Project Winter Love

During the winter months, the subarctic and I have a tenuous relationship.

The summer months in the subarctic are great – the short, warm nights make things like long bike rides after work, hikes in the valley, picnics, drinking wine on a patio with friends until late, getting up at 4:30 am to hit the gym before work and whatever else tickles my fancy – easy to do. In fact during the summer, it seems live I a whole year because 6 hours of sleep seems more than enough when the sun only needs about 5 before it starts a new day.

winter coming


  • Old Man Winter means hibernation and a whole lot of layers.

To survive winter up here, you have to be rather organized and resourceful. I already get up before most of the world is awake, but the alarm gets set back even further to a time that starts with the number 4 in order to accommodate my coffee drinking requirements, the time it takes to find all the required layers for the day and the mandatory windshield scraping so I can avoid running into things while driving to the gym at 6:17 am.

Driving home at 4:45 pm and for it to already be dark outside is a hard reality to face; it means by 9:00 pm my body thinks it is about midnight and I find myself in pyjamas and drinking tea wondering what happened to the evening.

I have lived in the subarctic for 18 winters and not thoroughly enjoyed even one of them.

  • Winter will not change, so change I will.

Enter Project Winter Love.

Instead of complaining and bemoaning how dark, cold, long, depressing and hard winter is, I have decided to like it, to enjoy it. Seasons are important – you can’t do everything in every season; there are times and places for things and when they come, the key is to dive deep and enjoy what you can in the season you are in.



A huge part of living a good life is drinking in all of what life has for you in the season you’re in … even when it is dark, hard and cold.

  • Project Love Winter involves three key elements — gratitude, sport and adventure.


Taking time to feel the bitter, winter air freeze your nose hairs, *ahem* I mean smell the roses, is always a good practice. Winter up here in the subarctic is rather beautiful. Hoar frost covered trees, icicles, mountains drenched in snow drifts, one of kind snowflakes and northern lights are just a few of the winter gems which are easily overlooked by moi.

Hot drinks, wine in front of a roaring fireplace, winter sports, the stillness that comes from a giant snow fall, sweaters and fabulous winter accessories are all things I do not get to experience when it is light out until 11:30 pm.

  • Bring on the sweaters baby!

Last weekend while out for an early morning 22 km run with some other crazy women, I had to stop and take a picture of the river as we traversed the valley on foot for a few hours.

Edmonton River - Winter

You don’t see this in the summertime!

Drinking in beauty always makes your soul a little bit bigger and your face break into an amazing smile.

And I do have to say, there is nothing quite like feeling the -40 weather chill you to the bones in less than a second; at that moment it is very clear how alive you are and being alive is a good thing.


Put me on a bicycle and I am a happy woman. Seriously.

In the summer, if I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day the best way for me to remedy the situation is to put on some spandex and clip into my pedals and cycle until my heart is content. An hour or two later, I am drenched in sweat, carefree and happy.

My x-country skis are literally waxed and ready to hit the trails. It finally snowed the other day, and not just a little bit. As my cute car and I slid into the office parking lot with the heated seat on high, I couldn’t help but smile and wonder when the trails will be groomed and ready to have me be ridiculously happy on them.

Edmonton river valley winter

I am looking forward to seeing gorgeous views like this as I ski along this winter.


  • I was very happy to see the snow pour from the skies.

Plans for skiing in the evenings and on the weekends have been made with friends and I cannot wait to make my first snow angel in the snow when I fall over … because I tend to fall over. I may be sporty, but I am also very clumsy.

Ski-Loree anyone?


There are many, many things that I rarely do and avoid during the winter – no more. I have started a winter adventure list of fun things to do this winter.

A few random things from the list:

  • Hot ‘beverages’ and northern lights
  • Snowshoeing in the mountains
  • Knit giant wooly socks and hope they fit – knitting can be QUITE the adventure if you’re me …
  • Hypothermic half marathon?
  • Birkebeiner …. maybe?
  • Hikes in the National Parks
  • Light a fire in my fireplace and let it snow (I am officially afraid of burning my condo down)
  • Christmas lights at the Legislature and Candy Cane Lane
  • Outdoor running and fitness races
  • Bonfires and sledding with friends
  • Christmas shopping on Whyte

The best part of adventures are having them with people you love, so friends get ready to be recruited to enjoy winter with me this year.

Heck, I may be convinced to try downhill skiing again, but that would take a whole lot of courage to look death in the face again; although this time I suppose I don’t have to go down a black diamond I could simply be reasonable and stick to the Edmonton ski hills and bunny hills.

Am I the only one who has struggled to embrace winter?

A down-filled jacket, additional base layers, cold weather running gear, headbands and windproof shells have been dug out of the closet or were bought in August and those hand warmer and foot warmer things will be bought in bulk.

Having what you need to ensure you don’t die a slow, cold and frozen death makes everything better – especially heated seats in your car. I am sure a woman invented heated seats.

I would love to hear your suggestions and things you do to enjoy the winter months. What makes your heart sing about winter?

What is on your Project Winter Love list?

Courage Is Contagious

When we deny our stories, they define us.

~ Brené Brown

I don’t simply read books, I savor, devour and consume them … at least the good ones. I dog ear pages, underline things, write notes in the margins and spill coffee on the pages; if I have loved a book, it looks nearly dead by the time I am finished reading it.

Brené Brown’s newest book, Rising Strong, was just consumed by your’s truly.

Wine and a fabulous book, I need nothing else on a cold, dark evening in the subarctic ... well except a crackling fire in the fireplace. :)

Wine and a fabulous book, I need nothing else on a cold, dark evening in the subarctic … well except a crackling fire in the fireplace. :)

The past 18 months have been rather quiet on my blog; if you are still reading, you get a gold star for sticking with me through one of the darkest, hardest, most painful and quietest seasons of my life. I am still traveling through the murkiness, but I am starting to see some glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel.

Maybe one day I will share more about this season, but for now and most likely a very, very long time, I am leaving it where it is – in process and not just my story. My parts of the story have been shared with people who love me, not in spite of all my imperfections, but because of them.

  • If imperfections make you lovable, I might be one of the most lovable women on the planet.

Despite thinking at times that I might not make it and wading through the aftermath of people going out of their way to shame me and share unwanted opinions about my decisions which had to be made for my well-being and health, I continue to live a full and meaningful life and struggle through the pain that comes with being brave.

brave courage


Living a life and being alive are two distinctly different things.

Nearly all of my twenties were spent ‘being alive’ and it wasn’t until I entered into my thirties that I realized I wanted to live and not just some of life, but all of it; to grab life and experience the highs, lows, depth and adventure that come with a life well lived.

You may not have signed up for a hero’s journey, but the second you fell down, got your butt kicked, suffered a disappointment, screwed up, or felt your heart break, it started. It doesn’t matter whether we are ready for an emotional adventure – hurt happens. And it happens to every single one of us. Without exception. The only decision we get to make is what role we’ll play in our own lives: Do we want to write the story or do we want to hand that power over to someone else? Choosing to write your own story means getting uncomfortable; it’s choosing courage over comfort.  (Page 45)

It may sound like an overstatement, but I often say that becoming a coach saved my life. Without a doubt in my mind, I can stand behind this statement. In order to lead someone somewhere, you have to know how to get there and be equipped to overcome the obstacles along the way; you have to have been there before.

own the story


Becoming a coach who can lead people across the chasm of the impossible means I had to cross and have to continue to cross the chasms of my ‘impossibles’ with someone else leading the way.

Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. ~ Pema Chodron. (Page 155)

Courage, vulnerability, grit, and rising strong were all skills I needed to learn, embrace and continually practice in order to move me from merely staying alive to living a life full of color, emotion, adventure, joy, pain and vulnerability.

Oh vulnerability…

This epic season of my life has felt like the longest, most intense and never-ending vulnerability hangover a woman could ever experience. Through all the hardship, pain, loss and confusion I have experienced alongside some unprecedented amazing and joyful experiences, I am proud, extremely proud of myself, because I am being the woman I am supposed to be and continuing to live with an open heart and to be vulnerable.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~ Carl Jung (Page 251)

Awakening and staying awake is not easy, but it is the most important work you can ever do with your life. Your job is to live YOUR life, all of it.

Back to Brené.

I love Brené because she is human and grapples with her work; she is up to her armpits in the mess and doesn’t have all the answers, but she does have a way forward; her courage is contagious.

One of my practices after spilling coffee all over a book I love is to type out all the gems which made me write in the margins, put stars next to paragraphs and underline things.

The end of the book grabbed me. After practical ‘how tos’ and stories about people living out how to rise strong, Brené simply drove her point home in the last chapter.

Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance. You’re going to confuse, piss off, and terrify lots of people – including yourself. One minute you’ll pray that the transformation stops, and the next minute you’ll pray that it never ends. You’ll also wonder how you can feel so brave and so afraid at the same time. At least that’s how I feel most of the time … brave, afraid, and very, very alive. (Page 254)

It isn’t easy, but it is worth it. You are worth it. I am worth it. I am learning how to live in the dichotomy of being brave and afraid and am also very, very alive.

How are you living? Are you very, very alive?

The ‘Have Done List’

One of my rules in life is to try things at least once.

I am not allowed to hate or say I can’t do something until I have tried it. If I have tried it and hate it or can’t do it, I am allowed to freely share my opinion and never do again if I don’t want to.

  • What can I say? I am a woman who likes to have an opinion about a lot of things.

There have been things I have tried, thought I would hate or be horrible at and yet ended up loving — hilarious things like playing squash, being a translator and installing toilets. I have tried things I thought I would love or be completely fabulous at and HATED — eating sushi with the fish eggs that explode in your mouth, group bicycle rides in the river valley and baking homemade bread, just to name a few.

You never know what’s going to float your boat …

… and if you’re me, you HATE boats.

Being willing to try things creates a very fabulous thing called a ‘Have Done List’.

I am constantly thinking about what to add to my ‘Have Done List’ because its a fun thing to grow.

Earlier in the year one of my early morning running partners sent me a text telling me she was running in the Edmonton marathon and wondered if I wanted to train for the half marathon.

Here’s the funny thing about running … I kind of hate running … but I love running with fabulous people and the coffee and conversation afterwards is always great.

When she asked if I wanted to run the race, it somehow quickly got put on my ‘Would Like to Have Done List’.

The ‘Would Like to Have Done List’ list is a dangerous list, it is the list that makes me become comfortable being uncomfortable and say yes to doing crazy things. Triathlon? Need I say more?

Darned lists!

A training plan was created, a race was picked and then focussed running commenced.

Did I mention that I hate running?

Did I mention that I LOVE putting things on my ‘Have Done List’?

If you want to add races to your ‘Have Done List’, here is some advice from a sturdy woman who is learning how to stop running like an elephant and tends to be a bit of a klutz.

Piece of Advice #1 – Carry water with you. 

Once you start running more than an hour at a time, you must carry water with you. I am a resourceful woman and didn’t want to carry water with me because I didn’t want to be one of those runners … you know … the ones with the water belts. I created routes around water fountains in the river valley after being ridiculous and bursting into a Mac convenience store 10 kms from home with salt tracks running down my face and desperately thirsty. I wanted to keep my minutes per kilometre under 6 minutes, but in an effort to not scare the attendant while slurping water out of the bathroom sink, I had to take a really poor time on kilometre number 13, which is hard to swallow if you’re competitive like I am.

Consider me indoctrinated into the subculture of running.

Buy a water belt, they may seem super lame to all non-runners, but in fact they are awesome.

Love it! It doesn't flop around, it fits my phone, keys and cards, AND its streamlined. Two thumbs up!

Love it! It doesn’t flop around, it fits my phone, keys and cards, AND its streamlined. Two thumbs up!

I have one that even has a pouch to hold my phone, cards, and keys – if I fall over dead one of these days, at least the police will know who to contact.

Piece of Advice #2 – Embrace running tights.

I am not the kind of woman who enjoys wearing spandex anything in public, but when you start running for more than 45 minutes at a time you need clothes that suck to your body and keep things from chafing.

I embraced this years ago in the realm of cycling, so why not with running?

My newest foray into running tights came via Superdry – they sent me an email to see if I would give their clothes a try on my running adventures and of course I said, “YES!”


I love when things match – always makes me happy.

I picked out the cutest and brightest clothes possible because if you’re going to embrace the running tights, you might as well do it with gusto and go all in.

The holy-pink-Batgirl tights (my name for the colour, not their’s) had good things and less than optimal things about them.

Good things.

  • They basically glow in the dark and I got to be the early morning light for everyone else running in the dark with me.
  • They are long enough for my long legs – no ankle coldness to overcome!
  • Small pocket at the small of your back to keep some essentials in, which is great for running – less to hold onto or lose out of your jacket pocket when you’re trying to find a place to put your gloves once you’ve warmed up.

Less than optimal things.

  • They are only one layer and the pink colour showcased the colour of my underwear to everyone we passed by which means several homeless men were keenly aware that I was wearing my dark raspberry coloured underwear that morning. This colour would be great under some other pants or shorts, I have a feeling this wouldn’t happen with the other two colours.
  • The sizing was off, at least for my body shape. I ordered a medium as per my usually wearing size 8 US and found myself  hitching them up as we ran. This could be more to due with the fact that I don’t own hips, but when you order these go smaller than bigger; that’s the great thing about running tights they stretch!

The running hoodie is fabulous and cute – I have a feeling I am going to be wearing this in the subarctic most mornings that I find myself meeting the women at 6:00 am to go running in the subzero temps that are looming.


On the run to go running! I am not organized enough to be able to have time to stop and take a non-blurry picture. This is as good as it gets friends.

It has a hood that cinches up with ease while running, double layer thickness, wicking away capabilities, thumb holes, an inside pocket for my phone and the medium fits my broad shoulders perfectly. It washes great and it dries over night no problem. Perfection!

Piece of Advice #3 – Make fabulous running friends.

Run with people who you like a lot and tell them stories, listen to their stories, laugh, think deep thoughts, be ridiculous and whatever else you feel like – simply share your lives as the kilometres go by.

  • In fact, this is the most important thing you can do.

Running alone is horrible, even when you have great music because when you have 5 more kilometres to go and all you can do is think about how you want to be done … it takes mental grit to get your arse back to your car without calling a cab. Although if you’re like me, you don’t bring money along so it really limits your options for being ridiculously lame. I try to create situations for myself where there is no option except to finish – it usually helps and sometimes bites me in the arse hard.

A half marathon is now firmly on my ‘Have Done List’.

And yes, I finally can say with pride, “Half marathon? Oh you betcha. I’ve done one of those.” MEC put the race on at the end of the season and I signed up last minute. It was a race that had 6 epic hills in it, but I finished it wearing some running tights, drinking water from my water belt and finding a few fabulous friends to chase down along the way.

By the time I finished, I was covered in salt and nearly unable to walk, but it was done!

After eating three bananas and catching up with an old friend at the finish line, I mustered enough energy to drive my little standard car home so I could consume half the food in my kitchen and have a very hot epsom salt bath.

Not guts, no glory … or something.

So the question remains, what are you going to put on your ‘Have Done List’?

Two Ballet Flats and an iPhone

Two ballet flats, which looked to be around a size six, caught my attention as I ran in the dark last Thursday. My running partner and I were on the beginning leg of our 10 km run and were just starting to warm up before the sun had even dared to come up.

When my alarm rings at 4:10 am on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I tend to wonder if I am crazy.

During June and July in the subarctic, getting up at 4:10 am isn’t hard because the sun has already been up for awhile. Waking up to a sunrise in process that is sharing glorious reds, pinks and oranges makes it easy to get up … or at least it keeps me from wondering if the world is coming to an end or questioning my sanity.

Now that it is fall and 4:10 am greets me with a sky the color of freshly laid asphalt and only 3 degrees, I don’t wonder about my crazy status – it is clear that I am out of my mind.

But that’s the thing about accountability, it even has the power to get my lazy arse of bed before the birds start their morning chatter.

The running women await my arrival, so I stumble in the dark towards my kitchen – opening my eyes is always optional at this point in the morning.

Coffee must be drank, at least two cups, prior to me leaving the house.

I have my priorities straight and am compassionate towards the rest of the world; no one needs to have an under-caffeinated Donloree on their hands.

As we approached the ballet flats, which I assumed a very fit woman must have lost during her morning bicycle commute to the University over the High Level Bridge, I felt the urge to pick them up and post them on social media so the fit, professional woman wouldn’t have to go barefoot or clomp around in her bike shoes all day.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky; it seemed endless as it stretched deep into its black abyss of nothingness. The glimmer of the iPhone lying abandoned between the two shoes was faint but nonetheless it winked at me, pleading for attention.

My initial thought was that there was an iPhone-less and ballet flat-less woman in the city and disaster abounds.

I was completely correct, but not in the way I thought.

Without fully understanding what was happening, my body slowed down and turned towards the owner of the shoes. She was already on the other side of the fence with her size six feet hanging off the four inch ledge and her two fists holding onto the chain link fence while facing the river below.

Her body shuddered as she contemplated what she believed to be her only option – death.

Four inches of cement and ten fingers separated life from death.

Adrenaline and calm suddenly coexisted in my body.

“I need to call 911. You need to talk to her, be with her.”

Some of the longest minutes of my life stretched out in front of me as I waited to be connected to police services while watching a tiny, young woman take one hand off the fence as stories of pain, abuse, neglect and horror poured out of her soul and trickled down her cheeks.

Now only five fingers separated life from death and there was no one there to help us to keep it from happening. My heart reached out in silent connection as I tried to will her to come back over to safety and experience love and hope in the words we shared with her.

Forty minutes later the police removed us from the scene, Shivering and brokenhearted, we started the 1.5 km reverence-filled run back to the YMCA.

As I tried to get ready for the day without crying in the locker room, I answered an unknown ID call on my phone. A deep breath filled with hope and dread entered my lungs.

She chose life.

Her ten fingers reached out and latched onto a small glimmer of hope for a better tomorrow.

Tears filled my eyes and I shared the news with the other women in the change room; collectively we shared a sigh of relief and cheered.

Two days later I ran across the bridge and spent the kilometer being grateful for how wonderful my life is; despite how utterly crazy, hard and complex it is.

I have more than enough, despite all of my problems.

The mental image of the abandoned ballet flats will never leave me and will come to mind every single time I cross the High Level Bridge; a reminder to choose hope, be grateful, and to always run through life with amazing people by my side.

It is my victory bridge.

Later that afternoon, I called to see if someone could tell me which hospital the tiny, gorgeous woman has been taken to – of course they couldn’t – simply because she needed to hear the truth in my heart that kept threatening to pour out of my eyes.

You matter. You are important. You are not invisible. You have not been forgotten.

All I wanted to do was take her in my arms and say, “I was on the bridge with you. I see you. You matter. You are worth fighting for and there is nothing in my power that I wouldn’t have done to keep you with us. Stay. Fight.”

Perhaps she isn’t the one who needs to hear this truth today. Perhaps it is you.

You matter. You are important. You are not invisible. You have not been forgotten.

If you’re on the other side of the fence with only 4 inches of cement and ten fingers keeping you from death, ask for help and let yourself be seen.

Reach out and grab onto hope, no matter how faint the glimmer.

And for those of us running by, don’t pretend like it isn’t happening when you see it. Stop and face your humanity and the person in front of you, no matter how scary it may be in the moment.

Oftentimes when you help save a life, you end up saving your own.

Opportunity Doesn’t Usually Knock

I am a woman who has entered into the middle stretch of her life. In a marathon, I would be in the section of the race where you just keep plodding along and the spectators are few and far between.

Yet, the middle of nearly everything is the best part … let’s take the Oreo as a prime example of everything that is good about the middle. Or a Boston Cream doughnut. Or a molten chocolate lava cake topped with ice cream.

*shakes out of food coma*

The middle is where everything changes.

Being 35 years old and sticking my head up every now and again to see where my life is at and what other people are doing makes me grateful.


In my twenties, I was hustling; believing I was behind everyone else. That I was somehow a failure because I didn’t build a technology business with only a 3 dollars in my pocket, solve the water crisis, feed 1 million hungry children or cure cancer. I was utterly normal, boring and predictable.

At the age of 20, I thought I knew everything and was wise. It turns out I knew basically nothing and was ridiculous and ungrateful.

Reality really does bite sometimes. HARD.

The questions about “What are you going to be when you grow up?’ and pressure to have 2.5 children, a dog and always present a shiny picture of happiness has faded.

  • I am neither shiny nor grown up – and you don’t have to be either.

The middle of the race is where small changes yield huge results. You can’t change where you are in your race, but you can change how you run.

Opportunity doesn’t knock, it usually races past you and you have to run to catch it. Stop sitting at your front door, peering out the window and hoping the knock will come.

Life happening nowPhoto

Some opportunities will pass you by, others you will catch while you keep running and there are some you shouldn’t chase.

Opportunities come when you are in motion and running the race that you’re supposed to run; not someone else’s. I don’t know how many times I veered off my path in my twenties to run someone else’s race, got stuck in the brambles and found myself back on my path limping along while bleeding profusely.

The best thing you can is is keep running, training and working hard on YOUR race.

When someone else passes me, I have learned to cheer them on and applaud them for working hard and chasing the opportunities that have come along on their path. Everyone who does what they are supposed to do with their life deserves acknowledgement and honour – there is no room for jealousy or bitterness in a life well lived.

right onesPhoto

When you take the long view and learn the art of running just a bit faster, you will arrive where you want to go sooner – your capacity to do more with your life will grow.

Don’t lose sight of what you’re supposed to do each and every day.

Most days are ‘boring’. But what you do with your ‘boring’ matters. The boring days set you up to be able to chase down opportunities when they cross YOUR path.

One of my favourite things to ask myself and others is, “Was the diem carpe-ed?”

How are you running your race?

I’m Living in a Christmas Card

This morning I woke up to about 8 inches of fresh, gorgeous snow. It is Sunday, which means the neighbourhood is still sleeping and all that can be heard in the stillness is the chirping of a few birds and the amazing sound of silence.

Spring and summer are hiding under there somewhere!

Spring and summer are hiding under there somewhere!

In honour of the snow, I decided to share an essay I wrote in the middle of winter. Somehow it seems apropos.

~ ~ ~

Every morning is the same, but we don’t remain unchanged …

Every morning is the same. Half awake and yet fully caffeinated, I bang my way through the turnstile, scan my card, grab a towel and wave to Danny.

Danny is overly happy. It is only 6:47 am.

Remnants of mascara cling to my eyelashes and a slept on ponytail is the exclamation point to my business suit, heels and overstuffed gym bag.

Fitness is not for the faint of heart. Early morning fitness requires mindless adherence to a regime that Tony Robbins would approve of.

Every morning my bleary eyes snap open just seconds before my iPhone starts to emit cricket noises.

Yes. It is 4:41 am.

Only two kinds of people are up at this time in the morning – the night owls who are coming down from their fourth wind and the crazies who believe the early bird catches the worm.

A few questions come to me before dawn starts to break.

  • Do I want to be a worm catcher when I grow up?
  • Does this mean I am grown up?

The heaviness of my down comforter calls to me, warmth lulls me into thinking it will be ok to not get up and get moving today. Just this once.

The conversation with myself about sleeping in and throwing discipline out the window doesn’t happen just once; it is a daily choice to have my feet hit the floor and search for the slippers that were deserted 7 hours earlier and to stumble through the dark to the coffee pot that is finishing up brewing dark, liquid courage.

When the kitchen light goes on, only one eye is brave enough to open. After a bit of time and a few sips of Rocket Fuel, both eyes open and blink.

Alive. I am alive.

Living is not for the faint of heart.

The winter months are the hardest, the morning sky is darker than the coffee in my mug and it will not wake up for hours. Living up north, the summer rarely turns out the lights and winter barely turns them on.

This particular morning I shiver, even though my house is warm and my woolly socks and slippers soften every footfall. The drifts of snow kindly lean up to the windows, asking to come in for an early morning cup of coffee. I slowly shake my head and breathe deeply before turning my back on their request.

The elements will have to be faced, but not quite yet.

Before the world wakes, I plan my day and read. Connection with myself and who I am becoming can easily get lost in the midst of leading meetings, avoiding the chocolate cake in the lunchroom, leading people in change, paying the bills, sliding through traffic lights on black ice and trying to make it back home before the slow cooker starts on fire. Client emails get responded to, notes are sent on social media, blog posts are written, a pot of coffee is consumed, gratefulness developed and journaling scratched out.

Before my arse completely molds itself to my office chair, I stretch and inadvertently mess up my slept on ponytail as a yawn threatens to take over my whole being.

The gym, which keeps me sane and my pants from cutting the circulation off at my waist, starts to call to me. It is dark and what feels like minus twelve thousand outside, yet the cellulite doesn’t lie and the caffeine is pulsating through my veins

It is time to embrace my inner Rocky Balboa and work hard.

A business suit is selected and put on my body. Tights, heels, jewellery, water bottle, food and laptop all find their way to their spots in my purse, gym bag and briefcase. Two pairs of wool socks, a short down coat, an ankle length down coat, boots whose label boasts of the ability to navigate -40 C weather, a scarf, toque, gloves and mittens later; I am ready to exit the house.

The tell-tale bead of sweat that indicates it is time to leave starts to slowly roll down my spine and finally pools at the top of my skirt.

With three bags in tow, I trudge through the snowdrifts and crack the car door open. Unplugging the block heater and trying to see through fogged up glasses turns into an Olympic level sport.

I am training to win gold.

Finally, after 18 minutes of defrosting, scraping and breathing into my mitten clad and gloved hands, I put the car in reverse.

Both the car and I are glad to ease into the heated parkade until the moment everything fogs up and immediately freezes. The ability to see where you are going is virtually impossible. Only experience teaches you to roll down all the windows of your car despite it being -32 C prior to entering the parkade. Instead of yelling, “Adrian!” a cold squeal emits out of my soul and scares a few pedestrians.

My vehicle turns into a bumper car as I slowly bumble into a parking stall while spraying windshield fluid everywhere; the noise of the defrost and wipers make listening to the radio impossible. The first spot that I can see and slowly roll into without incident is the one that earns the right to be the melting spot each morning.

Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, I peel off my subarctic gear and put on my workout clothes.

My warm-up consists of moves that would make Jillian Michaels proud as I battle against the down coats and other subarctic gear to get my locker shut.

I emerge victorious and primed to prove the cellulite on my left thigh wrong.

As I warm up, I wonder what I am doing at the gym at 6:30 in the morning. What kind of woman attempts to press 100 pounds over her head a few times or runs 8.5 mph sprints on the treadmill while 93% of the world is sleeping?

I look around.

Women of distinction. Women of character. World changers.

At 7:52 am the conversation picks up where it left off the day before. Tweezers, mascara wands, blow dryers and nearly every beauty implement imaginable are scattered across the makeup counter. We jockey for plugins and mirror space while at all different stages of being dressed. In between eyebrow shaping, flat ironing and complaining about nylons, life is shared.

When you’ve spent three years next to a woman, half dressed while putting on mascara telling her about your fears, dreams, challenges and pain somehow seems obligatory. She has seen my cellulite and not judged; she can be trusted with my hopes, dreams and failures.

At the makeup counter, we share 23 minutes of life every day. Life that involves joy, pain, death, dreams, work and personal stress and the hilarity that comes with being a woman; some days there are tears, others extreme laughter all while the blow dryer attempts to drown them out.

Dreams, goals, fears, insecurities, sickness, travel, adventure, love and loss have all been shared at the early morning makeup counter.

Even death comes to the make-up counter. When Deb’s sister unexpectedly died, every single woman from the make-up counter was found sharing small sandwiches together after the memorial service. Women who tweeze together, mourn together.

I go to the gym to be healthy and fit, but it is more than just for the health of my body. It is for the health of my soul. Friendship develops over time and there is a blessing that comes from sharing life with other women who get up before God turns on the lights and it is -32 C outside.

There is community.

Where do you find community? Who journeys alongside you as you work to become who you were created to be?

Currency. Yes, Please. {52 Books}

I know this is going to come as an absolute shock, but I have only experienced the world as a woman. I view everything through woman-colored glasses unless I purposefully, and with much effort, take them off.

Woman-colored glasses suck.

One of my biggest hangups in life is how I view my body. I know I am not alone in the experience and that most women have this same problem. What we think of our bodies and beauty keeps us stuck and creates feelings of anguish.

I am proud of myself and feel fully comfortable with who I am and who I am becoming in nearly every area except for the image that stares back at me from the mirror. She blinks at me and all I can see is a rather large, statuesque woman who is fluffier than society allows for with giant eyes and shoulders that a linebacker would covet.

  • Oh to be ten years old again!

To have the freedom to wear mismatched clothes, have your hair all in chaos and laugh until your belly hurt all while being the most fabulous YOU on the planet.To not even notice or be bothered by your imperfections because you are too busy chasing dreams to be bothered by what someone might dislike about you one day.



Amy Poehler.

I’ve been reading my 52 books and have a backlog of gazillions of books to comment on and blog about, but life has not afforded me the luxury to be able to put pen to paper or more specifically keystroke to blogpost.

amy cover

This last week, I have been reading ‘Yes, Please‘ and found myself literally laughing out loud – a gift rarely found in a book. In the midst of the chortles and deep appreciation of Amy’s sarcasm, I have found some fabulous gems.

“I had already made a decision early on that I would be a plain girl with tons of personality, and accepting it made everything a lot easier. If you are lucky, there is a moment in your life when you have some say as to what your currency is going to be. I decided early on it was not going to be my looks. I have spent a lifetime coming to terms with this idea and I would say I am about 15 to 20 percent there. Which I think is great progress.

Decide what your currency is early. Let go of what you will never have. People who do this are happier and sexier.

Being considered beautiful can be tough. I know this because I work in Hollywood, which is filled with the most conventionally beautiful people in the world. Beautiful people can get objectified and underestimated. They didn’t do anything to earn their genes so they have to struggle to prove they are more than their hot bods. People assumed they are happy and good in bed and most times this is not true.”
~ Pages 20-21

In the midst of a season where I have come face to face with the monsters in my head that sound just like me except for they say really mean things that I would never even think about saying to my enemies, the pithy and truthful prose of Amy shines through and sends them back to the pit where they came from.


I’ve been shopping at stores that only take Euros and all I have in my bank are dollars.

The most beautiful people I have met are who they are without apology. They are busy chasing dreams and doing life which leaves them no time to count the number of cottage cheese dimples on their thighs or assess how floppy their arms are. They are out spending their currency and investing themselves in things that matter.

Who knew Amy Poehler would meet me where I was at and have words of wisdom for me in a season of intense struggle and chaos? That’s the thing with sharing your story; no matter where you are, you are father down the path than someone who needs help to get where you are.

I’m glad I found Amy on my path this week.

"You have a great face for wigs!"I loved this quote. :)

“You have a great face for wigs!”I loved this quote. :)

I may not have any Euros, but I have millions of Donloree Dollars that need to be spent, shared and invested. I can’t wait to start spending my currency again. It is time to stop shopping at the stores that only take Euros; I have no more time to waste looking at what is behind the glass case and wondering if Euros will magically appear while what I have sits in an account gaining very little interest.

Women, it is time to stop living like we have nothing to offer. Stop bemoaning what you don’t have and start spending!

What’s your currency? What do you need to spend more of? What will you do with the millions in your bank? 

Five strategies to avoid being labeled by what do you for a living

Last night I spent a few hours sanding drywall, washing walls and taping off baseboards and shelves so I could paint my storage closet. In order to do this effectively, everything had to come out and all the categorization began … keep, give away, garbage, goes somewhere else ….

Unfortunately our categorizations go past our storage closets and into our relationships. We like to know where to find people, what people do and how to ‘effectively use them’ in the future.

This is why I dislike networking events.

After the person in front of me gets past my name and I explain the origin, repeat the pronunciation about 3 times and refuse to let them call me something else, we get to the ‘So, what do you do?’ question.

Ahh, the question the helps them know what box to put me in. The question that helps them assign a level of value to me and what I am doing with my life.

If you are like me, when this question comes I freeze up for a split second. It isn’t because I don’t know what the answer it; I simply don’t want to be put in the box.

Value me?

Instead of feeling empowered and proud, I feels like I’m up on the auction block and being assessed for sale and the only information they have are two labels – name and title.

And if you have a weird name like I do, the name puts you at a deficit. The pressure to have a fabulous, culturally acceptable job title is paramount in these situations. Why? I am not completely sure; it just is.

Self doubt crowds in and questions like, “Am I good enough?” run through your brain.



I try not to ask this question of people, rather I try to let it come out in conversation or come up when it makes sense in a conversation. Unfortunately we are trained to ask people what they do for a living and then there is an assigned value for job titles. Why in our culture is being the VP of Finance more interesting than a stay at home dad? Or Creative Director better than Receptionist?

Over the years I have come up with some coping strategies for the label obsessed culture that we live in.

Five strategies to avoid being labeled by your job title.

1.  Respond with a clarifying question.

“For fun? When I am most fulfilled? To put food on the table?”

This lets them redefine their question and opens the conversation back up.

2.  Tell them the result, not the title.

“Oh loads of things, probably just like you. My favourite part of my work is <insert what I love best at the moment>” (e.g. Getting messy with people in their business and watching great changes happen.”)

Just tell them what you love about the work you do and then ask them what their favorite thing about the work they get to do is. It adds humanity and passion to the label that is eventually going to get put on you.

3.  Admit you hate the question and that it is a horrible question.

“I hate that question, I am sure you do too! It just makes boxes that we have to live in. How about I tell you about what I am most passionate about?”

Yes, I have said this at a business networking event and it actually went over well. The death grip on my conversation partner’s wine glass lessened and we chatted for nearly 20 minutes.

4.  Tell them about all the boxes they can put you in.

“Too many things! Executive Coach, HR Director, Speaker, Author … and then there is the personal life stuff.”

Rolling your eyes about the amount of boxes you could be put in can be helpful at this point.

5.  Give them what the result of your work is.

“I help people figure out what they want and how to get it. Best way to put food on the table EVER.”

Feel free to elaborate about a client, project or something you’re in the midst of learning that you’re enjoying – let the happiness ooze out.

If the conversation doesn’t naturally progress from there, simply change the subject and ask them about something you are curious about. Do not ask them what they do for a living.

Some possible ‘next’ questions:

  • What projects are you enjoying most right now?
  • When you’re not putting food on the table and paying bills, what are you up to?
  • What are some goals or big things you’re working on this year?
  • What brought you here / how are you connected to this group?

The main thing to remember is to be fully ok with yourself that no matter what labels or weirdness people put on you when you answer – even if you just give them your title. Your confidence tells them a whole lot more than your words.



No matter what, you are going to get categorized and put into a box, just do your best to make sure it is a fabulous one. Getting put in a box means people know where to find you, which isn’t all that bad. Yes, there is a whole lot more than the initial box you get put in, but it will be discovered over time if they know where to find you.

In my keep pile from the storage closet are my squash racquet and squash shoes. If I didn’t dig through the closet and put it in the ‘keep’ pile, I wouldn’t have it on my list to rediscover my love of hitting a small black ball in a closed off court while gasping for air.

Sometimes being put in a pile or box isn’t so bad, sometimes it helps connect you to your passions.

What strategies do you have for answering this question? What answers do you have?

My Favorite Strategic Plan: Do Stuff

You may think I am being a bit tongue in cheek, but I am completely serious. Many people are ‘stuck‘ trying to get what they want in and from their lives and businesses. I coach a lot of entrepreneurs and business leaders as well as a few individuals; at the core of their ‘stuckness‘ exists the same thing…

A severe lack of actually doing things.

There is a sense that more knowledge, preparation, reading, learning, watching others, googling and planning will unstick them.

The more you know and the less you do, the more stuck you become.

The truth is, until you get your arse in the store, try on the dress in the window and put some cash down to buy it; you’re just window shopping.

  • What if the dress doesn’t fit?
  • What if up close it doesn’t look as fabulous?
  • What if I don’t like it once I try it on?
  • What if ….

The negative ‘What if …‘ questions are unhelpful unless you have an amazing comeback for them.

Allow me to lend you mine.

Who cares?

Two words, simple and a bit cocky, yet rather helpful.

From my personal experience, I am sure the answer to my pithy comeback is ‘me‘. I am the only one who cares about things I deign to be a failure. If it doesn’t work the first time, if I am not good at something right away, if it doesn’t feel great or I hate it the only person who will most likely notice is me.

It’s time to get to work doing what you know to do.

Start where you are


Discipline creates freedom – ironic, but true.

Follow-through is what creates success, meaningful relationships, sustainable health, a business you love to work in and positive impact in the world.

Planning, research and more information is useless unless it is paired with disciplined action

Freedom comes from constraint. We want all the options at our fingertips and we want to read about them, ask other people their opinions on them and compare them constantly. Not constraining your options feels like freedom for a short amount of time, but in reality the longer you keep your options open, the less options you eventually have.

Knowledge is like money; unless you invest it into something and work on your investment it won’t grow or create more wealth.



Knowing what to do is important, but if you don’t do what you know to do you’re foolish. So many of us, including myself, play the fool on a daily basis.

Right about now in the conversation is when love and self compassion needs to come in. If you are anything like me and severely human, there is probably a list a mile long of things you know to do but aren’t doing. Be gentle with yourself; extreme self judgement isn’t going to help you.

The first thing you know to do and probably aren’t doing is being kind to yourself.

It is easy to know what you should do; doing it is the hard part.

What if you started to do what you already know to do but aren’t doing? What would change for the better?

  • Start to do and get good at it – grow from there.

More information and knowledge will be required on your journey of moving forward, but learn as you go. Embrace needing to know something and figuring it out rather than knowing everything and having nothing that you want in life.



Do not hear me say you don’t need to go to school, learn from others, research or plan. Hear me clearly saying, you’ve probably done enough for now; it’s time to get to work.

Will you embrace your inner Nike and ‘Just Do It’ and then keep doing it?

Healthy Is Better Than Hot

There is a lingering plague in our society which effects both males and females, but since I am a woman I am going to talk about the female perspective.

Body image.

A few days ago, I was chatting with some amazing women online and we were talking about how it is so easy to get stuck in hating your body. There are both external pressure from media and internal pressure we put on ourselves to have a perfect body before we accept ourselves so the rest of the world will do the same.

Quickly food becomes the enemy, 6-pack abs the goal and exercise the antidote.

I have been on both ends of the spectrum, both ‘fat‘ and ‘fit‘. Inside both of those realities, I still hated myself. I was still seeking outside approval; looking to have someone validate me.

criticize 2


I was the same woman at 132 pounds and size 4 that I was at 220 pounds and size 20.

In the words of my very mouthy grandma, “Who is looking at you anyway?” There is more truth in this question than one realizes. Basically only you are looking at you; truly looking.

Look deep and make some decisions about who you want to become.

I am going to be 35 years old in a few weeks and I am happy to report a few things that will be amazing for anyone who is in the midst of struggling to get out of the body image battle.

  • I rarely think about how I look during the day – I am fully present in doing meaningful work.
  • Getting dressed in the morning is easy and not because I have 4% body fat and can wear anything, rather I have clothes that fit and don’t care what number is printed on the little tag that no one sees.
  • Calorie counting and being OCD about food has stopped.
  • I don’t show up with a cooler that looks like a purse when going to other people’s homes to eat.
  • The number that appears on my scale in the morning pops up for 5 seconds and that is how long it is important – 5 seconds.
  • My whole life isn’t shaped around eating a certain way or making it to the gym. There are weeks when I don’t even get to a gym and the world has yet to stop turning.
  • I buy bigger sizes because they fit better and I don’t bat an eye. “Large? Bring it on, I have shoulders to cram into that suit coat!”I look at magazines with fit, hot women on them and appreciate the work they do to get there and know no one is paying me to work out. I get paid to help people live full and meaningful lives which requires carbs.

Here is a bit of my journey these past years … maybe it helps?

No one is alone with the food and body image issues, yet when you’re in it you think you’re the only one.  And for some reason there is a lie in our society that once you are older than 24, these should and can’t be an issue anymore. Choosing to stay alone with it keeps you stuck, if you are reading this and think you are the only one, you’re not. Talk to someone!

For me it was something I struggled with for a long, long time and then competing just magnified all the issues with food and body image. Oddly enough, I thought having a rocking body would make them go away; how misinformed I was!

Then, when I got really sick after my competition and gained 30 pounds, well I decided I was a failure and ugly and being ‘beautiful’ was impossible.



For me, my health in the area of body image and eating came from focusing on it less. I stopped working with a nutritionist, trainer, and gave myself a whole bunch of grace. I had to sit in the mess of my poor thinking, self hatred, and muffin top for awhile before I could get momentum to go the other way.

I basically applied the minimum effective dose to my health.

What is the least amount of thinking, focus and work I can do to get a good result?

I found I had a whole lot more time to think about and do other things which opened up a whole new world of possibility, hobbies, friends and rest.

The ‘What The Hell Effect’ changed nearly everything.

Basically it is the idea that once you slip up, gain a pound, eat some ice cream, don’t work out etc; all you do is throw your hands up and say, “What the hell?!” and then let everything else go.

  • I took on the battle of the ‘WTH Effect’ rather than myself. Not fighting ME was paramount to success.

I am not super skinny, cover magazine ready and struggle with bad thoughts about myself like everyone else; but I also know how to grab them and lock them up. Something I love about thoughts are you can grab them and either keep thinking about them or lock them up. I have a bad thoughts jail where all the horrible thoughts get put. I own the key – they only caution for myself is that when I lock up the newest bad and unhelpful thought is to not let out the other ones.

Throw it in, lock the door and keep going!

I also got rid of the super skinny clothes – the ones that I only wore for about 2 months. Having them in my closet, mocking me, didn’t help. I made sure my closet was full of clothes I could wear and looked good in.

One of the hardest things for me was to learn how to eat like a normal person again, to not freak out if I had a French Fry, a bowl of ice cream, a candy bar etc. I made that a goal, not losing weight. To be able to go out for supper, not be a stressball about eating, and enjoy my time with friends. To have a glass of wine with dinner and be ok. To not punish myself with exercise.

Being me and loving it.

I now weigh something like 155 pounds, am a size 8 and am cute but not bikini body hot and I am rather happy about it – but it took me leaning in for over a year. To not look for the extreme and quick fix, but to pick the long, slow journey of healing.

Healing for my health, body, emotions, self image and spirit.



Separating myself from my body was paramount for success. I am not my body. My body helps me do life and I want a good one – super skinny and hot doesn’t help me (I have to give it way too much focus, time and energy) and hating what I have doesn’t help either. Learning how to love myself has led me to take better care of me and be able to love others more effectively and with more grace.

  • None of this is a ‘quick fix’ but it is a lasting one; at least in my world.

I share all of this in case any of it is helpful. Know I am totally ‘in it’ with you. Maybe I am farther along on the path or you are ahead of me; whatever the case we travel this road together.

Where are you at in the journey? How can I help?