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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May 21 – life motto

301/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Has anyone ever said something to you that has changed the way you think about life? I didn’t think it was possible but it happened to me about ten years ago. As has happened a few times over these gratitude posts, I don’t recall the person outright as in this case the person was a stranger in a meeting I was also attending but it’s what he said that stayed with me. The subject matter was about making changes in life and taking the first few steps. I learned a lot in that session but the most interesting thing came from this stranger. He made an observation that most people are afraid to make a change as they are “putting an ending into a beginning”. I thought it was an insightful remark but didn’t truly understand its meaning until about a year later. I had a very comfortable job at the school I taught at for about 15 years. Because of my Masters program at UBC, I applied for and was offered a job on contract for 3 years teaching beginning teachers how to teach. I couldn’t make the decision as I was worried about what would happen after the three years if I even lasted that long. Where would I end up teaching once I finished my contract was the big question that was standing in my way. Yes, it’s normal to question the beginning of change but I was so focused on the ending that I wouldn’t allow a beginning. I then understood what that stranger had meant. I was already deciding how the 3 years would end (or rather focusing on something that no one can predict) rather than focusing on other considerations. Once I stopped worrying about the end result, I could actually contemplate the start and by weighing things, I took on the job and it was an amazing experience. Yes, the ending wasn’t ideal to begin with – starting at a new high school that I wasn’t initially fond of but am happy with today. That stranger’s comment also helped with many other life decisions from trivial to monumental such as starting the writing of this blog to making the move to take a break from my relationship. I now live life by that motto – not putting an ending into a beginning – and have that stranger to thank.

May 12 – my sisters-in-law

292/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I have no brothers, thus I have no sisters-in-law from my side of the family; however, I have two brothers-in-law (my wife’s brothers) and they both have wives and thus I have two sisters-in-law that way.  I will just start with the fact that it has been over two years since I have spoken to either of them and through no fault of theirs and can’t say that it is my fault either.  Since my separation, it is totally understandable that there are implied loyalties but this post has nothing to do with the last two years and all about the two plus decades prior.  My sisters-in-laws Keren and Palo are two of the funnest and funniest in-laws I have.  From day one, they made me feel at home and we’ve had instant chemistry and a bond.  Palo, a year my senior, who looks several years my junior, is the person I watched be a mother to her child well before we had our own.  Her calmness amazes me with how nothing flusters her.  Her friendliness is other-worldly – she puts everyone else’s needs before hers.  Her genuineness is just that – she cares about how you feel and takes interest in things that are going on with you.  Keren, the Colombian hottie, cracks me up every time we get together.  Our wine drinking adventures are legendary.  Our heart to heart conversations are meaningful.  Her taste in music schools me!  Her authentic Spanish/Mexican/Colombian meals are to die for.  What these two ladies have is a love for life that I share and that’s why I think we had instant connections.  Although in time, I think we may reconnect and rekindle our in-law bonds, rest assured ladies that you had an awesome influence on me over the last 25 or so years and I couldn’t have asked for two more amazing sisters-in-laws!

February 28 – cousin-in-law

219/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s true when they say you marry, you marry into a family and everyone else in that family. Connections are made – some good, some great, some not so. I have been very fortunate in that my wife’s family is amazing. Before the separation, I spent a fair bit of time with them and enjoyed their company. The family is huge and the get-togethers were amazing – everyone loving, caring and genuine. I valued my time with them and would take their company any day over my own smaller family as there was a great bond with them. I felt accepted and valued by most of the family members and I had a great relationship with the cousins and spouses. Yes, I was weird uncle Randy and I relished that role 😉 However, as things happen with a separation, understandably uneasiness and confusion takes place as to the navigations of the extended family dynamics. Since I’ve been back home, I have had some time to think about these lost relationships and it has been awkward for me to engage in in-law family get-togethers as I guess on some level I felt hurt as I thought the connections that were there could have ridden the storm on even a simple level – just a message of “heard, hope you are well” instead of a complete shut-out but as I said, I am working through those feelings as I can see the other perspective.   The one person who I must thank today and who has been one of my most favourite in-laws is Raj. She is the one who has always had my back – when others make judgment calls or feel they know the right answers because they are louder – she always steps to the forefront and says it like it is. We have similar outgoing personalities and sometimes to our detriment, wear our feelings on our sleeves. She also understands me plus has a great sense of style – I mean we were both blondes once 😉  Upon my moving back, Raj did make an effort to connect with me and although I didn’t let her know, I am saying it here that I appreciate you reaching out to me – whereas others didn’t or haven’t since, you have and although I wasn’t ready then, I am ready now to reconnect. I feel so bad that I missed the birth of your child but she’s young, she won’t remember fingers crossed 😉 Thank you for being an awesome cousin-in-law and always a ray of sunshine 🙂

January 15 – instant bestie

175/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. People say that I easily make friends. I disagree. I think the people I become friends with instantly have some amazing qualities that attract me to them and allow me to let loose and become friends with them – it’s all about them. That is definitely the case with my new friend Dee-Ann W. We met only 6 months ago but instantly became fast friends and it’s like we’ve been friends forever – one of those past lifetime friendships that have finally met again in this lifetime type of friends if that makes sense. We ended up working in a very cushy summer school situation – I can’t elaborate as you would be jealous and really get your hate on – suffice to say that all our bonding time cemented our new found friendship. Dee-Ann is a fellow teacher on the teaching spectrum – whereas I teach Grade 12s, Dee-Ann teaches kindergartners and judgmental me always thought elementary school teachers were uptight, by the books, stick in the muds. Not the case with Dee-Ann. Upon that first meeting, instantaneous bond – yes, there was an outside element that helped with that but our friendship was meant to be. She gave me life advice as I found it very easy to open up to her as to what I was experiencing last summer with my separation and her words were so very necessary for me just when I needed them. Plus Dee-Ann made me laugh – instant chemistry leading to finding humour in one’s foibles and well, one other variable that I also can not mention but that variable bonded us instantly. Dee-Ann is a year my junior but we be redefining what 50 is and will be, 50 will not be defining us. We own 5-0 and no one will tell us any different – this is why Dee-Ann is my bestie at 50! My soul sister from another mister who shares the same sentiment- life is just starting!! So glad I met you and have become friends. Looking so forward to our friendship blossoming. Here’s to you Dee-Ann, I fill out another crossword and ignore people who I have not time for 😉 You absolutely rock!

January 2 – you marry the family

162/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. As many of you know, mid last year, my wife and I separated for a period of 13 or so months to take time apart to figure things out. Of course, a separation doesn’t just affect the two people involved – it affects the entire family, extended family and friends of both people. Obviously it was rough on my two kids – especially since they are older and can internalize things in a different way than younger kids but they didn’t have to choose sides as we were still both their parents. However, the choosing of sides does and did happen with most of the other adult members of family and to an extent, friends especially those that are good friends with only one person and that is completely understandable. However, it is still hard to accept when you are the receiving party of no contact. I had the hardest time losing touch with the people I was close to and that happened to be my wife’s siblings, cousins and spouses. I actually felt very fortunate to spend time with them pre-separation as they were a second family to me – dare I say that at times I enjoyed spending time with them over my own side of the family as we had so much fun and laughter together. Unfortunately, once they were informed of the separation, most of them decided not to make contact with me. Yes, from my perspective, I felt shunned but I also understood why as my wife is their cousin/sister/niece/aunt and there is loyalty and I appreciate that – I just felt that a simple text or email or FB message saying “Hey, how are you doing? I heard” would have gone a long way. Once again, I completely understand the difficulty of not being able to reach out but it will take me time to get over my feelings – it’s easy to recognize but harder to let go – more therapy I guess 😉 This was not the case with all the inlaws and for those of you who did reach out, I appreciate it and will not forget it. Thank you for that. For the others, I hope in my own time I can get over my feelings of hurt and get back to the good times that we used to have but I am very glad that you were there for my wife and kids and gave them the stability that they needed. Thank you all for being a part of my life as well. Cheers to you.

December 25 – my wife and kids

154/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s Christmas. It’s time for family. Last year was a crazy time for me. I was separated. I was living on my own. I also decided not to spend Christmas or the holidays with family – immediate or extended. It was my choice. I made the conscious decision to be alone but I did not regret it. A year ago, I was angry at life. I was angry at my immediate family. I was angry at my extended family. I was angry at myself. But I knew it. Having that knowledge allowed me to make an informed choice – either one where I could inflict my upset on others during the holidays or deal with it myself. I decided to go with the latter. This is where growth happened for me. I needed to deal with my emotions – regardless of the time of the year – on my own schedule. I had a lot of pressure to do family things but I decided to hold my ground and separate myself from family to do my own healing. I was lucky to have friends to keep me occupied but one year ago today on Christmas, I was on my own without anyone for the first time in my life and it was actually okay. This Christmas is different. I have moved back home to work on family at this moment – if my spousal relationship heals, that’s great but that is not the focus at the present. When I decided to be a father, I made a commitment to be a father regardless of what was going on in my own personal life. I could never forgive myself if I was away from my kids, especially my teenage son, getting through teen life and making mistakes and me not being there to offer advice/support/criticism. If he/they make the same mistakes while I’m at home, so be it but I am not away focusing solely on myself – that’s not what being a dad was for me – I have to be there. Life is not back to normal – far from it but that’s a good thing. It is way better than what it was before I decided to move out as the appreciation and communication had eroded and now I am consciously working on it. The time away has given perspective for everyone. A lot more growth and healing has to take place but that is what a family is for. I am very fortunate that I have an understanding wife (gratitude post to come when I’m ready) and two awesome children (gratitude post for son in February, gratitude post for daughter back at 9/11) – yes, all this was tough for them as for me but no one said life was easy and this is what relationships are all about. This is what sometimes happens in family. But also family understands better than anyone else and I am very thankful for my family even if they don’t know it. Thank you my wife, my daughter and my son.