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Ready to Parade into Competition

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2016-rioThe 2016 Olympic Games are set to kick off this evening at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. When they do, one of antiquity’s greatest traditions will set in motion nearly three weeks of competitions ranging from swimming, to rowing and basketball, to archery and volleyball, to table tennis.

It takes a lot to navigate the world’s most collaborative athletic endeavor, which this year will feature over 10,000 athletes from around the globe. Canadians from coast to coast will soon be cheering on the 313 athletes who will sport the maple leaf at Rio 2016.

Before the cauldron is light, did you know…

  1. They take (more than) a village

7.5 million tickets are available for sale, with prices ranging from $40 to $3,000, which is what it’ll cost you for an elite seat at the Opening Ceremonies. Those will take place at Maracanã Stadium, site of the highest attendant soccer game in history — the 1950 World Cup Final where 173,000 squeezed in that day despite a capacity of just 78,000.

It’ll take 60,000 meals per day to feed the athletes, made by many of the 70,000 or so volunteers required to host the events. The games are expected to prompt the assignment of 85,000 soldiers and police officers, the most ever deployed for a single event in the history of Brazil. The security presence will double that of London’s in 2012.

  1. They’re going where they’ve never gone before

The Olympic torch will be in unfamiliar territory when it finally completes its 3.5-month journey to Rio on Friday. The summer Games have never before been hosted in South America. Representatives from 206 countries are set to compete in what will be a historic tournament from the start.

  1. They features the fleetest of foot

The Rio Games will be the last hoorah for Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive and one of the two most recognizable Olympians in the world. His achievements are unmatched: Bolt is already the first sprinter ever to win consecutive golds at the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4×100 meter relay. Now he’s eyeing a third straight gold in each. But the way he wins may be even more impressive: Bolt takes only 40 to 41 steps to complete his 100 meters, while other elite sprinters require 42.5 to 46 steps, according to Sports Illustrated.

  1. They feature best on the bars too

Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura, known colloquially as “Superman” in his country, is looking to become the first man to repeat as all-around champion since Sawao Kato, also of Japan, did so in 1972. Uchimura has won six straight world all-around titles, while no other gymnast has ever won more than three, according to Sports Illustrated.

  1. They will have golf, once again

Olympic athletes will hit the links for the first time since 1904, as golf’s 112-year absence in the Games comes to an end this year.  However, sixteen of the world’s top 100 players won’t be participating due to concerns over the Zika Virus. The list of stars staying home includes No.1 Jason Day (Australia), No.2 Dustin Johnson (USA), Jordan Spieth (USA), Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) and Adam Scott (Australia), according to CBSSports.com

  1. They’ll have another newcomer, too

Rugby is also returning to the Olympic Games, for the first time in 92 years. The United States took gold in rugby’s final Olympic year, 1924, defeating heavily favored France, who was also the host nation, 17-3, in a championship match watched by 50,000 spectators.  This year’s games will feature rugby in its modern “sevens” form, which will be a part of the 2020 Games as well.

  1. They have an eco-friendly mascot and an inspiring slogan

The motto of the Games is “Viva sua paixão,” translated from Portuguese to mean “Live your passion.  The Olympic mascot, named “Vinicius,” after musician Vinicius de Moraes, is a walking, jumping, colorful mixture of Brazilian animals.

  1. They aren’t over in August

Some of the world’s most inspiring and amazing athletes will compete in the Paralympic Games from September 7 to September 18. Athletes will compete in 24 sports including Paralympic-specific sports like goalball, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

Enjoy the Games!  Go Canada!

Go-Canada-Go

Namaste

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treeI got into yoga when my life was a little bit upside down.  I started by practicing once a week and before long, that wasn’t nearly enough.  Just like that, I was spending at least an hour a day on my mat at least 6 days a week, and now yoga is a vital part of my daily routine.  When I fall away from that routine, I miss it intensely until I’m back to it.

Going back to that first class, I was a little frustrated as I kept falling out of postures while everyone stood fierce and focused around me. Even so, I left the class feeling more energized than when I walked in.  I was hooked. I realized that yoga, while sometimes having a stigma as an obnoxious, main-streamed way of trying to be spiritual is, at its core, a very powerful tool that allows us to tap into our inner self and physical potential.

Although the original yoga sutras were developed 2,000 years ago, what many people don’t realize is that, until 100 years ago, yoga was mainly about focusing on breath and meditation.  The postures developed in yoga in recent centuries (the “asana” or physical practice of yoga is only one of the eight limbs of yoga) were designed to prepare the body to be able to sit in stillness for extended periods of time in meditation.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways from yoga, thus far (because I’m not done learning yet):

  1. Release to receive: In yoga postures, you often breathe into a pose. The more you lean into the pose head on, the easier the pose becomes in the long run.  It creates more space, it releases tension, and it makes you feel as if you let something go. In life, sometimes we are unable to live to our fullest because we hold on to something that no longer serves us or brings us happiness.  While this isn’t easy and absolutely takes time, it goes with the idea “The shell must break before the bird can fly”.
  1. You have to love yourself if you expect others to love you: We are often hard on ourselves, placing so many mental and physical demands on our bodies and then beating ourselves up for not being productive enough or saying the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. Yoga helped me see that the only life over which I have direct control is my own. The person I spend the most time with is me. I should be kind to myself and love myself in order to be able to love other people to the best of my ability.
  1. All the space, flexibility and strength you need is inside of you, waiting to be used: When making excuses about why they could never do yoga, people often say “I’m not flexible enough” or “I could never do a headstand; I would be the worst person in the class.” My yoga practice is continually evolving, sometimes faster than other times. Even if that wasn’t the case, yoga isn’t about being “good enough” or naturally flexible or mastering the awesome-looking poses; it is just about being committed to showing up every day and challenging yourself to the best of your ability.
  1. Disconnect to reconnect: We can often get lost on the screens, constantly checking our phones for updates with a subconscious desire to feel needed by and connected with others.  Having at least one hour a day when I turn my phone off and focus on the physical reminds me that life is what we feel, not emails or Facebook statuses suspended in an intangible cyber-space.
  1. Live life’s transitions gracefully so you’re not knocked off your center-point: In learning a new balancing pose or in being thrown into a completely new environment, it is natural to want to hold back or not fully commit as to not risk falling or being rejected. Doing balancing poses reminds me that I can’t just shoot to the “full expression” of the pose on day one, but it will come gradually if I slowly and gracefully push myself each day. It also reminds me that sometimes, the only way to learn how to hold a posture comes after countless times of falling from trying to commit fully.  Falling out of a posture is only a problem if you don’t try to get back into it again. What I love most of all about balancing poses, however, is the 100% committed focus you must have to succeed.
  1. Just breathe: Little things, like focusing on deep breaths throughout class reminds me that I should never take for granted the fact that I can walk on my mat and do all kinds of poses. It’s a powerful feeling.
  1. Positive Vibes: The energy we put out not only affects us, but also those around us. It is important to think about how our actions and vibes can alter those of others. Most classes end with the expression of “Namaste” which in Sanskrit roughly means, “I bow to the divine in you.” It’s the idea that the goodness in me is also somewhere within you. Rather than seeing each other’s flaws, we should strive to find the connecting thread of goodness and of humanity that ties all of us together.

Being Kind to You Wallet this Summer

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Piggy-Bank-at-the-BeachIt seems like there are many more spontaneous opportunities to spend money in the warmer months, like stopping at that pricey coffee shop during a walk. Spontaneous splurges can also be the result of a less pleasant and completely unavoidable experience, like car troubles on your way to a camping trip.

I’ll admit that I’m pretty money conscious, but the same can’t be said for all my friends.  In order to adopt a more relaxed attitude and enjoy the summer months, pre-planning is important.  For instance, if you ramp up your savings plan during the winter to account for the boost in spending later on, you can avoid blowing the budget.   The key is to save before you spend.  If you want to have fun this summer but are worried of how it’ll affect your ability to save, set up an automatic savings plan to stay on the right track, but still take that mental vacation from money worries.

I think it’s possible to have a fun summer with family and friends, going on trips and enjoying lots of different activities while making wonderful summer memories.  It is important to do what you can to avoid ending up with ‘summer memory regret’ when you overspend  on the path to making your summer memorable.

Here are a few ideas to help you have fun while avoiding the fear of looking at your credit card bill:

  • Stay Local: Spend an afternoon exploring a new neighbourhood or park, bring a snack with you or perhaps budget yourself $20 for the afternoon for you and a friend to have a cold summer drink or ice cream treat.
  • Pack a Picnic: Instead of going out for dinner, grab a group of friends and have a ‘picnic potluck’ in someone’s backyard or at a local park. Ask everyone to bring a favourite summer dish (even put a dollar limit on it if you think that’s a good idea) and be creative! Enjoy spending time with friends, just as you would at a restaurant but this way share in the meal-making.
  • Free Festivals or Events: Spend a bit of time researching free festivals or events going on in your city. You can then make a morning, day or afternoon out of it and maybe experience something new at the same time.
  • Get Active: Do you have a Frisbee? Soccer ball? Bocce ball or croquet set? Badminton or volleyball set? Maybe you know someone who does? Grab one or a few of your favourites, grab some family or friends, head to a green space in the city and have a different evening out of sorts – one where you get active and your wallet doesn’t feel the pinch.
  • Road Trip: Summertime can be a wonderful time to travel but it can also be expensive. If you’ve got the travel bug, research instead closer day or multi-day trips that you could drive to (instead of flying) for example. Or, you can always do some serious saving to have the trip of a life time that is on your bucket list.

The bottom line is that you can have a great summer without being worried about paying the price all autumn.  Know what you want to do, and plan to make it happen.

Five Lessons from our Four-Footed Friends

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lab in the grassFull disclosure: I am a dog person.  Many of us consider our canines to be our best friends or part of the family.  They are full of love and so easy to love. When I watch my pup live her life, I often find myself learning from her. I can teach her the fanciest tricks, but she teaches me life lessons.

If you’re a dog owner, you can probably relate.  Here are just of few of the things I’ve learned from my pup:

  1. Show those you love how much you care.

My pup cuddles with me for no reason, and she’s happy to see me when I come home. Her tail wags (sometimes in a full circle!) when we look at her or say her name, and I have no doubt that she loves me as much as I love her.

In the human world, we don’t tend to show that much affection.  We aren’t always as kind as we could or should be to strangers and family and friends alike.  But really – there’s nothing like your four-footed friend coming to meet you at the door and that’s an attitude we can absolutely learn from.

  1. “Me” time is not a waste of time.

I’m not encouraging everyone to live like dogs and sleep for hours and hours during the days and nights.soccer dog But I do advocate taking personal time for yourself, even if that includes a Netflix binge, as long as it is not severely interrupting your life.  Everyone needs time to themselves.  Everyone needs to take care of themselves.  As long as you are using the time to relax and recharge yourself, you are not wasting your time.  When my pup is tired, she rests. If she’s thirsty, she gets a drink of water. She takes breaks for herself, which we humans often forget to do in busy days.

  1. Always be open to joy rides.

Being open to a spontaneous adventure doesn’t mean you need to take every one.  But be open to a spontaneous hike or walk in the park, or a cruise your friend invited you on, or a random road trip.  It is refreshing to see my pup excited for a walk or a road trip.  She doesn’t care where she’s going, as long as she’s with the ones that she loves.

  1. The simple life is full of joy.

If we really think about it, a dog’s life isn’t all that exciting on the surface. I can only speak for my pup, but she sleeps a lot and her main entertainment is her food, her napping puppyexercise (her routine walks), and her family. To my pup though, she has everything: food and water, exercise, and her family. It seems so simple, and she finds adventures in everyday things. She sniffs around her yard and she can entertain herself endlessly.  Even the most routine walks have something interesting and different every day.

In the human world, we have more responsibilities than our canine friends, but we should likely take their cue and find some pleasure from the simple things like an after dinner walk or a conversation with a loved one.

  1. How to just listen.

Dogs are easily the most popular ones in the room. They don’t discriminate, and they find all people interesting. What makes dogs so popular is that they don’t make things about them. They aren’t talking about themselves, and they aren’t judging you.  What you see is what you get.  Dogs listen. They are completely and genuinely interested in you because you are a living and breathing human.  The pets and the treats probably don’t hurt.

dog-in-car-with-gogglesPeople are interesting.  A lot of us have amazing stories, wonderful adventures and a wealth of experience and knowledge that we are willing to share with those who take interest and care.  Maybe dogs don’t actually understand what we’re saying, but we as humans can. If we start listening too, we can learn a lot from each other.

Kick Up Your Boots

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stampedeSome of us see the Stampede as a place to cut loose have a super fun time, but in reality, it is so much more than that. It is a celebration of the unique western culture that was, is, and will be Calgary in the years to come.

Strip away the concerts, shows, rides, games, and everything else you’ll find at the Stampede, and you’re left with a rich history going back more than a century.

Did You Know?

  1. The very first show took place in September of 1912 and lasted only six days.
  2. Over 100,000 people attended the first Stampede.
  3. The first rodeo awarded $20,000 to competitors.
  4. In 1912, more than 2000 aboriginal peoples led the Calgary Stampede parade in full ceremonial attire.
  5. Women were allowed to compete in fancy roping, bronc riding and trick riding in the first Stampede. Today they can only compete in barrel racing.
  6. Guy Weadick, the main driving force behind the show in its early years, led the Stampede’s operations for 20 years.
  7. Weadick couldn’t have done it without A.E. Cross, A.J. MacLean, Pat Burns and George Lane, the “Big Four” businessmen who contributed $100,000 to the first show.
  8. The very first show generated approximately $120,000 in economic benefit, making it a great success!
  9. In 1923, the first free Stampede breakfast was held at a campsite just outside the Canadian Pacific Railway station close to downtown Calgary. Jack Morton, a chuck wagon driver, invited his loved ones and visitors to enjoy free pancakes at the camp, creating a tradition that still exists today!
  10. The same year (1923) was the first year where chuck wagons were used in the Calgary Stampede parade.
  11. The greatest outdoor show on Earth didn’t become an annual event until 1923.
  12. The Stampede has its own Queen and princesses. In 1946, Patsy Rodgers became the first Calgary Stampede Princess. In modern times, one queen, two princesses and one aboriginal princess are appointed to represent the show at various events around the city.
  13. By 1950, 7 movie productions had filmed scenes at the Calgary Stampede.
  14. In 1959 the Big Four Building, named after the “Big Four” businessmen who helped fund the Stampede in its early stages, officially opened.
  15. The daily Grandstand Show began in 1964 that included the Calgary Kidettes, a group of young performers who would evolve into well-known and talented Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede.
  16. It was in 1968 when the show officially became longer – a 10 day event instead of 6.

Kick up your boots, enjoy a bannock picnic or some of the 34 new and unique food offerings (including sweet grasshopper popsicles), and take in the entertainment!

calgary