A lot has happened in the past nine months so I'll give you a brief run-down. In May I received Jukai which translates as "to receive the precepts". Basically, I am now officially a Buddhist, akin to a christian baptism. I bowed a lot and vowed to cherish all life, cultivate good, help others, and to be generous, honest and attentive. I affirmed that I am Buddha, I am awake. For pictures please click here. Right after the ceremony, my mom, who had flown out a few days previous, my uncle, who lives in the Salt Lake area, and I drove all night to Gunnison, CO for my sister's graduation. We changed right after we arrived, got some breakfast and proceeded to the ceremony. My brother and aunt had flown into town as well for the occasion. The governor of CO gave a pretty decent commencement speech in the stadium as the Rocky mountains painted the backdrop.
After heading back to SLC I finished up the school year and the summer began. I took a class for my job entitled Understanding Children and Families which gave me some ideas as to why some children act as they do. Other than that I spent a majority of the time pulling weeds, going to the library, playing music, hiking, camping, and a lot of just general gallivanting. In August I made my way back to Colorado for another adventure. A week and a half in Colorado Springs and my birthday celebration at which I became severely intoxicated. Jana, the Czech woman I met in Spain (see Star Peace) flew out the day before and witnessed the event. Struggling to get out of bed the next morning I popped some Aspirin and loaded the last of the equipment in the car. Jana and I were taking a good ol' fashioned road trip in my ex-girlfriend's car. We traveled from Colorado Springs to Durango into Monument Valley and across to Flagstaff, AZ. Proceeding to the Grand Canyon on the day President Obama was there, although we didn't see him, then on to Las Vegas. From there we drove across Death Valley into California. Stopping off at Mammoth for a couple days we next went into Yosemite for some amazing hikes and too many tourists. After Yosemite it was San Francisco where we were able to spend time with my brother before heading up through Napa Valley and on to Northern California and crossing over into Oregon.
This was my first time in Oregon but it will definitely not be my last. I wanted to go to Oregon to determine if I wanted to move there. I am very interested in Portland but all of the state we saw was gorgeous. I love the beaches, I love the green forests, I love the consciousness, I am looking forward to living there. From Portland we drove back to SLC. The entire trip lasted three weeks. I started work again the next day and Jana flew out that evening. For more photos of the trip check out Snapfish.
I had been promoted from Classroom Assistant to Lead Teacher which meant I was responsible for the operation of the class. The Assistant assigned to me had been a preschool teacher for almost twenty years previous so had a lot of experience to draw on. We set up the room and prepared for the students. They arrived one by one and I have subsequently fallen in love with every one of them. Halfway into the school year I am very happy about the way things have unfolded. I love my job and couldn't imagine doing anything else.
Other than the aforementioned activities I have recently passed my second koan if that means anything to you and have become the proud parent of a beautiful baby girl rat. Her name is Skyrocket and I bought her with the intent of taking her to the classroom but she is still a baby. I'm going to let her grow a bit before I take her in. I am now on winter break for two weeks and intend on going into more detail about some of these things later. I guess we'll see where that intention takes me.