Tag Archives: love

What Makes You GENKI?


Genki is the Japanese word that means,


At this year’s Boston Pride Festival, we asked folks what makes them “genki” (happy, healthy, and full of life). We got responses from, family and friends, hugging, to self-acceptance and pride. Check it out! What makes YOU genki??


Screenshot 2014-09-10 22.12.53

Screenshot 2014-09-10 22.13.15

Screenshot 2014-09-10 22.15.50


Check out our FACEBOOK ALBUM for more photos.

–Genki Sister Karen


Being an Ally



Last week The Genki Spark held a Skill Share for members on how to be an ally. With PRIDE just around the corner, this space was a perfect opportunity for a member to facilitate an activity, training, lesson on something they are passionate, knowledgeable, or strong in. I led this Skill Share as being an ally is something that I care a lot about, and work very hard to aspire to be.

Those of us at the Skill Share reflected on how privilege and oppression affect our daily lives. We also discussed traits of a good ally and a not so good ally.  Here’s what we came up with.  What do you think makes a good ally?



Screenshot 2014-06-05 08.34.24

We also completed two phrases to show how we feel about allies to us and how we can be allies to others.  Why do you think allies are important?


Screenshot 2014-06-05 08.47.56

Screenshot 2014-06-05 08.47.38


Screenshot 2014-06-05 08.07.26

Screenshot 2014-06-05 08.07.50




Honoring our Past, Present, and Future


In honor of May being Asian Heritage Month, I thought I would share one way in which The Genki Spark honors our heritages.  For those of you that missed our Making Women’s History Event back in March, or you were so inspired and excited about it and can’t wait until next year’s event…here’s an “encore” of one of our new pieces debuted that weekend, “Honoring Past, Present, and Future.”

Below you will find the speaking parts of the piece and a video of our performance.  We at The Genki Spark honor and celebrate those that came before us as we continue their work for a happier, healthier, genki-er world.  We are excited for our future and the future we are creating for those yet to come.




Today we reflect on the experiences of our ancestors. As immigrants and minorities, the generations before us faced many challenges. Their stories of sacrifice and struggle include:

  1. Having to change their names because they were “too hard to pronounce.”
  2. Being forced to “speak good English,” abandoning the languages their families had spoken for generations.
  3. Being denied jobs or access to education.
  4. Working endlessly under exploitative conditions, building railroads, cleaning houses, picking crops.
  5. Forfeiting their professions or dreams in order to provide a better life for their families.
  6. Facing the burden of proving loyalty to a country that was at war with the homeland of their ancestors.
  7. Being expected to keep quiet and endure indignities because they were women.
  8. Being harassed or beaten for their skin color, race, religion, who they fell in love with.

Despite all this, the generations before us not only endured, they excelled. Their pride, strength, and courage enabled them to continue despite a society that tried to keep them down. They demonstrated resistance through organizing or simply trying their best to persevere day after day. Let’s honor the legacies of the men and especially the women who continue to inspire us.


Today we envision the future.  The future we want to leave for our children, grandchildren and generations to come.  A future that honors those who have come before us.

What is this future we see?

A future that is just, equitable; where there is equal pay for equal work regardless of gender, race or religion.

A future that provides places where each of us can flourish, celebrating our unique strengths and talents; including opportunity for any girl who dreams of being president to do so!

A future where the media portrays women & girls for their strengths, skill and ability, not their hairstyles, bodies or sexuality.

A future where we fight through numbness and dumbing down to act with courage and conviction.

A future where women and girls leave competition and judgment aside to fully support each other.

A future where in the presence of strong women and girls men and boys find their strength and compassion

A future where we ALL listen to the needs and experiences of one another to empower healing, liberation, and positive change.

A future where each of us contributes to a healthy, sustainable planet,

A future where we live lives of hope, love and peace.

How can we create this future and carry on the legacy that has been given to us?  What can we do to create this future?


Today, we are in the present. The history of our past and the progression of our future, meets today, right now. Because we are interconnected.

This is our time. What are we going to do now?

The efforts of our past have contributed to progress. Today we still take on challenges including inequity, discrimination, and other forms of injustice. Every moment is an opportunity for positive change. Everything we do, what we say, every interaction, is important because what we put into the world, is a ripple effect that leads to what will come.

Because we are interconnected.

What are the choices you’re making now? When you do something or say something, are you thinking about the impact? How it might make the other person feel? How it might impact our communities? How it impacts the world? What we put out, even the little moments, matter.

What we do now is going to not only impact us, but will be what we pass on to our children, and our children’s children, which will continue to be passed on to future generations.

We invite you to join us, in spreading respect and peace in the world, with fierceness, so that our positive vibrations will spread and heal our communities and world.

We are interconnected.

Join us in making positive change, NOW.

When Your Family Doesn’t Fit in a Box


I saw this post today and thought I would share it. Being mixed heritage Chinese/Japanese raised in a mixed race/mixed family, I remember getting all kinds of strange comments from people. My mom was Chinese, my stepmom was white, my dad was mixed Chinese/Japanese, my siblings were mixed and we called ourselves a family.

Screenshot 2014-02-26 10.57.07

I think what I appreciate most about what this single mom is doing is that she isn’t letting her adopted daughters quietly internalize these comments. She decided to rally with her daughters and figure out how to use this situations as a ‘teachable moment.’ Many times I’ve been so stunned I haven’t known how to respond when targeted by ignorance and racial comments. My ‘be polite and agreeable’ upbringing didn’t teach me how to confront or strike back when someone cast an ignorant comment and so many issues would be left unchallenged. Often as a young one I would be left silent and alone with these experiences thinking that it was somehow my fault these experiences were happening to me. ‘If I wasn’t Chinese this wouldn’t happen to me …  If I didn’t look the way I do … If I wasn’t a girl … If I wasn’t big-boned, … If, … If,… If …’

Ignorant comments and targeting happens all the time.  It’s always ugly but I think the hardest and most damaging part is being left alone. Congrats to this mom and her daughters for figuring out how to talk about these experiences and not go silent.

— Karen


Thoughts on Being an Ally


Boston’s Pride Festival is this Saturday. For those of you unfamiliar with Pride, it’s a celebration of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) communities. It’s an opportunity for LGBTQ folks to celebrate their communities and for us allies to celebrate them and our connections with them. For the third year in a row, The Genki Spark has the opportunity to participate in the festival, both marching in the parade (with taiko in a truck!) and perform on the festival stage. I’ve performed at the past two and am looking forward to this celebration again this year.


I’ve been putting off writing a piece on what it means to be an ally because I wanted to put a lot of thought into what I was going to write. Since the inception of this blog, I keep telling myself that I would write this piece around this time to let my LGBTQ friends and family know that I back them for who they are, and to let other allies know that they are not the only ones. This year I’ve decided to stop putting it off and just write what’s on my mind now.

This year is extra special for me because I have taken the role of organizing my Genki sisters for this event. It’s been stressful, exciting, and all together a roller coaster (mostly in my head). I offered my time to take this position on because as an ally, I thought to myself, “I need to step-up in being an ally to my LGBTQ folks.” I have people I hold very dear to my heart that identify as queer so being an ally to the LGBTQ community means that I have to be a visible ally. I was also inspired to write this piece because I read Jason Lydon’s blog entry on being an ally to LGBTQ youth.  (If you haven’t heard of Jason Lydon, he an amazing anti-prison organizer and founder of Black & Pink, an LGBTQ-focused effort on ending the prison-industrial complex.)  As someone who also works with youth and youth of color, I applaud his being an ally to a group that is often silenced differently than other young people.  While I can write a lot about what it means to be an ally to various groups, I thought given that June is Pride month, and in line with Jason’s train of thought, I want to share with you what I will be celebrating at this year’s Pride as a loud, proud, genki LGBTQ ally:

  • All the bright colors that people will be wearing.  What a great way to show off who you are in the biggest and boldest way possible
  • Young allies- It matters that you are here and I am grateful that there will be many allies for many, many Pride festivals to come
  • LGBTQ folks of color- I march alongside you because as an ally of color I know that I only understand part of the oppression that you experience.  In order end racism we must also end all other oppressions.
  • The singing, dancing, acting, jumping, marching, laughing, crying and other expressions that are part of being human
  • My LGBTQ friends and family- I embrace and celebrate all of the beautifully perfect person you are.

Special shout-out to my fellow allies…I’ll to see you on Saturday 



Reflections from Boston: Payal


photo (5)
photo (6)

Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service – worth getting up at 5:30am for. 🙂

After 2 hours in line, meeting/connecting with new Bostonians, getting a group of 6 of them to sing “Lean on Me” in line and build community without waiting for church, getting interviewed, turning down interviews, cracking jokes at the NBC Los Angeles anchor that seemed totally out of place, and airport like security, it was worth it.

As a spiritual person, being part of an interfaith community was great. Great energy, powerful reflections by faith leaders. Cardinal O’Malley was especially powerful, as well as Nasser S. Wedaddy from the American Islamic Congress.

What was also powerful was Menino’s speech [listen, think what you want of the Mumbles, but he loves Boston, and his energy and voice verified that for me], and President Barack Hussein Obama’s speech. To explain why the president’s speech hit me hard, as I agree wholeheartedly with some of his approaches and disagree wholeheartedly with others, here’s a bit of my heart:

It was especially important for me to attend, because being brown in this city at this time is scary for me. On Monday, I feared leaving my house for two reasons, one, because of the bombings, and the worry that it was not over, and two, because I did not want to cross the path of a suspecting stare, violence fueled by fear or anger, a look that “other-ed” me more than usual, or feared me or those that looked like me.

It is fresh in my head that not less than 6 months ago, Sunando Sen was pushed onto the path of an oncoming train and killed by a woman who blamed Muslims AND Hindus for the attacks on September 11th. In New York City. Oak Creek Wisconsin is fresh in my head. My friends who have been scared THIS WEEK to go to their mosque occupy my thoughts.

Obama’s speech was responsible. Uplifting, powerful, catered to Boston [sports, sports!], but overall, responsible. I needed that, for me, and for my family, and for my brothers and sisters. This was not cowboy mentality. This was unity, community, and support. The church sat at the edge of their seats, caught with his every word, and for a figure like that, arguably one of the most influential people in the world, to send a message of love, not fear, was a very, very good thing.

We are Boston. I AM BOSTON. Let no one, regardless of who is responsible for the acts on Monday, forget that.


Reflections from Boston: Karen


This week in Boston has been challenging to say the least. 

Thank you to all our friends and family who have written, texted, and called to check on our well being. We’ve gotten messages of concern from all throughout Boston and New England and as far away as Japan, Alaska, Hawaii, and California. It’s been personally reassuring to hear from folks.

Many of us were at practice on Monday. Our dojo is on Beacon Street and our windows face the street — right on the marathon route. We saw the runners all afternoon, then we saw lots of police cars, by the time we left at 4PM the streets had been cleared and the trains had been shut down.

Mostly I’ve been stunned by the bombings. I’m horrified about the numbers of people who died or were injured and I worry that public events will be banned and no longer allowed. I worry about the future and what will result from this tragedy.  I worry that art and music festivals, parades, and celebrations will require so much security that they will no longer be accessible.

Terrified of racial profiling, more wars in the world, and more acts of violence, I keep praying that the person responsible is a US citizen. I know that may sound horrible but I can’t stand the idea of innocent black and brown people with ‘foreign’ names being beat up, murdered, spat on, or dragged into custody due to panic and hysteria.

Stay strong everyone — I have to believe that love, compassion, and understanding will prevail.


Reflections from Boston: Lisa


“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” -Leonard Bernstein

At times, I find writing to be therapeutic. Here is something I wrote today, in remembrance of a friend of mine who took his own life a few years ago, along with a photo I took during the marathon.

Dear B,

Between the 3 year anniversary of your passing and what happened at the end of the marathon today, I’m in a pensive ol’ mood. Not sad, grieving, or depressed, just thinking about the ups and downs of life.

None the less, I am thankful for how gorgeous the morning was, and grateful for the fact that I got to witness the abundance of love; support from the crowd for the runners. And the runners- amazing. Running to compete, to better themselves, to remember loved ones, to raise money for a good cause, or just to say, “I ran the m’f’ing Boston Marathon.” What a wonderful dose of positive energy.

I took a lot of photos during the marathon, but this one is for you. I think the best way I can honor your memory is to live well, take care of myself and appreciate moments of beauty like these.

ALL my love. ♥

Your friend,

Generosity …. Tragedy…. How Does One Embrace it all?


I’ve been busy running Project Bethlehem at Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence, MA Imagewww.lazarushouse.org . This program serves 400 plus families in one of the poorest cities in MA by providing them Christmas gifts.  Generous, caring donors from the area “adopt” these families, shop for them according to their Wish List and deliver wrapped gifts.  We notify the families and they come to pick up the gifts.

In the midst of greeting our generous donors at the door, moving tons (literally) of packages and sending recipients off with huge smiles and grateful hearts, we learned of the tragedy in Newtown, CT:  18 children between the ages of 5 and 10 and 9 adults dead in an elementary school shooting. The 20 year old gunman killed his mother, went on this rampage, then killed himself.

I am baffled by what the human heart and mind is capable of:  selfless generosity of literally hundreds of people who have responded with deep caring to the needs of families who are poor and the brutal killing of innocent children and adults by a single young man.  I’m struggling to make sense of the extreme counterpoints these events reflect, a difficult task.

Why do these extremes exist?  Why do so many people live without heat or in hotels because they lost their homes or struggle to provide for their children? Why are there homeless children-going to school with no coats, living in cars or couch surfing, or if they are lucky live in a shelter?  Why do 4 million children work in sweatshops in India till they grow up or die? Why do men kill their classmates, kill their coworkers, kill innocent children or kill the “enemy?”

Why do people buy gifts for a family they will never know? Engage their friends, family and coworkers to do the same? Take time to provide a special something for a child who will never know them? What motivates a young child to raise thousands of dollars for a cause? Why do people work tirelessly to make the world a better place for their neighbors or for people they’ll never meet?

How can we care so deeply that it hurts and not care at all about the impact we have on others?

It is in the human heart to love deeply. It is also in the human heart to kill. We don’t have to physically kill, we can kill our own or another’s spirit with a glare, meanness, a dismissal.  So, as we approach the darkest days of the year here in the Northern hemisphere and the beginning of the slow return to light may we use the upcoming Holidays as a time to ponder what motivates us, what we are capable of and take honest stock of all of it – the good, the bad, the ugly, the sublime.

And perhaps, as we shed light on our inner motivations and inventory all that lives in us we will give another human being the courage to do the same.  And maybe, just maybe, our collective action to be honest about what lives in our hearts will pour compassion into a world in dire need of it right now.

I wish you the peace that emanates from being in integrity with who you truly are.


Questions to Ponder:

How do you experience love? What action do you take from love?

How do you experience hatred, anger, fear? What actions do you take from these emotions?

What if you saw that negative feelings are distortions of love? How would you treat yourself or others differently?