The Rosie Project {52 Books}

Sometimes you need to read a book that makes you literally laugh out loud.

Yesterday I had grand intentions to work on my long list of house fixes, clean things, bake things, and be amazing. After the effects of not listening to my body screaming for rest all week and pushing through life until I literally required a five hour nap to recover from my week of stress and life ridiculousness, I threw out all my plans to be productive and dove into The Rosie Project.

  • I parked myself on a patio at Starbucks with an overpriced drink and got reading.
It's a candy bar in a cup and I could care less! Sometimes a girl just needs to let go and get reading.

It’s a candy bar in a cup and I could care less! Sometimes a girl just needs to let go and get reading.

Seventy-six pages in I was laughing out loud and other customers on the patio were giving me strange glances. I couldn’t stop the giggling or guffaws nor did I care that others cared. My attitude would have made Don, the main character, proud since he constantly makes social faux pas and just keeps going.

The Rosie Project.

The storyline of the book follows Don, a genetics professor and researcher who struggles with social interactions, on a journey of growth, self discovery, and surprising love.

A great way to spend an afternoon.

A great way to spend an afternoon. Please note – I don’t always colour coordinate my outfits with the books I am reading. hah!

Diving into the world and brain of someone who has Asperger’s is a window that many of us have never been able to look through. I found the insights and interactions extremely hilarious and telling as I used to manage and work with someone who has Aspergers. Graeme Simsion weaves together a delightful narrative in which laughter, compassion, and social anxiety are never on short supply.

No woman had ever casually, unthinkingly, automatically, written down her phone number, given it to me and said, ‘Call me.‘ I had temporarily been included in a culture that I considered closed to me although it was entirely logical that Rosie should provide me with a means of contacting her, I had an irrational feeling that, when I called, Rosie would realize that she had made some kind of error.

The most disappointing part of the book was the ending.

Already written at a fast clip, the ending leaves you wondering who put the book on fast forward. Pages 304-324 require a bit more storytelling and clarity on what the result of the ‘Father Project‘ was and how the ‘Wife Project‘ successfully transformed into the ‘Rosie Project‘.

If you want to escape into another world for an afternoon or need lighthearted reading for a trip, I highly recommend The Rosie Project. Just prepare yourself to laugh out loud, occasionally snort and roll your eyes, and experience feelings of social discomfort as you travel the world with Don.

  • I’m glad I spent yesterday afternoon with Don and Rosie – an afternoon well spent!

And don’t you know it? There is a sequel which means I am off to put The Rosie Effect on hold at the Edmonton Public Library.

Have you read The Rosie Project? What are your thoughts on Simsion’s storytelling and perspective?

Dear Angry Man In The Silver Impala

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to follow up on our interaction this evening on my commute home.

Your incessant honking and driving up my back wheel while I was safely cycling in the right lane of traffic scared me to death. But then I think that was the point since there was no one in the left lane.

In fact, we were the only two people on the road.

After nearly falling over and almost smashing into the curb due to complete surprise, I recovered and looked for an escape to ride illegally on the sidewalk. You didn’t leave me room to slow down and there was no opening in the curb for me to escape your harassment.  Adrenaline coursed through my veins and I pedalled as fast as womanly possible and geared down to gain as much momentum as possible all while praying for my safety.

I felt trapped and afraid.

Was that your goal? To scare and harrass a 34 year old woman who was on her 9th kilometre of a 10 kilometre commute home?

It must have been since you increased the tension by swerving towards me and nearly clipping me when you decided you had enough of my slow cycling and passed me. I appreciate that you rolled your passenger window down to scream obscenities at me, just in case I wasn’t clear about your feelings in regards to my cycling this evening.

What a contrast you are to the ETS bus driver who stopped next to me at a light to commend me on my cycling in traffic skills and ability to follow the rules of the road. We had a nice chit chat while waiting for our light to turn green and we amicably continued our leapfrogging through traffic, waving as we passed one another.

I have no idea what kind of person harasses a woman on bicycle like you did this evening.

You seem to be a very angry and hateful man.

Perhaps I got in your way enough tonight that you gave me what you were planning on giving your wife or children when you got home.  That my few moments of receiving your anger and hatred will ensure their safety tonight.

Hopefully our experience together is a once in a lifetime event for both of us and that it caught you by surprise. Perhaps you are wondering what caused you to act in such a hateful, violent, and aggressive manner and are searching for the root cause of your actions.

I highly doubt it, but a woman can hope.

You could have seriously injured or even killed me tonight with the way you chose to respond to the sight of me happily cycling along in my pink shirt and awesome biking shorts complete with rubber grip to ensure I get a stupid looking tan from my daily cycling.

Being angry doesn’t release you from the consequence of your action. If we meet again, you had better believe I will be memorizing your licence plate and calling the police.

Consider yourself warned.

Sincerely,

Bikeloree

Where and who are these people’s mothers?!

One ‘I quit!’, a ‘meh?’, and finally a ‘Hooray!’ {52 Books}

As is probably your experience as well, life is busy.

This past week and a bit after being home from my whirlwind business trip and vacation, I found some pockets of time to read. It has been freakishly hot in my condo so all the work I could be doing on my house – painting baseboards, resealing tiles, and hanging closet doors – has come to a screeching halt.

Instead, I have been reading.

The Goldfinch.

I rarely quit books 550 pages into them.

goldfinch

If I am going to quit a book, it is usually within the first 60 or so pages. I tend to be a bit of a snob when it comes to reading. If I don’t like it and it is boring, I just quit. Who has that much life to invest into a horrible book? This one is a 775 page beast with long descriptions, a rambling story line, and fits and spurts of excitement.

Problems and annoyances abound in this book.

  • It opens with a flashback and then present day doesn’t show up until about page 600. (I tried reading random pages to see what the heck happens.)
  • Character development is low – the main character starts at the age of 8 and doesn’t develop heart, courage, or many abilities throughout the narrative.
  • Mostly a vanilla storyline that has random seconds of excitement which quickly fizzle out.
  • She tells us what to think about people through description and doesn’t let us form our own opinions.
  • Hard to read and I am a good reader.

And many more. Nor am I the only one with this opinion – many share my thoughts on this book.

I think my commentary on social media the other day sums it up nicely.

Not loving this book - dark and twisty but not in the super awesome way and the plot moves like a blindfolded turtle who can't get past the paisley print on his blindfold.

Not loving this book – dark and twisty but not in the super awesome way and the plot moves like a blindfolded turtle who can’t get past the paisley print on his blindfold.

The confirmation that it is a bad book – I still don’t know what happens and surprisingly, I don’t care.

Pulitzer and I disagree and I am fine with it.

The Silkworm.

J.K. Rowlings has written two books under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. I enjoyed the first one, Cuckoo’s Calling, so when I received the library notice that the second one was waiting for me, I was happy to go pick it up. I dove in and started reading.

silkwormAbout 300 pages in, I realized the formula for the story was eerily similar to the first book in the series. The people, places, and storyline were different but how the crime was figured out and the way it was relayed to the reader came in the same way which unfortunately made me disengage from the book.

Suddenly, I was out of the storyline and sighed as I watched it unfold exactly as the first book did but with different characters and situations.

  • I can almost hear what you’re thinking, “Wow, she’s picky.

My experience with this book is similar to when you figure out that maple glazed donuts and chocolate glazed donuts aren’t very different at all – colour and nuance of flavour in the sugary topping is the only difference and after you’ve eaten them both you’re happy to just have one going forward.

A good Saturday read if you’re sweltering in your condo on a hot summer day and need a distraction from the heat.

The Fault In Our Stars.

I love young adult fiction – a woman can power through a decently sized YA book in just a few hours. I wasn’t too sure about this book due to the hype and buzz around it. I don’t like following trends and was actually repelled by this book since everyone loved it.

Then I started to read it …

fault in our stars

Within the first few pages I found myself literally laughing out loud. I was surprised by the humour, candour, and depth that showed up immediately in the story. It wasn’t the book I thought it was and I found myself encouraged and pushed to think about things I rarely think about.

I read the whole book in one afternoon – it begged to be finished.

  • The plot took twists and turns I didn’t expect and was delightful on many levels.

When I grow up, I want to write books like John Green – unassuming and powerful in their own quirky and humorous way.

It’s been a few weeks of basically no reading, but I am catching up. 1,466 pages in two weeks isn’t horrible – if I can say so myself.

What books are you loving these days? Hating? Could take or leave?

Think Before You Talk {A Skill Worth Learning}

Travel and I don’t always get along. In fact, if you want to have a travel adventure you should just fly with me. Usually it isn’t my fault, but then sometimes it is.

  • This time, I take full responsibility.

Half of July and some of August was filled with attending a leadership conference, visiting family, and recharging my batteries – a much needed refill and relax after one of the most intense, crazy, and hard seasons of my life. Looking back at July 2013 and knowing what I know now, I would have opted to call in sick for the last year if at all possible.

Hanging out with these two happy souls did wonders for my own.

Hanging out with these two happy souls did wonders for me.

Starting out and nearly finishing well.

I made it to San Francisco, Redding, Seattle, Puyallup, Gearhart, and back to Puyallup without any difficulty. Ok, there was the small fiasco during my mom and my’s trip to the Seattle Premium Outlets when I had to go to the bathroom and we were in gridlock on the I-5. By the time we made it to the Walgreens somewhere in Seattle and found the bathroom, I was in a near state of panic.

I was starting to feel claustrophobic and nearly ran down the street to knock on someone’s door and start with “I am from Canada and in Seattle for the day. I like to stay hydrated and this proves to create a problem on the I5 …”

Let’s just say the woman who unlocked the bathroom door for us in Walgreens when my mom declared “My daughter is going to pee her pants! This is an emergency!” was surprised when the girl responding to my mom yelling, “Donloree! Donloree! I found the bathroom!” was 34, not 4 years old.

Needless to say, I don’t fall far from the tree of ridiculousness.

The way home.

I was excited about my direct flight home from Seattle. I love direct flights – an amazing blessing for a woman who crammed all her belongings for two and a half weeks into a carry on and a laptop bag.

This is what I crammed together for two weeks. On the way home I had MORE stuff to put into it. Epic.

This is what I crammed together for two weeks. On the way home I had MORE stuff to put into it. Epic.

Hauling over 50 pounds of ‘carry on’ through multiple airports is quite the workout. Let’s just say I earn my latte on travel days!

There I was, early as heck for my 2:00 pm flight and everything crammed precariously into my bags. In order to zip my roller bag, I literally had to kneel on it and zip it up around myself and then pray the zipper would hold – there was no way I was opening that up for a book to read.

I found myself at one of those multiple gates at one gate location. Eight flights of people were milling about, waiting for their plane to arrive. I procured a piece of floor by a plugin so I could start to whittle away at the 350 emails I had received in the past few weeks.

The wall made a good office chair. I was ready to fight out the emails if only the wifi would work.

The wall made a good office chair. I was ready to fight out the emails if only the wifi would work…

  • As always, the invasive announcement happened without warning.

For those of you on Alaska going direct to Edmonton, we have an overly full plane. We are unable to leave the tarmac unless someone volunteers to take a later flight. Please come see me at the desk if you are interested in helping out.

The following announcements got more desperate and needy as time went on. Those of us going to Edmonton started to drift towards the desk, everyone with a good excuse for why they wouldn’t help with moving the plane from the tarmac to the sky. The group of boy scouts who needed to travel together huddled together nervously, the leader looking at us pleadingly to help.

Traveling alone and with no one waiting for me at the airport since my husband was in Ecuador, I took the plunge. Becoming a hero to a frazzled airport desk clerk and a group of middle school aged boys was my award. Grabbing my voucher, latte, 350 emails, and 50 pounds of carry on I ran for my new gate across the airport. My flight was leaving in 20 minutes and the domino effect of many ridiculous airport encounters was looming.

I hate Vancouver’s policy on international flights.

After going through customs you have to go out of security with all your luggage, check into your next flight, check luggage, go through security, and try to make it on time for your connecting flight. I have done this a few times in Vancouver and every time has been a high intensity workout. I also end up chugging my whole water bottle while in the security line up because I don’t have time to find a place to dump the water out and still make my connection.

  • This particular day I was annoyed about security.

Just four hours ago I had done this exact thing with tears streaming down my face.

Now the only thing on my face was a frown. After, yet again, taking off most of my clothes, finding my iPhone, laptop, and bag of liquids, and putting 5 trays of stuff through the X-ray machine I found myself under deep scrutiny.

Security Agent – What is the mass in your bag? (Holding my roller bag)
Donloree - Mass? What mass? I have no idea. Hmmm … (I thought honesty was the best policy, but if you don’t know what is in your bag suspicion rises quickly.)
Security Agent – You don’t know what is in your bag? Did you pack it?
Donloree – Yes, I packed it.
Security Agent – We are going to have to open it up and see. Come over here with me.
Donloree – Ok, but be careful. It may explode when you do.

No sooner than when the words left my mouth did I realize they weren’t the right words to choose. I merely meant a lot of clothes, underwear, and bras were about to spill out of the bag – not an actual explosion.

A semi-circle of security agents magically appeared.

Donloree – Not explode, explode. Just clothes explode. I had to kneel on it to get it shut. You know what I mean, right?
Supervisor Security Agent – Ma’am, please step over here.
Donloree – I am sorry, wrong words. I am tired. There is nothing in my bag. Well there is a lot of stuff in my bag, but nothing like what you think is in my bag!
Supervisor Security Agent - Please put out your palms and then lift your shirt, we are going to swab you. This is nothing to joke about.
Donloree – I am not joking. I am just tired. BEACH ROCKS! That’s right! I have rocks in there. Is that what you saw? (Looking over, Security Agent #1 was thoroughly looking over every single rock I found on the beach.) Yup, those are them. I went to the beach to visit my brother and his family – hence the rocks.
Supervisor Security Agent – Please stay calm, we are not finished.

Watching a strange man hold up your bra to ensure it is not a bomb is an interesting experience, to say the least. Once security was assured my rocks were rocks and I didn’t have ingredients from mixing up a bomb on my hands or waist, I was free to go.

Fabulous, harmless, and individually inspected by homeland security.

Fabulous, harmless, and individually inspected by homeland security.

Kneeling on my roller bag once again, this time in front of six security agents, I zipped it up and was off to the gate. Well, kind of. It is possible I tripped over my roller bag and dropped my water bottle first.

  • Quiet calm is not a skill I possess. 

Whenever there is some sort of crisis, I immediately move to action to solve it. Oftentimes this creates more crisis and then I take more action – a tornado of ridiculousness starts to form before anyone knows what happened. *sigh*

What can I say? Life is always interesting!

The Not So Straight And Narrow Path Of Your Dreams

People are amazing.

Yesterday morning I sat, listening to someone who is at a fork in the road. Someone who is trying to decide what to do and is willing to take some big, hairy, scary risks to chase down her dreams.

As she talked, I saw shades of myself four and a bit years ago.

Ready to leap into something crazy, new, and adventurous. Ready to let go of what you think you should do and what is safe and go after the dream in your heart that won’t leave you.

courage

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In so many ways it seems like yesterday, but four years ago this month, I started my coaching business.

In reality, I had no idea what I was doing but I knew with every fiber of my being that I must do it.

  • Does it look exactly like I thought it would? No.
  • Was it as hard as I thought it would be? Nope – harder.
  • Did everything come together easily and the whole universe conspire to make everything unfold for me? Nope, not at all.
  • Has my definition of success changed? You betcha!
  • Am I happy with my decision? Couldn’t be happier.
  • What has changed? Me. Nearly everything about me.

The straight and narrow path of your dreams.

Here is something most people won’t tell you. When you start down the straight and narrow path of your dream, there are more twists, turns, forks in the road, options, and uphill stretches than you anticipate.

  • They don’t stop coming. You just get better at navigating them. 
Caution - adventure ahead!

Caution – adventure ahead!

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My business has taken more twists and turns than I anticipated and it is a journey I am proud of. It turns out my sweet spot is not being Jillian Michaels mixed in with Oprah. Nope, I am Donloree and I have my own thing going, and if I get to be honest, it is rather fabulous.

If you’re standing at the start of a journey and your heart is screaming YES!, then go for it. Embrace the twists, turns, and forks in the road – the journey is helping you become you.

  • Don’t stand there waiting for permission.

Just take it. Go for it. And don’t look back – all your attention is required on what is coming up as you live out your dream. It is going to grow, change, and develop – just like you. It is more than ok, in fact it is what is supposed to happen.

Four years from now, have a story to tell about where you’ve come and how you did it. Take it from a woman who is becoming an expert navigator on the path of living out her dreams — it is so worth it.

Actually, you are worth it.

Tour de France, Here I Come?

As I have already admitted, I love a good challenge.

The other day an email popped up on my little iphone. It was a call to compete –> Join the 2014 Le Tour Challenge – Map My Ride, so of course I clicked on it.

2014 le tour challenge

Competition? Cycling? YES PLEASE! Where does a woman sign up?

It has all of my favourite things involved – biking, competition, community, and free stuff. I still wear the sports bra, shoes, and cute tank that Under Armour sent me. Getting awesome workout clothes and gear in the mail makes my day happy. Heck it makes every day I wear it happy!

  • What can I say? I love getting free, awesome stuff that I would eventually need to buy anyways.

So seeing how there is awesome biking stuff to win, I put ‘Map My Ride’ on my iPhone and started to track my biking adventures in an effort to win.

Map My Ride seems to think I need a yellow jersey.

There is a bug with the app. When I tried it out on Sunday, it only clocked just over 5 minutes of my ride but kept tracking my distance. The app decided I biked at an average of just 38 kph. Not too bad for a solid chick who weighs in at a buck sixty while riding a hybrid bike.

  • This morning was even more hilarious.

The distance got tracked, but like a 4-year-old girl at Disneyland who is distracted by the beautiful princesses walking by, it stopped tracking the time after a mere 5 minutes and 26 seconds. I covered my 10 kms in about 48 minutes – a moderately decent time, but nothing to write home about.

According to my iphone, I averaged just over 110 kph this fine, balmy summer morning. Due to being tired from the office my ride home was less speedy, I only had an average speed of 106.7 kph- embarrassing really!

Wow, I am a superstar!

Wow, I am a superstar!

I am just waiting for the Tour de France to come knocking, after all I think even Lance would be impressed with my cycling speediness.

You better believe I am submitting it to the competition and also trying to figure out what the heck I am doing wrong with the app.

  • Although once I figure it out, I will only get invited to the Tour de Snails.

On second thought, maybe I won’t tell anyone about the glitch. I kinda like appearing to be a superstar road biking chick!

So the question really is, are you going to join in? Don’t you like winning free, awesome stuff while biking at 110 kph?

Heart On My Sleeve

Bravery has commenced.

I just emailed 7 high schools in our city offering my proposal for a leadership / mentorship program for high school girls led by your’s truly.

bravePhoto

I do realize teachers and principals are all on vacation, but now is better than never.

For the last three years, I have been hoping and praying someone will come knocking on my door asking me to do this very thing. I have decided to stop standing at the door, peering through the peep hole, trying to see if someone is coming down the hall. These past few weeks I have thrown the door open and I am walking forward with a determined cadence.

It needed a name that a woman named Donloree could be proud of.

Yup, I named it something weird. What can I say? I like unique names!

Yup, I named it something weird. What can I say? I like unique names!

Indelible Leadership helps girls create a legacy worth leaving.

You can’t do well until you know yourself well.

Knowing who you are, accepting it, and living it out changes everything.

Let’s hope at least one of them emails me back to come talk to them. I am feeling hopeful, excited, nervous, and happy.

Dreams become reality one idea, step, action, word, and connection at a time.

What door do you need to kick open? What deserves your determined cadence forward?

Donloree vs. Nature 0-4

I don’t really like nature.

There. I said it.

I might as well admit it to you since it came tumbling out a few weeks ago while chatting with my friend about the great weather and biking. I blurted out my socially non-acceptable opinion while my pride was smarting. Apparently I was distracted by the fact that he thought it would take me half and hour to do my 14 km ride which is mostly uphill when it actually took me a whole, dang hour.

It had been a fabulous bike ride and I felt very alive, so I agreed with him without really thinking about what I was saying.

Yup. It is rather glorious out there and I don’t even like nature!

The truth made him splurt his water and double over with laughter.

Its true, not funny.

Nature and I don’t get along. Seriously. Take for example, a glorious looking afternoon last weekend. While trying to bike through ‘nature‘ and the river valley, I had to swerve to miss hundreds of little green worms hanging from trees, the sky, and infinity. They were everywhere.

These creatures suck. That is all.

These creatures suck. That is all.

  • If you heard high pitched yelping and frustrated muttering that afternoon, it was me.

I loathe snakes, so miniature, green snakes falling all over my backpack, helmet, and body is less than ideal. In fact, it is torture.

Then while taking a break to look at a lovely Alberta Rose and catch my breath after making it up a hill, ants swarmed up my legs and partook of my flesh as though I was an all you can eat buffet.

Lovely, but not lovely enough to sacrifice my body for an ant buffet.

Lovely, but not lovely enough to sacrifice my body for an ant buffet.

  • More screaming happened along with leg slapping, jumping, and high knees. 

I finally made it through the valley and back into the heart of the city where potholes are king. Suddenly while biking on Jasper Avenue I felt an odd sensation. A wriggling, if you will, in my bra.

While trying to avoid the epic potholes and traffic I managed to get one of those pesky, horrible, lime green, creepy crawly things out of my sports bra.

This time I shuddered and gagged.

How did he even manage to stay on? These are fierce creatures!

How did he even manage to stay on? These are fierce creatures!

Wind, the invisible Donloree torture device.

Now I realize wind is important and it helps do a bazillion things I don’t even contemplate on a day by day basis, but I still don’t like it. When I am biking in the mornings, the wind is not at my back – making the 4 km uphill even more uphill. One would assume that going home, the wind would be at my back…you know what they say about assuming…

  • Wind opposes me.

Riding home, the wind changes direction. I think it does this just to mock me.

I find myself panting, pushing, pedalling like a mad woman, and wondering when the wind will be at my back, yet it rarely is.

At least it is on board with the buh-bye muffin top plan – my cardio strength and calorie burn is ever increasing.

  • The hilarious part? It doesn’t even look windy.
Looks can be and ARE deceiving!

Looks can be and ARE deceiving!

The river valley sits quietly while the wind tunnels over the river and creates and invisible barrier for me to break through.

Dragonfly killer.

Who doesn’t love a fabulous dragonfly?

I do from afar, but the way they swarm around me early in the mornings has been more than enough to creep me out.

They seem harmless enough until you have 38 of them swarming around your head.

They seem harmless enough until you have 38 of them swarming around your head.

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What has really done me in is the suicidal dragonflies that fly directly at my head and shoulders and die an abrupt death when they meet my very white flesh head on.

  • Over the past 3 days, FOUR dragon flies have committed suicide on my body.

It is starting to be a bit much and I am starting to feel guilty for riding my bike. Perhaps I need to start giving inspirational speeches to the dragonflies as I bike, to encourage them to continue their lives ridding the world of pesky, ugly bugs and that what they do matters.

Do you think it would help?

Nature – a nice to visit, but not a place for this woman to live.

Add to the chaos how quickly I crisp up to a nice shade of tomato red when in the sun for more than 12 minutes and life gets interesting. A lobster red woman screaming about miniature, green snakes is something we all want to avoid – especially me!

Am I the only one who has a love / hate relationship with nature?

The Nazi Officer’s Wife {52 Books}

Through this book challenge, I am learning a few things about myself:

  1. I thoroughly enjoy interesting autobiographies.
  2. I read about three books at a time.
  3. Writing book reviews is not my forte.

The Nazi Officer’s Wife.

First and foremost, the title is the best part of this book.

NOW

Pulling it off the shelf I thought there would be stories of intrigue, defiance, and near misses with the SS.

  • And in fact there was, but in the very normal way that they would happen for anyone in Edith’s situation.

Not everyone lives a movie plot line — correction, basically no one lives a movie plot line and if you do it most likely ends up in an unfortunate meeting with death before your time is supposed to be up.

Losing yourself to find your life.

This is the story of a woman who finds her way by taking on one of her good friend’s identity freely given to her, pretending to be minute, unable, and slow, and marrying a man who loved her for everything she wasn’t but needed to be to survive the Nazi regime.

Trained to be a lawyer, smart, capable, and full of ideals, Edith slowly loses hope, the chance to practice law, and nearly loses her life merely because she is Jewish in a time and place where her heritage was a death warrant.

Seeing the inside of every day life in the Nazi regime through the eyes of someone who wore the costume but didn’t believe and was slowly losing herself in the process of trying to keep her life was interesting, to say the least.

  • Even after the war was over, she was never able to fully find herself again.

While reading this book, I remembered that life shapes us in the ways we let it and need it to in order to survive. Throughout this book, there was a tone of resentment and festering pain that has never healed — the pain of losing her one true love who she never got to marry or be with, the loss of her ability to practice law, and long held hatred.

On the heels of Unbroken, I was left with a question.

Will I let my life shape me, or will I shape my life?

You Don’t Get To Pick Your Problems, But You Do Get To Pick Your Attitude

Over the years, I have learned the discipline of gratitude and choosing joy.

  • I always laugh at people when they are shocked to hear I have problems. 

Life is full of problems. I’m alive, therefore I have problems. It is part of the human condition.

My life is anything but a happy shiny rainbow. I am in the process of learning how to do hard things – epic, brave, and courageous things. I have loads of hurdles and obstacles to overcome and I strive to not let them define me.

But you’re always so happy!

As my family would say, “Don’t be dumb.”

This is sage advice.

Happiness is a daily choice, way of being, and discipline. Yes, I often have to tell my mouth to smile but it is so my heart can truly smile and so I have my mouth lead the way – whether its in a word or a smile.

cs lewis

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What’s the point in complaining? 

If you’ve read my blog over the years, you know I lean towards over sharing personal information and ‘whatnot‘ (yes, it’s an official term) on the interwebs, but its because I think people need to know they aren’t alone. Life is a journey and we are traveling it together, yet I still try to not broadcast everything bad about my life and complain.

  • Fact: Some days are just horrible.

Yesterday I allowed myself about 4 hours of feeling extremely sad. I literally sat and stared out the window and let the tears roll down my cheeks while the sky matched my heart and cried along with me. I journaled, prayed, sobbed, got angry, and hid under the covers like a scared 5 year old.

  • Fact: Life is hard.

Getting up from failure and working through discouragement and pain is what makes you strong.

get up

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Yesterday at 2:00 pm, I breathed out a purpose-filled breath and got on with my day. Biking to the library, shopping at the Italian market, and getting things done around my house helped to move me back into the mental space of who I want to be.

How I felt wasn’t going to define me.

  • Fact: You get to choose.

What you look at, focus on, and strive for is what you become – and it is a daily choice. Who you surround yourself with, what conversations you have with yourself, and what you do matters.

focus

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Today I experienced 20 minutes of acute disappointment. In the grand scheme of my life, it is but a small crack in the sidewalk that gets stepped over in an instant. I submitted a piece to CBC’s Canada Writes Competition and didn’t even make it to the long list.

I succeeded in trying and that is what matters.

It is a good thing I am on my own path and working towards my own goals and dreams. I realize what I submitted probably wasn’t what they were looking for and in some ways, I don’t necessarily care.

  • I am me – Donloree – it was a long road to get here and I will not go back.

Oddly enough, the piece I submitted was from a time when I didn’t even know how to breathe or be myself. I had forgotten about the contest date and then *blam* I was in the middle of Winter Storm Leon trying to make it to Dallas and I did what I could. I grabbed a snippet from my Bookloree and sent it off – better something than nothing.

So in honor of being myself and to show you there is hope if you keep pushing forward towards what is possible but hard, I will share it with you.

And next time, I will submit something funny. Gracious, what the world was I thinking? People like funny, better yet, awkward and funny!

Sometimes I am WAY too serious for my own good. *rolling my eyes*

Enjoy the seriousness!

~ Trapped in Success ~

My daily schedule of meetings doesn’t allow time for a bathroom break, let alone a panic attack; both are held at bay by sheer force of will. Tightness in my chest, anxiety, and shortness of breath plague me everywhere I go. A walk through the bullpen of desks in my fuchsia heels, distracting myself with food or refocusing the panic into a meeting keeps it from consuming me, from rendering me unable to breathe. By the time 8:00 pm rolls around and I am found still working on project plans and client emails, there isn’t enough energy left to experience the panic. It morphs into disillusionment and sits on my chest heavier than two pieces of cheesecake after Christmas dinner.

I experienced my first panic attack at the age of seventeen.

After a week of volunteering at summer camp, I found myself meandering around our church parking lot. The vans of kids and their parents had come and gone and I was waiting for my parents to finish doing responsible parent things inside. Much of my childhood was spent at church; it was our second home and our second family.

It was the first week of August and I needed to catch up on tanning from all the hours spent indoors working as a Shift Manager at McDonalds. There were cute boys that needed to be impressed and Snow White had yet to yield any results. My final year of high school started in just a few weeks and I wanted it to be different. Perhaps this was the year one of the boys noticed more than my wide shoulders, blindingly white legs, and academic pursuits. Maybe, just maybe, I would get asked out on a date.

The heat off the asphalt created a frying pan effect and my legs sizzled in the heat.

I waved as the Senior Pastor drove up to the front of the church in a van that cast a shadow over my piece of the asphalt.

Another car turned in from the main artery in front of the church. It stopped abruptly in the middle of the parking lot and a woman neither of us had ever met before tumbled out of the driver’s seat and onto the asphalt.

Sobs and pleas for help could be heard from underneath the pile of blonde hair and sunglasses as we hurried towards her.

“Are you ok? What happened? Were you in an accident?” My pastor asked all the appropriate questions.

I just stared.

“I can call 911. Do we need 911?” My asphalt-seared legs were suddenly primed for action. Adrenaline began to course through my veins.

“I can’t. I just can’t. Can’t. No. I can’t breathe. Air. Help me!” The words tumbled out in short, breathy punches.

“So we do need 911.” I confirmed.

“Just a minute.” My pastor took control and the adult voice of reason spoke up. “Do you have asthma? Do you need an inhaler?”

“No. I am getting married and I can’t. I can’t marry him, but I have to. I am trapped. I don’t know what to do. I just can’t.” Her keys fell onto the ground as she covered her eyes and crumpled to the asphalt with loud, painful sobs.

I looked down at the beautiful woman in bewilderment. Don’t marry the guy; it’s that easy.

My seventeen-year-old mouth opened to make the simple proclamation, but a wise hand on my arm kept the words from coming out.

“We don’t need 911, at least not yet.” My pastor whispered to me.

Panic and pain continued to pour out of the woman until she was spent and quiet. Crouching down, I caught her eye and the raw pain startled me into silence. Her soul was bared and bleeding. No words were required.

Her haunting eyes were what I remembered when I found myself lying on the brick bathroom floor at work, unable to breathe or move. Sweat poured over my body and I shivered violently while desperately trying to push air through my lungs.

My custom tailored red and brown tweed suit stuck to my skin and my hair became matted and unkempt in a matter of seconds. I felt small pebbles from the sand and snow covered sidewalk in front of the office building under my hand and cheek. Small and displaced, just like me.

It was winter outside and in my soul.

My body was plastered to the floor and I was unable to move. Unable to breathe. The inability to continue, make a decision or face another day held me to the floor as several people tried to open the bathroom door. An unexpected tear leaked out of my right eye and left a cold, salty track down my nose before it pooled on the red brick floor.

Time stood still.

As though strapped into a movie theatre seat and unable to move, scenes of regret, pressure, expectation, and pain passed in front of me.

Lying there, I wondered how long it would take to get a locksmith to open the door if I never came out, if I just died on the brick floor. We had never found a key to the bathroom and hoped there would never be an occasion for us to need it. Apparently, the occasion may have arrived and ironically, I was the one on the wrong side of the lock.

Pushing myself up into a sitting position, I let my head drop forward and then back like a bobblehead doll. For the first time in my life the option of self-destructing in an embarrassing and public way was an option. What if I never came out? What if I just gave up? Gave in? What if I stopped fighting and striving?

What did it matter?

My breathing slowed and my body shivered as the sweat covering my body cooled and the panic attack subsided.

Sitting up straight with my back against the wall and my legs askew, I caught the reflection of my eyes in the mirror. A wild, lost soul stared back at me hauntingly. Who is that woman and how did she get my eyes? My hand kept the impending sob from announcing my state of distress to my coworkers waiting to use the only bathroom in the office.

An insistent buzzing from my left hand broke the painful reverie.

Nine minutes until my next meeting started. The chair at the head of the boardroom table required my presence.

Nine minutes to pull the pieces of my soul together and clean up the salty evidence of my breakdown, the chink in my armour of success.

Hardwired responsibility overrode the pain and my finely honed skill of ignoring my own needs kicked into high gear. No matter what, I couldn’t fail at my job. I am my work and without it, my fear of being meaningless would become reality.

I wiped away the residue of pain from my eye, threw my shoulders back and chin up, took a shaky breath and spun around without another glance at the scared woman staring back at me from the mirror.

A personal crisis would need to be scheduled in for a later date.

The sound of the door latching behind me closed in the shame and pain that unexpectedly cornered me that Thursday afternoon. I stepped into the familiar, ill-fitting role I had crafted over years of painstaking work.

I am hanging onto the corporate ladder for dear life.

Only two options exist: to keep climbing towards the increasingly elusive success or a quick descent that may kill me on the way down. Neither option guarantees life.

If I am going to die, I suppose I will keep climbing in case success actually is at the top.

Where you are now, who you are now, and what you’re doing now doesn’t have to be forever.

  • You get to choose.

Choose to see what is possible and go after it and leave complaining behind as you chase down your dreams.

Now go BE AMAZING!