Charlie Chaplin: This Is Life

charlie chaplin
Charlie Chaplin, age 26… He read the poem below at age 70

 

As I began to love myself
I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living
against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is Authenticity.

As I began to love myself
I understood how much it can offend somebody
if I try to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time was not right
and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I call this Respect.

As I began to love myself
I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything
that surrounded me
was inviting me to grow.
Today I call this Maturity.

As I began to love myself
I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time,
and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
So I could be calm.
Today I call this Self-Confidence.

As I began to love myself
I quit stealing my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects
for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness,
things I love to do and that make my heart cheer,
and I do them in my own way
and in my own rhythm.
Today I call this Simplicity.

As I began to love myself
I freed myself of anything
that is no good for my health –
food, people, things, situations,
and everything that drew me down
and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is Love of Oneself.

As I began to love myself
I quit trying to always be right,
and ever since
I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is Modesty.

As I began to love myself
I refused to go on living in the past
and worrying about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment,
where everything is happening.
Today I live each day,
day by day,
and I call it Fulfillment.

As I began to love myself
I recognized
that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
But as I connected it to my heart,
my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.

We no longer need to fear arguments,
confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others.
Even stars collide,
and out of their crashing, new worlds are born.
Today I know: This is Life!

Spring In Japan, Part 2

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Paige, Olivia and Natalie on the Shinkansen bound for Himi, on Toyama Bay, just outside of Takaoka.
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Yummy sweet potato ice cream that is only available on Shinkansen
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Mind blown seeing these trees growing out on a small island in the ocean!

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I waste no time getting comfortable and heading to the onsen for rest and relaxation!
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One of the gardens at the hotel…

The next morning we packed up and made our way to a beautiful, modern ryokan in Komatsu City called Sarai. It was here where we would stay for two nights.
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In Japan, you can wear your yukata (cotton robe) anywhere!

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We had many parties that included some very good sake!
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Another dinner party- here is our teacher, Yoshida Shihan
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A wonderful local artist came to celebrate with us and made everyone a personal artwork to take home!

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Hidekazu Mori-san making his art

Our aikido training and Honkoji practice was intense for the remaining days. Here, we had visitors from all over the world join our practice. One training session was in this Buddhist Temple.

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It was a crowded space. We took turns with our practice…
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Aikido friends
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For the afternoon training, we moved to another Budokan…
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These training spaces can be found all over Japan. They are massive! We had a great time exploring and training and seeing our big aikido family.

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Next stop was an early morning train ride out of Komatsu City at 5:15 am (the first train of the day out of Komatsu) to head back to Tokyo to go to Tokyo Disney for the day!

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Our first trip to Tokyo Disney!

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Fun!

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Olivia
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The enchanted castle- we arrived to see the Easter decorations!

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Only in Japan will you find curry popcorn!

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Until next time Japan! Sayonara 🙂

Spring In Japan, Part 1

We arrived in Japan for cherry blossom season. Japan loves flowers and takes great pride in showing them off! After our long flight over, we made our way to Takadanobaba station in Shinjuku where we rented a lovely three story house for the eight of us for two nights. From the station it was a good 10 minute walk. We passed streets full of restaurants and shops along the way. After getting situated at the house, we decided on a restaurant for dinner that had many choices and ice cold beer. After a long travel day we went to sleep and prepared for the coming days of adventure and tired feet. IMG_0027

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The next morning we were up early to get to our first aikido training day of the trip. Training at the Aikido Headquarters, Hombu dojo is not to be missed. We did the first class that starts at 6:30 am with Doshu. For more on the history of Aikido, visit here.
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Our first full day of sight seeing included Kitonomaru Park and Chidorigafuchi Park. This area has so much to do! We took many pictures under the blooming cherry blossom trees and found peaceful moments I will remember my whole life. We stopped for ice cream and decided on bento lunches from 7-11. Japanese 7-11 are amazing convenience stores. We bought plum wine and enjoyed our lunches in a quiet park like setting.

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Asakusa Temple was a quick train ride. There were many tourists, but nevertheless, I can see why… it was an amazing place! Anywhere in Japan during cherry blossom season is expected to be crowded. We discovered, much to my surprise, a shop called Mokuhankan. David Bull is a woodblock artist. I have been following his work for quite some time. When we walked in, David was in the middle of a class to aspiring students in the art of woodblock. His YouTube channel can be found here.

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We headed out to Shibuya, where we found a British pub for dinner, had some beers, and stopped off at the Disney store to buy our tickets for Tokyo Disney. After getting everything packed up, we caught up with the rest of the group to catch the train to Himi, on the coast. Stay tuned for Part 2…
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Wildflowers Are Great Teachers

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We set out early this morning and traveled to Borrego Springs desert to hopefully witness the native wildflowers of the region. With an abundance of precipitation this winter, were expecting another amazing superbloom this year.

We started out on our nearly 90 mile drive to the desert. We experienced things along the way we couldn’t have anticipated. Snow had blanketed a stretch of land the night before. It was so beautiful. It was like a picture snapshot of an idyllic scene and it was ours. We passed a group of cows in the snow, happily munching away; oblivious to our high pitched “oohs, and ahhs” as we clicked a few pictures. We continued on the road towards the desert.

The best part of the trip was the time we spent conversing, laughing, telling each other about silly videos and sometimes, just enjoying the silence in rural country. I think it’s in these, although brief moments in our busy and distracted lives where the “being” of business and distraction melt away. They have no place in the moment. We were free of any trappings on our drive. In my experience, the simple things matter most. We discover what is important, honest and worthy of us.

Sadly, we didn’t find endless hills of wildflowers, or perfect photo opportunities, but we did experience something else. For us today, what mattered, was taking a drive and being together. My husband commented to me today how quickly our kids are growing up. They change everyday, every hour. It’s true. You blink and they’ve changed.

Attention and time. I think that’s what people crave as humans. Everyone wants to be heard and understood. In a period in our cultural history when technology rules our every waking life, where the aim is to be continuously “productive,” a simple drive to find native wildflowers puts life in a whole different perspective.

Children Changing The World

Greta
via The Guardian

 

Our children are the future. We live in a precarious time in history. We see the man- made and often destructive contributions being made to our humanity at large. We feel a deep unhappiness anytime we put on the news. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, and yet, we place the burdens of the world on the shoulders of children to carry-climate change, greed, war, hate, division and a broken system of education. They want more to look forward to in their future. There will be many who think “that’s not my problem.”

 

But it is. We are all responsible.

 

Children should be celebrating the pleasures of their childhood without a care in the world. Instead, we leave them to fix what we’ve broken. We often discount them, due to their age and life experience in the world as inferior to our own. But this simply isn’t true.

I think children feel more and are more attuned to their feelings than we adults. They see the wrongs being inflicted upon them and want to help be the change. Their compassion runs deep.

Neill Strauss once said, “We are taught to focus on success, accomplishment, and accumulating memories and experiences in our lifetime. But what we’re actually building is the thing we focus on the least: our character. That’s what most of us will get to keep the longest. And perhaps what’s more important.

Our character is our foundation. When walls crumble around us, it’s what’s left in the rubble. I have hope for the future when I see the character of children acting in humble and positive ways for the betterment of their world. Children have been rising up to address issues important to them more and more in recent years. Were at a tipping-point of change. We see their resilience and their strength and we must help them.

I believe in our children’s future. We all have a duty to them. They did not ask for this mighty responsibility but are willing to take the reins in spite of us. I find that to be a true testament to the character of young people today. I am optimistic in feeling to live in a world where young people like Greta Thunberg, a fifteen year old Swedish student, has the strong will to act and see to it that their future doesn’t just fall by the wayside. It’s this strong will to do something that will save us. Sadly, it’s usually the first thing to get “squashed” out of us in childhood. In small ways, were tempered to become obedient and compliant. It begins in our early education.

The narratives around education are nothing new. We’ve been debating the “effectiveness” of school for a very long time. It seems, we’re divided on the subject. What does it mean to be successful in school? What does well-educated mean? The objective in asking this question is to be direct. Should it be the goal of every student to sacrifice their interests to learning random facts? Should it be the goal of every student to conform and become obedient to authority, without questioning why? Should we be teaching them to be passive and tolerant to tedium for meager rewards? What if a child’s idea of self-education is in saving the world? How can we deny them of their will in the interest to do just that?

When a child is motivated to do something, we need get out of their way and let them. Children want to live with a purpose. When we see young people like Greta saying to those in power, “Hey, I’m the one who has to live in the future, I am a voice in my generation, and we will work for things we believe in that are of utmost importance- like saving the planet and addressing crucial issues in our lifetime right now.” We should listen.

I see a great need in supporting children to resist the modern schooling and standardization of individuals, as we see it today, and do away with the idea that young people can’t possibly change the world. They’re doing it now. I see the future in very good hands.