We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through.

Rosemary Brown, Canadian politician, activist
Why October is the Time to Celebrate Women and Girls

Why October is the Time to Celebrate Women and Girls

Posted by martin.parnell |

I am always noting the different celebrations taking place nationally and internationally , so I was interested to learn, on the Government of Canada website, that: “October is Women’s History Month in Canada, a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women and girls across the country and throughout our history.

This year’s theme is #MakeAnImpact, in honour of the women and girls who’ve made a lasting impact as pioneers in their field. Whether as business leaders, politicians, researchers, artists or activists, these women of impact have helped shape Canada into a thriving, diverse and prosperous country through their achievements and desire to make a difference.

As part of this year’s celebrations, we will be launching Women of Impact in Canada, an online gallery that celebrates the achievements of more than 100 women and girls through photos and biographies that capture some of their many successes.”

I will be interested to see who they include in their online gallery. If you look at the Canada’s History website, some of the Canadian women who made an indelible mark on history include: 

Doris Anderson (1921–2007)

Doris Anderson was a long-time editor of Chatelaine magazine and a newspaper columnist. Through the 1960s, Doris Anderson pushed for the creation of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, which paved the way for huge advances in women’s equality. She was responsible for women getting equality rights included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and sat as the president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Anderson was also an officer of the Order of Canada.

Ga’axstal’as, Jane Constance Cook (1870–1951)

Kwakwaka’wakw leader, cultural mediator, and activist. Born on Vancouver Island, Ga’axstal’as, Jane Constance Cook was the daughter of a Kwakwaka'wakw noblewoman and a white fur trader. Raised by a missionary couple, she had strong literacy skills and developed a good understanding of both cultures and legal systems. As the grip of colonialism tightened around West Coast nations, Cook lobbied for First Nations to retain rights of access to land and resources. She testified at the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission of 1914 and was the only woman on the executive of the Allied Indian Tribes of British Columbia in 1922. A fierce advocate for women and children, she was also a midwife and healer and raised sixteen children. 

Viola Desmond (1914–1965)

Challenged segregation practices in Nova Scotia. Long before the modern civil rights movement in the United States, a black woman from Halifax took a stand for racial equality in a rural Nova Scotia movie theatre. It was 1946, and Viola Desmond, a hairdresser, caused a stir by refusing to move to a section of thetheatre unofficially set aside for black patrons. Desmond was dragged out of thetheatre and jailed. While officials denied that Desmond’s race was the root of the issue, her case galvanized Nova Scotia’s black population to fight for change. In 1954, segregation was legally ended in Nova Scotia. 
 

Margaret Laurence (1926–1987)

One of the giants of Canadian literature. Born in Neepawa, Manitoba, Margaret Laurence graduated from United College (now the University of Winnipeg) and lived in Africa with her husband for a time. Her early novels were about her experience in Africa but the novel that made her famous — The Stone Angel — was set in a small Manitoba town very much like the one she grew up in. Her work resonated because it presented a female perspective on contemporary life at a time when women were breaking out of traditional roles. Laurence was also active in promoting world peace through Project Ploughshares and was a recipient of the Order of Canada. 

Agnes Macphail (1890–1954)

First woman elected to the House of Commons. Agnes Macphail was born in rural Ontario. While working as a young schoolteacher she became involved with progressive political movements, including the United Farm Women of Ontario. She also began writing a newspaper column. She was elected to the Commons as a member of the Progressive Party of Canada in 1921. Her causes included rural issues, pensions for seniors, workers rights, and pacifism. She also lobbied for penal reform and established the Elizabeth Fry Society of Canada. She later was elected to Ontario’s Legislative Assembly, where she initiated Ontario’s first equal-pay legislation in 1951. 

Nellie McClung (1873–1951)

Novelist, reformer, journalist, and suffragist. Nellie McClung was a leader in the fight to enfranchise North American women. Her efforts led to Manitoba becoming the first province to grant women the right to vote in 1916, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan. After a move from Manitoba to Alberta, she was elected to the Alberta Assembly as a Liberal member for Edmonton in 1921. In the legislature, McClung often worked with Irene Parlby of the governing United Farmers of Alberta party on issues affecting women and children. Both were members of the Famous Five. McClung was also the first female director of the board of the governors of the CBC and was chosen as a delegate to the League of Nations in Geneva in 1938. 

Thanadelthur (1697–1717)

Peacemaker, guide and interpreter for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Thanadelthur was a member of the Chipewyan (Dene) nation who, as a young woman, was captured by the Cree in 1713 and enslaved. After a year, she escaped, and eventually came across the HBC York Factory post, governed by James Knight. Thanadelthur stayed to work for Knight, who needed a translator to help make peace between the Cree and the Chipewyan for trading purposes. Accompanied by an HBC servant and a group of friendly Cree, she went on a year-long mission into Chipewyan territory. She brought the two groups together and — alternately encouraging and scolding them — brought about a peace agreement. The HBC records refer to her as “Slave woman” or “Slave woman Joan.”

Justice Bertha Wilson (1923–2007)

First woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Born into a working-class family in Scotland, Bertha Wilson trained in law in Canada. When appointed to the high court in 1982, she already had a track record as a justice with the Ontario Court of Appeal, where she was known for her humane decisions in areas such as human rights and the division of matrimonial property. During her nine years on the Supreme Court, she helped her male colleagues to understand that seemingly neutral laws often operated to the disadvantage of women and minorities. She thus helped usher in ground breaking changes to Canadian law. 

And there are many more, writers, politicians, artists, explorers, athletes, artists and entrepreneurs, all pioneers in their field, who have helped shape Canada. 

October 11th. will be celebrated, internationally, as the Day of the Girl. The International Day of Girls initiative began as a project of Plan International, a non-governmental organization that operates worldwide.

The observation supports more opportunity for Girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by Girls worldwide. This inequality includes areas such as access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from discrimination, violence against women and child marriage. The celebration of the day also "reflects the successful emergence of girls and young women as a distinct cohort in development policy, programming, campaigning and research.”

International Day of Girls was formally proposed as a resolution by Canada in the United Nations General Assembly. Rona Ambrose, Canada's Minister for the Status of Women, sponsored the resolution; a delegation of women and Girls made presentations in support of the initiative at the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly voted to pass a resolution.

On October 4th. I will be acknowledging not only the women and girls who have played an important role in the history of Canada, but of all the women, through history and across the world, who have fought to improve the lives of others, in a variety of ways.

I will also be thinking about the women I will be meeting as the flight I am on will take me first to Frankfurt, then to Istanbul and finally to Kabul, where I will meet up with an inspiring group of women who are trying to make a difference in the lives of women and girls, in Afghanistan.

These are the inspirational leaders of the future. Women like Zainab Husseini, who overcame numerous obstacles to become the first Afghan woman to run a marathon,

I will meet up with Stephanie Case, whose organisation Free to Run, is providing access to sport in areas where it would normally be unavailable to women and girls.

October is here so let’s all take a little time to pay tribute to all the women and girls who make a difference in our lives and the lives of others.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, is being released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

 

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Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

Charles Swindoll, Author
The Pace Bunny of Afghanistan: Supporting Girls in their Quest to Run

The Pace Bunny of Afghanistan: Supporting Girls in their Quest to Run

Posted by martin.parnell |

Arriving in Afghanistan, I was looking forward to running with Zainab, the first Afghan woman to complete a marathon and the person who had inspired me during my recovery from a clot on the brain. However, two days before the race I had been told by Taylor Smith, Program Director for Free to Run, that Zainab had other commitments and would be unable to participate in the race. I was very disappointed. However, I knew there was a large number of Free to Run Afghan girls running their first marathon and I wondered how I could help. 

Then a brain wave hit me, why not be the very first “Pace Bunny” in the Marathon of Afghanistan. I put this to Taylor and she thought it was a great idea. The night before the race I made a set of bunny ears and a time placard. I knew that was going to be an incredibly difficult course. The maximum elevation is over 11,000 feet (3,360m) which means the oxygen level drops from 21% to 13.7%. Also, the course is extremely hilly and the elevation gain / loss over the 42 km is 3,723 feet (1,135m). This would be a challenge for me and the girls. So with the cut off time being 8 hours I made the “pace bunny” time 7 hours. Go Bunny Go. 

The next morning, at the Band e-Amir National Park race start area, I met up with Hassina, Free to Run Kabul Field Officer. She agreed to be my “Assistant Pace Bunny” and pointed to a group of girls who would be running with us. We got together and I gave them a pre-race talk. 

The Start 

There were six other girls, 2 from Bamyan, 2 from Herat and 2 from Kabul and I explained to them that we would let the other runners go ahead. I also explained that as we did this we would shout “Hey Ho, Let’s Go!” They were all very excited. There were speeches from Stephanie Case, founder of Free to Run and the Governor of Bamyan said a few words and then at 9.10am, James Bingham, Race Director, did the countdown 5….4….3….2…..1 and we were off. 

The first part of the race was a 2 km out and back and at the completion of each km I yelled out “Hey Ho” to which the girls replied “Let’s Go!” Then we headed up on the first of many steep climbs out of the numerous valleys in Band e-Amir. 

7km Check Point 

Check points were located every 7 kms and things were going pretty well with the group as we approached the first aid station. The route had been tough. My only concern was that one of the girls was complaining of back pain so I suggested she drop out at the next check point but she said no. I knew there was a sweep vehicle behind us and that she would probably take that before the next check point. The group kept moving forward and were on track up to the 10 km point. The course was marked with wooden planks, laying at the side of the road, with black arrows painted on and we had been following them diligently. 

At a fork in the road we followed the arrow pointing left and continued for 2 kms down a path. Then we heard yells from across the valley and people were waving at us to come over. The girls and I trudge across a marshland and met up with the race volunteers. They told us that someone had turned the plank around and that we were going the wrong way. 

14km Check Point 

This was a disaster and I was pretty mad. There was no way we would complete the marathon in 7 hours. It would be tough enough for the girls and I to even make the 8 hour cut-off without this, as some of them were, by now, struggling with the terrain and physical issues. At the 14 km check point I shared my feelings with the volunteers. I asked that they pass along a message to James Bingham, Race Director, to extend the cut-off to 9 hours.

21 km Check Point 

We continued on and reached the 21km, half way check-point in 4hrs 30mins. However on my GPS it said 23kms, due to the detour. I knew at this pace we had a chance. The first half had been brutal, stunning views but it had been a tough slog up and down the steep, dusty hills. We had been told that the second half would be easier but I had my doubts. James Bingham had said the course had “Rolling Hills”.

As we left the 21 km check-point, I noticed the group had become smaller by one. I had lost sight of the girl with the bad back and another girl had started to lag. 

A key milestone on the route, at the 26 km point, is the arched entrance to Band e-Amir National Park. It was a long straight climb from there and as I reached the top of the hill I looked back to the arch and couldn’t believe my eyes. There, in the distance, was the girl with the bad back. It had been 20 kms and 4 hours since I had seen her and she had kept going on her own and not given up. I decided there and then that I would try and get her, and the other girl who had fallen behind, across the line before the hoped for 9 hour cut-off. 

28km Check Point 

I continued to the 28 km check point and told Hassina that I was going to wait there for the two girls and that she was to take the rest of the group to the 35 km check point and wait for me there. 20 mins later the two girls caught up and told me they wanted to continue. The girl who had been way back could speak a little English and she said her name was Sonya, she was 14 years old and lived in Herat. She told me that the other girl was Anita, 16 years old, also from Herat and her sister. Unbelievable. 

We had 3 hours to do 14 km. The girls were struggling but they plodded on. We arrived at the 35 km check point but no Hassina or the other runners. She had done the right thing and not waited for us. Every so often we would do a “Little Run”, maybe 100m just to keep some momentum going. We had an ambulance following us and I asked the girls on a number of occasions if they wanted to get in but they always said no. 

The Finish 

The last 3 kms were downhill and we had 55 mins complete it. The girls were getting excited and wanted to get their medals. The sun was setting as we rounded the last corner and then we heard the cheers and yells. The three of us ran across the finish line with hugs and tears all round. Sonya, Anita and myself had finished in 8 hours 46 minutes and were told that race director James Bingham had approved the 9 hour cut off limit. We had finished with 14 minutes to spare. I saw Hassina and the other girls and we were all extremely happy and relieved. 

It had been an amazing day and in total 20 Free to Run women and girls completed the marathon. The resilience, persistence and determination shown by these women and girls is an example to the rest of us. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, is being released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.

Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass
How to Embrace Being Scared at Halloween and in Business

How to Embrace Being Scared at Halloween and in Business

Posted by martin.parnell |

This week, people in many countries, including Canada, will be celebrating Hallowe’en. According to Wikipedia: “Halloween or Hallowe'en (a contraction of Hallows' Evening), is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. 

It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. Others believe, however, that Halloween began solely as a Christian holiday, separate from other ancient festivals. Traditionally, Halloween activities include trick or treat, attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, telling scary stories, and watching horror stories.”

 So, what is it that makes people want to dress up in crazy costumes and either scare or be scared? I read a post from the WebMD archives entitled “Why do Thrill Seekers Love Being Scared? “ It explains that “Virtually everyone knows what it's like to feel really scared: A pounding heartbeat. Faster breathing. Nervous perspiration. Butterflies in the stomach.

But whether that fright is caused by watching a nail-biting horror movie, listening to a spine-chilling story, or prowling through a dark-as-night haunted house on Halloween, some people actually revel in feeling frightened.............. Experts believe that it's not uncommon for individuals to push the envelope, seeing how much fear they can tolerate, and ultimately feeling a sense of satisfaction when they're able to endure the anxiety.”

Frank Farley, PhD, psychologist at Temple University, tells us "There's a long history of people being intensely curious about the 'dark side,' and trying to make sense of it. Through movies, we're able to see horror in front of our eyes, and some people are extremely fascinated by it. They're interested in the unusual and the bizarre because they don't understand it and it's so different from our everyday lives."

Farley, former president of the American Psychological Association, has studied people who have what he calls "type T" (thrill-seeking) personalities. These men and women thrive on the uncertainty and the intensity associated with activities that most people consider to be hair-raising -- from riding roller coasters to bungee jumping. According to Farley, “some people enjoy the physical sensations that can accompany being scared -- from the adrenaline rush to the racing heart to the perspiring palms.”

For more than two decades, Glenn Sparks, PhD, has studied the way men, women, and children respond to terrifying images in the media. "Some people have a need to expose themselves to sensations that are different from the routine," he says. "While experiencing a frightening movie may have some negatives, individuals often derive gratification because the experience is different."

Several studies have shown that males like scary films much more than females do. "It's not that they truly enjoy being scared," says Sparks, professor of communication at Purdue University. "But they get great satisfaction being able to say that they conquered and mastered something that was threatening. They enjoy the feeling that they 'made it through.” Quite commonly, at the end of the terrifying movie, an individual may walk out of thetheater with a profound sense of relief, adds Sparks. "He may just be happy that the film is over."

As for children, an event like Halloween can provide an enjoyable and safe way to explore and experience fear, knowing that the goblins and witches stalking their neighborhood are only make-believe. Leon Rappoport, PhD, describes Halloween as something akin to an exorcism, allowing children to work through and release pent-up emotions and anxieties.

"They're being given the license to probe at least the superficial anxieties about magical transformations, which, in the imagination of a child, are not completely foreign," says Rappoport, professor of psychology at Kansas State University. "The experience provides a sort of relief in much the way that an exorcism could be said to do."

Research from David Zald, professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, shows that people differ in their chemical response to thrilling situations. One of the main hormones released during scary and thrilling activities is dopamine, and it turns out some individuals may get more of a kick from this dopamine response than others do. Basically, some people’s brains lack what Zald describes as “brakes” on the dopamine release and re-uptake in the brain. This means some people are going to really enjoy thrilling, scary, and risky situations while others, not so much.” 

In business, things can get scary too. You only have to Google “The Scary side of business” and you will find pages and pages of articles about the scarier aspects of being in business or creating a new one. But there must be a reason why so many people are prepared to confront these issues.  

Perhaps you know someone who thrives on the scarier side of business? The person who will leave things to the last minute, take the extra risk when pitching an idea, push the limit when negotiating a contract? Whether you are involved in business, running your own or thinking of starting a new one, aspects of it can be scary. 

But there may be a positive side, for instance, if it forces you to be more creative, work collaboratively to reach your goal, invent new ways of doing things, perhaps use skills you didn’t know you had. Also, that rush of Dopamine helps in focus and attention. 

None of us can live without encountering some fearful situations but maybe, like those who will be enjoying the spirit of Halloween, we should embrace them and enjoy that rush of Dopamine, though for some, once a year may be enough!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, is being released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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