Are you living your story?

This is the last post for Reverb10. I’ll answer the prompts #29 (Defining Moment), #30 (Gift) and #31 (Core Story) and share some of insights I got from reflecting on 2011.

Prompt 29: Defining Moment

Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

(Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)

{Future tool: The 99%’s How to Budget for an Irregular Income. For the next 3 days as you round out your year, we’ll share one tool each day to help you plan your year ahead.}

If I am to pick one defining moment that affected my life this year, it has to be the moment I saw a tweet about a fund raising event at Ben’s Cafe in early January. I don’t remember what that moment was like, exactly. What happened was that I saw this tweet, clicked the link in it, and got to Ben’s Cafe’s website. My purpose was to learn more about that fund raising event, but in addition to that information I was originally looking for, I came to know that there was a group to read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way together.

I’ve mentioned this story a few times in this blog. So, let me add something to it in this round.

The reason why I clicked that link to Ben’s Cafe was simply because I was curious about this cafe as well as the fund raising event. I was interested in the event, but more in the cafe that hosted such an event, because I didn’t imagine there would be such a cafe in Tokyo. (I’m sure there are other cafes like Ben’s in Tokyo, but it’s pretty rare, I assume. As far as the vibe of the cafe and the quality of espresso are concerned, I rate Ben’s Cafe to my most favorite cafe in Tokyo.)

What made me click that link was my curiosity. What if I didn’t click it? It’s a pure coincidence I saw that tweet. I’m grateful for that. But, I could choose not to click that link and never learn about Ben’s Cafe. If I didn’t click that link, my year could have been totally different from what it was. I probably wouldn’t have met most of the new offline friends I met this year. I probably wouldn’t have done some of the projects I did this year. I probably wouldn’t have achieved what I achieved this year.

What made a huge difference to my 2010 was that one click. Whether it ends up becoming a false belief or not, it’s better, at least for me, to believe that there are a number of opportunities around here and there and it’s all up to us to notice them. It’s possible that you don’t know what you are looking for, but even in such cases, follow your curiosity and you’ll find yourself in something amazing.

I believe in my curiosity and having curiosity is one of the great ways to experience amazing things in your life.

Do you listen to your curiosity? Do you follow it? If not, why not?

Prompt 30: Gift

This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

(Author: Holly Root)

{Future tools: Lifehacker’s Free Tools to Manage New Years Resolutions and Gretchen Rubin’s Questions to Help You Make Effective New Year’s Resolutions.

Has #reverb10 made an impact on your writing, reflecting and life this month? Consider supporting the HQ team with a donation.}

On December 25th, I received a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) purple belt from my BJJ teacher. Since more than a year ago, I had been told by other people that I should be a purple belt, but since I had no one to grade me before coming back to Japan, I didn’t have a purple belt, and honestly, I didn’t worry too much about it.

All I wanted to do was to become a better grappler. To become stronger. To become more skilled. These belts themselves don’t mean anything, but how much you put yourself forward to the art of fighting does matter.

In fact, I believe this applies to other things in life as well. Don’t be worried too much about a new belt, because it will come when you’ve mastered skills necessary for holding that belt. If you have some time to be jealous about your friend who got that belt quicker than you did or some time to worry that you don’t have what it takes, use that time for training instead. Worrying will never make you get better, but training will.

I’m glad that I’m now recognized as I have reached this level, and I want to continue sharpening my skills. One of my big goals next year is to win my division at BJJ World Championship, to be held in California, in June. This goal gives me a great motivation for the first half of 2011.

What’s your big project in 2011?

Prompt 31: Core Story

What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

(Author: Molly O’Neill)

{Future tool: Susannah Conway’s Allowing Dreams} Today is the final day of #reverb10. Thank you for your reverberations this month. Keep an eye on your inbox at the end of January 2011 for something from HQ.}

So, this is it. This is the last prompt of Reverb10. And I’ll make my answer brief and tell you what my central story will be in 2011.

The central story at the core of myself is that I will live my life as my art and as something to celebrate. I will navigate myself in this adventure by my curiosity. I will head east from Japan to the USA for BJJ World Championship and for World Domination Summit in June, and I will head south from the USA to Argentina after WDS. If there are monsters I need to fight, I’ll think about ways to get away without fighting them so I can focus on important things in my life. It’s an open story and desiring to be written down in my history book.

How do I share this story with the world? I can think of 4 ways to do this. I share my story with the world by…

  1. Living that story: Now I have declared this story in some platforms and in person, I’m motivated even more. I will live this story and that will become part of me.
  2. Being not afraid of showing up: But if I’m afraid of sharing my story or don’t believe in myself, it’s possible that I don’t feel like sharing my story. I choose not to be afraid of showing up and telling this story.
  3. Actually showing up: It’s easy to promise something to yourself and to forget to do it. I’ll keep myself accountable about it on this blog. I didn’t mean to write the sentence before this one, but I happened to write it. So, I shall do it.
  4. Getting others involved in this story: For me, my life – my art involves other people, who contribute their stories, visions, sounds and other things to my art. I want you to get involved in my art as well. I want you to be part of my story as well. You can subscribe to this blog to keep track of my journey to Latin America. If you are interested, please join me!

I’m grateful for Team Reverb10 for running this online initiative. It’s been a great way to reflect on 2010 and to prepare for 2011.

Tomorrow, I will share 27 lessons I learnt in my life with you on this blog. Stay tuned!


If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below. You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: Zest-pk

On minimizing, maximizing, and body integration

This post answers the prompts 11 (11 Things) and 12 (Body Integration) of Reverb 10.

Prompt 11: 11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

(Author: Sam Davidson)

A while ago, I decided to count how many things I have according to the rules of the 100 thing challenge, and it turned out that I have 126 things. I’ve been mentioning this in my Reverb10 posts, but I’m keen on minimizing stuff and maximizing experiences. I will start eliminating some of the things from my posessions, and the list of the things I need to let go can easily include more than 11 things.

Perhaps minimizing stuff alone will help me focus on experiences more and I will definitely use this opportunity to work on these two things. By letting go of those things, I can create room for new experiences, and that’s what I want more of in 2011.

Prompt 12: Body Integration

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

(Author: Patrick Reynolds)

There are some memorable moments I experienced this year. In those moments, I felt alive and present. If I’m to talk about one moment when I felt the most integrated with my body, it must be this.

In September, I competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Asian Open Championship in Tokyo. I fought 5 matches, and the moments I experienced in my first match was when I felt the most integrated with my body.

That day, I had to be at the venue before 1pm. Since I had some time to drop by a morning open mat session at my gym, I decided to go there and to have a few light spars. The reason is simply because I’m a slow starter, and I knew the first match would be the toughest in the sense that I would feel more nervous than other matches. But with this morning session, I prepared myself well.

When it came to my first match, I was calm and looking forward to having fun with the match. I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to win the match. So, as soon as it started, I played my game. I pulled him into my favorite position and choked him quickly. In the end, it took me less than 30 seconds to finish my opponent.

It made me feel as if I wasn’t there at all. My mind and my body were focusing on one mission and integrated with one another. But I’m not sure if there was a cohesive me in those moments, because I feel as though there wasn’t any me at all. I was alive and fully present by being completely absent.

My mind and my body were focusing on one mission and integrated with one another. But I’m not sure if there was a cohesive me in those moments, because I feel as though there wasn’t any me at all. I was fully present by being completely absent.

Regarding the idea of “being yourself”, my favorite artist Taro Okamoto says that trying to be yourself is what keeps us stuck in the same shell, and we better aim to live as a human. This claim needs a lot of clarification for sure in order for it to make sense to many, but I believe it is intuitively comprehensible to those who think about the kind of states this prompt mentions. Perhaps my self-less state was such an instance of being a human, though it was more like being an animal in a good way.

Or perhaps just a being, whatever that means.

Is there any reason why you should define the new you by who you were in the past? I’ll leave this question open, but my intuitive answer is that there isn’t such a reason. (And of course, do we need to define who we are at all?)


What’s your thoughts on these prompts? Tell me, because I’m curious. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below. You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: Cameron Cassan

On being beautifully different, party, and wisdom

Today’s post answers prompts #8 (Beautifully Different), #9 (Party) and #10 (Wisdom) of Reverb10. I’ll talk about #9 and #10 first, and then #8 in the end.

Prompt #9: Party

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

(Author: Shauna Reid)

This prompt reminds me that life is like a carnival. There’s no reason why our daily lives can be a party. For living this way, you don’t need to get drunk or to do activities that you’d do at an event that is structured according to the norms regarding what we call ‘party’. It’s more about your attitude that matters. Having said that, I haven’t shown up in my daily lives with this party attitude that much this year. So, stay tuned for 2011.

Prompt #10: Wisdom

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

(Author: Susannah Conway)

The wisest decision I made was to show up at Ben’s Cafe in Tokyo for the very first meeting of the Artist’s Way Tokyo group this January. This first meeting led me to a 12 week of creativity Tetris as well as another season of it. I have been mentioning this book a lot in this blog, but that’s pretty much because it’s a great book if you actually do the exercises in it. The next group will run from January 2011. If you are based in/near Tokyo and curious about giving it a go, check out this Facebook page or contact  Soness the facilitator.

Prompt #8: Beautifully Different

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

(Author: Karen Walrond)

There is nothing that makes me different from others, because I, like you and everyone else, am different by definition, or so I believe. I’ve been thinking about it this way for a while. But, if you insist, perhaps the fact that you are there makes me different from you. Likewise, the fact that I am here makes you different from me. After all, you are not me and I am not you. If you were me, then I wouldn’t be different from you. If everyone else was me, in the very literal sense, I wouldn’t be different from them.

But then, we are all alike for this difference by definition that we all have respectively. I’m inclined to think that similarities are more important when it comes to making connections with people, by the way. The basic idea is that we make connections by finding similarities between us. Learning about differences is fun, but what we really get us closer is that similarities we find in such differences. I’m going to elaborate this idea more in another post.

What I do that makes people light up? Perhaps my Cheshire Cat smiles?

And if what makes me different is what makes me beautiful, then it is you that make me beautiful. But beautiful in what sense?

Let me throw away an analytical mind for a moment. I’ll be happily non-sensical here.

My non-analytical answer is this. My life is my art, and I can perhaps claim that I am the platform of my art, because… well, I carry my life with me, or my life carries me. How I create my art is by experiencing this life as much as I can. Amazing people like you, as well as amazing experiences, contribute to stories, sounds, visions and everything else that go into my art. If I am beautiful, then that means my art is beautiful. If my art is beautiful, then it’s due to this whole art and each element of it. They are beautiful in the sense that they make people curious, wonder, examine and reflect on their feelings in one way or another OK, I just made up that sense of beauty, but I like it. Are you still following me? In short, you make me different, and my being different from you makes you curious about who I am – well, maybe not everyone of you, but some of you, I hope. And that power of creating curiosity is what I’d consider as an ingredient of beauty. But whether we’d come close to each other is, in my view, depends on similarities we find in one another.

You are beautiful, by the way.


What’s your thoughts on these prompts? Tell me, because I’m curious. If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it with your friends by clicking the like button or the tweet button below. You can subscribe to this blog via RSS or e-mail, too. I’m looking forward to connecting with you!

Photo: milena mihaylova

Why be positive?

I had a mini-emergency this morning.

I got up early in the morning, to finish this translation project I was working on. I had completed a draft the day before and needed to polish it. I started working on it around 4 am. I had estimated that it would take about 2 hours to complete this task.

Around 4.30 am, I happened to lose this 70% completed document in the ocean of digital data. I was supposed to submit a complete translation by 9 am this morning. The original document was close to 2700 words in length. The amount of words I could translate in one hour considered, I went into a panic mode, because I thought that I had to translate everything again from scratch and that I wouldn’t be able to do it by 9 am.

At first, I tried to retrieve the lost file somehow, but when I realized it wouldn’t work, I decided to translate the whole thing again, because that was pretty much the only option available to me. Luckily, I could focus on translating it and managed to finish it by 10.30 am.

I was devastated at first, but it didn’t last long. I’m glad that the positive mental attitude has been part of who I am, because it helps me recover quickly from situations like this one. I could feel upset for a few hours, but I didn’t choose to do it. Instead, I chose to understand what was going on and chose to focus on what I could do.

Sometimes people ask me why I can stay positive. Partly, it’s because it became my habit. I don’t force myself to be positive or anything. I just choose to focus on what I want to do or what I need to do. If I focus on those things, being negative often becomes an option that I would never consider.

I believe choosing to become positive is a logical/strategic move, too. I could be negative about the situation, but I didn’t choose that option. In this case, the reason was simple: my being negative about the situation wouldn’t bring the lost data back to me, and it would have made me feel bad and hence made me unable to focus on translating. By choosing to stay positive, I could focus on what I had to do and managed to do it reasonably well. Of course, being positive wouldn’t bring the lost data back either, but it does make me feel great, which makes a difference in many situations.

So, in short, 1) whether you choose to be positive or negative towards the situation in question, your choice itself won’t change the situation, and 2) it’s reasonable to assume we tend to do better when we are in a better mood and choosing to be positive puts you in a better mood while choosing to be negative makes you in a bad mood. Positivity 1 – 0 Negativity.

(By the way, I’m not saying that you should ignore your negative feelings. Of course we do feel upset, sad, angry or whatever negative emotions that happen to come to us at a certain time. I believe it’s important to acknowledge those feelings and not to get stuck in them for too long.)

When I started working on this translation from scratch for the second time, I thought to myself that I was very lucky, because the original document was only about 2700 words in length, and not 27,000 words. Also, I got reminded of the importance of keeping backups. It’s possible that sometime soon I’ll get a 27,000 word document to translate and happen to lose that document when I’m about to finish it. But of course, I’ll have a backup ready, because I learnt to do so from this incident I experienced today. We can learn from everything after all.

Yes, shit happens. But remember, ‘shit’ stands for striking&highly inspirational turbulence. Once you go through that turbulence, you’ll learn a lot from that experience.

Do you choose to be positive or negative? Why?


If you enjoyed this post and know someone who might enjoy reading it, please spread the word. Thank you!

Photo: Scarleth White

Fundamental moves will take you further

When I was practicing tango with my dance partner last Saturday night, we noticed something. There was a part of this choreography that both my dance partner and I didn’t like. Our teachers had said nothing about this part being obviously strange or awkward, but to our eyes, there was something wrong about it.

This part involves us walking together. I stand right next to her and we walk. It takes only a few seconds… or 5 steps for this part. The problem was simple: We looked bored to death.

It wasn’t a new problem, but we finally decided to do something about it. We noticed the position of our arms didn’t look right. After we experimented for a while, we came to think it would be better if I stood on her left and behind her rather than standing next to her. That way, we could keep our arms in a better position. But, a new problem appeared. In that new position I had a difficulty moving my right leg forward, because her left leg would block it.

Then I remembered the most basic thing I learnt from my teacher: how to walk. When you walk properly in a tango way, you bring your foot forward and almost in front of the other foot. (If you are interested, watch this video.)  Before, I used to bring my right leg just forward and that was all. When I tried to walk in a proper way, I could take a step without getting blocked by my dance partner’s leg.

When I noticed this solution, I realized how important it is to work on this most fundamental move of all – walking. I only started learning tango since April, and there were a lot to learn. Compared to other moves, there’s nothing flashy about walking, at least when you look at it from a beginner’s perspective. I had forgotten about this most fundamental move. But luckily, I remembered about it.

Actually, I bet that fundamental moves like walking make a difference between the good and the excellent when you look at the whole thing from an expert’s perspective. I think this way, because I can apply my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu experiences to this situation as well. I know from my experiences that the fundamental moves are more important than flashy techniques, and I know that many people neglect those fundamental moves, while getting distracted by fancy moves.

I have a few questions for you. What’s the most fundamental thing in what you are passionate about? Have you been paying attention to it? Or have you been distracted by some other things that look somewhat better than this most fundamental thing? If you’ve been distracted, perhaps it’s a good time to focus on the basic things.

Photo: notsogoodphotography

No more underestimation please!

In the last 26 years, I quit drawing, writing stories, playing the bass guitar and making music. There are more, I believe. Do I regret that I quit them? In a way, I do. But not so much, because I can always pick them up again. It’s not too late for me. The point I want to make here is that I didn’t believe I was good at any of them.

My friends are talented. In fact, I’m happy to believe, whether it’s a delusion or not, that everyone I know or you know is good at something. Some of them are making it, and I’m proud of them. Some of them are not quite making it, and I’m still proud of them. But, I hope they’ll realize that those who are not quite making it are good at what they love. They just haven’t realized their potential… yet.

What about me? From someone else’s point of view, I might look talented. I might look good at something. But it’s possible that I don’t believe that I am good at it… as I didn’t regarding the things I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

It’s a message to you as well as to myself – you are probably underestimating yourself. If you truly see your potential, you’ll be surprised.

No more underestimation please!

Photo: oedipusphinx ― ― ― ― theJWDban