Natsukashii

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This morning I am in deep contemplation about many things. In fact, I burned my breakfast toast not once, not twice but three times–how that happened– I have no idea. I always thought toasters had built in timers but perhaps I am not in the present but suspended in time?

I am deep in thought momentarily residing in faraway places reflecting about the past still so fragrant and vivid in my memory. I was feeling and thinking about the Japanese word natsukashii. It is such a perfect word. There are simply some words and phrases that do not translate well in to the English language. This concept is special–let me try to explain. I have been natsukashii all morning recollecting and longing for the happiness I have enjoyed. The memories are reassuring and invigorating. In between, preparing for my Sunday morning, I was playfully engaging with our dogs pausing to recollect when they were puppies. Now 10 and 3, I was curious why time seems to travel so fast sneaking little sips of my coffee before the sun boldly pronounced the day.

I was thinking about the many great cups of coffee I have enjoyed and the many sun rises I have witnessed some brighter than others. I was reflecting back about my life, my career and my family (not necessarily in that order but flooded with memories.) WOW–what a life I have lived-ne? I am natsukashii.

I am so very grateful to have travelled to many places and met some extraordinary people. My favorite humans are the ordinary people less known and often more filled with humility and compassion. I am thinking about the transformation of my own life some experiences simple and others so complex. I was reflecting on just how many times Creator called me during the past few years always insisting I give my very best talents and skills sometimes not appreciated but often somehow connected.

I was reflecting on how God’s ultimate plan seems to be for me to transform my heart in genuine service to others. I was recollecting that sometimes I was fully ready and other times overwhelmed.

I am natsukashii- most especially for the little things that bring me such joy–most especially my three sons Gabriel, Samuel and Elijah, my 90 year old mom Shizue, my two pups Yoshitsune and George, all of my siblings Helen, Stuart, Richard, Linda and Patricia. I am delighting in being an Auntie to all my nieces and nephews Christine, Nelson, Andrew, Phillip, Catherine, Jacob, David, Lincoln and all of my many great nieces and nephews-all academically accomplished and yet the most important treasure (to me) is that they are kind human beings.

I am also reflecting after my second cup of joe about all of the many amazing friends I have met all over the WORLD and looking forward to new flavors of coffee and tea so I can enjoy more moments of natsukashii. I am recollecting some of the most amazing culinary delights I enjoyed presented in many fragrant scents and beautiful languages–anticipating there is so much more to taste–is there not?

I am reflecting about the many amazing people I have met from so many diverse faith perspectives who willingly shared their poetry, art song and dance and looking forward to learning more.

I am thinking of my sister who died at such a young age and my father and all of my ancestors and extended family including Atwai (deceased) Charlotte Pitt, Atwai Ron Mehl and Atwai Richard Twiss whose advice taught me to laugh and fully appreciate life–every single moment.

This morning, I am feeling natsukashii.
 Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato

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The Power of a Mother’s Prayer

             Juzu

 

The Power of a Mother’s Prayer
 
This past weekend, I stayed in our childhood home, my mother’s home of 60 years after finishing numerous business meetings in Portland. I love coming home. There are so many memories, scents and sounds that reflect both a joyous and yet tough childhood. It’s hard to believe that all seven of us children fit in such a tiny home. I remember at one point, five of us packed in to one bedroom that now seems barely able to comfortably house one person. We made do. We survived challenging economic times, my older sister perishing from leukemia, my father stricken by a ravaging brain tumor crippling an otherwise strong and healthy man and my younger sister being stricken not one but twice from bone marrow cancer. There were many mean lean Christmases and months were all of my siblings and I had to work and go to school but somehow we survived.
 
I recollect with such joy the sounds our oldest sister pounding out powerful masterpieces from an old upright piano and yet other times softly playing beautiful sonatas to mellow the pain of struggle. Our home was always filled with music whether piano, violins, violas, cellos or voice—music drowned out the suffering of disparate treatment, inadequate medical care, the lack of heat and sometimes no food. There was always lots of energy with the melodies of childhood voices emanating from my remaining six brothers and sisters whether it was preparing for athletic competitions, honors academics or discussing the perplexing behavior of humans who chose to identify us by the color of our skin rather than the content of our character. There was not much our beautiful mother could do about injustice in our community but she was confident that her love manifested through prayer gave us a fighting chance in childhood.
 
The one memory I recall so vividly was daily hearing my mother singing her prayers. Just through recollection I can smell the scent of Japanese incense that filled the air as she chanted sometimes up to three hours a day a complex series of prayers framed around the Lotus Sutra. When you are a young child you take such devotion for granted. My Okaasan (mother) used to tell us “I pray for your today” when we were facing a tough Chemistry exam or awaiting admission in to a prestigious college. I recollect there were times my mother’s prayers sounded more like deep pleading especially when my Merchant Marine Captain Father did not send his paycheck home. My mother could not adequately plan or care for her children when so many things were unpredictable. My father’s alcoholism tormented his compassionate soul when he faced the poverty he encountered traveling nearly every continent on our planet. Having a compassionate parent can be a two edged sword especially when you are a young child not fully understanding the demons that preoccupy your father’s inter-generational trauma. I remember sitting at the edge of my mother’s bed watching her as she prayed. I did not understand how completely she believed that her discipline would indeed be heard and answered but somehow many of her prayers were answered  and we survived. My mother was and is a prayer warrior.
 
I understand now the power and gift of prayer, especially from a mother’s heart. I will never ever underestimate the power of prayer. I will never ever underestimate the resilience of a mothers love especially articulated in the mysterious and beautiful language of prayer. My siblings and I have survived many life challenges that most would cower because we knew that our mother was praying for us.
This weekend I woke up to the scents and sounds of my childhood. I laid in bed smiling waking up to peaceful memories. I am now praying for my mother who at ninety worries that time is running out on her petitions to God. I stood by my mother’s bedroom doorway as I observed her well-worn prayer books and prayer beads (juzu) I observed the same focus and diligence of the mother of my youth. My eyes filled with tears because I finally comprehended why my mother prayed so much and so often for her children and for me—especially. Like my father, I am bothered by the injustices of the world but unlike my father I was able to break free from the inter-generational elixirs that mask our historic wounds. I am so grateful that daily my mother prays for my three sons, her eleven grandchildren and five great grandchildren and future generations to come. I am thankful for her belief in the power of prayer. Prayer is a gift that should never be underestimated.
 
My precious sweet mother who never had the opportunity to pursue college or a professional career is my greatest mentor and role model. I pray for my three sons now daily, without ceasing in a different language and with various melodies—but with the same dedication. My mother also taught me to pray for others, the ones who do not deserve prayer. The ones who persecute or challenge the less fortunate and most especially the ones who take advantage of a privileged life. When I see the challenges and suffering occurring on the Reservations, economic ghettos and politically created barrios—I too pray with out ceasing Sometimes my prayers come through service because I believe prayer can evolve through heartfelt action. I unceasingly pray without mention because I have witnessed the results of genuine earnest prayer. I am thankful for the influence my mother has had on my life. I am deeply grateful for my mother’s steadfast earnest prayers. I am a grateful recipient of the power of a Mother’s loving prayer.
May you be blessed equally so!
Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato #risetoexcellence
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Opening my heart and evolving my faith

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I love this photo–it so reminds me of me in my spiritual walk which is so dichotomous. Sometimes I am so serious and oft-times I am filled with joy.

Growing up a Buddhist, I memorized and chanted all of the critical scriptures but discovered through research that women were thought to never be able to achieve the level of enlightenment of men–hah I challenged those assumptions.

As a lover of the Jesus-way (as Indigenous/Native people refer to Christianity) simply memorizing passages of the Gospel or obeying the commandments was/is not enough. There has to be more to our spiritual growth than chanting, or memorizing or obeying the proclamations of men who stand in judgement of others on television pulpits.

I love this photo because for me–spirituality and faith are strengthened by me challenging ME– to be the kindest-most compassionate-loving human being I can be.

It’s not easy– because I am very human, I make mistakes, sometimes I laugh too much, sometimes I become angry at the sight of injustice and sometimes I am just plain narrow in my thinking.

So each and every day, I challenge myself to open up my eyes, open my mind and open my heart to new information, diverse information and challenging information to help me consider and reconsider my own truth to embrace a larger more important truth about humanity that is so critical to the survival of this beautiful planet and all of her amazing sentient beings.

I rejoice in this (prayerfully) continually evolving process. Love to all, #risetoexcellence <3 Rising Sun

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Teach, Teach Your Children Well

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I love FB timeline pop ups, they make me smile recollecting all of the many wonderful experiences that enveloped our lives when my three sons were young. It was not easy raising three boys as a single-parent and it was especially challenging raising three young teen boys of African-American heritage during a time when prejudice, ignorance and stereotypes hover around young children of cover like a dense pungent fog.

On this important day, when we pause and recognize the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr –I pray you consider your role in raising up a generation of young men and young women of strong moral character. I pray that a generation of young adults will rise up in our nation and throughout our world to have the conscience-capability and courage to stand up and to speak up for the cause of compassion-love and justice. Children are never too young to learn about the ethics and character–these teachings are critical and will ultimately shape them in to conscientious human beings.

I recall vividly my husband/the boy’s father joking “they are like mini camcorders” and he was spot on. Children learn–not only learn from what you say but absorb even more significantly from what you do. What are your children learning from you?

Teach your young children now and teach them well– not simply with lectures or ultimatums but with true cultural stories and historical overviews they might not learn in school. Teach them by your positive example, by your daily engagement with others and also through the commitments that are important to you spiritual, socially and yes even politically. Children are brilliant if you give them a chance. 

My three sons Gabriel Isaiah Kent, Samuel James Kent and Elijah Solomon Kent were taught from a very early age, even younger than this photo about the principles of the mighty Samurai or the noble teaching of Native Warriors, they learned about Rosa Parks who I met and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They have heard of Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Theresa and Cesar Chavez. My son attended lectures with me when my friend and mentor Harvard Law School Sean Dr. Derrick Bell launched “Faces at the bottom of the well” at Powell’s bookstore and met leaders like Dr. Richard Twiss (Lakota) Theologian and ecumenical leader who shared a diverse perspective of the gospel of love/peace. My sons have attended rallies, school district meetings, watched documentaries and engaged in discussion with me after school nearly every day during their most formative teen years. It is important for young people to engage in diverse experiences when they are young. It is also critical to allow them to speak—to have their own voice to articulate, their perspectives, fears and hopes.

My three sons were allowed a voice, but a voice that was mindful and respectful of the perspectives of others no matter how diverse or different. My boys attended fiestas, Pow Wows and Civil rights events so that I could give them an opportunity to broaden their understanding and perspective about the world. We enjoyed high tea in Victoria and visited the barrios of east LA. They tasted foods from all over the world when they were young and were fortunate to hear stories from their Grandfather James Arthur Kent, Sr. who I invited to come live with us. Grandpa was the son of a sharecropper.

If you are a parent of a small child or even a teen, it is not too late to help your child develop and broaden the content of their character, to expand their concern and compassion for others and yes–even to raise up a generation of leaders who will prioritize the concerns of community, nation and world over continual self-interest and greed for economic wealth. Don’t get me wrong–there is absolutely nothing wrong with being financially successful and educated formally but all of that must be balanced with a compassionate heart and an open perspective to strengthen the character of a child or young person. I have no doubt that someday my sons will reflect in their work and in their personal lives all they learned growing up and I pray the same for your children. Our world needs better leadership. Teach, teach your children well–love them but also expose them to broad array of people-events and knowledge to strengthen their moral character—perhaps then future generations will have an opportunity to live on a healthy planet and in peace.

#risetoexcellence.

 

Always, Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato

 

 

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“The more educated a man the less he knows.”

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artwork (c) Terrence Booth Jr, Pima Artist

There is an old Pima saying– I heard many decades ago “the more educated a man the less he knows.” I have been pondering that quote a great deal most especially as I look at the huge graduate loan debt I will be paying off over the next decade or even as I contemplate pursuing a Ph.D. Does more education really make us smarter? If we are smarter do we really know more about the wisdom of human engagement or living a life of happiness? Do educated people have a corner on the market of authority and definitive fact?

Well sure, expertise does come in handy especially for those required to complete a complex responsibility. Those who have studied rocket science or understand the mathematical or scientific complexities of launching a rocket ship to the moon are invariably much more capable than me or the average human being when it comes to scientific smarts but does exposure to education or higher learning really make us better human beings or more useful?

The older I get– the more I seem to question everything I have been told or taught. I have witnessed over the past few decades brilliant people make some very illogical decisions. I have been aghast when “enlightened leaders” make cruel edicts and powerful politicians desecrate communities simply because they believed their perception was factual or right or felt they had the power to assert their will.

Don’t get me wrong if I ever needed spinal surgery or brain surgery I would immediately go to the very best and the very best is a gentleman like K. Abbed, MD Neurosurgery Chief, Yale Spine Institute. I would trust Dr. Abbed not only for his incomparable technical expertise but I believe he is the kind of human being that also brings his intuitive sense and compassion to his calling as a healer. Dr. Abbed seems so much more “balanced” than most exceptionally brilliant human beings because his compassion inflates much larger than his vast educational expertise. I was in the “spine industry” for over a decade and the most capable seemed to be the most balanced–the same thing holds true in the leadership arena.

Maybe that’s it—perhaps we have become so dependent upon our textbook expertise whether it is leadership, human resources or politics we have forgotten to serve as Dr. Abbed exemplifies with a diverse balance of common sense, life experience and knowledge. Being brilliant is not just a piece of pretty (albeit expensive) sheepskin we hang proudly on our wall but being truly wise is utilizing information with a balance of intuition, spiritual connection and our heart. I believe the heart is as critical as the brain in making a balanced decision. Perhaps that is what our Pima friends are trying to tell us–observe and live before you proclaim to know. For me, real knowledge involves the heart as much as it depends upon our gray matter and important decisions require that we utilize all of our many gifts including the spiritual or take the time to shore up the ones we lack and that is not always more textbooks.

I share all of this with you because very recently– I feel the spirit of life beckoning me to be still. I can barely hear the distant musical melody from my ancestors that requires me to listen more deeply. It has become increasingly difficult to hear the song. There has been so much noise as of late blasting on social media and the television airwaves. I cannot even find a moment’s peace with my IPhone wrestling for my attention at all hours of the night trying to deliver to me what Professor Tim Wu label’s as intentional distractions.

The “Attention Merchants” surround us from every corner and are desperate to engulf every bit of our brain space and focus. Dr. Wu quotes psychologist and philosopher William James, who “held that our life experience would ultimately amount to whatever we had paid attention to.” Lately– I have become completely distracted by the attention merchants but I cannot just blame the media or marketing hounds or even politics for that matter—I have lost my focus from distraction. I spend much less time in meditation, contemplation and prayer. I am always rushing from this assignment to the next. I am a great cook but oft-times cannot recall what epicurean delight I just ate. I am eating but–I am not tasting, I am traveling but not going anywhere seemingly different because I am not pausing to enjoy where I traveled. I am meeting people and yet not taking my time to connect as deeply or in more meaningful ways–so important to me. Why am I in such a rush to get through life? Who said I had to rush?

I used to pride myself on living a life of “Ichi-go, Ichi-e” one moment, every moment is a Japanese four-character idiom that describes a cultural concept of treasuring meetings with people. Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki taught me to cherish any gathering that I may take part in, citing the fact that many meetings in life are not repeated. Wikipedia insists the concept is most commonly associated with Japanese tea ceremonies, especially tea masters—but actually history taught us that the noble Samurai professed allegiance to “living life to the fullest” therefore giving their all in every battle. I got to confess it was the core of my being and I have no idea where it went? I am losing the essence of me. I am not taking my time to savor each and every moment of life.  It seems I am always in a hurry to know more, see more— do more and yet I am learning less. I have lost the beauty of the moment, I have lost the wisdom of contemplating the experience. I don’t want to lose the exquisite flavor of the Joie de vivre of my life.

In the past year, I experienced one of the most horrendous challenges of my life. This event caused me to question everything even the value of my existence. Like a warrior preparing for battle–I am in a battle for my soul. I must center. I am going to be less social on social media and more in the moment. I am returning back to that which gives me peace. I want to hear the melody being played by the ancestors on ancient instruments.

Please–this is by no means a judgment or instruction for others but simply a sharing of my heart. I HAVE to do this for me. Creator is calling me back to a time of silence. God’s song is like no other to me and so why would I not want to listen? Creator’s melody is certain in my spirit. God’s beckoning draws me like no other power on earth. Creator wants my FULL attention to show me what I cannot learn in text books or by scouring the vast internet information highway. I cannot explain it–other than–I have always heard this song from the first moment of my awareness. It is the peaceful melody of a beautifully played hand crafted Native flute or the gentle but resilient Japanese Shakuhachi. I must follow the music—because the melody brings me tremendous strength and peace. Perhaps in moments of quiet I will discover the knowledge I seek and the wisdom the Pima beckoned. I do not want to be so vastly educated if being educated means I can no longer hear the melody and I lose my heart.

Blessings–always from my heart,

Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato #risetoexcellence

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STILL WE RISE

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YOU HAVE A PURPOSE. I have a purpose.

Last night I went to bed so encouraged. I realized after watching the PBS documentary BLACK AMERICA SINCE MLK: AND STILL I RISE—my life has significant meaning and purpose and I encourage you to reflect on what you can do and where you can continue to best serve humanity.

Dr. Henry Gates, Jr.’s exploration of the past 50 years of the Civil Rights movement reminded me that the struggle for civil rights had it’s up and down and far from secured. I realized my life’s purpose is not yet done. We all have a calling–what is yours?

I recollected that I shared dinner and prayer with Rosa Parks, I have been embraced and told “you are lovely” by Coretta Scott King, I have shared the platform with Senator Julian Bond, enjoyed a special conversation with Congressman Andrew Young, I was introduced to Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael) Civil Rights activist in my UO undergraduate days and was encouraged by Dr. Derrick Bell (Harvard and UO Dean) to care about the Faces at the Bottom of the Well and seek UO Law School. My life has been anything but ordinary as General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. took my hands and prayed with me and for my sons after becoming a single-parent. Brothers and Sisters–fear and doubt always abound but we must face directly what we fear the most.

Being greeted and encouraged by President Jimmy Carter—numerous Governors and Senators throughout my life reminded me we all have a responsibility with the mantle of leadership even if we are not acknowledged. There have been many Civil Rights leaders who did not make it in to Dr. Gates documentary but they have all contributed to this important movement of humanity which women and LGBTQ and other civil rights struggles have benefited. We all desire to be “seen” as human beings with a special gift and unqiue purpose. My most inspirational moment is the deep embrace and words of encouragement from Dr. Maya Angelou who (I believe) passed me the torch of individual responsibility to actively and continually work for change. My purpose definitely includes civil and human rights–that’s why I will never give up. We must keep going brothers and sisters because as Dr. King cautioned “injustice anywhere is indeed injustice everywhere,”

Yes–our nation has progressed considerably in five decades but the struggle is far from over. One election, four years of uncertainty will not deter my passion nor dilute my purpose. In my heart, through my personal experience and in contemplative prayer this is by far the most important cause I/we will ever embrace. This “struggle” is for the greater good of all–even though–those who least understand or embrace civil and human rights constrain or close their hearts. I appreciate Dr. Gates documentary–he reminded me of all of the important changes the civil rights movement brought to the United States of America and throughout the world. The documentary encouraged me to be encouraged, pray about my/your purpose—never give in and never ever give up. We all have a dream for a more humane nation and a healthier world.

<3 Rising Sun #risetoexcellence #bethe change

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One More Cup of Good Coffee Before I Go

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Have you ever heard that song by Bob Dylan–one more cup of coffee before I go? Is that about unrequited love or is it about him not settling? Maybe it is about the struggle of enjoying the moment but not wanting to put up with something less? You can read so much in to a song but what I have learned in my life is that I truly want to enjoy life much as possible and that includes tasting as much good coffee as I can–while I still have time.

I appreciate getting older and enjoy the discernment that comes with living life fully. I am less inclined these days to waste time and even less motivated to give up so readily what I worked hard to earn. I do not shop where stores focus more on their profit margin rather than genuine service to the customer. I have increasingly excused myself from conversations where meaningless dialogue persists or gossip proliferates. Time is important to me. I do not watch mindless television that perpetuates demeaning cultural stereotypes and have zero tolerance for advertisements that minimize the value of women. I have the power to choose.

I just do not have time for hyperbole or baloney nor do I want to support inferior products manufactured to deceive me out of my hard earned money. Time is of essence. I cannot spend precious time on anything that minimizes me or others. I am not wired that way and regret putting up with nonsense simply because as a woman, as a woman of color, as the first woman blazing many trials—I was expected to endure nonsense.

Some may conclude—I have become less patient but in all reality I have become more patient by waiting for what is meant to be. I am a better person now that I am following my heart as much as possible. There is something so empowering about knowing who you are and reassuring about what you will and will not tolerate. I truly know in this season of my life who I want to be. I know what I enjoy and I fully discern through prayer what is not acceptable or allowable in my life. Knowing who you are and what you want in life frees you from all of the insecurity of knowing how to open this amazing gift we call life. Spending time dismantling the annoying bubble wrapping of mediocre merchandise or plastic coating of disingenuous relationships is not worth the time spent.

I had a bit of an epiphany this morning but first it is important to understand—I have a morning routine. I wake up happy because I appreciate life—every single moment. I make the pups (rescue Yoshistune and Rez pup George) toast, fill their food bowls and top off their water dishes. I let the pups out to do their personal business and then I brew myself a cup of coffee in a special ceramic cup of choice before I sit down to review my daily schedule. Anyone who knows me well knows that I enjoy a decent cup of coffee. I don’t drink a lot—most days just two cups but those two cups of coffee are an important part of my morning ritual—it sets my day straight. It is important to have something you look forward to and enjoy each day.

This morning I was trying out a new brand. The first sip was awful, the second sip was worse. No matter how much my glass half full attitude tried to enjoy it—it was truly awful. If you grew up economically poor like me there is a voice that lingers in your head that beckons you to finish everything on your plate. It does not matter how bad something tastes (burnt toast, moldy bread, weak coffee) you just endure and finish it as a sign of appreciation. I thought it was me, maybe my taste buds were off kilter but no the second cup was worse than the first. (Yeah– can you believe I actually tried to give the brand a second chance?) I realized that the manufacturer had cut corners and measured less ground coffee in the pod (and before my contentious environmental loving friends flip out– I do recycle every bit of the pods’ –allow me the pleasure of enjoying the coffeemaker my sons got for me as a gift.) So– as I was sipping the second cup of coffee I realized, I don’t have to finish this—yes it may be wasteful but it is awful and the company that makes it and the stores that sell it needs to know– it is unacceptable. I poured out the coffee and brewed myself a second cup from the brand I consistently enjoy and can trust. A smile returned to my face as I realized—I am done with settling. I am taking the terrible brand back to the store for a refund.

Whether it is coffee, the toilet paper or paper towel rolls that seem to be shrinking but sold at a higher cost, the outrageous pharmaceuticals that are pushed at us for ridiculous corporate profit or even (yes even) a business or personal relationship that minimizes your gifts or strengths—don’t allow yourself to be cheated or deceived by anything that diminishes you and shorts you on enjoying fully what life has to offer.

I wonder sometimes what would happen if we spoke up more than we do about mediocre or inferior stuff or walk away more readily from situations that demean us as human beings? Perhaps as consumers– if we universally spoke up and protested at declining product value or excessive pricing—the corporate profit mongers would listen? I wonder if– as colleagues we stand up and walk out of conversations that are less than what they can be (lukewarm or bitter) or as human beings we speak up and let friends or family know that being an unkind, unloving or cruel person is just not ok—would circumstances change? There are a lot of possibilities here beloved—think about it or better yet contemplate it over a really tasty cup of coffee.

I am a genuine-kind and loving human being and being true to myself is so much more important to me than fitting in, being accepted in to a group or succumbing. Our life individually and our lives collectively will improve for the better when we do not settle for less than what it could be or should be.

It may seem a bit silly to you that I learned all of this from a lousy cup of coffee but this morning I realized—I have had enough. I have had enough of putting up with, enduring, settling for and making excuses for others. It is perfectly fine for me to not ingest the watered down or bitter version of another whether product or person. I know who I am and what I am about. I know what I want and what I want is to live a life that is genuine and loving. I also know I want to live in a world where people are not afraid to be kind and finally dammit I want to enjoy a decent cup of coffee every morning especially when I work hard for that cup.

Genuinely and always lovingly, Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato

 

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USE THE FINE CHINA

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We humans have such peculiar habits and traditions. Loved ones gift us outrageous china to celebrate our wedding nuptials or send us beautiful linens to congratulate our anniversary and we store them away. Our children buy us way too expensive gifts on our birthday sometimes proudly with their first paycheck and we put the present on a high self out of reach. Our young husbands (well at least for me) blow their entire paycheck on a perfume to exemplify his/her love and where do we put it? We put it important stuff away. Why do we hide things away?
 
I have the habit of tucking away gifts of tremendous monetary or sentimental value–but I don’t get this behavior. Why do we hide away what we treasure? One can frequent estate sales, weekend garage sales or even the “Goody Will” as my ex-husbands’ grandmother used to call it and find these treasures dusty, unused and forgotten.
 
Anyone who knows me well, understands how much my sons mean to me. Over the years, my three boys have purchased me Coach Athletic Shoes, beautiful handmade earrings, expensive Coach Purses and fun coffee cups they find during their academic and life adventures (I really like coffee by the way.) Each time one of my sons arrives home to visit they will ask “Mom do you use that purse I bought you?” They will smile but look just a little bit disappointed when I tell them how much I treasure the gift and I do not want to ruin it. I also do not want to be brash and rock a five hundred dollar Coach bag on the Reservation when people are having a tough time making the light bill—it seems like bragging. After-all, people do not know that my sons saved and pooled their hard-earned funds to gift me the special purse. Sometimes gifts are not practical, they are given in love and honor of the person receiving the gift. What are we saying when we do not use the gifts we are given?
 
I am a little odd anyway—I tend to treasure things that may not have any really monetary value like pictures my sons have created, a special coffee cup a friend as given. I tuck away artwork that I value and do not want to get dusty or soiled. I treasure each and every gift given to me in genuine love and joy. My Coach running shoes sat on the upper corner of my closet for five years until one day when all of my cheap everyday shoes had worn out and I needed something to wear–I rocked the shoes carefully uncovering the paper wrapped around them. Those shoes were the most comfortable pair I had ever owned and– I wore them every day.
 
This morning I woke up and I could not find a clean coffee cup. I realized I set the dishwasher to clean last night and forgot to push the button. I looked at the coffee cup collection I had amassed and laughed. I said to myself “Oh Elizabeth—it is time to use the fine china.” While I have never owned expensive fine china or impossibly costly crystal—I often witness how friends and family stock up these beautiful treasures and put them away –safe— only to be used on special occasions. Why not use your fine china today?
 
Life is a special occasion. Today is a special occasion. Using with joy what is gifted to you is a special occasion. Today– I will use (for me) what is fine china. I rinsed the coffee cup my son purchased for me when he traveled to Canada. I am now enjoying every sip of this delicious coffee of awareness as I pen this encouragement to you.
 
Tomorrow is promised to no one, as my son’s great Grandma Ruby Garnet Bagley Kent used to say to me. She used her fine china every single day most especially when she would prepare elaborate meals for those she loved. Beloved–It is time to rock those special earrings, adorn that fragrant perfume and sip from the delicious cup of life—today, use what you treasure and enjoy your life well lived.
 
Always in love,
Rising Sun
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The Dual Blessing of the Comfort Zone

comfort

I have never, ever worked, studied or lived in the “comfort zone” always challenged myself to stretch, be uncomfortable, constantly work–work hard for the sake of the greater good. Such earnest effort were drilled in my spirit culturally by both parents. It was also important to me– that my life’s work had some meaningful purpose.

I wonder sometimes what impact does constantly working, continually working hard have on our health and well-being? Is it ok to rest in a comfort zone of balance from time to time?

As the white hairs proliferate on my head, I am now understanding that sometimes we need to be in a place of rest-rejuvenation and restoration in order to grow in to the amazing human being Creator purposed. I am now realizing there is a dual purpose of the comfort zone which is not afforded to many depending upon your social, economic or political status.

A very good friend of mine shared with me in a recent conversation “Brown Bear (one of my nicknames) I am tired of being an attorney or mediator/conciliator” (something she is very good at), “I feel like I want to quit my career, move up north and protest with the Native Tribes about the impact of environmental obstruction and abuse.” We both laughed and laughed as I paused and replied “gee that is what I have been doing my entire life do you suppose I can take a break?” For many people, especially people of color and some women working for societal change– making aware, protesting and leading proactive and positive change has been our life’s work. I don’t think I have ever taken a break or not volunteered to help some organization or company or ecumenical organization seek their best effort.

If you have been working hard– perhaps over working–there may be some wisdom in seeking a comfort zone that will help you rejuvenate your best gifts. I am not suggesting a comfort zone rooted in fear or immobility or contentment of the status quo.  I believe there is a ancient parable based on practice that the farmer works and harvests her vineyards and orchards for six years and rests her fields the seventh year.

While hard work is an admirable character trait–working too hard can lead to fatigue and deficiencies. I wonder what environmental or spiritual imbalances we are causing when we do not heed to the teachings of our ancestors working the land (our ourselves) too hard all for the sake of mass production and “success.”  We live in a society that pushes and produces to the extreme and yet perhaps our best work can be realized when we take the time to reflect on healthy growth for others and yes–by all means for ourselves.

Rising to excellence is also about taking time to rest so we have the energy and balance to rise, yet again— to become our best selves.

Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato, Founder Rise to Excellence

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Oh My Papa

 

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Honoring My Father–dedicated to a leader before his time

Oh, my Papa, to me he was so wonderful, Oh, my Papa, to me he was so good.
I never understood your intensity and why you had such a temper
Yes, the world was unjust, close-minded and discriminatory.
But why was it your battle to agitate, form unions, continually fight injustice and feed the poor?

I just wish I could have seen you more, heard you laugh and be reassured by your smile.
Instead– the reflection of your hope was enslaved to a bottle that deferred your dreams and sometimes ours.
Oh my Papa, no one could be so gentle and so lovable Oh, my Papa you always understood.

You knew didn’t you? You knew that one of your seven would inherit the fire of your passion for people and concern for our planet?
The truth is–sometimes I regretted carrying your legacy, Oh my Papa you are a tough act to follow.
I see your brilliance now in your words–through your letters
though others tried to hold you to that ninth grade education–what fools.
Few knew you had travelled every continent, experienced amazing education from the university of life–a much better professor.

It seems like you were searching for something.
Papa did you ever find it?

You never allowed anyone to put you, our mother or your seven children in a restrictive box.
You rallied us to fight bigotry with education, limitations with athletics and injustice with integrity.
Your MSTS and Merchant Marine expeditions revealed an inconvenient truth but you never stopped protesting.
Now I read your letters to Senator Wayne Morse concerned about the perpetual impact of war, raging about pollution and wonder why no one listened? Your truth was frightening.
Great leaders admitted to you in pen– truth could not be found in the promises of men

I finally understand why you often left us and our mother to do what you felt compelled to do. How you felt obligated and honored to serve a country that denied your own
Perhaps your solace was finding love in a land far from your own and joy knowing your quiver was full.

But Papa–gone are the days when you would take me on your knee and with your brief smiles change my tears to laughter.
Oh, my Papa, so commanding, so formidable, always the mighty oak so vulnerable in your own way
The few times I caught you smile, my fears subsided and my hopes soared. I wish I knew then what I know now
Oh, my Papa to me you were so wonderful
Deep in my heart I miss you so today

Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato, daughter of Captain Ralph Stuart Warner, Sr.

(c) Oh My Papa– song sung by Eddie Fisher. My father’s favorite interwoven with my prose.

In honor of my father–born in 1911. While he left home after completing the ninth grade (like many men of his time) stepping up after his young father and two older brother who died young. My father felt compelled to support his mother and two sisters. He started a family later in life because he traveled by large Merchant ships EVERYWHERE. He was very busy agitating for unions and equal pay and then fighting unions to be inclusive. He was always protesting the significant impact of industry on the oceans he loved with all of his heart. He married my mother (16 years younger than Papa) when he traveled to Tokyo Japan after WWII. He was the father of seven children though we rarely saw him–sometimes once or twice a year. He died young from a serious Astrocytoma III (brain tumor) when I was in my junior year in high school. His legacy lives in my life work and through my writing–which one day I hope to solely focus and share.

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