The Author drinking a Root Beer in Old Town, San Diego
This is Kyomi O’Connor. My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Mehmet Yildiz for his incredible, tireless support and mentorship for me and our fellow writers. I am so grateful to introduce myself here on Illuminations.
As you probably noticed, I am Japanese. My name, as shown above in Chinese characters contains “future,” “unknown,” “not yet known,” or “potentials” in its expression 京未 (mi for Kyomi). To date, in my life, I’ve never seen any Japanese girl with this character 未in her name. Parents wish baby girls to be beautiful, so parents often place 美 mi (meaning “beauty”) in their girls’ names. In my childhood, I felt a little awkward with such a unique character. Nonetheless, I love my name and appreciate my parents for giving that character to me.
My life, as perhaps expected from the character 未, has been filled with a lot of “unknowns”— traveling and living in unfamiliar places, encountering unexpected events, and so many deep surprises and experiences. Indeed, my name, 京未, must’ve had a special indication; I think it guided me to forge my own way and led my journey to the unknown.
From its start, my life was filled with emotional traumas. I began writing poems and essays in my teens in order to vent about these difficulties. I lived in a state of duality—lacking self-worth, on the one hand, yet motivated to achieve.
I earned a dental degree and Ph.D. in Japan as a young woman. In February 1990, I came to the States with only two suitcases to work as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. I’d truly needed the change; I needed to leave my past and the country behind. But I didn’t tell anyone about it. Soon, I met Patrick, an English cancer researcher with Irish heritage, at the NIH. We became close and got married. During this period, he helped me heal from my childhood wounds with his unconditional love and support.
Soon after our marriage, through never-ending reflection and shaping, my core became strong enough to return to dentistry and I became a licensed pediatric dentist in the US. In February 1998, we moved to San Diego, California, for Patrick’s job, where I’ve received another license. We also began to practice Buddhist teaching. It was beautifully integrated into our daily spiritual life through countless hardships in our journey. We became inseparable.
I practiced as a children’s dentist for over fifteen years in the indigenous native American community outside San Diego. Just like the children I’d treated in the inner city of Baltimore, I held the children I treated in San Diego very close to my heart. These experiences in empowering children through my service were my treasures.
In June 2013, Patrick suddenly fell ill with stage IV metastatic melanoma in the brain. His prognosis was initially only a few months to live. Our battles against cancer were fierce; surviving from day to day was like being on a super-high-speed roller coaster.
Patrick passed away on Independence Day in 2016. After one endless crisis after another, everything came to a sudden halt. I’d lost everything; there was nothing left for me to hang on to. After a period of feel apathy, I spent many months to a year pretending to be normal. But at the same time, I was a total wreck, living in a sense of abandonment.
After a year of deep grieving, I returned to writing. To break through the duality of my life—to break from all the lies—I had to find a piece of truth in me. I had a strong urgency and drive to face the difficulties of my life and find the truth. For this, I literally cried out loud—moaned and groaned—for days and nights.
I completed the first draft of my memoir in three months. Lots of emotions, yet still few truths. I took courses to dive deeper. It was in my third revision that I became a real human again. Thanks to Brooke Warner and Linda Joy Meyers from whom I took the six-month course, starting at the end of 2019, writing became my spiritual practice, the thing that allowed me to face, deepen my understanding of and reflect upon the darkest parts of my life. In the end, like fireflies emerging out of the rubble, I found many sparkling lights in me and my life. All came together as my Self, smiling quietly yet unyieldingly.
I began posting on MEDIUM last Christmas Eve. I love life, writing, and sharing. I write about life lessons, self-awareness, and DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusion) for not only humans but all creatures, and something to bring out our hope, harmony, and potentials (Yeah…未！). I’d like to closely analyze the problems in our society and daily life, and also from there to bring out our hope and call for us all to act on the challenge to rebuild and live on our common ground—humanity—on this planet. To make my messages more relatable and personable, I try to share my personal experiences in every article I write.
I was very naïve when I began writing. I didn’t know anything about the system I was using! In fact, I didn’t know anything about being a writer on specific platforms until March, when Noteworthy kindly invited me as a writer. One day I noticed the name “Dr. Mehmet Yildiz” sitting in my tiny follower list. But I didn’t realize that his follow was a kind, unspoken invitation to here until much later.
With other writer friends’ kind help, I observed and learned from until finally, after many toddler steps, I became an Illumination writer at the end of April! Dr. Mehmet Yildiz, Donna L. Robert, Ph.D., Michael Burg, MD, Lucy Dan, Claire Kelly, Tree Langdon guided me by showing me how to be a more effectively engaging writer. ; )
Lastly, I’d like to add something about poetry. At the beginning of May, at the invitation of Lucy Dan on The Brain is a Noodle, I was drawn to write a poem or two based on prompts provided. Then, with Tree Langdon’s encouragement, I took part in a “30 Day Poetry Challenge” insightfully prompted by its creator, Diana C.. Writing poems was deeply related to my past fears around the trauma. I thought it would mean not only a technical but also a psychological challenge.
Surprisingly, writing poems each day was a pleasure to my heart. I was happy and enjoyed writing verses each day. A sense of joy and tranquility flowed from my center—my Self. Through this challenge, I rediscovered a baby poet in me, someone who loves to sing a song of love, light, and oneness, and harmony. Please enjoy a few examples of my poems, listed below.
My writing life is the culmination of your kind heart and support in extending a helping hand to a writer like me. I’ve appreciated so much of your heartfelt mentorship, friendship, readership, and all that’s kept me going. I will continue this journey to explore more of “the unknown” (again… 未！) each day with you. Thank you!