2016 Looking Back: My year in photos January to March

We are well and truly into 2017 now. Even the extended Japanese New Year holiday is almost over. Some folks are back to work today, others will be back from tomorrow! The trash guys resumed their pick ups today, and the post office reopened. Feels like we are getting back to normal after the glitz, glitter and gatherings of the end of the year. Before we get to far into this new 2017 I wanted to complete and post a year review in photos, with some reflections of what went on over the bumpy and sometimes bizarre year that we are leaving behind us. I will do this in 4 posts for each of the quarters of 2016. Some of my creative “inspiratationals” have already done this with much class and style. I am looking at you, Cup and the Road. And Mr.Pete Souza. Here is my year in photos.

Now to my own efforts and adventures.

My Year in Photos Part 1. 

Mikans and Monkeys at Home -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Mikans and Monkeys at Home — photo by Lauren Shannon

January, Beauty and Commitment

We welcomed the Year of the Monkey in high hopes. Many things that we thought would happen did not. This little monkey was a crafty and unpredictable one.

Street art in Nakameguro #whatisaw Photo by Lauren Shannon
Street art in Nakameguro #whatisaw Photo by Lauren Shannon

One of the more successful resolutions from January 2016 really did influence my whole year. Seek and find inspiration and beauty every day. Small views, little triumphs, street art, flowers. I spent a year finding creative inspiration.

Choices and commitment to self -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Choices and commitment to self — photo by Lauren Shannon

A positive January moment– I had made a promise to myself that if I could go 3 months without losing a nice by inexpensive pen I had purchased I would get myself a New Year present of a fancy fountain pen. I made the goal and in January and with Christmas money– I purchased a special pen for myself. These were the two contenders of hundreds I looked at in my modest budget range. I chose the super festive colorful one. AND I am proud to say it was my special pen all through 2016. Still, have not lost my carnival pen. And for me, that is saying something. Writing has been made a bit more special with my lovely fountain pen. I carried through with a goal and remembered to actually reward myself. Something I often do not do even when I am successful.

February, Friendship and Inspiration

Feeling Connected- These creative women at the Library Bar -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Feeling Connected- These creative women at the Library Bar — Photo by Lauren Shannon (from L-R- Alisa, Moe, Simone, Kathrin, Margaux and Jane)

February is often a tough month for me, but in 2016 it was a treasure. For the first time in a while I felt a real connection to a great team at work. The restaurant business is so different, relationships are not quite the same. But at Odigo I had a chance to work with amazing people and especially some amazing women. We laughed a lot, worked a lot, wrote a lot. And I look back at this photo and feel nothing but smiles. (missing in the shot but there in my heart are also — Kuv, Sally, and Jenny! – all a part of the same memories of strong, funny, intelligent women)

Gokayama UNESCO world heritage site in Toyama- photo by Lauren Shannon
Gokayama UNESCO world heritage site in Toyama- photo by Lauren Shannon

February also brought an amazing adventure opportunity. I had a chance to explore the sites, festivals and food of Toyama including the winter wonderland above. The trip was packed full and too short but I was reminded of how much of Japan I would still love to discover. Magical.

Art inspiration from a trip to the Mori Museum -- Takashi Murakami -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Art inspiration from a trip to the Mori Museum — Takashi Murakami — photo by Lauren Shannon

Also found some unexpected inspiration from the 500 Arhats exhibition. I knew about Murakami as a pop artist but I had never really experienced his work before. The colors, chaos and connection I felt at this exhibition stayed with me all year. I am happy to look back on this and remind myself to go to see art more often in 2017 too!

March, Goals and Progress

Nara and our dear DEER -- postcard by Nathan Hoskens
Nara and our dear DEER — postcard by Nathan Hosken

In March our company was really starting to jell. Working together on various projects, creating better content, gaining direction, enjoying our work environment. I look back on Feb-March as a time when things were working right and I still ponder what that special sauce was that had us moving through challenges with teamwork and passion. This positive trajectory culminated in our Hanami (Cherry Blossom) party toward the end of the month.

Daruma dolls for wishes and intentions -- photo by Lauren Shannon
Daruma dolls for wishes and intentions — photo by Lauren Shannon

March 3rd I took my friend Terri on a work trip with me to a big Daruma festival. These dolls are used as prayers for help achieving your goals. Purchase a doll color in the pupil on one eye, and think of the goal you want to achieve. You can even write this goal on the back of the doll. You keep your daruma in a place you can easily see and be reminded of your goal and you can only color in the eye when your goal has been achieved. I have two big goals that I have not done much about, I think I will revisit them in 2017.

My amazing mom, hair growing back in after cancer treatments- photo by Lauren Shannon
My amazing mom, hair growing back in after cancer treatments- photo by Lauren Shannon

My mom came to visit in March last year, first time she was ever able to come for spring and stayed through for cherry blossom time. She had spent 2015-2016 time in treatments for breast cancer and by her March visit her hair had started to grow back. So much progress! Every part of her struggle was done with strength, positive attitude, and a strong and giving spirit. She is a great example of how attitude is everything in reaching your goals and weathering life’s storms.

Thus ends my rememberings of Q1 2016. January, February, and March were very hopeful months for me. The year took some tough turns after that time but I still learned many things and was truly inspired in those early months.

Stay tuned for Part II, April-June.