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KINTSUGI Japanese Garden at t... KINTSUGI Japanese Garden at the JCCCW in Seattle
Literally means: "mended or put together with gold".

Tara Lemmey filmed and edited Sam’s Memorial. As I watch the video there are some tears; but mostly I am thankful for the memories, by so many friends and relatives, of the eighty-five years of a well lived life!!!

Andrew Baklinski says, "Sam and Dee gave us a special plate for our wedding which got broken. I was also broken with Chronic Fatigue. I give credit to them for being the gold in my life with their Shaklee and counseling."

His inspirational comments come from the explanation of a KINTSUGI PLATE on our living room shelf. Sam bought it from Sam Takahashi at the Mariko Tada Japanese antique shop that was once located in Seattle’s Medical-Dental Building on Olive Way. Sam Takahashi had explained, "Valuable broken plates, repaired with gold by a kintsugi artist, takes on even greater value."

The Japanese Culture and Community Center of Washington in Seattle named their Japanese Garden KINTSUGI. The bronze filled fissure, in the concrete gathering area, represents the mending of lives, especially of those of us with Japanese Heritage, after years of discrimination and incarceration.

Sam drew a comic strip last year of a Kintsugi artist in the habit of preparing his brush by wetting the hair bristles with his lips. The artist as drawn by Sam, in the comics, is suddenly aware that the lacquer and gold dusting through the years did a number to his mouth. Therefore, putting a twist on the value of Kintsugi.

Sam also worked with gold. He left a legacy of 'gold rings', which daily fill in the cracks of loneliness. I'm almost daily asked where I got the rings on my fingers as I pay for things in this my new life.

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Dawn to dusk NEW BEGINNINGS Dawn to dusk
"Start by doing
what is necessary,
then do what's possible
and suddenly you are doing
the IMPOSSIBLE." -Francis of Assisi

Clouds of death ended the last year 2017. Yesterday, June 1st, I attended our grandson Zachary's 8th grade graduation. Basic education is the necessary. Zachary not only completed the necessary but was one of the recipients of a scholarship for the next phase of his life at Notre Dam High.


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Upon awakening the other day, I discovered our nine-year-old Granddaughter had decided it’s her responsibility to put out vitamins every day. She also took it upon herself to clean up and lock the patio door after we had dinner, appreciating Seattle’s sunny May evenings, out on our deck. This was all on her own without any prompting.

The ‘RESPONSIBILITY’ factors being addressed as I work with our grandchildren are what I first call “basic needs”. Maslow, the famous psychologist, in his hierarchy of needs diagram says, “The basic needs are physiological ‘having needs’ - food/water/warmth/rest. That includes clothing, shelter and safety needs.

During most of one’s childhood, RESPONSIBILITY is in the hands of outside parents and teachers. Maturity and becoming adult means the child becomes their own teacher/parent taking care of the child inside of each of us.

Some of us think we can operate at the top and live in constant ecstasy. There are those who obsesses on one level - even when it's helping others.

With practice and responsibility, maturity and adult activity is gradually acquired as one reaches higher and higher, completing each of the levels in Maslow’s diagram on a daily basis.

Fulfillment in life is to daily reach all the levels.

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Finding Talents and Life Skills Finding Talents and Life Skills
Coming home on an Alaska Flight from Kona, HI, to Seattle, WA, I got settled in row 22 and we took off. About three rows back of me, a toddler about 3-years-old started to cry loudly. That seemed logical for toddler ears to be affected and it was easy to put up with it for a few minutes but it didn’t stop.

All the passengers around me and I started frowning and looked at each other, as the crying carried on. Well, it did stop briefly, but the tone was fitful and started up again. Exceeding our normal tolerance, my seat mate commented, “What kind of parents would let this go on for so long?”

The crying kept going for at least 20 minutes. Finally, when it stopped I responded, “That’s a little permissiveness on the part of the parents all right. Our kids would never be allowed to go on like that. But I do counseling and here’s something I’ve observed. That little kid is going to be one ‘H’ of a corporate executive or something like that some day.”

I’m always looking to bring out the best in individuals. Dee’s Personal Mission in calligraphy, hangs on our kitchen wall, “To bring out the best in myself, my partner and others”.

One of the tools I’ve created for bringing out one’s best was developed from world famous music educator, Dr. Suzuki’s method, he calls: Talent Education. He emphasized the Triangle of Learning - Teacher/Parent/Child working together and equally involved.

‘Outside’ or in person Mentor/Teacher and Parent is where one starts in learning. The goal is to gradually develop an ‘Inside’ Mentor/Teacher and Parent that takes care of one’s own ‘inside’ Child. That’s what I call maturity and becoming adult.

In his book OUTLIERS Malcolm Gladwell explains his rule of, 10,000 hours of practice to be successful people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Dr. Suzuki suggested a child could put in 10 years of practice, starting at age three before they got busy with high school and career planning.

In counseling, I first practice the habit of listening to “naughty” behavior and personality issues to see why, where and how people express their energy. Then, I suggest, “You are using the ‘Flip Side’ of your talents or skills.” Choosing the positive side often takes practice.

The term “Flip Side” was coined by Niki of our Go To B-Healthy team.

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Eating people for lunch :-)

On the 10th, I posted: Having World Famous Dr. Suzuki for Lunch. It was something I had written to follow up on what I wrote about tone and my friend Michi. I asked Kirin to draw an illustration to go with the story.

Since the granddaughters are staying with me this week, I posted another one of Kirin's stories. She was excited and also did a drawing.

Then on Saturday, a couple days after I posted on Thursday, I decided to read Kirin's piece and did some editing. Then I realized her story was about eating people!! I also noticed that her story came first as you read my posts.

"I have to change the title of Dr. Suzuki's lunch story!!!!!" and I did.

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The Sad Tale of Oreus and the Horeodites

Written and drawn by Kirin Written and drawn by Kirin
After the defeat of Darkness, Norea decided she wanted new children, good ones. So she created an orb, using the light of Webs and the soul of Darkness. Once the she blew on the orb, it glowed and came to life. Millions of tiny spirits she called the Sprits flowed out of the orb like a glowing wave. At last, Norea had good children. Or so she thought...
The Sprits began going into bodies and twisting them into monsters. Four maidens, Vera, Hora, Alla, and Carra, were spending a nice day in the grasslands when tiny blue light rushed towards them too fast to notice. Four of the Sprits went into each of the maidens and rushed back out. They had done it.
But the maidens felt sick and nauseous and began twisting and turning into horrifying beasts. Suddenly, they were hungry for humans and transformed back into maidens, but this time with the power to transform into monsters and kill with one scrape of their claws.
Instead of having to hunt, food came toward them. A young man, Oreus, came strolling towards them, blowing funny pipes. The Horeodites, as they called themselves now, were smart enough not to change into monsters yet, considering the distance between them was far enough that Oreus could run if needed. So one of the Horeodites, Carra, went up to him and Oreus immediately fell in love with her. They married happily, but as soon as Carra gave birth to a child, she smiled and looked up at him. Carra turned into a monster and before Oreus could scream, he was killed and eaten for dinner by the Horeodites.
As for the offspring and why Carra was waiting to give birth to him, he was called Schacco, a shapeshifter who could shapeshift into anyone or anything. But that is a story for another day.

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Preparing Lunch for World Famous Dr. Suzuki

Drawn by granddaughter Drawn by granddaughter
"Every Child Can Be Educated"

It was almost noon and the last minute tempura ingredients still weren’t ready, especially the shrimp. I had invited world famous Suzuki Method Talent Education originator from Japan, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, to lunch with three of the local music teachers. Sam stayed home from work to help. Our five-month old baby was fussing. Three-year-old, Lynette, was trying to be helpful. That was April 1968. We also had some snow that day.

Dr. Suzuki was visiting a few cities where Suzuki Method was being implemented here in America. Being treated mostly with Yankee food, I naively thought I would fix him a Japanese treat. Those days, we were young, poor and didn’t think about taking guests out to a restaurant. I was twenty-nine years old.

Dr. Suzuki was gracious, but singularly focused on his mission: Every child can be educated. As he came in the door his first words in Japanese were, “Let me hear your daughter play ‘Twinkle’.

Lynette opened the case, brought out her one-eighth sized violin, “taka, taka, tak, tak.” doing her best. This was followed by ebullient words of admiration.

The previous year, on one of our walks around our block, I heard music coming out of THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE across the street from Holy Names Academy – girl’s high school on Seattle’s Capitol Hill where we lived. Sister Annella noticed three-year-old Lynette and enticed me into considering violin lessons. She explained, “A teacher is coming next month from Matsumoto, Japan, to help me with this Suzuki Method Violin and Cello program. Three-years-old is the perfect time to start.”

I was able to understand and interpret some of the first training sessions when Miss Yamaguchi, one of Dr. Suzuki’s first trained teachers, arrived from Matsumoto, Japan, in May of 1967. Subsequently, I helped organize a non-profit Suzuki Music School.

One of the main reasons Dr. Suzuki’s method for violin, cello and flute is phenomenally successful with thousands of preschool age youngsters around the world is that parents and teachers never tire of praising a three-year-olds of any small accomplishment and the parent has to be strongly involved. Suzuki emphasized and nurtured the Parent/Child/Teacher - triangle of learning.

Through the next ten years of violin and piano lessons, it was clear to Sam and me that our girls gained the skills of performing in front of an audience, gained confidence with a skill in learning, but were not destined to be more than casual performers of music. Most of the advanced successes, of which there were many, needed clarity of a musical vision and dedication of parents. The joke among parents and teachers of the Suzuki Method was that Dr. Suzuki didn’t have children of his own to deal with day-to-day challenges.

Fifty years later, I consider the Suzuki educational principles of learning, growing in confidence and building of personal fulfillment in my life are secrets I can share. The Parent/Child/Teacher triangle of learning is the basis of the counseling profession I have pursued with my masters in psychosocial nursing.

Before he died in 1998 at age almost one hundred, Sam and I had another opportunity to entertain Dr. Suzuki, but by that time we were smart enough to take him to Seattle’s Space Needle.

Now, Sam has also passed, but I have decided to fill my empty house with lunches with my friends.

The irony is that today in 2018, we have gone full circle. A deserving guest might find it rewarding to be treated to lunch in our home again where we can leisurely spend a couple hours and not fight the noise and customer turn over needs of the restaurants.

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Michi Hirata North Made her ... Michi Hirata North
Made her debut at age eight with NHK Orchestra in Tokyo. Japan
Creating Successful Careers Outside and Inside Their Homes

Every other Tuesday, my friend Michi and I have lunch and then go to our chiropractic appointments. Lunch is often at Mr. Sato’s Tengu restaurant. As we swoon over his special cut of Yellow Tail and Tuna Toro over his special sushi rice, we search for good Japanese heritage values like the “quality” of Mr. Sato’s rice and his “artistic discipline”. He also teaches history at the Japanese Saturday school. “He is more than a sushi chef,” Michi and I concur. As he gives us another cut of fatty Tuna, he shares with Michi, his love for Chopin and Rachmoninoff.

Michi is age 86 and the most powerful woman I know. She was a prodigy piano icon in Japan at the early age of eight. She went to school with the current Empress Michiko of Japan, where Michi’s grandmother was the principal. She played for General MacArthur and did hundreds of concerts around Japan to help in the war recovery during the US occupation of Japan after WWII. She currently mentors piano students here in the Seattle area, Japan and Taiwan. One of her students recently played in New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

She came to the US in 1951 and studied at Julliard School of Music with Rosina Lhevinne, with whom Van Cliburn, nationally known for winning the Tschaikovski competition in Russia; who also studied a few years later. Michi was being groomed to continue concertizing on the world stage.

Our discussions are about what kind of values are important like honesty, consistency, balance, responsibility. Skills that, “bringing out the best tone the piano can produce”, Michi explains.

“How can we pass our ideals on to your five boys, thirteen grandchildren, five great grandchildren and my own two daughters and five grandchildren?” I ask. “Michi, I’m also curious, what is it that you look for when you agree to take a child as your student?”

“Well, the first thing I do is to decide if the parents are correctly involved.” she responds.

“What is important in being a parent.” I continue. I don’t need to wait for her words, because Michi sets the example in her own family.

Before her studies with Lhevinne, Michi had met her future husband in Chicago where she beat him in a piano competition.

The story is that Michi was scheduled to go to Aspen Colorado for a summer workshop with Lhevinne. Michi consulted Madam Lhevinne, “What should I do. Murray is asking me to get married?” Madam Lhevinne had already met Dr. Murray North and approved. Therefore, she wished Michi well and suggested being a wife and mother were important roles.

Michi continued to concertize after their marriage but she also raised five boys and ran the household as well. My comment to her as we share stories is, “You’re so lucky, you are experiencing the best of all your worlds.”

“Maybe so but it’s because of Murray.” she emphasizes. Dr. North passed in 2011, but seven years later, he is highlighted in many of our conversations. Now that Sam has also passed, I have her example to follow.

I counter, “We both married strong men, who knew how to bring out the best in their women. Or is it the other way around?” We both smile, that’s what we call good parenting - bringing out the best in each other and holding our kids accountable to doing the same.

Being powerful is not just knowing how to make a lot of money, run big companies or become famous. Michi and most successful families I know, have “powerful women”.

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"Tone Has A Living Soul"

A Relaxed Technique of Musica... A Relaxed Technique of Musical Excellence Bringing Out Our Best
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was a world renowned music educator and some of experts say, “If it weren’t for Dr. Suzuki we wouldn’t have today’s famous orchestras.” He introduced a loving unique technique translated in his book NURTURED BY LOVE. He had three particular quotes that portrayed his philosophy - “Every Child Can Be Educated, Man Is a Child of His Environment, Tone Has a Living Soul.” A gift from Dr. Suzuki of his hand calligraphic piece hangs in our living room today.

There is no way to explain these educational principles easily, but I believe our two daughter’s, Lynette & Kelly, my husband and I hugely benefitted from our association with Dr. Suzuki and the girls gained some musical skills early in our lives. On one of his trips to the USA, I was young and naive enough to invite him to our home for lunch because I thought he was missing Japanese food. Many of our family’s successful outcomes can be attributed to learning the Suzuki Method with the good Japanese heritage values.

Over fifty years ago in 1967, three-year-old Lynette and I often walked around our Seattle Capitol Hill neighborhood. Music was flowing out an open door - variations of Mozart's 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'. We stopped to listen. It was the “Little White House”, across the street from Holy Names Academy at Aloha & 22nd street. Sister Annella was the head teacher and when she saw little Lynette and realized I was of Japanese heritage she explained, “I have a teacher coming from Japan next month. She was one of the famous Dr. Suzuki’s first violin students in Matsumoto, Japan, and is now one of his teachers. I’ve arranged for her to come to Seattle and develop our music program.”

Mihoko Yamaguchi arrived in May of 1967 and Sister Annella called me to ask if I might be interested in meeting her and maybe do some translation. Very few of us third-generation Japanese Americans keep the language, but open to new experiences, I responded, “I am pleased to come and meet her, but my Japanese is extremely limited.”

As I joined the conversations, I understood more than I thought; especially, if I relaxed. The Japanese I heard living with my Grandfather as a small child came to the surface. In the next few weeks of translating, I gained an in-depth Suzuki Method seminar. Aside from the mechanics of playing a stringed instrument, the methods of achieving a music education and understanding Dr. Suzuki’s quote: “Tone has a living soul,” was the most intriguing.

“Tone is the quality of a good sound”. Miss Yamaguchi explained, adding, “Dr. Suzuki developed his method with a goal for students to hear and internalize recordings of classic masters and emulate their sound. As students add their own humanness and personality to reproducing the sounds of the masters, it must come from their own heart. In this process of producing “ beautiful tone”, they develop better character and become better human beings.”

The special Suzuki technique, was to learn the ability to add a “relaxed weight” to the violin bow in producing the sound. One day, Miss Yamaguchi suggested to the half dozen teachers at this one session, “I want you to take turns in picking each other up from behind.” It was not difficult to lift my partner’s feet off the floor.

Then she added, “Think about relaxing, dropping your center of gravity and your whole body to the basement.” We practiced becoming “dead weight”, and found it became difficult to lift each other. “This relaxed weight brings out a richer tone,” Miss Yamaguchi continued to explain.

There is another aspect of tone. It is known that famous orchestras tune to the “A” that is 440 megahertz. To get a brighter sound, a Tokyo orchestra is trying for 444. A good conductor can tell the difference between 440 and 441. Learning this helped me get excited about the depth of musical skill education and talents to be developed.

What does it mean when musicians/philosophers declare Mozart’s music speaks to the Gods? With practice we learn to relax, bring out our best and practice until the skills become second nature. Malcolm Gladwell in his book OUTLIERS suggests “greatness” takes 10,000 hours of preparation. Dr. Suzuki used the environment of his Japanese heritage – connecting with nature, connecting with the Gods, mastery of arts like writing, tea ceremony, bonsai, calligraphy, martial arts and others - where the artist practices repetitions until one no longer has to think about the motions and is free to touch the beauty in our universe.

TONE HAS A LIVING SOUL not only refers to sound, but with good repetition, commitment, personal growth and good teachers; we can be in tune with and vibrate in harmony with other successful people for a fulfilling life. Music is one way to learn to be in “Harmony With Nature”.

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One of Sam's sayings, drawn ... One of Sam's sayings, drawn by granddaughter Kirin
The reality of life is that Sam left us over three months ago. I choose to be sad because I miss him a whole lot, but the excitement is building to share what Sam and I created.

Sam left us with thoughts, drawings and descendants. So pleased to see our grandchildren participate in his legacy. As I write this post, I'm listening to the music our grandson, Joey, used to highlight the video for Sam's memorial - his favorites - John Denver, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Kyu Sakamoto, Dolly Parton.

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