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Don't stop growing…
Pole Dance Instructor
I thought back to the time when I first met "Paul" until now.
At the age of 32, I was divorced with a three-year-old daughter, and soon after I remarried.
I remarried soon after, and became a "mother" to a three-year-old and two girls, one two years older than the other.
Then I had another daughter.
In a short period of time, I became a mother of four daughters and became a good mother to them.
I wanted to be a good mother to them and a good guide for them as a woman.
I was busy with work, housework, and childcare.
I was exhausted from the daily routine.
At that time, it was as if it just came out of nowhere.
"I should start pole dancing.
I don't know why, but now that I think about it, I have no idea.
"After my 35th birthday, I'll start pole dancing, and I'll keep doing it, not just for three days like I've been doing...
I remember thinking that vaguely, but with a feeling that just fell into my heart.
I remember thinking that.
I turned 35 in October and started knocking on the door of "pole dancing" at the beginning of November.
It was a lot of fun and I looked forward to it every week, but in December I found out that I was pregnant.
Perhaps it was because this was my third child, but I had plenty of time to relax my mind and body.
She had no doubts about having a baby, nor about continuing with the pole.
I continued to go to the studio until my belly got bigger, and I challenged myself to do the studio recital two months later.
At the end of July, I gave birth to a baby girl.
I became a mother of five daughters.
One month later, I resumed lessons with a baby in my arms.
Four months later, I entered a contest: ......
My passion for "pole" has not disappeared, and I have continued to take lessons, and I am now 39 years old.
Despite her short experience and poor technique, she is still the representative of the studio.
I have been recognized by my mentor, who I respect as a woman and as a human being.
I've been working as an instructor since September last year.
Now that I think about it... or rather, I think I am a crazy mother.
In my own way, I've been rubbed by people, polished by people, learned and lived among people.
I learned and lived among people.
But after that day when I was 35 years old, my life started to change drastically and vividly.
I did not have any dance experience.
I didn't have any experience in dancing, nor did I have a job or hobby that required physical exercise.
I was just an ordinary housewife, but how did my life become so "pole"?
I'm doing pole dance, which is mainly a genre of pole sports.
In order to perform the technique, friction between the skin and the pole is necessary.
In order to perform the technique, the friction between the skin and the pole is necessary, so the clothes are inevitably highly exposed.
Therefore, I have to face my own body.
The mind and body are closely connected, and any dissonance in either can affect the other.
If you change the way you think and perceive things, the way you use your body will also change.
If the way you use your body changes, the way you express yourself through pole dance will also change.
I was led to pole dance.
As I wrapped my body around the pole.
I was able to learn more about myself.
In order to become a better version of myself.
To become a better version of myself, I had to take a sincere look at my mind and body.
To express my potential.
To steer a brighter and more joyful life.
I believe that pole dancing is one of the treasures that I have acquired.
In the process, I met my favorite teacher, who I can't describe in a few words.
I was able to meet friends that I truly cherish.
I have a dream of making pole sports an Olympic sport and a dream of one day having grandchildren.
I want to be active until I die, even if I have grandchildren and become a grandmother.
I want to be an active member of the sport until I die.
I am able to go through life with so many thoughts and feelings.
No matter how old you are, you can always challenge yourself.
There is a difference between not being able and not doing.
Thoughts always turn into actions.
The environment will change depending on your actions.
I will always remember the important things that Paul and my mentor taught me.
I want to keep the important things that Paul and my mentor taught me in my heart from now on.
And my other treasures.
My five daughters.
"Oh my God! Mom, stop it, you're making me look like a fool!
I'm secretly looking forward to the day when I'll be holding the pole
I'm secretly looking forward to the day when I'll be holding the pole while my five daughters say to me, "Stop it, Mom!
Thank you for all your help and support. ......
text and photo by Aika Okita
Pole Dance Instructor
Lives in Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture / Belongs to MIKA Dance Produce / Mother of five daughters who is moving forward positively every day while working as a sewer, smartphone instructor, and other "do-it-yourselfers
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Things I wanted to write down before I turned 30.
UX Design Student / Actor / Creator
I am currently living in Vienna, Austria with my German husband and our shelter cat, Harunosuke, and I started learning web design with a focus on UX in May this year. I'm surprised at the unexpected turn of events, but I'm also convinced that I've finally settled into a place where I feel comfortable.
This is because
When I was in the sixth grade, after my older brother passed away after a long battle with illness, I had a vague but strong idea that I wanted to live life to the fullest and enjoy it, even though I didn't know the meaning of life. One day, I want to be able to help society in a way that suits me and give hope to many people. That's what I've always wanted to do.
When I was 16 years old, I went to Tokyo from Aichi to audition for a major singer's competition, which was attended by thousands of people, and it almost opened the door for me.
In the end, I was forced to turn down the opportunity by my parents because of my age, and they insisted that I have to graduate from an institution of higher learning (although I understand the reasoning behind it now).
The illness and death of my older brother played a big role in my life, and I was never given the opportunity to do what I really wanted, but more than that, my family was very desolate, to say the least, and I was always pessimistic and hopeless about my birth in my teenage years. Despite my rebellious ambitions and aspirations, I lacked affection, self-affirmation and peace of mind, and this was the biggest problem and challenge of my life.
I wanted something absolute inside of me, not a huge fortune or easily changeable affection, but first and foremost, I wanted to find information from all over the world through books and the Internet, and at the same time, I wanted to meet all kinds of communities outside of school, young and old, men and women, different industries, different races... I was able to look into many different ways of life and hearts.
In the winter of my 18th year, I chose to become a Christian, and now, more than 10 years later, I consider that moment to be the greatest turning point in my life.
Because of the circumstances described above, I did not plan to work in the apparel industry after graduation. So what did I do? First of all, I decided to study English in Edinburgh for three months and then travel around 14 cities in Europe by bus, because I wanted to experience a different culture, especially a place where Christianity is deeply rooted and there are relatively few Japanese students.
It was a graduation gift from my late grandfather, who lived separately from my parents and always paid attention to my movements.
After returning to Japan, I joined a small entertainment agency in Yokohama that I was fortunate enough to work with, and I began to work in theater because I was moved by the theater rehearsals and speculated that I might have a chance to sing. However, I couldn't make a living doing something that I had suddenly started as an adult, so while I was ostensibly working as an actor, most of the time I was working at different jobs to make a living.
At that time, there were not many options for jobs that would allow me to earn enough money to live on my own in Yokohama, while rehearsing and performing as an actor, and paying back the scholarship I borrowed when I was a professional.
In the midst of all this, I almost always attended the Sunday morning service that I loved so much, and when I found time, I did church ministry and creative activities such as painting and knitting. Even though I had little margin or money to spare, I felt that I was finally able to live "myself" as an adult, and my heart was full and happy.
However, many people do not have a good image of this way of life. I think it was because I was a terrible talker, but from their point of view, I was probably a funny person who was doing this and that even though I wasn't particularly accomplished. Even though I wasn't living my life to gain their approval, I honestly felt frustrated.
However, a future awaited me in which I would be able to say, "I'm glad I took this path.
One Sunday when I was 24 years old, while we were all enjoying coffee and snacks after the service, one of the church staff secretly spoke to me. "A media company there is looking for a Christian who can act. You should do it. This was something that I had been praying for at the time, so I said yes and went to hear about it immediately.
I said yes, and immediately went to hear about it. It wasn't a job, and as it turned out, it was only a momentary role, but I was so happy to have a role in what I wanted at the time, and I believed it was an answer to my prayers.
The "lovely German" who was in charge of media marketing as a missionary in that project was my current husband. We started dating, and when he expressed his desire to return to Europe for a few years to fulfill his own dream, we got married in Japan and moved to Bremen, Germany in 2018 and to Vienna, Austria in 2020.
In this way, not only [having a partner with the same faith], but also [living abroad for a few years] and [acting in a film abroad], which were my dreams and on my prayer list, came true in a way I never imagined.
"The number of Japanese who live in Europe and have experience in theater is limited. Even though there is not a lot of demand, the competition is not high as long as you can find a slot, so I was able to get off to a good start, appearing in TV programs, advertising videos, teaching videos, and videos for corporate use.
I stayed in Greece for about half a month to shoot the movie "Persephone", an operetta film, where I appeared as an actor and also played the alto part as a singer. I felt as if I had been rewarded and consoled for wanting to be a singer in the past.
In Vienna, I was asked to make costumes by the producer of a dance team that I met in a church. In addition to my theater experience, I was also fortunate to have learned how to sew as a student, which helped me to protect my family's finances, which were under pressure at the time.
I am grateful for the kindness of God and people who give me opportunities, and I believe that the success of my life is that I have regained the bright perspective on life and the ability to recognize and love others because I recognize and love myself, which I had been given naturally in my childhood.
It's not all smooth sailing when it comes to the situation.
There are plenty of minor incidents, and in 2020, with the onset of the corona disaster that the world is experiencing, "My husband's longtime dream will come true next month. The timing of the event was perfect. For me, too, the opportunities for visual appearances and creative work ceased to exist at that point. I had just moved to Austria, so I had very little support from the government.
Then, as usual, I opened up my social networking site and saw a commercial for an IT-related company that I had shot in the Netherlands a few months before, in which I had appeared.
It was for a full remote job opening.
As I was desperately looking for a job due to an emergency situation, I immediately applied for the job, and at the interview, I made a point of saying that I appeared in the commercial to make up for my lack of business English skills, which I needed as a common language within the company.
As a result, I was offered a job as a technical support agent.
I was to be the breadwinner of the family and my husband was to be the stay-at-home husband while he was job hunting.
We had just moved to a foreign country, and suddenly the roles of husband and wife were forced to change, and we were forced to live in lockdown while having to save a lot of money.
I had to endure all sorts of problems that came with it, and I spent many days thinking about how to survive with my family and myself in the future, no matter where we were in the world.
It was about a year later that my husband finally found a new job.
It was about a year later that my husband finally found a new job.
When I was thinking that I wanted to do something a little more self-directed/creative, he recommended a UX design course that he had found through his new job that was perfect for me.
It's a full-time, remote school from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with prep materials and homework.
It's a class that requires a lot of English comprehension and discussion skills, but thanks to the fact that I've been using a lot of English every day at work for a year, I've been able to keep up with it, and I'm thinking, "So this is where I'm supposed to be. I think.
At the same time, as I learn the skills necessary to be a UX (User Experience) designer, I am reminded every day that "this is a job where all of my history, which seems to be a jumble, can be utilized to a great extent.
It's a job that allows me to utilize all of my history, even the ones I thought were troublesome, such as my tendency to search for the other side of things and the essence of things, the days I didn't want to do it, and even the scars on my heart from being abused.
This is the reason why we should not be afraid of the Lord. (Hebrews 12:11)
At this point in time, I don't know if I will necessarily become a UX designer after this course, or if it will become my lifelong job, but I do have some thoughts.
At first glance, it's hard to imagine a complete picture of life, and each piece may look good, bad, or incomprehensible to you, but when you put them together, you end up with a picture that is unexpected but makes sense. I want to live my life in such a way that I can successfully complete the picture, and someday go to sleep feeling good.
text and photo- Satomi Uchino
UX Design Student / Actor / Creator
Lives in Vienna. She started her career in the web industry after the Corona disaster and is now studying UX(&UI) design full-time. Works include the Greek film "Persephone", Australian TV "Back To Blett", and the commercial "Philips Sonicare International".
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As I Circle Around The Block
Every morning, the sun creeps over the dark silhouette of my neighborhood and fills our East-facing bedroom with the warmth of a new day.
Spring is here and the early, golden light is proof of its arrival.
Outside, the long rows of adjacent yards form a valley of sorts, disrupting the cityscape with a private strip of greenery.
The birds have been up for hours.
I look to see who’s singing but the evergreen boughs of the neighbor’s giant blue spruce are too dense to make any clear discovery.
Down to my left, a humble apple tree, flush with fresh white blossoms, catches the light that filters down through an old sycamore’s branches, still nurturing the first fuzzy buds of the emerging season.
Breakfast is a daily ritual. I can’t overstate my love for a lightly toasted slice of sourdough, generously dressed in honey and butter.
Like many others who were finding ways to cope with the consequences of a global pandemic, I learned to bake bread last year.
I learned a lot of other things, too.
John, my partner and musical collaborator for the last 13 years, boils water for coffee.
I sit down at the dining table, brushing against its uneven edge. We got it for free, years ago, cat-scratched and worn, and I consequently turned it into a colorful tile mosaic project.
Now, it is another artifact of one of the many lives we have lived in New York.
musician / artist
In the far corner of our living room, the light flickers like smoke.
A breeze ripples through the patchwork silk curtains I stitched together, stirring the gentle metal windchimes we hung in the window sill.
A collection of plants and textiles decorate the wall, encompassing an area reserved for floor seating and yoga.One of my favorite guitars, a vintage gold Japanese Les Paul-look alike, lives here.
My steel-string parlor acoustic hangs from the fringes of a light-filled alcove that houses my floor loom and spools of fibers. I believe it’s currently tuned to C-A-D-G-A-D, a sound I’ve been enjoying lately.
I like to sit here on the wood floor and look out from the bay window into the canopy of our guardian sycamore.
In just a few weeks, when the leaves are mature and full, this view will make me feel like I live in a tree house part of the time.
I get dressed to go to the park and pack a rollie. I stop under the last cherry in a row of trees that are just reaching peak bloom.
She leans an armful of blossoms down towards me and I press my forehead into the feathery petals. Have I ever felt anything so soft?
There is an energy igniting in the streets.
People are in a celebratory mood.
Last year at this time, New York City was in a lockdown and the magnolias mostly bloomed for themselves.
An occasional phrase breaks through the collective murmur as groups of friends and family get to know each other’s faces again after such a strange year.
I stop to greet each tulip.
They are with us for such a short time!
As I circle around the block, I come across a ginkgo tree, an Asia-native with lung-shaped leaves and a beautiful, sparse branching pattern.
Pausing to take in the clusters of green shoots, I remember that tomorrow brings longer days and the next phase of this cycle of growth.
text and photoprahs - Lea Thomas
musician / artist
Born in Hawaii and based in Brooklyn, Lea Thomas started her musical journey early with piano, later moving to guitar as her main accompanying instrument. Recording her own music as a teenager led the Japanese-American songwriter to New York City at 17 where she gained a footing attending an audio engineering school and working in studios before continuing on her own artist’s path for the next decade plus.
Thomas’s first record, Want For Nothing, was released in 2017, followed by her Part of This Place EP and an ambient/folk/field recording collaboration with John Thayer called Blue of Distance, released in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Her latest single, “What Did The Music Sound Like” was released on April 27, 2021.
In addition to her musical output, Lea Thomas is also a visual artist with a focus on hand weaving and natural dyes. Her frequent use of indigo pigment is reflective of her ancestral heritage. She is an enthusiast of traditional herbal medicine and produces her own line of wild, seasonal herbal products under the name All In All Apothecary.
Released "What Did the Music Sound Like"
The newest single from Japanese-American singer-songwriter Lea Thomas was released April 27 on Spirit House Records.
The song is dedicated to the music that served as a backdrop to the great shifts in her life, such as her move at 17 from Hawaii, where she was born, to New York, where she has lived now for over a decade.
In the midst of the isolating global pandemic, Thomas kept the production for the accompanying music video simple, filming it entirely on her phone and editing it herself.
The video strings together “selfie” clips with vignettes of New York that hold nostalgic significance.