How to start a conversation and make friends

By show of hands, who believes in luck?

I don’t know what to call it, but when my walk was coming to an end this past Friday, I was afraid. I was afraid that my good luck streak would run out someday. I was worried that my life and the experiences would become boxed and patterned; packaged nicely for all of the readers. I was worried about becoming fake.

My moods tend to pinball around, and that morning I felt pretty good about myself. I planned to go sketching. I also planned not to plan. I would go where my nose took me, and hoped things would work out. They did, and I ended up having a great day.

At my station, I managed to get into the same elevator as a man from my neighborhood who I had been wanting to meet for ages. He has art sitting outside of this house all of the time. In rain or shine, the Renoir and Picasso copies stay out. I pass that house every time I walk home, and my pace tends to slow down when I walk by The Painting House. I never could find a good excuse to go and introduce myself, but now I had one. My first ten minutes out of the house seemed to be productive, and I told myself that if nothing else interesting happened the rest of the day, I would be happy with just that chance meeting.

I decided on the platform to always look up. No books. Though books are great and much better than watching TV, I find that after reading I come out of some sort of haze. I feel dull and unobservant.

I counted the number of people using cellphones in the train car: 28. Basically everyone was using their cellphone except the young girl behind me. I glanced over at her paper and saw that it had English on it and I guessed that she was studying for a test. As soon as she saw me looking at the notes, she quickly pulled the paper away- slightly embarrassed. That had never happened before so I took that as my cue to chime up.

For those reading this book:


The trick is to say something before you can talk yourself out of it.

She was studying for a listening test at her university and that she had everything down pat but told me that she had no confidence in her English. It didn’t sound fun to study in the heat. I wished her good luck.

We parted ways and I went to the main tourist area of the city. For those who don’t know, I was born and raised in Japan and if I do anything that seems touristy, I start to feel uncomfortable. It pained me at first to take out a camera and take photos of the most iconic things in the area. But the ego slowly calmed down and I got used to it. Though I come to this area all of the time, I felt like I was in a different country because I was more aware. I heard different languages (mostly Chinese) and smelled different smells. My favorite smell being the Lush Stores with air-conditioning. On the opposite side of the spectrum, nothing smells worse to me than Ramen on a hot day. Kudos to the workers who don’t use nose plugs.

After some mindless wandering and photo taking, I ended up in Starbucks. Not exactly exotic, but it did the job. While sitting down for a bit with my well deserved sandwich and a book in hand, I noticed other travelers who also decided to get a Frapacchino. Backpackers, couples, families, it was nice to see.

I went back to glancing at my book and two Germans came in looking for a seat. I was hogging a table of two so I told them they could have my spot. One of them was super tall with long arms. He reminded me of the Abominable Snowman from Monsters Inc. He was also just as friendly and invited me to sit with them. We talked for a while with the running theme of the conversation being, “Never become a flight attendant.”

I had a great day but I found myself in a less-hopeful mood towards the end. Asking again, what do you believe about luck? Is it something that is given to you, or is it something that you make yourself? I’d like to believe it is the latter. You can have all the luck in the world, but if you don’t act on it, you miss the chance for a fun ride.

Just ask these two:



Chocolate Cake and Mascarpone Frosting

Chocolate Cake and Mascarpone Frosting

My sister had three pieces 0-0 I unfortunately have been snacking on sugar since morning and I am starting to regret it. Think healthy foods…healthy foods……

Elephant Eating and Hole Digging

When we first moved into our house, the garden was overgrown with bushes and a blanket of weeds taller than me. It was a jungle and it seemed like we needed a miracle to get it under control.

Slowly but surely, I am currently digging out the bushes from our yard. There are quite a few of them, and it takes energy and time. A lot of time. Sometimes it seems as if they don’t want to detach from the earth and are holding on tight with their roots. I have to keep reminding myself that it will just take awhile. One shovel at a time, progress happens.

As I dig, I always think of it as an analogy for my own life. Some days I roll up my sleeves and think, “Give me that shovel, I’m going in !” On others, I look and sigh. No matter how hard I try, all the work is to no avail. I constantly keep reminding myself that no matter how dirty or tired I get, all that I want to get done with will eventually be accomplished. Take it one day at a time and you will see results.

You might look at your life and see nothing but weeds and mud. But if you continue to push forward through the sweat, good things will come.

It reminds me of the quote:

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

-Unknown Source

After all if that hole-digging and elephant eating, pat yourself on the back all tell yourself you did a good job. You deserve to sleep soundly, but the morning will come soon. When you wake up, jump out if bed with gusto. There are still many more sleeves to roll up.

What does a Teacher and a DJ have in common?

What do you think makes a good teacher? Being a teacher myself, I think about this on a daily basis. I would ask myself, are they learning anything? Are they inspired? Are they excited? If I would come across a student that looked bored I would instantly take it personally and blame it on my not being inspiring enough.

No one can be on the ball all the time, but I find that examining some of my personal mentors, I found that there might be a slight pattern for it.

One man that I admire is Randy Pausch. I have watched his lecture multiple times, and have read his book many times as well. Each time I find myself so drawn to his charismatic personality.

1) He does not give up. On himself or other people. 

“Find the best in everybody. Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you. It might even take years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting.”

I think about this when I am impatient with my siblings or my close friends. We can get on each others nerves sometimes and it is so easy to make that one negative trait define them. Don’t let it. People can change if given enough time and chances.

2) He is super encouraging.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

These days I try to keep this quote in my head. The brick walls seem extra tall some days and it is easy to forget that there are always ways around it if we work hard. Carry that sledge hammer with you at all times.

3) He is an opportunist.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

We have each day to make the best of it. We can sit around all day and have our brains on autopilot, or we can donate our thoughts to positive causes. It is so easy to blame our circumstances for where we are in life. Find out what you want to do, plan it out, and live it out.

4) He is truthful.

“If I only had three words of advice, they would be, Tell the Truth. If got three more words, I’d add, all the time.”

These days, so many things are acceptable and  normal. One of them is lying, and I dislike it very much. I was raised to tell the truth, and I agree with him 100% when he says it builds more character then you know.

5) He is a hard worker.

“A lot of people want a shortcut. I find the best shortcut is the long way, which is basically two words: work hard.”

At the end of my life, I would like to say that I tried. None of that, “If it had not been for this I could have been this kind of person, yada yada.”

These are a few of many great quotes from him. Despite his many challenges, he always tried to maintain a positive outlook. I want to do that too.

Again, what makes a good teacher? A good teacher could be compared to a DJ.

1. Sifts what matters from everything else

2. Creates the right mix for the occasion

3. Leads and responds to the audience.


No two people are alike, and I believe that the best teachers are masters at adaption. They know what the individual needs, and what requires their attention. The best teachers care for you and treat your problems like their own. If you are passive about your job, and don’t find ways into your students shoes, then they won’t let you into your hearts or their brains. Ultimately a good teacher is someone that we can take with us, not just on our learning journey, but our life journey. They are there to offer an ear when we need it and not just a hand to dish out the grades. I want to be there for my students and friends, not just for my own gain, but for their wellbeing. The greatest gift a teacher can have is to have the honor to impact their lives.


Phoney words.

Is it bad to use “phoney words” in your vocabulary?

“They’re grand people.” “Yes, they are. They’re very nice.” Grand. There’s a word I really hate. It’s a phony. I could puke every time I heard it”.

This dialog I read from “The Catcher in the Rye” this morning. We throw words around so easily these days. We twist meanings and overuse them. Before you know it, all of the meaning and life gets sucked out and we are left with people with lips that only speak empty words.

When I was fifteen, I realized I did this myself. I was friends with the harmonica player of the bar band and he was complaining how the young generation overused the word “awesome”.

“The party was so awesome. My gosh this is such an awesome drink. It kind of depresses me. I’ll teach you what is awesome. The Grand Canyon is awesome…. A sunrise is awesome. It had so much more power and now you use it to fill silence. I try to only use it when I mean it.”

I suppose that was his own little way to contribute to the preservation of the English language.

I did not instantly start choosing my words carefully. Slang is slang and it becomes such a habit. Changing from such comfortable usage to carefully choosing your words can be challenging for most.

It shows how you think and what kind of person you are. They say speech is where the body and soul meet. Which is why you must always be careful with what you say because it effects every aspect of your life. Your words become thoughts- your thoughts shape your reality.

So! As of soon, I would like to remove “phoney” words from my vocabulary if I do not mean them.

My list would probably look like:

  • Awesome
  • Great
  • Busy
  • Fun
  • Exciting
  • Amazing
  • Good
  • Epic
  • Cool
  • Neat
  • Crazy
  • Okay
  • Whatever
  • Forever

What are your phoney words?