I can’t believe it is finally over!! The lack of rest, dragging tired throughout the week and looking forward to the grueling weekend practices despite the hectic week, an intense month of practice, but I loved every moment of last month.

It is ironic, that when I had some free time and I decided to spend my time constructively, for example to focus on my Buddhist practice or take up some new challenges, it is at that precise moment that my work load at my host organisation increases. Over the last one month I have been involved in a few new projects. It seemed all my free time from earlier had disappeared, forget free time I now needed a lot more than 24 hours a day if I wanted to complete work, sleep, eat, chant and focus on my Buddhist study.

I ate more fast food at work this past month, than I have in the entire 7 months I have been in the States. (However cooking was a chore I was all too willing to give up on :)). In Buddhist practice it is said if we determine to do something we must be vigilant and strive to work harder, as we might face additional challenges. This is entranced in the Buddhist concept of accumulating good fortune and expiating negative Karma. Simply put this means, if you are on the past of expiating past negative Karma and thereby earn good fortune, our inherent negative life state and tendencies will stand up as devils to stop us from doing so. However if we have faith and are vigilant in our daily practice the world is our proverbial oyster! I remember an encouragement from a senior Soka Gakkai leader- ‘Let’s do our best. We have the conviction and ideals of our revolution. We refuse to be defeated. If we give in to the fear, all is lost ’[1]. In SGI we say, “Buddhism is win or lose” and I for one was not ready to accept defeat of any kind, especially when I chose to or promised to? U choose push myself in every sphere this year.

My schedule for the last month leading up to the parade was filled with longer hours at work (with new additional tasks) during the week, preparation for my favourite hour of the week at Sporty Speakers, practice for my dance routine for the upcoming parade, thanks to the routine’s video that was shared with us via email by our dance group leader- Alex, read books (you thought I would let it slide considering how busy I was, Ha! Think again, although I did switch from serious reading to leisure reading for the month) and finally preparing for my session on mind and body wellbeing groups. Weekends were spent traveling to Seattle early Saturday morning (often at 5:00 am) so that I could reach Seattle by 8:00. We followed a tight schedule in Seattle over Saturday and Sunday. In case I was not traveling to Seattle on Saturday, we would have practice in Lake Oswego in Portland on Sunday.

Participating in the Seattle Torchlight Parade was much more than participating in just any parade for me. I made a number of new friends, got more involved in my Buddhist practice, met some amazing host families in Seattle, saw another beautiful city in States, but most of all I learnt that I can dance despite my two left feet, considering I put enough effort and prayers in the form of chanting, lots and lots of chanting, into it!

 In case anyone is interested in seeing what I was up to at Seafair Parade, follow the link.

[1] Becoming Optimists at heart, SGI president Daisaku Ikeda’s Speech Excerpts, World Tribune, July 18 2014.

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