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 10 – the people in your neighbourhood

351/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’m always fascinated by one’s environment and the kind of impact it has on one in regards to character formation.  I grew up in the 70s in Northwest Richmond BC – a predominantly white community with a few ethnic families.  We were told to assimilate by both our parents and by the community at large and we did.  My street – Riverdale (like the Archie comics – yes, I’m dating myself) – was host to a very diverse population in regards to socio-economic status, family types, and even ethnicities.  I remember almost every kid who lived on the street and I’d love to say that they were wonderful and left an amazing, lasting impression on me but I can’t say that.  With perhaps an exception of one or two, most were not pleasant to me.  However, that also helped shape me into the guy I am today.  My neighbours and yes, it’s my blog so I’m gonna name you – brothers Daryl and Ken R who lived right next door to me made my life a living hell (more so older Daryl with Ken following his lead).  They would spraypaint racist epithets on our driveway and no form of cleaning truly erased what was said literally and figuratively as it has stayed with me to this very.  Daryl would vandalize our home: windows broken, rip off our laundry off the line and I would have to go hunt it down on the street, throw all sorts of trash into our yard and have his buddies over to spit at me from their deck while I (remember that I am extremely overweight and nerdy) had to cut the grass.  Daryl would make fun of me when my dad would be taken to Riverview, he would say the worst racist things to my mom and I would yell back and he would laugh at my face.  My mom told me to ignore them and do what I had to and just keep the peace and although I was angry at Daryl and Ken, I did what I had to and took the abuse.  They involved neighbourhood kids like Candace and Todd, Arif and Shafik (yes, that Shafik if you live in Richmond) to join in and yes, they joined in.  There were others but I need to get off this bitter train before I start giving them all their own compartments 😉 The neighbour kids across the street, although not involved directly, saw how very unconfident I was and did their own things – siblings R, P and K, and K and her sister – nowhere near the extent of Daryl and his followers with physical things but more psychological.  At the time, along with the bullying I suffered from (see post #15) in school, I hated my life and just wished I didn’t live there but I got through.  As with that earlier bullying post, I became stronger – a Survivor.  Everything I am today is on a subconscious level in spite of all of my tormentors.   I haven’t really thought of these neighbourhood kids until today and just happened to Facebook find a few of them as I was writing this and was tempted to send them this link but I am above all that – yes, I named you and I needed to do that and yes, I hope some of you who read this post and are in touch with them will forward it to them but I am beyond the Riverdale neighbourhood kids today and so much better off given what you put me through as I am that much stronger.

June 10 – quirky is so cool

321/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Amongst the many bullies and mean girls of my youth, there were some of my peers (few and far between) who did make me feel worthy.  One of those people was ultra cool Carmel – I mean, look at her name!  Perhaps back then, she wasn’t looked as cool and more quirky but damn, she was ahead of her time and game because today she rocks that chic vibe.  I remember her with her short hair and awesome fashion sense but also her wit and intelligence.  Although we were nowhere near besties or even close (a casual hello in class), I do remember that she received some shunning from the popular, cheerleader types but Carmel had her sense of self and her own niche where she fit in with others and I admired that about her.  She epitomized what it meant to march to the beat of a different drummer.  Perhaps on some subconscious level, that influenced me as after high school I did my own damn thing and didn’t worry what others thought – no, I didn’t march to that drummer, I led the entire damn band!! ; )  Carmel and I have seen each other throughout the years at various high school reunions and have gotten to know each other much better through that wonderful platform called Facebook.  We have actually had a mini-high school reunion or two with a select few over wine just enjoying getting to reconnect as adults and that’s one thing I didn’t thing I would ever do – get together again from people from my past but I have as there were some nice people back then.  Thanks Carmel for being one of those people.  Let’s raise a glass soon.

May 30 – international life

310/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Okay, I’m going to admit a flaw in myself.  A teaching flaw.  I was one of those teachers who prefer his students in class all understand and dialogue in English.  No, not because it makes my job easier (although that is a great benefit that some of my teacher brethren and sistren may take for granted based on where they teach) but rather, I feel that the students who can’t understand me are at a loss and might be hating the class.  This phenomenon of more and more non-English speaking students is becoming quite common place in grade 11 and 12 (especially in Richmond where a lot of funding comes from International Student enrolment).  I know that I, as teacher, need to respond to the new face of the classroom but then I decided that perhaps not.  Yes, I use a lot of group work as I feel it’s beneficial for students to be working with different students and if I were to all of a sudden eliminate that aspect, I really wouldn’t be doing English speaking students as well as International students any favours as the educational experience would be watered down by catering to a smaller minority in class.  The other thing I learned from having International students is that most, if not all, want the true Western educational experience.  I have students from Venezuela, China, and Brazil in my classes and I am finding that almost all of them have competent enough English to have a conversation and try hard to do the work.  I, as well as the regular students, have benefitted from the International students’ experiences when we hear about what their home schooling is like.  I am not saying that all the International students are forthcoming but those that do share enlighten me and keep me teaching the way I teach as I have been told that although it is quite different from what they are used to, they enjoy it and are learning.  Thus, I am glad that I got over my initial aversion to having non-native English speakers in my class as I have greatly benefitted from what they have brought to my classrooms.  Do I want a whole class of non-native speakers – oh hellz no, I taught ESL/ELL learners for one year and that was enough 😉 but a good balanced mix is what I prefer and look forward to as everyone benefits.

May 28 – grad date

308/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  It’s that time of year in the high schools – graduation for grade 12s and all that comes with that: final exams, valedictory ceremonies, dinner and dance, etc.  Looking back at my own grade 12 year, it was a non-event as I wasn’t too concerned about the various functions as I wasn’t going to attend.  I didn’t really have close bonds with any of my classmates.  I decided to go to the valedictory (getting my diploma) as that was more for my parents although unlike today’s events held at grand ballrooms, ours was in the school gym!!  LOL Yes, as I said — a non-event!  I had resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to attend the actual grad (dinner and dance) as first of all I didn’t really have a crew and second of all, everyone had dates and limo rides and well, not being with the in crowd or any crowd, it was easier to just stay home.  About two to three weeks away from the event, a co-worker from McD’s and fellow grade 12 named Monette asked me if I was going to go to grad.  I said no.  She said she wasn’t going to go but we should just go.  I was dead set against it but then other people from McD’s suggested that we should go and it would be so much fun.  Monette didn’t give up and I ended up going with her and her friends.  Paid for the ticket and limo share.  Last minute tuxedo rented – cringeworthy (white with black accents).  Corsage bought for Monette.  Off to the Hotel Vancouver – I think that’s where it was or maybe I’m getting very confused with the countless graduation dinners I’ve chaperoned as teacher.  Did I have fun?  Hell yes!  I owe it all to Monette for convincing me to go.  I even went to the after-party!!  Two grad events in one night (second one not school sanctioned of course 😉 )  If not for Monette, I think I would have always regretted not having gone to grad dinner & dance.  I was finally a part of the grad class and had shared memories.  Do I want to see pictures of myself then – uhm no, seeing the one on my mom’s fridge still after all these years is enough!  🙂  Thanks Monette for the push I needed and thank you for being my grad date!