Winning at Life

I was having a conversation recently with one of my friends and she said, “you really winning”. So, we started discussing “winning”.  It was so thought provoking I told her that what would be my next post.  What does it mean to be winning at life?  I certainly don’t have all the answers but I know this much, winning does not look like one thing.  Winning is not one ideal. It varies.

I think it starts with being happy with who you are. You should not compare yourself with others.  Do not try to be anyone else or portray what you see on social media, in music videos or reality TV shows.  Once you start doing this then you become unhappy with who you are. Don’t try to look like those men or women depicted in the media.  More often than not, that stuff just isn’t real.  Besides, we were not all meant to be on thing.  For her (my friend), being able to stay home and care for and enjoy her kids/family, that`s winning.  To others, it might not seem as such but the bottom line is winning varies from person to person.

Another thing is that we have been taught all our lives to go to school, work hard then get a job and work at it until the inevitable happens. What about living life? What about winning at life? How do you live a life worth living so that you can call it winning? Winning doesn’t mean you have a lot of money or fancy cars. Yes, being able to provide for yourself and your family is important. But, accumulating financial wealth is not all there is to life. Being happy is important too.

You might want to care for your family, another person is interested in home ownership, someone else might want to travel the world, while another wants to spend their time building homes for the needy. The point is that your dreams will vary, but it doesn’t mean that one person is winning over the other.  It just means you are each winning in your own way. The minute you start to look at what you’re doing as your own success then you’re truly winning. But once you start to compare yourself with others and see their success as your failure, then that’s when you stop winning at life. In the discussion my friend said, “our culture pushes us to one idea and when our lives don’t mirror that we don’t know how to deal” and I concur.  This is the reason some of us feel as if we have failed at life.  What you need to do is ask yourself some simple questions for instance (and this list is clearly not exhaustive):

  1. Am I happy?
  2. Am I living up to my potential?
  3. Am I living a life that will enable a better life for my family?
  4. Am I helping others or is this life just about me?
  5. Am I living my dream?

When you consider these things and you can truly answer with a resounding “YES!” to one are all of these then I think you are winning at life. I know that for instance, sometimes, being happy and working at a job are not congruent but you have to weigh the risks and rewards.  Remember to count the small wins in life.  You can have small wins at a job you are merely enduring.  All the small victories matter.  I had to count the small wins at my previous job.  I think that’s why I kept winning and also people on the outside thought I was winning and so were shocked when I told them of the next phase of my life.  The thing is to realize when it`s time to move on (see my previous post  These small wins will one day lead to a great victory.  Or maybe you will have a life of continuous small wins.  Either way, it’s “winning”.  Life is tough but we can all win.

I don’t imagine I`m sharing anything novel here. I believe we all have heard this in one form or the other but, sometimes we need a reminder. I was listening to a clip by Dascha Polanco from Orange is the new Black and she said (I will paraphrase as I don’t remember the exact quote) – that just because you are not perfect that doesn’t mean you are a failure.  This is what I hope we will all realize.  Once we acknowledge this, I do believe we can consider ourselves “winning at life”.









Alone in a Foreign Land

Have you ever had that feeling where you feel completely alone in a crowded place? A sea of people and you feel like you are the only one present. That was me recently.  It is strange because there are over 120m people in this country, yet recently I was feeling like the only person on a deserted island.  Yes, I knew making the decision to move to a foreign country, and especially one where I do not speak the native language, would be a challenge but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

I was at school recently and for almost the entire day I did not have a single exchange other than “ohayou gozaimasu” (good morning in Japanese). Mind you, it is often the case for me to not have much interaction (at least nothing extensive and not outside of the classroom) as we are too busy preparing for classes, having actual classes, clubs or general school life. High school life in japan is a rigorous routine for the kids that often involves 10-12 hour days at school. Poor kids. I digress. Anyhow, but, maybe there were other factors that came into play that day.  I don’t know. Or maybe it`s because this is just not what I`m used to. I sometimes think about the atmosphere in my former job. I previously worked in a fast-paced and dynamic corporate environment. That`s quite the contrary to what I do now and even though it`s been over two years, the adjustment is still ongoing.

Funny enough, at that moment when I was feeling so alone, I somehow spilled my coffee on my desk and two teachers immediately came to help me.  Mind you, it wasn’t even a significant amount, but one came with a box of tissue while the other used his handkerchief to help clean up my desk.  This small act renewed some kind of hope. It is not that they don’t see me or care (it is possible that some might actually not like me but that`s not unique to me or this country), but what I have found is that many are intimidated and afraid to even utter a word in English. They just don’t have the confidence.  I imagine it`s the same way I feel when I try to speak Japanese.  It can be a terrifying feeling.  I find too that when I put myself out there and struggle to make conversations in Japanese they appreciate that, and the exchange can be so rewarding.

I went to South Korea for summer vacation and upon my return, one teacher tried to ask me about the experience.  The exchange occurred in Japanese and English, with each of us doing the other`s language a disservice. But, we really had a good time talking about my trip and the times he’s been to South Korea.

Sometimes we are afraid of change, trying new or challenging things but I find that when we do, we may reap unexpected rewards and really enjoy the experience.  Also, these things build strength and can only help in your personal growth. Moving to Japan has had its share of challenges but I wouldn’t change it. It`s been one of my better life choices.  #Growth #Challengeyourself #Changeisgood #Surpriseyourself



Caught In The Rain

Have you ever been caught in the rain with nowhere to go for shelter?  I was in South Korea recently with two friends and we were on our way to the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain show. With the help of google maps and an actual map (we went old school) to guide us, we got off at Banpo Bridge. But, what we didn’t know was that we would have to walk for over thirty minutes to get to the other end. Good ole  Google Maps did it again (smirk). It seems we should’ve taken another route.

We were having a really good time walking and talking when it started to rain. It came lightly at first, but, then there came a downpour. We had nowhere to go so we continued. Being on the highway, we had no shelter and, the only exit led to an even busier thoroughfare. The only options were to turn back, move forward without knowing how much farther to go (at this point no Google to guide us) or take a dive into the Han River down below, and the river was quite a way down.  One friend mentioned we were already so far that we might as well continue going. So on we went in the pouring rain being splashed by passing trucks, buses and cars. We eventually made it to the other side where we found shelter from the rain.

This experience can be likened onto life itself. We might be on a path with a set goal(s) in mind but we face so much opposition and unexpected challenges. Sometimes the challenges are so many that we want to give up or turn back but, if we do this then all that work and progress made would’ve been in vain. I know we may get kicked in the face by life and, like the splashes from the passing vehicles, we are going to face challenges of varying magnitudes but, we should not quit.  #ContinueWhenYouFeelLikeQuitting  It is at this point that you must dig deep and find that inner strength to continue. Look to God (or whatever deity you subscribe to) for guidance and comfort.

I think when we feel we have had enough in life is when we must fight harder. A breakthrough is on the way. The minute you give up might just be when you would’ve experienced your breakthrough and reap the rewards of all your hard work. You never know. Turning back is safe but that’s the enemy of progress. What awaits you over the bridge? You owe it to yourself to find out.



When do you know?

When do you know it`s time for a change? Be it the changing of a job, partner, car, home, lifestyle, whatever that thing is. When do you know?  To this I say “you will know when you know”.  Not very profound huh.  Let me explain.  When do you know it`s time to start going back to the gym or eating right? When your clothes no longer fit and you must resort to your fat clothes or worse, like I recently experienced, you see all that back fat hanging over when you wear your cute little summer dress and you gasp in horror.  At this point you don’t need to slip on a blob of lard or wait on a sign from God to tell you hit the gym.  Right? You just know. Exactly.

It was the same with my previous job. I just knew.  I was in the corporate world for a little over eight (8) years and I loved my job, but I knew it was time for a change when I started going to work and trying to come up with every possible plausible reason I could call the office to inform my team I wouldn’t be coming in.  I knew it was time when I couldn’t even say TGIF (thank God it`s Friday) because that meant nothing (I had no weekends as I had to be accessible to clients all the time).

Like any job, you start out full of life and ready to take on the world but things started getting too crazy and changing way too much, some changes that were simply not financially prudent either.  Mind you, the change was one reason I loved the job because the environment was so super dynamic.  Managing varying projects and seeing them to a successful end, that feeling was simply great.  But, I just started feeling like it was no longer for me.  Nonetheless, I had no choice but to keep “adulting” and stick with it until I could strategically plan my next move.  I definitely knew it was time to give corporate a break.  I didn’t need to just change my job or the company within corporate because the company I was with is in fact one of the best companies to work for, I needed to change my space.  I just needed to do something completely different.  So, I got up and moved all the way across the world to live in Japan.  Mind you, I knew nothing other than “konnichiwa” and “sayonara”.  How was I to survive? Who knew? I was ready though! This move in and of itself has brought so many challenges as well as rewarding and life-changing experiences, but that`s for another time.

I revert to my original statement that “you will know when you know”. When you no longer feel that joy or love for whatever or whomever, then you know it`s time for a change. I saw this quote by Nathaniel Branden on and I found it to be so true: “The first step towards change is awareness.  The second step is acceptance.”  I had to do these two things before I could leave the comfort of what many considered a great job.  I had to acknowledge and accept that it was time for a change.

I know we want to live and remain in our comfort zones because it`s familiar and we already know how to maneuver the curbs and back roads, but no greatness can be achieved or adventures can be had if we remain comfortable and never change.

I will end with this quote by Christopher McCandless (taken from  “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit.”

Make that change. Be happy.



Why Blog?

I​ started off wondering why I decided to start a  blog.   I​​​ have been thinking about doing this for some time now but I kept telling myself,  “I`m not a writer”, “I haven’t done it all” and “I have nothing to say that will interest others”. But then I remembered I don’t have to be a writer to express my thoughts, and if anything, this will actually help to improve my writing.  Also, no one has done it all and I may be surprised to know people will actually be interested, be it one person or one thousand.

Additionally, this can serve as a person journal.  So this blog will just be a reflection of me.  I can`t say it will be a travel or food blog as my interests are many, even though you will find a lot of travel and food related posts.

So, I will give it a go. Let`s see if I can articulate my thoughts and feelings the way I want.