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!

Voice inside your head


Last night, I wrote a post for my Japanese blog. This is basically English version of it.

I had a rough few days. Nothing serious, but I was suffering from scarcity, imposter syndrome, and uncertainty. I kept seeing my friends who are successful and telling myself “I’d never be like her.” I was also saying to myself, “Why can’t you do normal work like everybody else?”

I was down, and posted how I was feeling on Facebook, in Japanese. I won’t deny I was feeling sorry for myself and expected some “Aw, poor you.” comments from friends.
But my friends’ comments truly touched me. Some said it’s like you crouch just before you jump – and it’s a sign that I’d achieve great success. Other friend said she’s gone through the stagnant period many times before and it means I’m preparing for a big thing. My dear friend Etsuko, who has always been so supportive said that she admired my honesty. All these comments came from people I love, respect, and admire. I was extremely humbled and encouraged. And I learned a lesson. To be honest. To be seen.

That same night, I saw a video posted on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page. It was from a talk she did with her best friend and author Rayya Elias in Sydney. It was the best thing I saw that day.

Rayya is an author of Harley loco, a memoir from her days as drug addict. If you don’t have time to watch the entire talk, just make sure you watch Rayya reading her essay at the beginning, titled “A Letter to My Stumbling Block.”(4:20) It’s brilliant. It’s a letter to her voices in her head. It starts like this:

“Dear Head,
You used to be the worst neighborhood for me to hang out in, especially when I was alone. Being there with you was the scarier than walking down avenue D in 1980s by myself. It was scarier than being stalked by a serial killer, or cornered by a rapist. Being you, on my own head, meant I’d do anything to convince myself that I was a fucking reject, not worth the skin that I existed in.”

She also talks about the time when her sister came to rescue her from the tent city and takes her to a hotel. She runs a bath for her, orders room service, but Rayya ends up slipping out while the sister is sleeping, because “You told me that I was too fucked up and didn’t deserve what she was offering”

Eventuallly she got clean, and became a successful writer and musican. But she says her head still had negative voices to her.
“Why is it when I’m invited to events like this, at first I’m really excited, but then fear sets in. Then your dark voice starts to creep in like it did years ago. ‘Do I deserve to be here?'”

This was a good reminder. The negative voices in your head would probably never going to disappear. You know what I think? Here’s my theory. It’s not berating you because you are worthless. It just can’t stop itself, because it’s an asshole.

If you have time you should watch the whole video. Liz and Rayya talk about shame, truth (Another quote I loved from Rayya: “Truth has legs. It always stands.”), and creativety—“If you are not creating anything, you are probably destroying something. Usually yourself.” I love that.

We all have that negative voice in the head. You can’t numb it. You can’t really shut it up. But listening to Rayya’s story, I learned that important thing is to at least question it. Best of all, don’t believe it.

After I posted my “whining” on Facebook, several people commented they admired me being honest about how I felt.
This reminded me the vulnerability paradox by Brené Brown.
The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I want you to see in me.

I think this problem is more widespread in Japan. I know some people would rather die than to show their vulnerability. I want to do something about that. My dream is to one day talk to all the people in Japan and encourage them to “be seen”. The first step was to write about it. So I did last night.

Baby steps.

PS: I’ve also written about courage and vulnerability here.