Why It’s Smarter to go with Imperfection

Are you like me?
Do you take pride in being perfect?

So let me ask you, does being perfect mean you do all the work on any given project by yourself? After all, if you ask someone else to take over, you might lose control, right? Read more

Power of a SMILE

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I fell while walking my dog last spring and sustained a mouth injury. You can read what happened to me here.
Since then, I’ve gone through a year of dental reconstructive surgeries under the care of the remarkable Dr. Rhys Spoor and his kind and knowledgable staff. They are the best team ever! Read more

Kaizen will Keep You Growing

If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know that I am passionate about the daily practice of Kaizen in my life. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy. Here is my interpretation of this word, “Life-long learning in small incremental steps”. Read more

Why Going Slow will Help You to Survive

Here’s a story for you.

After I opened my first hair salon in 1980, I worked hard to build my business. I scrimped and saved and put in long hours of work. But I never felt like I was going anywhere with it. Every year was a struggle in financial hardship. Yet, when I looked around, my peers were doing so well. They bought fancy cars and traveled all over the world to attend exciting Beauty Symposiums. Read more

Make Something Sweet for Valentines

Valentines Day gives me a reason to create small and colorful cards and craft items to sell in my salon and to give to people I love. I looked high and low in my craft room to find scraps of colorful papers and ribbons which were left from my previous projects. It was so much fun to get lost in cutting and pasting these papers. I was so happy with the end result that I decided to share them with you. Read more

How De-Cluttering can Change Your Life Forever

If someone asked you if you are a hoarder, you’d probably say, “No. I keep my living space clean most of the time.”

Let me share a story about how I was not able to concentrate on writing the chapters to my new book, even though I cleaned and organized my office space and created an environment that was a pleasant space to think and write. Read more

Stepping into the New Year, Embracing Childhood Memories

My childhood memories of the year-end traditions, while growing up in Kiyushu, Japan always floods my mind this time of the year.

I went through a culture shock when I arrived in America at the age of eleven and saw how differently people in America celebrated the coming of the new year. Lively new year’s eve parties, waking up on January first and watching football games on TV was so foreign to me. The older I got, the more I cherished my childhood memories of Oshogatsu (Japanese New Years).

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Starting the first of December, Mother would say, “Keiko, we are going through each room in our house and give them a deep cleaning. Without an argument, I helped Mother clean all the shoji-screens, de-cluttered the drawers and swept and cleaned the floors.

Mother also gave me a To-do list.

 

 

 

Mother’s To Do list read like this:
Do you owe money to anyone? Pay it back.
Did you say unkind words to anyone? Apologize before the year ends.
Did you mean to do a kind act for someone? Do it now.
Did you think about what you will do in the coming year to become a better person? Write it down.

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 After I finished my to do list, then it was time to relax and enjoy the coming of the new year which began near midnight on December 31. We sat in our clean house and enjoyed eating traditional bowl of buckwheat noodles topped with grated mountain potatoes, listening to the far away sounds of the temple bells as it rang out the exact number of the year we were about to enter.

Mother would say, “Keiko, soba noodles are the last to enter your body this year. The noodles are cleansing. You will start out the new year with a clean body and a clear mind.”

I always got up early on New Year’s Day. Mother dressed me in a colorful kimono and we visited the temple and prayed for a good year so we will have the fortune to maintain good relationships, health and wealth. After that, we went home, ready to have fun playing children’s games (played only at Oshogatsu time) with the neighborhood children and eating traditional New Year’s food Mother prepared. Oshogatsu lasted three days from Jan. 1 – 3.

Even though it’s been many years since I left Japan, I still remember my Mother’s words at the end of each year. I try my best to follow through with the list Mother made for me.

Happy New Year and I wish for you a year filled with joy, gratitude and love.

 

Seven Unique and Meaningful Holiday Ideas

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How do you feel when you see people walking aimlessly through the mall once Thanksgiving is over, trying to pick out presents for people when they have no clue what they like or need? Those gifts often end up as useless dust collectors after the magical season is over.

This year, I decided to think of holiday giving in a new way and give to others (and myself) in a more thoughtful way. For me, this means staying away from the crowded shopping malls, instead, give my business to local merchants or make things at home. Yes, I love making things with my hands. It brings me great joy to share things I’ve made. I also make sure not to forget people and animals who need a helping hand. They deserve to feel good too.

Here are a few of my favorite things I love to do and to give during the holiday season:

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Cranberry Crackle Tart
I made this delicious tart because I wanted to take cranberries (so good for you) further than just making the traditional cranberries we eat at Thanksgiving. I was so pleased with the flavor, sweetness combined with a touch of tartness, and the festive look of the white meringue. I brought  these beautiful tarts to several gatherings. You’ll love keeping this recipe as a go-to favorite because it requires minimal ingredients. Everyone will think it came from a French pastry shop! Get your recipe here.

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Lemon Water Kit
I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking warm lemon water every morning instead of coffee. Lemon turns your water into an alkaline state and drinking it is good for cleansing your digestive system. I feel so much better when I start the day out with a large cup of hot water with ½ lemon and a few drops of natural honey. I decided to put a kit together to give as a gift. A clear, glass handled cup, lemon squeezer and half a dozen lemons go into this gift set.

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How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot by Vivien McMaster
Do you notice when it comes to picture-taking time, most people get self-conscious and say, “Oh no, please leave me out. I don’t like to have my picture taken?” And we find ourselves in this situation more with the accessibility of iPhones which are snapping photos all around us, everywhere we go. Most of us are self-conscious because we keep telling ourselves we’re not attractive enough to be in photos. When I found this on-line Selfie class given by Vivien McMaster, I decided to take it. Yes, this class is about self-portrait photography but it’s so much more. Vivien will teach you by helping to identify special gifts you have to offer to the world. I am planning to give this class as a gift to my special friend who is filled with beauty inside-out but feels self-conscious about her photo image. I can hardly wait to see her blossom! Click here to learn more.

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Holiday Gift Tags, So Simple to Make!
It just takes a little imagination and a desire to make these sophisticated tags. I enjoy making my own tags because they it add a personal touch to the gifts I give to others. Not only are they fun to make, it makes me feel good that I’m not spending money buying commercially made tags.
All it takes is a few simple punches, baker’s twine and a roll of washi tape. I cut my tags 2 1/2” x 8” and fold them in half. While I’m at it, I make some a tad bit larger and use them as note cards. They make nice thank you cards. All you want to say is just a short note of appreciation right? Once I get going on these tags, I can’t stop. I make many groupings of tags designed for different seasons.

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How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves    by: Dr. Sophia Yin
“I learned that every pet needs a human who can lead. Not like a boss, but like a partner in a dance—someone who gives clear signals, rewards desirable behavior as it occurs, removes rewards for inappropriate behavior immediately, and sticks to the plan consistently until the new, good behavior is a habit.”   -Sophia Yin”

I can guarantee that this is the best animal training book I have ever found. If you don’t believe me, ask my dog Max. Dr. Yin’s training method is so simple and sensible, just follow it and you will see a remarkable difference in your relationship with your dog in only two weeks! Just close your eyes and imagine you and Fido dancing like a pair of pro dancers. It is a great feeling when this kind of bond can be established between you and Fido. Thank you Dr. Sophia Yin! Look for this fantastic book at your local bookstore or Dr. Sophia Yin’s website. (Sadly, Dr. Sophia Yin passed away two months ago. A huge loss to the veterinary community and to us who love our pets. I am deeply saddened but thankful that she gave us so much while she was alive and will continue to do so for the years to come.)

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Home-Made Organic Cinnamon-Maple Granola
I’m addicted to eating things I make in my own kitchen. Why? One simple reason… because I know exactly what’s in them. I fell in love with granolas when I found this recipe on Garden for the House. Kevin Lee Jacobs does a superb job with giving clear directions on his hand selected recipes. I love many of his recipes and love trying them out. Once you make this to-die-for recipe, put the granola into glass canning jars and tie the neck with a colorful ribbon … and don’t forget to add your hand-made tag to make your gift look like a million dollars.

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Give a Helping Hand
Who said you have to be wealthy to donate? Did you know that 80% of the active philanthropists in this world are middle and low income folks?

Every person who steps up to organize a give back to our society event is part of a powerful movement in social giving.

It doesn’t have to be in a grand way, just do what you can. Let me give you a little idea. Why not hold a small gathering of friends and family during this joyous season? Let them know ahead of time you want them to help you raise money for a cause which you are passionate about. Make it a fun and special evening and share the reason why you want to help animals, children or an underserved population. You will be surprised at how people will open up their wallets to help your cause. Remember, no gift is too small and it’s an incredible feeling to know you are making a difference in creating a better world. You can check out the Holiday with a Heart event we gave at my hair salon, Studio 904 to raise money for Pasado’s Safe Haven, Precious Life Animal Sanctuary and Ginger’s Pet Rescue.

Please let me know if you try any of these things. I’d love to hear your ideas too!