At the edge of the horizon

At the edge of the horizon
At the edge of Japan

Thursday, October 16, 2014

You've been flirting again

I cannot believe it is already mid-October!  I have been missing Japan so much lately, even though I've been busy.  I feel like time has been flying much faster since I left Japan.  And since my last post I left you all in the dark as to what I have been working on lately.  I've been so busy with creative projects that I haven't had much time to spend on catching up via the blog.  Let me just announce that tomorrow I'll be showing an original interactive dance happening at the Tampa Museum of Art.  If you happen to live in Tampa, please come out to view my work.  After tomorrow, I'll catch you all up on what's been going on and where I am heading. 

In the meantime, I've made a poster and trailer for the performance, which is called "A Homecoming."  Leave me a message if you like it.  Enjoy!

A HOMECOMING from Autumn Widdoes on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dears, the Future is Now.

The future is now.

I've been applying to jobs and imagining my future.  After the last post, which seemed like the literary equivalent to Edvard Munch's masterpiece, I started to dig deep into how I felt in order to re-imagine the possibilities in my life.  I have to also admit that this post was inspired by this wonderful article.  By the way, I have many things to announce to you...but I shall save those for my next post.  Instead, I want to share some of the thoughts I have been meditating on in order to change my perception.  I want to say that I know that I'm not the only person affected by the current milieu in the world, especially in the US, so I know that there are many from my generation in particular who have been struggling with finding their way in this world-in-transition.  Let me tell you something I have finally figured out.  We are living great lives, even in our struggle.  I was drinking some of my favorite tea the other day, and on the tea bag's label, it stated something like "Have gratitude in your life and opportunities will arise."  I decided that was a message I needed to heed.  Here are a few others I've been thinking about lately:  These are all from issues I've had to face in my life, so don't think I'm just writing empty platitudes up here. 

Reject false models of scarcity and austerity. Create abundance in your life, even if right now you can only do it with creative thoughts. That's where it starts. To hell with feeling like you need permission to do the things you want to do during your life. If you want to go back to school to better yourself, do it. But you don't need it to have permission (unless you're getting a degree that requires licensing or certification). If you want to travel the world, do it. You don't have to be rich to do this, but you'll need a job. If you have debt, live your life as you like it as best as you can. Find ways. Don't settle. Don't buy into the systems in our society if you want to live your life freely. Question things. Read between the lines. Think critically (esp. about social problems that may affect others). Think outside of the typical mode of thought or way of communicating. Don't buy into the media's bullshit. Have empathy. Don't spread negativity. If you're feeling negatively, dig into that and try to figure out how to use that energy properly in a more positive way. Get rid of anyone who tries to hold you back with negativity or tries to control you. Stop being afraid of succeeding. Stop being afraid of failing. Stop being afraid to be who you are. Quit worrying about what others think about you. Quit focusing on other people's lives and how good they have it. If you feel envy or the beginnings of jealousy (and let's be honest, everyone has at some point), use that to better yourself, not put others down. Find out what it is that you want that others have and go after it.   Fill your heart and soul with gratitude. Give back and help others who are trying their best (do this without obligating them to you). Embrace love and kindness. Try your best to forgive (you don't need to tell the jerks who caused you pain, but you need to do this so you can move the hell on and get back up on the horse).  Let go of the past.  What's done is done.

Anything you'd like to add?

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Finding a way...Finding my way

I'm just going to re-post something I wrote suddenly on my Facebook wall because I feel that it needs more context. I'm not certain if what I am feeling is entirely reverse culture shock or if it is a combination of being in transition, going through reverse culture shock, being unemployed, feeling very uncertain again about my life and the decisions I've made so far, fearing that I'm going to end up falling back into that familiar hometown rut, feeling as if everyone else around has their shit together and is much further along in their lives than I am, etc. etc. among other fears. Sorry this post isn't more cheerful.  Yesterday was a wonderful day with a million positive ideas coming to me.  Today seems to be less productive. Everyday throws something different at me and I deal with it either positively or negatively, though nothing exciting really is happening in my life currently (and maybe that's the real problem).  It seems though that I usually feel this way whenever I have to apply to jobs and I look around at the jobs available in my hometown and how limiting they seem to be.  To be honest, I'm considering going back to graduate school again. Not because it's a way to avoid working (I really do enjoy having a job and an income), but because I keep feeling that it may be the only way forward career wise.  Maybe I'm not thinking creatively enough though. Maybe I'm just afraid of change and afraid of rejection and full of all the fears that hold everyone back.  I feel that I need to start working harder at something so that I can be devoted to that while I'm trying to figure out the rest of my life. 

Periodically throughout the day, almost everyday, though some days are better than others, I feel this sudden sense of bewilderment creep over me. The question "what am I doing here?" rises to my lips, though I don't mouth it aloud. When I first arrived 3 weeks ago, it was as if I could still see Japan's shoreline as I slowly drifted away. I felt sure of myself. I didn't mind things then as I felt sure in some sense that I had made the correct decision. Now, 3 weeks have gone by, and the shoreline has started to disappear entirely and I'm left out at sea with only this vague sense of movement pushing me further away from where I was into a vast unknown, with nothing in sight to guide me to the next place that I belong. Then the waves of pressure overtake me. My internal critic comes alive shouting "you should know what you are doing by now", "you should have a career", "you should be more established," "you're floundering" "you're failing," etc. I feel overwhelmed when this happens and start to worry that I've made all the wrong decisions, that I went in the wrong direction, that I spent too much time away from my own culture, that I didn't work hard enough or meet the right people especially in my 20s when I was trying hard to establish myself as an artist/performer/writer, that my graduate education has been wasted, that the doors just never opened, that I am in essence alone out on this ship out in the middle of the ocean without a compass or a map.

Friday, August 22, 2014

ただいま! Welcome Home: Finding a Career

At the end of July, I left the JET Program and with it my job teaching English to Japanese high school students.   Now I'm on the hunt for something new.  Yes, I probably should have procured another job in advance instead of free-falling into the abyss of unemployment, but I did spend a year looking for work, going back and forth via Skype sessions and emails corresponding with an amazingly talented career coach from NYU who has pretty much done everything she can to get my profile and my career hunting attitude in gear.  And yet, here I am.

After flying to mainland Japan in February to attend a career fair in Yokohama which led to a few interviews in the recruiting industry that allowed me to see that wasn't my destined path, I realized that it was time to come home.  I am sure that if I had an extensive network in Tokyo, I could have found an awesome (non-ALT) job that allowed me to continue living in Japan indefinitely.  But I want to believe that right now I was meant to return to the US and that it's time to start looking forward.

I know what I want to do.  I want to work for UNESCO or an international organization directly connected to it.  It's the same dream career I have wanted to pursue since I traveled to Paris, France with the Mountbatten Internship Program when I was 25.  It's the reason I got an MA in Performance Studies.  I wanted a solid theoretical background in an area of focus that combined cultural studies, ethnography, and performance. I'm interested in  cultures, international exchange, educational systems, and as a performer/artist/writer, I am also passionate about the exchange of different perspectives/ideas/feelings via the arts.

This world is a complex one with a myriad of belief systems, languages, religions, rituals, artistic practices, architecture and design, among many other things. A world that, even in this era of globalization, seems to be retreating back into a black and white polarized system of organization based on fear, austerity, and war.   And yet, all around us we have incredible technological innovation, advances in the sciences, a deeper understanding about nature, the environment and our role to it, and the ability to communicate and connect with each other in order to learn more about our differences and similarities, so that we can deepen our ability to empathize and see and experience each other beyond the surface of our being.  I believe that we do this best through creative expression.

If this all seems too dreamy for you, just realize that the world we live in is the world we construct for ourselves and the communities around us.  It's really as simple as that.  I know the world that I want to live in and I want to continue to help shape and build it so that the world based on fear, extreme poverty, environmental destruction, and war isn't the only reality that we have.

If you have any connections or any advice to give me, feel free to leave a comment or send me a private message.   

Many thanks and lots of love to you.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

ただいま! Welcome Home: Reverse Culture Shock

Hello!  お久しぶりですね。

I've decided to update here to let you know that I finally left Japan after living there for 4 years.  It was difficult to leave and the process of re-acclimating to the USA is already proving to be even more difficult than the heartbreak I felt as I said goodbye to all my friends before getting on the plane in Naha.

Moving is never an easy thing to do and moving across the world is double the work.  I couldn't have done it without my close Japanese friends, whom I can never thank enough for all their help, their support, and kindness.   Even after I left they were still emailing and messaging me to find out how I was doing in the US. 

I never expected to live in Japan for so long, and especially in Okinawa, but life took me in that direction and now it has sent me in another direction.  I'm now back in Florida and have been here for almost 3 weeks.  It seems like I've been here much longer, to be honest.  The transition back has already been super rocky.  I feel like many people think I lived a glamorous life in Japan and maybe from a distance it seems that way, but the way I was treated at my school by some of my co-workers was as far from glamorous as the moon is from the earth.  I think it's hard to understand that living overseas isn't necessarily always this wonderful, fun-filled exciting life.  It's a life, like any other except the culture isn't American.  Some days are awesome, some days are wretched and horrendous, some days make you feel like a superhero and some days remind you that you speak the local language like a 6 year old does and that you aren't anywhere as independent as you thought you were.

Reciting my 10 minute goodbye speech in Japanese!

Friday, July 4, 2014

From Rainy Season to a Summertime Blues

The rainy season of June came and went, but it didn't fly by gracefully.  Instead, I struggled with it in a vicious stress-filled manner.  It wasn't the rain that bothered me though.   This June was one of the most difficult months I've endured here since the first 6 months that I arrived.  Most of the issues occurred at work, since I spent a large portion of my month there pulling 12 hour days to get my skit team prepared for the prefectural contest, to finish up a major speaking project that I had designed for my English Expression class, and to write my final final exam.   I didn't have any time to write or do anything after work, because I was so tired that I would just come home, cook dinner, and fall asleep.  On top of this, I was packing up several years worth of belongings in the first two weeks of June, to ship them home to Florida.  So, half of my apartment is gone, and the rest of it I need to deal with this month.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Two months left

Today is June 1st, and officially I have approximately 2 months left in Okinawa on the JET Program.  I am at a strange place in my life where I am looking towards the future with hopeful uncertainty, yet longing to hold onto the beautiful moments of my life here in Naha.  Yesterday, I went to 具志川城 ruins which lies at the Southern tip of Okinawa near Cape Kyan.  This area is so calming and while visiting it yesterday, I lamented not having spent enough time outside of the city, away from my computer, away from the areas where I often spend my time.  I don't own a car, so getting out of the city isn't easy unfortunately.  Okinawa is built around car culture, just like my home town in Florida.  Without a car, or a motorbike, you have to rely on other transportation methods (friends' cars, inconvenient and expensive bus routes, a monorail that doesn't go very far, etc).  Parking is atrocious in the area of the city where I live, so having a car here just wasn't a good option for me.  Still, I cherish the times I have been able to just get away from Naha and see parts of this island that remind me of how gorgeous it is and how lucky I am to have had the chance to live here.