The Conversation with Yuriko Larson

Yuriko Larson

Yuriko Larson grew up in Saskatchewan, Hong Kong, and Texas. She graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree that was far from the career she is now operating in Kelowna, B.C.

In 2010, Yuriko and her high school sweetheart Erik moved with their puppy to Kelowna to be closer to the lakes and mountains of the Okanagan. She found herself starting a rental company that soon evolved into a styling and decorating business focused on events and weddings throughout the Okanagan Valley. Ten years later she has created more than 700 weddings with her business, Vintage Origami, that she owns and operates with her husband Erik.

When Yuriko is not decorating events, she is found strumming her ukulele, shopping for throw pillows (to the dismay of her husband), conspiring her next board game party with friends, and inviting herself over to her friends’ homes for dinner as she is well-known for her lack of cooking skills. Yuriko loves theatre popcorn, neglects her social media, always says yes to spontaneous invitations, loves finding a good deal at the thrift shop, has zero musical rhythm, and is a believer that the best qualities in a friend are sincerity, generosity, loyalty, and thoughtfulness.

If Yuriko was blowing out her birthday candles she would make two wishes instead of one: her desire is to see equality, acceptance and support for those in the LGBTQ+ community, and she would sneak in a second wish for that musical rhythm she requires to be a better ukulele player. That whole strumming-on-beat seems to be a stumbling block for her advancement as a musician.

How are you growing in new ways?

I had two experiences this year that challenged us to reflect on what is most important in life. One of them was our home being put on evacuation alert because of a large wildfire in our backyard, where we were told that the fire would be an imminent threat to our home. As I ran around the house trying to frantically pack, I realized that it’s all just ’stuff’ and really nothing was that valuable except for some of our earlier love letters (letters that Erik and I sent to one another during high school), our dogs, and our family. It’s funny what you pack in a moment of chaos, as the only personal item I packed was lipstick and my leather jacket (how vain I was in that moment to pack my lipstick, but it was the one thing I could fit in my pocket). It made me realize in those brief moments of running out the door that our “stuff" really didn’t matter and material possessions are futile when it comes down to considering the value of time we put into acquiring them. I made an oath to myself that I should put more time in collecting memories rather than collecting possessions that give me only fleeting enjoyment.

Another experience I had this year was in January when my husband and I were visiting Maui. We woke up one morning to people running around my complex yelling in panicked voices, “Where are the shelters?” and "Where do we go!!” Another voice outside our window yelled, “ Where can we hide? Somebody help us!” After pulling up our blinds thinking there was a tsunami wave about to hit us, we soon realized through social media that the folks around us were responding to a text that the Americans had all received on their phones stating, "BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL!” The ballistic missile was expected to land in Hawaii in a matter of 16 minutes from North Korea.

During that time we kept surprisingly calm but discovered how my husband and I respond very differently in a moment of panic and shock. In those 12 minutes, I took a shower and brushed my teeth and my husband spent his time googling and trying to absorb information and understand what protocol we should take during a missile attack. Looking back at those 12 minutes, we realize now we should have spent that time differently. When we were finally notified 38 minutes later that it was a false alarm we took a long sigh of relief and went on a lengthy walk along the beach. We sat looking out at the ocean in disbelief and we spoke about how we wanted to move forward in life realizing that life is so short.

This experience could help us reevaluate what is most important during our short existence on this planet.

We made some big life changes that day. We decided that Erik would quit his engineering career and join my business, allowing us more time together with the ability to spend more time in our Hawaiian paradise. This motivated us to speak with a realtor, and the next day we purchased a loft on Maui that we call Pray for Surf Loft.

When we aren’t in Canada creating weddings and events, we are on Maui during the winters enjoying @prayforsurfloft and trying our best to spend quality time with one another.

Life is short!

Sometimes we just need a good kick in the pants as a reality check to make the changes that are important and alter our priorities in life.

Collect beautiful moments!

What is something you’re being intentional about in 2019? What is getting your attention?

One of my personal goals for 2019 is to give more intentional physical touch to my friends and acquaintances. The gift of physical touch, done in a safe and respectful way, can deeply benefit those receiving it. A hug to greet someone or an intentional pat on the shoulder can have more value to someone than we think and it can often express sincerity of our support, empathy, and care. I think I’m really fortunate that physical touch, hugs, and handshakes are readily available to me anytime I want with the supportive family and friends I have. However, for some it can be a rarity for them to receive or exchange this caring act of physical touch.

We all have different ‘love languages’ so while physical touch is not one of my needs, it may be that way for others, and I want to be able to express my sincere care for those I encounter. Who knows what the simple act of a pat on the back can mean to someone…it’s worth making the effort to do so because it can provide an opportunity to make their day and fulfill a natural human need.

Name something you find empowering or are empowered by.

I have found it empowering to make my insecurities, my weaknesses, and my faults more public, and to laugh at my faults rather than to hide them. I think that it has been a really freeing and hilarious journey to share stories of where I’ve failed and fallen short of success.

The times in my life where I’ve struggled are also stories of when I’ve grown, or experiences when I’ve been stretched, or developed into more self awareness.

I am trying to more consciously look at my past, my daily struggles, and my flaws as the catalyst for my growth, and it’s a way better story to tell friends how you burnt every dinner that week rather than sharing your successes or achievements.

I want to be more comfortable in my own skin and to relate with others in my rawness, weaknesses and struggles. There’s much more humour in life that way, and I believe sincerity and realness is much more attractive than boastfulness or pride.

My name is Yuriko and I am a fallible and often insecure woman at age 36 who still daily questions my value. I have days - more often than not - where I feel like I’m floundering through life, but I’m going to do my best to enjoy the highlights and make light of the hard days when I fumble.

What is something you’re passionate about?

I would like to see more support of the LGBTQ+ community. I want to witness equality for those who have experienced so much prejudice and for those in the community to not fear judgment, their safety, or to feel discrimination. I would like to know there’s more awareness about why certain pronouns are valued and appreciated by those in the LGBTQ+ community, and for more communication to happen so understanding can occur and equality can be achieved.

I’m igniting my wildfire by…

Choosing to answer more of the questions I ask others. I am deeply intrigued and interested in the people I encounter. I will ask them a million questions about their life, their decisions, their experiences and their future goals.

However, I am not so good at answering the questions I often ask others. I am often insecure that others should not be bothered by listening to me process my thoughts or that my life is uninteresting or not as important.

I realize that if I desire to have others share their story with me, then I need to be able to share my own and to stretch myself in doing so with honesty and sincere self reflection. I will often deflect questions but that isn’t healthy for a friendship, so I am making a conscious effort to not just fill air with questions in a conversation, but to also answer questions and share about myself as that is what a mutually healthy relationship requires. Easier said than done.