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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July 18 – Pokemon Go indeed!

359/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  This post was never supposed to happen.  I rarely play tablet/phone games except for Trivia Crack and Songplay.  They are fine.  They have not consumed my life.  I didn’t get the intrigue of any type of gaming apps until last week.  I downloaded Pokemon Go.  Actually, I didn’t.  We didn’t have it here in Canada.  I just put a random query as to how to get it and my grade 12 graduate of this year, Sam, sent me the link.  I got on and I got hooked.  I have never connected with random strangers in person as I have with this app.  First of all, I actually want to go and walk my dog.  Before this, I would hope that my children or my wife had walked him.  In the last week, I have taken him – and sometimes on two walks!!  I have gone up to places and when I realized that there were teenagers there Pokemon-ing, I pretended to text while in fact I’m catching one!  Today was surreal.  I was at elementary preschool and the little kids figured out very quickly what I was doing while waiting to let them into the school.  I had a swarm around me giving me advice and what to do and what not to do.  The instant connection.  I have seen them for the last two weeks but this Pokemon Go phenomenon just brought me down to a relatable level for them.  Then, this afternoon, I am walking through Steveston Park (with my dog Shadow) and a few teenagers are on a bench.  As I approach them cell phone in hand, they immediately ask – “Pokemon Go?!”  and I look up and smile and a conversation happens.  This would never have happened if not for this game.  I would just have passed them and they wouldn’t ever have acknowledged me but here it is – generations connecting.  Plus, as alluded to earlier, I want to be out and about.  On the weekend, sitting with a friend beering and I am Pokemoning and the server is all enthralled and I keep her updated as to how many Pokemons I have caught (13 in a 90 minute stint at that table!!!).  Yes, this gratitude post was never on my horizon but in one week, I am sparking conversations with random strangers of all ages (okay, all ages below mine) as are they with me.  Thank you Pokemon Go creators for a game that allows me to be active and interactive inter-generationally with others at my age of almost 51!

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!!

June 1 – strike a pose

312/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  After last night’s emotional, heartfelt and quite draining post, tonight’s is much more subdued and light.  When I was in high school, the classes that I enjoyed the most were some of my electives such as Art and Photography.  I remember taking my first and only photography class at Richmond High in the early 80s.  Mr Waber was my teacher.  The cameras back then had nothing on all the technological advances of today – I mean the word filter was before the fact, not after as it is today 😉  And selfie??  Not even on the horizon LOL.  Editing software – future language!!  I digress, back to Mr Waber.  He started us off with a pin-hole tin can camera and I fell in love instantly with photography as I ended up with an amazing photo because of the perspective it gave.  We had different themes for various assignments and I spent my time engaged in the work.  After that class, unfortunately I never touched a camera except for the occasional family pictures, never for artistic escape.  For most of my life, I wanted to get back into taking pictures and share them but because I was concerned as to whether I had talent and a keen eye, I shied away from it and of course, life just kept getting in the way and I made any excuse to avoid taking up photography again until just recently.  My daughter was enrolled in photo class in her high school and she exceled (winning top photo student).  Her pictures were amazing as she had an amazing digital camera.  Her teacher inspired her as had mine.  I decided then that I would start taking pictures but with my cell phone – this way I could blame it on the equipment if I really had no talent 😉  However, if you know me, you know that I don’t do anything half-heartedly – I put my heart into it and well, I certainly did with photography.  I decided to take a picture a day for a year with monthly themes and post them on Instagram – that was in 2014 and here I am in 2016 three years later and still continuing with that project!!  I have done a month of tattoos which entailed going up to complete strangers and asking to take a picture of their tattoo – I loved that month as I got to hear their stories.  I went around for a month and hunted graffiti which got me out of my neck of the woods but then one month I spent an entire in my city of Richmond taking shots.  I have taken pictures of my martini creations for a month – I had to suffer through and drink them each day (the sacrifices I make for my art 😉 ).  One of the strangest monthly themes involved going up to men and taking pictures of 31 different beards – I was only rejected once!  Thank you for Mr Waber for the initial spark and thank you to all of you who have commented about my photography as it has been a great diversion in life as well as being a way to allow me to express myself and share another part of myself with people.

April 14 – Orphan Black

264/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I will admit it, I’m a tv junkie! I love my reality tv but only competition type shows. I love some comedies. I also love some hour long shows but few and far between. However, if you have been on my Facebook, you will know that I am absolutely obsessed with one show – Orphan Black! Four years ago, my then just turned 13 year old son and I saw the preview for the premiere and were hooked (however, he happened to watch the first show on his own and told me he didn’t want to watch it anymore and as I confusedly picked up from where he had paused – only to discover he had stopped during the one and only graphic sex scene the entire 4 seasons, alas he didn’t continue LOL – I’m sure it would be different today). Sadly for the fans, the show is only 10 episodes per season and understandably so as the amazing actress who plays lead plays lead over and over and over. Yes, fellow Canadian Tatiana Maslany (who I had never heard of before this show) plays upwards of 5 regular clones per episode all with their own unique characteristics and qualities. I have to remind myself that Tatiana’s uptight, ponytailed, recovering alcoholic soccer mom Allison is played by the same Tatiana as Ukranian, bleached blonde, recovering psychopath Helena also played by yes the same Tatiana who plays the heart of gold, ditzy yet loveable, uber-blonde Krystal who does duty as quirky, pot-smoking, braniac scientist, the dreadlocked Cosima – did you get that? And that’s only four clones. The subtleties that this actress brings to all of the different clones – are we at 16 so far? – is beyond human! I didn’t know anything about acting and I still don’t know much but I do know that Tatiana Maslany is just amazing and mesmerizing in her portrayals of these unique female characters and up until this show, I never considered a person’s acting – I just watched for entertainment but when one woman carries the show all by herself and acts with herself in scenes with multiple clones, that’s when you realize what true talent is. I am a Clone-Clubber as I am enthralled by this show, follow blogs, have gone to viewing parties and just am truly a fan of the talent that is Tatiana Maslany (so hope she gets the lead in the new Star Wars film that she is in the running for). I’m so giddy with excitement for the season four premiere tonight that I can’t wait to be enthralled for the next two months. So yeah, be forewarned Facebook friends, my infatuation with Tatiana Maslany’s amazing talent is going to be in full force! To my clones – Sarah, Allison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel, Katja, Jennifer, Krystal, MK, Beth, Tony – long live this Orphan Black journey!

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 18 – our Disney girl

237/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Do you have a daughter? Do you know who her Disney girl idol is?? It’s an important question and something you really have no control over. I didn’t even realize my daughter was into the Disney girls until I found myself watching That’s So Raven, Parent Trap, Lizzie McGuire – the list goes on. She ended up having a favourite Disney girl and we ended up buying all her paraphernalia from albums to lunch bags, from accessories to calendars – we were all Lizzie McGuired out! My daughter looked up to Hilary Duff (the actress) and we ended up watching all her movies countless times: Cheaper By the Dozen, A Cinderella Story, Agent Cody Banks and Cadet Kelly to name a few. As a dad of a daughter, I’d take Hilary Duff’s influence over and over again – my daughter picked the right Disney girl who maneuvered into post teen and early adulthood quite well. I mean, she had the choice of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears back in the day and she chose Hilary. I gotta give props to Hilary because without any big faux pas, she emerged into an adult – yes, she had a divorce, big deal and that’s not something that would shape my daughter negatively as Hilary didn’t do a Miley and become all about her sexuality (not slut-shaming here but being a dad of a daughter) nor did she become a Lindsay with all her drug and alcohol problems, Hilary just traversed adolescent into a respectable woman – the type that my daughter has become. I feel for parents of younger daughters today because the times are much different than a decade ago with the proliferation of social media and “stars” who are famous for infamy. I’m just glad my daughter idolized a Disney girl who was and is a true Disney girl with all the wholesome values that represented Disney post Disney career. Thank you Hilary Duff, this dad is forever grateful!

March 12 – I-G-G-Y

231/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I am a 50 year old man and I’m going to admit that I love this female. She’s received a lot of flak for supposed cultural appropriation of African-American hip-hop/rap music because she is white – it’s a bigger issue that is beyond the scope of this gratitude post but let me just say that all sorts of other ethnic music has been interpolated over the years and no fuss has been made – closing can of worms. Back to Iggy – I was a fan of hers well before everyone got to know her through ‘Fancy’ in 2014. Back in 2011, I loved the mixtape that she was on featuring her song ‘Pu$$y’ (oh how I cringe knowing I’m a father of two but music is music – it gets to you regardless of your age). I definitely hoped that her first “real” single ‘Work’ would have hit big (I mean, it’s all India/Bollywood – resonates!!) but hey, it’s one of the things I can enjoy that the masses don’t know about. I also have an affinity towards Amethyst as she gets criticism for not being who she should be – once again, yes, 20 something white female rapper and just turned 50 indo-canadian male but I get it: box don’t fit you so you make the box fit you! That has been my life. I have been told to behave and be one way but why should I? So Iggy, you go for yours. Although, I have heard some sneak previews of next week’s big release of the single ‘Team’ and it looks like the rap verses are few and far between, I hope that is not that case and you do you because if there’s anything I’ve learned in 50 years, you can’t please everyone or even anyone except be you. Get than coin I-G-G-Y and make me enjoy what you put out as I have been enjoying for the last 5 years. I’m so Fancy!

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 27 – hurray for Hollywood

218/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s Oscar night. No, I’m not at a party watching – actually, in my pjs drinking wine and watching Walking Dead live as the Academy Awards are being PVRed; however, I do love movies though. Movies provide me with a form of escapism in the crazy life that I lead. Yes, very fortunate to be living the live of privilege that affords me the luxury of watching movies that move me in a myriad of ways. I can’t even fathom not having movies in my life whether they are being viewed on the big screen, the small screen or even the smaller screen of my ipad or the teeny tiny screen of my phone. I wasn’t allowed to watch movies as a youngster so I missed out on a lot of defining moments in my childhood but I have made up for it since. For all the actors, directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, etc etc, I thank you for taking me on journeys that aren’t even rivalled by my own imagination: space adventures, dystopian landscapes, romantic journeys, terrifying moments in the fetal position, horror nightmares, feelgood moments that replay on and on, tug at the heartstrings moments where I keep my manliness by pretending the tear is actually just a yawn tear (you know what I mean!!). Yes, not a traditional gratitude post but a gratitude post nonetheless. Thank you for allowing me that escape that I need every so often from the daily grind!