Pandemic or Chrysalis?

In the late spring, summer, and early fall, basically as soon as the snow is gone and until the snow flies, I cram my laptop, dress, high heels, and lunch into a backpack, put on padded shorts, clip into my pedals, and cycle-commute to work. Bicycle helmet hair is officially my spring to fall ‘look’ and I pretend like I mean to have strange waves in my hair for the first hour of the workday. I work with men who don’t seem to notice my hair, so this works for me.

I try to ride every day and then take the long way home a few times a week. A good week of riding, including a long ride or two on the weekend, is around the 180 – 200 km mark.

Three kilometres into my daily ride to work, there is a rusty overpass that I use to cross over a main artery in the city. It links downtown to a lovely neighbourhood that hangs over the river valley. Every single time I ride across the bridge, I smile and lay the hammer down.

Why, you ask?

A decade ago, I rode over the bridge, turned around, came home, and collapsed from exhaustion with a massive smile on my face. I made it. Now, there is no way that a 7 km round trip ride without any elevation should nearly kill a woman in her early thirties who is relatively fit and active.

Unless you’re recovering from a near-death experience.

It was my first bike ride in a few years, and if you know anything about me, you know how much I like to ride. If I am not riding, I must be dead … or nearly dead.

I was nearly dead.

Cycle Moraine Lake

One of my favorite cycling adventures! Mountains + bike = one happy woman!

The previous year had been spent in bed, going to specialist appointment after specialist appointment in order to figure out why all my hair was falling out, why my basal body temperature was at 95.5 degrees, why I couldn’t do anything without nearly passing out, and why I was gaining epic amounts of weight while only eating 900 calories a day.

Suffering in a terrible life and unable to do more than a few hours of work a day while nudging a fledgling business along, I was confined to the four walls of my condo. My life was in shambles; everything was fractured and broken, including me.

A few diagnoses had been handed to me, but the possibility of a brain tumour was still on the table and the results from the clinical investigations unit at the U of A Hospital were still pending. There is nothing quite like signing a waiver that if you die while they perform tests, no one can sue them for wrongful death.

Three hours, 48 vials of blood, and one medically induced metabolic crash later, I opened my eyes to a blinding, white light.

It turns out it wasn’t the end of my life, just the hospital lighting system.

I distinctly remember the day when I accepted that I was probably going to die. It was a warm spring day, but I was in bed under a down duvet with three layers of clothing on and a toque, shivering and unable to sleep because I was so cold, nearly hypothermic in my house.

Sobs wracked my body and I finally let go of all my worry and despair, it was what it was and I couldn’t change it. A warm acceptance of what was, despite it being terrible, came and I slept.

The gift of loss.

There is something interesting about losing nearly everything and having your life come to a possible end. There is a gift in being trapped by your reality and not being able to be distracted by shiny objects – you are forced to see what truly is.

If you know where you are, you can go anywhere, but it is hard to find your way to your next destination if you are lost. In order to go somewhere, the first thing you need to do is orient yourself and figure out where the heck you are.

Unwinding myself from severely sick to well took years. After being trapped in a terrible life for so many years, one that greatly contributed to my illness, it took a lot of time to change things, reframe my brain, and remove toxic behaviours and people from my life.


You always get to choose your next adventure.

COVID-19 has confined all of us in our lives as they currently are. We are unable to fill our lives with distractions and we have lost all the superfluous things that keep us from looking at our core happiness and doing what is necessary to live our best lives.

This is a wonderful time to accept what is, figure out where you are, and decide what kind of life you want to live and the person you want to be when the distractions come back and life becomes ‘normal’ again. This is the time to build wonderful habits that help you be amazing and to celebrate the wonderful small things that usually get overlooked in life.

Being basically confined to the four walls of my condo 10 years later, I find myself happier than I have ever been before. Laughter, kindness, controlled chaos, and hilarious antics fill every corner of the house and the ever-deepening creases on my face are from smiling too much. Adventuring with Speedy, a job that I care so much about that it makes me absolutely crazy, writing, cycling, hiking, running, and savouring the things I love fill up my days.

We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we ALWAYS get to control how we go through it.


Life is a compilation of moments – make as many of them as you can great. After all, how you go about life is completely up to you; nothing else is. Take control of your reactions and find your way to happiness moment by moment.

Do the weird things that make you laugh, have fun, make incredible memories, love your people with your whole heart, play outside as much as possible, drink great wine, and eat dessert.

Let this time of loss, chaos, quiet, inability, and time be your chrysalis.

Instead of bemoaning everything that you can’t do and fighting against everything and everyone, figure out where you are and where you want to go from here. Be the person who comes out of this time stronger and more amazing than before you went into the pandemic. If my guess is right, you have more time than you’ve ever had in your life. Why don’t you do something meaningful with it?


Eventually, the caterpillar emerges from the chrysalis as a butterfly, but it isn’t without a time of quiet change. At the right time, the butterfly emerges, but the time and date are not up to the caterpillar who enters the chrysalis. We are all in a pandemic-induced chrysalis and eventually, at some right time in the future, the chrysalis will fall away and we will be able to spread our wings and fly. Until that time, work towards being your best self because even though it doesn’t feel like it, life won’t always be like this.

Oh, and always eat dessert! Life is too short to live without chocolate!

Apparently, We Need Another Hero

The text message came out of nowhere.

Hey! Want to run on an S3 as a team?

  • S3 Race = three of the seven legs of Sinister 7 but run in the fall; a new race this year since Sinister 7 wasn’t able to happen due to COVID-19. AKA, an epic mountain race in Crowsnest Pass.


My summer had consisted of nearly 3,000 km of cycling and over 600 km of hiking, so somehow I thought all of that activity would translate in dying while running the first leg of the race.

Leg 1 is classified as ‘easy’ –> 18.3 km and 535 meters of elevation gain … possibly in the snow?

Sure. I am in! Where do we sign up?

I tend to sign up for adventures, whether or not I am sure if I can complete them.

After all, it is half the fun – avoiding death while accomplishing something epic. Yes, I realize that this says something about my psyche, but I am pretending that it makes me adorable and fun rather than crazy.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for me and the helicopter rescue crew, the race was cancelled on Thursday, just 40 hours before the starting gun was set to go off. Spending a weekend trying not to fall off a mountain while racing in thigh-deep snow with temperatures of -15 Celsius or colder doesn’t sound like that much fun, nor is it a good idea if you are even half as klutzy as I am.

Some races are ridiculous; I know I have had my share of them.

I will never forget the second running race of my life – the Clocksback Race put on by the River Valley Runners.

The linoleum of the community league had seen better days, yellowing and curling around the edges. Despite the wear and tear, the community room remained functional enough for the River Valley Runners to meet weekly to do high knees, crossovers, and plyometrics prior to running all over the Edmonton River Valley. It was also small enough to make me dizzy while circling behind the other runners in their fancy running gear during the warm-up.

  • It was always hilarious when we had to “CHANGE DIRECTION!”

I had been in the Riverdale Community League Hall many times before, stretching and warming up with seasoned runners from the River Valley Runners, but never had there been such a buzz or so many people. Tables, maps and friends of the svelte River Valley Runners clogged up the main hall, and no plyometrics were done with Tina Turner belting her heart out in the background. Not this evening, the evening of the Clocksback Race.

I started running diligently just a few months before this race and had 70 extra, unnecessary pounds of me to lug around that I was trying to get rid of. I felt conspicuously large standing next to the twig sized women wearing running tights. The idea of running tights made me laugh. Everything I wore was tight, even my watch. This particular evening even my throat was tight. It was the second race of my life, I was by far the fluffiest person in the room, and the only person NOT wearing tights.

The Clocksback Race brought in runners from all over the city due to the premise of the race. It isn’t about the fastest time; rather, it was about how close you are to your estimated time.

The rules were simple enough:

  1. Choose to do 6K or 9K.
  2. Look at the route on the giant, yet hard to read map on the wall.
  3. Estimate your time and submit it.
  4. Hand over all watches, heart rate monitors, GPS, and cell phones.
  5. Run!
  6. The people closest to their estimated time win awesome prizes.

Simple, yet I was sweating, and we hadn’t even started to run.

Surviving was my goal, and I had no idea how long survival would take. Hills, bridges and footpaths crisscrossed the 6K route, and I wondered how I would find them while lumbering along.

I opted to put down 39 minutes and 17 seconds. It seemed reasonable.

Small, personal maps were not given out. They neglected to tell me a photographic memory is required to run the Clocksback. Reciting the key landmarks was my only hope – pagoda, footbridge, giant tree on the path, playground, Cloverdale Hill, traffic circle, colourful houses, footpath, pyramids, footbridge, home.

  • Somewhere between Cloverdale Hill and the traffic circle, I got lost.

Being the slowest and fluffiest River Valley Runner meant I was alone on my sojourn.

Standing on the street corner, praying for another runner to come along was a fruitless endeavour. Turning two full circles on a busy street corner in my extra-large turquoise coat made of technical fabric didn’t help. The only technical thing about me at that moment was that I was lost.

I couldn’t even call for help; my surrendered cell phone mocked me from the Riverdale Community League.

Going back the way I came was always an option, but that option wasn’t covered in the rules, and I felt I had been running for at least 35 minutes. I wasn’t even close to being back to the hall in 4 minutes and 17 seconds.

Winning the weird race was well outside of my grasp.

What I wanted to be in grasp at that moment was my husband’s neck for thinking it was a good idea for me to run this race.

Flagging down a car and getting a ride back to the hall also wasn’t listed as an option in the rules.

Don’t ask me why following the rules remained important to me. Apparently, I thought I might still somehow win.

I love winning.

After choking back the panic and realizing the sun was quickly setting, I bailed on the route and ran in what I hoped was the right direction, the way back to the community league.

What one thinks is right isn’t always right.

At least my misdirected running led me to the river valley ridge so I could see where I wanted to go.

After an extra 3 kilometres and an additional 33 minutes to my estimated time, I rolled through the doors of the Riverdale Community League with salt tracks down my cheeks and immense relief. I desperately hoped the hardcore, skinny runners would assume the salt tracks were from sweat, not tears.

Everyone was rehydrating and comparing times. The winner was 48 seconds off her estimated time. Apparently, she had the river valley paths memorized, was blessed with an internal GPS, and knew her cadence down to the literal second.

Lost in the city, summiting hills galore, and just starting on my health journey made this one of the most intense and epic runs of my life.

I guess Tina Turner wasn’t right – I did need another hero.

Unfortunately for me, the only person that showed up in the mirror the next day was the woman who got lost running the Clocksback race.

Being a hero meant going back to the group on Thursday, running warm-up circles on the aged linoleum, and being lapped several times as we ran sprints up Connor’s Hill. And then going back week after week, after week.

  • The stories we tell ourselves are always interesting.

Every week I decided I was a failure when the speedsters literally ran circles around me and I arrived back from the run halfway through the cool down. Now I understand that my decision to embrace failure was foundational in helping me become a woman who signs to run ridiculous mountain races without really batting an eyelash, cycle the distance from Edmonton to El Paso in the summer, and do hilarious things like compete in a bodybuilding competition.

Donloree Cape Foulwind

I prefer to just run … races usually aren’t my thing … mostly because I am terrible at running and rather competitive. I am glad to be able to move and be fit. My response to the question, “What are you training for?” usually is “to be 90 one day.”

The fluffy version of me from 15 years ago truly is my hero.

Today, my job is to choose to do my best, whatever that looks like moment to moment so that I can be a hero for the Donloree 15 years from now.

All the small decisions and our daily actions add up to something. Tomorrow’s result is directly proportional to what you choose to do or not do today.

Choose something great. Choose to be lapped time and time again by super-fast people while giving it everything, and it appears pathetic to others. Their idea of pathetic may simply be the start of your greatness.

  • You should always do you.

And the question still remains, “Does power hiking uphill still count as sprinting?”


All we ever have is now. And the now is ever-changing.

In Canada, most of our normal, everyday things have shut down or been changed by the existence of COVID-19.

  • The whole Alberta economy is at risk.

I might not be able to work, I might have to work from home, if I had kids, they couldn’t go to school, and all the canned food, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer are gone from the stores. Every single thing that I do on a normal day or in a week is disrupted. Gyms, stores, events, races, libraries, activities, restaurants, work, weekly run club … basically everything is closed or severely altered.

People seem to think that the end of the world has come, but it hasn’t, at least not in Canada.

And isn’t that the point? To constrain our lives for a bit to ensure that we collectively have our health and happiness?


In every single situation in life, there is an opportunity.

You just have to find it and grab onto it.

95% of North America just got handed a quieter, more focussed life. So what are you going to do with it?

A few, random ideas …

  • Learn to play an instrument
  • Read the series of books you’ve been putting off
  • Spring clean and fix up your house – make it the place you always wish you lived in
  • Write a novel
  • Learn how to code and make an app
  • Run, bike, hike – get outside
  • Master baking the perfect croissant
  • Do your taxes and get your refund early
  • Play board games with your family
  • Talk to the ones you love – find out what their hopes and dreams are and help to make them happen
  • Start a business
  • Cook 12 new recipes
  • Plan for all the adventures you’re going to have when the world reopens
  • Catch up on the 4,000 emails in your inbox and file all the papers in your office
  • Knit a sweater or three
  • Adopt a dog or cat and spend the necessary time to train them and orient them into your life
  • Build something from scratch
  • Fix the leaky sink or washing machine with help from YouTube

Here’s the thing. I don’t doubt that once the social distancing and quarantine ban gets lifted and all the sports are back on TV to waste your evenings and weekends, you’ll wish you did something else with the time that was just handed to you if you don’t plan to use it well.

What if this is a grand adventure?

You can’t wait for your life to start. You have to make it happen, no matter what the situation. Circumstances are never perfect, so choose to live a good life in the midst of the chaos.

  • Good times and bad times, they always pass.

Sometimes a season is really quick, sometimes they are extremely long. Just don’t sit around and wait for your life to start when things are terrible.

You have no idea how long it will be terrible and if decide to ‘hold‘ until it gets better, you might lose a few years of your life. Trust me, I know. Waiting for your life to start means you lose irrecoverable and precious time, says the woman who stayed in a terrible marriage for about 10 years too long.


Choosing to create a good life in the midst of a bad time means that you will have a wonderful life in the good times.

Decide what you want and go after it, even when it is hard, weird, or extremely different.

Remember, your perspective and internal narrative are in your control and they shape how you go about your day and what kind of life you are going to have.

Are your options constrained? Yes. Less choice creates clarity. Seize the clarity and go. Your life of adventure awaits, you hold the key. Unlock the door and step through to live a good life, NOW.

What are you going to decide to see? What stories are you telling yourself?


Please noteI understand COVID-19 is very serious and this is not to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic. Many of us in North America are not affected except for having to lay low and have a quiet life for the foreseeable future. This blog post is for the aforementioned group of individuals.

Packing Light for Life

The longer I live, the quicker life goes.

  • Somehow, in the blink of an eye, I turned 40.

In fact, I kind of forgot that I am getting old. In the last decade, I feel like I have reverse-aged and become younger than I was when I was 30. It helps to have made some of the hardest decisions of my life and walked through hell a few times. When you travel to hell and back, you learn how to pack light so you can travel faster and get through the chaos sooner.

As my birthday gift from me to you, here are eight life lessons I have learned over the last decade.

1.  Hot Does Not Equal Happy

For every woman out there, please hear me. Being hot only makes you, well, hot.

There is a pervasive lie out there that if you are beautiful, then you are happy. Happiness is an inside job. It is truly accepting yourself, working to be the best version of your self each and every day, and not worrying about your dress size or comparing your latest lash and botox treatment to the newest woman who walked in the room. If you only focus on the outside, all you will have is a beautiful shell with a dark hole where your heart is supposed to be.

  • There is always someone prettier, hotter, thinner … but there is no one more ‘you-er’ than you.

So be yourself and learn to live in all your skin.

Focus on your heart, learn to love yourself, and kick ass at being you.

2.  Start.

Someone once said that the best time to start was yesterday and that the second-best time to start is now.

  • Do you want something? Do it. Start. Go. Try. Fail. Be terrible.

Anxiety, fear, worry, and self-doubt are wonderful things because you can have them while you’re hiding away, not living the life you want or while you are living the life you want and experiencing all the things you want in life.

My whole career has been a series of saying, “Sure, I could do that …” and figuring out how to do it. Feeling like a fraud is a feeling that is well known to me like an old friend who often comes and whispers in my ear.

Hey, Crazyloree … ummm, what are you doing? This is going to be terrible!

And when I hear her fear-mongering, I simply smile, give her a giant hug, and let her know that we’ve got this. Her presence means I am doing something right and am about to grow and become better at something.

You’ve got this. Just start.

3.  It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.

Last year around this time, I bought myself a sweet road bike. I went to the store with a budget in mind, but once I met this beauty my wallet and heart opened. It was some of the best money I have ever spent. This summer I rode over 2,150 kms – that is nearly like riding from my house in the subarctic to St. George, UT!

Cycle Edmonton River Valley

It is hard NOT to be happy when this is how you start you day.

  • My first day of riding my new speedy bike was ridiculous.

Clipped in, I had no idea how to shift or to brake. I nearly fell over 5 times and all I wanted was to be back on my familiar mountain bike. Due to my fear of doing an ‘endo’ downhill if I encountered gravel, I braked hard and may have maxed out at 30 kmph. As the summer commuting wore on, you could find me riding at speeds of over 40 kmph on the flat and grabbing my drops on the downhill, hitting 60 kmph without much thought.

My daily output of power didn’t change, I hit every ride hard, trying to go as fast as I could, chasing the man on the red bike up the hills every morning, and racing cars off the line at red lights.

  • Never once was a ride easy, I just got to work faster.

This is also how life works.

The days aren’t easier, you simply get more done and are able to accomplish things you could have years before. If you want more, you just have to put in the effort and not worry about the outcome. When it gets easy, look for a new challenge and pedal hard.

4.  Love Like You’re Going To Lose.

Eventually, you are going to lose, your heart is going to break, and life is going to run you over. As much as I wish that what I just said isn’t true, it is true.

It is easy to live guarded, to not let people in, to not love. When you love, you are giving your power to be in control of what happens with your heart to someone else. Nearly six years ago, when I left my marriage and found myself ready to love again, I made the purposeful choice to give my whole heart to my next love.

Glacier Grey

Anyone who risks going on a glacier with me after I fell over just walking and gave myself a massive black eye just the week before … crazy and fabulous!

To be seen, to see, and to let someone into all of who you are is an act of extreme bravery as you have given them the power to hurt you.

Yet, to spend even one day not loving your person to the best of your ability and living a shallow life is like only seeing in black and white while living in a world of amazing colours.

  • If you knew you only had one more day to love the people in your life, what would you do?

Do those things.

And when your heart breaks into a million pieces, trust that you will eventually rise like a phoenix from the ashes because you know how to love well and took every opportunity you had to do so.

You fly again, it simply takes time.

5.  One Day At A Time.

Entering my thirties, I quit my job, started a business, competed in a bodybuilding show, got extremely ill with an autoimmune disease, and was in a terrible marriage, just hoping to be noticed.

Looking back at the Donloree of 10 years ago, I want to gather her up in her arms and let her know that it is going to get worse, oh so much worse, but that she is going to make it. And the only thing she needs to do is the next, best thing.

Licanbur Atacama Donloree

You can find some pretty beautiful roads on the way to creating the life you want to live.

Building an amazing life comes from living today well.

Being and doing the best that you can and choosing the most healthy, best, and kindest actions and then following through on them one choice at a time creates amazing momentum towards the life you want to be living. It isn’t all shiny, nor is it easy, but it is worth it.

  • You are worth it.

Pick a direction and then worry about today.

What must I do today?

What does an amazing today look like?

What can I move the needle on today?

Taking time to ask these questions and then actioning what comes to you will change your life.

  • Do them even if it means your life implodes. Sometimes the very best thing you can do is start over, even when you think you might not make it.

Stopping is a sure-fire way to not get what you want and will require you to settle for a life that is second-rate. Trust me, I know. For nearly all of my twenties and then half of my thirties, I lived a terrible existence. Choosing to lose everything meant I eventually won a life I love to live, day in and day out. A wonderful man to travel the world and adventure with, a job that makes me crazy because I care so much about it, and friends and family who love me for me, not for making their life work.

Happiness bubbles out of me and it surprises me on a daily basis.

One day, thing, good choice at a time gets you farther than you could ever imagine.

6.  Impress Yourself.

I run with this crazy group of runners who have amazing athletic talent. And then there is me, the woman at the back of the pack whose physique is reminiscent of a farmhand, not a cheetah. The coach and shop owner has woven “Impress Yourself” into his coaching and shop. I am never going to impress anyone who shows up to run. In fact, I am completely un-impressive to most of the Speedsters, but I impress myself.

The fact that I can hike like a mountain goat (I even hiked to the top of Mount St. Helens!), run a half marathon, or cycle 50+ km without any real thought is impressive to the woman who used to weight 60 more pounds, didn’t own a pair of athletic shoes, and couldn’t run for more than one minute without wanting to die. That Donloree of 20 years ago is blown away by who I am today.

And at the end of the day, her opinion is the only one that matters.

Lake O'Hara Huber Ledges

Going beautiful places with wonderful people is not a bad way to go about living life.

  • Are you doing things you are proud of? Do you sit back and think about what you’ve done and a smile crosses your face? Do you love what you are about?

If you answered, “No,” then change something.

And don’t worry about being weird, the world needs more weird.

7.  There is no Can’t, There is Only Won’t.

Overcoming an eating disorder is an epic thing.

I no longer count calories, get up at 4:30 am to do fasted cardio and then eat one rice cake with a tablespoon of peanut butter smeared across it only to be really hungry for the rest of the day.

Going to social events where there is food is no longer a dance of putting things on my plate, smooshing them around so it looks like I ate, and then sneaking away to eat a fully measured meal I had stashed in my massive purse while hiding in the bathroom. I don’t go to bed starving and wake up to starve some more while trying to smile.

Sunset in the Atacama

Fully being who you are and not worrying about how much gravitational pull you have on the earth makes you able to fly!

What this means is that I weigh 15 more pounds than I want to and am an extremely solid woman, coming in at a size 8.

It also means that I eat when I am hungry, I have energy, I am able to laugh from my belly, and food is no longer my enemy. My life is my own and I choose what I do and where I go, being hot according to society is no longer the requirement to live a good life.

The other day, some funny words came out of my mouth.

I can’t lose more weight. This is the size that I am … I am just a solid woman.

Truth be told, I can lose more weight. I can drop 20+ more pounds off my frame, but I won’t. The cost is too high. I value my health, mental and emotional sanity, what I do with my life, and my relationships, I will never sacrifice them again so that I can be the envy of a handful of people.

  • We all have things that we say we can’t do, but in fact, we just won’t do them, don’t want to do them.

Honesty is liberating. It is time to be honest about what you won’t do.

8.  ‘Lost and Scared’ is also ‘Excited and a Million Options.’

Training to be a life coach saved my life.

Learning how to understand what I want in life and being given the tools to chase down the life I want opened up a world of possibility.

  • The art of perspective.

Nothing is only one thing. You are never just scared. Usually nervous, worried, excited, anticipating, and curious all woven together is labelled as ‘scared.’

Yet, what if you are actually excited?

When I find myself feeling lost in the world and not sure what to do, which is a normal experience for me, I remember to see what the possibilities are.

When I am ‘lost’ it means there are a lot of options and no clear path, that I get to make my own way in the world and choose. There actually is no right answer in these scenarios. What an amazing and liberating realization! There are a million and one things you could do, it is yours for the making. When the company I was working for closed its doors and I was unexpectedly jobless with legal fees for my divorce pouring in and paying a mortgage that two incomes were set to pay, it was an opportunity to reset and reorient. Even in the chaos, there was an opportunity to pick something new and try on new opportunities.

The next year was a year of contract after contract, completely unstable work that came and went, dependent on the needs of my clients. And yet, there was freedom and flexibility. Month-long travel to Europe, hiking every weekend in the mountains, and whimsical trips to the coast filled the gaps and I grabbed onto every single one of them, sure that I wouldn’t always have such a ‘chaotic’ life.

It turns out that we normally miss what we don’t have and didn’t necessarily love what we had when we had it the way we wish we would have. So change that story by living well today.

What if lost means options?

What if scared is excited?

What if an ending is a beginning?

Make sure to pack light as you travel through life. There is a big, wonderful, and amazing life waiting for you … don’t delay!

Doing It Right {Mountain Musings}

Over Canada Day weekend, we took advantage of the fact that the holiday was a Monday and planned a mountain adventure with friends.

The plan was rather simple – everyone converge in Radium and spend Sunday hiking Kindersley-Sinclair, a top rated hike in the Rockies. This particular hike requires you to be at least a group of four due to the fact that it is in Grizzly territory.

We were nine, so it was just fine.

The only problem was, well, snow.

Something that is hard to take into account is what the weather will do and how much snow pack will be left at certain times of the year. This year is incredibly late with the melt and as such, we had to modify the plans. Hiking in an avalanche zone just didn’t seem like a good idea.

  • Especially when your name is Donloree.

Instead of doing a 17.5 km hike with 1,055 meters of elevation, I concocted the idea of doing a shuttle hike that required four cars, two at each parking lot, and was 31 km long with what seemed to be 2,000 meters of elevation gain and loss.

Arnica Lake

Mountains make me happy. Especially when you stumble across a gorgeous lake after hours of hiking!

I basically doubled the day and didn’t bat an eyelash.

Nor did anyone else in the group.

The morning arrived and we hit the trails. Within about 23 seconds, the runnerly people in the group picked up the pace and ran away from me and a few others, never to be seen again that day as they were intent on a good day of training and a specific end time.

  • And then there were two.

One of the things that I enjoy about hiking with others is that you have time to have conversations that don’t require constant talking. Long pauses, contemplated answers, and well-examined points are all hashed out on the trail.

On this specific day, I was gifted to be able to hike with a friend who has a welcoming heart. He chooses to be a friend, first and foremost, and doesn’t require anything back other than your open heart. It is always a pleasure to be able to talk to someone and only sometimes use words.

As we headed back down the mountainside from one of the passes after being off course for 3 km, back to the start in search of a friend that might be behind us while Speedy ran ahead to see if she was in front of us, we had an exchange that lodged itself in my brain.

If you aren’t enjoying yourself, then we have to change something so that you can.

Enjoying the View - Arnica Lake

I love stopping to smell the mountain roses!

How much of our lives is pushing through what is and trying to get to the finish rather than making the necessary changes to enjoy the journey?

Like hiking, most of life is working towards mountaintops, not being on them.

The view from a mountaintop is incredible and your heart usually wants to burst with joy when you arrive, but within a short time you realize that you have to keep going. No matter how much you linger, you eventually have to go back down to the start and choose a new mountain to climb.

95% of the hike is either striving for the mountaintop or moving away from it.

Why do we only look forward to 5% of life?

Savouring the process of working towards something means you’ve found a way to live a good life. Isn’t most of life spent climbing, working hard, and moving forward even when your lungs want to explode and your legs are jello?

  • The view from the top doesn’t matter if you don’t have amazing people to share it with and you hate everything about getting there.

How go you about your day is what your life will become, so why not find ways to enjoy it?

Savouring the small things in life matter.

  • Drinking french pressed coffee out of hand thrown pottery mugs at 5:30 in the morning while I write
  • Using the heated seats in my car when it is -40 outside or just whenever I want
  • Planning 3 trips at any given time and making custom Google Maps loaded with a million ideas and about 1,200 to do lists with sharpies
  • Having sheets that make sleep come quick
  • Taking the long way home on my bike whenever I can and want to
  • A glass of wine on the balcony while watching the day slowly slip away into tomorrow
  • Having friends over even when the house isn’t spotless and dinner isn’t perfect
  • Trying new things and allowing myself the option to hate them

Living a life of small pleasures doesn’t mean that you aren’t striving for big accomplishments, it simply means that you are choosing to enjoy both the big and small of life, as much of it as you can.

Kootenay Parkway river

I fully support stopping on the side of the road and exploring, just because you can. Does it really matter what time you get home?

Practicing gratitude and enjoyment of the mundane, every day life means that when chaos and hard times come, which they always do, you have the ability to still have something to enjoy, something to look forward to, something to appreciate.

  • In the midst of the horrible, you can still find a way to live a good life if you’ve practiced how to when things were going well.

By learning how to weave in good moments into the fabric of your day, the tapestry of your life suddenly becomes a piece of art that you don’t mind having on display.

What must you change in order to enjoy your day? Your life?

Planning Faux Pas Or Fabulous Fashion Sense?

Some mornings start out perfect.

Wednesday was the perfect morning. Up at 5:30 am, drinking french press coffee, writing, and then cycling to the office on a beautiful, summer morning.

I couldn’t help by stop and take a picture of the gorgeous morning sky. 

As I was enjoying the view, my biking nemesis pedalled by. The daily chase of the man on the red bike was on. While I nearly caught him on the uphill and was foiled but the changing of traffic light, I had a thought.

I should really keep some work clothes at the office. You know, have a backup outfit or three in case something goes wrong. Yes. I am SO organized. I will do that.

Just moments later, it went wrong.

Pulling my clothes out of my backpack, I had everything but my wraparound blouse. No matter how much I rummaged in the backpack, it was not there.

  • Disaster.

A woman really needs a shirt to get through the day. Especially when she is the HR Manager.

Who talks to the HR Manager about her inappropriateness at the office when it is the HR Manager who is running around with a skin tight bike jersey on or just her bra?


Zipping my sweaty, skin tight bike jersey back on, I hurried to my office to see what my options were. A spring coat was hanging in my wardrobe. It is a funky coat I keep just in case the office is extremely cold. Quickly buttoning up the three massive buttons, I partially unzipped my jersey so it would no longer be visible and tucked the corners under my bra straps for safekeeping.

Not sure if I should put my running shoes on and have a quick jog to the nearby mall, I had a quick confab with the Executive Assistant.

DonloreeSo, I have a personal question to ask you.
Executive AssistantUh, sure?
DonloreeDoes this look like an outfit to you? (small twirl)
Executive AssistantWhat? Yeah … it’s a cute coat. (Pause) What is going on?
DonloreeI forgot my shirt today. Do you think I can wear this all day and get away with it?
Executive Assistant (laughing) – Yes, totally fine. You are always cold in the office. Perhaps your office is extremely cold today? *wink*

Sitting down at my desk, I wondered if people would think it odd that I was wearing a coat when it was going to be nearly 30 degrees outside.

“Nice outfit!”

“Such a cute top!”

“Love the print, where did you get it?”


Apparently I was wearing the best outfit of the day. The compliments kept rolling in and even came the day after.

“I just love your tops. Especially that top you were wearing yesterday. Or was it a coat? Whatever it was, stunning.”

I just laughed and tried not to tell everyone that they were witnessing a massive planning faux pas, not a fabulous fashion choice.

Due to the meeting schedules, there was not time to run the 2 km each way to the mall and try to find, buy, change into an appropriate shirt, and cool down enough not to be pouring sweat during my afternoon meeting with the boss.

Even if I did have time, I am still cut off from running. Re-injuring my hamstring in an effort to be less weird didn’t seem like a good idea. One ridiculous adventure shouldn’t be followed by another, if one can help it.

I rocked the jacket look all day long and applied extra deodorant when it got too hot.

specialized ruby edmonton

Own your weirdness!

After three compliments and five applications of deodorant, I realized no one was the wiser and it seemed I made the right choice to just stay put and pretend I meant to wear the jacket as a top.

Let’s be honest, I am weird, might as well embrace it.

Let’s just say, I am compiling some ‘emergency‘ clothes for the office because I am not sure what I would do if I forgot my pants … and that is not something I want to find out any time soon.

  • Somehow I don’t think I can craft a wrap skirt out of my pashmina and get away with it …

I am simply going to try to keep future adventures to things like biking 50 km after work, hiking to the tops of mountains, and enjoying fabulous corners of the earth.

Anyone else out there found themselves shirtless at the office?

Cycle Chic {On Riding}

Most mornings, April to October, I can be found clipped into my bike pedalling towards work. My hair, sometimes still damp, is flying out behind me and my small, packed to the hilt backpack is crammed full of high heels, a dress, dangly earrings, and some sort of lunch.

  • Let’s just say I have come to embrace wrinkle free fabrics and become an expert clothes roller.

After a few years of cycle commuting, I finally ditched the hairdryer and straightener … there is only so much you can haul back and forth before your pack or back gives up the ghost.

All of this results in a rather interesting hairstyle.

I call it Cycle Chic.

Within nine minutes of arriving at the office, I have transformed from the woman in the stiff cycle shoes and chamois padded spandex shorts to high heels, a dress, and a hairdo that embraces a wave reminiscent of bicycle helmet hair vents.

  • You can only do so much in life and apparently having fabulous hair isn’t high on my list of priorities.

Within twelve minutes, a messy bun or a cute side pony to show off my earrings has been pulled into place and then the next eight hours are spent around a boardroom table or doing HR things which sometimes makes my head want to explode.

Donloree and her bike

I trade having great hair for happiness. Sometimes you just can’t have both!

The ride home is always the perfect way to decompress.

Usually by the time 5:00 pm rolls around, I rarely want to ride but as soon as I clip in and my Garmin reaches 25 kph, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face if you tried.

One of my happiest places in the world is being clipped into my bike, exploring a fabulous trail or racing down a bike path as fast as is safe for a clumsy woman such as myself.

This week it has been snowing which means riding to the office was not in my best interest. Sliding off the road and having another trip in the ambulance with my bike is not something I want to do again any time soon.

  • Welcome to May in the subarctic!
YEG River valley bike trail

My happy place. Clouds, open trails, and my bike.

When I came home from work on Monday and found a quiet house filled with expectations of making dinner, cleaning, invoicing my clients, and other miscellaneous adult tasks, it didn’t take much for me to swap my heels for clips and hit the trails.

The morning snow was gone and before I could decide to be responsible, I was layered in spandex and Gortex and was speeding towards the river valley.

I rarely ride with anyone but myself.

In fact, I shy away from riding in groups or with others because when I am in the saddle, listening to the hum of my hub and trying to avoid death while clipped in, my thoughts and feelings meet me.

I sort through the days and years and take time to think through who I was and who I am becoming, remembering that the only thing I have control over is right here, right now.

Edmonton road biking

Sometimes you’re the only one out there … and oftentimes, it is more than ok!

Your now is incredibly important, despite how it often feels.

The moments and days go quickly and seem insignificant, but they are the things that add together to make your life and shape the potential and opportunities of the future.

If you want something tomorrow or to be someone who can do something incredible, you have to work for it now and choose to keep going despite how hard, ridiculous, or demoralizing it can be at times.

Success is when opportunity knocks and your unique blueprint of hard work, skills, and experience is the key that unlocks the door.

I often feel like I don’t fit in and am the odd woman out everywhere I go. Which, after all these years is no longer stressful, it just is. There are moments in life which require a woman who embraces Cycle Chic hair and when those moments come, there I am.

There is more.

Being able to climb hills that used to require me to hop off and finish on foot brings a smile to my face and gratitude for the me who decided to start biking all those years ago. Gratitude for the woman who couldn’t do what I can do now, but opted to fail time and time again in search of elusive success and fitness.

I ride with the woman I was yesterday and the woman I will be tomorrow, striving to make them both proud of my effort and who I am each day – both clipped in and not.

Starting is important, but even more important is continuing and practicing your craft and sport no matter your speed, no matter your current limitations.

Each and every day, I strive to practice who I want to be.

I want to be the woman who takes time to see you, all of you, when you show up at my desk in crisis, the woman who doesn’t care what people think and rides to work in spandex and has high heels in a backpack, and a woman who embraces failure as a means to develop success.

Mactaggart Sanctuary

Get out there and explore, even when it looks like it might storm. The destination is worth the journey

When you choose to fail at something over and over again, there are small gains and improvements, despite the continual failure. To finally make it to the top of a massive hill without walking, having your chest explode, or falling over while still clipped in is an amazing feeling – both in the saddle and in life.

You don’t know if you can do something until it is done. So don’t stop …

… even if it means embracing Cycle Chic hair.

If You Let It

Auntie! Build a castle to the sky with us!

The call of her sweet innocent voice from behind a pair of pleading brown eyes framed in windblown hair lured me away from the waves and back up to the beach.

It is hard to turn down one of the cutest little girls on the planet.


The beach has taught me something profound about life.

When scooping up sand to build castles to the sky for my nieces, the best way to get a lot of sand all at once is to put my hands together open, palms up. Although effective, it is precarious. The sand can fall and anyone can knock it out of my hands, but if I try to protect the sand by making fists I can barely hold any sand at all.

  • The tighter my fists, the less sand I can hold.

I find this is true in life too.

As hard as it is, I try to live with open hands and not clench the people I love, my dreams, work, and plans in my fists.

It is vulnerable to live like this; it means I am not in control nor is there guaranteed security with what I have in my life, yet I have more than I thought possible when I keep my hands open.


Keeping my heart open.

Living with open hands and an open heart means you get to receive as well – you are ready to receive amazing people and great things when they come. If all I did was clench my hands around what I already have, I wouldn’t be ready to receive when opportunities come along.

The longer I keep my hands open, it seems the more I am able to hold.

  • And the more I have to lose.

While updating my personal information at my Financial Planner’s office awhile ago, we went over the fact that the job on file was no longer my job because the company I was working for went bankrupt. It had been awhile since the woman who was starting over at the age of 35, had just been handed a mortgage that two people were supposed to be paying, and still had thousands of dollars in divorce *ahem* freedom bills coming her way showed up on his doorstep. The woman with a broken heart, a few pairs of fabulous shoes, and a hope of a much less traumatic future who was putting one step in front of another day by day and painfully making her way through the world.

Financial Planning Man – “Wow. You really have been through a lot, haven’t you?”
Donloree – “And you only need the half of it.”
Financial Planning Man – “Some people have it rough … not sure why …”
Donloree – “The only good thing about tragedy, heartbreak, and loss is that it can make you an extremely compassionate person.”
Financial Planning Man – “Really? It seems to make people bitter.”
Donloree – “Well … only if you let it. Who you become, in all circumstances, is up to you.”
Financial Planning Man – “Hmmm… never thought of it that way.”

Open heart.

All of us know so little about what really has gone on in each other’s lives. We don’t know the journey the person in front of us has taken or what the experiences they have gone through to make them who they are; we simply see them and know them now.

  • And we judge. Oftentimes harshly.

What if we stopped the judging and simply saw each other and accepted each other with open hearts?

What couldn’t we accomplish if we chose to accept, receive, and let people be who they are rather than try to make them who we want them to be?


What if we chose love instead of selfishness?

So many people grasp their grains of sand with a death grip, desperately trying to preserve the little that they have left, that their hearts atrophy and love is something they only know of from fairy tales and in other people’s lives.

  • I know what it is like to lose. To lose nearly everything. To have empty hands and have to start over again.

In these moments of loss, when the sky turns darker than a moonless night in winter and the future seems hopeless, the bravest and most courageous thing you can do is simply stay open and choose to keep going and get ready to receive, to choose to love, and put one fabulously clad foot in front of the other.

Open up your hands and build a sand castle to the sky while waiting to see what the wind brings.

  • Wind has brought me some incredible things and people over the years.

Eventually, the winds of change will come and when it is your turn to both let go and receive, try your best to have open hands and an open heart.


The gift of loss and brokenness is learning how to expand, how to rebuild, and how to let the light shine through.

When the winds of change come, are you going meet it with open hands and heart? What kind of person will you let yourself become?

Running for Rape Prevention

Running away from reality for weeks on end is something I think everyone should do now and again.

Some people call this vacation; I call it keeping my sanity.

Now my style of vacationing is not for everyone. I like to run around and explore things, climb mountains, walk for 20 kilometers one day in a city seeing what there is to see, and tromp across a country going from place to place to place.

El Chalten, Laguna Torre hike

Whenever possible, find yourself in beautiful places and ENJOY!

  • I usually need a vacation from my vacation by the time I am back home.

Something interesting about vacation is that you learn about yourself in new ways, you see yourself in places and are in situations that you aren’t in every day and there are some ah-hah! moments along the way.

For instance, after spending three weeks in Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, I now know that I:

  • Actually do like fruits and vegetables and would miss them if they were no longer in my diet.
  • Can overcome my Canadian ‘niceness’ and leverage all my Spanish skills to get us on a plane that we have tickets for but no seats and somehow ensure we are first in line of the 12 people that the airline decided to screw that day.
  • Am still not agile enough to grab a camera lens before it rolls down a massive sand dune and is lost forever.

My biggest revelation this trip was figuring out why I run.

Nearly every time I run with the Speedsters, someone asks me the dreaded question.

What are you training for?

Nothing, the answer is nothing.

I am not going to solo Sinister 7, the Death Race is nowhere on my agenda, and running a three hour marathon is nowhere in my genetic potential.

  • My running goals usually have to do with staying upright and not getting lost from the group.

You may find me running a random cross country race, a 10K, or even a half marathon, but that is about it and usually with about 12 minutes of notice, simply because I feel like it – nothing more.

So imagine my surprise when I find I actually do run for a very specific and practical reason.

I run for rape and pillage prevention.

Not in general, just for me … my own personal rape and pillage prevention foundation.

We spent three weeks exploring the south of South America. Buenos Aires, Colonia del Sacramento, El Calafate, El Chalten, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine, Punta Arenas, Calama, San Pedro de Atacama, and Santiago.

  • 269 kms hiked, 10 places visited, and logistics galore.

With the agenda I had created, there really was no room for error; all the flights, buses, car rentals, and boat transfers needed to work.

It was encouraging when we arrived at El Calafate that there was a man at the rental car counter and he knew we were coming, even if it did look like we woke him up from a nap.

After a lot of conversation about how to drive in Argentina and what to do and not to do when driving as well as a lot of highlighting about how to not break the car, including watching the doors for wind, we were on the road in a cheap, white Ford.

Perito Moreno, here we come.

Perito Moreno

Seeing this gem was high on my list!


Experiencing this massively tall glacier was high on my list. After a quick bite at a corner café, we were on the road.

  • After about two kilometers of driving, there was a little ding. I looked to see what it might be and nothing seemed amiss.

Perhaps the cheap, white Ford was just happy to be on the road?

I shrugged and we kept driving towards the glacier. After all, we had to get there and enjoy it before it closed since we were only in El Calafate for the afternoon and it closed in 3 hours.

It was getting warm in the car, so I turned on the air conditioner, full blast. Heat came out.


As we started up a hill straight into the extreme wind, the car struggled. I thought it was due to Ford’s choice to make a gutless, extremely basic car – it was no match for the wind.

Putting it in fourth did nothing. The car started to choke, sounded like it was stalling, and then it slowed.

  • With the pedal to the metal, the gutless car was able to muster 60 kmph up the hill.

The ding happened again and this time when I looked at the dash, the red engine light was on and we were overheating. Pulling over onto side of the road near the top of the hill, we wondered what to do as the car buffeted and threatened to topple in the wind.

No cell coverage. No town. No water. No food.

Just a whole lot of wind and arid, empty landscape.

El Calafate

Beautiful … but rather devoid of help when you need it …

Springing into action, we applied sunscreen, I pulled my hair into a bun, we put all our money and ID in our pockets, and then started down the hill to look for a cell connection and help.

Nervous to leave the car behind, but more nervous to die on the side of a windy hill in nowhere Argentina, I followed, hoping no one would steal our stuff.

  • Losing all your belongings in Patagonia, just one week into a three-week trip seemed less than ideal.

Being kidnapped from the side of the road and sold into slavery wasn’t high on my list either, but a woman’s got to do what a woman has got to do when life hands her a crappy rental car in the middle of nowhere.

Speedy said what I was thinking. “I really wish I knew more about this part of the world, if it is safe for us to leave our stuff here or if one of us should stay with the car.”

Relief filled my veins. I knew we needed to divide and conquer.

“I will go. Give me the papers. I speak Spanish and I have my new runners on. I am ready.” I replied as I pointed to my new-for-the-trip trail running shoes which I had slapped on my feet earlier that morning for some reason rather than my ballet slippers.

  • It was fate.

With hesitation, he turned his back to the wind and expertly tucked the rental papers in the plastic file folder that I had with all the travel information and then kissed me goodbye.

“Worst-case scenario, I will be back with a taxi. Wait here.”

And I was off running.

“You don’t have to run you know!”

“I know. But the wind is pushing me.”

As I ran, I wondered what the heck we were doing … perhaps my adventurous spirit had gotten the better of me.

Cars and buses full of tourists whizzed by, all confused at the very white woman who was running with a clear plastic zip file folder full of papers.

I was just glad that they were all tourists and not the South American mob.

The threat of having a car of bad men patrolling the area for foreign women that they could sell into slavery seemed low, so I just kept going and somehow a smile and laughter found its way to my mouth.

I couldn’t actually walk down the hill with the force of the wind, so I let it push me at a slow run back towards civilization. The sweat poured off my elbows as I jogged and I was glad that I had drank a whole bottle of water at lunch. And then I was nervous for Speedy, alone and without food or water. I had no idea how long this was going to take.

As I ran, I saw what looked to be an Estancia off in the distance. I wondered what the people there were like and if they were friendly … if they would be ok with a Canadian woman with crazy hair and medium Spanish skills landing on their doorstep, asking for help.

As I neared, I realized it was the Glaciarium, a place I had mocked when reading about it in the Lonely Planet book. Never so glad to see a museum about ice in my life, I checked the hours of operation on the road sign and was happy to see they are open daily until 7:30 pm.

Glaciarium El Calafate

Help might be on the way!

It was only 5:15 pm – perhaps I had time to be rescued.

The road sign let me know that I had another 1,300 meters to hit the front door. With help in sight, I started running uphill on the rocky terrain. I actually felt athletic and was glad that I go to Fast Trax twice a week.

  • A girl needs to be able to run for help when life requires it!

Coming through the front doors, I made an effort to not look like I was in complete crisis, which was hard since I was sweating like crazy and my hair was a complete disaster from the wind.

Luckily, I had taken the kilometer and a half up the hill to practice my speech.

I opened the door and pretended to look at the signs and brochures, as though I was there to see the video on glaciers. I wiped the sweat pouring off my brow and sauntered up to the desk and asked if the woman spoke Spanish. She looked at me with a furtive smile, “A little.”

“Bueno. Hablo un poco de Español.”

I had no idea how to call anyone in the country, my previous attempt at trying to call a taxi company in Buenos Aires proved that no matter how many numbers I put into the phone, I would never make the phone ring.

After watching her eyes widen at my story of disaster on the side of the road, I asked her to call the rental car company for me. She dialed like a phone maven and handed it to me once it was ringing.

From her intense listening to the phone after punching 48 numbers into the phone, it seemed like ringing after dialing wasn’t always a thing that happens in Argentina.

Thus began a long, random conversation with the man at the car rental place.

After we agreed that I did in fact rent a car from his company just hours previous, we had to get to the part where it broke, how it broke, what we didn’t do to make it break, and where both Speedy and I were and how we weren’t together.

The hardest part was ensuring that he knew that Speedy was with the car and that I wasn’t with the car, but at the Glaciarium, NOT the Glacier.

  • The second and third largest issues were ensuring that he picked us up, not just the car and that there would be a replacement car for us as we were due in El Chalten for the night.

“Glaciarium. Museo. No hielo.”

“So you at glacier? It is very pretty.”

“No. Estoy a la Glaciarium. Es un museo circa de El Calafate. You have to pick me up and pick up the car – two places, two people. Hay dos lugares a los que debe ir.”

“I call you back. 5 minutes at this number.”

The most troubling part was there was no hope or clear plan when the dial tone sounded.

Eight minutes later, I acquired help to call back.

“I was just calling you. A truck is coming for the car. Una hora.”

“But what about me? I’m not with the car.”

“Ok. He come for you. Then you get car.”

“One hour?”

“Si, una hora.”

“What is the name of the man coming for me?”

“Antonio. Big truck. You will see him. Adios.”

The sweat had finally dried and my internal body temperature had returned to normal. There was a plan. I am a woman who loves a plan. Now with time to kill, I shopped in the gift shop, bought postcards for my nieces and wrote in them, looked around the outside of the building, and bought some water.

38 minutes left.

When you’re waiting for rescue, life goes slowly.

65 minutes later, my North American time clock was ticking and Antonio was late.

Lateness brings its friend anxiety with it every time it shows up.

Suddenly, the petite woman with the ability to dial numbers and make the phone ring came up and rattled something off in fast Spanish.

My brain was moving under water. “No entiendo.” I don’t understand.

“You have to go to road. Man in big truck get you there. He called. He is coming now.”

“He’s picking me up on the carretera?”

“Si. Ahora.”

Yelling, “GRACIAS POR TODO!” over my shoulder, I started the kilometre and a half run back down to the highway.

  • I didn’t want to miss my ride back to civilization.

Arriving at the road, it was just me, the beautiful view, and some tumbleweed … for a really, REALLY long time.

5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15 minutes.

Buses and cars full of tourist on their way to the glacier zoomed by. No big truck. Looking towards town, I scoured the highway in hope of seeing a big truck driven by a man named Antonio.


15 more minutes.

Did I miss him? The Glaciarium was closing soon … in about 20 minutes I would be without someone who can actually dial a phone in Argentina and make it ring on the other end.

  • Disaster and being sold into slavery started to feel like a possibility.

I decided to not panic for another 10 minutes. With the time for losing my mind set for 7:15 pm, I relaxed and enjoyed the view of the lake and interesting landscape.

Without notice, a very large truck rolled in behind me and bared down on me. Apparently my time to panic needed to be moved up from 7:15 pm to NOW. Being all alone, I wasn’t sure what to do when the door opened and the men in the truck started in on whatever it was that they had in mind. I fervently prayed that some tourists would drive by and rescue me as I was being pulled into the truck kicking and screaming.

The door opened and Speedy tumbled out. It was my rescue! Somehow he got Speedy, the car, and all our belongings, and didn’t grab me.

In fact, it seemed like he didn’t actually know to get me.

When he rolled up to the car, he had no English words for Speedy, just a winch and expertise of fetching broken rental cars on this road.

I climbed up into the cab, made space amongst tools, greasy rags, and the gearshift, and wedged myself between a man named Antonio and Speedy.

“You are Antonio! Amazing.”


Antonio is apparently a man of few words.

After dropping the car off at the repair shop and being dumped on a corner in town, we were in line to get a replacement car and continue our adventure which included having a Dutch woman throw herself at our car in the dark on the highway and demand ride into town. Her boyfriend was trapped on a cable run and hanging over a river, trying to avoid a horrible death; in fact she was pretty sure he was dead.

  • My Spanish and calming panicked people skills were required once again as I translated the crisis to Spanish for the rangers.

In the end, just like our car, it turned out to be a rather minor incident and deciding the worst is about to happen is never a good idea; it never helps you make good decisions.

El Chalten road, fitz roy

The road to adventure is a beautiful thing.

When people ask me what I train for while running, I am now going to tell them to be able to run for help when traveling in a foreign country.

I run for rape prevention.

Not in general, just for me – my own personal rape prevention foundation.

It is nice to have a reason for doing what you do.

Maybe I am not crazy after all.

Sucker For Punishment

Earlier this winter, while attempting to be sporty I fell hard on the ice in a dark corner of the river valley.

Lying on the ice underneath Edmonton’s newest attempt at upgrading our city, I stared up at the funicular, wondering if I was going to pass out or throw up from the pain and also how many homeless men just witnessed my ridiculousness.

I decided to tough it out, but three weeks later I was still not sleeping and biking, running, weight training, and getting dressed in the morning were harder than they should be, so I went to a physiotherapist for some help.

A thin, blonde, judgemental physiotherapist.

When I called the clinic, I was disappointed that I couldn’t get in to see the recommended physiotherapist, but there was an opening with the blonde, so I took it.

Before I went to the appointment, I was surprised that I was able to get in so quickly but once I experienced her judgements, I realized I was never going to come back and that I wasn’t the only one.

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – So you fell and didn’t go see a doctor? And now you’re here because you’re in pain? How much pain are you in? On a scale of one to ten?

Donloree – What’s one and what’s ten?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – One nap on a beach, ten you’re bleeding out on the highway after just being run over.

Donloree – Well that’s quite the range … four? Maybe I do have high pain tolerance. Maybe it is a six on your scale?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – Sure. So if you’re not in much pain, why are you here?

Donloree – Because I am in pain, can’t sleep, can’t move my arm, and I have no strength …. but I am going to live. No calls for 911 required.

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – But you didn’t go to see a doctor? Why? 

Donloree – Sometimes it hurts with white hot pain and then gets better. At least I can concentrate at work again, but I can’t lift my purse. Perhaps I need to take some things out of it? Of course I do, but as you know, a woman needs things! And she should be able to put her purse on the passenger seat of the car without weeping, right?

Thin, Blonde, Judgemental Physio – It’s fine. We are a primary care center. We can treat you. It’s just that if you were in as much pain as you claim, don’t you think you would have gone to a doctor?

Needless to say while she was jamming her fist into my rotator cuff, I nearly jammed my fist into her solar plexus. But being Canadian and a woman, I took her patronizing instructions to heart and nodded in a docile fashion, after all, I was paying for the adventure in scolding, might as well get something, anything out of it.

I left with a few feet of yellow physio banding and instructions on how to move my arm and where to shove a lacrosse ball into my shoulder until tears leaked out of the corners of my eyes.

Diligently, I did those things for a few weeks, hoping strength and mobility would come back.

Sleep remained to be fleeting and lifting more than 10 pounds over my head remained impossible. Sadly, chasing down my goal of a 100 pound overhead shoulder press was put on the back burner.

Christmas, an incredibly busy job, additional contracts for writing and coaching to do in my non-existent spare time, and some random home renovation projects, along with being a human who loves people filled up every inch of my life.

Time to go to physiotherapy didn’t exist and fear of the Bearded Physio Man kept me from booking an appointment.

  • It would get better on it’s own … right? 

While lying awake, again, at 3:17 am, wondering what it would take to learn to sleep on my left side and then getting up to rummage around or some Advil to help me sleep for another 2 hours and 28 minutes, I realized I needed to swallow my fear and book an appointment with the Bearded Physio Man.

In reality, after he shoved some needles armpit deep into my arse and rendered me useless and unable to walk, I was actually healed. I have been running without excruciating pain for months now.

Embracing the pain.

Bearded Physio Man – You’re back! Where have you been? What are we treating today? How’s the glute?!

Donloree – I fell. Two months ago. I still can’t lift anything over my head and I am pathetic. Everything is hard and my pants are starting to feel tight due to less physical exercise. Help. I just want my pants to fit again.

Bearded Physio Man – And your shoulder to stop hurting, right?

Donloree – Side benefits are welcome.

After the tests which involved trying to push him all around with my right arm and being officially pathetic at most of it, the diagnosis of a strained rotator cuff and strained long head bicep was pronounced.

Bearded Physio Man – So how do you want to do this?

Donloree – The way where I don’t see you much. And when I am in South America in a few weeks exploring the Andes, I am able to put on a backpack without crying.

Bearded Physio Man – So the painful way. You hate needling, right?

Donloree – Who likes it? 

Bearded Physio Man – True. It always hurts you way more than it hurts me.

While shoving a needle into my shoulder, we discussed my upcoming travel plans and how not having children makes my life better than his in an effort to keep me from screaming and swearing too loudly.

Donloree – Sorry about that. I really don’t mean to grab onto you while we do this. You really think I wouldn’t grab you anymore.

Bearded Physio Man – True. I’m used to it by now. So you did this running? 

Donloree – Trying to be sporty, embracing life and all.

Bearded Physio Man – You know you could just go to Mexico and get a tattoo in an inappropriate location if you are looking to feel alive. Fitness could kill you. They have a cure for Hepatitis now, which makes it pretty much risk free! You should really consider making wiser choices.

My retort was squelched by a primal scream as my arm flopped around on the table like a fish out of water.

Bearded Physio Man Looks like someone was doing some decent work at the gym before she fell. Look at those shoulders.

Donloree – What every girl needs to hear – check out the linebacker shoulders!

Bearded Physio Man – I didn’t say you and Peyton Manning share a tailor or anything.

Donloree –  But if the football pads fit?

Why does the path to betterment always hurt when your name is Donloree?

  • Lesson of the week. Go with what you know works, even if it makes you scream and unable to effectively shift your little red car on the way home.

Instructions to ice twice a night and do many seemingly ridiculous exercises shall be followed by your’s truly. The epic, south of the equator adventure is looming and I just want to be able to put my backpack on all by myself.

Also? Maybe I should take up a few less risky behaviours and learn to skydive or downhill BMX …

Running may just kill me.