July 10 – the people in your neighbourhood

351/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’m always fascinated by one’s environment and the kind of impact it has on one in regards to character formation.  I grew up in the 70s in Northwest Richmond BC – a predominantly white community with a few ethnic families.  We were told to assimilate by both our parents and by the community at large and we did.  My street – Riverdale (like the Archie comics – yes, I’m dating myself) – was host to a very diverse population in regards to socio-economic status, family types, and even ethnicities.  I remember almost every kid who lived on the street and I’d love to say that they were wonderful and left an amazing, lasting impression on me but I can’t say that.  With perhaps an exception of one or two, most were not pleasant to me.  However, that also helped shape me into the guy I am today.  My neighbours and yes, it’s my blog so I’m gonna name you – brothers Daryl and Ken R who lived right next door to me made my life a living hell (more so older Daryl with Ken following his lead).  They would spraypaint racist epithets on our driveway and no form of cleaning truly erased what was said literally and figuratively as it has stayed with me to this very.  Daryl would vandalize our home: windows broken, rip off our laundry off the line and I would have to go hunt it down on the street, throw all sorts of trash into our yard and have his buddies over to spit at me from their deck while I (remember that I am extremely overweight and nerdy) had to cut the grass.  Daryl would make fun of me when my dad would be taken to Riverview, he would say the worst racist things to my mom and I would yell back and he would laugh at my face.  My mom told me to ignore them and do what I had to and just keep the peace and although I was angry at Daryl and Ken, I did what I had to and took the abuse.  They involved neighbourhood kids like Candace and Todd, Arif and Shafik (yes, that Shafik if you live in Richmond) to join in and yes, they joined in.  There were others but I need to get off this bitter train before I start giving them all their own compartments 😉 The neighbour kids across the street, although not involved directly, saw how very unconfident I was and did their own things – siblings R, P and K, and K and her sister – nowhere near the extent of Daryl and his followers with physical things but more psychological.  At the time, along with the bullying I suffered from (see post #15) in school, I hated my life and just wished I didn’t live there but I got through.  As with that earlier bullying post, I became stronger – a Survivor.  Everything I am today is on a subconscious level in spite of all of my tormentors.   I haven’t really thought of these neighbourhood kids until today and just happened to Facebook find a few of them as I was writing this and was tempted to send them this link but I am above all that – yes, I named you and I needed to do that and yes, I hope some of you who read this post and are in touch with them will forward it to them but I am beyond the Riverdale neighbourhood kids today and so much better off given what you put me through as I am that much stronger.


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.

March 30 – such a trip

249/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Not only is this a straight forward gratitude post, it’s also a backhanded gratitude post at the same time as I am thanking two groups of people.  Without the shortcomings of one group, the appreciation for the other group would not be noticed, let alone written about.  I have been fortunate over the years to travel on trips within my role as a teacher – be it short ones on a ski trip for a day or a weekend camping trips or coaching/sponsoring for a couple of days to two week long journeys to Europe or Japan.  The students aside, the trips are all about the co-workers who accompany you on the trip.  Unless you are organizer (which I’ve rarely been), you have little choice or say in who is going so the very trip’s enjoyment is based on the dynamics as a result of the staff mix.  I have been to Japan once with three different schools and thus three different adult chaperones and it was a nightmare.  All I did with one of the teachers was argue as I was more laissez-faire in my approach to things and she was by the book, accounting for everything, not veering off the beaten path.  I based extending curfews on student behaviour – she based curfew on the fact that she goes to bed at 10pm!!  There was no leeway on her part so we clashed.  I felt bad for the third chaperone as he knew we did not like each other.  She thought that I would end up getting kids lost or abducted but I had the last laugh when two of her male students decided to take the bullet train during the night to meet up with some Japanese girls they met earlier in Tokyo (we are in Osaka now!!) and missed the return trip.  I knew they were safe but the childish me was like “ha ha ha”!  Because of that travel companion, I have appreciated traveling with others where our personalities just mesh and there is give and take and a lot of flexibility.  I have had this on a trip to Europe with three other sponsors, on trips to Kelowna (or was it Kamloops) for field hockey tournaments, room sharing in Whistler and the list goes on.  You really don’t appreciate good travel companions/chaperones until you have traveled with a nightmare!  Thank you to both types of sponsors as now I choose wisely if I want to go on a trip – be it a day or two weeks – based on who else is going to be going.  Bon Voyage!

March 27 – do you believe?

246/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As people sit down this Easter Sunday with their families, I’m assuming a lot of them are celebrating Jesus’ resurrection while others are using the holiday to be with their families be it having lunch, hunting for eggs, getting their chocolate on etc.  On these “holy-days”, I often wonder how many people are celebrating the true nature of the holiday be it Easter, Christmas, Labour Day or whatever you have and how many are using it just as a long weekend, yard work day, shopping day, extra respite from work day and so on.  I’m in the latter category but that is because of a conscious choice – I am agnostic in my personal belief system (only one in my family) but I am very encouraged by and impressed by people who have their beliefs and live by them.  In my life, with family, friends, acquaintances, I have seen hypocrisy in that one thing is preached in respect to others’ behaviour based on personal belief systems but exceptions happen for personal behaviour.  This is no attack against anyone’s religion but more of the way one chooses to follow that religion – that was one of the reasons I made my personal choice.  However, I also understand people need something to live for/believe in providing values and a way to live one’s life.  I could never live my life that way and I can admit it but I do have examples of those rare exceptions who follow their faith and live their life truly by it without judging others.  You are also in my life as family, friends and acquaintances and I am thoroughly impressed by the way you live your lives and you also have also shaped me as I know I haven’t got it in me but I am encouraged by your choices.  You have not judged or criticized me on my choices and that is one of the things that I appreciate the most.   As they say, to each his (her, their) own – you keep doing you and following your belief path and I will keep doing me and following mine and still maintain our bonds 🙂  Thank you both groups for shaping the way I choose to believe!

March 17 – bigger is better

236/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Finally 2016 when big has become acceptable. It’s about time!! Actually, it’s not even big – it’s average sized. And it shouldn’t be acceptable – it should just be. Today’s gratitude post is a result of just reading about the first “brawny” man to be signed as a model about a month after the first “full figured” model graced the covers of Sports Illustrated. I love how “brawny” and “full figured” are the PC adjectives created for what is just a person on the spectrum of normal but I digress. I grew up always conscious of my weight. Got bullied for it. Got restricted food allowances because of it. Got no choice in clothes – sack like pants and shirts and suspenders. Got all the wrong attention because of it. I have had weight issues my entire life. Yes, at the end of high school because of a very late puberty, I shed the weight but have always had the last 5-10 pounds to go since then. I hear from people all the time that I’m not fat/overweight and I tend to hide it well (perhaps not so well these days) but that’s the very point – why am I compelled to hide it? Why not just be who I am. And that is why I’m glad that there is a media shift on what we’re being shoved down our throats as consumers. I grew up on GQ and like to sport a unique, Randy style but when all the clothes are slim-fit, hip hugging, low rise, basically one is left with a limited choice in how to create their look. I’m not saying I want to be an XXL but I also don’t want the pressure of having to be an S just so I can wear something that I like. Most guys aren’t like me and will wear whatever but I did that as a child/pre-teen and never again. I’m glad that the winds are changing – I’ve probably got another decade before the grandpa sweaters make their way into my wardrobe but good for all the younger males and females to have icons and fashions that represent “fit” them!

February 24 – you neglected my needs

215/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. This is definitely a reverse-gratitude post to the extreme. I can admit that I’m pretty stupid when it comes to politics, when it comes to government, when it comes to economics, when it comes to anything to do with what one learned in high school in a certain curriculum. In grade 11, I happened to be at a high school (which shall remain nameless) where a certain sport was the be all and end all – students who excelled in that sport were “recruited” and cross-boundaried to the school. The coach of that sport also happened to be a teacher (not the other way around) and I happened to be in that coach’s class. The class was first period on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (how I remember that is beyond me). The games that that coach coached were usually those afternoons. The assignments that we did were make posters for the games – I kid you not! Because I am artistically inclined, I aced the posters. I got an A in that class. When it came to the exam (first year of provincials), we were “coached” and of course the class aced the exam as well. I can honestly say that I learned absolutely nothing in that course and got the easiest A of my life. At that time, I didn’t even second guess that. I was a high school student who got to do art in a class that others actually did work and I got an A – why would I complain because I had nothing to complain of and I didn’t know that I was missing out on anything. Off to first year university and that’s when I realized I knew absolutely nothing of the subject area because of Economics 101. I took the class and I had no clue what was going on. I failed but not a wimpy 45% or anything like that. I failed solidly – 8%! Yes, single digit fail – I have the transcript to prove it. That’s when I realized that I had learned nothing and I denounce that teacher to this day because I was failed as a student and it affects me to this day as I can not hold an intelligent conversation with anyone about important economic/political issues as I have no foundation or basis to start from. Because of that experience, no matter what is going on in my class or in my life, my students will get an education and will learn the curriculum that I am tasked to teach. I consciously make sure that they will walk away with some knowledge as my role is an educator and everything else at school is secondary to that. “Thank you” Mr ? for the impact that you had on me 😦

February 16 – you made my life Hell

207/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Oh how I hated you. And to all the people who say hate is a strong word, I disagree – if you greatly dislike something/someone, it’s definitely hate and I can admit to having those feelings. You made my days miserable – and I thank you. If you hadn’t, I wouldn’t have realized I needed a change. You monitored every move I made, criticized everything I did and made other people aware of it. And I’m glad you did as it lit the fire under my ass to do something about it. Perhaps you knew that I wasn’t happy and so you rode me to get me to re-evaluate things and now, 25 years or so later, I am so very happy that you were horrible to me as I am so very happy. I had just graduated from UBC with a Commerce degree – hating almost every moment of it as I had no passion for it. I saw my colleagues getting interviews and jobs with Campbell’s Soup, Benson & Hedges, KPMG etc etc. I didn’t even get the interviews and once again, in hindsight I’m so very glad. However, desperate to not have wasted my 5 years (yes, back then a Commerce degree was 5 years long), I took the first job that was available and got into the CIBC Management Training program but I’m wondering if I just convinced myself that I did and it was really just a teller job (no offense to tellers meant). I absolutely hated it more than getting the Commerce degree – at least my colleagues were fun!! I had to bus downtown every day to be there for 8.30 am. I had to wear a suit and tie – yeah, maybe I clean up nice but I’d rather not. I had to endure boring conversations with boring co-workers and curtail my true personality. But the worst thing I had to deal with was the manager from Hades! She belittled me and berated me and I was bewildered and bemoaned my situation. I have said this often as a joke – and don’t take offense as since then I own a dog and would never do it – that during that time if I had a dog, I would kick it when getting home – that’s how horrible she made my life.   I would cringe when I would see her coming up to me from the corner of my eye and then one day I just lost it with her. I think I quit but I probably was fired. The best thing ever to have happened. I am not corporate world material. I am not Commerce material. Yes, I can do left-brained things with ease but I enjoy and am truly a right-brained person. If not for you CIBC manager and the tumult that took place for me, I would not have walked through the doors that led me into teaching and for that, I truly thank you for all that you put me through to get me to see that I was not happy and needed a life change!

February 15 – behind your computer

206/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I am literally exhausted – teacher talk: four on the floor with no prep; working on various committees, prepping any and every spare minute I get and we are only into the start of week 3 of a new semester. This is just my professional life – haven’t even delved into my personal life but needless to say lots to do at home as well. So today, I started procrastinating and started to just surf mindlessly. Ended up on ratemyteacher.com which is exactly as the name suggests – a site I haven’t hit for a few years and it looks like no student has commented on me in that time either – the novelty must have worn off. Yes, I know that the majority of commenters are students who may feel that they were done wrong by and take it out on social media especially under the veil of anonymity but that’s not necessarily the case and sometimes the criticisms ring true. So, I started to read my comments from 2010 (the last ones) and prior and I can say that I needed them. Yes, there were a couple of negatives and I allow for that as everyone is entitled to their opinion and the comments got me to think about the things that were said; however, the majority of the comments were positive and I so needed those comments today to get me through and just realize why I do what it is that I do. I appreciate feedback – both positive and negative (as long as the latter is constructive and not on something I can’t control for) as it does get me to be a better teacher and even though the Internet is unmonitored for the most part, it is a medium that allows for dialogue and in this day and age, one must use it and pay attention to it as it does have some value to it. Thank you anonymous feedback givers – your critiques, compliments and constructive criticism is much appreciated.

February 4 – you just got served – backhandedly

195/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Total backhanded gratitude post. I have often thought about this and yesterday I got the answer. I get a lot of subtle hate on from guys my age or a few years younger and especially guys from my own ethnic group. As I did a quick perusal of my contacts, I can say that I have no male friends of my age group from my ethnicity but do have many male friends who are non Indian and of various ages which was something that was quite surprising to me. Last night, while I was out, the subject matter came up and an epiphany resulted – I throw a wrench into the typical persona that I should be presenting/portraying as an Indo-Canadian male which is hyper-masculinity and everything that goes with that. I was also told that I threaten my Indo-Canadian counterparts as I am comfortable with both my masculine and my feminine sides. As Indo-Canadian males of my age and a decade plus or minus a few years younger than me, we are implicitly taught more than most other males to show no emotion, that the male is the boss, that masculinity shall not be threatened and to rarely back down – yes, I am colouring with a wide brush right now but I don’t think I am necessarily incorrect about this. To this day, I still struggle with how I am to present myself and how I will be judged and it’s true, my worst critics are the aforementioned guys yet none of them has ever said anything to me explicitly but their actions (or rather inactions) towards me speak volumes. However, with saying all this, I would not change myself today which took a long time for me to accept myself. I like my sensitivity. I like my eccentricities. I like my excitability. I like my quirkiness. I like my metrosexuality. I like me. Thank you guys for making me feel uncomfortable and inferior subconsciously which actually allowed me to grow a tougher shell to withstand criticism, not care about others opinions and actually reach my potentiality.  I didn’t know or realize I needed your judgments about me to allow me to become who I am.

December 9 – it’s all relative

138/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’m a little, okay, helluva lot upset over what transpired in the last couple of days. It’s interesting in that I was only commenting two or three days ago about how friends and strangers are reading my blog and being inspired by it and giving me that figurative pat on the back. However, I guess that’s not the sentiment shared by all – especially by some of my relatives. A few of you veteran/seasoned extended family members, unbeknownst to me, felt that all my sharing on social media such as my blog posts and pictures of various beers is indicative of hereditary schizophrenia!! I was blown away to find this out. Yes, as I mentioned in my very first blog, my dad was a paranoid delusional schizophrenic – I’m not ashamed but I guess I’m supposed to be. This revelation of the truth caused a lot of backlash in that I should not have been sharing the truth and I should have kept it hidden – I didn’t agree with that belief when I posted my (very freeing) truth. I do understand that people from a certain generation hold different views on what should be talked about and what shouldn’t be but to put their beliefs on others, that’s unfair. However, to surmise my over-sharing behaviour as indicative of schizophrenia is just – uninformed (oh, I thought of many words before I settled on that one!!). I was asked to indirectly stop these gratitude posts – why? Because of your misconstrued interpretations about my mental health veiled as concern for my well-being? Or because you don’t really know me but from what you glean off of my Facebook posts to create a distorted self-serving picture of me? No, in fact I will continue to write about my personal thoughts and share what has made me into the man I am today – and he is not schizophrenic just to set your minds at ease. You have further cemented my reasons for starting this blog in the first place. It’s sad that you may not see this post directly off of my Facebook feed since I have restricted you as of today as I don’t want you to further worry about my mental health (wait, maybe I am a bit passive-aggressive 😉 ) but I’m sure others will direct you to read it and when you do, please have enough courage to contact me directly with your concerns but in the meantime, thank you so much for spurring me on. I’m a 1/3 of the way through my year of gratitude and you just gave me the motivation I needed to continue doing what I am doing as I know others appreciate it. Thank you, you are done.