Thursday, January 31, 2019

Reversing My Diabetes Thru a Whole Food Plant Based Diet

This picture to the right is me. Overweight, out-of-shape, and at the end of the road when  it comes to my living in denial. 

The battle lines have been drawn.  

Monday evening I had my annual physical and blood tests to get a better picture of my health challenges and what I am dealing with.  It turns out to be a good news/bad news situation.

The good news: my esophagus is slowly healing due to my adopting a plant-based diet.  I still have a way to go because the healing is taking place via food as medicine rather than pharmaceutical assistance. I am okay with that!

The even better good news is that given my esophagus is healing and the choking / vomiting has decreased dramatically, this suggests that cancer, is currently off the table as a health concern.

The bad news is, my not taking my blood pressure and blood sugar issues seriously two years ago, when I first started my practice, has me now scrambling to get my “act” together before it is too late.

Here’s the challenge.

Challenge #1: My blood pressure is hovering at dangerously high levels. I need to get even  stricter with my plant-based diet and remove even the “vegan junk food” to lower sodium where possible. If I can’t get my blood pressure down via nutrition, my doctor said we need to discuss medication. That is not an option for me, so bring on the celery juice and daily transcendental meditation!

Challenge #2

I received a phone call on Wednesday afternoon from my doctor’s office informing me that my A1C levels have moved from 6.5, which diagnosed me as pre-diabetic two years ago, to 6.7 which has NOW classified me as diabetic. Yes, I replaced worrying about the Big C last month, to worrying about the Big D.  

I returned to have my blood work retested to confirm the A1C results and then I meet with the doctor on February 11th.

What does this mean? I have three months to not only get my blood pressure in check, but also lower my A1C numbers or I will face having to take medication for both high blood pressure and diabetes for LIFE.


Talk about taking it to the Gohonzon…

I have my work cut out for me. Yet, I’m not wallowing in sadness or fear. I don’t have time for it.  When I got off the phone with my doctor’s office, I recognized that NOW is the time to not just lean into my practice, I MUST BATHE IN THE POWER OF MY FAITH to literally transform my mind & body so that I reverse my diabetes and eliminate any trace of hypertension in my blood.  

My mantra for the next three months is

“Wake Up With Determination. Go To Bed With Satisfaction.”  
It is not lost on me that my Gohonzon Birthdays seem to be markers for major change in my life.  Last year when February rolled around, I learned my mother passed away. 
This year, I approach February 25th with the knowledge that if I want to be around for a third Gohonzon birthday, I need to radically revamp my health. 

As strange as it sounds, having gone through a few months of fearing I have cancer, I had more than my fair share of shall we say “facing my mortality” moments. I already decided last month, “I WANT TO LIVE”, so I have no intention of being undone by these two challenges.

The time for dabbling at healthy living is over. I must move thru each day with the determination to:

1.     Chant in front of my gohonzon      “NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO”
2.     Do my Trancendental Meditation
4.     Eat PLANTS ONLY
Nichiren Daishonin writes:                                                                I am . . . praying as earnestly as though to produce fire from damp wood, or to obtain water from parched ground” (WND-1, 444). _____________________________________________________________________

So, here I am. Unafraid. Ready for change.
I don’t feel alone in this. I have found inspiration from Sensei left and right popping into my day, reminding me that I have the power to achieve my goals as long as I “Never Give Up.” 
N i c h i r e n Daishonin states in one of his writings: “Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the Way.

Thank you, Universe, for guiding me to this Buddhist practice, providing me the tools to connect with my Buddha-nature, and take action to literally transform the health of my mind, body and spirit in 2019 so I can get on with the business of LIVING MY DREAMS.  

That said,Δ

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Welcoming A Year of Victorious Living in 2019

It is early New Year’s morning as I upload this post and finally say good-bye to what has arguably been the most exhausting, challenging and emotionally draining year of my life. I have leaned heavily on my Nichiren Buddhist practice and the promise of this practice to get through some tough challenges. As a leader in our district, I found it important that I lead by example and do my best to face my fears and challenges as directly as possible. However, it was not until after our December Discussion meeting that I allowed myself to feel all there is to feel about what has been going on with me.

Mig and Sam last Saturday reached out to me to check in and set up a home visit.  It actually came  right at a time when I was needing guidance The holidays were here and I was missing my mum as this has been the first Christmas without her.  Also, if my health challenges were not enough, my car has decided to slowly die on me. With vacation time upon me and no district activities to distract me from my life, I recognized that I was dropping the ball with my practice.

There is something about walking that brings up exactly what is going on in my mind. Without my car I was walking everywhere. I tried to put a good spin on things because it was helping me to get my 10,000 steps a day in. However, as I walked, I noticed I was carrying around a lot of anger. Everything and almost everyone angered me. I saw quite clearly  I was making time to be there for others but I was not taking the time to “be there” for myself. It is not that I did know what I needed to do I just wasn’t really doing it. 

I expressed myself to Mig and Sam and received guidance that was most helpful. I’m not use to leaning on other people. It feels like a sign of weakness, but it is not in this practice. No one does this alone. Success comes from taking action and learning to seek guidance and support. 

I didn’t seek the guidance but I needed it. And in some strange way, it gave me the freedom to feel what I was feeling. As much as I am determined to lose the weight I need to lose and face my health challenges head on, in the quiet of my apartment, I have moments of fear deeper than I have ever felt. The idea of cancer being a part of my life experience and having to contemplate my own mortality for the first time is the stuff that insomnia is made of.

 I won’t lie, I have found it hard this week to chant for clarity and strength but when I did I found the clarity to not allow myself to wallow in sorrow for the sake of wallowing. So,the Sunday before Christmas, instead of being sad about my mum, I hopped on a metrolink train to spend the day with my cousins in Rancho Cuchamonga. I spent the day laughing, eating and getting recipes for Guyanese dishes my mum cooked when I was a child so I could cook them for myself in years to come. I felt her presence with me and that sadness went away.  

Christmas arrived.  I baked Guyanese meat patties and attempted to make ginger beer as I said good-bye to my old eating habits and embarked on a new path. For the moment, it is a six week journey following the guidance of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “EAT TO LIVE” plan. 

The concept is focused on not counting calories but increasing the consumption of nutrient rich foods like raw fruits and vegetables and eliminating “dead foods” so your body has time to heal itself from all the nutrients in the living whole foods. I am in the early stages of reading the book and understanding the process but if it works it holds the promise of not only healing my current health issue but also correcting my blood sugar and blood pressure difficulties as well. My success will as with all things require changes like I have never done before but I am determined. So far I am at the beginning stages of confronting my food addictions and having that dark night of the soul where you see your life with terrifying clarity. 

Of course, as I chanted for strength and understanding, my Buddha nature decided to give me guidance through my dreams. Let’ s just say, that last night, I had my own version of A Christmas Carol  where my mum who died this year, and my late boyfriend Johhny, who died in 1996, chose New Year’s Eve eve to let me know I had a choice to give up the fight and let Death win, or I can choose to LIVE in every sense of the word in 2019. To be clear, it won’t be easy but it requires me making the choice to stop mourning what could have been and making room for the new LIFE that begins for me in 2019.

I woke up this morning with “the chill of truth.”  Oddly, I felt a need to watch Meet Joe Black  where Death takes a holiday and falls in love.  I found myself at 7:00 am crying tears of joy because I recognized how much I have NOT been living and how much living, loving and growing I have to do starting in 2019. 

If you’ve never seen this movie with Anthony Hopkins, and Brad Pitt, watch it! It will remind you of the importance of living fully and allowing yourself that one “great love.” I want that for myself. 

I know, thanks to Mum and Johnny that this Buddhist practice came into my life at this exact time for a reason. I know it was a dream, but I can’t tell you how powerful it was to have forgotten they were both dead and feeling if only for a few moments that they were actually visiting me with the message to LIVE! So I find myself here, embracing this practice and making 2019 the new beginning I never before allowed myself to imagine was possible. Δ

Friday, December 7, 2018

With this December newsletter article, you are all caught up and aware of what I see as my greatest challenge yet!

    “Reflecting On This Year of Brilliant Achievement &                               Setting My Determinations for 2019”                                         
                                  by Kevin D ’Arcy

December has arrived and I find myself once again putting together this newsletter, wondering not just what has been going on this month but what has been going on for this entire “Year of Brilliant Achievement.” I need look no further than my recent Doctor’s visit on November 27th

However, before I go there, I find myself reflecting further back to February and having to deal with losing not one but both of my parents.  Yeah… not the best of times. Nevertheless, it was around that time that I started to have issues with my esophagus and periodic choking when I ate meat. I ignored this and proceeded to put on 15 “grief pounds” I am calling them, that led me to get on the scale at a whopping 227.4 lbs. The most, I think, I have ever been in my life.  The year of 2018 proceeded to be one challenge after another that eventually led to the breakthrough in my practice  which revolved around my niece Andrea, nephew Zen, and Zen’s girlfriend Jessica by the power of NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO attending the 50K festival in September. I felt my practice really take hold since that time and I feel an honest to goodness transformation of my life and my relationships.
Just when I thought missing my mum was going to be my biggest challenge of the year, life has decided to throw me yet one more challenge to overcome.  The Big C – CANCER, or at least the possibility of it. 

Last month, you may recall I wrote about booking YOUNG SHELDON. Well my focus and determination did not end there. My very next audition I booked an episode of Eva Longoria’s new series GRAND HOTEL, an American adaption of a Telenovela from Spain, which I watched on Netflix and fell in love with. I was on cloud nine being a part of this new production.  Everything about the experience was a lesson for me in the power of my practice.  On the day of my shooting, in my first scene, I had to eat a banana as I said my lines in a seedy motel.  I did numerous takes eating banana after banana. When we finished shooting the final take of the scene, I started choking on the banana, which I then proceeded to spit up.  The set’s medic was a young guy who immediately took my blood pressure. It was dangerously high. He continued to freak  out when it was not dropping as fast as he would like. I said, “hey I’m fine, I just want to go shoot my second scene tonight so I’ll go to my trailer and I’ll be fine.” He said “no, you could have a heart attack and not know it!”  This was not helping lower my blood pressure. Long story short, I had to go to an urgent care somewhere in Manhattan Beach for a doctor to approve my returning to set to shoot my scene.  I complied and once the doctor said I could go back to shoot my scene, my blood pressure returned to normal. However, she said, you shouldn’t be having food getting stuck in your esophagus so you need to have that checked out. Given that I was a smoker for many years my having quit February 5, 2017 did not help me escape the possibility that this choking issue was esophageal cancer.  I will admit, I tried to avoid mentioning to anyone the whole cancer issue for about a week. Once I wrapped my head around it, I made my doctor’s appointment for November 27th.

At my appointment, I learned my weight was at that whopping 227.4 lbs, and my blood pressure was once again high and I shared with him my whole choking issue.  Because of my smoking history, the “cancer issue” is not off the table. However, I have noticed that the inflammation in my esophagus has been getting better with my recent change in diet to address the issue with plant based eating. I also noticed that when I stood up to drink I avoided choking more and more. This led my doctor to believe we did not have to jump to the conclusion I was dealing with worse case scenario, esophageal cancer. Instead it might be what I proposed to him – that the constriction was caused by pressure from the visceral fat gain around my waist.

My goal now is to lose as much weight as I can specifically around my waist to alleviate the constriction, as well as reduce my blood sugar and blood pressure levels so I don’t have to start 2019 taking blood pressure pills and diabetes medication. I will have a physical on January 28, 2019 for the moment of truth on not only my pre-diabetes, but also my blood pressure and whether or not there are signs of cancer in my lab results.

So why am I writing all this? Because, once I acknowledged the possibility of having CANCER, I recognized that I stopped my old pattern of avoiding my fears and instead faced them head on and took action like my Buddha nature guided me to do. Now I have a plan of attack that will not only get me to the place of  finally addressing the health issues I stumbled into the San Fernando Valley Buddhist Center to address on February 18th, 2017, but I know that I don’t have to give into all the fears that cancer engenders. 

Instead,  I can face them down with an unshakeable determination to make 2019 the healthiest, wealthiest year of my life.  Today, I bought a dumb bell bench so I have no excuse not to get serious about my exercise goals. I even decided to deem 2019 my year of #NoExcuses!   I know that great things are coming my way and I wish the same for every one of you in my district family!  NEVER GIVE UP!! Δ

So.. Yes, this is where I am. The adventure begins in earnest!  

“Allowing My Heart to Be Open” - Part 2

It is funny how you don't see your growth until you reflect on where you have been and where you are. I am grateful that my buddhist practice has helped me move through this year of loss and gain a strength I never knew I had.

   “Allowing My Heart to Be Open”  Making Room for the Unexpected. - PART 2                                                                                                                         by Kevin D ’Arcy

 On Monday, October 29th I had the opportunity to do what I love- act, professionally. I booked a small co-starring role on the CBS series YOUNG SHELDON. I reveled in every moment I was on the Warner Brother’s Studio lot. I consciously spent the day in a state of gratitude. Somehow that made the day all the more enjoyable. I set my intention to enjoy myself and to incorporate ideas I got from the October 27th Arts Department quarterly meeting.  I woke up chanting to let my small performance come from my heart, be a force for kosen rufu in my work and interactions and to contribute to the vision the director has for the episode.
As it turned out, the director and many of the crew worked with me when I recurred on HART of DIXIE, a few years ago, so I felt completely at home. When I finished shooting my scene, the director smiled and she gave me the thumbs up on my performance.  I achieved my intention almost effortlessly. Things just fell into place.

This small victory led me to determine that this acting job would not be a once every so often thing I get to do. NO! I am marking this recent gig as the first in a stream of professional acting jobs coming my way, from now and throughout 2019, to help me grow as a professional artist for Kosen Rufu, enable me to prosper on such a level that I am able to pay off my astronomical debt, and live my life financially free. 

It is funny, there really are NO ACCIDENTS. The Art’s Department meeting gave me the experience that would challenge me to live my practice more deeply. Linda Johnson and Erica Gimpel inspired me to go deeper and not see my work as separate from my practice.

Linda simply reminded me that anything we want to achieve is possible, but requires us to truly believe it is possible in our own hearts and minds, and take it to the gohonzon with a fiery determination to manifest what we want and not simply phone it in.

I left that meeting inspired with a conviction to not only eliminate my debts but to accomplish it while still working as a professional actor.  It is up to me and my willingness to dig deep, make room for the unexpected and allow the Mystic Law to work in and thru my thoughts and actions.

I am moving into November and into 2019 with a single minded focus to light a match of fiery determination into my practice. I intend to experience first-hand what Erica and Linda discussed and to break through any barriers keeping me from achieving financial independence and creative freedom. 

I am willing to WORK like no one else so I can one day LIVE like no one else. What are you willing to achieve through your practice? J 

“Allowing My Heart to Be Open”

This article from October chronicles my family's visit to the west coast.

                      “Allowing My Heart to Be Open”                                              Making Room for the Unexpected.                                                                       
by Kevin D ’Arcy
I had the most fantastic time this last week. Instead of September 23rd’s 50K festival being a culmination of work to get my family to the festival, it was the starting point of a week of family time on the west coast. From Sunday until Wednesday, I did more cleaning, trips to IKEA, Walmart, Target, Baskin-Robbin’s 31 Flavors and Jamba Juice than I have ever done in such a short period of time. My niece was determined to transform my hermit’s cave into a bachelor pad no matter what.  While we haven’t fully gotten there yet, I am now determined to complete what my niece started.
To say she was lovingly brutal was an understatement, yet somehow I survived. I found myself not only getting rid of what I called “treasured memories” and she called “junk,” but she also had me strolling through the aisles of “ULTA BEAUTY” to find an eye mask and eye cream to reduce the puffiness under my eyes so I don’t look so tired both for when I audition and when I go out in search of a “husband.” J 

Seriously purging one’s home of 24 years of living is not just physically exhausting, it is spiritually cleansing. I still have much more to do to complete my purge but I am on the road. 

It is strange but the more I invest in re-vamping my living space, the more I find my heart and mind opening to new possibilities for myself. I thought I was helping my niece by getting her to attend 50K but I have been the winner as well from her visit because it reminded me not to get too stuck in my thinking and living. I know that I bought things for myself and home which I wouldn’t have done on my own but probably should have a long time ago.

If life has taught me anything in 2018 it is that life is too short not to choose to be happy and to live as joyfully as possible! 

Having my family in my home reminded me how important it is to have people in your life who love you and people who really know and accept you no matter what. Δ

“Channeling the Energy of 50K Festival to make September A Transformational Fresh Start for My Life & Career!”

Finally in this article you can begin to see my perspective moving away from grief.

“Channeling the Energy of 50K Festival to make September A Transformational Fresh Start for My Life & Career!”                                                                             by Kevin D’Arcy
Can you feel it? We are mere days away from this monumental event that we have all been working towards for more months than we could have imagined, all to bring 50,000 youth across the country together for a festival of Peace.  Wow! What an undertaking. We all are a part of it, whether we walk into one of those arenas across the U.S., or we simply gather in District centers to chant for it’s success.
I have been involved in enough events during my former life in the labor movement to know that the closer you get to the event, the crazier everyone becomes. The energy of the event becomes palpable the bigger the event. Now this is my first Buddhist event so maybe chanting will keep everyone’s nervous energy in check but just in case it doesn’t, give a hug to someone at the Buddhist center you think is running around like a crazy person trying to get a million things done before September 23rd.
For myself, it just occurred to me that I have family coming to visit, first my niece directly after the festival for two days of bonding and her directing me on how to turn my current hermit’s apartment into a swanky LA bachelor pad! Hahah!

When she is done with me, my home and outlook for the future is guaranteed to be transformed! Hopefully for the better. 

My challenge is, I have been so busy with SGI district meetings and work stuff that my messy apartment has only gotten messier. 

Instead of falling into panic mode, I am turning to my Gohonzon for guidance on how I can channel all the chaotic energy of this month to accomplish my district and work responsibilities and also purge my apartment of as much unnecessary clutter for the first time since November of 1994 when I moved into this place. 

I’ve decided to use 50K and my niece’s visit as an opportunity to let go of what I truly don’t need and make room for new blessings to enter my life and home. 

It may sound crazy but releasing my “hoarder” tendencies and opening myself up to having my home reflect the major transformation I am experiencing in this “Year of Brilliant Achievement” is a challenge I am excited and nervous to undertake. In so many ways this year for me has become about letting go of the past, growing into the Bad-Ass Gay Buddhist I am meant to be, and reaching goals I never TRULY imagined were possible before I received my Gohonzon.

I feel like a kid again! I have never felt so excited to be alive! I have so many goals as an actor, as a gay man, as a Los Angeleno that I want to accomplish. Step One is making my home ground zero for the new life I am daring to LIVE!!Δ 

“What’s Your Mission”

The article for August addresses the first proof of my practice that I experienced in July.

“What’s Your Mission”           

Let’s Use This Time to Unite as A District and CHANT for One Another!                                                           
by Kevin D’Arcy

What a year I am having! On July 14th, I had what I can only describe as my first honest to goodness TANGIBLE  PROOF of this practice.  I’m not going to go into it here because I have been asked to give my experience at the August 4th San Fernando/NoHo Region’s Kosen Rufu Gongyo, this coming Saturday evening. I hope you can attend to hear my story and provide a little moral support!
Suffice to say, my experience has led to a deepening of my practice.  It has also led to many wonderful conversations with my niece/goddaughter about spirituality in general and Nichiren Buddhism, specifically.  One thing that has stood out for me is that I told her that some folks in the practice said she has a mission in her life. This had a profoundly positive impact on her.  Instead of dwelling on the negative thought of feeling like a burden to others because she is in a wheelchair, she has become excited about coming out to Los Angeles to participate in the 50K festival but also, she has volunteered to be “proofreader” for me of this newsletter and after the festival she plans to spend two additional days just her and I in my apartment to serve has my interior designer, helping me to upgrade my apartment to an LA bachelor pad, and find me a boyfriend. How could I refuse?  This excitement she has, has become contagious! As she texts me photos of new sofa beds to choose for my living room, I am genuinely excited for her visit because she is forcing me to push myself out of my comfort zone and live more fully.

All of this got me thinking how valuable it is to have a mission for your life and a vision for the life you want to live. To me, it doesn’t matter what that mission or vision is. It just matters that you have one.  It provides that extra “umphf” to get up in the morning, chant and dive into the day!  
I am working now to get very specific about my mission and my vision for the life I want as a film/television actor and as a gay Buddhist who wants to be truly deeply HAPPY. This year has been teaching me that “STUFF” happens. It doesn’t even matter what that stuff is. What matters is how you react to it, and what tools you have in place to not just help you survive but help you to THRIVE!  Nothing will make my mother’s death okay. But I know I have to choose to live the best life possible for myself and to be an example for those I love, like my niece, to never give up!  The alternative is to wallow in grief and surrender to devilish functions instead of striving to be victorious over life’s many challenges!

The beauty in all of this, I have learned, is that aside from creating happiness for myself, as a member of this district, I am not alone. I have the potential spiritual energy of my fellow district members, having my back, so to speak, through the power of Daimoku! What a comforting thought realizing WE are not alone.

I challenge everyone in our district to decide for themselves what their mission is in this life, be okay with it changing if you want, but make a choice and go for it while also chanting for the success of your fellow members on their individualized journey. What a blessing we can provide one another through our daily chanting.  I am excited to see how, with our District’s Unity Prayer, we can help each other make 2018 “The Year of Brilliant Achievement” in every aspect of our lives. Δ


To give some context to this article, below is the speech I gave at the August  Kosen Rufu Gongyo/World Peace meeting:

My Van Nuys Sherman Oaks District 50K Experience

by Kevin D’Arcy
Men’s Division District Leader

Hi everyone! Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my experience with you!  My name is Kevin D’Arcy and I am the Men’s Division Leader for Van Nuys Sherman Oaks District.

17 months ago I was struggling with the news that I was pre-diabetic and fearful of becoming a diabetic. I stumbled into a Saturday morning intro mtg here at this center and after listening to the wonderful guidance of a couple YMD leaders, I decided to receive my Gohonzon the next week.

Seven months into my practice, I was asked to become the Men’s Division Leader for my District. I was completely terrified at the thought of it but I took on the challenge largely to inspire my niece, Andrea.

Andrea is not just my niece but also my god-daughter and about the closest thing I will come to having a kid of my own.

On October 1, 2014, in Philadelphia, my niece was hit head on by a car while she was crossing the street. She was in a coma for four months and was not expected to survive.

 For the last four years she has been stuck in a wheelchair. She had to give up her successful hair salon business and watch her world shrink as many of her friends drifted away.

I face time with Andrea everyday during lunch to keep her spirits up and remind her to never give up. 

In January of 2018, I made a commitment to be the best District leader I could because I love my district and truly think of them as my second family. I also wanted to truly understand this whole 50K campaign.

On Feb. 25th, my 1st Gohonzon birthday, my mother passed away. Then I learned my father also passed away earlier that month from kidney complications from his diabetes.
I know that this practice and the support of my district family helped me claw my way out of my grief. As I chanted to face my own fears I made more efforts in the district.

I spent much of this year battling depression, fearing I would become diabetic and die like my father all the while trying to encourage my niece to not give up on her own life and give her hope she would one day walk again.

There are many members on our membership list who stopped coming to our meetings. Out of 21 youth, we have maybe one or two that come out.

I created a monthly newsletter to encourage members to stay connected with our district whether or not they came to a meeting.

Last month, my sister called to tell me she was bringing my niece Andrea, my nephew Zen and his girlfriend Jessica out to California to visit me. She had a timeshare and would be staying in Anaheim on September 23rd. I thought this has to mean something.

I convinced my niece Andrea that the 50K festival was something she might enjoy and she registered.
Not long after this, Andrea told me she took 5 steps on her own for the first time since her accident and her doctor told her that by some miracle her spinal cord is completely healthy so the idea of her walking again is now a real possibility.

I quickly moved on to talking with my nephew and he registered! And last Wednesday night to celebrate the anniversary of YMD Founding Day, I texted my nephew’s girlfriend and she also registered!

As my karma would have it, my sister called that next afternoon to say that the timeshare made a mistake and Anaheim was no longer available and they were relocated to Las Vegas. I started to get discouraged. To add to my stress, I was asked along with my co-leader Patricia to give a district experience at the Leader’s mtg on July 14th at the Ikeda auditorium to motivate folks for 50K

I felt I was the last person who should be giving this experience with Patricia.

To be honest I started to get angry because I had just shared with my niece how everyone thought it was mystic that they were gonna be in Anaheim for the festival and how folks thought she had a mission of her own to discover so she was all pumped up. Meanwhile I could tell my sister started feeling guilty because we could not figure out a way to get them to attend the festival when they were gonna be in Las Vegas.

I said to her, “Forget it. These people keep telling me this buddhism is about the mystic law so we are not talking about this anymore.  I’ll chant about it and this mystic law stuff will work it out or you guys will just enjoy Las Vegas.”

While preparing for the leader’s meeting I was mad as hell because I raised my nieces hopes up for the festival and it all fell apart. I came up with every reason why I should not give that speech on Saturday.

Women’s Division leaders was amazingly kind and patient with me. After a long conversation, I could see that all of my fears that I was not good enough and this practice was not going to work for “ME” were bubbling to the surface.

I vomited up every negative issue going on in my life and gradually I realized that I was being presented with the opportunity to transform my suffering into a life of genuine happiness through my own determination to do my human revolution and embrace Sensei as my mentor. Suddenly, this practice was making sense to me.

Sensei says, "In life when we feel we have reached a limit, that is when the true battle begins. Just when you despair and think it is impossible to go any further, will you become apathetic, or will you say it’s not over and stand up with an unyielding spirit? The battle is decided by this single determination."

This 50K campaign is an opportunity for me to to show actual proof of this practice and help my niece and nephew transform their lives. I have no idea how they are going to attend but our district is chanting that they will make it there somehow!      

I said much of what i just read to you at the leader’s meeting a few weeks ago, and for the first time I believed that anything was possible.

After 17 long months of waiting, I had my first tangible proof of this practice. As, I was leaving the leader’s meeting, I was approached by two men. They said they were regional leaders from Las Vegas and after hearing my experience, they wanted to help and offered to get my niece, nephew, and my nephew’s girlfriend on one of the 50K buses leaving from Vegas to Anaheim if my family arrives in Las Vegas from Philly in time on the 23rd.

 I was shocked.  I had no idea there would be people from Las Vegas at the meeting or that they would be so supportive! I was so excited, I raced home from Santa Monica to call my sister.  I said, I hope you haven’t bought your tickets yet. I said if you can fly in on Saturday September 22nd , I will use the money I was saving to go to the LGBT FNCC retreat to pay for hotel rooms for everyone for one night until the timeshare is available so they can be in Las Vegas in time to get on a bus with the SGI youth coming to 50K.

My sister said, that is so weird, she was gonna buy the tickets the night before but she got exhausted and decided she would do it later.

So, hearing that total strangers want to help us, my sister got tickets to fly in on September 22nd to Las Vegas.  On Thursday, two days ago, I spoke with Anna Ikeda from Las Vegas and confirmed I will be buying bus tickets for my three family members and they will definitely be able to attend the 50K festival in Anaheim!   

Now my niece is unable to contain her excitement for 50K and happily shared the pictures of herself for me to create this slideshow. When I first talked to her about my being a buddhist, thinking I would shakabuku her, she was like, thanks but no thanks uncle Kevin, I prefer my Joel Olsteen. But now she is asking me if she is able to be a Christian and a Buddhist.  She also decided that after the 50K festival, she’s not going back with her brother on the bus to Vegas. Instead, she plans to spend a few days with me in LA so she can help me re-decorate my apartment, find me a boyfriend and check out the San Fernando Valley Buddhist Center.

Seeing my niece come alive as she has through this experience, proves to me the power of this practice and has inspired me to study and push myself out of my comfort zone to become the best version of myself without limitations!

Thank you!