A Princess Dream Come True

Our court from 1991. I am second from left on the bottom row. This was taken about a month before our Nisei Week Pageant and Queen selection.

Over two decades ago, my first seemingly dreamy and unattainable goal was to be involved in a yearly Japanese-American festival in Los Angeles known as Nisei Week, which was established back in 1934.  Aside from a period of seven years between 1942 and 1948, during which World War II raged and carried a solid and jarring impact on the Japanese-American community, the Nisei Week festival has continued to run throughout the decades.

As a child, I remember seeing the Nisei Week Queen and court each year, and it became a dream of mine to be selected as a court member when I got older. However, I got sidetracked by life and didn’t bother to enter the  competition for the local queen selection until the year I turned 25.  I was stunned when I was chosen as the Queen of my community center (the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, or SFVJACC) for that year.

Once I was selected, I spent the next three months in regular meetings with the queens from the other eight participating communities, meetings in which we would practice all the routines for the beauty pageant which would mark the beginning of that year’s Nisei Week. We competed in that pageant for over 1,000 audience members in a 3 hour event, and though I didn’t win the Nisei Week Queen title, I was happy with being a Nisei Week Princess. We rode on floats, visited businesses, and fostered good will throughout the Japanese-American community.

August 16, 2015: Nisei Week Queen and Court on the float of Nisei Week Japanese Festival Parade at Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles.

When we were on stage, on parade floats, and on visitations, we would wear our sashes, a definite marker which identified us all as queen and court.  On some occasions, we would wear our crowns, and were either clad in matching dresses, or in kimono.

Queen?  Princess?  I guess so, at least in pageant terms!

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Blessed Bodywear Squat Pants Review

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The Bikini Box

It may be considered strange by some people, but I perform scheduled purges of my belongings on a regular basis. Why? Because they enable me to stay organized, and they also force me to get rid of items I don’t need. Recently, I decided that as part of a household purge, I would go through every single bikini in my bikini box.

The bikini box I am referring to is an underbed storage box which holds all of my bikinis. I established this system several years ago when I began to accumulate bikinis and would use them in photo shoots. After struggling to sort through my collection when I packed for a slew of photo shoots over the summer, I realized that there were suits I had never worn, suits which had been shot too many times, suits which no longer fit, and suits which had never fit.

I tried on every single suit, assessed fit, and determined whether to keep it or give it away. If I decided to keep a suit, I then made sure the top was tied securely at the neck, and also secured the side ties on bottoms, to make it easier to put it on when at a shoot. I also cut off tags so that they wouldn’t poke at me or stick out and create extra editing work for photographers. I also labeled the bags I stored the bikinis in so that the styles could be easily identified without me having to remove the suit from the bag.

It took me five hours to go through that bikini box, which means I averaged about 20 suits per hour. I gave away close to 20 suits and kept the rest, making sure that each suit was in a slide lock sandwich size storage bag. The suits are organized by color, making it easier for me to select suits for a shoot.

Now I am ready to shoot!

YogaClub.com Review

One evening at the end of May I watched three Facebook Live streams of women doing unboxings of YogaClub shipments. I was intrigued by how these women sang praises for the mystery boxes. Since I occasionally wear yoga leggings and a sport bra when I attend aerial or yoga class, I figured it was worth taking a chance by enrolling in the YogaClub program. I chose the intermediate $69 Karma level, which offered a hand curated outfit consisting of 2 or 3 items (the site now limits this to two pieces).

Approximately $74 and two weeks later, I got my first box and loved the quality of two of the items, a raspberry Columbia sport bra and a Magick Tarot Hot Pant from Teeki. But the hideous, boxy Luka-Lux top which completed the trio was so unflattering and drab that I had to return it.

This is where the problems began. You see, in order for me to return the Luka-lux top which I hadn’t even selected (apparently the curator has a horrible sense of style), I had to pay return shipping (incidentally, any returned items after the first return are subject to a $12.95 fee, plus shipping to cover the costs of restocking…never mind that you didn’t pick the items!). Well fine. About ten days later, I received an email confirming receipt of the item and informing me that an “Exchange Store Link” would be sent to me.

Skip ahead to the end of June. Still no Exchange Store Link. Oh, and look, I was charged $78 and some change for the June shipment. All right, fine. I got a second box for the next month which consisted of two nice items which I decided to keep. Incidentally, the leggings which they sent me were available for $32 online through other stores, which meant that YogaClub actually charged me MORE than the current retail on the order I received.

I contacted the customer service department regarding the Exchange Store Link THREE TIMES. I became exasperated and contacted them through Facebook. Suddenly, they paid attention, and they immediately emailed the Exchange Store Link. They explained that I was supposed to submit a tracking number for the returned item in order for them to furnish the link. Huh? Then explain the %@&#ing email confirmation of receipt to me!

I accessed the link, and of COURSE there was nothing comparable to the paltry store credit they gave me. So I had to spend another $26 on the item which I ordered in exchange for the ugly top.

As soon as I placed the order for the exchange item, I wrote to YogaClub via Facebook, stating I wanted my membership canceled immediately. Their response was that I was REQUIRED do it via phone call, due to the “sensitive nature” of the request. I HAD called, and had to leave a voicemail message, so I mentioned that. They insisted that it had to be done through the phone. By this time, I was so angry that steam was emanating from the crown of my head. I asked when the call would be returned. I was told that my call would be returned later that day. But of course no call came that day.

The next day YogaClub decided to call me so early in the morning that I was sleeping, and of course missed the call. So I wrote to them via FB and complained about the early morning call, and it was only then that they agreed to cooperate and ask me what time would be an acceptable time to reach me. I received a call later that morning, and was informed that my membership had already been cancelled, so there was no need to do anything via phone. The representative also informed me that a “free” top would be included in my exchange. Listen, a free top isn’t changing my opinion of a company which rips off its members and practices shoddy customer service.

This is NOT A GOOD DEAL. The items are from the clearance bins from the different companies, and can easily be purchased for less. Plus you are at the mercy of curators who may pick something you hate, and for which YOU get penalized.

Read their reviews on Facebook. Many women, myself included, HATE this company. Buyer beware!

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Bound And Determined

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People frequently ask me what my biggest life goals are.  As a chronic overachiever, I entertain many different interests and am pretty fearless about diving into new ventures and determining whether I have talents which fee them. 

My BIGGEST passions lie in the fields of medicine and fitness.  From the time I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, I have been completely committed to fitness and to leading by example.  My medical degree is another feather in my cap which increases my knowledge and my influence, but I always strive to combine all my talents and interests together as much as I can in order to lend a number of perspectives on health, wellness, anti-aging and fitness.

My ultimate goals in medicine and fitness are to:

1) Have my own TV show.  A few years ago, I began stating that I wanted to become the female version of Dr. Oz.  I said this at first in jest, then became more intrigued by the idea until it became one of my ultimate goals.  I reasoned that if Dr. Oz can command the attention of women around the globe (his viewer demographic appears to be mostly women between their early 20’s and late 60’s), why couldn’t an attractive 50-year old female physician, fitness professional, IFBB Pro, writer, and model who is also highly experienced in aesthetic medicine, nutrition, fitness and anti-aging achieve something similar? That shift in thinking was all I needed to spark a tremendous goal which I am constantly trying to manifest. And come hell or high water, I will reach this goal.

2) Establish a foothold in the fitness industry as an icon for the older crowd.   This is also HUGE for me, whether it manifests via workout content, products which are sold with my name or endorsement on them, or even a specific show on television or the internet. Instead of allowing my chronological age to deter me from going after I want, I use it to empower my goal set and am proud of forging new ground in territories which other people may be afraid of stepping into. I also refuse to allow others to discourage me because they have narrow minded ideas about what someone my age should be doing. I will not be the stereotypical fuddy-duddy who grumbles about my age and who lets it block me from my goals.

3) Launch my own specialty skin care line.  I have wanted to do this ever since I held the position of Director of Cosmetic Research at a Los Angeles area hospital.  Since I am of mixed ethnicity I would love to tailor a line of skincare products and cosmetics towards individuals of multiple ethnicities who have unique concerns. I honestly believe that there are too many harsh and reactive chemicals which are used in skincare products and cosmetics, and also understand first-hand that people of color have different needs and issues.

4) Design women’s fitness apparel and swimsuits with a distinctive edge.  I have yet to see clothing and swimsuit designs which incorporate the design elements I have always wanted to see and which are edgy and appealing.  The only thing that has been my real stopping point here is that I cannot stand sewing! When I was 17, I designed an entire spring line of active apparel for a company, and was thrilled to see my vision made and sold. Decades later, I’d love the opportunity to delve into that world once more.

What do I want to be when I grow up?  Lots of things!  I will keep my nose to the grindstone to make these goals and dreams manifest.