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 7 – 50 shades of grey

318/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’m a bit vain.  Yes, I said a bit 😉  It took a lot and a long time to get there but yeah, obsessed with my appearance as an adult is all I can remember.  I definitely know it’s because of the ugly duckling syndrome that I endured as a child and I’m definitely not complaining these days – aren’t I subtle about being the swan today? LOL  But seriously, I have always worried about how I present myself to others and anything to draw a little attention to myself as an adult – in a good way – I did as I was used to drawing attention as a child for the wrong reasons.  Just before the new millennium, I decided to go blonde.  Those of you who know me witnessed that look for a good decade and a half.  I was nervous in the beginning – caramel skinned brown guy going blonde but I went for it and well, strangely it worked for me!  I changed shades – sometimes silver (well before it was a thing), sometimes platinum, sometimes ash – but I kept the blonde as my signature look.  In my 49th year (just under two years ago), I got tired of the trips to the hairdresser for maintenance.  I don’t recall making a conscious effort but just thought I’d let it grow out to see what it looked like.  I cut it short to help the process.  I hated it.  I thought it aged me.  I was forgetting that chronologically, I had already aged.  I remember to this day when the last bit of blonde was cut off the tips and I was fully grey.  Yes, I had gotten used to the grey but I wasn’t happy to have to give up on my wilder ways – I supposed I thought grey meant maturing in personality too, thankfully it didn’t mean that!  The people around me though were great for my ego.  Not a single person told me that grey did not suit me.  I received and still do to this day how my grey flatters me and I need this as on a subconscious level, I wanted to be accepted by others for my appearance and I can admit that. Presently, I have grown out my hair on a dare and have a full on man-bun or a mess of grey curls – sometimes looking like that crazy uncle, or that eccentric, crazy man down the block so I can’t wait to shear it down but I have to thank each and every person who has complimented me on this grey mane.  I know they say that men can rock the grey but I think you also have to accept the grey.  Each of you has made me accept it and allowed me to move into my 50s with dignity and not trying to look like I was desperately trying to hang on to my youth by continuing to dye it blonde.  Thanks for the love!

March 15 – speaking in tongues

234/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’m very fortunate to have a second language. I was born and raised for the first seven years of my life in New Westminster, BC. I learned English and Punjabi at the same time – perhaps a little more English and a little less Punjabi. I will admit that my Punjabi skills are not the greatest – I think in English and then translate to Punjabi which inevitably creates a small lag time that is often commented on by my relatives to my chagrin. And yes, I don’t have all the words/vocabulary/grammar down and yes, my pronunciation and enunciation is not the best but I still try. I have to thank all my relatives from my parents to my uncles and aunts and to the aunties and uncles (extended and not related) who kept on speaking to me and my sister in Punjabi regardless of our understanding – you forced us to learn our mother tongue and although I’m in no ways an expert, I can definitely get by. I also have to thank you in allowing me to speak Pun-glish (a combination of both) when I couldn’t come up with terms to quite express myself in Punjabi which still increased my knowledge of the language. Although I would have loved to have had one of the Renaissance languages as my mother tongue (let’s be honest, Punjabi is pretty guttural although German takes the cake on that one), I’m still glad that I do have a second language and it allows me to connect with some of the older relatives and immigrant relatives who have never, ever had the opportunity to learn English. Thank you to all my relatives for giving me a skill that would have eluded me if I had any say in it.

January 14 – listen to your elders

174/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. When you’re in your 20s, you think you know it all and don’t have the need for anyone’s advice, especially unsolicited advice. This was the way I was but I was respectful about it – I’d heed the advice but as soon as it was given, it would as easily leave my cognition. However, I do remember one moment in time where I did not only pay attention but followed the person’s suggestion and here I am freshly turned 50 and I have him to thank for it. I was about 25, perhaps 26, and was sitting at a lunch table with a few new, younger fellow teachers and telling them that I had received a letter from Social Services (Welfare) and was told that I had about a $2000 pension amount with them as a result of my previous 18 month stint with them. I was telling this table group that I had the option to take it out or roll it over into the teacher’s pension but why would I do the latter when I could spend it and go to Vega$$$. As we are laughing, Ken W, the Humanities teacher sitting with his buddies playing crib at another table – who I hadn’t formally met yet since this was only my first or second year of teaching – told me that even though I didn’t know him, to take his advice and roll the money over as I would retire earlier. He went on to mention that yes, he was some 40ish year old teacher giving the newbie advice about money but when I reached his age, I would thank him. Exactly what I was thinking – I’m only starting to teach, retirement?! Yet, his message resonated on some level and since I really didn’t need the $2000 at the moment, I let the money roll over. Fast forward to today at 50 and I am so glad that I listened to Ken. Although, the government and teacher’s association are looking at pension and retirements, I am very fortunate in that the decision I made on Ken’s advice will allow me to retire with a full pension at 57 (only 7 years away) rather than 60/61 had I taken it out and spent it foolishly. Also, I still have lots more that I can possibly do at 57 so it’s a win/win for me. Yes, Ken, you are right. Here I am a little older than when you gave me the advice but you were so right – best decision I made for myself. Thank you so much for approaching me and just telling me what you thought was right. In your honour, I keep my finances all in check!

December 9 – it’s all relative

138/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I’m a little, okay, helluva lot upset over what transpired in the last couple of days. It’s interesting in that I was only commenting two or three days ago about how friends and strangers are reading my blog and being inspired by it and giving me that figurative pat on the back. However, I guess that’s not the sentiment shared by all – especially by some of my relatives. A few of you veteran/seasoned extended family members, unbeknownst to me, felt that all my sharing on social media such as my blog posts and pictures of various beers is indicative of hereditary schizophrenia!! I was blown away to find this out. Yes, as I mentioned in my very first blog, my dad was a paranoid delusional schizophrenic – I’m not ashamed but I guess I’m supposed to be. This revelation of the truth caused a lot of backlash in that I should not have been sharing the truth and I should have kept it hidden – I didn’t agree with that belief when I posted my (very freeing) truth. I do understand that people from a certain generation hold different views on what should be talked about and what shouldn’t be but to put their beliefs on others, that’s unfair. However, to surmise my over-sharing behaviour as indicative of schizophrenia is just – uninformed (oh, I thought of many words before I settled on that one!!). I was asked to indirectly stop these gratitude posts – why? Because of your misconstrued interpretations about my mental health veiled as concern for my well-being? Or because you don’t really know me but from what you glean off of my Facebook posts to create a distorted self-serving picture of me? No, in fact I will continue to write about my personal thoughts and share what has made me into the man I am today – and he is not schizophrenic just to set your minds at ease. You have further cemented my reasons for starting this blog in the first place. It’s sad that you may not see this post directly off of my Facebook feed since I have restricted you as of today as I don’t want you to further worry about my mental health (wait, maybe I am a bit passive-aggressive 😉 ) but I’m sure others will direct you to read it and when you do, please have enough courage to contact me directly with your concerns but in the meantime, thank you so much for spurring me on. I’m a 1/3 of the way through my year of gratitude and you just gave me the motivation I needed to continue doing what I am doing as I know others appreciate it. Thank you, you are done.

December 3 – 75 is the new 50

132/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. During my recent stay in the hospital, due to a shortage of beds, I ended up on a ward where at 50 years old, I definitely skewed the mean age downwards to about 70 years. Initially, I was too drugged up to notice anybody but as I slowly came out of the medically induced haze, I regarded my fellow roommates. Two men in their mid 80s and a woman in her late 70s – most of them not able to take care of their basic needs. Perhaps because of some deeply rooted yet untapped ageism issues but probably more so the fact of my impending foray into becoming a Slipper wearing Silver myself, the presence of my neighbours in this room added to my overall general distress. As the initial shock of my surroundings abated and I started gaining some mobility, I started to pay more attention to the others. I watched as their grown adult children came in for visits. I watched the love that was shown by these adults to their parents. I watched as the parents looked with pride at their offspring. I listened to the banal conversations but I observed what it did to the faces and hearts of my roommates. I then reflected on the lack of significant golden year-ers in my life not because there aren’t any but because I kept my distance (even with my own father) and realized that this was because of my obsession with looking and acting youthful which was to hide my fear of growing old and having to face the inevitable. Who would have thought that a physical injury would reveal a much more deeply rooted mental truth that I didn’t want to admit. I am 50, I am getting old, my body isn’t what it once was, my healing takes longer, life is different but I am living life!! I thank the seniors in my hospital room and all seniors that have been in my life in the past and present. In your honour, I will continue to redefine 50 on my own terms BUT now within realistic parameters.