Whenever I haven't been here for a while, I find myself wondering where I've been. Generally, it's spinning away from center or diving deep. Sometimes, like in the middle of one of our periodic moves, it's actual busy-ness.
These days, it's the seasonal urge to go deep, driven perhaps by the spinning away from center. Who would think that coming to Japan is what would drive me "home" into my center on so many levels?
It's certainly taken a while to get there. Arrival is disorienting in it's unpacking boxes, managing jet-lagged children sort of way. Then there was the strange sort of disappointment at the UNforeigness of it all. Living in a great big shopping mall. Going to American stores. Finding that most people speak at least a smattering of English. Yet, grocery shopping was still a challenge for a bit.
Then there's the layer of expat life, a whole culture of its own, that took a little time to grow on me. This expat wife thing is a strange situation indeed. Not unlucky, mind you. No, very fortunate. Very leisurely. Very should-I-go-to-yoga-or-zumba-or-Starbucks-or-tea ceromony-or-tennis-or-photo club-or-or-or.
I've been ready for a shift. Or at least, I knew it was coming whether I was ready for it or not. Children do grow. You hear it when they're babies, but experiencing it, well, no amount of preparation prepares you. Would you even want to prepare, to rehearse life's sorrows, as Mary Oliver puts it? And now the children are moving more fully into lives of their own. Still needing full attention when they are home. Still taking days off for quiet time with me and special adventures. But still, leaving me with 4 hours free each morning to do with what I will.
And my sweetie comes home from work between 9:30 and 11 at night, leaving me with solitary evenings.
The choices are dizzying. Japanese studies. Japanese acupuncture studies. Cooking classes, museums, new friends, sports and exercise. A modicum of housework, shopping and cooking.
How lucky I am to have this time! A moment of reflection in the middle of life. And I find myself going back to what is core for me...cooking fresh food into nutritious treats, yoga, personal work, crafting, writing.
One place I've been that you might enjoy is Elsie's yoga kula for online "live" Anusara classes. I'm a lazy yogi, so it's hard to get myself to work up to and practice poses that I am not yet fully able to get into. To do a guided 90-minute level 2-3 class from 8:30 to 10 in my living room when I'd otherwise be tooling around on the internet, folding laundry or knitting while listening to podcasts has been revelatory!
Stealing some time with my boy was big treat today, though. When he asked to stay home from school to recover from a lingering cold, I was happy to oblige. We took in some autumn sunshine, ate chashu ramen, explored temples, and fed the sort of pretty, sort of creepy fish at Sankeien Garden here in Yokohama.