My Career As A Showgirl Is Over

Or, more accurately, never got started.

Hearing that you are most likely not going to be a showgirl while a man is shoving needles into your hips and you’re trying not to scream is not what most women do on a Wednesday afternoon.

  • Apparently I am not most women.

I went back to the Bearded Physio Man for more torture yesterday. After all, if you are going to get better, you have to follow all the steps. You have to do the work. You have to go through the pain.

At least that is what I was telling myself while writhing on the table. Did you know there is an artery right by your IT Band that if nicked could be disastrous?

Me either.

I have to say, having a stranger with a beard grab your IT Band and then having to remain calm while needle gets shoved into it … well … there are more pleasant things to do with your time.

Wow! These calves were worth getting out of bed for!

Ticklish doesn’t even begin to describe how it feels when someone touches my IT Band. Taking a deep breath and trying not to grab the needle and throw it across the room, I complied with the treatment.

Bearded Physio Man – Do you want to do this?
Slightly Panicked Donloree – No. But I’m not the kind of woman who backs away from a challenge. Let’s go.
Bearded Physio Man – These hips!
Slightly Panicked Donloree – Amazing right?
Bearded Physio Man – They are sure something…

Despite my tight hips and inability to do high kicks which would help me transition nicely to a job as a showgirl, I nearly kicked him in the head.

It was an accident, although most likely in my heart it was on purpose. 

Still Not Running Donloree – Is it better? Am I better? Do I get to be done and run now?
Bearded Physio Man – Last week we simply worked on the superfluous stuff, we are finally getting to what matters. You’re an onion, lots of layers.
Still Not Running Donloree – Well with my career as a show girl on standby, we really do need to get me back on the road. A girl needs goals you know.
Bearded Physio Man – 5 km. Slow. Jogging.
Maybe Running Tomorrow Donloree – Sure, awesome. Back at it!
Bearded Physio Man – No hills. No racing. No stairs. No mountains. No intervals. 5 km FLAT and SLOW.
Maybe Running Tomorrow Donloree – Ok, I will jog with the sloths – not the speedsters. And if it hurts … I will stop. Promise.
Bearded Physio Man – Yes. For the love of everything goodie the world. Stop. You’re not my first, you know. Runner that is.

I thought it was nice he considers me a runner. 

Dropping by the Frank’s x-country race on my way home from physio was confirmation that I made the right decision to NOT change back into my shorts and t-shirt and run through the knee deep puddles that have formed in the trails.

Edmonton River Valley

Hello from the sidelines!

Clutching in my little red jeep was hard enough, walking even harder. At least now I know what it will be like to be 98 years old.

The good news is I am officially back on the road, albeit slow and short. A woman’s got to start somewhere … doesn’t she?

Flat, boring, slow, and uneventful 5km here I come!

I Am Officially A Running Failure

Wow. These are the tightest calves I think I’ve ever seen,” is not what you want to hear when a man is shoving a needle into your calf and then jiggling it around.

Over the last three weeks, I have run a sum total of 2.5 kilometres.

And those were over the weekend in Jasper – it was as far as I could go before the epic pain in my right leg returned. Everything from my low back to my calf just hurt and then I seized.

Medicine Lake, Jasper AB

Luckily I could still hike and enjoy some of the beauty!

After three months of being in a lot, and I mean, A LOT of pain while running, I made an appointment with a physiotherapist recommended by one of the Speedsters.

Arriving at physio, I quickly changed out of my dress and heels and into my workout gear. Then there I nervously sat behind those kinds of curtains you find in an ER room. I was just glad I got my shorts and shirt on before the curtain flew open on its track.

The ambiance of the physio office was more emergent than I preferred.

Nervous about what was going to happen, the feeling of being in an ER room did nothing to calm my internal stress. There were no nice, cushy offices with art on the wall to relax in and I started to feel a bit claustrophobic in my tiny blue, cordoned off area.

A bearded man slid the curtains back and introduced himself while somehow fitting himself, me, the physio table, and a chair in the eight by four foot space.

  • In this very tiny space, I did all the requisite bending, squatting, and stretching.

Then we emerged from the curtained area and I jogged around the office while he watched and judged. It is hard not to try and run like a running superstar would run when someone is watching you. I had to remind myself to run in the way that I always run, the way that would make my sloth ancestors proud.

Bearded Physio Man – So how long have you had this pain?
Idiot Running Donloree – Oh, three months now. It hurts to run. It always hurts to run. One of the speedy women told me that I just need to move through the pain and one day it just stops; my legs just aren’t strong enough yet according to her. But it ALWAYS hurts. A lot. How much is this running thing supposed to hurt?
Bearded Physio Man – It’s not. Not after running for years and years and only going 12 kilometres.
Idiot Running Donloree – So, do I need remedial running lessons?
Bearded Physio Man – You need less pain tolerance. Most people who are in as much pain as you are would last three minutes, not three months.
Idiot Running Donloree – So now what?
Bearded Physio Man – Well, we can do this the extremely painful and fast way, or the painful and slow way. I can stick needles or my hands into your muscles, either way it is going to hurt. It is up to you. How do you prefer to go?
Idiot Running Donloree – Well, I am the kind of woman who goes all the way, umm … not like that, I mean I am not afraid of some pain to get me out of this disaster. And the sooner the better. I will carpe the physio diem!

For the next 20 or so minutes, I let a man who I just met see my lacy green underwear while he poked needles into my arse and made me sweat. 30 needles later and a lot of discussion about my hobbies and traveling adventures while I tried to not yelp in pain as he twanged the needles after sticking them into some of the tightest muscles known to woman kind, I tried to stand up.

Getting off the table was the most Herculean feat I have done in awhile.

I looked at him through the sweat dripping off my brow and asked an important question. “I am pretty ridiculous. This is ridiculous, right?

Slight pause.

You have a lot of potential for change and improvement.

The Bearded Physio Man may have a career in politics after he’s tired of poking needles into people.

Or automotive repair.

Your back is supposed to be the chassis, not the source of the power. Its supposed to transfer the power. You run with your low back, your calves have seized, and your ankles basically don’t have any flexion left. You’ve broken your chassis and lost your source of power.

Once we were done comparing me to a car, we moved onto reviewing all the exercises I should be doing over the next week which are actually more like medieval torture methods than exercises.

So can I start running again?

No. You can bike, you can swim, you can do yoga … no deadlifting, no squats. No running. Next week, we review how to run so as to not have this happen again. In the meantime, pressure point release with that lacrosse ball every other day. It should make you want to cry.

There something to be said for being a strategic failure.

Sometimes you need to give up and just say you can’t and then find another way. Don’t wait until you find yourself paying a man to shove needles into you and compare you to a broken car.

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Also? Don’t blindly listen to the super fast, makes everything look easy people.

If you want to die while doing something and it never gets better and only get worse, there is probably something wrong that you need to deal with. Smiling isn’t going to help.

  • No one ever knows what it is like to be you. Ever. No matter how much they have ‘been there‘, they have never been exactly where you are now. 

For now, I am officially banned from running. But I need to pick up the habit again because I have a pesky 20 mile adventure waving at me from May and, as always, the goal is not to die.

Here’s hoping the Grand Canyon doesn’t swallow me whole!

More Than Just Miles

Last March, I decided to be brave and start running with a speedy group of runners.

I am not speedy.

My genetic potential is comparable to that of a sloth; these people have cheetah running through their veins.

Their jog is my race pace.

For just over a year, I have spent nearly every Wednesday night and Saturday morning running a warm up pace that makes me overheat, then starting the interval workout which involves me sometimes running slower than the ‘warm up pace‘ and watching the lithe people run away from me at incredible speeds, then ‘slinky-ing‘ forward while they run back for me on the recovery, watching them sprint away from me some more, and then eventually finding myself labouring up a hill to exit the river valley at the end of the workout to find the group of speedsters waiting to fist pound it out before we run back to the shop at a cool down pace which only makes me sweat even more.

I know, I make it sound like SO MUCH FUN.

So, why in the world do I keep showing up?

Because, after running nearly 600 kms with these people, I have found a group of people who dream big dreams and literally chase them down with all that they have.

  • Impress yourself.

My assumption was that someone of my athletic caliber would never be welcome, but what I found was a group of people who push themselves to their limits, until they fail, so that they could expand and grow. And all they request is that you do the same – no matter what it looks like.

Edmonton in the near spring

It was a gorgeous evening for a run with the speedsters up here in the subarctic. Listening to the crunch of the snow under your feet and the huff your breath as the day turns to dust and you run towards the twilight is a wee bit magical.

 

Despite my genetic potential, these are my people.

Whoever you surround yourself with effects who you are becoming. And in my effort to become a better woman, one who knows how to recover from failure and has humility, there is no better place I can find myself than one of the slowest people in a pack of speedsters.

  • Isn’t it better to be pushed towards your potential than held back by your own mediocrity?

I rarely want to actually go to run after the speedsters on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but I always want to have run, to have accomplished. And when I am done with the workout and completely spent, happiness and pride fills my chest.

  • The coffee after the weekly near death experience helps too!

Weaving the discipline of the weekly workout into my schedule and having people who know who I am and what I want to accomplish helps me keep moving forward, to keep putting in mile after mile.

We were all made to fly.

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And the lesson that I keep learning, because I am a very slow learner, is that all I need to do is give whatever is in front of me my absolute best without self-judgement and that success looks different day to day.

And after quite a few months and hundreds of miles, I find myself keeping up with the pack now and again. In the midst of the miles, I have shared snippets of life with some fabulous people and find myself getting faster and more compassionate towards humanity. Sharing people’s struggles and success in the midst of the footfalls and breath huffing out of your lungs changes you.

  • Getting faster at this running thing suddenly became a fringe benefit of living with a bigger heart and more people to do life with. Even if those people can literally run circles around me.

Sometimes it is good to take a step back and remember that showing up, where you show up, and who you show up with is your choice.

Always.

Who are you going to chase? Where are you people? How are you showing up?

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The Great Balancing Act

Earlier this month, I heard that one of my friends has stage 4 breast cancer. She is my age, full of life, fit as you could ever want to be, and lives an adventuresome life with her little family.

  • For two days my mind was in a bit of a fog due to the shock.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to struggle through her new reality.

Last time I saw her, which was only a few months ago, she was fine. Or so it seemed to me. We talked about life, work, trying to make your way in the world with art and your own business, traveling, fitness adventures, and the joys and stresses of family life. Our biggest concerns revolved around things which just sound silly now.

Witty as ever, she made me laugh until my stomach hurt and when the coffee was gone and when it was time to leave, my spirits were higher than when I arrived.

This kind of horrible news is always a shock and despite our efforts to avoid the terrible things in life, they still have a way of finding us now and again.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I hear news like this, I simply want to abandon all responsibility and just LIVE – whatever that means.

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The real problem with life is, you don’t have an expiry date stamped on your arse so you don’t know when you’re going to go. And nothing about life is equal or fair, so guessing about these things is a complete waste of time.

Enter the great balancing act.

You have to go to work, pay the bills, eat your vegetables, workout and train, get enough sleep, and do all the boring, mundane things that ensure you are healthy and are taking care of yourself. And yet, there are the days when you must throw caution to the wind and do ridiculous things, stay up late, celebrate, get on the airplane bound for somewhere tropical with only three days notice, and drink deeply from the well of life.

  • In the end, it comes down to the fact that you can’t do everything and you need to choose. Choose what it means to live a good life NOW. Every single day.

Waiting for the good life to start means you’re going to find yourself sitting at the window, looking out at the world, wondering how to get through the glass when all you need to do is move away from the window, put on your shoes, and walk out the front door to start your journey.

Your only job is to do you, and do it well.

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Living a good life every single day means being fully present where you are at, not apologizing for saying no to people and opportunities that come your way, and saying YES to love, adventure, discipline, and the people you want to share your life with.

Be where you are and give 100% of yourself to your day, work, and the people you choose to let into your life.

  • If you are with someone, love them well – Give them your whole heart and request the same back from them.
  • Do your best at work – Show up, work hard and act like you’re being graded on what you do or don’t do, because you are. Hard work results in opportunity, money in your pocket, and accomplishment.
  • Buy less things – Spend your money and time on experiences, being with the people you love, and seeing the world, not working to accumulate things you need to pay someone else to clean.
  • Push your body hard, sweat a lot – Go to the gym and train hard, find your running shoes, clip into your bike pedals, hike the mountain, dust off the skis – simply move move a whole lot and push your body past what you thought it couldn’t do; you will be surprised at what you can do and who you meet along the way of doing it!
  • Let yourself enjoy the things you love – Embrace your inner nerd and don’t give another thought as to what other people think about you and your weird hobby and passions.
  • Get up to see the sunrise – There is nothing quite like welcoming the day as the sun starts to light up the sky. Some days are glorious artistic displays of colour and other days simply go from dark to light, but each and every day deserves a grateful welcome with a cup of coffee in hand.
  • Spend more time outside – Even if you are as pale as I am, buy the 6-pack of 80 block at Costco and get on with enjoying the great outdoors. Even in the winter, take time to enjoy the feel of the sun on your face, however cold it may be.
  • Say thank you – Finding your way to gratitude isn’t an easy task, but it is worth doing. Learning to find the gift in the mess and thanking your teachers who have come through your life, whatever form they have come in, is worth doing because when you can say ‘thank you’ you also have found peace.
  • Dream big dreams – Cultivate your dreams and go after them in small ways every day. Chase down a big, hairy, audacious goal or twelve and risk failure. Life is not safe, so don’t make your life about avoiding failure; embrace it.

Living each day like its your last balanced with responsibility is not easy, but it does bring a certain richness to life. Having the question, “What if this is my last ______?” in the back of your head as you go about your day changes what you give to those around you and your work.

Polarizing what you do and who you do it with isn’t a bad thing. The gift of clarity in a very grey world is something most people don’t have.

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Life is going to happen; the good, the wonderful, the bad, and the terrible – how you go through the seasons is up to you.

In fact, it is the only thing that is up to you.

Practice living an amazing life, even in the little ways, every single day because in the end, your practice becomes your way of being and creates your memories and shared adventures. And when the terrible comes, as it will for each of us now and again, you will find yourself doing surprisingly well in the midst of terrible, terrible things.

Isn’t that what we all want? To live a good and full life, no matter how much life we have?

Life truly is an adventure, a terrible and wonderful adventure, live it. All of it.

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Adventure Highlight ‘Real’

If I have learned anything in the last few years, it is this – ‘one day‘ rarely comes, so do it now.

For the first time in my life, I pushed pause and went traveling for more than a week or two. For all 31 days of December, we explored southern Spain, Portugal, the English countryside, and NYC.

Malaga, Spain

You know you’re in a different world when there is a bullring in the cityscape.

If something inside of you screams, “YES!“, then find a way to do it.

Word of caution, the path to achieving your, “YES!” may fraught with difficulty, but who cares? Not living the life you want to live is hard too, just in a different way.

Over the last 14 months, after the company I was working for shut it’s doors, I worked completely for myself. HR consulting, executive coaching, marketing, editing magazines, and other random contracts have come my way and I have said yes to nearly every single one of them.

Balancing 6 jobs at one time is not for the faint of heart.

In the midst of having 6 contracts and trying to keep everything organized, there was a small window of time opening up where I could push pause on everything and explore a few corners of the world. Oddly enough when I decided to go, there was no indication that when I returned I wouldn’t still have the flexibility to go on adventures when it suited me best.

Cordoba, Spain

There is nothing quite like an amazing adventure to make a woman like me happy. And I have a thing for old doors … so many pictures of doors!

  • It is way too easy to not say yes to opportunities when they come your way.

Working and staying home for the month would have been easier. The few days prior to leaving were complete insanity – somehow I managed to pick up some Euros, get all the loose ends of work for my 6 contracts tied up, and found a way to get the laundry done so I could start the trip with clean clothes.

Tavira, Portugal

It was worth the extreme chaos. The white towns along the coastline of Portugal and Spain are simply stunning!

Due to new work, my extreme flexibility has ended. This makes escaping the -30 degree weather for weeks on end look like one of the smartest things I have done in awhile.

My personal love / hate relationship with travel isn’t actually about airplanes, rather it is because in the midst of being out, away, and in new places, there you are; the best and worst parts of you on display to notice in new ways.

Who am I without?

Without my work, friends, house, little red Jeep, gym, morning coffee, cozy bed, a language I can communicate in, a normal grocery store, and my self constructed definitions of who I am and supposed to be?

Lost? Or found?

While away from the mundane, every day details which consume most of us, you can’t help but take a macro view of your life. Looking at your current life from a bird’s eye view is an interesting perspective. You see things you may normally choose to turn a blind eye to and whether or not you mean to; asking yourself questions about what you want in life and your happiness simply bubble to the surface.

On this trip, while navigating the narrow streets of old town and nearly driving over pedestrians while on the way to the next adventure, I found myself face to face with myself.

Lisbon, Portugal

Surviving epic trauma doesn’t mean you are useless. The beauty in this convent that survived the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon reminded me that you always have a choice – crumble or stand tall. And even when you can’t stand tall the way you used to, it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.

Answering questions about what I truly want in life and who I want to be aren’t easily answered in the context of my every day life. It is too easy to default to what I HAVE to do or be in a situation, rather than what I want. This is true for most of us, after all life usually hands us a script and we know how to deliver amazing performances.

Hopping around the world looks like fun and it is — but not every moment.

My Instagram feed, as always and like most people, is the happy, fantabulous highlight reel of my life. There are moments when you wonder what in the world you’re doing and the stress of the situation results in you being less than pleased with how you showed up.

Hey, if you find yourself trapped in a maze of streets as wide as your rented Mini in the middle of old town Cordoba and then finally emerge in a cobblestone square full of people, restaurant seating, and birds and then have to employ your Spanish skills while running ahead of the car to find a way out of the winding chaos … you might find parts of yourself you’re not that pleased with as well!

Cordoba, Spain

The Mezquita was worth nearly running over a few Spaniards in old town on the way to find it.

Highlight Real.

Travel to have amazing adventures and see the world, but also travel to find yourself and be cognizant of who you are becoming. I loved exploring cities built on Roman ruins, climbing over the cliffs in the Algarve, and experiencing the history of the world through architecture, but at the end of the trip, I was happiest to bring myself home – a woman who always needs a mountain to climb and an adventure in the wings.

  • At the beginning of an adventure, you rarely know if it will actually be a good idea or not in the end.
Porto, Portugal

Porto was one of my favourite places and we nearly didn’t make it there. Last minute decisions to change the plans are sometimes the best kind of decisions you can make!

The only way to know is to experience it, to try. Having a list of things you will never do again is not a bad thing, it simply brings clarity to the grey. In a world where nothing is as straightforward as it seems, knowing what you’re about is a good thing. For example, I am never going to install laminate in my whole house ‘on the weekend‘ again and catering a banquet for 100 people is definitely a once in a lifetime experience for moi.

Abandoning responsibility for weeks on end while immersing myself in a whole different world stays on the list of things I will do again, and hopefully soon!

Portimao, Portugal

The beaches on the Algarve were stunning. I am still sad we missed Sagres due to the EPIC wind storm that cropped up while we were there.

I am happy to report that the latest adventure was a 100% success – and at the end of it I came back to the subarctic with a happy, full heart, ready to conquer my corner of the world yet again. The next corner in my backyard – a new job and about 14 random adventures which may or may not involve attempting to avoid death while making it to the finish line.

Why do you adventure? What is it about travel that you have a love / hate relationship with?

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Unfortunately #MeToo

The life of being a woman … complex.

And I don’t say this tongue in cheek – it is hard to be a woman.

If I read the social cues of my world correctly, I am supposed to be size 4, fit beyond belief, have three or four sets of letters after my name, be the CEO of something, able to whip up a culinary masterpiece on a moment’s notice, have a gorgeous house that I decorated myself with furniture made by my own two hands, and be incredibly attractive. Add in the husband and children expectations and sleep won’t happen for two decades, which really dings one’s ability to be attractive and smart.

  • But, according to the messages, the most important thing is to not make waves and ‘take it like a man.’

There is just one slight problem, I am a woman.

Once again, the media is full of stories of a man in power who has confused himself with God and thinks he can do anything he wants to women without any repercussions. The resulting social media campaign of women sharing #MeToo if they have been sexually harassed or abused has been overwhelming and disheartening.

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  • Too many women, too little change.

Sadly, I am not and was not shocked by the news. Nor was I shocked by the amount of women who just took it for years without saying anything.

And in all honesty, we condone sexual harassment and abuse all the time by not saying anything.

Myself included.

I understand why women don’t speak up, why I don’t speak up, often, there seems to be no way to win.

The only choice seems to be to lose even more than your dignity, which just got taken from you. Your job, the respect of others, and acceptance in the social and family circles which are your safety nets are a few of the items next up for loss.

  • And somehow, don’t ask me how, we have shamed the women who are the objects of harassment and abuse instead of the abuser.

After being harassed and abused, the prospect of more loss is usually too much to take and so we quietly ‘take it like a man.’

With so much to lose, don’t you think it is time we start believing women when they speak up?

I shouldn’t have to tolerate being stalked by a man at a work function that I need to be at for my career.

Having to change table locations three times, physically remove his hands from my body, listen to commentary on what he would like to do with me if he ever finds himself alone with me as he leans into me, and turn down offers for sex while other men and women awkwardly watch and listen without helping is unacceptable on so many levels. The comments about how he has a crush on me from those witnessing my personal hell are not helpful because their confusion seeps over into mine and somehow, in the midst of everything, it feels like my fault.

  • Leaving early for French class was a welcome reprieve.

When asked why I was leaving early, I used the socially acceptable answer, “I have French class tonight! So much to do and so little Donloree!” What I wanted to scream was, “I can’t handle being treated like a sex object anymore and that a%*&!# over there has decided he owns me and won’t be respectful of me or probably any woman. You should leave too. What is wrong with all of you? You just watched and awkwardly laughed.”

It is hard to always have to save yourself.

We all own our reactions and my lack of appropriate response to his degradation of me is mine, just as his lack of boundaries and complete disrespect for women belong to him and are not my fault.

And of course he held a place of power in the male dominated workplace I was working in and was highly respected by the other men.

Showing up the next day at work and sitting at the same boardroom table, working together on projects, having his eyes track my every move, and sitting down the hall from him didn’t feel safe.

  • Nor was it.

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My role got handed to me and I played it well, but playing unflappable woman who ignores all sexual advances in the workplace is tiring and lacks integrity.

It is time for us to write different scenes.

Brené Brown has it right in her new book Braving. The example she gives is around slavery, yet the message applies to this conversation as well.

…the humanity wasn’t stripped from all lives the way it was stripped from the lives of black citizens. In order for slavery to work, in order for us to buy, sell, beat, and trade people like animals, Americans had to completely dehumanize slaves. And whether we directly participated in that or were simply a member of a culture that at one time normalized that behaviour, it shaped us. We can’t undo that level of dehumanizing in one or two generations … All lives matter, but not all lives need to be pulled back into moral inclusion. Not all people were subjected to the psychological process of demonizing and being made less than human so we could justify the inhuman practice of slavery.
~ Page 77

It makes me incredibly sad that I might be, and have been, hired as a flagship woman to show that a company is interested in being an equal opportunity employer. I want to be hired because I am the best person for the job and will be an amazing addition to the team.

  • We just aren’t there yet.

And I don’t know how to win.

I am not sure what the best approach is for the next time I am belittled because of my gender, paid less than my male counterparts, or put in a position where I have to continually rebuff sexual advances by a man in power in order to keep my job.

  • Because, unfortunately, it will happen again.

Speaking up usually results in jeopardy. Yet, perhaps it is time we all just risk and continue to lose until we collectively win. Someone always has to go first and those who have gone before us need brave women and men to stand with them.

Together, our calm and clear voice may eventually be heard.

Your inability to see me as a person and complete lack of respect is not my problem. It is your problem, completely unacceptable, and will not be tolerated.

And the next time I get handed a scrip to be the docile woman who simply allows a man to do as he pleases and to accept it without comment, I will scan the pages and return them to the delivery boy.

Nor will I wait for a new script to be delivered. I will write my own script.

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It is time we start responding instead of reacting.

A measured and dignified response is always the best approach. It is hard to gather up the remaining pieces of your dignity and have a response that is worthy of who you are, but always try.

Don’t cover up, hide away, or accept, simply respond in a way that you would be proud of later.

  • Although my stealing away for French class was socially acceptable and very Canadian of me, it is not the response I am proud of now.

Looking back, I wish I had simply said, in front of everyone, “You need to stop. And right now. I am not something you can own and you are not being respectful. I deserve better and so do you.” And then I should have walked away. Instead, I ran away, scared, and allowed myself be hunted for the remaining days we worked together.

My response is always up to me and I need to remember that when it seems there is no way to win, I can always choose to lose while keeping my dignity intact.

The conversation is always worth having.

Please note: I realize this is an extremely LARGE conversation and all men do not mistreat all women. Men, on the whole, are amazing people who deserve respect – same goes for women. In light of the fact that as a society we do not know what to do when sexual harassment occurs (both ways), it is important that we talk about it. Demystifying sexual harassment and making it something that can be talked about without shame would be a giant step in the right direction. 

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Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle …

… to keep your balance, you must keep moving.

Einstein was wise in his admonition to keep moving in an effort to avoid complete disaster.

  • This is great advice, even if you are a klutz like me.

Seriously, I don’t know another woman who is as prone to fall over, trip or run into something while simply walking; add in speed and upgrade me to running or put me on a bike and disaster is imminent.

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Nonetheless, Einstein’s advice remains solid, even for a woman with my bubble wrap requirements.

Sometimes balance can be difficult to find even when you’re doing all the right things, even when you keep pedalling.

Try tenacity on for size.

Riding, hiking, running and even the random canoe adventure have reminded me of the fundamental and important skill that is required to be successful at life – tenacity.

Sport isn’t just for your body, it shapes your mind and builds amazing skills which show up in your relationships and work and also changes how you approach the crazy adventure I like to call life.

This summer and last, I found myself all over the place enjoying the great outdoors and the mountains in my backyard. Instead of packing myself up in a tin can with wings to spend a week in a far away place (although there was some of that too), I have embraced the place I live; a place where people from all over the world come to visit. Banff, Jasper, Canmore, Waterton, Whistler and Glacier Park all witnessed me slathering on 60 block and liberally applying bug spray on a regular basis.

  • Mountains + Donloree + a bike or hike = happiness.

The thing about hiking is that it looks deceivingly easy; after all, don’t you just walk up the side of the mountain in your cute, stretchy clothes and smile at the top?

The answer is no. No you don’t.

I know I am apt to look at people who have managed to get up to the top of a mountain and wonder why I didn’t ‘just walk up that mountain too’? After all, it looks pretty easy once they arrive …

Tent Ridge - Donloree

Getting up to the ridge and then not falling off is harder than one would think – both actually and metaphorically.

Besides the gorgeous views, mountain hiking and scrambling has a hidden gift – it makes you strong and teaches you how to go keep going when the climbing gets tough.

Never stop climbing, even if you have to take breaks to catch your breath and reorient, keep going until you reach the summit. One day you are going to need to do something really hard. If you haven’t been doing hard things just for the heck of it, well, you may not be able to do what is required of you when your time comes.

And the downhill … enjoy it, sure, but don’t just let it happen. Make it your own, embrace it. Run it.

I will never forget the first time I decided to run down the mountain after hours of climbing. The looming thunderstorm and noises coming from the bush next to the trail helped me find the courage to navigate the technical terrain and keep running. 

Flying down the path with the mountain ranges and glaciers cheering me on was incredible.

Tenacity keeps you going, keeps you pedalling, so you don’t fall over.

I know, when you’re in the midst of a hard climb every single step forward seems impossible, but eventually you find your way to the top and everything changes.

  • In an instant.
Helen Lake high Heels to Hiking

When happiness finds you as you pedal, feel free to be ridiculous. I usually am … why not?

It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to have everything change in an instant. What do you in the dark and the hard times when no one else is watching matters.

And when you decide its time to descend and you find yourself at the parking lot, get back in the car and go find a new mountain the climb because life is best lived in the up and downs and not on top of the mountain.

  • Choose to do hard things and you will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish if you just keep going.

What has tenacity taught you? How do you keep pedalling when all you want to do is stop?

~ ~ ~

Random side note: My newest hobby project is a hiking blog, because, why not? It is very much in baby blog form, but feel free to visit me at High Heels To Hiking and say, ‘Hi!’ if you want to.

High Heels To Hiking

Because every woman needs a hobby blog or two, right?

Be Yourself? Umm… Maybe Try Again …

Some of the worst advice out there is, “Be yourself.”

Want to know a secret? Sometimes ‘yourself” really sucks.

Much better advice is to, “Be the ‘yourself’ you will be ridiculously proud of 30 years from now.”

Unfortunately that slogan doesn’t fit nicely on a t-shirt or billboard. And it requires thoughtful consideration.

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Personally, ‘myself’ can be a bit of a sloth, eats chocolate for breakfast, freely shares her overly sassy opinions and cares way too much about what other people think.

Day to day, most of us don’t really think about who we currently are being, we simply respond without much thought or care. In those moments when you just want to satisfy the part of you that wants revenge, glory or satisfaction, ‘being yourself’ rarely gets you what you want.

  • Hard decisions, easy life.
  • Easy decisions, hard life.

A woman has to live free and own her story.

For reasons that will not be discussed publicly, I left my marriage nearly three years ago. Even mentioning this fact in a public setting such as this tiny corner of the world seems rather daring of me after everything that I went through.

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When people ask me why I stayed in my marriage for as long as I did, shame darkens the doorway of my heart and I wonder the same thing.

Why do we stay where its not good for us?

Looking back, I stayed in an effort to avoid failure and loss.

Failure.

The way I grew up taught me and the culture I was in reiterated to me that:

  • marriage = success and being thought of as perpetually shiny
  • divorce = complete and utter moral failure

Divorced people were second class citizens, marred and broken … never able to be fully repaired or shiny ever again; broken forever.

When we decide that a check mark is worth more than a person, bad things happen.

Spending more than a decade of my life agreeing to keep up appearances despite my personal loss on a daily basis kept me small. It was easier to agree with the dysfunction than stand up for myself.

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Loss.

Making the decision to do what I needed to do for me and then following through on that decision day after day meant I lost way more than I won for quite some time. I lost friends, family, money and that all important check mark. Everything in my life changed dramatically and the hardest thing I have ever done was follow-through on my decision.

The only thing that kept me going was that I knew I wanted to look back on my life and be proud of who I was and the only way to do that was not to ‘be myself‘, but rather to be a woman who is fierce, capable and strong. To be a woman who cares more about what she thinks of herself than what other people think of her.

  • Every single day for nearly 6 months, the hardest decision I made was to get up, go to the gym and then survive the day while trying to be a woman I would be proud of 30 years from now.

After learning the hard way that making the right decision is rarely easy, I find myself living an easy life and suffering less and less as I make the hard decisions.

On being your future self.

The woman I want to be is one who makes the call and follows through. She is a dichotomy –  fierce and kind, strong and soft.

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Choosing the autopilot option in life will sweep you away into an ocean of painful results from always choosing the easy answer because doing what is hard, is, well, hard. In the swells of busy, you will find that being yourself, who is a bit of a sloth and eats chocolate for breakfast, isn’t worth it and the easy choice today most likely won’t make the future easier.

  • So choose. Choose wisely. Do it today.

Decide who you want to be, make the hard decision to be that person and then endure the pain of your decision for a short time.

If you have ever trained for a race, gone on a diet or followed through on epic life change, you know what I am talking about. The small, hard choices which cause momentary pain eventually result in a glorious ease in the every day living.

And whatever you do, don’t wait until you have to dig yourself out of an epic hole to get back to being the person you want to be, but if you’re there it is not too late. Now is your moment to make the hard decision to change whatever you need to change.

Don’t be fooled, it is going to be hard. VERY hard, but you are worth it – just keep going until you find your way again.

The night may be dark, but the morning sunrise at the end of a dark night is glorious.

It is only too late, too dark or too hard if you decide it is. As always, your life is up to you.

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The Art of Becoming {Sinister 7 Musings}

10 kilometers into my leg of Sinister 7, I wondered how in the world I could be THAT sweaty. 

Sure, it was a sweltering day in Crowsnest Pass, but how can a woman sweat so much that it drips down her legs and literally pours off of her like a mini Niagara Falls?

  • She can’t. Or at least this woman can’t.

This is a case of having your water bladder spring not one, but THREE not so slow leaks. If there is going to be a freak water bladder accident on race day, guaranteed, it will happen to me.

Donloree Sinister 7

The beginning of my leg – it always seems pretty doable at the start …

With seven kilometers and roughly 500 meters elevation gain and 600 meters elevation loss to go in the 30+ heat, I pulled off the course and tried to conserve as much water as possible. Turning the water bladder upside and and shoving the whole hydration system back into the pack, I continued climbing.

  • Small problem – you need water on a day like that and if you’re me, you need A LOT of water.

I forged ahead the best I could and found myself seeing stars and very depleted by the time I reached the top of the next mountain. Sitting down and contemplating the meaning of life while wringing out the back of my pink tank top, I fielded many ‘Are you ok?’ questions from the competition as they passed me and I continued to lose time.

Sinister 7

I agree, GORGEOUS! But it isn’t pretty once you have to run over it and the surrounding mountains.

A woman offered me a spare, full water bottle. I took it. In considering the options, it seemed prudent to risk drinking a stranger’s water over passing out and requiring medical attention.

An hour later, I was traversing a small creek and the rolling hills of the town of Blairmore; forcing my legs to continue to turn over in a running motion as there were people watching and my team was waiting.

After passing the timing chip over to the leg three runner, I nearly fell over in the transition area. 

I had left everything back on the course somewhere in the 30+ heat. My team plied me with watermelon, chips, water and ice while I recounted my racing woes and found shade.

Sinister 7 is not an easy race. In fact, every year they make it harder on purpose. Year to year the course changes and it is one of the most challenging races you can race in Western Canada.

Sinister 7 Feet

This is what your feet look like after 17 kms on the trails. And yes, I realize this angle makes me look like I have Hobbit Feet.

After a shower and a gallon of water, I laid down for a small nap, my legs vibrating, and I asked myself a very important question.

Why the hell are you doing this?

  • My time was horrible.
  • I was a stress case leading up to the race.
  • Team sports and all the dynamics that come with them aren’t my thing.
  • Amazing athletes come race – I am a baby athlete.

Tears of relief and frustration would have poured down my cheeks if there was enough water in my body to spare the moisture.

To be completely honest, I had a rather horrible experience racing Sinister 7.

Feeling like I let my team down and coming to the end of myself while perched on the edge of a cliff and watching people run by whom I previously passed is not a good feeling.

I do this kind of thing a lot. In fact, it is pretty much my whole approach to life.

  • Challenge + Zero Evidence I Can Accomplish The Task + Grit = Random Successes And A Few Glorious Failures

The answer to my question is decievingly simple and also rather complex – to expand and see what’s inside of me.

My reward for racing is not the medal that we all got at the finish line, rather it is that I became bigger, stronger and more resilient. Finding myself depleted halfway through Leg 2, I watched myself become someone I was proud of — a gritty woman who always finds a way to finish well despite what life throws her way.

Life is about practicing being the most amazing you that you know how to be in the moment you find yourself in and watching your soul grow over time.

  • You become what you practice.

Spending a few days after Sinister hiking in Waterton and Lake O’Hara, I remembered that oftentimes the journey is more beautiful than the destination and you shouldn’t rush past what’s in front of you. Savor, enjoy moving forward at a pace you can handle and take the time you need to move through the obstacle in front of you.

And if you want to stop for awhile to simply take it all in, that’s ok too!

Huber Ledges

Huber Ledges — halfway up Wiwaxy Gap at Lake O’Hara

Practice art, writing, sport, parenting, loving, cooking, reading, hiking, working, speaking, listening, helping, standing up for yourself, graciousness … explore the world and keep practicing and you will find your reward comes in the form of being an amazing you rather than medals and plaques.

It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone notices what you’re doing or if you are the best at it. The important thing is that you’re in process of becoming someone; someone you want to be and are proud of, no matter what time you cross the finish line.

Will I race Sinister 7 again? Probably … but not any time soon. And I am definitely in the market for a new hydration system!

The Price of Fear

As soon as spring comes I am one of those ridiculous people who has their road bike out in the slush riding alongside the runners in shorts just because it is finally ‘hot‘. Or the woman on the mountain bike who is poised at the top of a trail in the valley which is currently a mud slide knowing she can’t ride down it, but hopefully can one day soon.

It is amazing how warm +1 and sunny can feel after a five months of -20.

For me, clipping in happens sooner than it should for someone with my clumsy tendencies, but the happiness is always worth the risk.

  • Except this year.

Clipping into the joy of flying down the road and embracing nature on the trails didn’t happen. Instead my bike, helmet, glasses, shoes, kit and backpack sat poised at my front door while I simply kept telling myself, ‘Tomorrow Donloree … you will hit the trails tomorrow’ as I tied on my running shoes or grabbed my gym bag.

A few weeks ago on Friday when the plan was to hit the trails for a few hours after my last coaching client was foiled due to a thunderstorm rolling in, I was not sad.

  • Oddly enough, relief filled me.

Its bad when you realize how weird you’re being and you start to annoy yourself. Or maybe it is good because you’re finally to the point of your dysfunction when you’re ready to do something about how weird you are being.

Last year was my first year with the Dirt Girls.

Dirt Girls (Dur-tuh Gur-zuh) Fabulous club of women who ride the trails with fury and take every bridge, trail, jump and obstacle in stride, er, pedal.

Being a newbie and ridiculous, I signed up for both the regular team and the race team … because what girl doesn’t want to race?

  • Small problem.

The race team was the group of women who are supposed to lead rides and help the newer riders along in their development.

  • Did I mention that I was brand new to the world of mountain biking? 

10 years of being a roadie doesn’t prepare you to take rutty single track with abandon with 20 women behind you and looking to you for guidance and expertise. Also? When you’re the ride leader and you get lost on the ride even after doing a recon ride two evenings before and you’re the one who clotheslines herself on a branch … it is hard to recover your dignity.

The season wore on and I kept pedalling and tried to keep up with my cute jersey firmly zipped up.

Then things at the company I was working for went south and after a few too many rides which I had to bail on mid-ride, I was happy to see the season end.

If you’ve laid off over half the company and you’re the HR Director, it is probably not the best idea to recover from one of the worse days of your professional life by weaving in and out of the trees and trying to avoid stumps and other obstacles in overgrown single track.

  • When the mountain biking season ended, I wasn’t sad to see it come to a close.

In the midst of all the chaos of my work and life, I somehow lost my verve for mountain biking.

Last week, after shaming myself for not going on the Thursday night Dirt Girls ride AGAIN, I clipped in and took myself on the trails. 20 km and a few kind and forgiving single track trails later, I was one of the happiest women in the city.

Contessa yeg river valley trail

Happiness is a girl, her bike and a fabulous ride.

I had forgotten how much I love biking. As I dropped into my first trail, my face broke into a smile and I didn’t stop smiling until I woke up the next morning.

Fear has a way of making you forget how wonderful things can be.

Being fearful doesn’t leave room for anything else in life, after all, you’re full of fear.

Choose to make space and reclaim what is important to you and what you love. Sure it is scary, but what do you have to lose? You’re already scared so just be scared while you get what you want in life. It won’t happen over night but little by little you can move through fear and find your way back to joy.

Push against the darkness of fear with the light of courage and I promise the result will be worth it.

  • Have I made it to a Dirt Girls ride yet this year? No. Will I? That’s the plan. 

When I choose to stop caring what other people think and only care about what is best for me, I know having eight women riding too close behind me on the trails isn’t what I need quite yet. Until I feel 75% confident that I won’t trigger a Dirt Girls Domino Effect, I will keep pushing myself on the trails and just enjoy my ridiculously fabulous Scott Contessa Spark without judgement.

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Besides, in about two weeks I have a mountain relay race to run while avoiding death. Recovering from a concussion isn’t part of my training plan at this moment.

What is fear keeping you from? Where does the light of your courage need to shine?