July 22 – U

363/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Wow, only 3 more gratitude posts left including this one!!  When I started this journey a year ago, I was a little nervous as to if I would have 365 people to thank.  I didn’t want it to come down to posts such as thanking my mailman for the flyers he delivers in that they were the ones that led me on to some awesome deal!! ; )  Early on in these posts, I started hearing from friends that so and so had made “the list”.  I didn’t understand what that was until I was told that it was my “gratitude list”.  That put some pressure on me to say the least as there was now a “list”.  I didn’t want it to be a list and I didn’t want it to be some type of contest.  Then I heard that some people mentioned they were in the 80s and others were in the 200s!  I do have to make it clear that I haven’t had an order as to who I thank and thus whatever number gratitude post it was has no relation to ranking.  Most posts are the night before or a couple of days before.  Yes, I saved my dad for his birthday as I did with my children for theirs, my mom was first because well she is my mom but save for them and the final two gratitude posts, no one had a day or a number.  The list by the end of Sunday is far from complete.  I could thank another 365 people who got me to where I am today and this is what today’s gratitude post is about – to all of the people I didn’t name and there are hundreds of you that have impacted me!  So many former students, co-workers past and present, family members, inlaws, bosses, professors, fellow students, random strangers, neighbours past and present, friends, backhanded gratitudees (bullies and the like), service providers, celebrities etc, etc – just so many people who have made me who I am and to all of you un-named in this past year, you are part of this gratitude journey just because you were not personally mentioned here doesn’t mean you weren’t recognized by me.  To all the new people that will come in to my life, thanking you in advance as some of you will change and influence me in new ways.  Thank you to all of you who came along with me on this 365 day journey as well.  Your encouragement and support has gotten me to this end point.

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July 8 – bros in law

349/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Some of these posts would have been written earlier in my 365 day journey but because of life circumstances, I wasn’t in the mental place to write them because of my personal situationship!  However, almost a year later, I am in a better place and acknowledge people who did impact me positively prior to the life events of the last few years.  I have four brothers-in-law.  Two are married to my sisters.  Two are my wife’s brothers.  I’ve talked about one of my sister’s husband already.  Tonight, it’s about my wife’s brothers.  I met Jujar and Surinder almost 25 years ago at the various pre-wedding functions that take months and months at Indian weddings! 😉 Jujar one year my senior and Surinder one year my junior.   I was excited as I had instant brothers!  I only had sisters all my life so it was cool to have these two new guys.  The two of them are pretty much exact opposites.  Jujar, the one with the cool name (nickname Ju) that I had never heard of (even to this day), is calm, easy-going, laid back and takes life as it comes.  I chuckle to myself when I think about first meeting him and his afro – but I am one to talk about hairstyles!! 😉  I can say that I have rarely, if ever, seen Ju get upset or fazed by anything.  I mean, he could have 20 extended family members show up at his house and decide they are going to spend the night and he just gets the air mattresses ready as if it’s no big deal (and to him, it isn’t) and we have an impromptu motel for the night!  Surinder is the guy who lives for the moment.  For as long as I have known him, every year he and his family are vacationing in some amazing destination that I have only dreamed of.  He makes time for his family when he can which is understandable when one is living in Texas.  He brings a sense of fun and frivolity when the families get together.  It has been great having these guys as brothers-in-law – all three of us very different, but all three of us learning from one another.

June 19 – father figure

330/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  It’s dad’s day.  The day when male role models/caregivers/fathers/father figures are being recognized for their part.  Yes, I’m the first to say that moms are way important overall for children but if the dad is in the picture, he also matters and makes a difference.  Dads can be grand-dads and uncles, brothers and cousins especially in this day and age.  For all those fathers out there that may not be in their kids’ lives daily but do try, kudos to you.  For all those awesome fathers who are there for their kids, same on you.  And for those guys who are stepping up and being “dad” (whatever that may mean), well major props for you.  Yes, I’m second fiddle to my kids’ mom and I totally understand that bond.  My kids don’t necessarily appreciate me in the same way and I get it – especially with the angsty teenager – oh how I miss those elementary days with hand-made crafts and big hugs 😉   However, I was the same way and didn’t realize the value of my dad until much later.  Yes, he wasn’t around literally and figuratively but he did the best he could given his circumstances.  Thank you to him and to all the uncles who stepped in and helped out my mom to get us raised.  Most of you were not “real” uncles in the traditional sense of the word as you were more friends of the family or distant relatives but you were at times more real than my biological uncles and I truly appreciate you being there for assisting the family.  This one also goes out to my mom who was my dad for most of that time – took on both roles and yes, it was tough but you did the best you could and that’s not forgotten.  I know I’m not the best of dads by far as I didn’t have a consistent father figure to model myself but I try.  Hopefully one day, I have the same fatherly connections that I see out there in the social media world and will eventually measure up to my kids’ expectations but until then, I will keep on keeping on and try to get this dad thing right!  Cheers to all the dads!

May 4 – brothers in arms

284/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As many of you know, I’m brotherless – only male child out of three for my parents.  Every one of my male cousins has a brother or brothers and at times I have been envious of them as yes, I do miss not having the brotherly bond that I assume is present.  Of my male cousins, there are two that I am closest to even though I only see them every year or so but do consider them like my younger brothers – really younger brothers as Inder is 12 years my junior and Terry is 14 years younger.  The nice thing is that when we do see each other, we have a simple affinity towards each other that has not wavered over the years even though we may not see each other for long periods of time.  Being their older cousin, I didn’t get to bond with them in the typical way cousins do as I was in my late teens when they were younger but I would still play games, be a judge for dress-ups, watch their routines etc.  We became much better friends and relatives as they entered their teens and got married and had children as our commonalities multiplied.  Although we have not talked about life and issues – I think that’s a brother thing!! – we understand that each of us has been through tough times and respect each other and are there for each other in spirit.   Not having a brother(s) kinda sucks but at least having Inder and Terry as cousins gives me a feeling of what it would be like to have them.  Love you guys!  Glad you are my cousins!

April 9 – i was a frat boy

259/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Guaranteed you did not know this about me:  I was a frat boy!  Yup, Delta Kappa Epsilon – the Dekes!  This was my dream as I was growing up.  I watched tv shows (American tv shows) and saw sororities and fraternities and wanted to be a part of the brotherhood.  Growing up geeky, awkward and friendless and then becoming that proverbial swan upon entrance into university, I did what any shunned person did – focused on my looks and used them for popularity!  Okay, I kid but yeah, I lost all the baby fat and decided to rush fraternities during my first year as a joke not thinking I was going to be a pledge.  But think again and there it was – Delta Kappa Epsilon took me.  From loser high school boy to popular first year pledge with instant friends in all years of Commerce (my degree) and high fives all over campus, I was in heaven because up until I never was accepted by my peers and so I ate this attention up.  Yes, I was the ethnic quotient for the fraternity as there was no other Indo-Canadian brother but I didn’t consider that – I was in.  I went through initiation and all was awesome until I started failing classes left, right and center (yes, 3 classes in first year).  Was told by my Commerce advisor that either I focused on my degree and leave the fraternity or change my degree and stick with my brotherhood.  Hardest decision ever but I went for education over brotherhood and yes, getting out of a fraternity is no easy task.  I’d like to think and am going to think that my stint there was because they liked me and what I brought and the me of 30 years ago needed that so bad and thus, I will never forget the Dekes for letting me be on the inside and popular as that was all I longed for growing up and I finally got it.  Do I wish I stayed on?  Hell yes but it wasn’t meant to be but that initial acceptance boosted my confidence like no other experience before that and for that, I am forever grateful – thank you my brothers from Delta Kappa Epsilon for changing me from that moment on and letting me believe in myself!

April 4 – i’m finally not the oldest!

254/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’ll just say it – I hate being the oldest.  All my life I have had to set the bar and through both conscious and subconscious pressure, I have set it very high so that my siblings and cousins had something to aspire for (or so I thought).  So many times I wished that I had an older sibling or cousin who I could look to for guidance but unfortunately for me, I was the oldest.  I have a sister two years younger than me.  I have another sister 15 years my junior – yes, 15!!  The cousins who were born in Canada and that I grew up with are 7 to 16 years younger than me.  In my 30s, my mom’s sister’s family emigrated to Canada and along came a few more cousins.  These ones were older but I was still oldest.  It was contested that my cousin Gurmit who was born in the season of harvest was older according to my grandmother as she had heard about his birth in India and then recalls my birth in Canada but harvest season is probably after this Leo baby.  However, I recall going to the motherland when I was 18 for four months – yes, when your parents take you out of school for a trip to India (and for me, it was out of university), it was for an entire semester!  My mom took me to probably marry me off – LOL, I kid (although I was hot property back then and had a lot of offers – I didn’t want an ESL tag-along!!).  So I was dragged along to countless homes and met cousins that I had heard about and finally, finally I was younger than two!!  My dad’s niece Baljit – stunning beauty – was about 3 years my senior.  She literally and figuratively took me under her shoulder and I let her.  First time I let go and was able to be someone who had an older sibling (re-read my earlier post about cousins being sibling in Indo-Canadian culture).  Although I was 19, she took care of me like her younger baby brother doting on me.  I let it happen because I so wanted to look up to someone and let go of having to be the oldest and role model and whatever else came with it.  A similar thing happened when I met my mom’s nephew Amarjit.  Handsome and having the same stutter as me.  Also 3 years my senior.  He took me on his motorcycle to various sites and kept me within arm’s reach and looked out for his Canadian cousin whenever we were out in public as I didn’t really know what I was getting into.  Although I only met them briefly that first time in India, they made an indelible impression on me that has been everlasting and they allowed me breathing time away from being role-model and just revel in the fact that I could be the younger one looking to my older siblings/cousins for guidance.  I have never forgotten that trip and they will never know how comforting it was to have them for those 4 months and have an experience I longed for all my life for however brief it was.  Thank you Baljit and Amarjit for being my older cousins and just making me feel that much more at ease and allowing me to be me without having to be an example for others.

April 1 – PE boyz in da hood

251/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I have never been and never will be a jock in this lifetime or any life time.  I accept it.  It’s not me.  Would I have loved to be a jock – hellz yes!  However, I accept my place.  I had also accepted my place that I would never hang with jocks.  Definitely didn’t happen in my teen years in high school and really didn’t happen at university unless you count my stint in a fraternity (and yes, a gratitude post in that respect is upcoming).  I always was the guy on the outside looking in.  I so wanted to be a part of the athlete crowd but I wasn’t even in with the mathlete crowd – that’s how nerdy I was.  I resigned myself to just me being me.  However, a crazy thing happened once I became a teacher.  I became fast friends with the PE boyz!  Who would have figured??  Almost no one!!  I can recall the Home Ec teacher questioning how I was friends with all the PE guys and although I laughed it off, I often wondered myself.  I am nothing like the guys – they being … well, they being jocks and me being me.  I got invited to hang with them in their office, share jokes, beer nights, poker nights, and that was at my old school.  At my present school, I hang with a few from two different schools.  I guess I had placed the PE boyz on some other-worldy pedestal – one that was out of reach for me growing up but those were the dumb jocks back in the day who were bullies.  These guys are awesome grown men who don’t judge someone for their (lack of) athletic ability but rather for what one brings to the table in terms of personality, humour and character.  I am so glad that these PE guys have accepted me (and others) in their fold and I have been able to have great friendships with them over the years and continue to do so.  Thank you to Matt G, Jon A, Dom M, Trevor H, Adam T, Matt W, Wayne N, and any others I may have forgotten who have brought me into a group of guys that I wouldn’t normally be a part of!

241/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Rarely am I not the one leading a group – teaching classes, running a workshop, head of a committee – but every once in a while I find myself in the role of a student. Yes, completing my Masters almost a decade ago, I was in that role the entire time but since then, it has been sporadic but I do on occasion need to be the one sitting and listening not only in order for me to learn things and be enlightened but also to remind myself about what it is to be a student and take into account the teaching style of the instructor. Sadly, most people who have something to say don’t really know how to say it – basically don’t know how to instruct but that was not the case with Ian. During my masters, I took a workshop for my own benefit on the advice of one of my instructors and to work on my own personal development. I was hesitant but decided to go through with it. The “class” had several people in it who shared their journeys but me, being the quasi-academic, was wary and sceptical. However, Ian made it into a very comfortable environment and had a laid back but caring style. He also led the group by sharing personal examples of which I am quite a fan in my own teaching. After the workshop was over, I kept in touch with Ian over the years with the occasional email/Facebook message and with that “we should get together for a beer” type of message. However, Ian being the genuine, true friend that he is kept his end of the deal and we do get together for beers/lunch every so often (like today). He is one of my cool, tatted, funky, pierced buddies and I am glad to call him my friend as he has a way of putting me at ease and just having fun.   I now understand how some of my former students are friends with me as once you become friends, the hierarchies of how people initially meet fall apart as the true foundation of friendship is cemented. Thanks for being a great friend over the years and hey, Randy & Handy or Handy & Randy is an awesome moniker as well 🙂

February 13 – the brown boys

204/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Yesterday, I wrote about the white boys – most of them in my senior Marketing class and today it’s about the brown boys, most of them in my junior Marketing class. As I’ve made mention on social media, the school I am presently at has the most ethnically diverse population of all the schools in the district I work in. Blacks, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Brazilians, Chinese, Whites, Indians – the list goes on and I absolutely love the diversity in my classes. Being Indo-Canadian and growing up and presently living in a predominantly white/Caucasian area, I’m always a little taken aback when I find myself with a lot of other Indians as I know deep down it’s because I don’t think I will/do measure up to my own ethnic background. This new semester, I find myself in a class of 30 students of which 17 are of Indian nationality (7 girls 10 boys) and 7 of those boys and 4 girls are of the same ethnic/cultural heritage as myself (Punjabi Sikh – although I don’t really practice the faith). I was overwhelmed and the boys have already commented on the fact that I’m not very Indian – at first, I took this as slight disrespect but I couldn’t really argue the fact but as the days have progressed, I can see that it wasn’t meant that way and they are joking with me as I walk by in the halls and asking me about career-related and life advice – I am being accepted. This is so very strange to me to be somewhat of a role-model to these young men that I have very little in common with except for my skin colour. One of them remarked that I am not like the other Indian male teachers at the school as this is my only and main job – LOL, because like the stereotype, a few of those other teachers build homes/develop properties on the side (or is it teaching on the side 😉 ). I am so very excited to have these boys in the class as I know they will learn a lot about the subject area but I also hope I can give them a different take on what it is to be an Indo-Canadian male and I also hope to learn from them to understand my own Indo-Canadian teenage boy. Cheers to a very different classroom make-up that will allow for all sorts of learning to take place.

February 7 – sports, sports, sports

198/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. So it’s Superbowl Sunday – does absolutely nothing for me except maybe the half-time show and the lead-out show (the one right after the game) but even those this year aren’t anything spectacular. However, I do wish I was one of those guys who was a super-fan. I will be honest, I am envious of the camaraderie/brotherhood and the whole spectacle of the game but I know nothing about football – its plays or the teams. I tried watching it last year because well Seattle was in it to defend their championship (is that even the right term?) but I really couldn’t get into it. So who am I actually thanking in this gratitude post – sports fans for showing me what I am missing out on. This post does get me a bit down due to the fact that I never got into sports of any kind let alone football (you know what kind of Hockey Dad I am if you’ve read my previous blogs!!). I wished I was an athletic kid so that I had played sports or had a dad around to watch sports with or was even put into sports against my will but none of that happened. I could say that the lack of sports has shaped me into the man I am today and that is very true but when it comes to days such as playoffs, championships, finals – I want to be on the inside if not on the bandwagon, even just hanging on but alas, I am not even running after it, I’m on a different street in another city altogether not knowing the locale of said bandwagon 😦 So yes, I am a unique individual but not happy about lacking sports knowledge and some days I wish I was just like the rest of them – the sports fan brethren. To all sports fans, here’s me from the outside looking in with great admiration and jealousy at something I have never been a part of and probably never will be.