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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LET YOUR DREAMS INSPIRE YOU

Dreams

Funny but very true story. I was enjoying some fabulous sleep this morning I was tuckered out from an intense work week and then rushing to the Sisters Rodeo. In fact, I still have rodeo dust in my nostrils and hair. I vaguely remember my son Samuel saying goodbye this morning as he left for work at 6am. Sometimes Yoshistune and George will stir and that will interrupt my sleep but I was tucked in and dreaming away.

I had the very best dream ever. It was some GOOD sleep, you know the kind where you are snoring and drooling at the same time? Well I was blowing up the covers dreaming about what appeared to be my future husband. Yee haw, he was very handsome and very tall. He was making me laugh, we had horses and land near water. I was in heaven because he was not only nice to look at but I could tell from his eyes he was very kind and loving. My hair had grown very long and the wind was blowing gently, the day was sunny and I swear we must have had at least 7 dogs. I had finally reached a healthy body size and I was wearing jeans—can you believe it—me and jeans! He had his arm around me and pulled me close to him telling me how much he loved me and I was the happiest I had even been in my life—in that moment I was filled with joy and peace.

Then the doorbell rang.

I kid you not. In the distance the noise of the dogs barking pulled me away from my moment of joy and peace, I struggled to stay fully in the dream but to no avail my dream dissipated as I tried to revive my senses back to the “real world.”

I stumbled to the front door and sure enough it was Jehovah Witnesses bringing me “the good news.” I wanted to invite them in to describe in detail my dream especially the parts where you do not disclose on Facebook but I decided to be nice. Instead I thanked them for their brief visit and tried to go back to sleep. To no avail–the pups were ready for their morning breakfast and the dream was lost.

In that moment I heard Creator say to me “Beloved–trust in me and continue to do good; Dwell in the land I have sent you to cultivate hope and faithfulness. Delight yourself in all of the beauty I have shown you even with those who reject and hurt you. Love the ones I love and I will give you the desires of your heart.”

I wept with such joy.

What was I dreaming about? Was Creator the handsome young gentleman in the flesh or is the love and peace I felt in that moment–possible? The truth (for me) is I do not live for what Creator can do for me although the thought that God will someday provide for me even what is seemingly impossible quickens my heart. The truth is– I live to serve—I always have and it is not easy serving when you are (always) considered an outsider. no matter the social, cultural or economic context. I am grateful for the nudging of the great spirit in quiet moments of prayer or in dreams so vivid and powerful. I do not own fancy things or enjoy the riches of kings but I have the ability to make a positive impact to me that is wealth beyond compare. I have the honor of raising three absolutely amazing sons, I have two eyes (although bifocals are needed desperately) to see the beautiful land God has provided for us to enjoy and the beautiful sentient beings we call animals. I get to hear the magnificent chorus of the winged ones who announce and delight for each sunrise. I get to receive the scent of nature whether sweet grass, sage or violets. I get to climb and journey beautiful landscapes despite slowing with age and I have an amazing family who loves and believes in me even when I fatigue from this calling on my life. I am plenty exhausted these days.

I am grateful for the dreams God gives me. It is important to dream. Dreams are a gift from God. I have always been a vivid dreamer. Dreams are an important mechanism for me to hope, Dreams guide me and open my heart up to a world I would not otherwise explore. Dreams tell me when to be careful and sometimes dreams are a reflective mirror for me to see—a time for me to reflect on something I need to be aware of or change.

Dreams and beliefs about dreams differ significantly across cultures. In certain societies, dreams are generally dismissed as unreal figments of imagination irrelevant to the concerns of day-to-day life. In some cultures people consider dreams critical sources of information-about the future, about the spiritual world, or about oneself. Cultures in which dreams are taken seriously accumulate a depth of observation and understanding of their dreams, so their beliefs may be of value to understand dreaming. Experts contend that how dreams are dealt with in different cultures may be examined from four perspectives: (1) beliefs people hold about the nature of dreaming; (2) conventional systems by which people interpret particular dreams; (3) the social context in which dreams are shared (or not shared) and (4) the ways in which dreams are used in practice, especially in curing or healing.

Last year a very dear friend of mine passed away, It was unexpected and way too soon. I wanted to write a book about her life—better yet I wanted to create a screen play worthy of the many stories she shared with me. I was devastated. It was through dreams she reassured me that all was not lost and that my engagement with her was just that—a time special for me. She taught me through dreams that not every single engagement I had with people had to be magnified or pronounced—even if I was thrilled about the blessing. She reassured me that she there just for me, to love me, to support me and to let me know that yes—even when life is tough and one endures all kinds of injustice—one can recover, heal and become strong to continue to help and love people Her life was all about loving people. I am so grateful that she allowed me to heal by her visits and our conversations in my dreams.

The truth is–my dreams remind me that I have lived a remarkable life, met amazing beings that most people never get an opportunity to know. I have enjoyed some incredible experiences and faced some painful heartache but I remain strong, hopeful and committed because of my dreams that remind me that the universe is so much larger and more significant than my individual existence but that my individual existence is also vital and that I can still (daily) contribute a great deal to the future trajectory of our communities and our planet.

I do not know if I will ever experience the kind of genuine love and joy I felt early this morning in a dream but this I know for certain—I am grateful for the life I have been given, I am humbled by the challenges I have overcome and I look forward to doing all can with what little time I have left to do all I can to make this a better world,. I also look forward to dreaming. Yes indeed–it keeps me hopeful. Can’t wait to get some shut eye tonight.

Sleep and dream well my friends. Love to all.

Always and forever,  (c) Elizabeth Asahi “Rising Sun” Sato

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A Transplanted Heart

hard heart

 

There are days I wonder “what’s the point?” Why should I care, why should I try to be compassionate and loving in such a cruel world filled with arrogant disdain and toxic vitriol? The recent political climate has become so ugly, politicians are echoing words of hatred and fear back and forth and we voters are responding by chiming in with more hatred and fear. There are moments I want to run away, simply pack up my bags and relocate to a place of peace, a community where people genuinely care about one another, the environment and the delicate sentient beings given to us to care for in the form of animals.
Where does one escape the insecurities, arrogance and frailty of the human heart?

I thought I did good by changing my focus in life. I thought I was on the right path seeking Creator’s direction in serving humanity with the skills and capabilities I was given. The problem seems to be lately that if you are gentle-hearted, trusting, compassionate or loving— you are labeled as weak, or as a fool. What happened to humanity? Where are our priorities? What happened to our heart?

In the past two years, I have learned that no matter where I travel—I will always be an outsider because it seems people simply do not trust one another enough anymore to allow collaboration and proactive healthy change. Collaboration and the sharing of power and resources requires trust and some vulnerability. Whether it is fortune 500 companies, leadership organizations, nonprofits or academia—people are in a desperate search for accomplishment and success—but what really constitutes success?

I have come to learn that people who live in the barrios, the inner city, affluent communities or on the reservation—are deeply hurting for something so much larger than what society can provide or has prioritized as success. Capitalistic growth models, insane profit and individual success continually scream at us through media or via educational institutions– what is important, the latest, the greatest—that which will give us happiness. Yet—why are we, as the human race more miserable than we have ever been?

I cannot speak for others but I have faced a great deal in my life. I have endured horrendous suffering and circumstances that many would say are “impossible” to ever recover but I still have hope.

This morning, as my eyes opened to a window filled with sunshine and the echoes of birds joyously pronouncing a new day—I was grateful for the sign, there is always tomorrow. The torrential downpour we experienced in central Oregon yesterday was a bit depressing especially if you like to be outdoors. Today I understand that the rain fed the plants, filled and cleaned the streams and nourished the newly planted crops. I was a little down yesterday—sometimes I get like the little cartoon donkey Eeyore and I laugh at my vulnerability but I also am grateful I learn each and every day—I am so very human. Sometimes, I feel that that no matter what I did, no matter what I do or will do—no matter how much I sacrifice, no matter how much I try to share the positive, my compassion or my love for humanity—it will all fall on deaf ears and hard hearts.

Today I recollected there was a time in my life my heart was hard too.
During my undergraduate years at the University of Oregon, I studied all of the major religions and faith perspective even though I enrolled as Political Science major and Ethic Studies minor. I had such a thirst to know. I first enrolled in Pre-Med because I wanted to be a Pediatrician but I could not quite cut the O-Chem and Physics taught by foreign GTF’s who I had a hard time understanding. I was pushy, radical and at –times believed I actually knew everything. Like many young people of my time, I protested everything from demanding divestment of the Krugerrand to demanding doors be opened to those marginalized throughout history. I was bright, articulate but more than anything I was foolishly brave. While my mother wanted me to attend law school—I rebelled even against her. I despised everything and anything that reeked of the establishment. I most especially rebelled against organized religion and believed that individual meditation and discipline could bring forth better character than incessant recitation of profound words altered by man’s understanding and that was (in my eyes) limited. I hated what organized religion coupled with commercialism and profit making (despite the churches nonprofit status) sucked out of the veins of the poor who earnestly believed the church had their best interest in mind. My heart was increasingly hardened to the reality that what people said and promised was not what they did.

People’s behavior influenced me.
Life changed me.
Circumstances changed my heart.

While I was fortunate to break bread and consult with some of the greatest and most prolific leaders of our time—even those instances did not impact me as much as one moment, one time—an experience I will never forget. What did open my eyes and compel me to seek something greater than my own individual concerns was working alongside power-filled people whose hearts had hardened beyond repair or— so I thought. If my heart could be healed–perhaps anyone no matter how hardened could transform too?

There was/is something greater than myself, something greater than this world, something greater than all of the magnificence of the universe that caught hold of my heart and has not let go. Today it is as clear as it was decades ago and I will never ever forget the moment of transformation (that is another story for another day.) What caught a hold of my heart not only changed me—it changed the trajectory of my life. I was no longer concerned about success, power or fame—I could care less whether men found me beautiful or if I could attain the perfect figure to please some or the right degrees to impress others. I was in that moment more concerned about my inner spirit and whether my heart was pure. You may be chuckling at this point—what the heck—who wants a pure heart? You see beloved, pure to me does not mean innocent or without blight—pure to me means genuine and filled with a yearning for spiritual truth not often articulated in sermons, or proclamations or the rhetoric of man. In that moment of seeking–a spirit, an energy, a power so much greater than me—reached inside my heart and transplanted a force that cannot be removed, diluted or crushed even through hardship or the cruelty of human behavior. This new heart compels me to forgive even when I know logically it is the most illogical thing to do. This new heart compels me to serve even when people I love could care less about my genuine intent by spitting in my face or laughing at my efforts. This new heart compels me to have compassion for the homeless beggar who seeks to be seen as a human being or the seemingly successful millionaire who has discovered all of his money and all of his fame has left him feeling empty and undeserving of compassion. In my younger days, despite being vibrant and healthy by the world’s standard—I suffered from heart disease and I was in serious need of surgery or a transplant.

It is by Creator’s grace and the love of the Great Physician—I start each day with a new heart. This morning the birds reminded me that each and every day I must start my day by seeking the hands of the Great Physician to reach deep within my bosom to clean and refresh my heart, to energize a heart sometimes clogged by the weariness of societal impurities, to reignite my commitment to do all I can and to be all I can—to make a difference no matter how minute to some. The truth is I cannot do any of this on my own. I am very human. I am aging day by day, I cannot run to this event or to that fundraiser like I used to but I can do whatever I am able wherever I am planted. There is a force, beloved friends is a melody that whispers to me in the still of the night, comforting my aching heart, this medicine brings me hope even when there seems little to look forward to in this world rapidly transforming because of so many hardened hearts.

Please understand–I am no different than you, I am no better than you, I am no more profound than you—I cannot do this in my own strength. I ask for help each and every day from the great Physician. It is very difficult to keep a pure and genuine heart. It is very difficult to forgive people and to serve with compassion but I believe with all of my new heart it is the only way we can save ourselves, save this planet filled with invaluable communities inhabited with good people seeking what we all seek in life– but who may not have the resources or the tools we have to implement collaborative, positive and proactive change for the greater good of all.

Sometimes I laugh at my foolishness. In my youth– I worried about whether I was beautiful enough intelligent enough or articulate enough and yet I now know that none of those attributes matter at all. I do not care about those material things or societal expectations any more. I want my heart to be beautiful, my intellect to be balanced with wisdom and my words to be blessed by Creator to touch the hearts of others. Daily I pray that the Great Physician will transform—perhaps transplant your heart to become strong and vibrant. I pray that you will have the opportunity to do and to be all you can be. This life is so brief—beloved—some of us have less time than others to make a positive impact, to leave behind a legacy that outlives their brief life. There is not enough time to do all of the many things we can do to change the trajectory of our individual communities, to transform our politically misguided nation and to clean our ailing planet. Thirty years ago, as an arrogant young women I challenged this Great Spirit– this mighty physician, this Creator or all that is mysterious and magnificent to utilize through me Creator’s heart. I sought to know exactly what and how I could be of best service to this world and as the gray hairs proliferate my head—I realize that while that single moment was so unforgettably profound—I must cleanse, renew and reignite the rhythm of my heart each and every day. A new heart, a healthy heart continually matures me, restores me and revitalizes me to serve others with every fiber of my being. For me, the Rising Sun—this is the most important gift I can leave for my sons and grandchildren to be and it is the only gift I can leave that is worth anything of value when I depart this earth.
Always and forever,
Rising Sun

A Transplanted Heart—restored every day by the Great Physician.

Ezekiel 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water on you. A new heart I will give you. I will give you a new spirit. I will put my spirit in you.

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The blessings of knowing your purpose

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For nearly three decades– I grew up, walked, meditated and learned Buddhist teaching. I studied the Lotus Sutra and renounced any connection with Christians, Christianity or the interpretation of the Gospels through mankind most especially because of the horrific historic and societal oppression that traumatized so many cultures and communities.

Then in my thirties–I had a transformative experience–most of my friends thought–“goodness gracious–not her–its impossible–she is too radical” some thought– or “too intellectual” to accept such simplistic teachings. The truth is– This transformative moment was inexplicable–it was profound, enlightening, confusing and has been tough. This balance of good and evil, joy and misery, right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy–is like walking on a tightrope suspended above the clouds–but I know confidently who will catch me each and every time I slip and fall. It is this magnificent energy, this peace-filled boundless spirit that encourages me to love the unlovable, serve the ungrateful and forgive some of the most unforgiving human beings on the planet.

It is this God, this Creator–this peace that ignites my soul, engages my spirit and fortifies my heart to be the best human being I can be.–each and every day. I know there are days I fall short–I know there are days I become weary–but I am so very grateful each and every morning that I have an opportunity to listen to Pastor Ron Mehl who is now deceased. His words live on forever because they are filled with love and truth. Dr. Mehl’s words are so simple and kind but so encouraging. I am grateful that I also have the words of Rosa Parks who I dined with, laughed with and prayed with–she encouraged me never to lose my faith or my joy, I am grateful for the encouragement of Maya Angelou who hugged me and encouraged me to write and to have faith in the gifts God provided, I am grateful for the gentleman known as General Norman Schwarzkopf who took the time to pray with me as a believer when I was going through a divorce to give me the encouragement and confidence I could raise my sons to become good-strong-kind men, I am grateful for the time I met the amazing Coretta Scott King who told me I was beautiful and special–all of these individuals who have known the blessings of something greater than our individuals selves– remind me that my life does serve a purpose greater than my own individual self interests. Increasingly, I am confident that my life’s purpose is to be encouraging, to be loving and to be forgiving–to share all of the many things I cannot truly do in my own strength or the compassion I rarely receive in return–I willingly and without reservation share all that I have, all that I know and all that I am or will become with genuine love.

Many blessings to all who have taken the time to read this,

Elizabeth–the Rising Sun

(c) Artwork by the amazing Aaron Paquette, Metis artist and leader. He is my favorite artist.

I love my friends and family so very much. This is a little something I learned this morning and am reflecting upon this weekend of restoration.

The Blessings of God/Creator (Atwai–deceased) Pastor (Dr.) Ron Mehl,  Heart of the Word

You can follow his teachings here:

http://www.compassion-ministries.org/

Blessings come when you look in the right place

  • Blessings come from God/Creator
  • When God blesses your life you mature/grow and then Creator (oddly enough) requires more of you and the more that is required of you–the more you grow and are blessed. Does that seem crazy or what–it is so true.
  • God fixes our mistakes, comes after us to clean up and restore to help us and others grow
  • Blessings come to those who respect and honor God/Creator

Blessings come when you renounce all sense of pride

  • The flesh/human nature loves to be praised-to be full of oneself
  • Do not rely upon yourself but focus on God/Creator
  • Real blessings glorifies God –does not misrepresent Creators heart and hope for this world.
  • Do not look to the world. The world praises you one day and condemns you the next do not look to people for affirmation, look to God
  • a Godly person is extremely humble and gives God/Creator the credit

Blessings come when you live for others

  • a Godly person is extremely humble and gives God/Creator the credit
  • “My soul is as a weaned child”—grow up, mature and move in the confidence of God provides in his word– not your own capabilities
  • Talk about the blessings of God/Creator and be concerned about others in a good way. It is true what you focus on, what you speak become a part of who you are. Relinquish gossip, jealousy and slander–focus on working on you.
  • Consider your family, live for others, a person who is extremely kind and compassionate is thoughtful of others
  • When it is dark it is Creator who will turn the light on for the person who is blessed
  • Think about God, God’s heart and Creators joy for you and care for your family
  • In terms of your finances/material possessions, be a lender and consider others who need help–give without expectation or too much attached to generosity.
  • Be compassionate, be kind and be generous, steadfast and sure
  • You will become a great person of influence—witness to a world if you live genuinely in service to others.

Blessings come when you live humbly

  • We live humbly because we recognize how magnificent God’s grace
  • Real blessing produces righteousness (it is not looks or things or what you produce) but how you are–genuinely
  • Standards do not produces righteousness, righteousness (what God wants for people for this world) produces genuine standards
  • People break their necks to get what God will give them for free. Creator reminds us God wants to freely give to us (security, comfort, satisfaction) Live and walk humbly and Creator will bestow upon you great blessings
  • It is a privilege to serve God

Important things to do each day for those who are continually blessed: (Good reminders)

#1 Praise Creator for what he has done: think back at what God has done for you, count your blessings with joy and thanksgiving (I like to sing every day my gratitude.) Being grateful brings many more blessings.

#2 Praise God for what he offers: convictions (to guide us), wonderful relationships, security to our lives, direction, kindness, steadfastness to our lives, influence in our lives—people are affected and impacted by your life.

#3 Praise God/Creator for what God is doing now: God is doing something today, you might not see it–do not wait until tomorrow. God’s blessing is always sure and will affect many generations.

#4 Praise God for what God will do in the future: God will work out every single situation. He will satisfy and arrange everything in your future. Your happiness and joy remains in Jesus example, some who call him Christ or with indigenous people the indigenous man who loved God and or to walk the Jesus way. Do not be preoccupied with what the world has done or is doing. Be happy with where you are at now and what you have—the happiness of our life depends upon our active relationship with God. Even if you were materially poor and lived in a deserted land—your joy and peace comes from something so magnificent, unseen and remarkable –so all else is blessing. Be at peace and receive with joy the simple things of God. Let us understand fully that the blessings we enjoy come from God/Creator/Universe.

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Living in the moment—a mother’s day parable

okaasanmotherI just finished my daily phone call with my mother, Shizue Sato Warner. My Okaasan (mother) always makes me smile when it comes to her philosophy of life. One truly needs to fully understand the heart of a Japanese mother to comprehend how important humility and perseverance are to the role of a mother. Western critics often misrepresent the stoic nature of the Asian mother by suggesting they are over-expectant or over critical and that is simply not true. Yes they can be tough, but exemplifying love is teaching her children the art of survival.

Since the first moment, I can recall my mother often taught us through parables utilizing animals such as tiger or bear mother’s to capture our young minds. “Ano ne” she would say in Japanese prefacing the beginning of a story “the mommy lion she take her babies up big hill and she let them slip downhill to bottom, they cry and cry for their mommy. She say to baby, come on, you can do it, climb up the hill. It is tough for mommy to watch baby crying but she know. Soon the crying babies climb up the hill to their mommy. You see they learn they can do it.”

I think I learned my appreciation for the beautiful sentient animal beings from my mother who also loves animals. She humanized their love of children. Whether it was lions or tigers or bears—there was always a story about how with a mother’s love– children would learn how to become self-sufficient—to survive. After-all, we do not always have our mothers with us for our entire lives. Time with our mothers is very precious.

Today, as I was trying to articulate my appreciation to my Okaasan she shrugs off any complement “yeah yeah ok thank you but today no different I go workout, hit the ball, every day the same.” In her still thick Japanese accent Okaasan is expressing today is like no other, she does what she has to do to stay strong. Okaasan takes care of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren by taking care of herself. She does that by diligently going to the gym and hitting the racquetball one thousand times (and at 90 years old that is no small feat.) My mother Shizue does not do a whole lot of talking. Okaasan teaches her children by doing and for a Japanese mother– passing down the important lessons of discipline, perseverance and humility are far more important than spoiling or indulging her children (although quite honestly she has been known to do that too) My mother understands from experience the harsh realities of life losing her mother as a young child and then raising seven children not unlike a single mom. Our Father was always out at sea as a Merchant Marine Captain with Okaasan fending for her children in a country where the customs and language are very different than what she was accustomed. Just when she became somewhat adjusted– losing her daughter to leukemia and husband to a virulent brain tumor while her children were young would shatter any human being–but not my mother. Shizue is resilient. Nothing deterred Okaasan from raising her children to be honorable, genuine and hardworking. Sure she takes great pride in our academic and career success—but more importantly it mattered to Okaasan what kind of people we would become—character was/is everything to her.

Each and every day my mother does all she can to instill in us (even as adults) that TODAY is the most important day of our lives. Today is what matters most. The Zen Buddhist Monk Shunryu Suzuki describes it as “Ichi-go, Ichi-e.” One moment, one time. The mighty Samurai embraced this philosophy in Bushido and we learn of its value in Chanoyu (tea ceremony.) Beloved–live in this moment as if it is the only moment, one’s very last moment–then there is no regret. Like my mother, I encourage you to live fully embracing the precious nature of the moment. My mother was born during the same era as Suzuki and she has always taught me to live fully and to embrace each and every opportunity. My life is richer for these life lessons.

I am grateful to my Okaasan for the many parables she taught me and continues to teach me. I pass down these invaluable life lessons to my three sons and someday prayerfully my grandchildren. Today is like no other day beloved– but today is the only day. Live for the beauty of the moment, live fully for today.

Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato

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humility

 

This week has been a real “eye-opener” for me. As the gray hairs proliferate my head, I am beginning to not only see a great deal more than I did when I was young and passionate about the world—I am beginning to discern a great deal more about human nature. The parables of our elders are very informative especially when instructing us about seeing people for who they really are. I tend to see people from my heart and not my spirit which Creator is quickly fortifying in these past few months. I am learning that all that glitters is truly not gold and those who insist on inserting themselves continually in the “limelight” of power or fame truly do not have a heart for the people. I am learning that ego and “being right” is more important to some than being open and yielding to a collaborative leadership style that may best serve our broken communities and our crippled world. I am learning that those who speak the most about respecting the elders and the traditions that once fortified communities, tribes and nations in centuries past could care less about what the wisdom of the elders offer for current complications and present-day maladies. I have learned that those who boast continually about themselves or promote their agenda will ultimately be humbled by life’s circumstance. Real humility is quiet and almost unrecognizable unless you look for it thoughtfully using your spiritual lens. I am discovering it is the leaders who resist self –promotion and who honor those who do the work day in and day, that will be successful in way’s not defined by arrogant “man.” I am realizing that those who are truly humble and are passionate about leading without constant reward or recognition who will ultimately enable healthy and proactive change for the greater good. Talk is cheap.

Rising Sun

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Train well and be prepared

trainingToday when I was working out with my son Samuel, I felt the presence of my father in the garage where we work out. I recall vividly how Papa would encourage us–his seven children to work out first with the fast bag and then the large Merchant Marine sea bag he converted in to a heavy boxing bag. He made us work out each and every morning when we were kids. It felt like torture. Jumping jacks, jumping rope, squats– you name it.

We would get it done and walk inside to a home filled with the aroma of a father’s love. A table stacked with homemade pancakes, biscuits waffles, sausage, bacon and scrambled eggs–always fresh fruit. A cup of coffee with canned milk–still drink it to this day. He believed in hard work.

Papa was a working class man. He had a ninth grade education but was one of the most prolific writers I have ever met. Papa worked hard all his life but he believed in eating a healthy breakfast to start the day right. There were days I could not stand working out especially when it was raining but now I understand my father’s heart. “life is not a game–you have to be prepared” he often coached.

Captain Stuart was teaching us discipline and fortitude. He was helping us prepare for the time when he would not be there to help us. We lost him when we were very young. Life has been anything but a game for me. It has been hard work, lots of challenges and sometimes I was not prepared.

When you are prepared, when you keep yourself healthy, sharp and ready-you can face just about anything. I miss my father. He was a tough man but he loved us the best way he knew. I could feel my father’s spirit today watching his daughter with pride “that’s my girl, no matter how many times life knocks her down she gets right back up.” He trained me well. My son Samuel is training me well in boxing and martial arts. It feels good to train.

Till the last breathe in my soul–I will always get back up–it’s in my DNA to rise.

Rising Sun

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See the good in things and in people

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What a blessing it is for a mother to enjoy the wisdom of three grown sons.

I work in a profession where I engage with people all day long. There are good days and there are tough days. Some days are outright perplexing as I am continually amazed at the lack of courteousness and positive intent of some human beings.

Mediating disputes and procuring the truth requires deep focus and an acute awareness of personal and political agendas. It can be exhausting work but it is important work.  All to often the “truth” is nestled in the understanding that human beings seek affirmation for their gifts and skills, fair compensation and an acknowledgement for their hard work. Human beings want to be heard, need to feel their effort means something and acknowledged for their contribution. It is ok and in fact research illustrates that acknowledging the gifts, skills and contribution of co-workers is an important proactive action that creates a heathier work environment. Folks–it is perfectly ok to be nice and to be polite.

A great deal has changed since I was a little girl. It seems as of late the courteousness, the kindness and simple gestures of respect have diminished but I do not want to relinquish the many things I learned from my parents or what is integral to who I am. In fact–sometimes I feel like I have to fight to remain compassionate, kind and understanding.

Last night I had an amazing discussion with my middle son Samuel Kent​. It seems throughout my life– both friends and complete strangers will criticize that I am way to trusting and way to forgiving. “You are way to nice” people comment. It sometimes causes me to pause and doubt who I am and what I am called to do in my life’s work. I understand our human proclivity toward suggesting our best approach to “survival” is to be cautious and unwavering but what are we relinquishing when we are forced to continually remain “on guard?” Some colleagues suggest it is much better to be hard and untrusting (preserving one’s turf) than to be open and collaborative sharing power and space.

Samuel shared with me that in his perspective this is how Creator knitted his mother. He suggested that in his 23 years he sees his mother being consistent in her approach to people and in life. Samuel beckoned me to remain true to my nature. He shared that the world appears to be shifting to a harshness that causes human engagement to be less than cordial and certainly not intended for the greater good. He encouraged me to trust Creator’s wisdom and to rely upon the inexplicable strength and compassion that emanates from the guardian of the universe. A mysterious force  that no human being or dark force can truly explain or rival.

My son Samuel reassured me it takes greater strength to remain true to oneself, to embrace the unique calling on our life and that in my continual quest to (be me) by encouraging love, forgiveness and compassion that I motivate him and others.

Gosh–what a blessing for a mother, for a single-parent to hear wisdom, maturity and encouragement from her son. I am grateful for precious moments like these. I want to share these moments of satori with my friends because I often hear that my generation does not think much of the millennials–but they do have their own perception and wisdom.

Be encouraged beloved. Embrace the unique calling of your life’s purpose–remain true to who you are. Seek and exemplify compassion for the greater good of our human race and for our planet that we all rely upon for our sustenance and existence. Let us genuinely care for one another and be kind.  With humility and gratefulness for the joy of being a mother of three amazing sons.

Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato

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HEAVY LIFTING

victim
Human beings possess incredible strength. I have witnessed my mother endure some of the toughest life hardships with resilience and heard about my father rescuing a colleague who had fallen in the deep recesses of a gasoline tanker. People thought he was crazy but his shipmate was foaming at the mouth paralyzed by the fumes and my father did what he had to do to preserve life. He climbed in the tank. Human beings have the incredible capacity to do good things and to save lives.
Some call it hysterical strength, others refer to it as superhuman strength, “it is a display of extreme strength by humans, beyond what is believed to be normal, usually occurring when people are in life and death situations.” You have seen it time and time again on the nightly news. Parents lifting vehicles to rescue their children or a group of complete stranger lifting a bus to save a trapped elder. The extra strength is believed to come from adrenaline, though incidents are rare–there are a multitude of examples throughout human history of superhuman strength. Some conjecture that this rare strength may occur during excited delirium, others contend it is the unrelenting love of a mother or the compassion of human nature to save a life. The truth is probably a little bit of all of these things that contribute to our capability to do heavy lifting.
The other day a leader I deeply admire and respect told me “you are doing a great job, you are probably the best Human Resources Director we have ever had.” While I was humbled by his compliment—I knew in my heart of hearts there is no way I could have done any heavy lifting on my own. When I was first called to the Confederated Tribes, I was told that the HR Department needed some serious help. There were corners of the office that looked straight out of scene of hoarders with way too much paper and few processes in place to ensure paperwork was handled in an efficient and timely matter. My staff of ten not only helped me to physically reorganize HR, but they put in a lot of energy to learn new systems and a new rationale as to why Human Resources was a critical artery for the entire organization. In eighteen brief months my staff and I transformed HR together and we are still transforming the department to best serve individual employees and ultimately the entire community of Warm Spring. We have done some very heavy lifting together.
Recently—my middle son Samuel sent me a humbling text. For perspective, all three of my sons work hard at taking care of their health as they simultaneously balance their university studies and will soon launch careers. They are working fulltime and attending school fulltime. I remember  similar days while studying at the University of Oregon and holding down fulltime jobs—tough times but I know now and have taught my sons life’s challenges teach us to do heavy lifting on our own. My sons’ text reads as follows:
“Hey Mom, just wanted to send this to you real quick with a background story. What you are looking at is a barbell loaded with 315 pounds which is more than I have ever been able to dead lift my entire life. I’ve been working on strengthening my back and legs enough to hit this weight but I was a little nervous because the last time I tried I hurt my back and I wasn’t able to try again for about another six weeks. I was lifting here after warming up and I was thinking about how awesome it would be to be able to get this goal today. (315 for the lifter means you are in a pretty good position of strength.) I was thinking about everything you were saying yesterday and I realized I am the son of a woman like Elizabeth Asahi Sato so this will be a piece of cake for me. I’ve seen you muscle through more hardship than ten times this weight on your shoulder and by sheer will alone you pulled through and if you can do it as my mom I can do this as your son. This morning you texted me– reminding me to stay focused, about my noble ancestry and how we always pushed through, persevered and conquered. I just wanted you to know I destroyed the lift and actually punched out two solid reps with perfect strict form and I’m dedicating that lift to you Mom. Cause without your love and support I could never be strong enough to do something like that on my own. I love you. Get SWOLE.” Samuel
My son’s words have been inspiring me as of late–I am doing some heavy lifting on my own trying to change the trajectory of my lifestyle weighted down by an overly focused preoccupation with work. One’s body, mind and heart suffer if you do not balance out the “work” load. I am presently balancing out the load and reexamining just what I can bench individually and what I need others to help me lift. There is still a great deal of heavy lifting to do. The truth is it takes a great deal of focus to lift off of us individually and collectively the suffocating burdens, unnecessary refuse and manmade barriers that prevent us from excelling as individuals and communities.
In some way, Native/Indigenous communities are no different than other communities except that– the greater burden of economic disparity and significant generational trauma have resulted in very capable human beings doubting their own strength. When we doubt that we can lift the weight—we will not lift it– let alone— push it off of our backs. There is a great deal of heavy lifting to accomplish all across Indian country—but we can do it, not only individually but collectively with our super human strength and amazing spirit. The human spirit gives us that extra fuel and when utilized appropriately will empower organizations, communities and even a nation to lift the burden together.
Our United States nation (what many call America) has some heavy lifting to do. Right now we “citizens” are distracted by the nonsensical diatribe being spewed out of the mouths of political pundits who could care less about the challenges ahead of us. The ultimate reality for us is that– the average Joe, the average citizen, the overburdened taxpayer will shoulder the burden and responsibility of the outcome of the upcoming election. We will also endure any policies implemented through these elected leaders or the proverbial dysfunction of leadership as witnessed these past eight years with a defiant congress focused on their own political will not the collective will/need of the people. The heavy burden remains on our backs and could intensify. We “citizens” of these United States need to get focused. We need to think about what is ahead of us during this next election and seriously consider who can help us lift this car, this bus or very conceivably this nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by the diatribe of social media sound bites or television antics. We have some very heavy lifting to do and we need to prepare sooner than later.
Let me encourage you whoever you are today to get “swole” as my son Samuel recommends. Let’s prepare our individual lives and our collective lives to get busy and lift this country to the level of greatness it is so capable. Let’s rise to excellence beloved. We can do it. We have done it. Whether it is a work challenge, a community need or changing this nation for the greater good—we can effect positive and proactive change. We can do the heavy lifting together.
(c) Elizabeth Asahi Rising Sun Sato
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