Accumulating Treasures of the Heart
As the mini bio on this site hints, when I was growing up, I played in the historic neighborhoods of Kyoto, Japan, swam along Australia and California’s coastlines, strolled the ancient alleys of Spain, visited thirty countries by age eighteen, and from age 9 found my own a creative path through the entertainment world. The life lessons I gained through my global adventures later inspired my books, J-pop music, and tech career.
As a kid performing in Broadway musicals, including Peter Pan, Evita, and March of the Falsettos, my passion for music deepened. Since then, songwriting, singing, and producing music have been ingrained in my heart and soul.
While I studied at Soka University in Tokyo, I began excerpting from my lifelong collection of travel journals. I later developed those into essays about my life experiences. Shortly after graduating from university, I was involved in a terrible car accident in Los Angeles that left me bedridden with a broken neck.
After a 10-hour surgery, I fortunately escaped paralyzation, but was stuck at my parents’ home and in and out of physical therapy for nearly a year. During those trying days, I mostly read books, wrote out my thoughts, chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and meditated on life, healing, and my future.
Those thoughts from my journal, and the earlier essays I’d written eventually evolved into books. The first, Open Your Mind, Open Your Life, which I originally began penning while studying for my MFA degree at UCLA, was a smash hit and rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. That first miniature version of the book became the all-time bestselling collection of Eastern wisdom, a perennial favorite. After many reprints, we added a charm bookmark to it with the Chinese character for “longevity.”
Soon after, I created a larger, second edition of Open Your Mind, Open Your Life that is now also available in Kindle and Nook e-book formats. Fortunately, I had the joy of creating several more successful titles, including What Is Love? A Simple Guide to Romantic Happiness, which won a Book of the Year award for best self-help/love category, as well as The Tao of Dad and The Tao of Mom, which are collections of inspiration from some of my favorite heroes and heroines around the world and throughout history.
Then came the beloved Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life, which I wrote about lessons of the heart I’d learned after my dad passed away when I was a teenager. Thankfully, this book was widely embraced, lauded by TIME magazine, awarded a Benjamin Franklin literary award, and praised by reviewers around the world. But my favorite accolade was from Tina Turner, who was an inspirational figure to me and my family through our toughest times. In 2018, Tina told the New York Times that Living Wabi Sabi is one of her favorite books. How could I ask for more?
While I was writing my first book, I left UCLA before completing my MFA (I was studying screenwriting and computer graphics/design) so I could co-found a technology company with my boyfriend at the time. While I was performing in shows like Evita and then later in my teens, I was also a major computer aficionado. In elementary school my first computer was a TRS-80, then later I always had the latest Apple products, and loved video games from Atari, Coleco, and Nintendo. (Fun fact: I later discovered that many of my favorite video games were programmed by the guy who became my boyfriend and now husband!)
On and off throughout my publishing career, I satisfied the techie side of my personality by working in Silicon Valley where I had the good fortune to be part of a few great teams. My experiences in tech include eVoice (acquired by AOL/Time Warner), Teleo (acquired by Microsoft), and being an angel investor in a variety of startups including IronPort (acquired by Cisco).
The world of music then called me back, and while living in Japan again I enjoyed an eclectic career in J-pop, including my album The Diamond You, which you can read more about here. Over the past decade, I stepped away from my professional roles for a few years to care for ill family members, I executive produced a documentary, Out in the Lineup about LGBTQ acceptance in the surfing community, and a short film, Masaru, about a Japanese-American boy coming to terms with his gayness. I’ve also sponsored underprivileged kids to go to school in South America, had the honor to work with Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams around the world, and to the best of my ability have contributed my time, energy, and resources to help the world be a kinder place.
Recently, I’ve been developing screenplays, supporting animal rights, promoting the benefits of a vegan diet (I’ve been vegan since I was 5), and since 2020 I’ve had the privilege to co-write with Tina Turner her wonderful book of inspiration, Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good.
Enjoying the potential of every moment, I seek to enjoy another new adventure, encounter one more new friend, and accumulate treasures of the heart each day. My sincere wish is for you to find inspiration among my words and works that will help you lead a most joyous life.
♦ ♦ ♦
My lifelong work in entertainment has included these fine shows and multimedia groups and, since the age of 9, I’ve been a proud member of Actors’ Equity, the Screen Actors Guild, and AFTRA (now SAG-AFTRA):