Sunday Quote, 6/25/17

Sunday Reflection Quote…Last week was filled with conversation, connection, and creativity. There were also a few bumps…some old scabs picked and a couple new scrapes. However, I’m mindful to keep my heart open and soft, rather than closed and hardened. Easy say, tough do; but, life is richer this way!

#sunday #reflection #quote #kurtvonnegut #soft #openheart #sweetness #forgiveness #letgo #healing #mindful #perspective #patience #intentional #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

Sunday Quote, 6/11/17

Sunday Reflection Quote…My soul was filled to the brim last week! What a fantastic time with my parents and friends, which included heartfelt conversations, belly laughs, and new memories. I noticed intentionally savoring moments slowed time down and brought to the surface gratitude. My little corner of the world may have some gaps and struggles, but it is incredibly rich. For this, I am truly grateful.

#sunday #reflection #quote #robertholden #gratitude #perspective #mindfulness #acceptance #forgiveness #staysoft #noresentment #genuine #sweet #patience #chinup #eyesbright #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

Sunday Quote, 5/7/17


Sunday Reflection Quote…There’s been an undercurrent of distraction the past few months. I’ve been in a hibernation halt. It’s Spring; time to shake it all off and feed new blooms.#sunday #reflection #quote #purpose #focus #goals #reset #health #distraction #priorities #time #patience #mindfulness #courageousconversations #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

Sunday Quote, 4/23/17


Sunday Reflection Quote…Time has become my greatest commodity; I’m choosy how I spend it. The same holds true with what occupies my head space. There are certainly doubts and fears, but worrying serves no purpose. I’ve learned (over and over and over) expending energy on what may never be is such a waste! I’m choosing to be present and have faith; giving myself the gift of peace.
#sunday #reflection #quote #marktwain #worry #anxiety #reset #breathe #mindfulness #present #acceptance #positivevibes #time #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

Sunday Quote, 2/5/17


Sunday Reflection Quote…Whether related to career, golf, exercise, or relationships I’m learning consistency is absolutely essential. I’ll be all about it; determined and focused, but one little pothole followed by another will take me off course. Then I feel all downtrodden and out of sync wondering what’s missing. It’s consistency that’s missing. Routine sprinkled with intentional baby steps is key. Pushing the reset button once again!
#sunday #reflection #quote #brucelee #consistency #longterm #goals #babysteps #reset #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

Sunday Quote, 12/11/16


Sunday Reflection Quote (yes, on Monday)…To fret, or not to fret, that is the question. I often do, especially about the future. It’s a thing. Albeit, not helpful nor productive. I’m getting better and catching myself…be present, baby steps, it’ll work out. You know what? It does.

#sunday #reflection #quote #dontfret #mindfulness #bepresent #letgo #believe #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

Traditional Traditions

When holiday season rears its head, it feels like an annoying splinter I can’t seem to wriggle free.  The actual holiday itself isn’t the issue, but rather my expectations or perception of how the time should be spent.

Since I am an only child, don’t have children, and come from a small family, the stressful cooking and shopping serpent doesn’t loom overhead.  I feel like I’m dust slowly gathering on the outside of a fishbowl—everyone else is frantically swimming around gift buying, dessert baking, and holiday decorating, but I’m stationary—on the outside, hoping to be wiped free.

All of those actions haven’t made it to my to-do list or calendar and I don’t foresee it happening in the near future.  Does that mean I somehow feel left out?  Yes and no.  In some respect, I’m relieved I don’t have the same stress or anxiety as others.  However, there’s a part of me that wants the traditional traditions—baking, presents, tree, and family; real family.  Maybe a smidgen of Martha Stewartism could sprinkle my way and magically put me back in sync with everyone else.

As an adult who has moved away from my hometown and state, an unconscious question reveals itself, “What are you running from or running to?”  Due to circumstances, I haven’t had the chance to establish my own traditions, so there is a feeling of longing and insecurity.  For example, saying I was in Las Vegas for a Thanksgiving a few years back makes me feel slightly abnormal, as if announcing that I’m so thankful, I spent my time in Sin City!

Being packed in like sardines at a stretched piecemeal table, bumping elbows, and frantically passing food about while trying to partake in simultaneous conversations isn’t my idea of an ideal holiday.  Instead, going to a restaurant for a juicy steak rather than a dried out turkey and intimate conversation, seems more like my speed.  Or is it?  That Thanksgiving in Vegas, I was comforted to see there wasn’t an empty table in sight at the steak house and families were congregating at the door to be seated.  Apparently, the practice of eating out for a holiday is actually a tradition in itself, but I wasn’t aware, since I’d never done it before.  

Last year was the holiday season from hell.  Just a couple weeks before Thanksgiving my heart and life as I knew it was gutted.  I was in a massive state of shock, depression, and despair.  I was a walking empty shell of exhausted numbness.  At the last minute, I flew home to my parent’s house in Washington for Thanksgiving.  I cried on the flight there, cried the bulk of Thanksgiving Day, and cried on the flight home.  My family hasn’t experienced much turbulence, so the silence and sideways glances just punctuated, rather than comforted the pain.  Although they meant well and I was “back home,” I felt like I was wearing a massive Scarlet Letter with a capital “L” stamped across my forehead.  Loser.  

I’m relieved and proud to say what a difference a year makes!  My mental and emotional state has improved leaps and bounds.  I’ve never worked so hard on my own well being as I have in the last year.  At times it has been absolutely exhausting.  There are still rough days, sleepless nights, and tears, but it’s short lived.  The positives are prominent, my smile genuine, and my eyes bright for my future.  

This Saturday I fly south to Indio to spend Thanksgiving week with my parents.  We’re going golfing, wine tasting, out to a nice dinner Thanksgiving Day, and since I’ve never been there, I plan to do some exploring on my own.  BUT, there’s still a piece of me that has a longing for traditional traditions.  A yearning for my own family unit; to feel like I am not just the “plus one” at the table.   

Perhaps that’s my problem.  I’d like a reliable source to tell me that I’m okay; there’s nothing wrong with me.  Or, show me there is a way; a way that is purposeful, clear, and balanced.  

James Agee once said, “You must be in tune with the times and prepared to break with tradition.”  In some instances, this may be true.  However, I think tradition is repetition binding everything together; the backbone of family.  We’ve become so in tune with the times, we’ve lost sight of the past due to constantly looking ahead.  Thus, traditions have fallen to the wayside, unable to withstand the continuous onslaught of change.  

To me, life has become diluted over time and it is difficult to pinpoint exactly one’s original tradition.  We pride ourselves as a country of freedom, choices, and diversity.  However, what is our true identity as individuals and as a country?  

While trying to promote independence and respect for differences, there has been a silent trigger, which I believe has caused loss of culture in itself.  It is the repetition of actions accumulated over time that creates traditions within a culture.  Variation can lead to doubt or instability, which alters one’s identity as an individual.  “In America nothing dies easier than tradition,” wrote Russell Baker.  How sad.  

My heart is hopeful someday I will have traditional traditions.  Until then, I will give myself permission to accept what is as it is.  And dammit, I will continue to persevere.  I will continue to get out of bed each day, smile, and hold my head high.  The letter I now wear is “S” for Strength.

~D. Thompson, 11/16/15

Sunday Quote, 08/14/16

be-as-you-wish-to-seem-socrates

Sunday Reflection Quote…Memories old and new, thought provoking conversations, stretch experiences, and personal challenges have rounded out the last two weeks of summer break. As I’ve listened and observed, the beauty in others has been revealed. Thus, a realization has been confirmed…Rather than seeking acceptance and approval, I just need to be me, as I am and wish to seem. We all have our nuances and idiosyncrasies. For that, I am thankful.

#Sunday #reflection #quote #socrates #mindset #growth #goals #acceptance#patience #reset #keeponkeepingon #myownstory

Heart Twice Scarred

kimono

Optimistic anticipation of a new school year quickly diminished as “round eye” and “half breed” flowed through the room in a wave of whispers.  The cruel words of elementary aged children were an unsolicited voice reminding my mother, Kazumi, she didn’t belong and wasn’t welcome.

Mom’s childhood began in 1948, when she resided in Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan.  However, Japan wasn’t truly a home.  She wished the unrelenting cruelty of children and the judging eyes of adults could be escaped.  While innocently playing in front of her house, rocks were thrown at her.  The culprits would yell, “Yankee go home!  Go home, you Yankee!”  She also overheard such phrases from adults, as they guided their children in the opposite direction.  Mom didn’t understand what she had done to instigate such hostility; her heart scarred with the confusion of intolerance.

Kazumi was the first child born to Saku Mori and Paul Rasmussen. Paul met Saku when he was stationed in Tokyo, as a cook in the Army.  Like most soldiers, he would visit a seamstress for repairs on his uniform or to sew on patches.  Saku’s modest beauty caught Paul’s eye, so she was the seamstress he frequently sought.  Those visits quickly developed into a courtship, which resulted in three children: Kazumi, Lena, and Henry.  Unfortunately, since they were not 100% Japanese, the children were considered and treated as outcasts.  Due to the span in their age, mom was the only one who experienced the brunt of prejudice first hand.

Having a Japanese mother and an American father seven years after the attack on Pearl Harbor created a silent purgatory for Kazumi.  She was caught between two distinct cultures, unable to unlock her hurt and confusion from this intangible tug-of-war.  Mom’s childhood was lived in an environment where hostility towards Americans was still harbored by the Japanese.  The disdainful eyes of the community viewed her, her siblings, and her mother as outsiders.  Their fairer skin created a target that followed them everywhere.  Kazumi’s young, innocent heart was scarred from the isolation and her continuous desire to belong.

Mom’s journey had a drastic change when she moved to the United States in the spring of 1962.  A deep hurt and sadness from leaving the few friends she had and the fear of the unknown began to brew within.  She was on an airplane for the first time with her father, a man she didn’t know.  Her worries were momentarily put on hold when they stopped over in Hawaii.  Mom ate a traditional American meal:  hamburger and french fries.  She had never eaten such food before.  The saltiness of the fries is a memory that lingers on her palate to this day.  The entire family eventually arrived to their temporary destination of six months, Fort Lewis, a military base in Washington.  Despite the range of emotions, mom was thankful to reside in America.  She had new luxuries such as TV, an indoor bathroom, and nice clothes.  Sleeping on bamboo mats, bathing in the public bathhouse, wearing a uniform, and tolerating the rigidity of Japanese education was no longer required.

At home, mom was faced with yet another challenge, her father.  He was more like the occasional visitor, rather than a dad.  Kazumi saw him only a handful of times during her 14 years in Japan, typically during major holidays.  Now she was living with this stranger of a man in a new, foreign place.  He was trying to do what he thought was best for his wife and three children.  However, a dense fog quietly floated into their lives creating a permanent division between a father and his children.  Paul naively stripped Kazumi of her identity, creating a silent isolation that would last the rest of her life.  Speaking Japanese was now forbidden at home, since “they were in America now.”  Unable to communicate, this expectation created a state of constant confusion for mom.  Her red, Japanese-English dictionary became her “Bible,” the only resource she had to navigate her daily life.  The dictionary was a silent companion carried with her for years, translating the words she knew into the new words of the unknown; a liberator of knowledge.

There was another subtle division within the family.  Mom’s two siblings, seven and nine years younger, were given “American names” at birth, rather than Japanese.  Even in her own home, amongst family, she was different.  Over time, Kazumi decided she needed a nickname.  She selected “Linda,” after a pretty woman she met at the Albertsons’ bakery, where her father worked.  To her, this sounded more “American,” allowing her to find an avenue to try and fit in.  Kazumi was no longer required to repeat, sound out, or spell out her foreign name to others.  She was now one of “them,” an American, leaving her Japanese identity behind.

Kazumi entered the classroom on the first day of school, this time in Lacey, Washington at the age of 15.  She wore a pretty new dress, recently purchased from Sears.  Students gazed at her as she made her way toward her designated desk.  The teacher was talking assumingly in a kind way, but Kazumi didn’t understand a single word.  She doesn’t look like us; the classmates silently judged the only Asian child in the school.  I don’t feel like I belong her, Kazumi thought as her anxious heart thundered in her chest.

Once again, Kazumi was exposed to the verbal cruelty of her classmates.  This time, whispers of “Jap” and “slant eyes” floated towards her ears.  The same prejudice would creep up on her, like a mysterious predator following her, adding more scars to her heart.  Mom stood out among the new peers, both physically and symbolically.  Even though she was 15, the school placed her in the 5th grade.  She was definitely intelligent, despite the ignorant assumptions placed upon her, but she didn’t speak English.  Learning English was achieved solely by her own work ethic and determination.  The teachers didn’t help, there wasn’t a “special program,” and no support was offered after school nor at home.

Mom completed fifth through seventh grade, then jumped to tenth, eventually graduating high school in 1968 at the age of twenty-one.  Despite the incredibly difficult times, mom was very proud that she earned her high school diploma; a deep sense of accomplishment she finally felt for the first time.

In the depths of her eyes, the pain of Kazumi’s childhood is buried deep below the surface where only the observant can see.  Even in America, the “land of the free,” her experiences have not been free of hurt, prejudice, or ignorance.  Mom’s perseverance over time has created a quiet, determined strength that makes her the woman she is today.  The scars on her heart have begun to fade, but they will never completely disappear.  They are part of who she is, an identity, which she can proudly claim.

~D. Thompson

Looking Back…Football

Football

Gasping for air in a silent panic, I look upward scared for my life.  Players huddle all around, murmuring words I can’t discern.  After what seems like an eternity, I am gently ushered off the field by Coach Burns.  I realize the air was knocked out of me from an opponent’s forearm to my throat, slamming me to the ground.  From the stands, I see my father’s steady blue eyes, coupled with worry and encouragement.  His look is all the assurance I need to keep going and shake it off.

I have no idea what in the world I was thinking when I joined the boys seventh grade tackle football team at Nisqually Middle.  Somehow my experience playing co-ed intramural flag football in fifth and sixth grade led me down the adolescent path of no return.  I was the only girl on the team creating a big “to do” for all involved.  Dad, in his supportive way, said, “You can do anything you set your mind to.  If you want to play football, have at it!”  Mom, on the other hand, wondered why I wanted to play, was shocked dad was giving the okay, and quietly resisted.  The school administrators, Mr. Bykerk and Mrs. Hendrickson, held a special meeting with my parents “to discuss my safety.”  I was mortified when they brought up an even more personal topic, “how I was going to protect my chest?”  They assumed it was an equal rights issue.  That wasn’t my agenda at all!  I just enjoyed the sport, thought I had some skills, and simply wanted to play ball.  How was I to know the decision would create turmoil on many levels?

Someone, I don’t recall who, came up with the plan that I could be the kicker.  I’d be part of the team, but avoid any real contact.  Mom liked the idea, since this seemed like the only way for me to avoid getting hurt.  That weekend dad and I went to the field at Timberline HIgh to practice punting and placekicking.  I couldn’t figure out how to kick the ball at the correct trajectory nor any reasonable distance.  Dad would say, “You give 100%, so will I.  You give 5%, so will I.”  The implication being I wasn’t trying very hard.  In reality, I couldn’t kick the football to save my life!

Practice and tryouts started the following week.  I remember the endless drills of wind sprints, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, drop downs, and the like.  What was I doing?!  I thought I was going to die.  Immediately, I desperately wanted to quit.  Dad said, “You started it, you finish it.”  Dammit, I knew there was no way out.  It was as if my decision set in motion a row of dominos, one bumping into the next; unable to be stopped, out of control.  I’d have to suck it up and stick it out, no matter what was in store.

Towards the end of the week final tryouts and cuts were made.  Due to my lack of kicking skills, it was obvious the “safe” position of kicker wasn’t going to be mine.  If I were a boy, I probably would’ve been cut.  Basically, the coach had to keep me, which at the time, I was completely unaware of.

Since I was just as tall and big as the boys, I wound up being assigned the position of offensive right tackle.  Granted, I had no clue what that meant or what I was supposed to do.  Here I was, an ignorant, passive spectator now required to be an active participant.  Really, I was oblivious!  I had no idea what the function of the positions were, nor how to execute plays.  I distinctly remember Sauceda, the running back, yelling, “Make a hole and get out of the way!!”  I finally got the message when he literally ran over the top of me, his cleats digging into the back of my calves leaving a trail of square indentations.

I was officially part of the team, number 38, offensive line.  Ironically, I didn’t know the line of scrimmage I was supposed to hold, drew another line in my life.  A line of separation.  Being the only girl on an all boy team created a divide that couldn’t be explained.  The girls treated me differently, because I was now one of the guys.  While I was putting on shoulder pads and cleats, they would be dressing down into shorts and t-shirt for volleyball.  Degrading comments such as “where’s your cup?” often permeated the locker room.  Their cold words had the stench of a skunk, which lingered with me even though the source eventually went out of sight.  To the boys, I was like a sister.  At the start, they hesitantly welcomed me.  In the end, protected me like their own.  I was officially a member of their circle.

This intangible division continued into high school, as the only girl on the golf team freshman and sophomore year.  I felt like there was something different about how I interacted with my peers; a disconnection I couldn’t explain.  I now realize the words and actions of my peers weren’t directed at me personally, rather towards the unique situation.

Looking back, I believe playing football paved a specific path for me.  I’m able to travel with a quiet internal strength and persevere.  The lines of scrimmage are either held strong or broken through.  In this unpredictable game called life, I’ve learned how to play and determine my own victories.