July 24 – last post: me, myself & I

365/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  This is it.  The end is finally here.  My year-long gratitude journey comes to a close with this final post and to quote that song – I did “Save the Best for Last”.  Yes, that may sound very narcissistic but that’s the entire point of this gratitude post.  It’s about me.  And why can’t one or rather why shouldn’t one recognize themselves.  Take pride in their own accomplishments.  Think highly of themselves.  If you don’t think well of yourself and put yourself first, why should anyone else think any better of you.  I have always done that and never let what was happening in my life change the way I see myself.  Maybe that’s why I’ve gotten through all that life has thrown me and I’ve shown life that I believe in me, and so should everyone else.  I’m far from perfect and I can admit my foibles but they don’t define me – I focus on the positives.  This year long journey has allowed me to become even more comfortable in my own skin – I mean, I got a belly from inactivity this year (through no fault of my own – injuries and sickness) and the Randy of a year ago would have been obsessing over it but today’s Randy is oh well, I’ll work on it.  I went through a relationship crisis that I am still working on but I’m not so consumed that I won’t allow myself to enjoy what life puts in my way at the moment.  I fully embraced aging – denying in my 40s but wearing it proudly in my 50s – I mean I accepted my grey hair finally purple shampoo withstanding 😉  I make fun of myself because I know that I am sometimes not the brightest bulb but I still shine bright (maybe not like a diamond though) : )  I am proud of my ethnicity and no longer denying it.  I admit and own up to my weaknesses and character flaws and am trying to learn to improve myself.  I’ve opened up over the past year.  I’ve shared more than most people share in a lifetime and only then to a few close people.  I’ve alienated people but I’ve also earned the respect of others.  I am strong.  I am weak.  I am bold.  I am nervous.  I want to be accepted.  I want to accept.  I want to be loved.  I want to love.  I want to be respected.  I want to be needed.  I want to be heard.  But with all that, I am so very happy with myself.  I am a good person.  I try hard.  I don’t always succeed but I have a good heart.  Yes, I hurt but that won’t get in the way of me still being me.  I know I’m too much for a lot of people but I’m not going to change for anyone as I love who I am and how I put myself out there.  And I love the people who have stood by me and who support me.  I am me.  I have a lot more to learn about myself and still open up about that 365 days didn’t allow but in the end, what I undertook and finished and who I am as a result is someone I am very proud of!  On this last day, I thank me, myself and I as I am a pretty awesome guy if I don’t say so myself ; )

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July 23 – my wife

364/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Here it is.  The penultimate post.  The one that I wanted to write so many times but wasn’t ready for.  This one is for my wife – Lak.  I have not prepped my wife for this.  Yes, it may be wrong of me but I have to go with my heart.  I know that she is the yin to my yang and thus, this post is not what she would want as she is a very private person but I have been honest and public throughout the year and I have to finish on the same path.  My wife and I had an introduced marriage – not arranged as both of us had a “choice” to say no.  I had met several girls but the moment I saw her, I knew that she was the one.  Unfortunately for her, I was the first guy she met so she really didn’t get a chance to see others.  I know that we both felt pressured to get married – her more so than me and both of us being good children did what we were supposed to (this was the late 80s).  She was only 19 and I was 22 when we ended up getting married.  That first year – in fact the first couple of years – we were like a dating couple trying to get to know each other, figure each other out while being legally married at the same time.  I will say it straight up – I was not the best of husbands.  I was, I guess we both were, children thrown into this situationship but I acted like it; however, Lak was and is the one who could handle it and had/has maturity beyond her years.  I know I didn’t make the marriage easy on her but she sacrificed who she was to make it work and only in the past couple of years have I realized the things she has done to make sure that our home was a home and how she put her own needs after everyone else’s.  Yes, I took things for granted.  She is an amazing mother.  I fully recognize that.  Our daughter is a damn, wonderful young woman and it’s because of Lak and the tight bond that the two of them have and share.  My son, although he likes to pretend mom doesn’t matter, is her baby boy.  He adores her but won’t admit it.  She has been wonderful to them and has always put the kids first.  I know that is said of many mothers but Lak actually does it and I know my daughter realizes it and my son will also once he becomes a young adult and I definitely realize it though I should have acknowledged it more.  Not only is Lak physically stunning – yes, I’ve been told by several people (hundreds in fact) on how beautiful she is and what is she doing with me and yes, that’s a good question – but she is a very kind hearted, generous person to all those around her, a full time working mom (and has been since before the children were born and while they were young – never taking any time off) and a responsible daughter as well as good cousin, sister and friend.  As the years progressed and as does happen in many relationships, ours took a turn for the worse.  The boat that you thought was sailing along smoothly, capsized not as a result of some storm that you could have predicted and planned for but more due to the neglect of the maintenance required for the boat and then just getting used to it and the apathy towards the repairs that were necessary.  The boat tried to right side but would take on a lot of water and thus, we decided to take time apart from each other to reassess the boat itself as a vessel – I moved out.  New uncharted territory for both of us.  I decided to go public about the separation and with my feelings (freshly starting the gratitude posts into the first year of the separation); whereas, Lak wanted to deal with our relationship privately.  In retrospect, I totally understand her reasoning but in the moment, I wasn’t hearing it – something that has been my downfall throughout the almost 30 year relationship.  I definitely could have been a more understanding, more helpful, more there for her, more in tune with her needs type of husband.  Alas, I wasn’t and I apologize for my shortcoming but here we are back in the same space co-parenting our teenage son.  Where is this relationship between the two of us going to go?  I couldn’t even begin to guess.  Today’s post is not meant to be a public apology to undo the past but rather a public acknowledgement of gratitude for you, Lak being a great wife over the years to my not-so-perfect husband.  Thank you for sharing your life with me and wherever our roads lead us – either together on the same one, side by side intersecting here and there or in two opposite directions, I wanted to say I’ve loved sharing the journey and yes, I do love you!

July 6 – oldest niece

347/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’ve been told that I am quite naïve at times and take things very literally at other times missing the subtle sarcasm or subtext.  I’d like to think I’m just very straight forward and expect things to be relayed to me that way as well 😉  I have also been told that I am quite into my looks.  Okay, well, I won’t argue that but if you know my history – and if you have been reading these posts – well, then that personality trait is understandable.  I thought I was one of a kind until my niece Sabrina came along.  I didn’t see the similarities in personality until her own mother, my sister Pam, pointed them out.  From then on, almost everyone commented on how we were similar.  I didn’t take offense to it and I’m hoping Sabrina never did as it has been a running theme/joke whenever the family had gotten together for family gatherings.  Sabrina was born about a year before my daughter so I got a quick education on what parenting as an adult would look like.  In fact, Sabrina did everything a year before my daughter – entered kindergarten, high school, university etc and thus, I also received a cursory overview of what could possibly in store for my daughter and thereby myself.  I enjoyed our easy rapport and definitely our similarities and our uncle/niece bond but alas, as things have happened in my family, Pam and I have become estranged and sadly but understandably Sabrina decided to also cut ties with me in solidarity with her mother.  I hope that someday soon Sabrina remembers the happy times that we all shared as family but especially myself and her and perhaps will decide to rebuild our relationship as individuals rather brother/daughter of a family member but until that time, I wish her well and will always remember the learning that took place for me as I saw her growing up.

June 7 – 50 shades of grey

318/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’m a bit vain.  Yes, I said a bit 😉  It took a lot and a long time to get there but yeah, obsessed with my appearance as an adult is all I can remember.  I definitely know it’s because of the ugly duckling syndrome that I endured as a child and I’m definitely not complaining these days – aren’t I subtle about being the swan today? LOL  But seriously, I have always worried about how I present myself to others and anything to draw a little attention to myself as an adult – in a good way – I did as I was used to drawing attention as a child for the wrong reasons.  Just before the new millennium, I decided to go blonde.  Those of you who know me witnessed that look for a good decade and a half.  I was nervous in the beginning – caramel skinned brown guy going blonde but I went for it and well, strangely it worked for me!  I changed shades – sometimes silver (well before it was a thing), sometimes platinum, sometimes ash – but I kept the blonde as my signature look.  In my 49th year (just under two years ago), I got tired of the trips to the hairdresser for maintenance.  I don’t recall making a conscious effort but just thought I’d let it grow out to see what it looked like.  I cut it short to help the process.  I hated it.  I thought it aged me.  I was forgetting that chronologically, I had already aged.  I remember to this day when the last bit of blonde was cut off the tips and I was fully grey.  Yes, I had gotten used to the grey but I wasn’t happy to have to give up on my wilder ways – I supposed I thought grey meant maturing in personality too, thankfully it didn’t mean that!  The people around me though were great for my ego.  Not a single person told me that grey did not suit me.  I received and still do to this day how my grey flatters me and I need this as on a subconscious level, I wanted to be accepted by others for my appearance and I can admit that. Presently, I have grown out my hair on a dare and have a full on man-bun or a mess of grey curls – sometimes looking like that crazy uncle, or that eccentric, crazy man down the block so I can’t wait to shear it down but I have to thank each and every person who has complimented me on this grey mane.  I know they say that men can rock the grey but I think you also have to accept the grey.  Each of you has made me accept it and allowed me to move into my 50s with dignity and not trying to look like I was desperately trying to hang on to my youth by continuing to dye it blonde.  Thanks for the love!

May 29 – the girl who lived down the street

309/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.   If you’ve been reading these gratitude posts, you’ve probably gleaned that I wasn’t the most confident young man during my pre-teen and teenage years.  Lots of things conspired against me to keep me from reaching my potential in my younger years – so not lovin’ who I was because of my ethnicity (being made fun of) and my weight (being bullied for it) and my nerdy looks (being beat up for it) and my dad’s schizophrenia (being made fun of) but it was just something I got used to but never truly accepted.  There were many reasons why I got through those tough times: my love of listening to music, focus on schoolwork, escape into television, push of my mom etc.  However there was also this person that I would see on my daily walks to school that also helped.  I was fascinated by her.  She lived on the same street as I did and I saw her from my elementary years walking past her house all the way to my university years being at the same bus stop.  I never once spoke to her in all that time even though I was enthralled by her.  Why?  She was probably about 5 years older than me.  She was Indo-Canadian.  She was very Indian.  She wore flowers in her hair.  She had a long braid.  She was heavy-set with a moon face.  She was not Canadian born.  She wore heavy Indian make-up.  She flounced when she walked.  She oozed confidence.  I was stunned by her.  Not her physical beauty as I did not find her attractive – oh wait, Freud might say I did on some subconscious level 😉  Rather, I was inspired by her self-assurance.  At that time, I was ashamed of my ethnicity as I lived in a very white community and had no role models but here was this person who obviously and rightfully so reveled in her heritage.  She was rotund and damn did she own it and did not let it own her.  I remember being at a wedding reception that she, with her family, was also at and my aunt, that mean aunt that I wrote about earlier, was making fun of her and this girl confidently ignored her and tore up the dance floor.  I was stunned!  I was inspired.  I honestly think she, on some subconscious level (yeah, Freud you can have this one), made me accept my fatness and my Indian-ness – I didn’t rock it like she did until much later – and I have her to thank for me finally accepting and rocking what was genetically given to me!

May 19 – the lady at the gym

299/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Do you ever have moments when something clairvoyant-like takes place and you are trying to get an understanding of the logic behind it?  The other day I was thinking of a woman that I would run into back in my 20s and 30s when I used to work out at Fitness World.  I was wondering whatever happened to her.  She was a Punjabi woman who was well over my mom’s age (probably by a decade or more).  I was fascinated by her because first she was working out lifting weights.  Second, she had short cropped hair – growing up Indo-Canadian, all females sported long hair and older women had auntie-buns – but not her.  Third, she was made up to the nines (yes, she was working out but damn, she did it in style).  Fourth, her English, although accented, was impeccable.  I recall her sitting on a bike next to me striking up a conversation with me and of course, small world – she knew my mom and my extended family.  She started giving me hugs when I would be at the gym and I met her once at the temple where she just grabbed me and told my mom that I was her other son and we had only talked casually.  I admired her and how she really got me to see older Indian woman in a different light than what I was used to growing up.  The evening after she had popped into my head earlier this week, my mom phoned and asked me if I remember a woman who used to work out at the gym.  I was floored as I told her that I was just thinking about her.  My mom got all quiet and then told me that she had just gone to her husband’s funeral that day and that she (this lady) was asking about her “son” (me)!  To say I was weirded out would be an understatement.  I guess I also affected her on some level.  I made a promise to my mom that in the upcoming weeks I would make a trip to her place to give my condolences but also to connect with her.  I am very fortunate that a lot of good people have come into my life over the years to get me to think about life and this lady is one of those people.  Thank you for allowing me to see (Indo-Canadian) women of my mom’s generation and older as productive, vital, independent and lively rather than what I was shaped to see them as through my interactions in a patriarchal cultural.  I look forward to our reunion where I can tell you this in person.

May 18 – i’m runner-up

298/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  New workplaces are tough.  No matter how competent one is, there is still that feeling of stepping into unfamiliar surroundings and being judged because you are the new person.  I worked at my old school for a good 16 years getting very comfortable and having my own “place” and not realizing I needed a change until I actually did it.  I ended up at UBC for three years and then have been in my current teaching role at McNair Secondary for four years.  Being at this new school has had its challenges and rewards as you would have realized from some of these gratitude posts.  If not for a select few people that I met and bonded with, I would have found a different work environment.  Yes, I absolutely love working with the students at the school – diversity personified but what puts any job over the top for me are the co-workers.  My first year, I was trying to find my place with the staff and that is when I met Dave; however, we have become better friends and colleagues as the years have progressed.  What drew me to Dave were two things: first off, he is one of the absolute nicest guys I have ever met.  He sees/can find the good in everyone and has on several occasions got me to rethink my perceptions as I just have evil tinted glasses 😉  But seriously, he has a perspective that has really had influence on me especially coming into a new environment.  The second reason and oh so more importantly, Dave has immaculate fashion sense!!  I have never been second to any man when it comes to fashion; however, here I am at McNair and I’m runner up – yup, I feel your pain Miss Colombia!  He’s one of the first guys that I have asked about shoes!  LOL Yes people it’s 2016 and we metrosexuals (that’s so 1994!! 😉 ) can talk about clothing and I can admit it when a guy has impeccable style and Dave so does.  On a serious note though, we have talked educational philosophies and I’ve been enlightened by him on a number of occasions and I am very glad to call him my friend and so glad that I work with him.  Thank you Dave for bringing me into the fold, checking in on me, stopping by in my class to share teacher stories and for just being an all around awesome guy!  We should all be so lucky to have co-workers like you!

May 15 – redefining aging

295/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  So I’ve passed 50.  That was almost 10 months ago.  I gotta get over it 😉  I’m that guy who now has to check the box “50 and above” and accept it.  What has made this journey easy – wait, that is not the word, hmmm, what has made this journey acceptable is some of the amazing 50 plussers out there paving the way.  The one that comes to mind is Dee.  I honestly can’t remember where I met Dee the first time (and I don’t think I made an impact that first time) which would have been a decade or more ago but I know it was at some gym setting.  I never spoke with her as far as I can remember and had I not joined up at Makifit, I would never have made her acquaintance and got to know her.  I think Dee is one of the most amazing women I know.  I don’t want to guess at her age as that would be very uncouth but Dee rocks it.  I see her at the gym and she is giving it all and I am inspired.  Everytime she sees me, regardless of how sweaty I am, she yells out my name and gives me the biggest hug possible.  I have vowed that when I finally cut off this man-bun, Dee, the hairstylist, will be the one to chop it off – I mean, she convinced me about a month ago when I was at my wit’s end with my hair that I wasn’t ready to let go and you know what, she was right – I need to let this hair flow and I’m loving it now all because she told me to stick with it.  I am amazed by Dee’s vitality and love of life and love for people.  I have only ever connected with her at the gym but I can tell that she is just as awesome outside of that arena.  I hope that when I am Dee’s age (in about two years as she’s probably just my age 😉 ) that I am as connected, as fit, as loving, as energetic, as inspiring, as amazing as she is.  You have made me appreciate aging as you don’t have to give into it but rather take control of it and redefine what it means to age and because of you, I am going to do just that!

May 3 – (gym) friends

283/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I am that guy who has a monthly $5 Fitness World membership.  Yes, I got it way back when I was 19 years old and it has never increased in dues.  I am also that guy who had not gone to Fitness World in a good 4 years because I joined another gym/dojo and can’t give up the $5 membership.  Yup, I am that guy!!  Today, after 5 months (due to an injury), I ended up back at Makifit.  I needed to as I have packed on the pounds.  For the past week or so, I have been dreading coming back as I have always been in decent shape working out at Makifit but not this time.  But one thing I have at the gym is so many supporters.  I got messages and posts psyching me up for today from fellow members.  As soon as I got there, gym friends recent and long-time – actually let’s just call them friends because that is what they have become – gave me hugs and high fives and welcomed me back.  All of them supporting me.  Owner and the class trainer also giving me props for returning and getting my fitness back on.  During the workout, my friends kept motivating me and telling me that I can finish.  Yes, I stopped several times during many of the exercises as I couldn’t complete the required number or my back or thighs hurt and that bothered me as I don’t usually give up but I persevered and got through the class.   I am not happy with the shape I am in at present but I am going to get back on track and I know it will take me time but with the support and motivation of my friends at the gym,  I know I can once again be me.  I am glad not only to have these people around while I work out but many of them have become social companions and I am even happier to have that bond.  Thank you to all the people I work out with for the laughs, the support, the motivation, the commiserating, but most importantly the friendship!  Glad to be back!

April 3 – skin to skin

253/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Most of my friends are white.  Yeah, I said it.  I’ve been told that I have sold out as I don’t hang with my own kind?!!  Wow, that’s a whole lot of subtleties in one statement!  My question – how does one sell out their own ethnicity??  That doesn’t make any sense to me.  Just because a lot of my friends are white means I have left my ethnicity behind?  Uhm, no.  I have similarities with people who enjoy the same thing as me and the majority just happen to be of a different skin colour than my own.  As well, I don’t consciously choose my friends based on skin colour – I choose them based on looks (LOL, I kid, I kid).   I actually have very cool Indian friends.  And Chinese friends.  And Filipino friends.  And Black friends.  And white friends too.  Finally, I wasn’t raised very Indian even though I came from an Indian family.  No fault of my own.  I am being true to myself – not denying my ethnicity.  My soul sister who I believe totally gets me is Orene.  This awesome, funky, cool, stunning black girl understands that your outside skin colour doesn’t define who you are as a person.  We became friends about 15 years ago but were not as close as we are over the last year or so.  Because of other friendship dynamics, we didn’t really keep in touch with each other personally as sides were taken over friendship breakups but we always were on the same side of friendship ourselves and reconnected over Facebook.  Even that connection was slightly superficial so we took it upon ourselves to meet for lunch which turned out to be an afternoon of craft beers and Top Model posing on the streets sometime last year.  We then started bonding over our love of The Walking Dead and Orphan Black and bringing back others into our fold that we had also lost touch with.  Orene is honestly another sister from another mister as she gets what it is like to be a person who is defined by most others by your outside skin colour but really colour really has nothing to do with who we are except that we are human beings that should be seen as that first.  We are both fortunate that we have the majority of people in our lives who fall in the latter category and see us for who we are and not our stunning complexions 😉  Orene is also just a great ego booster for me – I can do no wrong in her eyes but on those rare occasions, she tells me like it is.  But I gotta boost her ego – she is an amazing mom and creates amazing clothing for herself and her kids as well as a fashion bag line while still working outside the home.  Yeah, she does it all.  I am so very glad we reconnected and even more glad that I am sharing tonight’s Walking Dead finale with you and yours!!  To our continued friendship Orene!!