November 28 – what is a cousin?

127/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. As I have mentioned on a couple of occasions, these Gratitude posts are very healing for me – I am able to acknowledge people who have helped me along my journey but I am the one also greatly benefitting from the writing as it also is very cathartic. Another bonus that has resulted is that I have gotten on the path of mending fences (that were not necessarily broken by myself). Earlier in these posts, I recognized all my cousins who had an impact on me as we were growing up together and I was able to tag most of them except for one set who, due to family politics, were not on speaking terms. I took it upon myself to send Manjit, the cousin who is closest in age to me, the earlier cousin gratitude post not knowing how she was going to respond but I just felt happy letting her know how I missed those days and wanted to reconnect. She replied in kind and we said we’d get together and decided on a day which I had to subsequently change as my son had hockey. Manjit asked me who the texted name was and I thought she was joking but then realized that it had been 16 years since we had spoken last and that she didn’t know who my kids were and I didn’t know hers. This was disconcerting. We ended up meeting this past week for dinner – initial awkwardness fading in seconds and started reminiscing about growing up and of the good times we shared as well as our respective siblings. I am really glad that we both made the effort and were able to get past a whole lot of issues that had nothing to do with the two of us and instantly connect as if no time had passed. Thank you Manjit for letting bygones be bygones – I look forward to renewing our cousinship and eventually meeting your family as you will meet mine.

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November 27 – get down on brown

126/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I have been told that I am the whitest brown guy ever. It started way back when I was in my teens and that’s a long time ago since I am currently starting my 50s!! Growing up in north west Richmond, I had no clue what that really meant until I realized that yes, I had a total different upbringing from my brethren (and sisteren) of Indo-Canadian heritage. I was one of a handful of Indo-Canadian kids born and raised in a predominantly Euro-centric neighbourhood but was totally unaware of the fact that skin colour was a defining factor. Not having Indian/Indo-Canadian pop-culture role models, I easily assimilated to the popular ethnic culture as I had nothing to compare myself to. No Indo-Canadian role models back in the 1970s or even the early 1980s but as I aged, I realized I was different from those around me but I never thought it had anything to do with my ethnicity as I wasn’t cognizant of the fact. Looking back at my formative years, I often wonder what it would have been like to have celebrities/athletes/role models representing my culture/heritage/ethnicity. I now look at my two kids who have grown up with Indo-Canadian role models who are predominant in sports, fashion, beauty, culture and politics and are proud of their ethnic heritage. Yes, I didn’t have that but I take pride vicariously in the fact that I am represented by Harjit Sajjan who is our Minister of Defence, Priyanka Chopra who is the lead in Quantico, Aishwarya Rai who is a Bollywood Queen and also the biggest Beauty Queen, Russell Peters who is one of the forerunners in comedy, Manny Malhotra representing in the NHL – the list goes on. Yes, I am a decade or two too late to revel in their glory but I am so very happy that my children have role models that they can be proud of that represent who they are based on the mere fact of ethnic heritage.  I am so very proud of my ethnicity/culture of being a part of our Canadian culture and am finally proud to admit that I am also a part of that culture which I denied for a large part of my existence because of some sort of shame that I can not explain.  Thank you Indo-Canadian and Indian role models for allowing me to be proud of myself and my ethnic heritage!

November 26 -meet the parents

125/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. There’s the over involved parent. There’s the absent parent. There’s the laissez-faire parent. There’s the proud parent. There’s the “take no responsibility for my child’s education” parent. There’s the “what can I do to help” parent. There’s the “lay the blame on the teacher” parent. There’s the “willing to work with the teacher” parent. There’s the “bring my child with me” parent. There’s the “bestow gifts upon teacher” parent. There’s the “what can I do to make that 95% higher” parent. There’s the “just wanted to meet you” parent. As a high school teacher, I have seen them all and have tried to work with all the different parents I have encountered and regardless of the type of parent you are, I am so glad that you have come to see me as your child’s teacher and are taking an interest in their learning. By the mere fact that you took the time out to attend parent/teacher or meet the teacher night shows that you want the best for your child. You parents are the ones who have shown me how to be an involved parent with my own children as they have gone through school. With my high school son, I go to his “meet the teachers” during that first month. I go to his parent/teacher conferences during report card times much to his chagrin. I try to be an active part of my son’s education wherever possible and it is all because I have seen the interest and dedication – yes it varies but it’s still valid – that my student’s parents take in their child’s education. Thank you for letting me see the other side of the fence as I balance atop it as both a teacher and a parent. I have learned so much from the parents who come to see me and appreciate the fact that you do make that effort to connect with your child’s teacher and because of you, I am doing the same.

November 25 – write or wrong

124/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ll admit it – I like being the center of attention but when it’s on my own terms and I’m in control of it. Yes, it may be viewed by some as vanity but given my childhood where I only wished not to be noticed because of my awkwardness, my ugly duckling looks, my ethnicity, my adhd – I thrive on any positive attention as an adult (oh Freud, how you would have loved to have me as a case study – all unconscious motivations and desires coming out in me). However, last night and today’s attention all because of a post on the internet threw me for a loop. I had no control over what transpired. I have Megan to thank for that. She, a former student of mine from Burnett and a writer for Vancity Buzz, has been a Facebook friend for years and we have exchanged notes on musical artists that we have a fondness for and other niceties over the years. She messaged me a few months back about how she was moved by my gratitude posts and wanted to write a story and would I be willing to share the blog to a larger audience. I wasn’t sure how to respond. I had since realized that people were being affected positively by my gratitude posts but to put this out there to a larger audience – very daunting. She told me that her editor thought this would also be a good idea and I threw caution to the wind and said yes. We met, I was interviewed and as of this writing, 1700 shares on that article – I am humbled and it’s all because of Megan being moved by the gratitude blog and wanting to bring it to the masses. I can’t even begin to thank you for what you have done for me. Tonight’s post is all about you Megan for opening up my heart to more than those on my personal Facebook. I owe this mass love and positivity in return all to you! Thank you Megan!

November 24 – i went public

123/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Wow! Just wow! VancityBuzz.com featured story on my Gratitude Blog journey went live just a few hours ago and the outpouring of love and positivity on my Facebook feed is incredible as well as the comments on the article itself – got a bit emotional there and had to step back and reflect. I knew I was doing something important for myself – a catharsis of sorts at the same time as honouring people but what it has turned into is so much more. Gratitude is so important and it’s so simple to do and the effects are amazing – yes, personally, I have become a calmer, happier person because of this – I liken it to yoga for the heart – so very uplifting, freeing and energizing. But the attention my Gratitude challenge has gotten was not expected as well as the love and positive vibes and hearing from students past and present as well as friends and family tonight and strangers taking time out to comment – my spirit is soaring. Thank you, thank you all who have read the article, read one blog entry or more, made a comment on my Facebook, wrote on the article itself or just the act of hitting like – I am honoured, humbled and deeply moved tonight. You don’t know what you have done for me but I thank you from the bottom of my heart! In your honour, I will continue writing my Gratitude posts!

November 23 – i challenge thee

122/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I am the king of challenges. I have gone for a 30 minute run every day for 30 days. I have given up all sugar for 30 days. I have concocted a different martini each and every day for 30 days and of course consumed it. I have worked out/crossfit for 30 days. I have read a book a week for a year. I am presently going out of my comfort zone each and every month (taking up singing, swing dancing, ziplining to name am few). I am also currently writing a blog entry a day for 365 days thanking people. Some of the challenges I undertake are extremely difficult and some of them are…actually, all of them are relatively difficult or they would not be a challenge. I was inspired by reading about people undertaking 30 days challenges on my Facebook feed. I “watched” their progress and some of course gave up or didn’t continue posting 😉 Others talked about their challenges and what they felt like while undertaking them but especially after the completion of what they set out to do. I have joined some of my Facebook friends on their challenges and they have joined me on mine – misery loves company maybe but to have a “partner” join in just makes you that much more accountable. I can’t say I love the challenges I do but I do thrive on them. I am so very glad that I happened upon those status updates from various friends which has now made 30 day challenges de rigueur for living my life. As I come off of my 30 days of no alcohol, I raise a wine bottle (still corked) in your honour my challenge loving Facebook friends!

November 22 – i love me some psychology

121/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. During my university years, even though I was enrolled in and received my Business degree, unlike my fellow students in the program who took electives like History of Tax Law or Economic Diversity in Developing Nations, I took all my electives in the “ologies” – Anthropology, Sociology, Criminology and of course Psychology.   I enjoyed these courses much more than the actual courses in my Business program and if not for my engagement in these electives, my first undergraduate degree would strictly have been an exercise in going through the motions of getting a university education. Upon quickly getting my second degree (Teaching), I entered the profession but was tasked with teaching what I majored in – Business courses. There were no options at the high school curriculum level to capitalize on my minor. I was happy to have a job and made the best of it but was really not interested in my subject matter – I mean, I had to teach 8 blocks of typing in my first year!! “A, a, a – space – A, a, a – space” – it was torture!! 🙂 Luckily, I was able to pick up Marketing and Law and like Stella, I got my groove back!! Upon the suggestion of some grade 11s and 12s, I decided to propose a new course – Psychology 12. Since it was not offered anywhere in the city, I had to create the curriculum and find the resources. I had to approach my principal, then a teacher committee, and finally justify in to the School Board trustees – each step more daunting than the previous one! However, in every part of the process I was supported in my proposal and did not face any roadblocks. Long story short – I developed the curriculum for Richmond and have been teaching the course just shy of two decades and it is what keeps me going! I absolutely love teaching but to be able to teach Psychology is the gravy on an absolutely amazing dish of mashed potatoes!! Comfort food all the way! To all the people who were instrumental in getting the course from its earliest inception to what it is today, I thank you greatly.   In your honour, I will continue to ensure that I put my heart and soul into making every lesson better than the last! Thank you!

November 21 – it’s who you know

120/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.   This past week, I had guest speakers in my class talking about prospective career choices. Prior to my class arriving, the speakers and I engaged in a conversation regarding what I thought about teaching and of course, I expressed that I felt I had won a lottery in life in that I love waking up and going to work – I love what I do. Teaching has been something that I have done for half my life – a quarter century. Hmmm, now when you put it like that, maybe it’s time for a change but I don’t really feel that my passion has diminished in the least from that very first day in the classroom. I’m a lifer I guess but I am enjoying every minute of my time. I was lucky that I was able to secure employment in Vancouver straight after my Education degree completion but was then made aware of a job in Richmond. Now here’s where there might be some hate on for me as I did not go through nor know about the proper channels/protocol for applying for teaching jobs. I was going to contact the personnel department but realized that the Superintendent of Richmond, Jack R, was my sister’s former principal from grades 8 – 12 and she had won a couple of scholarships awarded by him. With my sister’s permission, I took it upon myself to contact him directly by name-dropping my sister (not knowing that I was bypassing all channels). I ended up with an interview two days later directly with the principal of the school and received the job. Months later, I was made aware that there were many people who were not impressed with how I got the job and I was taken aback as I didn’t realize I did anything wrong and did feel that I got the job based on qualifications and personality. I can’t go back and change what I did and it was with no malicious intent but if not for Jack R, I would not be teaching in the district that I grew up in, still live in and wholeheartedly relate to. I guess it is true that it really is who you know and not what you know and I am so glad that I knew my sister who knew Jack. Sadly, Jack passed away a few years ago and I never did get to thank him in person but I raise my glass in your honour for giving me the best life gift ever!

November 20 – hockey dad

119/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ve said it several times and I’m not embarrassed to keep admitting it – I have no clue about sports: how to play, what the rules are, how to watch. No clue at all. I mean it’s my second worst category on Trivia Crack – yes, it’s so 2014 but that’s not the point 😉 So when I ended up with the 6 foot 3 uber jock of a son who took up soccer as a youngster, moved on to martial arts and then ice and ball hockey as a teenager, I was definitely way outside my comfort zone. Whether it was a soccer game back in the day or the current hockey games, I would show up to support my son but sit in the stands by myself avoiding any contact with the other parents. I’m sure most, if not all, of the parents thought I was a snob but it was really my unease with not knowing what was going on in the game; thus, it was much easier not having to make small talk about something I had no clue about by just avoiding any conversation. Add to the fact that I would show up in a ¾ length coat, dress shirt, merino sweater, chinos and leather dress shoes while all the other parents were in the typical cold weather gear of down jackets, jeans, boots and toques – yup, I really separated myself! My son has been with the same coaches for the past 4 years now and last season I finally came out of my shell – yes, lots to do with the persistence and effort made by the other parents and well, of course, beer!! Especially on away tournaments, I got to know the parents and most of them now know that I have no clue what is going on but they know that I am there for my son plus I have started wearing ice rink appropriate attire (okay, I am trying – awesome ushanka notwithstanding). I totally appreciate these parents for accepting me as part of the crew and that I am a hockey dad, albeit an atypical hockey dad. Thanks to all of you for making me feel like I belong. I raise a hockey stick in your honour – damn, high sticking, okay I take my place in the penalty box in your honour 🙂

November 19 – friends at any age

118/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I used to like being perceived younger than I was. For the longest time, I hated admitting my age and enjoyed the age guessing game where people were well below my actual “number” (yeah, they could just have been being nice but let me stay ignorantly blissful 🙂 ). I don’t know if I’d necessarily chalk it up to my youthful appearance (and if so, it’s purely genetic and nothing to do with abundance or abstinence of nutrients, substances, topicals etc), rather, it’s my youthful energy. I don’t necessarily feel nor act like the typical 50 year old. I enjoy things because I enjoy them and don’t let my age define my indulgences. Because of this, most of my friends and acquaintances are younger, much younger, than me – some of them almost half my age. Initially, I was uncomfortable with this as I felt like that Grade 12 hanging with Grade 8s but then realized that one’s age should not preclude a friendship because of a genuine liking for a person. One of my current friends is Anthony. He was a former student of mine and we shared a mutual love of movies – we would always compare notes of what films we had seen and talk about the plotlines. Since his graduation of about a decade or more, we kept in touch initially through email but as most friendships go, lost touch over the years. One day as I happen to be on a run, a bicyclist passes me by and then turns around and approaches me again. He waves to me and calls out my name and it was Anthony. We stopped to chat and he took down my information suggesting we hang out to grab a coffee and catch up. Of course, as is also the norm, you don’t expect the person to follow-up (or is it that I’m just pessimistic?? 😉 ) but Anthony gave me a call and we went for coffee. That was about two years ago and we have been catching up here and there whenever our schedules coincide but the talk is less about movies and now more about good books read, relationships and life in general. Yes, of course I was a bit uncomfortable as I felt that it would be a teacher/student dynamic but that has not been the case and Anthony has been a very supportive friend especially during the time that I needed it. Thanks for turning that bike around that day Anthony and keeping the friendship going. In your honour, I read and recommend another book to you!