Saturday, February 4, 2017

For Everything There is a Season

I originally called my blog "Remembering My Dreams" because I had just go through a really stupid breakup. I will not bore you with any of the details but I felt the title was fitting. Granted it is a bit "emo" but that's just something I will have to live with. But, it held importance to me. During that relationship I felt like I had been putting my dreams on hold. I was suppressing myself as to not offend certain parties with my dreams. When things ended I realized that I free to pursue my dreams once again. 

My dream had always been to live in Japan. At times that plan wasn't very clear or focused (read the above paragraph again). But in 2010 when things ended new things began. I graduated college in December and began focusing on finding employment in Japan. It wasn't until the end of 2011 that I had an interview, job offer, and in March of 2012 I moved.

Now, I'm quickly approaching the 5 year mark of my journey to Japan. I almost can't even believe that it's been 5 years. All those years of dreaming and hoping have led me here. Something I've dreamed about for as long as I can remember. Looking back it's easy for me to see all the small things that fell into place, all the experiences that have led me here. 

Five years ago I wasn't the same person I am today. I was immature (I mean I still am but just in different ways), I wasn't as cynical and grouchy as I was...wait...these were supposed to be good qualities! Anyway, I've grown over the past 5 years.

There is a verse, Ecclesiastes 3, or you probably know the song by The Bryds Turn, Turn, Turn

The verses in the song parallel the Bible verses well. 

  A Time for Everything

1 For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.

2 A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.

3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.

4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.

5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.

7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

8 A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

I post all that stuff to say this. Not all things are meant to last. Relationships, whether friendships or romantic don't always last. And that's OK! One of the hardest things I've had to learn in my life is to let go of things. Sometimes, it's people we love. Sometimes it's places that make us feel comfortable. Sometimes it's emotions that hold us back and keep us stuck in our same routines.

In another 5 years who knows. Will I look back at this time and laugh at how immature I was? I probably will! I'm OK with that. I hope that my life is different then. I'm not saying that I don't like who or what or where I am now. I just hope that in 5 years I can look back with fondness for where my journey has taken me. 

A time to laugh and a time to cry. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw know how the song goes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Both Sides of the Fence...So to speak

If you haven`t noticed I have been living in Japan for almost a year now. Also, if you are just realizing that you much be living under a rock and haven`t seen any of the million YouTube videos I`ve posted or now about my Facebook fan page. That being said...I don`t really blog much anymore but from time to time I like to sit down and write something. Usually nothing of much substance (or grammatical accurateness sorry Ms. always knew I hated proofreading!). So, here goes...

I used to work in retail before moving to Japan. I was teaching part time but my main job was working at a video game retailer. I came across many people from many different walks of life. It was always quite amusing for me to see who would walk through the door next. We definitely had some unique costumers (to say the least) and they ran the gambit from rich to poor, small, tall, big, little, English speaking to needing a translator. The last group is who I want to focus on here.

Now, I know that there is the feeling in America that if you live in America you should speak American! I myself have vocally voiced this opinion and I stand by that. If you are living in a country you should try your best to learn that language. You should try to "fit in" as much as possible. The reason I put fit in, in quotations is because I`m not telling people they need to lose their identity. That is something very important and especially for people living in a country that is foreign to them. But, language shouldn`t be your identity. The language you speak doesn`t make you, you!

I understand that English is difficult to learn. Some people might laugh at that statement but think of this. How do you pronounce these words: There, Their, They`re...yeah...all the same. Try teaching that to a group of Japanese adults who have learned their entire lives that vowel sounds only have one pronunciation. How about you give this word a would you pronounce Ghoti? Bet you wouldn`t have guess it`s fish...yeah? Well, I`ll prove it

  • gh, pronounced /f/ as in tough /tʌf/;
  • o, pronounced /ɪ/ as in women /ˈwɪmɪn/; and
  • ti, pronounced /ʃ/ as in nation /ˈneɪʃən/.

So yeah, English is not an easy language to learn. 

That being said learning a new language as an adult isn`t easy either. It takes years to learn a new language, and that`s if you aren`t lazy like me! But seriously, learning a new language is difficult because over the years we get comfortable in our native tongue. We speak it everyday, we read it everywhere, and everyone around us speaks it. 

That all being said. Take a lesson from the people I have met in Japan. They don`t have to be nice to me and help me out but they do. Even if they might hate me for it they aren`t all up in arms every time I miss pronounce something or use the wrong tense of a word. On the other hand I`m trying. So, weather (see what I did there?) you think people should speak Merican, or you are learning a new language yourself be patient. Learning a new language isn`t easy. Living in a country that doesn`t speak your language can be challenging and scary sometimes but it`s possible to learn new things!

Follow me on Facebook and Youtube! I promise it won`t be a total waste of time! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Who we are behind closed doors

"It`s funny that public figures fear private communications leaks...yet we in the private sector never think about it...just saying"

This is a tweet that I sent out that got me thinking. It got me thinking about who we are and who we appear to be. 

There are a `million` scandals every year involving celebrities, high ranking government officials, and other public figures. For me one of the most famous and highly televised affair involved former President Clinton back in the 90`s.   

At the time I wasn`t really mature enough to really understand what was going on. (I was only 12 years old at the time.) Yeah, I knew the president was messing around with someone(s) other than his wife. Yeah, I knew that was wrong but I didn`t really view this incident the same way that I do now. Nor did I find a practical application to my life.

Now I`m not going to use this post to admit to anything publicly so you should probably stop reading if you want some sort of dirt on me. Chances are though, if you are reading this, you probably know me pretty well and don`t need any more dirt on me than you already have. 

Why is who we are behind closed doors so important? In my opinion this is directly tied to our credibility as to who we truly are as human beings. If I stand in front of you all day telling you not to smoke then go home and light up that makes my message irrelevant. Not only does it make it a useless message but it starts this snowball affect. You then to begin to question why I don`t believe my own message. You also question everything I`m saying and whether or not it can be trusted.

Here is where it gets Biblical...sorry...but not really. If as a Christian if I tell you that sin xyz is wrong yet go home and do xyz what happens to my (not really my) message. Simply it becomes useless. Far too many times Christians  preach what they aren`t practicing. I would say 100% of the time this happens. Why? Because Christians do not magically become immune to things. There are zero accounts of Christians in the Bible becoming 100% perfect after becoming Christians. 

So why preach? Why listen to preachers? Why even go to church? 

Because there are Christians out me...who will be the first to admit that we don`t have all the answers and we don`t have it all figured out. They will admit that they struggle with things just like everyone else. There are actual people, Christian people, who are willing to have an open discussion about what they believe. Admit to not understanding why they believe it 100% of the time and who will admit to their flaws.

This whole thing might have gotten a bit off topic but the statement still stands. Who we are behind closed doors should be the same as when those doors are wide open. Truth`s not like that. We all have secrets and things that we don`t want public. From little things like emails, private Facebook messages, and secrets that are much darker. 

What`s the point...should it even matter? Yeah, it should! Especially for people who are going to claim to `know it all`...maybe most importantly for those.   

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

And...I`m Back! And getting all political in your face!

So, I`m back from a rather lengthy hiatus. Not for any particular reason other than the fact that I have been mostly video blogging since I have been in Japan. At this point I would be remiss to not share the link with you but you can find my YouTube site here as well as my Facebook Fan Page here.

Now, with that out of the way I would like to talk about something that will be sure offend no one. Politics  Haha...but, seriously that`s what I`m going to do.    

It is election time back in the states and nothing gets people more excited to click the `share` button on their favorite politicians Facebook page quite like it. It is also the time of year when people throw all civility, judgment, and logic to the wind.

I don`t care which side you find your self on (as if politics could some how be boiled down to two sides) but people seem to forget a simple fact. It is election time, and no matter who you listen to both sides are trying to get your vote. Meaning this...they are going to say whatever they need to say to get your vote.

Now, I`m not saying that all politicians are liars and don`t truly care for the people, but why do you think politicians spend so much money campaigning? They want their message heard and they want you to buy into what they have to say.

Think of it this way. Why do pharmaceutical companies spend so much money on commercials for their products? You can`t just go to the store and buy those medications. You have to go to your doctor convince him/her that you have whatever this magic pill is going to cure so he/she can then prescribe it to you.

Politicians know that they can`t succeed without your vote. So, they tell you what you want to hear and promise you to cure whatever issues you are having. They will tell you that the issues you care so deeply about are the same issues that they value.

I recently watched The Campaign, a movie about two politicians battling to be a congressman. At one point in the movie Will Ferrell is talking to different groups of voters. He is saying the same exact thing to each group but just changes the ending to fit whatever group he is talking to. It`s funny but also a reminder of how politics today have become.

I don`t want this to sound like I`m saying that all politicians are no more than snake oil salesman. Yes, there are those out there that get by on taking the facts and twisting them to fit their agenda. There are politicians on both sides of the isle that couldn`t care less about how much you want equal rights, fair wages, bringing home the troops, ending bailouts, or whatever hot button issue you `Like` on Facebook. But, there are also politicians that do care. Who have genuine interest in making our country better. Your goal should be to seek out those men and women.

My goal is to remind all of us (including myself) to remain civil. How can we EVER hope that the people we  elect will ever be united if we can`t stop hating each other. I see it all the time on Facebook...`look what this idiot said`, `look how stupid people are who think this way`, `man this group is so close minded and dumb`.

Enough! I have come to hate logging into Facebook each day for a simple reason. I can`t take people opinions on things when they are strictly based in hate and a desire to tear other people down.

You can follow me on twitter at higgins82, like my Facebook Page (which isn`t political at all!) and subscribe to my YouTube channel (also not political)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I am the Most Predictable Person...on Earth!

It`s here…Summer break is here!

After being in Japan for 4 months, my first part of teaching is finished. For those who don`t know here in Japan the school year starts about the second week April and runs till about the second week of July. This of course varies from school to school but it`s generally the same time. Then summer break. The rest of July and August is summer break. School then starts back up in September with a break in December for the winter. There are a few smaller breaks here and there but for the most part school is year round.

This has been my first experience teaching this way and after 4 months I don`t feel as if I have an opinion on if I like it. I will say that I don`t hate it so please don’t misread that. I just haven`t been here long enough to form an opinion. Although, if pressed for an answer I would say that I really like it so far. So, there…I like it!

In the 4 months that I have been in Japan I have learned a lot about the people I work with as well as myself. I will save you from the sappy touchy feely self revelation stuff. Something I already knew, and have said before is that living abroad isn`t for everyone.

I know I have told the story here before but after my first trip to Japan I knew I wanted to live here. For others on that trip it was a wakeup call that maybe they weren`t cut out for life away from their comfort zone, which is great! You certainly don`t want to experience that once you have moved your life to the other side of the world. Culture shock can be a cruel cruel thing!

That being said learning the ins and outs of a culture can be one of the most exciting things. Learning how people live, work and learn exposes you to so much. Experiencing new and amazing things (and as I say that I was just harassed by a school board member who saw me at a restaurant last week and laughed that I was only getting a medium…)

This is Japan! This isn`t your mothers country! Once you think you have things figured out everything changes, but that is the exciting part. I have met so many amazing people since I have been here, some from other countries others from Japan. These past 4 months have flown by and I can`t wait for the next 4 months. I have no idea what is going to happen but I`m glad…I hate predictability (haha…I`m like the most predictable person on Earth!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Motivation...It`s Up To You

Things I have learned while working. I am 30…which means I`ve had a few jobs in my day…and starting out a blog like that makes me sound super old. Anyway! As I sit here and contemplate my previous jobs I would be amiss if I didn`t learn anything…from any of them!

16 years old. My dad came home with an application for Dairy Queen. He wanted me to apply. I was content with playing Playstation. But, I wanted a car and that wasn`t going to come cheap. So, I filled out the application and set history in motion.

At Dairy Queen I learned how to work under pressure. I ran the drive through most of the time and you had to keep that line moving! Filling orders with speed as wells as precision is a must!

I also learned how to work alone and keep myself motivated. Since I was homeschooled I was the only employee who could open the store in the mornings and work through lunch. Despite the owner being there she rarely helped out (well if we were super busy she would help) and I was determined to get through the lunch hour on my own.

18 years old. I got a job working for the competition. I was offered better pay at a competing ice cream restaurant in town. At that job I learned that older people can be really set in their ways and fear change. The owner had been doing things his way for years (he also owned a storage business and garden shop). Everything had to be done his way or it was wrong.

18 years old. I started working for Target. At target I really understood the teamwork mentality. Now, I didn`t love every second of my time there, the store manager would never let me work any shift other than 3rd. (The turnover rate was so high and I had been there for 3 years…longer than anyone. He took advantage of the fact that I was dependable.) I also learned how to have fun at work. I met a lot of people and had fun at work. The problem was, as mentioned above, the turnover rate was so high that it made making friends at work hard.

22 years old. After quitting/walking out of Target I was offered a management job working for Hess. They are a gas station and convenience store for those of you who don`t know. At Hess I learned that you can trust no one! I learned that people will stab you in the back without hesitation. The story is far too stupid to tell but needless to say they ended up paying my unemployment for 6 months!

22 Years old. I took the job as an assistant youth pastor. I moved out of my parents house and moved into an apartment I shared with my older sister. I worked at the church for 4 years and learned many things! But, I think the most important thing I learned was to stick to your guns. If you know you are doing something right and there is proof of your success you can`t listen to the doubters. Many times I faced opposition out of pure fear. Fear for changing the old ways, fear of doing something different. But, I stuck by what I knew was right.

26 years old. While working for the church I started going to college. I was also working at GameStop part time. Once I left the church I was working at I started at GameStop full time. I worked there while I was finishing college.

What did I learn at GameStop? Well…I learned this. That if you get robbed at gun point don`t expect your District Manager to care at all. Also, I learned how to deal with some of the dumbest people in the world!. (Customers! Not Employees!!) I also, made some amazing friendships! I also sadly learned that `Tiny Dancer` is not part of the Rock Band track list…

I write all of this to say one thing. I don`t regret any of the places I`ve worked. Nor do I want to bash any of the places I have previously worked. Some places were great and other places where less than stellar. But, in the end I learned something for each and every experience. Had I not learned anything my time there would have been wasted.

So, no matter where you are take time to learn something from it. There is no experience too small and no job too menial. You can learn from every experience. It`s up to you to decide whether or not that experience was worth it.   

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

3 Months In Japan

I often think about the impact I have as a teacher.

When I was in second grade a teacher (not my normal teacher, it was a teacher from down the hall) sat us down and told us about an assignment that she had for us. We all sat in wonderment as to what she would have us do. She slowly began to take stacks of magazines, newspapers, and fliers and placed them on a long table at the front of the class.

"I want you to take a magazine and I want you to find a picture of anything. But it needs to be a profession. Something you want to do when you are older. What do you want to be?"

"Are you kidding me? What do I want to be!? Is this my lucky day? Because, if it I'm going to ace this project!" I thought to myself.

I grabbed a People magazine, a few sheets of blue construction paper, and glue. I found my way back to my desk and started flying through the magazine.

"Where is he...I know he has to be in here somewhere. I have to find him!"

I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I knew who and what. Then when and where would work itself out, I was sure of it. And then, there he was. Padded vest, jean jacket, and acid wash jeans. Michael J. Fox

Could it get any better?? Marty Mcfly, Teen Wolf, Alex P Keaton!! This was it! I made sure to cut carefully and precisely. As each cut was made I imagined what my life would be in the future. "Andrew Higgins", my name in lights! Who knows, maybe Mike...(we were friends so I could call him that) and I would get to be in movies together. At the very least we would be best friends. Going to parties, driving around Hollywood, and just being the best of friends.

As I finished cutting out Mike I placed him on the blue construction paper. I didn't put the glue on right away because I wanted to make sure he was positioned correctly on the paper. I managed to look around to see my other classmates progress, only to see that I was the only one who and already picked someone out of the magazine. Clearly this wasn't any easy choice for anyone but me. I regained focus on my work and when I decided where I wanted Mike on the paper I applied the glue and firmly placed his picture on his new background.

"How am I the first one done?? Oh well, this is great. Me and Michael J Fox, actors, friends, and pretty cool guys."

I stood up and made my way to the front of the class. I placed my masterpiece on the teachers desk and waited for her approval.

"What's this?"

"Oh, this is Michael J Fox (clearly!) I want to be an actor when I grow up!"

"Do you know how many of my classmates wanted to be actors when I was in school?"


"Most of them. And do you know how many actually became actors?"


"None of them. You aren't going to be an actor. You need to go pick something different."

That is where the story ends in my memory. I have no idea what I settled on. Was it a doctor or a fireman like so many of other classmates? Was it a construction worker or maybe a taxi driver? I honestly have no idea. The only thing I can remember is the crushing blow this "teacher" left me with. A second grader with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. A second grader who now has to settle for less than perfect.

This whole story leads me back to my opening sentence. What impact do I have on my students. I truly hope that I am 100% nothing like this second grade teacher! If I am anything less than supportive, encouraging, inspiring, caring, investing...then I am not being a teacher. I am being a baby sister.