I’ve been in Japan for 2 weeks now, and I’ve got to be honest, there’s been the good, the bad, and the ugly – I guess there always is.
Japan is so different than the United States, and even very different from living in Thailand. For starters, I’m in a completely different situation as far as my job goes and where I’m living. In contrast to living at the school in Thailand and having “built-in friends”, here I live in an apartment by myself, which is something I really wanted. I have been craving alone time and space to breathe, and I got that – but sometimes lots of space can be too much space.
There are so many things that I’ve had to adjust to in these two weeks.
1. Living alone and not having any friends.
Making friends in a new country when you don’t speak the language – and where the people are also reserved in general isn’t always the easiest feat!
2. The transportation system.
It’s learning the simple things like knowing that you get on the back of the bus and always off the front, and that you “beep” in and also “out” with your “passmo” card (the transportation card you can buy). It’s figuring out the subway system – making sure you end up on a train that is going the right direction, and also not ending up on a rapid train that may pass by your stop even though it’s on the correct route. It’s biking to work and not getting stuck in random dead ends or too many overpasses where you have to walk your bike up and down steps – it’s all the little things that make life a lot easier once you figure them out.
3. Getting to places on my bike and on my feet. – and trying not to get lost!
(I got exceptionally lost the first day, riding around in circles for an extra half hour only to find out that I actually was quite close to the school a couple of times but didn’t realize it!)
4. Buying groceries and adjusting to functioning in a new kitchen.
Realizing you don’t have things like oven mitts after you’ve already put your sweet potato in the oven and it’s piping hot. Wishing you had butter for your eggs instead of oil. Having the extent of your spice rack being salt and pepper – not the kitchen I’m used to!
5. Getting used to a new job.
I could write a whole post on this, and maybe I will – but essentially walking into a job where you don’t know your kids, you don’t know where anything is, and you’re not familiar with the materials or how lessons are set up. It’s A. LOT. I mean – a lot a lot. Enough said.
6. Internet, phone, electricity, gas, washers, rice cookers, etc etc etc.
I can’t read any of the directions or buttons on anything and I’m still waiting to get my internet – I get letters and important documents in my mailbox that I then need to bring to the owner of the school to interpret – kind of makes you feel like a helpless child. Big adjustment.
7. The weather.
Just understanding the weather patterns is an adjustment in itself – if it says 40% chance rain is it really going to rain or probably not? If it starts to rain will it last long or are they spurts of showers like Florida? When it says “typhoon” in the forecast, what does that REALLY mean?
8. Finding my groove in general.
Where will I work out? What will I do for a workout? What space is available to me – do I want to go to a gym? When will I get up, go to bed, and generally set up my day? All these things are new when you’re in a new environment – you have to find your “groove” again and surround yourself with the things that make you sane.
Which brings me to my next point.
Letting go, allowing space, grace, and the ability to transition in life is unbelievably important.
Life is full of transitions – all through growing up, seasonal transitions, role transitions such as moving from being single to a husband or wife role, having kids, or even when roles reverse and you end up taking care of your parents when they are no longer able to do so.
Life is one big giant transition and we just can’t beat ourselves up over it. Things are constantly changing and shifting, and I think some of the most important things we can ask ourselves is “What do I need to learn from this?” and “How can I approach this with the most grace, ease, and kindness to myself and all those involved?” Those are just a couple of the questions and ideas that come to my mind and have helped me through this huge life transition.
Most importantly, though, being kind to yourself.
Giving yourself space and time to transition, without force or judgment. Transition is simply part of life – at some times it is greater and more challenging – but we’re often in a transition of some sort and it is often not easy.
So how to transition with more ease and grace? I’ve found that there are some essential things that keep me (mostly) sane at times of stress and transition.
Being overtired doesn’t help ANYTHING. Ever. Believe me, I know.
2. Good healthy food. – and ones that you’re used to if possible!
I can’t stress how important eating healthy is. Yes, I know I love ice cream. That’s no secret – but I also eat super healthy and fresh the majority of the time – it’s all about the balance. Being kind to your body and feeding it nutritious food is super important and will help you function and feel better, which in turn helps with daily stressors.
3. Water.– lots of it.
Staying hydrated is essential to keep your body functioning normally and keep you feeling good!
Even 5 minutes in the evening and morning makes a huge difference. I used to bawk at this idea, thinking that not doing 5 minutes of a meditation probably won’t hurt me so why would actually doing it make anything better? Not till I actually put it to the test did I realize that just sitting down and doing those 5-10 minutes took almost no time and it makes way more of a difference than I ever could have thought 5 minutes would! It’s the small things.
5. Working out and moving your body.
If I don’t move my body I go crazy. I’ve been active from a young girl, always playing outside, working outside, doing sports, etc., and I continue to stay active in whatever way I can through my adult life. This is the one thing that I’ve never let fall to the wayside and I attribute much of my mental health to this!
I learned the hard way that doing cardio, weights, and HIIT workouts exclusively doesn’t really do the body good in the long run – I now do at least 10-20 minutes of yoga after my workout every day – I feel as if yoga is like oiling a car – if you don’t do it, it’ll get rusty and creaky, and just doesn’t function as well.
7. Stay connected with your support group.
Seriously, though, it doesn’t make you weak to lean on other people in times of need – or at any time. I truly believe we are built to support eachother, we are not created to be completely alone. We humans thrive with connection and when you’re in transition, in a weird place, and everything’s new, it’s more important than ever to stay connected with those that love you and your support groups.
8. Stay connected spiritually.
Whatever this means to you. Whether you read uplifting books, go to church or some sort of gathering, listen to podcasts or watch videos, meditate, pray, chant – whatever it may be – keep yourself connected. If you shut yourself off from this you shut yourself off from your light – and in the end, that’s really all we’ve got.
So in conclusion, I just want to say that transition is OK and also necessary.
It’s OK not to get it right the first time.
It’s OK and also essential to give yourself space to transition. Love yourself. Embrace the change. Laugh when you fall down, or cry if you need to. And then get yourself up, or have someone else pick you up, because there’s nothing that you can’t do – you just have to remember just how strong you really are.