Again, that feeling of calmness
Learning to be • 2 months in Japan and San Francisco
I’m back and so happy to see you here again! It’s been a transformative few months: shedding the crinkly layers and soaking in inspiration in Japan, and in San Francisco, stepping into a deeper part of my self that I haven’t accessed since childhood.
While I was home in Japan, I felt as if I had reunited with the ghost I had left there many years ago. At first, this meeting was painful. For a month, I felt out of place and blamed myself for it, saying things like, You’re back in your homeland and with your loving parents. Why are you feeling sad and being moody?!
But after hanging out with a lot of inspiring locals, from the 90-year-old bartender Mike san, the chill standup paddle boarding instructor, the gardener at the temple by our home, the reiki healer with his flowerpot-lined studio by the ocean, to the loving chefs of cozy, hidden restaurants, I could not help but be touched by their golden energy. (For readers who understand or are interested in Japanese, my mom and I have a 20-minute conversation about this here.)
A surprise visit to San Francisco
A lovely friend with a hummingbird in her backyard planted the beautiful idea to swing by San Francisco on the way back to the U.S., and from there, it was as if the trip booked itself. Without much hassle or money, I made my way to the west coast and even got bumped to First Class on the plane. Thanks, universe!
And it was in San Francisco that I regained, with the help of another wonderful friend, the gift of calmness. With her healing, colorful meals and peaceful lifestyle, she helped me reconnect with the quiet, dreamy, and ever hopeful Haruka of the past and bring them to the present.
From fear to gratefulness
Thanks to these experiences, I believe in my self more than ever, and the fear and anxiety I felt before have changed into deep gratefulness. For the gift of life, for beauty, for love and friendship… This change has affected my artwork too. Many of you on Instagram know that the Washington Post published my comic and essay about how I am processing the hate crimes against the Asian American & Pacific Islander community through art. It was an honor to talk about this on such a public platform, especially during AAPI Heritage Month.
I hope to create more and more meaningful (and funny!) editorial / comic / cartoon work moving forward, so please let me know if you or someone you know in that space would be interested in working with me.
Ending with some sparkly news
My children’s book Fitting In is now available for preorder!
(And for all you Target lovers, the book can be preordered there too.) It’s been a journey since I first scribbled down the idea for the book in 2014, and I’m so excited to share this story with you in the form of a real, published book this fall.
And in case you’re wondering who John Olson is, he’s my amazing co-author illustrator! John has the sharpest eye and is one of the most brilliant designers I know, and I feel blessed that they accepted my request to work on this book together all those years ago. Fun fact: we met as first-year grad students on the queue to get our ID photos taken.
Hello, paperwork! I’ve been happily signing and scanning documents and talking to moving companies, so the Portugal move is definitely starting to feel real now. I’ve also started looking at rentals in Lisbon for fun. My wish is to live in a quiet, sunny apartment with a nice view of the city. I think a cat would say the same thing. 🐈
Soul spark ✴
What’s been inspiring me lately
The divine voice of Arooj Aftab has been soothing my soul. One of my favorite songs of hers is Mohabbat (“Love”) and is based on a poem written by Hafeez Hoshiarpuri in the 1920s.
May your footsteps be light as you walk in beauty,