• Magical Mindshifts

    Discovery your inner power, build a business and life you love. More

  • Sheer Determination

    Kay's NEW book chronicles her 40+ years building a socially responsible business. More

  • Keiko's Journey

    Kay's Memoir about growing up between two worlds and uncovering family secrets. More

  • Yumi's Life Lessons

    Newly revised and updated, Kay's first book of inspiration. More

Happy 2023 + a Gift for You!

What an amazing year this has been. It was a hard year full of health challenges and life changes within myself and many people in my personal life and career. Through the hard times, I gained insights and moved forward. I practiced the Japanese philosophy, Ikigai (why I get out of bed every morning), and joy came out of the darkness. For that, I’m grateful.

What is my Ikigai?

Getting up at 6:00 AM, even in the winter’s darkness.

Brewing a cup of coffee and enjoying every sip of it, sitting in at my desk facing a large window.

I dabble in my watercolor paints and do my daily practice of doodling. This sets my day up with a feeling of excitement…wondering what kinds of magical moments will come my way today. It opens my mind up and allows me to see the beauty in things around me.

Soon the day breaks, and I can see other early risers walking their dogs on the street below my window. Seeing the comradery between humans and their beloved pets gives me a warm feeling. I whisper, “Lucky dogs”.

When I hear the birds chirping and fluttering in the tree branches in front of my window, I’m ready to step into my day, waiting for “magical moments” that will lead me to enjoy and learn from every minute of the day! 

Oh, I forgot to say, my dog MoMo comes into my room, sits beside me, and scratches my knee. This means, ” I’m ready for our walk!”.

I’d love to hear what your Ikigai is. Can you share it with me?

What did I do in 2022?

Administrator and teacher for the Artful Giving Community

2022 has been a year of teaching and making new connections with students. I had the most amazing time teaching the wonderful members of the Artful Giving Community. I concentrated on my teaching method, step-by-step in small incremental steps. It amazed me that everyone made so much progress in their creative art-making and shared their art and messages with the world! A big surprise for me was that I saw so much growth in myself as I researched and practiced to prepare for my classes! 

Learn more about this wonderful community here

SCORE Mentor for the Small Business Administration

I worked with many amazing clients as a Business Mentor for the Small Business Administration (SCORE). I helped them with “What’s my business’s passion and mission”, how to manage finances and how to find my ideal clients, build a mailing list, and write inspiring email news. Helping to launch new entrepreneurs into starting their own businesses gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Learn more about SCORE’s Business Mentoring Program here

Business Owner: Studio 904 Hair Design

My business, Studio 904 Hair Design, located in Mercer Island, WA. not only gives our clients beautiful haircuts, colors, and styles… We finished off the year with another outstanding fundraiser for the Animals called Angels for the Animals. It was our 14th Annual fundraiser for Animals in need. Thanks to our loyal clients, we were able to raise $7,000. Donation!

Watch the Angels for the Animals Fundraising video here

Studio 904 Hair Design

So Grateful for You

Last but not least, I want to thank you, my blog readers, for being here with me throughout the year. I appreciate your interest and support in reading what I have to say and sending me messages about how your life coincides with mine. Sharing and supporting is what it’s all about.

A Gift for You!

I spent my holiday season making a gift for you…a special 2023 Calendar filled with original images of the art we made in the Artful Giving Community. I hope it will bring you joy and inspiration throughout 2023! You can download your calendar here.

How to Turn Scary into Cute

Well, it’s been over a year since my rescue dog MoMo arrived from Korea.

It’s incredible how she continued to improve from a scared little dog into a sweet and loving dog who learned to trust me and her new life. Even with the blossoming of her playful personality, I realized that she carries the anxiety from her past life with her at all times. Here’s an example… she learned how to go up and down the stairway of our third-floor condo like a champ. Then starting a week ago, she became so scared of the stairs that she continued to pull away with all her might.

MoMo is no different than me. We who harbor fear and anxiety from our childhood experiences will never forget them, no matter how long we live. I know that memories of living through the war in Japan had their toll. I’m scared even to watch movies with violence or sad endings. I remember shortly after I arrived in the US from Japan, I had to face a scary holiday called Halloween. On that day, my cousins took me to a haunted house and bought tickets to go on the tour. Not knowing what it was, I stepped into the dark house and, oh my gosh, I had the worst experience of my life. I was scared stiff, chilled to my bones! What scared me was the flashing red lights, creaking and howling noises, hanging skeletons, and flying bats. That incident left a scar in my memory, and I get fearful when Halloween creeps up on me every year. All I could think about was being inside the dark, chilly haunted house. I’m not kidding you; I get goosebumps on my arms!

Watching MoMo being fearful over things made me decide that I have to get over my fears before I can help her overcome her anxieties.

Here are my six successful mental habits to defeat fear, worry, and anxiety.

  1. Don’t figure things out yourself … share your feelings with a friend.
  2. Be real with how you feel. 
  3. Be OK with some things being out of your control.  
  4. Practice self-care.  
  5. Focus on positive thoughts, and get away from how it is to how it can be. 
  6. Make cute things! I practice daily drawing and coloring Kawaii (cute) animals, flowers, cupcakes, and people.

Take a look at one of my daily art practices … Kawaii art I made to help MoMo and me not to be afraid of goblins, ghosts, and bats.

I don’t think MoMo and I are the only ones who fear things. Are there things in life that bring anxiety and fear in life? I’d love to hear from you.

I will send you another email tomorrow with the Kawaii art idea.

Do You Believe in Lies?

Hello Friends, I hope you are enjoying the last weeks of our summer weather.

Me? Well, I got caught up in watching the news lately. The constant information that’s coming out has been hard to take. I can see why listening to local, national, and world news can trigger our minds into wondering what is true and what is not true and how so many of us can get led into believing that false information is true.

Amid my mental confusion, I received an email from David Yamaguchi, Editor of the North American Post

He wanted to know if I had a story that I can submit for their August issue of the paper. I’m one of the writers for this wonderful paper so I respond quickly when they are looking for a particular type of story to feature.

David asked, “Kay, how about featuring chapter 9 in your book titled “In the Dark Cave … also can you draw me few pictures of that scene?”

Without thinking, I said yes, but I wondered if I can draw and paint a picture of me and my dog, hiding in that dark cave where the homeless man lived. Have you ever been challenged into doing something that you don’t think you can do?

I told David that I’d try, but this isn’t something that I feel comfortable doing. He said, “Kay, you can do this. If you say you can’t, you won’t … so just get busy creating an art for your story without overthinking”.

This is the first picture I drew and painted… this is me after the boys drove me into the dark cave. I was so worried about my injured dog Shiro. I wanted to do everything I could to bring her comfort.

I remember that chapter very well in my book. I took my book off the shelf and went to that Chapter and read it word by word. Tears rolled down my face and my body shook. I realized that I bought into the biggest lie because the people in Japan repeatedly told me that my mother, my dog and I are responsible for bringing the World War II onto Japan and that we killed millions of people.

Here is another picture I painted. This scene shows the homeless man coming towards Shiro and me holding a basket of medication. He wanted to help my dog heal her wounds.

When you read my story, you will see how easy it is to force people to believe in lies. I believed in that lie for so many years until I came to America at 11, and my Grandmother told me about World War II. I realized then, that my mother, my dog Shiro, and I were not responsible for starting this war … we were only victims of the war.

Thank you North American Post for publishing my story in the August issue of the paper.

You can read my story here.

Are you interested in reading my book, Keiko’s Journey? I am happy that this book touched emotions of so many people whose families were affected by the devastation of war. I will never forget the young man who wrote to me from Malaysia and told me the story of atrocities his family faced. My heart went out to him because I understool his pain.

You can purchase the book here.

My sincere thanks to the readers of my blog posts. Please let me know if there are things that you’d like for me to write about. You inspire me so much … the reason why I can keep writing, drawing, and sharing my work.

Kay Hirai

Can You Draw a Circle?

Hi Friends,

Summer has arrived!

What plans do you have for this summer?

I hope it includes some time to nourish your soul and creativity.

Setting aside as little as 15 minutes a day to simply sketch and color is great for our mental health and creative productivity.

So why not set a start date on your calendar and get papers and coloring tools ready and make the most of the warm sunny days? 

I’ve planned a fun summer boot camp that will nourish your soul and jump-start your creativity.

I will send you one lesson every morning for six days. You can draw and paint with me from the comfort of your home. No worries, it will take only 30 minutes a day of your own time.


What will this do for me?

It will get you away from it’s hard to draw and color to “Oh, easy-peasy I can do it

You will end up with six beautiful flower cards that you made with your own hands.

It will help you to release stress and tension from worries.

The meditative effect of creating art will sustain your self-care.

Share your peace flower cards with the world. You will help to lift their spirits and fill their hearts with peace.

Did I hear you say, “But I can’t draw”?

Let me ask you, Can you draw a circle? Can you draw a line?

If you answered yes to my questions, then I say yes, you can make your own beautiful hand-made cards filled with beautiful peace flowers!

The door to Blooming Flowers Summer Camp will open soon, and there are only twenty spots available.

Don’t wait, don’t put it off … the door will close for registration in five days … and it’s completely free!

Register here!

Register here.

Any questions? Please send me an email and ask. Kay Hirai [email protected]

MoMo’s Enigma, What I Learned

How time flies! It’s been 1 year + 2 months since MoMo arrived from Korea. I remember seeing this shaggy dog, rescued from the Korean Dog Meat Market, traveled for 18 hours on the plane, scared and shivering refusing to come out of her crate. The minute I laid my eyes on her, I felt such compassion for this dog that I promised to give her a life filled with love and care that will make up for the miserable life she lived on the streets of Korea and enslaved in the Korean Dog Meat Market.

MoMo is an enigma.

Not knowing any specifics about her history made it difficult for me to train and acclimate MoMo to her new life in the U.S. I learned to take small, itty-bitty steps in everything we did. People would say, “Gosh, how do you find so much patience in working with her?” MoMo was an enigma to me, so I looked deeply behind her actions and reactions which all seemed to start from her FEAR of things in life.

Some common synonyms of enigma are mystery, problem, puzzle, and riddle. To get to the point, enigma applies to utterance or behavior that is very difficult to interpret.

Being with MoMo for the past year has definitely made me into a more compassionate and understanding human being. The biggest reward is seeing a dog with no confidence in herself into a sweet and happy dog who found a way to trust human beings and regain hope in life.

Let me share with you the things MoMo and I learned from each other.

MoMo: Here are the things I learned from Mom Kay.

Going pee on the grass is an ok thing to do. 

Going up the stairs is not as scary as I thought. Why did I put up such a fuss?

Sleeping on a soft blanket feels better than sleeping on a cold cement floor.

All men aren’t bad, some are nice. 

When someone touches my head, it doesn’t mean they’re going to hurt me.

It’s ok to come into the kitchen to eat dinner, I’m a member of the family.

It feels good to be hugged and touched.

Toys are fun to play with, even though the squeaky noise is scary.

It’s fun to run and catch balls in the park with other dogs.

“Sit and Stay” earns me rewards.

Kay: Here are the things I learned from MoMo:

Understand that those bad memories cannot be erased and forgotten.

If I want to earn her trust, I need to be patient.

Practice empathy, not sympathy (Don’t feel sorry, try to understand).

Never use force, wait until she wants to do it, even if I have to wait for a long time.

Take time to play on the floor with her every night and have fun!

Walk, walk, walk, every day and enjoy the fresh air.

Cook healthy homemade meals to nourish her health.

Always talk with a soft voice with a smile on my face.

Ask questions and learn to listen.

Say “Good Girl!” when she does anything good…Never say “Bad Girl!” when she doesn’t mind.

It was hard work every day, but this is what I know for sure…I learned way more from MoMo than what she learned from me. Take a look at this drawing of me and MoMo. So true!

MoMo and I want to thank you for your support. Having you come along with us on our journey gave us the energy we needed to face each day with confidence and hope. MoMo is having some health issues as a result of the bad treatment she received in Korea but we are working on it with her Vet.

It’s nice to know that friends are rooting for us!

MoMo and I’d love to hear about you and your favorite furry friend. Any stories?

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