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.


July 9 – it’s all elementary

350/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I have been asked a few times why I chose to be a high school teacher over an elementary school teachers and my response jokingly has been that I don’t want to be touched with germy hands.  I never, ever considered elementary.  I just knew that I was suited for high school.  The students there would get my sarcasm.  I would end up making the elementary kids cry.  The students in high school/listen/follow the same pop culture icons.  The elementary kids would go home and tell their parents and I’d be in a whole world of trouble 😉  I have also joked about the calm nature, soothing voices, and just general loving nature of elementary teachers – totally not me!!  For the past week, I have been part-time employed assisting kindergarten to grade 7 summer school!  I did it last year as well.  Totally outside of my comfort zone.  They touched me!  LOL  I had to tell them to keep their distance.  I watched the elementary teachers working with them – first time ever I saw close up the difference between high school and elementary and I was in awe.  These teachers were amazing.  So good with the students.  So suited to be doing the job they were doing.  I also look back to my elementary years and I had some amazing teachers.  I reflect on both my kids teachers and they too were amazing and my kids loved elementary school because they felt important and acknowledged.  Yes, the argument could be made that it is the nature of the classroom and the school but I do think it has a lot to do with the type of teachers that are in elementary school.  Just as I know that I would not be suited for that type of role, they probably know that they are ideal for the job they are in.  The patience and the general caring nature that is so second nature to my elementary sistren and brethren is what makes them the perfect people to be in their role.  Thank you to my own elementary teachers in shaping who I am.  Thank you to my both my children’s elementary teachers for helping create the adult and teenager I have today.  If not for my summer school job, I wouldn’t have seen how amazing you all are in what you do for all of us!

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!

January 26 – from babysitter to teacher

186/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Up until these gratitude posts, I thought my first few jobs were at McD’s, Bootlegger and A&A Records but I realized that I also had a babysitting job in the neighbourhood. I actually don’t recall how I got the job – probably through word of mouth (and now that I think about it, why wasn’t it my sister who was doing it – not being sexist but I don’t recall a single guy in high school babysitting LOL). The A—–r’s were an Indian family also living on the same street but were of a different background than that of my Sikh parents – I believe their last name was of Sanskrit origin and they were Hindu. The father and mother were both professors at UBC – I was dumbfounded as up until that moment, I had never met anyone who was Indian in a position of academia and here were a married couple living in my neighbourhood. I somehow think that meeting them led me to believe I could become something other than what I was used to seeing in my immediate and extended family – a labourer/blue collar worker. The children were well behaved – the daughter R (whom I was never told outright) was a high functioning Down’s Syndrome child and the son M (whom also I was never told outright) was on the other spectrum, a genius. Both kids wanted me to read to them at night and these were not everyday Disney classics – the books the parents had selected were intellectually challenging and yes, not what I expected I would be reading. There was also no cable – just basic channels and thus, I spent a lot of time doing my homework while the kids were sleeping. The thing that I most remember is both parents talking to me before heading out (which was often as they had many university dinners) and telling me that I could definitely become something of myself specifically Dr. A taking me aside and motivating me to do well in school. He had said to me that being Indian, I had to work twice as hard to get half as much and that has always stuck in my head – not necessarily because I feel that it is so but I feel that perhaps on a subconscious level I felt it so and that’s why I may have the drive, stamina, work ethic and perfectionism that permeates my very being. As is with most of the gratitude honorees, I have lost touch with them but because of tonight’s blog entry, I did Google search them and was pleasantly surprised to see entries, videos, pictures of them in their respective careers/endeavours. Thank you to the A——-r’s for giving me that gentle subconscious push to be all that I could possibly be.

January 18 – girl power

178/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I guess I’m on a UBC mindset for the last two days and the people I met along the way of getting my education. I grew up in a time where my parents felt that getting an education was vital for a boy but not of a concern for girls. Although my sister wanted to go to university (and she did for a while), it was a battle for her as my parents thought it was more important that she got married off and an education would be a hindrance as that would make her less marketable as she would price herself out of the league of many eligible boys – oh, don’t even begin to comment on their logic. On the other hand, a boy had to have post-secondary and there was no other option but university. College or trade school amounted to failure. No pressure 😦 Upon being accepted into the UBC Commerce program, I was surprised to see a couple of Indo-Canadian girls in the faculty – my parents subconscious brainwashing also had an effect on me! I met Ronnie J there. She was this ultra-cool, hip Indian girl. I recall the bright red lipstick and jet black curls and the leather jacket with jeans and she drank and she was smart too, way smarter than me and I thought I was smart! I loved it – threw everything I knew, thought I knew, parents taught me to know, everything out the window – challenged me as a person. Boy did I grow as a person and in a good way – I was able to reconsider the things I was taught about how women were viewed and their value in the Indian culture at the time and because of my exposure to Ronnie, I was able to recreate my thought process to the prevailing values of the society I was born into. Yes, I argued the case for my sister too little too late but eventually my mother saw the light and did change the way she viewed females to the benefit of my youngest sister. Thank you Ronnie for being in the Commerce program when I was there and giving me an enlightening educational experience than that I could have ever hoped for! The feminist in me cheers you on wherever you may be in life today!

January 11 – the atypical Bowie post

171/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I am not jumping on the David Bowie bandwagon as I can not say that I was influenced by his music. I got into his songs in the 80s with Let’s Dance and China Girl and only discovered classics such as Golden Years well after the fact. However, I was inspired by David Bowie’s sense of style and versatility – Women have their style icons but guys like me really don’t – especially guys like me who change their look so often and that was one thing David Bowie did. If you know me in person – especially after my awkward teen years – you know that I change my look so frequently that most people can’t keep track of it – I’ve had red hair and blonde hair (for 15 years!!) and blue hair, I’ve rocked all sorts of facial hair, experimented with contacts and glasses, played around with asynchronous, man-bunned, crazy curled, short cropped, shaved down hair. My clothes – don’t even begin to get me started. But each and every phase, it was David Bowie who made me feel “normal” – here was a guy who just kept on reinventing himself. A very cool guy who was fashionable before it was fashionable to be so. A guy who just epitomized coolness to me. A guy who was older by two decades but didn’t let his age at any given time define him Yes, I may not have been into your musical artistry but you inspired me with your visual artistry. In your honour, I’m gonna keep on reinventing and rocking my look well into my Golden Years!

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!!

January 6 – analyze this

166/366 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. This one may be a bit controversial. I love Freud. Yes, so many critics and in some instances, rightfully so – castration complex, penis envy…okay, maybe a little too coke for you Sigmund; however, the subconscious, repression, Id, Ego and Superego as well as the Defense Mechanisms. I’m totally there with you. In university, I took all my electives in the ologies and most of them in Psychology. When I discovered Freudian theory, I felt it spoke to me as I could totally make sense of who I was based on his approach to Social Development. I may not fully agree with his Psychosexual Development Theory but I find merit in it. On the other hand, I am fully committed to his Personality Theory in regards to the 3 dimensions of Id, Ego and Superego. When I decided to introduce the Psychology curriculum to the Richmond School District, I put together a framework but each individual tasked with teaching the course had the freedom and flexibility to pick and choose the theorists that best fit their definitions for the learning outcomes. I give my students many choices in theories and let them decide but I also let them know that I am probably a Freudian deep down as I do believe in subconscious and unconscious influences on behaviour – in fact, analyzing my own behaviour from a Freudian perspective reveals a lot about – not all good I can admit 😉 Freud is everywhere – from the Simpsons to Madonna’s 007 theme. I’m glad I learned about him and I’m glad that I can make sense of who I am based on some of his work. In honour of you Freud, I blame my mom for who I am 😉

January 4 -kindness epitomized

164/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Heart of Gold. We’ve heard that being used to describe a person but have you met someone who genuinely fits that descriptor? I believe I have only ever met one person who wholeheartedly epitomized the phrase. George L was the kindest man. He was the vice principal at the first school that I had a long-term job at. Of course, I was nervous and thought all the administrators had way more power and influence over me than they really had – yes, I was naïve 😉 George was one of three admin team members and I worked with him while he was at the tail end of his career and I was just starting out. I could go to George and just chat about things and he was like a father figure – always giving me good advice without ever judging what I was doing negatively. I can’t recall one instance where we ever disagreed on any matter. However, the best thing I remember about George was his kindness – always bringing in food to feed the masses: chicken wings, home-made sushi, and other such treats. I would make a point of going to the office just to see (and sample) what might be waiting for me and get two or more in before the others 😉 George also opened up his home to the staff for frequent parties and social events and what a home it was!!! He was on top of technology when technology was in its infancy. The biggest screen tv/movie theatre that nothing current can rival. Amazing sound system. So much food cooked for us – bellies full whenever we went over. And the bar!! To die for!! And it was an open bar!! Yeah, to die for! He never expected any compensation in return except for us to be happy and having a good time. George and his wife did it all because of who they were – amazing, wonderful people. I have since lost touch with George but I wanted to extend my warmest thanks for making my beginning years in teaching a thing I look back upon with fondness. I steal an extra futo-maki in your honour! Awesome man you are George!

December 23 – i like your curves

152/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Curves! They are all over the place. In baseball – curve. In fashion – curvy. In conversation – someone throws you a curve. And of course in education – marking on the curve. Being that I am a teacher, this latter use of curve has come up several times in my career. I know that “the curve” represents the majority of people: most are average in height thus supermodels are technically freaks of nature 😉 Most of us are average in weight – TLC shows us the outliers in their programming. Most of us are also average in intelligence. Thus the averages cluster into the center of the curve, the normal curve. Enough of my lesson on that 🙂 While getting my teaching degree, one of my Education professors (oh how I wished I remembered her name – I have seen her around though) questioned our class about grading and grading on the curve. We had a very informative discussion on how students should be assessed on their abilities and not marked on a theoretical curve. I was inspired by that discussion but also dejected in that I knew that my grade in that university class was going to be put on that same curve as most of the courses I had ever taken, I was assessed that way. I am usually not the type of person to broach a subject in a large group setting but I just had to say something and I did – respectfully even though I did use the term “hypocrisy” in my questioning. I thought there would be some type of reprisal but she was very forthcoming with her response and told me that I was right. This didn’t help alleviate my fears but she continued on. She said to the class that this was the first time that it had been brought up to her and that she would definitely evaluate each and every one of us on our potential without fitting us to the normal curve. I didn’t know where my potential would lie and I also thought perhaps she was paying the requisite lip service but she kept her word. I noted the grades at the end of the term and the majority of the class was at the high end of the spectrum. I don’t know if that was consciously done or that’s how we all ended up but that moment changed the way I assessed – never, ever marking on the normal curve. I, to the best of my abilities, assess every student for what they do in the class and not comparatively to others but to the objective standards for assignments and projects that I have set up and I allow for bonus marks because if you put the extra effort in, you should be awarded and rewarded. Thank you Education professor for getting me to think about assessment and evaluation early in the game and put me on the path that is justifiable for my teaching. In your honour, I skew the curve for the students benefit 😉