2016 Looking Back Pt3 : My year in photos July-September

Well– 2017 here we are. 10 days in!  I wanted to complete and post a year review in photos, with some reflections of what went on.  I am doing this in 4 posts for each of the quarters of 2016.  Here is my year in photos part 3 from July to September. The year overall was one of beginnings and endings. If you didn’t see it yet– you can check out part 1 here  and part2 here.  When I ponder the path of 2016, July was the start of some pretty hard, up and down experiences. Very much a roller coaster. So diving right in…

July, Beginnings and Endings

The summer started with a big tear-down. We started work on our new rental home, and that meant a whole lotta breaking stuff. Our goal was to get the 2f of the house liveable. So, of course we had to start by making the space completely UN-liveable!

Taking down walls in This New Old House, beginnings and endings-- photo by Lauren Shannon
Taking down walls in This New Old House, beginnings and endings– photo by Lauren Shannon

We wanted open and airy, so that meant removing the non-loadbearing walls. It also meant a ton of messy trash, heavy old tatami mats, dust, dust and more dust. But what a sense of accomplishment. And by the way, breaking stuff can be cathartic.

Pokemon critters like cafes-- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Pokemon critters like cafes– Photo by Lauren Shannon

Another notable fact of July– the finally arriving Pokemon Go. In case you don’t know, Japan, the birthplace of Pokemon, was one of the last countries to see the game released. All my co-workers got into the spirit and I had a great time catching critters around Tokyo. I have not played since the summer but it was a nice bit of distraction because at work the stress level was getting pretty unbearable.

Icy Desserts for Summer in Japan -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Icy Desserts for Summer in Japan — Photo by Lauren Shannon

The month ended with some much-needed beach time because the new CEO of our company decided that in spite of telling me I was valued and needed and in spite of offering me a contract well into 2017– I was unceremoniously told that at the end of August I was out. I learned a bit about business people, about contracts, about how to tell if you are about to be screwed over, about the myth of honorable Japanese company leadership. Hard lessons that required a good bit of beach time and yummy, icy cold Japanese desserts, best enjoyed in the sun and sand.

August, A Time for Goodbyes 

August is my birthday month, and a time I look forward to, this year it was… complicated. End of July I found out this would be my last month in my travel company, content job. But on the upside, one of the last things I did with Odigo was to take a trip to Pittsburgh to see the final result of a project we had been working months on with these amazing students, below.

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The project was with Capstone at Carnegie Mellon University. By watching the team above develop a new add-on product for our project I learned what real teamwork and organization look like. The Capstone team made a wonderful app, and in the process, I saw some of the best brainstorming and prototyping, very inspirational. The photo above is the celebration dinner after their final presentation which was simply, outstanding! (the presentation AND the dinner) We gave them a Daruma at the start of the project- one eye colored in for the challenge. The tradition is that you only color in the pupil of the other eye when the challenge is accomplished or the dream realized. This project was the final piece of the degree program for most of the team so it was a pretty big deal. I loved meeting them.

Me and Mom at Knoebels Grove Amusement Park -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Me and Mom at Knoebels Grove Amusement Park — Photo by Lauren Shannon

Lucky for me, Mom also lives in Pennsylvania. She was able to drive over to Pittsburgh, pick me up and we went back to her place for a few busy but wonderful days. One fun, summer thing– we went to a local amusement park. Ate too much, had too much fun. A perfect day.

These brilliant ladies, a joy to work with -- photo by Lauren Shannon
These brilliant ladies, a joy to work with — photo by Lauren Shannon

I had a nice final week with my team. Lots of laughing. At the time I thought I would still be seeing them more– but life is funny. Sometimes the environment is the main thing. But I can look back now without reservation and say I loved working with them. Not everyone is in this photo but I miss the WHOLE team so much. This picture just captured the silliness best. They are all moving on to other amazing things. Especially proud of K.A.’s new venture– MyBunguBox.com !!! (she will laugh at me for all the exclamation points, I’m sure)

Our Apartment view -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Our Old Apartment view — photo by Lauren Shannon

The final goodbye of the month was to our wonderful view in Nakameguro. I loved this apartment and so saying goodbye was hard. The view was life changing actually. Before we moved here I was in a very small, very dark apartment. It was cozy but after some years it felt closed off and I feel like my view narrowed to the confines of the space. When we were apartment shopping and chose this spot on the 26th floor I did not realize how much the wide-open-skies would open up my view of life and beauty. Anyway– August was bittersweet. Exciting to move on to our new place but sad to leave behind this amazing view.

September Settling In and New Discoveries

It rained a lot in September– My memories below don’t really reflect that fact. I struggled to find my footing and reset my life after leaving my old place and my job. It was not easy. But looking back, even just 4 months later I see that the skies were still blue on many days, and the charms of my new space and new projects were already germinating even though I could not quite see my way, yet.

Hidden Greenery -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Hidden Greenery — Photo by Lauren Shannon

At first, I missed walking my dog along the river near our old place so much. I thought there were no green paths in our new neighborhood. In the heat of August and September, this was a big frustration. But one day, we turned a corner that we had not yet tried and found a network of walking paths with so much green goodness. Revelation!

Still some sky view-- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Still some sky view– Photo by Lauren Shannon

I still miss our big skies and sunsets but I found that I could still appreciate the bright blues, and now I could enjoy the play of light and shadow in our reading room upstairs. Plus look at that cute little deck!

Food Adventures-- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Food Adventures– Photo by Lauren Shannon

The best discovery in our new area– so much good food. Small joints with traditional and modern fare. We have not even scratched the surface but there are so many cheap and cheerful spots to try. Exciting and Delicious.

Final part of my 2016 year in photos, coming soon. Stay tuned.