Different Cultures are Fascinating

One of the best parts about living in Japan has been all of the amazing cultures that I have been able to experience during my time here.  The Japanese culture itself has been incredible to learn about, but that is just the start.

I have been able to work with people from Japan, England, Australia, New Zealand, and the Phillipines.  On top of that, I have gotten to visist Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Nepal, Indonesia, and Guam.  I realize Guam is part of the US, but it does have its quirks.

This is not an attampt at a humble brag as much as it is an idea of the many different cultures I have gotten to experience.  They all have different foods, languages, religions, historical sites, and the list goes on.  

If I’m being honest there is a decent chance I never would have visited Asia had I not actually lived here, and what a loss to my life that would have been.  It has not all been tulips and rose petals here, in fact it has been quite the opposite, but it has been an eye opening experience.  

Most of us Americans have no idea just how great we have it.  Even those living in poverty in the US have it better than billions of people in Southeast Asia.  Yet many of the people here are very pleasant and welcoming.  

We loud boisterous Americans could learn a lot from the humble demeanor of these cultures.  Many of them are very tied to family.  They all sacrifice so much to take care of each other and to just get through.

Every time I visit one of these developing nations, I am in shock at how far behind the rest of the world is.  They live such basic lives, and most have so little to live for.  But not only do many of them live, they thrive.   

Not usually financially, but in the areas of kindness and openness that they personify, there are few equals in the world, with maybe the exception of the Africans I met in Europe.  They are the kindest, most open minded individuals I have ever know.

There is so much we could learn from each other if we would simply try to understand the other side.  If you consistenyly do that, you will find a peace and joy that cannot be masked, which is why I am grateful for different cultures.

What are you grateful for?

Saying Goodbye

I realize this is usually something people absolutely dread.  I even know a few people that refuse to say those words.  While those situations where these words are applicable are never fun, there is something to be grateful for.  

The way I see it, if you dread saying goodbye, that means you care about the person.  It means you made a connection and you valued their presence.

It may mean that they were a great worker or simply a great friend, but whatever the case may be, their leaving is going to leave a void in your life.

I have had times where I really wasn’t too sad about leaving, and as I look back that is actually a much sadder situation.  To have spent any significant amount of time somewhere and not be sad about leaving means that there were no great connections.  

People are the best part of life so what a shame if we missed out on an opportunity to connect with people in a new area.

As a military member saying goodbye is a regular occurrence, though it doesn’t make it any easier.  But what it does is make you grateful for all of the amazing people you get to meet.  That’s why tonight I am grateful for saying goodbye.

What are you grateful for?

Good People

I feel like I talk in this general vein a lot on here, but I also feel like it cannot be overstated.  With all of the crap that is going on in the world, and all the terrible things people do to each other, we can never have too much talk about good people.  The awesome thing is, they are everywhere.

I’m sure many of you can relate, but in the last week I have had multiple friends pick me up and drop me off as I got repair work done on my car.  I was invited to a friend’s for dinner because not only did they want to help get me out of the house, but they enjoy my company, and the chili was amazing.  I have been given three meals worth of food.  I have had great conversations about fun things.  I had a friend buy me a donut.

I know all of these are little things, but something else that I also can’t say too much, is that it is the little things that matter most.  We will never be able to do great things if we don’t take the time to do the little things.  

That is what makes good people so valuable.  They are not perfect, and they don’t do things for recognition, but they do the little things because that is just how you should treat people. 

I realize I have been somewhat vague in this post rather than calling out individuals, who definitely deserve credit, but I am just letting my heart run with it tonight.  

If you aren’t a good person then stop being a loser and fix it.  If you are a good person I thank you for your your efforts, and tonight I am thankful for you.

What are you thankful for?

My Neighbor Linda

I got home from the gym tonight only to realize that I was out of milk, and that the store would be closed before I could get back to the other side of base.  Since I actually need milk I bit the bullet and drove over to the gas station to by some.  Since it was getting later and I didn’t want to cook I took advantage of the Subway in the gas station.

Upon arriving home, and before I could even get out of my car, I heard someone say, “Did you eat dinner yet?”  This was my wonderful neighbor Linda, and when I came around the back of my car she was standing there in her apron staring at me with some concern in her eyes.

Linda has been my kids’ psuedo-grandma while we have been in Japan.  She spoils them with treats whenever they ask, and she is incapable of telling my little Hannah no.  She is also a fantastic cook, and even mows my lawn because she says she finds it therapeutic and that I better not take that away from her.

In response to her question I held up my Subway bag to which she responded with rolled eyes.  She then proceeded to go back into her house and return with BBQ pulled pork and rolls for me to eat for dinner or lunch, or whenever I wanted.  About a week ago she showed up at my house with a mint chocolate chip ice cream pie.

While I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, it is so comforting to know that there is someone else looking out for me since my wife is not around to do so.  She really is the sweetest lady in the whole world, and our family’s life will be a little less happy without her in it.

She will never see this post since she doesn’t use social media, but that does not make my gratitude for her any less sincere.  She has been a blessing of unbelievable value for me and my family, and that is why today I am grateful for my amazing neighbor Linda.

What are you grateful for?

Happiness

I was a little surprised with myself when I picked this topic to be grateful for today.  I have not been exceptionally happy recently, but at the same.time I have much to be happy about.

I have a beautiful wife and children that I love dearly, and that love me in return.  I get to talk to them pretty much daily, and seeing them on video makes me so happy.  

I have a good job that supports my family well and provides all of the income that I need, and then some.  I get to work around airplanes, though not as much as I would like right now, and I work right next to a runway where I regularly get to see planes, which always makes me happy.

The biggest airshow in the world is going on right now at EAA Airventure in OshKosh, Wisconsin, and while I can’t be there personally, I get to live vicariously through the many friends that I have that are there.  It is easy to be happy when you get to share in the happiness of others.

As I write this I realize it is really just another list of many things I am grateful for, but isn’t that really what happiness is all about?  Acknowledging the great things that you have in your life and allowing them to bring you joy?

It is so vitally important that we always look for the good and joy in our lives, especially when they get hard, and that is why today I am grateful for happiness.

What are you grateful for?

People Who are a Light

I seem to be grateful for people a lot and I guess that is a good thing when you realize how important the influence of other people is.  It has been said that we are all the  sum of the five people we spend the most time with.  So we should make sure they are good people.

I was around just such a person today.  

I have already talked about the value of old friends in a previous post, but as a military member, many of our friends become old friends quickly because we don’t have a decade to get to know each other.  In many instances those friends aren’t even military members, but they are just as valuable in our collection of friends.

My Queenie became fast friends with Jessica when we lived in Arkansas before they actually moved away from us.  Since then they have remained friends through the wonder of social media, or as I like to say, the only reason social media is valuable to me.  They have also been able to get together a few times over the years since we have family in similar places.

What makes her special though is the light that she brings to everyone she is around.  I have never seen her frown or get upset with messy kids (though I have been assured it happens).  Just being in her presence makes it pretty much impossible to not feel happy and light, and this is coming from a relatively somber person.

I know a couple of people that bring this much light into the world and they are such a blessing in my life.  I want to be like them and bring happiness to so many people simply with my presence.  They are just a joy to be around.

I will forever be grateful for the people in my life because people are what make life worth living, but I am exceptionally grateful for the people who are a light in my life.

What are you grateful for?

Friends That are Honest

Life is full of so many choices and decisions that can often be quite challenging.  In many cases we know people that have had to make similar decisions and they can be our greatest asset.

In conjunction with yesterday’s post I reached out to a couple of friends to get their opinion of the situation and their advice was invaluable with helping me decide what I should pursue.  It would have been easy for them to simply affirm my thoughts but they were willing to give me honest answers instead.

Only time will tell if I have made the right decision, but either way I am glad I have some friends like that.  I have not always been so lucky and had to deal with a lot of pain and frustration because of it.

I get that it can be hard to be bold and honest with someone who seems to have already made up their mind but it is our responsibility as good friends to do so.  In one particular situation in my past, a lot of people had the chance to be honest and talk some sense into me, but not a single person said a thing, and I suffered pretty hard later.

The more set someone’s mind is the more challenging it can be to be honest with them, but I am grateful for my friends that are honest with me in order to help me make the right decisions in my life.

What are you grateful for?