2016 Looking Back Pt2 : My year in photos April to June

We are well and truly into 2017 now. As I embrace this new 2017, I wanted to complete and post a year review in photos, with some reflections of what went on. Looking back can be an essential part of moving forward. I will do this in 4 posts for each of the quarters of 2016.  Here is my year in photos part 2 from April to June. If you didn’t see it yet– you can check out part 1 here. 

April, Savoring and Sharing

Each year I wait and get so excited about Cherry Blossom season. Just breathtaking. 2016 was no different, April brought us beautiful blossoms. This year the Sakura season was both great and sad.

Cherry blossom-- sakura season in Nakameguro -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Cherry blossom– sakura season in Nakameguro — photo by Lauren Shannon

On the GREAT side of the scale, Mom was able to come and enjoy the blossoms with us for the first time ever. In the past, she was always teaching during this time of year– but retired now, I finally had a chance to share the flower time with her. Sharing made it even more special.

On the not-so-great side… after our wonderful Cherry Blossom party for work, the company I worked with was blind-sided by a huge change of direction and my boss who I really enjoyed work with was cut out by some pretty unscrupulous investors. For all of us, I think nothing was the same after he left.

Spring themed Krispy Kreme donuts we shared at work-- photo by Lauren Shannon
Spring themed Krispy Kreme donuts we shared at work– photo by Lauren Shannon

The most fun is had when you share. One of the things I loved doing was bringing donuts to work. What a way to start a day- donuts and coffee — and in Japan I adore all the impossibly cute food. So Spring was celebrated with some cheer-us-up treats. These donuts, and some great tastings we did as a part of periscope videos- a Sakura tasting and a green tea tasting were very fun. But the real joy in all of it was sharing and laughing with some terrific people.

Savory delights-- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Savory delights– Photo by Lauren Shannon

Savoring. I remembered that anythinng can be luxiourious, even Peanut Butter and Jam. Sometimes a small delicious thing can make all the difference. This photo shows the best peanut butter and the best strawberry jam in the world. One I found in Hawaii one in Vienna. So when I get a chance to have these two- it is not just the flavors but the memories of travel and adventure that I savor. I had some great PBJ comfort food in this month!

May, Creative Energy 

Custom built shelving, created a whole new feeling in the kitchen -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Custom built shelving created a whole new feeling in the kitchen — photo by Lauren Shannon

This one… a photo of shelving we imagined, planned and built at an apartment at the beach in May. For me this serves as a reminder, if we take the time, and think it through, we can always make things better. And even more than that, making it yourself is the best way to create something that is perfect just for you. When you complete this kind of creative project, it can change everything. After we put up these shelves the entire space worked better, was more open and we feel happy and proud every time we see our custom shelving.

Collage from the spring 2016 writer's retreat in Onjuku, Chiba-- photo by Lauren Shannon
Collage from the spring 2016 writer’s retreat in Onjuku, Chiba– photo by Lauren Shannon

In May we also enjoyed the 7th Beachside Writer’s retreat. I run these retreats 2 times a year, once in spring and once in the fall. The renewal I feel, the creative spirit that comes out of writing for the weekend with these amazing people– these weekends are high points in my year. May was tough but the retreat made my heart, head, and spirit soar. Thank you to everyone at the Tokyo Writer’s Salon and Del and Kelly at the Flying Sumo. 

Pottery studio discovery in Yahiko Village-- photo by Lauren Shannon
Pottery studio discovery in Yahiko Village– photo by Lauren Shannon

In May I had another brush with creative inspiration. On a trip to a small village in Niigata I was swept off my feet by this charming pottery studio in a mountain park. The artist who lives and works here shared his story, coffee and jazz music in what was a perfect moment in a small town, Yahiko. My experience here is one I still want to write more about so I will save that story for another time. But the lesson I learned here was to embrace serendipity, be open to adventure, and support artists. I am looking forward to coming back to this creative haven, hopefully sometime in 2017.

June Exploring and Preparing for Change

Chinese office supplies! A perfect find -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Chinese office supplies! A perfect find — photo by Lauren Shannon

Took my third trip to Hong Kong, this time with both Chris and Odigo. We were armed with an amazing food list from my wonderful foodie friend @curiouslyravenous — though the RISE conference was interesting exploring the back streets, eating good food, and discovering some simple treasures like these pencils, are what I will really remember. The pencils were the same ones used at the cheap and cheerful Michelin star dim sum restaurant. Oh, and I also found– Axe Brand Universal Oil. LOL The trip was successful, and at that time I still had hope that the Odigo ship would right itself. I even did a pitch contest in front of hundreds of other start-up teams. So we had a good time, shared common goals, and moved forward as best we could on both of our ongoing projects.

Empty June beach in Onjuku, Japan -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Empty June beach in Onjuku, Japan — photo by Lauren Shannon

My favorite times in our beach getaway at Onjuku are before the summer season. We took a break and had some good escapes to the beach in June. Sunshine, sand, and simple pleasures of reading, listening to music, eating good food and sitting on the deck. Recharging and enjoying the mild early summer weather in between the yearly, rainy season squalls.

Photos from our first view of This New Old House-- photo collage by Lauren Shannon
Photos from our first view of This New Old House– photo collage by Lauren Shannon

The end of June brought the beginning of Big Changes. We toured this new old house for the first time and made a choice that we would move!

Taking on this big challenge was exciting. Also, hints of bigger, sadder, more final changes were on the horizon at Odigo. Mom finished her treatments, the stressful year of medical events was mostly over. The month ended with hints of new and uncertain big things on the horizon. We signed the papers at the end of June for renting the new-old-house, and started to make internal adjustments as to what lay ahead.

Stay tuned for part 3 of my year looking back in pictures.