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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April 5 – I have weaknesses

255/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Confidence.  I have it now but I definitely didn’t have it back in the day.  I slowly gained a sense of who I am over the years by starting to believe in my abilities and try things outside of my comfort zone.  As I am writing these gratitude posts, people and experiences re-enter my thoughts and allow for reflection.  I can’t recall if the events I’m about to detail happened just after high school or just after university – I am thinking the former but I could be mistaken.  Regardless, I had finished a milestone and wanted to celebrate it.  I had never traveled on my own and thought that a backpacking Europe trip would be the thing to do as everyone did that.  How I coordinated it with three people I barely knew is beyond me but the next thing I knew, myself, two females and one male were on our way to Europe – I don’t even remember their names.  The girls had the itinerary all planned and without really thinking about the details and being caught up in the excitement, we end up in London England.  I should have had a clue when they dynamics weren’t working on the trip over but it didn’t register.  We spent the first two days in a hostel (so not me!!) and of course, I was getting homesick and regretting going on the journey as I was really out of my element.  Making matters worse, the girls didn’t get along with the guy and told me that they were going to casually lose him along the way.  I was shocked!!  Who does that?  And if you could easily do that to him on day 2, you could do that to me on day 3 or day 18 (since it was a month trip).  My mind started freaking out as I knew I could never handle Europe on my own.  I told the guy that this was their plan and he said we could go our own way right now.  All sorts of emotions were coming over me and I just wanted to go home.  I phoned home in a panic and told my mom what was going on.  She tried to get me to continue on with the trip but I wouldn’t have it.  She found some relatives that I could stay with until a return flight could be arranged and I left the dysfunctional group that night.  I felt bad for the guy as I knew he would have been loyal but I was in way over my head – I wasn’t independent as he was and I was outside of my comfort zone.  Yes, to the two girls, this is a backhanded gratitude post in your lack of loyalty which taught me that it’s okay to quit something when you are not comfortable and people aren’t there for you.  Up until that point, I tried and tried in my life and never gave up on anything but this was the first time I threw in the towel when I knew I couldn’t handle it.  To the guy, I only knew you in passing in school but was so impressed that you went on your own way and discovered Europe.  I wish I had had your confidence at the time but I’m also glad that I didn’t as that moment allowed me to reflect on my weaknesses and take my time developing myself and my own personality.  Do I wish I had ventured out of my comfort zone?  Hell yes!  Do I regret it?  Hell yes!  Does it haunt me?  Not at all as I knew I was still a child in a grown man body and wasn’t ready for the independence.  To all three of you, you all had a subconscious shaping on the man that I am today in different ways.  Yes, I took a lot of time becoming independent and self-reliant and capable but I thank you all in different ways in letting me reflect on my weakness and learn from it.

February 22 – European Vacation

213/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. So as my spring vacation plans fall apart and I am resigning myself to a staycation this year, I think back to some of the trips that I have been fortunate enough to have taken and one of them, although a lot of work, was taking a group of students to Europe during the spring break of 2010. The planning started well over a year in advance and no matter how well one can plan, I didn’t plan for my female teacher co-sponsor to up and get pregnant 😉 All of a sudden, I had new co-sponsors wanting to join the trip – especially now that most of the leg-work had been done. I knew right away that there were some that would cause me work than the actual students going on the trip and I also knew that there would be some that would just not make the experience enjoyable for not only the students but more importantly for myself. I had to come up with creative excuses but it was easy for me to pick the female co-worker to take with me. I got to know Rachel over the course of a couple of years. We happened to sit at the same table at lunch and would laugh (and also be shocked) by some of the stories told by our co-workers. But more importantly, I got an understanding of her work ethic and I knew she was as detail oriented as I was and so it was a no-brainer asking her to join the trip. So easy to get along with and so organized, the trip was a breeze – yes, the students were amazing but just having someone that you could rely on and without worrying about made all the difference in the world. That trip strengthened our friendship and I was honoured to be invited to her wedding about a year or so later. Unfortunately, I have moved to a different school and our friendship has trickled to the occasional messages through Facebook but at least that medium allows for virtual connections and updates such as the birth of her new baby a few months ago. I miss our lunch chats/laughs but still appreciate your friendship! Welcome to another great type of field trip with children Rachel – parenting!! 🙂

February 18 – come Explorica with me

209/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s a few weeks away from spring break and I don’t think my plans are going to come to fruition – traveling to Russia as I just got the go-ahead from doctors but too tight a turnaround for visa applications and approvals 😦 alas, maybe that’s what supposed to have happened. This got me to thinking about other trips that I have taken and today’s share a past memory on Facebook brought forth a picture from a trip 6 years ago. This was a crazy, amazing weekend jaunt to Rome!! Yes, you read that right. As the new teacher leader of a student trip to Europe, I was asked to come to Rome all expenses paid for a weekend to introduce new teachers about the program and to get a taste of where we would be bringing our students. I thought for a moment and then ignored those thoughts and a few months later, was on my way on a red eye flight to Europe. This was also a true test for me – I have never ever been thrown into a situation with total strangers and was nervous if I would connect with people. I got off the flight and a few teachers were waiting for the last couple of teachers to arrive – we were the Canadians. I met Marti and her husband Joey, I met Dolph, I met a few others and we had our initial awkward conversations – hey, brown guy with ultra-blonde hair had to tame himself a little 😉 Then we met the Americans – oh the Americans!! Chuck and Brandon and Ryan and Bennett and Dana – so much fun. That weekend went by so fast but it felt like we were there for a week as we had so, so many adventures traveling in catacombs, drinking copious amounts of wine, dancing into the wee hours, earning nicknames – Passporticus Minimus, exploring the Colisseum (some at night!!), not making meetings in the morning because some of us were a little “too tired” and realizing one of us was not a teacher but a mother of teacher who loved marching (okay, more like singing) to the beat of a different drummer. I made some great friends in those few days and am still in touch with them not only through Facebook but real-life reunions. Teaching instantly bonded us but the love of life was the commonality. To my Explorica group – great memories forever!!

February 10 – sidekick, ball, chain

201/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Every Superhero needs a sidekick to help him or her out. Usually the sidekick is the one who gets the Superhero out of situations by being there to save the day! This is the same in the workplace – there are sidekicks who help out in all sorts of ways and the only reason I refer to one as the sidekick is that they aren’t always the one receiving top billing. I have been both Superhero and sidekick over the years and sometimes even worked as an amazing team of Superheroes but for the sake of this gratitude post, I’m going to talk about a person who supported me as sidekick to eventually where I became sidekick. Early in my teaching career, some of the senior girls approached me to sponsor their cheer dance squad. I knew nothing about the sport but I knew that they needed an adult supervisor. I said yes and then immediately approached two other teachers – one being a counsellor named Moreen. Moreen and I got to know each other at Burnett and although she would never reveal her age (and yes, I don’t have enough decorum not to ask a woman her age!!), we shared the same birthdate! Moreen and I worked on that dance squad with a third co-worker and spent more time with the team than the average glamour sport coach (by this I mean basketball or volleyball) and we had away tournaments all over the place plus we had divas on the team when there was no such term 😉 However, we had a great time and Moreen even went back into her aerobics vernacular and brought out the “kick, ball, chain” routine. The two of us really bonded over this experience and became closer friends after that. We also ended up as two of four teacher sponsors on a trip to Europe and led a small group of students to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and almost lost a traveler in the Coliseum – oh wait, that was Moreen taking pictures 😉 Yes, we had our laughs on that trip. It’s kind of sad that once one moves on from a job, they lose touch with people that were close co-workers but the whole purpose of these gratitude posts is to let them know they mattered! Thanks Moreen for making my time at Burnett awesome and for being a good friend to me! Happy July 25th to us!!

November 18 – cheers mate!

117/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I think we all have a couple of uncles and aunts who are only a few years older than ourselves instead of the couple of decades that is usually the norm. They like to think they are the cool, hip ones hanging with their nieces and nephews – of course, I have never done that as an uncle myself 😉 One of my uncles who fits in this category (about a decade older than me) is my mom’s cousin (who is my uncle by cultural definition) Gurbaksh. I met him when I was in my early 20s in England. I was on that requisite “post-university discover yourself in Europe” trip when I found out that the people I was with were going to ditch each other. I, being the sheltered kid, started to freak out and phoned home wanting to take the next flight back. My mom contacted her cousin whom she hadn’t seen in years and I ended up staying in Coventry for about a week with relatives I had never met. My Mumma (term for mom’s “brother”) Gurbaksh took me in and made my stay very comfortable although I was homesick beyond consolation at times. He introduced me to his family and extended family, showed me the sites, took me shopping – basically changed my initial perception of Europe. I fell in love with the architecture of England and my love of Europe started during that first visit. I also got to know my Mumma Gurbaksh and his family so very well and re-opened the channels of communication between my mom and him and the families have been close ever since – all my British cousins are my Facebook friends. Mumma Gurbaksh has seen me grow up from that awkward, sheltered, single 20 year old to the crazy, wild, out there father of two (even attending my wedding back in the day). He calls frequently from England to see how myself and my own family are doing and keeps up to date with my antics via Facebook! If not for that awful experience in Europe, I would have never met this British side of my family and gotten to know my Mumma Gurbaksh. You are an awesome uncle! In your honour, I grab some fish n chips and head to my local pub! Cheers!