015 – Take Heart With Genki Habits

Misako Yoke

Misako Yoke  

Genki Habits Founder, Misako Yoke

Misako Yoke is the author of Take Heart! You’re Stronger Than You Think, a book that allows readers to examine adversity through Misako's life stories while integrating the GENKI Method, a five-step plan designed to overcome life's hurdles. 

Misako is also an award-winning speaker, certified Life Story Coach, and GENKI Method creator. She’s committed to helping people navigate through life’s challenges to remind them of their true strength.


GENKI is an acronymic coaching method Misako created to help people face their life challenges:

  • G: Get Some Breathing Room - When Life Ambushes You.
  • E: Embrace Who You Are Becoming - When You Wonder, “Now What?”
  • N: Navigate through Changes - When You Start Something New and Confusing
  • K: Be Kind to Yourself - When Your Inner Voice Attacks You
  • I: Integrate Who You Are with How You Live - This Is Your Life
Take Heart


"Every scar you have is a reminder that you’ve survived the pain and the suffering. You’ve endured. You’ve made it through. You now have a deeper understanding and greater compassion toward others’ struggles. 

You and I both know that a pain-free life doesn’t exist, but we can always choose the right pain—the pain that helps us grow. The kind that leaves a scar that we can be proud of.Take heart, my friend! You are stronger than you think." - Misako Yoke

In the podcast:

  • The Fire-Horse Zodiac Sign 2:19  
  • Being a Genki Person 5:42  
  • Life as a wife in Japan 11:15  
  • Living in American Samoa 21:58  
  • Genki Habits 25:19  
  • G - Get some breathing room 25:43
  • E - Embrace who you are becoming 26:20
  • N - Navigate through changes 30:51  
  • K - Be kind to yourself 33:33  
  • I - Integrating who you are with how you live 36:31  
  • Channelling your Inner Samurai 38:58  
  • Nanakorobi Yaoki 43:11  
  • "Every scar you have is a reminder that you've suffered the pain and the suffering” 52:03  


Nick: This is Nick Kemp, with Episode 15 of the ikigai podcast and I have a very special guest, my Twitter buddy Misako Yoke. Thank you for coming on to the podcast.

Misako: Thank you so much, Nicholas. I'm very happy to be here today.

Nick: Now we are Twitter buddies and I actually reached out to you. Not sure how I stumbled upon you but I saw you were posting these beautiful photos of where you currently live, which is in Washington, not Washington, DC, but Washington State. And I found out you are a personal development coach, and you have your own method, which you call Genki Habits. But you're also a speaker and an author, and you have just released your new book, Take Heart- You're stronger than you think. So congratulations on your new book.

Misako: Thank you so much, Nicholas. I put everything I've got into this book hoping to help people with this difficult situation, we are actually stronger than we really are. So just a little reminder from me with my life stories, I hope to help you.

The Fire-Horse Zodiac Sign

Nick: Yes, I read it and I was shocked because you reveal so much of your life and you certainly had quite a few challenges and through it all, you have turned all those challenges into a valuable learning lesson and you decided to share that with hopefully many readers who will purchase the book. So thank you, and I learned quite a few things from the book. One of them was really interesting, and it shocked me because it was this superstitious idea that as you write you were born in the worst Zodiac combination. In English, it's called Fire Horse and in Japanese, it's Hinoe Uma.

Misako: Hinoe Uma. Yes.

Nick: Do you want to describe what Hinoeuma is?

Yohei: Thank you for asking. Yes, I'd love to. I often avoid talking about this to Japanese people because it scares them. We adopted the  Chinese zodiac system for the year of the horse, year of the mouse, the year of the dog, and so forth. In a conversation, if you say I'm a snake, that's fine. I'm a dog That's fine. But if I said I'm a fire horse I hear gasps because it comes every 60 years and that is believed, I don't really know the origin but, it is strongly believed the babies born in fire horse will bring bad luck to your family and future husband and his family.

Nick: But it's only women, correct?

Misako: I've never heard of a fire horse man, only fire force women.

Nick: As we talked before I started recording in the West it would sound like something positive. Like you're a strong woman and you have fire and you're confident. But in Japan, I had no idea this superstition existed and they obviously took it very seriously when you were born because that year birth rates were lower and I've read one article that suggested they were even forced abortion. So I was shocked that kind of superstition existed in Japan.

Misako: Throughout junior high school, the high school our age group was the smallest in the class. So it shows less competition and in a way, it served well for us, but many parents avoided having babies, that's really significant and in my life, I experienced it almost every day and often teachers told us "you are bad luck".

Nick: You were basically bullied by your teachers and other adults. Which shocked me and it does remind me bullying seems to play a big part in children's schooling.

Misako: Unfortunately, that's true.

Being a Genki Person

Nick: Which is really quite sad. I didn't know this fire horse Zodiac year was that significant. But it obviously shaped you, as we'll discover as we talk about your life. But in the book, you describe yourself as a Genki person, you're lively, enthusiastic, and full of energy. And I'm going to quote, 

"Sometimes my excess energy causes problems and I have to admit that I have a little spark of insanity."

Do you want to touch on that?

Misako: I have to admit it, yes. I would love to. I was growing up in Japan, and I was trying to fit into society. I knew enough what I was expected of as a Japanese woman, I tried to fit in, but it didn't go well. And often, I was seen as a weird one and kids avoided me and some kids contacted me and they ended up being bullied by other kids, then they left. So I had to develop myself not to have a victim mindset. So, I developed myself. I'm a weird one and I'm okay. Bring it on.

Nick: It's good to be weird. You usually end up doing something that most people don't do.

Misako: I needed you when I was at school.

Nick: Obviously, it shaped you in a positive way. But with it, there was a lot of pain. I guess in a way you were an outcast within your own school and maybe your community. But that's let's move in a positive direction. So Genki means full of life, a state worth aspiring for, and most people would know this word because they know it's used as the greeting 'Genki desu ka?' How are you?

But Genki has various meanings related to both physical and mental state. So I remember in Japan if you saw a fit person you could say 'ano hito genkisou ne?' People would look at you and say 'genkisou ne'. If you looked tired or sad,  they might say 'doushita no? Genki ni na'. Do you want to touch on some of the meanings of Genki?

Misako: Of course. Genki is used to Chinese characters, One is the origin, the other one is chi. Chi means our energy. The origin of energy is Genki. And often we used it as a more spiritual way of bringing up your enthusiasm that is contagious, and lively and animated. We are the origin of Genki, that's what I love about the word Genki So much.

I am often told that I am such a Genki person and I love it. Sometimes that means you're weird, you're too Genki, sometimes You're too weird, but I love the meaning of Genki. Also yes, it's not only physical, sometimes we are Genki but not Genki at the same time because it's got physical well being and spiritual well being. Genki has both sides.

Nick: It's a great word, I also love the sound of it. I know for some people it's a given name, maybe the kanji is Different.

Misako: That's right.

Nick: I wonder what that's like if you were called Genki?

Misako: I probably would adore it if I had a son named Genki and just love it. When I moved to American Samoa not many people knew Japanese words and then when they introduced Genki written down they read it as 'Jenki' like gentlemen. So I explained to them and asked my friend how do I say ‘Genki’ with hard G and one person my Twitter buddy can ‘gain ki’. You gain chi that sounds nice and I really appreciated it since then I usually use Genki as ‘gain ki’ when I write something in an email. I explained the pronunciation as gain ki and that explains everything So well.

Nick: That's does

Misako: Yes.

Life as a wife in Japan

Nick: As you know, my wife's Japanese and she has seven aunts. They're all Genki, They're all in their 80s But they're all quite fit and healthy. I remember if I'd say "are you Genki?', she would say 'yes Genki, Genki'. She'd be so happy.

So I think it's a great word to use for a coaching model in which we'll talk about your Genki habits. But before we go there, let's talk about your life as a wife in Japan, and how that became, I guess, a source of conflict with you as your true self is a Genki person. So you write 'in Japan, a good wife is quite agreeable and obedient. But I was none of these things.'

Misako: I wrote in Japan, a good wife is but I hope that it's not true anymore. I haven't been able to go back to Japan for almost five years and I don't really know the current situation. But I hope it has changed, It's not fair for a lot of women, because not so many people are quiet, agreeable and obedient. When you get to a certain age you will have developed yourself, and it's difficult to be obedient without thinking. We have opinions and we want to discuss and build relationships based on who we are. But someone tells you being a good wife means obedient, that will shut the door to be yourself. So I hope that has been changed.

Nick: Yeah, I think it's changed to some degree, but I think Japan still is behind the rest of the developed world. I remember when I went to Japan, and I used to love learning words and phrases. I remember learning Jimushi no Hana. And at the time, I thought it was cool. But then I'm on reflection soon after I realized to describe female office workers as office flowers, and they're there just to make the environment more beautiful.

Misako: That's not the way we want to be seen. We want to be part of the team But that was true. Shokuba no Hana is what we were expected off.

Nick: Okay, so that would be what workplace flowers. Certainly gave me insight into the social roles of what Japan was back in the 90s. hopefully, it's changed. But for you Clearly, you were ambitious. You wanted to continue working after you married and you got married. And then soon after that everyone is expecting you to quit soon. And you had this experience where your manager said Let's have a chat after work.

Misako: True. Right after I went back to work, after the wedding ceremony and so forth, I was greeted by my boss. And he said, congratulations, I took you off from the leadership training. And I said, What? Why? I was in shock. I'm still the same person you hired, you promoted, you put me into that leadership class because you saw me as a potential leader. Then it changed overnight, just because I got married. But he didn't listen, he was set. And his wife did the same thing. He's subordinates wives, everyone left the company. 

So his "normal" was for me to quit the job and probably he was expecting me to say, I am going to leave this company in a few months, or let's set the date So I can hire someone who can take over my position. But no, I was full of ambition and wanted to continue. And it became an argument and it didn't end well. I didn't leave until I made a huge mistake. I couldn't just give up my job, because that was who I was. I wanted to complete The job I was aiming for. 

I was the first manager of HR and the company was headed to becoming public and everyone is getting more jobs and tasks and everything. I was always so irritated because I had to take care of the household. When I went back home, my husband was angry because I didn't make dinner. I had to scramble for something healthy to eat. After dinner, I had to clean up everything and clean the house laundry and everything he didn't do. He didn't have to do anything. And I had to do every household task. It wasn't fair I thought.

Nick: So yeah. You had one boss basically say, now you're married You don't want to be on the leadership team and you'll be out of here soon to be taking off. Obviously, that was really important to you, that's a position you worked hard for and you were the only female in that team. And you worked hard to get there. I guess we can talk about this because it is in your book. You did work in the same company with your husband. we won't go into the details But you did end up getting divorced. Obviously, people were going to find out in your workplace. Then once that happened, that's when you were taken in and you had this chat after work was not your boss, or someone else. 

Misako: He was an HR manager.

Nick: This is where he didn't tell you anything. He just inferred that if you don't leave, you're going to become a ‘Madogiwazoku’. Do you want to describe that conversation and what he was inferring would happen?

Misako: Yes, of course, Madogiwazoku is translated into Window tribe. In my era, the company didn't fire anybody that was a lifetime commitment from both sides. If one person didn't meet the criteria to be an employee, the company will push you to a not good position, you are not given a second chance, you are taken away all of your responsibility and credibility. Just be there. Come to the office, sit next to the window close to the entrance, greet everyone and everyone passing you will look down at you. You are a Madogiwazoku person, you are eating without contributing anything to this company. 

That is a torturing position and in the conversation with my HR In my book, the boss of the HR, clearly expected me of getting it without him saying it. So he couldn't be blamed. He sent a lot of signals and that I was getting it because I grew up in Japan, I was trained to get the signals, but somewhat my spark of insanity blocked it. I am not listening. But that questioned me? Is this what I wanted to do? 

That was my second company. So I thought when I got divorced that this is my area, I can put all my energy into it. But do I need to pursue my fire For being Madogiwazoku? Am I going to be able to be Misako? That was a lot of questions loading on me So that was kind of a breakthrough moment, leading to my breakthrough moment.

Nick: It's a brutal punishment for not even doing anything wrong, to make someone useless and publicly humiliate them every day. I think they still get paid But we're basically going to say we're not going to give you any work, any responsibility and every day, you'll have to endure being reminded that you mean nothing to this company.

Misako: I can't do that to my integrity and human integration is my dignity and so forth. And I couldn't do it. To this date it still makes me shiver.

Living in American Samoa

Nick: But that led to you reflecting on your life And it led to you thinking, I want to do something. And you thought about leaving Japan and travelling the world, which you did. And you visited many countries, including New Zealand and my country, Australia, and you ended up in American Samoa of all places. How long did you stay there?

Misako: Well, I found an apartment that is on the beach. I was dating an American person. And he knows the owner of the apartment and he talks to the owner. The owner has had a relationship with Japanese people a Long time ago, his grandpa or grandma had a relationship with Japanese fishermen a long time ago. He let me use one of the apartment rooms. That was a fun experience. You have to read the book.

Nick: You found a second family That accepted you. You still worked for a Japanese company. So you were writing?

Misako: They helped me to connect to Samoan culture and older people who know the ancient cultural ceremonies and so forth in Samoa. So they helped me to develop my writing skills and sell my articles into Japanese magazines and news articles and so forth. I can't thank them enough for just embracing me and helping me out.

Nick: Yeah, you definitely had a unique lifestyle over there and you had these neighbours in his family and you were loved and treated well by the community. But there were problems And there were also scary moments. I recommend people get the book and they can read about all these personal challenges and your life in American Samoa. But let's talk about what you do. Now, We didn't mention this but your book, 'Take Heart You're stronger than you think'. Originally you had a title, a different title. what was that going to be?

Misako: That was going to be Genki habits.

Nick: And so why did you change the title?

Misako: That was actually a funny story. I loved the title Genki habits and one of my editors. She loves sushi and she said Genki means sushi restaurant to me and there is a chain restaurant around the area she lives, her family and her niece came to the meeting and said I love Genki sushi. And then I thought, Okay, I have to change.

Genki Habits

Nick: You use Genki as an acronym for your coaching method. I think it'd be really interesting for our audience to learn a little about how you use Genki. So can we go through your Genki habits? 

Misako: I developed Genki methods along my journey and countless people shared their wisdom and insights. I needed to make it something memorable. My brain doesn't handle memorizing stuff very well. So I use Genki as an acronym. The core message is that when you are yourself, being yourself, you are the strongest. So whatever happens, You and I both know life is full of ups and downs, using this Genki method it will bring back to yourself, helps you to be yourself. 

G - Get some breathing room

Misako:  'G' First and foremost, when something ambushes you if you are like me, I panic and I do something stupid. To try not to make it worse, get some breathing room that one pose brings you back to yourself. I feel like I mean a laundry machine, then when I get some breathing room, I can get up myself from the laundry machine, so that's the little distance you get. I made 'G' get some breathing room. 

E - Embrace who you are becoming

Misako: Next acronym, 'E', is to embrace who you are. Once you get back from the bad state, you need to know what you are not who you are right now. Our mindset plays a big role here. we are often busy knowing other people, and we don't take time to know ourselves. We adapt. Some people told you who you are and we adopted without thinking, but we deserve more than that. That's the idea.

Nick: I've been studying ikigai a lot, what it actually means Japanese and I've read books and I've spoken to Japanese authors. And I mean going back to get some breathing room I think we could say that another way tries to be present. Because if we're stuck in the washing machine, and we're panicking and reacting, which is going to be as you inferring stress, we'll end up making bad decisions. 

So I like this idea of getting some breathing room. Be present, just calm down and think. 'E' is so important, I think this is a really core aspect of ikigai is embracing who you want to be. It's about who you want to be and it's not about being your best self. It's about being your true self. So I love that aspect. Who do you want to be? If that's in line with your true self? You'd definitely be Genki.

Misako: I love the way you mentioned ikigai, ikigai cannot be separate from embracing who you are. So when you feel 'what's my ikigai? What do I want?' is embracing who you truly are and calling yourself. Sometimes we adopt wrong ideas. As a fire horse woman I can tell you a lot of people told me wrong ideas I adopted without thinking and it took too long to realize, wait a minute, this is my life I can change the way I respond. So I was always reacting. So that ikigai is very important. Knowing ikigai is essential to embrace who you are.

Nick: Yeah, you've highlighted a big point. Many people with good intentions or sometimes bad will tell you who you should be: your parents, the teachers, your best friends. They have these expectations of you to be sometimes perhaps someone different to your true self. It's important to take the time to think about who you want to be and embrace yourself.

Misako: You just mentioned a very important point. Because they don't have bad intentions, they kindly suggest, for us to be better, to adapt better, but sometimes it doesn't really resonate with who you are. That responsibility is your own  So sometimes step back and think, that's very important 'E' is essential. Embrace who you are, and who you are becoming

Nick: What's the next step? 

N - Navigate through changes

Misako: Then you're ready to say bring it on 'N' to navigate through changes. That is very important. One really important element you need to remember is that every time when you start something new, you are a beginner again. So you cannot expect to be good at anything when you start something new. 

I was in shock when I started travelling by myself outside of my home country. My first country was Australia in Sydney, and I couldn't order coffee. Somehow I said coffee, please I thought, but I got two coffees. It was puzzling why I had two coffees. I don't really know why. I was so discouraged. I didn't know the idea of navigating through changes. It's okay not to be perfect every time. 

When you grow up in Japan. You can navigate around Tokyo, Yokohama, nice big, Metropolitan, no problem. But once you get out of your country, you don't have to take off shoes? That was big. You stumble and you get frustrated But you have to give yourself permission. It's okay. If you didn't give permission, you wouldn't be walking when you were a baby. How many times does a baby struggle to just stand up? So you have to remember.

Nick: This is a good point Because a lot of people are afraid of change, too. Because they think well, what if I stuff up? What if I embarrass myself? Life will throw things at you  And you have to change. As you say you've got to navigate through these changes to keep moving. Especially when it's something new and it reminds me of the Japanese idea of the Shoshin. The beginner mind.

If you approach things from a beginner mind, then you're accepting that, well, I'm new to this.

Misako: That's a good phrase. I'm new to this.

Nick: Yeah, it's okay. If I make mistakes. And obviously, with the change, you grow as a person.

Misako: True, exactly.

Nick: You need this approach of going to navigate through changes rather than fear and let ego do the talking.

K - Be kind to yourself

Misako: Exactly. That's a great point. I'm new to this. Why would I expect to be good at it? So that's the very important mindset when you navigate through changes. But as you mentioned, life throws you everything. So when it comes to setbacks we have to deal with the loudest nastiest voice that is our voice. 

Our inner mind, our inner voice attacks us. So when it comes to 'K' Be kind to yourself, I was in a very difficult situation in American Samoa. I didn't know what to do, I didn't get that for a long time. I was confused and I felt someone was grabbing my stomach and churning, putting something into it and churning it. 

Then I remembered my best friend and my conversation, and I made a big mistake and I was blaming myself, "I'm just so stupid I cannot do this. I'm bad, and I'm not good enough" And she said to me, "hey, if I was suffering, you wouldn't say that to me, would you?" That hit me, my other best friend said, It's no use adding extra pain when you're suffering. So are you talking the way you are talking to yourself to your best friend is one big question? And second, is, there's no use to adding extra pain by yourself on you. So that's the 'K' Be kind to yourself.

Nick: Yeah, I really connected with that passage in your book, because it's something I've been teaching myself. You would never say to your friend constantly, you're an idiot or you've stuffed up again. You wouldn't do that. But we do to ourselves constantly, every day. Especially when we're struggling with life or we've had some stuff-ups and made mistakes. That was really good advice you wouldn't even treat a total stranger like that so why do we do it to ourselves, it's just so unhealthy.

Being kind to yourself enables you to really go back to this idea of being your true self. Your true self, it's just better for the world, it's better for everyone around you.

I - Integrating who you are with how you live

Misako: Exactly the happiness is contagious so everyone around you will become happier too. That's the idea of being kind to yourself, be kind to everyone So why not include yourself. You cannot get out of yourself so why not? 

Then 'I' for integrating who you are, with how you live. Every day, we choose something little or big. That's how we build our life. When we look back, that's a stack of our choices. When you make a choice, be conscious about it and if you don't like it, it's your life. change the direction. You don't have to change everything drastically 180 degrees, but you can change direction, then you will see big differences one year later, 10 years later before you know it.

Nick: Kamiya Mikko has seven needs in order to live or express your Ikigai. She talks about freedom, but she says we don't really have freedom, but we have the freedom to make choices. So despite life's constraints, we have the freedom to choose and whatever we choose is an expression of who we are and It should align with our values. This really connects to that idea of integrating who you are with how you live. 

Every day we make smart choices, Sometimes we make big choices. But even the small choices can lead to big things, too and it is your life at the end of the day. I have a few people in my life who focus on past regret. They are regretting making this choice long ago and saying their life would be so different from now. What they don't realize is you're choosing to go back there. Right now you could make a completely different choice that would change your future and maybe in five or 10 years, you'd be looking back thinking thank God I made that choice. 

Misako: Something you can thank yourself later.

Channelling your Inner Samurai

Nick: Yeah, exactly. So this is a really good framework. To me, all of these connect to what I've been studying about ikigai. That's obviously part of the reason I wanted you to come on the podcast. But what I also loved about your book is how you dealt with some of your challenges and what you shared from your own mentors. 

One was your employer from a bakery and when you had the opportunity to use a large machine that blended or kneaded flour, it was a pretty big machine and scary and he taught you this expression before but he said channel your inner Samurai. breath and channel your inner Samurai. What did he say In Japanese?

Misako: Kimi no Samurai wo Yobenasai

Nick: So that seemed to really help you.

Misako: Yes, it's been like four decades but I still remember.

Nick: So you go back to that phrase quite often.

Misako: I made Samurai into a trigger word to myself. If something happens I repeat 'I have Samurai in me I have Samurai in me' Twice. 

Nick: Okay. But are you a descendant of Samurai?

Misako: Yes.

Nick: You do mention one Samurai in your book, you say your friends were always reminding you that you talk about this samurai Oda Nobunaga

Misako: Yes, I love him

Nick: Who was Nobunaga?

Misako: When Japan was formed, there were three samurai in the role. Oda Nobunaga was the first warlord to bring Japanese in unity. It used to be Tribal and Oda Nobunaga has created the base to make Japan, Japan. Unfortunately, he was too ‘firey’ and he made a lot of enemies and he was killed, assassinated. So then the next samurai broke down a little bit more than Tokugawa Ieyasu, the famous Shogun took over and he created the Edo and Edo era 200 years of stable era.

Nick: Is that when Japan unified?

Misako: Yes, he unified and closed the country. I don't like Tokugawa Ieyasu because he closed the country. We lost 200 years of learning from other countries, but that did help develop our own unique culture so it's pros and cons. But I still love someone who has a lot of fire in his heart and brings everyone in to unite the old tribes into one region. That is a huge effort made and he succeeded.

Nick: Sounds like Oda was the spark.

Misako: Yes

Nick: Maybe the spark that made that happen.

Misako: Exactly. As a firehorse, the spark of fire always resonates with me and I just love the era, the Samurai era. When my friends and I were talking, I started talking about Oda. They say "okay, okay, I've heard you more than enough." I can't stop.

Nick: I have to look into him. 

Misako: Fascinating guy.

Nanakorobi Yaoki

Nick: Awesome. So there's this theme in the book that life is hard and you get these challenges or blows or bad things happen. Obviously in your case, from a young child, you were suggested to you constantly that you are the cause of bad luck. In your book, you have this theme of channelling your inner Samurai. There's another really cool expression, which is nanakorobi yaoki. Do you want to say that?

Misako: Nanakorobi yaoki means to fall seven times and rise eight. However many times bad things happen to you, you get knocked down, you get up again one more time. It's the Japanese concept of resilience, and resilience is a big theme in my life and my book and my coaching. So nanakorobi yaoki is often used in my sessions.

Nick: This is getting popular, and foreigners or non-Japanese love this word. It really goes back to the Japanese as you said, the Japanese are very resilient people. Just in terms of all the natural disasters, and things they have to face. It also reminds me of the Gambari spirit bypass but also this Gaman. Japanese can withstand and endure a lot of pain and tragedy. Something you also mentioned that's deeply personal to you is one of your mom's favourite poems, or maybe a line from one of her favourite poems. Which is if winter comes, then spring will be far behind. 

Misako: My mom often said it again and again, when we were in the darkest hours. It's temporary, whatever the hardships are, none of them is eternal, it's going to pass. So that gives us hope. When we were hit by something bad, we couldn't handle it. losing hope is losing everything Sometimes we only have hope. 

In my dad's case, mom was the last hope, mom was his ikigai. When my mom passed away, my dad couldn't handle it, and I didn't expect my dad to crumble down. My dad is a bigger version of me, Genki. A big Genki person became really depressed, and crying, and so forth and just lost hope. Losing hope can cause unimaginable pain to one person.

Nick: Your dad suffered a few blows which you talked about in your book. He was a very successful businessman and He had his fair share of challenges that seemed to bounce back. When you first have the love of your life, your ikigai, you might lose hope. That was hard to read, I thought this is a hard start for you when you were a young teenager and losing the single mother and seeing your father disintegrate. That's why I love coming back to these ideas of channelling your inner samurai. and nanakorobi yaoki. 

I've never really talked about COVID and I didn't want to use COVID as a way to promote a website and ikigai. So I haven't really done a COVID episode But this line from this poem we can relate it to COVID. We're in this COVID winter, so spring far behind so we'll get over it. You have this wisdom of We are the strongest when we are who we are.

Misako: It took me too long to realize it. I tried to get approval, I wanted to be approved. So I tried to be someone else. Someone who wasn't me But I got more approval. I tried really hard and after I did good and I felt I was a fraud and I was cheating. That's not me, I cheated them good. What's the point?  I wasn't really strong. 

When I started being myself, I rebelled against a lot of people. But I realized the world is still big, Some people embrace me, and some people don't like me, that's okay. Developing myself was just like giving myself the okay to be me, what I like, what I don't like, to express this kind of courtesy to the other people to let them know who I am So they can know you and if They want to be friends with me or not upfront. That's fair. I thought that that's the beauty of being a middle-aged woman.

Nick: I can't imagine anyone not liking you.

You've become a good friend through Twitter which obviously is social media. I'm not a huge fan of social media and I think going back to your point that we want to be liked and accepted. We try to use social media to gain approval and return back these images of ourselves that are where we're happy. I don't think it's very healthy. Social media can help connect strangers and that's what happened for us. So I'm not totally against it. What you share is beautiful because you were sharing your neighbourhood, your environment where you live. Take these beautiful photos almost several times a week.

Misako: Yes, I'm lucky enough to drive up to these beautiful places in less than an hour or sometimes 30 minutes, 20 minutes. I can go to the field beach and no one's around is and it gives me some room to breathe. I'm very lucky.  

Nick: There's something you don't know, You helped me understand a word. You sent video footage of about 10 seconds of autumn leaves falling.  I left the comment saying "it's beautiful and is it the tinge of wabisabi?" And you said, "yes, I sensed it." When you said sense it, that really helped me understand wabisabi is not an adjective. It's something you sense and it changes your mental state, It's fleeting, and it's short But when you see it you feel better. But you don't go around saying I just had a wabi sabi moment and my life's better. It's more personal.

Misako: That's true. That's a good point. Wabisabi is not something you can take, or you can recharge or anything, you just encounter and sense it, feel it, then somehow it fills up our mind with good vibes, we could say.

"Every scar you have is a reminder that you've suffered the pain and the suffering”

Nick: So I'd like to end with a quote from your book, I think it's important, meaningful and it connected to me. So I'll just read it. 

"Every scar you have is a reminder that you've suffered the pain and the suffering. You've endured, you've made it through, you now have a deeper understanding and greater compassion towards others struggles. You and I both know that a pain-free life doesn't exist, but we can always choose the right pain, the pain that helps us grow, the kind that leaves a scar that we can be proud of. Take heart, my friend, you are stronger than you think."

To add to that, there's a story your brother told you that really connected with me. I've actually imagined this myself But your brother tells you to imagine you're in the hospital, and you're on your deathbed, and you're regretting your life, that you didn't do certain things, You didn't make choices. Then you see a woman next to you Similar in age, and she's got all these scars and it's clear she's struggling with life and you end up talking saying "you look like you've had a hard life".  This lady has said "no, I had a great life, these are just battle scars" You realize it's a different version of you. It could have been you.

Misako: That was the scariest story I have ever heard.

Nick: That really connected with me and I thought that's great advice from your brother.

Misako: The story still lifts me and sometimes brings me back to the mountaintop where we had that conversation and questioned "do I live the way I want to be? Or am I just playing safe? Am I going to be regretting afterwards?" He made a situation that I was 129 years old and I was full of regret instead of satisfaction. That often stops me to take a pause. Is this the way I want to be? I still make mistakes but that gives me a good pause.

Nick: I mean to frame the story differently, but for me, it'll probably be my version of hell that you die and then not the better version of yourself but you made your true self. You have all these memories that I was afraid to make. decision. You realize I could have had this life and the people around me could've had a better life. For whatever reason, you don't be your true self because you're afraid or respond to what other people tell you to be or you're not willing to do the hard work. So that really connected with me. 

Misako: That is the point exactly I was getting from my brother too.

Nick: I think that's something I wish I could thank your brother for But I think he passed away.

Misako: Yes. Unfortunately. I am the last one. I'm scared. I have this responsibility to live for them then adapt to live to 129 years old.

Nick: Get lots of scars.

Misako: Yes.

Nick: I connected to your brother through your book, it's really wonderful. If our listeners are interested and they want to purchase your book,  where should they go?

Misako: I feel like in Australia, Fish Pond, and all over the world, Amazon or you can ask your local bookstore if you would like to have a paperback, you can go to your local store and have them order for you. If you are a digital reader, Barnes and Noble or Amazon, Fish Pond, a lot of online stores have it. So search my name MISAKO YOKE, that will bring up the book.

Nick: You had some books where You're teaching English to Japanese. Yes? 

Misako: Yes.

Nick: So that's at Masako yoke?

Misako: Yes.

Nick: If people want to contact you for coaching, where could they go?

Misako: misakoyoke.com or Twitter.

Nick: Okay, Twitter. Yeah, go to Twitter if you want to get beautiful photos and videos.

Misako: Enjoy my photos.

Nick: Thank you, Misako so much for writing the book and for coming on to the podcast to talk about. 

Misako: Well, thank you so much for having me. That was my pleasure. Thank you.

Nick: My pleasure, too.



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  • Ariadne says:

    I listened to this interview right when I needed to. Some parts gave me goosebumps. Certain moments really resonated with me, such as: Nanakorobi yaoki; if winter is here, can spring be far behind?; and “we are strongest when we honor who we are. Thank you!

    • IkigaiTribe says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Ariadne. So glad it helped. Yes, a wonderful episode. I am so prevailed to have these conversations with guests such as Misako.

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