One last goodbye

I just had a lovely moment. Our eyes met. I blushed and looked down. This happened many times while he was talking to his friends sitting across from him on the train. I wondered at that time what kind of connection they might possibly have.

We were going in the same direction on the train. Would he get off at the same station? Who was this person? Half-asleep, my brain was a tangle of questions and possible answers.

The train slowly pulled up to the platform, and the station’s name was announced. He picked up his bags and the doors opened. I saw him wave to me as he exited the train. With a smile he mouthed a good-bye. From the windows I saw him stretch his hand out for one last wave. I copied his gesture and with a tired grin I also said good-bye.

This is one of the reasons I like to stay awake on the train even after a tiring day of work. Someone can touch your heart when you least expect it.

In that moment no one wanted to use me to practice their English. There were no words or exchange of conversation, but the intense feeling of curiosity and the happiness in the stolen glances.

I felt in love in that moment. I fell in love with that moment.


In this moment

photo-174Your face will smile, your tongue will dance.

That was what was written on the sign of Papa Jon’s, the cheese cake shop in Kyoto we went to yesterday. The combination of the food and the lovely company did make my face light up, giving me the energy that I needed at the time. I have been working at USJ and it is not exactly the most relaxing position. With the smiling all day, arranging, and the tight-knit Japanese environment, it was not easy in the beginning. I have not been there long, but little by little I am starting to become more comfortable and more confidant in my knowledge with the park. I am excited about getting better and becoming even more familiar.

I also have been reading a lot of blogs and books that are keeping things into perspective. It is easy to think that your life is tiring, and when I am in a normal state of mind I laugh at how moody I can become. I realize how ridiculous it is to pout.

Life is so beautiful. What are some beautiful things that I jotted down this past month? The kids that I teach after school waved from their cars and screamed to me, “Johnna sensei, bye-bye!” My singing teacher, the absolute angel helping me pass a test that would be impossible to do with my own resources. Friends that you can jump on, laugh with… enjoy with. These are the people you don’t feel pressure to impress, and it is so relaxing. Thinking about all of these things made me so happy today. I don’t want to loose this feeling. For those times when I fall I want to remember this beautiful day. I want to remember that in this moment I have everything.

My Little Eyes: The Anatomy of a Teardrop

I started this series without thinking how much I would need it during my time in Singapore and Bali this past New Years. I felt very alone and creating these sad looking images helped me deal with those emotions. There are a total of six images in the series. I don’t know if more will be added later. Looking back on the pictures, the feelings that I had during that time come back to me in one big swoop and I revisit that lonely place in my head. It is all a memory and life has brought me new challenges to face. Little by little I feel myself becoming stronger. I hope the words that came to me and the art that I drew can help you become stronger as well.


The Anatomy of a Teardrop


Tears speak volumes. They speak of happiness, sorrow, and hate to name a few. Each of us cry for his or her own reasons, but rather than just explain them as salt water coming from your tear ducts, it would be pleasant to think that each one has its now personality and its own story to be told, waiting for you to come and ask to tell it. You won’t find the explanation under a microscope, just as you won’t be able to see how much their heart is hurting even if its right in front of you. However, just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Search for it, and find those stories. The beauty of it all is when someone else’s tears become yours as well.

Closing the day


I learned the importance of a ten yen today. Every little bit counts. Yesterday I forgot to ask my sister for some extra change, and I found myself standing infront of the ticket machine face-palming myself. I was the only teacher for today’s activity, it would have been really unfortunate had I not had that extra bit of money to get on the train.

Every month the school puts one of the teachers I charge to teach an activity. The theme for each month changes, and this month is all about food.
Though I have been at my present job for a little over three years now, my nerves never fail to take over me and I dread the activity day.
I am happy to report that it all went well as I knew deep down it would. I don’t know why I keep reverting back to worry even though I am familiar with it enough to have confidence. I wonder if I will wake up someday and be fine with it all.

With a book that I recently got in the mail from a friend in my bag, and my hair up and out of my eyes, I am happy. I am happy to look around and breathe in the crisp air. I am closing my day with people watching at the station and dinner with a friend.

The Starving Tourist

There is a cafe’ in Kyoto where they sell delicious cheesecakes and have great people buying them. Once a month at this cafe’, all get together for an event called The Flame. If you have heard of The Moth from New York, it is a smaller version of that. I was asked to tell a story with the theme of the month being, “Kindness, Wisdom, and Food for Thought”. I told a recent anecdote from New Years 2014 about my little adventure in Bali.

Have a read:

Hi everybody. How are you all tonight? For those who don’t know me, my name is Johnna. I told a story a couple of months back and ever since then I have been wanting to tell another. The Flame had themes like Horror Month, and I could not think of a story. We had the Boss Month, and again there was nothing really there. We had the love theme… And I thought of a few short stories *sarcastic hair flip*.

This time when I got the email, I thought that I must have a story related to this theme. Kindness, wisdom, and food for thought. When I emailed Charles and asked if I could tell a story, I actually didnt have a story in mind yet at that time. I figured that I would think of one later because there were too many times people have shown me kindness. There was so much beautiful wisdom that I have received from people over 22 years. And there has been a lot of food and a lot of thought. So I looked for a way I could combine all three. I believe I found one:

This is a fairly recent story from New Years 2014. I decided to make a trip to Singapore and visit a friend for one week and be by myself the second and travel solo. Things were going as I had imagined it would until I made a friend from Pakistan at the hostel and we became good friends. On the third day I knew him, he invited me to go to with him and his friends on a trip to Bali. It sounded like fun so I said Okay! But my father was not to happy when I told him about my new course.  “You have no money.. You don’t know who these people are. Common, we just want you back home.” I explained to him the situation behind it, as I will to those later tonight who are currently questioning my sense of judgment. My father saw my side and I was on my way to Bali.

Now, what I didn’t know was that the group consisted of not one, not two, not three, but FIVE dudes, with myself being the only girl. I spent a week or so in paradise, and it was great! Villa hopping, trying new foods, scuba diving – I had the best week of my life —— until my new friends left to go back home. I was to be on my own for three days because my flight had been scheduled later. Sure enough, my dad’s prophesy of my money running out came to pass and I was in trouble. On top of that, I didn’t eat much during the time I was there because I couldn’t stomach the food. I was eating next to nothing up to that point and I was really eating nothing after they left.

After a couple of days of rotting in my hotel room, I emerged and walked out into the sun. I took five steps and my delirious self decided to sit down….. in an alleyway ……with five Balinese men. They were locals sitting there and were selling things and asking tourists and Australians if they want a taxi ride. I seemed like the easiest target in the world, and when they came to me I just apologized and said that I had no money. Which is what everyone says so they are used to it. No, no. You white girl you rich. Out of that whole group there was one who could speak English and make conversation, but he too was skeptical about my financial state and chimed in with his friends. Oh, they tourists all have money. We don’t believe you. I kept saying that I didn’t.

I have no money! I haven’t eaten in three days.

After a while I see the expression in his face change, and he tells his buddies Guys I think she’s actually telling the truth.

This Balinese man who has next to nothing asked if he could buy me food. Without thinking I say yes and find myself on the back if his motorcycle, going somewhere. He took me to a local restaurant and I ate and ate.

That was the kindness part of my story.

He became my tour guide for the day and showed me some beautiful places. I went on the motorcycle highway and to Nusa Dua and saw the skyscraper high waves, but the greatest part was the conversation we were having. He shared about his life and how it was his dream to have his own garden and live by this mountain in Bali. I shared about mine, and I asked him his advice on many topics. Even though we had completely different backgrounds, he gave me very good insight. He told me things that a rich tourist from Japan wouldn’t think about.

That’s the wisdom part.

I got back to the hotel alright, and I got back to Japan alive *happy dance*.  Coming back home, I got bombarded with things like Johnna don’t ever do that again…You reallllly should get a credit card… How could you just trust everybody so easily? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you the answer to that one because I don’t know why myself. But what I do know is that when I was in line for luggage check to Singapore in the beginning of my trip, I was scared and nervous about the whole thing, but mostly scared. That was when a thought came to me and I told myself that I would let whatever experiences come and not be afraid of it. Good things seemed to happen naturally after that. After coming back to Japan I got to wondering, What experiences have I given up because I was too afraid? What have I said no to because I was too scared to trust others or myself?

That’s the food for thought bit.

I hope to be as brave and as lucky as I was in Bali for the rest of my life. It has been working out so far.

Thank you.

Happy for a good reason

Today nothing happened. I went to work and I came back home. There is nothing much to say about today.

I woke up, dug in the garden, and went to work. I have an easy job, so I can not complain— except that I am slightly embarrassed about boss scolding me this afternoon. I ate my lunch around 4 PM and clocked out on the dot. Nothing special happened. I don’t think I changed anyones lives, and I will probably not remember this day to tell my grandchildren (Not that they would be particularly excited about the details of a sandwich I ate). But when I came back home, I was happy.

Not because I accomplished anything spectacular. Not because I finished work. Not because the sandwich I had at lunch was pretty darn good — But because I was so happy that I was alive.

It is a simple appreciation, but it is the most important one.

Generosity on the platform

When I was waiting for the train, I noticed a man from my neighborhood also on the platform. We made small talk and he offered to buy me a drink from the vending machine. It was such a kind gesture for the hot day. As I said “Thank You” and got on my train, I told myself that that is the kind of older person that I would like to be. Sharing what you have, and buying food and drinks just to make the other person’s day.

I sit down and he waved to me from the platform. As the train pulled out of the station, a man that I didn’t know handed me a little teddy bear and got off at the next stop. I don’t know if generosity is actually contagious, but it defiantly made me a little more giving.