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 11 – Queesborough queens

322/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Do you remember much about elementary school?  Especially the early years?  I was born in the royal city – New Westminster.  My parents moved to Queensborough where I went to school from Kindergarten to grade 3.  With no one to take me to school, my mom had arranged it so that two girls in the neighbourhood on Lawrence Avenue would walk me to and from school with them.  I, with a few of these gratitude honorees, do not recall their first names but do remember their last name – Kandola.  One of the girls would have been a year or two older than me and the other one would have been at least 5 or so years older.  It was very comforting for me to have these older “sisters” to watch over me and many times, I would stay at their place until my mom could come and get me.  I don’t recall where my sister was during this time (as she wouldn’t have been in school).  The Kandola girls showed me what kindness was and this was the safest of my times as a child as no bullying happened to me until we moved to Richmond in grade 4.  I didn’t realize how great I had it and have reflected upon it several times.  I remember being in my mid 30s or so being at a reception party and the older of the sisters coming up to my mom and giving her a hug.  I didn’t know who it was and when my mom pointed me out, she was in shock but came in for a big hug like a long lost adopted sibling.  It was surreal as I do kind of remember her but it was also very heartwarming as she felt like I was her little brother.  We reminisced for a short while and although, at that time, I wasn’t able to express to her how safe she had made me felt and how it was nice to have older, caring kids in the neighbourhood, I feel that she probably had an inkling.  Thank you Kandola girls for giving me peace and tranquility in my younger years before the eye of the storm would eventually make it my way – perhaps I needed the comfort and care of you two sisters and the memory of it to get through all the tough times.  Here’s to you both!

June 2 – safe haven

313/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Everyone wants to feel safe/have a safe haven and I can say that with all I had to endure during my childhood/teen years in regards to bullying, there was one thing that the government did that gave me some comfort – a Parent Watch program.  This was a program where homeowners could sign up to be homes where a threatened child could go to that door for safey.  They would be vetted by the governing agency and if approved, would be given – well, I don’t know what they were given as my mom was an immigrant and didn’t sign up for it – but I’m assuming that they were given training and a sticker to place on their window to show young people that this was a safe home.  That sticker was my beacon.  It was a bright orange triangle with two children in it.  We were taught about it in elementary school that if we ever needed to get away from someone, be it a stranger, someone in a car, a bully, whomever, we could run to a home with this sticker and they would help us out.  I’m not sure how they would but just having that peace of mind got me through a lot.  Yes, I had bullies who beat me up on my way home from school because I didn’t expect them but then I got savvy and started to plan my routes around homes that shone this star of hope for me.  I never, ever ended up using the services of the safe homes but just by knowing they were there made it somewhat easier for me to get home from school.  I wish the government had a similar program in existence today as I would definitely sign up and give that same type of comfort (whether utilized) for any child feeling threatened or bullied on their travels.  I thank all those adults who volunteered for the program – you don’t know how it made a difference for a person like me.

May 29 – the girl who lived down the street

309/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.   If you’ve been reading these gratitude posts, you’ve probably gleaned that I wasn’t the most confident young man during my pre-teen and teenage years.  Lots of things conspired against me to keep me from reaching my potential in my younger years – so not lovin’ who I was because of my ethnicity (being made fun of) and my weight (being bullied for it) and my nerdy looks (being beat up for it) and my dad’s schizophrenia (being made fun of) but it was just something I got used to but never truly accepted.  There were many reasons why I got through those tough times: my love of listening to music, focus on schoolwork, escape into television, push of my mom etc.  However there was also this person that I would see on my daily walks to school that also helped.  I was fascinated by her.  She lived on the same street as I did and I saw her from my elementary years walking past her house all the way to my university years being at the same bus stop.  I never once spoke to her in all that time even though I was enthralled by her.  Why?  She was probably about 5 years older than me.  She was Indo-Canadian.  She was very Indian.  She wore flowers in her hair.  She had a long braid.  She was heavy-set with a moon face.  She was not Canadian born.  She wore heavy Indian make-up.  She flounced when she walked.  She oozed confidence.  I was stunned by her.  Not her physical beauty as I did not find her attractive – oh wait, Freud might say I did on some subconscious level 😉  Rather, I was inspired by her self-assurance.  At that time, I was ashamed of my ethnicity as I lived in a very white community and had no role models but here was this person who obviously and rightfully so reveled in her heritage.  She was rotund and damn did she own it and did not let it own her.  I remember being at a wedding reception that she, with her family, was also at and my aunt, that mean aunt that I wrote about earlier, was making fun of her and this girl confidently ignored her and tore up the dance floor.  I was stunned!  I was inspired.  I honestly think she, on some subconscious level (yeah, Freud you can have this one), made me accept my fatness and my Indian-ness – I didn’t rock it like she did until much later – and I have her to thank for me finally accepting and rocking what was genetically given to me!

May 27 – house at the end of the street

307/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Most people in the gratitude posts first hear of my gratitude via these posts but I was able to let today’s gratitudee know about what she did for me about a decade or so ago.  I lived on Riverdale Drive when I was growing up and as I’ve mentioned many times, I didn’t have many friends as I was a fat, ethnic, geeky kid who was not comfortable in the skin I was in and I’m sure kids saw that weaknesses and went in for the kill.  Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the house with books and television to avoid the verbal and physical abuse by some of the kids in the neighbourhood and when I would venture out, I would watch on the sidelines as I wasn’t invited to hang with anyone.  There was a house on the corner of Riverdale and Coltsfoot that had an older girl and her siblings who lived there.  They had a trampoline that all the neighbourhood kids would hang at.  While I was in elementary and had to venture out that way, Roberta would always say hi to me.  She was about 4 years my senior.  She was beautiful in the eyes of this teenager.  I guess it was because she was nice to me as well.  She invited me a couple of times to hang out with the rest of the kids and those were the few times that I wasn’t made fun of because of this older girl.  As I entered grade 8, I would walk by her house on the way home from school and she always waved and said hello.  She acknowledged me – I wasn’t that invisible person or person to be pushed out of the way.  That little gesture did so much for me.  There were actually nice people out there.  Unbeknownst to me, years later, her son was in my class and I saw Roberta again during parent teacher interviews.  She was with her husband.  She had no clue who I was but I totally remembered her.  I told her during that teacher interview what she had done for me.  She then remembered me but she didn’t recall going out of her way being nice to me and that’s exactly what it was – nothing for her but monumental for me.  She shed a little tear that that little thing made a difference for me and I was so happy that I could tell her in person.  People like Roberta made a difference for me and I hope that I am someone’s Roberta as well unknowingly.

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 13 – Expo 86

293/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  30 years ago, I got the job that changed me forever.  The job that got me out of my shell.  The job that gave me confidence.  The job that basically set me on the path to becoming who I am today.  Yes, I worked at McDonald’s and Bootlegger and A&A Records and yes, they brought out or refined qualities in me but the job that had the greatest impact was my work as a host for the BC Pavilion during Expo 86.  It was not the job itself entirely, although I learned all about British Columbia, but moreso the people that I worked with.  I had very little confidence but I managed to ace the interview and be the first host/hostess to be hired months before official interviews (long story).  I was a bundle of nerves when training started before the official opening in May of 1986.  Here I was with all these older people – most of them my fellow hosts/hostesses.  I was just 20 years old and knew I got myself into something way over my head.  I have written a gratitude post about Frank who got me out of my shell with his ingenious method of making me completely uncomfortable LOL.  However, there was also Ian who was this 6 foot 6 guy who had a cool car and would take me and Cindy for rides.  I remember drinking for the first time with hosts and hostesses and being at parties (okay maybe one or two of the many that the rest attended) – something the nerdy, geeky, overweight Randy of high school never did and was never invited to.  I remember staying at the residences for the host for a couple of weeks to bond and connect.  I remember hilarious Kim who would say things to me to see if she could get a reaction out of me – she did.  I remember very nice Rob who was kind and genuine towards me.  I remember supervisors both great (Rick and Lois) who gave me an indicator of what awesome leadership was and I remember supervisors not so great (no names mentioned he he) who showed me what just being powerful was – and that was not good.  I remember being surrounded by some of the most stunning males and females – great marketing EXPO 86 🙂  I remember some of the nicest hostesses like Jana, Susan, Maria and Tess who made me feel very comfortable in my own skin.  I also recall some wild characters who I shied away from like George, Marita, Jamie, Doug and Trish but secretly was in awe of because they were so very cool.  I remember working with the Southam press heiress and a guy who would go on to be on One Tree Hill and Mad Men. Yes, that was one of the best experiences of my life and I am so glad that I was host for the province of British Columbia – the best job to have had at EXPO 86 of the thousands that were available.  Yes, there were still mean/not so nice hosts and hostesses because my awkwardness still shone through and I was shunned by some but for all of you who accepted me (like Bina, Haneef, Ken, Lana, Jamie, Sandra, Karen, Coniah, Greg, Sergio, Blair, Windy, Jayni, Anne-Marie, Vicky, Stephanie and the many, many still unmentioned by name in this post – I’m sure I’m going to offend someone because I forgot them) and made me feel a part of that great experience, I thank you and I am glad that through Facebook, I have discovered many of you and rekindled or created new friendships as mature adults.  Something sure was Happening there for me!

April 5 – I have weaknesses

255/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Confidence.  I have it now but I definitely didn’t have it back in the day.  I slowly gained a sense of who I am over the years by starting to believe in my abilities and try things outside of my comfort zone.  As I am writing these gratitude posts, people and experiences re-enter my thoughts and allow for reflection.  I can’t recall if the events I’m about to detail happened just after high school or just after university – I am thinking the former but I could be mistaken.  Regardless, I had finished a milestone and wanted to celebrate it.  I had never traveled on my own and thought that a backpacking Europe trip would be the thing to do as everyone did that.  How I coordinated it with three people I barely knew is beyond me but the next thing I knew, myself, two females and one male were on our way to Europe – I don’t even remember their names.  The girls had the itinerary all planned and without really thinking about the details and being caught up in the excitement, we end up in London England.  I should have had a clue when they dynamics weren’t working on the trip over but it didn’t register.  We spent the first two days in a hostel (so not me!!) and of course, I was getting homesick and regretting going on the journey as I was really out of my element.  Making matters worse, the girls didn’t get along with the guy and told me that they were going to casually lose him along the way.  I was shocked!!  Who does that?  And if you could easily do that to him on day 2, you could do that to me on day 3 or day 18 (since it was a month trip).  My mind started freaking out as I knew I could never handle Europe on my own.  I told the guy that this was their plan and he said we could go our own way right now.  All sorts of emotions were coming over me and I just wanted to go home.  I phoned home in a panic and told my mom what was going on.  She tried to get me to continue on with the trip but I wouldn’t have it.  She found some relatives that I could stay with until a return flight could be arranged and I left the dysfunctional group that night.  I felt bad for the guy as I knew he would have been loyal but I was in way over my head – I wasn’t independent as he was and I was outside of my comfort zone.  Yes, to the two girls, this is a backhanded gratitude post in your lack of loyalty which taught me that it’s okay to quit something when you are not comfortable and people aren’t there for you.  Up until that point, I tried and tried in my life and never gave up on anything but this was the first time I threw in the towel when I knew I couldn’t handle it.  To the guy, I only knew you in passing in school but was so impressed that you went on your own way and discovered Europe.  I wish I had had your confidence at the time but I’m also glad that I didn’t as that moment allowed me to reflect on my weaknesses and take my time developing myself and my own personality.  Do I wish I had ventured out of my comfort zone?  Hell yes!  Do I regret it?  Hell yes!  Does it haunt me?  Not at all as I knew I was still a child in a grown man body and wasn’t ready for the independence.  To all three of you, you all had a subconscious shaping on the man that I am today in different ways.  Yes, I took a lot of time becoming independent and self-reliant and capable but I thank you all in different ways in letting me reflect on my weakness and learn from it.

March 30 – such a trip

249/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Not only is this a straight forward gratitude post, it’s also a backhanded gratitude post at the same time as I am thanking two groups of people.  Without the shortcomings of one group, the appreciation for the other group would not be noticed, let alone written about.  I have been fortunate over the years to travel on trips within my role as a teacher – be it short ones on a ski trip for a day or a weekend camping trips or coaching/sponsoring for a couple of days to two week long journeys to Europe or Japan.  The students aside, the trips are all about the co-workers who accompany you on the trip.  Unless you are organizer (which I’ve rarely been), you have little choice or say in who is going so the very trip’s enjoyment is based on the dynamics as a result of the staff mix.  I have been to Japan once with three different schools and thus three different adult chaperones and it was a nightmare.  All I did with one of the teachers was argue as I was more laissez-faire in my approach to things and she was by the book, accounting for everything, not veering off the beaten path.  I based extending curfews on student behaviour – she based curfew on the fact that she goes to bed at 10pm!!  There was no leeway on her part so we clashed.  I felt bad for the third chaperone as he knew we did not like each other.  She thought that I would end up getting kids lost or abducted but I had the last laugh when two of her male students decided to take the bullet train during the night to meet up with some Japanese girls they met earlier in Tokyo (we are in Osaka now!!) and missed the return trip.  I knew they were safe but the childish me was like “ha ha ha”!  Because of that travel companion, I have appreciated traveling with others where our personalities just mesh and there is give and take and a lot of flexibility.  I have had this on a trip to Europe with three other sponsors, on trips to Kelowna (or was it Kamloops) for field hockey tournaments, room sharing in Whistler and the list goes on.  You really don’t appreciate good travel companions/chaperones until you have traveled with a nightmare!  Thank you to both types of sponsors as now I choose wisely if I want to go on a trip – be it a day or two weeks – based on who else is going to be going.  Bon Voyage!