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The 7 Rules for Happiness Japanese Style

1. Don’t step on the edges of the tatami mats. This is particularly true for
me. While I don’t have tatami mats, we do have one carpeted ROOM in the house
and the rule is: absolutely no shoes! I consider it our prayer room. A holy room, the
room dedicated to G-d. Unfortunately, Tater missed the memo and no matter what I
do to keep him out of here he has on occasion used it as his indoor lavatory (a sideeffect to his thunderstorm terrors). I’m serious about this room – we’re putting him
on an indoor invisible fence and zapping some holy into him.

2. Honor your ancestors. Not only do we keep photos of our ancestors
throughout the house, we keep photos of others ancestors as well. Like this kindly
old gentlemanhe might of could have been related to me . . .maybe he was my
great-great grandfather? I never have seen any pictures of my paternal
grandfather. You can’t see through this picture of his picture how full of love and
warmth his eyes are. Who knows what he experienced, what he saw, how many
loved ones he outlived, his eyes don’t reflect any bitterness or harshness, none of
life’s batterings seemed to have affected his soul. I can only imagine the stories he
had to tell and the wisdom he had to offer. Anyway, he’s somebody’s ancestor and
I’m keeping him.

3. Appreciate simple beauty. I’m an American-born of Guatemalan parents with
a Japanese identity problem married to an all-American hybrid. This is my
interpretation of ‘simple beauty’. Cowboy and the Natives gave me this painting
one year for mother’s day. She’s utterly, unspeakably, simply beautiful with those
peonies behind her ears!

4. Respect sacred places. This one is tricky living with Natives as the Natives
have their own sacred places. Sometimes those sacred places are the exact ones
that are supposed to be off-limits to them. For instance, the front yard is an area
Cowboy would like to consider sacred. He’d really like to assimilate with the
neighbors who have grass. Sometimes I think he suffers from lawn envy.
Unfortunately, the places he thinks he’ll grow grass is our Natives sacred burial,
building and digging grounds. They love to dig, build river communities (we’re
learning about early civilization), and work on irrigation projects in this
locale. Cowboy’s considering sod, but I’m convinced it’ll give the Natives
more material for their maturing civilizations.

5. See How Art Reflects Nature. I was amazed at how much of nature is
reflected in the art that we have. Cowboy found this picture in a retirement
community he once worked at. It’s a handpainted water and acrylic picture of two
hummingbirds. It’s one of my favorite pieces. It really is very pretty. You’d have to
see it up close and personal to truly appreciate the skill and artistry involved.

6. Wear shoes outside. Wear slippers inside. I try to enforce this rule, not so
much because it’s “Japanese” of me, but because Natives will track in all kinds of
disgusting things. The problem is it all accumulates on one sad little rug by the
front doorthe Japanese solution for this is a ‘genkan’. I think I know of a certain
Cowboy who can build me one.

7. Enjoy the 4 seasons. The seasonality of life: everywhere, in everything,
all the time. My Natives are a good reminder for this. Never again will I live
through a summer when I had a 10-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old. As hard
as my days are sometimes, the Natives are growing up right before my eyes – I
have to remember not to blink because the season will be over all too soon.