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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Being Competitive Can Be Counterproductive

I am seriously competitive.

Playing ‘just for fun‘ is not fun. Now creaming someone, being the absolute best, winning, getting first…those things are fun for me. This would be why I don’t do well playing board games with my in-laws at Christmas. My in-laws are possibly the nicest people on the planet and board games are loads of fun, but their super nice ways make it hard for me to have fun.

They do very nice and kind things like tell you when you made a mistake, coach you on how to play better, and give advice. I’m more in the camp of, “Hey, we gave you the rules, walked you through the instructions, and asked if you have any questions. Now it is time to learn by doing.”

  • I drive my kindhearted husband crazy.

My family shows love while playing games by yelling, creating alliances against others, and not having re-dos for turns. And I love it.

The odd woman out.

I have come to realize most people don’t like to compete like I do, so I have learned the fine art of competing against myself.

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I make almost everything a competition. This explains why you will sometimes find me lunging down the hallway at the office in my four inch heels, carrying every single bag of groceries from the Costco trip all at once, getting rid of half of my personal belongings, and choosing books that are over 400 pages for my book a week challenge.

Mind over matter.

Since the subarctic where I live is no longer in the deep freeze season they call winter, I have started biking to the office when I am able. I seriously love to ride my little grey, Specialized bike. In fact, I was so happy this morning I belted out ‘Oh Christmas Tree‘ while riding in the middle of nowhere.

  • I don’t think my off-key singing made the river valley happy.

Most of the ride to the office is uphill through the river valley. This morning while riding, I decided to GO FOR IT!, to push myself and see if I could beat my 58 minute time from last week. I set my intention, decided to aim for 45 minutes, and pushed hard.

Ok, it is way more epic than it looks. Around the bend is a steep drop. If you were walking, you would suddenly start jogging due to the gravitational pull!

Ok, it is way more epic than it looks. Around the bend is a steep drop. If you were walking, you would suddenly start jogging due to the gravitational pull!

The lactic acid built and my lungs wheezed.

The last few hundred feet out of the valley is this steep hill that I always have to walk the last 20 or so feet. This morning I decided I was going to win the “Hill vs. Donloree” challenge.

Every single revolution of my pedals was torture, snails were passing me and wishing me good luck, and the blood vessels in my cheeks threatened to burst.

Nonetheless, I persevered. I had a time to beat. 

Hilarious mantras started pouring through my head.

  • Choose a champion mindset.
  • This is what defines you from the rest of the pack.
  • Mind over matter.
  • Pain is your friend, it tells you you’re alive.
  • Feel the burn.
  • Winners don’t give up when it is hard.

And on and on it went until I got my little arse up that last hill. Then a pressing thought and need hit me like a ton of bricks.

I think I am going to throw up.

Dumping the bike and backpack on the ground, I quickly started to walk in circles and tried keep the pavement level. For some reason it was moving up and down on me. Throwing up and passing out were both possible outcomes and I needed to get back on the bike to beat my time. As I circled and the bottom of my lungs stopped protesting, a very fit bike dude emerged from the hill without any effort.

He took one look at my crazy hair, unstable walk, and bent over position and stopped.

Apparently I didn’t look very good.

Luckily, “Hill.”  And then a whole lot of gasping and nodding paired with some hand waving was enough to make him decide I was ok.

Or I scared him.

After spending 12 minutes circling and drinking the rest of my litre of water, I was ready to do the 30 flat city blocks that lay ahead.

  • My final time? 58 minutes.

I learned a valuable lesson today.

Don’t push yourself so hard that you end up wasting all the precious time you earned trying not to throw up and nearly passing out while a very fit man anxiously watches you from the sidelines. It is counterproductive.

A little bit more every single time, time after time, will create the result you’re looking for. 

Why wouldn't 2 or 3 minutes faster have been enough? 15 minutes, aka 25% faster, was and is ridiculous. I am ridiculous.

Why wouldn’t 2 or 3 minutes faster have been enough? 15 minutes, aka 25% faster, was and is ridiculous. I am ridiculous.

Are you super competitive? How do you manage your competitive nature? Does it get you into trouble like it does me?

Unbroken {52 Books}

My life these past few weeks has been a long, drawn out marathon of events, adventures, work, and responsibilities. For 26 days straight I didn’t take a day, heck not even half a day, to just do nothing, sleep, or play. It is amazing how even fun things become extremely not fun in the midst of a jam packed schedule. Conferences, training seminars, social events, out of town guests, home renovations, a bodybuilding show, travel, work, and coaching clients filled up all of my days and evenings. Things like grocery shopping were done on the way to somewhere else to either be with someone else or prepare for the next time of being with someone else.

For an introvert, living like this is is torture.

By the time the end of last week rolled around, I was running on fumes and found myself wanting to hide under the covers until a break came.

Unfortunately, when you’re an adult this is not an option. Well, I guess it is an option but one I just never take – responsibility has been woven into my DNA and it oftentimes chomps me in the arse pretty hard.

Needless to say, whenever I started to read I just fell asleep these past few weeks. My book of choice came in the form of a hardback with 472 pages in it if you include the appendices and author’s notes.

Unbroken. A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

unbroken

Lauren Hillenbrand follows the journey of Louis Zamperini from what it took to become an Olympian at a young age to learning how to skateboard at the age of 81. What came between theses two sports was more than a lifetime of experience, heartache, trial, and resilience.

Zamp‘ was drafted into the war as an airman which put him on the path of near death for many, many years. Reading about how he survived a plane crash in the Pacific which meant 46 days floating on a raft and fighting off sharks, starvation, and dehydration, his time being tortured in Japanese POW camps, and the ramifications of the inevitable PTSD that followed was both hard to read and put down.

Throughout the book, I was appalled both by the atrocities he endured and how he chose to keep going – so many would and did give up.

Forgiveness changes everything.

This truth is something I have been working on and through in my own life. We forgive for ourselves, so we can be free to be who we are without hinderance. Forgiveness is the key to opening up the door of freedom in our own lives and the lives of others.

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Louis faced his captors at Sugamo Prison, a few years after he was rescued from Naoetsu:

At that moment, something shifted sweetly inside him. It was forgiveness, beautiful and effortless and complete. For Louie Zamperinin, the war was finally over. … Before he realized what he was doing, he was bounding down the aisle. In bewilderment, the men who had abused him watched him come to them, his hands extended, a radiant smile on his face.
pages 379-380

He could have decided his life was over and lost the war for his heart, soul, marriage, life, and purpose. He used his own atomic bomb of forgiveness to win his personal war and overcome his hell.

Louis is currently 97 years old and still living a full life.

This is not a book that you can sit down and read cover to cover without a break. It requires some time and space to live through the heartache, sorrow, pain, hope, and redemption; but it is a book worth reading.

I was challenged to look at how I live and what I let live in my own life.

  • Am I forgiving myself and others?
  • What am I letting control me?
  • What is my convient scapegoat?

Louis had ever reason to be stuck in perpetual hell, yet he broke free and has positively impacted the world for many, many people thousands of times over.

We are without excuse. I am without excuse.

Lightbulb Moment Reflections

About 5 weeks ago I was having serious conversations with myself about throwing my name back into the bodybuilding ring. Seriously, who doesn’t like the crazy adventure of training like a mad woman, counting every single macro that goes into your mouth, practicing posing every single day, and re-crafting your life to center around an audacious goal?

Ok, you’re right… not very many people.

I will be the first to admit it, I am weird. And awesome. You are ‘something’ and awesome too.

Ideas, plans, and strategies were running through my head. I was going to start up the Bikini or Bust! blog again, dive into the subculture of bodybuilding, write like a mad woman on the blog, and refocus my life around competing.. In my dream world, books were being written, sponsorships were appearing out of thin air, and I was all over the dieting like a fat kid on a Smartie.

Note for all American readers – Smarties are Canadian candies that are similar to M&Ms but not tasty like M&Ms. In my not-so-humble opinion they are icky.

The shells are really hard, I feel like the dyes are giving me cancer when I eat them, and the chocolate is 'bleh'!

The shells are really hard, I feel like the dyes are giving me cancer when I eat them, and the chocolate is ‘meh”!

It seemed like a good idea…until I really thought about it.

This past weekend I was helping out with the INBF show in Calgary. My job is to run around backstage and make sure everyone has their tan on, give pep talks when necessary, and answer the same 5 questions 8,000 times. It’s crazy, fun, and by the time the night show ends I am dead on my feet and covered in tan from getting hugged by happy competitors.

After 15 hours on your feet, you eventually have to sit down.

After 15 hours on your feet you eventually have to sit down. My deodorant stopped working at the 12 hour mark and my hair was officially out of control.

This wasn’t my first time at the rodeo, but it was the first time I didn’t walk away sad because I wasn’t on the stage.

A lightbulb went off.

I am actually so happy to be my buck-sixty self because at this moment in my life, I am the best Donloree I have ever been.

  • Why do we decide that looking a certain way will equate in happiness?

Being my best self doesn’t require me to wear a size four. In fact, wearing a size four has nothing to do with being my best self. The amount of mental, emotional, relational, and physical health I sacrificed to get there was ridiculous.

Lots and lots of numbers, but mine isn't on the table and that is more than ok!

Lots and lots of numbers, but mine isn’t going to be on the table any time soon and that is more than ok!

Happiness is an inside job and a daily job.

We are the ones who self select ourselves to not participate in life. No one checks my dress size at the door and tells me I am too chubby to have the time of my life, participate, or change the world.

The truth is, those who take the opportunities are the ones who get them.

Is the door in front of you closed? What if the door is unlocked and all you have to do is open it? What if you knocked or went in search of another door?

So many interesting doors to open up in life!

So many interesting doors to open up in life!

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Hear me well, I am not saying don’t take care of your body.

Nor am I saying bodybuilding is not an incredible sport that taught me discipline, how to think well, and birthed many great things in my life. Its when I made bodybuilding my identity rather than something I do that things got wonky real fast.

I am saying take care of all of you and love you, no matter what size you are. Choose physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and choose to get better every single day. All of you matters.

  • And all of you are ‘something’ and awesome.

That healthy ‘something’ is what the world needs. Don’t wait until you have arrived at a certain look, age, accomplishment, weight, or size to start living.

Happiness comes from knowing you are, fully accepting it, and then being it without caring what other people think.

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Who knows? I may just go rogue one of these years and do a competition again. If and when I do, it will be one of the things I do, not be who I am. And it will have to be when I have the time and attention to give to it without sacrificing my purpose in life.

My one and only job is to be Donloree in every single season and size of my life.

Who are you? How are you living it out?

The Know-It-All {52 Books}

Literally laughing out loud when you’re reading a book is one of my favorite feelings in the world. While Reading A.J. Jacobs and the craziness and quirkiness that came with reading through the Encyclopaedia Britannica, I found myself laughing on the bus, in a living room full of people, and all alone, propped up in bed by many pillows.

The Know-It-All.

Jacobs decides to read through the ‘EB’, as he calls it, mostly because he realizes as he gets older he is becoming dumber. His brain is atrophying.

know it all

He used to be smart, at least thought he was smart, and so it was time to get after actually being smart.

The book is written in 26 chapters – one for each letter in the alphabet. As you learn about strange, random, and crazy things that only people who read the EB know about, you also learn about what it is like to take on a crazy, strange, and often misunderstood adventure.

Doing something epic and strange is familiar to me.

There is something interesting about being able to say you’ve done something epic…you have to do all the work that gets you there. There is a whole lot of daily doing that no one sees or understands which you have to be committed to in order to accomplish big, crazy things. To be able to say “Done!”

Oddly enough, Jacobs’s EB adventure and my Bikini or Bust! adventure had a lot of similar learnings.

  • Everyone has an opinion about it.
  • Talking about it all the time is something you want to do, but is rather annoying to the people you love most in your life.
  • The things you are learning and doing doesn’t always make good dinner party conversation.
  • You have to give up a lot of stuff you used to do to make room for your new adventure.
  • The appeal of the audacious goals quickly wears off and you have to learn the art of being committed to and happy about the daily grind.
  • People are always asking you, “WHY?!”
  • When you finish, there isn’t a ribbon cutting ceremony nor is the NY Times at your doorstep begging you for interviews. Real life meets you and you meet it changed in ways you don’t even realize yet.

Throughout the book you follow the journey of what it is like for a grown man to struggle with feelings of incompetency and inadequacy when he compares himself to others – especially his father, as he and his wife want to have a baby but are not pregnant, and trying to prove his intelligence through Mensa, Jeopardy!, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Everyone must do something with their life.

Your something is different than my something. And my husband’s something? Different yet again.

To parrot Horace Mann. “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”  I agree with Jacobs’s opinion that is good, even great, wisdom.

Not every moment and learning of an adventure is life changing and revolutionary, but when added together the sum of the small things you’ve accomplished results in something great.

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Reading The Know-It-All reminded me of an important truth. Set your heart on something big, audacious, and weird and then go after it – day by day, moment by moment and don’t be discouraged by the little, seemingly insignificant accomplishments. After all those eeny, weeny things are what create accomplishment and the honor of being able to say, “DONE!”

What crazy thing are you setting your heart on? How do you stay focused on it day by day?