June 3 – bottoms up

314/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. If you know me personally, contrary to what you may think, I did not start drinking alcohol until my early to mid 20s – yes, surprise, surprise! It just never interested me. My dad rarely drank and my mom never did. Yes, I had uncles who did but their love of Crown Royal and Johnny Walker did not filter on down to me. Thus during family parties, I never drank as I was not fond of the drinks of choice and I absolutely hated the taste of beer. When I did imbibe, it was usually sweet drinks such as coolers but those weren’t even on the radar of my relatives. Fast forward to my mid 30s and friends introduced me to the fact that you could make amazing drinks called cocktails and martinis and alcohol didn’t have to taste bitter! I still didn’t like getting drunk for the sake of getting drunk – yes, it would happen on the odd occasion but that was and has never been my intention.   Jump into my early 40s and because of my wife’s work parties, and the fact that I had a few female teacher friends, I was introduced to the world of wine.   At first, I just drank Merlots. Then I took a course on wine-tasting and then another and the gentleman running it introduced me on how to properly enjoy wine. I now know what I do like and what I don’t all under $20!! Finally, in my late 40s, I discovered craft beer. It wasn’t very much to my liking initially but I soldiered on. Three years later and I am a connoisseur – I know my IBUS, I know the different from a sessional and a saison, I know what a small batch is – I feel cultured 😉 All thanks to some really cool male friends. As I enter into my 50s, who knows who will influence my choice of beverages but if I was a betting man, I think I will be introduced to the world of Scotches and Bourbons. Thank you to all the people who have refined my palate to be a sophisticated drinker rather than one who drinks just for the sake of it! Cheers to you!

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June 1 – strike a pose

312/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  After last night’s emotional, heartfelt and quite draining post, tonight’s is much more subdued and light.  When I was in high school, the classes that I enjoyed the most were some of my electives such as Art and Photography.  I remember taking my first and only photography class at Richmond High in the early 80s.  Mr Waber was my teacher.  The cameras back then had nothing on all the technological advances of today – I mean the word filter was before the fact, not after as it is today 😉  And selfie??  Not even on the horizon LOL.  Editing software – future language!!  I digress, back to Mr Waber.  He started us off with a pin-hole tin can camera and I fell in love instantly with photography as I ended up with an amazing photo because of the perspective it gave.  We had different themes for various assignments and I spent my time engaged in the work.  After that class, unfortunately I never touched a camera except for the occasional family pictures, never for artistic escape.  For most of my life, I wanted to get back into taking pictures and share them but because I was concerned as to whether I had talent and a keen eye, I shied away from it and of course, life just kept getting in the way and I made any excuse to avoid taking up photography again until just recently.  My daughter was enrolled in photo class in her high school and she exceled (winning top photo student).  Her pictures were amazing as she had an amazing digital camera.  Her teacher inspired her as had mine.  I decided then that I would start taking pictures but with my cell phone – this way I could blame it on the equipment if I really had no talent 😉  However, if you know me, you know that I don’t do anything half-heartedly – I put my heart into it and well, I certainly did with photography.  I decided to take a picture a day for a year with monthly themes and post them on Instagram – that was in 2014 and here I am in 2016 three years later and still continuing with that project!!  I have done a month of tattoos which entailed going up to complete strangers and asking to take a picture of their tattoo – I loved that month as I got to hear their stories.  I went around for a month and hunted graffiti which got me out of my neck of the woods but then one month I spent an entire in my city of Richmond taking shots.  I have taken pictures of my martini creations for a month – I had to suffer through and drink them each day (the sacrifices I make for my art 😉 ).  One of the strangest monthly themes involved going up to men and taking pictures of 31 different beards – I was only rejected once!  Thank you for Mr Waber for the initial spark and thank you to all of you who have commented about my photography as it has been a great diversion in life as well as being a way to allow me to express myself and share another part of myself with people.

March 29 – nod ya head

248/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  After 4 months of no exercise whatsoever due to broken ribs and a punctured and then collapsed lung, I finally ventured out for my first form of cardio – a run, no wait, jog, no wait, let’s be honest – it was a trudge.  But even before beginning, I came down the stairs and my daughter asked if I was going out dressed like that.  Yes, a stuffed sausage has nothing on me in my running shirt now that I’ve packed on a good 10+ pounds but that wasn’t what she was referring to.  I queried – shirt too tight, man-bun not on fleek, too bright shoes???  Then my son jumped in and said “it’s your stripper shorts”!!  I was quite taken aback – they were mid too low thigh on the mannequin but they were well above on me.  My 6’3” son offered me his basketball-type shorts and I came down in them and both of them laughed and remarked that even those on me were above my knees and I was wearing them well low on my hips.  Yes, surprisingly 5’10” of me is all long limbs but a very short torso 😦  So with my ego not so intact, I make my way outside and was about to quit for the second time.  Even though it was sunny, it was deceivingly chilly around 7pm; however, I mustered the courage and head out.  The 5 km that had in the past taken me about 20 – 25 minutes tonight took an hour and for the third time, I was ready to just turn back into the first ½ km.  But that’s when it happened – the nod and smile.  It’s some kind of greeting code between runners that I had no clue about until well into my 3rd or 4th year of running – I mean, the first time it happened to me, I thought the person knew me and so I stopped and turned around to engage but they kept running.  The second time it happened (and okay, let’s be honest, a couple of subsequent times), I thought I was being hit on – damn, I could really be into this running thing!  LOL  Then I realized that almost everyone who was a solitary runner gave some form of that “nod and smile greeting” be it a wink and nod (hey, that definitely looks like flirting LOL) or a wave and nod.  So tonight, just as I was about to quit – my breathing would have been the envy of any Lamaze coach – a female runner going in the opposite direction gave me all the encouragement I needed:  the nod and smile.  No, I did not pick up my speed.  Yes, I did stop a couple of times for rest breaks.  No, I did not make the lights – on purpose.  Yes, an older guy passed me as did the kid on his tricycle.  But that runners greeting that has been getting me through about 2 decades of jogging/running worked its wonders again.  Thank you to my fellow runners for giving me the fortitude to get through my run not only tonight but each and every time I go out.  I nod and smile back at you!

March 7 – the first time

226/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I have said it before and I’ll say it again tonight, for some odd reason, I can and do get along rather easily with people decades (yes decades) my junior. I could never have fathomed in my late 20s/early 30s having something to talk about, let alone hanging out and socializing, with someone in their late 40s/just turned 50 yet it happens and I’m the 50 year old. About 15 years ago, I met Lindsay at the school I was teaching at. She was the PE/Home Ec teacher – fresh and new to teaching. I saw a kindred spirit and got to talking with her in the lunchroom. The first year, it was just superficial talk – reality tv (Top Model viewing parties), teaching woes, and just jokes with other staff members. Over the next year, I really got to know Lindsay and became good friends with her. I was the first co-worker that she shared her “truth” with on a walk one afternoon. I was honoured that she felt comfortable to tell me about her self. I shared other firsts with her over the years. I got to know her well enough to be able to let go and do my first keg-stand at a party at her place. I got my first tattoos with her one afternoon when we decided to mark monumental events by marking our bodies. I remember my first foray into Facebook all because of Lindsay – she was on it and introduced me to it so I guess you know who to blame!!! 😉 I felt honoured when Lindsay and her partner Michelle invited my wife and I to her wedding – and I remember that night because there were jello shots and free flowing wine and I couldn’t partake as I was on yet another 30 day withdrawal challenge! Lindsay has been a great friend over the years regardless of the age difference and yes, life does get in the way of connecting as we age and move on to other chapters of our lives but I am glad that through Facebook, I can keep in touch with her and get together on the odd time that our lives allow us to. Thank you Lindsay for all the firsts I have shared with you over the years!!

January 27 – i hide it well today

187/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. For as long as I can remember, I have been overweight/fighting a weight problem. In elementary school, my mom could not find belts to fit me and I had to resort to wearing suspenders to hold my pants up 😦 In high school, I was 250 pounds and all of it fat which definitely contributed to being bullied. I didn’t learn how to eat well and thus ate anything that tasted good but wasn’t definitely good for me – I mean, I recall eating spoons of salted butter or the fatty rinds of pork chops and my favourite part of KFC was the skin and potato salad. I guess I really didn’t help my own cause. I also remember my mom making me workout (squats for half an hour or running around the yard for half an hour) before she’d let me eat – many times I just gave up and didn’t get dinner. Although cruel, I understand that she was trying to help me out in her own way – not great parenting but hey, it is what it is. With a crazy late start to puberty (yup, Grade 11 – oh how the Gods must have been having a heyday with me!!), I ended up shedding the observable excess weight just before entering university; however, I still had chunk and could and did easily put on the pounds because I still knew nothing about nutrition and healthy eating. Because of the pre-Internet era, I would only catch information through television and the one show that I did watch was “20/20”. I happened to catch and episode on meat-processing which started my vegetarian ways 23 years ago. In the last decade or so, I have given over to watching the occasional documentaries and reading about food online which has helped me to maintain my weight – I’ve been able to curb refined sugar significantly, jump into veganism but quickly jump back out, give up wheat for a while (William Davis), try the 25 mile eating plan, think about McDs and what it did to my body (Morgan Spurlock) and even get into juicing (Joe Cross). As I sit and write this, I am on day 4 of a juice cleanse (but let’s be real, it’s a liquid diet) – I’m doing it to reset my body as I have been making poor choices and have gained weight especially since my injury and not being able to work out. I am very grateful that these documentarians have shared their journeys and influenced mine as without knowing about their experiences, I would not be changing mine. To all the healthy eaters that I have read about via blogs and books and that I have seen on through documentaries and testimonials, I raise my ginger, beet, tangerine and kale juice in your honour – here’s to getting back to my summer weight!

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!