I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.

Ani DiFranco, singer, songwriter and businesswoman.
How to Celebrate the Diversity of "Taste"

How to Celebrate the Diversity of "Taste"

Posted by martin.parnell |

In Britain, they say “You either love it or hate it, there’s no middle ground. Along with furry handcuffs and snow globes, jars of the stuff are on the list of things most frequently confiscated from hand luggage, at London City airport. In fact, the UK airport recently declared an “amnesty”.

According to The Guardian newspaper, “In an unusual move, London City Airport is offering travellers the chance to swap any jars exceeding the permitted 100ml size for a travel-friendly 70g miniature.”  I would point out, that the confiscated jars and their contents are not wasted. They are being donated to local charity Community Food Enterprises for distribution to smaller charities in local communities

I’m talking, of course, about Marmite. 

Personally, I love the stuff, especially spread on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Along with my three sisters and two brothers, I was brought up with it being a constant in our lives and we all took to it, from an early age. 

But, it’s all a matter of taste and I admit it is an acquired one. 

“Taste” is a word we apply in all sorts of circumstances. Not only do we refer to having a taste in food, but also in  how we take our coffee, the way we dress, the books we read, the art we appreciate, the people whose company we enjoy, the list goes on. 

But, much as we can be quite specific in our taste for certain things, we also have to learn to be tolerant of the taste of others and the choices they make. 

It’s fortunate if you find a partner, whether personally or in business, who shares some of your tastes, but it’s also good to have some diversity. It broadens your outlook, can introduce you to new ideas and concepts and encourages you to explore areas you might not, otherwise have thought about. 

They say opposites attract and that can often be true. Take, for example, the case of film icon, Marilyn Monroe and intellectual playwright, Arthur Miller. Surely you could not find a more unlikely match. They met when during her filming ‘As Young As You Feel’ in 1951. He had made the trip west with friend and director, Elia Kazen, who was under contract with Fox and had some business with the studios.

Marilyn’s acting coach, Natasha Lytess recalled Marilyn telling her “It was like running into a tree! You know, like a cool drink when you’ve got a fever.”  Marilyn and Arthur married in 1956. Sadly, the marriage didn’t last, but that initial attraction was a force to be reckoned with and they both found some common ground that initially brought them together. 

You may not enjoy the same movies, you may not have the same approach to business practices, but it’s important to realize that diversity can be a valuable asset and open you up to a whole new world of ideas and relationships. 

So, if you’ve never tasted Marmite, why not give it a go?

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Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Learning to be Patient, in a High-Tech World

Learning to be Patient, in a High-Tech World

Posted by martin.parnell |

In 2008 the Town Council of Cochrane, where I live, recognised the need for a new swimming pool and many of the residents, me included were delighted. However, as costs escalated and the opening date was delayed from March, to June and then July, it sometimes felt like it was never going to happen. However, on Sunday July 30th our new leisure center was finally opened to the public. 

Last Wednesday, I went down for a swim and to check out the other areas. The facility is very impressive, another feature for Cochrane to be proud of and it was great to see so many people there, families, individuals, youngsters and seniors, all enjoying the facility. 

In total, the centre covers 150,000 square feet and includes retail space, a new curling rink which has six full sheets and three for junior players, and will be open for other uses in the off season. There are also fitness rooms, programming space and tenant space that will help bring SLSFSC as close to revenue neutral as possible. The pool, itself, contains a lazy river, leisure pool, hot tub, wave chamber, two slides, an eight lane pool for competitive swimming, warm water therapy pool and a small spray park. 

So, despite the setbacks with completion and cost of the project, in the end, it was well worth the wait and, as we know, that can be said of so many things. 

But, in this age of ever-advancing technology, it is easy to become impatient. These days, nearly everyone now has access to a computer and most people have phones to carry around with them, whereby they can receive instant texts, calls and emails and take a photo or video whenever or wherever they are. 

Gone are the days when you had to take your camera on holiday, reload the film and wait to get your pictures developed, in the hope that at least some of them have turned out OK.

You can get information about anything by pressing a few keys and have access to people almost anywhere in the world. Which is all good, in a way. 

Sometimes, though, having to wait for something isn’t a bad thing. It brings with it that feeling of excited anticipation and then the joy, when it finally arrives.  Even more so when it’s something we’ve worked for or maybe an item we’ve saved for. 

There’s an old saying, “Patience is a virtue...” and it is something that we need to remember and perhaps teach our children and grandchildren. 

Technology is advancing at a rate never seen before and I can’t even imagine what devices our grandchildren will be using come the 2030s. But, there will always be things that need waiting for and, hopefully, they will be able to appreciate the experience. 

After all, for our great, great, great - grandchildren, Santa Claus isn’t going to come any sooner!

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Ah, but I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now

Bob Dylan
You are Never too old to Follow your Dream to the Finish Line

You are Never too old to Follow your Dream to the Finish Line

Posted by martin.parnell |

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am a little partial to running the odd marathon. Therefore, I was intrigued to read an article from CBC Edmonton’s Wallis Snowden, about Roger MacMillan, (photo credit) from Fort Saskatchewan. Roger celebrated his upcoming 80th Birthday, by running his 100th Marathon, in Edmonton, on August 20th. 

Not only do I admire him for reaching this milestone, but mostly for his attitude towards running and keeping active, particularly in later life. Roger completed his first full race at the age of 69 and has since completed several “big ones” including New York, and Dublin. 

It was then that he set himself a target of running 100 marathons before his 80th Birthday, which is on October 30th this year.  “Don't win the race, just finish it. You have to take it easy. I'm not a racer," Macmillan said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. 

Like me, he hadn’t really considered running, until something triggered his desire to run his first race.

In 2002, I was 47 and had never been a runner. However, I accepted a challenge from my younger brother, to run the Calgary marathon. My first run was 1km out from my house and 1km back. It was not a good experience and I realized I needed support and advice. So I joined a local running club and had soon completed my first 10km race.

For Roger, it was watching the achievements of a co-worker. "I was working at an office up in Fort McMurray and a guy kept coming in to work with running T-shirts on and I wanted one," Macmillan said with a chuckle.

"I entered a 10K race in Edmonton and I got my T-shirt. I couldn't walk for about a week, but I was hooked."

Macmillan wore bib number 100 when his children and grandchildren gathered to watch him cross the finish line at the Edmonton Marathon.

His message is clear and he advises other seniors to stay spry “a body in motion stays in motion.” he says, adding “you don't necessarily have to run marathons, but keep moving."

He’s absolutely right. You don’t have to take up running, a good walk will reap benefits for anyone, of any age.

Macmillan walks every day, 365 days a year because, as he says, “You’ve got to keep moving and hopefully live a little bit longer."

I knew he was a man after my own heart when I read that:

1. He took up running later in life.

2. He sets himself goals.

3. He tries to send a message about keeping active.

4. He knows that it’s not about winning, but the taking part.

Also, that this ex-pat celebrated after the big race with a nice cold pint of Guinness, which is precisely what I do, after all of my marathons and Ultra-marathons.

Cheers to you, Roger, a true inspiration.

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Believe in your heart that you're meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles.

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Being Passionate about More than a Game of Soccer

Being Passionate about More than a Game of Soccer

Posted by martin.parnell |

On a Saturday morning, I enjoy nothing more than going for a run with friends and then returning home to a bacon and eggs breakfast, followed by watching a Premier League soccer game, from the UK. This Saturday, Sue and I had travelled to the town of Wetaskiwin, to check out the Reynolds Alberta museum, which I highly recommend, and watch some NASCAR races at the Edmonton International Raceway.  

I didn’t do my usual run or have my bacon and eggs, but I still managed to catch most of a soccer game, in this case CrystalPalace v Swansea. 

At one point, the commentator remarked that attendance at the game was around 26,000 

Another Premier League team, Tottenham Hotspur, are currently based at Wembley Stadium, whilst their new ground is being built, and the capacity there is some 90,000.                 .

It struck me that it’s extraordinary how so many people can come together and share the  passion  of supporting 22 guys passing a ball around, in the hope that someone will manage to kick it into the back of a 8ft. high, 24ft wide net. 

It also struck me that it would be amazing if that same number of people could come together and share that same degree of passion for a different, common cause. 

And, of course, it’s not just in England. The same could be applied to fans of the Calgary Stampeders or Toronto Maple Leafs, just name a team and thousands of fans will be there to support their favourite team, on a regular basis, which is great. Given half the chance, I’d do the same. 

Imagine, though, if that same number of people decided to spend one Saturday or any day for that matter, volunteering for a worthy cause.

Now I don’t doubt that many of those spectators watching the game in London, probably do volunteer, but I also suspect that many don’t. 

In Canada, I have found that volunteering is far more common and, in fact, if you should attend a Canadian Citizenship ceremony, you will hear that it is made abundantly clear to new citizens of this country that they are expected to volunteer, in some capacity. 

If you have never volunteered do try to find an opportunity to do so, just a couple of hours a week or whenever you can spare the time can be a big help and there’s nothing quite like sharing a passion to help a worthy cause, to give back and make a difference. 

But, going back to the attendance numbers, wouldn’t it be amazing if that many people raised their voices, not to tell the ref he needs glasses, to sing about “forever blowing bubbles” or if you’re a Liverpool supporter, declaring “You’ll never walk alone”, but instead raised their voices in support of or to speak out about issues that affect us all. 

It really would be amazing and could make such an impact. So, if you’re a regular sports fan and support a particular team, take some time to consider if there might be a worthy cause to which you could bestow as much passion.

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