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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June 30 – how do you spell your name?

341/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  In teacher world, the normality is to teach other people’s children.  People that you don’t know.  However, sometimes you end up teaching people you know through friendships or familial relationships.  For me, that hasn’t really ever happened except very early in my career, I substitute taught (one of only two times in my life) and ended up with my cousin and his friends in my class.  What does happen for me – quite often – is that my teacher friends have ended up teaching my children.  Many of them saw them as babies and then ended up having them in their classroom.  Yes, it’s awkward for my kids, my friends and me but all parties have gotten used to it.  Ornella is one of these teacher friends who ended up teaching my daughter – the daughter that she saw me bring to Burnett when we both taught together.  Ornella ended up being her counsellor in high school and I am so, so very glad that that ended up happening.  My daughter had a great tight-knit group of friends in elementary school.  The graduating grade 7 class went on to two different high schools – 80% to Steveston and 20% to McMath (at that time, it has reversed the other way around for my son seven years later).  Unfortunately for my daughter, her entire friendship group ended up at Steveston and she was lone warrior to battle McMath and what a battle it became because of the mean girls who accompanied her from Westwind.  She wanted to transfer to the school I taught at and I entertained those notions until Ornella phones me and gave me friend to friend, parent to parent and counsellor to parent advice which was to stop giving her an out.  She may struggle that first year but Ornella would be there for her to guide her and get her in the right classes. I remember my daughter going to see Ornella to figure things out and I felt at ease to know that I had a friend in my corner to help my child out.   Besides being an advocate for my daughter, Ornella and I have a good friendship.  Yes, we haven’t seen each other in ages (which will be remedied this weekend) but oh the laughs and stories we share when we do get together – she remembers every Randy-ism that has taken place and sadly there have been many and I’m sure I will be hearing about a few this weekend but I look forward to it because it comes from a place of friendship.  Thank you Ornella for being there for my daughter and for being an awesome friend to me!!

June 29 – McNair

340/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I didn’t think this group was going to make the cut but it has. Last night was the McNair staff year end windup party and it was epic! I realized as I was socializing that I enjoy these people and that I have made quite a few friends over the last four years and I didn’t think I was going to when I first started. My initial two years were basically hell but I am also to blame as I believe I made it a self-fulfilling prophecy in that I was not going to like McNair and I made it happen. I also tried to apply out of the school to other jobs at other schools but each time I did, someone who was laid off got top priority for the jobs I wanted. This was the first year that I didn’t apply for any job and that is when I realized that I actually like it here. Yes, the students at this school have a lot to do with it but the social being that is me thrives on the relationships and I’ve built and I’ve built quite a few good ones with co-workers here (sadly having to say goodbye to a few of them today as they are leaving the school through no choice of their own). To my colleagues and friends at McNair, thank you for accepting me into the school when I really didn’t accept myself here and for bearing with me until I made McNair my home. I look forward to working with my McNair buddies for years to come – okay, six hopefully before I retire! 😉 In your honour, I will be sipping many a drink on a patio as summer is officially here!

June 28 – i learned from the best

339/365 people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’m going to say it – basically, only one or two classes in all my seven years of university at UBC enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees actually taught me anything worthwhile.  I can’t even remember the countless courses I had to take for the sake of having to take them – basically jumping through the hoops in order to get my required degree – and most of them did not matter and taught me very little.  Yes, some will argue that the courses and university education in general “taught” me how to think.  No, I knew how to think – that’s how I got into university in the first place.  So I go back to my belief that very little of the education there was of value to me personally.  I had some great professors and Kimberly Schonert-Reichl is in the top 5, if not in the top 3.  I had to take several electives during my Masters degree and I decided to take her course under Educational and Counseling Psychology – it was Social Emotional Learning in Adolescents (or some theme around that).  I thought that yet again, this would be another filler course that I just had to get through and complete what was required of me but as I’m sure you can guess, that was not the case.  Kimberly was very easy going and her nurturing personality came out in class.  Different people brought in food to the class weekly to share while the lecture was going on – an idea that I “borrowed” from her when I was teaching at UBC myself.  She was heavily involved with the Roots of Empathy program which she described during lectures and imagine my surprise when I learned that my son who was in Grade 1 at the time was involved in said program in his classroom!  She allowed digression from the course syllabus as long as the work challenged and inspired us.  I ended up completing an intensive, fact-filled research paper on Relational Aggression (basically Mean Girls) to better understand what my grade 8 daughter was going through and to also relate to the high school girls I taught.  This was the first assignment in all of my university career that I thoroughly enjoyed completing.  After reading it, she suggested that I get it published but I was too nervous to even entertain the thought; however, I have shared the paper with several colleagues and a few of my students.  I want to thank Kimberly for being such a wonderful educator who not only inspired me with the way she taught but also allowed me to get interested in what it was she was teaching which benefited me on a personal level.  How I wished all my professors were like you!

June 23 – u knew what was right for me

334/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Some days I have no clue who I am going to write about and then all of a sudden it just dawns on me because of a thought or an interaction.  Tonight, it was the latter – I was invited to a Vancouver Business Educations Teachers BBQ and I decided to attend.  Yes, I teach in Richmond but the organizers remember me because my practicum and first two years of full-time teaching were in Vancouver way back in the early 90s.  They also extend the invite to me as I was at most of the Vancouver high schools supervising student teachers when I had my gig at UBC.  As I was sipping my big ass red solo cup of wine, in walked Shamim.  I had totally forgotten about Shamim up until today.  She was paramount in my decision to take a job in Richmond as a teacher.  After my practicum in 1991 at Tupper in Vancouver, I ended up with two year long jobs in Vancouver at Britannia and Templeton.  Although they were full-time, I did not have a continuing contract.  I applied in 1993 for a job in Vancouver at David Thompson and through a series of circumstances, a job opportunity at Burnett in Richmond.  I ended up with full time continuing contract job offers from both districts.  This was unheard of (I was told).  I was then given offers from both districts in terms of crediting me seniority if I took a position with their respective districts.  My heart was set on taking the job in Vancouver.  I phoned up Shamim, who was at the school and who had met me earlier.  Small world in that I would either end up working with her at David Thompson or her husband Mike at Burnett!!  She put it in the easiest terms possible: although, she and the staff would love to work with me in Vancouver at David Thompson, I lived in Richmond and the school was minutes away from home and I would be doing this job for a lifetime and needed to be close to home and that I needed to take the job away from where I was comfortable.  I 100% thought she would have said to come to David Thompson and had that mind-set but after her talk, I took a lot of time to rethink my decision and well of course, I heeded her advice and the rest is history.  I know I made the right decision but I’m so glad that Shamim was there to steer me in the right direction because my ship was stalled!  I need people to tell me what to do and I so needed Shamim.  I love teaching in Richmond and I’m so glad that Shamim didn’t spare my feelings and told me exactly what to do.  Although I thanked you in person this afternoon, I need to thank you digitally so all know that you had a big part in me being the teacher I am in Richmond!!  Kudos to you for knowing me better than I knew myself ; )

June 20 – 12s

331/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  So here we are at the end of another school year.  Sadly, they are going way too fast and becoming like blurs which means I’m aging real fast (only 6 years away from retiring full pension – yikes!!).  The thing that keeps me going though is the grade 12s that I teach.  I love having intelligent, insightful conversations for the most part and I also love the fact that they get my sense of humour and I absolutely love pushing the educational envelope and they love ripping it open to get at the content.  I give props to my elementary comrades – I could never do that job.  First of all, I don’t like being touched without my consent – thus, having all these young hands pulling and prodding me would drive me crazy and second and more importantly, my sarcasm would be wasted on them and of course they would go home crying and I’d be fired 😉  Now these grade 12s – they amaze me with their talent and knowledge and insight.  I mean this year I taught a guy who was a  wicked videographer, a guy who just said it like it was, the girl who became the second person ever to score 100% on the psych final paper, the girl who was the psyvivor winner who played it amazingly well, the braniac accounting student…the list goes on and they were all in grade 12.  Each and every year, I am inspired and my love for teaching increases that much so.  I am already looking forward to next year’s crop of grade 12s and what they will bring to my classes as I have taught several of them in junior grades.  Yes, I have won a lottery in life to be able to wake up every day and go to work in a job that I absolutely love and a big part of that is the Grade 12s that I get to work with!  Happy grad to this year’s crop, and happy lives to my former Grade 12s and I can’t wait to work with my future Grade 12s!  I throw my proverbial grad cap in the air in your honour!

June 10 – quirky is so cool

321/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Amongst the many bullies and mean girls of my youth, there were some of my peers (few and far between) who did make me feel worthy.  One of those people was ultra cool Carmel – I mean, look at her name!  Perhaps back then, she wasn’t looked as cool and more quirky but damn, she was ahead of her time and game because today she rocks that chic vibe.  I remember her with her short hair and awesome fashion sense but also her wit and intelligence.  Although we were nowhere near besties or even close (a casual hello in class), I do remember that she received some shunning from the popular, cheerleader types but Carmel had her sense of self and her own niche where she fit in with others and I admired that about her.  She epitomized what it meant to march to the beat of a different drummer.  Perhaps on some subconscious level, that influenced me as after high school I did my own damn thing and didn’t worry what others thought – no, I didn’t march to that drummer, I led the entire damn band!! ; )  Carmel and I have seen each other throughout the years at various high school reunions and have gotten to know each other much better through that wonderful platform called Facebook.  We have actually had a mini-high school reunion or two with a select few over wine just enjoying getting to reconnect as adults and that’s one thing I didn’t thing I would ever do – get together again from people from my past but I have as there were some nice people back then.  Thanks Carmel for being one of those people.  Let’s raise a glass soon.

June 6 – mean girls

317/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  As I’ve written these posts, I have had to go back in my life and relive some of the good times and also revisit the bad ones.  I have been able to thank people who have positively helped create who I am and also back-handedly give “recognition” to those who just made my life negative to completely unbearable.  Some may say that I am bitter and others may say that I should let it go but this experience has been cathartic and through writing these posts, I have let a lot of feelings go since they were never acknowledged.  I did confront some of my bullies during a high school reunion about how negative they made my life.  I wasn’t really surprised to learn that they had no clue as they were so self-absorbed and I didn’t matter at the time.  The bullying boys – with the exception of one – channeled all their dislike for me through physical aggression.  After it was done, they would just forget and move on.  I’m an elephant – I didn’t forget but after taking my minor in Psychology, I understood how they operated.  The girls also got their bullying on through relational aggression – getting others in on it, creating stories and gossip and generally egging it on.  During that same reunion, I spoke with the girl who was in every one of my classes in grade 8.  I had to be honest with her about how she made my life miserable with her friend “A”.  Although “A” was the main perpetrator, this other girl would jump in and tag-team the venomous verbal barrage directed at me ranging from my geekiness, to my ethnicity, from my less than ideal masculinity to my unattractiveness yet when we were not within A’s vicinity, she would be pleasant – that’s the worst kind of mean girl/bully.  Hate on me all the time.  Don’t toy with me.   When I told her all she put me through at the reunion, she broke down in tears – but not because she was apologetic but because I was making her feel bad?!  What?  Because you can’t handle how horrible you were to me?  Stuff that stayed with me a lifetime but I’m not supposed to say anything because you feel awful?  I am glad that I was able to let all I felt out as she needed to hear what I had carried into my 40s.  This is my healing.  Because of that reunion incident, I have actually been empowered to be honest with people from my past regarding how I was treated be it positively or negatively.  If they can’t handle it, that is because they needed to hear how they affected another person’s life.  This girl could definitely not handle it as she unfriended me on Facebook but that just made me stronger as I knew that I had become a much better person.  Yes, to you nameless girl, a back-handed gratitude post for making me a stronger person as an adult and being able to address issues and then finally let those bygones become bygones!