Injury-itis

As I felt myself falling, the warning from the beginning of the race ran through my brain.

Be careful racing tonight. There is a lot of single track and there are many technical parts on the course – leaves, roots, logs and holes.

Confirmation that the course was extremely technical was given as my knee hit a rock, my hand rammed into a small boardwalk and the woman running behind me leapt over my body to avoid starting a domino effect on the course.

It was official, I was holding up about 100 other runners. What else could I do other than jump up and keep running?

  • There is always time to assess the damage after you cross the finish line.

My knee and hand were numb, so I decided I was fine.

There is a reason I rarely train to race or even race at all; it usually ends up with me requiring some sort of medical attention.

In reality, running a 7 kilometre cross country race should not be a problem … but as life goes, there are always problems.

  • Problem #1 – I am competitive
  • Problem #2 – I am a klutz
Looks can be deceiving ... I now have a perma-crease in my hand. I should have went for stitches, instead I scrubbed it out really well and held it together with bandaids for three weeks.

Looks can be deceiving … I now have a perma-crease in my hand. I should have gone for stitches, instead I scrubbed it out really well and went through a box of bandaids.

My latest foray in trying to overcome my inner klutz and be completive in sport resulted in paying a man I barely knew named Jeff to bend me into a Donloree pretzel and hurt me for my own good

Welcome to active release therapy.

“You’re going to have to stop holding my hand Donloree … Donloree … its ok, just let go on my hand! ” was heard alongside my laughter and shrieks of pain as I tried to remove his hand from my hip while he worked on releasing my IT Band.

Three days before I was due to fly to Victoria to run in a short race as part of the Victoria Marathon, I was unable to walk and I knew my ridiculousness from racing the week before had gotten the best of me.

Watching your speedy running friends cross the finish line while the t-shirt you got for not running is already packed away in your suitcase, well, it is hard not to feel lame.

  • At least my feelings matched reality – I was walking like an 80-year-old woman in desperate need of a hip replacement.

Being the lame, very average athlete of the group means you sometimes have to make your own fun. The day after the race, the super runners were off to run up the side of a mountain or four and I was left to my own devices.

Sending them off with their speedy ambitions and a happy wave, I found myself at the base of Mount Finlayson, ready to go for a hike. Alone.

Only one small problem, I couldn’t find the trailhead.

After meandering through a day use area full of families with small children, looking at three different maps made up of very small lines and following a few people with fishing poles around for a little bit, I finally stumbled across a couple that looked outdoorsy and were also searching for the trailhead.

  • Before you knew it, a hiking threesome was happening.

The hike up was glorious, full of roots and steep portions, finally ending in a scramble; AKA don’t look down or you might fall off the mountain.

Mount Finlayson hike

I thought it was a meandering hike through a forest since I was out of the Rockies … I guessed wrong. I wore two too many layers. Oops!

Stories were swapped about past adventures and life challenges and perspectives were shared on everything from politics to cooking; laughter and loud storytelling scared away all wildlife within a 5 km radius.

  • My number one goal while traveling or adventuring alone is to not get raped or pillaged; everything else is frosting on the adventure cake.

It would have been easy to let this goal keep me from venturing out to see the world on this morning, well that and the fact that I was walking like I was an old woman; but no woman named Donloree lets a little plantar fasciitis and complete hip misalignment keep her from seeing and experiencing what the world has to offer.

Mount Finlayson

It was the perfect day to be on top of the world!

While standing on the top of Mount Finlayson with my newfound friends, my heart was full and I remembered a few important truths about life.

  1. Starting out alone doesn’t mean you have to or will finish alone.
  2. Silence and solitude have more to say to you than you realize.
  3. When courage meets you at the crossroads of opportunity, you need to follow where it leads even if you are limping a wee bit.
  4. Thoroughly enjoying the people on your path while you are with them is one of the best things you can do with your time.
  5. Feeling lame and incapable doesn’t mean you actually are those things – doing your best with what you have results in fabulous adventures.

At the bottom of the mountain, I hugged Jen and Mark goodbye and wished them luck on making it to their plane on time. I plunked myself down on a picnic table to stretch out my newly seized legs and I couldn’t help but grin like an idiot; it was a perfect hike and my heart was full, overflowing in fact.

significant

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My trip to the island was full of beaches, hikes, sea stars and anemones, lighthouses and even a castle, but there was something special about the hike up Mount Finlayson. Perhaps it is because it reminded me that doing things you aren’t sure that you can do, things which are very you and require mental grit and courage to complete, results in expanding your capacity to live well.

  • There is always an opportunity in front of you, sometimes it just takes looking at three elevation maps, wandering around somewhat aimlessly for awhile and then inviting perfect strangers to be your friends in order to find it.

And yes, it is highly possible that once I was back home, I was immediately back in Jeff’s office paying him to torture me while holding his hand and screaming under my breath.

Racing … am I the only one who has injury-itis as a result?

**And the pictures are still sideways for some reason – oh the joys of the interwebs! Just tilt your head to the right while reading … and imagine them less squished than they are! **

Let’s talk about regret, baby …

Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be … let’s talk about regret …

If you’re my age, plus or minus 5 years, the Salt n Pepa song is rolling though your head.

  • You’re welcome.

For the last seven weeks I have been experiencing what it means to be ‘semi-retired‘ at the age of 36.

The business I was working for as the HR Director shut it’s doors and I have found myself reinventing myself and leveraging my consulting and coaching skills in a very interesting market up here in the subarctic.

This has been one of the easier endings I have experienced in the past few years; yet it is still incredibly difficult to navigate. Glancing in the rearview mirror, it is easy to listen to the voice that apparently knows everything and is superior and haughty in their assessment of my work and what I should have done differently.

Enter a microcosm of regrets.

  • I should have never changed jobs.
  • Why didn’t I take bigger risks in the executive meetings?
  • If only I had stuck to my guns and didn’t back down …
  • What if I had died on that hill? Apparently it WAS worth dying on …
  • Why didn’t I spend more time growing my consulting business rather than thinking about work?!
  • Maybe I should have been more mouthy and less self-protective …

And this is only a snippet of my personal regrets … corporately, there are many more.

  • The idea that you can live a life without regrets is ridiculous.

Of course you are going to have regrets; the only way to not regret anything is to be dead. And even then I am not 100% certain regrets won’t find their way into our dreams while we take the giant dirt nap.

Regret is part of life; what you do with it is what matters.

Some of the most painful regrets are the ones which are a result of trying to avoid regret in the first place.

  • I call this the Regret Circle of Death.

Regret Circle of Death – Oh I can’t do that. I won’t do that … I might regret it. Or should I do it? I should have done it. Maybe I should do it now? Maybe not? If only I had done it then. Is it too late now? Maybe I still have time. Its too late. If only I had done it … but I thought I would regret it. Now I regret not doing it. SIGH. What now?

heart

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Next thing you know, five years have passed and you’re still not doing what you want to do because it carries with it the potential risk of hurt and regret. Suddenly you find yourself full of regrets about not living the life you wanted to live; not living your life in a way that is true to who you are.

I think somehow we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Don’t strive to live a life without regrets. Learn to deal.

Should of …
Could of …
Would of …
If only …

In order to not crash while navigating life, you need to spend most of your time looking out the windshield while only glancing in the rearview mirror every now and again.

  • After all, as human beings, we are made to go forward.

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Regrets will haunt you unless you deal with them and learn from them. Either they are something which fill you with shame every time you glance in the rearview mirror or they become an important lesson which shapes you to be an incredible human being and able to live a full, big life.

When the painful endings in life come, instead of berating yourself, ask good questions.

  • What am I most proud of?
  • What would I do different next time?
  • Who am I now?
  • Where didn’t I show up? Why?
  • Where did I hold back?
  • What would I do again? Not do again?
  • What hurts? Why?
  • What do I want now?
  • Where to from here?

Accept the fact that you will have regrets – just make them worthwhile and choose to risk regret by loving, living and losing.

And when you lose, lose well by learning from the regrets which haunt your dreams so you can start dreaming about an amazing future once again.

When dealt with, regret can become an intimate teacher which reveals things to you about yourself and the world, helping you expand and grow to be able to do and be more. Accepting and learning from regret gives you the ability to not fear living a full life and reminds you of how far you’ve come and what you’re capable of.

Moving through regret has taught me that showing up, grabbing onto life every single day, giving what and who is in front of me my whole heart and being fully present where I am is always worth it.

  • And it has taught me to dance, even when life continually rains on me.
If it is raining, put on the rain coat and get out there. There is life to be lived!

If it continually rains, put the raincoat on and get out there and dance even if you look ridiculous. There is life to be lived!

How has moving through regret taught you to live a better life?

Apparently I Run For Coffee

Nearly everything about my life has changed over the last two years.

It seems the only things that have remained constant are where I live and my love of cute shoes. Do not fear, I can still be found running around downtown in fabulous high heels and battling the coming epic winter months with a cheerful smile and more layers than even seems reasonable.

  • Everything changes. Everything is in constant motion. Everything is up for negotiation.

This is the blessing and curse of life, I suppose. Tomorrow, despite today’s seeming lethargy, will be different even if it feels the same.

Some things of the past two years have changed in the blink of an eye – either by my choice or someone else’s – and other things changed as seemingly slow as a river cutting through the rock face of a mountain as it creates a canyon.

One of the more mundane things that has changed for me is my training. I have traded in the barbells and free weights for tying on running shoes, lacing up hiking boots and clipping into my mountain bike; the outdoors have called to me and I have responded.

  • Hiking and biking make sense … running does not.
Asulkan Valley

A summer of navigating paths, climbing and reaching new heights. This is the beginning of my favourite hike up and run down – Asulkan Valley. The summit is hard to reach and glorious!

Let’s be honest, I run for coffee.

Or more accurately, I have running friends who lure me out of bed with promises of coffee and fabulous conversation on coffee shop patios all over the city. I have run more races in the past two years than I have run in over a decade and find myself putting in around 40kms a week on foot; this means I am heavily caffeinated. Slowly I have found my groove with running and have moved from abhorring it to simply enjoying a love-hate relationship with it. I even signed up for the Frank McNamara Fall Series where my goal is to make it past the finish line quicker than 50% of the people who showed up that day. Ummm … the U of A athletes come out to run, this is an epic goal!

  • In the mundane day-to-day running, what has changed most is me.

Running alongside women who don’t take the easy path and are always pushing to do and be more, I have found myself deeply changed and constantly challenged. Despite the amount of loss I have experienced, I find myself with more than I have ever had before and a richness of love, laughter and life that can only come from sharing yourself with amazing people day in and day out.

The Girls, as I call them, have let me sob while barely plodding along, challenged me, called me on my crap, celebrated every single success with me, watched me fail, told me when I was being an idiot and always encouraged me to keep going in life when all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and push the snooze button for a few weeks.

  • They have seen me at my best and witnessed some of my worst and I the same for them.
Emily Murphy

For the last 6 or so Tuesday nights, we have run hill repeats of Emily Murphy Hill. She is always so willing to have her picture taken with us when we are done, even though we cursed her name about 14 times and are covered in sweat.

I never want to run; I always want to have run.

Showing up is 80% of getting to where you want to go, the other 20% is having amazing people who will go with you.

  • Why else would I show up to run 8 hill repeats of Emily Murphy week after week?

The call to keep changing, growing and challenging who I am meets me in the form of friends and fitness. And in the midst of the most turbulent time of my life, I have found my footing and developed a strength I didn’t know I would ever need to have and am extremely grateful for.

Resiliency.

The gift of grit comes with stories, laugh lines, a furrowed brow, the ability to scale mountains and a community of amazing people to go about life with. When you find yourself going through hell and complete chaos, keep going …. suddenly, despite all the turmoil, stress and chaos, you know you’re going to be ok.

  • Even if nothing changes, everything changes because you are no longer the same.

Onwards dear friends. Keep going. Fall down. Stand up. Move forward. Do the next thing. Laugh.

The river of your life is flowing and you’re creating a canyon as you slowly cut through the obstacles in front of you; don’t forget that you get to decide where you leave your mark and who you share your life with.

Always show up and choose who you run with wisely for it will determine how far you go in life.

**Don’t ask me why my pictures are sideways … the interwebs and I don’t always get along … no matter how hard I try!**

Dear Desperate Split Ends

I swear there is something about me that attracts weird adventures.

Perhaps I have a metaphorical ‘kick me’ sign on my back, who knows?

My latest adventure resulted in a very wet, somewhat desperate, soapy, towel and flip-flop clad search for someone who spoke English.

An open letter to the woman with the dry, brittle hair …

Dear Desperate Split Ends,

I assume you are desperate to solve your split end crisis because of your need to steal only my conditioner and not my shampoo on Tuesday morning. I realize I went to the gym later than usual, so when my shampoo, conditioner and locker key were sitting on the shower shelf for 73 seconds while I used the washroom, it may have seemed odd to you to see the lonely, forlorn shower supplies on the shower shelf with no one around to use them. 

Or maybe you appreciated the fact that my conditioner is SLS free and won’t cause cancer as you work it into your hair to make your fly aways lose their wings. 

Who knows?

All I know is that when I came back to shower and started to look for my conditioner, confusion set it. ‘It was here just a minute ago. What the world?’ Searching for my conditioner only to find a random bottle of 2 in 1 no name brand shampoo on another shelf made my brow furrow. 

Suddenly panic cut off the air my throat. Not only did you take my conditioner, but my locker key was also gone. 

I understand my conditioner is rather magical, but my locker key? Seriously?

Perhaps you saw me haphazardly sprint to the lockers completely naked with shampoo still in my hair.

Yes, I was the woman who nearly slipped out of her flip-flops while taking the corner into the dry area. Those darned things are slippery when wet!

Much to my relief, you weren’t pilfering through my locker. But more than 73 seconds had passed; at least 139 seconds had ticked by. How much damage could a woman who was driven to steal due to her massive amount of split ends do in 2 minutes?

The possible quandary of being naked without car keys, a phone, my wallet, a pair of very cute Kenneth Cole boots or any clothes at all put my problem solving skills to use. Unfortunately, I found myself stuck in a very circuitous logic problem.

No clothes, no keys, no phone. No clothes, no keys, no phone. 

The locker room was empty except for a few women whose English skills are minimal, to say the least. 

Are you an 83-year-old Japanese woman? I wouldn’t know since my miming skills left much to be desired in the communication department. Even with a towel on and the shampoo rinsed out of my hair, I was unable to get any results except confused looks and giggles out of the five women who started to talk about my wild eyes, arm waving and obvious confusion.

I may not understand Japanese, but shared glances of understanding paired with giggling is not hard to comprehend.

My search for an English speaker nearly led me to walk out to the front desk wearing only my flip flops and an extremely small towel. Do you have any idea how much I hate those towels? I am a tall woman …

Fear of you stealing what might be left in my locker kept me pacing and praying for a woman who spoke English to arrive.

She spoke Japanlish; good enough for me.

Sure, she told the front desk that someone using a walker in the bathroom required help, but it kept me from risking indecent exposure.

When all that is keeping you safe in the world is 8 square feet of well worn terry cloth, you take what help you can get when it arrives.

Thank you for not stealing all of my personal belongings. I appreciate your desperate need to have smoother hair, but next time just ask to borrow some conditioner. Gym women are kind, at least most of us are, you don’t belong in our category of niceness.

My official opinion is that you are horrible, even if your hair is super silky and smooth.

You may be happier with your luscious locks but if I catch you I will definitely give you a firm talking to, grab whatever conditioner is left and possibly kick you in the shins while wearing my shower flip-flops. 

Consider yourself warned.

Donloree

  • Le sigh. 

I suppose this is what I get for being sloth-like and going to the gym much later than normal.

Karma, it really knows how to bite you in the split ends some days.

 

Queen of the Capsize

Boats and I don’t get along.

Or more aptly put, they make me squeal like a little girl and void the effectiveness of my deodorant in mere moments. Kayak, canoe, ship, skid, ski boat, raft …. you name it, I probably don’t like it.

The last time I was in a boat, I hung onto the sides of it for dear life and screamed like someone was trying to murder me after losing my paddle. I panicked and accidentally threw it away while covering my eyes in hopes that not seeing what was happening down river would make things better.

Not having a paddle and being voluntarily blind while strapped into a kayak going down the river does not make things better, just in case you were wondering.

  • Hey — everyone has a weird fear, mine is boats.

Earlier this summer I decided to look my tippy nemesis in the face and canoe a few *ahem* 20 or so kilometres down the North Saskatchewan River.

Every so often you need to look fear in the face and say, “Oh no you don’t!”

you can

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Or in my case, simply blink many times while listening to the instructions on how not to tip over while climbing to the far end of the canoe.

Stay low. Grab both sides. Take your time. If the boat is going to capsize, this is probably when it is going to happen.

I cinched up my neato PFD (that’s sailor talk for life jacket) and mentally prepared to doggie paddle down the river to catch my picnic lunch if and when I fell over starboard.

My death grip on the paddle lessened as we meandered down the river; death no longer felt imminent and I suddenly wondered what all the sweating about these past years had been for. Being the only woman wearing her life jacket meant I was the only person suffering severe underarm chafing. I joined the cool kids and made my way down the river sans PFD after my breathing returned to normal.

Who knew the pain of underarm chafing was going to override my fear of drowning?

Canoeing in the North Saskatchewan River is about as beginner as you can get. I am pretty sure turtles were passing us on the shoreline, but I still had a few moments of panic when speedboats nearly ran us over and a dead tree tried to drown me.

Did you know if you scream “Dead tree left. Left!! LEFT!!!!!” all the person steering your canoe hears is left and that is the direction you go?

The Dirt Girls taught me to yell where the person or obstacle is not where to go to avoid it. Apparently avoiding death by tree stump requires different directions than avoiding death by floating dead tree.

Yup, we kind of ran into the dead tree. 

Its not my fault at all.

Its a little bit … OK, a lot bit my fault but can you really blame the boataphobic woman?

  • Exactly.

After a few hours of gliding down the river, I realized why I don’t have a love affair with boats – I feel trapped. Trapped in a quasi-death contraption and stuck in the middle of nowhere with a whole lot of water and weird underwater creatures between you and land with only a paddle and a PFD to keep you and your lunch from a very soggy death.

What else is there to do when trapped but embrace adventure and risk freedom?

Yes, I took off all my safety gear and shoes, stripped down to my bikini and jumped in the river, why the heck not? I simply decided I would beat the river at its own game of trying to swallow me up whole.

This is avoiding death at it's finest.

Yes … this is me avoiding death — one of my finer moments in life.

Why not be in charge of your own capsize?

Being human, it is easy to get stuck by doing the same thing over and over and over, never changing what you do or how you do it and simply complain about being where you are and what you don’t have or haven’t accomplished.

If you are like me, you want to do things, accomplish and grow and it is easy to let fear, huge obstacles keep you from even trying to do what you want and get what you want out of life. If you find yourself trapped in a boat, floating down a river and all you want to do is get out – do it. Acknowledge the fact that you might capsize and own it.

Jump out of the boat and break free of confinements and fears.

You may find you like the safety of the boat, you may realize you’re strong enough to swim upstream or, unbeknownst to you, floating downstream on your back is exactly what you want and need.

Don’t let old fears keep you from what you want to do with your life. See what’s out there and try again. What if you’re not afraid? What if you are more than capable to swim to shore?

What do you need to risk capsizing?

Terrible Case of the Past {Amanda Palmer}

Being completely ready for anything is a fallacy.

There is a unique timing for action when readiness meets opportunity. Willingness to fail is a far better approach than waiting for the elusive ‘complete readiness’ to appear. Opportunities come and opportunities go, what you do with them when you have them is what matters.

  • Mostly, nearly, just about, kinda or quasi ready seem more accurate to me.

What can I say? I am a woman who likes to qualify things.

never ready

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There are no guarantees in life, health, love or business. The past year has presented me with an incredible amount of opportunities to fail and I have taken nearly all of them head on because when opportunities, people and experiences which make my heart come alive find their way into my life, “Yes!” is the only answer which should be given.

Ready? Never.

Willing? Always.

Meet Amanda Palmer, an enigma who is always willing and rarely feels ready.

She is a deep soul of mystery, love and authenticity; a woman who embodies a willingness to risk failure to get what she wants out of life.

Amanda’s music is reminiscent of sitting on a rocky ocean shoreline; the crash of the waves fills your ears and the mist seeps through to your bones, yet somehow you remain warm.

As are with most things and people in life which you deeply appreciate and love, you find them when you’re not looking for them; I found Amanda through my love of memoir, not the radio.

Reading a memoir of someone you admire or who is extremely interesting is like going for a long idyllic walk with them and then finding yourself sitting out on their back porch with a glass of wine and your legs tucked under you while you watch the sun fall off the edge of the earth and start to count the stars. The conversation and sharing doesn’t stop until the last page is turned; the stars give way to the sunrise and coffee finds its way into your hands.

  • Around this time last year, I was deep in Amanda Palmer’s memoir, The Art of Asking.

Amanda

Amanda is an intriguing and interesting soul, but not just for the reasons you find on her Twitter feed and album covers; she is who she is without apology and embraces the journey of being vulnerable and practicing love, whether fully ready or not.

A few days ago, I came home from an extremely emotionally exhausting day that was full day of coaching and consulting and felt the need to, “find the human statue singer lady’s music … what’s her name?”

Have you ever had the experience where you are supposed to know someone’s name and their name simply doesn’t exist in your brain?

Then you’re supposed to introduce them to someone else?

  • Embarrassing, awkward, demoralizing.

This sums up my ability to remember names of songs, bands and musicians. I hear something and the sound sticks in my heart while all the pertinent information about the song simply vanishes. When people ask me what music I listen to, I literally have to look at my phone to see what I have downloaded and am listening to at the moment.

Whatever you do, DON’T ask me to sing the song for you because I just might and you will never be able to get those 15 seconds of your life back.

If my life depended on singing even reasonably on tune, I would be dead. This may be one of the reasons I avoid traveling to the Middle East, simply because if I were to encounter a hostage situation and be forced to sing O Canada! to prove my subarctic heritage, no one would believe me.

Let’s just say googling with all I had left in my sparse recollection I had about Amanda led to some interesting results before I found her.

Her new song, Machete, made me sob when I listened to it. She sings of love and loss; love of someone who changed her life and fully loved her for who she was and didn’t let her be anything but her best self.

A terrible case of the past.

Her lyrics are haunting and point out the fact that to live a life of love, connection and risk taking creates the potential for huge loss, pain and heartache; in fact it is inevitable. Yet, there is no way else to live but to be free, to love people with your whole heart and to take opportunities that come your way whether you are ready or not; to risk aching for a past which is no longer your present.

Here is the world

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To experience a terrible case of the past is both heart rending and encouraging. While reminding you of what you’ve lost, it gives you hope for a future by holding up a mirror to your soul and reflecting back your capacity to live well. It reminds you that you have within yourself what it takes to be happy and live an amazing life.

  • How you live today will be your past tomorrow, make it worth experiencing a terrible case of the past now and again.

Grab onto opportunities, people and adventures which light up your soul when they come across your path and hold tight until its time to let go; allow them to be woven into the fabric of your soul and to change you for the better.

And in the moments of terrible cases of the past, lean into the feelings and savor what you had and then lean out into the big world ahead because there is more, whether you are ready for it or not.

Go be amazing, its the best choice you’ll ever make. 

 

Showing Up and Sacrifice … Not Sexy, But Effective

Life is not a spectator sport.

To win at life, you have to suit up and get in the game, train hard, show up and keep standing up up when you get knocked down.

Life is meant to be lived, grabbed onto, savored and enjoyed.

live

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I often have this conversation, which I hate ….

Random Person“I wish I could do that. I could never do that.”
Annoyed Donloree“Sure you could. You just have to start. You can actually do pretty much anything you want in life. The only rules are the ones you create.”
Random Person“No. Never. I just can’t … you can, but I can’t.”
Annoyed Donloree“Everyone starts somewhere. If you don’t start, you never will. Just start. Choose to be ok with being horrible and then keep going. It eventually gets better and suddenly you’re doing things. I promise.”
Random Person“I just can’t …”

Once you’ve decided that you can’t, it won’t work, it is impossible, you’re too old or there is no way forward, you are correct.

Fearing failure and not trying is failure realized.

The art of showing up.

98% of the battle is showing up. Truly. A year ago I would have never thought I would be a woman who could run medium range distances of 25km and longer without calling a cab to rescue me.

I just kept showing up to the early morning run groups and putting on foot in front of the other.

When I was 22 years old with a completely irrelevant Bachelor’s degree in hand, did I imagine I would be an HR Director and Executive Coach? No. Showing up to work on time and working hard and with purpose moves the needle even when you feel like you’re standing still.

  • The hardest and most important thing you can do is show up. Don’t pre-select failure for yourself.

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Can’t vs. Don’t Want To

Actions tell you and the world what you actually want; words can be a cheap smoke screen of misdirection when we aren’t ready to be honest with ourselves and the people in our lives.

The worst person to deceive is yourself. Instead of saying you wish you could do, be, achieve or have something, be honest with yourself and the world.

It is refreshing to hear someone say, “No. I don’t want to do that.”

Learn to show up for what you want in life and be honest with what you want to fight and sacrifice for in life.

  • Does running an ultramarathon sound like a neat achievement? Sure. Heck as if I am going to trade that many hours of my life to be able to hang that medal around my neck while eating a post race banana or twelve.
  • Do I want to be amazing at mountain biking? You bet. This is why you will find me on my bike after an exhausting day at work, practicing single track trails previously ridden with the Dirt Girls. The many bruises I earn are happily covered in arnica while I smile with happiness.
  • Do I actually want a hot bikini body? No. I don’t want to count macros, eat 50 or less carbs a day, be unable to play hard and enjoy sports and not be able to think at work. Happy and healthy is way better than hot.

If you want to, then just do it and don’t care at all what people think. And if you don’t want to, be honest with yourself and be ok with saying you don’t want to.

Be willing to try and fail until you succeed; whatever you do, don’t fail by not showing up for yourself.

This is your life and you’re becoming someone; is it who you want to be?

Be Careless

If you want to make nearly every woman in North American and possibly even Europe shudder and take a mental inventory of their cellulite, just tell them swimsuit season is here.

  • I hate swimsuit season, but probably not for the reason you think.

The reason I despise swimsuit season is because suddenly, overnight, each of us isn’t good enough, will never be enough and somehow our bodies become a measurement of our worth.

Every single spring, pressure from the media to have a perfect body and conversations between women assessing how not good enough their bodies are intensifies and before you know it we are all down the rabbit hole of comparing and judging each other, but most of all we judge ourselves.

When women tell me they aren’t ready for swimsuit season, I have a hilarious response.

What are you lacking? A swimsuit? Sunscreen? I know, sunscreen is absolutely critical – have you seen how white I am? Eeps! Costco has a great price on 60 block – just picked some up last week. I am officially ready. Flip flops? Just make time to go shopping – no worries, you’ve got this.

I am serious. What are you lacking?

Nothing other than hard won self-acceptance.

My heritage is Eastern European – people who needed to be strong and sturdy to survive farm life. I will never look like a Barbie Doll and if I do please call 911 because I went without food for 6 months and am nearly dead. My genetics have adapted over the centuries to be able to haul things, walk long distances up steep hills without stopping and make it through long, cold, hard winters.

We are a hardy people. Waif-like and lithe will never be applied to my name and that is completely fine.

  • How much of our lives do we just not show up for because we self-select that we are not good enough? Not thin enough? Not beautiful enough? Just not enough …

For women, it is more than we care to admit.

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There is a lie out there that if you are a size 4, weigh 119 pounds, are without wrinkles, have a D cup size and are 5’7” then everything will be perfect and you will be happy because life will be at your fingertips.

Guess what? Life is already at your fingertips and if you don’t know how to grab life and live well now, being ‘beautiful’ won’t help you be happy.

Learn to be more of who you are, not less.

The great thing about everyone else caring about how they look in their swimsuit is they couldn’t care less about how you look. And if you don’t care – the world is your oyster.

You don’t need to be less, smaller, tinier, or thinner to enjoy more of life; what you need is to accept that you are more than enough and just be happy while doing the things you want to do.

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Be a woman who has enough substance to her, both emotionally and physically, to hold onto while you live a great life.

  • Put the swimsuit on and go live your life. Don’t let a number on a tag inside your clothes determine how much life you get to live.

Go live your life. All of it. Be courageous. Show up.

Care less. Live more.

Arnica You Glad I Didn’t Quit?

I promise, I am not abused, just extremely ridiculous

A few weeks ago I found myself wearing a pair of fabulous red high heels and a cute black work dress while confusing the heck out of a 58 year-old male pharmacist.

DonloreeHi. I need some help. I am looking for something called Arnica … ? *shrug*
PharmacistSure. Over here … (looking and nothing named ‘Arnica’ was found)
DonloreeMy friend said it was by the A535, is that here?
PharmacistOh, that’s over there. What do you need it for? Are you trying to get rid of a massive bruise?
DonloreeUh, yeah. A few of them … would like to make this black eye go away and if we can sort out the hand, arm and leg … well, that would be wonderful.
Pharmacist – (Leaning into my eye, seeing under my foundation and suddenly looking concerned) Are you ok? What happened? Your hand! Arm. Oh … uh… How did you get those bruises? Did someone do this to you? Did your boyfriend or husband hurt you? Uh … why do you need Arnica?
Donloree – (Laughing) Oh no! I’m fine, totally fine. Mountain biking. I am not an abused woman, I am just clumsy and ridiculous. If you knew me, it would make sense. Promise.
PharmacistWhy do you mountain bike? Stop it. You don’t look like a woman who mountain bikes. No more biking.
DonloreeI like it. It makes me happy. I am going to keep biking, so I need Arnica.
Pharmacist You’re sure you’re safe … right?
DonloreeSafe? Nah. Good? You bet. Awesome. Thanks!

First Official Ride of the Season – 1, Donloree – 0

My first ride with the crazy mountain biking women was reminiscent of my first day of fourth grade when I had to change schools. Walking across the field to find my teacher and class so I could line up when the bell rang was one of the scariest things I had ever done in my short 9 years of living.

  • But here’s the good news; I am 36 years old which means I made it through the fourth grade despite feeing like I was going to die.

Standing there with my fabulous white and teal bike, I felt out of place and my inner nine year old wanted me to run away and to never go back. It was the first day of school and I just wanted to fit in.

Guess what? I didn’t fit in, not at all.

I decided to wear white because it matched my bike (yes, I am that woman), I had never been on a group ride before and I didn’t know any of the terms that were flying around in the conversation.

  • Fearless, I am not. Ridiculous and tenacious, I am. Completely.

I made it through my first single track without dying and managed to stay on my bike going down a massive to me hill in a single track, so when a big ramp appeared in the path followed by an uphill full of roots, I gulped down the desire to run away and went for it. After I fell off the a-frame, banged my white helmet (told you I am that woman) on a log, turned into a Donloree pretzel with my fabulous bike smooshing me into the earth while still clipped to my shoes and my white clothes covered in mud, I just laid there and laughed.

It is more epic than it appears ... first a hill, then a slight flat, then the massive ramp thing, then uphill full of roots. I totally had it ... until I didn't.

It is more epic than it appears … first a hill, then a slight flat, then the massive ramp thing, then uphill full of roots and turns. I totally had it … until I didn’t.

Who does this?

A woman who has continually experienced the value of courage and community.

Over the years I have learned that if I don’t actively choose courage, there is no way I will ever be able to do the things that I want to do. Saying you want something and actually going after it are two different things.

Don’t let fear keep you from traveling the road of epic failure to finally arrive at success.

  • Courage. Competence. Confidence.

You cannot be truly confident unless you are extremely competent and to even begin to be competent at something you have to step out into the unknown and choose to embrace risk. This is true in work, sport, love and personal growth; courage bridges the gap between where you are to where you want to be.

Bridge building is a process and is something you can rarely do alone.

The next ride with the crazy and amazing women, I was told, *ahem* strongly encouraged, to face my fear and go with the group that was going to ride the trail with the a-frame. My latest near death experience was not going to definite me and my Arnica advice giving friend helped me look fear in the face and pedal through it, or more accurately, over it.

I made it over once, screaming the whole way, and the second time a woman named Tracy kept me from repeating the near death experience off the other side and then it is possible tears of frustration leaked out of my eyes.

What was I thinking? The darned ramp is as high as my hip ... then add in my bike height ... Ridiculous!

My ridiculousness makes my brow furrow in epic ways. What was I thinking? The darned ramp is as high as my hip … then add in my bike height … sheesh!

  • Being courageous is vulnerable. Freakishly vulnerable.

In order to not die while going after what you want in life, grab great people and learn from them. Find resilient people who are willing to go through the obstacles of life with you. Without people who believe in you and who have gone farther and further and are stronger than you are, you won’t get very far.

Grab some Arnica, show up and embrace the bruises that come on the path of learning and challenge; what you want is on the other side of ridiculous.

AND whatever you do, make sure you have some fabulous people to ride with; it makes all the difference.

Happy Is As Happy Does

Summer is glorious in the subarctic.

The unique gift about the north during the summer months is the sun; it stays for nearly 24 hours at the zenith of summer and doesn’t really leave until it suddenly decides to start snowing.

Most summer evenings after work and the long list of tasks and events for the day are done, you will find me on my balcony with a glass of sparkling water or wine watching the sky turn majestic colours as the sun slips over the edge of the earth to hide away for a few hours.

A few nights ago under the pink and orange sky, I connected with a quiet, deep and steady happiness that has grown through a long season of deep and keen disappointment.

  • You can never tell someone’s backstory from the picture they present to the world.

Everyone has something hard in their life. Every single person.

It is a poor choice to decide that someone else’s life is perfect or easy and even if is perfect or easy for them at the moment, they probably went through hell to find it. Let them savour it and celebrate with them.

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Much of my life is very shiny and happy. After all, I have a fabulous job and own a part-time consulting and coaching business, running, biking and adventures are peppered throughout the week, I only have me to worry about which means I can travel, go out and do whatever I want when I want and amazing friends overflow in my life.

We are covered in salt and dirt from the run, I haven't showered yet and my epic sun squint brow is out in full force ... yet this is happiness.

We are covered in salt and dirt from the run, I haven’t showered yet and my epic sun squint brow is out in full force … yet this is happiness.

What you don’t see is the long list of disappointment and heartache that have filled up the last 3 years of my life. Listing them out would be unhelpful; acknowledging they exist is more than enough.

Rarely do we show the struggle, despite it being real.

In the midst battling disappointment, I have also been extremely and consistently happy.

The bendy people of the world have a healthy perspective on how to go about things – they practice. I am sure there are weird yoga competitions, planking championships and other nonsense, but in general, they simply go about practicing.

  • One of my mantras in life is, “Your job is to be amazing, now go do it.”

To be happy, you have to know you are and be it, which is anything but passive. Being amazingly you takes work, discipline, focus and tenacity.

Practice leads to proficiency.

Happiness comes from taking control of your life and not pinning your happiness on anything or anyone. Scapegoating situations and people is easy in the moment, but it is not the road to happiness. You, and only you, are in charge of your happiness and it is something you need to practice every day.

Prior to these past years, I had no idea happiness could readily co-exist with disappointment, but it can, it simply takes practice.

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There are lists galore out there about how to be happy and yet everyone needs to find their own way and happiness practices which are congruent with who they are; in my world this is called my Happyloree list.

Here are ten things I consistently do as part of my happiness practice:

  1. Saying no. Learning that ‘No‘ is a complete sentence has been huge. Doing something I don’t want to do means I am not being authentically myself and am taking an opportunity away from someone else. Every opportunity that comes across your path isn’t supposed to be taken.
  2. Reflecting and savouring. Most of my days start and end with reflection; a time of sorting through what is going on inside of me and how I want to approach the world. As little as 5 minutes makes a marked difference in my life.
  3. Becoming a sensible minimalist. Buying and consuming less, both stuff and media, has created time and capacity to do more with my life. I never want to go back to an overflowing life. I have become rather man-esque when it comes to shopping – give me a list and let’s get this done!
  4. Adventuring and saying YES to doing challenging things. Can you say first mountain bike race? Oh sweet Jesus … the goal? Not to die; everything else is bonus.
  5. Simply being me. As my mom would say, “Like it or lump it.” I actually have no idea what this means, but the sassiness of the comment is fabulous. No longer worrying about either making a statement or fitting in is freeing; going about life and work and not thinking about myself has opened up a new world of mental space and creativity.
  6. Appreciating my body. Remembering that I can run nearly 30 km or work hard all day and then go mountain biking for a few hours is important; it is fabulous for what it can do, not what size it is or isn’t. I am going to be the hilarious 75 year old woman climbing Kilimanjaro and keeping up with the young whippersnappers, at least that is the goal.
  7. Giving my time to amazing people. Time is the most valuable resource on the planet and I don’t give it away very easily. Running, biking, evenings out on the town, coffee, dinner and wine and long hikes are paired with amazing people who make my life better.
  8. Doing what I said I would do. If it is in my calendar, whether it be a bike ride with the Dirt Girls or going to a foreign film alone, I strive to always do what I said I would do and show up, especially for myself. You have to stop wishing and start doing, otherwise you will have regrets instead of stories.
  9. Dressing nice. I likely overdress most of the time, but it is for me – it helps me show up. Learning the art of taking care of yourself and being proud of who you are, both inside and out, is key … and heck, a pair of amazing shoes always makes everything better.
  10. Being kinder to myself. I often have internal, hilarious conversations with myself about my failures and disappointments. The mean voice in my head may be loud, but listening to the kind voice gets me much further, much faster in life and I have places I want to go and things to accomplish!

And whatever you do, the first and most important task in the practice of happiness is to buy your own stamp of approval and use liberally and without shame.

What are your happiness practices? What have you woven into your life to create your own happiness?