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 13 – la bibliotheque

324/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Tonight’s gratitude post is not about a person but more about a place.  Yes, I know I’m changing the parameters but it does involve people who are in said place.  Growing up, my escape, my solace, my comfort zone was the library.  In the library, I found all sorts of geeks and freaks like me.  It was the Star Wars Cantina bar minus the alcohol and music.  This is where I felt comfortable and this is where I belonged.  The library was my go-to while most of the high schoolers were either out smoking or at the locals McDs.  I spent many a good lunch hour in the library reading books and completing assignments.  It was my refuge from the daily grind of high school.  I found similar souls in the library.  Yes, we didn’t converse much – after all, it was a library but I felt a sense of camaraderie with my people.  Most of us were on the outskirts and spent our time there – I’d like to think we were conscientious but it’s probably because we had no other place to go to.  As I moved onto university, pleasantly, my looks came and the library at UBC was more as a social hanging place but it was still a part of my life.  No, I didn’t spend a lot of time there academically except to get materials for coursework as it wasn’t called the Aloha Deck for scholarly purposes!!  As an adult, I have loved libraries – I love to people watch and am fascinated by the books people are reading.  I love the wide space and the possibility of escape both literally and figuratively.  It’s apropros that I am writing this post tonight as I am contemplating a move to become our school librarian.  As it stands, I am pretty much set against it but I have many people who think I should be the guy to take it on and there is a piece of me who says that I should give back to in that the library gave me a place to be me.  Damn you guilt ; )  All those things aside, thank you to the library and all the unique, quirky, left of center, withdrawn, geeky, nerdy, Randy Sangha people that were there that made that place a home for me.  I flip a page in your honour!

February 1 – would you like fries with that?

192/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Here I am starting a new semester and looking at these wise and worldly teenagers in my classes and it gets me to thinking and reflecting on my past. Back in high school, it was hell but my escape was my job at the local McDonald’s and not just a basic McDonald’s but the very first McDonald’s in all of Canada – at #3 Road and Granville in Richmond. I don’t know what gave me the courage to go and apply for the job and keep phoning back but persevere I did and ended up getting the job. I was the lucky guy who got to bypass lobby – meaning I did not have to be in the restaurant with broom, mop and dustpan and clean up. I also did not want the coveted male job of grill – sweating over a hot oven cooking up burgers – no, definitely not for me. I ended up being counter/window and taking orders which lasted about a year and then I became the first male host talking to customers in the restaurant area and doing children’s birthday parties – easiest job there and bonus – we got tipped!! Over the years, I met a lot of co-workers there who didn’t know the fat, geeky Randy and I was able to shape a new persona – actually, that is incorrect, they shaped my new persona by accepting me and letting me be me. Yes, some of them judged me – and I still remember who you are 😉 – but a lot of them were like me just trying to fit in and those are the people I really want to thank tonight for accepting the awkward, not comfortable in his shell but try-hard wanting to please guy. The Natalies, Jassys, Leannes, Debbies, (RIP) Garys, Mikes, Robs, Traceys, Monettes, Patricias, Claudettes, Julias, Brians, etc etc. I also want to thank the regulars who were the day full time crew that we rarely saw but I worked with during my Pro Ds off from high school. These ladies were the kind moms who gave me love, support and warmth that I didn’t really get and I still remember them to this day. Y’all had a significant impact in shaping who I became because you allowed me to ease into who I was to become. In your honour, I shape an ice cream cone because you shaped me!

January 10 – the power of coaching

170/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’ve never played sports. I never had the body or skills for it as a child/teenager as well, my parents did not value sports – their focus was on my education. Given all this in my psyche, when I finally became fit and a young adult, I didn’t even consider taking up a sport as I had convinced myself that I am not athletic and to this day I have never attempted any physical activity other than working out. As a parent myself, perhaps on some subconscious level, I wanted to live out my sports dreams and I lucked out. My son who loves hockey – from street to ball to ice. I give him every opportunity and he takes it. This past weekend we were up in Hope for a tournament and had the opportunity to bond but he also had the opportunity to play but this is all due to the coaches he has had. As every person knows, coaches volunteer their time to give the players the opportunity to play. The teen players may not realize/appreciate the time and effort that the coaches put in but the parents do. My son has been fortunate that his coaches and their spouses arrange for great tournaments for the boys to play in and awesome social venues for the parents to bond with each other. As I mentioned in another blog entry for the fellow parents who have accepted me as a hockey dad, I am not the most hockey savvy fellow but I am so glad that the coaches can make up for my lack of knowledge and provide my son with an invaluable experience that he will reflect on as he become a young man and beyond. To my son’s coaches and all coaches in general, I drop a puck at center ice (I hope I said that right) in your honour!!

December 30 – i remember you

159/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. This past year – well actually the last 5 months, I spent time reflecting on all sorts of people who have had an impact on me. Many were from my career in teaching, others from family and still others from my youth. One person that I hadn’t thought about for a long time was Gary I. I worked with Gary at McDonald’s when I was in my mid to late teens. I didn’t have many friends growing up and Gary and I didn’t start off as friends but over the course of work, friendship developed especially given that I was host (working in the lobby organizing children’s birthday parties or just talking to patrons) and Gary was the “lobby boy” (person cleaning the restaurant area) for many of my shifts. Yes, we did the not so good things of sneaking extra food for ourselves, taking longer breaks than normal and just having laughs on the shift. A group of McDonaldites started socializing outside of work and I ended up being on the periphery – not always invited but so grateful when I was. Gary and a few regulars would be there and the group did what teenagers do – hangout, maybe have the occasional beer, go to movies downtown, go to parties.   I felt included and Gary was an integral part of this. I recall one time that we had a McDonald’s car rally and Gary, myself and on other girl were grouped together. We were driving around Richmond picking up clues and one of the items required was raspberries.   We were on the smaller roads with big ditches (# 6 Road) and Gary didn’t time a turn correctly and the next thing we hear him say is “We’re in the ditch”. He was right, we just landed nice and neatly, no injuries in the ditch and the car started to fill up with water. Bit of shock but we all climbed out of the trunk and onto the road and the first thing that Gary said that I was thinking – “Raspberries” – yup, huge raspberry bushes in the ditch. We started laughing. Got the car towed but of course showed up late at the end. I have many great memories with Gary who helped me come out of my shell and made some of my youth enjoyable. I looked him up in my late 20s to reconnect and thank him but was saddened and shocked to learn that he had passed away. This gratitude post is in your honour and to recognize you Gary for being one of my first friends as a teenager. Cheers to you in heaven!

December 16 – that girl!!

145/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Did you have a high school crush? Did you tell them about it? Are you still in touch with them? Well, I can say yes to two of those three questions – not the middle one but she’ll know after this post – so I guess I can say yes to all three of them I suppose 🙂  Overweight, geeky, awkward, lacking every social skill teenager boy goes to the first day of Photography 11 class with Mr Zad. In walks Jassy. The proverbial 80s girl with feathered hair, denim jacket, and the most amazing perfume wafts by as she heads to find her desk. Utterly stunning, she oozes confidence mixed with tough girl ‘tude – I’m enthralled. Dare I look up? No. I don’t have the courage to say anything to her in class and I know that I haven’t even registered on her radar. Get a job at the local McDonald’s and who is working there?? Jassy. The girl who could make that polyster monstrosity of a uniform look like something off of a Milan runway. Jassy the hostess. She didn’t have a lowly job like me as cashier – she was the girl who walked the lobby and did birthday parties. Plus, she was nice to me – genuinely nice to me. I was in shock. Beauty acknowledging Beast. Hellos were exchanged in the halls and pleasantries in class. What was going on? Beast bewildered. She even invited me to hang with her and her crew at lunch – I didn’t as it was the “smoke pit” and well, that was just the epitome of the uber-cool zone that I knew that I didn’t belong in. However, I succumbed at work and ended up at a few of the McDonald’s social gatherings with Jassy and other co-workers. For the first time in my teenage life, I was actually a part of the teenage life – the life I longed for!! The life that was so foreign to me and alluded me until I became friends with Jassy. I tried some of the typical teen things – they shall all remain nameless right now to protect the innocent, namely me!! 😉 I ended up becoming a host at McD’s and started to shed the weight towards the latter part of grade 12 and Jassy even complimented me on how I had changed. I was beside myself. Of course, as is inevitable, teenagers move on with their lives and I lost touch with Jassy until my sister reunited us about a decade ago. She went through her personal trials and tribulations around health (cancer conquerer) and I was awed by her positive attitude about life. We compared notes about respective lives, children, and careers and reminisced about McDs. We have stayed in touch over the years and in fact are meeting a few friends for drinks tonight. I told Jassy that today’s gratitude post was about her and she remarked that this was an awesome birthday present for her as tomorrow is her birthday!! Wow, these gratitude posts do things like this which I have come to notice – the power of gratitude! Thank you so much Jassy for giving me my teenage years and allowing me to fit in, never judging me by my appearance and just being a wonderful friend. I shed a tear as I write this as you were probably the only teenager during my teenage years who truly got past the exterior and saw the interior. This Beast has metamorphosed and honours the Beauty who allowed him to see that he was more than his outer shell.  In your honour, happy bday martini on me tonight! Thank you so much for being you and allowing me to become me!

December 11 – i got the look

140/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. People look at me today and think I just ooze confidence and have always been like this. If you’ve read a few of my blog posts, you no doubt realize that the “me” you see has traveled a hard road to get to where he is today but done it with a smile and never the “woe is me” attitude. At times I feel that I overcompensate with my outgoing personality and attention to detail in regards to my appearance as I feel that geeky, overweight, awkward, teenager will make some sort of spontaneous appearance and unravel all that I have worked hard for – I mean, I see him every so often in the mirror still lurking after so many years. Maybe he’s there to serve as a reminder – and that’s actually a good thing. In my teen years as I was starting to physically shed him, I also started to gain confidence and was able to secure part-time student jobs based on my personality but the first job based more on my looks and how I presented myself was at Bootlegger, the jeans store, in Richmond Centre. I have no idea what gave me the courage to apply for that job but I did and that manager at the store was wonderful. She talked with me and asked me questions about who I am and why I wanted to work in the clothing industry as my only job experience up until then was at McDonald’s. I was honest with her about my pre-teen/teenage years and perhaps feeling sorry for me, she offered me the job. I was ecstatic – this was the ego-boost that this guy needed until I realized who I was working with and the intimidation factor set in: the best looking crop of teenage/young adults preceding A&F by about two decades. I really had to quickly fake the confidence. I was in awe of the people I worked with and just to be basking in their aura – yes, that was how great a deal it was for me. And then, the manager decides to cast me in Bootlegger’s Christmas fashion shows to be held at a few malls in the Vancouver area. There is only so much a person can fake and I really didn’t know what was happening as I was way out of my element. Always the risk-taker, I did it – I got advice, I got taught how to walk, how to dress and undress in seconds, how to turn, all of it and I loved it. I loved the attention I got (which I honestly longed for growing up) all due to this manager at Bootlegger who just gave me a chance and had no clue what she did for my ego. Yes, I may currently put an overemphasis on my appearance – I am the king of selfies and change my look more than some change their underwear 😉 – but it’s because that shy, overweight, unconfident boy is in the shadows always reminding me of who I could still be and this may be my way of keeping him at bay. You might me thinking that this blog post must be the most shallow gratitude post and I can agree with you but allow me this one so you can understand who I am today and what brought me to this point. Thank you Bootlegger manager for making me feel validated based on my looks. I needed that then. It allowed the rest of my confidence to flourish. This selfie is in honour of you!

December 10 – quirky by nature

139/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I have looked back on high school several times over my life – I would never do it again if I were given the chance as my experiences (good and bad – more so the latter) made me who I am today, but damn, did I not look in a mirror to see what was looking back at me? LOL. Today, if others were to take a look at my pictures from back then, they would probably remark that I was quirky! That would be a fair statement if I was actually self-aware and going for that look. Now, I did have a friend back then who definitely did have a style of her own and perhaps it could be labeled quirky as she was left of center just like me but she was aware of it and made a conscious effort to be different and unique and I envied her for that! Julia, one year my junior in high school was this eccentric, funky, asymmetric hair style sportin’, eloquent girl who also worked with me at McDonald’s. We were both lucky enough to work at the front counter and on those rare occasions as host/hostess for children’s birthday parties. Julia would crack jokes, rock that polyster uniform and retain this uber-cool vibe. She was way ahead of her time – the alterna-girl: Commercial Street, vegan, yoga, unique girl (okay, maybe she isn’t all that but that’s the vibe I got from her). As high school ended, of course staying in touch is lost but with the advent of social media, specifically Facebook, I hunted high and low for her to no avail until one day her account appeared!! I took it upon myself to immediately contact her and we reconnected (although she was living about 600 kilometres away). Long story short, we made plans to reconnect on a drive I would be making and we met and there was Julia. I couldn’t imagine how she would look in her 40s based on her teenage years but when I saw her, all the pieces fell into place: lovely garden, flowing sundress, naturally silver locks freely cascading, funky coffee cup in hand, and that great pleasant voice. Julia was one of those girls who was nice to me back in the day when most people weren’t and for that I am very grateful. Because of that, we are still in touch today and meet up whenever she is in town and she is one of the reasons this blog that you are reading is in existence. Working in the publishing field, she suggested that I take this powerful message and share it via a blog and well, it has become what it has become through a lot of help from people such as Julia. For that too, I am grateful. Thank you Julia for being a friend back in the day but a better, wiser, funkier, stylish friend today! I embrace my greyness in your honour!