October was such a busy month for me and I’ve been taking the last couple days just to relax and recuperate as I prepare for November. It’s been fun to jump back into grad school and that atmosphere of constantly learning new things but it’s also been a little difficult to make the adjustment from having tons of free time to schedule activities as I like to having to hunt for time in my schedule just to study. Through September I was adding things into my schedule slowly so it wasn’t too shocking to my system. During October though, I just jumped into anything that came my way and unfortunately that meant that there was a two week period where I was spending every moment in class, getting into my new job (which definitely didn’t allow me to ease into the position but went more the “trial by fire” approach), helping plan an event, writing papers, or studying for midterms. Thus the need for absolute relaxation and laziness the past couple days. 😉 But as busy and sometimes stressful as the past month was, there were still lots of things I loved.
1. Rilakkuma Nara charm
This little guy was a constant reminder to just relax. In case you don’t recognize him, this is Rilakkuma, a character popular in Japan. His name says everything you need to know about him: “Rilakusu” is the Japanese pronunciation of “relax,” while “kuma” is the Japanese word for “bear.” He loves to just sit around eating snacks and relaxing. This particular phone charm was one I got while touring around Nara. You can see Rilakkuma is wearing little horns like the deer who live there and eating the senbei snacks those deer love so much. So cute! And so relaxed! Sometimes while studying, I’d look over and see this charm and remember to just breathe and relax. It’s good to have that kind of reminder around.
2. Dragonfly paperclips
These little dragonfly-shaped paperclips were another strategy I used to improve my study environment. At one point I had stacks of papers I was using to help prepare for a biostatistics midterm sitting all over the counter. Disorganization can actually stress me out, especially when I have something else stressing me (like midterms!) so I just wanted to organize everything. These cute little paperclips didn’t just help me organize but always made me smile, even hours into studying.
3. Rainy weekends
This may seem like a strange thing to add but when you’re stuck inside studying and it’s a beautiful, sunny day outside…well, that can just seem cruel sometimes. 😉 The weekend when I had the most studying and paper writing to do also just happened to be the weekend a hurricane passed south of Hawaii and drenched the islands. We didn’t get much wind but we had steady rain the entire weekend and it made for the perfect study weather. Maybe there is a silver lining in every cloud!
4. One-man Kabuki Storyteller
We had the opportunity to see a rather unique event hosted by the Japan Foundation this past month. This event was a shamisen demonstration and a kabuki play reorganized to be sung and played completely by one man, Kunitoshi Kineya. If you’ve ever seen a kabuki play before, it is heavily stylized form of Japanese theater known for elaborate costumes and very dramatic movement. For this version, Kunitoshi played the shamisen and played all the vocal roles…singing narration and changing his pitch and tone for each of the different characters. Instead of dressing in elaborate costumes and moving around the stage, he sat in the middle of the stage with his shamisen for the entire performance. It was very different from any kabuki play I’ve ever seen and it gave me a new perspective on kabuki. While most kabuki plays I’ve seen have captured my attention with the dramatic movement and costumes, that was stripped from this performance and allowed me to focus on the auditory piece that I don’t usually focus on. It really gave me a new appreciation for the work the actors and musicians put into the musical aspect of the play. And during the shamisen demonstration, he even sang and played an arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner on his shimasen! He was quite a talented performer and we had a great time.
5. Cold Stone Creamery’s Midnight Delight ice cream cake
My husband’s birthday was this past month and since ice cream is his favorite dessert, I got him an ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery. Chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream with fudge, chocolate shavings, and chocolate ganache…what’s not to like?! He was very happy with it and I have to say it was delicious. The portions they sliced were way too much for a single person though. And you know how much I like chocolate so if I’m saying it, it must be true. 😉
Now that it’s November and I’ve survived the midterm crunch, I’m really hoping to settle into my new schedule a bit more so I don’t feel quite so tired at the end of the next month. I’m setting myself a goal for November: integrate self-care time into my schedule so I make sure to relax, whether that time is used to meditate, watch some TV, hit the gym…whatever will allow me to take a few moments to relax and keep things in perspective. Okay November, here I come!