December 2011 Archives

25 Words

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Mother Earth trembled and futures fell apart. Uncertainty ruled us for months but in the end I'm still in Japan, married, hooping, and feeling happy.

This is the eleventh year I've summarised the past 365 days in "25 words exactly". This year's had a surprise ending for me that I didn't see coming until it was on paper. Past years: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001. Feel free to share your own 25 word summary in the comments or elsewhere.

Engage 2012

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For the past few years, I've selected a theme to guide my year. It's been a word or an idea that I can turn to in times of doubt or confusion, a mantra that will move me forward or bind me to the moment, something to help me decide what to do. I write it out, put it in a frame near my desk as a reminder.

For 2012, my theme is engage.

Engage means to participate, to commit, to engross, to involve. 

Engage suits things I do on my own and together with others. It is a theme with room for interpretation and always an impulse to act. 

Engage is something I can do or something I can be: I can engage in new ventures; I can engage students in learning; I can engage an audience; I can engage my fears; I can be engaged by a book; I can be engaged in a project; I can become engaged in a relationship. 

Some meanings that might apply in the coming year: appoint, enlist, employ, recruit, contract, bind, agree, promise, pledge, grapple, attack, attract, immerse, absorb, enthrall, captivate, fascinate, busy, enroll, fulfill, interconnect, partake.

Here are my previous themes:
2010, connect:

Celebrating my Progress

A friend wrote on Facebook today, "Be reflective and notice what you've learned and what you've accomplished this year. Celebrate your progress!" I think that's a good idea. 

At first, I feel like I haven't really done very much this year. And then I start looking at some of the things I made notes about through the year. Gosh, I was busy! Here's what I have accomplished in 2011.
  1. Finally learned to juggle! This is what I am most proud of.
  2. Unlocked various yoga poses and strengthened my body.
  3. Attended circus training in Tasmania and was overwhelmingly inspired.
  4. Fell in love over and over with friends new and old...ah, love.
  5. Survived a scary earthquake and nuclear disaster.
  6. Wore a bikini in public and learned it isn't as embarrassing as I thought.
  7. Learned new communication techniques that make me a happier person and a better wife.
  8. Hosted out-of-town visitors, including our niece, Helen, and my dearest friends form Chicago.
  9. Reconnected face-to-face with friends and family. This is the most heart-warming experience of 2011.
  10. Flexibly changed major life plans several times without much trauma.
  11. Modelled in a national ad campaign and several other shoots.
  12. Did a lot of hoop-related activities:
    • Developed and taught four new workshops: Creating Original Tricks, Hoop Meditation, Finding Flow, & Z-Axis
    • Taught hoop dance in three countries
    • Produced the Japan Tricks Showcase, bringing together local hoopers for a charity video
    • Performed eight times, including once topless, once in a modern dance ensemble, and once with my sister.
    • Hosted 17 free hoop events ranging from 4th Sunday Spin to Hoop Hospital
    • Organised a week-long hoop retreat, Guru Guru Camp, on Niijima
    • Planned Tokyo's World Hoop Day event, which raised over 50,000 yen
    • Encouraged 317 hoopers globally to learn the WHD Dance
    • Collaborated with Ayumi to judge the Tokyo leg of's Amazing Hoop Race
    • Created a series of Circus Style Drills for Hoop Dancers videos
    • Launched Spin Matsuri Hoop Mixes, music for hoopers
    • Learned scads of new tricks and choreography
That's a lot more than I thought I did. Thanks, Joe, for encouraging me to reflect on the year.


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dragon-drawing 8.jpeg

Have you been naughty or nice this year? Santa and Krampus know...

Krampus is Santa's cruel other half. He brings the coal, carries switches to inflict punishment, and eats children on the naughty list. He's not usually depicted as a dragon, but it seemed an appropriate avatar for the coming Year of the Dragon. 

Here's hoping you're on the nice list and have a happy holiday season.


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Phases of the eclipse, captured by Tod.

Last night was the first time I've experienced a full lunar eclipse. It was beautiful. 

We rushed out of the house at 21:45 to catch the first bite taken from the moon. Japanese word for lunar eclipse is gesshoku, 月食, which is literally moon eating. What a meal.

With a good view from the garden, we scrapped our plans to watch the eclipse from Denzuin cemetery. Even so, after ten minutes outside we were cold! We ran back in to warm up, then returned better bundled for more viewing.

The bite grew bigger until the disk of the moon was glowing a dim red with a vivid sliver of white light on the edge. Tod, without a tripod, searched for a stable perch for the camera and found a wall outside our building. We stood and craned our necks through totality.

Everyone passing by on our street was looking up. The blood red moon, maybe more rust colored, was stunning and almost directly overhead. Neighbors came out for a look. There were people on the roof of the building across the way and folks on their balconies. Nobody was interacting, but we all experienced a celestial moment together.

Christmas Lists

Christmas makes me crabby. 

I feel bullied into making the December holidays happy for everyone I encounter. I get resentful. I get depressed and furious with myself because I am not living up to an ideal I don't even believe in. I hate that. So this year, I sat down before I became overwhelmed and I made two lists to live by for the next couple of weeks.
What I Want to Do

  1. I want to light up the house starting on the solstice and ending on the last day of the new year holiday.
  2. I want to host at least one gathering of friends.
  3. I want to attend at least one gathering I am not hosting.
  4. I want to decorate with seasonal flowers and plants, like pine branches.
  5. I want the house to be clean, with a freshness and emptiness that comes of scrubbed walls and bleach.
  6. I want to sing carols.
  7. I want to create our new year cards.
  8. I want to eat cookies, lots of different kinds, but I don't want to bake them all myself.
  9. I want to continue to exercise my body daily. Hoop and yoga help me stay balanced.
  10. I want to have a sumptuous holiday meal at home with Tod.
  11. I want to create something to share with the world.
  12. I want to sum up my 2011.
  13. I want to set goals for 2012 and sketch out some plans. 
What I Don't Want to Do

  1. I don't want to shop for and give presents.
This is an issue. Part of me says, "Presents are expected! It's Scroogish to not give a gift at Christmas." A second part says, "I love to give gifts but I despise doing it all slapdash on a deadline. I prefer to give presents year round on meaningful occasions and to bring tidings of comfort and joy from January to December." 

I'm going to try to listen to that second part this year. I will avoid present-giving and try not feel guilty about it. The hardest part will be not reciprocating immediately. If you choose to give me a present for the holidays, I will be delighted, love you dearly, and reply in kind in 2012. 

WHD Dance 2011

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It's done! It was a collaborative effort in 11 countries with 41 groups and 317 dancers performing for World Hoop Day on November 11. Such a thrill to see the project grow so big. 2010 saw 17 groups dancing. For 2012, I'd better pick a song that allows me to extend it easily.

Organising the WHD Dance project is one of the highlights of my year. From choosing the song, choreographing the dance, learning to teach it, encouraging people to play with it, doing the performances, collecting and editing the videos, this project brings me a lot of joy. 

I love how it challenges me to learn more about every aspect of hooping and performance, especially the behind-the-scenes bits. This year I learned how hard it is to count loudly while dancing. Five-six-gasp-eight. 

It strengthens my connections to the international hooping community, and gives us all a shared experience. It also brings me closer to my local hoop crew. There were many new hoopers in the Tokyo videos this year and I can't wait to hoop with them in the coming year.

Thank you to everyone who danced in this project. I am humbled and excited that you took part. Your enthusiasm and dedication are an inspiration. Let's do it again for 12/12/12!


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We've just returned from a three night trip to Hiroshima-ken. 

Starting in one of my favorite towns in Japan, Onomichi, we walked hundreds of stairs, took in the sunset view from the hilltop, said hello to the ominous monkeys, noted the economic upturn of the shopping arcades, ate pizza, Onomichi ramen, and Thai food. On the second morning, we strolled the path of old temples and lingered over coffee while Tod had himself doctored at an acupuncture clinic. The poor dear put out his back trying to reach the controls on the heater in our room.

We headed westward in the afternoon to Hiroshima where we drank sake, ate okonimyaki, and walked the Dreamination illuminations. On the third morning, we visited the Peace Museum. The same tricycle that made me weep in 1999 did it again and I didn't even have to read the inscription this time. I remembered the story and the tears poured out.

That afternoon, we ferried over to Miyajima for a luxurious night of bathing and feasting, along with touring the famous shrine and the shopping streets. We spent our last day getting to the top of Mt. Misen, slowly for Tod and with the aid of a stick, before heading home on the Shinkansen. It was a good vacation-in-vacation with friends.

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