October 31 – to be or not to be

99/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Sometimes you don’t know it at the moment the importance and significance someone has on you. That is with today’s gratitude honoree. Over the past 99 posts and my previous 6 months writing another blog, I have accepted that I have a way with words and can affect people and upon further reflection, I realized where that came from. As I look back on my years and years of education growing up, I remember the teachers in the elective areas but I can hardly recall any teachers from the academics. I just went through the motions in those classes – type of student who got great grades but wasn’t very memorable to the teachers and vice versa, they weren’t very memorable to me. That is not the case with my grade 9 English teacher Ms Mackworth. She was the one who I remember for all the right reasons – she encouraged me in my writing and always spent time with me after school helping me to understand things if I couldn’t. She allowed expression through media and I exceled at drawing. That is also the class where my love of books developed. Yes, she had to use the prescribed novels but I remember reading Lost Horizon and falling in love with it. Pure escapism – yes, the deeper subtext was lost on me but the love of reading was instilled. Ms Mackworth also was very kind and caring towards me – perhaps she knew the things I was going through but I looked forward to her class. In essence, she was like a surrogate mother – I felt comfort when I was in her class and looked forward to going “home” every other day. Thank you Ms Mackworth for creating the love of English in me from reading to writing to expression and for being a wonderful teacher. I flip another page in honour of you.

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October 30 – a different breed

98/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Today, as I’m dressed as (Derek) Zoolander in my classroom for Hallowe’en and being the center of attention, I think back to those days when I wanted no attention at all. Days when I just wanted to blend in and not be called out for looking or being any different than the rest. Today I embrace my differences and my quirkiness – being me. Yesteryear, I longed to just be you. This gratitude post goes out to today’s students because of their accepting nature in contrast to what I experienced. Yes, I am an adult and I may be seeing them from a different perspective but as a teacher, I see a lot that most adults don’t have the opportunity to do so. I am learning so much from them and what I see is a different breed of student than when I went to school. I see a lot more acceptance in regards to diversity.   Back in my day, the transgendered student would be ridiculed if they had had the courage to come out but in my class, the trans student is equally accepted and is involved in group work and open about his feelings and has many friends. The out gay students are much more accepted and are proud to be themselves.  Racial tensions – at the school I’m at, we have Filipinos, Indo-Canadians, Black, Asians and White kids. Everyone getting along with everyone. Gender – girls outnumber guys 3 to 1 in Grade 12 and are at the top when it comes to marks. Maybe it’s through rose coloured bifocals 😉 , granted, but you can not deny the difference and awareness in today’s student . My day it was tolerance (hated that word) but today it’s acceptance that is not forced. Thank you students of today for allowing me to see school in such a positive light. I prepare another interesting lesson in your honour!

October 29 – that Calgarian nephew of mine

97/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Why don’t you have children? You’re married – you should have children? These were the types of comments I was met with as my wife and I waited five years before having our first child. We wanted to travel, we were young (just in our 20s) and we just wanted to wait. One of my reasons for hesitation – and I look back on it fondly now but in the moment, I was stressed – was meeting my nephew (by marriage) Alex in about 1992. He was about 2. I’m sure they coined the “terrible twos” in his honour! I was in shock. He was all over the place on our outing at the mall – and his parents were with us!!  I, half jokingly, said that this was the best form of birth control but one on one, Alex was great. As I have watched him grow up, even though he lives in Calgary, I have been very impressed with him when I do see him. He has grown into a kind, respectful young man who has always been great to me – always reverent, always honest, always considerate. The one thing that he did that will not ever be forgotten was keep in communication with me during my separation of last year even though I was married to his aunt. This is not the case with most of the rest of the extended family. I greatly respect you for that Alex and that just cemented my opinion of you. The one thing that I could fault him on – he made my son a Calgary Flames fan – but you are forgiven 😉 I also relate to Alex as I was an only son and the oldest and there was pressure on me to do right and set the bar but I didn’t have all the social pressures of today also coming at me that today’s young people have to deal with. Whatever you do, I’m proud of you buddy. Thank you for being an awesome nephew and a great guy! I wave my Calgary Flames towel in the air in your honour!!

October 28 – knowing my write from my left

96/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Without being given an opportunity, you never can discover what you are capable of. I would never have attempted at writing a blog – until the idea was put in my head and then an outlet for my thoughts was suggested to me. My friend Patrick, who works for the Vancouver Province, thought I would be the ideal blogger for its online edition – specifically for a Desi-bent (an Indo-Canadian perspective) subsection of the online edition. I was definitely not sure of my capabilities and also felt that I least represented the typical Indo-Canadian opinion – I mean, I use to refer to myself as the “Whitest Brown Guy” as a moniker. He told me that I had a way with words and a sense of humour based on my Facebook status updates and that a blog would be something that I would be ideally suited for. Well, long story short, I ended up with a regular blog called “the Whitest Brown Guy” and wrote several postings receiving very positive feedback (at present, that blog’s future is uncertain as the online edition is rebranding itself). That positive blogging experience led to my current Gratitude blog and I want to thank Patrick for getting me started on this track. If it wasn’t for you picking up on something in me, this “writing thing” would have lay dormant within me never to be discovered. So Patrick, I tap a few more keys in your honour! Cheers to you!

October 27 – a Rosy by any other name

95/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Yes, elementary school and high school were tough times for me but I never played the victim. The bullying was constant and the beatings were sporadic but I just kept on keeping on. Were there good times? I remember a few. Did I enjoy my subjects? Most definitely as I love learning. Did I have friends? I often wonder about this question. I don’t think I allowed people to get close to me as I was very wary about people and their intentions – since being made fun of was what I was accustomed to. However, I do remember Rosy. When my family moved to north Richmond and I entered in the middle of grade 3, I met Rosy. Rosy and her brother and my sister and I would sometimes meet up on the trek to school and walk the rest of the way. Rosy was in the same grade 3 class as me and we were in some of the same elementary grades for the remainder of elementary school. As I look back on it, we were a bit competitive trying to outdo each other in projects and assignments but I don’t recall any negativity from Rosy towards me. Upon entering junior high school, we kept up our walks to school and were in some of the same classes. Rosy was always a constant in the chaotic world of school and it was nice to have a routine (the walks to and from school) and a friend to take my mind away from what I was experiencing at school. We ended up at the same senior high school but with different schedules, we would occasionally meet up on the bus or a car ride to school. I can’t say that we were close friends as I kept my distance from people but I can say that Rosy was the only person approaching my definition of a friend in my school years. Thank you Rosy for making an effort to befriend me, making me laugh in tough times and giving me sanity during those stormy years. I continue a walk in your honour!

October 26 – the aunty-thesis

94/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I was much closer to my uncles and aunts when I was younger. I am envious of adults that still maintain those ties with their extended families. In my case, as I have aged, unfortunately those ties that bound have unravelled and seem to have frayed. In the last year, I have also consciously distanced myself from my extended and marital families because of my marital separation – I didn’t want to have to explain anything to anyone so it was just easier to avoid all contact.   I know that perhaps that wasn’t the best thing to do but it was my coping mechanism. Add to the fact that I am that proverbial black sheep of the family – maybe not in the stereotypical negative way moreso the weird, out there, non-conservative, non Indo-Canadian way – and one might understand my disinclination towards family get-togethers. Once again, easier to avoid judgment if you avoid contact. However, the one aunt that always appreciated my eccentricities no matter how strange is my Musee Sato (mom’s older sister) . Consistently proud of me and always giving me a hug, she takes pride in me as if I was her own son. She also has that same affinity towards my kids and their accomplishments.  She also is a calm, sane force in our family – my mom and her other siblings have consistently not gotten along but Musee Sato and my mom have never, ever had a disagreement and I credit my Musee Sato’s calm demeanour and wisdom for this. To you Musee Sato, I raise a cup of chai and thank you for being that solid foundation in a sometimes crazy family 🙂

October 25 – here’s to Hollywood!

93/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Okay, I’ma go there. I’m a silver fox. I think that’s what a man of a certain age with grey hair is called, right? Not sure if that man has to be handsome as well to be categorized that way but hey, I’m still going to go there  Seriously though, I had a hard time accepting this getting older thing. I am lucky that at my age I have hair so it could go silver but even letting that happen took a long time to accept as all I ever did was colour it as I have felt that my appearance is what people judge me on. I know deep down that that is not true but consciously and subconsciously, my focus tends to be on my outward representation. I am very happy to see men like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, John Stamos and David Duchovny enter their 50s. We are a celebrity obsessed and starved culture as a whole – I notice this with most of the students I teach. Thus, I am glad that these male celebrities – ones the same age as me, ones I grew up with watching their movies and shows – are in their 50s as it makes it that much more acceptable to age. Yes, I know that that may come off as shallow and yes, I know that women entering their 50s have it way harder as society’s acceptance level may not be the same as it is for a male, but I am not talking on a global scale, I am talking one person’s experience – mine. So having these celebrities pave the way for me – yes, talking about my mind set – makes it that much easier for me to accept age and redefine it. To you 50 something Hollywood guys, I tune to TMZ in your honour. Thanks for making me way more comfortable as I age.

October 24 – if you like this post

92/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ll admit it, I’m a Facebook junkie – I like posting status updates, I like throwing up selfie pics, I like reading other people’s posts, I like checking in – I like it all. I also will admit that I have several hundred friends on Facebook. I may not speak to them all – well, that’s an understatement as I definitely don’t but I still am glad that I have met them and added them/been added and I do hope that I offer some form of entertainment with my many Facebook posts. There are some friends on my Facebook though that are consistently giving me positivity which I want to recognize today. Yes, conversations may not take place with each of these three ladies but each of them gives me a like on a picture/update or a supportive comment and I am very appreciative in that I know someone is reading/seeing what I am putting up. In fact, that encourages me to express myself and keep being creative at my age in the social media world. To Celine, Shunay and Donna – thank you all for always giving me your attention in the online world by taking a moment from your busy lives. I want to say that it means a lot and I do recognize it – especially today in this post. Ladies, I click Like in your honour!!

October 23 – alert(‘Thanks Chris!’) – I know programming!

91/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I am pretty technically literate. Yes, I was a techno-phobe at the beginning but given my subject area (Business and computers), I had to learn fast and not be afraid of technology. Being a visual learner, I need to see how things are done and then I can easily pick them up. However, I am in awe of people who just easily grasp the nuances of a computer program or piece of software and just run with it. One of those people is a former co-worker and current friend, Chris. He has helped me countless times in using technology to my advantage – inside and outside the classroom. Anytime I need to know how to do something, I first Google and if that doesn’t help, then I Chris it J We met in the 00s at Burnett. He was hired to be the Computer (IT) teacher with some Business courses. He fit right in to the mix of the school and we got to know each other over the occasional beers on a Friday night or hanging with a few buddies on the weekend. Upon my hiring by UBC, Chris ended up taking over the Marketing program and not only did it thrive but it flourished! Yes, usually there is a little bit of jealousy in regards to enrolment increases once a person leaves but I was thrilled that Chris put his own spin on it and basically took it to the next level and in fact, I have turned to him for advice on a couple of occasions in regards to student run school stores. Thanks Chris for being a great help to me whenever I need your expertise – which is often 😉 I program a code – okay, I don’t, I Google search in your honour!

October 22 – the mentor becomes the mentee

90/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. What do they say about when the trainee surpasses the trainer? Probably something good about the trainer and maybe that’s true to some respect but I think it speaks volumes about the trainee and their personality and work ethic. I worked with Mike when he first started teaching as an art teacher back in the mid 90s (or maybe earlier – I’m getting old and I’m sure it was art – okay, maybe I’m really old 🙂  ). The school district had a mentorship program where the mentored teacher selected a veteran teacher to show them the ropes. Usually, the selected mentor is from the same teaching area but Mike selected me – the guy from Business Education. I would like to think it’s because of my amazing skills but I know that it’s more the fact that I befriend people and start up genuine conversations with people and that probably struck a chord with Mike.   Over the course of the year, I got to know Mike inside of school but more importantly outside of the school in a more casual setting. We also got together with our significant others for dinners a couple of times and found out that Mike and my wife had links to the same BC community in the interior. I really felt honoured that Mike chose me as his mentor and although the goal was for him to learn from me, I learned a great deal from him – his passion, compassion, genuine care for students and understanding of pedagogy being some of the qualities I came to admire in him. Oh, and the fact that he has these killer ice blue/green eyes!! Damn, he won the lottery on that front for a brown guy! 😉 We lost touch, as most often happens, when you move on in careers but I knew that he had become Vice Principal and was very happy for him. But even happier for me, last year, he ended up being the Vice Principal at the school I am at. We have reconnected and he was the first staff member that I shared with about my separation as I consider him to be like a little brother – albeit, a smarter, more capable little bro than me! I am so glad that we are working together once again and am really proud of what you have become from the days when I first knew you! I appreciate the knowledge and wisdom that you share and the innovative ways you look at teaching – I look forward to working with you for a long time hopefully!  I create a playlist and play it in the halls in your honour!!