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One rarely misses a Japanese community annual summer picnic. The 1937 picnic is at Redondo Beach on Puget Sound. K Tsukamaki brags about his preliminary trip earlier to Eastern Oregon, “Wait until you cross the Cascade Mountains. You won’t believe it. You can stand on one side of some of the farms and you can hardly see the other side! What we have here in Western Washington and the small plots we had in Japan are nothing!”

The main conversation is that five families - K Tsukamaki, S Tsukamaki, Goto, Nakano, Maruoka - will all make the move together to relocate from Washington to Eastern Oregon. K Tsukamaki’s brother agrees, “We need to travel together because English is difficult and we don’t know how Japanese will be treated when we have car trouble or other problems.”

The menfolk talk about how to get ahead and had made plans all year as they helped each other with the lettuce farming in the Kent Valley. This is a chance for the womenfolk to say goodbye to each other. Japanese families, especially farmers, are used to moving almost yearly to find better situations, so the parting word is, “Gambatte!!” (persevere, overcome whatever obstacles you encounter, take care of yourselves).

A couple months pass. Sago comes home to the farm where they had raised lettuce this past year, next to the south end of Lake Washington in Renton, saying, “The Fall colors are already starting and particularly brilliant this year. I guess it’s because we had an extra hot summer.” 

Sago tells his new wife Mary, “Mrs. Goto and Mrs Nakano with their seven kids will take the train and make the trip in December, after Mr. Goto and Mr. Nakano find places to live. Mr. Nakano will drive that 1937 blue Chevy truck they bought together last year. All together, we have four trucks and Uncle S’s car… It already snowed a little on Snoqualmie Pass yesterday. Good thing we’re leaving tomorrow.” 

Mary questions with a puzzled look, “I’m surprised the Goto family and the Nakano family are so close!

Sago explains, “Maybe it’s because each family lost children in tragic accidents. It was a few years back while you were still going to school in Japan. The Goto two-year-old pulled a pan of hot water off the stove and died. The Nakano kid got run over by a tractor. That’s life. I guess that’s part of the reason they have so many kids?…”

“The Maruokas are coming with us,” Sago exclaims, as he finishes loading their International flatbed truck with the possessions of two families for the next day’s trip.

Mary worries, “How?! Their baby was born just 3 weeks ago premature and only weighed a couple pounds. I heard the midwife’s son made an incubator out of a shoebox with an electric light bulb. I don’t see how they can keep the baby warm on the trip? …Make sure the washing machine is tied down good. I told Mrs. Nakanishi, that present she gave us is the most important wedding present we got and I will take good care of it.”

Sago reassures Mary, “Well, Mr. Maruoka will drive their truck with his two boys. This way the baby and mother can ride in Uncle S’s car with little Mary and Aunt Asako. Mr. Goto agrees to drive the Tsukamaki’s truck with the Tsukamaki boys. The plan is to get to Pasco and stay over night at the Yamauchi place. I understand he runs a grocery/restaurant and has an extra room where we can stay and sleep.” 

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They've been serving the co... They've been serving the community since 1960.
Yesterday, Sam and I drove from Mercer Island to Wiseman’s Appliance on Admiral & California in West Seattle to buy a new washer/dryer because the store is an old fashioned owner/operated business that has served the community for decades. We’ve acquired several appliances from them through the last twenty years after some of the small appliance businesses in Bellevue closed.

As Mark was explaining our different options, it was impressive how much he knew about the products. So I asked, “How long have you been working here?”

Mark answered, “Only a couple years, but Dan recruited me from Sears where I had worked for about ten years. Actually, my dad had an appliance store as I was growing up in Tacoma. Dad and Dan’s dad, Cal, knew each other fifty years ago.”

We picked out a washer that was a couple grades higher than the cheapest model and a dryer that matched. Sam made sure the dryer door opened to the left and the dryer outlet duct would work with the hole from our utility room to the outside of our house.

Then, as we were making our final decisions an elderly, white haired gentleman walked into the store to pick up an appliance part he had ordered. Mark said to us, “Do you know who that was? That was King County Executive, Dow Constantine’s father.”

Sam and I both grew up in a small towns and we left with the warm feeling, “Life is about a beneficial exchange of services among friends.”

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What Can't I Live Without?

What Can't I Live Without?
My parents packed two suitcases and left everything in their West Seattle house in 1987, flying to Los Angeles. Dad had a stroke and my sister agreed to have Mom & Dad come and live with them. Watching them leave everything was a totally freeing experience - "I can be fine even if our house burned down with all my stuff."

Giving talks in schools about those of us with Japanese heritage, incarcerated at the beginning of WWII with Japan, I ask, “What would you choose if you can only take what you can carry?”


At age 78 and this 2017 year, a lot of my life is on my computer and on flash drives. Of course, I would take the hand written book Sam gave me for our 25th wedding anniversary. I would fill a suitcase with clothes. But, these are all material things I can live without.

Fun things give us short term and material pleasure, including many ‘drugs’ that are prescribed and available - these stimulate Dopamine, producing excitement and addiction.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT FOR LONG TERM HAPPINESS?? The Seratonin effect - avoid sugars (especially artificial sweeteners); provide body good complete proteins. Lack of Serotonin creates depression, sleeping problems, etc..

Dr. Lustig suggests his 4 Cs:
CONNECTING - with family/friend activities.
CONTRIBUTING - help others.
COPING - read his book HACKING OF THE AMERICAN MIND, learn, grow spiritually.
COOKING - as raw and natural as possible and avoid sugars. Supplementing is necessary because we can’t get what our body needs from today’s sources for food. -dg

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Secret To Long Life And Healthy Weight

Although Okinawa is one of the poorer regions of Japan, it boasts the highest average life expectancy - living to be 100 or more. One of the reasons is a Japanese philosophy "Hara Hachi Bu" - Belly 80% full.

Okinawas don’t just live to a ripe old age, they also age gracefully, look much younger than they should and they retain their physical and mental capacities. Their rate of heart disease and cancer mortality is much lower than it is in the US and other Western countries.

The origin of this term is from Confucius, and attributed to the Okinawans, but I have heard my Japanese friends repeat this phrase as a term known and used in their daily Japanese life.

A Harvard health blog suggests we eat more slowly because it takes 20 minutes for the stomach to send a signal that it is full/satisfied.

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What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning?

IKIGAI is seen ... IKIGAI is seen as the source of value or what make one’s life truly worthwhile in Okinawa, Japan.
When asked, "What is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality?" integrative medical doctor, Oscar Serrallach, answered without hesitation: "having a sense of purpose." Serrallach went on to describe that while some of his patients have developed great regimes of nutrition, lifestyle activities and movement to support their wellbeing; those without a clear sense of purpose in their life experience continuing struggle with physical health issues. The distinguishing quality of many of his healthiest patients – those who  transcend common health challenges despite not having lived by the book, in terms of healthy lifestyle factors – is that they seem to be the most aligned or ‘called’ towards some primary focus of meaning in their life.

Take a moment to draw your own version of the overlapping circles of the ikigai symbol and consider the following:

What do you Love? What aspects of your life bring you into your heart and make you come alive? - For me it's meeting and having lunch or coffee with someone from whom I can learn something.

What are you Great at? What unique skills do you have that come most naturally to you? What talents have you cultivated and what do you excel at even when you aren’t trying? - I have worked at starting new projects and staying with them until they are well established. My mission is: TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN MYSELF AND OTHERS.

What Cause do you believe in? What breaks your heart or pulls at your gut? What change would you most love to create in the world? What would you give your life for? - When I completed my master's at the U of W School of Nursing, it occurred to me that people in our own back yards need as much help as the homeless and drug addicted. I have dedicated my life to helping people of all ages learn and keep strong heritage values to take responsibility for their own well-being so we don't have to depend on government welfare and such.

What do people Value and pay you for? What service, value or offering do you bring, or could you bring, that brings real value to others? Something people need and are happy to pay for or share some value in exchange? - Sam and I have created a 40-yr-old business of sharing supplements and personal growth, GOTO-HEALTH, that offers us scientifically researched ways to bring out energy to do the things we love.

Take a few minutes to write whatever key words, phrases and ideas come up for you in each circle, then look for areas of natural overlap. Reflect on the sum total of these elements and how they may relate to each other. Bring yourself quietly to the centre of the circles and leave space in your mind for whatever impulse or calling may emerge naturally in the coming days… What is one simple thing you could do or be today that would be an expression of your ikigai?

Physically, what gets me up is that I have to go to the bathroom!!!!

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The referees were against us. The referees were against us.
Listened to Friday night's Washington State vs California football game and listened Saturday night to Washington Huskies vs Arizona game. We couldn't help but say, "The officials are prejudice." "It's really hard to play away from home."

Why can't we just acknowledge that California and Arizona played a better game?

This helps me understand "Black Lives Matter" issues. Without deeper analytic thinking and not emotionally reacting to the news, it's a natural tendency to blame outcomes on prejudice and rules instead of challenges to be and do better.

Discrimination is a given. It's our privilege to use more of our resources and practice our skills so we are more likely to come out with outcomes we like. Also, it's all right to lose.

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There is a traffic merging advertisement on the back of an Olympia Beer truck on I-5 that has changed my thinking about merging where we lose a lane or have to get over to make an exit.

I’ve always looked at drivers who wait to the last to merge with disdain and often participate in blocking their access. I have learned that traffic flows better when one drives to the end of the possible merge and “zip merge” smoothly. It may even be a law that we let in cars that are trying to merge. The result is less backup traffic and emotional stress.

I have changed my thinking.

This brings me to the subject of “unzipping”. There are a host of life situations where greed, anger and stupidity keep us backed up in the traffic of life.

It’s fun to learn new ways of thinking!

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"This was a busy week. Was it just last Sunday, the Las Vegas shooting?" Lori said.

At our Japanese Cultural & Community Center board meeting, we were asking Lori Matsukawa, King5 TV anchor, "How do you manage your work, all the volunteering you do and the constant asking for pictures with you when you are out?"

"She's good at compartmentalizing," was the conclusion.

I came home and did some more research on the subject of "compartmentalizing", thinking it is something we should all learn to be successful. I find this is also how people like the Las Vegas shooter can do such an evil thing.

Here's a definition I looked up: "It involves consciously or subconsciously suppressing or "compartmentalizing" or "sectioning off" upsetting thoughts and emotions in order to justify engaging in certain (sometimes questionable) behaviors."

Wow! I still think this is also a good way to handle all that life brings and lead a successful life.

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We heard Pediatrician, Dr. Robert Lustig, on radio. He has a great video at about the seven differences between PLEASURE and HAPPINESS. His list for attaining long term happiness rather than just short term pleasure suggests: CONNECTION, CONTRIBUTION, COPING, COOKING.

According to Lustig in his book, FAT CHANCE: BEATING THE ODDS AGAINST SUGAR, PROCESSED FOODS, OBESITY AND DISEASE, "Sugar is now the most ubiquitous foodstuff worldwide, and has been added to virtually every processed food, limiting consumer choice and the ability to avoid it. Approximately 80 percent of the 6,000,000 consumer packaged foods in the United States have added caloric sweeteners."


Lustig goes on to explain, "Sugar’s not dangerous because of its calories, or because it makes you fat. Sugar is dangerous because it’s sugar. It’s not nutrition. When consumed in excess, it’s a toxin. And it’s addictive!". Short-term PLEASURE is also addictive.

Lustig's latest book - THE HACKING OF THE AMERICAN MIND suggests, "There is nothing that will improve your health, your well-being, your achievement, your sense of accomplishment, your sense of community, and the health and happiness of your family as much as cooking yourself and enjoying a meal with others."

People like Dr. Lustig further confirms Goto-Health's commitment to good nutrition in the form of good choices, good cooking ourselves and good supplementation. Supplementation because the statistics also show there is no way we can get the nutrients we need from fast foods and grocery store choices. I intend to get one of Lustig's books.


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Yesterday, I attended an all-day seminar at the Seattle Buddhist Church. Although I don't consider myself Buddhist, I look to various religions to answer many of the issues brought to my attention in my counseling life.

Some of the basic Buddhist principles are powerful thoughts and practices for all of us. Rev. Irene Goto ended the day with a reminder that the goal of life in their religion is “Enlightenment”. The main poisons on the path to Enlightenment or awakening are: "GREED, ANGER & STUPIDITY”. These are the states that most clearly lead to suffering.

Internet research and writers like Rev. Seigen Yamaoka suggest the first step is to develop self-awareness of these poisons and suffering in our own lives, but not get caught up in self punishment.

Starting from a place of acceptance, there is an Eightfold Path of the Four Noble Truths. Does it take a whole life-time to understand??? Maybe.

I was raised Christian and enjoy the parallels my Japanese heritage values bring. Therapy is life!!! LIFE IS THERAPY!

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