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Happy New Moon in Aries, and Happy Birthday to April and Emily!

I hope everyone is doing well! A happy birthday to my bestie, April, and my sister, Emily, this week! (If my dad was to be believed back when my sister was 4, she shares a birthday with April--lol she still is peeved about that mistake.) Happy birthday to all the other Aries this season! Also, happy new moon in Aries! If you are interested, here's some info on the Aries new moon and a meditation below:

Fluffy cat's been adorable as per usual, getting all snuggly in bed and savoring the sunshine. She's just too cute! She's also enjoyed using my laptop as a pillow, the goof.

Corliss, April, and I met up to celebrate April's birthday this week. We enjoyed the fresh air by walking around a park. It was awesome getting the opportunity to catch up! The three of us haven't all been together in quite some time; timing just hasn't synched up, unfortunately. Not this time! We discussed recent events, dreams, processing, healing, etc. April was surprised because a recent dream baffled her with the number of 1717. She's always been drawn to the number 13, and she wasn't sure why suddenly 17/1717 popped up. Corliss and I pointed out that it was most likely a download code, which April found the prospect exciting. It was great spending time with them; my family is nice and all, but they don't understand most of what I'm experiencing or my perspective on most things. We found a new restaurant to try: Sauce on the Side. It was delicious; we hadn't realized we had been missing out on some sublime food by not knowing about Sauce on the Side. Corliss was miffed that the name of her order was boring (merely "garden") whereas the name of mine was interesting ("Cock-a-Doodle Noodle"). She was also excited that they had bread balls filled with cheese. We also stopped by Mystic Valley and found some beautiful new crystal buddies. While there, we also happened upon one of our former classmates from high school, Stacy. The vibes of our conversation with Stacy were so synchronistic and legit--healing, collapsing of timelines, time speeding up, Your Name, etc. It was pretty epic. We also stopped by a few stores since Corliss wanted to pick up a few things; while there, she tried to get me to buy a package of false eyelashes just because I liked the design on the packaging. It felt rather pointless to me, whereas her reasoning was that "you never know--maybe you'll use them for Halloween." I was doubtful but then joked that I would attach them to my forehead, write an 'i' in the middle, and then show off my third eye. There was also an interesting painting near one of the shops--I'm not sure what those little creature blobs are supposed to be, but we got a kick out of it. We decided to wrap up the day with some goodies from Insomnia Cookies. I love my friends; they're the best! I sincerely appreciate their presence in my life; they brighten my days and lift my spirit. Love you~

I worked on creating some more Perler bead projects this week. I felt like creating a Kirara in cosmic and rainbow themes, and I think they turned out adorable! That also got me thinking about what else I could make. I figured I could play with the color scheme of Sesshomaru's kimono pattern/crest. Once I tried out the rainbow and cosmic themes, it got me thinking about what other color schemes I could play with. I then remembered about a fanfic I read where Kagome entered Sesshomaru's mind and encountered different emotions. Conversing with Emotion differentiated the different emotions with different colored patterns for each emotion: Wrath, Repression, Intelligence/Organization, Lust, Envy, Innocence (later dubbed bravery), Sadness, Sloth, Discipline (aka Skill/Training/Stability), Love, Vanity, Happiness, Bigotry, Fear, Pride, Instinct. I went through the fanfic again and made sure to create a colored variant for each emotion; I love that fanfic! I'll probably play with different color schemes later, too. I also started playing with the color scheme of Sesshomaru; it's been a fun week!

I read some more fanfic this week (such a surprise, right? lol). This week's fanfic includes: The Late of Night, Captivated Amber, and My Bitter Romance. If anyone has recommendations of awesome fanfic, I'd love to hear your suggestions! Fanfic can be so fun, and the possibilities are endless!

I watched Kono Oto Tomare: Sounds of Life this week, and it was so goooood!!! When I had finished Arte last week, the first episode of Kono Oto Tomare wanted to play. To be honest, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this anime when I started watching it. The whole crime scene at the beginning threw me off; it seemed like the anime was going to have this whole other mood, and I wasn't vibing with it (lol). I'm grateful I gave it a chance, though, and continued watching because I definitely would have regretted it if I missed out. I adore the growth and development of the characters. The characters can be rather humorous, like in this scene:

Chika: I mean, what's the deal with X and Y?! Why are they hiding their identities instead of just living more confidently?! Stop being so shy!!

Saneyasu: Listen up you two, you aren't fooling us with that dumb act, okay?!

*the two blow up about X and Y in the background*

Tetsuki: So that's it then? You're just gonna turn your backs on them? I feel bad for X and Y.

Chika: Hold on... what do you mean?

Tetsuki: They've been forced to conceal their identities since birth and live in solitude. The poor things are unable to reveal their true selves to anyone or anything, and to make matters worse now you guys are turning your backs on them, too. How pitiful.

*pure shock*

Saneyasu: They're outcasts, like us... living alone.

Kota, Michitaka, and Saneyasu: Aw, poor X! Poor Y!

Saneyasu: Please forgive us! No matter what happens, we won't ever turn our backs on you guys!

Michitaka: Yeah, that's right! We're gonna stick to you like glue!

Saneyasu: Hey, Mr. Tetsuki, you gotta tell me how to save X from its solitude, okay?!

Kota: Mr. Takezo, teach me how to help Y!

Even though it's a comical scene (and some of the characters are shown to be not the brightest), they have such pure, caring, genuine souls. It's so heartwarming! Kono Oto Tomare really pushes us to consider our preconceptions and judgments, to look past first appearances. If you took things at face value, how many people would write Chika off? He got arrested for vandalizing and destroying his grandfather's koto shop, but in reality he was framed for it. True, he had lashed out once before, writing the kotos off and disrespecting them, but he came to realize the importance the koto had for his grandfather. As the only person, who actually showed that he cared for Chika, Chika wouldn't backstab his grandfather like that by destroying one of the things most dear to his heart. Granted, Chika has a trouble past and had often got into fights. Granted, he can be brash and gruff and generally struggles with expressing himself. Yes, he finds it easier to yell. Sure, he gets easily annoyed. Chika has a heart of gold, though. He put walls up to protect his fragile heart after being abandoned by his father. Despite his barriers and not letting other people in, he still went out of his way to protect three people he didn't know: Saneyasu, Michitaka, and Kota. Why? For the simple fact that they were friends with Tetsuki, the only person his age that showed any sort of concern towards Chika. Chika is quick to defend others, standing up for them and not letting others belittle people, but when it comes to himself, he often remains silent. When the boys that had been bullying Takezo knock him out to frame Chika, the vice principal all to easily believes that Chika did it, wishing to remove Chika's "tarnish" from the school. To the vice principal Chika is a horrendous blemish that needs to be removed at any cost. It didn't matter about Chika's side of the story. All the "evidence"--finding Chika in the Koto Club room with Takezo knocked unconscious--was all he needed to believe the worst. Never mind how Chika had cleaned the Koto Club room the previous day because the bullies had trashed it. Never mind that Chika desired to be a member of the Koto Club so he could protect the club his grandfather started. Never mind that Chika had helped Takezo out previously with the bullies. The vice principal had all the confirmation bias he needed to judge Chika and find him guilty. With the vice principal's bias and contempt blatantly showing, Chika's perception of people always seeing and believing the worst about him is confirmed; if all people are going to see is the worst in him even when he wasn't involved in the incident, he doesn't see any point in trying to vouch for his innocence. Chika's faith in people begins to bud anew when Takezo comes to vouch for Chika's innocence after waking up in the nurse's office; despite his injuries, he rushes to the principal's office, asserting that of course, Chika was in the club room because he's a member of the the Koto Club. This act of kindness and profession of truth starts to illuminate the world for Chika, budding his trust in others and beginning to warm his bruised heart.

I adore Chika; he is my favorite character in Kono Oto Tomare, but I love all of the growth the characters undergo throughout the story. It's a story about stepping into your own power, about growing self confidence, recognizing your inherent worth, sticking up for others when people try to belittle them, perseverance, finding your own place to belong, learning to trust others (and yourself), achieving the "impossible" through hard work/having fun, and following your heart. Akira's story hits home. Her journey is all about overcoming the suffocating darkness. She starts off determined to put in sincere dedication and hard work in order to thrive at the koto like her older brother, Keishi. The death of her parents and Keishi quitting the koto in order to take up a job are devastating blows, but she still works towards being the best she can be. She dedicates two years of her life to learning, understanding, and perfecting a single song, Mizu no Hentai. Mizu no Hentai is not just a piece for the koto; it also requires the user to sing. Her dedication and practice yield stunning results at the competition, but as soon as Satowa plays a single note, Akira witnesses the gap in their playing. Akira feels like all of her efforts are for naught because Satowa shines far brighter than her. To add insult to injury, Satowa doesn't win the competition on a technicality; she is disqualified because she played a different piece (one she composed herself) rather than the piece she signed up with. Akira feels that Satowa was the obvious winner yet feels as if she won by default. It crushes her spirit; she didn't truly win based on her skills and practice. It feels false. These feelings continue to eat away at Akira. The first place she always desired feels so wrong--nothing like she always imagined it to be. All her efforts feel in vain, as if there was no purpose to any of it at all. The darkness swallows her whole, even though she desperately wishes to reach the light. Life is complicated that way; events don't always play out as we anticipate them. The thing is, everything has a purpose. Akira's dedication and resolution (she assured Mr. Takinami that he could fire her as the club's koto tutor if she failed to meet his expectations) proved to Mr. Takinami that she was the tutor best for the club. He trusts her devotion and fortitude; he knows that the students will grow under her guidance. It's thanks to Akira's knowledge and direction that the Koto Club gains rapid growth and is able to secure a position at nationals. They wouldn't have been able to make it, otherwise. Akira had believed that her two years spent on Mizu no Hentai was wasted, but it was those two years that helped her be exactly what the club needed. Her performance of Mizu no Hentail awed the club, and it revealed how skilled Akira truly is to them. Everything is meant, even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Tetsuki is probably my second favorite character. Tetsuki is the best friend everyone needs; he looked out for Chika even when Chika gave up on himself--he certainly put up with Chika and stuck by his side even when Chika was at his lowest. Tetsuki realizes how crucial Koto Club has been to Chika's development and acknowledges, "[Takezo] Kurara, thank you. When Chika first told me that he'd decided to join the Koto Club at school, I thought it would be a big challenge for him. I thought he might be rejected by the other club members, but it looks like I was wrong. I guess... I'm thanking you for preserving the Koto Club. That place has helped Chika find himself again." As Chika's story illustrates, no matter how dark a chapter is in your life, the light will always find you again--dawn always breaks with the loving warmth of the sun. Life is full of surprises, and what you need most can come from the most unlikely of places.

I'll admit, Takezo bothered me at the beginning. He seemed kind of lukewarm, but that is likely due to him downplaying his own worth. In all honestly, what probably bothered me about him is that he reminded me of myself, especially in the past. He wouldn't stick up for himself, whether it come from peers or his own brother. People talked smack, belittling him, and he chose to do nothing, acting as if it were inherent facts--he was just unworthy, nothing of importance, that he didn't matter. He struggles with self confidence, and Takezo was a reminder I didn't particularly ask for about my past. I still struggle at times with people and their belittling remarks (I wonder if they're even conscious that they're making them at times). It's not fun being in Takezo's position, and if I'm being completely honest, there's probably a part of me that wishes to forget what it's like. It's not okay for people to treat others that way, though. Chika calls Takezo out about it.

Chika: Come on! Aren't you mad about the stupid things they're saying?!

Takezo: No... If anything, I'm used to it.

Chika: Well, you shouldn't get used to people laughing at you!

Takezo: Look, that's not what I meant, Kudo. It just doesn't bother me, okay?

Chika: Then act like it! Be more confident about it and stop laughing it off!

Takezo: *thinking* Be more confident? How, though?

Chika: If there's something you're holding back or want to talk about, then say it.

Takezo: Shut up already. You wouldn't understand.

Chika's right. It's fine if what others say doesn't bother you; just because someone says something doesn't make it inherently true. Getting used to others laughing and belittling you, though, isn't acceptable. It should never be "normal." I know where Takezo is coming from, though; it can be difficult to be told to be confident and then to actually embody said confidence when you're not even sure how to go about it in the first place. If you knew how to be confident, you probably wouldn't be having those struggles in the first place. Chika was doing his best to look out for someone who stuck up for him in the best way he knew how, but it's frustrating and hurtful to realize that others can't see his efforts for what they are--Takezo lashed out at Chika due to his own frustrations in lacking confidence. Chika isn't used to friendships and the communication that comes with it, but he still tries his best to express himself. The gentle soul--I love you, Chika! Never give up! No matter how difficult it may seem in the moment, things do get better. Takezo realizes he was inconsiderate in how he reacted to Chika after Saneyasu points out, "Up until the club, Chika never really bothered with other people, and if he did get involved with them, it was usually because they were hitting one another. So him getting angry on someone else's behalf or even trying to understand where they might be coming from, those are all feelings he's rarely experienced. I think Chika's just really frustrated because he doesn't know how to help you." Everyone is on a different journey; everyone enters this journey with different starting skills and talents. What comes naturally for one person may prove extremely difficult for another. Takezo berates himself, "I'm such an idiot! I've been so focused on myself that I haven't been seeing what's going on around me! I should have known I'm not the only person struggling!" Times might feel quite trying, but you are not the only one that experiences struggle. It's important to keep that in mind and strive to act with kindness. As humans, though, there will be times where we make mistakes. It's important to own up to those mishaps and be honest. Takezo, realizing his mistake, races off to find Chika and make amends.

Takezo: It's just I'm sorry. Meiryo was actually the school I failed the entrance exam to. So, the truth is I didn't want to go to the joint practice session, but then I ignored my own feelings and went anyway. I was overwhelmed by Himesaka's performance, and I didn't know what to do. So I ended up lashing out. I don't possess that much self confidence. It was hard. Seeing you act so confidently in front of everyone made me feel inferior, and I let the club down. Sorry. I didn't say anything because I didn't want to be a burden, but now I realize that you deserve to know the truth.

Chika: It's okay. Honestly, I don't have a lot of faith in myself. Still, I know there are others who do have faith in me. My grandpa did, anyway, and you believed in me, too. The day you got beat up by those dumb jerks. You believed in me. You stood up for me and told everyone I was a member of the club. Because of that day... well, we're here now, aren't we? Aren't we?!

Takezo: Uh, aren't we, what?

Chika: Shut up! Besides, the only person who doesn't see you as the president is you! You can't let yourself be bothered by something stupid that you can't see, like self confidence, okay?! It's invisible, and if you say you have it, you have it!

Takezo: *laughs* I see. Yeah. *thinks* [I already had something much more important that self confidence.] You're right, Kudo.

Chika's rough around the edges, but he's really sweet on the inside. He also has a point; confidence is invisible. What stops people from having it is their own beliefs. Granted, said beliefs are often influenced by others and what they have said, but at the end of the day, it's what you, yourself, believe that determines things like your confidence. If others say you're worthless, but you don't believe them, then your confidence remains intact. If others say you're worthless but you believe them, then your confidence shatters. Sometimes, though, it's not exactly necessary to believe in yourself; like Chika, if others believe in you, and you have faith in them, then you will often believe in them--hence them seeing your value will help you to believe in it, too. Even if an action doesn't seem like all that much to you, it can mean the entire world to another. Takezo standing up for Chika and proclaiming him as a fellow Koto Club member meant everything to Chika. Someone aside from his grandfather (and Tetsuki) saw him as being worthy. Also, like Chika points out, other people often see our valuable traits and worthiness when we can't see them--Takezo really was the only one that didn't see himself as the president.

The other club members want to help Takezo out, but as the majority of members are first years, they aren't sure how to help (they also are just getting to know one another). Hiro wishes to repay Takezo for his kindness of telling her that if she's serious, he'll listen despite her initial behavior form joining the club; despite her trying to meddle and tear the club a part, no one kicked her out. She was able to apologize and work on starting fresh and becoming friends. Recognizing how Takezo needs help, Hiro takes initiative to be proactive. After meeting with the club advisor, Mr. Takinami, Hiro shows up Takezo's house to make an announcement.

Hiro: But, you know what? Being the club president doesn't mean you have to handle everything by yourself. So, I had a nice chat with Suzu about it! Starting tomorrow, I'll be taking over as the Koto Club's vice president!

Takezo: Huh?! Are you serious?

Hiro: That's right! The position is available, and it must be tough doing everything on your own. So if you need help with anything, just let me know, okay?

Takezo: Sorry... because I'm so unreliable, I've made you worry, but I don't wanna be a burden to you--

Hiro: *grabs his face and reprimands* Cut that out, Kurata! Listen to me! The only burden is watching you try to do everything by yourself and then moping around the club, acting all sad about it! We can all feel that--do you understand? It really sucks! Don't you get it? The reason why I wanted to join this club? It's because I saw kids who had nothing in common, but, despite that, they all supported each other. And I thought... it was really awesome, and I wanted to be a part of that.

Takezo: What? But I thought you joined because you were jealous and wanted to mess with us...

Hiro: Uh, look! It doesn't matter! I'm saying you don't have to carry everything on your own, okay?! Just try to have a little more faith in the people around you sometimes! You said that if I was serious, you'd be willing to listen to me. So I'm saying, I'll listen to you! Well, that concludes my business here. Bye!

People can be quick to belittle themselves, believing that they are a burden to others (I know I've struggled with that in the past). Convinced that they will inconvenience others, they try to take on everything by themselves. The thing is, often others wish to lend assistance. They'd more than gladly extend a helping hand, all the eager to support you, if given the chance. We don't have to do it all on our own. Sure, we can accomplish plenty on our own. We can accomplish a lot more when we work together, though. It's okay to have faith in others; it's okay to lean on others. It doesn't make you weak. We're stronger together, working as a team, anyhow. The members of the Koto Club, especially individuals like Satowa, learn this by the end of the anime.

After imparting her announcement of becoming vice president, Hiro storms out of Takezo's home, a bit embarrassed (she's not used to genuine conversations, uplifting others). Hearing the commotion, Takezo's brother, Takeru, comes out to see what caused the racket.

Takeru: Who was that? Jeez, so loud.

Takezo's mother: Apparently, she's a friend from Takezou's Koto Club.

Takeru: The Koto Club? Makes sense. Everyone in that club seems pretty uncivilized. Takezo, you should really choose your friends better.

Takezo's mother: That's enough, young man!

Takezo: *grabs his brother's shoulder and finally makes a stand* Takeru, don't ever talk about my friends like that again.

It was awesome seeing Takezo actually standing up to his brother. Takeru has belittled the koto and his brother from the beginning. Granted, it would have been nice if he had put a stop to the belittling sooner, but this moment proves that Takezo can stand up to his brother and others and that he will. There are things Takezo will stand up for; he's not a mere pushover. I think in this instance Takeru begins to have some respect for his brother; granted, it's not okay for people to treat others the way Takeru treats Takezo, but I think he acts that way because he feels that Takezo hasn't earned his respect. By always remaining silent (at least previously), Takezo had essentially been broadcasting that he's unworthy. As such, Takeru likely felt that if Takezo wasn't treating himself as worthy, then why should he? By standing up for his friends, Takezo illustrates how he is worthy of respect from his brother (although, their relationship still likely has a ways to go--Takeru does begrudgingly admit later on that he won't go to Takezo's preliminaries for nations but that if he does qualify for nationals, he might actually go and watch). In his own way, Takeru serves as a push for growth for Takezo. It's not until Takezo learns the lesson of standing up for what he believes in that his relationship begins to improve with his brother (likely a karma contract they worked out prior to incarnation; it's said that those we struggle the most with while incarnated are the ones that love us the most--I can see how that could be the case, considering how people often wish to be the "good guy" but rarely want to be cast as a villain).

Takezo's parents are surprised to find out that he is the president of the Koto Club. The fact that he's the president likely brings them pride, but they probably wondered why he essentially kept it a secret. After Hiro leaves, they broach the subject of the Koto Club and his presidency.

Takezo's father: She [his mother] also told me that you're the president of the Koto Club. Is that true?

Takezo: Yeah, it is, but I only got the position because I was the only person there, so it doesn't count.

Takezo's father: Takezo, don't you dare ever lessen your worth like that. Weren't you the one, who worked hard on your own to continue the club? To get new members? That alone is admirable.

Takezo's mother: It made me so happy when I saw you stand up for your friends against Takeru. It's strange, but you never got that upset when he picks on you no matter what. The moment he went after your friends, though, you refused to take it anymore. That's when I realized they must be a wonderful group of people. I'm so glad you have them!

How often do we belittle ourselves like Takezo does? I know I did way too often in the past. Honestly, Kono Oto Tomare, with Takezo's character development in particular, felt like the universe calling me out (lol). It felt as if the universe was saying, "Enough is enough! Don't ever revert back to this kind of thinking or we WILL be blatantly calling you out. It's unacceptable. Don't even consider it. EVER. AGAIN. You've worked hard. You're deserving. Don't think less of yourself because you're amazing." And, well, who am I to argue with the universe? Takezo's mother's praise felt like the universe acknowledging my growth from where I started. I think the universe is proud of how much I've learned and developed, but I'm also pretty sure that the universe isn't scared to bring out the tough love and bludgeon me over the head with messages if I start to falter (lol). Not going to lie, similar experiences have happened with me and Corliss where the synchronicity of the messaging is far too blatant to overlook. Granted, it feels like it's coming from a place of love, but at certain times it felt like the universe let out an exasperated sigh at the same time. Yes, yes, we're silly humans (lol), but we appreciate all your love and support, universe!

Sometimes we need blatant truth before we finally get the message. It may be complete obvious to others and the universe, but for whatever reason, we're in the dark about it. At times like these, we need brazen honesty from people like precious Chika.

Chika: The truth is... You're actually a pretty good club president.

Takezo: Me?

Chika: Yeah, just think about it. Like when Hozuki told us about her home life. In that moment I feel like that's probably the thing she needed to hear the most [thank you for telling us], and you said it without any hesitation whatsoever. I've never been good with stuff like that.

*Takezo starts tearing up*

Chika: I'm not really sure why you're cryin' right now...

Takezo: I'm not--the onion is just making my eyes water!

Tetsuki: You haven't even cut it yet...

Chika: *chucks a box of tissues at Takezo's face* Whatever, let's get back to studyin'.

Truly, sometimes the universe flings what we need directly in our face (lmao)! The universe knows where we need to be, when we need to be there, and who we need to be there with. We, silly humans, need to learn how to breathe, let go, relax, and trust the universe. If we needed to be anything other than who we are, with our skills, talents, and interests, we would be that way. We're born who we are for a reason. We have purpose. Our role has meaning. Nobody else is able to do what we do, so there's no need to worry. Like Takezo is a good Koto Club president, you're great at what you do. You're awesome at being you; everyone else pales in comparison. No one else could pull it off, so don't sell yourself short. Believe in yourself. There are plenty of people around you that already believe in you, even if they're not the best at expressing it.

I love the dedication of the Koto Club. Takezo kept at it even after all of the other members graduated, leaving him alone and in need of recruiting new members in order to prevent it from disbanding. Chika kept returning to the club even though Takezo didn't initially believe he was serious about joining the club; Chika even put in all the extra effort to clean the club multiple times after the bullies trashed it and scrubbed the Koto Club's wooden sign clean of all the bullies' vandalism. Saneyasu, Kota, and Michitaka all persevered to learn the koto even though they only initially joined to keep the club from disbanding as a way to pay Chika back for saving them; they had only planned to goof around in the club room, playing cards, dubbing themselves to be the "Koto Club Saviors." Hiro turns over a new leaf and leaves her relationship manipulating behind in--she even stops doing her nails in order to dedicate herself to koto like the others. Satowa learns to have fun while playing the koto with others instead of always playing alone; she learns to trust the others with her tragic background. Even though all of the students in the club are so different, coming from such varying backgrounds, they all sincerely support each other and push each other past their limits. Even though nearly all the members are beginners (Takezo having been in the club for a year doesn't put him anywhere close to Satowa's professional level, though), they refuse to give up on their goal of reaching nationals. While others would have listened to people with their "reality checks" (including people like Mr. Takinami at the beginning before he realized how serious they were and what their true potential was), they refuse to give in. That's what makes the difference between those that reach their goals and those who do not. Despite their failures, they don't let those define them. Mr. Takinami plays a recording of their practice, and the club realizes how disorganized their playing is.

Chika: Whatever, this is a win. Being able to listen to ourselves now is only going to help us grow. Just think of it this way--the good news is that we can hear our own mistakes. So we can better understand what we need to focus on during practice and at this training camp. Naturally, we'll improve. See? Tournament victory.

Takezo: Yeah, that's true. I think it's good that we listened to this. It'll help us focus our training at camp.

Hiro: For sure, and getting depressed won't accomplish anything.

Perception matters. If they had let this disorganized practice determine what they believed they were capable of, they never would have made it. They would have let their past determine their now (and by association, their future). If they had let the playing depress them and put them in a funk, their training camp wouldn't have been nearly as fruitful in positive growth and results. They didn't even let the fact that their club didn't have that much of a budget stop them; Hiro requests to use her uncle's inn for the camp. Some people would have become intimidated with asking and chosen not to ask, limiting their growth. Heck, even Satowa swallows her pride and goes to ask her mother for a 17-string bass koto to use so they all can practice the national prelim piece (Tenkyu required two 17-strings versus the one that they had at school); there's serious trauma between Satowa and her mother, but she even went so far as to bow and beg for assistance from her mother. How many people would be willing to go that far? Serious props to the Koto Club members. Fictional or not, they have my respect; they are truly dedicated, and not everyone is willing to go as far as they did for their goals. They have every intention of going to nations, achieving first place, and making it a reality. They put in the passion, dedication, practice, and heart to ensure it to be so.

Takezo: *thinks* I'm done hiding. No more laughing it off.

Saneyasu: Battles you know you're gonna win aren't much fun. I like a challenge.

Michitaka: It might feel impossible if we were all working alone, but we're in this together!

Kouta: Hard work's not really my forte, but I promise to do my best!

Satowa: You know it's funny, but this used to be what I was working towards. Doing it alone, though, would have been impossible, but now I've got you guys, right?

Chika: Personally, if you ask me, having a goal that seems out of reach is more fun.

I had never heard of the koto before (although I might have heard it being played previously since I enjoy anime and Japanese music so much), but their passion is contagious. Kono Oto Tomare left me wanting to play the koto. I wonder how much it costs to get one... Although, I'm not sure if my heart's in it to be as dedicated as the Koto Club; they seriously went all out with before school practice (Chika was getting to school at 5 am at one point), club practice, and after club practice at the koto shop. They were practically living and breathing the koto. I truly admire them. It's pretty similar to Arte's dedication to art. Such feats are sincerely praiseworthy. I wonder if there will be a season 3, but the gang qualified for nationals at the end of season 2. They definitely deserve it. I hope I can find my passion to follow to that degree. I love art, but I can't say that my passion is the same as Arte's. I think mine would be more people-involved, like say, creating a space where people could come and create freely. There could be lessons, guest speakers, art shows, etc. but the main focus would be coming together and having a safe space to create and share. Originally, I thought I would create such a place in my hometown, but I'm not so certain now with all the strangeness going on. There's so many people in the area that don't share my beliefs and are becoming consumed by fear... I don't think they should be abandoned and left to remain imprisoned by their fear, but I'm not sure if this is the best place to create my passion. Maybe it is, and I just haven't uncovered the perfect spot. I'm awaiting your guidance, universe, because I trust you. I know you have my back; light the way!

Life is full of the unexpected. The unknown can seem daunting. That doesn't mean we have to limit ourselves and make ourselves small in order to fit into the world around us. Doing so is actually a disservice; you were born as the unique individual you were for a reason. There are things only you can do. There are souls only you can reach. Don't sell yourself short; you're incredible. Don't get so caught up in everything you "have" to do; focus on what's right in front of you. Taking things one step at a time will help prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. You don't have to do it all. Sure, there will be people who wish for you to do so, but remember to fill your own cup and practice self care--no good will come from trying to serve others with an empty cup. There's plenty of reasons to find joy, laughter, and gratitude; you'd be surprised what you can find when you look. The universe wants to provide its abundance and blessings for us, but we have to allow it in. If we believe that nothing good ever happens to us, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and become our reality. What you focus on grows, so be mindful of where you direct your attention. Your attention is a valuable commodity, so spend it wisely. You can shine so brightly if you provide yourself the chance; there are already people around you that recognize your light and talents. Go be authentically, beautifully you. The world is a better place with you in it. Stay well, and stay blessed with love and light~

Here's some food for thought from Magenta Pixie to consider:

Here's some food for thought from Ralph Smart:

Food for thought for this week:

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