Sunday Quote, 7/19/2020

Sunday Reflection Quote…It’s been a doozy week riding the teary morning lows of distance learning/teaching woes, the highs of shooting an 81, all rounded out by shouting from the treetops we’re engaged glee. I’m reminded life is a continuum unexpectedly twisting and turning. Sometimes it’s a full on pucker white knuckle death grip and other times it’s freely waving hands in the air like you just don’t care. Sometimes it’s broadsided trauma or pain with zero Iight in sight. Sometimes it’s shame or fear paralyzing the next move. But, BUT with hope, determination, and willingness better things DO and CAN fall together. Here’s to falling FORWARD in love, in marriage, in friendship, in family, in teaching, in golf, in health and wellness. Here’s to better things!
#sunday #reflection #quote #marilynmonroe #fallapart #falltogether #grow #heal #strength #vulnerability #forgiveness #willingness #perspective #priorities #love #future #onelife #seizetheday #hope #dreams #goals #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

Sunday Quote, 4/19/2020

Sunday Reflection Quote…And just like that, we’ve been thrust into the simple life. For me, it was 3pm on Friday, March 13th, when it was announced school would be closed until April 14th. My kids just left me 15 minutes prior. I wasn’t able to give a “proper” goodbye. Even though my chin was up, I numbly walked back to the empty classroom in disbelief. The closure was eventually extended until May 1st. Then, for the remainder of the school year. My heart broke for my students, families, and colleagues not once, but thrice. This was punctuated on March 15th when all wineries, restaurants, and life as we knew it closed. We literally went to Lodi on the 14th to hit the regulars and explore some new. A typical Just Us/Our Time Is the Best Time jaunt. Just like that, everything changed. Just like that, cancelled bubbled to the top as the new “C-word.” This includes S.F. Giant games, seeing my parents for Spring Break, a long planned trip to Graceland, and a cruise to Mexico. Just like that, everything continues to change. In the last month my emotions have mirrored grief. That’s what this is. What we, as a collective, have been doing in our own unique way. Last week, I was reminded I have a choice. I can have a pity party, or choose an attitude of gratitude and take it day by day. I intentionally chose the later and it had made a world of difference. I choose to give a nod to emotions; they are valid. I choose to accept what is, as it is. I choose to acknowledge I am enough; doing enough. I choose to lean in. I choose to let go. Here’s to the simple, intentional life! There is richness and value to behold. The destination may be undetermined, but I choose to hold hope we will all see this through. ❤️ #sunday #reflection #quote #simplelife #intentional #simplicity #accept #mindset #perspective #hope #grief #goodenough #letgo #contentment #coronavirus #stayhome #staysafe #staystrong #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

Sunday Quote, 7/7/19

Sunday Reflection Quote…This week’s reflection is short and sweet. Whether physical, mental, emotional I’m reminded to get out of my own way. Life is short. Be grateful and enjoy the journey!! #Sunday #Reflection #quote #getoutoftheway #reset #competition #perspective #goodenough #acceptance #patience #prioritize #mindfulness #grateful #babysteps #wisemind #goals #myownstory #keeponkeepingon

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