The Countdown Begins

Kyle and I count ourselves as two of the lucky ones. People with little to no interest in Japan or the language, and zero expectations for the culture or its people. Two people who just moved here, with five years of real-life adult work experience under our belts, knowing many things would be different about our life and interaction with everyone here. I think it’s kept us pure and open-minded. While, I would be lying if I said there weren’t things about living in Japan that didn’t downright annoy the crap out of me, I think being two realists about living here has helped keep us positive and optimistic. We have really loved our life for the past four years in Hirosaki, Aomori. But, alas, this time has a real end date ahead.

A year might seem like a lifetime to some. But for us, I know it’ll fly by. On August 2nd, 2015 Kyle and I will be finished with our 5 year working holiday, and moving back into the real world life of the busy USA. The bitter-sweet end is just that… bitter-sweet.

So for our last year here, we could spend our time focusing on all the reasons we’re excited to leave, all the things that annoy us about working here, all the things we can’t stand about how ‘they’ do things etc. But what has that ever done for anybody? Instead, I hope our last year of stories will help paint a picture of some of the greatest things the Japanese people, and this beautiful country has added to our already amazing lives.

So, before we start blogging about all the things we love, it is only fair to you to give you a little update on what’s been goin’ on with us (sorry I haven’t written since May).  So, here it is:

TORI: For the past two years I was the President of the Association of JETs and helped event plan for all the English teachers in the prefecture. This year I did not run again for that position. But, my workload has actually been pretty crazy. This year I am continuing as a Regional Representative and will be helping plan and implement training for the new English teachers in our prefecture. You all know me, I LOVE teaching, so this is really great! This year, I have also been asked to be a part of a committee of Japanese teachers who basically write the standardized test for the entire Aomori Prefecture. This means, I’m helping put together the English portion of the test that every single high school student in this prefecture has to take before they graduate. It’s really really weird and official feeling, but I’m stoked for the experience.  I’ve been asked to judge some speech contests around the area, which will be fun. And this year my fellow English teachers have asked me to basically plan the units for the English communication classes we have together and introduce the grammar to the students. This might not seem like a lot, but for the amount of work I’ve had in the past, it’s HUGE! I’m stoked! Maybe it’ll help me a little more as I start transitioning into real life work again…

Anyway, as you know I have been pretty serious about making some changes in my health life. Just getting more rest, building my strength, and trying to eat really well. As I am rapidly approaching 32, I just need to make sure my body has the proper energy levels to be able to do all the things I want to do. My super main awesome huge goal is:


I think it might be my last chance to get that many in one winter season. Either night or day, doesn’t matter. But, since I might have that opportunity, I want to take it! In fact, I have a whole list of goals that I’m focusing on to go out with a bang this year. And here they are:


KYLE: Kyle’s currently working on getting his certificate in TESOL training. We’ve been talking a lot about what he wants to do after we go back home, and I think the current plan is for him to go back to school to get his teaching license. He’s really been enjoying teaching English to people of all ages, and maybe the TESOL cert will help him get a part-timey job or something while he goes to school. The thought of both of us being educators and getting summers to travel around is QUITE tempting to us, and I think we might pursue that!

Two weeks ago Kyle had knee surgery. Basically, he hurt it before we came out here, not exactly sure how, but it’d been bothering him on and off for a while now. Last month he and I went skateboarding for about 3 hours, and he was totally fine, but afterward it started killing him. The next day it was even painful to walk. So, he got an MRI, and the next week was in for surgery.

IMG_6599Looking perfectly quaffed after surgery… The surgery went really well, and with Kyle’s great attitude he’s taken it like a champ! He has three weeks on crutches, and about 3 months of physical therapy after this. The most important thing is that he’ll hopefully be healed up and strength trained in time for snowboarding season:)

IMG_6073Meanwhile, Kyle never lets anything get in his way of having fun:)

THE BOTH OF US: I think our biggest hope for the year is that we enjoy all the things we’ve wanted to enjoy about living in Japan. And really, savor the adventure  just the two of us are on. In September or October we hope to go to Fuji-Q Highland and go in one of the world’s scariest haunted houses that lasts 50 minutes! In December we’re planning a trip to Vietnam directly followed by a week at Hakuba (one of the best snowboard resorts in Japan). Kyle and I both often talk about how we’re closer to 40 then we are to 20, so one of the most important things for us as a couple is to encourage each other toward the healthy living. We’ll only be this young today… I mean, I think this dude is lookin’ pretty fly already, brace and all!


The cool thing, is our focus is on our strength, doing the things we want to do and do them well, and meal planning. We realize that killing ourselves over dieting never helped anyone, so instead, we just really really really try to keep good food around the house. But, when we want that pizza or cheesecake, we eat it on cheat day! Or if we eat it on NON-cheat day we don’t beat ourselves up about it. Like I said in my last post, Kyle’s been encouraging me since February to try a new meal plan to see if I feel differently. I’ve had friends ask if it’s made any difference… I’d thought a while about posting my progress for you guys but felt shy about it, then I thought, “meh, why the heck not? It’s just my belly!” If you know anything about being fairly muscular already, then you’ll know it’s not easy to see significant changes to your body, because the muscle is already showing and your body fat is pretty low anyway. But, I’d taken the first picture in May 2013, and the most recent one in July 2014. I mean, the weight change is really small (only 4 pounds) but it’s a good reminder for us that scales only tell a part of the story! It’s not easy. But, here is my change:)


So there you have it. To my friends who want to know if it makes a difference in feeling as well as aesthetics, apparently it does! I feel better and am rarely EVER tired now (could also be because of sleeping habits), and the change in my body composition is pretty significant without that being a focus:) So, thanks to my friends who have encouraged me to be a guinea pig with my plan:) It’s been fun. More than anything, I think it’s good to know that changes can be made with the right motivation! It’s definitely taken discipline, and at first was a bit of work like I said in my last post, but I think Kyle and I both feel like if I can see/feel changes with such a small lifestyle change, we can both do it! We’re only getting older every day:)



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