Tag Archives: family

A trail-blazing woman

owl on branch with greeting

Today I mailed this “wise owl” card to my great-aunt for her 109th birthday. No, that is not a typo. Helene “Helli” Stehle was born to a butcher and his wife on December 6, 1907, in Basel, Switzerland. But longevity is by no means the most remarkable thing about Helli. This pioneering woman first achieved fame in Switzerland as a stage actor playing strong characters. She has always been a vibrant, strong-willed woman with a great zest for life, so I can imagine how riveting her performances Read more

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Journey to Japan

mountain and pine night landscape with haiku

Well, I’ve been back from Japan for almost a month now, and I still can’t begin to describe this heart-expanding trip. Much as I had planned and anticipated the journey (see my last post, Eastward ho!), it was even better than I could have imagined. Over three weeks in June, my family and I explored serene Zen gardens and bustling city streets. We spent one day hiking the ancient Nakasendo trail between post towns, and another day hiking through ten thousand vermillion torii gates at a shrine Read more

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Eastward ho!

mountain meadow with poppies and lupine, haiku

At the Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington last fall, we started with a fun icebreaker: write down five items from your bucket list, then walk around the room and share with other participants. (For more about Seabeck, see The path unfolds.) After the exercise, my daughter Maya and I compared lists. I definitely don’t share her dream of working a stint as a bartender! But it turns out that we both had the exact same number one wish: to travel to Japan as a family. Meanwhile, Makino Studios Read more

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Light in the time of darkness

cat stalks mouse ornament

As you may have heard, the holidays are upon us. Amid the Christmas muzak and urgent appeals to buy mass-produced widgets, it’s easy to lose sight of the true spirit of the season. There is such pressure—to buy the perfect gifts, to cook lavish meals, to decorate the house festively, to have the most wonderful time ever.  toobusytostophamsterwheel (Prune Juice, July 2015) But I believe that behind all that, there is a simple urge. We are looking for meaning and connection with the people Read more

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Ripples from a stone

doe and fawn in forest clearing, with haiku

I’ve been thinking about cause and effect—and ripples. Even we fuzzy artsy types, who met our college science requirement by taking “Physics for Poets,” know that when you throw a stone in the water, the effect is not linear: the ripples radiate out in concentric circles, farther and farther from the source. So it goes in the rest of life: while actions certainly have consequences, you can never clearly predict what they will be. A tossed pebble may create a wave that washes a bug Read more

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Happily ever after, and other fairy tales

two frogs in pond with lily

We all know the fairy tale about the frog prince. In the traditional version, once the princess lets the frog eat from her golden bowl and sleep in her bed for three nights, he turns into a handsome prince. (In the modern, instant gratification version, the transformation happens as soon as she kisses him.) The Brothers Grimm account concludes: “They then took leave of the king, and got into the coach with eight horses, and all set out, full of joy and merriment, for the prince’s kingdom, Read more

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Adoption journey

palm trees from below with haiku

As I shared in my last post, in April I flew to the Marshall Islands with my sister Yuri to help her adopt a baby. After changing planes in Hawaii and flying across the international date line, we landed in Majuro, on a spit of land so narrow it appeared we were landing right in the Pacific. adoption journey we fly into tomorrow On the ride into town, on the atoll’s single road, we tried to take it all in: the coconut palms; the brown-skinned children swimming in the lagoon; the jumbled Read more

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Heart Connections

two pears painting by Annette Makino

Family is the major focus of my personal life, but this week it’s also the dominant part of my life out in the big world. On Monday I was thrilled to have a letter published in the New York Times about the calendars I have kept since my children were born, where I record their milestones and funny quotes. For those of you who are writers or parents, I would love to hear if you have a similar practice.

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