March 29 – nod ya head

248/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  After 4 months of no exercise whatsoever due to broken ribs and a punctured and then collapsed lung, I finally ventured out for my first form of cardio – a run, no wait, jog, no wait, let’s be honest – it was a trudge.  But even before beginning, I came down the stairs and my daughter asked if I was going out dressed like that.  Yes, a stuffed sausage has nothing on me in my running shirt now that I’ve packed on a good 10+ pounds but that wasn’t what she was referring to.  I queried – shirt too tight, man-bun not on fleek, too bright shoes???  Then my son jumped in and said “it’s your stripper shorts”!!  I was quite taken aback – they were mid too low thigh on the mannequin but they were well above on me.  My 6’3” son offered me his basketball-type shorts and I came down in them and both of them laughed and remarked that even those on me were above my knees and I was wearing them well low on my hips.  Yes, surprisingly 5’10” of me is all long limbs but a very short torso 😦  So with my ego not so intact, I make my way outside and was about to quit for the second time.  Even though it was sunny, it was deceivingly chilly around 7pm; however, I mustered the courage and head out.  The 5 km that had in the past taken me about 20 – 25 minutes tonight took an hour and for the third time, I was ready to just turn back into the first ½ km.  But that’s when it happened – the nod and smile.  It’s some kind of greeting code between runners that I had no clue about until well into my 3rd or 4th year of running – I mean, the first time it happened to me, I thought the person knew me and so I stopped and turned around to engage but they kept running.  The second time it happened (and okay, let’s be honest, a couple of subsequent times), I thought I was being hit on – damn, I could really be into this running thing!  LOL  Then I realized that almost everyone who was a solitary runner gave some form of that “nod and smile greeting” be it a wink and nod (hey, that definitely looks like flirting LOL) or a wave and nod.  So tonight, just as I was about to quit – my breathing would have been the envy of any Lamaze coach – a female runner going in the opposite direction gave me all the encouragement I needed:  the nod and smile.  No, I did not pick up my speed.  Yes, I did stop a couple of times for rest breaks.  No, I did not make the lights – on purpose.  Yes, an older guy passed me as did the kid on his tricycle.  But that runners greeting that has been getting me through about 2 decades of jogging/running worked its wonders again.  Thank you to my fellow runners for giving me the fortitude to get through my run not only tonight but each and every time I go out.  I nod and smile back at you!

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March 25 – funky diva

244/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  In a lot of social situations, I tend to be the life of the party – the one cracking jokes, getting things started, then going full force and going strong, saying it like it is and keeping it real but still being respectful.  I hope that I am a positive person when out with others and that they like my company because I bring something extra to the mix.  I, myself, also have a person that does that for me.  I met Allison maybe about 15 years ago in the school I was working at and we had instant chemistry and made a connection right away.  I can say that I have never laughed as much or as hard with anyone like I do with Allison.  She is the female me (or am I the male her??).  She is also the spotlight in any social gathering.  Vivacious and full of energy, Allison also says it like it is and has a no holds barred attitude towards life and I so appreciate that.  Nothing is off limits when we hang out and when we hang out, if you’re in the vicinity, you know we are hanging out.  There are no pretenses with Allison which is very refreshing in this day and age where you sometimes don’t know what kind of connection you are getting with a person – she is a genuine, true friend who knows how to keep me in hysterics but still be there in my corner.  Thanks for being a great person (even though we see each other sporadically but when we do, it’s so fun)!  Looking forward to connecting with you later today my funky, funny, friendly sista from another mista!  So glad we are still friends after all these years! 🙂

February 19 – laugh at me

210/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’d like to think that I am a funny person on purpose but sadly I know that I have my foibles that lead to humourous incidences due to my naivety. I would love to change that up but for some odd reason, I find myself in countless situations that perplex not only myself but the many people that find out about them. I am an open book so I share my escapades with others or on social media as deep down I feel that they will be revealed so why not take ownership immediately and spin it my way. The former works but for the latter, there is no way to spin the things I get myself into in a positive light. I have been told that I need to write down and publish all the situations I find myself in/happen to me. I would if I was aware in the moment but I just seem to walk into them and then upon realization and reflection, I embarrassingly try to minimize what takes place. I must thank all those around me who unwittingly experience first hand or second hand the outrageousness that finds its way to me. Although I may on first glance revel in the hilarity of what has taken place, I am, on a deeper level, trying to figure out how I could have changed things up to make myself come across as smarter and look way more intelligent but alas, that has never happened and I doubt it will ever happen. I now take comfort in the fact that I am who I am and that I bring humour to others based on what life throws me. For all of you have laughed with me and not at me, I am forever grateful. For all of you have laughed at me – uhm, well, I guess I still brought you some joy into your life. As of present, I have stopped worrying about how I am being perceived and live my life and embrace the circumstances that come my way even if they end up making me the butt of the joke! Laugh on, I do 😉

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!!

February 9 – to my son!

200/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s a milestone – gratitude post 200 and on what day?? My son’s 16 birthday! It was fated to be! There are a few gratitude posts I’ve been looking forward to composing and this one is at the top of the list. I absolutely love my son. Yes, like any other teenager he drives me crazy and has tested me quite well over the last couple of years but that’s what having a teenager is all about as I, too, am experiencing growth through him. When we were first pregnant with him, I wanted a daughter only for the mere fact that I grew up with all sisters and aunts, the cousins around my age were all girls and I already had a daughter. I was scared of being a dad to a boy as I didn’t know if I would be “manly” enough – masculine, sports-minded, showing him the things he needed to know etc (yes, I fell into the gender binary stereotypes). However, just a few months before he was to be born, I remember telling my wife that I wanted a boy. She was surprised but not as surprised as I was – I realized that I needed and wanted a son. A son would be the thing that would get me outside my comfort zone but he would also fulfill me. Well, the son I was gifted with was off the scales – sports minded, uber-masculine, tall (was in the 100th percentile for his height every single time), popular, intelligent and kind to others. He is the antithesis of me and for a brief moment, I wondered if we were going to be a tv movie of the week because of a hospital baby mix-up but yes, he does look like me 😉 He also proved to me that it is not nurture – in his case it is mostly nature. Who he is and will be is all inside of him – his environment (namely me) can give him certain things but all his interests are sprouting because of some innate drives so my parenting is secondary to his true essence. Everyday I am thankful that I have him as my son. Because of him, I have learned (okay, know a little) about hockey, have been re-introduced to 50 Cent and newer rappers, share the pleasure in watching “our” shows, force him to do things he wants to but won’t admit and generally just enjoy our atypical father-son bond. To Ethan, you are an awesome young man and so glad you are my son! Love you!

February 6 – the JNB lunch crew

197/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. When you think of work, you think of your co-workers and when you think of them, some of the ones that come to mind are your lunch room buddies. At my present job, due to building layout, the lunch room isn’t much utilized; thus, only a handful of people go in there – some substitute teacher, student teachers and a couple of regulars. I have gone in there a couple of times to escape my classroom. At my old school, our lunch room much more in use and there was a lunch crew – actually a couple. This was what you thought of a lunch crew and they actually made my days go by quickly as I looked forward to hanging with them and having adult conversations but I must mention, they were not necessarily the typical adult conversations 😉 For example, each of us would have to read and article from the Savage Love column without breaking up in front of the table regardless of the subject matter – easier said than done!! We also got to learn a lot about our co-workers over 40 minutes which actually helped in developing friendships outside of the workplace. As I realized when I moved to my current teaching job, co-workers have a great impact on one’s work environment and I can say that I miss the daily lunch room connections that I had at my old job. Thank you JNB lunch crew for making the years go by so quickly and the day that much more enjoyable!

February 5 – my musical man-crush

196/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. So here I am tonight listening to my favourite music on a beer buzz and what do I choose? Well, I’m the atypical 50 year old so it’s not Pink Floyd or the Beatles or anything of the kind; however, if you even have an inkling of who I am, this artist makes total sense. I’m truly a creature who lies outside his territory and my musical tastes are of the same ilk. Since 2002, I have been enamoured with Robin Thicke’s music. Yes, it may not even be on your register let alone make a mark on your musical Richter scale but his blue-eyed soul speaks volumes to me. My Itunes has no less than 70 songs by him and I have a playlist dedicated to his singles. Think all you want to about his icky persona but I can get past that when you have singles like Somebody To Love, Magic, Lost Without U, Wanna Love U Girl, Sex Therapy, Back Together and Calling All Hearts – I mean we can forgive R Kelly, Chris Brown and others but white boy RT gets raked over the coals for being lecherous – whatever. You keep making good music that speaks to my soul and all is forgiven in my books. Plus, he is half-Canadian – dad is Alan Thicke from Growing Pains (a treacly sit-com) – that too is forgiven!! 😉 I don’t have many celebrity infatuations – especially male ones but Robin Thicke is just one under the prince of all time – Prince! That’s a feat! Your music has given me inspiration, made me happy, gotten me through rough times and just got me dancing. Thank you Robin Thicke for creating art that reaches me, enlightens me, moves me and speaks to me!

January 29 – you knew me better than i knew myself

189/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Earlier in these posts, I mentioned one person of a trio back when I first started my first full time teaching job at a school in Richmond called Burnett – today it is about the other person in that triad, that holy trinity of the Business Department at Burnett. I was there for a few years and was the only one in my department but then we added senior grades which necessitated the addition of new staff members to the department. Two new female teachers were hired and since I lived only a few blocks from the school, I invited them to my house over the summer to get to know them. I met Chris(tine) for the very first time that year and we had instant chemistry – we were able to easily joke and had an easiness that usually takes years to establish. She shared her stories of teaching in the prison system – I sat back pretending it was no big deal whereas I was secretly bowing down to her knowing that I could never have done that. As the years of teaching progressed, we got into our niche courses but still took time to hang outside socially and I can still recall late night marking at school and then just hanging out laughing and creating silly online surveys for each other with even sillier – even risqué answers – oh the things teachers do to get through report card time!! LOL. However, the most important thing that Chris and I did was discuss life and I will never forget the advice/moral support she gave me in regards to being a father of a son. I had a daughter at the time and mentioned to her that I could never see myself be a father to a son as I am the opposite of masculine and that’s what a boy needs. She looked at me and said that I would be the perfect father for a son in that I would give him everything he needs to be a man and that I would learn about sports – not necessarily be an expert – but I would be there for him. I didn’t really believe her but a few years later, I found myself in that very position – father of a son who over the years is the most uber-masculine boy, the boy that I feared that I would fail but Chris’ words come back to me time and time again that I will be a great dad and here I am 16 years down the path and she was right. I am so glad I had a son and she had it all figured out even when I didn’t. Thank you for the great times at JNB but thank you more for believing in me and giving me the advice and support that I would make a great dad for a son!!

January 13 – service oriented

173/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Some of my posts are thought out ahead of time, some are fluid and written in the moment, none of them are written beforehand though. Today’s post came to be based on my interaction of the day. Over the weekend, my Range Rover’s headlight gave out yet again. I texted my service advisor who happened to be a friend from the gym that I worked out at -Arthur S. He instantly accommodated my request and just put me at ease saying it would be taken care of. I have never had a service advisor. I would just take my car into the dealership or some private repair shop and let them do what they had to do and hope I wouldn’t be robbed blind. I’ve never dealt with the same person and established a relationship but with Arthur, this has not been the case. I have to say that Arthur is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He has a smile on his face and a genuine concern for how you are doing and will have you laughing within minutes. And this is outside of the Range Rover dealership – nothing to do with the job. However, on the job, he also has that same welcoming persona which makes the process that much more smooth flowing. He has been my jedi master in terms of Star Wars and we share the same affection for Orphan Black as well as making excuses for not working out which I am king at!! 😉 We are often quick to complain about poor service but rarely commend exceptional service and hopefully, in addition to my thanks for Arthur being a friend, this post also shows how great customer service is in retaining a person – what a simple smile and going that extra mile does for a person. I try to do that in my life and I think this is why Arthur and I find it so easy to get along. Thank you buddy for giving me advice (don’t sweat the small stuff), taking care of my when I know nothing about my car and validating me for not working out when I can’t. In your honour, I hand over my keys to your trusting hands!