Reason #83 to Keep Living: Screen Time

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Although screen time often gets a bad rap (it isn’t the best for your eyes, and it can be a huge time waster), it’s one of the things I am most thankful for in my life right now. Amidst starting a new semester at school, a new job, and new volunteer work, there is no better way to de-stress than to plop down in front of the TV and completely zone out.

Of course, your screen time doesn’t have to be meaningless. I’ll admit, there are times when I watch TV purely for distraction or to get myself laughing (The Office, anyone?), and that’s okay too. But there are certain movies I come back to over and over not only to relieve my mind of my everyday worries, but also to dig myself a little deeper into my beliefs and my creativity — to remind myself of my values and goals. Continue reading

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Reason #82 to Keep Living: Memory

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It’s a new year, with new resolutions and new reasons to keep living. And yet the past still sifts around me, like sand in the air.

I’m still living out of suitcases since I returned to Canada. I’m still incessantly looking at photographs of the past year in Japan. I’m still clinging to this place I used to be, this life I used to live. Continue reading

Reason #81 to Keep Living: Communication

Transitioning into my new life in Canada hasn’t been easy. Since arriving in my home country on December 13th, I’ve been dealing not only with jet lag, but also with a very strange type of culture shock.

It’s uncanny: things which used to be familiar to me are now foreign. Everything’s loud, the sky is impenetrably grey (I forgot winter here meant no sunlight), and the people are — to put it nicely — a little more forward, a little more open, a little less professional.

One aspect of Canada that has made my life simpler instead of harder is the language. Communicating in Japanese was a challenge that only got marginally easier throughout my year in Japan. Nearly every public part of my life was affected. From ordering food and filling out government documents to running errands and shopping, every personal encounter outside of my apartment was potentially stressful and complicated. Continue reading

Reason #80 to Keep Living: Heat

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There aren’t many long-term sensations I hate more than being cold. Of course there are plenty worse things — insomnia, chronic pain, an uncountable number of mental and physical illnesses — but, for me, being really, deeply cold probably tops the list of regular, unbearable sensations.

Thank goodness, then, for heaters and for the money to turn on these heaters. Thank goodness for stoves that can boil water and blankets that can warm the toes. If it weren’t for these things, the winter season would be deadly and Christmas would be wretched.

So thanks for fires, for sweaters and mittens and hats, for furry pets, for electricity and hot food. Thanks for giving some warmth this time of year, to the body, to my poor cold writing fingers, and to the heart.

Thank you, heat!


Read the original post of 101 Reasons to Keep Living to discover the genesis of this project, or catch up on any posts you might have missed here

Reason #79 to Keep Living: Blue Skies

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Sunshine is hard to come by these days. In Japan, the sun sets around 5 pm at this time of year, leaving the days short. They feel cut off, choked by the night before they’ve hardly begun. An announcement rolls across the neighbourhood out of loud speakers at exactly 4:30 pm, telling the children to go home, that darkness is coming soon. I feel my heart roll up in my chest and a solid ball form in my throat. Another day, gone. Another round of sunlight pulled down into the horizon.

So, when the sunshine is out, I try my best to enjoy it. I walk around in it, let it in the window, touch it with my hands. It’s warm and white. It heats up the inside of my apartment, and leaves it heated well into the evening.

Things aren’t so bad, when there are blue skies in November.

There are blue skies in November. There are blue skies.


Read the original post of 101 Reasons to Keep Living to discover the genesis of this project, or catch up on any posts you might have missed here

Reason #78 to Keep Living: Writing

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And, just like my post on books, I have somehow never given writing the spotlight as a reason to keep living.

Writing has always been a love of mine, but it has also been a continual frustration. (If you write, you know what I’m talking about.) When I was working full-time, trying to explore a bit of Tokyo, and completing assignments for my online courses, I had hardly any time for my own personal writing. When I did have the time, my writing came out garbled and confused. I was out of practice. I had no good ideas. Not even any decent ideas. I wrote awkward and bizarre story after awkward and bizarre story. I was angry and tired.

Why did I like writing in the first place? I couldn’t remember.

Then, I quit my job. Continue reading

Reason #77 to Keep Living: Looking Forward

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My dad used to say that he never wants to retire because when you retire, you die.

But this isn’t true. For example, the average Japanese person lives far past retirement. There are more centenarians here (people who live to the age of 100 years) than anywhere else in the world.

Don’t worry. I won’t let this turn into another long spiel about Japan. The point is, many elderly Japanese people are more active, both physically and mentally, than elderly Canadian or American people. I’m not saying this is the sole cause of their longevity, but it can’t hurt. They go to the park and exercise; they volunteer in the community, cleaning up garbage around their grand kids’ schools, sweeping up the roads, or running classes at the local community center; they read and play musical instruments and bike, bike, bike.

The elderly Japanese fill their lives with not only things that keep them busy (like watching TV or listening to the radio), but with things that give them purpose. Things to look forward to. Continue reading

Reason #76 to Keep Living: Partnership

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Although the word ‘partnership’ elicits a sense of formality or legality, here I mean partnership as more of a long-term friendship or relationship. I mean it as the pact you make with someone, however overtly or implicitly, that says you will be leaning on each other now, counting on each other, working for each other.

Partnership means there is someone out in the world standing up for you and standing by you. Making you laugh, making you talk, making you go to work, go to bed, making you tea (or coffee, or a smoothie, or bringing you milk and cookies).  Continue reading

Reason #75 to Keep Living: Milk and Cookies

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The air turns colder outside. I went from using air conditioning one night to pulling on my heaviest pajamas the next. However much I wished for fall during that suffocating summer, I didn’t expect it to come so soon, or so suddenly.

I certainly didn’t expect it to bring such a chill, grinding into the marrow of my bones, sliding up behind my ears, and tucking in between my toes. I find myself frozen when I sit down to write.

But here is a hot mug of milk and a chocolate chip cookie. Some heat to melt the stiffness in my hand. Some sweetness to warm me inside and out.

For now, at least. Then bed, then the lull of blankets and pillow. Continue reading

Reason #74 to Keep Living: Community

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Is it strange to say that in Tokyo I feel more connected to the people around me than I ever did back home, in little London, Ontario? Is it odd to say that I feel less like a number, that in a city with a greater population than all of Canada, I can walk down the street and feel part of something — part of a community.

It feels strange, it feels odd, but is it really? In a country where people are culturally trained to show common courtesy, to bring their garbage home with them, clean the toilet seat after using it, and be quiet in the evenings, is it really so bizarre to feel a sense of camaraderie with these people? Continue reading