Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!

Happy new year!

Today has been… unexpected.  To say the least.  But we’ll get there…

First, I have to recap New Year’s Eve!

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We left the house after an incredible sunset and a quick visit with Addison (who loves her music set!).  Every year we go to my Aunty’s house for a traditional Japanese New Year celebration.  My Grandma Pat was full Japanese, which makes me twenty-five percent. She was the oldest of five children, so she was always in charge of putting events (like New Years) together.  When she passed a few years ago, my Aunty (her sister) started hosting the evening.

We started with dinner, and then Mom got to work on the ozoni (traditional mochi soup).  Around 9 pm, my cousins and I were asked to bring out the traditional plates and bowls, which have been in our family for generations.


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Some families eat their ozoni (mochi soup) on New Year’s Eve while others wait until the actual day.  Our family does it the night before.  It has a distinct taste that takes years to acquire (every one of my cousins hated eating it when we were kids) because it’s filled with symbolic foods to bring luck in the upcoming year.  Some of the ingredients include mizuna greens, clams with the juice, gobo root, shiitake mushrooms, and of course, mochi – sweet beans surrounded by glutinous rice.

At about 9:30, we started plating and warming the sake (which came straight from Japan)!

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With the sake and ozoni set, the oldest male in the house led us through three rounds of “BANZAI”! We proceeded to drink (delicious) sake and eat the symbolic foods laid before us.

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[Clockwise from top left: black beans for health, fish eggs for fertility, pickled plums for good luck and mochi soup for abundance and luck in the coming year.]

I always look forward to the tradition of New Year’s Eve.  I enjoy my family’s company and it’s nice to bring in the new year feeling connected to both my culture and my family.

We all continued to talk story throughout the evening, and upon leaving our best friend Zak asked if we’d be up for watching the sunrise over on the North shore the next that morning.  I must have been drunk on sake – or just really excited to start the new year doing something spontaneous – because I agreed, even though Ben and I didn’t get to sleep until 2 am.

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We left the house at 6 am, groggy but excited, to meet up with my Mom and Zak. To get to our spot – which is actually a cow pasture on a cliff – we hopped a fence (don’t worry, my Mom can handle Winking smile) and walked a few minutes toward the sea cliff.

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The four of us spent the first morning of 2011 in awe as the sun rose over the mountain and lit up the ocean.

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And I remembered why I had agreed to this. Because these are the moments that create and shape me.  That offer me solace and make me feel most loved and peaceful, and remind me that I don’t need to have all the answers to know that I’m on the right path.  This is what hope and reinvention looks like.  The sun came out and filled me with love and gratitude.

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[Me and Momma – 01.01.11]

When we made it back home, Ben fell effortlessly back to sleep while I tossed and turned for a bit.

Around 10 am, I decided it was time to stop trying to fall asleep and get to the gym.  I made it through about 15 minutes of TurboKick when my lower back started shooting pain (it’s been sore for about a week now, but nothing like this).  I stepped outside to see what had happened and realized that the pain was so intense that I couldn’t stand any more.  When I tried to sit, it was even more painful.  Walking didn’t work, either.  Dumbfounded, I grabbed my stuff and slowly made my way to the car, then to my Mom’s house about 5 minutes away.

Immobilized with pain, I found my way to Mom’s living room floor.  I very rarely take medicine, as I believe in preventative care (I see a chiropractor weekly and visit an acupuncturist… if I need treatment, I’ll use herbs or homeopathy), but this is an intense, shocking pain that I can’t even begin to know how to handle.  Needless to say, I’ve taken copious amounts of Advil and have bed-ridden all day, in pain but unable to sleep.

It’s 7:45 pm Hawai`i time and I am running on about 4 hours of sleep.  The Sleepy-Time and Advil PM are kicking in and I am off to dream this pain away.

Not necessarily the best first day of 2011, but I think there is a lesson in all of this.  I’ll let you know when it becomes clearer to me Smile.

How did you spend the first day of 2011? Do you practice any New Year’s Eve traditions?  Any advice on curing lower-back pain?

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