog post here since January, I have been writing almost every day in Japanese. That has been my focus for a while – writing in Japanese. I have had a little identity crisis last year as to which language to focus on. Japanese is my first language, so it is 100 times easier to write in Japanese, but I find I can express myself better when I write in English. However, in English, I still need quite a lot of proofreading. So I decided to focus on writing in Japanese for a while.

There is this new,  very popular blogging platform called note. ( It’s currently in Japanese only. It originally launched in 2014, but it became really popular in January 2016 when several big-name bloggers started using it. I like the simple design (although UI still needs a lot of improvements) and I started writing there almost every day. What makes note different from other platforms is, that you can charge readers per post basis. You can charge from 100 yen to 100,000 yen ($1-$100) per post. I’d say the majority of posts are $1-$3.  If you are approved by the site organizers, you can even charge readers on a monthly basis. So this naturally piqued a lot of “make-money-easily” types’ interest. (Remember Tsu?) I am not particularly interested in making money on note, and my posts there are usually free. I have written several “English tips” type posts and charged them 200 yen. Several of them are very well received and even went viral.

The reason I continue to write there is not to make money. Sure, I’d always like to make extra money (who doesn’t?), but in the case of note, they have a great community of people who love sharing part of their lives. It reminds me of the time when I first started blogging. All these people are from different part of the world (mostly Japan, but some living outside Japan) and they share photography, short stories, illustration (note has many great Manga artists sharing their pieces),  and texts. There’s a single mom writing about her daily struggle of raising small children. There’s a woman in her 20’s trying to experience as many different things as possible while working in Tokyo.  There are many people studying English. There’s a woman who is farming all by herself and sharing how her farm is growing.  There’s a bar owner who creates short stories based on his customers’ stories. There’s a mom who makes fantastic meals for her family every day and making everyone drool with her photos. There’s a young man suffering from depression. There’s a woman who used to be a man and sharing her struggles with her family.  And we all read, comment and interact. There’s a community. 

I have also started Brené Brown’s Living Brave Semester online course. I cannot say enough good things about it. New lesson becomes available every Monday, but you can do it in your own pace. We also had mini breaks and spring break so that you can catch up and reflect.  The course’s required readings are Daring Greatly and Rising Strong, two of my favourite books of all time. Brené guides us into living more wholehearted, authentic life, in a non-fluffy way…it is seriously full of practical, daily tips on how to live openhearted.

After reading her books and signing up for the course, I have decided that it is my life’s work to spread Brene’s teachings (I know this sounds like religion but it is not) to people in Japan. I know Brené Brown is a household name in North America, but she isn’t well known in Japan yet.  Her past several books are translated into Japanese but it hasn’t quite “taken off”. I would love to translate Rising Strong  but sounds like it might have already started. Not sure. I have also decided to write a book about wholehearted living and sort of a “Beginners guide to Brené Brown” type of book.  Yes, it’s scary to write this here, but that is part of the wholehearted living. I have started a Facebook group with Japanese friends who are interested in Wholehearted living, and it is growing!

Last month, something amazing happened. Someone from CourageWorks (Brene’s company that offers Living Brave Semester and other courses) contacted me and asked if I wanted to send Brené a question for her live Q&A.  I was thrilled!

Live Q&A are offered to all Living Brave Semester participants on CourageWorks website. The questions are picked ahead of time, but Brené answers them live. I exchanged emails with the lady from CourageWorks, and sent my photo. My question was this:

“I believe in saying yes and showing up for friends and for myself, but I struggle setting boundaries. How do you decide whether to be brave and say yes, or have self-control and say no?”


And I loved her answer…she said, “Sometimes, the bravest thing you can say is to say no. ”  She showed us her “Boundary ring” she was wearing with a spinner on it, and said she had a mantra she uses when she struggles with saying no. She’d spin the spinner on her ring and says this:

“Choose discomfort over resentment, Choose discomfort over resentment, Choose discomfort over resentment.”

This. This knocked me out.  You only need to feel uncomfortable for thirty seconds to save many resentments afterward.  Life saver.

I love this woman. One day I would love to work with her.

Going back to note, reading everyone’s posts I see so many, really, so many people struggle with either;

-Saying no

-Worrying about what others might say/think

-Comparing themselves with others

It’s crazy how universal these types of problems are, no matter where you live. However, I find it’s particularly bad in Japan. It’s almost an epidemic. SO MANY people were raised to be “just like others” and “stay inside the lines”. I know it’s a generational thing, and we are getting better as a society, but still many people are suffering.

I started sharing what Brene’s writing in her books on note. The importance of Daring Greatly and being in the arena. The importance of self-compassion (“Talk to yourself like you talk to someone you love“). Talking about shame. Being vulnerable. Not worrying about what others think and living the life you love… And I got so many reactions and comments. Some even say they never thought of living the life they’d love.

In the era of social media, everyone else’s lives are right in front of you to see, and we are hardwired to compare ourselves to someone else’s highlight reel. But the important thing is to recognize that they are just that – highlight reel.  I try to live wholeheartedly and close to my values (Courage and Kindness)…but I’m human and I am “scrappy” like Brené, so I often fall off the “Wholeheartedness” wagon. But that’s OK. The important thing is to “Talk to myself like I talk to someone I love” and just climb up on the wagon and start practicing again.

I plan on keep writing and hope to share how it all unravels in the next few months. My journey has only just begun.



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.