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 22 – Hold Me Now

333/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  My defining moment came in 1987.  The year prior (1986) I got that amazing job at Expo 86 and the year after (1988) I got married – two amazing life milestones but the one that shaped me probably the most was traveling to Quebec on my own to learn French for the summer.  I had attempted travel (after high school graduation) to Europe with others and that was a nightmare so I was very wary to say the least.  I traveled across Canada on a plane and a train on my own – the train being an amazing experience!  I met people who had lasting influences on me.  I experienced many, many things for the first time.  I basically broke out of the self-imposed shell that protected me!  However, the highlight of the entire summer came from being at the right place at the right time.  I, with a few friends, were supposed to go to a club – a former cathedral converted into a dance place – but we couldn’t get ourselves organized.  We then heard about a band playing in the back field of our campus (Universite de Laval) as a warmup before their performance at said cathedral.  It was all on the hush-hush and only a few people were privy to the information.  I was in the in-group but more on the outside of the inside in that I was not informed who the band was.  I got there.  There were perhaps 20-30 of us and who was performing but only one of my all-time favourite 80s group – The Thompson Twins.  Okay, for you young ‘uns, you have no clue what I’m talking about but they would be the equivalent of say The Black Eyed Peas in their hey-day!  I was in shock.  This was my 80s music.  Tom Bailey (lead singer) epitomized coolness to me (oh, and I tried to model several of my hairstyles after him) and here he was only 15 feet away from me.  Afterwards, they talked to the group of us but I was just freaked out and stood in the back trying to take it all in.  I have never, ever been a fan-boy for celebrity but yeah, here I was freaking the shit out!!  I can’t even remember the songs they performed as it was so surreal and at times I wondered if it happened but yes, it did!  I just happened to be where I was supposed to be and the Thompson Twins were supposed to entertain me on that night.  They were at the top of my 80s musical idols.  I had a love for their music but ever since, ever so more.  Everyone needs their musical, athletic, artistic, whatever it is idols because their talent gets us through things in life but to be able to see them perform in real life is a special experience and it has been the one concert going event (can I even call it that) that has stayed with me until this very day!  As I create a Spotify playlist in their honour, here’s to my musical heroes who I didn’t know were until that night – The Thompson Twins!!

April 21 – Prince

271/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I heard about Prince’s death this morning from a friend who came by my classroom.  My heart sank.  I was devastated.  Thankfully, my class was working on individual assignments so I could take time to process.  I loved Prince like no other!  People had/have their musical idols – Bowie, Lennon, Cobain, Mercury, Houston, Jackson – all amazing no doubt but Prince epitomized music for me.  He was my idol.  I love music but his music spoke to me on a different level – it was funk.  It was rock.  It was soul.  And it touched my soul.  I loved his image too and he, other than David Bowie, was a male who kept on reinventing himself with look after look – something I have done since I was a young adult – he made it normal for me as a teenage/young male to change up how I presented myself.  I idolized him.  He also made it acceptable not to have to be hyper-masculine to be a male.  He had attitude.  He oozed confidence and sexual bravado.  He didn’t take shit.  He talked smack about whatever he wanted to.  He wore his androgyny proudly.  He did it his own way regardless of what anyone thought. He was Prince.  Everything about him, I loved – and have come to emulate consciously but more subconsciously.  He produced for other artists and after hearing their collabs (Sheena Easton for one), I became a fan of that artist but the reason was the Prince sound.  His videos were iconic – When Doves Cry and Kiss are etched into my memory as are dozens of others.  His signature voice – the falsetto (Camille voice) morphing into his deep natural voice and the amazing production of his songs equaled perfection.  No matter what you called him – Prince, The Purple One, The Kid, The Artist Formerly Known As, Symbol – you can’t deny his talent.  I didn’t understand how people were moved by a celebrity’s death, someone they didn’t know, until today.  Perhaps it reminds me of my mortality as I grew up on his music in the 80s and now I’m 50 and he was only 57.  Perhaps he felt like a member of my extended family as he was always there musically and visually to get me through life’s moments.  Perhaps his songs resonated so deeply with me as they formed the soundtrack of my teens/young adulthood.  Whatever the reason, I’m gonna miss the musical genius but I take comfort in the fact that I have his music to remind me of his talent and what they meant to me.  I concoct a purple martini in your honour and salute you!

March 28 – escapism

247/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I love to talk.  I love to express myself.  I love to share my opinions.  I love to be heard!  LOL.  If you know me, you know that all that is true about me.  I also love to watch tv and get involved in any discussions regarding the shows that I watch.  I also love music and espouse the virtues of my favourite artists at any turn.  As well, I’m a fan of books and movies and can find myself in enlightening dialogue regarding characters or plot development.  I think this is what makes entertainment that much better – being able to engage into it further than the initial viewing, listening or reading.  About a decade or so ago, I was a moderator of a music forum with a few others.  New singles and artists were introduced (yes, the days of Napster!!) and threads were opened to discuss the merits or faults about the song and I could spend hours embattled in what I felt was a great song or what should have been a huge hit – I enjoyed making ‘friends’ and being able to have lively debates about whomever was artist du jour.  With books, I’ve entered into forums on a work chat site over the years convincing others of the merits of an author and listening to thoughts about others based on what I read.  Not always are the recommendations great, but they do always allow me to expand my horizons.  When it comes to movies, I go to critic sites and see what others are saying.  I also take to heart word of mouth recommendations from friends who I consider would know my tastes – not always have they been right  – Birdman??  Hated it!!  But the follow-up dialogue was better than the movie.  Finally television allows me to engage with people I would not have had things in common with – there are tonnes of co-workers, hockey parents, gym buddies, and Facebook friends who I can text, email, talk to about the episode and come up with theories around the next episode.  To all of my entertainment friends, I love having you around (whether we agree or agree to disagree) about what we have in common – our love for escapism!

March 8 – Happiness

227/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Do you have a song in your life that just moves you? Or lyrics that get at the very being of who you are? I love music but more for the beat or melody – rarely for the lyrical content. However, there is one song that lyrically gets at how I want to and try to live my life. It’s called “Happiness” and it’s by an artist that I do admire and it’s very apropos that I choose today to post this gratitude blog as the singer “liked” one of my social media posts today. Although I want to keep the celebrity gratitude posts to a minimum (thus far, I can count them on one hand), I must honour Vanessa Williams. I’ve always thought highly of the first black Miss America and also the first Miss America to be dethroned as she became the most successful beauty pageant winner thus far in history in what she accomplished since her pageant days – television, movies and music (the latter by far my favourite). I mean, what a way to not let negativity destroy oneself and ignore all of it and become the best possible person ever – responsible for your very own Happiness! It may sound like I have digressed but no, this is about her song “Happiness” which gets at my core. With lyrics such as “Life is as good as I make it, I can’t sit around while you make it for me” and “I’m the only one responsible for me having fun and you can’t take my Happiness” is exactly how I live my life – I am the one responsible for what happens to me and I try to live my life trying to be happy. I also try to avoid as much negativity as I can. Time and time again, the lyrics of this song come back to me and remind me that I am in control and I can either feed into things or move on into my own Happiness as I’m the only one who can fulfill myself. Yes, sounds like an inspirational poster but isn’t that what most songs are about and why they move us. This is my song. This is my mantra. Thank you Vanessa Williams for bringing these lyrics into my life and reminding me to always be responsible for my own Happiness!

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 28 – escape back in time

188/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I love music of all sorts but if I had to choose – I am definitely an 80s boy. Maybe I’m biased but that decade had the best music. Like most things in life, I discovered music much later and unlike those of my age group who have been heavily influenced by prog rock, soul and disco of the 70s, for me it’s all about the big hair, wild fashions and great tunes of the 1980s. If you were to walk by my classroom, I am the one who is playing tunes full blast. Yes, I cater to my teen audience during the day and play Big Sean to One Direction to Adele and when I marking some mindless dance tunes in the background but inevitably, I wind my way back to that era where most artists had an entire album of amazing singles not just one hit with filler – the 80s. You may say that I am nostalgic and yearning for the past – I’d argue as I wasn’t the coolest person back then but music did help me get through that time and my hard earned money would be spent on albums as music was where I could run to and escape from my daily existence and imagine a whole new life. As you are well aware if you read this blog, I like to take on challenges (day 188!!) and I have embarked on another one – listing my favourite songs for an entire year on my Facebook account. I am on day 28 and well over half the tracks come from – well yes, you guessed it – the 80s. Great memories of the songs and thanks to Youtube a revisit of the video (some of which I’m seeing for the first time) – I can and do easily fall into an 80s music wormhole wasting my time away! Thank you to the amazing singers and bands (too many to name) and the awesome producers with your signature sounds – you made my crazy teen life bearable and provided me with refuge when I needed it most and in your honour, another eclectic playlist is created!