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 18 – Pokemon Go indeed!

359/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  This post was never supposed to happen.  I rarely play tablet/phone games except for Trivia Crack and Songplay.  They are fine.  They have not consumed my life.  I didn’t get the intrigue of any type of gaming apps until last week.  I downloaded Pokemon Go.  Actually, I didn’t.  We didn’t have it here in Canada.  I just put a random query as to how to get it and my grade 12 graduate of this year, Sam, sent me the link.  I got on and I got hooked.  I have never connected with random strangers in person as I have with this app.  First of all, I actually want to go and walk my dog.  Before this, I would hope that my children or my wife had walked him.  In the last week, I have taken him – and sometimes on two walks!!  I have gone up to places and when I realized that there were teenagers there Pokemon-ing, I pretended to text while in fact I’m catching one!  Today was surreal.  I was at elementary preschool and the little kids figured out very quickly what I was doing while waiting to let them into the school.  I had a swarm around me giving me advice and what to do and what not to do.  The instant connection.  I have seen them for the last two weeks but this Pokemon Go phenomenon just brought me down to a relatable level for them.  Then, this afternoon, I am walking through Steveston Park (with my dog Shadow) and a few teenagers are on a bench.  As I approach them cell phone in hand, they immediately ask – “Pokemon Go?!”  and I look up and smile and a conversation happens.  This would never have happened if not for this game.  I would just have passed them and they wouldn’t ever have acknowledged me but here it is – generations connecting.  Plus, as alluded to earlier, I want to be out and about.  On the weekend, sitting with a friend beering and I am Pokemoning and the server is all enthralled and I keep her updated as to how many Pokemons I have caught (13 in a 90 minute stint at that table!!!).  Yes, this gratitude post was never on my horizon but in one week, I am sparking conversations with random strangers of all ages (okay, all ages below mine) as are they with me.  Thank you Pokemon Go creators for a game that allows me to be active and interactive inter-generationally with others at my age of almost 51!

July 17 – save the last dance

358/365 -people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I am the type of guy who thinks that everything in life will always work out.  The philosophy that I employ in my teaching life is that I, as teacher, am not there to mold students but to rather unfold them as they bring to my class (and to me) a sense of who they are.  Education is not to indoctrinate but to introduce.   I feel that I and my colleagues are there to get students to enjoy something about school and to try and reach a potential – not necessarily their full potential but to start on it.  That has been mindset when it comes to my students and perhaps that is naïve on my part but that’s what I believe and I have met many of them as adults and see how they are living their lives and I’m really happy for them as they are on that path.  Earlier this year, and don’t judge me here, I, with a buddy, ended up at an, ahem, a gentlemen’s club.  We just walked in on a lark and ended up at the stage – let me repeat, don’t judge 😉  We are having beers and talking to each other and sadly, which is normally the case, not paying much attention to the entertainment.  As I’m engaged, I hear “Mr Sangha?  Is that you?”  8/ I was in shock.  I looked up and I immediately recognized A!!  I had taught her more than a decade ago in grade 12 and well, here she was – uhm, in all her glory – on stage.  I could not look at her and she sensed my unease and comfort.  My buddy was in shock – no doubt as I was stunned beyond belief.  I sat there, consciously avoiding any inadvertent gaze at the stage because to me, my former students are perpetually 17 and 18.  A finished her set and robed up and came right up to me.  All eyes in the establishment were on us as it was a weird bonding but no one knew she was my former student.  She gave me a hug and as I do with my former students, I gave her one – I would not have rejected her as this the exact moment where I realized that I had no right to judge.  Before this moment in time, this type of entertainer didn’t really elicit any emotion from me (be it positive or negative) as I didn’t think there would be anything ever linking us but here was super smart, keener A in that same role.  We sat, had drinks and talked about how she got to where she was.  It was a great heart to heart and I understood a lot more about her life circumstances that brought her to this moment. She could tell I was dejected and she told me that I was still one of the teachers that she remembered and that she hoped I wasn’t disappointed in her.  That did it – damn, tears welled up – here is this stunning biracial beauty who was an athlete and academic achiever in front of me again and everything else I had just seen (actually avoided) and heard was out the window.  I gave her another hug.  Wished her well.  That moment stays with me and now I realize that yes, I can have expectations for my students but they have their realities and just because I have defined potentialities doesn’t mean that they aren’t reaching them – just a different set of them given their life circumstances.  Thank you A for schooling me!

June 17 – bender helpers

328/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  With a lot of these gratitude posts, I’ve been pretty raw and at times self-deprecating.  No one can accuse me of not being honest within these gratitude posts.  In writing this post, I have to once again be honest with myself and not put myself in a great light.  Every couple of years, because of some special event and being with friends, I will imbibe much more than my fair share.  In the moment, I am enjoying life and then Freudian psychology comes into play – my Id dominates my Superego and bullies my Ego and I give in to the indulgences of whatever might be the drink du jour.  I’m glad though that this happens only rarely (perhaps once every two to four years) or else Freud would be having a field day analyzing me 😉  I am also glad that my Id (hidden but true nature) when it comes out is a loving, happy-go-lucky guy rather than what some are – mean, angry drunks.   But what is more important is all the people who have had my back when I’ve had way too much.  Any number of them could just turn their backs as I am an adult male but time and time again, I have made it home safely because of the caring people that I surround myself with who go out of their ways to get me on my way.  Yes, I sometimes cringe when I recall some of those nights but it’s important to do so.  As I said, fortunately, I don’t have to regret any of my actions towards others on those occasions as I am a good guy at heart but some of my antics, however, humorous are embarrassing when they are relayed to me but hey, if I can provide a little entertainment at my own expense, I guess I can’t complain because that’s the least I can do for all of those that care enough to get me back home in one piece and make sure I am okay.  Yes, you have to unwind (maybe not to that extent) but it’s so nice to know that all my life I’ve had people looking out for me when I have.  Thank you all (you know who you are) for being my bender helpers and getting this guy home in one piece and safely – so very much appreciated.

June 12 – cyberfriends

323/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  This gratitude post is a strange one for me in that I am different than most people from my age group when it comes to the online world.  I have been connected to cyberspace well before it became mainstream.  I was on ICQ, the way, way old version of messenger.  I was on a bunch of forums.  I followed rooms (the earlier precursors of blogs) before they became de rigeur.  I followed an online music forum and became “friends” with people from all over the world and ended up becoming a moderator for the website – over a decade ago.  We had a community.  Almost 2000 followers.  I spent countless hours in front of the computer moderating various threads on music.  Jenna, Liam, Brett and myself were the admin.  We were approving who got into our music sharing forum.  It was the new era of the internet.  It was slightly bizarre for me.  I didn’t really believe in online friends but here I was with online friends!  People that I had never met in my life.  It became surreal when I received Christmas cards in the mail from them!  Today, no one blinks an eye in that one has “friends” in cyber world but I still am surprised that I, a guy who is in the here and now world, got caught up in the virtual world.  I guess I am slightly embarrassed as for a while, I spent a lot of time with my “online” friends than I did with the real world.   Today, I’m all about the real world and the online world is where I do this – blog my gratitude.  However, I can not totally dismiss the online friends and life I had a decade or so ago because if not for them, I would not be expressing myself and using cyberspace as a valuable tool to let everyone know about how grateful I have been and I am for all the people who have come in and out of my life to make me the man I am today.  Thank you cyberfriends for giving me a perspective and insight into cyberworld as a medium for expression and for being!

April 24 – can you tell me how to get…

274/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Both my parents were immigrants to Canada – my dad in the late 50s and my mom in the early 60s.  They had good enough English skills to be able to get by quite well in the new Western culture that they found themselves in; however, they chose to speak to me and my sister in Punjabi and thought that it was the school’s job to teach us English.  Our elderly next door English speaking neighbours encouraged my parents to let us watch Sesame Street in our pre-school years as they convinced my parents that our oral English language skills would be that much better entering Kindergarten – and they were right.  I remember watching Sesame Street in the mornings – at that time I recall a 3 to 4 hour block of it and then a further hour or so in the early afternoons.   I can honestly say that I was enthralled with the show and what I was learning (although I didn’t know I was learning).  I practiced every word and letter and just sat there – literally in front of the tv (I think I have bad eyesight because of how much I watched).  I remember Oscar, The Cookie Monster and Big Bird, Bert and Ernie and the humans (Bob, Carol and the multitude of others).  I’m sure I subconsciously picked up on the ethnic diversity of the cast in addition to the conscious educational aspects.  I don’t have any hard facts but I really feel that watching Sesame Street gave me the academic edge in elementary school equivalent to those kids who go to preschool.  I also feel that the show gave me confidence in my abilities and that not having English as a first language did not pose a hindrance to my learning in any sense as I had Sesame Street there as my private tutor.  I believe that without Jim Henson’s muppets and the multitude of producers, actors and puppeteers, I would have had an added disadvantage in life.  Whoever says that tv is not educational, I would have to disagree – it can be if the right programmes are watched by the right people – academic learning does not have to take place just in a classroom, it can take place in one’s living room.  Thank you Sesame Street for giving me a very fair advantage that made all the difference in the world for my abilities and my confidence!

April 21 – Prince

271/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I heard about Prince’s death this morning from a friend who came by my classroom.  My heart sank.  I was devastated.  Thankfully, my class was working on individual assignments so I could take time to process.  I loved Prince like no other!  People had/have their musical idols – Bowie, Lennon, Cobain, Mercury, Houston, Jackson – all amazing no doubt but Prince epitomized music for me.  He was my idol.  I love music but his music spoke to me on a different level – it was funk.  It was rock.  It was soul.  And it touched my soul.  I loved his image too and he, other than David Bowie, was a male who kept on reinventing himself with look after look – something I have done since I was a young adult – he made it normal for me as a teenage/young male to change up how I presented myself.  I idolized him.  He also made it acceptable not to have to be hyper-masculine to be a male.  He had attitude.  He oozed confidence and sexual bravado.  He didn’t take shit.  He talked smack about whatever he wanted to.  He wore his androgyny proudly.  He did it his own way regardless of what anyone thought. He was Prince.  Everything about him, I loved – and have come to emulate consciously but more subconsciously.  He produced for other artists and after hearing their collabs (Sheena Easton for one), I became a fan of that artist but the reason was the Prince sound.  His videos were iconic – When Doves Cry and Kiss are etched into my memory as are dozens of others.  His signature voice – the falsetto (Camille voice) morphing into his deep natural voice and the amazing production of his songs equaled perfection.  No matter what you called him – Prince, The Purple One, The Kid, The Artist Formerly Known As, Symbol – you can’t deny his talent.  I didn’t understand how people were moved by a celebrity’s death, someone they didn’t know, until today.  Perhaps it reminds me of my mortality as I grew up on his music in the 80s and now I’m 50 and he was only 57.  Perhaps he felt like a member of my extended family as he was always there musically and visually to get me through life’s moments.  Perhaps his songs resonated so deeply with me as they formed the soundtrack of my teens/young adulthood.  Whatever the reason, I’m gonna miss the musical genius but I take comfort in the fact that I have his music to remind me of his talent and what they meant to me.  I concoct a purple martini in your honour and salute you!

April 14 – Orphan Black

264/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I will admit it, I’m a tv junkie! I love my reality tv but only competition type shows. I love some comedies. I also love some hour long shows but few and far between. However, if you have been on my Facebook, you will know that I am absolutely obsessed with one show – Orphan Black! Four years ago, my then just turned 13 year old son and I saw the preview for the premiere and were hooked (however, he happened to watch the first show on his own and told me he didn’t want to watch it anymore and as I confusedly picked up from where he had paused – only to discover he had stopped during the one and only graphic sex scene the entire 4 seasons, alas he didn’t continue LOL – I’m sure it would be different today). Sadly for the fans, the show is only 10 episodes per season and understandably so as the amazing actress who plays lead plays lead over and over and over. Yes, fellow Canadian Tatiana Maslany (who I had never heard of before this show) plays upwards of 5 regular clones per episode all with their own unique characteristics and qualities. I have to remind myself that Tatiana’s uptight, ponytailed, recovering alcoholic soccer mom Allison is played by the same Tatiana as Ukranian, bleached blonde, recovering psychopath Helena also played by yes the same Tatiana who plays the heart of gold, ditzy yet loveable, uber-blonde Krystal who does duty as quirky, pot-smoking, braniac scientist, the dreadlocked Cosima – did you get that? And that’s only four clones. The subtleties that this actress brings to all of the different clones – are we at 16 so far? – is beyond human! I didn’t know anything about acting and I still don’t know much but I do know that Tatiana Maslany is just amazing and mesmerizing in her portrayals of these unique female characters and up until this show, I never considered a person’s acting – I just watched for entertainment but when one woman carries the show all by herself and acts with herself in scenes with multiple clones, that’s when you realize what true talent is. I am a Clone-Clubber as I am enthralled by this show, follow blogs, have gone to viewing parties and just am truly a fan of the talent that is Tatiana Maslany (so hope she gets the lead in the new Star Wars film that she is in the running for). I’m so giddy with excitement for the season four premiere tonight that I can’t wait to be enthralled for the next two months. So yeah, be forewarned Facebook friends, my infatuation with Tatiana Maslany’s amazing talent is going to be in full force! To my clones – Sarah, Allison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel, Katja, Jennifer, Krystal, MK, Beth, Tony – long live this Orphan Black journey!

April 6 – 70s tv

256/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.   Growing up pretty much on my own with my younger sister, I didn’t really have many influences to guide me on my choices.  My mom, being a single parent on her own not by choice (as my dad was in Riverview because of his schizophrenia for most of my childhood), was working constantly so me and my sister basically made our own decisions.  My mom would work 6 – 7 days a week so our surrogate parent was the television and me being the senior by 2 years would do the picking.  Television was my escape – I could watch cartoons on Saturdays and I would watch cartoons as I would get out of bed to be ready to get my view on at 8 am with a large bowl of Fruit Loops (or is that spelled Froot Loops – weirdly that latter spelling seems to right).  Right after school, I would rush home to sit down with chips and my favourite 3 – 5 double hour of comedies.  Evenings would be campy tv shows or over the top serials.  My values and morals did not come from Disney books as my mom didn’t know how to read English so most of it came from the television shows that I watched relentlessly and as I reflect back, I am so glad that my role models were so clean cut and simple and the values that were portrayed and thereby instilled in me were of the highest calibre.  I watched Gilligan’s Island and learned about faithfulness, camaraderie, relentless pursuit and spirit.  I watched Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine and learned about believing in your instincts and teamwork.  I watched I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched and developed a sense of curiosity while retaining my naivety and sense of wonder.  I watched Dallas and Dynasty and learned about putting yourself forward and demanding what you deserve.  I watched the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family and was taught about family, bonding and the importance of honesty.  I watched Charlie’s Angels and basically learned about valuing yourself for your looks and your ingenuity.  I get criticized to this day that I am obsessed with pop culture but I don’t deny it – I love it.  I grew up on it.  It shaped me – dare I say for the better when I had no other options and I think that the choices I made for my viewing habits were, for the most part, exactly what I needed to become the person I am today.  Yes, I may be viewed (key word) as less knowledgeable/in touch with the world but I would disagree as I make the conscious choice of living my life with the values of the 70s tv shows that I viewed – a time when everything could be solved within one episode.  Thank you to all the television shows and their characters who had an impact on the person I have become – yes, you weren’t “real” per se but you got me through my tough times so you were real enough for me!

March 28 – escapism

247/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I love to talk.  I love to express myself.  I love to share my opinions.  I love to be heard!  LOL.  If you know me, you know that all that is true about me.  I also love to watch tv and get involved in any discussions regarding the shows that I watch.  I also love music and espouse the virtues of my favourite artists at any turn.  As well, I’m a fan of books and movies and can find myself in enlightening dialogue regarding characters or plot development.  I think this is what makes entertainment that much better – being able to engage into it further than the initial viewing, listening or reading.  About a decade or so ago, I was a moderator of a music forum with a few others.  New singles and artists were introduced (yes, the days of Napster!!) and threads were opened to discuss the merits or faults about the song and I could spend hours embattled in what I felt was a great song or what should have been a huge hit – I enjoyed making ‘friends’ and being able to have lively debates about whomever was artist du jour.  With books, I’ve entered into forums on a work chat site over the years convincing others of the merits of an author and listening to thoughts about others based on what I read.  Not always are the recommendations great, but they do always allow me to expand my horizons.  When it comes to movies, I go to critic sites and see what others are saying.  I also take to heart word of mouth recommendations from friends who I consider would know my tastes – not always have they been right  – Birdman??  Hated it!!  But the follow-up dialogue was better than the movie.  Finally television allows me to engage with people I would not have had things in common with – there are tonnes of co-workers, hockey parents, gym buddies, and Facebook friends who I can text, email, talk to about the episode and come up with theories around the next episode.  To all of my entertainment friends, I love having you around (whether we agree or agree to disagree) about what we have in common – our love for escapism!