Why did I choose The Last Cherry Blossom for my title?

©JapanGuide

Since the cherry blossom season is winding down in Japan, I thought I’d answer the question I get asked quite a bit. It’s also a question on the teacher’s discussion guide for the students to contemplate(shh….it will be our secret).

I have always loved the look of cherry blossoms long before I had an inkling of the importance they would play in my life.  I was 8-years-old when I first gazed at cherry blossoms while we were in Tokyo, Japan for a month. We were visiting the woman I knew (and loved) as my grandmother.

I wish I could post a picture of the cherry trees from that time. However, back in those days there were no cell phones, no digital cameras-but no dinosaurs either -I’m old but not that old 🙂 My dad had an 8-mm movie camera and a 35mm film camera. Can the kids today even imagine that we would have no idea what the movie/photo would look like until it was developed? Sadly, because of this and the fact my dad was not good at taking pictures; many of the photos taken did not come out. I have come across these 8mm films recently and hope to look through them this summer, hopefully catching a glimpse of the blossoms.

In Japan, sakura hanami (cherry blossom celebration) depends on what part of the country you live in. Hiroshima’s season was April 5-12th this year. A popular spot is still Hijiyama park with 1300 cherry trees and is where the main character, Yuriko (as well as my mom) celebrated cherry blossom viewing with her family and best friend. And now, unlike during WWII in my book, visitors can admire the pink blossoms dancing in the evening under the lantern lit, starry skies.

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©GetHiroshima

Now,back to why I named my book The Last Cherry Blossom…

There are actually a few reasons. My mother’s favorite celebration was sakura hanami, it was the last celebration together as a family, and the cherry blossoms bloomed the Spring after August 6, 1945- showing their resilience and strength.

But I also think the cherry blossom in the title can have meaning in the present. Just as I know the cherry blossom’s bloom is short and will eventually cascade to the ground; certain events are out of my control and will happen no matter how much planning, worrying, or proactive work I may do. In the past, it was my mom being sick and leaving me so devastatingly soon.

But some recent examples for me were:

Several weeks ago, we went to Myrtle Beach for our family Spring Break vacation. As some of you may know, the beach is a special place for my daughter and me. We always get one beach day in together-not for the suntan (or in our case the sunburn) but for the company of each other. And we both love the sound and look of the waves lapping against the sandy shore. I feel very close to my mom there as well. So, we looked ahead at the weather, decided on the warmest day, and planned the week around it. When our beach day finally arrived, it was sunny but windy! We could not control being pelted-no exaggeration- by the sand. We tried to tough it out, but within minutes so much sand blew onto our towels it formed a small hill. No matter how much we planned, we weren’t getting our beach day.

An ongoing example- I’ve been marketing my book, which could be a full-time job in itself 🙂 I don’t always know what area to focus on and have not been very good at pacing myself in accordance to my pain levels. But even when I am, I still can be slammed with a two-week full-blown, stuck in bed with burning pain that no amount of crispy rice treats or chocolate could help, flare up. I also became so disappointed in my body all over again for betraying me.

Lastly, this past month, I was reminded that I can’t control when someone may continue to disappoint me. I can try to make excuses for the past, bury it deep, deep down but something can trigger it and there is no way of nipping it in the bud (see what I did there?).

And when that happens, I can only react and decide how I’m going to face that challenge. Sure, I can throw my plush ‘poo’ emoji (that’s a story for another time) against a wall repeatedly, but I can only do that for so long especially before it causes another pain flare (it’s a vicious circle).

In the case of our sandstorm beach day-we moved it to the indoor pool. We had a wonderful day just the same!

When the pain flares strike, I try to accept it sooner and let my body rest, telling my type A personality everyone needs a break-I’m still working on this one (heavy sigh..).

In the last situation, I keep the memories of the good times available, while also reminding myself I’ve done what I could and some people aren’t going to change. But, I can change how I answer myself when I’m questioning if I did the right thing.

That thought reminds me of the toast Yuriko’s Papa said to his family during what would be their last celebration together:

“Cherry blossoms are like life itself-so beautiful, yet so fragile that they bloom only a short time. A toast to my family and to enjoying our time together!”

Enjoy what you can-the rebirth, the new life of the season. And when the blossom falls, know that there will be a change-it may be good or bad, you can’t always control how it unfolds, but you can control how you view it. Papa’s words remind me that you can embrace what’s coming while also letting go. After all,

“The season changes when the last cherry blossom falls……”

 

Also linking up at :

In celebrating May as Asian American Heritage Month, VisitMulticultural Kid Blogs to register for Giveaway. Second Prize pkg includes a signed copy of THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM!

Also on 5/6/17 will be linking up atDiverseKidLit

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What are you waiting for?

waitinghold

 

How many times have you been on hold? Sometimes it is a silent hold and you begin to wonder, did they disconnect me? Or you may be lucky enough to hear MUZAK for your listening pleasure. When (or if) they come back on the line, your eyelids have closed and you are about to let out a gentle snore.  But, have you noticed if the hold music just happens to be a song you like, it seems as if not much time has passed at all?

In this ASAP culture any amount of waiting seems to be too long. How many times have you zigzagged your mouse around thinking it would load your page faster? I have done it at least twice today. There was a comedian that did a joke about the pop tarts box. The directions, of course were to put them in a toaster. Yet, under that listed microwave directions. The big joke was who doesn’t have time to wait for a toaster?  Then again, some mornings waiting the last few minutes for the coffee to finish brewing seems like an eternity.

When I think about it, in writing a manuscript, the main character(s) spends a lot of time waiting to get to their goal. Obviously you can’t have them achieve it in the first chapter. You must develop obstacles that the main character stumbles over along the way. Their struggles move the story along-at least you hope it does.

Sometimes the inpatient waiting takes place even before you can get to writing.  You come up with this fantastic plot.  You have some inkling of your beginning, some middle scenes and a possible ending (or two). You just wish your writing fairy could zig zag your mouse and it would be finished. But that doesn’t happen.  Alas, there is no writing fairy (who knew?) and you have to go through the ups and downs of the writing process. Once you have finally completed your draft, you still  must edit, edit, edit, ad infinitum….

As hard as the waiting involved in my writing process may be, waiting for a sign of hope in my own life is so much harder.  Right now things are not the way I wish they could be for a loved one. I can see that there is an ending, but I can’t just jump to the end. I so badly want to be on the other side of this episode, but I know (especially because it has happened before) speed bumps loom around the corner and they will be painful. Only time can bring about a result and I have no way of knowing if it will help this person or not.

When I am having a pain flare up, I know that even though the pain will not completely disappear, eventually it will be a little less severe. I would love to just skip over this flare up and say ‘been there, done that’. Unfortunately, zig zagging a mouse over my leg and hands do not work (hey, it doesn’t hurt to try right?).

These flare ups can come on due to changes in barometric pressure or for no reason at all. But sometimes my flare ups come on because of the pressure I put on myself during times of exceptional stress. Because of that, I have not taken the time to let my body rest. So the flare up forces me to stop. While stuck in bed and having my mini pity party, it seems like my prayers have not been heard (the silent hold). But then I may receive a phone call from a close friend.  Or a wonderful friend stops by with a chocolate shake (my nerves may be in pain, but my taste buds aren’t)!  At that point I realize God heard my prayer after all.  He sent me these loved ones.

Sometimes the wait will bring about an outcome that is completely opposite from what I had envisioned.  Sometimes the wait will come at the most inopportune time. But,sometimes during the wait there are gifts of grace and of friendship.  And that is not a time you would want to zig zag your mouse over to get though it ASAP.

Have you had a time of waiting that gave you more than you expected?

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