Having lived in 20 cities in 3 countries (Japan, Indonesia, and the U.S.) and pursued different careers, transitions have always defined my life. The ones in my late 20s and early 50s shaped who I am today.
Transitions in my 20s - the Story of Surviving and Thriving
I quit a demanding job in Tokyo and relocated to Los Angeles to live with more freedom and less stress.
The first few months in the new city were thrilling, but I soon faced troubles in my personal and work lives. I fell in love with a man from an outcast group in Japan. My family got upset and severed connection with me. My once gentle boyfriend, now furious about the racism he thought he had left behind in Japan, became abusive. Meanwhile, the application for my working visa extension got lost in the mail. My employer had been caught in an internal conflict, and my visa issue was the last thing it wanted to work on. Anxiety about the future and emotional pain weighed me down.
I felt like being stuck in the mud of heavy emotions under the water of uncertainty.
I just wanted to escape to the safe shore.
I was struggling but kept it to myself. I didn't seek help from a therapist or abuse hotline, either. In hindsight, the crisis in my twenties gave me a great opportunity to empower myself. But I was not even aware of the opportunity. I tried to ignore my emotional pain and waited for good luck to shift the tide.
I felt alone, stuck, and helpless but pretended that I was okay.
I kept my 9-5 job and indulged in emotional eating and drinking after work. I watched brainless TV programs until falling asleep. My abusive relationship eventually ended but left a big hole in my heart. To fill the void, I went out with any man who had made a pass at me. I was deeply hurt, lonely, and anxious about my work situation. When my employer filed for bankruptcy, I decided to return to Japan for a fresh start.
I created another transition to save myself.
After three years of enjoying American individualism and freedom, Japanese culture was stifling. I felt like a foreigner in my own country. Instead of taking time to settle back and contemplate about what I really wanted to do next, I jump-started job-hunting, took the first available job, and quit it in a couple of months. I then got a temp staff position at a government agency and made photocopies for employees younger than me. Deep sadness and resentment plagued me. My new life in Japan was not working, but I followed the familiar strategy of putting up a facade to look like I was fine. I didn’t share my struggle with my family or friends and tried a series of short relationships to avoid feeling lonely.
I was struggling again only in different water.
An internal shift happened
when I learned about a graduate program in intercultural relations in Boston. I decided to apply for the program to better understand racism and how it shaped my abusive relationship in L. A. While preparing my application, I felt energetic and thrilled first time in five years.
I finally started moving forward!
I left Japan a year later to study in Boston.
Another relocation was followed by an inner transition this time.
The graduate study opened a door to self-exploration. I finally understood why I needed my six-year-long transition and what part of me had ended in the process. I became more confident about myself. I was no longer needy. I felt grounded, vibrant, and joyful. I truly enjoyed the graduate study and Boston’s global cultures. Every day brought me a discovery.
I was flourishing!
A Master’s degree was not only a reward at the end of my long transition. A new love was waiting for me, too!
A man (who later became my husband) whom I met on campus invited me to spend a summer with him in Bali,
where he had established his business.
I crossed the Pacific Ocean again for more internal and external transitions to come.
Transitions in my 50s - the Story of Transformation
My life went upside down when I lost my husband to cancer. He was my soulmate, husband, father, mentor, best friend, and father of my son. When I released his cremation remains into the ocean, I felt like my life was also gone. I was left in a void where the light of joy and peace did not reach. Life was passing by me, and I had no will to catch it.
I booked a one-way airline ticket to Bali, where my husband and I had lived together. The ashram in Ubud where we used to teach meditation kindly built a memorial for my husband. I wanted to bring his ashes and hold a memorial service there. I decided to spend the winter in Asia: a week at the ashram in Bali followed by two and a half months of advanced study in Ayurveda and temple dance in India and two weeks of a pilgrimage to Sri Lanka. “Good plan, Sari,” my friends said to me. “Keep yourself busy and distracted. That’s the way to get over this tough time.” It was what I did in my twenties, and I learned the hard way it would not work.
This time, I knew that I had to go through my pain, not around, to overcome the biggest transition of my life.
I knew this work would take a tremendous amount of my energy, honesty, and courage. There was no way I could do it in the house where I witnessed my husband’s suffering.
Once I arrived in India, I stayed alone except for the time with my teachers and drivers. I wanted to retreat to fully experience my emotions and listen to my inner voice without distraction. I structured my day with a sunrise walk, meditation, intensive study, and a sunset walk. Deep sorrow followed me to India, and I often broke down in tears. I took one day at a time and congratulated myself every night for completing another challenging day.
Nature gave me some solace and moments of lightness: Wild peacocks roaming around the village. The brightest orange sun setting over the field. Fragrant tropical flowers. Strangers touched my heart: A woman who secured my seat at a temple ceremony. A man who fetched a taxi for me and prepaid the fare without telling me. Beauty, warmth, and kindness helped me get to the end of the day. My dear friends and family supported me from other time zones.
The safety net held together by nature’s blessings and my supporters enabled me to fully moan for the loss of my husband and my old self.
I was able to explore my inner world in a safe environment. Powerful realization about my life kept coming to me.
In Sri Lanka, a sense of peace returned to me at Buddhist temples. I noticed myself looking forward to the next day. I started to take smiling selfies.
I was responding to the beauty around me and participating in life again.
With high hope for healing, I returned to my home in Florida only to plunge back into the void. I felt my husband's suffering in my house, and it began to weigh down on me again. I booked another trip, this time to Japan. I needed to be surrounded by the warmth and beauty of my home country.
Japan welcomed me back with open arms. Every visit to a temple or shrine was healing. Beauty was everywhere around me, in architecture, art, people, and nature. While walking through a temple in Kyoto, a warm and tender feeling of love arose in my heart. It was like a well of nourishing water emerging from the core of my being. It was fast filling up my heart and was about to overflow. “What should I do with it?” I asked myself. “Share it with others,” a calm and clear voice came from deep inside. With that convincing voice,
I embarked on my transformation journey.
I found my new path.
After returning from Japan, I booked a trip to central Texas. As I did in my 20s, I was looking for a new place to start a new life. It was not an escape this time but a conscious decision to follow my path. I had a powerful dream a couple of weeks after my husband's passing. We were having tea with a group of ladies in a room that I didn't recognize. No one spoke, but we were united in deep silence, love, and peace. My husband looked so content and calm. He was beautiful with no trace of suffering. When I woke up from the dream, I knew what I need to do in the new phase of my life: I will open a retreat center where people can explore their inner world in silence and safety. I decided to check out the Texas Hill Country to see if it could be the place to realize my vision. As I drove through the green hills of Driftwood, Texas, I knew I had come home. Every cell of my body said YES to the scenery. This is it: I will move to Driftwood! I had no idea about how and when I could make it happen. The only thing I knew was I belonged to the place.
I was home.
Toward the end of my two-week trip, I went to a Macrobiotic cafe in Austin. When I stepped inside the building, I felt a strange sensation of deja-vu. It was like being back at my favorite cafe in Ubud, Bali, although the two places didn't look alike. After enjoying one of the best lunches in my life, I went to the cashier and told him how much I loved the meal and homey atmosphere. In a cheerful mood, I said to him that I was visiting from Florida and wanted to relocate to the Texas Hill Country when my son graduated from college in four years. I left the cafe never dreaming about seeing him again.
What I didn’t know then was I would be having breakfast with him at the same cafe a couple of days later. Neither did I know was he owned a property in Driftwood that he wanted to turn into a retreat center. I had no way of knowing that he would become my new life partner and the love of my life. No one told me that I could have two soulmates in one lifetime.
Four months later, I moved out of Florida and arrived at my new partner, Kimball’s sanctuary in Driftwood where we currently live and offer life transition guidance, private retreats, and holistic wellness classes.
A new chapter of my life began with love, grief, joy, sorrow, peace, gratitude, and pain juxtaposed like a beautiful kaleidoscope.
It is another story to tell.
I worked the mud of heavy emotions and learned how to sway with the water of uncertainty.
Like a lotus flower, I emerged from the water to
bloom into the light.
The Lessons I learned
- Allow myself to fully experience painful emotions such as grief and fear using mindful techniques.
- Build a network of trusted supporters who help me get through a rough transition in different ways.
- Explore my inner world to foster internal transition that will transform my life.
- Plant seeds of joy for the future, however I feel today.
I believe everyone deserves transition guidance regardless of income level, gender identity, ethnicity, or background. I discuss payment options with those with financial challenges. I also offer free resources on my website and newsletter.
Building trust with my clients is very important to me. I will not disclose any information that clients share with me during our guidance relationships.
I'm committed to creating a community where people going through a challenging transition feel understood, support each other, and explore their inner transition in a safe environment. I lead Lotus Transition Support Group gatherings via Zoom.
I am thankful for the support I received during the most challenging phase of my transition. To express my gratitude, I support non-profit organizations that help people cope with change and transition, including Women for Women International, The International Rescue Committee, and GirlForward.
Walk the Talk
I have been in a transition, too! I apply to myself the transition strategy, tips, and practices that I share with my clients, including the Full Emotional Experience work, mindfulness practices, and body-heart-mind exploration programs. To gain more clarity in times of uncertainty, I take silent retreats at the Wuji House, the serene retreat cottage that my partner built himself in the scenic Texas Hill Country. My guidance program gets richer and more effective as I evolve through change.
Life Transition Guidance
Certified Professional Coach and Purpose Clarity Coach (recognized by the International Coach Federation, the leading authority in the global coaching field). Registered mentor at the Girl Forward, the Austin non--profit organization that supports teenage refugee girls’ life transitions.
Retreat & Meditation
Retreat Guide at the Wuji House, the serene private retreat facility in the Texas Hill Country, U.S.A. Guest teacher at Anand Krishna Ashram and The Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali. Meditation training at Nanzenji Zen Temple in Kyoto, Japan and Sivananda Ashram in Madurai, India.
Mindful Art and Living teacher. Studied Zen mindful arts including calligraphy, Ura-Senke tea ceremony, and Ryuseiha Ikebana flower arrangement in Japan. Led Creative Mindfulness Youth Summer Camps and taught the Mindfulness in the Workplace workshop for the City of Austin.
Certified Ayurvedic lifestyle counselor and 500-hour yoga teacher. Advanced study in Ayurveda at Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico, USA and Kerala Ayurveda in India. Advanced study in yoga at Sivananda Ashram and Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in India. Taught Ayurveda in the U.S, Mexico, Bali, and Japan.
I have been promoting mindful living and helping people raise awareness in the body, heart, and mind for 15 years. You can learn more about my service in this field at my other website, Mindful Living.