I’m Living in a Christmas Card

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

Spring and summer are hiding under there somewhere!

Spring and summer are hiding under there somewhere!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. It is 4:41 am.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alive. I am alive.

Living is not for the faint of heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am training to win gold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look around.

Women of distinction. Women of character. World changers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is community.

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

Currency. Yes, Please. {52 Books}

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

Woman-colored glasses suck.

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

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

  • Oh to be ten years old again!

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

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Amy Poehler.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Currency.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is why I dislike networking events.

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

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

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

Value me?

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

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

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

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

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

Five strategies to avoid being labeled by your job title.

1.  Respond with a clarifying question.

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

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

2.  Tell them the result, not the title.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some possible ‘next’ questions:

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

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

courage

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Strategic Plan: Do Stuff

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

A severe lack of actually doing things.

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

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

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

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

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

Allow me to lend you mine.

Who cares?

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

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

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

Start where you are

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Discipline creates freedom – ironic, but true.

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

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

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

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

dreams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthy Is Better Than Hot

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

Body image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

imperfection

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

I basically applied the minimum effective dose to my health.

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

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

The ‘What The Hell Effect’ changed nearly everything.

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

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

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

Throw it in, lock the door and keep going!

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

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

Being me and loving it.

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

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

brene

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

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

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

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

Enough Already …

How much is enough?

An answer to this question is not easily found when you sit and actually think about the answer for more than a few seconds.

In North America, we live in a world of more = better.

Despite all that we have, we live with a mindset of scarcity.

Yet, when I look around there is more than enough of nearly everything in my life; probably you too. A couple years ago I started the journey toward living a simpler life. I started with the physical stuff I had and did practical things like get rid of half of my personal belongings and then I didn’t buy anything new for myself for a whole year unless something I had broke or was used up and I actually needed it. I think I bought a pack of pens,  two journals, some computer computer paper and a pair of jeans for myself that year.

I learned something interesting.

I still didn’t use or need everything I had; in fact most of it became a burden for me to keep. I had to store, organize, compile, dust, and trip over it day in and out – and I never used it. Guilt over paying money for things and then not using them as I had intended and hoped to was frustrating.

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It is easy to see how we have too much physical stuff but we also have too much of other things – social media, events, news, information and expectation. There is a pervading sense that if you haven’t ‘made it’ by now that you’re a failure and the more we cram our calendar full of events and meeting with people, the better off we will be … the more likely we will be to ‘arrive’.

NOW seems to be the only time our on clocks and the pressure to do everything, be an expert on at least 14 topics, have an adorable family, work at a C-Level position in a niche company, run an online business that sends you monthly cheques in the mail and also sit on the beach while sipping beverages with umbrellas in them can and does kill your soul.

Learning to say no.

The ability to say no comes from having a firm understanding of how much is enough.

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Everyone’s ‘enough‘ changes season to season but until you know and understand you have enough and need to do something with what you have, you will continually say yes to the detriment of your personal wellbeing, relationships, bank account and pace of life.

Six practical tips to help you figure out what your enough looks like.

  1. Make a standing shopping list clothes and personal items that you actually need. This can be done on your smartphone so it is always with you. While shopping if you love something and it is not on the list, leave it or put it on hold to take time to decide if you need the pair of shoes, cute dress, interesting crafting item, book, journal, picture for the house … the list goes on and on.
  2. Create a people matrix. Draw four concentric circles. Your name and your significant other or best friend go in the centre circle, the 2-3 people you want closest to you go in the next circle, friends and family you want to cultivate relationships with the next and in the fourth circle, people who you want in your life on a casual but consistent basis. Filter and make opportunities to spend time with people based on this visual. Adding in someone into the first three circles probably means someone already in your circle needs to move out of the circle. There are only so many people you can pour into and be in relationship with.
  3. Block your calendar. Open space in most people’s calendar is time to be filled up doing something else. At least that was true in my life. Create blocks of time for you to do things you love, be quiet and still, rest and slow down and . The response of, “So busy!” should not always be the answer when someone asks, “How are you?” And having an appointment with yourself is just as important as going to work – you matter too!
  4. Savour. On the days when I stop and smell the roses, everything seems to smell better. We can move so quickly through our days that we don’t take time to notice what is perfect, amazing, incredible or peaceful right now. Sipping a latte while letting the sun stream on my face, pulling over to watch the sunrise, picking up an autumn leaf and marvelling at the colours or snuggling under the covers for a 20 minute, mid afternoon nap are some of my favourite ways to press pause and soak it in. Deep, full breaths of wonder and gratitude accompany all of these activities and a satisfied smile is not far behind.
  5. Give it away. I love taking stuff I have that I know someone else would love and giving it to them. Making someone’s day by gifting them with my extra is a neat way to redeem having too much. It can as simple as giving someone a purse or as epic as giving away nearly all of your yarn stash to a 90 year old woman who knits blankets of many colours to bless people. The smile and joy you get from giving lingers in your heart and is an amazing trade up for stuff you didn’t need.
  6. Turn off social media. These past two weeks I have barely been on social media and guess what? Life has not ended and my brain is much more focussed on what is most important. Tweets, likes, instas, loves, pins and comments are all a lot of fun, but real life happens in the places and spaces you can touch, smell, feel and experience first hand. There is nothing to like, post or share that will give you a gold start in the striving to be enough race.

Once I started to realize I had more than enough in my life, I came to the realization that I was enough.

Maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to strive, push, scratch and claw my way forward. If I do what needs to be done every day, work to take care of myself and dream and plan for tomorrow life start to bloom like a summertime garden.

Today will you literally stop and smell the roses? Turn off the noise of social media? Look for places and spaces where you can rest? Find someone else to bless?

Want to know a secret?

Just as I am, right now and in this season of my life, I am enough. And you are too.

Hobbits and Hostages {52 Books}

Fear not!

I know everyone is so worried about me and my lack of reading. **insert eye roll here** I have not fallen off the reading bandwagon – just the blogging one.

There is only so much one woman can do while trying to keep up on life and whatnot. I have been feeling rundown lately and unable to keep up. Last Thursday I had a doctor appointment to get the results of my blood work, only to find out that indeed I have wonkiness in my hormones and this would be why I feel so crappy.

Stress kills.

  • Being a Hashimotarian has it’s many challenges.

And you are correct, I totally made that word up. I tend to add to the dictionary on a regular basis; other favourite Donloree word is ‘googleage‘. Making up words keeps life interesting.

In the last couple weeks I have read The Two Towers, A House in the Sky and The Return of the King.

Thats a lot of pages right there!

Thats a lot of pages right there!

Hobbits first.

The first book of The Lord of the Rings was definitely my favourite – the last two; not so much.

The remaining two books are actually just other sections of the massive book and overly full of traveling details, additional characters that mostly died quickly after meeting them and way too much description for my liking. In the Return of the King the ring gets destroyed and then there are nearly 100 pages left. Why you ask? To wrap up all the new characters that were introduced just pages before. Reading the last 50 or so pages of the book it felt a bit like packing up a massive board game with hundreds of small pieces; each with an exact place in the box.

Tedious.

And I love a well told story – details do not bother me when they add to the story. If I had photocopied the 20 page of maps from the back of the books, made little flags for each of the characters and moved them along and the story progressed it may have helped.

Unfortunately, I read while I wait; somehow pulling out maps on the bus in rush hour doesn’t seem feasible.

My opinion may have to do with the fact that I read them broken up, not in one long sitting or in a week. It really is just one, massive book full or crazy names and places that needs to be consumed in a slow burn of focussed reading.

Or perhaps I just have an aversion to hairy feet?

There were still quite a few gems in the books, quotes and thoughts woven into details that helped me to keep reading.

  • Don’t screw up at the end“When have I been hasty or unwary, who have waited and prepared for so many long years?” said Aragorn. “Never yet. Do not then stumble at the end of the road,” answered Gandalf.  Page 580
  • What you think about matters. “I mean a danger to yourself alone. … Already you are being twisted. … Do not let that thought grow in you! The desire of it may betray you to a bitter end.” Page 626
  • Finishing is important. “Folk seem to have been just landed in them usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because thye’d have been forgotten.” Page 696

I would have some great quotes from the Return of the King, but I had to return it to the library so all my dog eared pages are in someone else’s hands.

Watching the movies was a good way to fully understand the story, but as I watched I also realized they are about 10 years old. Gollum and the Orc characters were rather unbelievable and I also found the length tenuous.

Watching after reading helped make sense of everything.

Watching after reading helped make sense of everything.

I suppose there is only so much killing of strange creatures one woman can handle within a few weeks.

The ‘hobbitses‘ get a 2.75 out of 5 star rating from me.

Hostages.

A House In The Sky is Amanda Lindhout’s memoir about being held hostage in Somalia for over a year. She is a Canadian from a small town ‘just around the corner’ from where I live – Sylvan Lake and later Calgary.

Crazy stuff happens in the world all the time and we fail to realize or recognize what is going on. Amanda shares in detail what it was like to be captured, tortured and reduced to nearly becoming non-human.

I read all over the place and candy bars in cups seems to help the reading go down!

I read all over the place and candy bars in cups seems to help the reading go down!

  • Resiliency.

After I finished reading her book and checked out what she is doing now, I was and still am amazing at her resiliency. Choosing forgiveness, taking what was and creating something new and not letting what happened to her become her identity.

Like a phoenix, she has chosen to rise out of the ashes even though it is not easy or a one time event.

For my own good, I strive toward forgiveness and compassion above all the other feelings – anger, hatred, confusions, self-pity – that surface in me. I understand that those boys and even the leaders of the group were products of their environment – a violent, seeming unending war that had orphaned thousands of children and reaches back over twenty years now.

I choose to forgive the people who took my freedom from me and abused me, despite the fact that what they were doing was absolutely wrong. I choose also to forgive myself for the impact that my decision to go to Somalia had on family and friends at home. Forgiving is not an easy thing to do. Some days it’s no more than a distant spot on the horizon. I look toward it. I point my feet inits direction. Some days I get there and other days I don’t. More than anything else, thought, it’s what has helped me move forward with my life.
~ Page 366

Well written, engaging and hard to read; an eye opening memoir about what happened and is still happening while we lie safe in our beds.

Forgiveness helps you find your voice.

Forgiveness helps you find your voice.

Forgiving yourself and others is a key that unlocks century old locks that have rusted shut.

Through her story, I wonder and think about my own resilience.

  • Who do I need to forgive and what do I need to forgive myself for?

What does resiliency look like for me? For you? For the world?

The ‘Have Dones”

It is hard to be misunderstood.

I am often misunderstood and am starting to learn how to be ok with it, not to force people to understand me or ‘get it‘. In my experience when I have pushed to be understood, rarely has it resulted in understanding.

  • I look ridiculous and they look more confused.

The other day someone made a comment about me while we were trying to make last minute plans. I wasn’t able to do a lot of the options presented; I had already scheduled out my week, blocked off time to rest and had made previous commitments.

You are just so… *insert hand motions of making a box shape*

It is true. I get up early to write, catch up on email, journal, pay bills, dream and plan for my future and workout before coaching my clients or going to the office. Yes, it is a bit extreme in most people’s opinions, yet if and when I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.

Evenings are full of volunteering, tasks that come with being an adult and some ‘nothing‘ events strategically booked with myself. If I don’t rest, things go wonky and downhill fast.

Question – when you make a commitment to yourself, why do people think you should break it for them?

Everyone wants a piece of you. A piece of me.

dreams and reality

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The older I get, the more I realize I am not living forever. This is quite the shock to my 34 year old brain some days. Today is only here today and I will never get it back. It matters and so do I. So you do.

Oftentimes the very best thing I can do is to say ‘No.‘ A well thought out no is just as good as a raving YES!

Perhaps I should write a ‘How to Say NO so you can ultimately say YES!’ manifesto.

Manifesto – when did our society stop writing books, guides and articles and start writing manifestos? It was probably around the same time when ‘small‘ turned into ‘tall‘.

As much as I love Starbucks, I blame them in part for our verbose ways of communicating.

But I digress…

If you don’t fill your time with what you want to fill your time and protect it, someone else will fill it and no one else will protect it.

Dreams, ambitions, goals and fulfilling your purpose don’t just happen. It takes small, focussed and disciplined actions and steps to be able to accomplish and achieve your dreams.

do what matters

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It takes years and years of hard work to become an overnight success.

Beyond the misunderstanding that I get about my need to not have something scheduled every night of the week and my steadfast adherence to early morning productivity is confusion about how I accomplish things.

The Have Dones.

Perspective is a powerful thing.

Every evening before I go to bed and oftentimes throughout the day, I ask myself a question that helps me make wise choices about how to spend my time.

Tomorrow, what will I wish I had done today?

Simple question. Powerful results.

Rarely in the moment do I want to…

  • clean anything
  • go to the gym
  • put the load of laundry in
  • stay calm
  • pay bills
  • clean the kitchen
  • make a grocery shopping list
  • fix things around the house
  • send emails
  • coordinate schedules
  • have the hard conversation
  • not eat the whole bag of chips
  • budget and review the investments
  • prep and pack food for the day
  • finish the book
  • work on my speech
  • not buy the cute shoes
  • make the phone call

Laziness lurks on my doorstep and feeling overwhelmed, tired, scared and unsure is the welcome mat. Looking into the future and experiencing the feelings of accomplishment, pride and joy from ‘having done‘ it give me what is needed to get off my arse and get to work; to be disciplined in my choices.

If you want to move from dreaming to production, start changing your perspective.

The more ‘have dones‘ you have under your belt, the easier they become.

In fact, even this blog is a ‘have done‘ for me. Tomorrow I am going to be satisfied with myself for writing and posting it.

And as I finish things, I find myself asking, “What’s next? What else do I want to accomplish for tomorrow?”

  • What do you want on your ‘have done’ list? Will you start changing your perspective in order to start producing your purpose?

With you in the trenches of dreaming, discipline and dedication,

~Donloree

If I Can-Can, You Can-Can

Every morning I wake up to loads of emails I have subscribed to get, yet most of them go into the trash without me even opening them. Email newsletters are hilarious, they are a bit like requesting people send you junk mail.

  • Then there are the rare ones that don’t get trashed.

We all have them – the mass email that comes to your inbox that you actually read and enjoy. Marie Forleo is one of the rare ones for me. She’s smart, hardworking, helpful and kind. This past week she featured an amazing woman named Maysoon Zayid.

Women with weird names rock.

I have no doubt she receives a lot of comments about her name too. I can hear it now…

  • Monsoon? Like the weather pattern?
  • May, what?
  • Mason? Like the man’s name but you’re a woman?

I am sure the list goes on and on.

While watching her interview yesterday, I was struck once again by the fact that we are all supposed to do something unique in this world. Limitations and obstacles exist – just ask Maysoon – but they don’t define you. In fact it is our job to redefine them and work through, around, over, under and with them.

She is a well known comedian, not a disabled comedian but a comedian, and has worked in Hollywood. She found her dream of acting and communicating while in University and never looked back.

maysoon

Cerebral palsy could define her, yet it is simply something about her; a footnote in her story.

I have a lot of footnotes that I tend to make my identity. It is time to give these items the place they deserve – a small mention in passing of the greater story of my life.

You also need to watch her Ted Talk.

She also wrote a screenplay called, “If I Can-Can, You Can-Can” about a small town dancer teacher with cerebral palsy and I would love to see it come to life because it guarantees her an oscar. Hah! As a writer who is starting to dabble in the world of fiction and screenplays this is one of the most intriguing things about her.

Makes sure to also check out Maysoon’s Kids. She gives hope and possibility to those who wouldn’t have it otherwise, which is what we are all called to do in some form and way through our lives.

What footnote is out of place in your life? Whatcha gonna do about about it?

The Fellowship Of The Ring {52 Books}

 Confession time.

I have yet to watch the Lord Of The Rings movies.

*gasp*

Nor have I watched Titanic, but that is a whole different story for another day.

Simply put, I like to read the book before I watch the movie. Honors Sophomore English required us to read The Hobbit which, at the age of 16, nearly killed me.  The thought of having to read more of the slow moving, detail orientated plot about small men with hairy feet which requires pages and pages of maps to be able to literally know where in the story you were had zero appeal.

*gulp*

*gulp*

So read, I didn’t.

One of my goals with my 52 Book Project is to read great books, epics, books that shape culture and tell great stories. I found myself being so bored with all the leadership, learning, and you-should-be-better books; I mean there is only so much one woman can implement in a month.

When the library let me know The Fellowship Of The Ring had arrived, I was not very excited.

The 4 pages of foreword nearly killed me and I wondered what the heck I was doing, but I dove in – desperate for a great story to immerse myself in.

Determined Donloree

Starting required some determination and a ‘look’. Glad I gave myself the ‘look’.

I found what I was looking for.

Well told story teaches you about yourself and the world. As I bumbled around the names of the characters and places and wrapped my mind around Saruman vs. Sauron, I found myself caught up in the great epic and was reminded of four important truths.

Truth #1 – Doing what only you can do doesn’t ensure safety.

“It is going to be very dangerous, Sam. It is already dangerous. Most likely neither of us will come back.”
~Frodo, page 87

  • Isn’t this true of nearly every hard task we are called to do with our lives?

We never come back to the place we were before, it doesn’t exist. Great journeys of daring and doing what only you must do changes the world, both for yourself and those around you.

CS lewis

Truth #2 – Who you journey with matters.

“It all depends on what you want,” put in Merry. “You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway; there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid – but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.”
~ Page 105

  • A true friend is worth more than their weight in gold.

We need to go through life with other people who will fight the fight with us, who have the same purpose and heart to conquer that which needs conquering. As I read this story I was deeply grateful for my fellow sojourners who stick with me with a steadfast Sam Gamgee-esque quality.

Truth #3 – Judging others when you have not traveled their dark road negatively impacts your heart.

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,” said Gimli.
“Maybe,” said Elrond, “but let him not vow to walk in the dark who had not seen the nightfall.”
“Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,” said Gimli.
“Or break it,” said Elrond. “Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts!
~ Page 281

  • Look not too far ahead.

Yes know where you are going, but don’t make all the decisions until you get to the decision point. Most times we have to travel farther, learn more, and become wiser before we can make the decision. Every single day living with a good heart is up to me and going with a good heart keeps me steadfast as I travel my journey.

Truth #4 – It is harder NOT to do the hard thing you’re supposed to do.

“Oh, Mr. Frodo, that’s hard!” said Sam shivering. “That’s hard, trying to go without me and all. If I hadn’t guessed right, where would you be now?”
“Safely on my way.”
“Safely!” said Sam. “All alone and without me to help you? I couldn’t have borne it, it’d have been the death of me.”
“It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam,” said Frodo, “and I could not have borne that.”
“Not as certain as being left behind,” said Sam.
“But I am going to Mordor.”
“I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.”
~ Page 406

  • May we not avoid the things we must do just because they are hard.

It is our job to go through the hard things and continue on, not avoid them. Many of us are on the path to Mordor and find ourselves sitting on the side of the road while adversity tries to kill us – and we let it.

Tell me I am not the only one who has not read these books.

The second book, Two Towers, is on hold at the library as is the BlueRay of The Fellowship Of The Ring. I’m looking forward to finally being able to watch this movie!

I leave you with the words of Sam, “Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.”

What is your journey about and who is traveling with you?