Always Check your Spam Folder

Way back in November,2019 PC (pre Covid-19)… November 5th to be exact I had the honor of speaking at the United Nations in New York City!!!(I know, crazy, right?!) Now, you may remember that in December 2018 I did my chair happy dance when the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) listed The Last Cherry Blossom (TLCB) as an Education Resource for Teachers and Students!

Well in April 2019, John Ennis, UNODA Chief of Information and Outreach invited me to participate in a New York City teacher education program in conjunction with Hibakusha Stories, an organization in NYC whose mission is to keep the stories of atomic bomb survivors(hibakusha) alive and taught to the younger generations. Not only that, but as a partner with International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Hibakusha Stories share the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize*! This teacher education program will assist teachers in adding nuclear disarmament to their curriculum. As if that were not amazing enough, I also would participate in the UN Bookshop Meet the Author event and discuss my mom’s experience of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and TLCB. I still feel so giddy just thinking about it 😊

The night before I spent time going over what I would say and taking in the view of Manhattan traffic in the glow of the city lights (my family knows that’s one of my favorite things to do). The view was just so amazing!

NYC lights view

The next morning, I woke up about 3 hours before we had to leave (we had to arrive 8;30). Watching the darkness of early morning burn off from the first ray of sun for the day- a perfect setting to pray, review my notes (again), marvel at the view, and repeat. While I was getting ready, my husband had returned with a surprise treat of a chocolate croissant with my much -needed large cup of coffee. He knows me so well 😊

We had a short walk toward the United Nations building. An interesting note about the UN building- did you know that once you enter you are no longer in the United States?! Yup, although its headquarters’ address is in New York City, once you go through security and enter the courtyard you are entering 18 acres of international territory. Yes, 18 acres- definitely a much larger facility than it looks from the outside! I was very grateful for their kindness in making sure that a wheelchair would be waiting for me(thanks to Diane Barnes)-I’d have never been able to walk everywhere we went that day. Before we entered the UN, I met Suzanne Oosterwijk, a lovely person who had been my main contact before our arrival and the person organizing where I needed to be that day.

View of UN from hotel window

Moments before my magical day began

With Susan Oosterwijk

Our first stop-meeting room for the teacher symposium. Next to the table of fresh fruit and bagels from Brooklyn(yes, I know, I am all about the food), we were greeted by Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, Hibakusha Stories Director and Education Consultant to UNODA along with, Robert Croonquist founder and treasurer Youth Arts New York(parent organization of Hibakusha Stories). Dr. Sullivan and Mr. Croonquist also share the Nobel Peace Prize as partners of ICAN. So not only did I have amazing opportunity to meet Nobel Peace Prize winners, I worked alongside them and they let me hold the actual medal!! THAT was so cool.

Matt and I holding Nobel Peace Prize Medal!

With Nobel Peace Prize winners Dr. Kathleen Sullivan and Robert Croonquist

Before the symposium started, I met, Mitchie Takeuchi. I was thrilled to finally meet a second generation Hibakusha like myself! I felt an immediate connection with her. As I listened to her tell the story of what happened to her mother and grandfather in Hiroshima atomic bombing, my heart ached with empathy. I know that we are both doing what we do to honor our loved ones’ voices, and to give a voice to victims who never had a chance to speak. It humbled me to participate in a session with over 40 compassionate teachers who came, on their own time, to discover ways to add nuclear disarmament to their curriculum.

With Mitchie Takeuchi

With NYC teachers, ICAN, Hibakusha Stories, and myself.

{Before I move on to the UN Bookshop presentation, I just want to say if you have a chance to eat at the UN Cafeteria (once it is safe to do so) the views alone are worth it! But the international selection of food is also delicious. 😊}

I am normally a little nervous before I speak no matter if it is in person or on Skype. But when we exited the elevator and I saw all the people in the bookshop, the various Japanese newspapers/photographers, and NHK World Japan, I’m not gonna lie, I was a potpourri of shocked, humbled, and suddenly extremely nervous. However, once I got to the front, I, reminded myself that this wasn’t about me. I prayed that I would honor the memory of my mom, family and all atomic bomb victims, and that my heart would shine through my words. I looked at my husband for that reassuring smile, and finally, I savored that moment and my once in a lifetime paparazzi experience. Having Dr. Kathleen Sullivan as the moderator was surreal. Did I mention she won the Nobel Peace Prize?! 🙂

Maher Nasser introductions

 
During the question-and-answer section someone commented that TLCB could be the “Anne Frank of Japan”. That totally blew me away. During the book signing I met so many wonderful people and educators. Our new friend Suzanne whisked me off for the United Nations podcast, The Lid Is On, (that aired on my birthday few months ago-a perfect gift)!

With Ana Carmo of UN podcast

Speaking with Fumitaka Sato ,NHK World Japan

The afternoon ended back where we began this joyous day and I had a chance to chat with the UN ODA staff and wonderful members of Hiroshima Stories. I’m so incredibly grateful to John Ennis, Chief of Information Outreach for UN Office of Disarmament Affairs and colleagues Soo Hyun Kim, Diane Barnes, Suzanne Oosterwijk, and Maher Nasser(United Nations Bookshop). As well as to Dr Kathleen Sullivan, Robert Croonquist, Diane, Debra, and Carolina from Hibakusha Stories/Youth Arts New York.

Dr.Sullivan on phone making Matt & my dinner reservations!

John Ennis, UNODA

Matt and I capped off the day with a delicious dinner at Sakagura restaurant. When we returned to the hotel room, I spent the rest of the evening looking out the window at the city lights and traffic below. Before I fell off to sleep, I relived all the amazing moments of the day. If I had to pick one word to describe that day it would have to be magical. The only thing missing was having my Mom there with me to share that day and to know her voice had mattered. But I believe my parents were there in spirit. ❤ The magic of that day shall live in in my heart forever. ❤

Sakagura restaurant,NYC

Matcha tiramasu-as beautiful as it is a delicious dessert


So, now to the reason I named this blog post… One of the interviews I had after the book signing was with NHK World Japan, that filmed part of my presentation at the UN Bookshop. Later they posted about it on NHK World Japan website.

A few days after I returned home, I happened to glance at my Spam folder and found an email from Fumitaka Sato the award winning Senior Correspondent for NHK World Japan that I met at the UN Bookshop! Sato-san wanted to learn more about my mom, how my daughter started my journey to write TLCB, and how it has been used in schools worldwide. And the rest you know from my social media posts about the Japanese and English segments on NHK World Japan TV 🙂 

So, my advice to you all is ALWAYS check your Spam folder. You never know if there is an email waiting to change your life. (Spoiler: if it is from a Prince in a far-off country-that is DEFINITELY NOT the one). 🙂 

* for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that the United Nations adopted on July 7,2017. Although it has not been ratified by all the countries involved, including the ones with the largest number of nuclear weapons (the United States and Russia)- it is a beginning and a sign of hope.








Reflections and Changing Seasons

This month has been very reflective for me in many ways. August 1st was my daughter’s first full day home from Japan after 4 months of attending Tokyo International University. Even though she needed to catch up on her sleep-just knowing she slept in her own bed under our roof comforted me and I could finally exhale.

Sara in front of A-Bomb mother Ginkgo tree in Shukkei-en Gardens

Sara in front of the Osaka Castle

However, my heart may have been happy, but my body was not. Increased pain in my left leg returned (surgeon said this might happen because the stent couldn’t fully open the vein) along with worsening osteoarthritis in my left hand. So, when Sara moved back to UNCW for her senior year (EEK! It doesn’t seem that long ago when I moved back to Stonehill for my senior year…) I had to give in to my pain and remain at home. I, of course, did the only thing I thought would help me almost as much as prayer-yup, I made some crispy rice treats to bring to my pity party of one. 🙂

I saved my reflection of August 6th for last. The memories of what my mom and my family went through on that day, as well as the years that followed live in my mind and weigh on my heart.  So, in closing, I’d like to share my guest post,Changing Seasons, I wrote for MG Book Village about my mom and her memories here

I’m also sharing this post at:

Bringing Historical Fiction to the Modern Classroom

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Please enjoy my recent guest blog post on KIDLITERATI Blog by clicking on the title below:

Reaching Readers Guest Post with Kathleen Burkinshaw

Today we’re fortunate to have debut middle grade author Kathleen Burkinshaw with us to discuss how she brings historical fiction to the modern classroom. Enjoy…click to continue

SPRING HAS SPRUNG AND SO HAS MY COVER REVEAL!

(Insert drum roll ….. and a loud WOOHOO!!!)

I am excited to share with you THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM Cover Reveal, which the fabulous blog iceybooks.com posted along with my interview AND a chance to win an Advanced Reading Copy of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM!! 🙂  So please follow the link and enter the Giveaway on the iceybooks.com site!

Q&A with Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM—Plus Giveaway!

November To-Do List

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Almost every magazine at this time of year writes about: the count down to the holidays (cue theme from PSYCHO), the best way to cook a turkey (have someone else do it), and checklists to prepare yourself because you can’t possibly be prepared without reading why you need to worry because you aren’t prepared. Magazine covers like this aimed to put us in a tizzy for those few minutes we stand in the check-out line.

Well, I have written before that I love my to-do lists. So, I thought I would share with you my November To-do list:

-Wake up (remember you always want something easy to accomplish to get the day rolling)

-Try to smile through the pain

-Continue navigating my parents’ medical issues and care

-Come to terms that my baby just turned 18

-Stop saying 17 +1 because I can’t bring myself to say my baby just turned 18

-Do a happy jig–Well ok, not a jig-pain makes that impossible, plus I am not really sure what a jig is- but I can shout WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
BECAUSE…..DRUMROLL, please…..

drumTHE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM, my MG historical fiction novel, will be published by Skyhorse Publishing, NYC.

So in late summer/early fall of 2015, THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM will be coming to a bookstore near you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Shout WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Again

-Pray in thanksgiving for this wonderful Blessing!!!!!!!

Just at the time when I am smack dab in the middle of my chaos and feeling a sense of overwhelming inadequacy, God reminds me he had a plan all along and I need to stop getting in HIS way.

Isn’t it wonderful and humbling how that works sometimes?

If you enjoy my post, please visit these friends of Creating Through the Pain:

 

Have you ever?

Have you Ever?

Have you ever noticed how in one moment something can change, just like that? Have you ever thought, wow if that car I was following wasn’t driving so slow I surely would have gotten a ticket because there was a cop just around the corner? It can’t be just me, can it?

Or have you ever arrived home after a very long, aggravating day just in time to receive a letter from a loved one?  Some people must still send them, right?

Have you ever been out when a flash of lightning turns a fun picnic into panic?  But soon, the clouds part to reveal a rainbow.

My recent moment was this past Sunday night.  I finally uploaded my first blog post! My husband innocently asked me, “What will your second post be about next week?”  What?! Second post-AAAHHHH! I ran to my laptop to search for “okay smarty pants you wrote your first blog post, now what……”

Then there were a string of more serious moments 13 years ago.

A routine five-day hospital stay turned into 14 days.  Soon followed by 14 more in a rehab hospital-no, not the Lindsay Lohan rehab, a physical rehab hospital.  One minute I was wearing my favorite sweater with this great long black skirt and these really chic black boots-I got such a great deal on those boots-but I digress.  I came home, unzipped those stylish black boots I got for a song, and my left leg inflated like a balloon.

Okay I thought, that was soooo not normal-quite an accurate clinical diagnosis if I do say so myself. But, just to be sure I looked up the symptoms in my medical book-yes I have one-OCD research is not a new trait for me.  The symptoms I had matched the ones listed for a blood clot.  Within an hour my husband and I found ourselves basking in the romantic ambiance of our local hospital’s emergency room. Oh, I should probably mention it also happened to be Valentines’ day. Yup, it was.  Can you hear the violins amidst the code calls?

I want to go back 69 years to another moment, albeit, not mine, but it affected me nonetheless. A 12-year-old girl in Hiroshima is outside laughing with her friend.  It had been raining for the past few days, so to be outside beneath the blazing sun of a clear, blue August sky was a welcomed change.  A bright flash…a loud popping noise… darkness.  Once the dust, fire storms, and ash cleared a 12-year-old girl’s life was turned upside down, shaping the person she would become. She faced enormous loss and change.  Yet, she is someone who never lost the ability to love.  She is a brave woman and I admire her with all my heart. She is my mother. That horrific instant in her life led her on the path to eventually marrying my dad, becoming a U.S. citizen, and giving birth to me.

In my manuscript, THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM, a character states, “Cherry blossoms are like life itself—so beautiful, yet so fragile that they bloom only a short time.”  Moments (unexpected-the good and the bad) we all have them.  I believe that these moments lead to the memories that our heart carries for a lifetime. Moments strung together make us who we are.

Have you ever?  Please share your moments below.